Tag Archives: books

Procrastination…My Old Friend.

I am a contradiction. I work so far ahead in some instances that I have things done months in advance. At other times, I really need a date/deadline to make me do anything. This is one of those times.

I’m writing. Slowly. So slowly, that it hurts. It is actually painful. I did WORK instead of opening up the word doc to start writing. And that’s saying something. Like right now, I’m going to run to the Post Office instead. Hey, those signed copies of Emerald Fire have to get out. Right?

Every day, I think, today is the day I’m setting aside time to do this! Which happens…rarely. I’ve been working on the same three projects for more than a year now and that’s not like me. I used to churn out something (whether it be good or bad) every couple of months. Now, finishing a scene or a chapter is HARD.

I could blame it on a lot of things.

  1. The toddler. She requires a lot of attention. Yes, this is absolutely true. However, she goes to bed at 8pm. I could work on stuff then. But, I don’t.
  2. I could use my down time better. Instead of checking facebook (which is depressing these days anyway), I could be writing or sketching out scenes. But, I’m not.
  3. I could just demand that Ross watch her on the weekends and get a little time to myself. I haven’t done that either.

Part of the issue is that I need a big chunk of time. Not only to write, but to get my head in the right space. I write some graphic and horrible shit. I can’t just do some laundry, read an Elmo book to Scarlett, and then write about ripping out someone’s small intestines and mounting them to the wall like a piece of art. Actually, that’s a pretty good visual. I’ll have to write that down. #Ideasforlater.

All of these are excuses. I’m well aware of that fact. I’m just having a hard time getting back into the swing of balancing my life with the extra responsibilities. It’s been almost two years. You’d think that would’ve been long enough to figure it out. Not so much.

First Person Present

Am I the only person who doesn’t like this?

I’m currently reading A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I like the story, the world she’s set up, and the subversive dystonian society she’s created. The only thing that keeps pulling me out of the damned story and taking me forever to read is the way its written. First person PRESENT.

I don’t mind the first person. I write in first person. In fact, I have a hard time writing in anything else. It feels too removed for me. I want you right there with me as I go through hurdle after hurdle to overcome whatever beastie, I’ve created. It’s the present tense that really bothers me. I’m not even sure why. People love this perspective. I mean how many people bought a copy of The Hunger Games? A bagillion – which is a technical term, by the way? *snort* That trilogy was also told in first person present. Clearly, this is a thing and I should probably get over my ire at the writing style, but I can’t.

I don’t know if it’s the clunkiness or the constant back and forth between present tense and past tense. You have to go back and forth because not everything happens in the present tense. Backstory and character development require past tense. Here’s where we get a little grammatically nerdy. If you’re writing in first/third person past tense, the back story would then be mentioned in past perfect tense or past perfect progressive (depending on what you’ve got going on). I had done this. I had been there. Cause let’s be real, English has a lot of tenses. Just to give you an idea, see the chart below (thanks Language Learning Base).

english-tenses

This is complicated I know but…and this is a big “but” {ha ha}, moving between present and past is jarring. Moving between two past tenses is not. At least for me.

I’m powering through on the plot and the world but I find myself getting exhausted from the read. I’m only able to read a few chapters at a time which is taking FOREVER.

Let me know what you think!

Info Dumps and other things writers are told not to do…

I’m re-listening to Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s League SeriesI’m preparing for the release of Born of Vengeance which is dropping on February 7th. I’m super excited because I love these books. They’re dark, brutal, and apologetically graphic.

Listening to them back-to-back though, I’ve noticed something that I wouldn’t normally notice if I were reading them one per year. She does a lot of info dumps. For those of you asking; what the fuck is an info dump? I and Google will enlighten you.

in·fo dump
noun
 a very large amount of information supplied all at once, especially as background information in a narrative.
An info dump is the first thing they tell writers not to do. Any editor, critique partner, published writer, and agent will give you a giant lecture about how this is a HUGE faux pas.
You’ll get advise. Reveal it slowly. Work the information into the narrative in stages. Express information through dialogue. These are all ways of working backstory into your narrative.
Sherrilyn Kenyon has incredibly dense info dumps but in a sneaky almost genius way. There are quite a few…”I don’t understand” statements in her novels. What this means is a character is presented with a vague or cryptic piece of information and then responds…”I don’t understand”. What follows is the explanation of the whole history of this person/event explained in wide sweeping paragraphs. You don’t really notice until you’re listening to seven or eight books, one after the other, and you keep hearing the same device used again and again.
Another issue I’ve noticed in my binge listening stint is something Laurel K Hamilton fell into somewhere after the The Killing Dance in the Anita Blake novels.Maybe this is just a product of long series and you can’t avoid it. I don’t know but as the books go on; these feel less and less about the atrocities and fascist tendencies of the League (the over arching ruling body of the 9 worlds) and more about cultural norms of a particular species. I get it. You created this amazing race of people with cultural norms that, I’m gonna be honest, sometimes blow my mind. I wish I were that awesome to create something like that. Maybe one day I will be.
I get there has to be character development but there also has to be plot development. And in a series, this becomes particularly difficult. There has to be series plot development, always moving the over arching story forward. But there also has to be book plot development. I too find this difficult, to always be moving the larger story along as well as the smaller individual book plot ahead. I’m not complaining. I still love this universe she created and will follow it until the end. There is, however, an issue of getting lost in the trees.
I am a writer and a reader. I understand that no book is perfect. Mine sure aren’t. In the first few Blushing Death novels, I might use too many metaphors. This was pointed out to me by a goodreads.com review. Thank you to that person, by the way. I now go through and eliminate unnecessary metaphors and similes in my edits.
I guess the lesson we take from this is that the rules don’t really matter. You can break any and all of them, if you do it well.

The Blushing Death

Ever wonder how Dahlia got her street name (aka the Blushing Death)?? Well, here’s your chance to find out. This short has not been professionally edited and contains graphic language and content. Read at your own risk. Enjoy!

 

*

What the hell was he doing here? He’d better things to do than watch over some imbecile who wasn’t intelligent enough to take his meal behind a dumpster or into an alley before he ate. Patrick closed his eyes and let the night breathe into him, fill him, and energize him. Waiting for Dmitri to exit the bar, he hadn’t fed yet and his fangs throbbed from want of a meal.

As Ethan’s right hand, he had too many responsibilities to be sitting on a roof top, monitoring Dmitri’s hunt. Ethan must be losing whatever sense he had left. Being 400 and some odd years old, Vampire Liege, and almost half a century without Margo – his mate of more than 300 years – had finally destroyed the last vestige of sanity his father had.

The breeze whipped around Patrick’s hair, pushing the scent of alcohol, oversexed college students, and grease from the nearby campus bars through his nostrils, barraging his senses with debauchery. Why Dmitri hunted the incredibly inebriated young coeds was understandable, however, why he couldn’t keep from drawing attention to himself and feeding in public was beyond his understanding.

Patrick sat on the ledge of the roof along High Street watching young men and women stumble from bar to bar, laughing, touching, fondling each other. Patrick watched them with envy.  He hadn’t touched someone with abandon in decades. He’d occupied himself with quick fucks and blood whores, as those were the only ones safe and allowed him to hide his true nature and power.

“What are you doing to yourself?” Patrick whispered into the silence. He shouldn’t envy humans. Ever. Leaning over the edge, he kept his eyes open for Dmitri. The young one would have to come out sooner or later.

The wind shifted and brought a familiar musky scent to his nose. “How’d you find me?” Patrick asked without turning, knowing full well who was standing behind him.

“Wasn’t hard. You stink,” the deep, bass voice rumbled with what Patrick thought was a chuckle.  Patrick smiled to himself without turning. Dean, werewolf, alpha, Pack King, and friend was nothing if not precise. He never said two words when one would do.

“So you’ve said,” Patrick said as he turned to face his friend of decades. The two men were complete opposites in every way. Patrick was tall, lean, and muscular with a runner’s body, his movements were lithe as a cat’s. Dean was older than Patrick by almost fifty years, but you couldn’t tell to look at them since vampires and werewolves didn’t age. Patrick had dark hair and dark eyes that stood in stark contrast to his pale skin.

Dean, on the other hand, was tall and bulky like he could lift a car over his head as he would a sack of potatoes. He had deep olive-green eyes, dark Mediterranean skin, and a completely shaved head. He was kind, loyal and had the ability to read people in a way that staggered Patrick. In Patrick’s mind, everyone had an ulterior motive. He’d lived too long and seen too many vampires he’d trusted turn on him with the merest hint of power.

“Pat?” Dean’s deep voice rumbled behind him. Dean sounded unsure and Patrick knew it was his fault. Patrick had been avoiding his friend for weeks, months really. It wasn’t safe.  Ethan didn’t approve of his friendship with Dean. His Liege also didn’t appreciate that Dean had a power Ethan couldn’t control and couldn’t curtail. The old vampire was threatened by Dean, and he should be. The werewolf was more powerful than any Patrick had ever come across. But Unlike Ethan, Dean seemed content with what he had. That’s why Patrick trusted him.

“Yes,” Patrick answered, keeping his gaze on the street below.

“You alright?” Dean asked, stepping up beside him. Patrick glanced over at his friend.

Dean watched the street below, avoiding eye contact.

“Perfectly,” Patrick said. “I’m babysitting this evening.  And you?”

“Looking for you,” Dean mumbled.

“Is something wrong?” Patrick asked with dread filling him. Ethan was hiding more and more from Patrick and he suspected it was only a matter of time before his Liege made a move on the Pack and Patrick would have to move his timetable forward.

“Not anymore.”

Patrick looked back at his friend with sudden understanding. Dean had been worried.

“It wasn’t safe,” Patrick said. “It still isn’t.”

“Is that why you’re babysitting?”

Why was he babysitting? Ethan had been acting strange. He had been like Patrick’s father since he rose that first night but in the last few months, Ethan had been treating Patrick like he didn’t trust him. He’d been with Ethan for the better part of a century. Why would the man second guess his trust now?

“I don’t know why I’m babysitting, actually. Dmitri should have been put down long ago. He’s a danger to all of us and much too public,” Patrick scoffed.

“Hmph,” Dean snorted.

“What does that mean?” Patrick snapped.

“Just . . . hmph.”

Patrick turned his gaze back to the street. Where the hell was Dmitri?

Two women stumbled from the bar beneath Patrick and Dean. They both seemed unsteady, inebriated as the dark haired woman with hair down her back and hips just a bit too wide for Patrick’s tastes slammed into her friend. The other woman was tall, muscular, and voluptuous in a way that Patrick knew would overflow his palm with thick thighs and hips that swayed when she walked. She had shimmering blonde hair that caught his eye in the street light overhead. She seemed irritated as she aided, practically carried her friend down the sidewalk. Her steps were steady, sure and Patrick knew she wasn’t intoxicated in the least.

The wind shifted, blowing the scent of the two women up. Their scents mingled together like vinegar and oil. One was deeper, musky, tangled with the acidic scent of alcohol. The other was soft, carrying the scent of jasmine oil and something else . . . something old.

“What is that?” Dean asked, leaning over the edge. He took a deep breath, filling his nose with her scent again.

“She smells of magic,” Patrick whispered.

“None that I’ve smelled before. It’s old. Too old for either one of them.”

Patrick watched the blond as she and her friend crossed the street toward the university dorms.

“Dmitri,” Dean growled low in his chest.

Patrick’s eyes shot back to the sidewalk and the vampire he’d been following all night lurking in the shadows like a common vagrant. Dmitri crossed the street, following the two women down the sidewalk into the darkness. The streetlights grew farther and farther apart, snaking shadows across the parking lot.

“Stop him,” Dean growled.

“Why?” Patrick asked but a twinge in his gut agreed with his friend. He should stop Dmitri. Magic still tingled in his nose, pulling at his brain and his being for recognition, as if he should know it, know her. The magic seemed basic, primal, complex, and new all at the same time. What was she?

“I don’t know,” Dean answered, confused. “But something’s gnawing at me to stop him.” Before either could move, Dmitri was already on them.

*

Damn her!  My plan for the night had not been to carry her drunk ass across campus. I’d just met her a few weeks ago for Christ’s sakes and this was not my responsibility. I wasn’t her mother. But I couldn’t leave her either.

“I love you,” Lisa slurred up at me.

“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “Sure.”

She stumbled into me, again. Damn, she was heavy. I tripped on her clumsy feet but caught myself before both of us hit the ground. If we fell, I wasn’t picking her back up. I wasn’t. Okay, I probably would, but I wouldn’t like it.

We stumbled through triangles of shadows cast by the street lights as I tried not to break my neck on something unseen or uneven pavement. The street lights were getting farther apart, keeping us in darkness longer and longer which didn’t sit well with me. A chill swept up my spine that sent the hairs on the back of my neck on end and my heart raced in anticipation.

“I do, you know,” she slurred again.

“That’s great, Lisa. Now, hurry the hell up and get your ass moving,” I snapped. I had a bad feeling churning in my stomach and I wanted to be back in our rooms.

“Can I help?” a man asked behind me. His voice was rough, filled with gravel that rumbled around his thick Eastern European accent. He was too close. Much too close.

*

“Stop him,” Dean growled again, low in his chest. This time, it wasn’t a request.

“I think we’re too late,” Patrick whispered, panic filling him and he couldn’t even say why.

*

I dropped Lisa and turned.

“Hey,” she snarled as her ass hit the cement, hard.

“Shut up!” I snapped. We were in trouble. I could feel it down to my toes. I didn’t have any cash on me but then again, this guy didn’t look like he wanted cash.

“You should listen to your friend,” he said, smirking at Lisa and then fixing his gaze on me with a singularity that tightened my stomach in dread.

“What do you want?” I barked, stepping in front of Lisa who still sitting on the sidewalk.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Lisa groaned behind me, just before she retched a few times, spilling the foul smell of vomit into the air. Perfect!

     The man looked down at her and then back up at me with a disgusted expression and his lips curling into a sneer. He turned his nose up at the stench. “I will leave that one.”

“You’ll be leaving both of us,” I said, thrusting every ounce of confidence and malice I had into that one sentence.

“I don’t think so,” he cooed as the corners of his mouth turned up in a lecherous, hungry smile.

He lunged at me.

He was quick. Too quick for my eyes to follow. His hands gripped my throat, squeezing until I couldn’t breathe and my lungs burned with the lack of oxygen. Lifting me from the ground with one hand as if I weighed nothing, my feet dangled from the ground. I kicked out at him, clutching his hand around my throat as I tried to wedge my fingers in-between his grip and my neck. His grip was iron tight around and pain surged through my entire being as his fingers dug into my flesh.

My heart pounded in my head, filling my ears with the steady thump-thump, thump-thump of its beat. I stared up into his face and caught his malicious grin spread across his lips, exposing a straight line of white teeth . . . and . . . fangs. SHIT! He couldn’t be . . . could he? I kicked at him again but each time I made contact, he shrugged it off.

“You smell too good to resist,” he drooled in his thick accent. He pushed his thumb up under my chin, tilting my head away, exposing my neck. Leaning into me, he ran his tongue up the long line of my throat in a languorous stroke of saliva. I shivered at the feel of him on my body and something clicked into place.

Alright, I’ve had enough. My instincts took over before I could think too much about it. I didn’t want to think. I wanted this thing’s hands off me and to get Lisa and me back to our dorms in one piece. I wanted this asshole to know he couldn’t just walk up to anyone and hurt them. I wouldn’t let him hurt me or anyone, ever again.

Kill him, a voice whispered in a deep, husky enticement from the back of my mind. Kill him, she said again. He’s not one of us.

No, he wasn’t. My body stilled and I stopped fighting.  My mind cleared and a peace I’d never known settled over me. I was going to kill him and I knew it as much as I knew my name was Dahlia Sabin.

He lapped at my neck one last time, bringing his tongue all the way up to my ear. “You taste like power,” he purred in my ear. As the last word left his lips, he reared his head back and exposed his fangs before he lurched at my exposed skin.

*

“What is that?” Patrick asked in a hush as he watched the blond woman struggle in Dmitri’s grasp. Dmitri was playing with her, in the open, in full view of anyone who wanted to watch.

“I don’t know,” Dean said as his fingers gripped the edge of the roof with white knuckled intensity. The three of them stood in shadows, far from the unnatural light of the streetlamps as Dmitri gripped her by the neck. Even with that fact, everywhere around her, illuminating the shadows like a beacon a soft, red glow emitted. Patrick watched Dmitri lick a long line up her neck, unaware of the blushing glow growing out from her body. Dmitri was a dead vampire. He’d kill that sonovabitch himself.

She stopped struggling.

“What’s she doing?” Dean snapped. His voiced rung with the same fear Patrick felt tighten his gut. He’d pegged that girl as a fighter and something inside him didn’t want her to give in, didn’t want her to just lie down and die. The soft red glow around her became a harsh red slash of light through the darkness as Dmitri reared his head back to strike and Patrick stood in awe of her. It would be a shame if this creature were to perish at Dmitri’s unworthy hands.

*

I reached out and grasped his head in my hands. Before he could think to push my hands away, I twisted his head sharply, snapping his neck. He released his grip on my throat and I dropped to the ground, crouching low. I caught my breath and waited for the sound of his body to hit the ground.

It never came.

I glanced up at the man still standing in front of me with his head twisted at an unnatural, uncomfortable angle.  He should’ve been dead.

“Fuck,” I breathed. He reached his hands up and placed them firmly on either side of his face. The man twisted his neck back into place, and cracked it back, shifting his chin up on either side.

“You stupid little BITCH! That hurt,” he growled. I scrambled backward on my hands, dragging my ass across the pavement as I climbed over Lisa’s passed out, limp body.

Kill him, kill him, through the heart, she whispered like a mantra.

My mind tried to grapple with the idea of a man who didn’t die when you broke his neck. I’d definitely felt the pop.

Through the heart? 

Why through the heart? Fangs . . . Fuck! Vampire!

If the attack had happened on anyone else, vampire would not have been the first guess. I was different. I’d seen spirits, ghosts, and poltergeists since the age of five, been attacked by a ghoul in a cemetery and felt the pull of magic too often to count. Just because I’d never encountered a vampire before, didn’t mean I couldn’t believe. Looking up into this guy’s eyes, I believed. Oh boy, did I believe.

“Through the heart then,” I whispered. I had to find something. I didn’t have any weapons, why would I? College students didn’t walk around with weapons. I moved to my right, tripping over Lisa’s outstretched arm. My ass hit hard, spilling into the soft, warm mound of vomit. Fanfuckingtastic!  It soaked through my jeans, turning my stomach. Now, I was pissed.  The vampire took careful steps toward me, slow, watching.

I reached out, spreading my arms wide, searching for anything that I could use to defend myself. My fingers wrapped around a long flimsy branch from the nearby dogwood tree. It was blunt and would probably snap on impact but it was all I had.

He stepped over Lisa, too casual and much to focused on me.  I hated her all the more for passing out. If I lived through this, I’d have to carry her back and covered in her vomit. I hated drunk people.

The vampire reached down and grabbed the front of my shirt, yanking me to my feet. My head whipped back with his strength. I was going to live. Damn it! If it was the last thing I did!

He snarled at me, exposing teeth and fangs in a glistening white sheen. I tightened my grip around the branch and thrust it up under his ribs. The branch pushed through his thin t-shirt, into his body, through flesh and muscle. The cool, sticky sensation of his blood spilling over my hand, turned my stomach. His eyes widened in disbelief as he met my glare. He released my shirt, shoving me away before he fell to his knees. Gasping for air, he scrambled to tug the branch from his chest.

I took a step back, out of reach as he swung his arms out to me, flailing.

“You stupid cunt!” he yelled. His skin moved over the flesh and bone, weakening to an almost paper thin transparency, stretching from his bones, and shriveling away from his face.

“Christ on Crutches,” I gasped.

His head, take his head that same voice whispered.

“His head? What the hell with?” I called out into the darkness, frustration making my anger seep into my blood and making it boil through my veins. I staggered back another step as he fell forward, trying to grab me. The vampire slammed face-first into the ground, driving the branch further into his chest, and up through his back.

*

“She killed him,” Dean said with an uncharacteristic smile pushing the corners of his mouth up.

“Yes, she did,” Patrick said as he watched her stand like a Fury over her kill. Her chest heaved with her heavy breath and her adrenaline made her scent a heady mixture of Jasmine, magic and power. The harsh red glow simmered down to a soft blushing pink as Dmitri decomposed on the ground.

“His head? What the hell with?” she seemed to cry out in frustration. To whom she spoke, Patrick didn’t know.

“Do you have your knife?” Patrick asked. Dean nodded and pulled the 8 inch silver plated bowie knife from the sheath in his boot. Dean flipped the knife in his hand, gripping the blade in his palm. “Be careful,” Patrick snapped.

“Hmph.”

Dean brought the knife back and threw it. The blade soared through the air, across the street, over the grass, sinking it into the ground a few feet behind her. She backed up another step, tripping over the knife with her foot. She stumbled but caught herself and glared down at the knife sticking out of the ground. She seemed frozen for a moment, but only long enough to blink. She grasped the exposed handle in her hand and ripped it from the ground and took the two long strides toward Dmitri.

The woman knelt down at the vampire’s shoulders. She raised the knife above her head without a single hesitation and brought it down hard. Sinking the knife’s blade through the shrinking flesh of Dmitiri’s neck, she severed his head from his body.

Once his head and heart were separated, Dmitri erupted in a puff of ash. His decomposition was sped up and had destroyed any existence that he ever existed.

“She didn’t even flinch,” Patrick said, transfixed.

“Except for the flicker in that red glow around her.”

The woman, a girl really, stood and brushed the ash from her jeans. She shoved the knife in her back pocket and glanced around. Glancing over her shoulder, she evaluated at the mess on her pert, round ass. She released a frustrated, defeated sigh up to the heavens and shook her head.

“Hey, Lisa,” she snapped at the woman passed out on the ground. She reached down and tugged at the woman’s shirt. When the girl didn’t wake, she struck her across the face. The crack of flesh on flesh rang in Patrick’s ears, making his body tingle from head to toe with the violence, the power, and the determination of this woman.

“I’m not carrying your heavy ass after the night I’ve had,” she hissed. The inebriated girl finally opened her eyes and staggered to her feet. Without another work, she strode off, leaving the girl to follow or not.

“That was . . .” Dean started.

“Incredible,” Patrick finished.

“What are you going to do?” Dean asked with a hush still in his voice.

“Nothing,” Patrick said with a mischievous grin cresting his lips. He had a plan that could turn the tide to everything he’d ever hoped. “If he’s stupid enough to get staked by a coed then he deserved it.”

“She’s a little more than just a coed.”

“Yes, she’s the Blushing Death,” Patrick said with a satisfied smile.

“What?” Dean asked, finally turning his glare at Patrick with that Alpha stare.

“Even little children have something they fear. It’s been a long time since we did. Spread the word. There’s a new boogey man in town,” Patrick said.

“No more babysitting then?” Dean asked with an understanding nod.

“No more babysitting. If I can make her a bigger threat, maybe he’ll forget about you for a while.”

“And give you a chance to keep an eye on her,” Dean scoffed at his friends semblance of goodwill.

“That too.”

Golden Anidae

I know I’m a day late and I’m sorry. I’m working on a scene from Dean’s point of view for next week…I promise! To tide you over, here’s a snippet for you from Golden Anidae – out now from Soul Mate Publishing.

From Chapter 1

The bar was stifling, crammed with people as a purple strobe light flickered through the club. My pulse thundered in my ears and a pain burned behind my eyes as the smoke machine’s output stung my retinas. Pressed up against the bar, the railing dug into my ribs, the throng of people a constant pressure at my back. I was trapped and still didn’t have a drink to show for it.

It was almost comforting. No one knew who I was. No one was looking to kill me and no one was evaluating my every move trying to figure out what it meant. I felt almost normal. Almost.

The bass thumped and the guy behind me got a bit too happy about being pushed up against me. I tried to shift but there was nowhere for me to go as he continued to dig his embarrassingly large erection into my ass. The crowd at the bar was five deep and I wasn’t wasting all this effort and discomfort without that drink. Suffering silently, as long as that erection stayed where it was and didn’t start to wander, I would get my drink.

“What’ll ya have?” the thin brunette behind the bar asked with a smile that was a definite tip earner. She was short with too much breast for her petite frame. Her eyes were deep russet in the purple light and she had a smile that lit up her face as she gave me a once-over.

“Vodka, straight up,” I said with an answering grin. That was all she was getting as the asshole behind me shoved his hard-on into the flesh of my ass, my skirt the only barrier.

Would anyone notice if I elbowed him in the face? He’d probably scream like a little girl, I thought to myself, smiling and transforming my face from forced pleasantry into a smirk of delight. The bartender appreciated that grin more than I’d meant her to.

“It’s on the house,” she said with a coy smile, sliding the drink across the bar to me. Her fingers grazed mine and hesitated a moment longer than was appropriate for a casual touch.

“Thank you,” I said, turning to get out of the crowd surrounding the bar. As I passed the dickweed with the erection, I jammed my finger in-between his third and fourth rib. He jerked and grabbed his side with a pained expression in his eyes that pleased me more than it should have. “So sorry,” I mocked my apology with eyes that were too large to be sincere.

“Bitch,” he grumbled low enough that someone with normal hearing wouldn’t have heard. I, however, could hear a heartbeat at 100 yards due to my involvement with the preternatural community back home in Columbus. I heard him just fine.

As the all-too-familiar euphemism graced my ears, it brought a smile to my face, a real malicious smile that warmed me to my toes. Yep, I was a bitch all right. Couldn’t men think of anything else besides Bitch? I strutted back to where I’d left Enza in the corner, surrounded by local guys she knew. She was like a dude magnet and since she was a few years under thirty, she was still in that flirty I’m-not-looking-for-anything-serious kind of mindset. I was in the stay-the-fuck-away-from-me mode which most of the guys she introduced me to picked up on right away. She waved at me over the crowd of heads surrounding her with a smile that could light up the night.

“What took you so long?” she asked, hopping from the stool she’d been perched on. She sashayed toward me to the dismay of the five fairly attractive guys she left behind.

“Long line,” I answered.

We bumped and ground our way to a more secluded corner, away from the huddle of men. They seemed to follow her around like an entourage. It was annoying as hell.

We found some seats beneath one of the bird’s nests where scantily clad girls danced in knee-high go-go boots and low-rise hip-hugger boy shorts. Silver and gold satin left nothing to the imagination.

Soraida, Cadenza’s best friend, sauntered over to us with a sultry sway of her hips that drew the attention of every man she passed. Her soft Hispanic features, bright green eyes under café au lait skin and dark ebony hair that trailed down her back, lightly swinging several inches above her tight round ass, made me envious. She was art in motion.

“Hey, Chicas,” Soraida said with a warm smile directed to both of us.

I liked her. She was a good friend to Cadenza and they were more like sisters than any two people I’d seen since Am and I. A small tug at my gut at the thought of Am made the hole in me ache. I thought about Am often. I thought about her afraid and in pain, about how she’d still be alive if not for me.

Was she angry with me? Was she happy where she was? Did she forgive me for all the lies? Would she ever forgive me for letting her down?

Shaking off the questions I couldn’t answer, I glanced at Enza and Soraida. This wasn’t the place, and I didn’t want to have to explain tears to either of them. I sipped my drink and focused on their conversation.

“No, girl, he was just an ass. Not to mention the tiny asset,” Soraida said with a flare of her hand and a mocking smile.

Cadenza erupted in laughter.

Even I smiled as the rest of the world and all my emotional bullshit was stripped away by two women and their conversation about men and sex.

“Shut up,” Enza laughed, trying to catch her breath. “He walks around like God’s gift.”

“Well, if that was God’s gift, it was definitely a re-gift and cheap, too,” Soraida said with a knowing grin.

We all laughed at that.

After an hour and a drink or two, or three, I was laughing and talking like the world outside wasn’t full of things that could kill me. I was laughing like before I knew there were monsters and that I was one of them. It was wonderful to forget. I felt lighter in my own skin, easy in a way that I’d never been.

“I swear on everything I hold dear, she walked out of that restroom with the entire back of her skirt tucked into her panties. It was like a thong parade through the restaurant,” Soraida said, giggling and spilling her drink down the front of her jeans, more than a little drunk.

I leaned forward to catch her before she fell off her chair. Steadying herself on her own, she set her glass down on the table in front of her. I sat back and relaxed against the hard cushioned surface, easing off.

Sweating in the body heat filled air, I wiped the moisture from my neck and underneath my hair every five or six minutes. My hair had grown down to my shoulders since I’d been away, longer than I’d had it in years. I lifted the heavy weight of it off my skin, exposing the back of my neck to fresh air.

A frost crept up my spine like a lick of winter in the middle of the humid club. The crisp edge of power rippled against me like stale ice on a cold winter’s day in January. Patrick’s was frigid water from the summit of a fresh mountain river, constant and overwhelming. This was sharp like an icicle into my neck, and frightening.

I shivered as the power scraped along my spine.

Sitting up straight in the chair, I tried to force the slight alcohol-induced haze from my awareness. My metabolism ran faster after consuming a bit of Danny’s heart by accident and I just had to wait for my body to take the edge off the alcohol. Three or four minutes tops. Fear, causing my heart to race would surely help, cutting the time to two minutes but no more . . . I hoped.

I had been comfortable.

Stupid. STUPID!!!

An ice-cold finger grazed across the back of my neck and I jumped up off the stool, knocking it to the ground in a quiet thud. The crash was drowned out by the thumping bass of the club and only a few people immediately surrounding us noticed.

I turned. No one was behind me. I had to get my back against a wall, any wall, and defend myself. As I glanced around, hordes of bodies thrashed about on the dance floor but they were all human. I couldn’t find the twinge of frostbitten power in the crowd that’d swept over me only a moment ago. The power seemed to reach out and touch me in places that power shouldn’t touch, hadn’t touched in months.

I took one deep breath and then another, focusing on the human auras surrounding me and the power signatures beyond. Sweat beaded on my upper lip and embedded in my eyebrows as I concentrated, forcing the power from me. I’d taken that ability for granted and now when I needed it, I was screwed.

“Hey, you okay?” Enza asked, taking the drink from my hand and setting it on the table next to her.

“Maybe someone slipped something into her drink. She looks pale,” Soraida shouted over the bass, placing her hand on my sweat-drenched forehead. She gave Enza a concerned sideways glance and dropped her hand.

“Do you feel all right?” Enza asked, sitting on the edge of her chair.

I couldn’t answer her. All I could hear was the blood pounding in my ears in a steady bumbum . . . bumbum . . . bumbum. My own voice was loud in my mind, screaming at me.

I can’t get away. They know who I am. I’ve been so careful. I’m all alone, no weapon and they’ve found me.   

Turning my attention back to the crowd, I searched for the vampire I knew was there. A male. I’d felt him. I felt his testosterone surge through his power as it touched me. He was old. I’d felt that too. He either wasn’t there anymore or he was too powerful and I couldn’t find him. Or, and this was my fear, I wasn’t powerful enough. That scared the shit out of me. I suddenly felt weak, like someone had cut off my arm and now wanted me to swim the English Channel. I’d cut myself off from my power, leaving the connections back in Columbus.

“We’re gonna leave,” Enza said from what seemed like miles away. “You want to come over, Sori?”

Nada, Chica. I’m meeting Everett here after his shift at the Bellagio. Thanks, though,” she said before a brief kiss on the cheek for Enza and a wave of her hand for me. She sauntered away, disappearing into the crowd.

“Later,” Enza called after her, grabbing my arm and guiding me through the crowd. “We’ll go and get some water into you,” she shouted into my ear.

She wrapped her arm around my waist. Supporting me as I stumbled through the crowd, she held on and I searched for that lick of winter.

I was more terrified than sick and as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I needed her help. I couldn’t focus on getting through the crowd and trying to find that whisper of ice in the room. My hands trembled at the thought of being discovered and having nothing to protect myself. I’d left everything behind in the rubble of my burned down house and the remnants of my shattered life.

Enza shoved through the thick crowd in the club and the casino until I felt the open, cool air of the desert night on my face. The scent was crisp and clean like fresh linen. I breathed deep and felt the chilled night air fill my lungs. Enza waved at the valet and handed him our ticket.

“Hey, are you okay?” she asked, examining me, feeling my forehead for what, I didn’t know.

“Yeah, it just got too close in there,” I answered.

She rubbed my back absently as the valet brought the car around.

“Getting too old to party like that, huh?” she said with a devilish grin, trying to goad me.

I perked up at that. I couldn’t help it.

“Excuse me?” I said with attitude. “I’m only five years older than you. Wait until you hit 30 and then we’ll talk about too old,” I said, a snarky bite to my tone.

She laughed at my response. Her levity made my insides cringe. I wanted to join in and forget how terrified I’d been only moments before but that lick of winter up my spine was still too fresh in my mind.

It was out there somewhere, and it knew I was here.

Countdown to Disney!

I understand that I’m a 35 year old grown woman. But here’s the thing, I DON’T CARE! I love Disney and I’m not ashamed to say it. My husband, Ross, and I are planning a weekend trip to Disney World and I can’t wait. I’m buying a pair of ears for every damn park we go in and (Ross doesn’t know this yet but) I’m buying at least two Vinylmation figurines. That’s right, Disney’s got me, hook, line, and sinker.

Let’s start with the park. We’ve been to Disneyland, and I was at DisneyWorld when I was little (I don’t really remember it and that might be a sin – I haven’t found it in any scripture anywhere but I’m sure it must be there…right?). In 2010 and 2011, I went to Disneyland twice in a 12 month period and that’s saying something for a girl from Ohio. The time my husband and I went (yeah, that’s right! I went once without him), we spent the day at the magic kingdom and I ran around like a cracked-out six year old. See for yourself!

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Ross, on the other hand, was like a 90 year old poop who didn’t know what fun was even when he was a kid. Exhibit A

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In fairness to my husband, that was a $10 hamburger. Doesn’t matter though, he still tried like hell not to smile on the tea cups. Who does that? You have to smile on the tea cups! I think its a law.

He can’t fool me though, he’s excited. He bought me this as a Christmas present (both for me and so he can go into sucking-the-fun-out-of-everything poop):

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He has our itinerary for each day planned out and this trip is four months away. He’s already dictated the paths through each section of each park and where we need to get fast-passes. This damned thing is 864 pages of craziness that my husband has taken on like it was gospel. Little does he know that his entire plan is going to be blown the hell up as I spend the first two hours of each day going from gift shop to gift shop. Ahahahahaahaha!

Next, I’m obsessed with Disney’s ridiculously ingenious idea, Vinylmation. I LOVE these things. I don’t think Disney needs anymore cult followers but I’ll do my bit by giving you the link. LOL!

I bought one, hoping it was Lucifer from Cinderella because here’s the thing, you don’t know which one you’re getting. So if you don’t get the one you want, you just keep buying them! Well, I got Lucifer and one of the cards from Alice in Wonderland. I had to buy two, it evened up my chances. You would’ve done the same! Don’t judge.

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Anyway, I was too excited and Ross poo poo’d my purchase saying that it was a waste of money. I agreed and that was the end of it. A few months after that, I was headed to Polaris Shopping Center and there’s a disney store in the mall. I thought I could sneak in there, see what they had and get one…or two.

Turns out…No.

I parked and then decided I couldn’t deal with the mall. When I got home, I told Ross about how the idea of the mall and how the thought of going in made me a little anxious and how weird that was. So, a few weeks later, he went and bought me three. THREE!

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He came home and in his very stern voice said, “This can’t become a thing!”

I said, “you’re right, honey” and didn’t argue.

Then, for my birthday, he bought me another one. Isn’t he cute?

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Then for Christmas, he bought me another two.

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So, for not becoming a “thing”, he’s kinda making it a “thing”. That’s why I love my husband! He knows the way to a girls heart.

The Best Laid Plans

The Golden Anidae is only 9 days away so here’s a freebie! This little short takes place from Dean’s perspective over  a scene in Midnight Ash. MidnightAsh2_850This consists of strong language and has not been professionally edited. Read at your own risk.

The Best Laid Plans

“There’ll have to be a change of plans,” Pat said as if his perfect little world wasn’t falling apart.

I understood the slight tick at the corner of Pat’s eye.  It was almost imperceptible but I knew Pat, knew what to look for.  Pat wanted to kill something, anything that moved to keep the Blushing Death safe.

“What plan?” the dangerous little mouse squeaked.

Danny glanced over at her with guilt written all over his face.  Stupid pup. She could eat Danny alive.  Her face flushed and the soft grey of her eyes swirled with anger, tugging at my insides.  The room filled with her, the soft floral, feminine scent mixed with the rich spiciness of her anger.  My cock hardened along my thigh as her scent permeated my brain, registering something deep in my synapses that I didn’t understand.  My wolf wanted to leap out to meet her, to run with her.  I fought to hold back my beast and keep control.  I had reacted to her like this from the first and it took everything I had not to rub up against her and mark her as mine.

Dear God, what is she?

She glanced over at me, her grey eyes churning with a secret. With a wicked smile on her face, that glint in her eye was as if she’d imagined something horrible in her mind and got satisfaction from it.  I liked that devious and predatory grin.  My wolf knew it for what it was, dangerous, protective, and mine.

Pat reached out and touched her, sliding his cold, dead hand against her cheek.  Something inside me wanted to rip that hand off. It didn’t make sense. Pat was my friend, had been for decades.

The Blushing Death jumped at his touch and my wolf was glad of it. Quicker than either I or Pat saw, she’d drew her knife.  The Blushing Death would never be a victim. She’d kill everyone and everything before she let that happen and I was glad of it. Humans didn’t live long in our world but then again, she wasn’t merely human.

Pat reached out, slow and cautious, touching her again. She dropped the knife but I could see the reluctance in her gaze.  I wished it was my hand on her cheek, wished I was comforting her.

Damn it!

Janey . . . I missed Janey.  That was all. I was lonely, so lonely.  Dahlia Sabin wasn’t mine.  She was Pat’s. My wolf growled deep in my being, arguing with my brain. She may be Pat’s but she would never be Danny’s.  That much, I knew for certain.  No matter how much that boy wanted it to be true, she would never be Danny’s.

“There’s something else?” Pat asked her.

“Later,” she said, turning to face the rest of the room with her shoulders back and her chin high.  That woman was every bit an Alpha and my cock throbbed at the thought of testing her.

“What’s the change in plan?  What’s the plan period?” she snapped, sliding that long silver blade back into it sheath.  I could read the tension in her body and something in me ached to ease it.  She caressed the blade as she would a lover, taking comfort from the weapon and her own sense of determination.  The Blushing Death was no shrinking violet and my cock twitched, imagining her fingers wrapped around my hard length, squeezing my shaft with the same tenderness.  My beast paced back and forth inside me like the caged animal it was, growling through my mind.  I was stronger than this.  I was stronger than whatever was tugging at my chest and riling up my beast.

“Alex and I had intended to confront the board in the Lebensblut New York offices to come up with a compromise,” Pat said with more words than needed. Too many words could get a guy in trouble. “I’d hoped we could stop this before it started.  Make amends somehow.  Now, I’m afraid we’re too late. We’ll make an appeal but I’m afraid that Dahlia needs to be protected.”

She was stiff, her hands balled into fists at her sides as if she wanted to punch everyone in the room. I couldn’t blame her.  Pat was heavy handed but he knew what he was doing.  She took a deep breath and forced her shoulders to relax.

“Okay.  I’ll need protection,” she agreed.

Before I could hold it in, I laughed.  Out loud. The raucous sound was so foreign, I startled myself.  Pat’s eyes were wider than dinner plates and I could almost see the wheels turning in her head.  She’d surprised everyone.  Including  me.

She and Pat both glared at me but I didn’t care.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed.   It felt good.  Better than I remembered. Who was this woman? My heart raced in my chest and what I could only describe as fear churned in my gut. She’d made me feel things in the last five minutes that I hadn’t felt . . . ever. Not even with Janey.

“Is something amusing, Dean?” Pat hissed.  His jaw was tight and his tone clipped as he glared at me.  I didn’t care.  I enjoyed the light feeling in my chest and even the fear.

“You said she was unpredictable,” I answered through strangled laughter and sunk back into the couch, relaxing.  I liked her more than I knew was good for me.

Fantasy Football…ARGH!

I’m going to tell you a little secret. I live in Columbus Ohio and I don’t really like football. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone. I might get run out of town. This town lives and dies by OSU Football. That is our “professional” sports team. I’m not saying this because the payers are paid or anything, merely because this town treats it like any NFL team.

I’ve grown to accept that on Saturday’s between August and January, I’m watching football in one form or another and maybe even attending a game or two. I’m married and we all have to sacrifice for our spouses. But I was blessed because Sundays were relatively free of football. That is until this year. 

Ross was encouraged to be on a fantasy football team by one of our friends who has just plummeted to the bottom of my shit list – that’s right! I’m talking to you Mark Aaron! Sunday afternoons have become one game after the other as Ross stares at his “board” and watches his points compared to someone else.

The worst part of all of this, is that he’s got me watching that damned board too. I can’t help it! I have to win. I don’t have the personality to lose graciously and I won’t allow Ross to lose either. First, he has to beat Mark Aaron simply for ruining my Sundays. I feel that’s just fair. Second, I didn’t marry a loser! And finally, I wouldn’t tell him this but if he wins maybe he’ll join next year too and stay out of my hair on Sunday afternoons. We are incredibly unproductive when we are alone together. I might be able to get shit done!

Confrontations

Hi kiddies! I know I’m a day late. Nothing exciting happened in the last week but we are having a yard sale on Saturday so there’s the potential for alot of humorous incidents. In the mean time, I’m posting a little snippet from Midnight Ash. Its told from Dean’s point of view. This has not been professionally edited or reviewed so READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. If you want to read these little snippets earlier. Join my facebook group Damsel. Well, here goes.

Confrontations

I didn’t want her here. If Danny brought her into the Pack, Dahlia Sabin, the Blushing Death, would be a constant reminder of what I would never have. I sat on the bar, stiff, my body riddled with tension as I watched everything. Watched her.

Jackson and Kurt circled each other but I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She stood just off to the side, rigid and at attention – a quiet intimidation in the background of a room full of dangerous beasts. Seeming like she was completely at ease, her hand rested on her cocked hip. I knew better. She had her hand ready for the draw. A knife was strapped at her back beneath the coat. I could smell the oil from the blade and had seen a glimpse of it in the darkened club. I could also smell her. The light floral scent of a shampoo or lotion mixed with her own natural scent was earthy and delicious. Grinding my teeth harder, I forced that smell from my nose.

She flung her golden blonde hair over her shoulder, out of her face and my cock jerked. What’s wrong with me? Danny’s my Beta, my friend, and a nice kid. More importantly, Dahlia Sabin was off limits. Pat didn’t share and neither did I.

Look at him! Coddling her. Trying to keep her out of harm’s way. Standing in front of her like she was weak.

The Blushing Death didn’t need coddled. She wasn’t weak or submissive. By the sidelong glances and irritated tension in her shoulders, I knew she’d had enough. She ground her teeth and the muscles in her neck tightened, strained. The angrier she got, the more her scent filled my nose. I wanted to make her angry and watch those grey eyes flash with emotion.

She turned on Danny, her fingers twitching as she fought not to draw that knife. Danny gazed down at her with a boyish, carefree smile I envied. It had been a long time since I’d been carefree. The Pack had needed me. Janey had needed me. When she’d been killed,I thought I’d lose his mind. But . . . the Pack had needed me.

I glanced away. Janey was gone. This woman could never, would never be mine. No matter how much I wanted her. Something deep inside me hummed with satisfaction every time she was near and that scared the shit out of me.

“Dahlia!” Danny bellowed and my ears perked up.

She sailed across the room as if she’d been shot from a cannon. My heart stopped as her limp body slammed into the floor. I fought not to jump from the bar and run to her. Gripping the edge of the bar, I squeezed until the wood cracked beneath my fingers. She wasn’t mine. She would never be mine. I had to remember that or everything I’d built would come tumbling down.

Midnight Ash Book Cover
Midnight Ash Book Cover