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Indie Authors 20 Questions: Liz Borino


For this round of 20 Questions, we have a bit of a game to play with it! You heard me right! A game within m lil’ game 🙂 One lucky commenter will win one of Liz’s books! Yea! Now just how awesome is that? Make sure you comment and you’ll have a chance to win! Spread the word and come back often 🙂 One winner will be selected Sunday morning.

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Two days in a row at Starbucks I had conversations with strangers and both said “You aren’t like other people.” After I said, “Duh,” in my head, I smiled and said, “Thank you.” I am different and proud of it. I love Very Berry Hibiscus drinks at Starbucks, music, writing, my friends, family and my parents’ new dog, Sweetah.

2.) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been telling stories all my life, writing them down since I was 11.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?
I try to read in the M/M BDSM genre because I’m trying to learn something. Don’t worry as I’m not in the lifestyle, I’m doing other research, too.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?
The latest is Action. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, and AllRomance.com.

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.
Action shows the tests of love and life through Zack and Steve’s Dom/sub relationship.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?
I didn’t like the way other books in the genre portrayed the lifestyle. I was convinced it could be loving and consensual…which is what I believe is portrayed through these characters.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?
6 months.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?
It used to be that I just let it evolve, but now I submit a synopsis to my publisher first, so it has to be a little thought out.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
Point of view and pronouns (I write M/M).

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
Characterization. See, the boys live in my head constantly so I know them very well.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
I’m hoping it’s my characters. I set out to make them as human as possible.

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
Contemporary Los Angeles seems pretty fitting for an actor/director couple, don’t you think?

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?
Steve lost his father at 12, at which point his became a hippy, drugs, alcohol, and various men. So, he learned to take care of himself and her too early. It wasn’t a stretch, then, for him to become a Dominant in the BDSM scene. He makes rules out of love, and enforces them for the same reason. Zack, Steve’s partner and sub, grew up in a Mormon household. He thrives on the structure and love Steve provides.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.
Steve is the director of Ben’s Life, a hit television show in which Zack stars. For the first three years of production, they’re able to keep their relationship an open secret on set, but when a producer threatens to expose them, by demonstrating the proper way to handle Zack, their personal and professional lives are in jeopardy.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?
I have a list of platitudes: love is love, you should accept everyone regardless of lifestyle, those such things. But I really want readers to fall in love with my boys the way I have, and come back for more.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
Cutaway, Action’s sequel will be released in late September, That’s a Wrap, the third in the series in early December, and then comes Volume II of the series (another three books), to be released next year.

17.) Where can readers find you? Facebook, Action: Amazon AllRomance Amazon Author Page

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know?
I’m a morning person, I love the city, and—if there are any straight male readers—I’m single.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.
I love exploring cities and going to the theater.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

Action

Chapter 1

“Places, everyone!” Steve Michaels climbed into his director’s chair and waited while the cast and crew of the hit television show, Ben’s Life, got in their places either in front of the camera or behind it. “Quiet on the set.” Silence filled Studio B. “Lights, camera, and rolling in ten, nine, eight, seven, six,” he raised his hand and finished the countdown on his fingers. At the end of the descent to one, Steve pointed at the cameramen and then the actors, “Action,” he whispered.

Zack Greene strode into the spotlight, the ill-fitting clothes and thick glasses his character, Ben Miller, wore didn’t diminish his good looks or confidence. Before Zack even opened his mouth to say his lines, Steve was ready to call cut. Ben had none of Zack’s self-assurance, and while the differences made Ben fun for Zack to play, if he slipped too far into his real-life persona, the scenes were ruined.

Zack started the scene by sitting across a table from the woman his character, Ben, spent the better part of three seasons trying to seduce. “Sorry I’m late.”

“You don’t look sorry, which is interesting considering you’ve been asking me out for months.” Amy, the actress playing Melody, Ben’s love interest, squinted at him.

“I am very sorry. Let’s just order. Wine? I hear they have a great—”

“Cut! Zack, what the hell are you doing?” Steve screamed. Everyone gasped and then silenced.

“Did I get my lines wrong?”

“No, you got everything else possible wrong. Why is Ben late? What scene did we just finish shooting?” He took a deep breath to regain his composure. He knew Zack would mess it up as soon as he walked on the set, but this was worse than anticipated.

“He got startled by what he thought was a skunk, but turned out to be a black cat, slipped on mud, which caused his car door to shut with his keys inside. So, he had to wait for AAA to unlock the car. By the time they came and he changed his muddy clothes, the flower shop was closed so he couldn’t pick up her lilies,” he explained, as though it was Steve who forgot.

Steve gave a warning look, which Zack didn’t heed. His tone needed amending and fast, or there would be consequences. For now, he’d have to keep up appearances. “Great memory.” Snickering in the background. “What makes you think he’d come in with his head held high after his grand impressive plans got ruined over mistaken fear?”

A cocky smile appeared on Zack’s face. “He knows she’s going home with him. Why should he worry?” He pointed to the ever-present silver collar, which locked in the back and in the show gave him psychic power.

Finally, Steve found a way to break his mood. He met Zack’s eyes and reached into his pocket, where they both knew he kept the leash, giving the collar significance in private. “That prediction can always change based on actions. Don’t forget when Ben’s guaranteed promotion was foiled by his reaction during the fire drill.” Zack didn’t hear the words, as his eyes stayed on Steve’s hand in his pocket, which was fine. The words were for everyone else. “Can we try it again? From the beginning.” The assurance was gone from Zack’s demeanor, bringing out the depths of his talent. Sometimes, it was difficult to work with his long-time boyfriend, but Steve could control him like no one else. However, Zack had his days and Steve couldn’t let this one slide. After two more takes, both stemming from honest mistakes on peripheral characters’ parts, he called, “Good job, everyone. See you tomorrow, bright and early. Carlos, please try to get some rest. Make-up isn’t going to cover another night of bags under your eyes.”

Carlos Gonzalez, who played Ben’s best friend, Emilio, laughed. “When you can find someone to cover middle of the night feedings for Clarissa while Angie works nightshift, I’ll sleep through the night.”

“Are you done, yet, dude? This is what, number seven?” Zack asked as the rest of the cast and crew dissipated to their trailers to change.

“Not until we get a boy, esse.” He shrugged and grinned in their directions. “See you tomorrow.”

Zack watched him leave and shook his head. “What if they become the Puerto Rican Duggers?  They could have fifteen or twenty kids running around and still not get a boy, or worse, they have one and he sucks. Some kids are brats, or die in childhood, or…”

The rambling and distracting conversation betrayed his nervousness. Steve found the longer he kept Zack wondering about his punishment, the more effective it would be. “Kids aren’t the only brats around.” Zack winced and Steve continued, “I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Why don’t you change, and I’ll meet you at home? I have some things to finish up here. Might stop off at the store. Need anything?”

Zack sucked in a breath and looked around to ensure no one was in ear shot. “No, thank you, I’ll wait in position for you to return.” Resignation painted his features as he turned away.

Steve went to his office to look over the schedule for the next few days, and come down a little. Since he was young, Steve required quiet time after being around a lot of other people all day. He relished the quiet. So, why choose a profession in which he had to put himself out there constantly? Because from the moment he could hold a camera, Steve captured the stories in everything, at first through still photos and later video. It ignited the fire of life in his veins, but that didn’t mean it was easy all the time.

He and Zack met during auditions. At first, Steve regarded him as a spoiled brat who got everything from his looks. While they certainly didn’t hurt, underneath the bravado was a man in desperate need of love and guidance. On his best days, Zack was funny, hard-working, and charismatic. However, the worst brought out the need for discipline. At the beginning of their relationship, Zack not only agreed to let Steve take the lead, but asked for it. He wanted limits set and to be punished when they weren’t met. They both hated the terms Dom and sub, but, in reality, played the roles. No one outside their relationship knew, an intentional move on their part. A knock on his open door jolted Steve out of his thoughts.

Richard Glenn opened it further when Steve called him in. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“No, Rich, I’m just looking over the schedule for the next few days. I think we might need some extra hours.” He set the script down and gestured for Rich to take a seat across from him.

“You’re not talking about overtime, are you, Stevie?”

How he hated that name. Stevie.  Rich had been using it since they attended UCLA together more than a decade ago. It did no good to correct him. “Well, it’s important to get this episode right. It’s kind of a big one, with Ben and Melody finally becoming an item. Fans have been waiting three years for this.”

“And what do you think will happen if we give it to them?”

“I’m not following.”

“A lot of times it’s the tension between characters that keep people watching. Think about those sparkly vampire movies. Do you think anyone wanted the awkward girl to marry him and become one of them? All I ever heard was people complaining because they liked the werewolf better. The triangle, or tension, kept viewers interested.”

Steve glanced at the clock and tried to guess how much longer he’d have to sit here.. Zack was probably torturing himself wondering what was coming. “Those were books before they were movies. That plot point really couldn’t be altered. Besides, I think at least half of the fans wanted it to happen. In terms of this series, to stop Ben and Melody from getting together would throw off the rest of the season.” He bit his lip and continued, “What does that have to do with overtime, anyway?”

“Well, I just think we need to watch our spending. Certain people are very expensive to employ, you know. Perhaps the same people who require late nights?”

“With all due respect, we both know who carries this show. The ‘expensive’ people you refer to are the same ones who keep our ratings up and attract advertisers.” Steve wiped his hands on his jeans, determined not to let Rich see he rattled him.

“Yes, I’m well aware of the way the business works. I’ve been in it as long as you have.”

And I’m your boss, thought, but not spoken. “Then, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Why don’t you come in early tomorrow morning? We’ll discuss some new rules for the set. Say, 8:30?” Rich stood and offered his hand.

Since Rich presented no real choice, Steve shook his hand and said, “Sure, have a good night.”

“You, too, Stevie.”

“Dick,” Steve muttered, walking in the opposite direction.

*  * *

Zack’s nipples puckered as the fan blew over his naked body. He stood with his hands planted against the corner and lost track of how long he waited for Steve to return. He gave the power over in the beginning of their relationship because, well, he needed the discipline. Truth be told, he enjoyed it, as well. Zack was an out-of-control actor on the brink of losing his career for allowing his ego to affect his work when his agent sent him on a last ditch audition, Ben’s Life. He managed to get the role along with someone to love and take care of him. He trusted Steve to make decisions and rules for their lives, but he wasn’t looking forward to this punishment. Downstairs, the door opened. His partner greeted their cat, Timmy, and his footsteps ascended the stairs. Zack’s heart raced and his body shook as the bedroom door shut.

Behind him, Steve removed his belt, the metal clinking together as each hole passed. It landed on the bed with a thud. Zack swallowed when Steve attached the leash to his collar and led him to the bed. Steve took a full minute to inspect every crevice of his body. A smile formed on his lips, indicating to Zack that he was no longer angry. He’d never get spanked while his boyfriend was still upset.

“You may assume second position.” Steve sat and spread his legs slightly as Zack lowered his hips across his lap and fitted his penis between his parted knees, in case it hardened, as it usually did during punishments. Zack placed his hands and feet on opposite sides of Steve’s legs. When he was situated, Steve ran his hand over Zack’s ass and the other secured him at the waist. “Don’t move your hands from the floor and no speaking until I ask you a question.” He said the same thing every time. The routine and predictability helped reassure them both. All rules would be off in an instant if Zack said his safe word, but they stayed within their limits. Steve hit each cheek five times, rather lightly, to warm up his ass. Then, he stopped. “Zack, what are you being punished for?”

“Disrupting the final scene.”

“And?”

“And…talking back to you.”

A light crack between his two cheeks made Zack’s balls bounce between Steve’s thigh and his cock. “You let your ego get in the way of your performance, which as you know, hurts everyone. Now, how do you think you should be punished?” He rubbed circles over his warm, pinking skin, soon to be very red.

“Ten swats with your hand?” His voice trembled with fear and a little bit of hope.

“Ten is for first time offenses. Is this the first time your ego has taken over?”

“No…”

“What was that?”

Zack sighed and swallowed again. “No, it’s not the first time.”

“Then, you have a choice. Twenty swats with my hand and five with the belt or forty without the belt?” This was nowhere close to the first time they ran into problems with his ego. Steve continued rubbing and tapping. “Hurry up, or I’ll choose for you.”

“Forty,” he whispered to the carpet.

“I didn’t hear you, again. Speak to me, not the floor.” Steve swatted a bit harder.

“Forty,” Zack raised his voice. He’d choose almost any number of swats to using a belt or paddle, but Steve always offered the choice. It wasn’t the pain Zack avoided with foreign implements, because Steve wasn’t gentle with his hand. He craved the intimacy and love mixed with the pain of punishment.

“I want you to count out loud. Every time you ask me to stop for a break, five more are added.” With the back of his hand, Steve spread his legs further apart. His cock grew, making contact through the fabric of his jeans with Zack’s closest leg. Steve raised his hand and slapped one cheek, waited for the count and slapped the other, alternating between the two for the first twenty. Halfway done, he took a few seconds to rub the area as Zack trembled. The man over his lap tried hard not to whimper, but didn’t always succeed. Without warning, he raised his hand and began again, this time focusing on the sides and crack.

A fire built as Steve spanked Zack. The last ten were always the worst, not as if he’d ask him to stop. He deserved it and accepted the longer punishment. Tears welled in his eyes as Steve’s pace and strength increased. The initial sting flared to a burn, which singed any remnants of his overpowering ego. In its place, a mixture of serenity and arousal grew. He moved from the round mounds Zack worked so hard to keep firm to where his legs opened. The last ten were rained on his inner thighs and the crease between the top of his legs and ass. Steve’s hand smacked him across the sit spot on the last swat.

Zack bowed his head to catch his breath and came up on his knees to unfasten Steve’s jeans, having felt his hardness while lying on his lap. The arousal now quenched any other emotions. He licked his lips in anticipation of tasting his juices as he pulled Steve’s pants and briefs down and off. Zack met his eyes as he lowered his mouth until he breathed in pubic hair, gently squeezing the sac behind his manhood. His fingers bit into Steve’s hip and swirled his lips and tongue in different directions.

“Fuck, Zack…” He ran his hands over his blonde hair, fingers resting on his neck as his head bobbed.

Zack desperately wanted to stroke himself, but had to wait for permission. He withdrew his mouth as his lover’s body began to quake. A questioning heat simmered in his eyes as Zack turned around, his hands and knees on the bed. “I believe you gave me a directive. Go ahead.” He waited while Steve applied the lube.

Steve held onto Zack’s tender side with one hand and grasped his cock, stroking as he entered. They let out a moan as their bodies joined. He stopped Zack from rocking back. “You’ll hurt yourself.”

“Then, move, ow!” His ass received a slap for the command, but he couldn’t help himself. “Please?” The plea must have done it because Steve thrust into him. No, the continued contact on his soreness didn’t make it any easier to deal with. But with the eight inches inside him, tantalizing his core, and Steve jerking him off, he wasn’t going to complain. A few more minutes and Zack couldn’t catch his breath, the need too great. “Steve, please, can I come?”

“Yes, love, now you may.” He hardly finished the pump he was on when Zack released all over his hand and the sheets. Then, he collapsed on the wet spot as Steve shot his own load deep within him. Their orgasms were punctured with a gentle kiss that lasted until their hearts settled.

* * *

Steve rose from the bed after smoothing Zack’s hair. The loss of contact elicited a low groan, which Steve answered with another kiss. “I’ll be right back. Going to get us cleaned up. Don’t get up until I come back. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Zack complied, only moving enough to shift away from the wet spot. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, love. It’s over now. Let me take care of you.” Steve used the bathroom and wiped the last the lube off of himself with a wet washcloth. As he prepared one for Zack, he swallowed hard at the memory of the punishment. Steve was always fine with administering discipline—until his love started crying. Whenever it got to that point he wished Zack used his safe word to force him to stop because unless he did, Steve had to deliver what he promised. Those were the rules. He wrung the cloth out and left the bathroom.

As he passed the dresser, he considered throwing on pajama pants, or at least boxers, but decided against it. Zack needed as much skin to skin contact as possible for comfort. Steve took the damp cloth to the bed, and after grabbing the cooling massage gel, spread Zack’s legs apart. “You did so well. I’m very proud of you.” Steve separated the two cheeks and ran the cloth between them. Zack sucked in his breath through his teeth, the material agitating his raw skin. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“I’m okay,” he responded quietly.

Steve pressed his lips to Zack’s bottom, but pulled back quickly, mouth stinging as though he drank his coffee too soon. He squirted the cooling gel on his hands and rubbed it everywhere his hands touched during the discipline. Three layers on the redness later, Steve moved upwards and massaged his shoulders and back while kissing his hair and murmuring in his ear until Zack relaxed. “Can you lay facing me, love?”

Zack rolled on his side and turned his mouth up when Steve stretched out next to him. “I’ll change. Be better.”

Steve stroked his jaw and feathered a kiss to his lips. “I don’t ever want you to be anyone except the sweet, passionate and hardworking man you are. Your ego prevents other people from knowing him, which is criminal.” He hugged Zack close, smiling as the embrace was returned.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

Downstairs twenty minutes later, after a cool shared shower, Steve watched as Zack emptied the contents of the crock pot onto two plates. Zack placed one in front of him, his red bottom on display because he wore only a tee shirt. “Thanks, not sitting?”

Zack snorted a laugh. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to sit for makeup tomorrow.” He made Steve’s drink first, a Bloody Mary, with a little bit of lime mixed in. Then he sipped his Sprite.

“Tomorrow, right. I have a meeting with Rich at 8:30.” He rolled his eyes and absently stirred his drink.

“Yeah? What does old Dick want?” Zack took a bite of his carrot.

“Zack, watch yourself.” Steve narrowed his eyes, and his tone changed to one of warning.

“Why can’t I talk crap about him here?” He held his plate in his hands and leaned against the counter, eating faster than normal.

“Because you lack self-control. I don’t want you ranting on set tomorrow.”

“I’ve gotten better.” He swallowed his meat and took another bite.

“You’re right, you have. I don’t know what’s up with him, honestly. Other than his usual position of just being an asshole.” The alcohol infused tomato juice mixed with the softened meat and vegetables in his mouth. He relished the taste after his long day.

“Look, I’m not going to say anything to anyone. I just want to know what’s going on.”

Steve cracked his neck in a failed attempt to release the tension. “I don’t know. He was giving me shit for possibly staying late one night next week. Something about watching expenses? I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

“Is the show having budget problems?” Zack set his plate down and massaged Steve’s head, neck and shoulders.

Steve leaned into his touch and kissed his hands when he relaxed. “Not as of the last network meeting I attended.” He smiled to himself and tugged Zack down closer to him. Their lips pressed together. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Steve pushed his chair back and extended his arms. “Um, I’d rather not sit, if that’s okay.”

“Zack, I will never hurt you. Trust me.” All it took. Steve helped situate him so he sat sideways on the chair, his butt in the gap between Steve’s parted legs. They rested cheek to cheek, relishing the silence of the night. Steve held him tightly and they kissed slow and deep. “Listen to me, please. I don’t want you to worry about anything, especially Rich. I’m going to take care of it.”

“We’re a team. I need to be informed to do my part.”

“You will be. I promise.” He hoped the anxiety didn’t show. His boyfriend didn’t need the stress of knowing on whom Rich laid the blame. “Are you finished eating?”

“I kind of inhaled it. You?”

“Yeah. Why don’t we join Timmy upstairs?”

Zack eyed Steve’s plate and tilted his head to the side. “You finished your drink and barely ate. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, not really hungry, I guess.” He kissed away the concern and helped him stand. “We’ll clean up here and go to bed.” Steve used the last of his energy to infuse authority into his voice. Zack offered no argument.

 

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Indie Author’s 20 Questions: Laura Yirak


We’re gonna play another round of 20 questions! This weeks lucky hot seat warmer is Laura
Yirak and we’re about to get to know her better! Ready? Let’s Start!

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hey!!! I’m Laura Yirak, I’m an author. And I like to write and sip on my tea!

2.) How long have you been writing?

I have been officially writing since college, but I started with poetry and started a novel after I stopped my 7-7 job.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I like to The Week and keep up on my current events!

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

Delivered to Eternity and it’s on Amazon and  Smashwords!

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Here’s my blurb:  Alesta is a nurse with a secret. When babies start disappearing from her hospital, the police investigation implicates her. The police, however, are the least of her problems, as her past comes back alive. Such is the way with vampires.

Alexandria, Scotland has no idea what’s coming!

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

My inspiration came from my experiences in the ICU.  I saw many people die in this place of beginnings and endings and I took with me the concrete idea of what the ‘soul’ is!

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

It took me a year and a half, but I had many interruptions due to LIFE.  I have a new children’s series that will be out on Amazon soon!

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

I outline a couple chapters at a time and then let my ideas evolve as I write.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

I wish I had more time to do it as I have seven books lined up to do.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

The making of the novel to me is the easy part.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

My book is written in a Scottish brogue!

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

It’s set in Alexandria, Scotland.  I used to live in the town next to it and it’s set in current times with flashbacks to Alesta’s dark past.

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

Alesta is a 400 year old vampire.  She works as a nurse by night and also lives in a Bed & Breakfast Manor house.  She struggles with being a vampire as it was not her choice to be one.

In the early chapters of the book it flashes back to her violent past with her evil husband Alexander!

The story unfolds with this and her love interests!

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

Patrick works at the Manor House.  He has a secret crush on Alesta, but Alesta’s best friend, Monica likes Patrick.  How will it all turn out?

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

I go into great depths on the ‘soul’ and a new type of vampire I have created.  I want them to be entertained!

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

The next Alesta book is in the making!!!

17.) Where can readers find you?

http://dreamsofdiamondsauthor.blogspot.com/

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

I love cockatiels, I love ghost shows and I am 5’ 10”.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

I like to have friends over for dinner, see 3D flicks and hit the gym!

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?







Chapter 1

“Dr. Mooney, come to room 38 STAT!  Dr. Mooney, come to room 38 STAT!”

The man’s heart rate was 42 and
dropping, his blood pressure read 50/20.
Alesta ran over to the bedside cart and broke open a clear plastic container
labeled emergency drugs.  She pulled out
a bright yellow cartridge labeled atropine and ripped open the box; she went
over to Mr. Hastings’s IV, injected the drug quickly and cranked up his
oxygen.  His heart rate bounced back up
to 155, blood pressure 95/57.  The noise
of clamoring footsteps echoed up the hall.
Mary, the Matron Nurse appeared at the door.

“What happened?” Mary asked as she
turned on the bright hospital room fluorescent lights.

Alesta squinted while looking up at
the vital signs monitor, “I had to push atropine, his heart rate dropped.  It’s picked up again though.”

Dr. Mooney entered, looking at Mr.
Hastings, and then at Alesta “You called?”

“Yes, doctor, I pushed 1mg of
atropine, for a dropping heart rate in the low 30’s, his blood pressure was
unstable as well, in the 50’s.”

Dr. Mooney pulled out a pocket book
from his white doctor’s coat.  He was a
tall thin older man with rectangular silver specs and silver hair, “I will call
his wife and notify her of his change in condition.  What’s his CVP?”

“When I calibrated it, it was 12,”
Alesta replied.

“I’ll write the order for atropine
to cover you.  Otherwise, I’ll be out at
the computer station for a bit.  Also I’d
like an ECG on him and a set of cardiac enzymes.”  Dr. Mooney left, and Alesta dipped the window
blinds to the hallway, too many Nosey Nellys.

Mary walked over to Mr. Hastings
and grabbed his wrist, “His pulse is bounding now,” she said.  “I am going to give that OR admit to another
nurse Alesta just in case you are too busy in here.  I’ll leave your admit spot open, but if
another one comes or we get a code on the floors you will get it.”  Mary got supplies together to send the labs;
she drew up the blood from his IV, injected it into the tubes and filled out a
lab slip.  “I will send these off for
you.  By the way, what’s his code status?”
Mary asked as she washed her hands over the big metal sink.

“He’s treat all, no CPR.”

“Right!  For some reason I thought he was full code.”

Mr. Hastings opened his eyes, “What’s
going… on?”  His voice was weak, his face
red.

“Your heart rate dropped and you
received medication to bring it back up.
You may have had a heart attack; we are going to do an ECG to look at
your heart.  Are you having chest pain?”
Alesta asked.

Mr. Hastings sighed, “No, I feel
brilliant from the morphine you gave me earlier.  But I was in a deep, deep sleep.  I was having a horrid dream.  I was walking in the forest and it was dark,
very, very dark and I was lost.  I couldn’t
get out and there were branches in my face, scratching my face and I felt like
I couldn’t breath.  I am sooooo thirsty;
can I have some water please?”

“Sure, with ice?”

“Yes please, thanks.”

Alesta left the room and asked Dr.
Mooney if Hastings could have some water.
He agreed.  Alesta then called the
ECG tech to come do a read out.  They
would be up in five minutes.  She entered
the code to the medication room and got some water and ice out of the ice
machine.  Monica was back from break and
sitting next to Dr. Mooney at the station.
She was chatting away with him as she always did.  She was such a flirt sometimes, Alesta
thought.  Those red heads!  She could hear everything they were
saying.  She was asking him about his
next big vacation.  Cypress, a nice
island, but filled with Ukrainians.
Alesta passed by them.

“Alesta, how were my two when I was
gone?”

“Not a peep out of them, very
stable.”

“Great.  I heard you are not getting that admit after
all.  Lucky lass.”

The tech was already in the room,
he handed Alesta the results and she handed Mr. Hastings his water.  It read first degree heart block.  She went back out and gave the reading to Dr.
Mooney.

“As I suspected,” he said.  “His wife will be here in an hour with a
Priest.  I’m definitely not going to
transfer him out of the unit, too unstable, floors can’t handle this.”

The monitor began to alarm, red
lights flashing.  Dr. Mooney looked up;
Mr. Hastings was in asystole, his cardiac rhythm line flat.  They all ran into the room bumping into each
other.  Alesta could hear nothing, no
cracklings of breath, no pulsing of blood through his body, just the red alarm;
his fresh ice water had spilled all over the linens.

“Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.”

Dr.
Mooney walked over to Mr. Hastings and checked his pulse.

“Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.”

“He is gone……”

Everyone was silent.

“Time of death 2:30 AM.  I will get the paperwork together.  Poor Cindy.
She has just missed him.  I will
inform her when she arrives.  We don’t
want her driving upset.”  The doctor
stood for a minute quietly, gave Alesta a long glance, closed his eyes, and
then left the room.

Alesta waited, and shut off the
lights, her hair even blacker in the dark.
She turned the monitor off and waited.

The air became thick, tangible.  The soul began to stir.

“Help me!  Help me!”
It moaned and turned on its side reaching out to her, a transparent
shadowed version of the body with hollow eyes.

“Help me!  Help me!”
It wailed in fear.  “I don’t want
to die.  Help me, help me.”

Alesta stepped back.

“You are not dead, just the
physical remnants of your old self.”
Alesta looked at it and smiled.  “You
must go to the light, or you will be trapped.
Don’t look at me, I am nothing but death.  Do not come near me.”

Alesta transformed herself; normal
teeth slowly became fangs, sharp and bright ready to eat.

“FEAR THE DAMNED!”

She opened her mouth wide and let
out a quick hissing noise.  It echoed
through the room.  Her skin paled and her
deep blue eyes shined an even brighter blue, cold and fierce.  Her hair fell and moved as if a strong wind
swirled around her.
“Fear me…..  Stay away.”  Her voice pierced through the dark entity.

It sat
up and stared at her, its empty eyes, squinted closed a little as if it
understood and with a light breeze, it passed through the window to the
outside.  Alesta did not know what choice
it had made, just that it was gone.  It
had not selected her.  She would never
see the light, even if it had come.  This
was the price she had to pay for eternity.
She felt relieved that the soul had not come to her; such a choice would
provide an unimaginable power surge for her and a trapped soul.  Blood was sustaining but it was just the
essence, the soul gave her real power.
She had vowed never to take another human soul again after the last
time.

“Do it!”

“I can’t.”

“You
must.”

“No.  Please.
I get it.  I’ve seen you do
it.  It must be amazing.  It’s just the one thing I can’t do.”

“It’s
like nothing you have ever experienced.”

William
shoved Alesta off the young naked brunette, frail, thin.

“Don’t,
please, we don’t have to kill her.  You’re
fed, I’m fed.  Let’s just put her back
where we found her.  Have you not already
done enough to her father?  I think he’s
learned the lesson.”

“Stealing!  Never have I had any servants steal from
me.  Never will they do it again.”

He bent
over the girl and sunk his sharp long fangs into her soft white neck.

Alesta
walked over to the empty shell and closed Mr. Hastings’s eyes and mouth.  She disconnected the IVs and turned off the
pump.  She picked up the phone and called
admitting, informed them of time of death and ordered a death packet.  She would do nothing with the body until Cindy
was finished.  Alesta left the room to
complete her charting at the computer desk.

Monica
came out of the next room.  “I saw what
happened on the monitors.  That’s a
shame.  He was a nice man.  I worked with him a couple of weeks ago.  I will help you wrap him up later just let me
know.  How are you doing?”

“I am
doing okay.  It’s the wife I am concerned
about.  She’ll be here soon.”  Alesta typed away.  She signed her work and logged out of the
computer.

“So you were late again Alesta?”
Monica teased.  “What crisis at the
B&B before you left, or did Mitsy scare one of the guests again?”

“No my little kitty would do no
such thing.  Patrick has a handle on
everything.  I woke up late that’s
all.  You know how it is after a long
shift, it was hell last night.”

Monica distracted, thought of only
one thing, “Patrick…..Yes, we will all have to go out a night soon.  I’m off Friday.  Are you?” asked Monica, eagerly.

“Yes I am actually; tonight is my
last of three.  We could get together
just give me a ring tomorrow.  Anyways, I
have to get back in there.  I have to
tidy him up before Cindy arrives.  He
spilled water all over, he is completely soaked.”

Alesta went to the linen closet
across the hall.  She pulled out a fresh
green gown and fresh white top blankets.
She proceeded into the room and began to take off his wet gown.  She wiped up the excess water on his body
with some towels and tucked a pad under is bottom to hide the fecal matter that
leaked when he died.  She placed some
baby powder to cover the smell.  She
placed the new gown and applied the sheets over him, her phone rang.

“Hello, this is Alesta.”

“Yes, this is Mary, visitors for
Mr. Hastings?”

“No, not yet, can you tell them to
wait in the waiting room please.  Let
them know that the Doctor will be out to see them.”

“Yes, of course.”

Alesta paged Dr. Mooney to her
phone.  It rang a minute later.

“Hello.”

“This is Dr. Mooney, you paged me.”

“Yes, Cindy is here with the
Priest, they are out in the waiting room.
I had the Matron tell them that you would see them shortly.”

“Right then.  I will break the news and bring them back to
the room.”

“Yes, Dr. Mooney.”  Alesta looked around the room and cleaned up
a bit.  She hated this part.  Watching the family come back after their
loved one had died.  It was the pain of
it all.  Their eyes always looked as if
the world had ended and a deep suffering took the place of eyes that had once
been normal.  She sat by the window and
looked out.  It was still windy.  The trees moved gracefully in the wind,
intertwined, dancing.  She could hear
them through the glass.  Moonlit clouds
were building again.  The rain would
start up again soon.  She listened to the
footsteps approaching.

A small framed woman, with short
curly grey hair stood at the door.  Her
mascara was smeared and she held a cloth handkerchief with blue lace around the
edges.  Alesta could hear her rapid
breathing and pounding heart.  She could
smell the salt of her tears.  Cindy had
collected herself.  She approached the
bedside and felt her dead husband’s cool hand.
She fell to her knees and sobbed.
Her heart broke.  Alesta stood
beside her and placed her hand on Cindy’s shoulder, lightly squeezing.

“Mrs.  Hastings, I am so sorry for your loss.  Can I get you anything?”

“I would just like some time alone
with him.  If you would leave us please.”  Cindy swallowed hard and painfully.  Her throat was swollen with the immense pain
of it all.

“Yes, I will be outside if you need
me.”  Alesta left them alone.

The Priest was waiting in the
hall.  He was a tall healthy young man,
clean cut dark brown hair, blue eyes.  He
looked at Alesta and quickly looked away.
He felt a chill.  Alesta watched
him shudder.  Priests, she thought, good
people but were always uneasy around her.

“Hello Father Mac Namara.”  Alesta looked at him, but did not smile.  His white collar was bright against his black
garments.  He had a tan and was due a
shave, but who shaved in the middle of the night.  He gripped his red rosary beads tightly and
carried a brown leather bound bible.

“Hello, what is your name, may I
ask?”  He flashed a glance towards her
but couldn’t make eye contact.

“My name is Alesta.  I am Mr. Hastings’s nurse.  Cindy wants some time alone with him.”

“Yes, when she asks for me I will
go in.”  He awkwardly sat down at the
computer station and flipped through the pages of his book.

Alesta went to see if the death
packet had arrived.  She could see Dr.
Mooney up at the front desk.

“Dr. Mooney, How did it go?”

“As it
always does, such hard times for the loved ones.  It ills me every time I have to tell them.”

Cindy stood at the bedside, her
handkerchief was saturated.  She couldn’t
stop the tears.  Her sweet John was
gone.  She looked at his face, it was
pale, and she touched it, his skin felt like rubber.  My sweet, sweet John, she thought.

Her voice trembled softly, “I’m
sorry I left you.  I should have stayed
by your side.”

She walked over to the window and
looked out, it was raining lightly.  She
could see her John’s reflection, and the dim lit room behind her.  How could this be happening she thought?  Just a few months ago they were enjoying
afternoon tea together every day.  Cindy
would walk down to the High Street every morning and get fresh strawberry
tarts, and meringues with fresh cream for the two of them.  A flash of their wedding came to her mind,
the old chapel, the stain glass windows, and his young handsome face.  They got married immediately after his return
from the war.  They were young and happy,
filled with hope for the future.  They
had enjoyed many years together.  She
turned around and padded over to the door.
The Priest was sitting there reading his bible.

“Father, I am ready for you now.”

“Yes, it is time.”  Father Mac Namara got up and entered the room
and dimmed the lights.

Cindy stood by John’s head facing
the rain and the Father stood at the foot of the bed.  He opened his book and respectfully addressed
the dead.

“In the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  They both
motioned the sign of the cross over themselves and the Father began Viaticum.

After chatting with the doctor
Alesta stood outside the door of room 38 and listened, they were almost
finished with the ceremony.

“Through the holy mysteries of our
redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishment in this life and
in the life to come.”  The Priest spoke
solemnly, Cindy began to sob.  “May he
open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”

“Amen,” said Cindy.

“May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and
lead you to eternal life.”

“Amen,” wept Cindy.

“May the blessing of the almighty
God the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit come upon you and remain with
you forever.”

“Amen.”  Cindy lifted her eyes and glanced at Father
Mac Namara.  He pulled a small silver
bell from his pocket and rang it once.

“All who hear this pray for the
departed soul.”  The Priest placed a
wooden crucifix upon John’s chest.  He
pulled out a crystal vile from his pocket and carefully sprinkled holy water
over the body.  He handed Cindy a small
white candle.  She placed it at the foot
of his bed after pulling out his foot table.
She struck a match and lit it.
The smell of sulfur eased through the air.  The candle flickered, shadows scattered along
the walls.  There was peace.

Alesta let out a breath.  She had been holding it.  The damned could not pray, nor ever
pray.  They did not know she was out
there listening.  Would anyone say those
kind words for her if she was ever released?
Could they even be said for her?
It was not her choice to become a vampire, daughter of the night.

The Count flashed into her mind,
those hazel eyes, male lips, his locks of soft brown hair, and whisperings of
an everlasting love.  She wondered where
her master was and what he was doing.  It
had been his choice to deliver her and Alesta would do what she could to help
others, maybe then and only then, she would be redeemed.

Hands gripped her neck.

“S…..t…..o….p,” she choked out.

“You will finish her off.  Do as I tell you.”

He eased the grip a little, the
power surged through him.

“Never!”

He tightened up again, “You’ll
drink of her, but not the rest.  How can
you even begin to consider yourself a vampire?”

He spewed hot blood into her face,
her eyes covered, red blindness.

“You will!!!  If not today another!  I’ll see to it.  YOU WILL!”

Cindy and Father Mac Namara exited
room 38, Cindy came up to Alesta and took her hand, and she looked up into her
eyes.

“Thank
you for all of your help Alesta.  John
and I appreciated everything.  I don’t
see Monica around but tell her thanks as well.
I must go now.”  Cindy let go and
looked at the Priest.  “Father, thank you
for your kind words, I know that John is happy wherever he is.  I will see you at the funeral?  I would like it if you gave the sermon.”

“Yes,
of course, come by and see me tomorrow and I will help you with the
arrangements.”  He gave her a warm smile
and touched her shoulder.  She was so
very thin he thought.

Cindy left but Father Mac Namara
remained for a while.  He sat down at the
desk and wrote in his little notebook.
Alesta stood by wondering what it was he was writing.  He looked so focused and intent.  He was handsome for a Priest.  Not the type she pictured to be in the Priesthood.  She stood beside him and laid the death
packet on the counter.  She ripped open
the top and pulled out the paperwork.  It
had general questions, such as time of death, patient belongings, was the
family present, and minor details.  She
began to fill it out.  She could feel the
Priest watching her.  She looked over at
him and he quickly looked away.  The chill
came again.

“Is it cold in here or is it just
me?” he continued to write.

“Father, I think it’s just
you.  I feel warm.”  He smelled good too, she thought.

“Alesta, did Mr. Hastings say
anything before he died?”

“Well he spoke of a dream.  He was in the woods; there were branches in
his face.  He sounded scared.  Why?”

“I am just curious.  Working here, do you think people know when
they are going to die?”  He looked at
her, this time he held eye contact.

“I think some do and some do not.”  Alesta stared; she could seduce him very
easily.  She could feel it.  She had never tasted a Priest before.  She wondered if anything bad would happen.  She quickly put the thought away.  What was she thinking?  She was due for her top-up very soon.  Don’t let hunger get the best of you.  She disconnected from him.  He looked away, and abruptly stood up
brushing her arm with his.

“I must go now.”  He scurried away like a little mouse.

Alesta peeked into Monica’s room
and whispered.  “Monica are you in here?”  She got no reply.  She peeked into the next room down, “Monica,
where are you?”

There was still no reply.
Alesta stood quietly and tuned out the beeping and bongs of the monitors
she sifted through the voices in the rooms and around the critical care
ward.  AH HA!  I hear you, Alesta thought.

Alesta
headed towards the break room.  She could
hear Monica giggling.  She opened the
door.  The break room was small, with a
big round table in the middle of the room and an old refrigerator.  There was a view outside to the back of the
hospital.  The walls were scattered with
news bulletins and hospital announcements.
Monica was standing with an apple in her hand and smiling at Dr. Mooney
who was sitting with an open newspaper in his hands.

Monica freckles and all turned towards
her. “Alesta, there you are, I was a wee bit hungry.”

“Come
here.”  Alesta tugged on Monica’s arm.

“Would
you excuse me Dr. Mooney?” Monica said.

They exited the small break room
and Alesta pulled Monica into the corner.

“Monica!
What are you thinking, he’s married and isn’t he a bit old anyways.”  Alesta laughed.

“Oh come on you!  I saw you looking at the Priest.  You’re worse than I am.”  Monica giggled.

“Bloody hell then.  What will we do?”  Alesta shook her head.  “Come on now.
I’m off to break if anyone’s looking for me.  Right!”

“Yes, I better get back then.”  Monica took her last juicy bite.

“Trouble maker!!!!!”  Alesta teased just wishing to enjoy that
apple.

“Okay, enjoy your break.  I’ll help you when you get back.”

Alesta walked down the hall towards
the double doors.  Mary was planted at
her desk as usual.  She had short brown
hair in a bob cut, pink skin, lightly wrinkled.
She never took holidays.  She didn’t
walk around much unless there was an emergency of some kind.  Alesta gave Mary a nod and pressed the silver
button to open the automatic doors out.
The elevators were ahead but she took the stairs instead.  Alesta descended down to the morgue and
through the underground maze.  The lights
on nightshift were dimmed to save electricity.
There was only the glow of the green exit signs pointing the way
out.  The dungeons of St. Michaels
Hospital held the morgue, the lab and the blood bank, a perfect place.

Rule number one she often reminded
herself; don’t eat the patients.  Tonight
she would have packaged red blood cells, not as tasty and as fresh but did the
trick.  The blood bank was inside the
lab.  She cloaked herself so that no one
could see her.  Invisibility was one of
her gifts, passed onto her from the Count.
She pushed on the door to the lab which slammed behind her.

“Jesus!  That door scares the piss out of me.”  Jeff, the lab tech looked up almost dropping
the test tubes in his hand.

“Yes, me tae.  Sometimes I think this place is haunted.  Have you noticed that it only does it at
certain times and not every day?  I keep
forgetting to ask engineering to look at it.
Still this hospital is old.  I don’t
even know how old.  The morgue creeps me
out the most, the smell.  One time I was
walking down the hall and one of the transporters was pushing a dead body down
the hall.  As I passed a grey arm fell
out from under the sheets,” added Steve the other lab tech, sitting in a black
high-backed computer chair.

“Don’t remind me mate.  Sometimes I don’t think we get paid
enough.  Am bettin on the lotto!” said
Jeff.  He placed the lab tubes in a
holder with many others.

Alesta watched them from the
corner.  She knocked over a glass that
was on the counter next to her.  Steve
and Jeff jumped and both of them burst out laughing.

“See what I told you Jeff, they are
listening to us.”  Steve placed his hands
behind his blonde head.

“Enough of this talk; let’s get
back to it now.  Turn on the radio would
you?  It’s way too quiet and you’re a
right bore.”  Jeff walked over to the
tube system and pulled out the next set of labs to be done.

“I’m a bore…..you…..och aye…..”

Alesta continued through the lab,
music playing too loud.  Those two are so
much fun to bug she thought.  Processing
machines sat all over that would conduct different lab tests.  The equipment was worth millions.  At the other side of the lab were more double
doors that lead to the blood refrigerators.
She passed through them quietly as to not alert the lab techs.

She opened the refrigerator doors to
the blood that was to be discarded.  The
hospital only kept large amounts of O negative blood in house, the universal
donor to be used in case of emergencies.
If a patient needed blood and it was not an emergency it was ordered and
then stored in another refrigerator.  The
units ultimately expired and from these piles, Alesta would feast.  The techs discarded the blood at the end of
the shift in biowaste and didn’t pay much attention to it once it was expired,
before then a careful log was taken for the fresh units.  Blood was very hard to come by at times
because willing donations were low.

Alesta took out a couple of cold
350cc units and warmed them between her hands.
She pulled off the rubber cap on the end of the unit and began to
squeeze out the thick blood.  She couldn’t
gulp it down fast enough.  Her lips
reddened, her cheeks blushed, and her breasts heaved.  A drop spilled off her ivory white fang and
hit the floor.  It was heaven in a
bag.  She had a couple more units and
then decided that was enough.

The music droned away behind her as
she left the lab, and passed the morgue, on the way to the stairwell.  She had another five minutes left on break
and made her way out and back to the main building, another quick twelve
flights up and she was on the roof.  The
rain had stopped, just a cold, crisp wind, the lustrous full moon in shades of
blue.  She walked to the edge.  Tiny lights of little houses scattered the
dark horizon.  She looked to the west,
trees covered the lowland hills.  Through
there was her domain.  To the east lay
the town of Alexandria, it would be quiet on a Wednesday night.  The odd car passed through the High
Street.  She turned and went back down
the stairwell with no echo of her footsteps.

Alesta re-entered the ward.  She looked at Mary, still sitting there,
writing on her clipboard.

“Alesta, I need you to take this
form and read it, sign it, then give it back to me please.”  Mary handed her a half pink piece of paper.

“What is it?”  Alesta asked.

“It’s the new hospital policy on
infant abduction,” Mary replied.  “Oh and
take one to Monica too.”

Alesta looked at the document.  It read:

St.
Michael’s Medical Center

Infant
Abduction Protocol

Effective
April 1st

In the event of an infant
abduction:

“Code
Pink” will alarm over head.

Be
on guard of all exit signs on your unit.

If
you encounter abductor try to block but avoid self harm.

Call
hospital operator to alert of location, number 888.

Get
good description of abductor.

Sign_________________________________    Date________________

Alesta looked down to the end of
the hall; Monica was standing looking at the monitors while pulling her long
red hair back.  She walked towards her
and handed her the pink sheet.

As Monica read it she sighed, “So
we have to let the bastard pass, with the baby.
I understand but it would be so hard to not try and stop him
somehow.  The hospital doesn’t want to
pay for us if we become injured.  Though,
I think it would be worth it to save a baby.”

“I agree with you,” Alesta said as
she signed the paper, “but do you really picture Mary up there getting off her
arse and doing something.  I know she’s
good with codes and patients.”

Monica looked concerned, “Alesta,
Mary can move it.  I’ve seen her in
action.  I know you’re mad at her for scolding
you about being late, but she’s the Matron for a reason.  Anyways, these abductions rarely happen, once
every ten years and we just had that one last month, so we’re covered, no
worries there.”  She signed her
slip.  “Give me yours and I’ll hand it
in.”

“It happened a month ago and we’re
just now getting this pink slip.  Takes
them a while to get things done aye?” Alesta asked.

“A month is fast.  Did they catch the person who took the baby?”

“I don’t think so, but I haven’t
kept up on the news.  I don’t watch much
television, just too busy here and too busy at the Manor.”

Alesta went back to her computer
station and pulled out the body coverings for Mr. Hastings from the death
pack.  There were two shrouds, the white
inner one and the black outer one.  It
was always a tricky task wrapping up a body.
That is why she needed the help.
She pulled them out and went into the room.  She made sure that the body was completely
disconnected from all of the electronics in the room.  It was amazing how man had designed so many
machines to support one life.  It was no
wonder that people only lived into their 30’s and 40’s back in her earlier
days.  The most expensive medical costs
of a human’s life are racked up in their last few months, although she was an
exception, immortality, priceless to some.
If only they spent that much on preventative measures.  She heard Monica coming up the hall with the
metal morgue gurney.  One of the wheels
squeaked away.  Monica had a way about
her; she walked as though she had not a care in the world.  Her footsteps were light and never too
hurried.  It was a good demeanor to have
when working in such a stressful environment.

Monica entered the dark room.  It was very quiet.  “Hey!
You ready?” she whispered.

“Yes.”  Alesta looked at her through the dark.  Cindy’s small candle had burned out.

“Alesta, why do you always work
with the lights off?  If you keep it up
you’ll need glasses,” Monica whispered quietly while flipping on the
lights.  She helped Alesta place the
white shroud next to the body.  “Here, I
got you a blue gown.”  She tossed it at
her and they put them on.

“Monica, you know, he can’t hear
us, and I like the dark.  There’s
absolutely nothing wrong with it.”  They
both put on gloves.

Alesta had known Monica for a few
years now.  They had become good friends
through their nursing work.  It was
easier to bond with people when you worked in extreme circumstances, through
shared woes.  Monica was predictable and
Alesta liked that about her.  She was
such a tease, she found it amusing.

“You haven’t tagged him yet.”  Monica frowned.

Alesta
pulled out a sheet of name stickers from his chart.  She pulled one off at a time and placed them
onto three tags.  She took the tags and
carefully tied one on his right big toe.
She crossed his arms like a mummy over the wooden cross on his chest and
tied his wrists together with string.
She tied the second tag next.

“There!”  Alesta proclaimed.  “He’s a wee bit stiff getting.”

They
turned him, on his side and Alesta tucked the white shroud under him.

“Ahh!”  Monica griped.

There was a SPLAT on the floor.

“The bile is coming out, quick turn him back.”

He
flopped back on his back, arms limp and Alesta pulled him towards her.  Monica pulled out the other side of the
shroud and they pulled it over his cold body and emotionless face.  Alesta zipped it up over him.  Alesta placed the final tag on top of the
body.  Monica tilted him again and they
rolled him into a big black plastic body bag.
One final zip and they were done.
They paged over head for more help to move him onto the stretcher.  Mary came in as well as one of the hospital
assistants.

“Alesta,
can you help around the unit when you are all finished with this.  I had to give the circulating nurse that
admit you were going to get.  It turned
out as I expected.  That nurse has been
soooo busy tonight.  She might need some
help catching up.”  Mary looked at Alesta
and pushed the tartan frames back up on her nose.

“Yes of
course,” Alesta replied.

They
placed a sliding board underneath the body, pushed the stretcher up next to the
bed and slid the body to the stretcher in unison.  It landed with a metal clang.  Mary and the assistant washed their hands and
left the room.

“Do you
want me to go down to the dungeons with you?”
Monica wiggled her fingers, “Real scary down there.  OOOOOOOO.”

“No, I
will be fine.  I have taken enough of
your time as it is.”

“Well
okay, it’s nice to escape sometimes.  I’m
off!  I’ll see you when you get back;
stop by my room aye.”  Monica pulled off
her blue gown, which made the hairs of her pony tale stand up from static.  She gave Alesta that big old smile and
returned to the computer station.

Alesta
left her gown and gloves on and pushed the heavy metal gurney out of the room
and into the hall.  She gathered all the
paperwork and placed it on top of the long black body bag.  Nurses looked at her as she passed them.  It was always interesting when someone
died.  They chattered amongst themselves
and reminisced about that day they had with Hastings and the look on Cindy’s
face when she went home.  She passed Mary
as she hit the metal button to open the automatic doors out.  She squeaked over to the elevator.  It took skills to maneuver the heavy
gurneys.  Alesta did it without bumping
into a single thing.  The doors opened
and she pressed B.  This particular
elevator was the bariatric elevator.  The
populations’ waistbands had expanded so much that hospitals needed special
elevators to fit them into.  Mr. Hastings
luckily wasn’t too big; Alesta liked the space to move around.  It continued down to the maze and the doors
opened with a ding.  She got a gust of
cold air in her face as she pushed the gurney out.  The trip went quick and she pressed another
automatic button to the morgue doors.  It
was dark, with a small fluorescent bulb flickering in the far corner.

She could feel the dead, her
roommates.  The morgue is a great place
to sleep.  First of all it is quiet and
your neighbors are dead.  Alesta found it
almost as comfortable to sleep in as her coffin just lacking a little in
softness and warmth, but it saved a drive home from work and a drive back to
work after a very busy shift.  Her
secluded space was never used as the morgue keeper couldn’t reach it.  Height was not his strength and neither was
sociability.  The dead all lay in their
metal coffins, lined up in the walls, some placed on tables, waiting to be
dissected for autopsy.  No souls swam in
that room.

“Hello?” Alesta called out.  “Is anyone here?”

She listened quietly.  There was movement coming from the back
corner office.  The door opened and an
old thin grey haired man stood holding a cup of tea in his hand.  He was wearing a long white lab coat with a
tanned stain down the front.

“You’re
supposed to buzz the bell outside.  You
scared me.  Ah well, my tea was getting
cold anyways.  What can I do for you?”  He sounded as if he had just woken up.

“I have
a delivery.”  Alesta looked at him, his
name badge read Jim.

“Ah
yes, a fresh one for me to work on.  Did
the wife okay for autopsy?” he asked.

“No,
she did not want to know the details; she already knew that he had cancer.”  Alesta picked up the paperwork and handed it
to him.  He reached a wrinkled hand up
and took them.  His nails were yellow and
clubbed from smoking too much.

“Right
then if you could push him over here I will need your assistance placing him in
the fridge.”

They
pushed the gurney over to the metal wall where all the bodies were stored.  He pulled open an empty one.  The nasty old rot smell wafted into the
room.  Alesta peeked in.  There were old bodily fluids on the bottom of
the wall container.  Jim went and got a
mechanical lift and hooked chains up to the body bag.

“Now I
am going to lift him up and I need you to pull the gurney away,” Jim said.

His
pressed a green button and the body lifted into the air.  He pushed it over the sliding metal table and
lowered the body slowly onto it.

“It
looks as though you wrapped this one up well, I hate cleaning up after them
when the funeral home comes to get them.”
Jim smiled at Alesta.  She did not
smile back, she just stared off.

The
girl was dead, her soul taken.  Alesta
had wrapped her up in a woolen blanket and walked the moors.

The
Pete bog wanted to suck them both down and Alesta even considered it but she
kept trekking through, all muddy and all bloody, the moon her only
witness.  The little wooden shamble of a
cottage stood peeking out of the mist.
She laid the body down at the front doorstep and laid a Scottish thistle
upon her chest.

She
laid her head down upon the girl and quietly spoke, “I never even knew your
name.  Forgive us for what we have done.”

“Hello?  You there?”

“Ah…..Where do you want this then?”
Alesta asked.

“Just
stuff it over by that empty wall there, thanks!”

She pushed the squeaking gurney
over to the wall and hit the button to exit the morgue.

“Have a
good rest of your morning,” Jim said.

“You
too!”

Alesta left listening to a loud
clang as Jim pushed Mr. Hastings into the wall of the dead.  Goodbye, she thought to herself.  She thought of Jim and reminded herself.  Rule number two, don’t eat your co-workers.

The
next couple of hours went quickly for her.
She answered the calls of other nurses for help and aided in the night
time linen changes and patient baths.
Weights had to be done in the morning for most accurate results.  The ward was full.  It would be a busy day for the day
shifters.  She popped her head into the
room where her canceled admit was; she could smell fresh blood.  Alesta put on some gloves and a mask.  Dr. Mooney was inserting a very long needle
into the patient’s wrist.

“Ahhh!
Alesta, how are you?”  The doctor never
raised his eyes.  “Can you hand me the
arterial line tubing?  The other nurse
had to step out for a minute to get more sedation.”  The sound of the breathing machine clicked
away in the background.

“Sure, there you are.”  Alesta handed it to him and he connected the
two together.  “Why didn’t he have one
placed in the OR if he was critical?” she asked.

“Well
he did.  Someone wasn’t paying attention
when they let down his rails earlier and it came out,” Dr. Mooney replied.

Alesta
looked down; there was blood all over the floor under the bed.  It had not been completely wiped up.  The other nurse appeared in the room.  She walked quickly over to the IV pump and spiked
the new bottle of propofol.  There were
blood stains on her white tennis shoes.

“Joan,
do you need any help?”  Alesta looked at
her; she was disheveled as if she had been running for hours.

“I need
a holiday!  Mexico?  Seriously though, I’m fine, thanks for
helping out while I was gone, I just need to chart that’s all and then I’m
caught up.”  Joan began to pick up after
the doctor.  He was washing up.

Alesta
picked up the mess Dr. Mooney had left on the bed and tossed it in the red
biowaste container.

“Call
me if you change your mind.  I’ve got
fifteen minutes before I head home.  I
don’t have to give report to the next shift.”
Alesta unmasked and washed her hands next.  The doctor had already left.  She followed after him.  She walked over to Monica’s room.  Monica was sitting at the computer station
powdering her nose.

“Would
you like a mint?” Monica asked.

“Ah, no
thanks.  So what did you have in mind for
Friday?”  Alesta sat next to her and
pulled up the internet.

“Let’s
go doon the toon, the High Street!” Monica said.  Her face was perfect.

“We
could…..or we could go to Glasgow and I’ll show you and Patrick some great
places, with great atmosphere,” said Alesta.

“Ask
Patrick, will he be there when you get in?” asked Monica.

“You
know him; he’s always there when I get home.
He takes great care of everything.
He’s interviewing a new employee today for me.  He asked for extra help around the B&B
while he’s taking extra classes at the university.”  Alesta looked at her watch; it was almost
time to go.

“Is it
anyone I know?” Monica asked in a disinterested tone.

“Judy
something, um, man…..I’m tired,” Alesta said.
“She used to work at the chapel shop, but business has been bad for the
church lately.  That’s all I know.”

An
alarm sounded on the monitor over head.

“I‘ve
got to go suction now, that’s all I have been doing all shift.”  Monica made a huff sound and got up.  “I will call you later, or tomorrow.”

“Aye,
it’ll be fun!”

Alesta headed off to the locker
room.  She opened the locker room door
and looked in.  There was no one there
and it was very quiet, the next shift was in report.  She removed her shoes and placed them in her
locker.  She tossed her dirty green
scrubs into the laundry basket.  She
walked around in her white lacy bra and matching underwear and stretched, then
went over to the bathroom mirror and looked at her reflection.  Alesta did not appear that tired and her
cheeks were rosy pink.  Her bun was a bit
messy from the wind outside earlier and all the running around.

There was time for a quick
shower.  A few towels sat by in a cabinet
by the shower stalls, but they were always so scanty.  She removed her underwear and hung them on a
hook across from her stall.  She undid
her hair and stepped into the white tile lined stall, and pushed on the water.  It was cold to start but warmed up
quickly.  The hospital had great
heating.  Steam billowed out.  She washed her long hair with the all purpose
soap provided and the rest of her smooth skin.
She stood and let the water rinse work away down the drain.

The rain came hard and cold.  Alesta looked up to the dark grey sky and let
water rinse away all the blood.  She
stood in the same spot for almost an hour till she felt an inkling to even move
again.

The Manor was lit low and she
entered.

William sat by the fire, “I want a
painting done.  I’m going to hang it
right there.  Now just look at the sight
of you, your dress. Where have you been?”

“No where.”

“Well.  What do you think?”

“About what?”

“My painting?”

Alesta
gave no answer.

 

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Indie Author’s 20 Questions: Shéa MacLeod


This week I have the funny, and wonderful Shéa MacLeod! She recently published her first novel and it’s doing an amazing job running up the ranks!

Join me in pinning her down for another round of 20 Questions!








1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m an author of urban fantasy post-apocalyptic scifi paranormal romances with a twist of steampunk.  I’m originally from Portland, Oregon, but now live in London (The one in England, NOT the one in Texas.).  I’m addicted to chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow fluff.  My life does not exist without coffee.  And lots of it.

2.) How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a crayon.  I’ve been writing novels for the last 17 years and seriously writing with a view to publishing for probably the last 3 years.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

My favorite genre to read is definitely what I write, but I enjoy reading loads of different genres.  I cut my reading eyeteeth on Agatha Christie, so I’m a big mystery fan.  Love thrillers.  Some comedy and romance, and, of course, books on the craft.  That’s the writing craft, not witchcraft (though I’ve read that for research purposes).

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

Kissed by Darkness is the first book in my urban fantasy series the Sunwalker Saga.  It can be found on Amazon (US, UK and DE) or on Smashwords.  The second book in the series, Kissed by Fire, will be out next month.

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.


You’re getting blood on my carpet.  Again.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

I used to watch Buffy religiously.  Of course, I was a little older (20s) and I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have something like this, but more adult?  And maybe mix it up with a private investigation firm which investigated paranormal crimes?  That sort of bubbled around in my brain for years before morphing into something that resembled a real story.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

Oh, boy, that’s a tough one because I honestly can’t recall when I first started seeing the glimmer of the idea.  But from the time I first put pen to paper … one year.  One year to write the first draft and do a majority of the rewrites.  But then I wasn’t working on it every day.  More here and there as I had time or the spirit moved.  Once I decided to self publish it took about two months.  That was for final rewrites and edits and having it professionally polished, etc.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

By the time I sit down to write, the story is pretty clear in my head.  Or at least the intro and the end.  So, that’s what I write.  No planning, just freestyle.  Once I’ve done that, I can usually see ahead a couple more chapters.  So I write those.  Once I have the first three or four chapters written, I do need to plot, so I write and outline.  By then I’ve got at least some notion where the story is headed (or rather, how to get it from the beginning to the end) and it starts flowing pretty well.  The process of writing the outline is very free flowing since the outline is generally just a few sentences.  It’s more of a guideline rather than an Absolute Plan.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?


Making the story long enough.  I know it sounds weird since a lot of writers struggle not to write really long books, but my novels usually end up less than 50k words in the first draft.  I write very spare, sometimes too much.  And I sometimes forget to tie up a thread.  But that’s where my awesome critique partners, beta readers, and editor come in.  They point those things out, ask the questions, and then I go back and tie up the loose ends, answer the questions.  By the time that gets done I’ve got a really tight novel and another 10k – 20k words.  I’m okay with that as I’m not interested in writing long novels.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

It sounds so arrogant to say, but I find it comes quite naturally to me to create characters that are realistic.  Probably because most of them are based on real people. Lol!  I don’t like to be overly descriptive, but I also enjoy throwing in little details of ordinary, everyday life.  I think it keeps things real.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

My voice and the voice of my characters.  Also, I’ve given a slightly unique twist to the Atlantis myth. 

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

The setting is Portland, Oregon (modern day).  I needed a city, since it’s an urban fantasy, and Portland’s my hometown.  That made it comfortable and easy for me to write about without having to focus too hard on getting the details right.  Plus it just felt … natural.  

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

My main character, Morgan Bailey, was an ordinary, average American woman living and working in London.  Until a vampire killed her.  Except Morgan didn’t stay dead.  Nor did she turn into a vampire.  She did end up being a little stronger and faster than normal so she was recruited as a Vampire Hunter by Kabita Jones.

Kabita Jones is Morgan’s boss and best friend.  She was born in Malaysia (her mother’s family is from India, her father is English), but lived in London most of her life.  She is from a long line of hunters.  Her specialty is demons.  She’s also a natural born Witch.  She opened up shop in Portland when the US government offered her a lot of money to hunt vampires and demons Stateside.

Inigo Jones is Kabita’s cousin on her father’s side.  He’s clairvoyant and a tasty treat, as far as Morgan is concerned.  Unfortunately, he’s way too young for her (She’s got hang-ups, what can I say?).

Jackson Keel is a 900 year old Templar Knight.  That’s right.  900 years old.  But he’s NOT a vampire. The deliciously mysterious Jack is yet another tasty treat (Can’t have too many.), but also a major pain in Morgan’s backside.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

Danger is always on the menu for Morgan Bailey, a sexy and street-smart Vampire Hunter, who prowls the dark underworld of Portland, Oregon tracking creatures of the night. Morgan’s never met a vampire she couldn’t dust or a demon she couldn’t kill until she’s hired to destroy a new kind of mystical threat: the Sunwalker.

A powerful immortal once believed myth, the Sunwalker carries with him an ancient secret which, if left unchecked, will destroy Morgan’s world. Pursued by a passionate Templar Knight and the target of the local vampire clans, an ancient power is awakened within her, unlike anything she’s ever known. Morgan must uncover the truth behind her mission and about herself, before the Darkness lurking inside swallows her whole.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

I just want them to have fun.  There’s nothing deeper to it than that.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

There will be six total books in the Sunwalker Saga.  Kissed by Darkness is available now.  Kissed by Fire and Kissed by Smoke will be published in August 2011 and December 2011 respectively.  I hope to have the remaining three books available in 2012.

17.) Where can readers find you?

Readers can find me on my blog: sheamacleod.wordpress.com  I always keep the blog updated with news of my releases and where they can be purchased as well as other fun and random bloggy goodness.  Information on the books specifically is here: sheamacleod.wordpress.com/books

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

I am a huge sci-fi geek.  Star Trek, Star Wars, BSG, Firefly, Farscape, The Twilight Zone… need I go on?

I’m nuts about really old Roman stuff.  Well, really old stuff, period.  Anywhere I travel in Europe, you can be sure I’ll be hauling butt to the nearest Roman ruins.

I’m actually an excellent shot with a rifle.  I say this not with pride at killing anything (I haven’t.) or to proclaim my status as a member of the NRA (I’m not.), but to point out I’m an excellent person to have around in a zombie apocalypse.  (Just remember that when the food runs low.)

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

I read.  A lot.  I watch a lot of telly.  And I dance.  Mostly Brazilian dances like forro’ or samba.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?




Chapter One

 

 

 

 

“You’re dripping blood on my carpet.  Again.”  The voice was as expressionless as the face.  Only a slight glint behind deep brown eyes betrayed the fact that Kabita Jones, my boss and best friend, was extremely peeved.

I could sort of see her point.  Last time she’d had to replace the carpet.  This time the blood only went up to my elbows and it was mostly dry already.  There were just a couple of drips.  It wasn’t like she couldn’t get the place steam cleaned.

“That’s what you get for calling me in right after a hunt.”  I dropped into one of the two chairs in front of her massive mahogany desk.  She scowled at me.  She didn’t like me getting blood all over her fake leather chairs, either.  Bad for business, having a client sit down in a pool of vampire blood.

“Here.”  She tossed me a box of wet wipes, only semi-effective for cleaning blood off things, but certainly better than nothing.  I grabbed a wipe and scrubbed at my arm.  That’s when I noticed a few drops of blood in my cleavage.  Gross.

Kabita leaned back in her chair. “How do you like weird?”

As though killing vampires and demon spawn and other creepy crawlies for a living was normal.  I tried to raise an eyebrow at her, but I was no Mr. Spock; both went up.  “Define weird.”

“Weird.  As in: ‘up your alley’ weird.”

Ah, she meant blood suckers.  Nightwalkers.  Minions of Darkness.  Otherwise known as vampires.  Right. 

Except for Kabita and me, vampires weren’t weird.  They’re normal, everyday stuff.  Or maybe I should say every-night stuff.  It was like saying that baking bread was a weird job for a baker. 

Kabita ran a private investigation firm which specialized in hunting down things the government liked to pretend didn’t exist.  Creatures that would give most normal people nightmares.  The government paid us decent money to track and kill the monsters while maintaining a cover as private investigators that did nothing more exciting than investigate cheating spouses.  We got excitement and fortune, if not fame.  The government got plausible deniability.  We all went home happy.

 “And how is this weirder than any other ‘up my alley’ case?” I asked as I cleaned off the last of the blood.

She pushed a file gingerly across the desk.  Despite being one of the best demon spawn hunters in the business, Kabita found vampires extremely distasteful, not to mention creepy.  Go figure. “It’s not an ordinary vamp,” she said.  “It’s a Sunwalker.”

I checked to make sure my jaw wasn’t lying on her desk.  Nope, still attached to my face.  “A Sunwalker?  You’re kidding, right?”

“Our new client wants us to hunt this Sunwalker and kill him, but more importantly, he wants us to retrieve something the Sunwalker stole from his family.  He’ll fill you in on the details.  You’re to meet him at this address.” She shoved a piece of paper across at me while carefully tucking a strand of long, ink black hair behind her ear. 

Despite edging on forty, she didn’t have a single strand of gray.  I hadn’t quite hit thirty yet, twenty-nine to be exact, but I hoped I looked half as good as she did at forty.  I had my doubts.  My job wasn’t exactly the kind that kept one young.

I shook my head. “This is insane.  A Sunwalker?  As in vampires who can walk in sunlight?  You do know they’re not real, right?  Sunwalkers are just a myth.”

She gave me a look.  She was good at “the look.”  “Excuse me, oh Great Slayer of Vampires, but you don’t have a choice.  Not if you want to keep your job.” 

Which I did, and she knew it.  There’s something so immensely satisfying about going to work and hacking someone or something’s head off.  They didn’t usually let you do that at, say, the pharmaceutical company or the post office, even if that someone really deserved it.  They kind of frowned on it, actually.  I also got to wear jeans and really cool kick-ass boots every day. 

Truth was, though, Kabita knew I loved a good challenge.  She wasn’t just my boss, she was also my friend and would never give me anything I couldn’t handle, no matter how much I bitched and moaned about an assignment.  I was damn good at killing vamps.  A Sunwalker would just be a little more … tricky.  Not only were they not supposed to exist, but how were you supposed to find a vampire that could walk around in daylight?  Heck, he probably even had a nice tan.

“Jesus, Kabita.  What have you gotten me into this time?” It was rhetorical and accompanied by an eye roll.  I snatched the paper off the desk.  “Fine.  I’ll meet him after I take a shower.”

“Good idea.” 

I just glared at her.  Sarcastic witch.

Her return smile was annoyingly beatific.

***

I crossed my legs and leaned back in my chair, trying desperately not to look like I wanted to crawl out of my skin.  Kabita must not have met our new client in person.  He was giving me the heebie-jeebies big time.  Granted, when it came to humans, my Spidey senses weren’t so accurate, but seriously, there was something a little off with this guy.

The room we were meeting in was all dark wood paneling and big leather chairs, plush wine-red carpet and even plusher drapes.  All very manly.  All very overbearing.  And the client?  Well, he was just as bad.

Sure he was good looking and suave.  Definitely suave, but in a creepy Julian Sands kind of way.  Like you wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy hanging out with royals or schmoozing with the rest of the rich and powerful, but you sure wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley.  He made my skin itch.

Then again, maybe I was wrong.  After all, Kabita had vetted the guy and Kabita was never wrong.  If she met him in person.  Dear gods, I hoped she met him in person.

So, Mr. ah …” Not Sands.  Bloody hell, what was it?  I snuck a glance at the file. “Mr. Darroch.  How can I help you exactly?”

He gave me what I could only interpret as a smarmy smile.  I hated smarmy.  Made me feel like I needed a shower.  “Please, Ms. Bailey, call me Brent.”  I tried not to wince.  Ever since my brief flirtation with college, I’d hated the name Brent.  Long story, but let’s just say … ew.

“Right.” I forced a smile. “Brent.  How can I help you?  I hear you have a slight problem with a Sunwalker?”  I couldn’t quite keep the disbelief out of my voice.

He quirked a smile at that.  Not so smarmy this time.  In fact, he seemed genuinely amused. “I know.  Sounds insane, doesn’t it?  Rich businessman chasing after a mythical Sunwalker.” He leaned forward earnestly.  I was surprised.  He did earnest pretty well.  “Then again, until a few years ago, you believed vampires and lycanthropes and demons were pure fiction.” 

He had a point.  Once upon a time, we’d all thought the monsters that dwelt among us were just a myth, but that had changed, at least for those of us who’d been sworn to protect the rest of our kind.  No one knew that better than me.

“Sunwalkers are real, Ms. Bailey.  Or at least one of them is real.”  He leaned back and steepled his fingers together in an excellent Dr. Evil impression.

“Excuse me?  Did you say one?  As in there is one Sunwalker?”  Images of the Highlander flooded my mind.  There can be only one.  I really had to stop watching so much TV.  My mother was right; it was rotting my brain. 

Darroch nodded. “Yes.  According to legend, there were more, once upon a time.  Dozens of Sunwalkers lived among us, if not hundreds.  Now there is just one left.”

How did he know that?  “And what does this Sunwalker have to do with this object you want us to retrieve?”

“The object is a family heirloom.  A necklace.  Not particularly valuable except, perhaps, to collectors of the arcane.” 

My ears perked up.  “The arcane?”  Oh, juicy.  I did love a good magical twist.  Kept things interesting.

He nodded.  “According to family legend, the necklace was created by an ancestor of mine who dabbled in the magic arts.  He created the necklace, a simple amulet on a chain, as a sort of ward with magical symbols and so on.  I don’t know if it ever held any real magic, but it certainly doesn’t now.  However, it might be of interest to a collector or a museum as a curiosity more than anything.”

I always found it interesting when a client was willing to kill to get back an object he claimed had[LD3]  no value.  Frankly, that’s just not normal.  In my experience, the object usually had a great deal of value to someone, somewhere, otherwise killing someone for it wasn’t worth the risk.  Granted, in this case, it was a Sunwalker he wanted me to kill, so there wasn’t exactly any risk involved.  At least not to Brent Darroch.

“About 20 years ago,” Darroch continued, “this particular Sunwalker stole the necklace.  I believe he thought it would give him some sort of power.” He laughed, but the laugh sounded forced.  “I’ll bet he was surprised to find it a useless hunk of metal.  In any case, it has sentimental value and I want it back.” 

His eyes bored into me like twin icicles.  I forced back a shiver.  “I also want you to destroy this Sunwalker.  He is extremely dangerous.  One is bad enough, but should he begin to perpetuate his kind again, the world as we know it will be destroyed as it almost was once before.”

I’d no doubt he was right about that.  I could just imagine the havoc an army of Sunwalkers could wreak on humanity.  Humanity wreaked enough havoc on itself; it didn’t need any help from the undead.  Besides which, part of our purview was to hunt and kill any and all supernatural creatures who posed a threat to humanity.  Vampires were certainly in that category and, I imagined, so were Sunwalkers, being of the same ilk and all that.

“All right, Mr. … Brent.  I’ll see what I can do.  Have you any idea where the Sunwalker is now?  How I can find him?”

He wrote something on a sticky note and handed it to me.  It was a name: Cordelia Nightwing.  “You can find this woman in a night club called Fringe.  Maybe she can help you.  Go carefully, Ms. Bailey.”  He leaned back gracefully, his leather chair creaking slightly, and steepled his fingers together again.  Boy, he had the Doctor Evil thing down pat.

“I always do.”  I glanced down at the name on the note.  Please don’t let her be another nutter.

***

Since nightclubs in Portland didn’t open until late, I decided to call it a day and head home for some much deserved sleep.  First, I wanted to drop in on Kabita’s cousin, Inigo Jones. 

Inigo’s a clairvoyant, or something of that nature, and into all kinds of weird stuff.  Well, I was sure it wasn’t because of his clairvoyance that he was into weird stuff, but more because he was just, well, weird.  Not to mention hot.  But I tried not to think about that.  After all, he was Kabita’s cousin and I was pretty sure there was something in the Best Friend Rules that stated that best friends couldn’t date each other’s cousins.  Even if there wasn’t, the guy was like twenty or something. Practically a kid.  A really hot kid, but a kid none the less.

Granted, twenty was only a few years younger than my own twenty-nine, but I felt a lot older than my years most of the time.  The job sort of did that to you.

“Get your hormones under control, girl,” I muttered under my breath before pressing the button for the doorbell.  It had obviously been way too long since I’d had a boyfriend.

Three rings later, Inigo stood in the open doorway wearing a pair of red silk pajama bottoms and nothing else.  His shoulder length gold and taffy hair was artfully tousled (damn him) and his usually brilliant blue eyes were heavy lidded with sleep. 

He bared his teeth at me, and not in a nice way.  “Whaddya want?” came out more a growl than a question.  The growl did things to my libido that I’d rather not think about.  I barely refrained from clenching my thighs together. 

“Sorry to wake you, Sleeping Beauty.” I stepped past him into the dim living room which was just a touch too warm for my taste. “But I need your help with a little project.”

“At,” he hesitated and squinted at the wall clock hanging above the television, its arms glowing faintly in the darkness, “ten in the morning?”

“Sorry, but Kabita’s got me working for this new client.  He wants me to kill a Sunwalker.”

Inigo blinked.  “Uh-huh.”

“You see anything?”  I didn’t mean in the physical sense.

He shook his head. “Nah.  Not before coffee.  And I’m not drinking any ‘cause I’m going back to bed the minute you leave.  Which will be … ?”

“Soon,” I assured him. I crossed my arms under my chest and gave my already impressive cleavage a subtle boost.  Oh, I was such a bad girl.  “I just need your help tonight.  There’s this woman, Cordelia Nightwing.  She works at some club called Fringe.  You know it?”

He grinned, his eyes on my chest.  He knew exactly what I was doing.   “Yeah, I know it.”

“I take it that this is one of those weirdo clubs with mermaids swimming in fish tanks or something like that.”

He tilted his head as he laughed and the sun streaming through the open door picked out the gold in his hair. “Yeah, something like that.”

Down, libido, down.  “Well, this Cordelia is supposed to know something.  Something that will help me track the Sunwalker I’m hunting.  So, can you help me out?  Go to the club with me, find this Cordelia chick and find out what she knows?”

“Yeah, sure, if you promise to leave me in peace and let me sleep.  Unless you want to join me?” His grin was pure naughtiness.

I rolled my eyes at him.  “As if.  OK, I’ll pick you up at ten tonight.  I’ve got another hunt.  I’ll try and get it done before then.”  I headed for the door.

“Make it midnight,” he called.  “The weirdos never come out before then.”

I tossed him a look over my shoulder. “Obviously.”


*     *     *     *     *
I want to thank Shéa for playing along! She’s a wonderful guest to have and I hope to have her back again in the future 🙂
Melissa
 

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Indie Author’s 20 Questions: Dannielle Blanchard


Here we go for another round of 20 Questions!  Danielle Blanchard Benson is a world traveler and currently a university student earning her degree in Creative Writing with a Minor in Specialized Languages (French). She has written The Beautiful People Series, which will be released in eight separate volumes. The Proposal: Book One & The Hook Up: Book Two are currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords (coming soon to all ebook retail outlets including Apple and Sony). Both novellas will also be available in paperback on CreateSpace by the first week of June, 2011.

So come on and join me in putting her to the questions!

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, I was born in California and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in a small suburb 29 miles south of San Francisco called Mountain View. My family is originally from the south (Louisiana and Mississippi to be specific) but both my parents spent the vast majority of their life on the west coast. I have lived in Southern California (both the San Fernando Valley and West L.A.) for six years. I currently reside in Las Vegas and have been a resident for the past seven years.

2.) How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first story in second grade. I spent most of my junior high years writing poetry. I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen. It was about a young woman who realizes her family isn’t what she thinks and her whole life is a lie. The catch: it takes place in Germany during World War II. I ended up creating a saga and a sequel which dealt with the family descendants during the current years in Germany (current being the late 1990s when I wrote the sequel).

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I don’t have a preferred genre per se. My first novels were read for junior high and high school (as I went to Catholic school, the reading list was quite advanced). The first major author I read for fun was V.C. Andrews Doppelganger series followed by her Casteel series and My Sweet Audrina. Anyone who is a V.C. Andrews fan knows she died while writing the Casteel series so only the first two books were written by her and the rest crafted by a “carefully selected author” her family hired. My second foray into reading for fun was Jackie Collins. I read The World Is Full Of Married Men when I was fourteen. I was a “bad girl”, so to speak and always preferred authors who wrote more for adults than children and there was some YA back then but it isn’t the genre it is now. My favorite authors nowadays are James Patterson, Stieg Larsson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz (his older work), Anne Rice and Jackie Collins (her earlier work).
4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

Actually, it’s a series titled The Beautiful People and it is broken down into eight volumes. I have published the first three: The Proposal, The Hook Up and Heartbreaks & Lust Aches. It can be found on all the usual suspect sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords). The first two novellas also available in paperback version on Createspace (the third should be available the first week in July).

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

The entertainment industry during a particular time in the 00s with very interesting characters.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

From reading Jackie Collins and living in L.A. It’s hard to not write if you live in an interesting city like L.A. or Paris or New York (London, Tokyo… I could go on). It is such a contradiction in terms. Women and men obsessed about their looks and body while doing and trying everything it takes to be “in shape”. People who are very shallow and smile in your face yet will stab you in the back. I found it one of the most interesting places I have ever lived.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

A long time. I began writing the book in 1998 and finished it in 2001. I updated it shortly afterwards and did the rounds of trying to find an agent. I shelved it and life moves on as it always does. I took it off the shelf and begin to make the rounds again late last year. Then, I read on one of my favorite blogs in late April how one of the bloggers best friends had self-published on Amazon. Until then, I didn’t even know it could be done! I quickly began to get my book prepared and published the first book in the series in late April.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

I am definitely an outline person. That is why I can predict so well about when my next novella series will come out (next year in 2012). I have a complete outline for the whole book. It is just the opportunity to actually sit down and finish it as it is about a 3rd of the way completed. It won’t be as many volumes as The Beautiful People series. I think I will reduce Murder, Inc: The Pop Stars Series to four juicy volumes!

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

I am sometimes overly descriptive and I struggle when doing dialogue. Not the actual dialogue itself but the words after. I hate to use words like “said”, “replied”, “responded” over and over again. I try to be very creative and actually make the reader feel like they are a fly on the wall; privy to a private conversation they shouldn’t be listening to and that is a challenge but a very satisfying and challenging one.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

I can run on at the mouth: both in person and on paper. I have a hard time writing “short” books and I suppose this can also be viewed as a flaw. Sometimes I don’t know when to quit but then again, I am an SK fan and all his really long novels (with the exception of It) are my favorites!

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

My unique voice and point of view. Some people might feel like my book is a bit politically correct because I have characters that span the color scope. I don’t mean to be P.C. because it isn’t the type of person I am. Mainly, I wanted to write a book that this generation would understand. I have two children, both of mixed ethnic descent (I am ethnically mixed myself) and I feel that too many books still write as if the world is merely black and white. I try to include all types because that is life in all of its glory. I have met good and bad people in every color and walk of life. I try for this to come across in my books. So, I suppose my book is extremely multi-cultural but I certainly hope that isn’t a bad thing!

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

The location of my story is Southern California (Los Angeles County to specific) and the place/time is the early 00s. I chose this time because that is when I wrote it and also, I couldn’t update it to fit today’s Hollywood and entertainment industry because it is a very different place then it was just ten years ago.

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

Oh wow. Well, that was supposedly a fault of mine: too many main characters as there are eleven of them. I make it a bit easier on the reader because they are all so closely intermingled that you don’t feel like you have to be reminded who they are. They are all extremely complex people (whether they appear to be at first or not). There is a mixture of men and women as I enjoy writing both points of view. They are all under forty and over the age of twenty-one. I feel like their age shows through when you hear them speak and interact with one another and they are very much real and three dimensional. In terms of their back stories, the reader is well informed and learns many of their secrets before the end of the series.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

Well, my book is about the entertainment industry when it was still controlled by actors, actresses, directors, producers and studios. There are no celebrity characters who just there for the sake of being a celebrity. This is before the whole reality television craze so no one is known just because they were on a Survivor-type show or Jersey Shore.

It is about people who are the entertainment business because that is what they want to do or that is all they know how to do: that is act and star in movies or television shows. I don’t want to say it was a more innocent time because Hollywood has never been innocent but I do believe it was a more interesting time.

No offense but I don’t really care about what Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton wore last night to the opening of an envelope. They are vacuous women who have done nothing other than have famous last names and a bit of money and all the sudden they are celebrities? I just don’t understand that and I never will.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

I want them (especially all the “bad” teenagers) to understand that the entertainment industry wasn’t always like it is now. There was a time when people actually wanted to make movies, when people had great ideas for films and television programs. I also want them to realize that some of the best movies and T.V. shows, even now, are ironically based upon books. Harry Potter, The Twilight series, True Blood, Sex & The City, et cetera. I would hate to think what the television and movie execs would do if books suddenly stopped being written. Most of the best ideas have come from them as it seems like original screenplays are almost a thing of the past.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

Oh, it’s a series. I’m on book three and there are five more books to go.

17.) Where can readers find you?

I have my own blog: The Beautiful People, A Writer’s Journey: http://thebeautifulpeopleawritersjourney.blogspot.com/ Links to my books and book trailers can be found there. The blog really is about my everyday life, my trials and tribulations. I have so much fun writing my blog and I think it is a great way for people to keep informed about what is going on in my life. I am also on Twitter (vegasgyrl007) too.

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

I love to travel, I am extremely claustrophobic and I am afraid of heights.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

I love to travel. Seriously, I try to get away at least every six months. The last year, I have been to Europe three times and although I am not sure I will be able to make it this far in December, I am thinking about maybe staying a week in Quebec as I have never been there and would love to go to the French-speaking region of Canada. I have been to Canada (Vancouver) and it is such a beautiful country with very friendly people.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

Prologue

*Summer, 2002*

Two major events took place on a beautiful summer day in Los Angeles.

Most people felt the day was too perfect as the temperature hovered at eighty-seven degrees and the smog seemed to have left the city for the day.

Both events were star-studded and unforgettable.

The first was a funeral.

The second was the premiere of one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Most people in the know said it was the premiere of the most anticipated film of the decade.

Many of the same people who attended the funeral also attended the premiere, held later that evening when everyone would be in better spirits.

Of course, every person who attended the funeral and the premiere wore different designer outfits to each occasion.

              

 

 

 

 

 

Now if you want to read more, you’ll just have to check out her website and find all her links! Go on, you know you want to know more about all these Beautiful People!

Melissa

 

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