Snippet Saturday

Part 1Part 2, Part 3

After his meeting with Morgan, Sebastian headed to a local bar called Superstitions. It was the most popular bar that catered to the supernatural sect, which made it a great place to network and meet contacts. Humans “in the know” mingled with demons, vampires, and other creatures of the night, and Sebastian often met clients there during the course of a job.

It wasn’t crowded when Sebastian arrived. He went to the bar, took an empty stool, and ordered his usual, a Scotch, neat.  He had to feed later in order to break it down.

He’d only been there a few minutes before Rob, the owner, appeared.

“Hey, Seb, how ya doing?”  He leaned against the bar next to Sebastian.

Sebastian swallowed the sip he’d taken. “Good. In the market.”

“Ancient weapons? Books? Talismans?” He blinked his red-orange eyes, slitted pupils elongating, showing his interest.

“A book. The Magic of Music. It’s supposedly very old and rare.”

“Who’s the client?”

“His name is Tristan Clearwater. He says he overheard his father talking about it when he was younger and is interested in finding it.”

Rob pursed his lips and leaned against the bar. He scratched a horn nearly hidden by bleached blond hair. “I know an elf that deals with magic books. His name’s Uni. Reclusive, though, doesn’t like new people.”

“How does he stay in business, then?”

 Rob shook his head. “He barely scrapes by.”

“Can you pass on my information?” Sebastian asked.

“Sure. You could also try Raquel. She’s mostly talismans, but it wouldn’t hurt to check her out.”

Sebastian nodded. “I thought about her. And Abrax. He got me a book once a few years ago. I was going to call him tomorrow.”

Rob raised an eyebrow. “And, of course, there’s always Jezbeth. They’re pricey, but…”

He made a face. “No. I’m not entirely comfortable with their practices. The last time I worked with them, they stole my client and got them addicted to demon blood. Client eventually died. Only got half my fee, too.”

“Spreading lies about my company again?” a new voice said.

Sebastian sighed and turned.

Ash Hartley was standing there, his usual smirk in place.

“It’s not a lie if it happened,” Sebastian said.

“It is when your information is wrong. Alex got addicted to dragon scales, not demon blood. And it was hardly our fault.”

“You took Alex to the party!”

“And they chose to try the dragon scales!”

“With your partner’s encouragement.”

“It was still their choice.” Ash shrugged. “My partner told Alex how addictive it was, but they wanted to try anyway. Not our fault.”

Sebastian lifted his drink to his mouth. “Still stole my client.”

Ash came to the bar, body close. Closer than necessary, in Sebastian’s opinion. The human smelled like soap and expensive cologne. It made Sebastian’s stomach tighten. While Ash wasn’t as breathtakingly beautiful as Tristan Clearwater, he was still unfairly handsome with big green eyes, long dark lashes, and sandy blond hair that had a slight curl. He was an itch that Sebastian refused to scratch, and the little bastard knew it. Hence the standing just a bit closer than he needed to.

“Well,” Ash said, “that’s just business. What are you looking for now.”

“Like I’d tell you.” Even if he wasn’t afraid of his client being stolen, he felt reluctant to expose Tristan to Jezbeth Incorporated. If Tristan was as powerful as he seemed to be, the company would find a way to exploit it. Exploit him. Sebastian didn’t want that on his conscience.”

“Ah, come on.” Ash smiled innocently. Well, as innocently as someone like him could. “You seal in blood now. We can’t steal your client.”

“You’d find a way, I’m sure.”

He flashed his dimples. “Your confidence in me is flattering.”

Sebastian snorted darkly. 

“Fine. But I bet I could find what you’re looking for. I’ve got an extensive network and resources you could only dream of. You have no idea how vast our network is.”

“I have some.” He downed his Scotch and turned to Rob. “Please pass my name to Uni. And if you hear anything…”

“I’ll let you know.” Rob nodded.“Thanks. See you.” He tossed his money on the bar and left.

Snippet Saturday

Part 1, Part 2

Sebastian followed Morgan’s human assistant, Anne, to Morgan’s study a mere ten minutes after he’d arrived. He’d honestly expected to be told to make an appointment and come back another time. One didn’t just drop in on the de-facto leader of the Faithful. Or, one wasn’t supposed to. Sebastian did when he needed to see her. She’d only turned him away a few times.

Sebastian was on uncertain terms with the Faithful. He’d been made by one over a hundred years ago and had followed their rules for many years. Honestly, he still did, for the most part. He didn’t kill humans when he fed, unless they were bad–murderers, rapists, pedophiles–or they really pissed him off.

But, the Faithful… They were just so sanctimonious. And boring. They were in a sort of perpetual mourning state for their creator who’d been killed a few years before Sebastian was made. Before she’d died, she’d proclaimed she’d return, and so the Faithful were just waiting for her to come back. If she ever did.

The Faithful were all about rules and rituals and worship and Sebastian had never believed in God as a human. And while he was grateful to Kali for miracuously rising from death as a vampire and starting a new race, he wasn’t going to start worshiping her memory.

Anne stopped in front of Morgan’s study and turned. “I don’t know how long she’ll be able to talk with you,” she said with an easy smile. “She’s not super busy tonight, but things always can come up.”

“I understand. Thanks for letting me see her at all.”

She laughed. “I run her schedule, but this was all her. I think she was intrigued that LA’s most famous neutral came her see her.” She pushed the door open and waved him in.

He rolled his eyes at the description as he walked by her. There were plenty of neutral vampires in LA. He was hardly famous.

Morgan was sitting at her desk, typing. When he came in, she looked up and smiled. “Sebastian.” She rose and walked around the desk. “So nice to see you,” she said, holding out a hand.

He took it and shook it gently. Despite himself, he always felt a little tongue-tied around Morgan at first. It wasn’t her looks, although she was beautiful with long dark hair, big brown eyes, and long lashes. If she hadn’t been the second vampire ever created, he might have tried to take her to bed. But she was the second vampire ever and that sort of intimidated him. Kali was an abstract concept; Morgan was reality.

“Morgan. Thanks for seeing me.”

She smiled and gestured at a couple chair set up in front of the desk. He took one and she sat across from him, tucking one ankle behind the other. “What can I do for you?”

“I have a couple things. First, do you know anything about Michael Clearwater? He’s a member of the Society.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Not much. For awhile, he was trying to gain power and made some traction. Then, it all fella part for him, and now he’s a fairly obscure member.”

“Any idea why?”

“Not really.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t generally worry about the Society. Why?”

“His son came to me and asked me to find something for him. It occured to me that it could be a trap.”

“His son?”

“Tristan Clearwater. He’s looking for a book called The Magic of Music. Which is the other thing I wanted to ask you about.”


She tapped her fingers against her chin, eyes distant. After a moment, she shook her head. “I don’t know that I’ve heard of it. I doubt it’s in our collection, but I’ll ask Anne. She’s got a better idea of what we have, at least in the house. Is it urgent?”

Sebastian shrugged. “I get the sense it is, but Tristan isn’t exactly being forthcoming on why. He says he only wants to understand the theory, but it’s obvious he’s lying about something. And, he’s powerful.”

“Really? How powerful?”

“I’m not sure exactly, but I could taste the power in his blood.” Sebastian swallowed, thinking of the tingling he’d experienced. “It’s nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It made my mouth tingle. That ever happen to you?”

She shook her head. “No. I could taste some power in Anne, but nothing that made my mouth tingle. Are you sure it wasn’t something else? Lust? Compatibility?”

“Now, it was power. He wants it to seem like his interest is purely academic, although he admitted he was interested in gaining some control. It’s more than that, though. I’m sure of it.”

Morgan frowned. “What control does he need? Does he want to become more powerful or less?”

Sebastian pursed his lips, thinking. That was something he hadn’t considered. What if Tristan was lying not because he didn’t want Sebastian to think he wanted more power, but because he had the power and wanted less? What if he was as powerful as Sebastian sensed and it was overwhelming him?

“If it’s the latter, it’d be better to get the book into his hands sooner than later,” Sebastian said. “The last thing we need is for him to accidentally blow up Los Angeles because he can’t control what he has.”

Morgan moved her head from side to side. “That kind of innate power is very rare. But, you’re right. Do you know where he works? I can send Anne to meet him. See how powerful he really is.”

Sebastian gave her the address of Tristan’s workplace. “And you’ll check around for the book?”

“Yes. If we really have a violate warlock…”

“He says he’s not a warlock. He’s got magic, but says he can only do a few things.”

Morgan leaned forward. “Yes, but musical magic isn’t based on spells. It taps into a deeper power and teaches the magic user to channel his energy. For it to work, the user must have a connection with that magic already. The magic is a tool to draw it out.” She tapped her fingers on her knee. “Actually, if he uses magic as a focus, he might not even be a warlock.”

“What might he be?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “But warlocks usually need spells. Music is different.”

“Anne’s a witch, isn’t she?”

“Yes, but she’s still studying. Her magic is spell based. If his isn’t, if it’s something else, we can’t let him run around untrained. We need to know.”

Sebastian shifted. “You think his father sent him?”

“Perhaps,” she answered, sitting back. “It could be Michael Clearwater is hoping to climb the ranks once more by disrupting our society in America. But, it’s equally likely that Tristan left on his own and came here to distance himself from his father.”

“Why?

She shook her head. “I don’t know. Generally, while the Society is against the supernatural, they aren’t technically averse to using and training warlocks. If Tristan is powerful, he’d be coveted, not spurned. So, without knowing Tristan and his story, I couldn’t say.” She leaned forward. “Proceed with caution, Sebastian. You are dealing with the child of a vampire-hate group. Try to find the book, but be careful.”

“I’m not planning on becoming his best friend. He’s just a client.”

“One whose blood you’ve drunk. And whose blood is infused with power. That can be addictive.”

He rolled his eyes. “I’ll be careful.” Sebastian stood. “Thank you for your time, Morgan.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Snippet Saturday – Vampires and Sorcerers

I still have no title for this novel, but it will come to me eventually.

Part 1

Sebastian spent the next few hours researching Tristan Clearwater. It wasn’t something he normally did, researching his clients, but Tristan intrigued him.

It wasn’t easy. A cursory search turned up almost nothing. Tristan had almost no social media presence. No Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, LinkedIn. Not even a dating profile, at least not on any of the usual sites. He did have a Facebook page, but he hadn’t posted anything in years, and even that was only a picture of the ocean.

Still. Sebastian had been alive too long to be stumped by Google. He started digging deeper, getting more targeted with his search, and searching the Dark Web for what he could find. It took some digging, but Sebastian finally began to unearth information.

Tristan had been born in London, April 25, 1994. His parents were Michael and Aileen Clearwater, mother deceased. Tristan had done well in school and had gone to Cabridge. However, he’d left before he’d finished. His employment history was sparse. He’d worked in a few offices in London before moving to America. Now, he was temping at a small law firm in Santa Monica and attending night classes through a local community college. Mostly, it seemed, he was living off a sizable trust fund which, Sebastian assumed, was how he was planning on paying for the book.

Curious, he turned to Tristan’s family and was glad he did when he discovered that Tristan’s father was a member of the Society  for the Protection of Humans Against the Supernatural, or Society for short.

His lip curled in distaste. Although the Society had little presence in America, Sebastian had run-ins with them while living overseas. They were, as the name suggested, dedicated to the protection of the human race. Which sounded noble, of course, except it meant they were prejudiced against vampires, demons, the Fair Folk, and anyone else who wasn’t human. They didn’t even like the Faithful, the vampires who followed a code of ethics that had been in place since the death of Jesus. Code or not, they were undead and, therefore, evil. 

Sebastian wondered how the son of such a man had come to seek him out. If maybe this was all an elaborate ploy. He’d have to confront Tristan and see.

In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to look for the book like he’d been hired to do. If anything, he’d find it and have a valuable book for his collection if Tristan turned out not to be what he appeared.

Comments? Let me know what you think below!

Snippet Saturday

I’m changing it up for Snippet Saturday. This comes from my current WIP which is untitled (I just call it Vampires and Sorcerers right now). It’s set before the novel I was posting, Dark Goddess, which means I have to overhaul that one to include more characters from this one so they fit together better. Anyway, it’s a gay paranormal romance set in modern times. Enjoy!

Chapter One

Tristan Clearwater was a beautiful man. Dark brown hair set against pale skin, gray-blue eyes that almost looked silver when they caught the light, a lush mouth with a full bottom lip. Really, it was ridiculous how beautiful he was, and, sitting behind his desk, twirling a pen between his fingers, Sebastian was so distracted by Tristan’s beauty, he almost missed what Tristan said.

No. Not almost. He had missed what was said, a fact he only realized when the silence became pronounced and a look of uncertainty came into Tristan’s eyes.

Sebastian cleared his throat and dropped the pen on the desk with a muted clatter. He shifted in his seat and sat up straighter. “I’m sorry, what?”

“It’s a book,” Tristan said. He seemed to glow in the dim light of Sebastian’s shabby office, which was filled with old books and dusty statues and talismans that were waiting to be picked up by clients. Normally, Sebastian thought his office cozy; Tristan made the faded edges obvious.

“What’s it called?” Sebastian picked up the pen again and sat, poised to take notes.

The Magic of Music. It’s about…”

“The magical powers of music?” Sebastian said dryly.

Tristan nodded. “The convergence of the two, the theory behind it, and some rudimentary lessons. It’s very rare, you see. Only a few copies left in existence.”

“Do you know who wrote it?”

His face fell. “No.” He shook his head. “I only ever heard of it. Overheard, really. My father and teachers discussed it a few times, in hushed tones, in the other room.”

Sebastian lifted his eyebrow. “Your father?”

“Yes. I studied magical music theory as a child. My interest has been… piqued again recently.” He smiled, but it was forced and wan.

Sebastian scribbled a few lines on the paper, and then said, “Let me guess. You’re interested in increasing your fortune. Or seeking fame.”

Tristan shook his head.

“Trying to get a girl?” At Tristan’s wry look, he amended, “A guy?”

A smile curled the edges of Tristan’s lips, and he looked down at his hands, then up almost coyly. “Nothing like that.” Then, the coyness dropped away and he straightened his shoulders. “I can do magic. A little. Music helps me control it.”

“You’re a warlock?”

His eyes widened in almost a panic. “No, nothing like that. Nothing that formal. I don’t want to overstate my abilities. Merely… lighting a candle, conjuring an object. Nothing grand.”

Sebastian nodded and made another line on his notepad. “So, you’re looking to become stronger.”

“No!” He swallowed and took a breath. “No. I seek only to understand the theory and gain a modicum of control. That’s all.”

Bullshit. But Sebastian didn’t say it out loud. Even if he couldn’t smell the acrid tang of deceit, Tristan’s body language screamed it. However, Sebastian didn’t really care. A job was a job and magic was hard to master without a teacher. Besides, if the man ever did become a threat, Sebastian would just kill him.

He reached into his desk and pulled out a contract. “This is my flat fee, plus I charge for expenses. Depending on how hard it is to find, and what I have to do, I can invoke this clause, which increases my fee.”

Tristan paled, but nodded. “Very well.”

“I also seal in blood. You or I can  still back out at any time, but it means you can’t stiff me on what’s owed.”

He smiled faintly. “I understand.”

Sebastian slid his pen across the desk.

Tristan ran his eyes over the text swiftly before picking up the pen to sign. “What now.”

Sebastian rose and went around the desk. “Your wrist.”

He hesitated, then held out his arm.

Sebastian looked into Tristan’s eyes and let his fangs extend. Taking the offered arm, he bit Tristan’s write and retracted his fangs.

A rush of blood flooded his mouth. And a shock went through Sebastian.

Power. There was an electric current of power that made his mouth tingle. He’d never tasted anything like it. Sweet and tangy. Delicious.

A bit more roughly than he’d intended, he pulled Tristan’s wrist from his mouth. He brought it down and pressed it against the contract.

The paper flared gold. Sebastian felt a shudder go through him as the bond was sealed.

“It’s done.” He turned Tristan’s wrist over again. “Would you like me to heal you, or would you like to heal on your own.”

Tristan pursed his lips. “Heal me, thank you.”

Sebastian scraped his thumb over his fang to draw blood. Vampire blood acted as a coagulant, but it wasn’t considered polite to do it without permission. Vampires also tended not to heal any wounds that they hadn’t made, unless they were either very close to the person or the situation was extreme.

Carefully, he swiped the blood over the holes in Tristan’s wrist. He may have rubbed his thumb over Tristan’s write a few more times than strictly necessary, but who was to know?

Tristan swallowed hard and looked up at Sebastian.

Sebastian gave him a small smile. “I’ll keep you updated on my progress.”

“Thank you.”

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time for me to post a section of my WIP, Dark Goddess. Dark Goddess is a vampire novel about a girl who discovers in her past life, she was the very first vampire. Now, everyone wants to kill her or worship her, and she’s not sure which is worse. I hope you enjoy this snippet!

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8, Part 9

He turned and sat on the edge of the bathtub.  “A stake works, but only if you get it right through the heart.  A cross doesn’t kill.  It’s used as defense.  And it depends on the vampire.  Gabriel is one of the Faithful, so crosses wouldn’t affect him.”  The very idea of a cross hurting the very devout Gabriel almost made him smile.

“What’s the Faithful?”

“The Faithful are Kali’s children and those created by her children.”

She sighed and lifted one hand to her forehead in a familiar gesture.  Vampires don’t get headaches, but some of Kali’s followers could try the patience of a saint.  Kali of old had adopted the gesture whenever she was profoundly irritated.  “And what is the difference between the Faithful and a regular vampire?”

“The Faithful follow life by the code of laws set forth by Kali in thirty-three A.D.  Other vampires don’t.  That is really the only difference.”

She looked at him as one would a madman.  With an expression that clearly said she was regretting even thinking the question, she asked, “Anything important about the year thirty-three A.D., or did you… did she pull it out of thin air?”

“There is a significance.  It’s very soon after Kali claims she met Jesus Christ.”  He took a deep breath, wondering if he should utter the next blasphemous part; the part that, at one time, he had almost believed.  “The man whom Kali also claims may or may not have gotten the idea for his divine birth from one of her more… earnest children.”

It only took her moment to make the connection, which heartened him.  Yes, she had the memories, even if she didn’t believe them.  “Gabriel.”

He nodded.  “Never mix Greek slaves and devout Jewish women, you said.  To which I replied…”

“Never doubt the visions of the pure, for through them the Lord often speaks.”  Her eyes went wide, hands flying to her mouth as if to take back the words.

“You remember.”  It wasn’t a question.

She shook her head.  “No.” Her head shook again, then she said, “Isn’t that, like, an affront to your religion?  Gabriel said you’re a priest.  How can you believe God may have spoken to a vampire?”

“It’s no more an affront than a vampire being Catholic.”

“Gabriel was Catholic?”

He smiled at her and tested the temperature of the water.  “It’s a long and complicated tale, but, yes, Gabriel considers himself Catholic.  It’s how we met.  His pursuit of religion brought us all together.”

“I think we have time for a long story.”

“I’ll tell you after you bathe.  Here’s a change of clothes and all else you may need.”  He indicated the bag he’d set on the floor.  “I’ll make you something to eat.

Kali tugged at one of her matted curls.  She looked so sad and lost, confused and hopeless.  So unlike the confident vampire he had once known.

He wanted to comfort her.  He hated that feeling.

“I’ve got first aid supplies in the other room.  When you’re clean, I’ll bandage the worst of your injuries.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?  You’re just going to kill me, right?”

“Yes, but not for four more days.  I see no reason for you to suffer.”  Then, before she could ask any more questions, Garrison left.

Snippet Saturday

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8

Kali limped slowly after him.  There was fear written across her face as they approached the door to the room.  “I thought you weren’t going to rape me.”

The one thing she had no need to fear was the one she was preoccupied with.  “I told you once, Kali, your virtue is safe with me.  I will not violate you in such a manner.  However, we need rest, and you need medical attention.”  He unlocked the door and pushed her ahead of him.

“So, take me to the hospital.”  She collapsed almost as soon as she crossed the threshold.

Garrison left her on the floor as he locked and bolted the door behind him.  “I think not.”  He hesitated a moment before he bent over and picked her up.

She made a small noise of protest as he adjusted her body against his but did not struggle. In fact, she relaxed against him as he carried her across the room.  Her eyes slid shut and she allowed her face to rest against his chest, and a small sigh, the puff of air caressing his neck.

It should have been strange. It should have been unexpected, this display of something so much like trust.  And yet, so little had changed.  This Kali was so much like the one he had known all those years ago. She even smelled the same underneath the vomit: that powdered musk combined with an earthy, clean scent that reminded him of the night.  Holding her, like this, was familiar, too.  Something he had done years ago.

Perhaps, in some distant way, explainable only by magic, she remembered his embrace as well.  Or, more likely, she was just exhausted.

“Where did your shoes go?” he asked as he set her on the closed toilet lid.

She rubbed her nose, dried flakes of blood falling off her skin.  “I took them off at the bar so I could get my pants off.  G-Gabriel took me out of there without giving me the chance to put them back on.  Because.  Because you started killing people.”

He winced and started the bathwater.  Thus far, he hadn’t actually killed anyone, although the guilt still ate him.  He was an excellent shot and had practiced for years so he could complete this mission with as few deaths as possible.

Not that this care would matter once the public saw what he would do to Kali.  If the police captured him, Garrison had no doubt he would be put to death.  The horrors he would have to visit upon her would ensure the death penalty no matter how careful he was with the lives of others.

Of course, he doubted he would ever be tried in a court of law.  The Faithful would get to him first.  They would show him no mercy.

Behind him, Kali sniffed.  He glanced over his shoulder to find her staring at the ceiling, her jaw clenched.  A tear slid from her eye, and she flicked it away with a sharp movement.

“You killed him,” she said.  Her voice was painful to hear, rough from her screaming and choked from tears she tried to hold back.  “That boy.  Gabriel.”

Gabriel had been seventeen when he’d been turned, hardly older than she.  That had happened over two thousand years ago.  Theoretically, a girl as young as she should see him as well older than herself, simply due to the wisdom and maturity he’d gained through the years.  However, Gabriel simply refused to lose any of the innocent purity that was characteristic of him and made him seem so young, no matter how many years went by.

“Gabriel is not dead,” he said after a moment. 

“Right,” she said with a snort.  “Because when you smash someone with your car, pump them full of bullets, and pummel them with a crowbar, all they need is a nap and some chicken soup.  He’ll be fine.” 

“Nothing about Gabriel is natural.  He might spend an hour or two recovering, but he’ll be fine.  That is what vampires do.”

She snorted again.  “Vampires.  Right.  I forgot.”  She chewed on her lower lip before she asked, “So, how do you kill a vampire?”

“Not with bullets, cars, or crowbars.”

“You need a cross and wooden stake, right?”

Any thoughts? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

It’s Saturday again, so here’s another part of my novel, Dark Goddess.

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7

Kali fit quite nicely into the trunk of Gabriel’s car with room to spare so she wouldn’t be too cramped.  Not, Garrison hastened to assure himself, that he cared at all for her comfort, even the slight comfort that breathing room in a tight space might lend her.  Human though the girl may be, she was still an abomination that must be dealt with ruthlessly.  She was not an innocent child to be pitied.

Except, in some ways, she was.  This girl, this incarnation, had no memory of whom she had once been.  No real idea of why she must forfeit her life for the greater good and to pay for past crimes.

The demon, Azazel, had obviously failed in some way when he’d taught the vampire of the past how to preserve her memories and history into the eternal unconsciousness.  Once they were safely tucked into the ether, she’d explained to Garrison so long ago, they would never be lost.  And, if she were ever to die—as she so obviously had—and return—as she had—her new incarnation would remember the life she had once lived through the memories, which would come to her in dreams.

Except, they weren’t.  Or, rather, maybe they were, only Kali didn’t see them as anything but strange nighttime imaginings.

It was hard, Garrison knew, to accept something like this.  Magic.  Vampires.  Reincarnation.  He’d had difficulty believing it himself, and he came from a time when magic and spells had been just as commonplace as computers and aeroplanes were today. And yet, he’d never quite been able to bring himself to believe.

Well.  That wasn’t exactly true.  Garrison had always believed in her.  From the moment she’d first told him what she was, he’d believed.  It was everything else he had failed to grasp.

Nowadays, the average person was much too skeptical to believe in demons and magic.  Those who did believe, or thought they did, often were so enchanted with their own fantasies, they failed to see the world that was right in front of them.

Kali, thankfully, was not one of those horrible children who dressed in black and cried over pain that did not exist in their lives.  For a young woman whose life had been filled with so much pain and frustration, she was remarkably practical and intelligent, just as she’d been when they first met.  She had no time for nonsense such as vampires.  Of course she did not believe him.

Garrison drove up the I-5 until he came to a small tourist town nestled at the base of the Grapevine.  He could save that hurtle until tomorrow when he was rested, the tank was full, and Kali could sit in the car proper, not the trunk.

Of course, it was obvious threats and pain would not keep her docile.  She was, as she used to be, a warrior, ready to defend her freedom no matter the cost to her life.

He’d have to drug her into submission.  He hadn’t wanted to, although he had prepared for this contingency.  Drugs were easy enough to obtain, and there had been many times in the past he’d needed prescription sleep-aids to send him into the land of Nod.  After what he’d seen in his life, it wasn’t a surprise.  The challenge would be keeping her sufficiently subdued without overdosing her.  His plan was contingent on her surviving four more days.

There were other supplies he needed, so he stopped at a store that was one of those miraculous marvels of modern convenience that sold everything from clothing to hunting supplies.  Inside, he purchased first aid accoutrements, food, clothing, undergarments, toiletries, and a book or two to keep the girl occupied on the long drive ahead.  He also refreshed his supply of duct tape.  He’d prefer handcuffs, since they were harder to get out of, but even this store didn’t sell them.

Motels were plentiful in this area, and Garrison was able to find one that was relatively vacant.  It was run down and could be rented by the hour.  Kali had to be worn out by now, and he was going to get the drugs in her as soon as possible.  However, if she did give him any trouble, he wanted to be isolated as possible.  This den of sin would do nicely.

After depositing his purchases in the room, Garrison went to the car and opened the trunk.

Kali opened her eyes right away but didn’t say anything.  Nor did she struggle as Garrison took her by the wrists and hauled her into a sitting position.  She merely sat there and looked at him from world weary eyes.

He hesitated only a moment before he released her wrists.  He wrapped his arms around her waist and gently—probably too gently–lifted her from the trunk and set her on the ground. Tiny thing that she was, she weighed next to nothing.  When she didn’t fight him, she really was quite easy to move.

“Where are we?” she asked, shivering.

Garrison wrinkled his nose as the stench clinging to her hit him.  She stank of vomit, blood, and dried sweat.  Her curls were matted, and she had blood caked across her face, arms and clothing.  Miraculously, her nose didn’t appear to be broken from when he’d planted it against his car, although her eyes were bruised.  She looked as if she’d been fighting for her life, though.  He needed to clean her up before anything else.  He didn’t want anyone to see her like this.

“Home, for the night,” he said in response to her question.  He shut the trunk and took her by the wrists once more.

I’ve heard it’s better to post small chunks than entire chapters, so I’m trying not to overwhelm. Let me know what you think. I’d love some constructive comments.

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6

“I’m a vampire.”

She laughed.  The laugh was as weak as she felt.

“I need to sit.”  She stumbled back and sat hard on the toilet.  “Vampires don’t exist.  It’s not real.  There are people who… What are you doing?”

Gabriel had her hand in his and was peeling a bandage away.  “The modern world is so strange.”  His pale fingers rubbed at one of the scrapes, drawing blood from it.  “You are religious and believe in miracles, or you say you do, but you have ceased to truly believe in anything else.”

“I believe in the devil.”

He snorted.  “Not really.  Even I don’t believe in the Catholic Satan anymore.  I’ve seen too much evil without him, but never him.”  He raised Kali’s arm and fastened his mouth around the bleeding wound.

She shrieked and pulled her arm from him. “What the hell are you…. Holy shit.”

The scrape had healed over leaving smooth, unblemished skin behind.

Gabriel smiled at her.  On anyone else, it would have been a smug smile.  On him, it was beatific.  “One of the gifts of the goddess.”

“Oh my God.”  She reached with a shaking hand to his mouth and scraped her finger on his pointy-sharp incisor.

It retracted under her touch.

“It moved.”

“They do that.”  He opened his mouth.  His eye-teeth extended almost to his lower lip.  “Easier to eat when they’re long,” he lisped.  “Not so easy to talk.”

A gunshot went off downstairs.

“What was that?”  She leapt to her feet and rushed past Gabriel, the pain in her head and knee forgotten.

“Tell me where she is!” she heard as she opened the door.

Garrison.

Gabriel was behind her.  “He found you.  We have to go.”  He took her by the wrist.  “Come on.”

“Wait!” She struggled against him as he dragged her away from the door.

The gun went off again.  People screamed.

Both Gabriel and Kali froze.

Feet pounded on the stairs.

“He’s coming.”  She broke away from Gabriel and slammed the door.  “Help me move the desk!”  She ran over to it and pulled.

It didn’t budge.

“There’s no time.”  Gabriel pulled her away and swept her into his arms.  Then, he leapt out the window.

Kali screamed as glass shattered around them.  Shards sliced into her face.  She pressed he face against Gabriel’s neck.

They hit the ground with a jarring thud.  Gabriel set her on her feet.  “Come on.  My car is close.”  

The ground was hard against her socked feet.  She took a few stumbling steps, but her legs protested.  She fell.

“Gabriel!” Garrison shouted.

She looked up.  He was leaning out the open window, shotgun in his hand.

“You can’t save her!  Give her up now.”

“I won’t let you take her again, Father Pike!” Gabriel picked Kali up again and ran.

“Where are we going?” she gasped.

“The parking structure!”  He rounded a corner and pointed.  Even running and carrying her, he didn’t sound winded.

“Here.”  He stopped in front of the parking structure, looking up.  “I’m on the fourth level.”

“Stairs.”  She pointed to the end of the building.

He looked at her and smiled.  “I don’t need stairs.  Hold on.”

“What?”

He put her down and turned to present his back.  “Hold on.”  He took her hands and wrapped them around his neck.  Then he leapt halfway up the side of the building.

“God!” Kali squeaked.

He was gripping the concrete with his nails as he climbed up the sides like he was a cat.  They scrambled to an opening on the fourth level, where Gabriel heaved himself over the ledge and planted his feet on solid ground once more.

Kali let go of him and took a few shaky steps away.  “How did you do that?”  Her legs threatened to give out.  She leaned against a car and took a few deep breaths.

“I’m a vampire.  We can do that.”

Of course.  He could heal cuts, he had retracting teeth, why couldn’t he climb up walls?  “How did Garrison find me?”

“He used magic.  Probably a tracing spell using your blood.”

“My blood?”

He nodded.  “I just don’t understand how he got past your guards.  He broke through all the protections we had around you, which should have been impossible.  But…”

“What guards?”

“You’re our queen,” he said, looking at her with simple and complete adoration.  “Our creator.  Our goddess.  Even though you’re human, we do what we can to protect you.”

She snorted and thought of the myriad of foster homes and relatives’ houses she’d been in and out of her whole life.  She thought of hungry nights and days, and the times when she was too cold or too hot or too tired because the adults around her couldn’t take care of her properly.  Thought of the abuse and the fear and the all too few moments of peace.

“Yeah, well, you’ve done a bang-up job.”

His face reflected guilt and anxiety.  With a hesitance that made her want to cry, he stepped forward and took her hand.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered.  His hand was so cold.  “I always thought we should do more but was voted down.  I have a history of making a mess of things.  Morgan thought it best we allow you to live a normal life without us interfering.”  He kissed the palm of her hand, eyes falling shut.  “We kept our kind from hurting you, kept Garrison from taking you.  We tried to protect you, but obviously something happened.”  He opened his eyes again.  “Forgive us?”

“Gabriel, I don’t know anything about you.  I don’t know if I can even trust you.  Aren’t vampires evil?”

He never got to answer.  Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a van tore around the corner.

“Run!” He shoved her away from him.

Kali flew across the structure.  She landed hard on the concrete floor.

“Take my car!” Gabriel threw the keys at her.

The van rammed him.  Tires squealed.  Gabriel was plowed into another car with the horrific sound of crunching metal.

“Oh no.  No, no, no.”

Smoke rose from the van’s hood.  Everything was silent.  Gabriel lay still, trapped between the cars, skin completely white.

            hen, the van door opened.  Garrison climbed out.

Kali moved.  She scrambled for the keys that had landed inches from her.  Hit the alarm the moment she had them.

A blue BMW down the row started wailing.

She ran to it.

She never saw Garrison move.  One minute, she was running, the next, she was on the ground, black dots flying at her face.

“Stay.” Garrison bent down and took the keys from her numb fingers.

“Garrison,” Gabriel moaned.  Metal screeched against metal.  He groaned.

“Gabriel, don’t move.”  Garrison sounded almost… fond.  “You can’t save her.  You will only cause yourself pain if you try.  Let her go.”

“No.”

Kali struggled to sit up.  Her head pounded.  Holy God in heaven, she probably had the worst concussion by now.  She’d be lucky if she survived without brain damage.

Garrison went to Gabriel.  There was a crowbar in one hand, gun in the other.

Gabriel pushed the van off him and stumbled forward.  There was a determined look on his too-young face.  His eyes were impossibly blue against his marble white skin.

“Gabriel…”

“No!  Don’t you understand?  She’s returned, just like she said she would.  Just as she promised.  Kali is stronger than you and the church and…”

Garrison fired.  The gunshot echoed loudly in the cavernous structure.

Kali screamed.

Gabriel took a step back.

“I won’t…” he said through clenched teeth.

Garrison fired again and again until the gun clicked, out of bullets.  Gabriel fell to his knees, still conscious.  His chest rose and fell with a strange sucking sound.  Blood bubbled at his lips.

“Please,” he exhaled.  More blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke.

Garrison dropped the empty clip on the ground.  He knelt in front of Gabriel and touched his cheek.  “I’m sorry, my son.  If not for her, you might have been saved.  But she never gave your soul a chance.”

“Don’t.”

Garrison stood.  He swung the crowbar at Gabriel’s face.

Kali’s hand flew to her eyes.  She couldn’t watch.  But she had to.  She opened her fingers and peeked through them.

Gabriel was unconscious.  His chest wasn’t moving anymore.  Even the blood had stopped flowing.

Garrison hit him again.

Gabriel’s beautiful nose broke, marring his perfect face.

“Stop it!”  Kali leapt to her feet and stumbled to Garrison.  “Stop it!”  She grabbed his arm and yanked Garrison away from the man who would have been her savior.  “He’s dead!  Leave him alone!”

Garrison rounded on her, face a mask of fury.  “That boy has survived hundreds of years past his time because I cannot bring myself to kill him.  And even now…” He stopped abruptly and gave a sharp shake of his head.  Grabbing Kali by the arm, he pulled her to Gabriel’s car.  “Come.  We need to go.”

“No!”  She fought him, kicking and clawing, trying to get away.

“Kali…”  His grip loosened.

“Let me go!”

“Damn it!”  He grabbed her arm and swung her.

Kali tried to brace herself, to stop her movement, but she had no control.  The last thing she saw before blackness took her was the back of Garrison’s van rushing towards her.

Snippet Saturday

Hey everyone, I’m back! My shoulder is still a little sore, but it’s out of the sling and doing much better. Even though I’ve got a million and a half things to do plus NaNoWriMo, I should be back to my usual posting schedule. Yay!

I’m here today to bring you another bit of my novel, Dark Goddess.

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 5

For hours or seconds, she ran.  Her feet led her away, away from the freeway.  Away from Garrison.  Away from death.

She didn’t know what she ran towards.  Home.  Safety.  The police, if she were lucky enough to stumble across a station.  She was lost in a city she didn’t know.  Away was all she had.

So, she ran.  Ran as her lungs burned.  Ran as her legs ached, then screamed, then turned to jelly.  Ran until sweat obscured her vision and she couldn’t catch her breath and her legs refused to move.

Then, she fell.

She pushed herself up to all fours.  Stayed there, panting for air.  A breeze wafted over her, making her shiver.  Sweat ran down her face, under her shirt, between her breasts.  It plastered her hair to her neck and face.  Irritated, she sat back on her feet and pulled her hair into a ponytail, trying to get some air against her skin.

“Hey.  You okay?”

She jumped to her feet, ready to run.

A man stood a few feet away from her.  He had a cigarette in hand and was leaning against the outside of a bar.  When she looked at him, his eyes went wide.

“What happened to you?” He dropped the cigarette and came to her, reaching out a hand

She flinched away.  “I was kidnapped.  He tied me up.  I… I jumped out of his car.  I’m hurt, I… I need the police.  Please.”  Tears spilled out of her eyes.

“Yeah, of course.”  He reached for her again but put his hands up at his chest when she flinched again.  “Sorry.  Come on in.  You’ll be safe here.  We’ll call the police.”  He moved backwards to the building and opened the door.  “I’m Adam.  I own the bar.  What’s your name?”

“Kali.”  Her teeth chattered as she began to shiver.  “Kali Johnson.”

“Come in, Kali.  I promise, you’ll be fine.”

She nodded and followed him inside.  She was too young and too young-looking to have any experience with bars, but this one seemed decent.  It was dimly lit, but clean.  There were two rooms she could see, the main one she was in and one in the back with a pool table, juke box, and a dart board.  The main room had what looked to be a dance floor off to one side, some scattered tables, and a long wooden bar with stools.

It wasn’t crowded.  There were maybe about twenty people inside milling about.  A man stood directly across from the front door, leaning against the partition that separated the two rooms.  He was blond and very pale.  His eyes were half closed, but even from across the room, Kali could see the glint of blue underneath long golden lashes.She stopped moving and looked at him.  She knew him.  Somehow, she’d seen him before.  Not just seen him.  She knew him.

He opened his eyes.  Shock washed over his face when he saw her.

“Hey, Joe, call the cops!” Adam said.  “This girl needs help.”  He touched Kali’s arm with the back of his hand.  “My office is upstairs.  This way.”

She tore her gaze from the blond man and followed Adam.  She could still feel his eyes on her.

“Oh, fuck,” she swore as she took the first two stairs.  In the short time since she’d stopped running, her muscles had turned to stone.  It hurt to even breathe.

“You okay?”  He took her by the elbow.

“Fine.  Just sore,” she gritted out, teeth clenched.  She took another step; it was somewhat easier than the last.

It took forever, but they finally made it to the top of the stairs.  Adam opened the door to the office and led her inside. 

“Is there a bathroom?” she asked.  Her stomach twisted, head pounded.

“Yeah.  Right through that door.”

Kali rushed to it.  She barely made it before she threw up.  Her head exploded into hot-white pain.  Tears flooded her eyes.

She heaved again.  One of her hands held her hair in a bunch from her face, the other gripped the side of the toilet.  She felt like she was going to die.

“You okay?”  She heard tentative steps on the tiled floor.  Then, the man’s thumbs brushed against her neck as he held her hair back for her, managing to get every curl in the bunch.

Kali sat back on her heels.  She squeezed her eyes shut until she’d flushed the toilet.  “Yeah,” she said after a moment.  She wiped her hand over her sweat-slicked face.  “Everything hurts.”

“It looks like everything hurts.”  He helped her stand.  “He really did a number on you.”

“Yeah well, I didn’t go with him easily.”  She rubbed her eyes.  “Can I be alone?”

“Sure.  I’ll wait for the cops downstairs.  And maybe see if there’s anything to help settle your stomach.”

“Thank you.  I really appreciate it.”

“It’s no problem.”  He turned and left, closing the door behind him.

Her hands trembled as she turned on the faucet and stuck her hands under the water.  She washed her hands and face, turning the water red with her blood.  Her arms were scraped from where she fell, pieces of dirt and asphalt ground in.  Her legs were the same, the right knee of her pants torn open exposing the skin beneath.       

She looked around for a medicine cabinet and finally found some bandages and alcohol under the sink.  She cleaned off the scrapes on her arms before bandaging the worst.  Then, she sat on the closed toilet, toed off her shoes and pulled off her pants.  Her legs were a mess.  Her ankle and knee had sickly, purple-green bruises around them.  Angry red scrapes hid behind ground-in dirt and pieces of glass.

She gritted her teeth and began working on cleaning them.

Someone knocked on the bathroom door.

She swallowed back a startled scream.  “Hang on!” She pulled her pants back on.  They felt stiff and dirty and rubbed against her injuries uncomfortably.

There was another knock.  Harder this time.

“I’m coming.  Give me a second.”  She limped to the sink and rinsed out her mouth.  When she opened the door, she expected to see the police or Adam on the other side.

It was the blond man from downstairs.

“Um, hi,” she said warily.

His eyes lit up.  He looked over her slowly, delight on his face.  “It is you,” he whispered.  “I thought… I knew it had to be.  I felt you when you walked in, all over.  I just… I came back to life, like it used to be.  And I saw you, and… I knew you looked exactly the same. I’ve seen you, pictures at least, but, my God.  It’s a miracle.

She stepped back and tightened her grip on the door.  “Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel, my lady.”  He bowed.  When he lifted his head again, the force of his gaze made her heart stutter.

Gabriel.  She’d gone to school with a kid named Gabriel when she was seven.  But he’d been from Mexico.  And there’d been a Gabe in one of the group homes, but he’d had bright red hair and a face full of freckles.

“You’re the senator’s slave,” whispered a memory.  “Gabriel.”

She shook her head.  “Do you work here?”

“No.  I don’t.”

“Then you should probably be downstairs.  This is a private office.”  She licked her lips nervously.  “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I want to be alone.  You need to leave.”

He looked over her, a crease wrinkling the skin between his eyes.  “I can’t leave you, Kali.  You’ll be safe with me.   But we need to go.”

Goosebumps broke out over her skin.  “I’m not going anywhere with you.  Go away.”  She stepped back and tried to slam the door.

He caught it.  Wood splintered under his grip.  “Humans can’t protect you, my lady,” he said urgently.  “Garrison won’t stop until you’re dead.”

“Garrison?  You know Garrison?  How?”

Gabriel seemed at a loss for words.  “He was… He was my teacher, my lady.  Father Pike.  Don’t you… Do you remember me?”

The senator’s slave.  Gabriel.  Gabriel.  My Gabriel.

“I just met you!” she cried.  When he wouldn’t let go of the door, she kicked him.

Her toes cracked against the hard bone of his shin.  Kali gasped and swore under her breath.

He dropped to his knees in front of her.  “I mean you no harm, Lady Kali, I swear.”  He looked up at her through his lashes and tentatively took her hands in his.  “I could never hurt you.  You are my creator.”  He rested his forehead against the back of her hands.

Her stomach dropped.  He had to be working with Garrison.  They had to be playing with her, screwing with her head.

She pulled her hands away.  “I’ve never created anyone in my life.  So just… just go downstairs and leave before the police come.  Got it?”

He stayed where he was but lifted his head.  With that simple movement, her perception suddenly changed.  For a brief instant, Gabriel’s image was replaced by another.  No.  No, it was still him, only… different.  Different clothes, different expressions, different… just different.

“I,” she found herself saying.  “Maybe I… You are familiar.”

“You knew me once.  Before Garrison killed you.  The first time, I mean.”  He stood, keeping one of her hands in his.  “If we stay, he’ll kill you again.”

“Because he thinks I’m a vampire.”

“Because he knows you used to be a vampire.”

She shook her head.  “How do you know this?”

“I know you, Kali.  I’ve known you since I was fifteen-years-old, a slave to a powerful Roman senator.  You rescued me from him and took me in.  When I grew ill, you cared for me.  When I was dying, you made me yours forever.”

She put her hand to her head.  “This is insane,” she said.  “I couldn’t have… You can’t mean…”

“I’m a vampire.”

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

Here’s another 600 words of my novel, Dark Goddess. Previous part is here.

He was an older man, brown hair and goatee shot through with threads of silver.  Long brown eyelashes framed steely grey eyes.  He was taller than she, but everyone was.  He had no real distinguishing marks, no freckles or moles.  Except his neck.  There was a light splash of white scar tissue that showed over his collar when he turned his head, but she couldn’t be sure.  The shirt collar was blue, but all she could really see was the black trench coat he wore.

He was an older man, brown hair and goatee shot through with threads of silver.  Long brown eyelashes framed steely grey eyes.  He was taller than she, but everyone was.  He had no real distinguishing marks, no freckles or moles.  Except his neck.  There was a light splash of white scar tissue that showed over his collar when he turned his head, but she couldn’t be sure.  The shirt collar was blue, but all she could really see was the black trench coat he wore.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked.

He twisted her arm, not so it hurt, but as a warning.  “Don’t talk.”

A kid about nine or ten ran past, laughing, carrying a skateboard.  A couple of teenage girls came out of a shop, eyes intent on their cell phones. 

A security guard stood at the end of the row of shops.

Her breath must have caught, or she must have tensed, or maybe her captor just knew, because he twisted her arm again, harder this time. 

She let her eyes slide away from the guard.  Looked at the ground and held her breath as they walked past him.

Her captor turned the corner.  He began to walk faster as the parking lot came into view, forcing Kali to keep pace.

And then, they were in the parking lot, surrounded by cars, early afternoon heat rising off the black tar.  He moved even fast now, practically running, pushing her ahead of him until she was tripping over her feet. 

“Here.”  He stopped abruptly, wrenching her arm.

She let out a startled cry.

He released her arm.  Pushed her against a white van.  “Don’t move.”

She looked over her shoulder. 

He had the gun out of his coat now and was pointing it at her.  His other hand dug in his pocket.

“Where are you taking me?”

“Shut up.”  He tugged the keys at his pocket, but they didn’t come out.  The gun dipped.

Adrenaline surged through her as she saw her opening.  Her one chance now that his attention was divided.

She took a deep breath.  Dropped her right shoulder, letting the strap to her bag fall.  She caught it in her fist before it hit the ground.  Then, as he started to say something, she pivoted, swinging the bag.

She hit his arm, causing it to swing away from her.  The corner of a book must have hit something in his wrist, because he cried out and lost his grip on the gun.  It arced in the air, hit a car, then rattled to the ground.

Kali ran.

“Kali, stop!”

She ignored him, running as fast as she could.  Her arms pumped; her sneakers crunched on the asphalt.  Her heart pounded until she was sure it was going to burst, but she kept running.  Onto the sidewalk, back towards the shops.

He crashed into her from behind.  They fell, Kali belly flopping on the cement.  The air was forced from her lungs.  She jerked her head up to avoid hitting it, but her chin smashed on the sidewalk, and she bit her tongue.  Blood filled her mouth.

Her captor grabbed her wrists and hauled her back to her feet.  As soon as she was upright, Kali kicked at him.  She connected with his kneecap.

He shouted.  She kicked him again, harder, getting higher, twisting her wrists as she did. 

One hand popped free.  Kali turned, swinging, and caught his ear with the flat of her palm.

He lost his grip. She started running again.  The pink stucco of the theater walls disappeared into the tree-lined entrance of the shopping center.  Kali turned inside.  Startled faces of shoppers blurred together as she pushed through the crowd.  She darted around the bodies she could.  Shoved those she couldn’t.

“Help,” she screamed, or tried to.  It felt as if there were a block in her throat that ate the sound.  “Help me!”