Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.
I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Linda Nightingale…
A Fine Line Between Passion and Obsession
How closely does your passion border on obsession? Quite frequently, for very passionate people, their passion in life is an obsession, particularly those cursed with creativity. I freely admit that I am one of those people. For centuries I have dreamed of a woman to be my wife, the first to bear the title of the Lady of St. Averil since 1685. There’s a problem or two with my dream. You see, a vampire siring a child from a human woman is prohibited by Les Elus, the ruling council of the Vampyre. In fact, such a child is removed from the Vampyre Gene Pool as soon as his/her existence is known. Not only is the offspring killed but both parents suffer the same fate.
The ritual of conception is very exact and very dangerous for the mother. She must be fed the vampire’s blood three times over a short period, then drained near death when she is impregnated. If the father fails, he loses not only his dream but the woman he loves.
My hope was that my vampire/human child would have the powers of the vampire and the morals and sensitivity of its human ancestors. The Vampyre have gifts to offer to humankind. Our blood will heal grievous human ills, and temporarily slow aging. I’m sure there will be quite a call for vampire doctors. I hope my child will be a bridge between two different species. Make no mistake—vampires and humans are different species. The Vampyre Effect alters the mortal’s DNA (Isabeau could explain this better than I) and grants immortality to a predator.
All lofty dreams aside, now a mortal woman has become my passion….Isabeau. She’s beautiful and brilliant—a gifted geneticist (which will come in handy). She loves me, too, but enough to stand the test of eternity? I never dreamed that the woman who’d be my partner in crime would become my passion. Oh, I still cherish my dream of a race of half-breeds, but she is my focus, and I find it difficult to even think of risking her life to make my dream come true.
Sinners’ Opera tells the story of our folie a deux, our double madness. Read but do not judge. Les Elus will sit in judgment one day too soon.
Love is a passion. Obsession is a passion. Love and obsession tread the same fine line as between genius and insanity. Passion means standing naked before the mirror of one’s desires. Do you have the courage? I’m not sure I do.
Morgan D’Arcy is an English lord, a classical pianist, and a vampire. He has everything except what he desires most—Isabeau. As the Angel Gabriel he’s steered her life and career choice, preparing her to become Lady D’Arcy.
Many forces oppose Morgan’s daring plan—not the least of which is Vampyre law.
Isabeau Gervase is a brilliant geneticist. Though she no longer believes in angels, she sees a ticket to a Nobel Prize in Gabriel’s secrets—secrets that have led her to a startling conclusion. Gabriel isn’t human, and she fully intends to identify the species she named the Angel Genome. Morgan is ready to come back into Isabeau’s life, but this time as a man not an angel. Will he outsmart his enemies, protect his beloved and escape death himself? For the first time in eternity, the clock is ticking.
Razor-sharp memory sliced through me, jerking me upright. “’od’s teeth!”
Before the fall, I’d been shot.
Rapid-fire images snapped before my eyes. I saw my Jag plunging over the guardrail at the top of the Old Cooper River Bridge. Now, in the silence of a church, I felt the wind whistling past my face as the force of the fall sucked the breath from my lungs and tried to pluck me from the convertible. Irrationally, I’d clung to the wheel while my beloved roadster sank, in a slow rocking ballet, to the river bottom.
During that interminable swift plunge, I hadn’t been afraid of dying.
Mary touched my arm. “Be still, hon, or you’re gonna start bleeding again.”
I was in no danger of bleeding to death or dying from any natural cause. I knew why I’d heard her thoughts, why the aroma of her blood bedeviled me. I knew who and what I am.
The blood staining her blouse was a miracle drug that could cure the most grievous of human diseases—and secure eternity for a predator. The wound that would have been fatal to a mortal had almost healed. Within hours after the ritual blood exchange, a fragile yet potent virus had mutated my DNA. I’d never actually died; would never feel death’s cold hands. The Vampyre Effect was a transformation from one species to another. For almost four centuries, I’d been a vampire.
The woman leaned over me. I heard the blood whispering in her veins, saw the jugular bulging with each strong heartbeat. Even the scent of my own blood fed the craving. Hunger wrenched my stomach, the need for blood shuddering over me in flashes of heat. The pain twisting inside me was a living thing—ugly, urgent, older than the world. In a vain attempt at control, I ground my teeth until my jaw ached. My hands clenched into fists, the tendons bunched like steel bands beneath the skin. I was losing it, my eyes turning red.
“Run, Mary,” I panted, shoving her. “For God’s sake, run.”
Her hands branded my shoulders. Need coursed through me.
Her brow puckered. “How did you know my name?”
“You look like a Mary,” I gasped, trying to crawl away. “Bloody hell, run, woman.”
After 14 years in Texas, Linda just returned home to her roots. She has seven published novels, four of which are available from Audible.com in audio. For many years, she bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses. So, she’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer. She retired from a career as a legal assistant at MD Anderson Cancer Center to write full time.
She has 2 wonderful sons—one in Texas; one in England—and 4 equally marvelous grandchildren.
She loves horses, sports cars, music, and piano, and enjoys dressing up and hosting formal dinner parties.
Please help me welcome Katherine Gilbert, with her new release, Protecting the Dead – Great title, right? I love the cover too, and it’s one of the choices in the Moonlight and Mystery Cover Contest. I’m sure Katherine would love your votes!
Good morning, Katherine. Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I’ve been born and raised in South Carolina (unofficial state motto: “Our politicians embarrass us”). My real family and best friend is my sister, Armida. Our goal is to become strange, cackling old ladies in the corner of a tearoom together.
Where did you get the idea for Protecting the Dead?
There was, until recently, a real apartment complex in Decatur, GA (where my novel is set) which my sister and I once visited on an apartment hunt. Unfortunately, everything there was just a little too creepy, including the apartment she was shown which didn’t quite feel empty. When she asked about the turnover of tenants, she was told, “Oh, our residents never leave.” This hit my gothic imagination with an audible buzzing sound and wouldn’t leave me alone, until it was written.
Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?
Some of the places in the novel are based off of Atlanta urban legends, such as the club (now closed, I believe) which was said to be the home of vampires.
Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?
I can’t talk about a story, while I’m writing it. If I do, I’ll talk it out of myself and won’t ever sit down to write.
What book have you read that you wish you had written?
Every book I love I know I couldn’t have written, but I do admire the talents of so many other authors. I wish I could throw off a laugh-till-it-hurts line like Terry Pratchett. I wish I could create a fascinating, unexpected twist like Agatha Christie. I wish I could convey an astonishing sense of time and place like Barbara Hambly–and so many, many others.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?
I teach English at a SC community college. As to whether I like it, it depends on the students. Some are lovely, funny, fascinating people who I fervently hope succeed in all their dreams. Some have never mentally shown up to school once, so I’ve really only met their bodies. When there are many more of the latter group, it’s not a wonderful semester.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
When I go to a new city, I love to visit Victorian cemeteries, especially ones with very ornate mausoleums or stone angels, etc. One of the great joys of my life was getting to visit Highgate Cemetery in London, especially the older parts you need to have a guide to be allowed into. It’s beautiful, quiet, wooded, and the statues–ohh, the statues.
What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?
Spicy food! It seems to me that every commercial now is for some restaurant or fast food place which promises that your head will actively explode after tasting their burningly spicy food. I love flavor in food, especially subtle, delicate flavors and spices, but not having my taste buds actively burned out of my mouth.
Do you collect anything?
Quite a few things. Among them are magnets (from just about everywhere I visit) and weird little salt-and-pepper shakers. Among the stranger ones I have is a set of Hello Kitty vibrating shakers. That’s right–you pull the string, and they vibrate. The wonderful absurdity of it just makes me giggle.
What’s your favorite book of all time and why?
It’s so hard to choose! I can maybe cull it down to three: Terry Pratchett’s The Fifth Elephant (all of Discworld is wonderful, but add the gothic and I’m totally hooked), Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog (The world-building! The romance! The references to 19th-century comic authors!), and Jean Ferris’ Much Ado About Grubstake (it’s just a wonderfully good-hearted, light-hearted YA novel set in a fictional old west town).
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Protecting the Dead?
I’d like them to take a few moments to smile and sigh and enjoy having lived in that world for awhile.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
It’s hard to choose, but I suppose it depends on the bad review. No book is to everyone’s taste, so I accept that there will be people I can’t please. I’d rather not have a review which seems to be purposely trying to cut out my soul, though. As for no reviews, that’s difficult, too, since I don’t know whether anyone is reading it–and others who might want to aren’t given any guidance on whether they’d like it. I guess my answer, then, is . . . I haven’t a clue?
What is your favorite quote?
My friend, Chris, always says, “When someone thinks they’re doing you wrong, they’re actually doing you a favor.” It’s a philosophy I try to remember, when people aren’t very nice.
What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?
Sorry, she’s not famous, but it’d have to be my sister. We’d never survive, but at least we’d be together.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
To quote from the movie, Auntie Mame: “Odd, but loving.”
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes, I have three completed urban fantasies and one completed contemporary romance. I’m also actively working on a fourth urban fantasy novel. All the fantasies take place in different parts of the same alternate universe, and they generally fall into two categories: the magical and the gothic. Protecting the Dead is also one of the gothic ones.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Generally speaking, real people aren’t as interesting for me to write about as the ones I make up. I don’t think anyone would thrill to tales of a department meeting.
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
My sister is my biggest supporter. I read her every chapter, as it’s written. My friends are sort of in shock that I’ve kept at it long and hard enough to be published, but they’re excited for me.
What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
That would be the demon who wants to destroy Lydia.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
I walked about six feet behind David Carradine once. Weird Al Yankovic sweated on and sang to my sister at a concert (when she was sitting right beside me). They were fun moments, but, to quote Weird Al, I think they also qualify as pretty “Lame Claims to Fame.”
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Only that good and bad people come in all forms. The forms alone don’t tell you much about the person. The way that people interact with others does.
How much of the book is realistic?
It’s based on a real place, but overall it’s much more fantasy than urban.
How did your interest in writing originate?
I started writing fan fiction for a show I was obsessed with, La Femme Nikita. I wrote a LOT of it, and there were quite a few people who enjoyed it. After awhile, I started branching out into a couple of alternate universe pieces–and through that realized that I could actually create my own characters and plot. I also realized that I didn’t need to know everything about a story to write it. I just needed to get started, and the characters would show me where things were headed, as I went along.
Song–“Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls (I’m not a gigantic fan of theirs otherwise, but I LOVE that one song). A close second and third would be Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “Veteran of the Psychic Wars.”
Place you’ve visited–Ireland, England, and Scotland, all of them beautiful with touches of the gothic throughout
Place you’d like to visit–Brookgreen Gardens, a figural sculpture garden in SC. I’ve been there dozens of times, but I always want to go back.
TV show from childhood—Lou Grant, or maybe Scooby Doo–I was an eclectic kid.
TV show from adulthood—La Femme Nikita, although there are plenty of others I like. I usually only come across a show on DVD long after it’s over nowadays.
Are there any urban legends or haunted houses in your area? Leave a comment and I’ll select a random commenter to receive a $5 gift card from Amazon.
After a childhood filled with demons and her devil-worshiping parents, Lydia longs for a quiet, normal life, a safe haven somewhere blissfully dull. Being the manager at the Roanoke Apartments seems to fit that bill. But Lydia soon learns that you can’t leave the past behind so easily. She finds herself faced with unclogging drains for werewolves, conducting nightly vampire counseling sessions, and caring for two talkative cats. Then there’s the distraction of Geoffrey, the hottest, and most angelic, boss anyone ever dreamed of. As if that isn’t enough, the demon who nearly killed her shows up to finish the job. So much for a peaceful, simple life…
She knew she was being rude, knew she certainly wasn’t being a good assistant to Geoffrey, but she couldn’t quite force herself to look up again. If she did, she was going to see things she couldn’t wholly deny. She couldn’t take that. Whatever its dangers, denial felt safe. There was only so much oddity her brain could withstand, before it just started to explode.
She found herself sitting on the couch a moment later, knew that all these men were watching her, knew that she was direly failing whatever test she was being given. But she just couldn’t help it. It was too much, was far too weird. If only life could be all picket fences and well-tended lawns and SUVs and…
Okay, so she really wasn’t dumb enough to think such details meant an utter lack of misery, but they just seemed so nice, compared to her life. She felt someone sit on the couch beside her, knew it was Geoffrey, even before he spoke.
“Give her a minute,” he whispered, tenderly stroking her blue hair.
That only made her sigh all the more. There were times she truly wished she could be a stereotypical vapid blonde.
That wish, of course, was part of the reason why she’d ended up with the hair color she was now stuck with, but she wasn’t up to such analysis.
One of the residents sighed softly. “I guess we are a bit much for a first day. Especially with our moon phase coming up and all.”
She wished she lived the sort of life which made it impossible to guess what they were talking about.
Geoffrey’s soft touch made her raise her head again, her eyes a little misty, as she gazed at the two werewolves’ worried yellow eyes. Their normal clothing only made the situation weirder. The one who had greeted them, Hugh, dressed much like her boss tended to. The second one was even wearing a business suit. She was trying not to scream.
Fortunately, Geoffrey surprised her out of the impulse, pulling her close, his arms tender, mouth by her ear. Into it, he whispered a series of soft, soothing sounds. Like at her lunch with Glory, none of them were quite recognizable, except for her name. “Lydia,” he would breathe, before those only half-hidden words began again. “Lydia.” It made her real name so darn tempting that she couldn’t quite remember why she’d ever chosen another, and it finally made her sanity begin to piece itself slowly back together.
She wasn’t certain how long they were like that, knew nothing except his touch, his comfort. Some final spate of words settled inside her as a sort of hope for the future, a thought — even if she had no conscious access to it — that comforted her even more. She felt his soft kiss there, before he finally leaned back. She didn’t really know what to think, after that.
Katherine Gilbert was born at house number 1313 and then transplanted to a crumbling antebellum ruin so gothic that The Munsters would have run from it. She has since gained several ridiculously-impractical degrees in English, Religious Studies, and Women’s Studies. She now teaches at a South Carolina community college, where all her students think, correctly, that she is very, very strange, indeed.
An excellent, inspiring article by Ashlyn Chase. You don’t want to miss this one!
I’ve always been extremely creative. I missed the clues that I might enjoy writing…like loving my creative writing class in high school and even earning an A+ from a tough teacher, but like I said—Duh. I had already decided to pursue fine art, so I stubbornly stuck to that goal. But at Mass College of Art I discovered there were far more talented people than I, and we were all going to starve. LOL
Fast forward several years with twists and turns like marriage, birth, divorce, and I became an RN to put food on the table. In nursing, creativity is highly discouraged by doctors who want you to follow their orders to the letter. Sheesh. I needed an outlet!
I took a course in screenwriting. That taught me how to tell stories, but Hollywood passed on my romantic comedies. Oh well. I lived closer to New York, anyway. So I turned my ‘movies’ into novels and found where I fit in.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Well, I don’t have to worry about that! I monitored my reading tastes to see what I might like to spend months writing. (Novels are a hellova lot longer and more difficult to write than screenplays.) I discovered that I liked reading the hot stuff! When I accepted this (and stopped blushing) I tried writing a steambath of a novel.
Back in the early part of this century, traditional publishers held the reigns. ebooks were almost unheard of. I had joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) and was trying the traditional route along with everyone else. I received a lot of good advice and continued to practice my craft, while submitting my first finished novel and getting a slew of rejection letters. Many self-published authors have missed this awesome opportunity to thicken their skin. There’s nothing like being told, ‘Thanks but no thanks’ to boost your self-esteem. (Pass the chocolate, please.)
Anyway, a fellow author who liked my writing but knew what I was up against, mentioned I might try epublishing. I didn’t know what it was. Heck, nobody did back in 2002. So, I looked into it and researched a few electronic publishers. I narrowed it down to three and submitted my manuscript. (Not the story that was rejected everywhere. By then I had taken the hint.) But I used what I’d learned from it and wrote a better book. I wasn’t letting rejection discourage me.
My ego finally got a boost when all three epublishers offered contracts! Oh my goodness. I picked one and began publishing. Let’s fast forward again. My ebooks were doing well. Reviews were positive and my romantic comedies were being nominated for (and winning) awards! I was having fun! Cool. I got from my readers what I didn’t get from a lot of my fellow writers. Respect. Epublished authors at the time were considered inferior. Erotica authors were considered the red-headed stepchildren. I was both.
Time to fast forward again. I kept trying to find a publisher that would put my books on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, make bookmarks for me, contract non-English translations…in other words, someone to make me world famous. LOL. I’m nothing if not a big dreamer. But it’s a funny thing about dreams. They won’t come true if you let them go. Eventually I wound up in the right place at the right time with the right idea. Lo and behold, I received “the call!” Yes. Editors used to call, not email. Some still do.
In 2010 my first mass market paperback came out. It was the start of a series. The series did well and garnered a spin-off series. The spin-off did well and they contracted another spin-off! Okay…we’re nine books into this thing (as of the August 1st 2017 release, Never Dare a Dragon.)
Are we done? Not by a long shot. I’m calling my Sourcebooks titles “The series that never ends.” I’m working on book 2 of another spin-off now. I’ll give you the run-down in easily digestible bites.
Strange Neighbors – the name of the book and series that started it all. Book 2 is The Werewolf Upstairs and book 3 is The Vampire Next Door.
1st Spin off series: Flirting with Fangs. Book 1 is Flirting Under a Full Moon; Book 2 is How to Date a Dragon; Book 3 is Kissing with Fangs.
2nd Spin off series: Boston Dragons. Book 1 is I Dream of Dragons; Book 2 is My Wild Irish Dragon; and book 3 is Never Dare a Dragon. Here, we’re up to date—publishing-wise.
3rd spin off series under contract: Phoenix Brothers. Book 1 is Hooked on a Phoenix. Finished and sent to my editor, waiting for the dreaded red pen. And what am I working on now? Book 2. Title? I don’t really know yet. I’m calling it Wing-men. I’ve rarely kept the titles I started with, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.
By the titles alone, I hope you can tell what I write. Light paranormal romance. And I’m not just an epublished or traditionally published author. Now I’m an Indie author too. The rights to several of my old epublished books have reverted to me. So, I’m updating, rewriting, and rereleasing many of these books, independently.
The roller coaster ride continues. I have an agent next to me now. She keeps me from screaming too loud or demanding the ride stop, because I can’t take it anymore.
Advice to the newbie… Yikes! Are you sure you want to do this? If no one can talk you out of it, no matter how many sensible arguments they throw at you, you just might make it. Ignore the haters and hang in there.
And if you’d like some company, I’ve started a wonderful conference for readers and writers that takes place in New England, smack dab in the middle of foliage season!
Wow…I’ve always been fascinated with New England. What a wonderful conference…I’d love to come. Maybe I’ll plan to do that.
A titled lord, concert pianist, and … vampire, Morgan D’Arcy has everything he wants…except what he most desires…the woman of his dreams—the search is on.
The greatest enemy of a vampire is boredom. Four centuries of existence have taught Lord Morgan Gabriel D’Arcy to fear nothing and no one. Humans and their weapons have little chance against his preternatural speed and arcane powers. Vampires are viral mutations of human DNA. Still, the Vampyre code requires secrecy, and he has learned to hide his nature from the world. The lure of mortality, of a life in the sun, puts Morgan again and again at the mercy of calculating human women though they fail to consider his charm and determination into the equation. However, even grooming a future bride from infancy proves to be fraught with heartbreak. And second chances are not always what they seem unless… you are Morgan. Immortality and beauty, aren’t they grand?
“…Morgan…is a tour de force of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent…” ~Author Toni V. Sweeney
“Morgan D’Arcy is a class act and the most arresting vampire I’ve ever encountered in literature or films.” ~ Historical and Paranormal Romance Author Beth Trissel
Snow built castles on the windowsills. Wispy flakes swirled in the night air. I stood at the mullioned window with my back to the Chief Councilor of the ruling body of the Vampyre. The pure white silence of a snowy night echoed in the room. A fire crackled in the fireplace, but cold seeped through the stone walls.
At midnight, Lucien St. Albans had arrived with shocking news.
Royal Oak wasn’t on the beaten path. The castle perched on a hill above a small village on the Devon coast. From my bedroom window, I could see the ocean. Lucien had driven his new motorcar hard to tell me that there was no such thing as forever. He was pale and drawn, worried. I’d never seen the Chief Councilor rattled. Lucien St. Alban’s self control was legendary. The emotion in his black eyes was fear, and a shudder chased over me.
“I drove straight from an emergency meeting of Les Elus,” he announced without preamble. “We are all in jeopardy.”
In a small principality between France and Spain, an epidemic of anthrax ravaged the countryside. Not only human villagers died in Andorra. Two vampires had perished.
Grief for Daphne and guilt for her suicide had wearied my spirit. “Why send me? I’m not a scientist.”
“Dear God, Morgan, I wouldn’t send you into danger.” Behind me, Lucien’s reflection appeared in the window. He rested his hands on my shoulders. “One of our scientists plans to travel to Andorra immediately and investigate. He believes the bacteria secretes an endotoxin that is a reverse mutagen. When infected, the disease progresses at a phenomenal rate. The victim reverts to mortal, and the body disintegrates to ash.”
A thrill pierced my lethargy. Dead vampires presented an intriguing mystery. Members of our select society should not perish to a disease fatal to humans, or very few others of the Grim Reaper’s tricks. It was time for me to stop lurking in Death’s shadow. My grief for Daphne was useless to her corpse. She was quite simply and forever gone. Reverse mutagen. The mere idea sent a shiver of excitement over me. If the Vampyre Effect could be undone, then the possibility of returning to human existed.
Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Houston. She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for many years.
Linda has won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award. She is the mother of two wonderful sons, a retired legal assistant, member of the Houston Symphony League, and enjoys events with her car club. Among her favorite things are her two marvelous sons, a snazzy black convertible, and her parlor grand piano. She loves to dress up and host formal dinner parties.
Please help me welcome Michele Drier with an informative article and her latest release.
Thank you for joining me, Michele! Your series looks awesome…right up my alley. 🙂
The Middle Third
Most writers know the Dreaded Middle Third. The roughly one-third in the middle of the book where you can get bogged down in telling the story.
You start with a bang, It’s a new story, you’re developing the characters (and you like them!), you have action, maybe a new romance, a dash of fear, all the things that get your adrenaline moving
The last third, well you know the ending and it’s fun tying up all the loose ends, resolving conflicts, settling into a relationship.
But that middle third. This section is where you build the bridges to get from the excitement of a new adventure to the resolution at the end. It’s many times the crux of the book. The characters get depth, sometimes so much they take over. The tension increases. Does Character A know the background of Character B…let alone how s/he’s overcome it? Or is it still there, sabotaging every move?
Will Character C really go in that small, creepy basement?
Will they or won’t they fall in love?
What challenges raise their ugly heads? How many fears are standing in the way of a happy ending?
All good stuff. Harder to write.
What happens when Character B takes off with the narrative and you find that she’s developed an aversion to all those traits that intrigued her about Character A? Wow, this feels like a much stronger story and you like her new, feisty personality. It’ll never get her from the first to the last third, though.
Do you leave her like this, go back and rewrite the first third? How will that change affect the other characters? The plot?
Will the resolution change?
Probably plotters have a little easier time with the middle third, but for pantsers like me, one has to tread carefully. You give the characters space to tell their story, guiding them toward the resolution, but you don’t always know until you’ve written it, what’s going to happen.
Will the protag get pushed off the boat? Will an old lover show up? Is there abuse in the past? What’s he lying about? How will this affect the relationship?
It’s more difficult writing the middle third. A lot of times it’s like juggling four, five, six balls or kintting a sweater without a pattern. Oops, I have three sleeves! This is the time, though, where you can let the plot grow organically, following faint paths of desire, defeat, dishonesty, deceit.
I’m deep in the middle third of my thirteenth book, a stand-alone psychological thriller with a working title of Ashes of Memory. It’s different from anything else I’ve written and juggling the balls is trickier. I believe one can learn from any experiences, no matter how weird, no matter how old. And this exercise is teaching me not to be complacent, stay open to new ideas. I have one character who will turn out to be the opposite of what he appears and I’ve never written a villain like this before.
I’ll finish it this summer and I’m hoping to emerge at the end a stronger plotter, stronger writer, stronger story-teller.
How are you planning to spend your summer vacation?
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death.
Her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, has received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild and was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights, SNAP: All That Jazz, SNAP: I, Vampire .
I’m pleased to introduce Diana Rubino and her latest release, A Bloody Good Cruise. It’s about vampires on a cruise…are you kidding me??? LOVE the premise, the title, and the cover! Plus, she’s sharing a fun interview.
*** Diana is giving away a free PDF copy of the book to the first person who can answers this question: Who are the 3 historical figures you most would have wanted to meet? (Please be sure to provide your email address in your comment)
A BLOODY GOOD CRUISE is a fun-filled blend of the vampire world and luxury cruises.Romance writer Mona Rossi’s book sales are slipping. She needs new ideas and fast! Her vampire love, Fausto Silvius is a doctor aboard the Romanza, a luxury cruise ship. Holding a “Motion on the Ocean” writer’s cruise sounds like a great idea. What better way to combine a career boost with romance? But they soon discover hunters on board who give chase to Fausto and his fellow vampires. While he longs to bring Mona into his world, how can he convince her to join him with fringe lunatics on the hunt? In the prime of her life she’s not sticking her neck out for a shot at eternity.
Mona forced a dose of cheer through her jangly nerves. Vampire hunters wouldn’t have the balls to attack Fausto and his friends on this ship. Security was tight. “Well, you’re here, so does that mean you’ve been going out, and aren’t confined to your house any more?”
Fausto shrugged. “Almost. I couldn’t wallow in self-pity forever. And I knew seeing you would make it worthwhile.”
She smiled and gave him a genuine Italian cheek pinch. “I’ll cheer you up, faccia bella, you can count on that. You must feel safe.” She gestured at the tacky duds. “I mean, relatively speaking.”
“Don’t let this scare you, but –” He glanced around over the rims of his shades. Uh-oh. Whenever he said “don’t let this scare you,” it scared her. “I got an ominous message at the doctor=s office earlier.”
“What?” She swallowed a lump. “What kind of ominous message?”
He looked away, shaking his head. “Nothing to get alarmed about. The hunters just want me to know they’re here. After the initial jolt wore off, I said, ‘okay, I’m being stalked again.’ But I’m used to it. It doesn’t make me constantly look over my shoulder like in the old days. My family’s murder gave me a reality check. If they want me, they’ll get me. I can’t let it interfere with my work, or what little leisure time I have here. And you shouldn’t either.” He gazed at her adoringly and cupped her cheek. His hand was surprisingly warm. “But you’re still scared. All the blood’s drained out of your face, and not in a good way.”
As a romance author, I’ve cultivated a loyal following. I am active in my RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter and attend author/reader events at local bookstores. Local and regional columnists have given me a good deal of publicity with interviews and articles. I advertise in Romantic Times and the RWR to keep my name before readers, and have held several contests on my website, which RWA and RT have promoted. In my other life, I own an engineering business, CostPro, Inc., and am Director of Marketing.
Where did you get the idea for A Bloody Good Cruise? Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?
I wanted to combine Italian vampires, comedy and cruising in one package, so I hopped on my imaginary ship The Romanza to get my characters in all kinds of trouble. I envisioned the hero, Fausto, as actor Vincent Irizarry (Dr. Hayward on All My Children). That made my job so much easier. He is THE perfect vampire. Italian vampires and hunters (the Vampire Ball Busters) leave the field wide open for comic relief, and I had plenty of chances in this story. Since I’m hooked on cruising and I’m Italian, I didn’t need to do that much research. The name Fausto came from an Italian woman I met in the 1980s, Fausta. I knew I had to use some version of that name in one of my books.
My husband and I are hooked on cruising, and my very first cruise was on the Eastern Mediterranean, beginning in Rome and ending in Istanbul. The ports of call included Rhodes, Cyprus, Santorini, and Egypt. Because I love Italy and cruising, I wanted to combine those passions with a humorous story about vampires and how they face prejudice in the human world.
I met an Italian woman named Fausta in 1983 and always loved that name–I always planned to use that name in one of my books someday. I finally got the chance with the hero Fausto, close enough!
The actor I envision for the hero Fausto is Vincent Irizarry, who played Dr. David Hayward on All My Children. He is every bit the perfect vampire.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it?
I own an engineering business with my husband Chris. I’m Director of Marketing, which I enjoy. I like to meet people and ‘work a room’.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
I don’t know if most people don’t like this, but when I visit a historical site, I must touch everything I possibly can, for that link to the past. I got yelled at in Warsaw for touching one of the keys on Chopin’s piano, but I wasn’t leaving there until I touched it!
What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?
Ever since I’m a little kid, I never liked to eat meat. Nobody understood it in those days, and since vegetarianism is much more common now, more people understand it, but I still get weird looks sometimes.
What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?
If only I could get by on two hours’ sleep!
What is one word you would use to describe yourself? What is one word you think others might use to describe you?
I describe myself as curious. Others would probably say earthy.
What’s your favorite book of all time and why? What’s your favorite childhood book?
My favorite book of all time is THE AUTIOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII by Margaret George. It transports you to Henry’s time as if you’ve time traveled. My favorite childhood books are from a series about a girl, Trixie Belden, who solved mysteries, very much like Nancy Drew.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read A Bloody Good Cruise?
That prejudice can be overcome, and that there’s nothing like being on a cruise ship.
What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?
The hero, Fausto is definitely Vincent Irizarry! She’s not really an actress, but the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, would be a great Mona.
What is your favorite quote?
“I am still learning.” –Michelangelo
Thank you for the interview, Diana. Now, she has a question for readers…
What is it about a book that makes you buy and read it rather than putting it back?
Check out Rebekah R. Ganiere’s new release…an exciting story with a unique concept…
Lady Snow Gwyn is tired of playing “mother” to her seven Vampire Slaying brothers. For the past two years, she’s yearned to be out there fighting at their side as they hunt for bloodsuckers in the black of night. Snow is as good a fighter as any man, but she wasn’t called to be a Slayer. A mere formality in her book.
Prince Sageren, Son of Lothar has spent the last fifty years in exile, awaiting the day when he can finally avenge his family and take back his throne. Barely existing, he’s forced to face his inner demons and the monster he once was, compelling him to vow to never drink from humans again. A simple enough task–until he crosses paths with a human who makes his fangs ache to drain her.
When Snow runs into Prince Sage on a late night trip to the woods, she’s torn between the urge to kill him and the desire to succumb to the feeling he stirs within her. And when Snow’s life is threatened by the same evil that murdered his family, Prince Sage must enlist the aid of Snow’s brothers to not only help him save her life, but to also regain his rightful place as King of the Vampires.
If Sage can keep the Slayers from killing him first.
Run away. Run now. He wanted to scream. But he couldn’t. Drink her dry. Make her your own and you’ll never be alone again. He pounded on his skull. His gaze met hers and he suddenly lost all reserve.
One moment he was inches away, the next he grabbed her braid and forced her body against his, crushing her lips with his own. His tongue plunged deep into her mouth. She stiffened at his touch initially, but then relaxed against him. He needed this.
Her supple body pressed against his, her curves sparking every inch of his skin to wake up and pay attention. Out of sheer will, he forced his fangs at bay. He wanted her all to himself at that moment. Just her. The feel of her lips on his lips. Her tongue danced and licked his with a palpable need. Her apparent lack of experience made Sage savor her all the more.
He was dangerously close to losing control. She pushed against him roughly and he let go. Her eyes widened before hardening. Quick as light, she swung to slap him, but he caught her wrist.
“You don’t want to do that, love. You’ll split your palm open again.”
“You had no right to kiss me.”
Need pounded through him, making his body quake. He let go of her wrist. “I didn’t see you protesting too much.”
“I…I…” Her mouth opened and closed several times, but no words formed.
His gaze trained on her throat. The pulsing vein and the thundering of her heartbeat called to him. He licked his lips.
He stepped forward, gripped her arms and locked his eyes with hers. Her pupils contracted and then flooded open.
“You will go straight to the cabin. You will get your things and you will run. Run ‘til you get safe in your bed. And when you wake up in the morning, you will remember nothing.”
Her eyes glazed over and he eased his grasp on her. She picked up her sword and ran. A minute later, the light in the cabin flickered out and the door slammed. Sage didn’t dare let himself even breathe until he knew she’d gone, for fear that he would chase her down and ravish her.
When he no longer heard her footsteps, he fell to his knees and clutched the bloodied gauze she’d left behind. So long he had been in exile, underground. So long he’d denied himself the companionship of a woman. And here, in the middle of a glade, he’d found her. His heart’s desire was a human. What the hell was he going to do now?
Rebekah is an award winning author. Her novel Dead Awakenings, debuted in January 2014. Red the Were Hunter, the first in her Farielle Series, released in May. The second book Snow the Vampire Slayer will be releasing in September 22, 2014. And her trilogy The Society will be released Nov. 17th 2014 by Kensington’s Lyrical Press.
Rebekah is the VP of Communications of the RWA FFP Chapter as well as a member of her local Los Angeles and Orange County chapters. In her spare time when she isn’t writing you can find her moderating on SavvyAuthors.com or hanging out with her husband, four children and her English Bulldog, rabbit, two bearded dragons, and two tortoises. The escaped snake has yet to be found.
As I’ve stated previously, nearly each of my published work contains a mention of Elvis, even if only briefly. Below are a few samples from a handful of books…
Available now, but will be released on August 14th as part of a boxed set with other Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll Stories by other authors
Thicker Than Water – Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll
Jake fell silent and flipped on the radio. “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis was playing. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye. Did he remember how much she liked Elvis? How he’d teased her unmercifully about it? Nothing showed on his face, but he must remember. Or had he shoved every memory of their time together out of his mind?
Ravyn crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair, purposely keeping her gaze above chest level so she wouldn’t see the way the tool belt slanted across his lean hips. “What do you want to know about me? I make candles and jewelry. I have one sister and a mother. I live alone. No pets. I like long walks in the rain and old music . . . you know, Otis Redding, The Platters, Elvis Presley. Anything else?”
He gave a satisfied smile. “See? Was that so hard? My turn. I work construction, and I have two sisters and two parents. One dog, a golden retriever named Dog. I don’t like long walks anywhere, and I’m not crazy about oldies. Not crazy about Elvis’s music, although the later stuff was pretty good. I like his movies, though.”
Caster’s Unfriendly Ghost (Coming this Fall)
“But one of my foster moms, Della, was different. She was good to me. She loved me. Really loved me. She was an excellent cook, and my favorite thing she made was peach pancakes. We’d sit together in the kitchen in the early morning hours before anyone else was awake, and we’d talk about…everything. She was the first person in my life who made me feel important. Who really seemed to care about me.” She paused. Bittersweet memories assailed her. Della’s comforting hugs. Her special smile. Listening to Elvis Presley music with her and watching her sweet face as she seemed transported to another time. Then, the night her husband came home from the hospital, looking ten years older…
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis came on the radio and I turned it up, feeling my spirits lift. I had inadvertently become an Elvis fan in college while doing a paper on the impact of celebrities on society. Whether or not one appreciated Elvis’ talent, there was no denying he was a phenomenon, the likes of which had never been seen before and would probably never be seen again. Not only did I find I loved his music, I’d discovered why he had the impact he had. He had this boyish, southern charm, but at the same time, a deeply embedded raw sexuality that was powerful and intoxicating. It was fortunate that he only used that power for entertainment. If he’d been a terrorist or a cult leader, he could have easily taken over the world. I was only six when he died, a few years younger than his daughter. Had I been ten years older, I was certain I’d have been a part of the frenzied, screaming masses, fainting and tossing my panties up on stage.
He hesitated, clearing his throat before speaking. “I’ve observed a lot of people over the centuries.” He stared past her shoulder. “I remember one time you came out here, your Walkman hanging from your ear. You stood right over there. All by yourself. Dancing.”
A heated flush rose to her face. “You saw that?” She laughed to cover her embarrassment. “I was listening to Elvis Presley music. It made me feel better somehow. I guess that makes me a dork.”
He shook his head. “No. Your goofy dance made you a dork.”
“Hey!” she said with mock indignation. Then she shrugged. “It was kind of goofy.”
“Elvis, though. Not a bad choice. He was a talented guy. Nice guy.”
“You knew him?” A horrifying thought struck her. “Did you…”
“No. No, I didn’t take him. I took someone at one of his concerts. Afterward, I was curious. I followed Elvis around for a few days. I was awed by the effect he had on people. They were so drawn to him.”
“I can see why.” She cocked her head. “I bet you’ve met a lot of famous people. I never really thought about that. You can go anywhere, can’t you?”
End of Lonely Street (Coming January 7, 2015)
Mapleton, Tennessee, November, 1957
Toby Lawson closed her eyes and shut out all sounds of the diner, except for Elvis Presley’s voice. He was crooning about how she was the only one for him…no matter where he went or what he did… he’d spend his whole life loving her…
Rough hands landed on her waist and shattered the fantasy. She caught a whiff of hair tonic and too much cologne, and she snapped her eyes open. Wes Markham’s hateful face replaced the image of Elvis’ beautiful, crooked smile and smoldering blue eyes.
Upon her arrival in Shoal Harbor, Maine, Lily Jackson hears eerie moans that the locals claim are the ghostly cries of the unfortunate Breckenridge women. Running from loss and setback in Cincinnati, Lily needs the job as semi-psychiatric caregiver for Andrew Breckenridge, but the storm she has to weather from the oldest Breckenridge brother is severe. Clinton Breckenridge is a brooding man used to getting his own way, and he’s not convinced Lily is the right person to help his troubled younger brother.
Even as Lily starts picking up the pieces of Andrew’s tortured psyche and finding out his dark secrets, another mystery looms before her. Andrew’s lover has gone missing in recent months and no one knows what has happened to her, or if her voice has joined those of the other Breckenridge women. Before she knows it, Lily finds herself in danger—thrust directly into the eye of the raging storm.
That night, I was in my room preparing for bed when a loud crack of thunder vibrated through the room. I rushed to the window, dread pounding through me at the sight of the darkening sky. Drops of rain shimmered on the glass, and a startling bolt of lightning illuminated the lighthouse. Something flashed in the top window of the tower, and I squinted through the darkness. Had that been a face? That was impossible. The weather was making me imagine things. Another enormous clap of thunder boomed, and I jumped back, dropping the curtain.
I shivered. Stop this. It’s only a storm. You’re inside. You’re safe. I made a concentrated effort to stop the trembles running through my body. Choosing a book from the nightstand, I settled in bed to read. No way would I be able to sleep until the storm subsided. I tried to focus on the novel, but the words might as well have been written in Swahili for all I understood.
My mind kept wandering to the weather raging outside. With a determined effort, I focused on the page I’d already read no less than five times.
A particularly horrendous blast of thunder made me let out a scream. The lights went out, and I was plunged into darkness.
I froze, my legs quaking so badly, I couldn’t climb from the bed. But then again, did I want to? Wasn’t this the safest place to be?
I tried to remember if I’d seen any candles in the bedroom, but couldn’t recall. The storm was frightening enough, but a power outage was terror-inducing. The only illumination was the occasional flashes of lightening across the draperies, which only intensified my fear.
Forcing my legs to work, I threw off the covers and stood. There had to be a candle in here somewhere. I was halfway across the bedroom floor, making my way through the dark toward the dresser, when a violent rattle shook the doorknob.
A scream left my throat. I couldn’t think straight. Terror sent blood rushing through my eardrums, and it was several moments before I recognized Clinton’s voice. “Lillian? Are you all right?”
On shaking legs, I rushed to the door, mindless of the dark. I jerked it open and summoned all my willpower not to launch into Clinton’s arms. In the faint glow of the flashlight he held, I could barely make out his silhouette, but just having another human in the vicinity eased my terror.
“The power’s out,” I said stupidly.
“I know. I’m sorry. There are candles in the bathroom.”
“I wasn’t sure where to look. And it was dark…” I shuddered. “Why are you here?”
“Drew mentioned your fear of storms. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Let’s get those candles.” His touch landed on my arm, warm and comforting. He guided me to the bathroom where he released me and opened a cabinet. Several candles, some new, some already used were stacked neatly in place. He grabbed the nearest one. Resting the flashlight on the countertop, he reached into his pocket. Flame from a lighter touched the candle’s wick. He turned off the flashlight and slipped it in his back pocket. The flare wavered over his features, which were drawn into a look of concern I’d glimpsed only a few times.
“You’re shivering,” he murmured. He rubbed his hands up and down my arms. The friction of his touch sliding the silk gown along my flesh sent a skitter of desire over my spine.
I met his gaze in the candlelight. His eyes shimmered a golden green. We stared at one another for a few excruciatingly silent moments. He tugged lightly, and I was pulled against his chest. My bones turned to liquid, his touch leaving languorous heat in its wake. His hands slid upward, settling on my face.
“What am I doing?” he asked, his voice a tortured groan.
Before I had time to respond, he lowered his head and claimed my mouth. The kiss was gentle, his lips warm and coaxing. I opened to him with a small moan, linking my hands behind his neck. I pressed into him while a wave of undeniable yearning ached in my lower belly. Madness. This is madness, a voice whispered in my head. In spite of the truth in the words, I didn’t stop.
Evil lurks beneath the surface in the beauty of the tropics…
After graduation from her small, Oklahoma high school, Liberty Delacort is looking forward to a fun-filled summer before college. But when the people she trusts the most betray her, and a letter arrives claiming her deceased father is still alive, she jumps at the chance to travel to an exotic island to meet him.
But her excitement is short-lived. Her father is dying, and he doesn’t want her around. And, in spite of its outward tranquility, the island is filled with danger and ominous secrets. The secrets soon begin to unravel, and she discovers she is a descendant of Van Helsing, the vampire hunter.
The one up side is her budding romance with the sweet and sexy Ryan Kelly. But even that is threatened when—in spite of her fear of him—she finds herself attracted to an insolent, formidable vampire. Her plan to stay away from him fails when she learns he is the only one with the ability to train her to fulfill her destiny—to save humans from a faction of vicious vampires.
Will her inexperience lead to her death—and the death of others—or will she rise to the challenge and realize her full potential as a Hunter?
Eli moved closer until only a hint of space separated their bodies. “Liberty?” His raspy voice was like a caress over her flesh. A breeze wafted over her bare back, and she shivered. She waited breathlessly for his next words, his next move. “You find me irresistible,” he whispered, his gaze never leaving hers. “You’re helpless to deny me anything. Your knees are weak.” He stroked his finger over her shoulder, letting them trail down to the center of her chest, just above her breasts. “Your heart is pounding for me right now. All you can think about is what it would feel like to kiss me.”
She licked her lips, wishing her glass wasn’t empty. Her mouth was so dry, she couldn’t speak. But oh wow…was he ever right. She didn’t even mind his aggressive, unusual approach. Something about the atmosphere, about leaving behind the trappings of home. The memories of what Cam and Alyssa had done made her reckless. She took his glass from his hand without breaking eye contact. His eyebrows rose as he watched her take a sip of the strong liquor, whatever it was. It burned her throat and eyes, but she resisted the urge to cough. It had done the trick, and she was able to whisper, “Yes.”
The corner of his mouth quirked. He moved closer, brushed his lips along hers, just a tease. That was it? That was the kiss? She bit back a groan of frustration. Her body ached with disappointment. But he moved toward her again, his eyes searching, his lips a hairsbreadth from hers. He stroked a hand down the side of her neck. His touch sent a flash of fire through her veins. She nearly moaned in anticipation, in yearning to feel his mouth, firm and hot against hers. She braced herself. Something primitive deep within told her this would be the kiss to rival any other. She swayed, her lids drifting shut, every nerve in her body tingling…
A scream tore through the night, breaking the spell. Liberty’s eyes flew open, and she gasped.
Eli stepped back. “Dammit,” he bit out. He cupped her cheek in his hand. “Don’t forget where we were.”
Then he was gone. She could barely feel her legs. Were they still supporting her? What the hell had just happened?
She shook her head, then followed the sound of excited voices where the scream had originated.
A group of people had gathered around a gazebo at the back of the house.
Liberty pushed her way through the crowd. Ryan knelt in the center of the gazebo next to a bench where a girl lay still. Her skin was as white as the moon, blank eyes staring at the midnight sky.
Liberty was afraid to look, but somehow couldn’t help herself. She scanned the girl’s body from head to toe. No blood. Good, that was a good sign, right? But the girl looked so…dead.
“Son of a bitch,” a male voice shouted. “She’s been drained.”
One man can fulfill her destiny…the other can fulfill her fantasy.
To quell the rise of evil vampires, Liberty Van Helsing must embrace her newfound Hunter destiny. But she has a great deal to learn, and Eli Barkley—the vampire who has been teaching her—has already betrayed her once. Her goal is to shut Eli out of her life and become a better hunter on her own—and to focus on her new romance with hot Australian, Ryan Kelly, a human she can trust.
But when a rogue vampire begins savagely killing young women, the authorities insist Liberty work with Eli to find the murderer. Liberty must overlook Eli’s epic betrayal and find a way to get along with him if they are to stop the unknown maniac and protect innocent lives.
Yet, the more time Liberty spends with Eli, the more her unwanted attraction to him grows. She starts to question her feelings for Ryan—are they real, or could Eli be ‘the one?’ As Eli and Liberty delve further into the murders, clues surface that point to Eli as the culprit. Can she trust him now? Or will she have to plunge a stake into his heart, breaking her own, just when she’s learning to believe in him again?
Liberty jumped at the sound of Eli’s voice. Speaking of darkness and evil…
She turned a glare on him. He stood directly behind her, hands shoved in his pockets, yet he’d been in the bar only seconds ago.
“Don’t do that,” she snapped. She looked back at the tiki bar. “How the hell did you…?” She shook her head. “Never mind. You’re a vampire. You move with the speed of light.”
He grinned and slanted his upper body toward her. “Yeah, but we’ve got all that darkness brewing inside. Ironic, isn’t it?”
She swung away from him and took hold of the door handle. “Whatever. I’m tired, so you’ll understand if I don’t feel like hanging out and bantering with you. Besides, your dates are waiting for you.”
She snorted a laugh. “No. Sympathetic. Better them than me.”
“Why is it I don’t believe you?”
“Maybe because you’re delusional?” She gave him an overly sweet smile before turning away to jerk the car door open.
“I see you’re still pouting because I didn’t tell you I was once a big, bad vampire.”
“It doesn’t matter. You warned me early on not to trust you. I should have listened.”
“And now you should put on your big girl panties and get over it. You’re a hunter, Liberty. You need to toughen up.”
Toughen up? Was he kidding? She’d risked her life last night, had worked her ass off training, and he was calling her a wimp. To hell with him. She started to slide into the car, but his voice stopped her.
“You can be mad at me all you want, but you can’t completely shut me out.”
“Watch me,” she bit out, not turning around.
“Let me ask you something. What difference would it have made if you’d known in the beginning?”
She slammed the door and whirled on him. “At least I’d have known who—what—I was dealing with.”
“Would you still have let me train you?”
“I’m not sure. But I had the right to know. To have all the facts before making that decision.”
“If you had chosen not to let me train you, how do you think you would have fared last night? Not knowing the truth was for your own good.”
She gave a bitter laugh. “Yeah, and I’m sure you’re all about what’s best for me.”
“Look, you’re going to have to put all that behind you. Like it or not, you still need me.”
“No, I don’t. I’ll keep practicing. I’ll be fine.”
“You can’t take that chance. If I hadn’t saved your ass last night, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Just like him to throw that in her face. She huffed out a sigh of irritation. “Thanks, but from here on out, I can take care of myself.”
He stepped closer, backing her up to the door. The only way she could get away from him was to climb inside the car. But she didn’t.
“What’s wrong?” He raised his eyebrows, amusement lifting the corners of his mouth. “Are you afraid of me now?”
She tilted her chin up and met his eyes. Eyes that were molten grey in the semi-darkness. “Not afraid. Pissed off. There’s a difference.”
He chuckled. “Well, it’s nice to know I have an effect on you.” His gaze dropped to her throat. “Your pulse is beating like crazy. Right here.” He stroked a finger down her neck, sending heat skittering over her flesh. Damn him. She sucked in a breath and clenched her teeth.
“I can see it.” He dropped his hand, and his gaze locked onto hers. “No matter how much you’d like to be, you’re not immune to me, Liberty Van Helsing.”
She swallowed hard, trying to slow her racing pulse. “I need to get home. Let me go.”
His lips curved in a grin, and his voice lowered to a near whisper. “I’m not touching you.”
A killer has something to say—and he’s using her obituary column to get his point across…
When columnist Monroe Donovan receives an obituary notice with a date of death two days in the future, she dismisses it as a typo. Then, a second incorrect obituary comes in, and a woman whose name matches the name of the deceased is murdered—on the date listed in the obituary. Now, Monroe realizes that something much more sinister is happening. A serial killer is trying to communicate with her.
She turns to Detective Lane Brody for help, but her attraction to him is complicating her already complicated life. And when the killer turns out to have a disturbing connection to Monroe, complications turn deadly.
I went to work early on Monday morning, before anyone else arrived. I wanted to look up some information from when Katie was murdered. Our computers held software that couldn’t be accessed from my home terminal.
I left off all the lights, other than the one directly above my cubicle. Sipping from the mug of hot, strong coffee I’d just brewed, I scrolled through the limited data available about the murder.
The only viable suspect they’d had was Cameron Cooper. He’d been twenty-one at the time. He’d served three years for a rape that occurred when he was a juvenile.
I did a search on his name. He’d be forty-six now. I wondered if he were still alive, if he were still in the area. Had the police looked at him for Maya’s killing two years ago? I hadn’t found anything to indicate they had in my two years of research. Hadn’t found anything to indicate whether or not Cooper was still around. Was he in jail now for some other crime? Maybe another rape? Once a rapist, always a rapist. The question wasn’t had he done it again. The question was, had he been caught and convicted.
Nothing came up on the search.
A noise sounded behind me and I turned. A figure lurched toward me from the darkness. I let out a scream.
“Monroe? Is that you?” a male voice said.
My heart pounded furiously, but I recognized him now. Adam.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“What are you doing here so early?”
He came closer and in the circle from the light above me, I got a better look at him.
His clothing was wrinkled, as if he’d slept in it. His face, however, looked like he hadn’t slept at all. Deep lines etched the sides of his mouth and dark circles surrounded his eyes, their vivid green now dulled. His hair was uncombed. He smelled of stale cologne and sweat. He squinted at me, blinking like he was coming out of a daze.
“I came in to do some research,” I told him. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
He peered at the computer screen. “What kind of research?”
Adam knew about Katie, but not everything. In the two years we’d dated, I hadn’t told him half of what I’d told Lane.
“It’s not important,” I said, minimizing the web site I had pulled up. I repeated my question. “Are you okay?”
He shook his head, shoving a hand through his hair. Shaking his head again, he stared at me. For just a moment, I saw a longing in his face. The old feelings I’d buried surfaced briefly, my body responding to the look in his eyes. I shoved them aside.
“Adam, has something happened?”
“Did you read yesterday’s paper?”
“Tabitha’s best friend.” He sighed and dropped into the chair next to my desk. I waited for him to continue. After a long silence, he did. “Tabitha’s best friend was…murdered.”
“Oh, Adam. I’m so sorry.”
He nodded slowly, staring at his hands where they rested on his knees. “Murdered. Tabitha’s a wreck. We were up all night.”
“How did it happen? Do they know who did it?”
“Not yet. She was stabbed.” He drew in a shuddering breath. “Murdered,” he said again.
Not knowing what to say, I sat silently. Reaching out, I placed a hand on his shoulder. I could feel him tremble beneath my fingertips.
“I need a drink,” he said.
“It’s six-thirty in the morning.”
He gave a weak grin. “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” Leaning back in the chair, he closed his eyes. “I can’t believe it. Can’t believe Laurel’s dead.”
A chill weaved its way through me and I shuddered. “Laurel?”
He nodded. “Laurel Lohman.”
My blood froze. I couldn’t speak.
Laurel Lohman was the girl’s name. The one in the obituary with the wrong date.
WANT: I suppose it would have to be Tom Brady. I don’t like the Patriots, nor do I care for him, but he IS hot, so… Yeah, I could overcome my dislike and suffer through it. Just once.
WED: Kevin Durant, only because I CANNOT marry a Yankee! I don’t care for basketball at all, and I don’t know much about him, but he is on my home city’s team (I guess he’s still with the Thunder?). Anyway, he wins by default. (Plus, he’s loaded! Not that the others are exactly poverty-stricken)
WASTE: Jeter. He’s a cutie, and he’s a phenomenal ballplayer, but I cannot, in good conscience, entertain any positive thoughts about anyone or anything associated with the New York Yankees. I would, however, ‘want’ him if given the opportunity.
Wed: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kevin Durant. As I have been seeing him regularly now for four years. (At least 84 days out of the year.) Half of that in person. He’s widely traveled you know. He’s a born nurturer (because he loves his mama so!) He’s an all around generous, down-to-earth sweetheart. He laughs at himself, plays well with others… and I would flourish in his positive aura.
Want: Derek Jeter…nah…I want Kevin Durant too.
Waste: Tom Brady….strikes me as Kevin’s polar opposite.