Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 14 Snippet

A/N: As we wind down towards the end of the story, things will get pretty tense: both the situations and the people involved. This will probably be the last graphically violent chapter though there are still a couple of large battles left to be fought. Before the battles and the violence, however, there is planning...and that's where we begin...

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 14

At the bottom of a small hill, the crowd of nonhumans was steadily growing in number. Blake, along with Sapphire, Opal, Devereux, and the councilwoman, Karen Walker, had arrived the day following the attack on the Simons Enterprises building. The rapidly growing number of tents, crates, people, and security measures caused curiosity and some suspicion amongst those in the small town and, by noon, the local police force arrived to investigate. With the formidable vampire ready to tear the throat of any who delayed his planned rescue of his mate, the pixies intercepted the officers and used their fey magic to ‘persuade’ them that the camp was part of a routine exercise by Homeland Security. They even accompanied the officers back to their captain and ‘showed’ him their credentials and permits until he assured them there would be no further trouble from his people. In a show of unity, he drove the pixies back to the camp and then blocked the roads so the locals couldn't interfere.

Meanwhile, Blake paced. He paced and hissed and rode the very edge of control over his feral nature. Without the full vampiric bond most mates enjoyed, he didn't know if Alicia was alive or dead, injured or well, or suffering any of the thousands of indignities his fertile mind could conjure forth. The delay in bringing the necessary numbers to attack the stronghold was tearing him apart as he alternated between praying to a God he’d never fully believed in to bring his mate out whole and well and cursing that very same God for subjecting her to even more torments.

“Blake?” Elizabeth approached the volatile vampire and handed him a glass of Sangue Vino. “Augustin called. He will be arriving tomorrow with ten of the best warriors the al Zarqua coven out of Persia has to offer. They should get here about the same time as the eight constituents from the local Vampire Council, though they will be of unknown age or abilities. Also arriving are five from the New Orleans Council and twelve from the Kovalensky Coven of Moscow. Those who owe you and me favors consider this trip payment in full.”

“Understood.” Blake drained the warmed bloodwine and did a quick tally of the numbers. “This will give us forty-one vampires of various ages and power. Have the pixies heard from Lysavar?”

“The Royal Advisor is still in the elven lands handling a few issues that stemmed from an issue with Michael’s mating. He has promised to return no later than Wednesday night but is hopeful that he’ll be able to arrive that morning. The king has promised at least one unit of elven warriors and they were going to appeal to the Academy for mages.”

“The elf is cutting it close,” Blake growled and sat his empty glass on a crate and started walking towards one of the large canvas tents. “I’m not waiting for him to decide to stop playing the lovesick fool for UrĂºvion. We’ll attack at dawn on Thursday as planned whether he’s deigned to join us or not.”

“He’ll be here, Blake.” Elizabeth followed Blake into a tent where a human quartermaster was organizing the weaponry and rationing out the ammunition. “Lysavar has always been exceedingly fond of you. He won’t let you fight this battle alone.”

“Ms. Pierce?” A youngling vampire hurried into the tent and handed the petite brunette a cellphone before casting a wary look at her intimidating companion and exiting just as quickly. The call was short but brought a fierce smile to the vampire lady’s face.

“Tomorrow will also see the arrival of ten of the Leroux Pack’s finest betas, four fox scouts from the Ingram Troop, six of the finest hunters from the Eurytion Herd of centaurs, and seven toms from the Obasanjo Pride of tigers.”

“More political maneuvering from the Summit, Elizabeth?”

“Not at all or, at least, not entirely. Each family had a child taken by the Colonel and your mate was instrumental in helping them escape. They are eager to return the favor.”

Blake’s lips curled as his pride in his beautiful mate swelled. She had always dismissed the things she’d done during her captivity and escape as necessary and unimpressive. His tiefling didn’t realize how much her actions had affected those around her. He would be certain to impress upon her again just how incredibly special she was, and to more than just him. After he’d spent at least a month checking every inch of her delightful body for signs of trauma.

“What of the Celestial?” The vampire forced his mind away from the pleasurable thoughts of having his enchanting mate in his playroom and back to the situation at hand.

“Devereux assures me that Camael will return on the morrow. The Celestial is reporting to its Gatekeeper in the hopes of securing at least a few warriors for the battle.” Elizabeth picked up one of the semiautomatic handguns, a Glock 19, pulled back the slide and ejected the magazine for a quick check before snapping it back into place and sighting down the barrel. Satisfied at the weight and balance of the weapon, she nodded to the human armorer and placed it back in the crate. “It’s also requesting a second sunblade for you to carry, though Devereux feels that will be categorically denied.”

“How is he doing?” Blake nodded to the human workmen before escorting his friend from the tent. He followed Elizabeth to the RV she shared with Johannes and accepted another glass of bloodwine.

“He is amazingly well, all things considered.” She gestured towards a confined sitting area and sighed in relief when her agitated friend actually sat. “He’s fully recovered from both the battle as well as the blood poisoning.”

“And mentally? I know the Celestial has claimed him as mate but Armentage didn’t look too keen on the idea. We can’t afford the two of them having some kind of personal meltdown when the situation turns critical.”

“Devereux has a personal stake in this fight, Blake. His focus is probably better than yours right now.”

“What the hell do you mean by that, Elizabeth?” The fierce hiss through rapidly elongating fangs had the petite vampire rolling her eyes in exasperation. “There is nothing more important to me than rescuing my mate!”

“You know exactly what I mean! When was the last time you slept, Blake? Had more than just a sip or two of blood? You won’t do Alicia any good if you’re on the verge of going feral by the time we attack. You’re skirting that edge already and every day I see you inching closer.”

“I can’t feel her, Elizabeth! I don’t know if she’s alive or dead. I don’t know if she’s injured or well. I don’t even know what that fucking demon is doing to her.” Blake pushed up from the chair to pace the cramped area, plunging his hands into his hair and giving it an aggravated tug. “It is driving me insane.”

“And I have lost forever one of the only two Children I have ever Sired.” Rising to step directly into his path, Elizabeth’s crimson eyes flashed with devastated fury. “Every single second since his death I have felt a hole in my very being where my Francisco once lay, but I refuse to give in to the pain. I don’t have time for the luxury of grief; not yet. Not if I want my vengeance. Grieve on Friday if she is truly lost, Blake, but keep your wits about you until the coming battle. It will get you killed if you don’t regain control.”

Blake raised himself to his full height and glared down at the petite vampire who challenged him. His bearing was that of a feudal lord of the Dark Ages. His anger and power as a Primary Investigator for the Primus Concilium swirled around him like a maelstrom. Elizabeth never twitched, never blinked or looked away. The air grew thick with suppressed violence and coiled tension.

“I am in complete control, Lady Pierce,” he bit out through clenched teeth. With a snarl of fury, he stormed from the small trailer and into the dappled sunlight that filtered through the towering pines.

“Damn you, Blake Simons,” Elizabeth whispered. “I refuse to lose you as well.” Slipping from the trailer, she stalked through the camp looking for someone who might be able to get through to the stubborn vampire.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 13 Snippet

After a brief hiatus for NaNoWriMo, I'm back with the teaser for Chapter 13. As the last chapter left off with Blake fearing for the fate of Alicia, this one starts with his mad search for her in the Simons Enterprises skyscraper. This chapter isn't pretty. The next few chapters aren't pretty. Hell, this story for the most part hasn't been pretty so do expect some violence, blood, gore, and good old fashioned ass-kicking. 

Oh, and pixies. This chapter will definitely have pixies.

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 13

“Alicia!” Blake’s roar echoed up the deserted stairwell. He took the stairs at preternatural speed with Augustin close at his heels. If he had met anyone on the way other than his mate, that unsuspecting soul would have met a cruel and instant death. His fangs ached to tear into his enemy. His claws screeched with every contact with the metal handrail. One hundred floors sped by but he knew in the deepest, darkest chasm of a heart few believed existed that he’d be too late. The mephits had been nothing more than a distraction, used to keep him occupied and sever loose ends while others were sent to take his mate to their master.

The vampire burst through the door with enough force to rip it from its hinges. A quick glance of the short hall revealed nothing out of the ordinary so he sped into his apartment. Blake pulled up short in the doorway, shocked by what he saw. Or rather, by what he did not see. Though he gave the living room a frantic but thorough search, nothing appeared amiss beyond a single overturned chair. The scent of blood and brimstone wafted from the master bed chamber and he stalked forward, every move that of a skilled and deadly predator.

The bedroom was reminiscent of a war zone. Plaster, glass, and shattered furniture littered the once luxurious carpet. The hand-carved bed where he’d last seen his beloved mate was missing from the room and blood, both thick pools and dark smears, coated the walls, ceiling, and floor. Inhaling deeply, he cycled through the known scents and could not detect his mate’s unique and heady aroma. Her blood had not been spilled in this room. Carefully stepping around the wreckage, he advanced on the gaping hole in the exterior wall which revealed the intruders’ point of entry. The lack of debris from such an opening sent a frisson of fear straight to his un-beating heart. He knew of only two beings that could perform such a feat: his mate and her ancestor – the demon general, Daevas Malphas.

With a gesture, August caught his attention and pointed to a smaller hole in the floor nearly hidden beneath the debris. Kneeling, Blake scanned what he could see of the empty office when the faint scent of his mate wafted to his sensitive nose. With a fierce growl, he dropped through to the floor below before his Child could advise greater caution. The elderly vampire quickly followed his Sire and their senses were assaulted by the overpowering stench in the confined space. Blood and gore coated the floor in a slick, viscous mess.

The vampires separated and searched the barren room for any hints as to what had happened. It was clear there had been a life-or-death struggle. Deep gouges marred a floor and the wall also scorched by hellfire. Bits of flesh, both human and demonic in appearance, provided bloody testimony that the fight wasn’t altogether one-sided. Near the door that led to the hall lay gruesome evidence of the fate of at least one of his mate’s guardians. A bloodied hand had been discarded as if it was mere trash. From the amount of flesh and blood beneath the clawed fingers, the vampire had fought valiantly against the creatures.

“Damnedable cockroaches!” Augustin hissed as he picked the lifeless hand off the floor. The shattered radius protruded from the gnawed flesh of the wrist and the marrow had been sucked from the bone. “If there was ever a creature that should be extinct, they are it. I’m not too familiar with his scent, but I believe this belongs to the newling, Francisco.”

“Elizabeth will be most displeased.”

Blake’s deep crimson eyes locked onto the door as the fire alarm suddenly went silent. From somewhere in the hall, he could hear the muffled sound of a struggle interspersed with a pair of raised voices. Pulling his weapon and flipping the safety, the vampire silently moved to the door and eased it open. The hall was dark other than the harsh glare of the orange emergency lighting. The sprinklers sprayed a constant mist creating a hazy, otherworldly atmosphere in the deserted building. Nodding to his Child, Blake slipped into the hall and moved efficiently towards the sound, zig-zagging across the hall from doorway to doorway in an effort to gain some protection from potential ambush. It was in the third such doorway that he found a second gruesome remainder of his mate’s dearest friend.

When August joined the seething vampire, Blake wordlessly handed the former monk a bloodied foot still encased in a shredded leather boot. This disembodied extremity also showed signs of the mephits’ barbarous appetites with sections of the tibula gnawed in half in order to reach the juicy marrow inside. The flesh around the exposed bone was as shredded as the leather that surrounded the discarded foot. Though even a newling could recover from either of the wounds in time, regenerating the missing extremity with copious amounts of fresh blood, both might prove to be more than his body could handle.

They were two doors away from the public elevator when the sounds of struggle grew louder. Alicia’s alluring scent was stronger here and Blake’s fingers tightened on the grip of the pistol. Nodding to August, who also drew his weapon, the dark-haired vampire turned the knob and eased open the door a crack. Wind whistled through the room and blew the scent of brimstone though the open doorway. Blake entered first, stepping to the right of the door, and was followed by August to its left. As they crept around tall stacks of cardboard boxes and metal storage cabinets, the voice became louder. Neither belonged to the powerful vampire’s mate.

Alicia’s scent clung to a stack of boxed equipment and discarded office chairs along with the sickening stench of sulfur. The pale light of the coming dawn shone through the yawning tear through the exterior wall and reflected off the unending mist from the sprinklers. Blake suspected that his young mate had hoped to hide from the mephits who had destroyed her friend but had been found by the demon lord himself. Judging by the sounds in the room, he was going to get an opportunity to extract a confirmation of those suppositions.

In the faint light, a pair of mephits fought over a gruesome trophy: the disembodied head of Elizabeth’s newling and Alicia’s friend, Francisco. With a roar of fury, Blake leaped upon the closest mephit and sank both claws and fangs deep into the creature’s back. The hellspawn shrieked in furious agony and beat its leathery wings in an effort to dislodge the vampire from its back. The second mephit chortled with glee as it snatched the bloody prize from the floor. It hopped on its short bowed legs towards the door with every intention of abandoning its fellow mephit to its dire fate. Augustin, on the other hand, had other – more creative – ideas.

Leaping around his savage Sire and the screeching creature, August tackled the remaining mephit and brought it to the floor with a hiss of glee. Francisco’s head rolled to the far corner, his lifeless eyes staring sightlessly at their battle, his handsome face forever frozen in horrified agony. The sight of the newling’s remains spurred the former monk’s righteous fury, reminding him of another young vampire similarly destroyed so many centuries before. Claws slashed through the mephit’s wings until they were little more than bloody ribbons attached to the body by thin strings of sinew and flesh.

“Where is she?” Blake’s hiss reverberated eerily in the empty room as he methodically tore his prey apart. “Where is my mate, cockroach?”

Bloody claws dug into the skin and muscle that surrounded one wings joint and slowly contracted. The longer the mephit shrieked his pain but failed to answer the vampire’s question, the tighter Blake’s grip became until one wing popped free. Tossing the bloody thing into a corner, Blake dug into the second joint. The mephit’s clawed hands and toes scrabbled at the floor, seeking purchase in the tile in an effort to escape the pain the apoplectic vampire was inflicting.

“Where is she, roach?” Changing tactics, the vampire pulled his bloody fingers from the creature’s back and began systematically breaking every necessary bone in the remaining wing. When the mephit still refused to answer, he slashed at the thin, leathery membrane before digging his claws into its back muscles once more. “Where is she?!”

“He’ll have her by now, vampire,” the mephit sneered through its anguish. “The General isn’t happy that you’ve diluted her blood. He’ll make her pay for that. Pay with her blood. Pay with her body. Pay with her mind.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 12 Snippet

The bad guys never let the good guys have sexah night club fun, do they? This snippet is calm but the chapter is not. As the old maps used to say: here be monsters!

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 12

“I’ve been looking for you, Mr. Mathewson.” Blake glanced over at his mate, noting her pallor. A silent message was sent to his Child for him to fetch the others. He was assured that Augustin would bring the two even if he had to throw a pail of freezing water on them to pull them apart.

“So I’ve heard, My Lord,” the captured vampire sneered. He’d been twisting and pulling against his metal and steel bands and felt them begin to crack. “It must be quite the blow to your impressive ego to not have everyone falling over themselves to serve you.”

“You were issued a summons by an active Investigator of the Primus. You are required to attend or suffer the consequences.” A motion at the edge of his periphery confirmed that his Child had been successful in rounding up the amorous pair. “By the authority granted to me by Hauhet of Saqqara, Leader of the Primus Concilium, I take you, Angus Mathewson, into custody for questioning and sentencing. Will you come quietly?”

“You’re a fool, Simons.”

With an alarming crack, the vampire finally broke through his unusual restraints and leapt for Blake. They came together with a thud, momentum sending them crashing into a nearby table which splintered beneath their combined weight. Angus was slightly older with more physical bulk, but Blake had spent centuries perfecting both offensive and defensive fighting techniques. He shifted his weight and rolled so that he was on top of the aggressive vampire.

“You’re only making things worse for yourself, Mathewson. Attacking a Primary Investigator during the course of executing his mission is a punishable offense.”

“Fuck you.”

“How eloquent.” In a move too fast to be seen by all but the eldest vampires, Blake grabbed two jagged pieces of the broken table and speared Mathewson through each hand – pinning him to the floor. The vampire’s screams were swallowed by the thumping music and yelling partiers. “Now, I ask you again. Will you yield?”

“Go to hell,” the bleeding vampire spat. “Malphas will have your bitch soon enough and then you’ll know what it’s like.”

“Don’t take that prediction to Vegas.”

Blake rolled Angus to his stomach, ignoring the vampire’s renewed screams when the makeshift stakes were wrenched from the floor, and placed a knee in the small of his back to hold him in place. He took a rope from August and wrestled his captive’s hands behind his back. Using his expertise in Shibari, Blake efficiently bound Angus’ hands from wrist to elbow in a series of close knots. The rope’s narrow diameter was deceptive. A gift from Lysavar, it contained several enchantments that improved its strength and grip.

“Armentage, if you would, help August escort our new…friend…to my vehicle. He knows where to drop off the trash.” Blake rose and moved over to his mate. His fingers lightly touched the healing wounds and fading bruises on her throat. “Alicia? Where all did he hurt you?”

“Just there, my vampire.” She winced at the pain in her raw throat. Blake leaned down and brushed his lips and then his tongue over each of the pinpricks to aid in their healing. With a low groan, he pulled her into his arms and held her tight against his chest.

“I died a little inside, Beautiful One, when I saw you in that creature’s grasp.”

“I’m sorry, Blake,” Alicia trembled against him, the shock and adrenaline wearing off to leave her shaken and scared. “I shouldn’t have come here. We should have stayed at home and…”

“Shhh.” Kissing the top of her head, he loosened his embrace enough to rub her back in soothing circles. “Don’t let him ruin this day for you. Remember the fun you were having before. I’ve never seen such joy in your eyes. Well, at least not while you were fully dressed.” Her shaky laugh was his reward and he kissed her head again.

“Can we go home?”

“Definitely. August knows where to take Mathewson.” Blake glanced over at his friend’s newling. “di Luca, will you drive us?”

“Certainly, Mr. Simons.”

Blake climbed into the back and cradled Alicia close to his side while Francisco maneuvered his small sedan though the spotty traffic. The vampire was worried about his mate; she was drifting in and out of consciousness as if exhausted. He’d never seen her attempt to use her abilities in such a way and was concerned that she’d overtaxed herself. Meanwhile, Alicia was thinking of the side of her mate she’d witnessed that night. He’d been brutal, ruthless, almost cold but then he’d touched her with such tenderness. Her vicious vampire teddy bear. She scooted closer until she wriggled onto his lap then nuzzled at his neck.

“I love you, Sir.”

“Alicia.” Blake breathed her name like a prayer as he tightened his arms around his precious female. Her even breathing alerted him that she’d succumbed to her exhaustion before he could reply. Burying his face in her feathered-streaked hair, he allowed his joyful tears to fall. He’d suspected her heart had finally given in to the pull of the mating bond but it felt like heaven to hear her admit it. Though she slept, he whispered into her hair, “I love, cherish, and adore you, my beautiful angel.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 11 Snippet

Now that our couple's delightful weekend has passed, Blake continues his search for both Malphas and the vampire who aids him. This snippet contains my favorite pixie minx doing what she does best: push the limits of a very dangerous vampire. 

Hold on tight, though, as things are about to start moving and get really bumpy real soon!


There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 11

Blake reviewed the file on Xanthe Petrou, the Councilwoman representing Virginia and Washington DC. She’d been the first to be interviewed that week about the vampire working with Malphas. Though none of the women were under suspicion, Petrou had been a staunch advocate of an emergency override for the Council’s drop box system. Since the traitor had managed to accomplish just that, it placed her position on the matter under scrutiny. It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility for the traitor to have had help within the Council. Blake just wasn’t placing bets that the aid came from Petrou.

She was the daughter of a minor Greek prince and a housemaid, raised amongst luxury and riches but forbidden to possess them. The royal blood that ran through her veins meant little when her mother was of the lower classes. As she grew, the serving class envied her royal lineage while the nobles looked down on her common parentage. She was part of both worlds and yet belonged to neither. Her need to rise above her detractors, to make them pay for the pain of her youth, took root at a very young age and only grew with time.

It was easy to believe that Petrou was capable of participating in, or even developing such a plot. Her father had commanded she learn from the premiere tutors of the time and she’d continued her education long after she’d thrown off her mortality and embraced the life of a vampire. She was intelligent and cunning, but her ambition twisted her knowledge towards darker ends. She had a thirst for power that had only grown since her childhood. Xanthe Petrou was more than capable, but she’d never bow to anyone – much less a demon.

Putting the report aside with a few new notes in the margins, he pulled out the next candidate’s file. Karen Walker was a young vampire whose rise to the council had been sponsored by the missing Lucas Davenport. Though the identity of her Sire was listed as unknown/not provided, it was a fair bet that her sire and sponsor were one and the same. The fact that such a young vampire – she was less than a century old – was trying to hide the identity of her Sire sent up the red flags to the Primary Investigator. Unless he (or she) was wanted by the Primus, involved in something the council might consider unacceptable, or unknown, there was little reason not to provide the information. Granted, the council was unaware of August’s heritage but allowances were made for age -- most vampires of his Child’s age had survived their Sires. Regardless of the reasons why the information had been suppressed, it was definitely something to denote and ask the girl when she arrived.

“You’re looking all gloom-and-doomy this morning, Pointy Teeth.”  Sapphire fluttered down from one of the air grates to perch upon his desk lamp. “What’s got your tighty-whities in a bunch?”

“Good morning, Sapphire,” Blake murmured without looking up from the file. “How was your weekend?”

“Not as good as yours, I bet.” The tiny pixie wrinkled her nose and drifted from the lamp onto the desk, walking along the edge of the grooves Alicia had cut into the expensive mahogany.

“Perhaps not.” Blake chuckled softly and closed the file. “Was there something you wanted, you little blue demon, or did you simply wish to torment me this morning? I don’t have anyone scheduled until after ten.”

“I know.” Dancing over to the laptop, Sapphire leaped and pirouetted around keys to spell out a taunting message: I know something you don’t know. “When you told me to leave for the weekend, I was going to see Opal. It’s not fair that you get to see your mate but I don’t.”

“And what prevented you from visiting your mate?” Blake smothered a grin while watching the tiny fey creature dance to music only she seemed to hear. He could easily imagine her saying the typed phrase in her sing-song voice. “I was assured that the distance wasn’t too far for either of you to fly.”

“Of course it wasn’t too far, Pointy Teeth, but someone was trying to be sneaky.” She snorted in derision and returned to the eight large gashes in the desk’s varnish. “I expected them to be deeper,” she murmured with a twinkle in her crystalline blue eyes. “I suppose it’s to be expected at your age.”

“At my age--?”  The pixie’s melodic laughter forced the vampire’s indignant reply to come to a spluttering halt. Narrowing his eyes, he gave the creature a terrible smile that promised payback. “Never mind that, you mentioned someone being sneaky?”

“No, I said he was trying to be sneaky. Pay attention, vampire. He wasn’t doing a good job of it at all. Pitiful attempt, really, even for an Infernal.”

Blake tensed immediately. “Enough games, Sapphire. Explain yourself.”

“Oh, fine. You never let me have any fun, you know. And I missed being with my mate and everything.”

“Sapphire.” The single word was hissed between elongated fangs as the vampire’s patience was tested to the breaking point. The fey realized she’d pushed him a bit too far and nervously faded out of sight.

“Right. The Infernal. Well, he was just standing outside the building trying not to look like he was watching it, which meant he looked even more like he was watching it because, you know, when someone tries not to look like he’s spying it makes him look even more like a spy.” A low growl cut off the pixie’s nervous babbling and she gulped audibly. “Yes, anyway, he stayed until you returned with your mate and then he left. I followed him into a building with a sign that read Devil’s Playground… Did you know that it was full of males of all races watching as the females removed their clothing to music? The women were dancing very oddly; like a nymph who’d eaten one too many overripe glisterberries.”

“It’s a strip club, Sapphire. The women are paid to remove their clothing for men to watch. That’s irrelevant.” Blake waved his hand as if brushing away a bothersome fly. “Did this Infernal make contact with anyone?”

“Oh, yes! He met with the First Circler, Vergil Merrow.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 10 Snippet

Well that last chapter was a bit of a doozy, huh? The demons are getting restless while Blake and Alicia continue their delightful weekend of pleasure. Things are about to rock their world but for now...a happy interlude.

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 10

“I have a meeting this afternoon I can’t miss, beautiful.” Blake’s voice whispered over her shoulder and a wave of goosebumps followed in its wake.

Alicia lay on her side with her vampire’s body molded against her back. His left arm served as her pillow and was angled in such a way so that his hand maintained a gentle but possessive grasp of her small breast. The fingers of his right hand danced along her upper thigh, hip, and the curve of her waist. Not even as a child had she felt so secure and cherished. Why had she ever fought this?

“You’re the boss, Blake,” she grumbled. “Just reschedule it.” She knew she was being pouty and petulant, but didn’t much care. A meeting meant he had to get dressed, and covering that gorgeous body with anything other than her should be a crime. Punishable by death, if she had her way. Feeling needy, she wriggled even closer to his warmth.

“Behave, brat.” He twisted her nipple until she whimpered and then teased it until her whimpers turned to soft moans. “I’ve been granted the backing of the Primus to discover who’s working with Malphas. Though today’s interview is with someone I trust implicitly, it is still necessary. He may have information for me, and this is the safest way to deliver it. I’d also like for you both to meet.”

“Oh?” Lifting his hand from her breast, she pressed light kisses along each finger. “Who is it?” Having lavished her affection on each long digit, Alicia teased his index finger with her tongue before easing her lips over it. She smirked at her vampire’s soft hiss of pleasure and nipped at the sensitive pad.

“Alicia….” Blake’s fingers dug into her hips as she practiced the art of fellatio on his trembling finger.

“What’s his name, my vampire?” Her breath was a cool contrast to the moist heat of her mouth and Alicia felt his body shake with repressed need. She nipped him with her newling fangs before sliding him between her lips once more.

“August,” he panted. Unclenching his fingers from her hip, Blake grasped her thigh and pulled her leg over his. She was exposed and vulnerable, and so wet it was dripping down her thigh to the sheets. He gritted his teeth against the pleasure as he slid his cock deep inside her. “His name is Augustin Calmet.”

“Oooooh, fuck!” Tender and sore from earlier, Alicia’s slick walls nevertheless welcomed him into their snug embrace. His hand struck her inner thigh with stinging precision on the lingering disciplinary marks he’d left earlier. Her language simply refused to improve when he was assaulting her senses with such bliss.

Blake tightened his grip on her upper body and held her motionless against his hard chest. His thrusts were slow and measured, withdrawing completely before returning to nestle between her tender folds. When she tried to move, he tightened his grip on her shoulder and thigh and pinned her free leg to the bed with his. She may have begun this game, but he was damn sure going to finish it his way.

“You delight in pushing my control, don’t you, Beautiful One?” His growling whisper stoked her desire and she arched her back to take him deeper. When she didn’t answer, he released her thigh long enough to land a stinging slap to her throbbing and exposed clit. She cried out at the exquisite pain and flooded his thrusting cock with a warm rush of liquid desire. “Don’t you?”

“Yes, Sir!” Alicia’s sobbing reply caught in her throat when one short claw scraped against her aching clit. The sharp burn as he scraped that razor-like talon across her sensitive nub caused her body to stiffen with her oncoming orgasm. The slight fear that teased her senses only heightened the pleasure.

Blake shifted her in his arms until he was able to nuzzle against the pulsing vein in her neck. He planted a series of gentle kisses along the soft skin before sliding his fangs deep. Her blood flowed over his tongue just as his orgasm shook him and he coated her silken walls with his seed. Alicia whimpered and sank her own small fangs into his wrist, drinking as she shook with the force of her own climax. Her warm tongue lapped at the wound as she floated on the cloud of ecstasy.

“You’re going to be the death of me yet, beautiful.” Blake’s amused voice was muffled against her throat as he cradled her close, their bodies still intimately joined.

“I’m sorry.”

“Shush. Never apologize for desiring me.” He pulled her closer and kissed the healed bite on her neck. “You simply do not know how much you please me, mate.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 09 Snippet

The snippet for this chapter is not from the beginning, as is normal, but further in. It gives the reader a hint of the horrors to come without revealing too much. Again, please remember that my demons are evil...the demons of legend and myth and nightmares. They are, for the most part, without virtue or morality. The closer to the center of the Infernal Plane (or Hell), the more horrifying and black are their souls. Lust, from whence the Marquis hails, resides in the Second Circle. Malphas controls Violence, the Seventh. There are only nine.

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 9

Beneath a recently renovated church in a dying town in central Alabama, a young woman and her father huddled together in an iron cage. Both had aided in the renovations of the main chapel by giving their time and efforts to repair pews, paint walls, and clear brush around the beautiful church. Neither had known of the basement in which they were now being held. A basement decorated in reds and blacks. A basement that bore the most disturbing paintings upon the walls. A basement with a single pristine altar in the center of a nine-pointed star the color of blood. Candles flickered at each point, each a different color to represent the circles of Hell.

“We have the sacrifices, My Lord Marquis.”

The sniveling voice of the greater mephit grated the demon’s nerves even as it gloried in the creature’s subservience. Unfurling his leathery wings, the Marquis turned to observe the humans its underlings had procured for him and smiled. Yes, this pair would do very well indeed. He might even allow the cockroach to have some fun once he and his underlings were bored with them.

“The girl?”

“Her aura is pure, My Lord,” the mephit simpered. “The man is her Sire. It…it is the eve of her wedding, My Lord.”

“Really?” The demon’s fangs gleamed in the flickering light of the many candelabra that stood around the summoning chamber. His smile was the distillation of all that was wicked, evil, and sinful and it was directed at the trembling young woman desperately trying to hide in her father’s arms. The Marquis stalked towards the cage, his red eyes glowing with anticipation. “Delicious! You’ve done well, imp. Prepare the altar. It’s time to anoint it for our General’s purpose.”

The mephit bowed low, sniveling and groveling its obeisance as it awkwardly hopped to the carved marble block that dominated the center of the chamber. Metal shackles were unlocked and chains were looped through iron rings set into the tile floor. Cold iron padlocks were set near the chains, opened and ready to restrain their first victim. And a lovely victim she was. The mephit violated her nubile body with its eyes; it hoped it would have the chance to do the same with its cock.

The Marquis sent a mental command to the pair of lesser demons guarding the couple. Fangs flashing in the flickering light, they eagerly reached into the cage and pulled the male’s arms through the bars. The underlings cackled at his struggles and protests and wrenched his arms securely behind his body, holding him in place with Infernal strength. Opening the door with the flick of one clawed hand, the demon lord let his crimson gaze drift from his minions to assess the value of his prizes.

The male was probably considered handsome enough. The puling human females lusted after one with his sandy blonde hair, strong jawline, and pale blue eyes. He appeared to be a strong specimen, in good health and with little body fat; his shoulders were broad, waist narrow, and hips slim. The man’s thighs looked muscular beneath his twill slacks. The demon hoped the rest of him was proportionate. They would know soon enough.

The girl was a prize, indeed. Her hair was as fair as her father’s and it hung over her back in tangled curls where it had fallen from its careful coiffure. She had dark eyes and a smattering of freckles across a pert nose. Her plump lips looked suitably fuckable and he couldn’t wait to get them around his cock as he violated her tender throat. The human’s dress, now torn and dirty from her struggles with her captors, hugged her slender figure and showed off her firm breasts and gently curving hips. The Marquis licked his lips as he imagined pounding his cock into her tight pussy while she screamed in fear and pain. Oh, yes. Definitely a prize.

“Undress him.” The lesser demons giggled in anticipation as they waited for their master’s command to take over the girl’s consciousness. She struggled, her horror plain on her tear-streaked face, but no ordinary human could ignore a demon of his power and status. Her trembling hands began working on the buttons of her father’s shirt. “Enjoy him as you do.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 8 Snippet

This is the lead-in to Chapter 08, the mating of Blake and Alicia. This chapter is full of sex, BDSM, sex, bondage, sex, sadomasochism, sex, and...oh yes, SEX. Unfortunately, there is none in this snippet. Don't be greedy! This will be submitted on Sunday and should post on Lit around the 18th of September depending on when they process it.

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 08

Blake deftly maneuvered the sleek sports car through the few twists and turns along the mostly deserted street while stealing glimpses of his silent companion. He’d verified that his mate fully understood what would occur should she choose to return to his suite and spend the weekend with him. Though it was clear that she was nervous, she had also been adamant. He’d had to wrestle for control from his overly eager beast to keep from taking her then and there, and the struggle had shown in his crimson eyes. Nipping at her plump lower lip, he’d removed the bindings from her delicate wrists, helped her rise from the bed, and instructed her to wear something comfortable for the trip to his apartment. He grimaced as she dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt emblazoned with The Bill from Schoolhouse Rock. They would clearly have to discuss her appalling taste in clothing.

“What?” Looking down at her outfit, Alicia wondered if she was perhaps dressed a bit too comfortably. “Hey, man, don’t diss The Bill! He’s totally cool.”

“Really, beautiful? The entire ensemble is atrocious. Isn’t there something a little nicer in there?”

“Make up your mind, Blake. It’s either “nice” or “comfortable.” The two don’t mix.”

“Are you going to fight me on everything?”

“Probably.” Alicia chuckled softly while rising on her toes to brush her lips against his. “But you know you love it, my vampire.”

“Not too sassy, brat,” Blake growled lowly, pulling her flush against his hard body and giving her a punishing kiss, “or there’ll be hell to pay later.” Stepping back, he swatted her jean-clad ass smartly with the crop and grinned at her yelp. “Fine…to the car with you, brat. Once we’re at the apartment, I’ll simply have to remove the offending garments as quickly as possible.”

After the initial small talk and laughter of the first few miles, his mate had grown quiet and contemplative and he worried she was regretting her hasty decision. He’d verified several times that she understood her decision to be final; he wouldn’t return her to the Pierce’s estate before the weekend was up regardless of her second thoughts. Reaching over, he trailed his fingers lightly down her neck, where he’d recently bitten into her delectable throat, and smirked at her quickly indrawn breath. Damn, but she was responsive to his slightest touch!

“Blake, please don’t.”

“Changing your mind already, beautiful?” Frowning, he withdrew his hand and clenched the steering wheel with more force than was necessary to maintain control of the powerful vehicle. “You are the one who set this night in motion, Alicia. I told you before we left that I would not return you.”

“You’re totally bat-shit crazy, you know that? Ow!” His hand had landed with unnatural precision upon the marks the crop had left earlier, and the sting brought tears to her eyes. “Sorry! But you’re nuttier than a fruitcake if you think I wanna go anywhere right now without you. I’m trying very hard not to pounce on you like some depraved sex-fiend, my vampire, and you touching where you last bit me with those wicked fangs is so not helping.”

“Sex-fiend, beautiful?” His grip relaxed on the wheel, a pleased smirk curled the edges of his lips as he watched the blush work its way up his mate’s neck, to her cheeks, and deep into her hairline.

“Yeah.” Alicia rubbed her smarting inner thigh while desperately trying to maintain control over her baser urges. Shrugging as nonchalantly as possible, she crossed her arms over her chest and attempted a glare. “What can I say? You bring out the worst in me, fang face.”

“Oh, I think I bring out the best in you, Beautiful One. I adore seeing that passionate fire in your eyes.”

“I bet you do but I’m not sure even your ancient vampire skills can hold this car on the road if I …if … um …” Voice trailing off in embarrassment, Alicia’s gaze wandered down his body to rest at the considerable bulge pressing against his trousers. She could feel the hunger of her shadowy self and unconsciously licked her lips at the remembered taste of her mate. Her hand had just crossed the center of the car when it was gripped firmly.

“None of that, beautiful. Besides, we have much to discuss before we arrive at my home.” Tilting her head in a distinctly bird-like manner, Alicia attempted to pull her hand free from his implacable grip. “And put away the talons, mate, or you’ll finish the rest of the trip naked and bound fast.” Her struggles against his hold ceased immediately. Withdrawing her talons took slightly longer.

“Fine. What’s there to talk about?”

“Watch your tone, Beautiful One. I’m not adverse to providing discipline for more than just your language, you know.” He waited until she acknowledged the point before continuing. “Now, the last time we were in the playroom I failed to fully explain the rules.”

“Rules? There are rules?”

“Yes, there are rules. You already know one; I gave it to you before we began last time.”

“You did?” Alicia nibbled her lip, thinking. “Oh! You mean the whole ‘red means stop’ thing?”

“Precisely. Any time you reach your absolute limit and feel you can’t take any more, say your safeword and everything stops immediately and without question.”

“Okay, but things will start again, right?” He nearly chuckled, as her blush was nearly bright enough to light up the car’s interior, but he refrained. Blake was just so damn proud that his mate was curious enough to overcome her reluctance to question things. “I mean, once whatever it was stops or…or whatever.”

“No, Beautiful One. Red means an end to all play until we’ve had a chance to discuss the incident. We might be able to resume later or it may have to be put off until the next day or even later than that. It’s a powerful word, Alicia, and one not to be used lightly.”

“I guess I understand but why not just use “no”? And what if, well, I need you to stop but only for a bit? You know, like something’s poking me that’s not supposed to or I need to take a pi…er, use the bathroom?” Alicia sighed happily when Blake gently stroked the healed bite on her throat. “What’s that for, my vampire?”

“Self-correction is to be rewarded, beautiful.” He trailed his fingers along her jaw line and laughed when she caught one in her small teeth and teased it with her tongue. “Behave, brat. As for your other questions, we won’t use “no” because you might have cause to say it without meaning it. As much as you like the feel of the flogger, your instincts will be to deny me or beg me to stop when, in reality, you want me to override your wishes and whip you harder. Understand?”

“Yeah. It hurts like a son of bitch but…GOD! Blake, dammit, stop…OW! Okay, okay! I’m sorry.” Rubbing her stinging thigh from the two exceedingly sharp smacks from his preternaturally quick hand, Alicia wondered just how he knew where to hit in order to find the already-sore spots from earlier.

“You will moderate your language, mate, or I shall continue to do it for you.”

“Yes, Sir. I’m sorry, Sir.” She seemed to shrivel under his scowl of disapproval and Blake felt a momentary pang of regret for his harsh tone. Pulling his eyes away from her lest he soften, he acknowledged her form of address with a brief but gentle caress along her abused thigh.

“Now, as for your other question, think of it like a traffic light. If Red means stop, then a brief pause would be Yellow. Use this for anything that isn’t dire but needs immediate attention such as needing to use the ladies’ room or having a cramp or numbness. You will not disappoint me for using either of your safewords, Alicia, so don’t try to suffer through something that can be easily remedied. If I find that you have caused yourself an injury due to a reluctance to use your safeword, then and only then will I be disappointed as well as extremely angry. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Blake pulled the car onto the shoulder, slipped it into neutral, and pulled the emergency brake. “Look at me, mate.” Holding her chin firmly, he waited until her eyes rose to his before speaking. “Your safety is my first priority, Alicia Johnston, and I will be most displeased should you place yourself in danger when it could have been avoided. There is no shame in using your safewords and I will not think less of you should you have to.”

“But…if I was really into this kind of thing, shouldn’t I be able to handle anything you do to me?”

“Everyone has their breaking point, Beautiful One, and your past may well rise to haunt you. I need to know when it gets to be too much and the only one who can tell me this is you. This doesn’t make you a failure nor does it mean that you’re weak.” Blake gently caressed her lips with his thumb but never released her from his dark, serious gaze. “I want to have you cuddled next to me in our bed delightfully sore and struggling not to curse me; I do not want to have to hold you as you cry tears of pain and distress simply because you thought you could, or should, be able to handle everything. I will do my best to ensure your well-being but only you can tell me when you are truly reaching your limit. Now do you understand, beautiful?”

“Yes, Sir.” He still saw shadows in her eyes and narrowed his.

“Remember, beautiful, there are consequences to all actions. Don’t test me on this one for you will most definitely not like the outcome.”

“Yes, Sir!”

This time, her voice was stronger and the shadows had fled. Satisfied, Blake gave her lips one final caress and maneuvered the sports car back onto the road for the final leg of their journey. He pulled into the private entrance of the parking garage and navigated the dark, spiraled path to his secure carport. Parking alongside a modest domestic compact, he helped Alicia from the Veyron and held her close during the entire trip up the elevator.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 07 Snippet

This is the intro to the next chapter of There's a Fine Line and the lead in to two of the most graphic chapters I've ever written. There are further BDSM elements of Blake and Alicia's relationship in this chapter (though not in this snippet) which will be explored in greater detail in the near future.


There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 07

Narrow bands of sunlight filtered through the curtains, waking Alicia from a most inappropriate yet extremely arousing dream. After Blake’s parting words the night before detailing all he wished to do to her, all he planned to do to her, there was little wonder that her dreams had been full of him. And her. Together. Rolling over, she groaned into her pillow as desire flooded her body and moisture pooled between her thighs. She’d already had a taste of his expertise in carnal pleasures and, even if going further scared her, she still craved more. She craved her mate. She flipped onto her back and snorted in disgust.

“Mate. He’s my fucking mate. Son of a bitch.”

Admitting it aloud didn’t upset her like she’d expected. Instead, it seemed to grant her a peace that she’d only felt once before: the night Blake had strapped her to his bench and flogged her. Grumbling as much from the revelation as from the early hour, Alicia rose from the bed and wandered into the shower. In a few short weeks, her entire life had been turned on its ear. Even after the Reveal, she’d never given much thought to the nonhumans except as either potential employers or unaware “clients.” In the cutthroat world of the homeless, race mattered little over what someone could give you. To think of herself as belonging to one of them, mating with one of them, and possibly even becoming one of them, were frightening yet oddly reassuring thoughts.

As she smoothed the soapy sponge over the taut plane of her stomach, her dreams returned in vivid detail and she couldn’t help but imagine that he was touching her, learning her curves, teasing her with those insanely skillful fingers and lips. Closing her eyes with a soft moan, she dropped the sponge as she hesitantly slid her hands along her wet, slick skin. For the first time in her young and troubled life, she explored her body to learn what she liked. For once, she could think of herself as a sexual being without shame. For that, she would always owe her vampire more than she could repay.

With the force of the heated water beating down upon her, Alicia explored the body she thought she knew. Cupping her small breasts, she stroked the rounded globes and was amazed by their softness. She wasn’t as large in the bust as many of her peers but Blake had seemed to enjoy stroking and licking them. And biting them. With a whimper at the memory of sharp fangs sinking slowly into delicate skin, she lightly pinched the hard nubs that graced their peaks. It felt pleasant enough but seemed to be lacking…something. Again, she pinched her nipples but added a twist that caused her to catch her breath. Yes…this is what she was missing and what she needed. Gripping the reddened tips firmly, she gave them both a cruel twist and gasped as the pain shot pleasure straight to her neglected core. Leaning against the cool tile, she gave her abused nipples a second twist, harder and crueler than the first and moaned at the dual sensations. Pleasure from pain; pain that became pleasure. She didn’t entirely understand yet but she was beginning to learn.

Needing more, she closed her eyes and pictured Blake’s ruggedly handsome face as she let one hand trail slowly down her stomach to the soft bed of curls that lay below. As she gently tugged and twisted her nipple almost absently, Alicia slid a finger along her soft folds. She shifted her feet a little wider in the stall, pressing her back against the wall as she stroked the small bundle of nerves that had given her so much pleasure at her mate’s command. It radiated warm pleasure with even the gentlest of touches and she spent many minutes just enjoying it and thinking of all that was to come.

How would it feel to finally give her mate that last piece of herself that she’d guarded so closely for so long? Would it hurt in that painfully pleasant way, or simply hurt? Would he be the gentle lover or the domineering vampire? Which would she prefer? Teasing her clit almost absently, she accidentally scraped the tender nubbin with an errant fingernail and inhaled sharply. God, the pain was delicious! Praying that Blake wouldn’t be gentle, she altered her caresses until they bordered on vicious. As she built towards her ultimate ecstasy, she gripped the small bit of flesh in her fingers. Moaning loudly as she brutalized both her nipple and her clit, she gave the tender flesh in both her fingers a savage twist. Her cry was loud, echoed with a hint of her avian tones, and filled with the pleasure of her release. Slowly sinking down in the small shower stall, Alicia trembled as the last aftershocks of her orgasm passed.

Once she was certain she could stand without stumbling, she rose to complete her shower. She dressed comfortably in a pair of relaxed jeans and a loose t-shirt with a pair of backless sandals. Glancing at her clothing, she frowned at what she saw. The clothing was certainly comfortable but that was all that could be said for it. It was concealing and shapeless and, quite frankly, unattractive. It had been a necessity on the streets; curvy little girls were prime targets for the stronger sexual predators but shapeless or plump ones were often overlooked. Rummaging through her closet, she was dismayed to see that all of her clothing fell into the same style. Perhaps she could persuade Ms. Pierce to take her shopping for an outfit that would shock her vampire? Alicia grinned as her eyes faded to black. Oh, what delicious punishment would he offer?

She nearly skipped down to breakfast, humming a silly tune from her youth as she piled her plate with eggs and bacon while waiting on her toast. Not daring enough to go for something truly slutty, Alicia thought she could pull off a mini-skirt and midriff top, perhaps. Her legs were decent enough and though she hadn’t seen the inside of a gym since high school, her stomach was nothing to be embarrassed about. She was about to pour a cup of coffee when a glass of orange juice appeared before her eyes like magic.

“I think you’d do better to drink this, McNugget.” Francisco grinned at her yelp of surprise and swirled the pulpy liquid in the glass.

“Ok, Cisco. What’s with everyone pushing juice on me all of a sudden and why can’t I have my coffee?”

“You need your energy replenished, Alicia. Your mate has been rather fang-happy, and it shows.”

“It does?” Alicia looked horrified for a moment while wondering just what else was so readily apparent to her hosts.

“Yup.” Her friend grinned and sat her glass in front of her before taking the opposite seat at the table. “You’re too pale, a bit shaky, and it’s plain that you’re sometimes dizzy when you first stand up. You have a mild case of anemia, sweetie – very common in a vampire’s human companion and a near constant condition to the human mate of one.”

“So, that’s what he was talking about.” A blush rose in her cheeks as she petulantly speared her eggs. “How long will it last? I want my coffee, dammit.”

Francisco chuckled and rose to pour her a cup. “You can have coffee after you finish your juice, little girl.” His teasing set her at ease, as it always did, and she shared in his laughter. “As long as he keeps his fangs to himself, you should be fine in a day or so. You’ll need to get some red meat into you, though.” When her cheeks flushed nearly purple with embarrassment, his laughter echoed throughout the room. “You naughty human, you!”

“Fuck you, Cisco!” Alicia gave him a rude gesture before turning her burning, yet smiling, face towards her breakfast. Totally unperturbed by her mock hostility, Francisco finished fixing her coffee and sat it before her once her juice was gone.

“Elizabeth is working from home today, by the way.” The young vampire moved easily around the kitchen preparing his own version of a meal – a warmed glass of bottled blood mixed with a spicy V8. His announcement was spoken casually yet he watched his human friend closely. Blake had spoken to the small coven about his mate and all were eager to help her to understand and accept her needs.

“Oh. Ok. D’you think she’d see me? I need to talk to her about something.”

“Of course she will, Alicia. Shall I let her know to expect you after breakfast?” He was rewarded by a renewal of her blush but she nodded immediately. Touching on the very light bond they still shared, he could feel that she was happier and more at peace than at any time in the past few weeks. Dropping a brotherly kiss on the top of her head, he nearly danced from the room to alert his Lady.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 6 Snippet

This chapter is a bit short, just barely 2 Lit pages, so the teaser will be short as well at just under 1000 words. This chapter will also introduce a new character (not included in this snippet) whose bio I posted recently. You'll also get some info on our baddies. So, short chapter, lots of info. This should go live early next week but for now, enjoy the snippet!

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 6

Alicia aimlessly wandered the spacious gallery of the Pierces’ home, paying little attention to the elegant sculptures or the exquisite artwork that graced the large room. Francisco had vouched for the slender elf and called his sires home to discuss the spells the shaman wished to place around the estate at Blake’s behest. The two men had spoken of trivialities, the kind of small talk one indulges in at a cocktail party, while she had fumed in a barely civil silence and fled the moment Elizabeth had arrived. For all his talk of the importance of honesty, it seemed that Blake Simons held himself to a different standard than he did others.

He’d been attacked by six creatures – three from a totally different plane of existence – but didn’t feel she deserved to know. If he didn’t think she deserved to know when he wound up in a situation that could have meant injury or even death, then what did she deserve? Was she nothing more to him than what she’d originally feared: a quick and easy fuck? She snorted unhappily at the thought. He hadn’t even tried to have sex with her when she’d spent the night with him, so that was out.

Gripping her hands tightly to avoid grabbing the nearest priceless treasure and throwing it violently against the wall, Alicia stalked from the room, no longer trusting her self-control. With a manic gleam to her pearly black eyes, she entered the small gym on the ground floor and approached the punching bag hidden in the corner. Even during those horrible months with Markus, she’d never felt so angry and upset and betrayed. She was supposed to be his mate, not a plaything he could use then discard and forget. Tears ran down her cheeks as she attacked the heavy, cylindrical bag, uncaring of the bruises on her knuckles and unaware that her avian cries of rage and pain echoed through the empty room. Jagged tears were beginning to form in the thick leather when powerful hands clamped firmly but gently around her wrists.

“You’ll hurt yourself, Beautiful One.” Blake’s murmur as he pulled her back against his chest seemed to dispel all of her aggressive anger and left her feeling numb. She neither struggled nor responded to his touch, though the tears continued to fall in silent streams. “I’m sorry I didn’t call, Alicia. Though I’ve tried to convince myself that I was only trying to protect you, the truth is that there is no excuse for my actions.” Still holding her wrists, he wrapped her in his embrace and nuzzled tenderly into her hair.

“Were you hurt?” Alicia’s voice was low and hoarse from weeping, and she was thankful for the arms that held her. She was suddenly exhausted and doubted she could stand without aid for, as angry as she had been at him, she couldn’t refrain from asking.

“No, beautiful. They never even got that close.” Daring to place a light kiss upon her cheek, he tightened his hold when she sagged in relief. “There were six. Two vampires not much older than Johannes were being led by a third who might have passed his first century. They were still too human in their ways to be much of a threat, even had I been unarmed. I’m rarely unarmed.”

“You use weapons?” Still soft, her voice was slightly stronger and full of confused curiosity. A quick glance told him that her tears had slowed to a mere trickle, which lightened his heart considerably. Joyously, he chuckled softly at her disbelief and gave her a brief squeeze.

“Yes, my sweet. I prefer handguns in such situations, though I’ve trained in most firearms from shotguns to sniper rifles and everything in between. I keep the pistols out of sight unless they’re needed, and then they’re easily accessible. The younglings had little opportunity to do more than annoy me because I’d dirtied my suit.”

“You said six…”

“The other three were Mephits, small creatures commonly referred to as the cockroaches of Hell. They’re easily manipulated by those with a stronger will, but vicious when ordered to attack. They don’t just obey their masters, they enjoy it. Their pitiful existence is only made bearable by transferring their abuse onto others. They posed a problem simply because of their tendency to shoot bursts of hellfire at their opponents.” She shivered and his arms tightened around her. “Some singed hair and a ruined shirt was all they managed before they were eliminated, Beautiful One.”

“They were after me.” 

“Not directly.” Blake sighed, wishing he didn’t have to reveal the reasoning behind the attack but unwilling to make another glaring error in judgment. He slid his hands from her wrists to entwine their fingers, his thumb stroking her wrist soothingly. “They were after me as a means of getting to you. The loss of a mate is a thousand times worse than the loss of a loved one, Alicia. Many fall into a despair so great they slowly waste away, while others can’t handle the pain and either go rogue or commit suicide. It is our belief that Malphas’ plan was to eliminate me in hopes you’d be more susceptible to his manipulations.”

“How could he think I’d have anything to do with him if he was responsible for taking you from me?”

“I don’t think he planned on us figuring that part out so soon, Beautiful One, or he has something more to use as leverage. What that may be, however, we don’t know. Yet.” When the silence stretched, with only the sound of their breathing to break it, Blake turned the precious human in his arms to face him and cupped her cheek tenderly. “Talk to me, Alicia. Yell, scream, hit me…whatever it takes, but tell me what you’re thinking right now.” 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 05 Snippet

All good things must come to an end, much like Blake's and Alicia's date. Chapter 5 will be submitted to Lit on Sunday, 4Aug12, but here's a teaser to tide you over.

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter Five

Reluctantly pulling away from the Pierce Estate, Blake watched his mate in the rearview mirror until a curve in the drive blocked her from his sight. His beast grumbled and paced at leaving Alicia behind with other vampires, especially when one of them was unmated, but was partially soothed to see that she stayed on the stairs until he had disappeared from her view as well. The only thing that prevented the creature from demanding they bring her back to their suite was the fact that he’d have to forbid her from leaving should he have to go to the office or attend a meeting. He didn’t want to cage her and, at least with the Pierces, she had some freedom of movement. The wrought-iron gates latched shut behind the silver sports car and Blake shifted into gear with a sigh. No matter the reasoning, it was still difficult.

The road was deserted as he sped across the asphalt though his mind was occupied with thoughts of his beautiful mate and their night together. Their time in the elevator had been interesting, to say the least, and he’d already requested an associate with some basic skills in magic to look at the wall and see if it could be repaired. He was tempted to leave it as it was but it had seemed to upset Alicia on their ride down to the garage so he’d fix it if it brought her peace. Hell, he’d change buildings if that’s what it took. Smirking ruefully, he shook his head at the thought. How his friends would laugh to see him so wrapped around the little human’s finger.

It was clear, however, that he needed to spend some serious time with his mate in the playroom. He’d never seen anyone take to the flogger and the paddle the way she had. She’d even gotten sassy with him when she realized there was pleasure to be found in the pain. Grinning, he knew he’d have his hands full with his spirited little brat and he was eager to take on the challenge. Her susceptibility to subspace, though, had surprised him. He’d only had a few submissives over his many centuries that were able to fly beneath the flogger; he supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised that his mate would be one of them. They were truly well matched.

Downshifting the powerful roadster to enter a sharp turn, Blake’s musings had distracted him just enough that he didn’t notice the large rocks that had been rolled onto the lane until it was too late. Clutch, brakes, and handbrake were all applied immediately as he turned the steering wheel sharply in an effort to avoid destroying his nearly two million dollar vehicle. The smell of burning rubber joined the shrill shriek of the tires on the asphalt as the car slid sideways towards the boulders. When the dust settled and his ears quit ringing from the noise, Blake was relieved to see that he’d stopped half a foot from the closest rock.

And then the figures emerged from the blowing dust.

From a small bush near the cliff side of the road, one vampire rose and began to slowly advance towards the car while another appeared from behind one of the large rocks. Blake curled his lip in a sneer as he watched them. Younglings. He took his time leaving the vehicle, unbuttoning his suit’s navy blue jacket and tossing it carelessly into the passenger seat.

“I really wouldn’t recommend doing anything…unfortunate.” The elder vampire drawled as if bored while rolling up the sleeves of his pristine white shirt. “I’ll get upset if I have to make a mess.”

“There’s gonna be a mess, all right.” One of the younglings grinned, crimson eyes glowing malevolently. “But I think I’m gonna take that shiny toy you’re driving after it’s all been cleaned up. Ain’t seen nothing like it except on the TV.”

Blake merely smiled and leaned against the closed door with his arms crossed over his chest. His mind was racing as he worked out just how to dispose of the two vampires. The one who’d come from the bush and taunted him had stopped his advance and stood mirroring his stance. The other was moving as quietly as he was able…which counted for little in the face of Blake’s age and skill. His age had also taught him patience, which the younglings had yet to learn. The chatty one’s eyes darted around the ambush site, landing on more than just the single vampire on the rocks and their victim. There were more to this group than he’d originally thought.

Hearing the scrape of a boot on the rocks to his right, Blake dropped to the asphalt as the vampire made his move. Had the situation not been quite so dire, he’d have laughed when the enraged youngling hit the road face first. Instead, he quickly rolled beneath the Bugatti to grab the pair of pistols he kept in a magnetized box attached to the front passenger wheel well. Sliding off the safety, he took aim and shattered the ankles of his talkative attacker and the rock diver. There wasn’t enough space between the roadster and the rocks to use the car as a barrier, so he rolled back out the way he came in. In a single smooth motion, Blake rose to one-knee and quickly put two rounds into one of the screaming vampire’s heads, removing him from the equation.

“Who paid you to commit suicide?”

“Fuck you, Simons! You ain’t leaving here alive.” Chatty snarled as he waved to someone over Blake’s head. “Get him!”

The smell of brimstone filled the air just seconds before a stream of fire singed the elder vampire’s hair. Cursing, he dove towards the back of the small vehicle and searched the sky for his attackers. Hovering about ten feet above the ground were three short creatures straight from nightmares and fantasy novels. Neither male nor female, they needed no garments to cover their leathery, humanoid bodies.  Approximately four feet tall with broad bat-like wings, the lesser Infernals were a deep brick red and completely hairless. They bore only three digits on each hand and had hooves instead of feet. Upon their heads were two small horns that curved back away from faces that held large black eyes and a canine snout above a set of vicious fangs. A thin, whip like barbed tail completed the horrific image. The creatures grinned down at the trapped vampire as they gathered the energy needed for a second fiery attack.

“Mephits?” Attempting to hide his concern, his scornful words were directed to the vampire he thought of as Chatty, who was clearly the leader of this little band. “Someone is getting a bit desperate to be working with the cockroaches of the Lower Planes.”

One of the mephits snarled and dove for the trapped vampire. Blake nearly grinned as he easily dodged its clumsy attack and grabbed the Infernal’s tail, yanking him from the sky. A quick twist, a slash with his razor sharp incisors and there was one less fire-throwing creature to worry about.

“You can’t win, Simons. Four against one ain’t good odds, no matter how old you are.”

Four? Blake took a quick glance around the site in an effort to find the missing fourth attacker. Since Chatty hadn’t counted the dead vampire in his numbers, it stood to reason that the dead mephit wasn’t included either. His beast growled. No matter the numbers, it was eager to dive into the fray. The human held it back for the moment but soon, it would be allowed out to play.

As he scouted his surroundings one last time, he managed to pinpoint the hidden vampire. Snorting in disgust, he realized it was slightly older but still little more than a youngling. Either he was being insulted by the caliber of his attackers or he was being severely underestimated. He didn’t appreciate either option. Widening his stance and checking the slight difference in weight of his guns, he got ready for the rest of the fight.

"Time to show me what you’ve really got, kiddies!" he murmured with a wicked grin.