As you can see, I’m working hard on the final rewrite of Blind-Sided, and yes I am a heavy drinker, when I work. coffee — hot and cold, iced tea and water. The clutter, well that’s just a part of my creative process, that and being too tunnel-visioned to notice. All that aside, I’m so excited with the rewrite of Blind-Sided. In addition to our usuals, Alonso, Susan, Michael, Reese, Magda, there’s a whole panoply of new players, and wow, are they fun … and scary. I thought this weekend I would give you a shameless selfie that involves a bit of a tease from Blind-Sided, book 2 of the Medusa Consortium Series, a tease in which the plot seriously thickens. For those of you who haven’t read book 1, In The Flesh, be sure to check out my book page for a preview. Enjoy!
Blind-Sided- Now that I have Your Attention:
I killed someone tonight, Michael. I just snapped his neck. It wasn’t about blood, it wasn’t about losing control. I knew exactly what I was doing. He hurt a friend of mine – tried to slit his throat, so I killed him without remorse.
Susan paused, device in hand. She decided it best not to give details that it was Reese she spoke of and that his throat actually had been slit. She didn’t want to alarm Michael, if Michael actually even read her texts anymore. She continued.
My regret now is the constant reminder that I’m no longer human in that I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Sadly, Susan discovered that vampires couldn’t hide away in shock and sleep through their depression and trauma like humans could. Neither did sedatives or anti-depressants or alcohol work. A good topping up of blood, and lucidity, in all its ugliness, returned with a vengeance. For a long time she sat staring at the text on her iPhone. She could call him, but he wouldn’t pick up. She’d tried to call him, and she got only his voicemail. She didn’t want to trouble Alonso until she could talk to Reese about why he was here. She certainly didn’t feel comfortable bringing her problems to Magda Gardener. As for Desiree, well she’d made it abundantly clear that she wasn’t sympathetic. Susan had never felt more alone, nor more envious of Reese, sleeping peacefully and well healed on the wide four-poster bed she could easily imagine him sharing with Alonso. Desiree had them taken to Hawthorne House, which was in a secluded area on Long Island that felt a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the city. Susan had never been there before, but when she arrived a whole new staff of familiars and employees were there to serve, and Millie had already arrived with Doctor Carlson.
Once Susan was certain she’d get none of the easy rest and oblivion that engulfed Reese, once she had changed out of her ruined clothes and showered, she insisted upon staying with him, even though there was little she could do. He was drunk on her blood and sleeping like a baby – as for the wound at his throat, it had healed into a thin pink ribbon of a scar that looked as though he had done it years ago.
“Because he’s the familiar and the lover of a vampire,” Dr. Carlson had said, “he already has better healing abilities than the average human, but, there’s no way he would have survived what happened without your blood.”
Without her blood, her precious fucking blood – all of which she had taken from someone else, including the one who loved Reese, the one who had loved her too, in a different way. She stood and paced, device forgotten in hand. She was a thief now, as surely as Michael was for Magda but, unlike Michael, her survival depended on thievery. She deleted the text and shoved her phone in her pocket.
“You’re beating yourself up.” She turned to find Reese wide-awake watching her pace. “I’ve seen Alonso do it a thousand times. It doesn’t surprise me that his fledgling would do the same, though I suspect you were prone to it before you ever met Alonso.”
He made an effort to sit up, and she came to his side to help. As she rearranged his pillows, he eased his way into a sitting position. He moved slowly at first, as though he wasn’t sure everything would work okay. She realized she’d never seen him without a shirt before. The man wasn’t quite as big as Michael, but he was as well muscled, muscles he’d gotten from hard physical labor. As he shifted and the duvet fell back to reveal the hard ridges of his belly, an image of him feeding from Alonso’s heart’s blood, of him wrapped in her maker’s arms left her breathless with its power and its passion. How could Alonso not love him? She’d always liked and respected Reese, and she knew the extent to which he had fought to make sure their plan for the recapture of the Guardian had worked. He was worthy of Alonso’s love. In every way, he was worthy. Once he was comfortably seated, he cautiously lifted his fingers to his throat, which he cleared experimentally a couple of times.
“How do you feel?” She carefully sat down on the edge of the bed, as though she feared she might break him, strangely close to tears at seeing him like this. At least this one thing she had done right. Alonso would not lose the one he loved.
“Fine, I feel fine. A bit of a blood hangover, but then you know, that’s not a bad thing.” A blush crawled up his newly healed throat, and he rearranged the duvet in his lap to cover the more obvious symptoms. A blood hangover meant a buzz no drug could possibly match, and it made both the giver and the receiver horny as hell when it was shared during lovemaking. Fortunately the exchange had been only one way. She had been in no position to experience anything but the horror of the situation. At least he had been spared that. She’d leave him to take care of himself in a minute, but first she had to ask. “Do you remember what happened?”
“Of course I remember,” he said. “You didn’t shield yourself when you fed me.” His face darkened. “You had other
things on your mind, like saving my life. Oh God! Oh
Christ!” He caught a deep breath and his pulse hammered wildly in his throat just above the scar. For a second she thought he was having some sort of seizure. “It’s Alonso. That’s why I’m here. Alonso’s been taken, kidnapped!” He tried to shove his way out of the bed but she held him.
“Fuck! What? Who kidnapped him? Reese, who has Alonso?” At last she gave up trying to be gentle and shoved him hard against the headboard. “Calm down, and tell me what the fuck’s going on. I can’t help until you do.”
She had just managed to settle him and get him to drink some water when his cell phone rang and they both jumped. It lay on the bedside table where one of the servants must have tossed it when they undressed him. With a move surprisingly fast for a human, he grabbed it and switched it on. The color that her blood had returned to his cheeks left. He nodded to her and put it on speaker.
“It’s as I suspected then,” came a rough baritone voice on the other end, a voice that sounded like whoever it belonged to was a two packs a day sort of person. “Reese Chambers is alive and well in spite of my Myrmidon’s best efforts.” There was a chuckle that sounded more like a cough. “Which is more than I can say for him, from what I understand. Seems like our little scribe of a vampire is not so jealous of her maker’s lover that she wouldn’t move heaven and hell and pull the head completely off my poor unsuspecting servant to save him. But then unlike you, Mr. Chambers, she has another lover. Don’t you Ms. Innes? An angel named Michael, am I right?” Before Susan could respond he continued, “Never mind. You don’t need to answer that, I know all about your angel. You see he’s now keeping your maker company as my guest.”
Susan’s blood turned to ice in her veins, and her nails cut half moon circles into her fisted palms. “Who are you,” she asked, “and what do you want?”
“You may call me Cyrus if you wish. As for what I want, all shall be revealed to you in good time. I’ll expect you to meet me at midnight tomorrow. I’ll let you know the place. Though there have been rumors, Ms. Innes, that you are a vampire who’s able to walk in the daylight. While I’m intrigued by the idea, I prefer the mystique and the magic of the midnight hour, don’t you?”
“It isn’t going to be easy for me to get to the UK and be where you are by midnight tomorrow,” she said.
The chuckle was like a clearing of the throat. “Oh I’m not in the UK. I’m plenty close for you to sleep late, have a nice snack and still be there on time.”
“How do I know you have them? How do I know you’ve not killed them already?”
Susan’s phone rang. She nearly catapulted off the bed and yanked it out of her pocket. “Pick up, Ms. Ennis,” Cyrus said. “Lover boy is dying to talk to you.” There was the laugh again. “Well not actually dying, and he won’t be as long as you two do as I say.”
With fingers icy even for a vampire, she connected. “Susan, don’t worry,” came the blessed voice before she could speak, the voice she’d been desperate to hear, “I’m all right, Susan. Alonso’s all right too. Cyrus has us safe underground so Alonso won’t be caught out and –”
One didn’t have to have a vampire’s preternatural hearing to recognize the sound of a fist slamming against flesh. She roared, and Reese cursed, then Cyrus came back on the line.
“I’m curious, Ms. Innes. If while you’re here, I slit your angel’s throat and restrain you just long enough that your only alternative is to let him die or turn him, could you do that? Could you actually turn an angel into a vampire?” He chuckled to himself. “I would think that would be the ultimate abomination to your god, wouldn’t you?” Susan’s stomach clenched to a painful knot. “Can you imagine such a thing as an undead angel cursed to roam the earth and feed on the blood of those he is sworn to watch over and protect?
“I’m retired,” she heard Michael’s voice in the background, clearly struggling to breathe through the pain of what must have been a gut punch. She swallowed back a sob of a laugh. One of the things she loved about the man was his sense of humor.
And then anger threatened to strangle her. “If you hurt him, or if you hurt my maker, I won’t rip your head off like I did the vermin you sent tonight. I’ll make sure you live long enough to suffer for your deeds.”
For a moment there was silence, for a moment she thought she’d lost the connection, and then Cyrus spoke again. “You may have the blood of your maker in your veins, woman, but he’s such a civilized vampire. You’re not like your maker at all. No, I see you have the barbaric heart of the vile bitch who owns you.” This time there was no chuckle.
“So you know Magda Gardener?” With stealth she supposed came from living among monsters, Reese had moved to her side, holding the throw from the end of the bed around his waist with one hand and shoving his phone close to hers with the other. It was then that she realized he’d been recording the conversation, and her respect for the man, which was already high, went up still another notch.
“Let’s just say she’s … an old friend of the family – one we’d do anything to reconnect with. Which brings me back to our little rendezvous, Ms. Innes. You are to come alone and –”
“She’s not coming without me,” Reese interrupted, pressing in close enough for her to feel his body heat and smell the
scent of him, so like Alonso, and yet so different.
“You may come if you like, Mr. Chambers, though it’ll do you no good. It is only that I wish to meet face to face to tell you my terms. You’ll not be allowed to see your lovers, neither of you. Nevertheless, you will come to me, and the two of you will bring no one else, and you will tell no one. You will most especially not tell Magda Gardener. If you do, I’ll make sure your lovers are delivered back to you in pieces much too tiny for you to resurrect with your vampire blood, Ms. Innes. Do I make myself clear?”
“You’re clear,” Susan growled.