Friday, December 30, 2011

#FridayFlash - The Strange Laughter

The horrible sound came from nowhere and everywhere.

Matt cringed, pulling his coat closer to his throat. "Who's there?" Only laughter met his question, and his heart raced. He decided he needed to stop drinking, to stop walking home so late at night. Dismissing the sound as a drunken delusion, he increased his pace.

Laughter continued to hound him. It was rich and loud, almost like his ex-girlfriend's. Shaking his head, Matt reminded himself it couldn't be Amber's laughter. That woman was long gone.

Not just gone. Dead and buried in the woods.

A chill wind sprang up, carrying the scent of loam and blood. Just like the night he'd buried Amber. The same scent he'd tried to scrub off before making the police report.

The laugh grew in volume and intensity, become a bit hysterical. Goosebumps rose all over, giving Matt pause. He wasn't easily frightened, even when blitzed out of his mind, but this sound drove him crazy.

"Whoever you are, you better come right out. I'm sick of your games." He sounded tougher than he felt at the moment. Matt clenched his fists and looked around, putting on the best show he could.

Still, the hauntingly familiar laugh grated at his nerves.

He ran then, guilt breaking his thoughts. Amber hadn't done anything wrong, hadn't deserved what he'd done to her. Nobody had even thought twice about her disappearance, hadn't given him a single suspicious look in the last six months. Matt had waited and waited for the cops to show up, to hound him until the end of his days.

Part of him had even wanted it.

The laughter ended abruptly, but Matt continued to run. He cried out briefly as he tripped on a curb and fell into a culvert. Death was quick for him. Quicker than it had been for Amber.

***


Also appears on Helium

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

#TuesdaySerial - Keila and Varick 8

Varick made no move to stop me as I reached for his belt. Blue eyes looked black as I kept his gaze. Blood trickled slowly from the bits, pasting a few strands of my hair to my neck.

The vampire's heated expression empowered me. He remained still as I opened his pants, though his breathing was ragged. Varick could barely keep control, and all because of me. I, a woman of not even twenty, was driving him, an experienced vampire of eight centuries, to the very edge of control.

When I pulled the waist band of his slacks down, the German let his eyes close with a sigh.

I couldn't help but grin at his reaction. All the hiding and denying we'd done at first, and both of us had been raging for the other. Varick had been right; there hadn't been time to give in to each other.

When I reached for his boxer-briefs, the vampire touched my cheek. "Viellercht ist mein liebling sollte entfernen meine stiefel." Perhaps my darling should remove my boots. He lifted one foot and placed it in my lap.

"I should unlace them?" I asked tentatively. His brief nod brought a rush of heat to my cheeks. I was once more reminded how inexperienced I was hen it came to intimate relations. Lowering my eyes, I began unlacing the twenty-eyed Doc Martens.

The laces zipped along my fingers as I pulled them free. The leather was well-worn but stiff, and Varick's calf was strong beneath that. I had non of his vampiric speed, and the weight of his gaze made me aware of hos long I was taking.

Unlacing his boots made me feel submissive, but not at all degraded. My actions were a tangible countdown to our next bout of passion. I was already naked and ready; this was me returning the favor.

Varick gave a small groan of approval as the first boot and sock came off. I rubbed his foot as I raised my eyes, and was surprised by the look on his face. Desire, of course, but there was also a touch of wonderment and possessiveness. I reached through the link for answers while he presented his other foot.

The vampire wasn't surprised by me unlacing his boots without question. We were both away ore my submissive leanings. What did throw him for a loop was how much it meant to him to watch his woman do such a thing.

I paused, only a few eyelets unlaced. I didn't know what to say or how to react. The vampire thought of me as his woman. Not just a plaything, or a quick lay, but as someone he would date and go out with.

Varick ran a hand through my hair, a bemused smile on his lips. "For a woman in a rush, you have slowed down significantly."

Nipping at his fingers, I cut through the remaining laces with a sliver of my psi blade. Time enough for contemplations after we were sated.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Yes, I'm a heathen. Yes, I disagree with a lot of what the church has done in the name of its God and Christ.

But I still like Christmas as a celebration of family and love.

It doesn't bother me if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. It's meant to be a happy sentiment of peace, and joy, and love. I can take it as that, no matter if they're super fundamental Christian, or totally atheist, or whatnot.

So, Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have a bloody Christmas

Here's the story I did for the Were-Traveller's Christmas horror issue. Nothing like a little twistedness for the holidays, right?

Friday, December 23, 2011

#FrdayFlash - Dragonrider

Here's an older piece, from about ten years ago. Give or take. I 've not edited it, so we can all have record of how much I had to learn about writing.

***

Kayla was winded as she clung to the boulder. The female dragon had just flown past, sensing the human. Kayle willed herself a part of the rock face, realizing how foolish she was being. No one knew she was up here with the wild dragons, and it was all to prove one man wrong. Johlon, her weapons teacher, had told her wild dragons were too chaotic for people to tame, that no one could understand them. Yet he had one, and she understood the few wild dragons at the Lair.

Almost there, she thought, and began climbing again. She heard the leathery slide of a baby dragon, and smiled despite the pain. Every one of the babies in the Lair loved her, and would respond to her, even though she wasn't their rider. Wild ones should respond the same way.

Kayla climbed over the rock, and instantly forgot the pain. Before her sat a scarlet and magenta baby, eyes the color of dried blood. It finished swallowing the hunk of meat that hung from its jaws, and stared right at Kayla.

Kayla slid down into the nest, and cocked her head like a dragonling. She'd learned their body language in her six months at the Lair, and could see that it was working on this one. It chirruped, and hopped toward her. Kayla chirruped back, encouraging it to come closer. It was larger than she was, and its mouth was filled with tiny daggers. It would be an easy task to slay and eat her.

The dragonling sniffed her, then narrowed its eyes. Her instructors had told her dragons could smell magic, and Johlon had told her she had the taste of necromancy about her. He said it would make her appealing to dragons, as it had made her appealing to him.

Kayla sniffed at the dragonling, and it licked her face. Then there was nothing be searing pain as her nerves burst into fire. She heard a pair of high-pitched screams, and distantly know one had to be hers. Tasting blood in her mouth, she lost contact with the ground.

There was whirling chaos, and an unbearable pressure in her mind. She felt another presence near her, and reached for it, instinctually knowing it for a friend. Buffeting wind and hunger assaulted her, and some part of her offered the burn of muscles after sword-practice and the feel of teeth in her shoulder during love-making. The images and emotions swirled together, becoming one, and Kayla no longer felt the presence as separate. She was no longer Kayle. Desires and hunger and magic filled her, the pain ebbing. She felt strong and perfect, and soured into the air.

Something touched her, and she lashed out with teeth and claws. She was no longer soaring, but firmly on the ground. She heard herself trumpet a challenge, yet it was outside her body. Her eyes focused on the figure in front of her, and she lunged for it. She lashed out, barely scratching it as it dodged around her. Before her dazed mind could track her enemy, it was behind her, an arm around her waist, one at her throat. Kayla screamed her death-cry, preferring to die in the fight than be captured, and began struggling. Sharp-tipped claws dug into her skin, and then familiar teeth sank into her shoulder, brining her back to herself with a lustful gasp.

Her mind no longer a chaotic whirl, Kayle realized what had happened. Blood was warm on her neck and lips as she glanced over her shoulder at Johlon. His dark eyes were concerned, and he didn't relax his grip. Kayla smiled dazedly, then began looking for the presence she could still feel in her skull. The red-toned dragonling was just settling back to earth, and chirped a greeting to Kayla's lover. Then he turned his eyes to his dragonrider.

~Greetings, Kayla.~

~Greetings, Solain.~ Tears streamed down her face.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice Eve

It's Winter Solstice Eve, and it's chilly and crisply cold here. Our plans are for a fire and offerings for the spirits.

Though I am still jobless and unable to support us via my writing, our family is happy and healthy. Things are going well. They could certainly be worse. I mean, we don't live in a third world cesspit.

As a sign of good things coming with the change of seasons, my husband has a job. It's especially remarkable because he has been mostly unemployable for a while. So not only is it good in the face of this economy, it is good for his pride.

Things always work out. So long as one has their health, they will make it out of any situation.

So, happy Solstice to you and yours. May everyone be happy in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#TuesdaySerial - Keila and Varick 7

I managed to sit up, limbs tingling and chest heaving. During the brief time I'd allowed myself to imagine our reunion, the scenes had never gone like this.

Not just the pleasure or the desire. I'd almost counted on that. The comfort and familiarity was throwing me off. We were connected like we hadn't been parted, like we'd actually spent the last couple months getting to know each other.

Varick continued to loom in the middle of my room. His scent tantalized from six feet away. It called to my desire, made sure I knew he wanted me. The vampire's aura crawled through mine, pricking at my spirit.

My pulse spiked when I remembered him pinning me to the wall and opening my shields. So helpless and overwhelmed, I'd hung in his mercy.

And I'd enjoyed it.

Crawling out of bed and onto the floor, I held Varick's gaze. We were connected now, sharing our hungers. There would never quite be that first moment of trepidation again, when my fear of the unknown rivaled my lust for the German. I knew him now, trusted him, would never be hurt by him again.

Which meant I could give myself to him completely. Kneeling before the vampire, laying my hands on his thighs, I did just that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Edits in progress

The depression and sickness are finally on their way out. Ugh. I never thought they'd go away.

Which means I'm finally working on Midsummer's Unveiling. Doing the edits on chapter 16 right after I finish this post. Only about 600 words to add to that one. Only five that need real work. A few touch ups here and there, and I should be good to go pretty soon.

I finally feel good about getting this novel done. Of course, I finally feel good about life in general. This is helpful to getting any real writing done.

But we all have our highs and lows, right?

Friday, December 16, 2011

#FridayFlash - Curiosity

You never realize the limits of your power until someone more powerful has you by the throat. Staring into blazing silver eyes, held in place by a strong hand, I’d found my boundaries.

The dragon was a prisoner, confined to the dungeon, trapped in elven form by the archmage. Even as a humanoid, he was powerful and dangerous. He hissed past sharp teeth, and his hand was like a vice around my throat.

For a dangerous criminal, he wasn’t even hurting me.

Time passed, and we just stared at each other. His fingers were tipped with sharp nails, but he didn’t press them to my flesh. Nor did he cut off my breathing, or lift me from me feet, or anything else I’d first feared.

Curiosity drove the last of the adrenaline from my system. The same curiosity that drove me to the dungeon, that made me enter the dragon’s cell. The very same need that got me in trouble as I ventured heedlessly down any path.

I relaxed, licking my lips, and dropped my hands from his wrist. Holding his fearsome gaze, I waited for him to speak.

His hand remained tight, but his snarl dropped. “You don’t smell like the others.”

Questions raced through my head, like were his senses good in elven form, and what it was like down here, and if he preferred sight to scent. Years of practice kept them in my skull; no one like a twenty-two year old with the verbal filter of a toddler. “What do I smell like?”

The dragon pulled me closer, only a hand span separating us. A foot taller than me, he leaned down slowly, eyes locked on mine. Broad-shoulder and lean like any elf, it was his aura that made him so impressively large.

I held still as he sniffed me, face very near my own. “Innocent. Without cruelty.” His eyes narrowed, jaw clenching. “Are you some new torture?”

“Torture?” I blurted, appalled. “You’re tortured down here?” I hadn’t been apprenticed to the archmage long enough to be absolutely certain, but I couldn’t see him as a torturer.

His hand loosened on my throat, his frown deepening. “Why are you here?”

I could have backed away, left him in the warded cell and returned to my studies. He couldn’t get past the magical barriers, and no one needed to know I’d even been here. But then I’d never get my questions answered. “I was curious.”

The dragon’s eyes flew open. “Curiosity?” he rasped. I nodded, and his hand fell away. “Who are you? Not on of Terestan’s acolytes, surely.” His words were harsh, yet filled with longing.

“I’m just an apprentice. Can’t be an acolyte yet. But I heard there was a dragon prisoner, and I had to see for myself. I didn’t expect you’d be an elf. Of course, I don’t know how a dragon would fit beneath the tower, but we are on a mountain, so it could have been a cave-” My babbling was cut off when he laid a finger over my lips.

“Does anyone know you’re down here” There was an edge of danger to his words, but he didn’t frighten me. I’d been told lack of fear was a failing, but there were too many good things to see to be afraid of anything.

I shook my head, smiling slightly. “I snuck down here, using a copy of Archmage Terestan’s key. No one should notice I’m not in my room.”

His hand came up, but not to my throat. Long fingers stroked through my hair, and he smiled wickedly. I blushed under the intensity of his gaze. “I have a proposition for you.”

“What?” My mouth went dry as I imagined all the fun I could have with a dragon as a friend.

Silver eyes glittered, harder than diamonds, and he licked his lips. “Get me out of here, and I’ll show you more than that prig ever could.”

A spicy scent surrounded me, and my heart leapt with excitement. “Really?”

“Really really,” he replied, as if to a child.

I didn’t care; I was going to be trained by a dragon! I grinned, fidgeting, wanting to leave right this moment. “What do you need me to do?”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#TuesdaySerial - Keila and Varick 6

He was a delicious, wonderful weight. I sighed, wrapped my legs around his waist, and kissed the vampire.

Varick kissed slowly, methodically, one hand stroking my arm. Our breaths mingled, our bodies sang, and our desire raged. But no matter how much I ground my hips or teased his tongue with my own, the German would go no faster.

I trembled as he broke the kiss and moved to my neck. "I missed you so much."

"Me, or my touch?" His tongue circled one of the punctures on my neck, causing goosebumps all over my body.

"You." I tangled my hands in his hair, pressed my neck against his mouth. "Your touch is bonus, but it's your mind I've wanted."

Varick pressed himself up, his erection ground against my sex. "So I should stop?"

I clawed at his shoulders and tensed my legs around his waist. Our gazes locked as my words came out in an angry hiss. "Don't you dare."

He slowly leered, exposing one fang. My blood still darkened his lips, locks of his hair snaking a curtain around us. "So you did miss my touch?"

My hands trembled as I cupped his face. "I missed everything about you. I was lonely and sad, but I'd also regained my strength because of you." I ran a thumb across his lower lip. "I am happy beyond words that you are here."

Varick bent and placed a soft kiss on my lips. I returned it, just as tender, running my hands into his hair. The vampire's aura wrapped around me, claiming me. I was secured and desired and protected and possessed.

The sensation was fantastic.

We deepened the kiss, embracing each other, caressing and moaning. Our souls played together, tightly melded, and there seemed to be nothing better. In Varick's arms was the best place ever.

I sighed as he shifted the kiss, his mouth making its way to my neck. I tipped my head to the side and exposed the small wounds. Varick stiffened briefly, need transmitted through our bond. "Yes," I whispered, cupping the back of his head.

Varick claimed me with a startling savagery. My sharp cry matched his growl, but my voice quickly fell to a moan. Fangs tore deep into my neck, blood welling instantly. The German held my shoulder and pulled my hair with vice-like fingers.

I arched up against him as hard as I could, wanting our bodies to be one. Varick pressed back, grinding into me with the same desire. Why hadn't he stopped to get undressed?

The thought barely finished forming when Varick pulled away. I gasped with shock and reeled with vertigo. After several hard on breaths, I was able to look at the vampire with slitted eyes.

"We have much time now," he whispered. With his hands behind his back and hair spread across his shoulders, he cut an impressive figure. "There is no need to rush."

"Tease," I replied, still too weak to move.

"If it pleases you, I shall." Varick's eyes promised good times ahead.

Friday, December 9, 2011

#FridayFlash - Six Winds

Grand Chancellor Harkott gave a small cry when his majordomo burst into the room. Pressing a lace handkerchief to his lips, Harkott tried to calm himself. "An update?"

The majordomo lowered his eyes, wringing his hands together. "It's the Six Winds, Sire. They're here."

"Say it isn't so," Harkott whimpered, collapsing into a delicate chair. "Not...not them."

"I wish it were otherwise."

The grand chancellor blotted at the sheen of sweat on his brow. "Are the praetorians making any difference?"

"Not in the least."

"They're just singers," he complained. "Just bards. Bards can't do this."

"Bards are neutral. But they-" The majordomo wet to the window, but the view quickly made him pull away. "That celestial diva has them all entranced."

Grand Chancellor Harkott sobbed and bit his rouged lower lip. "They can't be killers. This isn't possible." His bladder threatened to drain. "I've done nothing to deserve their attention."

Outside, the dragon leader of Six Winds roared, his voice enhancing that of the diva's. Walls shook beneath the auditory onslaught. Both men covered their ears and cringed in pain.

"No escape," the diva sang out. "Death to betrayers of Balance." Harkott whimpered as his bladder let go. The chill of death accompanied her song, and the grand chancellor felt the end of his days.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nomycha finished

I finished typing up Nomycha. It doesn't need a whole lot of editing, because I learned a lot about self-editing while writing. It helps to not have to restructure a book because you got it right the first time.

It's a fun novel, with an ending that's a little unusual for me. But it works well for the plot, so it has to stay.

Still haven't worked on Midsummer's Unveiling, but I may do that while letting Nomycha settle. Must keep working on creative writing.

That's about where I stand with the fiction. Ahhh.

Friday, December 2, 2011

#FridayFlash - Letting Go

Andrew watched her browsing the Christmas sweaters with clenched fists. Shoppers bustled past him, cheeks rose and arms burdened, paying no mind to the lanky boy in a leather coat.

Someone should have been watching him.

Deedee was by herself, but the diamond ring on her finger declared her not alone. Someone was with his woman, and was determined to claim her entirely.

Andrew ground his teeth. Three years of his life, gone to this selfish wench. He'd endured her needs and demands. He'd held her hand through sappy movies, had taken her to her grandmother's funeral. He'd gone back to school, abandoned his old friends, changed his habits. All of it, just for her.

None of it had made a difference. Without warning, Deedee had moved out, taken the dog, and refused to take his calls. For six months, he'd looked for her, wanting to give her a piece of his mind.

And five inches of stainless steel.

He fingered the filet knife in his pocket. It was the only thing she'd left at Andrew's apartment, and he felt the irony was delicious. Deedee probably wouldn't recognize the blade, wouldn't understand why this was the murder weapon, but Andrew would know. Andrew would be relieved of his pain and anguish, and would laugh as her life was wasted.

Deedee pulled a bright red sweated from the rack and held it to her torso. She smiled and rubbed her swollen tummy, and Andrew's face drained. The wench who'd broken his heart was pregnant with another man's baby.

The stalker hesitated, wondering if he could kill an innocent baby. The child had nothing to do with its mother's betrayal. Would probably even be a decent person when it grew up.

He fingered the knife again and made his choice.

***

Also on Helium

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Post - Support Four Debut Authors and Snag $125!

Here's me, helping out with debut authors. Help support them.


***


Support Four Debut Authors and Snag $125!


Four books

Two Days

Great Prizes
With this contest, there is something for everyone and it’s SO simple to be in on the winning!

On November 28 and/or 29, purchase 1 or all 4 of the debut author’s books listed here. Then forward proof of purchase (the receipt Amazon sends you will do just fine) to : motionsrider@yahoo.ca and get up to 4 entries into a draw for a $100 Amazon gift card!

It’s that easy, no reviews, no hoops to jump through. Just a great .99 book or two. Or three or four. AND, if the person who wins the $100 Amazon Gift Card has purchased all 4 books, an additional $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to the winner!

On top of that, 2 random commenter’s picked from 2 of our participating blogs will receive $5 gift Amazon gift cards . So, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the promo, the books, or the authors.

Winners will be chosen randomly, one entry per person, per book.

All winners will be announced on December 7th on Wringing Out Words (http://shannonmayer.blogspot.com)




 
“Between” by Cyndi Tefft
It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water's life isn't alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile, and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven's siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Between-ebook/dp/B004XZUMBA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322190792&sr=1-1

 

“Until Dawn: Last Light” by Jennifer Simas

When darkness falls, whose side will you be on?

For the past six years, Zoë has been anything but “normal.” Struggling to accept her immortality and thrown into a war that’s been waging in the shadows for over a thousand years, Zoë must now become who she was meant to be, joining the other Chosen to save what’s left of humanity. When the endless night falls over the Earth, will she be able to save the one man who reminds her of what it is to be human, or will it be too late?

Until Dawn: Last Light is a story of death and despair, love and longing, hope and hopelessness, and the ability to survive and keep going even when it seems impossible – when you want nothing more than to give up.

Link- http://www.amazon.com/Until-Dawn-Last-Light-ebook/dp/B005QUIXJY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322190717&sr=1-1



“The Kayson Cycle” by Jonathan D. Allen

A stranger enters a dying town and makes a desperate plea…

The Kayson Cycle introduces the Kayson Brothers, a pair of faith healers who once wowed crowds in a traveling show but went their separate ways after a night in which a healing took a dark turn. Jeffrey Kayson disappeared into the wilderness and William Kayson, wracked by guilt, moved to the failing mining town of Calico Hills to build a nice, quiet life – one that has lasted for over ten years.

His quiet, predictable life crumbles when a mysterious stranger walks into his tavern bearing a proposal to find his long-lost brother and do the one thing that William has sworn to never do again - have his brother heal a woman. William soon learns that he can’t escape his family – or his destiny.

Includes an exclusive sample chapter of The Corridors of the Dead. Please note that this is a Kindle Single, and around 6,000 words in length.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Kayson-Cycle-ebook/dp/B0061FDUA0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322190892&sr=1-1






“Sundered” by Shannon Mayer

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, and still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking Nevermore.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world that is bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

Now Mara must make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Sundered-Nevermore-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B005KOIVH0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1315021535&sr=8-3

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Book Bonanza

So, I am sponsoring Reena Jacobs on her blog hop for the Black Friday Book Bonanza. Lots of books are being given away. And I mean, A LOT.

http://booksavvybabe.com/
I've put up multiple e-copies of Deadlands and stories with fang o,.,o, so take a look over there. And take a look at the entire hop. Pick up some new books while you're at it.

#FridayFlash - Celestial Navigators

"Some foolish necromancer is sending a zombie army up here." Laughter filled the great hall as the Celestial Navigators took in the news.

Jherig lifted a brow at the scout. "Zombies? Really?" The rest of the mercenaries returned to feasting on recently won food, trusting in their leader to handle the non-threat.

The scout grabbed a stein of ale and gulped it down. "Yes. Rendus was leading the other clerics through healing up the the masses when we found the undead. They're marching straight for the castle, not bothering to do anything else."

Silly leaned against her husband. "And Rendus didn't turn them?"

"There's about a thousand of them," the scout replied.

Jherig turned to face Silly. "Even he can't handle that many." She rolled her eyes playfully and returned to eating.

Sharrien glanced out the window. "Wist's drake could."

The mercenary leader nodded. "Indeed. Take them out and keep everyone from danger."

Silly threw her head back with laughter. "Zombies are flammable, after all."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving thankfulness

It's American Thanksgiving once again. While you're reading this post, I'm preparing food for my family. I may not be a mother, but I am female enough to enjoy putting together a good meal for my loved ones. I absolutely love the hustle of Thanksgiving.

One of the traditions from my childhood was to "shoot" the turkey. I grew up in Las Vegas, so we weren't hunting our own food. My mom just liked to play with us kids. So when we were toddlers, she had us on the counter while she prepped the bird. She then proceeded to pick it up and make it flap. "Quick, kids, it's getting away. Shoot it down." Finger guns fired, and turkey plopped back into the sink. Just one of those things that made Thanksgiving fun.

There weren't a lot of old traditions with my mom, but she tried to make some lasting ones for my brother and I. And traditions that most families didn't have, just to be different and able to say they were ours.

So that's what I'm thankful for this year: a mother who did her best to make us happy.

Just One Bite anthology

The Just One Bite contest has resulted in some free reads. Check out the anthologies of all the contestants.

I'm here in book 5.

Thanks again for all the support in taking At His Knee to the top.

It and its sequel appear in my new short story collection, stories with fang o,.,o

Monday, November 21, 2011

Erotic escapes Ebooks now carries my books

There really aren't enough places a person's books can be. So when I was approached to put them up on Erotic Escapes Ebooks, I jumped on the chance.

It's a growing site, and it looks nice. So check out some of the authors they have, or even post your own books.

Thanks EEE for this opportunity.

Lugh's Unveiling went missing

Or, at least it seems like my manuscript has gone AWOL. I had some personal issues that postponed it, and then so did my beta reader. I've gotten through stage one edits, and that's about it. I know which chapters I need to work on just to get the word count correct, but then I can't make myself go do them. It's sad.

To keep my mind off my inability to finish that book, I've been transcribing a different manuscript. It's called Nomycha, and doesn't need any major plot fixes...that I can see. It's fantasy romance, and I'd forgotten how close I'd come to the end when I had paused it last year.

That's kinda where I stand with my fiction, currently. I've been a little more focused on the unemployment and freelance nonfiction in the last couple weeks, so have been holding back on the fiction. A shame.

Friday, November 18, 2011

#FridayFlash - Roommates

Becc stared at her roommate in amazement. "What do you mean, 'the milk is for the house fairy'?"

"I mean exactly that. What don't you get?" Erin crossed her arms as she returned the older woman's glare.

"Allow me to enumerate the things I don't get." Becc held up a manicured finger for each reason. "You leave milk in a saucer on the windowsill every night, without once considering my feelings as a vegan. You blow off every attempt I make to get you to stop. And now you're making things up and treating me like I'm the silly one ."

Erin shook her head, eyes closing wearily. "House fairies aren't made up. People just forgot about them."

"Isn't that convenient?"

"Not for them, it's not. They're dying out. Almost extinct. So I view taking care of them as a duty." Erin opened her eyes and nodded at the fridge. "If you'll move, I can get him his milk."

Becc planted her feet, braced her hands on her hips. "I most certainly will not. This bullshit game has to stop."

Erin's jaw clenched, and several seconds passed before she could speak. "You're the only one playing a game. Perhaps instead of being an ignorant bitch, you could respect other people's choices."

"I'm the bitch? Me?" The younger woman nodded, and Becc sputtered with indignation. "I'm not the one wasting animal products and being proud of it."

Erin threw her hands up. "Whatever. But don't complain when your stuff starts going missing." She left the kitchen, muttering to herself.

"I need a new roommate," Becc said as she turned to the sink.

Perched on the windowsill was a wee man in a brown tunic and leggings. "Would ye mind fetching me a dram o' milk?"

Becc screamed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

stories with fang o,.,o

I created a new short story collection, stories with fang o,.,o  All vampires. Some sexy, some horror, though mostly sexy. Mmmmmm, vampire lust.

The fun part about ebooks, is that I can put them out without having a novel's worth of words. It allows me to make a gathering like this, and allows you to enjoy a collection of vampiric fun.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

#FridayFlash - Grenwald

Grenwald the pookah was bored.

And he really shouldn't have been. Sin City teemed with people, and had a constant flux of new comers. Amongst all the glitz and glitter and entertainment, he should have had a non-stop stream of fun.

What the little fae hadn't counted on was how mundane and blind the people would be. No matter how outrageous his shapeshifts or pranks, he got no attention. They couldn't see him. And those who could see him thought it was a trick or merely their imagination.

Boredom was lethal when one couldn't get the power to leave.

Grenwald no longer looked for a big score. All he wanted at this point was for some living creature to really notice him, to give him an iota of energy to feed upon. Didn't have to be anything fancy, just some place to live.

He didn't even have to live well.

Wandering near the edge of the valley, Grenwald realized he was being stalked by a cat. The pookah turned, shapeshifting into a matching black and white cat. Golden eyes widened in curiosity, and Grenwald knew he could be seen.

~Hello, kitty.~ Speaking to animals was easy; if they could see the fae, they could hear the fae. Especially familiars, like this one apparently was.

But not entirely a familiar, for the cat gave no coherent reply. Only more curiosity and a tentative poke with a front paw.

~Who are you bound to that didn't give you sentience?~ Grenwald sat with perfect posture, looking down his shapeshifted nose at the feline.

The cat mewed softly, circling the fae, clearly unsure of his senses. Grenwald heaved a sigh, prepared to move on, when the cat suddenly turned and ran off. He would normally have been offended by the rudeness, but Grenwald felt the same call as the cat.

Ancient power, waking up, spilling like a beacon into the early day.

Excited, unbelieving, and incredibly hungry, Grenwald followed the cat home. In through the kitchen window of the nondescript house, then down the hall and into the master bedroom. The cat was already curled up between his owners, purring contentedly.

Grenwald could only stare. Power radiated from the pair like heat from an oven. With the power came a touch of understanding; they believed in the fae.

Sighing in relief, the pookah found a quiet corner where he could refuel. Home didn't look like it was going to be that bad.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The freelancing just may be a thing

In my drama of losing my job, I hold onto the goodness: I've finally got the free time to work on my hobbies and writing. Granted, I've still slacked on finishing Midsummer's Unveiling, but I've been working on the freelance.

This weekend, I finished setting up my office. I needed to be somewhere away from others. Somewhere near my beloved Aleister. Some place that would mark working time and hanging out time.

I've put out some articles on Helium, sold several items to Textbroker, and even set up my separate freelance blog. Huzzah! I'm just tickled pink with how lovely all of this is turning out.

Still waiting to hear from state unemployment if I can get money or not. *fingers crossed* That will be the serious difference between whether I can make a true go of this, or if I'd still need to squeeze it into a full time job.

I really want writing to be my full time, so let's all hope for that. 8D

Friday, November 4, 2011

#FridayFlash - Dark and Twisty Road

**Also available on Helium**

The woods were foreboding beneath the incipient thunderstorm, yet Philippe forged ahead, Isabella beside him. "We'll make the castle before moonrise," he assured his daughter.

She rode her palfrey with practiced ease, though this was the longest trip she'd ever undertaken. "Father is certain it is safe?" There was mild trepidation in her words, but also absolute trust and excitement.

"Of course." He lied easily.

Philippe knew better than to travel these woods, but an early snow storm had closed the mountain passes. A man such as he, with no title and only the tiniest of lands, was lucky to have managed any type of decent marriage for his only daughter. Getting Isabella to her betrothed on time meant taking risks. The dowry had been sent ahead, and he couldn't afford to not marry his child off.

She needed the protection of a landed knight who asked nothing of her family background.

Thunder boomed as they entered the treeline. Isabella pressed her palfrey forward, though showed no other signs of fear. Philippe kept his body relaxed, though every sense was on alert for danger. Wolves and boggins and worse waited for the unwary.

He had once been one of those worse things.

The storm was keeping the wildlife subdues. Tension filled the air, raising Philippe's hackles. Impending rain didn't cause this kind of foreboding. He needed to find the lurking danger before it found them.

Isabella kicked her horse to a canter, darting ahead. "Wait!" Philippe's heart lodged in his throat as he kicked his horse hard to follow her. What was in the girl's head of a sudden?

His daughter rounded a bend before he caught up to her. Adrenaline filled his veins, sharpening his senses to a battle clarity he hadn't needed since before Isabella's birth.

Coming around the bend, Philippe was glad his body still knew what to do. His little girl was off her horse and in the arms of a man all in black, but currently unharmed. The ex-highwayman would be able to cut her attacker down in a heartbeat with only the barest use of his supernatural strength.

Isabella's assailant lifted his face, and Philippe's heart froze. "She tastes delightful," spoke his former partner. Blood stained the vampire's lower lip, and Philippe's shock turned to rage.

Then Isabella looked over her shoulder, grinning wickedly. "He looks more surprised than you said, Markel." She kissed the vampire.

Philippe's heart broke, his thoughts incoherent. Even as Markel's wolves surrounded him, he couldn't find the will to live.

Everything he'd done to protect Isabella from darkness had been for naught.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You've made me a winner

Thank you all so much! At His Knee won the Just One Bite contest. Cash prize entirely aside, I'm head-over-heels stoked to have won because of the support of readers like you. I succeeded because of talent and friendship, and that really warms a girl's heart.

For everyone who didn't get a chance to register and read it during the voting, it will be available shortly from All Romance Ebooks. I will certainly keep you informed.

For everyone who loved the story (and I love you right back), I will probably be doing a sequel here in the future.

Monday, October 31, 2011

13th and 1

Today is my husband and mine's 13th and 1 anniversary. Huzzah for us.

What is a 13th and 1 you ask? Let me tell you.

This is our 13th anniversary. Thirteen years of being together, of being in love, of not murdering the other in our sleep. It's also our first wedding anniversary. Last year, we really couldn't decide what we should call this upcoming event. Did we celebrate the general anniversary, because thirteen years is a long time and cool to say? Or did we focus only on the wedding anniversary, because that's what a lot of people talk about?

We decided to do both. Screw being conventional, or sticking to just one thing. So 13th and 1.

Next year won't be quite as confusing. I think. I mean, second wedding anniversary does sound okay...but then it will be fourteen years together. I've talked to cell users younger than that.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just One Bite is almost over...

...and I'm in the money round. Fucking awesome!

Again, much gratitude to my supporters for helping out. Last night was intense. I thought I was going to blow a gasket at the end. Thank you all.

This is the final round. Just until Monday night. What an anniversary gift.

So, one more time, let's go over and vote. Just One Bite.

Friday, October 28, 2011

#FridayFlash - What Lies in the Dark

I don't normally have an introduction to my stories, but I just wanted to state that the song quotes I use have not been run through a lawyer or anything. I'm just using them because not enough people know about Van Canto, so won't know what song I've referenced. It's "The Higher Flight", by the way. Enjoy.

***

Monday, October 24, 2011

Unemployment is my catalyst

I lost my job last Wednesday. A little traumatic, seeing as I've had that job for nearly four years. Just not sure what to do with myself, and still kind of reeling from the surprise change in a four year habit.

But thanks to supportive family, I've gotten past the pain, and am working on adapting. Still waiting on little things, like if I qualify for unemployment, but am taking my new path.

I've decided to make this a catalyst, to finally make the changes I've wanted to for a while. Like being a freelance writer.

My husband had suggested I do it a while ago, but I just didn't have the time to work on articles, and my fiction, and a full-time job. Without that full-time job, I can certainly write new articles for income. I DO need an income, but I'm just looking at doing what will make me happy for the time being.

*crosses fingers* We shall see.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In the final four

Just One Bite has been going well. My husband has had extreme faith, so he wasn't surprised when everyone started voting for me. Thank you all so very very much.

Now, can we take me past some angels learning to fly?

Friday, October 21, 2011

#FridayFlash - A Look At Dragons

A Look At Dragons And Their Weakness 
- author unknown, age of writing unknown

Of all the slave races throughout the planes, dragons are far and beyond the most profitable and most entertaining. Why else are they in such high demand?

They are the least prone to disease and exhaustion. They are far more intelligent than the moulein of Tau Ceti. They have few limits to their strength and stamina.

When used in war or gladiatorial contests, they fight with an unbridled fury, faring well against multiple opponents. Dragons not only lust for battle, they are instinctual adept at it, needing little training or commands.

Equally at home in light or dark, hot or cold, desert or jungle, they adapt to any environment. They are natural planeswalkers, and their wings tap into aethereal winds, allowing them flight anywhere. While not fantastic sorcerers, they yet still manipulate the energies around them with innate skill.

The offspring are clutched in groups of two to six, and are raised equally by both parents. All members of the clan participate in educating the hatchlings, and will band together to defend their young. Babies remain in the creche for at least five years, gaining remarkable amounts of learning and training.

Do not think to separate babies from parents; a sub-telepathic bond exists that is required for proper development. Removing hatchling from parent before the proper time results in a stunted, animalistic creature that is of little use.

Once mental development is through, juveniles enter a rapid growth phase, bulking up to adult size. Their true ferocity comes out at this stage, the strength of personality and abilities following suit. Dominance and aggression are easy to find.

Male and female alike are spirited and strong, capable of breaking most mental bonds. Dragons have no language of their own, using full-fledged telepathy to enhance body postures and other subtle communications. Before they were conquered, many telepathic warriors underestimated dragons, and were lost to passionate mental attacks. Adopting our slave and bedroom languages did nothing to lessen their mental abilities.

A unique and intense soulfire fills every dragon, making concepts like passionate and fervor seem weak. Though deep and powerful, they do not use it often. Be heedful not to rouse it; worlds tremble before an angry dragon.

For all their obvious strengths, dragons have one tragic weakness: pride.

Every last one, from the oldest to the freshest hatched, from the most tame to the wildest, is filled with a deep and abiding pride. Every action they take, every war, every love, every thought, is attuned to standing amongst the clan.

Any dragon can be controlled by their pride, and can even be turned against each other in such a fashion. If carefully manipulated, a dragon can be kept in an emotional harness, and will willing serve their master. Keep them fighting, fucking, and feeding, and they may be kept docile. Or, as docile as a killing machine can be.

A deep mental bond is required to own a dragon, so that master is held as clan leader. Every action is dedicated to the clan, but no dragon will follow a weak leader. Owning a dragon is more than a status symbol; it's a full commitment to life-long battle.

[Redacted from later printings]

Beware the day they finally rise against us. Scorched destruction is all that will lay in their wake as they take their revenge. The battle to conquer them will seem a spring idyll compared to the war to survive them.

***


Now on Helium, too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mom

I miss my mom.

I don't talk about her often, here or in real life, but she was very important to me, and she was gone too early. There's so much I wish she were here to see.

The first six months after her death were hard, as I kept thinking of something I wanted to tell her, or something she would laugh about. Time has eased those wounds, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be nice to have her physically around.

She is here though, every day, in my heart, mind and personality. She's the one who gave me my craving to learn, and encouraged my explorations. She didn't hold me back or hide things from me. She always told me to find out for myself, and not just blindly accept what someone else says.

Much of what I am is because of ow she raised me. Especially that part that hates algebra. 8P

So if yours is still around, go hug your mom.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A third round of Just One Bite

And I'm in the third round. Whew. This has been fun.

I was so unsure if I'd even get this far. I certainly didn't let myself imagine anything, or get my hopes up. So I don't know how I'm supposed to react right now.

All I know is I will appreciate your continued support. Thank you so much, my friends and readers, for all you've done so far, and for potentially carrying me all the way.

Vote for Just One Bite.

Friday, October 14, 2011

#FridayFlash - Encounters

The courtship began over a dead bovine.

Neither dragon had been aware of the other until they both attacked the same beast. She swooped out of the sky, blue scales sparkling in the afternoon sun. He fired an arrow from a nearby tree, wearing an elven form to hunt.

~Who are you?~ she snarled mentally, mantling over the carcass. Her talons had severed the spine and gutted it.

His arrow had gone through its eye and lodged in its spine. "I ask you the same question." He may have been shaped like an elf, but his presence was all dragon as he approached.

Spittle flew from between her teeth as she lowered her head and snarled. Neither acknowledged the little fires she ignited. ~I am Conkra of the Azranis clan.~

He kept his shoulders back as he craned his head to look up at her. Conkra's nostrils were bigger than the shape-shifted dragon. "I am Vahlahrin, son of Mahlarin-"

~War leader of Azranis.~ She closed her eyes and lowered her snout. ~I had no idea.~ Even as Conkra gave him respect, she mantled over the bovine.

"Now you know why I hunt like this." Vahlahrin climbed the hairy slope of the beast.

Conkra opened an eye, tipping her head quizzically. ~Not merely for the challenge? You want to hide from the clan?~

He planted his feet on the summit of flesh, boldly holding her gaze. "You don't spend much time at the khaldera, do you?"

A hiss sent more flammable spit flying. ~The leader and I do not get along.~ Conkra lifted her head high and back, putting her neck and chest on display. ~I choose to fly alone.~

Vahlahrin laughed. "Then why do you question my desire to hide?"

Conkra held her wings out, throwing him into shadow as she rose up. ~I will not be laughed at.~

He snarled, the sound surprising from his slender frame. "And I will be shown deference by an outcast."

Lashing her tail and rearing onto her hind legs, Conkra challenged him. ~Take it from me if you can.~

Vahlahrin called on his true form. Magic shimmered in the air as he grew and morphed. The elf was replaced by a blue dragon, and he roared to announce his presence.

Conkra dipped her eyes briefly, but did not back down. Vahlahrin was larger than her, with an impressive rack of horns, and an enormous wingspan. He was larger than any other Azranis, even his father.

Vahlahrin kept his head up and back, wings mantled and low to the ground. ~Your last chance.~ He lifted lips from gleaming teeth.
Conkra struck, biting him on the nose.

Blood splattered and Vahlahrin roared. Conkra took to the air as he shot flames. Her tail lashed at his eyes and he followed her to the sky.

They battled across the heavens, slashing and strafing, biting and flaming. Their skills were matched, and neither scored a telling wound on the other. Neither dragon cared that they bled, nor that torn wings began to slow.

When anger turned to lust, they noticed.

Strikes were no longer meant to hurt, but to arouse. No longer did Vahlahrin and Conkra dodge each other. Instead, they rubbed and caressed, sharing their heat, stoking their desires.

When they finally landed, the ground shook with their consumation.

Hours later, bloody, exhausted, and sore, the dragons nestled together. Conkra pressed close to his side, licking one of Vahlahrin's wounds. ~Maybe I should come to the khaldera more often.~

Vahlahrin nipped behind her skull. ~I would enjoy that.~

Monday, October 10, 2011

Am I horror writer?

It's hard to identify myself as a horror writer. (I don't, but run with this.) Here's the reasons why I don't.

First, I don't really get scared. (See Fraidy Cat post) Thus I don't have the mindset of fear, so I'm never sure I'm crafting the scene properly.

Second, I've never thought gore and shock equate to horror. A gush of blood and severed limbs just don't affect me like most people, hence why I use it differently in my stories.

Third, I don't understand the genre enough to know where I git in. Not that I couldn't learn, I just haven't.

I'm content to be me, writing stories with bite, no matter what genre they might fall into.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Site update and new Morrigana tales

I have finally completed the renovations on my site. It looks a little less like some leftover from the previous century. Now it only looks a few years old. o,.,o

I even used some javascript to make my stories a little more readable and not one big janky wall of text.

A few tweaks still need to be worked in, but that's nothing compared to the major overhaul.

Also put up three new stories about Morrigana:

Hello - Kyra introduces herself
An elf's pain - Elthanael isn't handle things so well
An elf's relief - Kyra fixes what is wrong with Elthanael

Friday, October 7, 2011

#FridayFlash - Avatar

I love when they're bloody and on their knees.

Especially the big warriors. All that strength and power in absolute supplication really stirs my passion.

The remorseless fighter awaiting me now was gorgeous in all the ways I appreciated. Tall, broad shouldered, long limbed, and hard blue eyes. The kind of steely eyes that would make men tremble and women faint. The kind of eyes that showed more emotion over a well-made meal than a gutted baby.

It had been too long since one like this had prayed to me. I hid my joy, and acknowledged his presence.

He remained on his knees, showing the proper respect for a war goddess. Too many men had looked down on me because I had cunt not cock.

"I beseech Seigny,  Goddess of Winter Victories. Grant me your blessing. Make me your avatar on the physical realm."

"You do not start small," I said, drawing in his scent. Male musk, and blood, and smoke, and death. Absolutely delicious. I craved to ride this one to war.

Even on his knees, hands behind his back, there was nothing truly submissive about him. He stared up at me with such strength and pride, his aura full of bloodlust and the need for battle.

That strength was tempered by intelligence and respect for the immortal world. His supplication was not just to pay lip service to a goddess. Nor did it gall him to bend and allow another to have control.

I'd never seen a warrior like him, let alone been asked to take one as an avatar. He wanted me and my powers, wanted to use them to bring my name back to Earth.

The choice was obvious. I laid my hand over his heart, and he bowed his head. He hadn't managed to hide his triumphant smirk, and I laughed while I expanded his soul.

He'd known he'd be chosen the entire time. I could do much with this one.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Round 2 of Just One Bite

Wow. What can I say?

First, thank you to my readers and friends for voting. The support means a lot to me. Afterall, you are the reason I went public with my writing.

Second, OMG, I made it to the second round!

Now the competiton gets stiffer. I ask for your continued support. Please sign back in and vote some more. Convince friends, family, strangers on the street, or anyone who will listen to come support a hot and sexy vampire story.

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/contest_just_one_bite.html

Monday, October 3, 2011

Not a fraidy cat

I'm not scared of 99.9% of fiction, be it on the screen or in a book. Not since I was five and having nightmares from Poltergeist. My mom taught me that it was just a movie, and nothing from it could get me.

That lesson has stuck with me.

Sometimes, having a constant subconscious disconnect from the events of a story is a detriment. I just don't get caught up in the moment, never suffer any ill-effects.

Notable exceptions are Dean Koontz's Phantoms and the American remake of The Grudge.

Koontz is wonderful at creating suspense, at teasing you, and leaving plenty of room for your imagination to fill in. Not that I was screaming in terror, but I definitely got spooked.

The Grudge had all the right elements, and used them well. Ghosts are spooky, because you can't do anything to them. Then touching wet hair in the bathtub just had me cringing. And that croaky-groan noise! *shudders*

What made The Grudge especially scary was that it violated childhood rules; you're safe under the covers. That scene scared the bejeezus out of me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just One Bite voting starts now!

Let's go! Show your support by registering and voting.

Especially for At His Knee.

Go vote

Monday, September 26, 2011

Immortals in love

Why does no one contemplate how hard it would be for an immortal or ancient being to fall for a mortal? A May-December relationship is rough enough. What do you even call a relationship spanning centuries instead of decades?

The biggest question that comes up for me is, "what does he see in her?" (Men always tend to be older in my works. Mild daddy complex.) She must surely seem naive, lacking in knowledge, with only the vaguest fram of reference to events he's actually lived through.

What would the conversation be like? he'd have to keep reminding himself what she would and wouldn't know. Her outlook on the world couldn't possibly span the concept of centuries, making her observations rather narrow.

So many pitfalls never really explored.

And no, Pot is not calling. Both my main couples (Keila and Varick, the Shalafaes) have their disparate age dynamic. I've never done a dissertation on the subject, but I have at least brought it up. Keila doesn't understand what the vampire sees in her at first, and Morrigana's very innocence calls to Alzair.

Maybe I'll have to make it an actual point of contention.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Existential funks

Don't you just hate them?

I've been suffering from one for quite a while now. It's really put me behind on my book, on my stories, on my hobbies...pretty much on my life.

But I'm finally getting over it. I finally decided that I'm going to be the best bard I can be, and that I will continue to put out as much writing as I can, and that I will continue my attempts to entertain you.

I apologize I haven't been a very good friend or blogger lately. That is rather my fault. Needing time to evaluate my head isn't entirely the best excuse, but it's all I have.

Now, I shall be better.

Friday, September 23, 2011

#FridayFlash - Chad the vampire

We nearly ran into each other going opposite ways through the breakroom door. There was the normal flurry of apologies and civilities, then our auras touched.

He was a slender man, hardly more than a boy, and eager to be seen as strong. Long hair dyed black, a rough growth of stubble on his chin, and striking green eyes.

And a desperate vampiric nature that recognized the psi vamp in me.

I am stared at and lusted after all the time. In a world of tiny girls trying to be blond and generic, a black-haired Valkyrie turns heads. He was no exception, especially since my tits were right at eye level.

Very few people react with the mix of longing and are and need that he did. His entire being begged for my attention even as his mouth hung open.

The poor thing was almost too pitiful for words. But the presence of predator made my skin prickle and drew out my hunger. The quick dilation of his pupils said he felt the same thing.

Grabbing his ponytail, I pulled him with me into an empty conference room. As soon as the door was closed, the background noise of the call center was cut off and we were effectively alone. I'd seen him a couple times since he was hired, but neither of us really knew the other.

As way of introduction, I swooped down and bit his neck.

I didn't have fangs, and didn't need blood. I needed the raw ki of other beings to feed myself, and the neck usually gave the best access to a person's chakras. This little vamp was no exception.

He gasped and cried out, arching against my mouth. Other predators tend to have a more refined taste, something sharper and richer, but he clearly didn't feed a lot. He was missing that special piquancy I cherished.

I didn't take much, but his knees buckled when I let him. With a smile, I sat on the conference table and swung my legs.

He kept moaning, slumped to the floor. Hard to blame him; I normally got dizzy when my master fed violently on me. I hadn't exactly been gentle when I latched on to him.

"Chad, right?" I asked when he looked up. His face had drained of color, but his lips were flushed. Clearly unable to speak, he only nodded. "Did you know what I was until now?"

He gained his feet unsteadily, then leaned against the wall. Chad rubbed at the mark on his neck, the ring of teeth marks already turning purple. "I wasn't exactly sure. I kinda hoped."

Something in his voice bothered me. He had an obsequiousness that didn't match the pride a psi vamp should have. "Do you even know what you are?"

Chad looked wounded, but lifted his head proudly anyway. "I'm a vampire."

I bit my tongue to keep my snarky reply inside. He was trying real hard to be a vampire. I'd seen the goth cross under his shirt, and the battered copy of Anne Rice novels on his desk. He wore his status like a chip on his shoulder, and probably wondered why everyone was creeped out by him.

"Has anyone ever trained you? Worked with you?" I asked instead.

The desperate longing filled him again, and I instinctively wanted to push him away. "No. I..." Chad touched his neck and blushed. "I've never met another vampire. I learned from the books, but it's hard." He lowered his eyes. "I'm real hungry and weak."

Pity stirred. He really was just a kid, lost and alone in a world that didn't understand our kind. Making his way as best he could, taking any knowledge he could find, even if most of it was wrong.

I crossed to him. "Listen. I can give you some pointers, and I can help you out a little, but you can never feed on me, and I'll never really be your traitor."

"Why not?" His voice rose in pitch, and he grabbed my wrist.

I touched the bite mark, stirring energy in his system. "Because that much intimacy creates a bond. And if we bonded, my husband would kill you." I grinned. "He's a jealous master."

Chad managed to swallow his sadness and smile back. "I guess I'll take what I can get."

"Good. Let's start with your clothes...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just One Bite contest

I was pretty ecstatic when my vampire story At His Knee was chosen as a semi-finalist for All Romance eBook's short story contest. I was really expecting to be rejected, so it was huge and awesome to hear.

So, voting starts October 1st, though you can go read the stories now. Please, register to vote, and support all the hard work everyone has put forth.

 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dragon trait

Someone critiqued a story of mine a long time ago, and stated they were sick of seeing dragons used as fantasy genre cars. I concede the point, especially when I see vampires being used as ubiquitously.

Dragons do deserve better than to be just vehicles. They're intelligent, proud creatures, with an interesting culture and long history. They should be main characters, not props.

But let me tell you a little secret; when dragons go to war, they do best if they have riders.

It has nothing to do with fighting prowess; dragons are hatched warriors. Nor is it they're rampant passions; they never lose so much control that they attack their own side. Even their navigation isn't doubted; all dragons have a great sense of where they are and how to get elsewhere.

Dragons, unfortunately, have no sense of distance.

They're depth perception is great, meaning they target their flames well. But once a place is more than a few wingspans away, it is merely "over there". And if they can see it, it's "right over there".

Even if right over there is sixty miles.

Friday, September 16, 2011

#FridayFlash - The Crazy Ates

Tee grizzled veteran stared at the youth. "And why do you want to join The Crazy Ates?"

"For glory and honor," the young man replied. No more than sixteen, his face was still soft, though tan from working the fields. Rangy, with big hands, he was just starting to bulk out with manhood.

"You ever kill something bigger than a chicken?"

The youth narrowed his eyes, jaw jutting defensively. "I've been hunting deer since I was big enough to draw a bow."

Patrons of the inn made merry, all of them mercenaries and whores. Money and alcohol flowed freely, keeping the crowd at a fever pitch. No one noticed the tense exchange in the corner.

The veteran mercenary spat a greasy gobbet to the floor. "Did some bard fill your head with bullshit tales?"

Young green eyes hardened. "What's bullshit about them?"

"I fucking knew it. The vet spat again, then drank deeply of his ale. "Johnny-on-the-farm here's some fancy words on market day, and suddenly honest work isn't good enough for him. He runs off for adventure and glory so his name can be in a song.

"But that honest work is good. It's necessary. It's a sure sight better than holding your friends guts in while he's screaming for mercy. Cow shit smells cleaner than a boy shitting himself when he dies.

"And farms got beds and farmgirls and fresh eggs. Ain't no struggle to get a fire going in the rain, or wondering if you're gonna freeze in the night, or being scared you'll get your throat slit in the night.

"So take my advice. Go on back home, and leave the mercing to those of us as too dumb to do no better than kill for their coin."

The young smiled. "You've mistaken my origin." His smile deepened, revealing razor sharp teeth. "I want to kill for coin because it's in my nature." He laughed, licking his lips with a reptilian tongue.

"Fucking drakken," the veteran swore, sliding the ledger toward the boy. "Just remember who you're supposed to kill."

Monday, September 12, 2011

An observation on bad guys

Have you ever noticed that not a lot of writers, mostly screenwriters, don't let the antagonist be in love? Sure, he has some main squeeze that he "loves", but he's ready to abandon her in a heartbeat. When she dies in the crossfire, he doesn't even stop to say goodbye.

Is that because it would make him human? Are people that afraid of liking a villain? Is there a law somewhere that says evil can't love?

Not that all antagonists should be head-over-heels in love. Some really are cold bastards. They really would use their girlfriend as a human shield.

But every now and then, it might be nice to sigh wistfully at the villains romance.

Friday, September 9, 2011

#FridayFlash - Familar Whisperer

Being a familiar whisperer is not all you'd think it is. Yes, I get to work with animals and magic for a living, but no one calls when things are going right.

And no one wants to hear that their familiar is messed up because they're a bad guardian.

It sounds all PC to call the spellcaster a guardian, but we're not talking about regular pets here. Familiars require special bonding and care, and a lot of understanding. They're not easy to have, but almost no one teaches mages these things.

Take, for instance, this witch I helped about a year ago. Not a hippie-dippie wiccan, she was styling herself more old school. Herbs and rituals and imps and spirits. So she had to have a black cat. Wouldn't complete the look without one.

Problem for her is that cats, especially the black ones, love to hunt imps and other little things. They see right into the aether, and bonding with magic only enhances that aspect. No way her cat wasn't going to go nuts with all the spiritual traffic.

Surprise surprise, she got upset with him for doing what comes natural. Used to spritz him with vinegar any time he acted up. Even after I explained what was going on, she wouldn't relent. So I had to convince the distraught thing to not hunt when she was around.

It's not the animal's fault they get bonded to such nimrods. They only have so much choice in the matter. It's a rare spirit that becomes a familiar, and it's even harder for them to be special amongst the mundane.

Met a guy who only dabbled in sorcery, but he had enough power to get himself a familiar. Not that he realized it at first; he thought he just had a really smart dog.

It warps a mind to be treated like a normal dog when you know you're special. Try as he might, that Lab could not break through and communicate. Totally helpless, and the person he depended upon couldn't understand.

At least that guy took my advice. Now the two of them track missing kids, using their powers together.

Okay, my job isn't totally that bad. I just feel bad for the poor familiars, and I want to slap their guardians around. I wish there was an arcane SPCA for these kinda things.

There is one great thing about being a familiar whisperer; I can work with anyone's familiar. Since I'm not bonded, yet they can all talk to me, I get to watch over them sometimes. Especially the real exotic ones. Last time I checked, you couldn't take a caiman on an airplane.

Just last week I was watching over a pair of ravens for this warlock. Ravens are mischievous enough on their own. Let them learn a few cantrips, get smarter by associating with a spellcaster, and like gets real interesting.

When they weren't going in opposite directions or stealing my keys, we actually had a lot of fun together. After the hazing period, they were remarkably loving and adoring, and we had some great conversations.

Then they managed to complete a storm spell inside. My hair still smells like lightning. Last time I'll watch two ravens at once.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#TuesdaySerial - Keila and Varick 5

Telling yourself you could live without something was a far cry from actually doing it. As Varick drank, I was almost convinced I would never be able to live without him.

I nearly screamed when he stopped and moved away. Thwarted orgasm stiffened my muscles, and i ached, arching uncontrollably. Blood trickled down my neck, and I wanted Varick to be feeding still.

The vampire wanted to be feeding still, and he was tortured by need. "Have you candles or a lamp?" His voice was husky, and it raised the hairs along my arms. "I would see you."

Making my limbs work took effort, but I got my bedside lamp on. Pale light filled the room, softly illuminating the German.

A smear of blood stained his lower lip, and his hair was tangled around his head. "Undress." Barely restrained desire filled his voice.

I rose, taking care not to fall and look like a fool. My head only spun a little, but my legs were still trembling. Holding Varick's gaze, I pulled my shirt over my head. "I had no idea it would affect you that night, me getting undressed in front of you."

He stayed absolutely still, almost relaxed. Anyone not connected to him wouldn't know of his inner turmoil. "When I pinned you to the wall, it was hard for me. When you first slept wounded in my bed, it was hard for me."

My hands shook as I undid my pants. We hadn't gotten a chance to really talk about what had happened between us. I wanted to know so much, but I was afraid to ask.

Varick wasn't as tongue tied, and spoke as he closed on me. "I did not know I could trust you, but I was painfully drawn to you. More than just appreciating having a half-naked woman at my mercy." I pushed my pants down my hips, and his eyes followed the movement. "You affect me in special ways."

Denim pooled around my ankles, and I stepped free of my pants. My heart thundered as I watched him, and his hands on my scars made me shiver. "That's an awful lot to be responsible for."

The German pressed himself against me, a couple inches taller than me in his Doc Marten's. He ran his nails up my back, then unhooked my bra. "Do not think on it. Simply accept it."

I kissed him.

My actions surprised us both. Self-assured and strong didn't translate to me being sexually forward. I'd always thought of myself as more restrained, as not really being a sexual conqueror.

But Varick brought out a lustful side I'd never expected.

He sighed with pleasure and kissed me back, sliding my bra straps off my shoulders. Strong fingers played across nerves and tattoos, making me whimper.

Since the first night he'd been in here, I'd wanted Varick to tumble me back into my bed and ravage me. I shivered in joy as he finally did so.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reading to my birdie

The other night, I had Aleister Growley out of his cage. He's a very dominant (borderline mean) parrot, but he and I get along really well.

Him and other people, not as well. Meaning closed doors and us alone.

So I was sitting next to him, reading from Keila 3 as I did some edits. Aleister enjoyed the attention, I was working on my book, and, apparently, my husband was outside the door listening to me.

For a while.

I got shy and blushed, because that's what I do. This wasn't exactly normal behavior for him, so I needed to know why.

"Because you sound incredible when you read." More blushing on my part. "And I wanted to hear you talk dirty." ...

Friday, September 2, 2011

#FridayFlash - Sketchy

Everyone knows tweekers came up with the term sketchy. It doesn't just mean acting like a little sketch, half there and not fully formed.

It's meant to describe when you're seeing half-formed images in the corner of your eyes, the line drawings of people and things.

Not everyone knows that the sketchy things are real.

I used to think it was just the drugs. I used to judge how much sleep I needed by how close they got, how solid they became. When they started talking to me, it was time to lay off.

But then I started seeing them even when I was straight.

That threw me for one. I didn't even touch Vicodin for six weeks. Figured I had to be on my way to permafried. Didn't need to end up in a loony bin, so I tried to detox.

None of it helped. The sketchy people kept coming to me, kept talking to me. I couldn't avoid them anymore, so I smoked me a big bowl of crystal and had a long conversation with them.

Turns out they're from another dimension or something, and they got stuck between the worlds. Only time people can see them is when their perceptions are all messed up.

I'm one of the lucky few who can actually help them. If I let them get solid enough, they can use me as a conduit, or something like that.

So that's why I was buying dope, officer. I'm trying to save a special race.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#TuesdaySerial - Keila and Varick 4

***A little heat this week. And a little longer than normal.***

Varick immediately wrapped arms around me from behind, pressing me hard to his chest. I moaned softly, months of longing ripping through me, flooding me with heat and sensation.

"Choose, quickly," the vampire growled in my ear. His hunger pulsed at my shields, and I opened myself to him. "Your bed or the couch?"

Images came with his words, shooting straight to my core. Varick wasn't asking permission to have me; he was going to take me tonight, going to feed. The only say I got in the matter was where.

"Bed," I forced out in a strangled whisper. It was hard to think with his hands and mouth on me, but what we were going to do didn't require thought.

Varick picked me up, carrying me to my room. He could have used vampiric speed to take me there in a blur, but he enjoyed the torture of the climb. Sapphire eyes stared at me, dark and narrowed with passion.

I wound his hair around my fingers, thinking only of his touch. My normal awkward feeling about being carried like this was cast aside. This Valkyrie was proud to be taken away like a prize.

He kicked my door closed and it slammed, rattling my window. So much for subtlety.

My room was dark, but that didn't bother the vampire. He found my bed easily enough, kneeling to set me on it. "The last time I saw you was unconscious in this very room."

I wasn't in the mood for talking. Desire ruled my mind, and I was finally back in Varick's arms. I kissed him, pressing my tongue past his lips. The vampire groaned deeply as my tongue rubbed a fang. I licked it again, aware of how much he liked it through our connection.

Having our spirits joined was almost like cheating.

Varick still knelt by the bed, clutching the edge and holding still. Keep doing that, he commanded mentally.

I swung around so he knelt between my legs, holding my heels behind his knees. My hands trembled only slightly as I ran them through his hair to cradle his head.

Then I moved to his mouth.

Varick's lips were parted, giving me full access. I flicked my tongue across his lower lip, teasing and tasting, but not joining. My experiences were actually pretty light when it came to the sensual, but I read and observed a lot. I drew on those knowledges in an attempt to impress him.

"You do not need to try anything." His whisper against my mouth set my skin to prickling. "Be only yourself."

I leaned back a little, staring at the soft glow that was his face. "You do remember that I don't know anything?"

Varick grabbed my hips fiercely, jerking me against his erection. "Does it seem like it matters to me?" I gasped, grinding against him, remembering our night together.

He leaned in to kiss my neck, hands roving up my sides. "Will it embolden you if I say no one has ever licked my fangs?" I said nothing, my hands sliding across his shoulders. "You gave me intense pleasure without trying to be someone else." The vampire drug his fangs across my skin.

I was absolutely molten, my core running with juices. His words did make me bolder, gave me strength. hen he leaned back, I dove for his mouth.

No taunting this time, I plunged into him, gripping the back of his head.

My tongue played between his fangs, touching his tongue and retreating. In and out, touching the insides of his fangs, sliding against them. He held still, though I felt a tremble building in him.

Grabbing a handful of his hair, I gave a growl of my own as I tipped his head back. Varick opened his mouth further, accommodating me as I licked one fang from tip to root, then the other.

I was driving him crazy. He shared his hunger with me for a moment, and my jaws ached. As much as he wanted to drive himself into me, Varick wanted to see how high I could crank the tension.

Obliging him was fun.

The vampire's fangs were modified eyeteeth. Normal width, and only a little forward of alignment, they were about half an inch long and sharp like a cat's. Two razor blades in his mouth, perfect for punching through skin and vein.

And apparently extremely erotic.

Varick's breath caught as I focused on his right fang, hands stiff on my back. Twice I flicked the tip of my tongue across it, then slowly traced the point. He ached for release, but wasn't at the edge of control yet.

So I slowly curled my tongue around the sharp point, then along the back. My tongue stud clicked against enamel, and I started the withdrawing stroke. A fresh stroke with the underside of my tongue up the front, then down and up the back. Again and again, incredibly slow.

It didn't seem at all strange that I was giving oral sex to a tooth.

Varick might not have been ready, but I was. I had to be bitten. When I flicked my tongue across the tip and he only groaned, I lost a little control. Impatience was compounded by desire.

There was only a little sting when I sliced my tongue on the razor point.

He growled and clutched me, one hand fisting in my hair. I moaned and writhed against him, my need an all-consuming fire.

But still he didn't bite me.

Surely he knew what I wanted, what we needed. There was no mistaking his hunger; it was a heavy blaze to my empathy, raging through him. One could only have so much foreplay.

I pressed my bloody tongue to his, and the flavor broke him.

Varick practically roared as he jerked my head back. I went limp, instantly submissive to his demands. The fangs I'd just worked into a frenzy plunged deep into my neck. I cried out, completely forgetting myself in the moment.

The pain of penetration lasted only a moment before the pleasure took over. Blood rushed to his mouth, and Varick growled as I filled him. Ecstasy danced across my nerves, and I was instantly dizzy.

It was good to have him back.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Buck-toothed #vampires

I love True Blood. Alexander Skarsgard is smoking hot. Until he pops his fangs out. Then I just can't look at him.

Fangs do not belong on incisors!

Seriously, make-up effects people, you're making the sexy man look like a dork. Canine teeth, please.

"But what if the prosthetics don't allow the actor to close his mouth?" Make better teeth, or get a different actor. I've worn fake Halloween fangs, and I was able to talk and close my mouth. And those were off the shelf stuff, not really molded to my mouth.

I will grant that a double-fang (canine and incisor) is pretty hot. It's more dangerous, more likely to have a littly pain. And it will definitely leave a mark you'll never forget.

For those who want to defend the buck-toothed vampire, let me point out Karl Urban in Priest. He was perfect in his prosthetics, and knew just how to flash them.

That's how fangs should be.

...now if only I could get Orlando Bloom into some...

Friday, August 26, 2011

#FridayFlash - Escape

A long howl filled the air, and the couple froze. Were they discovered? They'd been careful, covered their tracks, hidden their scent, done everything to keep their escape viable.

Other howls answered. The wulfen were on the hunt. Hearts pounding, hands clasped, they ran through the night. With luck, they'd make it to the river.

Neither thought about the unlucky outcome.

The gibbous moon lit their path, though nothing could be bright enough in the thick forest. Old growth trees soared overhead, reclaiming the land as if humans had never been there. Only this narrow lane of asphalt was left, and even that was cracked and fallen apart.

Wulfen howled again, calling to each other. The woman was familiar with their cries, and knew the monsters weren't on their scent yet. Luck was still on their side.

"Hurry," the man urged, tugging on her hand. The air smelled damp, and the first tinkle of water came to their ears. They were getting closer to the boundary.

The first excited howl went up, and the woman cringed. The pack had found them. More calls, drawing nearer. Adrenaline filled the couple's veins, and they ran faster.

Freedom wasn't far now. A half mile at the most. The wulfen wouldn't cross the river. The man was from the human lands, knew they'd be safe. No more thralldom for either of them. Only safety in which to relish their love.

The pack did nothing to hide their presence, howls telling the humans exactly where they were. None of them were close.

A flash of silver, the river in moonlight. Escape!

The woman screamed when the silhouette of a wulfen blocked the view. No one ever got out once in wulfen lands. She sobbed, awaiting punishment.

***

Now on Helium

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#TuesdaySerial - Keila and Varick 3

The movie was over, and since Varick and I weren't in the throes of passion, Chris and Simy gave us their attention.

"Let's see this fuzzbutt," the heavyset Chris said, getting out of the recliner. Simy fetched the box and started unpacking kitten accouterments.

Kitten protested only briefly as I handed him over, then leaned up to sniff Chris's beard. My animal senses weren't working as strongly as they had in the kitchen, but I could tell Kitten was happy.

Varick stayed out of the way, but I felt him watching me.

"He's cute." Chris ruffled his head and handed him back. "He come with a name?" This directed at the vampire.

"I believe he will pick a name when he is ready." He moved closer, laying a hand in the small of my back as he rubbed Kitten's head. "Something suitable."

"Just so long as it isn't Mittens, that's all I'll say." Chris glanced at where Simy was unpacking.

"Dude, is there anything you didn't get?" Simy asked. Spread out on the coffee table, there certainly seemed to be a lot of stuff.

"I recall cats to be finicky creatures. The breeder said Maine Coons are not high strung, just demanding and discerning."

"Finicky," Chris said, returning to the chair.

Nuzzling Kitten, I wondered if he really would tell me his name. Or would it just come to me, intuitively? "Can't be any worse than dealing with you two." We all laughed.

"Litter and box. Food, wet and dry." Varick rattled off the inventory. "Balls, mice, bells, feathers, stick. Catnip. Treats. Bed, brush, clippers, dishes, mat."

"That is thorough." I took Kitten to the table and set him amongst the booty. "There has to be something in here he likes.

Sniffing briefly at a pack of fur mice, Kitten began to explore. He had none of a cat's grace yet, and stumbled through the items. Tail up and ears pricked, Kitten moved to each item at his own pace. I sat down, content to just watch.

We all were.

Varick rmoved his coat, then joined me on the floor, putting an arm around my shoulders. I turned and smiled at him. "Thank you."

He smiled back, then kissed my forehead. "You already thanked me."

"I'm just so...happy about him. I never even knew I wanted a kitten until now. It's perfect." I kissed him.

"Kitty, no!" Simy shouted. I turned just in time to watch Kitten make a leap for the Christmas tree. Simy made a grab for him, but he was already in the air.

The gap between table and tree was about eighteen inches, and he almost made it. Paws touched the lowest branch, and Kitten flailed as he desperately tried to catch hold.

But he wasn't that skilled yet.

We laughed, and I crawled to him. He sat with all the dignity a baby could muster, ears halfway back. I laughed even harder, poking him on the nose. "Don't worry, you'll get it." He merely blinked at me.

The evening passed with joy and humor, the four of us playing with the kitten and suggesting names. Nothing stuck, so I continued thinking of him as Kitten. He'd figure out his name in time.

Kitten eventually got tired and wound down. Chris went to bed, and Simy got him food and water. I tried to get my little one to settle in the kitty cushion, but he had no interest in it.

Instead, he insisted I let him get into the big box. Shaking my head, but smiling, I put him in. Varick dropped his coat in, and Kitten purred contentedly.

"He was obsessed with my coat at home," the vampire explained.

"Thanks for the loan." Simy returned with two small dishes, one food, one water. "You mind if those go in with him?"

"Anything to please Liebchen and Katzchen." I bit my tongue stud as I fought my reaction to his endearing words.

Simy yawned, petting kitten a final time. "Little guy is tuckered out." The purrs were dying down as he snuggled into leather. "Too tired even for a drink. I'll have one for you, mate." The kiwi gave me a hug, nodded at Varick, then started up the stairs.

I became painfully aware we were alone when Simy's door closed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The sophistication of my literary palette

I didn't always like dark fantasy and anti-heroes and tragic endings. That all came as I matured and began to experience the world.

When I was a little kid, I liked happy stories, with happy endings. I rooted for the good guy and booed the bad guy. The easy answers were the best; light will always triumph over dark.

Some people's palette for food changes as they grow, becoming more sophisticated. For me, it was my literary palette that changed. I wanted complexity, something unusual, and to be surprised. Good always beating Evil no matter what because it was Good and that's how it works just didn't cut it for me anymore.

I'm unable to contemplate reading a lot of the books I read when I was younger. Not because they're badly written, but because I'd rather not ruin a good memory when I end up throwing the book across the room.

Fish sticks just don't appeal after you've known fresh sushi.

Friday, August 19, 2011

#FridayFlash - War never changes

There was an adage that went, "War never changes." It used to be true. Humanity found any reason to fight; food, land, precious metals, religion. And they were good at it. Even thought they were the best at making war, that their ingeniousness and brutality knew no bounds.

Then the dragons came.

When the universe shifted and the new age began, none of us quite knew what to expect. Cries of apocalypse went up, and they were mostly right. The original meaning of apocalypse is akin to unveiling. And the universe unveiled a glut of surprises in those early days.

Mankind dealt readily with the new races of people, along with the monsters and magic. They holed up in their cities, waging wars on the new way of things. The new age was fragile, and easily defeated.

At first.

Lands shifted. Mythical races reclaimed their ancient homes. Powers sprang up amongst the human population, and immortals came out of hiding. Wars raged with untold fury as mankind struggled to keep to the old ways.

Dragons have no concern for mortal weapons. When they were called to Earth, all they saw were dense feeding grounds. All those crunchy morsels, gathered into glass and concrete serving trays. Leather wings blocked the sun as the frenzy began.

Humans thought themselves prepared. They'd warped the myths so they came out the winners. Their stories and movies painted dragons as mindless beasts that could be shot from the sky.

San Diego was the first to fall.

Their massive size made people think dragons were unwieldy and cumbersome, and they were underestimated. A few fighter jets were scrambled, but the humans relied on anti-aircraft artillery to fend off the scaled beasts.

Shells filled the air, arcing up at the assailants. Had they been mindless killing machines, many dragons would have fallen.

But dragons are ancient, highly intelligent, and trained for war. Bullets and planes were nothing compared to what they'd faced in previous ages. Diving and dodging, they avoided the defensive barrages. Fighter pilots screamed as they were ripped from the sky.

Human commanders tried to mount a proper defense, but their bases had been found. Planes were destroyed and people slaughtered as strafing runs began. Trails of fire poured from the dragons, igniting everything touched by flames.

The puny defenses broken, the dragons settled in to feed. Three million humans, devoured before sundown.

Mankind no longer underestimated their new foe. They couldn't let the dragons exist, had to stop the creatures from laying waste to another city. Launch codes were brought up for their nuclear arsenals.

But the immortals wouldn't allow that to happen. The power of the atom was denied to the mortals.

Those same immortals kept the dragons in check, as they had in previous ages. Humans were on the menu, but wholesale slaughter was denied.

Enslaved, humanity kept a wary eye on their masters. Dragonriders like me are always on hand to keep the slaves in line, reminding them of their place in the univers.

Dragonfire changes everything, especially war.