Monday, February 28, 2011

Where are the goth vampires?

Sister-in-law and I were talking vampires in romance the other night. We've both noticed how they're like superheroes with fangs. They're all soft and cuddly and heroic and perfect.

And both of us kind of hate that.

The majority of marketable romance vampires aren't even antiheroes. There's just no darkness left to them. Even when they have their "need" to drink blood, it's often diluted and not in the least bit a real danger.

One thing I really miss is some of the gothic mystique.  A little too much solving crimes, and not enough waxing poetic about roses in moonlight. Less and less do vampires fully embrace their predator nature, and love death and darkness and the beauty of such.

They don't have to wear velvet and lipstick, or PVC clothes and creeper shoes. They don't need to be cutters, or write poetry under blacklight, or smoke clove cigarettes. But they should personify and embrace the grave, the predator, the night.

All of you vampires who are more Grim Reaper and less Superman, please let me know where you are.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Saint Valentine's Clash is now in print.

You heard me right. You can now order your physical copy of my book. Only $13, but you can take $3 off and make it an even $10.

Go to my CreateSpace page, and enter this code: WSJJ8ZGB

If you'd like to do a review, let me know, and I'll get you the code to get a free e-copy through Smashwords.

#FridayFlash - The Journey part 3

Part Two


Marissa groaned, dizzy, and collapsed against the vampire.  He'd drugged her, but she was too euphoric to care.  All that mattered was that he kept stroking her, that his breath kept washing over her skin, that she remained pressed against his tight chest.

"You may touch me," he whispered, licking the edge of her ear.

She was swift to do so, her hands seeking every line of his chest.  He was strong and lean, tight with muscle but not bulky.  Other than a scattering of hair below his belly button, and a few scars, he was utterly smooth.

"Where did you get these?"  Marissa was breathless, her words choking out in a rush.  She stared at him, wondering when he was going to kiss her with his lovely mouth.  Lost in his eyes, she ran her fingers back and forth over one long scar.

Raleigh didn't blink, just held her gaze.  He cradled her with one arm, tracing her decolletage with the other.  She shivered as his fingers crossed the tops of her breasts.  "Like most young men, I obtained them through foolishness."

"I like them."  She wasn't sure why she said it, just that she enjoyed the feel of the extra smooth skin under her fingertips.

"Stand up," he said suddenly.  Marissa's legs were unsteady, but, with his assistance, made it to her feet.  "I want to undress you."  He stood before her, and reached for the laces on her back.  She could do nothing but hold onto his waist as he loosened her bodice.

Raleigh worked with vampiric speed, stripping her to scanty underthings in a few heartbeats.  Marissa trembled and blushed, suddenly shy.  "Oh my," he said, stepping back to examine her.  "So sweet and innocent and wonderful.  I am very glad you came back."

She couldn't move, couldn't get past her sudden shyness.  Even the pleasure wine filling her blood did nothing to bolster her courage.  Tears even filled her vision as Raleigh perused her figure.

The vampire cupped her head, jerking the young woman into a fierce kiss.  His lips were shocking, his tongue cold as it pressed into her mouth.

Marissa's pulse jumped, and her extremities tingled.  She wrapped her arms around his strong shoulders, molding her body against his.  As first kisses went, she wouldn't complain.  She even responded, sliding her tongue into his mouth.

And winced when she sliced her tongue against a fang.

Raleigh growled at the immediate taste of blood, stiffening.  His hands crooked against her scalp, his tongue frozen halfway into her mouth.  Another drip of blood fell, and his growl deepened.

Marissa should have been scared, should have fled.  Instead, she trembled with excitement, heat coiling in her loins.  She wanted him with a passion she'd never experienced before.  Anything he wanted, she'd give to him.  And not just because of the wine.

He jerked her from the kiss, diving for her neck with another growl.  Marissa cried out, spine arching, knees buckling as his fangs pierced her delicate skin.  Raleigh groaned as her blood filled his mouth, and held her tighter.

There was pain at first, sharp and intense, but there was no pushing him away.  The vampire was too strong, and her body wouldn't respond.  The agony would never end, but was so very brief.  When her breath died in her lungs, when she thought she could take no more, ecstasy flooded her.

Fire and electricity coursed through her nerves, raising every hair on her body.  The low ache in her loins became roaring desire.  Her hips bucked, and she pressed her neck against Raleigh's mouth.  Marissa was boneless and light, full of rapture that was beyond description.

He fed fiercely, clamping down on her neck, driving his fangs deeper into her.  Raleigh sank to his knees, still holding the young woman close, and she folded neatly beneath him.

Awareness of her body fled, leaving only the intense draw of Raleigh's feeding.  Every sensation focused on their joining.  The more he took, the lighter she was, the higher every spark of pleasure rose.  Ecstasy grew to agony, begging for mercy.

Raleigh stopped with a groan, clutching at Marissa.  Physicality crashed into her, overwhelming her senses, causing a brief black out.  She groaned with the vampire, still trembling with climax.

He eased them to a lying position, cradling her head on his shoulder.  "Next time, I shall give you a proper seduction."

Marissa smiled, eyes closing.  "I'm quite satisfied with the journey we took."  Sighing, content, she fell asleep in his arms.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

#CannibalCookoff voting has begun!

I participated in IndieHorror.Org's Cannibal Cookoff. It was really fun for me, because I got to be a little more horrific than normal. There is a big difference in the amount of gore you can fetishisize in a romance or a horror.

"Rite of the Sanguine" was still about vampires in love, of course. They were just a lot more twisted and vile. It's fun to really let loose with my darker stories. In fact, you might see a few more dark and really gruesome tales from me.

There are some really great entries in the contest. The Venus Club has to be one of my favorites. There's just something so empowering and free about the women. Quite wicked.

So, take the time to register and visit IndieHorror. Cast votes for your favorite stories.  And it won't hurt my feelings if mine isn't one of them o,.,o

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unknown, Shelter, and other movies

I saw Unknown over the weekend. Having a tiny crush on Liam Neeson pretty much guaranteed I was going to go see it.  It was fantastic.  Well-paced, great plot, and a fantastic twist and reveal.  I did figure out some of it beforehand, but the big reveal was a surprise. I totally want to find the book now. I commend both the author and the screenwriter for making such an enjoyable movie.

Also saw Shelter, with Julianne Moore and Johnathon Rhys Meyers. He's a really great actor, and this movie showcased his abilities. A bit spooky, a bit of a thriller, a little bit religious, very spiritual, it had a great ending. Most definitely worth checking out.

If you also like foreign films, The Man From Nowhere is a great Korean revenge action flick. The fights were brutal, the story was great, and I really liked the characters. The ending was also exactly what it needed to be, considering how the arc had played out previously.

A while back, I watched Let Me In. I thought it explained a couple aspects a little better, but I pretty much found it as boring as the original. I'm just not a fan of the movie. Not because it's not about romantic vampires, but because it's long and drawn out and terribly boring. I actually like the vampirism in the story, just not how long it takes between events.

Friday, February 18, 2011

#FridayFlash - The Journey part 2

Part One


"You've returned," Raleigh said, sensual and low as she entered his bedroom.  Marissa's cheeks burned, her throat tight, and she almost fled at the sight of the vampire.  His hair was loose around his shoulders, his shirt open across pale flesh, and his pants were low on his hips.  "I'm very glad."

Her vision swam, and Marissa swayed.  "I don't know why I came," she admitted breathlessly.  Confusion warred inside her, nearly driving out the pleasure she took from viewing his lean body.

"Yes you do," he assured her, heading for a side board.  A fire crackled in the hearth, the only light.  Marissa studied what she could see of the furnishings rather than watch his predatory stalk.  "You wanted to know."  Raleigh poured her a drink.

She met his eyes as he approached, wringing her hands and biting the inside of her lip.  "Yes I do."  Trembling, Marissa took the drink and quaffed it in a gulp.

Raleigh cupped her cheek, and she nearly dropped the glass in shock.  His skin was chill but pleasant, his fingers strong as he guided her closer.  "Innocent Marissa," he whispered, studying her face.  "Lovely Marissa.  Do I scare you?"

Lost in his eyes, she could only stare.  A hand span separated them, his masculine scent filling her nostrils.  "Yes and no."

He smiled gently, taking the glass from her numb grip.  His hand slipped from her cheek to her neck, thumb stroking the velvet choker she wore.  "Why not?"

"Because you're not a monster."  Heat spread from her stomach, the alcohol flooding her system, loosening tight muscles.  She lifted a hand to rest on his forearm, wanting to feel him, feel his strength.

Raleigh leaned closer, hand on her waits, lips inches from hers.  "Why yes?"

Marissa closed her eyes, unable to meet his gaze any longer.  "Because I might like it."

The vampire chuckled at her whispered confession, nearly kissing her.  She lifted her head to close the distance, and he was gone.  Marissa gasped, rocked, and looked for him.  He watched her from a velvet divan, leaning against the arm, smiling mysteriously.

Heart racing, she stumbled a step toward him.  "Why do you stop?  Am I not good enough?"  Embarrassment colored her cheeks.  She'd put much effort into selecting her outfit and makeup, making herself as appealing as possible.

"Are you in such a rush that you'd have me throw you down without so much as a by your leave?"  He tipped his head, brown hair cascading around his handsome face.

She bit her lip, ducking her head.  "What does m'lord suggest?"

"Come, sit.  Let me take you on a journey, rather than rushing to the destination."  He patted the seat beside him.

Marissa crossed to him slowly, controlling her steps.  Raleigh's gaze was heavy on her, heating her blood.  She lifted her head, pulled her shoulders back, put herself on display.

By the time she sat, her blood was singing.

Raleigh remained leaning, shirt fallen completely open to put his torso on display.  She fought to keep her eyes from roving his body, hands firmly planted in her lap. 

After a silent moment, the vampire sat up, pressing into Marissa's personal space.  The young woman gasped as he shirt brushed her arm, his breath stirring the loose hairs on her neck.  "I like this dress."  Raleigh inhaled deeply, leaning against her arm.  "Your perfume is also good on you."

Marissa had borrowed them from a friend who ran in the social circles.  Turning to look at Raleigh, she was heartened by her choices.  "Thank you, m'lord."

"You may call me Raleigh, my innocent one.  There is no formality behind closed doors."  Steel gray eyes dark in the firelight, he kept her helpless with his gaze.  Marissa could only sigh as his hand rose to her shoulder, tracing the low neckline of the dress.

"Raleigh," she whispered, tasting his name, leaning into his touch.  Her skin tingled, her nerves ached, and her blood rushed through her veins.  The colors grew richer, as did his comforting scent.  "Why do I feel like this?"

His fingers worked along the dress, touching her back, her spine, raising goosebumps everywhere he went.  "Feel like what, Lovely?"  Raleigh's voice deepened, and he leaned closer to her ear, chest rubbing against her arm.

She moaned, leaning into him, wanting to run her hands all over his bare skin.  "Like I'm burning up, and like I'm floating, and like I might be dreaming."  Marissa laid a hand on his thigh, the most she dared to do.

Raleigh pulled her tight against him, sucking her earlobe into his mouth.  She trembled, heat bursting to life between her thighs, and bit her lip.  "That would be the pleasure wine I gave you."  He sighed, and nibbled on her neck.  "You were right to fear your enjoyment."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest post - Allison Pang

I'm very pleased to have Allison Pang here today. Nothing like helping other authors get out there and heard.

And isn't her cover lovely?

***

Playing in the Dark


Nightmares and dreams play a large part in A Brush of Darkness. The car accident took her mother’s life and left Abby Sinclair with a shattered body also destroyed her dreams of being a dancer. She becomes disillusioned and internally very angry. The denial of her mother’s death coupled with the loss of her livelihood manifests itself in the form of vicious nightmares. Most nights she is plagued by terrible dreams, usually in the form of sharks which tear her to pieces.

 I’ve always thought that dreams and nightmares are ways for our brain to process the external information of the day. Many of them are mostly likely random interpretations and sometimes they’re quite easy to figure out. For example, if I watched a documentary on lions during the day and a lion randomly happens to wander on through my dreaming experience that night, it’s probably pretty clear as to why it showed up.

On the other hand, repeating dreams or nightmares might be the indication of something larger at work – a problem you need to work out, for example, or emotional distress that has no other way of being released. In Abby’s case this is obvious.

When she is forced to bargain with an incubus, he is able to determine that not only is she having nightmares, but she is also something called a Dreamer – someone who can actually manipulate their dreams into reality.  He works with her on this, showing her that she does have a place of safety within her dreams that she can retreat to, even if she’s not quite ready to face the nightmares directly.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the nightmare scenes:

Water lapped at my hips, fresh and blue and brilliant. The sand slid through my toes, the song of some ancient wisdom caught up in the grinding of seashells beneath my heels. One step and then another and then I was floating, the waves cresting against my skin, salt water dripping from my hair. Warm and aching beneath the sun, I swam, dimly aware of the coastal shelf falling away beneath me.


It was always the same. No matter how I raged at myself to stop it, to stay on the shore, I inevitably ended up in the ocean, lazy and careless. I opened my eyes and my mouth clamped down on the scream threatening to claw its way from my throat. Black now, the watery depths became nothing more than a pool of ink from which no light glittered. In the distance, the shore teased me with its safety, a golden patch on the horizon. I hovered over the abyss, my limbs like cement, my heart slamming against my ribs.

Would they be able to hear it? The syncopation of my organs pulsed the blood through my veins like the distressed flutter of a fish as it struggled against the current. I eyed the island, knowing I would never make it. I knew I would try anyway, knew I would fail. The current stopped, leaving me in a pool of silence, the water still and even. I held my breath, the barest movement threatening to broadcast my presence in the telltale ripples that would surely mean my doom.


Something brushed past my feet, and I bit my lip at its sandpaper sharpness. Like teeth for skin, biting and hooking into my flesh. I fought the urge to yank my foot away and closed my eyes.


Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.



My mouth formed the words in an empty prayer. There was another sharp tickle – a tug – jolting me from my ankle to my thigh. I looked down, already knowing what I would see, the scream forming on my lips. Blood poured from my midsection, my legs gone, cut out from under me.


When the fin broke the watery surface, my mind blanked, my arms flailing uselessly. I struggled toward that golden shore, the current suddenly picking up again. Sometimes I almost made it.

Not tonight.


The shark snapped at me, pain replacing fear, and all around me was the taste of blood and salt and death, my wailing voice ebbing into a haunted gurgle as it finally pulled me under the darkness…



http://www.heartofthedreaming.com - author website
http://mynfel.blogspot.com - blog
http://word-whores.blogspot.com - group blog
http://www.facebook.com/apang - facebook
http://www.twitter.com/allison_pang - twitter


Monday, February 14, 2011

Saint Valentine's Clash is released!

So, I'm very ecstatic.  Despite delays, and some headdesk moments, I met my personal deadline.  My second Keila book is now out on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. The links are also on the Buy page.

The print book is following as swiftly as I can, but shipping takes time.  I promise all of my readers that I will handle things better next time.  Like, get started ahead of time so I can have everything ready to go at once.

I do get happy everytime I think about it.  I have another book out! *squee*

Thank you everyone for reading, and sharing, and enjoying.  It is my honor to entertain you all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The joys of book formatting

Spent yesterday getting Saint Valentine's Clash ready for Kindle/Nook and print.  Then I decided I should get it set up for Smashwords too.  I mean, that will make it a lot easier to give people review copies.

Went through Smashword's style and formatting guide, and was facepalming the hell out of myself.  I'd struggled for hours making the print copy, fighting over stupid justification.  Ten minutes reading the formatting guide, and I was able to breeze right through.

Of course, this is all after I've already submitted files to Kindle/Nook, so I have to wait.  Which means we most likely won't be seeing a Valentine's release for the ebook.  The print book was already going to be delayed to the end of the month, give or take.  CreateSpace is really fast, though, so it won't be a huge delay.

What silly simply little woes.  It's hard to be an indie author, right?  *smirks*  But at least I'm an author.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Official Saint Valentine's Clash excerpt

So, this is my choice.  Working very hard to get the ebook out Monday, but might just be next week. I'm a slackass, and I apologize.  Physical book to follow.

Anyway, enjoy this tidbit.

***

               The kidnapper laughed.  It was a strange laugh, vacant and meaningless.  It seemed like a part of him had been take away.  "We were told you were aggressive."
                I closed my eyes, clenching my fist.  The wind gusted, whipping my hair around.  It was cold, but not as cold as my heart.  "You can have him back when I get Simy back."  The iciness coated my voice.
                "Keila-dono, no."  Kiyoshi's voice was desperate.  He grabbed my free arm, and I shook him off.
                "You would trade someone you just saved?"  There should have been surprise in his voice, but still nothing.
                "What does this little guy mean to me?"  Derision laced my words, but I kept my eyes off Kiyoshi.
                "Don't.  Keila-dono cannot give Kiyoshi to them."
                I ignored him, focusing on the caller.  "Where do you want to meet?" he asked.  The sounds of travel rushed by in the background; they were on the freeway, not the surface streets.
                "Public would be good."  I tried to sound nonchalant, and properly callous.  Just because he didn't emote was no reason to suspect he didn't understand emotions.  "Some place close so I don't have to go far."
                Power pushed through my shields, rich and thick like molten chocolate.  My vision dimmed, and I couldn't resist as I was pulled into a kiss.
                It was fabulous.  Every wonderful kiss rolled all into one, delivered all at once.  Every dancing nerve, every thrilling touch, every delicious shiver.  Blood, and sex, and joy, and longing, and release, delivered by the softest lips imaginable.
                I groaned, coming back to myself a little.  I wasn't lost entirely to the kiss any more, but neither could I stop.  I embraced Kiyoshi, pulling him closer, running my hands through his hair.  He sighed, and I drew in his breath, my aura taking in his essence.
                There was no desire to stop.  I wanted to keep kissing him, to keep feeding on him, to absorb every ounce of his being.  I forced him back against a car, growling, kissing him harder.  He relented, and I growled deeper.  Varick never gave in like this, even when I acted out my aggressive side.
                Thoughts of the vampire filled my head, and I broke the kiss with a cry.  I'd lost myself in the moment, and completely forgotten about Simy.

#FridayFlash - The Journey part 1

Here's the start of a trilogy of sensual vampire stories.  Just some fun I worked up in an afternoon.

***

Marissa stood in the middle of the rug, hands clasped in front of her, head slightly bowed.  Lord Raleigh watched her, though she would not meet his gaze.

Time passed, and she grew restless, daring to lift gray eyes to Raleigh's cold stare.  Handsome and pale, with long hair and blue eyes, he was the epitome of vampire lord.

"My aide tells me you seek employment."  The gravel tone of his voice sent shivers up her spine.

Fear and curiosity warred behind her breastbone.  Her offer had been worded differently; Marissa had applied to be one of Raleigh's blooddolls.  "Yes, m'lord."  She lowered her gaze, heart skipping a beat.

"Very interesting."

Raleigh stayed quiet after that.  The fire crackled cheerily, gaslights hissed softly, and Marissa grew uncomfortable.  She resisted the urge to wring her hands, or check her coif, or flee his office.

Finally, the vampire rose, approaching with silent steps.  Marissa blushed, ducking her head further.  "Look at me."  Raleigh stopped before her, and the young woman slowly raised her gaze.  "Why?"

Up close, his eyes were more gray than blue, sharp and shiny like steel.  He smelled faintly of wood smoke and pipe tobacco, reminding her of the good days in her youth.  "M'lord?" she asked around the lump in her throat.

Raleigh lifted a long-fingered hand, nearly touching her cheek.  Icy fear raced beneath her skin, but she held still.  "Why would a demure young woman seek such employment with a vampire?"  His brocade vest shifted as he took a deep breath, fabric tight across his lean chest.

Marissa was lost in his eyes, briefly wondering if he was mesmerizing her.  "My mother is dying.  She's forbidden me to work the sewing factory, but our debts are too numerous.  We need significant amounts of money in short time."

His hand followed the line of her neck and shoulder without touching her.  "So you would turn prostitute to the undead?"

She blushed painfully, vision swimming as she fought off shame.  "Better a vampire than the men at the wharf."  Marissa closed her eyes, seeking calm.

Raleigh circled her, moving closer.  She felt his movements, his foot steps silent, and her shoulders stiffened.  The young woman had worn her only dress without a high neck, and felt exposed.  What she wouldn't give for a scarf, or coat, or even a heavy choker.  Anything to cover her slender throat.

The vampire made a circuit and a half, stopping behind her.  No more than a hair's breadth separated the pair.  Marissa's skin crawled, neither pleasantly nor unpleasantly, and she clenched one hand around the other.

"Do you know what you're offering?"  Raleigh's breath was chill on the nape of her neck.  She bit back a gasp, the hairs on her body rising.  "Bleeding for a vampire is not like bleeding for the physicians."

"So I have heard, m'lord."

Her throat clenched as he gripped her upper arms, pressing his chest to her back.  "The physicians will never pleasure you, or take you to heights of rapture."  Raleigh's lips brushed the rim of her ear, voice dropping to a whisper.  "You'll never beg them to have you again."

Marissa fought the swoon and rising tide of heat.  She'd heard of Raleigh's skills, whispered about in the shadows of polite company.  No one called his blooddolls whores, but they were well compensated for their time, and gave their charms only to him.

For her family's sake, she could share herself.

"You're not like the others," he whispered, lips sliding along her neck, pausing at the crook.  "They're never altruistic in their reasons.  No one has ever offered herself simply for the wage.  Have you no desire for my bite itself?"

Marissa squirmed, leaning against him, her knees growing weak.  Raleigh's arms encircled her waist, trapping her in his scent and strength.  Her pulse leapt, and she bit back a moan.  No man had touched her like this, had made her want to give away any of her virtues.

But she couldn't answer him.  Couldn't let him know how intensely curious she was, how she'd lain awake at night wondering what it would feel like to be drained.

Raleigh left her, moving back to his desk.  Morissa gasped, eyes flying open.  He stared at her with narrowed eyes.  "I will not make you a whore.  If you want only money, return at noon for proper employment."  His gaze intensified, and she found it difficult to swallow.  "If you seek my passions, return tomorrow at midnight."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My husband as my muse

So, my next several #FridayFlash are a seductive little vampire arc.  Based on a phrase my husband has teased me with when we're being intimate.

When I told him this, he was pleased as punch.  He had never realized just how much he influences my writing.  My belief in true love, my need for a strong man, and so many other things in my stories are all because of him.  He's my world, and I don't care how co-dependent that sounds.

He's not only my muse, but he's my support system.  He may not be in the writing biz too, but he listens to my rants, and he keeps me from getting too stressed.  He's the one that always reminds me that this is supposed to be fun.

He's also the one that's proud enough of my work to post a rough sketch of my new book cover to our WoW guild.  Anything I need, he ends up being it.

But I guess it really shouldn't be too much of a surprise that I'm inspired by him.  We writers can't pull absolutely everything out of our imagination.  Having a good basis makes better characters.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Story: The Opening

Here's a piece I once submitted to a magazine, got no word back on it.  So it laid around in my archives until I put it in stories with bite o,.,o  I'm posting it here for those who haven't checked out the collection (available Kindle, Nook, and print).

My beta reader has poked at me to try and get me to write a sequel.  Do you think it should be followed up, or left hanging?

***

     Maribelle scooted around a cluster of people, mumbling an apology.  They ignored her, engaged in discussion regarding the painting they hovered near.  She clutched at the glass of punch, wondering if she was brave enough to drink any of the champagne the waiters carried around.  Glancing once more at the amber fluid, she shuddered, not wanting to make herself sick.  She'd never been able to drink alcohol, and didn't want to test her flaws at the moment.

    Sighing softly, she looked around for her friend.  Maribelle was becoming uncomfortable amongst all these strangers, and wondered why she'd allowed herself to be talked into this.  Because Amanda was trying to be friendly.  And I really need to get out of the house more often.  A wave of distress filling her, Maribelle prayed Amanda would return soon.  It had been years since she had last been in a crowd of this size.

    In the meantime, she let herself stare at the portrait to her side.  A pair of young women stood between her and the canvas, so Maribelle found herself unable to appreciate the details.  From what she could see, though, the family in the painting looked happy, all of them smiling gently.  There were just the three of them, the mother seated with the toddler on her lap, the father standing almost protectively behind the pair.  Maribelle winced inside, thinking of her own family, thinking of how her father worked so hard he never saw them, and her mother took all her bitterness out on their only child.

    Sighing, the young woman tried to feel the happiness the family clearly felt.  The mother looked pleased to have a baby, and the husband beamed with pride.  They were dressed in loose silks, jeweled and painted with mild cosmetics.  Even the baby's lovely eyes were lined with dark blue.  A dark blue that matched their sapphire eyes, and the velvety dark blue-black of their hair.  Maribelle touched her ponytail, wondering briefly how the artist had somehow captured her own unusual color.

    The group of people moved on, allowing her a chance to finally view the large painting.  She'd never been to a gallery opening, and didn't know any of the protocols, so she tried to make herself as unobtrusive as possible.  Not that she was ever outgoing or pushy in other settings.  The young woman skirted the edges, sidestepping the patrons circling the gallery, and, in general, felt shabby next to all the elegant people. She could hear her mother's harping voice reminding her that she didn't belong here, no matter how much Amanda has assured her she was fine, and Maribelle kept blushing and apologizing, ready to leave.  But I'm always ready to leave, especially when I'm out of my element.  This is the worst.

    And if I leave, I'll have to listen to Mother reminding me that I should never have come.  And I'll have to hear Amanda asking why I left early.  She just wants to see me having fun, and she really means well.  I shouldn't let my problems become a problem for her.  She had to admit she was enjoying the paintings, and how stunningly executed they all were.

    Sipping at her punch, trying to hide her trembling, Maribelle stared at the canvas before her.  It was taller than herself, and twice as wide.  She couldn't comprehend anyone actually painting on something that large, let alone having the patience to form so many shapes and color blends.  She'd been an okay artist in high school, and still sketched with her pen when bored at work, but she'd never gotten this creative.    
    Depicted before her was a colorful landscape; a fantasy jungle with two moons rising in a greenish sky.  The colors were vibrant, surreal without being make believe.  The jungle was rich with shades of green, vibrant on top, deep and hidden near the floor.

    Maribelle found herself drawn into the painting, able to view it in all its glory with no one between her and it.  Her jaw slowly dropped as she noticed the first canopy house, then saw birds roosting in the uppermost branches.  The sounds of the crowd fell away as she stepped closer, her eyes now seeking the details so astonishingly wrought in oil.    

    The jungle was actually part of a valley, and it rose up the gentle slopes of the cradling hills.  A river peeked from between the trees, the barest sparkle through the valley.  Birds flew amongst the trees, and something large lifted from the distant hills.  The tree canopy undulated in shape, rising and falling where individual trees grew taller than their neighbors.

    The moons were sharp against the sky, dotted with craters.  The faintest clouds captured the rays of sun, and created silver mist across the purplish faces of the moons.  Maribelle leaned closer, and saw the sharp lines of cityscapes nestled in the craters, sparkling with lights.  Gasping with delight at her discoveries, Maribelle continued to study the painting.

    Her gaze was drawn back to the jungle.  Now that she was closer, almost touching the canvas, she could see an entire village in the canopy.  The houses seemed to be built from the trees themselves, branches woven together to form rooms, vines and leaves laced into bridges, flowers giving off light in colorful hues.

    The young woman trembled, tears standing on the lower rim of her eyes, wondering how she hadn't seen this at first look.  The village descended into the depths of the jungle, bridges spiraling around trunks to lower levels and broad branches.  The buildings were now large hollows in the boles of the goliaths, and filled with looms and easels, even a small forge glowing red with heat.  More than flowers lit the darker depths, and Maribelle leaned in even closer to find the light source.

    It was then that she saw the people.

    They were tall, elegant, yet with strong figures.  They looked just like the family in the portrait, and Maribelle wondered if that family was in here somewhere.  They dressed in every shade of the spectrum, in flowing gowns and robes, in tight suits, in sparse kilts, in leather armor.  They lounged in their buildings, they walked on their bridges, they worked in the shops near the jungle floor. They loved, they laughed, they created.

    "They're beautiful," she said with a weak voice, trembling violently.  She suddenly wanted to be with them, to share in their happiness.  None of them looked like outcasts, none of them looked out of place, none of them seemed sad or haunted or lonely.  Biting her lip, her hand started to rise as if to stroke the clothing of the tiny figures.

    "You're the first one to notice them," spoke a rich tenor beside her.  Maribelle gave a short cry, straightening swiftly, and nearly dropped her drink.  Somehow a young man had joined her, and was standing close by her, hands clasped behind his back.  She stared awkwardly at the man beside her, blushing painfully, barely seeing him.  It was as if her vision refused to work, leaving everything in a haze, and she willed it back to normal.  Heat rose hard to her cheeks as she could finally see the speaker.

    He gave a friendly smile, stepping closer, and brought one hand forward to touch her shoulder in a familiar manner.  "I didn't mean to scare you."  Maribelle could only continue to stare, her lips slightly parted, her heart racing.  "No one has paid any of the canvasses that much attention, and they've yet to see the people."  His voice was slightly accented, his lips flushed, his eyes bright.  He dressed in black silk, an outfit that reminded her of kung fu movies, and bore several rings on his long fingers.

    "Are they in all the paintings?" she barely choked out, noticing he had the same blue-black hair color she did, that the people did, and that he also wore it half way down his back.  As he smiled, she noted the faint sharpness to his eye teeth, same as her, and the same sapphire blue eye color.  They were even the same height, with similar builds.  She wanted to faint, and bit her lip as she grew dizzy.  In twenty three years of life, she'd met no one who looked like her, not even her parents.

   "They are.  Only those who care to look can see them."  He held out a tapered hand, and she took it with trembling fingers.  His rings were cold as he lifted her hand, brushing her knuckles with silken lips.  "I'm Karvin.  I painted all these."

   Maribelle blushed, ducking her head.  Karvin still had her hand, and warmth pooled in her fingers.  "I know that.  They're great."

    Karvin stepped closer, still holding her hand.  She felt her face pale, and could only gape at him as he gave her a secret smile.  It didn't feel like he was invading her space, like when others stood too close, and she wasn't unnerved by his presence.  She actually wanted him near her, enjoyed the way he smelled, liked the way his skin felt against hers.  "And what is your name, oh attentive one?"

    She blushed, fiercer than before, and could barely speak.  "Maribelle."

    He repeated her name as though he was tasting it, his eyes gleaming in the indirect lighting.  "Let me show you the rest."  Without waiting for her consent, Karvin began to lead her through the gallery.  She shook as he kept his hand in the small of her back, keeping her close.

   Maribelle could feel the stares on them, could feel all the envious eyes, could even hear the whispers of everyone around them.  She caught Amanda's gaze, saw the astonished look on her co-workers face.  Maribelle continued to blush faintly, but it was more from Karvin's nearness than the attention of the other gallery goers.  Even though Karvin was dressed so richly, so uniquely, she didn't feel awkward or shabby beside him.  If anything, she felt like she belonged.  With Karvin touching her, her jeans and canvas slip on shoes and threadbare velveteen shirt felt as nice as his silks and leather boots.

    The next canvas Karvin brought her to was a winterscape.  The artist stayed quiet as they approached, had been quiet since leading her away from the jungle, allowing Maribelle to absorb this piece.  The young woman was too excited to appreciate the size of the scene, and immediately went to look for the people, bypassing all other details.  She found them, wearing leather and fur, enjoying the snow, hunting the mountains, making merry in the warm cave systems.

   Maribelle ached inside as her eyes roved from scene to scene, all the beautiful blue-black haired people on display for her.  They are part of their world.  They know why they exist, they know what they want to do with their lives.  How can they be so happy, and I can't?  She sobbed once, tears falling swift and hot down her cheeks.  She knew the figures were only oil and pigment on canvas, but they seemed so real to her.  Envious of them, she bit her lip, suppressing further tears.

    Karvin made a soft sound, pulling her into his arms.  Her restraint wavered for less than a heartbeat, then she collapsed against him, conforming to his body, burying her face against the crook of his neck.  He was a stranger, she knew nothing about him, yet she clung desperately to him, allowing him to comfort her as waves of anguish ripped her apart.  There was no one but him, and she didn't care if she was making a scene.  Years of buried sorrow rose, suppressed pain, all the hidden loneliness, the sense of not belonging, the ache of feeling lost, all of it came roaring out.  Karvin held her close, one hand stroking her hair, his strength holding her securely.

    "My sweet Maribelle, why do you cry?"  It didn't matter that he spoke possessively of her.  It only mattered that he was there at this moment.  His voice was soft, loving almost, whispering gently in her ears.  She felt complete within his arms, and never wanted to leave.

    "Your paintings make me sad, and yet they feel so familiar."  She was surprised by the strength in her voice, even as tears continued.  "I can't explain why, but they really move me.  They..."  She paused, lifting her head to look at him.  Karvin looked intent, his lips flushed and eyes fever bright.  Maribelle inexplicably knew she could trust him, that he would understand.  He would never laugh at her dreams, or call her foolish, or tell her to stop daydreaming, or accuse her of making something up.  He would always accept her for who she was, and he would explore her odd feelings with her.  Karvin was perfect for her.  "They remind me of home."

    He grinned knowingly, and moved his mouth to her ear.  "That's because they are."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Updating my site and blog

Nothing like a little digital housework on the site and the blog before the new book comes out.  New background, a banner, new color choices.

Still dark, of course.  Wouldn't be me without it.

Put five new stories on the site.  One has been here before, The Morrigan.  The other four are all Morrigana stories I just hadn't posted yet.  Before you read the Morri stories, I should warn newcomers there's some twisted elements to those stories.  Incest, murder, magic....fun things if you're into that.

The Morrigan

Little Sister

The Wedding

Fight

Insurrection

Friday, February 4, 2011

#FridayFlash - The Crazy Cat Lady

"This is all for one woman?" Nick asked, hefting a second box onto the dolly.  Chunks of ground beef filled one box, frozen chicken breasts another.

Jeff handed him a smaller box of frozen shrimp and fish fillets.  "You'll get used to Old Lady McCarthy."

Nick narrowed his eyes, stepping out of the refrigerated delivery truck with his boss.  "What's wrong with her?"

Grunting as he hoisted a cow haunch over his shoulder, Jeff glanced at the sprawling ranch house.  "Nothing's wrong with her, per se.  She's just very focused and determined.  She needs hobbies, and things to work on.  Once her son took over the cattle, she settled on cats."

Nick pushed the dolly, frowning.  "She's a crazy cat lady?"

"Something like that."  Stepping onto the porch, they were relived from the Texas sun.  "It's not like she's one of those weirdo ones that live in filth.  Old Lady McCarthy spoils her animals, makes sure they live well.  All this meat's for them."

The young man stared at the boxes he pushed.  His family would take months to go through that much meat.  "She spends this money on her cats?"

"Funny thing about the rich.  They're rather eccentric.  Ive never seen a sixty-seven year old woman get as excited about the lions at the circus as she got."  Jeff rang the doorbell, shifting the massive chunk of beek.

Nick's stomach clenched as he remembered something from last night's news.  The circus had recently been robbed, a precious white lion stolen.  "What's the haunch for?" he whispered.  A deep roar answered from the back of the house.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Random things I've learned in the last few days

One thing I've learned: I miss my Twitter friends.  Seriously.  Not being able to talk to them, and chat, and read very short stories has been quite lame.  Next week will be entirely different.  The VIP at work will be gone, and I can go back to my normal phone usage.  Good thing he doesn't notice us working on our work computers. o,.,o

Another thing: my cat hates my new body wash.  It's raspberry, the way I prefer scented things, but it smells a little more like candy than I prefer.  And it has shea butter.  No biggie to me and the husband, but apparently it offended Mackey.  I was petting him after my shower, and he sniffed, then hauled off and bit me.  Wouldn't let me pet him until the scent faded.  Silly cat.

Also: girl ferret, Temerity, like to bite elbows to get your attention so you'll play with her.  She also likes to play tug-of-war with cloth, and shakes her little head to "kill" it.  Wearing long sleeves over elbows equals adorable little pains, as my husband found out.  She kept trying to tug on his elbows, and we were laughing too hard to think it anything but playful.

Fourth: I have a new word to add to my favorite lists.  Logocide: the destruction/murder of words.  So bloody cool!  It's right up there with tmesis for me.

Fifth: burst water pipes are lame.  Especially when your husband tries to fix them, and they start spewing water again.  At least I got my shower in.  Not that the rest of the household did.  Poor guys.


Really, I just needed to talk to my friends.  So that's the cause for the randomness.  What random things have y'all been up to?