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Chapter 1

Caine had no idea how to fold his tie. I watched him fumbling with it for about ten minutes. You would think that a vampire over a thousand years old would have, at some stage, needed to put his own clothing on.

We were slumming it in a three star hotel. The booking that I had made us for the Blue Cedar on the main street had vanished into the ether of the internet. This was literally the only place we’d been able to find at midnight on a Friday in a city playing host to the semicentennial for the Big-wigs of the undead the next day.

It wasn’t those of us attending the conference that made the mess- but our retinue and every average Joe vampire who would also be in attendance, hoping to catch up with those who led the undead.

Oakley wasn’t a big city but for this weekend it had a bigger undead turnout than Woodstock.

“Jester, attend me,” Caine finally grunted.

I put my facepaints down, I was mostly done anyway, and stood up with the jingle of a dozen bells on my shoes and wrists. He’d been trying to do a Kelvin instead of a Windsor and I undid the tie, adjusted it around his collar, deftly redoing it in a pristine Windsor. Unlike Caine, some of us dressed ourselves in the evening.

Tonight I was playing the fool, a role my benefactor had little appreciation or need nowadays.

Caine grunted as I patted his chest and turned back to my preparations, “I think you look like a woman in a woman’s outfit.”

It wasn’t a sexual comment. Caine and I had never been in that variety of relationship. We are the sort of companions that don’t have to talk all the time; the kind of buddies that just ‘get’ each other, as the young say. We used to be comfortable with the term bosom-buddies, but now days folk laugh at such descriptions. Caine and I could say a lot to each other without actually exchanging words. Brothers in arms, I guess, if you must define such complex rapport as ours.

I frowned, “Legs?”

He looked down at my thin, girly legs and nodded. I let all the air out of my lungs.

Tonight I was playing a male role. Vampires as a society have outdated notions of how women fit into the world. I was a Dominus in my own right, and I liked the anonymity that being male gave me. Dominus females could be counted on my hand with fingers to spare- don’t ask me why, you won’t like my answers.

My charade was tolerated by a few men who knew the truth, it was up to me to maintain it.

The costume was going to have to go.

I opened my suitcase, all neatly packed and folded garmets arranged inside. I grew up with an appreciation for neatly packing things and being proper with one’s clothing. I found the costume I was looking for at the bottom of my bag and stripped out of the pants and silk shirt I was wearing, hurriedly donning the rumpled one-body suit. I had no compunctions about my patron seeing me in the nude. I live a performer’s life. I don’t have time to be modest.

I sat back down at the mirror and put the last touches on my facepaint- a bloody tear on the right cheek, a black diamond intersecting my eye and brow on the left. My lips; black along the bottom and red along the top. I had just finished applying the grey smudges to my cheeks that forced highlights on the too-white plane, giving me an almost hollow look. When you have the complexion of the undead, white makeup hollows you out a lot.

I looked exactly like what I was- an undead clown.

The suit was old. I’d had it made in 1910, but it had weathered the years well and the colouring matched my face with black, white and red checker patterns at various sectors. My dark brown hair was braided and also chequered in black and red, a feat that involved a creative use of cardboard and temporary sprays to get the wavy locks under control. I pulled my hat on last, slipped into my belled slippers and struck a pose. Caine snorted, unimpressed by my appearance and by the time it took for me to arrange it. The man had no artistic care at all. I rolled my eyes.

“Can we go now?” He was checking his watch.

I nodded, yes; I was as ready as I could be.

He went to the door as I grabbed the last of my supplies: some brightly coloured scarves, juggling balls, a baton, and two thin wires.

My patron was a tall man with short trimmed black hair, the pale eyes of an elder Dominus and the fit, neatness of European heritage. His nose was too big for his face and his lips too thin to be perfect. But there was charisma in the way he held himself; command in his blue eyes that spoke of iron will. His suits were custom made by a tailor who hadn’t changed his methods in over two-hundred years.

Caine and I met in the early 1700’s, and I had thought it perfectly natural that a King would want a Jester in his court.

Caine did not see the humour of it, but since he was generally viewed as a sour and serious old Dominus with no known hobbies, he had been willing to take me in for the sake of giving his reputation and his holdings the conferred “goodwill” that seemed to follow the acquisition of a Jester. The rich have always liked to support the arts, I guess to make themselves feel as if all the gold in their vaults hasn’t sucked their souls out completely. Even if the King had little want or need of a Jester; he had to have one or all the other vampires would gossip. One couldn’t have that.

Oakley City, Nevada was not the most hospitable of cities; the sprawl of the business district had eaten into suburbia, and there were few decent hotels. We’d ended up at the Swan Hotel and Resort Spa halfway across town. The building was bland with grey wood everything, and smelled of chalk and sweaty feet. It also had some of the cheapest paintings I’ve ever seen in a hotel; mostly just poorly reproduced knock-offs and cheap backroom sculptures that I expect turn up in five-dollar shops. I’m not a snob, just still in a sour mood after our original booking had died to a computer error.

We met two young vampires down in the lobby of the Swan, they were unimaginatively dressed like Caine in plain black tuxedos and had that excited, nervous air about them that teenagers get on prom night. The sort of anticipation that told myself and Caine just how young they were.

They didn’t wear the tuxes like Caine, he was King for a reason- he had the ability to look at people and make them feel the inferiority in their bones. I had asked a few times if he practiced that look. He’d never admit it, but I think he liked it when I annoyed him like that.

 

There was nothing joyful about the conclave tonight; it was the feeding of sharks, favours were the fish. Their Dominus had sent them in his stead, probably to avoid the inevitable conflicts that always sparked at these things. This was my bread and butter. I needed to be seen and admired to keep my own reputation.

I received a pair of matching sharp looks from the two peons. They obviously had no theatre tastes or were too young to know me from my touring days, since anyone who knew me by reputation would have realized who I was immediately; there were few vampires who attended a major social gathering dressed as a clown‒it was kind of a one-man signature. However, they did not know me, and reacted as one might suspect.

“Are you wearing that to the gathering?” Alonzo sneered as we entered the limos. His English had an Italian snip to it and he smelled like he was wearing too much cologne.

I nodded. My role was silent tonight and I was already settling into character. The literal mask of paint over my face helped. A true artist could buffoon someone without speaking a word. I’d decided to be a little nostalgic today; reminding people of the mirth from the times when a Jester was seen and not heard.

Too much modern humour was loud and obnoxious, relying on bland shock tactics to get a reaction from audiences.

“But you won’t even get in the front door. It’s disgraceful,” The blonde next to Caine growled. I think his name was Luke or Louis, he was barely sixty years undead and had hair combed back in a style that matched his age.

He was dressed in a stiff, ill-fitting formal tuxedo and had gone so far as to wax his shoes first thing yesterday.

“This is a serious event. The council is only called once every fifty years,” This from Alonzo.

We’d met them yesterday evening, loitering in the lobby and chatting about the event. Caine had politely offered to share his limo with them. It was a very Caine thing to do.

“Gentlemen, I believe I said this when we first met at the door, but perhaps we should keep to ourselves this evening, no?” The King murmured from the cushions. He had crossed his arms over his chest, eyes closed in silent contemplation.

I shuffled forward in my seat and opened the minbar in the middle of the car, shifting my weight as the vehicle turned a sharp corner. I pulled out the miniature bottle of scotch and poured it into a glass. I passed the glass to Caine.

He frowned without opening an eye, “Don’t start on me.”

I gave my patron wide, innocent eyes that said, “Who, me?”

“You know I don’t care for these silly theatrics, Jester,” He hit the button on his window and threw the alcohol out the window.

I took the glass back and placed it back in the fridge, empty.

“What on earth was that about?” the blonde simply could not keep his mouth shut. It was disgraceful that he had been sent at all. Any child of mine would not have been allowed out of the city at such a young age. He was too easy, the conclave was going to eat him alive.

 

I looked at Luke, then at Caine, then at Alonzo, then down at the bottle in my hands, then finally back at Luke and smiled. Newbies were so easy to tease without them knowing it.

“Why aren’t you talking?”

“Jester, leave him alone,” Caine’s growl was a warning this time. I stiffened.

I closed my eyes and sat still for the rest of the journey. I knew better than to piss off my patron when he was hungry.

Chapter 2

It took almost an hour in the evening traffic before the car slowed to a stop outside The Guss. It was blue-blooded, new, modern‒meaning it could have been demolished with a hit from a misplaced truck. But it was the boast of Oakley and had the air of prestige about it- or maybe that was just all the limos and taxis loitering and slowly dropping people off at the doorstep.

Nothing was built like the old days. Fake granite lions on the stairs, a blue carpet welcome rolled right down to the curb, a few nominal steps, large open-plan glass doors. A pair of hotel bouncers in black suits stood stoically at either end of the doors and young, handsome blood-donors mingled at the entrance, watching the cars arrive like anxious prom-dates. Most were male, but a few women interspersed in the crowd of mortal groupies.

Even though the council keeps a low profile as undead, we still attract groups of mortals. The sort that we’ve groomed from children and families that we support for centuries; although younger men like the two the Shark had sent would be cruising bars, picking up dates rather than mingling with the crowd here. Modern vampires favoured hunting in public over cultivating loyal and happy cattle. From that sort of stock came the donors around the door. Young, eager things that barely understood what their hosts were, let alone why they craved our touch.

It was, in Caine’s opinion, dangerous to hunt like that. Including new blood too much led to the sort of problems we’d had during the reign of the Spanish Inquisition. I sat on the railing with such concerns- I’d heard enough stories about ancient vampires dying during those years because they treated their donors poorly.

My stomach clenched just looking at all the flesh on display. I hated fasting for these stupid events, and we would not get to the Donors until after the night’s entertainment. That meant I would be tired and starving by the time we finally got to eat.

The leather, lace, vinyl covered arteries; thin black neck lining, tight buttocks and heavenly scent of sexual arousal were overwhelming. It was difficult to stay awake after that. Council powwows were so boring.

I turned my attention back to the other arrivals. Vampires didn’t gather in large groups often, and even though I was no freshly bitten child, it was vaguely exciting. There was a line of limousines in front of us and I watched as a woman in a bright red gown got out of the car, her perfectly manicured hands slipping into that of her escort’s with dainty effort. She was all red hair and pale flesh with breasts that threatened to fall out of her dress with every step‒the Scarlet, one of the other female Dominus, although I had no idea if they had given her the title because she had talent or, if it was just for show. She had, to my knowledge, never fought anything or anyone.

The short vampire in the tuxedo helping her stand in her twelve-inch heels was probably Max the Red. Despite the easy joke of the Red owning Scarlet—the reason that he had her as an escort at all—neither were vampires I would target for my entertainments. I had almost gotten my arm ripped off the last time I had dared to offend the Scarlet with my usual antics. The bitch had no sense of humour‒I had only made a question of her promiscuity. Maybe she had changed in the last three hundred years, but from the look she was giving one of the donors, I doubted it.

In her defence, we were all hard-pressed to ignore the nubile, young bodies on display. The temptation was intoxicating, it would not surprise me if they had been told to gather deliberately. The Emperor had a cruel sense of humour. Temptation also weeded out the young and weak Dominus.

When I’d been made in the winter of 1314 a famine had hit Europe the very next year; in those days you lived and died when the populace lived and died. You learned not to be greedy with blood. I could fast with the best of them.

Another car emptied and the Spider stepped. I had seen him once before, visiting at a court I had been entertaining in England, but he had only been there briefly. That had to have been sixteen-sixty- three hundred and fifty years ago. The man was a recluse. He rarely attended these council meetings and he was old enough that the Emperor clearly didn’t pressure him about it. Normally he sent his agent Broderick to represent him.

He was tall, with hair a rare platinum blonde that is normally only natural in the northern European ancestry, sharply defined cheek bones, and he wore a well-cut Italian suit that was obviously custom-made. I always go to Italy for my suits; ever since I was old enough to travel on my own as a vampire.

I sighed dramatically. I would love to tease him tonight, but he was one of the most powerful Dominus still living. It did not pay to fuck with them unless you knew they could take a joke.

Scarlet turned as the Spider came up the steps behind Max and her, immediately giving him a sly, overly large grin and an obviously contrite greeting. I grinned when he walked past her as if she was only one of the donors. Her expression became sour at his dismissal.

It made me like the Spider almost instantly, if only because, like any of my kind, I never forget an insult or unkindness‒and Scarlet was often both of these.

Our door opened and the two young vampires got out, standing primly for a moment as they adjusted their coats before walking up the steps, smiling and nodding. Perhaps they were in Public Relations back home. It was almost embarrassing to watch others preening and showing themselves off in such extravagant ways‒that is, it would be if I was not about to do so very much worse.

Caine nodded to me and I bounced out of the car like an excited child, jumping over the car door and rolling onto my hands. I tipped myself up into the air and walked up the first few steps on my palms. The bells on my feet jingling in a faint tune. Eyes flew to me. The Spider had paused at the Guss’ front door and watched me. The Scarlet turned dramatically to catch a glimpse of my feet where a head should be. The donors watched, voices murmured.

I took a few steps on my palms, teetering for show. I could walk for a while like that, and long, long years of practice made it quite effortless. But there were other humans present that were not privy to our nature.

I back-flipped and landed gracefully before turning at the hip, to bow formally to the King as he exited the car with his usual, casual grace‒his elegance to my buffoon. Murmurs rippled through the crowd. The King advanced, I somersaulted around him, harried the Donors who came too close and generally made myself into a colourful, twirling body between him and the crowds at the front entrance.

I drew attention; I drew interest.

The King kept it.

My very presence said, “Come! Look at what I’m doing!”

His said, “I am important enough to have this highly trained monkey caterwaul around me; you should keep on my good side.”

That is, if one’s stature could talk in such certain terms.

I was bright and colourful, like a bird fleeing before a lion’s stalking grace, and Caine was the lion. To put myself in such a submissive role did not bother me. We worked well together with this method. Nearly two-hundred years had seen that we had a routine of presentation down pat.

He handed his invitation letter to the man at the door, curtly nodding to me as I pulled out a guest’s hair-clip, their annoyed yell nearly causing me to miss my cue.

I tossed the hairclip over my shoulder, spun around and produced my paper from the folds of my sleeve, moving so quickly that I simply must have appeared poised and holding out my hands, from the shocked look on the man’s face. Sometimes I do that when I’m not paying attention to my speed. I’m good at appearing human most days. Today was a stretch; surrounded by so many other vampires, I lacked a human model to imitate. We don’t need to breathe, we move much faster than you can see- and after a few hundred years we forget certain social necessities.

“It isn’t a costume party,” The bouncer said. He glanced nervously at the other guests that I would soon be blocking if I continued to attempt to get in to this posh and upper-class gathering. He didn’t know what to do with the clown. After all, this was a high-class business function.

I had never received this reaction before, this was the first council meeting since the 60’s, and people simply did not have the same expectation of manners. I assumed someone would come along to vouch for me eventually, but failing that, I might be the first Dominus not to attend the meeting because a bouncer stopped me.

I looked down, miming my shock and horror, even stumbling back as if I had been shot. Was this what I was wearing? When had it happened? Had someone dressed me while I took a nap? Where did the makeup come from?

“You know, Jester, people would let you in places if you just dressed like the rest of us for once.”

I knew the Emperor’s sweet voice even before I spun wildly, my hat flying off my head with the sudden turn. I caught it like it was on strings and pulled it back to my chest with a whiplash bow. An old routine but I never let a classic die.

Falling to my knees, making no attempt to hide my grin, I silently implored him to let me enter, pointing at the bouncer. My begging charade was completed as I mimed Greek theatre tears.

It was an impressive show of it, the harlequin crying to a twelve year old boy.

The Emperor was neatly dressed in a black shirt and matching slacks, his chocolate brown hair combed neatly like a Sunday schoolboy. His small arm was held in the elbow of the calm, middle-aged blonde woman beside him. Despite her chic crème Chanel business attire, she did not fool anyone, however. There was a sharpness in her eyes that spoke of her frozen soul.

The Torturer and the Emperor were always together.

I believed they might spontaneously combust if separated for longer than a few minutes.

He was small and dainty, caught eternally in the barely pubescent body of a high schooler. When asked, he claimed he had been fourteen when changed, but I never believed that. His voice had an unfortunate habit of occasionally breaking, something which made me feel incredibly sorry for him; although never to his face or out loud. You lived and died on this ‘boy’s’ whim.

I had at least been seventeen when changed; I could pass for an adult unless the humans upped the ridiculous laws about children and these ‘teenagers’ that had somehow come into being in the last hundred years. In my day, a man was a man when his voice broke. But then, human lifespan had doubled since then, so I guess we had some decent trade-offs.

Many of the vampires present‒the older ones‒all suffered this woe. We had been made in a time when a deep voice and once-a-month bleeding made you an adult.

You were old enough for children, marriage and undeath.

It had never occurred to any of us in those days that there would be introduced a transition stage, and that eliminating child-labour would be make it more difficult for those of us who did not age.

Contrarily, the Torturer, who, in appearance, was ancient for a vampire, was now the average age of a human adult.

She, like Scarlet, also lacked the basic fundamentals of humour and did not win any points with me. But, I had a wary respect for the woman as she held more power than most of the other vampires in the room. She’d been the Emperor’s tool for centuries, his monster, his punishment. If you did something wrong that got you in trouble but not enough for him to simply kill you; he sent you to the Torturer. I’ve never pissed him off enough to be at her mercy and that’s a lucky thing. While many would love to see me given to the Torturer for a night, I’d just as soon as swallow my own tongue. She scared me.

The Emperor laughed as I started crawling, and shook his head, merriment dancing in his boyish eyes as he looked to the bouncer, “You will have to let him in; he always does this. If you don’t, we’ll have to put up with him crawling all over the windows, moaning pathetically to get in.”

The bouncer gave me another worried glance before he took my invitation and let me through. Even if the Emperor was a twelve-year-old boy, there was something in him that creeped mortals out as much as the undead. I bowed and curtsied and scraped towards the Emperor to show my gratitude, earning more of his endearing laughs.

The glass doors closed behind us.

The Emperor sobered; we were no longer visible to mortal eyes.

No bouncers or hotel staff were in the main conference hall to see the guise of the child drop and the thing that ruled the predators take its place.

“Jester, would you like to begin the evening’s entertainment?”

It was not a question.

I nodded vigorously and produced some juggling balls from my pockets. Around me, about sixty vampires began to shed their masks. The meeting had called an impressive number of the undead, considering that we only reached two-hundred during a good century.

I noticed Caine talking to the Princess, the final female Dominus on our very short list. Officially, there were only three female Dominus: the Torturer, Scarlet and the Princess. I’m not on the list… officially.

It probably says something about us that none of the women like each other. The Scarlet was the second oldest female Dominus- she and the Princess had been at each other’s throats for most of the other’s undeath.

The Princess had been made some time in the mid-sixties‒something which reflected in her looks. She usually attended these events in a pastel dress that came directly from a Disney character’s wardrobe. While she was the picture of feminine delicacy, she could break heads with her perfectly manicured hands. Men hovered around her eagerly and would wait on her hand-and-foot if only she would be their Princess. Even Caine was not immune to her batting eyelashes and proper, fine movements. He was married.

I felt sorry for her, more than I did for any of the other women I knew who suffered from vampirism.

She had been a liberated woman; she had been allowed to vote, had burned her bras and had demanded equal pay, equal rights, and all those cute things.

Then she fell in love with a vampire, and he with her.

As it usually happened in those cases, he turned her‒seemingly accidentally‒and she was then introduced to the rest of the vampire society, a society that did not believe in woman’s right to vote or hold lands.

Oh, the Princess was powerful‒impressively so for a fledging not even chewing on her first century‒and she would be a serious threat to the Emperor in another hundred years, but she was still limited by her humanity. She did not think like a vampire yet, and that hobbled her. She had too many mortal allies, too many weak points that a man with the Emperor’s savagery would destroy. I don’t think any of us expected her to survive past fifty.

When you receive immortality, you give up everything that you used to value in morality. Immortality is the selfish present. It is a willingness to see everyone you knew and loved die, a willingness to watch as the world wilts, and remain apart from it.

We live in this world, but are no longer ‘of’ the land, as I was told once. Immortality comes with its own darkness; a writhing shadow that seethes in your soul. Your own personal fiend, sent from the primal parts hidden in men’s souls. The part that makes you a fighter, a survivor.

The Princess had been “campaigning” the vampires around her to accept change and come further into the modern century. She had killed her sire when he had claimed her as his object‒her right to do so as Dominus, but impressive for a child nonetheless. I suspect she hadn’t even meant to.

She had no master, but plenty of hopeful suitors. She drifted from city to city, at the Emperor’s allowance, but no one would be supporting her campaign beyond the usual platitudes to upstart younglings. She had to prove she had the balls to do what she wanted to achieve.

As the saying went, down with the Emperor.

The poor thing simply had not realized this unfortunate reality yet. The King was her target this evening. They were moving somewhere through the crowd, and I lost him behind elbows and sleeves.

The Emperor yawned dainty fangs at the juggling balls, starting to drift away from me.

I tossed the first ball into the air, then as fast as vampiric speed allowed, leapt and kicked the ball. It sailed across the room, smacking the back of someone’s head, dislodging a hairpin and exploding against the wall in beans.

I had the Emperor’s attention again.

His eyes were wide as I threw all nine balls in the air, bent forward onto my hands and began to juggle with my feet. Not impossible, but not practical with nine balls, even at my speed.

I kicked another ball away and someone yelled in irritation.

The Emperor began to chuckle, but I was far from done.

With a flare of my power, I ignited the next ball. The crowd drew back around me, eyes widening as that primal fiend reared inside the gathered vampires. All vampires are afraid of fire, healthy, given we burn like paper. A small fire, even from a cigarette lighter, can kill a vampire if it is not doused quickly. That’s how a number of Elders died in the Boston fires.

The ability to control or manipulate flame was rare and usually quite lethal. It was not one of my gifts.

I kicked the ball again and someone screamed. There were more screams, and then suddenly a groan as the poor fool who had been hit realized that the flame was nothing more than an illusion.

The Emperor, laughed right out now, gesturing to my antics.

“Show me something new, Jester!” He clapped.

I righted myself; balls falling around me in a haphazard halo of sand-sacks as I struck my thinking pose. Like there was anything to really think about when it came to entertaining the Emperor.

I’d had centuries to learn and master new routines; vampiric agility and illusions were my gifts and the tools of trade.

I scanned the crowd while I ‘pondered’ and my eyes settled on the Black.

He was a younger vampire, one of the youngest to make Dominus at barely two-hundred. I had picked on him before, and tonight I would do so again.

Rupert had short cropped black hair, and was wearing a French silk lined suit and a blue shirt, probably to discourage any of the younglings from assuming he was morbid. He was handsome and permitted being the brunt of the Emperor’s mirth. I snapped my fingers, tossed my hat in the air and vanished into the crowd of vampires, leaving behind nothing but a Jester’s hat.

Murmurs surrounded me as I positioned myself against the Black’s back, leaning against him just-so.

There were perhaps two hundred and fifty vampires in the whole world, roughly thirty of which were women, and four of which were Dominus, me included. There were about fifty Dominus, although the last decade had seen a few younglings finally coming into their power. The conference room had about seventy vampires inside, including a few children who were hoping to join those from another city.

Mostly, we knew each other‒if not on sight or by name, then by reputation and rumour. The crowd was not thick. We’d divided into the sort of small social circles that all social beasts do.

There were new arrivals greeting each other, a few of the first-timers chatting amongst themselves. It might have been a social for teens, if not for the lack of food and DJ.

The Black let out a sigh when he turned his head slightly and the soft jingle of bells answered his curiosity. He had two young Dominus with him, Chauncey the Wise and Morton the Bear. They were good humoured sorts, although not very adventurous.

“Anyone ever tell you how short you are, Jester?” He whispered. His lips barely moved, he was a subtle sort.

Like any of my previous victims, Rupert knew the game; until someone else realized where I was, he should not give away my position.

“We can’t all have nice, big manly shoulders,” I murmured back. He deserved a response since I was oft picking on him. I think he liked the attention.

We were talking lowly enough that our words were not even words, as much as air passing through lips. There was enough noise from people greeting old friends or giving passing insult to old enemies.

Despite popular fiction, very few vampires have super hearing.

“I bet you’d love my shoulders,” I could hear the grin in his voice.

“I bet you’d love my ass.”

“I do love your ass,” He proved it by pinching said derriere.

Despite our bantering, there still were no stirrings from the crowd. The Emperor had begun socializing and mixing. He would find me in his own time and these gatherings were important.

“You flatter me, Black.”

“I’m not the only one who’d love to get you alone in a dark room, I hear,” The Black ran a hand down my leg and I swallowed, suppressing a shiver of delight.

“Rupert, you’ve heard about that boy that the Musician turned a few months ago?”

“He must have a secret, to be able to turn so many of his flock. But does he share it?” Morton grunted. He’d had about a dozen failed turnings.

Rupert was excellent at flirting with me, but it was always an effort not to squirm when he got a little physical. His flirting would stop the second he realized I was a girl, and, while it was sad that my only romance was with a gay vampire, I was not quite willing to give it up.

We had traded kisses and small touches; he had even almost gotten me up against a wall once, before Caine had winged in and saved me from that embarrassment. Woodstock.

I believe the Black would have been the one embarrassed. I had no issue about going to bed with him, even if he was young, but I did not think would take it well that I lacked the proper equipment and had not informed him. To him I was the cute, silly eternal boy with a wicked sense of humour. I, in turn, wished he was not gay, and did not live in Germany. As an American vampire, it was a commute.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

One day in primary school I got a gold star a story, but from those words on precious paper, a love and desire sprang forth with such fervent passion that I've never been able to resist since. In my darkest days, writing has been with me; quietly, patiently waiting for me. A whirlwind romance; I married writing in every aspect. Bleary late night editing riots to its drunken stupor at four AM. That is my relationship to writing; tempestuous, gentle, understanding...passionate.

Q. Why do you write?
A.
Because I need to write to breathe. Maybe once it was a hobby, maybe for some it's a job. For me it is vitae.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
I was reading a rant about how vampires are always whiny, angsty creatures that hate the sad monsters they are. I decided to make a happy, upbeat, functioning member of the undead.
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
Avery starts to put her toes into some secrets and darkness in this book that she begins to unravel. She'll fight hundreds of thousands of years of prejudice and reshape her own world. She's a complicent character at the beginning, but her adventure here makes her stronger for the trails ahead.

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