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First pages




“You’re looking more like your whore mother every day. Get in there and wipe that crap off your face and wait in your bedroom when you’re done.” My stepfather was a cruel, heartless monster, and I knew what was coming next. I wanted to climb through the window and leave this hell, but where would I go?

I had exactly two hundred dollars in my bank account after he forced me to quit my after-school job last year because he claimed men were staring at me in the wrong way. I wiped the offending lipstick from my lips with a piece of tissue, terrified about the punishment. It was only some light pink glossy stuff, and I’d never worn makeup before.

“Lay over that bed you little tramp.” I knew what he expected. He lived to humiliate and hurt me, and if I disobeyed the pain was even worse. Sliding down my jeans, I didn’t hesitate to bend over and wait for the agony to begin.

At the first slap of the leather against my tender skin I wanted to scream, but that only made him hit harder. Biting my lip until I tasted blood, I suffered through each punishing stroke until his arm grew tired. I knew he didn’t stop because he wanted to. He was an overweight slob and I could hear his struggle to catch the next breath. I hoped he fell over dead, or broke his arm at the least.

“The next time you decide to put that filth on your face, you’ll remember this.” I didn’t move as pain seared through my backside. If I did he might get a second wind and start in again, it wouldn’t be the first time. Tears no longer came when he hurt me, I was used to being treated this way and knew there wouldn’t be any dinner tonight either.

I’d given up any hope of my mother coming back to save me. She’d run off with her lover leaving me to suffer the wrath of this monster alone. I hated her for not taking me too. My butt throbbed where he’d landed that leather belt repeatedly and I curled my fingers into the ragged comforter on my bed, trying to be brave.

Closing my eyes, I begged mentally for the dreams to save me. I was so close to walking into the bathroom and taking the bottle of sleeping pills my piece of crap stepfather used every night and ending this pitiful life. My beautiful angel was the only thing that kept me sane.

When I’d almost given up hope, I fell asleep, escaping from this life that offered me nothing but heartache. He was waiting there and the smile on his beautiful face soothed my troubled soul. In this place, I was treated with tenderness, someone cared if I lived or died. How I longed to slip inside this dream and live forever. Hunger never reached me and my stepfather couldn’t snatch away all my dignity when I was with him.

His strong arms reached out and I ran into them in desperate need of comfort. My gorgeous angel had beckoned me to him here for three years, since the beatings and humiliation began. There was no doubt in my mind that he saved me. “This will pass, princess. You can leave him now, there’s no need to suffer again.”

“He’ll kill me if I try to leave.” He reached down and lifted me into his arms, carrying me through the misty tunnel that lead out in front of his mansion in New Orleans. Gabriel, or as he preferred to called, Gabe, had such a luxurious life. I wondered what it would be like to never want for anything.

“Not if he can’t find you. It’s time to be free. Take what you can and get away before it’s too late.” We had talked so many times over the years, resting in his bed where he held me like a friend. He was worried that I’d be killed, and I wasn’t sure he wasn’t right.

The attacks on my person had grown increasingly more violent and my stepfather seemed to be enjoying hurting me now. It hadn’t started that way. When my mom was here he at least made it a point to tolerate my existence. Since she ran away he’d become a cruel, sadistic, bastard.

I wasn’t allowed to have friends, work a job, or have contact with anyone after graduating high school. The only time I got to spend outside was shopping for groceries when he left me enough for a few days’ supplies. Many nights I went hungry and drank water to fill my belly.

He would eat out, bringing fast food home, and tormented me as he ate a cheeseburger when I was starving. I was paying for my mother’s sins, and he enjoyed watching me suffer. I’d never known what it meant to hate until she left, now it was becoming the only thing that kept me from slitting my wrists.

“Stop thinking about him. Wrapped in Gabe’s comforting embrace, I had the security I’d longed for. My mother had never been perfect, but at least she kept me safe and fed.

“Then don’t make me go back. Let me stay here with you.” I never begged for anything because I’d learned long ago that doing so only ended up in another beating. I trusted Gabe not to hurt me though.

“My sweet girl, this isn’t a place for you. There’s another world waiting. All you have to do is leave and find it.” He made it sound so easy, and maybe it was. I was already starving here. How bad would it be to do it somewhere that I wasn’t being hurt all the time?

“Take me on an adventure?” I loved our time together, even though I knew it was just a figment of my imagination. Being with Gabe in this fantasy world was so much easier than dealing with reality.

“Shall we explore the French Quarter again?” I nodded and he knew it was my favorite place in the world. I loved the artists, and singers on the streets, they lived the life that I longed to have myself. It was like all the creative people in the world flooded into each block bringing it to life with their talents. One day I was going to see it for myself.

For hours, we walked around and it was as real to me as being there in person. Here with him my body didn’t feel the pain that would return when the dream ended, and everyone was celebrating life. An endless party that filled my weary soul with hope, that’s what these nights were like.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t last. I knew the sun would be rising soon as he led me back to the tunnel. “You can be anything you desire, Shanna. Take the first step and run far away, my sweet, sweet, girl.” Lowering his lips to my forehead, he kissed me gently and nudged me gently into the void.

I didn’t want to go, and tears filled my eyes. I never cried, but the thought of leaving him again destroyed me. Falling to my knees, I wrapped my arms around his leg, and looked up pleadingly. “Don’t make me go. Please!”

The compassion in his beautiful eyes made me gasp in awe. “If only it were that simple.” Lifting me to stand, he walked me back into the mist, and disappeared. I couldn’t get back through and I knelt on the cool floor beneath me sobbing. That’s how I awoke. Crying so loud it vibrated off the walls.

“I’ll give you something to cry about!” My stepfather walked in, his hands around my neck choking me. “I have to work this morning and you dare to wake me up with your pathetic screams?” Shaking me violently my hands reached up to his, nails digging into his skin as I struggled to catch a breath.

This was it, the way I was going to die, I thought as blackness concealed my vision. I don’t remember anything after that except waking up alone on the floor, gasping for breath. I’d soiled my pants, and struggled to stand and walk back to the bathroom. The bastard had left me there to die. Taking a quick shower, I knew what had to happen. Drying off and dressing in a pair of cutoff shorts and t-shirt, I made my decision.

Dream or not, Gabe was right. I had to escape! If I stayed here any longer I might not live to wake up the next time. It gave me a small amount of satisfaction to walk into his bedroom and steal his suitcase. Packing what meager clothing I had, grabbing my guitar case and the last of the money I owned, I took the steps that led me out of this living hell.

I knew where I was going, the only place that had every given me peace. Maybe it was just a dream, and things were completely different than I saw them in his world, but I had to try. New Orleans. If I died, it would be getting away from my stepfather, not suffering under his cruel hands.

Logic told me paying for a bus ticket would leave me nothing to live on, so I decided to hitchhike. It was dangerous, but no more than staying here being subjected to his cruelty. The house I lived in, I refused to call it home, was close to the interstate. Dragging the heavy case I stood there waiting for hours until some truck driver pulled over and offered me a ride. Not the smartest choice, but it was my ticket out of here.

Surprisingly, the older man was kind, and even offered me a soda after I told him where I was heading. The fact that he was driving through New Orleans, and promised to take me the entire way, was my version of fate. Maybe for once my luck was turning around. The man talked about his grandkids the entire eight-hour trip and even stopped off at a truck stop buying me lunch. At least I wouldn’t starve tonight.

When we parted ways, he pressed a hundred-dollar bill into my hand, and refused to take it back. “I got a daughter your age, you be careful out there.” His smile was genuine, and maybe there was one good person left in the world.

I knew instinctively where to go first and it was odd that my sense of direction was right. I walked straight into Jackson Square, and my heart pounded in my chest seeing how accurate my dreams had been. My priority was to try and earn money, so I sat my suitcase down, opened my guitar case, and hoped I could sing in front of this many people. By nature, I was shy and withdrawn, but my music pulled me out of myself.

Laying my case out for donations, because that’s what the other musicians seemed to be doing, I sat down on my suitcase and began warming up. I was free! I had no idea where I was sleeping tonight, or how I’d survive here, but I refused to think about that. For now, I didn’t have to worry about being hurt, and I allowed that joy to strum through my fingers and escaped in words as I sang. A few dollar bills landed in my case, and I continued to let the songs rip from my soul, giving solace. Lost in my private sanctuary, I prayed that this would finally be the road that ended all the heartache I’d known.

Twilight fell and my throat wasn’t tired, so I continued. A missionary man stopped by putting a bottle of water down, and I gave him a timid smile. Ending that song, I took a break, gulping down the cool liquid. There was at least a hundred dollars in my case now, and I felt relieved.

“If you need a place to stay tonight, we have a shelter a few blocks away.” The man seemed nice enough, but I’d learned not to trust men. He sat down on a bench close to me and I visibly retreated. “No one will hurt you there.” His kind face looked sad as he left a business card in my case, and walked on his way.

It was rather warm outside, I could take a nap on one of the benches later tonight. Being out in the open seemed much safer than trusting some stranger preaching the word of God. My stepfather had used the bible to excuse his cruelty many times before.

Tuning out the other musical artists in the square, I lost myself again in melodies. One skill I had learned very well was to forget the world around me. The step-monster would never think to look for me here. He thought I was afraid of my own shadow, and he was right, but what he didn’t understand was I more terrified of him than the rest of the outside world. My stomach was beginning to rumble, and the crowd thinning out as darkness fell. Gathering up my money I decided to splurge on a hotdog, or as it was labeled on the food cart, Lucky Dog. I’d never tasted one so good!

For a few hours, I explored the gardens and cathedral, then saw an upswing of people again, so decided to try one last time to make money. Some vampire tour group was gathering at the wrought iron gates, and I hoped they were in a giving mood.

Chapter One



“Get your heard in the game, girl. Stupidity like that will have them handing you your ass.”

I hated Gabe. No. Hate wasn’t strong enough for the emotion he brought out in me. Four hours in his dungeon of torture, and I was ready to slam his head into the brick wall, tell him to shove his training and go home to Rafe. He had me tied to some table where God knows who he did or what on for fun, and just being down here made me nervous as hell.

“If you don’t get free I’m going to give you something to be nervous about, princess. Now focus!” Struggling against the ropes that bit into my skin, I watched with horrified eyes as he slapped a riding crop against his thigh. If he touched me with that thing I was so going to kick him in the balls when I finally escaped. It was bad enough he’d put a name to all these sadistically evil toys, telling me the ways he used them on previous lovers to freak me out even more.

“Rafe needs to take one to that ass of yours occasionally. Maybe you’d learn some respect.” He brought the small leather pad down hard on my upper thigh, and I squealed at the sting.

My enlightenment, as he called it, was enough to tell me he was a Sadist, even without the vile thoughts moving through his mind. Two months of his version of training and I thought I’d known what he was capable of. Obviously, I was wrong. Tonight, he seemed to be enjoying letting me know what he brought women down here for. I didn’t need the insight to know that those same deranged females found pleasure in the act. There were some sick people in this world.

“Such an innocent, I could have you coming undone at the end of this crop in less than five minutes.” His expression mocked me and then turned contemplative, which was never a good thing in his company. The smile that appeared on his face warned that he knew just how to get me motivated now.

I was fully clothed, granted it was just a sports bra and yoga pants, but my legs and arms were bound spread eagle making me feel completely vulnerable. Why had I thought it was a good idea to let him tie me up so I could learn how to find escape should I ever be bound? His thoughts shot through my mind and my fear level hit the roof. He was going to prove how much I’d enjoy being punished if I didn’t find a way off this table.

My mind was overwhelmed at his audacity, and I pleaded mentally for him to put an end to this. His thoughts bounced right back into mine, promising to not give an inch. Pulling on the ropes with all my strength didn’t loosen the expertise of his knots. He began reigning down light slaps over my nipples, and sex with the hated crop, not causing me pain but humiliating me with the truth. He had the skill to make this feel good.

All thoughts of fear fled from my mind and anger took control. I was highly pissed that he was making this sexual, when only Rafe had the right to turn me on. He knew, the bastard, because those slaps of the crop fell in succession on my sex through the thin material until I was fighting my own desire to not let the pleasure win.

Growling like some animal, I ripped my hands from the bonds, ready to tear him apart for what he’d done. Freeing my feet was easy with the use of my fingers, and I jumped off that table and pinned him to the ground, daring him to make another move.

My hand grabbed his neck with a snarl and my fangs descended. “I should rip out your throat!” It took everything I had to retain some shred of calmness and his smirk was not helping one bit.

“At least I know how to motivate you now.” He struggled to sit up, so I straddled him. Glaring down into his humor-filled eyes, I rendered him immobile which in retrospect was rather funny, since he outweighed me by a good hundred and fifty pounds.

“You going to screw me now, princess, or are we getting back to work?”

His words and smile told me he’d gotten his point across, and I looked down, finally noticing our position in disgust. Leaping off him, I stalked across the room, knowing I had to get my temper in check before I seriously injured him. “Screw you, Gabe!” I flung the words at him while walking up the stairs leading out of his demented playroom.

“You’ll have to get Rafe’s permission first.” His laughter trailed after me and I was even more furious. I’m not sure if it was at myself or him in that moment, because I was still turned on. Not that I wanted Gabe. Hell no, never that. But the fact that he’d managed to get me in this predicament.

Getting in my car I drove back to Tears of Crimson, my need for sex and blood making the road a little hazy. My vision always blurred when I was craving either, another part of this stupid curse I’d taken on to have my beautiful Rafe. I didn’t regret making my choice, but some of the things I lived with really sucked.

I spent the half hour drive thinking about how much worse things could be, and my temper cooled, if not my other desires. When I reached the club, all I could think about was getting my lover somewhere alone and taking serious advantage of him. For his sake, I hoped he wasn’t busy.

Already filled to maximum capacity, I walked inside giving quick greetings as I made my way to the bar. Michael, our bar manager, and werewolf, noticed my mood as soon as our eyes met, and he motioned with his up the stairs. Thankfully, he knew better than to delay me when I was in this sort of state.

Rafe was alone in his office working on paperwork when I walked through the door, and his surprised glance turned into frenzied hunger when my mood became clear. Swiping the papers off his desk, he had me sitting on it bare-assed before I could speak a word and his mouth fell between my legs pleasuring me even faster than that.

Modesty had flown out of our relationship days after he became mine. We were soul-mates and as such there was no shame in any pleasure we found together. “Take me now.” I pierced his carotid artery, suckling with deep pulls, knowing how much he loved me drinking from him.

“With pleasure my love.” His hands moved to the button of his jeans in a blur as he bared himself to me. I moaned in pleasure as he entered me in one powerful thrust, wanting to drink in his taste as he filled my craving.

The desk creaked and groaned with our passionate dance, and the sounds mixed with our moans was a sensual lullaby. I loved how he ravaged me, each thrust so powerful it lifted me before dropping me down again. Lapping my tongue over his wound, I sealed it, and threw my head back so he could feed his other desire. When his fangs slid in deeply I came undone with a cry of pleasure so loud it shook the walls. The pressure of his fangs and the pounding of his shaft inside me refused to let me come down from the bliss he gave. It went on and on until he filled me with his own. His passion was warm and pulsating as it filled my core.

Satiated I smiled, almost purring like a kitten as his head fell upon my breast. My hands tangled in his hair, holding him against me tightly. “Evening.” Laughing softly as we embraced, I realized I hadn’t greeted him yet.

His warm chuckle filled me with happiness. “Evening to you, Miss Donovan.”

He lifted from my body carefully, and I groaned in familiar pleasure. Even that simple movement made me want him again, but the need wasn’t overwhelming like earlier. “I’ve missed you.” He pulled me up into his arms, then sat down with me in his chair. He was still undressed from the waist down, and not helping the need I felt building again.

“Should I ask what I owe this pleasurable tryst too?” Holding me tenderly, his hand caressed my hair.

Shaking my head, I leaned into him languidly. “I’d rather not say.” My voice lowered an octave, remembering Gabe’s foul play and I felt his body tense underneath me.

“I’ll destroy him for touching what is mine!” He stood, planting me on the ground as rage rolled through him.

“If anyone does that it will be me.” Lifting on my tip toes, I kissed his precious lips hoping to distract him from his anger. It worked because his mouth devoured mine, claiming me with his tongue until we were both ready for round two.

I knew how possessive my lover was so it was no surprise when he turned me, placed my hands against the wall and loved me until I was ready to beg for mercy. Even the thought of another touching me turned him into an animal, but that wasn’t always a bad thing. Especially when he commanded my body like this.

Wrapping my hair around his fist he came inside me hard and deep, grinding his hips so I felt every long inch. “You’re mine Cara,” pressing even harder against me I gasped at his forcefulness.

“Only yours.” How could he think anything else? Apparently, my words or thoughts were enough because he slowly slid free of my body.

“Forgive me.” Turning to hold me against his unyielding chest, his words whispered into my hair.

“Nothing to forgive.” Sighing in contentment I held him tightly. My heart was full knowing that our love was an unbreakable bond. He was no longer just a dream, and I sent up a small prayer of thanks.

“I’m the one who is thankful, love.” Untangling his limbs from mine, he walked over to retrieve my clothes, helping me dress. “As much as I long to stay here and love you through the night, Calvin is on his way.”

His thoughts that he could appear any minute had me rushing to help him dress. I knew the angels had no problem witnessing sexual scenarios, but I hadn’t gotten to that point yet. Thankfully my need was met and he hadn’t walked in to catch us in the act.

Slipping into the bathroom I attempted to fix my disheveled looks before he arrived. Rafe’s laughter and thoughts followed, telling me it would serve him right if he saw what he could never have. I didn’t share his sentiment. Keeping our love life private suited me just fine.

Feeling a little more presentable I joined him in his office again, and Calvin appeared out of thin air. I really wished he’d learn to use a door, because of what just happened in the room.

“We can discuss my habits later, there is a matter of urgency and I need your assistance.”

I felt horrible that he’d overheard my thoughts, and lowered my head. “Of course, we’ll help.” Not that we could refuse, since he was very much in control of our fate here on this plane.

“A young human has just arrived in town, and we believe she may be a half-breed. Gabriel has been dream guarding her, but I’m not sure he has the right temperament to handle her. The girl is young, nineteen of your earth years, and has suffered abuse at the hands of her caregiver. I would like you and Rachel to bring her in, and of course test her.”

“Absolutely we can do that. Do you not find it odd that this is the second who’s been under our care?” Rafe voiced the question but it was something we’d discussed as ironic when we talked about our first link together.

“Not at all, you would be drawn to those of our race before a full-blooded human. The distress that they put out makes them almost impossible to deny caring for.”

That was a new revelation, and I looked at Rafe bewildered. “So, would it not make sense to have any of the humans tested that our kind dream of?” I knew after the months of studies with Rachel how important these fledgling human-angels were to our fight.

“Previously I would have disagreed, but now? I believe that is a valid point and I will bring it up with the council while you deal with the human.”

“Where can we find her?” Rafe’s mind was focused completely on the task at hand. He had a very soft spot for these women because I’d shared how hard it was for me feeling like I was always an outcast.

“She would be in Jackson Square, playing her lyre for currency. Such talent this one possesses, I feel certain she has the lineage.”

By lyre, I knew Calvin meant guitar. Sharing his thoughts, I saw a vision of the young woman and knew she’d be easy to pick out of a crowd. She was quite lovely and seemed so young, even though I was only a few years older.

Rafe called Rachel up to the office while I discerned more details from Calvin’s mind. The life that poor woman had lived filled my heart with sorrow. Her stepfather had beat her to the point of nearly ending her! My fangs descended wishing I could rip the bastard’s throat out for what he’d made her feel. The stepfather had used her as a hitting board when the mother went insane leaving her illegitimate child in his care.

“Cara control your rage.” Rafe’s warning was soft, but I could hear the worry in his voice. Calvin reached into my mind forcing me to calm when I was unable even with his normally soothing influence.

“He deserves to be punished.” I couldn’t say killed because I didn’t believe in taking human life, no matter how miserable it was.

“That won’t help her, honey. I need you to be calm when we approach her, she’s suffered enough already.”

Rachel’s words reminded me that our duty was to the human in pain out there, and she needed us. “We’re not letting Gabe near her.” She was his ward but I couldn’t imagine how she’d fared under his care after all she’d already been through.

“Agreed, now let’s go find her.” Rachel walked toward the door, and Rafe stood to follow, but I held my hand out, shaking my head.

“I think it will be easier if it’s just the two of us, love. She’s suffered at the hands of a man and I don’t think it will be easy for her to trust one.” Taking the few steps to him, I lifted my lips and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek, my mind with the woman. “We’ll return soon.”

Rafe wanted to argue, I could see it in on his face, but Calvin’s words stopped him. “She is giving good council, you can make plans for her stay. I want her well protected, that should be understood.”

Leaving the men to discuss their plans, Rachel and I walked downstairs and out into the New Orleans night. My heart hurt as I attuned to her soul, and I hoped that we didn’t have to alter her thoughts to give her the help she needed.

Chapter two
Shanna’s Song



Walking toward Jackson Square, the locals gave us space but the tourists either stared in fascination or ignored us completely. Not only did the Quarter pull our race in, but those with other mental gifts, what humans called clairvoyants. We knew them as something else entirely. Some of them thought they knew what we were, but their souls depended on them keeping those thoughts hidden.

Rachel’s lessons had taught me that in the final days of this world, these special humans would play a big role in converting or sacrificing their race. For now, the darker souls left them in peace, mostly. “Focus. I see her up ahead.”

Rachel’s voice pulled me out of my reverie, and my eyes landed on our human charge. Lord Chaz, one of the friends of Crimson, was preparing for his nightly vampire tour, and was keeping a vigilant eye on the woman while he spoke to his group. His gaze landed on us, and with a nod, took his focus from her, now that she was in no danger.

Strumming her instrument the soft, lilting voice seemed much more mature than the image she presented. With eyes closed, she recanted a folk tale in song, seeming almost at peace as the words unfolded. Dressed in tattered blue jean shorts, and a t-shirt that hung loosely on her frame, she reminded me of some flower child picture from the sixties. Her strawberry tinged hair, fell into her eyes, hiding a beautiful face from view.

Rachel and I were both mesmerized by the haunting melody, and remained still as statues as she continued. When the song ended, her eyes opened showing their brilliant violet coloring, and I knew I’d never seen such a beautiful hue. Opening my purse, I dropped a twenty-dollar bill into her guitar case, still captivated by the spell she’d woven.

“Thanks.” Even her talking voice was musical. There was little doubt in my mind that Calvin had been right. That voice was so pure it could only be granted to someone of angelic nature. She was humble in nature, because her eyes quickly returned to the strings on her guitar, as if speaking one word was all she could manage.

“You have a lovely voice. Would you consider playing for our club?” Rachel’s idea was instantaneous and I felt pride at her ingenuity. The woman obviously came to make a living with her music so what better way to pull her into our realm.

“You have a club?” Distrust and hope filled her glance at the same time, and my heart bled for her. How could anyone treat one of God’s creatures so carelessly?

“We do, and we’d like you to come down and play for our music manager.” I knew Armon was watching Caleb and his band practice tonight, so he could be brought into our plans. My only concern was Caleb keeping his hands off our new ward, but I knew how to make him mind his manners.

“I guess I could do that.” Her thoughts were very distrustful, not that I could blame her. She packed up her guitar warily, her eyes moving from me then back to Rachel looking like she was ready to run at the first sign of trouble.

I wanted to wrap her in my arms and promise that she’d never have to be afraid again, but that would have terrified her. Instead I attempted smiling warmly, and began walking the back alley because it was the fastest way to the club.

For a human, taking these back alleys was the worst idea they could have. The isolation made them easy prey, and not just for someone looking to feed. Shanna had nothing to worry about with us by her side, though. Or so we thought.

The attack was so quick, we barely had time to surround our charge, and the ferocity of the dark souls was more intense than I’d thought they’d be. This was my first encounter with one, and as much as I wanted to kick Gabe in the balls most nights, I was proud of the training he gave.

With lightning speed my hands shot out to one of the creature’s neck and tossed the almost two-hundred-pound body over my head into the pavement. He crashed into the wall and came up fangs bared, and my fist crashed into his face with a sickening crunch. Thankfully there were only three of them, and Rachel was holding her own with one, while I distracted the other with a kidney punch and took down the other.

I wasn’t sure if I was pleased or worried when Gabe showed up in the fight, because my main concern was Shanna’s safety. Thinking quickly, I sent a mental command for him to get her to the club, while we finished off the things, hoping I wasn’t making a horrific mistake.

His tie to the girl honed him in I’m sure, but I had little time to think as I decapitated the first of the dark souls, and moved to help Rachel defend against her opponent. Now that her hands weren’t encumbered, she summoned a blinding spell that rendered them impotent so we quickly destroyed the last of them.

“Remind me to never get on your bad side.” Looking at the carnage in our wake, I shook my head at her powers.

“Same here, Gabe’s done very well in your training.” Her eyes moved over the bodies, and her lip lifted in a sneer. “We need to clean this up then get back to the club, all hell is about to break loose.”

I understood without the sharing of thoughts that Gabe was going to be pissed and I wasn’t looking forward to that conversation. My main concern was for Shanna’s mental state, and I hoped he wiped her thoughts, even though I hated that manipulation, because seeing the dark souls would be worse than a little mind play. Thankfully the commotion hadn’t brought anyone else into the alley, and we quickly set a fire that left the creatures turning to dust.

chapter three

Calming down the small waif of a girl in my arms, I attempted to control my rage. I’d held her like this for years in my dreams, shielding her body as she slept, never dreaming of making it any more personal. That she was here now, in danger at that, infuriated me. If she’d been summoned by Calvin there would hell to pay for someone. She didn’t belong here!


About me

Tears of Crimson isn't just a book, it's based on reoccurring dreams I've had since I was a teenager. Have you ever had a dream so vivid that you believed it had to be real? That's how I feel about this series. In the outside world, I'm the mother of five incredible children, wife to the greatest fisherman on earth who has a real job too, and the last person in the world you'd think would write romance. I'm so excited to have the chance to share the Tears of Crimson world with you!

Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
Tears of Crimson is a New Orleans Vampire Bar. The first book was written after I was laid off from my job in respiratory therapy, and I needed an outlet for my boredom. It started with a dream and I'd been writing short stories about them for more years than I want to admit.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
My incredible friend, Rachel Mizer at Shoutlines Design took the idea I had for the first book and turned it into what I feel is amazing artwork. She was such a joy to work with and I watched her design the entire thing online. Tears has always had a dreamy feel, and she brought that to life.
Q. Why do you write?
I write because I think my head would explode if I didn't. Living in a remote town in Alabama doesn't leave much excitement in the outside world, so this is my escape. I began as a songwriter but found that I could pour so much more emotion into literature.

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