Monday, April 30, 2018

Moon Blood - The First Blood Son Series by Carol McKibben #vampire #paranormal #fiction






Vampire Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Shifter Fiction
Date Published: 5/1/2018
Publisher: Troll River Publications

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Attacked by the werewolf nation, sworn vampire enemies, Kane and Moon are thrown into turmoil to defend themselves and those they love. With a stalking shifter network out to destroy them, every battle could be their last.

Traveling from Nova Scotia to Kane’s Italian Tuscany estate, they stand ground against their enemies. As they prepare to fight, a mysterious female attracts Kane. Who is she? Could she have ulterior motives? As Kane and Moon unravel the threat she poses, they realize the real reason behind the werewolves’ plot against them. Not a cookie cutter version of this genre, the mystery stays alive as McKibben once again raises the level of paranormal, narrated by a hybrid wolf. The result it a battle of strength, power, and ultimately, love.


About the Author

Carol McKibben writes from the heart of a dog’s eyes. Her books help support her dog rescue efforts and focus on unconditional love.
When Carol isn't saving Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, or feeding the horde of rescue dogs she and her husband Mark rehabilitate, she's out riding her sixteen-hand Frisian among the San Gabriel mountains.
 In addition to her passion for writing, she rides and competes with her dance partner Okido I.T. in Classical Dressage.

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RABT Book Tours & PR

The Hometown Series by Kirsten Fullmer #contemporary #romance


Hometown
Girl at Heart
Hometown
Series Book 1
by
Kirsten Fullmer


Genre:
Contemporary Romance


Tara
has always been too engrossed in her work - refurbishing the
historical homes in Smithville. She keeps a tight rein on her jobs
and her emotions buried, but she’s losing control of both since
that ridiculous city boy investor showed up.


New
in town, Justin is confident that his ultra modern resorts will bring
Smithville into the twenty-first century. If only the local-yokels
and their ringleader, the gorgeous and peculiar Tara, would stop
interfering.

With
her quirky and protective hometown behind her, will Tara confront
Justin and the town’s long buried secrets to take on the financial
and emotional risk of a lifetime?


Excerpt:
The floor sander whirled heavily in large circles. Justin’s upper arms ached as he struggled to control the machine, forcing it in an even pattern across the hardwood floor of his kitchen. Thinking he’d heard a noise, he glanced over his shoulder and was shocked to find Tara standing in the kitchen doorway, waving a set of blueprints.
He flipped off the machine and turned to her, clenching and unclenching his fists, in an attempt to relax his throbbing muscles.
Her eyes bright and prints waving, she shouted, “...and Winnie brought me this!” Her last few words hung awkward and loud in the silence between them.
She didn’t continue so he could only guess she thought he understood. He reached for the water bottle on the counter and gulped, buying time. Finally, he plopped the bottle back down and wiped his sleeve across his forehead. “What’s your problem?”
Startled by his uncharacteristically harsh greeting, Tara was taken aback. “I said, I was working on the furniture and Winnie brought these by.”
“Yeah?”

“Yeah...”
 They both waited for the other to break the thorny silence between them. “I can’t believe you had new plans drawn up...” she began.
He cocked his hip against the wall, his expression flat. “And why is that?”

She swallowed once, then again. “I thought we’d talk about it first.”
His lip curled and he snorted. “Well, funny thing is, talking would involve answering the door or the phone, and you didn’t seem capable of either.”
She retreated another step. Her lips moved but nothing came out.
He wiped his arm across his forehead again. “Did you even check your messages?”
She stared at the floor. One shoulder shrugged. “No.”
“Well hell, partner, if you had, you’d know that we are supposed to meet with Muffy and Denny in two days.” He tossed one hand in the air. “Two days!” He stared at the half-sanded floor, then met her eye. “So I take it you were banking on me caving. Backing out, is that it?”
Her head snapped up. “No... I...”
“Why did you come running over here then, if not to yell at me for messing up your resort?” His eyes snapped bitter sparks.
“I...” She cleared her throat. “I was surprised that you changed your whole design.” Her eyes fell and she took another step back. Her arm brushed the wall, startling her, and the blueprints shuffled to the sawdust-covered floor. She scrambled to her knees, gathering the pages with frantic haste.
He bent to help and as he handed her the last page, their eyes met; his bright with anger, hers shimmering with tears.
He shot to his feet in surprise.
She stayed on her knees, clutching the jumbled documents in her lap, her eyes downcast, and her voice a whisper. “It’s beautiful, Justin. These drawings, I mean.” She turned around the top page and smoothed it against her legs, the other drawings sifting back onto the floor. One fingertip touched the paper, to trace the roof outline of the stately wood-shingle-clad house, with two wings added to either side, nine-pane windows, roof dormers, and a long porch sprawling across the front. “I’m sorry. I really...” Her voice broke.
He lurched forward and grabbed her arm, yanking her to her feet. The drawing fluttered and fell between them.
She turned her face away and he gave her a gentle shake to get her attention. “Look at me, Tara.”
She shrugged and sniffed.

“I’m going to stand here until you look at me.”

She glanced up tentatively through her lashes, then back to the
floor.

        He dropped her arm and took a step back, gesturing with his hands. “This is business, Tara. We are professionals.”
She shrugged.
“Okay! Okay. Look, You’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m not—” He scrubbed his hands across the top of his head. “I’m not to touch you. And that’s fine. But I can’t let this deal go. I need it. I’ve spent most of my savings to get set up and I have to succeed. It’s not an option for me to quit.”
She raised her chin and wiped the back of her hand under her nose.
Justin turned away, shook his head, and gulped more water from the bottle. Finally, he swung back to her. “Are you even going to be able to work with me?”
Her chin jutted out and she crossed her arms over her chest. “I promise to pull myself together and be a professional. I apologize for—”
He waved his hand at her. “No, it was my fault. I crossed the line. You kept telling me, but I was an idiot.”
She reached for him, trying to refute his words but he wouldn’t have it.
He pointed his index finger in her face and she froze. His eyes serious, he spoke low and steady. “Tara, I’m sorry I scared you.” His finger wagged. “That was never my intent.”
She opened her mouth and his finger came back up as he continued. “Winnie filled me in on a few things, and I realized I had been acting like an ass. I had no right to touch you, or kiss you, or to assume you wanted anything from me. I was out of line. It won’t happen again.”
            She nodded once.
He dropped his hand in surrender and with a frown, turned to stride out the back door.
Tears shimmered hot in Tara’s eyes. She turned her back to hide the devastating disappointment, embarrassment, and misery that threatened to break her heart. Slowly she collected the drawing and let herself out.







Hometown
Girl After All
Hometown
Series Book 2

Julia
lost everything while she was ill. Self-conscious and alone, she’s
moved to Smithville, determined to hide away in her rundown Victorian
house. Little does she know, she can’t hide anything in a small
town, including her interest in the deliveryman. 


Resolved
to keep his life simple, Chad has his hands full running his delivery
business and supporting his adopted family. So why can’t he get
that withdrawn city girl, Julia, off his mind?

Will
the eccentric but well-meaning Smithville folk push Julia and Chad to
open up, or will the emotional toll drive them both back into
seclusion?


Excerpt:

At the diner, Chad stepped behind Julia and pushed open the door for her, his hand warm on her back to lead her through. Bells chimed, announcing their arrival, and Marge glanced up from behind the counter. Her customary greeting froze on her lips as she did a double take, her conversation with a bald man seated in front of her forgotten.
The song on the jukebox ended and all the diners turned in the suddenly silent room to watch Julia and Chad walk to a table.
As Chad pulled out Julia’s red vinyl and chrome chair, the jukebox clicked and clattered, changing records. The first few words of the song P.S. I LoveYou, drifted across the room, as Julia did the butt-lift and scoot maneuver so Chad could scoot up her chair. The other diners slowly returned their attention back to their plates and conversations.
“It’s the Beatles,” Chad commented distractedly, shifting his chair up to the table, his eyes darting nervously between Julia and the other customers.
She nodded, engrossed in digging through her purse for something. Giving up in frustration, completely for- getting what she’d been looking for, she turned to hang her purse on the back of the chair, inadvertently catching the eye of a man and woman at the next table who sat staring, with their forks still hovering in mid-air.
Chad cleared his throat and lifted two menus from behind the salt and peppershakers. “So, what do you want to eat?” he asked, his voice a bit too loud.
Jumping in her seat, Julia’s gaze flew from the staring couple, back to Chad. “I—I’m not sure. What’s good here?”
Pretending to glance over the menu, Chad berated himself for bringing Julia to the diner. Why hadn’t her taken her to Uniontown where they could have cuddled in the corner booth of a crowded restaurant where no one would notice them? Feeling the back of his neck burn, he glanced over to see Marge’s pink tennis shoes on the floor next to the table.
He sighed inwardly and followed the pink uniform up to Marge’s face, which clearly but silently said, “I knew it!”
“Well,” Marge stated, her tone speculative, a wide grin on her face. “What can I get for you two this fine evening?”
Chad glanced at Julia, noting the misery written across her face, and he flinched. “I’d like a Coke. Julia?”
“Water please,” she muttered, not making eye contact with Marge.
Pretending to scribble on her pad, Marge sized up the couple over her reading glasses. “You got it,” she finally replied, turning on her heel.
Julia adjusted the salt and peppershakers into a row with the container of sugar packets and the ketchup, then turned her attention back to her menu.
“I like the meatloaf,” Chad said, glancing up. “Hmm,” she mumbled, turning the page. “And the tuna melt.”
Julia nodded.
“Sometimes I get the—”
Marge plopped two large red plastic tumblers on the table, and scooted the one full of water toward Julia. The aging waitress then tugged two paper-wrapped straws from her apron, tossed them on the table, and collected her pad and pencil. With one hip cocked and her glasses balanced on the end of her nose, she glanced between Chad and Julia.
Chad watched as Julia’s neck turned red, the color flooding up over her chin, then her cheeks. “Give us a minute please,” he said, his eyes never leaving Julia, angry at himself for being such a dunce.
Wishing she were invisible, Julia suffered the curious stares of the other diners. Shoving down her discomfort and battling to muster even a dab of confidence, she glanced up at Chad.
He took a long drink of soda, then set down his glass. “Sorry, we should have gone to Uniontown...” he muttered.
Julia straightened in her chair. “No, I’m fine, really.” She lifted her glass. “Have you had time to think about the flower—”The tumbler in her hand shifted in her grip, then fell to the table top, the water and ice pouring across the gleaming white table and directly onto Chad’s lap.
His chair screeched back as he bound to his feet. Wiping at his pants and shaking his hands, Chad danced backward in an effort to miss the torrent, barely managing not to fall into the lap of the woman seated behind him. When he looked up, all he could see was Julia’s stricken expression.
“I’m so sorry,” she gasped, then hurried around the table. Plucking a handful of napkins from the dispenser, she frantically wiped at Chad’s crotch.
“Julia—” he stuttered, still in shock, his hands and shirt drip- ping into the growing puddle.
She continued to press the napkin into his jeans, desperate to help.
“Julia!” he said louder, grasping her wrist in his fist.

She stopped, frozen in horror, finally noticing that everyone in the diner sat staring at her hand pressed to Chad’s crotch. She stood and her hand dropped from Chad’s grip, her face turning so pale he was afraid she would faint. 




Hometown
Girl Forever
Hometown
Series Book 3

Lizzie
gave up her stressful job in Boston to embrace her love of all things
country in Smithville PA. Her farm, a new job at the spa, and her pet
alpacas are a dream come true, if only her meddling, matchmaking,
socialite mother would back off.


Elliot,
a successful architect from Washington, DC, designed the new spa, but
he certainly hadn't envisioned the exotic bohemian style manager or
her intriguing, demanding mother. Small town antics and his interest
in Lizzie extend his visit to Smithville, but will the allure of
country life draw him in for good?

Once
again, Smithville’s folk interfere with plans at every turn,
forcing Lizzie and Elliot to face their personal dilemmas and each
other, head on.


Excerpt:
Tara stepped off the deck and put her arm through his. “Good morning, curious to see your spa?” She smiled, waiting for him to respond.
“Who—who are all these people?” he stuttered.
Seemingly shocked by his reaction to the throng of moving bodies, Tara glanced to the left and right. “Oh, these are our friends. They came to help set up.”
Elliot nodded weakly. In his experience, set-up days for a new spa consisted of moody and emotional designers fluttering their hands and issuing orders to a uniformed group of workers who moved quietly through the space murmuring amongst themselves as they rolled out rugs or shifted furniture to the left or right. The scene spread before him resembled a county fair more than a spa being readied for business.
Tara directed him toward the old woman at the station wagon. “Elliot, I’d like you to meet Winnie,” she said with love in her eyes as she hugged the woman with her other arm. “She is the one responsible for how I turned out, and she runs my remodel and real-estate business now.” She motioned toward the seated woman. “And this is Mrs. Middlewood.”
The large woman bobbed her head in greeting.
The old lady, Winnie, wiped her hands on her frilled apron, then smiled broadly, her wrinkled face crinkling, her eyes shining. “So this is Elliot,” she beamed. “I’m so pleased to meet you, and I’m glad you finally made it out to see your handiwork.”
Elliot nodded, sidestepping to dodge a woman who hurried past carrying a stack of wooden crates. She was wearing a colorful caftan and far too much jewelry, and her huge bun bobbed as she walked.
“Oh, Becky,” Tara said, grabbing the woman’s arm. “This is Elliot.”
Adjusting the crates on her hip, she grinned. Her chest was heaving from exertion, her cheeks were red and flushed, and her heavily made-up eyes flashed. “Well,” she huffed, “of course he is! Who but Justin’s friend would be so handsome?”
Unable to shake Becky’s hand due to the crates she held, Elliot nodded and stammered, “Nice to meet you.”
The woman grinned wickedly and stepped around him. “Watch out, ladies,” she called out as she stepped onto the deck. “We have
a real catch out here!” Her voice faded as she passed through the door of the spa.
Immediately four feminine heads popped around the doorjamb, their eyes round. Just as quickly they disappeared, followed by a cackle of voices — discussing him, Elliot could only assume.
His gaze dropped to Tara at his side and she shrugged. “You’ll get used to it,” she assured him, patting his arm. “Come on in and see what’s going on.”
He followed Tara, steadying his coffee cup with the other hand, carefully stepping around a short, thin man who was shoveling the flowerbed as if the devil himself were prodding him. The man’s eyes bulged and his glassed hung on the tip of his nose.
“That’s Bobby,” Tara said as they stepped into what would become the spa lobby, “and over there are Gloria and Marge.”
Unsure which of the gaggle of women she was referring to, he nodded and gripped his coffee cup tighter. The women all nodded as he passed. The room was just as cluttered as it had been the night before, but now, instead of boxes, the room was filled with piles of items pulled from the boxes, as well as women of all sizes, ages, and types. Flattening against the wall so the redhead could pass, he scanned the room. “Who is in charge here?” he croaked, afraid to ask.
            Tara scanned the noisy room. “There she is, come on...” she said, dragging Elliot forward by the elbow.
Elliot shuffled through the piles of supplies as Tara called out to friends. Being a good-sized man, he had to twist and turn to fit through the narrow spaces Tara easily passed. Forced to hold his half-full coffee cup over his head, Elliot muttered apologies for stepping on feet and bumping into women. Finally they reached the other side of the large room.
Gaping behind him at the sea of supplies and bodies he’d traversed, Elliot was caught off guard when he turned to see the gypsy woman he’d met the day before standing in front of him with a clipboard.
Her eyes were bright, and her riot of black curls were held back from her face with a headband. She wore a cream-colored tunic unlike anything Elliot had ever seen. It was rumpled, loose, and long to her hips, and the top of the bodice was comprised of multiple layers of lace. Over the frock she wore a loose-weave grey jacket that hung open, with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Soft netting hung out the bottom of the frock at her hips, and around her neck she wore what he could only categorize as a necklace, but was actually a long chain with charms and feathers and scraps of lace shimmering all around it.
He stared at her in shock, not only because of her clothing, but because it was her. The strange bohemian woman had danced in and out of his scattered dreams all night. His eyes roamed over her all the way to the floor, taking in her grey leggings and laced boots, unable to miss her very shapely legs, before traveling back up to her face. This gypsy woman was going to run his spa?
Her perturbed expression clearly asked if he was finished gaping.
Feeling quite the clod, he hurried to extend his hand, forgetting momentarily that he held a coffee cup.
Lizzie jumped back, raising the clipboard in order to miss the torrent of black liquid as coffee sloshed over the rim of the cup.
Elliot jerked the cup back and staggered sideways into a pile of boxes, splashing coffee across his slacks and shoes.
“Let me help you,” Lizzie said, tossing her clipboard on a stack of boxes and grabbing a towel from a nearby pile of linens. Bending, she brushed at the coffee on his shins and shoes.
Embarrassed and numb with what he could only describe as uncharacteristically cloddish behavior, Elliot stood like a statue, his coffee cup held at arm’s length, still dripping onto the hardwood floor.







Christmas
in Smithville
The
Hometown Series Book 4

Even
though Gloria is determined to change her reputation, most of the
women in town still think she’s a tramp. Sure, she may have dressed
a little flashy and dated pretty much every single guy in town, but
that’s the past. Now that she wants to make a fresh start, will
Smithville give her a second chance? 


Ned
has heard all the gossip, but being the Sheriff’s Deputy, he sees
all the kind things Gloria does behind the scenes for the folks of
Smithville. It looks like the upcoming Christmas Pageant will offer
him the opportunity to spend time with her, but can he overcome a
frustrating stutter and talk to her, face to face? 

Your
favorite characters from the Hometown Series bring craziness, love,
and Smithville Christmas style, to a whole new romance about
overcoming your past and sharing your deepest secrets. Fall in love
and be swept away with the Christmas Eve celebration of your dreams.


Excerpt:
“Then I just had to wr—wrap the baby up and hand her to her mother,” Ned said as he dropped his paint roller in the bucket of hot water.
            Gloria stared at him, her eyes wide in fascination. “I can’t believe you delivered a baby by the side of the road. I don’t think I could have—”
            “Sure you could,” he said with a shrug. “When the time comes and work needs doing, folks like us st—step up.”
            Unsure, she scoffed. “Well, baking a casserole is one thing, but…”
            Ned reached out to take her paint roller. “Yeah, okay, the baby was kind of a big deal,” he conceded, “Usually, I just end up learning w—way more about people than I want to know.”
            “I understand that.” Gloria nodded. “Given my past, I know—” She stopped, realizing what she was saying. “Of course, I’ve forgotten all about those guys...” She faltered, her words fading away and her cheeks burning red under her freckles.
            Ned’s laughter rang out into the workshop. “Oh, I’m sure you don’t know which guys in town burp at the table, who is connected at the hip to their momma, or who snores—” The words chopped off and it was his turn to blush. “I… I d—didn’t mean… I—I w—wasn’t…” His stutter always got much worse when he was upset. Frustrated, he stopped talking and turned back to the water bucket.
            “Don’t be embarrassed,” Gloria said, feeling bad for him. “It’s true though, especially with your job. What do you do when you meet someone on the street, and you know intimate details about their personal life?” She waited, but he just pumped the paint rollers up and down in the water, so she tried again. “I’m asking for advice, honest. Do they train you on this stuff at the police academy?”
            He shrugged, then straightened and shoved one hand in the front pocket of his jeans. “Well we have to t—take ethics classes, but…” he looked up, making eye contact, “no, they don’t tell you that stuff. You just h—have to act like you weren’t at their house two n—nights ago with the fire chief, helping them get their hand unstuck from the k—kitchen drain they were trying to fix.”
            Her eyes widened, and she chuckled in surprise. “Who? No, no don’t tell me.”
            He shook his head; his hand raised to stop her. “I wouldn’t,” he said, but his eyes were bright with humor. “It’s a th—thing you have to learn to do I guess. I know you’re g—good at it, I’ve seen you in action.”
            She shrugged modestly. “Oh, well, I just try to put myself in their place.”
            They were both quiet for a minute, contemplating all the dirt they’d collectively compiled on the people of Smithville.
            “Yeah, ” she continued with a sparkle in her eye. “Because if I were a great big guy, I wouldn’t want everyone to know that I scream like a little girl when I see a spider.”
            Ned’s eyebrows rose, and a big grin spread across his face. “Now I have to wonder…”
            “It will go with me to the grave,” she assured him, looking solemn. But she couldn’t help it and broke into laughter. “Oh my gosh, it was the funniest thing. I thought he was going to run away, but he kept screaming for me to ‘get it’. Of course, I was far too busy laughing and taking video.”
            He chuckled, enjoying the way her eyes shone when she was happy. Her laughter was like music, and her cheeks turned rosy with happiness. His own heart swelled, catching him off guard. “You’re a mean one, aren’t you,” he teased.
            “Me?” she asked, with her hand on her chest. “No, no, I finally took pity on him and smashed the bug.”
            “Well that’s good,” he said, wishing he could make her laugh like that all the time.
            “Anyway…” she trailed off, “I better get moving. I have a ton of sewing to do.”
            “I wish I could help you with th—that,” he said, collecting the butcher paper he’d spread for them to paint. “But I have no idea how to even thread a needle.”
            Her head tilted to one side. “I doubt that.”
            “Okay, okay,” he relented, crumpling the paper to stuff it in the trashcan. “I can thread a n—needle, but choir robes and sh—shepherd costumes are way beyond my scope.”
            She waved him off. “Oh, these are pretty simple. I figure they’re for one night and no one will really see them up close.”
            “True.”
            “Except…”
            He waited for her to continue, watching her think, wishing he could hear what was on her mind.
            “Well, it’s just…” She chuckled.  “Practically every family in town has someone in this thing, so I guess in reality, everyone will see them up close.”
            “Right?” he laughed. “I wonder sometimes, who is going to watch this thing.”
            “Me too!” she agreed. “We may need to set up a bus service to bring folks from Uniontown.”
            He rubbed his chin. “Not a bad idea.”
            She chuckled, reveling in the shared moment, then turned away, looking for her purse. “Well, I’d better get going.”
            “Thanks for the help,” he said, wishing he knew how to make her stay. “ Do you have to go?”
            The question froze Gloria in her tracks. Normally at this point, if a gorgeous man was being funny and sweet and she liked him, she’d stay and talk. And not only that, she amended, she’d sign up for more. But things were different now. She was different. She wasn’t doing any of this to get a man, and, truth be told, she wouldn’t know what to do with one at this point anyway. She wanted to prove to the women in town she didn’t need to flirt, and that she could do a job and do it well, without attracting male attention.  She frowned. That wasn’t going so well evidently. Was she attracted to Ned?
            Turning back toward the shop, she regarded him carefully.  He had a swipe of red paint across one cheek, but that only made him more approachable.  The man was a knock out no matter how you looked at him. The paint spear made him cute. Shocked by her appraisal, her eyebrows lifted. When was the last time she’d thought a grown man was cute? Especially one with a physique like the deputy.
            He grew uncomfortable under her stare, and she realized she was being rude. “I really do have to go,” her words said, but the rest of her said, “I want to stay.” He was easy to talk to and friendly. He didn’t judge her. He was nice. It came to her then; she had a friend in Ned. They had some things in common, and they could have a laugh together. Given her situation, a friend was something she needed. Gaging her words carefully, she hoped she could make him understand how much she appreciated him. “I really do have to go, but this has been… this has been great.”
            He looked so disappointed that she nearly relented, but she knew it was for the best. This pageant was not the time or place to be looking for a new boyfriend. And she was sure she didn’t want to ruin the budding friendship they’d forged. This was new territory, and she had to move carefully and use her head.
            “I have to go.” She turned toward the door, then, with her hand on the door handle, she stopped and looked over her shoulder. “But I’ll see you tomorrow night at practice, right?”
            For a minute she thought he wasn’t going to respond, but finally he nodded, and an easy grin lit his face. “Sure.”
            All she could manage was a quick nod, and then she ducked out the door before she could change her mind.








Kirsten
grew up in the Western US and graduated from high school in
1984. She married soon there after and quickly built a family.
With three young children and number four on the way, she returned to
college in 1992. Her career as a draftsman included many settings
ranging from a steel fabrication shops to prestigious engineering
firms. Balancing family life with the workplace forced her to
become the queen of multitasking. In 2001, bored with the cubical
life, she moved on to teach drafting in technical college, then to
opening her own consulting firm teaching 3D engineering software. Due
to health problems, Kirsten retired in 2012 to travel with her
husband for his job. She now works writing romance novels and enjoys
spoiling her three grandchildren. Since 2017 Kirsten has lived and
worked full time in a 40' travel trailer with her husband and her
little dog Bingo.






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The Vampire Within by Laura Daleo #dark #vampire #fantasy





Dark Vampire Fantasy
Date Published: March 2018
Publisher: Story Bound Publishing

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Brandon Cass is not your average teenager. He has a taste for blood—human blood. For sixteen years, he stumbled through life without a hitch until the enigmatic aroma of blood awakened something dark within him. Visions of a beautiful young woman with chocolate brown hair and ocean blue eyes haunt his mind, yet her identity is a puzzling mystery.

His hunger for blood strengthens, and the cravings become too powerful to control. No one is safe, not even his family. To safeguard all he once found dear, Brandon sets out on a quest for answers. In an unfamiliar city, he comes face-to-face with the beautiful young woman, confronts the dark force which controls him, and learns what he must endure to reclaim his soul.



Other Books in the Immortal Kiss Series:




Immortal Kiss
Immortal Kiss Series, Book One



Centuries ago ten powerful vampire gods first walked the earth; their blood thirst knew no boundaries. The destruction of mankind was inevitable. Recognizing their weakness, they selected twelve wise human beings to transform with their godly blood. These twelve, known as The Old Ones and The Council, govern The Ten. A blood lottery appeasing The Ten’s hunger was set forth into the human world and passed down every fifth generation, continuing into the present day.

All of Beth Ryan’s life a mysterious mist has watched over her; a mist she believed to be a vampire. On a cold winter night, Philippe Delon, a 700-year-old vampire walks into Beth’s life. She is drawn to him, certain he is the vampire behind the mist...but is he?

Beth and Philippe cannot deny their love for each other, nor do they try to fight it. Within days of their encounter, Beth accepts Philippe’s invitation to move into his mansion. The mansion unlocks the door to the vampire world and exposes secrets from Beth’s past. Within its walls, she learns the true identity of the mist, her link to the blood lottery, and betrayal of her loved ones. Surrounded by lies, Beth stands before The Council begging for resolution.







Bound by Blood
Immortal Kiss Series, Book Two


Five years crawled by at a painfully slow pace for young vampire, Beth; each year more agonizing than the next. The powerful unyielding spell which masked Amon’s whereabouts showed no signs of weakening.  Influenced by the binding ritual and Amon’s blood surging inside her, Beth will stop at nothing, and risk everything, to find him and turn the tables on Osiris, Isis, and Hathor.  In foggy streets of London, lives are threatened by a new breed of hunter, and nothing is what it seemed.  Beth once again finds herself surrounded by betrayal.  In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between Philippe and Amon – knowing that her decision will change one life forever. But whose?









Excerpt


CHAPTER 1
              

I jumped out of bed at the very last second, took a quick shower, threw on some clothes and raced downstairs. As my mom nagged me about the time, I shoved a piece of toast in my mouth, washed it down with some OJ, then dashed out the door seconds before the school bus pulled up. As usual, my fellow classmates were taunting the new kid, Roger, and Mr. Gilbert, the bus driver, was yelling out his customary, “Knock it off!” at them. I flopped down in an empty seat at the back of the bus and let out a frustrated groan. Could my life be any more boring?

I dragged my feet as I made my way into Mrs. Clark’s history class and claimed my usual seat.  Whose bright idea was it to make history first period? Staying conscious while Mrs. Clark rambled on about a bunch of dead people who changed the world was near impossible. I slid farther down in my chair and was about to initiate full zone-out mode when Sam walked into class.

An electric jolt zapped me upright—I could smell her. The scent quickened my pulse and sent my heartbeat skyrocketing. My mouth watered as a feverish hunger growled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t her perfumed skin or freshly shampooed hair. No, it was musky and unpleasant. It got under my skin, and I found it terribly distracting.

As Sam caught me staring, a proud smirk washed over her face. She tossed her golden-blonde hair over her shoulder and slid her slender body into the wooden desk in front of me, then turned around and locked eyes with me, her smug grin widening.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her distracting aroma swiftly traveled up my nose, lighting up my brain. Shivers scurried down my spine, spinning my head…what was that smell?

As Sam tugged playfully on my hair, she whispered, “I’ve been waiting forever for you to notice me, Brandon.” She paused, looking me up and down. “Meet me after class on the front steps.”

I didn’t hesitate to agree. “Okay.”

She winked. “I have a surprise for you.”

My stomach flip flopped and my palms grew sweaty. Surprise? I had no idea what she meant, but I sure as hell was gonna find out.

Sam’s smell manipulated my brain, blurring Mrs. Clark’s words together. Once, I got wasted at one of my parents’ Christmas parties. I’d chugged down every half-finished glass of beer, wine, or hard liquid abandoned on the table to the point where my head spun out of control. Sam’s scent mimicked that same effect. I wanted to gorge on it, whatever it was. The sudden ring of the school bell, announcing the end of first period, snapped me out of the muddled fog.

Sam touched my shoulder and whispered, “You go first and I’ll meet you there.”

I obeyed and headed straight for the front steps with my heartbeat throbbing inside my throat.

The breeze carried her fragrance. She was behind me; I knew it. My knees wobbled as I turned around.

Sam was inches from me, batting her eyelashes and smiling. She giggled and seized my trembling hand. “Come with me.” She steered me toward the park and away from the vigilant eyes at the school. Within the boundaries of the trees and their interlocking branches, we sat, facing each other.

“What’s my surprise?” I asked, my breath speeding up.

“A kiss.” She grinned sheepishly, then planted her lips over mine.

That smell of hers hammered at the inner walls of my brain. Every muscle twitched, and heat spread over my skin. I pulled away and blurted out, “What’s that smell? It’s driving me crazy!”

She flinched, and her cheeks flushed bright red. “You can smell me?”

“Yes.”

“I…I don’t know what to say. This is so embarrassing.” She looked away from me. “I’m on my period,” she whispered.

That was it—blood! Rich, dark, delicious blood! Wait, blood?  Delicious? Was it? I jammed my fingertips into my temples. Her scent was screwing with my head, but I had to taste her. Cupping her face, I kissed her hard and bit her tongue. Warm, coppery blood spilled into my mouth, bringing to life a slew of delightful shivers. 

Her high-pitched squeal struck my eardrums, but I didn’t care. Her fluids overpowered all my senses. I swished her blood between my teeth, like mouthwash, before spitting it into the palm of my hand. A thick, gooey, red substance coated my fingers. Its power hypnotized me and…altered me. I hungered after it. My tongue darted out of my mouth and snatched up the blood staining my skin. Upon my virgin swallow, I released the low growl swelling in my throat. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of her. Her face had turned a shade of ghastly-white, and her eyes bulged out of their sockets. She opened her mouth wide, blasting out another petrified shriek. It echoed inside my ears, yanking me back to reality. I held my hands up and backed away from her, shaking my head. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me…I’m so sorry.”

She scrambled to her feet, gave my shin a swift kick, and shouted, “Freak!” As she ran away, she threatened, “I’m going to tell everyone what you did.  Everyone!”

I wandered the park aimlessly with my thoughts spiraling. I bit her! Why, why, why? The blood…it made me do it! My feet stumbled to a grinding halt. Her blood coerced me; I knew it with every ounce of my being. Was that even impossible? Was I losing my mind? I had to get away from the school. I grabbed my cell and called my mom.

She picked up on the second ring. “Brandon, why aren’t you in class?” Her voice sounded strained. “Is something wrong?”

“I’m sick, Mom.” My voice cracked. “P–Please come get me.”

“Of course, honey.”

“Hurry.”

“Ten minutes, if that,” she answered in a lulling tone. “Don’t worry.”

My shoulders quaked, threatened by a wall of tears building behind my eyelids. For the second time that day, I waited on the front steps of the school, a different person—a person who craved blood—a freak!

As my mom’s car turned into the parking lot, I bolted toward it. The car hadn’t even come to a complete stop when I yanked on the handle and slid inside.

She gave me a heartfelt look, then immediately placed her hand to my forehead. “No fever, so that’s good. How is it you don’t feel well?”

Looking into her eyes made me want to ball like a baby. I looked away, then shuddered. “I ache all over.”

Again, she touched my forehead, then each cheek. “I’ll make you some soup when we get home.” She paused, then added, “Your sister’s going to be jealous.”

Soup wasn’t going to fix my problem, and I certainly couldn’t tell my mom I’d bit a girl’s tongue. I couldn’t tell my sister either. I couldn’t tell anyone. I forced a smile and glanced at her. “Soup sounds good. Better make enough for Lindsey or she’ll be really jealous.”

Her vivacious laugh filled my ears. “You’re probably right.”

As the car pulled away from the school, the knot twisting my stomach relaxed; though, the gruesome act of biting Sam was less forgiving. The image was forever etched into my brain. I sank deeper into the seat and shuddered.

My mom glanced at me with a line of concern pinching her forehead. “Are you all right?”

That was the million-dollar question. I heaved a sigh. “My head’s pounding. I just want to lie down.”

“Thank goodness we live so close.” She shook her head and her frown deepened. “This came on so sudden. When you dashed out of the house this morning, you were fine.”

I shrugged my shoulders.  I was fine, until Sam changed things. Turning onto our street, she added, “I hate it when my kids get sick.”

“I’ll be okay.” I lied, but my mom needed the reassurance.

“Of course you will.”

As my mom pulled into our driveway, I pushed open my door. I didn’t even wait for her to kill the car’s engine before I was hurrying into the house with large strides, running up the stairs and into my room. I flopped onto my bed and buried my face in my pillow. The sobs I’d been fighting all day gained on me. My eyelids gave way to the mounting pressure behind them, spilling hot tears down my cheeks and drenching the pillowcase. My mom walked in during the height of my waterworks display. I quickly swiped at my face, brushing away the tears before sitting up.

“Brandon, honey, take a sip of 7UP,” she said, sitting next to me and handing me a can of soda.

I shoved the soda aside on the nightstand, then latched onto her, letting my tears flow again. “Tell me I’m not a horrible person,” I cried.

Her arms came around me in a loving embrace. “Why in the world would you say such a thing?” She cupped my face in the palms of her hands. “You’re my prefect sixteen-year-old son.”

My breath hitched inside my chest as I thought of the why. “I don’t know. I just…I just need some sleep.”

My mom pulled two round white pills from her sweater pocket, then reached for the 7UP. “Here’s two aspirin.” She stroked my head, then rose from the bed. “I’ll start the soup. Try to rest while it’s cooking.” She quietly closed the door, leaving me alone.

I washed down the pills and fell back onto the pillows, my gaze drifting toward the ceiling. Sam’s horrified face spread across it and I jerked my eyes away, burying my face into a pillow. Sam, I’m so sorry. She’d never forgive me. I couldn’t forgive myself. There was no forgiving what I’d done. What kind of person bites another person? A freak, that’s who.

A Google search could pinpoint what was wrong with me. I glanced at my laptop resting on my desk and shivered. Bad idea. Searching the internet for reasons why someone craved blood might uncover something far worse.

A rock of fear landed in the pit of my stomach. I bolted into my bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I caught my reflection in the mirror as I toweled off the clammy sweat and stared hard, searching for the slightest change—same hazel eyes, sandy-brown hair, and dimpled cheeks looked back at me. I didn’t see a freak or a monster, just me.

I wandered back to my bed and sank deeper into the pillows. The feather-down cradled me, programming my brain to shut down and summon sleep. My eyelids grew heavy, sliding down over my eyes like curtains.  I didn’t fight it and drifted off.

The creak of my bedroom door sounded inside my head like an alarm. My eyelids fluttered and slowly opened, my vision coming into focus. My sister stood in the doorway, her school books tucked under her arm.  “What do you want, Lins?”

Lindsey bounced into my room, unloaded her books on my desk, before sitting on the edge of it.  As she twirled a strand of her brownish-blonde hair around her finger, her big green eyes studied me. “You really sick or just faking?”

What I wouldn’t give to be faking the whole mess. I rolled my eyes. “I’m not faking.”

She plastered one of those ‘I don’t believe you’ looks on her face and heaved a sigh as her shoulders sagged. “I hate high school.”

That was so Lindsey; everything was always about her. I leaned against the headboard and folded my arms. “Why?”

“I was so popular in junior high. Everyone knew me or wanted to know me. Now, I’m at the bottom of the fish bowl, like scum. My social status is non-existent.”

I couldn’t help but smirk. “Social status, really?  Lins, you’re fourteen.”

She turned her nose up at me. “Like sixteen’s old. Besides, I happen to like being popular.” She pouted. “Ninth grade sucks.”

“Eleventh grade isn’t any easier,” I pointed out. “The twelfth graders have all the power.”

“Hmph. It just isn’t fair.” She paused, scrunching her eyebrows together. “Something’s really wrong with you, isn’t there?  You’re doing that thing with your forehead.”

I swiped a hand across my brow. “What thing?”

“Pulsating the vein in the center of your forehead.” She shuddered. “Gross. You always do it when you’re stressing out.”

I waved her off. Truth be told, though, I was in major stress mode. A whiff of chicken turned my head toward the doorway. Mom entered, carrying a breakfast tray.

“Ready for some soup?” She set the tray of steaming chicken noodle soup, soda crackers, and another can of 7UP next to me on the bed. “I came up earlier, but you were asleep.”

I licked my lips. “So ready.”

She touched her hand to my forehead. “Still no fever. That’s good, honey. Eat your soup and get some rest.”

Lindsey leaned in and took a deep breath. “Mom, that smells delish.”

“There’s plenty more downstairs.” She smoothed Lindsey’s hair and gave her a smile. “Why don’t you join me downstairs for a bowl.”

Lindsey jumped off my bed and scooped up her books. “Totally.” She glanced back at me. “Feel better.”

“Thanks, Lins.”

“I’ll check in on you later,” Mom said, then followed Lindsey out of my room and shut the door behind her.

I scarfed down the soup and crackers, then chugged half the can of 7UP. I pushed the tray aside and let out huge sigh. Once more, I fell back onto the pillows and closed my eyes.



****



I woke to a dark room. A shaft of moonlight cut through the curtains, stretching across the room and shining right in my face, letting me know it was still night. I rolled over to the opposite side of my bed and pulled the covers over my head, blocking out the light. An empty feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t hunger, it was the thought of school. I dreaded staring into Sam’s unforgiving eyes, and all the pairs of eyes of the people she’d told. I’d tell her I’d contracted a disease, and maybe I had. The creak of my bedroom door shattered my thoughts. Mom entered and flipped on the light, causing me to flinch. I can’t go to school tomorrow. I just can’t.

“Brandon, how are you feeling?” Mom asked, touching her hand to my forehead for the hundredth time.

Her warm fingers pulsated with thick, rich, tasty blood against my skin. No, not again!  I jerked away from her and scrambled to the opposite side of the room, sinking to the floor. She hurried after me, a thumping vibration following her. The suffocating hum wrapped around my brain, growing louder and louder. I slammed my hands over my ears and wailed.

“Brandon, what’s wrong?” Mom dropped to her knees in front of me, her hands latching onto my arms. “Oh my God, you’re shivering.”

The thumping was coming from her—her heartbeat! Every crushing thud swelled inside my chest, sucking the air from my lungs. I squished a hand between us and pried her away, but she only clung tighter as she screamed for my dad.

With her cry for help, his footsteps pounded against the carpeted stairs as he rushed to her aid.  As my dad charged into my room, the thumping magnified. I sat there, imprisoned on the floor, convulsing with each beat of their hearts. The room grew fuzzy as my vision blurred. Lindsey’s panicked squeal filled my ears, then all sound faded away to nothing.

The next time I opened my eyes, I was back in bed. A shaft of light from the hallway penetrated through the opening of my bedroom door, while multiple heartbeats sounded off inside my ears. I rolled over to face the doorway. My mom and Dr. Erickson, our next-door neighbor, stood just outside my room, wearing green hospital scrubs. She must have caught him either going to the hospital or just getting home. They spoke in hushed tones. I couldn’t make out every word, but I caught something about oxygen to the brain and low blood pressure.

This wasn’t any kind of illness. This was some sick craving for blood, and the second time it had manipulated me. Would there be more? How far would I go to satisfy the need? Would I resort to violence again? Would I hurt my parents, or Lindsey? A thin layer of sweat coated my skin as I twisted the sheets between my clammy fists. “Never!” I shouted.

My mom popped her head in. “I’ll be right there, Brandon.” She faced Dr. Erickson and squeezed his hands. “John, I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and checking on Brandon.”

“No need to thank me, Diane, but keep that appointment.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Goodnight. Call me anytime.” He gave her a nod and went on his way.

She hurried to my bedside, that motherly look of concern tugging at her eyebrows. “Honey, how are you feeling?”

“Tired…weak.” Scared I’m turning into a bloodthirsty monster.

She patted my hand. “Dr. Erickson reached out to Dr. Stewart. We’ve got an appointment with him tomorrow morning at nine.”

I heaved an exaggerated sigh in protest. “Do I have to go? You know how he is. He’ll run every test in the world.”

The motherly look intensified. “You gave me and your father, not to mention Lindsey, quite a scare. The subject is not up for debate. You’re going.” Her face softened, and she planted a kiss on my cheek. “Close those gorgeous hazel eyes and get some rest.” She stared at me for several seconds before leaving my side.

As she closed my door, I shuddered. If she knew the truth, she’d haul my ass to the nuthouse instead of the family physician.

Once more, my door opened halfway. Lindsey peeked around the frame. “Can I come in?”

That was a first. She never asked. I must’ve really freaked her out by fainting. “Yeah, sure.”

She approached my bed, stopping inches away. Her face twisted like she was in pain. “You scared me.” Her voice was gentle and soft, lacking its usual self-centeredness.

I put on my most thoughtful expression. “I didn’t mean to scare you, or Mom, or Dad. Mom says I’ve got to go to see Dr. Stewart tomorrow.”

“That’s probably a good thing. He’ll go all test happy and find what’s wrong.”

I busted out laughing. “That’s what I said.” I let myself get serious and lowered my voice. “I’m kind of scared. What if there’s something wrong with me, something that can’t be fixed?”

She nudged my shoulder. “It’ll be okay. Don’t worry.”

“What if it’s not?”

She locked her gaze on me. “It will. You’re my big brother, and I need you.”

I cracked a smile. “You mean, you need someone to boss around.”

A giggle escaped her, and more seemed to struggle to get out before she shook them off and held her chin high. “Not true.”

I let out a bemused huff. “Yeah, right. You’ve been bossing me around since you learned to talk. When we lived in that tiny apartment and had to share a room, you claimed top bunk and ordered me to sleep on the bottom bunk. Remember?”

She shuddered, then rubbed her arms. “That bedroom was haunted. I’ll never forget that girl’s voice humming that lullaby. No way was I sleeping on the bottom where she could pop out from under the bed and grab me.”

I rolled my eyes and waved her away. “I told you then and I’m telling you now, it was Mom.  She was probably standing outside our door, trying to get us to go to sleep.”

“That voice had come from inside our room, and it wasn’t Mom. It was a ghost,” she insisted with a firm nod.

My gaze drifted toward the ceiling as I conjured up the past, then I faced her. “It didn’t sound ghostlike or creepy to me. It had more of a calming effect as I remember.”

She jutted her chin in my direction. “Maybe for you.”

I released a low sigh. “Well, right now, I could use that calming lullaby.”

“Everything will be okay,” she said again, then hugged me.

I hugged her back, and longer than normal before releasing her. “Thanks, Lins. It’s late, go back to sleep. I’ll be fine.”

She searched my eyes. “You’re sure?”

I waved her toward the door. “I’m sure.”

“Okay.” She kept her gaze on me as she backed up into the doorway. A half-smile came to her lips before she closed the door, leaving me alone.

After staring at the ceiling for quite some time, sleep finally took over and Sam entered my dreams. She lay motionless beneath me as I hunched over her like a crazed animal. I’d ripped her apart, limb by limb, my face buried inside her open wounds, guzzling mouthfuls of blood.

My eyelids flew open and I scurried off my bed, flipping on the light, the nightmare still fresh in my mind. My heartbeat throbbed inside my throat as I skimmed over my room. Familiar surroundings fell into my sightlines; my guitars, rock-n-roll memorabilia, skateboards, and gaming equipment. I wiped the sweat off my forehead, trembling, and sank to the floor. Tears rushed forward and spilled down my cheeks as I feared the significance behind my nightmare.


About the Author




Laura Daleo was born and raised in San Diego, California where she majored in Fine Arts at Mesa College. She is best known for her love of animals and shares her home with three humorous Basset Hounds, Stuart, Morgan, and Dexter, her toughest critics. Laura has held positions in several industries, Restaurant, Telecom, Biotech, Research, and Retail. Throughout Laura's professional career, she furthered her writing skills by taking courses and by joining writer’s critique groups and Writers Digest. She is now the owner of Story Bound Publishing, a fresh voice in the supernatural realm of ebooks and traditional print, committed to publishing unearthly tales of Aliens, Angels, Demons, Fairies, Ghosts, Shifters, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Zombies and all other creatures that go bump in the night.



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