Thursday, August 31, 2017

Author Interview with S.T. Sanchez

Hello, lovely readers. As you know I'm preparing to publish my next novel, Unearthed After Sunset, very soon. And, as I've been working on setting up marketing for my own book, I decided to share some of the love and talk a little about other vampire books that have recently been published or will be coming out soon.

So, today, I have an interview with author S.T. Sanchez where she discusses her new book, Sunwalker

Tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks so much for the interview, Lauryn. I am from Dallas, TX. I love Texas. I am married and have three kids. I have a Bachelor of arts in Spanish from the University of North Texas. Mexico is my second home, I love the people, the culture and of course the food. It’s nice that my husband is from there and can show me things most tourists might miss. Reading had always been a passion and I love hiking and being outdoors. And of course, I write!

What are some things you’ve learned from publishing your first book?

I have learned so much from publishing Sunwalker. First, the saying really is true, the work truly begins after you publish. Also, don’t pay a company to publish your book. I wanted to do self-publishing but started with a company that I paid to help me out with the cover and formatting. Well, they took my money and ran. Since then I have learned that although I am not super techy, I was capable to do everything they could do and more. It took a lot of research and some time, but I did it. I love being in control of everything and not having to answer to anyone.

What’s something you had to edit out of your last book?

I really can’t remember having to take anything out. I am sure it will happen. There was a lot of clarifications I had to add, and some things my beta readers caught that I hadn’t been consistent on, but I can’t recall taking anything out.

How did you pick your character names?

I love names. Especially names that I think are unique but not weird, or too hard to pronounce. Lilly is just a name I have always liked. I actually think I have used it in some of my drafts that didn’t turn into a novel. Tread I am particularly happy with. I wanted a story to go along with how he was named, and when I was bouncing through ideas I hit on Tread and loved it. It was a close one though. He was almost named Koyt, which I ended up using for another character.

Tell us a little bit about your main characters

Lilly is a sunwalker—a vampire born from human parents, able to walk in the daylight. She lives life as a human, hiding her true identity from all those around her. Her one secret desire is to meet another one of her kind and learn about her kind.

Tread is a vampire. He was raised in darkness. He loathes humanity. They are nothing more than cattle to him, food to be taken when hunger hits. He is intrigued by Lilly and the life she chooses to live and stalks her in order to make sense of the way she lives.

Share a short excerpt from your novel
Normally Lilly would never think of going there. She knew her mom would never let her out again if she found out, but there was no way she was going to leave Lex alone in a place like that.

She shoved her phone into her back pocket and started jogging slowly toward the beach. She wasn’t exactly sure where this new hang-out was but thought she knew the general area based on a few conversations she’d overheard from people at school.

Finding it wasn't actually that hard. Getting past the wall was the difficult part. There were two entrances to the beach. Each manned by two guards and contained a special scanner designed to prick a finger and test the blood. Lilly had to wait until the power was switched off in a section of the fence and then speed through the door when it was opened, all without being seen. Lilly had never tried to get through before. She didn't foresee a problem in making it through the gate in time, the problem lie in the fact that few people were crazy enough to venture out on the beach, so she had to wait. It was past eight when she finally arrived at the place.

It reminded her of a bigger version of a beach shack she’d seen before in a movie. It was made up of white wooden planks with a wide deck and steps leading up to a big red door. The roof was made out of straw. She didn’t think it would withstand an East Coast storm. It looked more like it belonged in Tahiti or Jamaica or some other tropical location. There was a big wooden sign that someone had painted “The Broken Coffee Pot” on. It was painted in black and whoever had painted it must have done it in a hurry. Big black drips hung dried at the end of each letter. Next to it, someone had actually driven in a nail, and hung a broken coffee pot. All in all, she bet this place could have been built in a day and could fall over any minute. Lilly didn’t understand the appeal. She started up the steps two at a time when she heard some giggling around the back. Lilly slowed and headed toward the back of the building.

She heard a male voice whispering, “No it’s completely safe, we’ll just have a little more privacy back here.”

A giggle came from behind the building. It was definitely Lex, though how she knew that, Lilly had no idea. She would never have even been able to imagine Lex giggling. Lilly approached quietly and saw a man with his arm wrapped around Lex, kissing her as he pushed her up against the back wall of The Broken Coffee Pot. Then, in a flash, he had her neck at an angle. He pushed her hair off her neck and had his hand around her mouth.

“It’ll be so quick you’ll barely notice anything,” the man said. Then he winked at her and his eyeteeth extended into long fangs.

Lilly would never forget the look of terror in her friend’s eyes. Without even realizing what she was doing, she lunged at the man and sent him flying.

The man stood up inhumanly fast, and dusted some sand from his shirt. He seemed amused.

“Listen doll, I don’t know you, but generally speaking, when someone has their dinner ready and is about to eat, you go find your own. You don’t try and steal theirs.”

Lilly turned to Lex. “Run!” she yelled.

Lex stared hesitantly at Lilly for a brief moment and then took off in a mad dash, tripping on the sand as she tried to get away.

Lilly spun to block his pursuit. Her fangs slid out and a growl ripped through her teeth. She was taken aback at first, realizing the sound came from her and not the vampire in front of her.

The man stared at her, confused. Then he took a few slow steps forward with a look of awe on his face. “You’re a sunwalker,” he said with a hint of amusement.

“Yeah, and I’m stronger than the scum like you who are bitten into existence. So stay away from my friend,” Lilly spat with all the spite she could muster.

Before she realized what was happening, the vampire had her now pinned to the wall.

“You listen to me, little girl. You are nothing but an infant,” he scoffed. “You will watch how you talk to me,” he ordered as he squeezed her wrist tighter. “I have been around a long time. I’m smarter than you, faster than you, and stronger than you. Sunwalkers might be rare. But don't ever assume you're the only one.” He shoved her one more time hard against the wall, gripping her hand with one arm and using the other to hold her across the chest. Then, he released her.

“Ow!” Lilly said, rubbing her wrist. “That hurt.” She looked at him, dumbfounded. He was not just another vampire, but a sunwalker.

“That was the point,” he said, shaking his head, still trying to figure something out.

She rubbed her wrist. “It’s just, I’ve never been hurt before. I didn’t think we could get hurt.”

His jaw dropped. He opened it to speak, then shut it again. He shook his head.

“You do that a lot?” Lilly asked.

“Do what?”

“Walk around and shake your head.”

“I just don’t understand you…” He started to shake his head and stopped himself. Stifling a laugh, he asked, “Where are you from? What hospital were you born at? I don’t understand how we missed you. You must not have been born around here.”

“Hold on, as much as I’d love to stay and chat,” Lilly replied sarcastically, “you just tried to murder my friend.” She turned and started walking back around the building. She heard him muttering "friend" as she stalked off.

“Wait!” the stranger called.

Lilly didn’t bother turning around. “Yeah, I don’t think so,” she called, and then almost walked smack dab into him as he appeared in front of her.

“That was me asking politely, as a courtesy because you are my kind, and I fancy myself as a gentleman—” he began, but stopped as Lilly rubbed her wrist. “Well normally I am a gentleman. Someone stealing my dinner and then letting it run free seems to have put me in a foul mood. Nevertheless, as you've seen, I can make you stay.” He stepped back, holding his hands up non-threateningly and then added, “Just answer a few questions and then I’ll let you leave.”

Lilly wasn’t thrilled with this. She knew Lex must be going out of her mind right now. But after feeling his strength, she knew she really didn’t have a choice. Some kind of gentleman, threatening but polite, she thought.

“Fine,” she huffed. “Ask away. It's not like I really have a choice.”

What are you currently working on?

Presently Nightwalker, book 2 in the Sunwalker trilogy, is going through its first edit and is also in the hands of my beta readers. I also just finished my first draft of The Portal Keeper, a fantasy novel about a secret world, filled with magic and mayhem. It was really fun and easy to write. I finished my first draft in just a few weeks which is crazy fast for me.

Who designed the artwork for your cover? Or did you design it yourself?

I wish I had the talent to design covers. Sadly I tried and it looked like something a kindergartner would come up with. So I found an amazing designer who also happens to be my editor. Courtney Johansson. You can contact her at just don’t keep her too busy. Lol

Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.

I did a live radio commercial when I was in my early twenties. It was for a blockbuster grand opening, and my boss made me do it. I was super nervous and got tongue tied. It was a fun experience even though I bombed it. It’s always better to try and fail than not attempt something.

What is your favorite book?

There are so many phenomenal books out there. I can’t pick one. I loved Harry Potter. I absolutely adore anything by Brandon Mull. If you are a fantasy fan pick up Fablehaven, the Beyonders or the Five Kingdom series. All are amazing.

Any last words?

Thank you for having me on Lauryn. I just want to thank all the readers out there. We appreciate you. Without you, I wouldn’t get to do something I love. Whether you pick up my book or Lauryn’s or another author, please take the time to review it. Reviews are not only important to authors but readers as well. They can give great feedback to an author or let a reader know if a book is worth their time and money. So please do reviews. Happy Reading!! Thanks again:)





Barnes and Noble

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Read Ch 1 of Unearthed for Free

Okay, so here's the deal. Some of you may have read this first chapter two years ago when I posted it on my blog as a teaser for the book. This was shortly before my hiatus, where I abandoned blogging for a year to deal with life stuff like grad school, my wedding, and home improvements. Unearthed After Sunset was put completely on hold at that time and it wasn't until this year that I returned to it. Since then, the book has gone through some changes (including chapter 1).

[Update: On Sale Now!]

Amazon - In both paperback and kindle format

Barnes & Noble - In both paperback and nook format

Kobo - In ebook format



I slumped onto a cracked leather stool and slapped a twenty on the bar. Duke’s was a small place near campus. Their tap beer ran a little musty, but the bottles were always cold. I looked around, waiting for the bartender to get to me. At the back of the room, a couple of frat guys had a game of pool going. ESPN played on the TVs, and the dim lights made the room feel a little depressing, but I was okay with that.
My eyes focused on a flyer, advertising tutoring sessions. That was how I met Sarah.
It was hard to believe things were over between us.
Her words still echoed in my head.
“God, Greg, this is just all too much.” Her voice broke and she bit her lip, green eyes filling with tears. “I just can’t do this anymore.”
I ran a hand through my hair. The bartender asked for my order and I stammered a moment, lost in thought.
“Whisky sour,” I finally said.
My life felt like it’d been sucked into a jet engine and shredded into a million pieces. I’d failed the summer class I needed to graduate, lost my internship at Douglass and Smith Publishing, got fired from the terrible landscaping job I picked up to cover the bills, and to top it off, my girlfriend dumped me because I’d kept all of that a secret.
I suppose I deserved that.
The last few weeks I’d pretended to head off to my internship every morning, but really, I’d lined up job interviews. The landscaping job I’d landed for the first few months of summer had gotten me by, but the owner and I had some creative differences over removing a stump in some old lady’s yard and now I was broke, again.
I don’t know why I kept it all from Sarah. Maybe embarrassment.
I replayed the moment she ended it over in my mind.
Sarah sighed and wiped the tears away before they could fall. “You’ve been pushing me away,” she said. “We could have worked through this together.” She took a breath. “But you’d rather keep secrets and lie to me.” A beat passed. Her eyes focused on some imaginary point in the distance, glossing over with tears. “I think moving in together was a bad idea.”
The weight of my heart tripled. I rubbed the back of my neck, realizing she was angry about more than one little lie. She’d scraped together an accumulation of my faults, twisted them into a heavy ball, and I couldn’t argue any of them. I had kept her out, lied to her, and hurt her. My heart sunk as I realized what an idiot I’d been.
“Sarah, can we just talk about this for a minute?” I’d asked.
She took a deep breath. “I’m just—I’m done.”
As I sat sipping at my whiskey sour I couldn’t quite figure out when things had changed between us. At some point, Sarah just stopped being the person I turned to, the person I confided in. I still cared about her, but I wondered if I still loved her. Maybe it was better this way.
I ordered a second drink and the bar grew busier.
Three girls walked in, two blondes and a brunette. They squeezed in at the bar beside me to order drinks.
“It’s too expensive to start drinking this early,” one of the blondes said, turning toward the other.
“It’s happy hour,” her friend shot back, laughing. She had the prettiest smile. She was blonde too, but her hair bounced around her face in large curls.
The girl with dark hair ordered drinks as they chatted.
“I’m just saying, if we’re planning to be out all night we should pre-game first.”
The girl’s pretty smile faded. “Except we’re not all planning to be out all night, at least not out drinking all night.”
“Care-bear has to work tonight, remember?” the brunette added. The bartender brought over their drinks. As the brunette grabbed hers, I glimpsed a tattoo on her arm. A skull with red flowers had been inked into her skin. “Which is why we’re hanging out now.”
They stepped away from the bar and found seats at a table behind me. I couldn’t help glancing back at them. The girl, Care, smiled again. There was something familiar about her, but I couldn’t place her. I turned back around and finished my drink, then ordered another.
A short while later I tipped the bartender, slid the rest of my crumpled bills back into my pocket, and got up to leave. As I turned around an icy splash met my chest. The drink soaked through my dress shirt and dripped to the floor.
“Oh my God,” a girl said.
I looked up and met the horrified gaze of the girl with the cute smile.
“I am so sorry.” She set what was left of her drink on the bar and leaned over to grab a bar rag. Her short skirt swished around her thighs.
“It’s okay,” I said, but she was already dabbing my shirt, trying to clean me up. “Really.” I grabbed her hands to still her.
Her eyes met mine, and she smiled again. At that moment, I forgot that I’d just been dumped. I forgot that my life had been slowly crumbling apart. She smiled, and I was lost.
I cleared my throat. “Let me buy you a new drink.”
“I don’t know, I’m here with my friends.” She glanced over her shoulder. Her friends had abandoned their table and danced near the jukebox. She turned back to me. “Well, maybe one.”
I smiled.
When I turned back to the bar, my previous seat had already been taken. I waved to the bartender and ordered drinks. Once we had them in hand, my eyes searched the room and I realized there wasn’t a free seat in sight.
“We could go out on the patio?” she suggested.
“That’s a good idea.”
A small fenced in patio had been built off the back of the bar as a place for smokers to light up without having to abandon their drinks. I led the way outside, and we took seats beneath a bright green umbrella at one of the tables. Small, round string-lights were suspended above our heads, and the sun hung heavy in the sky.
“I’m really sorry about your shirt,” she said.
A grin slipped across my face as I shook my head. “I never liked this shirt anyway…it’s Care, right? I heard you and your friends talking earlier.”
“Um, yeah. Caroline.”
“I’m Greg.”
She smiled again. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Greg.”
“Same here.”
She took a long sip of her drink. That feeling of recognition hit me again; still, I couldn’t place her.
“You look really familiar,” I said.
Caroline nodded. “We had that history class together with Professor Fitzberg last fall. I sat in the back.”
It suddenly clicked and I remembered watching her wander into class late one day. Her hair had been pulled back in a scrunchie, and she’d worn bright pink sweatpants. I’d thought she was cute then, too.
“Right, I remember now. You were smart to sit in the back. That guy spit when he talked.”
Caroline laughed.
“So, what are you going to school for?”
She looked at her drink. “I’m not anymore. I was going for business, but had to drop. I wanna start back up soon though.”
I nodded, unsure of what to say next. She looked a little sad, and I didn’t want to pry into why she’d dropped out.
“I’ve never seen you here before,” she said, breaking our momentary silence.
“Yeah, I don’t go out much.”
She tilted her head. “So, what brings you here tonight then, bad day?”
I laughed. “Bad would be an understatement.”
She looked genuinely apologetic. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
My mind conjured an image of Sarah pushing her dark hair back as she wiped at her tears. I shook the thought away. “What brings you and your friends out?”
Caroline let out a long sigh. “I guess I’m just trying to squeeze as much fun as I can into the last of my summer. I’m out for a drink before I go to work.”
“Where do you work? Kind of late to be starting a shift. Do you bartend?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s boring really. Just some stuff I do for my dad. Lots of paperwork, that kind of thing. I also waitress at the Blue Coyote.”
“Yeah? I know where that is. I’ve never been in there though. Good food?”
“Yeah, definitely. You should stop by sometime.”
“Maybe I will.” Our eyes met, and though I’d just met her, I couldn’t help but feel a connection between us. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I knew then: I definitely wanted to see her again. I was already thinking about when I could make a stop by the Blue Coyote.
“What about you?” she asked. “The tie says ’job,’ but the tiny hippo polka-dots don’t exactly scream corporate. Intern?”
I laughed. “Actually, unemployed. I had an interview today that didn’t exactly go great. I got fired a little while back and haven’t had much luck.”
“That’s rough, and it explains the bad day.”
If only it explained all of my bad day.
“Do you still go to ASU?” She asked.
“Yeah, hopefully I’ll graduate this fall. I’m on the five-year plan.”
“Five isn’t so bad.” She grinned. “I wouldn’t sweat it. No one gets out in four anyway.”
I smiled back. It amazed me how in that short conversation, Caroline had made me smile and laugh more than I had in the past month. Another hour passed as we chatted. The time seemed to disappear as we joked about random things like music and movies. I told her I had an affinity for horror flicks and she admitted to secretly liking musicals.
The sun hovered just above the horizon now, casting the world around us in a lusty red glow. Caroline stared at it, then took another sip of her drink.
“It’s getting late; I should get back to my friends. I’ve got to leave for work soon.”
I wished we could sit and talk longer, but figured I should be headed out anyway. “Yeah, I’ll walk you back in.”
We both stood and took a few steps toward the door. Then Caroline stopped. She turned back to me.
“I don’t want you to think I’m blowing you off or anything. I really do just have to get going.”
“It’s fine. Maybe I’ll take you up on your offer to stop by the Blue Coyote for lunch one day.”
Again, I was caught in the beauty of her perfect smile. “Maybe we could swap numbers, then we could hang out sometime when I, you know, have time.”
“Yeah.” I pulled my cell out, a beat of excitement rushing through me. “And my phone’s dead.”
“Oh, okay, here.” Caroline dug into her purse and pulled out a pen. She took my hand and wrote her number on my palm. “Just, don’t sweat.”
I laughed.
She put her pen back in her purse, then looked up. Our eyes met as the door opened. It swung into Caroline, causing her to stumble as a group of people pushed through. She fell against me, and instantly my hands wrapped around her. Our noses bumped. Her soft chest pressed against mine, and her warm breath slid across my skin. The door slammed shut behind her, but she didn’t back away.
A tingling jolt of electricity coursed through my veins, and I did something I wouldn’t normally do.
I leaned in and kissed her.
Her lips were soft. Our kiss was short. Once again, her breath tickled my skin as she pulled back.
Her cheeks flushed red. “I um, I should go. Call me,” she said, walking away.
The door shut behind her and I ran a hand through my hair. A warm rush of feelings flooded through me, but they quickly faded as I thought of Sarah once again. Guilt trickled into my mind. I laughed. She broke up with me and I felt guilty? But I did. I hadn’t meant to meet someone that night, and I couldn’t help but feel like Caroline was special somehow. Still, it felt too soon.
I looked down at my palm and the black ink of Caroline’s digits written in her curvy handwriting.
“What are you doing, Greg?” I mumbled to myself.
I fisted my palm, hiding the number, but couldn’t wipe it away. My fingers loosened. I wouldn’t.

The air felt cooler as I left Duke’s and strode down the sidewalk. Sarah had kicked me out so I headed to my friend Dan’s, but his apartment was more than a few blocks away. Dan and I were the same age. Unlike me, he graduated a semester early and moved off campus. We met in the dorms sophomore year. Dan had been a jock basketball player, and I was a quiet kid. He’d been nice to me and forced me to have a social life while I kept him from flunking English. We weren’t best friends, and we didn’t have much in common, but I suppose there wasn’t anyone else I felt closer with.
I didn’t have many friends growing up. I never knew my father, and after my mother died when I was twelve, I went to live with my great aunt, Mara. Starting college at ASU was supposed to be the beginning of the best part of my life, but it didn’t seem to be working out that way.
After walking a few blocks, I contemplated taking a shortcut to Dan’s. Across the street stood a black metal arch with the title Ironwood Cemetery woven into it. I recognized the name. Dan lived only a block from it, but I passed the east gate and Dan lived on the west side. It was closed now, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to cut through.
Darkness fell around me as the last lingering traces of the sun were swallowed by the horizon. I stumbled through the cemetery gate. The farther I moved from the street lights and beams of passing cars, the higher the hairs on the back of my neck stood. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, but when they did, a graveyard, landscaped with native plants and a pebbled walkway weaving through the grass, came into view. A short brick wall enclosed the space, and as a breeze brushed by, I felt at peace.
It was a clear night, heavy with stars. I tried to remember the constellations I’d learned in the astronomy class I’d taken my freshman year, but few came to mind. As I crossed the yard, I read the names on the headstones. Sometimes I stopped and looked at the epitaphs.
“Here lies…Aaron Ackers,” I read on one grave marker. His headstone lacked a cross or any other religious symbols. “Aaron Ackers…atheist, all dressed up with nowhere to go.” I chuckled to myself.
I began walking away and nearly tripped. One of my shoelaces had come untied. Kneeling beside Aaron’s grave, I retied them. After righting myself, my sight traveled across the yard, and something new caught my eye.
Long tan legs kicked out from the wall. My eyes followed their movements for a short while before trailing up her body. Silver light from the near full moon reflected off her tight white top and the blooming flowers growing beside her. She looked so innocent sitting there in her short floral skirt, the wind catching the edges of the fabric, making it flutter against her thighs.
She tapped her nails against the wall and sat slouching to one side. Then I saw her face. Caroline. What was she doing here? She looked bored, dark brown eyes rolled up to the sky as she sighed. Why was she in a graveyard, in this part of town, at night? She told me she was on her way to work. She couldn’t work here, could she?
She hopped down from the low brick wall and walked deeper into the cemetery. I started to follow when two gangly men approached her. Dressed in dark clothes, they loomed over Caroline’s petite frame.
My eyes remained stuck on her as I ran. The two men circled her, obviously trying to intimidate her. Neither looked like he had good intentions. My heart was already pounding, but I ran faster.
Caroline said something, the sound of her voice no more than a whisper in the wind. A man laughed. The other lunged at her, and I fell flat on my face. My foot had caught on a root, unearthed from the hallowed ground.
I pushed myself up as one of the men stumbled back. Caroline held her fists out before her. Had she punched him? The other man grabbed her from behind and wrapped his arm around her neck as his buddy got up from the ground.
I got back on my feet. “Hey, stop, let her go!”
The men turned to me. I slowed my pace, glad to have their attention, but also suddenly cautious for the same reason. I tried to think of something clever to persuade them to leave her alone, but no words came to me.
At that same moment, Caroline flipped the man that held her by the neck over her shoulder. He landed hard on his back. The other man turned back to her. I started running again. She pulled something from her purse and kneeled beside the fallen man. I wondered what she was doing. She should run. Instead, she took the object in her hand and drove it straight into his chest.
I stopped running.
Every square inch of breath in my lungs heaved out.
She killed him.
What happened next had me questioning not only how sober I was, but how sane. The man she’d stabbed dissolved into dust. He broke apart in a burst of ashes, leaving nothing behind but a flattened pair of slacks and a greasy shirt. I realized I should run, but couldn’t move.
The other man sprinted in my direction. He moved so fast, I barely had time to process how close he’d gotten. He grabbed me by the arm and threw me to the ground. His lips twisted into a snarl, revealing the longest set of canines I’d ever seen.
My eyes squinted shut, anticipating a hit, but it never came. I opened my eyes. The man’s features had frozen. His skin turned ashen, and dark circles formed beneath his eyes, making them look sunken. His dark hair lightened, turning gray, then white, and his skin grew loose and wrinkled. Within moments, the man before me aged half a lifetime, and then he started to decay.
Before I could convince myself I’d seen the real life incarnation of all the horror movies I’d watched as a kid, the man before me exploded into dust. His clothes fell, landing on me, and his remains floated away. Through his drifting ashes she stood, slowly lowering her stake.
“Greg? What are you doing here?”
“W-what the hell was that?” The stutter in my voice told me I was even more shaken than I thought.
Her expression softened and she reached a hand out for me to take. “Nothing you need to worry about.” Effortlessly, she pulled me to my feet.
My legs wobbled a little before I found my balance, along with some composure. I looked her up and down. Her girly top and skirt were deceiving; along with her soft blonde curls and doe eyes, she seemed innocent, maybe even a little naive and helpless. But, after what I’d witnessed, I could tell she was none of those things. She was strong, much stronger than she looked, and by the way she moved, taking out those two men, she wasn’t helpless.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Caroline.”
“You and I both know I didn’t mean your name.” I gripped my hands at my sides to stop shaking.
She bit her lip and glanced over her shoulder. “I’m nobody.”
A nervous laugh fell from my lips. “Well, you’ve got to be somebody.”
She shook her head. “I’m just some girl you met at a bar, where you got way too drunk because I think you’ve been hallucinating.”
I did wonder if maybe I was seeing things. I shook my head. “No, don’t do that. What the hell just happened?” I imagined the look on that man’s face before he disintegrated before my eyes.
Caroline quickly changed the subject. “What are you doing out here so late? The cemetery’s closed this time of night.”
I laughed again. Now that the threat was gone, I found her avoidance of my questions amusing. “I could ask you the same thing.”
What was she doing alone in a graveyard? I thought about her fight with those men, how easily she took them down. The way she killed them—or had she? There were no bodies, yet I’d watched her stab the one in the chest. Then I thought about the man that grabbed me, how long and sharp his teeth were, the way he crumbled into dust, and then Caroline stood with a stake in her hand, like they were…vampires. Was I really thinking that?
Caroline’s eyes widened in a flash, and she crossed her arms. “Look, you should go and forget you ever saw me.”
She started walking away, but I followed her. I couldn’t let her off that easy. I’d just witnessed her staking a vampire.
“Fine, I’ll forget. But, if I’m going to forget this, you can answer me one thing. What are you doing here, other than I guess, slaying vampires?” Suddenly, having said it aloud made it so much more real. “God, is that really what I saw?” The last of my fear vanished as curiosity took its place.
She stopped abruptly and shushed me. “You didn’t see anything. And if you’re really going to forget, me answering that isn’t going to help any. You’re safe now, but you should get out of here. It’s not safe to be wandering around this part of town alone at night.”
I nearly burst out laughing at the irony of her statement, but was too stunned.
“Wait, should I forget that I ever saw you, or just that I saw you in the graveyard?”
She smiled. “Forget that you saw me here.”
So, she was into me.
“I have to go.” She spun away. In the distance, a man’s voice called for her.
I stood immobilized, staring after her. A few moments passed before my limbs came alive again. I couldn’t leave yet. I hovered back a while before slowly following after her. I stayed out of sight, hiding behind trees and tombs as she met up with an older man. Crouching beside a headstone, I looked him over while they talked. He appeared to be in his fifties, had salt and pepper hair, a distinctive scar marred his cheek, and he carried a crossbow.
I tried to get closer; wanting to know what they were talking about. So, I kept low to the ground and sneaked toward them, watching with every step. Caroline crossed her arms. She cracked her neck and let out a deep sigh as the older man spoke. He seemed to be scolding her, emphatically gesturing with his free hand. Still, I couldn’t make out his words. I crept along the side of a mausoleum and peered around the corner to watch them. Finally, their voices came into focus, and I listened intently.
“Caroline,” the older man said.
“I was doing my job; I know you said to wait, but what was I supposed to do?”
“Without backup you risk—”
“Risk what? Getting killed? Don’t I do that anyway? You always let Michael hunt alone.”
The man pursed his lips in annoyance and color flooded his cheeks.
“Sorry,” Caroline said with more than a hint of guilt in her voice.
The older man looked like he was about to say something more, but just then a sharp crack, like that of a stick breaking beneath the weight of a boot, echoed through the graveyard. The man spun around, raising his crossbow. I crouched lower, frantically searching the spaces between the trees. Within seconds another group of people appeared. A dozen or so men and women emerged from the shadows. They moved with the same predatory sway as the two men who attacked Caroline earlier.
One of the women in the group laughed a sharp, shrill giggle. Before anyone could say a word, the man fired his crossbow and imbedded an arrow in the chest of one of the intruders. He exploded into a shower of ash, his remains floating away in the breeze.
A fight erupted. Caroline moved like some kind of ninja-ballerina, gracefully slinging punches and landing hard, elegant kicks with her long, tan legs. I stood entranced, mesmerized by her strength and skill. I’d become so obsessed watching her that the fight got away from me. It took me a moment to realize that the people – or more accurately the creatures – she and her older male companion fought had finally had enough.
There were less than half of them left, and they ran in my direction. I sneaked along the edge of the mausoleum, until I reached the other side. There I spotted the heavy metal door that served as the entrance to the tomb. Pulling it open, I quietly slid inside. Footsteps on the pebbled walkway echoed as they neared. My heart pounded as I pulled the door shut. Those things were dangerous, but unable to suppress my curiosity, I left the door open a crack and peered out into the night.
They ran past: four men, a woman with reddish-blonde hair, and another with light brown locks that swayed around her face. They dashed by the mausoleum where I hid, and then one of them stopped. The brunette woman paused, looked over her shoulder, and stared straight at me through the sliver of space between the door and its jam. Her blue eyes locked on mine, and as the moonlight hit them they flashed yellow like the reflective eyes of a dog or a wolf. I jumped back. My breath hitched, and my heart stuttered. She couldn’t have seen me. It was too dark, my peephole too slim, but it felt like she’d stared straight into my soul. Cautiously, I looked through the crack once again. She was gone.
I let out a deep, relieved sigh and stepped away from the door. Turning, I ran a hand through my hair. Tonight’s events felt unreal. My brain tried to rationalize everything, and I wasn’t sure what to believe. Maybe I drank more than I thought? Maybe it’d been a trick of the light? Maybe they’d been on drugs? I didn’t really believe any of the things the logical part of my brain suggested. Those were vampires.
I gasped as acceptance of that thought came to me. This was real. Turning back toward the door, I planned to find Caroline again, but what I saw then froze me.
My heart plummeted a thousand feet and violently splashed into the shallow pool at the bottom of my belly. The woman—no, the vampire—who’d caught my eyes a moment ago stood inside the crypt with me. She looked me over and her red lips curved into a smirk. I stood speechless. By the time it occurred to me that I should yell, she’d darted forward and coiled a hand around my neck.
This couldn’t be happening.
My hands clawed at hers. It was hard to breathe. Panic pulsed through me.
A garbled gurgle fell from my lips. Caroline’s voice rang in the distance. My head cracked against the cement wall. Sharp pain. Everything went black.

I woke with stiff limbs pressed against hard cement and breathed cold, musty air. My head throbbed as I sat up and rested on my knees. A wave of nausea surged forth. I swallowed it back. Images slowly returned to my consciousness. Vampires. My hand rose to my neck, fearing what I’d find, but there weren’t any bites. As I tried to figure out whether I could trust my memories, I realized I was still in the tomb. Staring at the cement ground, I rubbed my temples. I’d just started to convince myself that I’d imagined the worst parts of last night when her voice filled the air.
“You sleep like the dead.”
Startled, I nearly fell over. I twisted around to face her. Pushing myself off the floor I attempted to appear strong and confident despite physically trembling in fear.
“Though, I guess that’s my fault for knocking you unconscious, but I needed you to be quiet until the hunters left.” She sat atop the stone sarcophagus. Her ankles were crossed, and she leaned back on her arms. Dark blue eyes focused on me, sizing me up, making me feel small.
“Who are you?” I asked.
Her full lips, painted bright red, twisted into a grin. She stood and circled me. I couldn’t help eyeing her milky white legs. I followed their lines to the hem of her black floral dress; dark red flowers folded around her slim frame below a short, black leather jacket.
She ignored my question and poked me in the chest. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Alone in the graveyard, that is?”
“Could ask you the same thing,” I said, remembering how I’d said those very words to Caroline. I’d never realized how popular of a hangout the cemetery was until that night.
She smirked. “It wouldn’t make much sense to ask me such a thing. That would be like asking a chicken why she’s in the henhouse. I belong here. You’re the one that’s out of place.” She had a sultry voice, sensuous like a jazz singer. It slinked through the air and sent shivers across my skin.
I remembered I should be scared of her, and I did feel the fear deep in my gut, but on the surface, it was hard to be scared of something so beautiful. I still hadn’t learned that looks can be deceiving.
“What are you?” I asked. Vampire flickered through my mind, but the logical part of my brain still fought to deny it.
“Now that is a better question.” She walked back to the sarcophagus and sat down. “You’re not homeless, are you?”
“Are you always this evasive?”
She shrugged. “Sometimes.”
I glared at her; she didn’t appear to be a threat. “No, I’m not homeless…or well, I suppose I am, but not like how you’d think.”
“No, I didn’t think so.” She tilted her head and bit her lip. “Just, lost I suppose. Yes, you look lost.”
“You’re not human, are you?” I knew what she was, but I needed her to say it, or I’d never truly believe it.
Again, she ignored me. “What’s your name?”
“I’m not going to answer any more of your questions until you answer mine. What are you?”
She stood again and walked to me. Looking me dead in the eye she leaned in until the leather of her jacket brushed against my chest. I flinched but didn’t back away.
In a whispered voice she said, “Silly lost boy; I’m the thing that found you.”
Her breath brushed against my skin, feeling like a winter breeze. Then the panic set in. Panic I should have been feeling from the moment I looked upon her lovely face. She reached forward and grabbed my arms. Her grip tightened and her nails dug into my flesh. She held me with strength like she was made of steel, and she moved fast.
The next thing I knew, I was screaming and her ruby lips were at my throat. I’d never felt pain so intense. It started as a sharp stabbing then grew to a fiery burn, flooding my entire body. An unpleasant numbness followed, beginning in my toes and fingertips, spreading inward.
I couldn’t move. I tried to twist out of her grip, but it was useless. Tears slid down my face. Worse than the lightheadedness and sharp, shooting pain, however, was knowing I would die, and couldn’t stop it.
I fought, yelling and pleading for my life, but the torture never ceased. She covered my mouth. I tasted blood – her blood. Her wrist muffled my screams as she forced her blood down my throat. She continued until one by one, every part of me shut down. It felt like switches being flipped in my brain, turning off each system in my body. I felt each one go out, knowing my consciousness, my soul, my whatever I was would be next. And then, just like that, I blinked out of existence.

Unearthed After Sunset (Cereus Vampire Chronicles #1)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

5 Profound Book Quotes

I read for fun. I read to escape reality, but sometimes an author pen's a line that just sticks with me. Sometimes, I stumble across something so profound it follows me out of the fantasy world within the novel I'm reading and into the real world. The following are five quotes that not only have stuck with me, but have changed how I look at the world.

"Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)." - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

 "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

"Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some." - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

"Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it's not real?" - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter

Do you have any book quotes that have stuck with you or stand out as profound? Share in the comments below.

Indie Book Goal 2018