Friday, December 25, 2015

#Christmas Scene #4 - Protector excerpt

Christmas Scene #4

This scene takes place on the day after Christmas.

Was she trying to kill me? First the black bikini, then the top with a sheer back and no bra. The way she danced…I could fantasize for a century with that woman’s moves.

And that was as far as it should ever go. Every woman he’d fancied had tried to kill him. Sometimes more than once. Anything more than sex was a bad idea with his luck.

He flipped channels in what was now his usual chair, Shadow on his lap again. Didn’t know why he let the little buggers near him except for enjoying the warmth. Maybe because they liked him.

“That explains why I didn’t see him upstairs,” Carys said.

“You girls have a nice chat?”

“What did you hear?”

“Their arrival.”

“Yeah. Hope might have a potential boyfriend at school. He’s been too shy to talk to her, so we told her to introduce herself.”

“She’s too young.”

“You sound like her father.”

“Pffft. She’s a child, though.”

“She’s smart. She’ll be fine. I think any boy will have a hard time measuring up.”

Annabelle hated it when William screened her boyfriends. Used to scare them off. Then ran background checks in modern years. She was too trusting. And too willing to give away his money.

“Ready to share your story?” he asked.

Carys sighed and sat down. “On top of what you know, I also have a strong sense of smell and all my previous ailments are gone.

Back in June, I went down to a remote village in a South American jungle to record their music. An old professor invited me to come along on his research expedition. Long story short, they did a ritual the last night without telling us what it was really for and infused me with the essence of their goddess. The panther is the symbol for their god of protection, and every one-hundred years they choose a Protector to guard their people. This time, it was me.

I’m supposed to be able to shape-shift at night, too, though I haven’t tried it since I don’t know what I’ll turn in to. I’ve been learning what I can do ever since, and practicing for the time they summon me for help. I got this bracelet, and the carved claw I sometimes wear, as gifts before I came back home. Like I said last night, I feel they will need me soon. You can bring on the cat jokes any time.”

“Is that why you didn’t tell me? ‘Cause you thought I would make fun of you? Okay, I might say one or two things in jest, but I know this hasn’t been a joke for you. I saw you take on that vamp behind the bar when you first came to town. You didn’t freak out. You took care of that girl and got her home safe. You’ve handled everything thrown at you in style. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you are, love. You’re a powerful woman.”

“Wystan is looking into the history of Protectors. These people only choose a new guardian every hundred years, so either the danger only comes along once, you have old people still trying to fight, or maybe they grew old at a slower rate. I have no idea how long I’m going to be expected to carry this role, or if I go back to normal after the job’s done. I’m going to have to test shape-shifting, too, one of these days, and I’m not taking the risk of harming innocent people.”

“I’ll help if you want me to.”

“Thanks. How long did it take you to tune out noises and scents when you were turned? I had to wear earplugs for over a week.”

“Can’t remember now, it’s been so long. I don’t think about it anymore.”

She brushed her hair back and leaned into the chair.

“You’re wearing the earrings.”

“Yes. They’re beautiful. I love black pearls.”

“I remembered the pendant you wore on Thanksgiving. The black suits you better than white. Exotic. That was the part of your scent I couldn’t figure out when I saw you at the bar. Now I know it’s jungle cat.”

“Thanks. I think. That night was overwhelming. It was the first time I’d been in a crowd of people so close together with these new senses. Doesn’t the loud music give you a headache? I have to take pain pills every time I’m in there.”

“Sometimes. I guess I got used to it.”

“Huh. Well, there’s hope, then.” She smiled at him.

“So what’s the story with your friend at the restaurant?”

“Hunter. He’s an old friend from high school. We were in choir together. I might set him up with Sarah.”

“Did you ever hook up?”

“No. Only friends. He briefly dated my best friend. I didn’t date in high school.”

“Why the bloody hell not?” She was gorgeous.

“When you wear glasses and sing in the choir, you don’t get asked out. I had lots of guy friends, but I didn’t date until college.” She shrugged. “I didn’t mind much. High school boys were so immature. They’re not real ‘cause they’re still figuring out who they want to be. It was all about status and popularity. I hung out with the honor students and discussed science and history.”

“Daniel your only ex?”

“No. There’s Victor. Ex fiancĂ©. We were too young. Dan was kind of a rebound from that, and we split last May. Victor is married with kids now.”

“Was he your first date?”

“Not really. I went out once with a friend, and kinda dated a different guy shortly before meeting Victor. We kissed a few times, then he went back to his old girlfriend. That’s it, unless you want to count the boy when I was four.”

“You had a little preschool boyfriend?”

“Don’t mock, mister! Best boyfriend I ever had. It was pure, innocent affection with no head trips. We moved away from each other when I was seven. He took care of me even though I was the older one.”

“Cradle robber, eh?”

“By five months. Daniel is two and a half years younger than me.”

“So you like younger boys.”

“No, it just worked out that way. My mother was older than my father, and my grandmother was older than my grandfather. My grandparents were the only ones to stay together, so—”

“Not a proven method.”

“No. They were just as much in love when my grandfather died as when they got married, if not more so. The pool cue on the wall, that’s been shortened? That was Grandpa’s. He kept food in their mouths during the Depression with that. He was one of those guys who does the math for the whole table at one shot and runs it out. He could do that with either hand. I have a picture in my wallet of him from 1936. My mother always said I have his smirk.”

We watched the TV for a while.

“Why do you stay? I’m sure you could go anywhere if you wanted to,” she asked.

“Thought about that one a lot, haven’t you?”

“Yes. There has to be somewhere you like better. And don’t give me the curse excuse again.”

He sighed. Yes, there were many places he preferred more than Southern California, but finding Sunny to reverse the curse was important. Couldn’t be his true self hobbled like this. But…Carys was starting to be a second reason to stay. “Been in a lot worse places. Seen a hell of a lot of the world. New York was fun. Brazil was alright. Can’t stand Paris. The Orient was interesting. Met my first paladin in Japan.”

“Demons revel in anarchy, huh.”

“Most do. Vampires crave blood, violence, and sex. Everything boils down to the hunt.”

“You control your urges.”

“I’m old. It’s more about embracing that part and appeasing it in ways it can accept. I kill demons instead of humans because it’s still violence.”

She yawned.

“Go to bed, kitten. You’ve looked sleepy for the past half hour.

“I guess you’re right. We good?”

“Right as rain.”

She stood, ruffling his hair on her way out. “Night, William.”

- Book #1 - Releasing Jan. 1, 2016. Apple | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Smashwords

First in a new series!

Carys Taylor has her life perfectly under control. Equipped with a nice inheritance, she goes where she wants, when she wants, pursuing anything that interests her. So when her old professor asks her to come on a research trip for his thesis, she's eager to tag along.

Until that ill-fated trip to the South American jungle changes her into a supernatural being. Now she's sprouting claws and stronger and faster than any human being in existence. The reclusive tribe calls her their Protector - but from what? And why now? Why her?

Carys is pulled into a world she never knew existed. Is she up to the task?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#Christmas Scene #3 - Protector excerpt

Christmas Scene #3

Corinne joined me and William for a game of cards. Rummy. We chatted amicably. When the round was over, she said goodnight. I picked up the dishes and started cleaning up in the kitchen. He surprised me by helping.

“Didn’t think you went for the domestic.”

“I don’t, usually, but if you try to clean all this rubbish by yourself, you’ll be at it until dawn.”

“Thanks. I was just going to put away the leftovers and get everything that will fit in the dishwasher. The rest can soak in the sinks until morning. Could you get the Tupperware down from that cupboard?”

He handed me the containers, then resumed bringing in dishes from the dinning room. I was so glad I wouldn’t have to cook tomorrow. Parties were fun, as long as you didn’t have to clean afterward all the time.

“I’m going to give Genevieve riding lessons.”

“Her mum okay with that?”

“As long as she keeps her grades up. I’ll be back living here full time once my class is finished.”

“Of course. You are only there for the class.” It sounded like an accusation.

“I’ll still come up often, and everybody is always welcome here. If no fight is going on, I’ll probably be traveling again this summer. I haven’t been to Europe, yet, and there’s an opera company that keeps asking me to join their summer series. I loved going on vacation every summer as a kid, and I still can’t stay home for the season.”

“Of course.”

We worked for a while in silence.

“I can feel they’re going to need me soon,” I said.

“Who, pet?”

“The tribe I’m supposed to protect. It’s a hunch, in my gut, that they are going to call me back soon. This niggling worry in the back of my head.”

“You know you have back-up if you ask. Every one of ‘em will join you.”

“I know. But I can’t expect them to go into uncharted territory and fight someone else’s battle. Besides, I was made for this, right?”

“How do you plan on getting to the jungle fast enough to help? Do you think they’ll give you advance warning?”

“I doubt it will be that easy. It took us five days to reach them from L.A. last time. I’ll have to take the normal route unless I suddenly gain the ability to teleport. I don’t get why they didn’t pick someone from their own tribe? They had plenty of strong, healthy people.”

“What did they tell you?”

“They said a prophecy picked me. My description was passed on a hundred years ago, when they last did the ritual. They had been waiting for me. Would’ve been nice if they told me that before changing me. I didn’t get a say in this. I might’ve even volunteered to help if they said why they needed me. Instead, I wake up in a hut the next morning to be told about my new powers and destiny. Even then, he was vague. I found out by accident that I’m so lethal. I thank God none of my friends startled me back then. I could have hurt someone so easily.”

“How did you figure it out?”

I sat on a bar stool and sighed. “A guy attempted to mug me. He tried to grab my purse, and I reacted. I had him in a headlock with claws at his throat in a blink. He started begging me not to hurt him. I made him pass out, then called the cops on my cellphone.”

“Show me.”

I extended them on my right hand. “Two slashes at speed and the neck is severed through with these. The instinct always tells me to go for the throat. Hence the beheadings I seem to be known for.”

“I enjoy a good neck twist myself, when things need to be finished quickly, but I’d rather draw out a fight, though, just for the fun of it.” His eyes held a glint of glee, probably remembering a good fight.

“Would you kill anyone if you ended the curse?”

“I didn’t hunt indiscriminately before, Carys. I won’t hesitate to defend myself, if it ever comes to it.”

“That doesn’t answer the question.”

He sighed. “I’ve always made my own choices. The curse makes me see people as more than a meal when I’m stuck around them all the time without being able to feed. It took away my freedom. I hope you never know what that’s like, love.”

“Humans try to forget we can be monsters, but some can do it just as well as the real ones. Having a soul doesn’t prevent that. It always comes down to free will, and love.”

“What do you mean about love?”

“Love makes all the difference in a person’s actions. Caring about others, for others. Being selfless. Showing compassion. Someone that only has ‘love’ for their sense of self doesn’t care about the world around him or how he affects others. They cause hurt all around them without batting an eyelash. Love is an action, not a feeling. We have to choose.”

“You always have these deep thoughts?”

“Always. But, enough heavy stuff on Christmas night. Aren’t we supposed to be jolly?”

“Something like that. What now?”

“Did you watch the other movies I set out?”

“Yes, I did. Had to do something, with all you mortals asleep. You have good taste. I’m surprised you like movies that gory.”

I shrugged. “I’m just full of surprises. All the movies on those shelves are mine. I don’t own any I don’t enjoy. I wouldn’t have so many guy friends without liking war movies, or sci-fi.”

“Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?” He looked deep into my eyes.

“Not yet. This is a new dress.”

“It’s perfect. You’re so elegant, yet so warm.” His arm twitched like he wanted to reach out, but held back.

I blushed. Smiled. The man—vampire—was impossibly handsome when he was being sweet.

He glanced at the clock. “I should let you get to sleep so you can see them off in the morning.”

“Oh, wow, it is late. We’ll probably be on our own tomorrow. I think they won’t be back until the park closes. Goodnight, William. You’ll see to the lights?”

“Don’t I always? Sleep tight, kitten.”

I went upstairs, feeling sleepy now I was thinking of bed, and changed into a silk nightgown, washed my face, brushed my teeth. When I came out of the bathroom, I noticed a small box on the bed, and smiled, thinking this could only be from William. I was instantly curious of what he got me and opened the box to find a pair of earrings, each a dangle with three black pearls in succession.

I put them on and looked in the mirror. They really were gorgeous. I’d had no idea he would have such good taste (or cash), and black pearls were my favorite. I put them in my jewelry box, then snuggled under the covers and fell asleep with a smile.

- Book #1 - Releasing Jan. 1, 2016. Apple | Barnes and Noble | AmazonSmashwords

First in a new series!

Carys Taylor has her life perfectly under control. Equipped with a nice inheritance, she goes where she wants, when she wants, pursuing anything that interests her. So when her old professor asks her to come on a research trip for his thesis, she's eager to tag along.

Until that ill-fated trip to the South American jungle changes her into a supernatural being. Now she's sprouting claws and stronger and faster than any human being in existence. The reclusive tribe calls her their Protector - but from what? And why now? Why her?

Carys is pulled into a world she never knew existed. Is she up to the task?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#Christmas Scene #2

Christmas Scene #2

December 23rd…

Home. Finally.

Home at Christmastime, with the big old light strand around the roof and the white fake tree over-loaded with vintage ornaments passed down generations. The sticky Santa scenes on the windows. Every surface decorated with some kind of holiday knick-knack.

The tension finally uncoiled in my belly. I patted the three-foot light-up Frosty the Snowman on the head as I neared the front door. I was going to ring the bell, just to see her face, when she opened the door.


“Merry Christmas, Mom.” I dropped my bag and hugged her. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine. It’s been a good month.”

“You look a little tired.”

“Oh, I just stayed up too late watchin’ a movie. Look at how long your hair is!” We moved inside and she shut the door.

“Yeah, I was hoping you could trim it while I’m here.”

“Sure, sure. So, how’s college?”

The living room smelled like pine and cinnamon. Mom had been in the scented candles again. “Oh, you know. Busy. Academic. Amelia says hello.”

“I wish you could study full time, honey. You’d be halfway to your degree by now.”

I put my duffle in my room. “Maybe, but I like my job. How’s the diner? You lettin’ your managers help out?”

“Yes, Della. I follow doctor’s orders. You hungry?”

I’d been looking forward to her cooking for weeks. “I could eat.”

She grinned. “I’m sure I’ve got somethin’ quick… Any special people in your life?” she asked, her head in the refrigerator. Everybody’s heard about small town gossip. The queen of it stood right in this kitchen. Mama heard everybody’s stories in the diner.

“Quit fishin’. You know I’m in no hurry to add a man to my life.”

She put a ham steak in the microwave to reheat. “Sweetie, you’re almost twenty. I’d already had you by that age. Would it really hurt to bring home a boyfriend before I’m old and gray?”


“Della, I just don’t want you to be alone. Travelin’ everywhere… I worry.”

I squeezed her hand. It was cold. “I know. But I’m fine, really. I’m doin’ good, helpin’ the world.”

“That reminds me—we took another collection at church for your organization for Christmas.”

“Aww, you didn’t have to do that…”

She pressed an envelope into my hand. “Aid organizations always need funds. Don’t argue with your mother.”

I smiled. “Yes, ma’am.” It would go right back into the fund that paid her medical bills.

Mom used a Santa oven mitt to remove the hot plate. “Cider?”


“After your snack, we’ll head over to the diner to show folks you’re home.”

“I just got home, Mom. Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”

She pouted. “Well, I s’pose so, but they’d be so happy to see you, Della! The gals live for your stories of far-off places. Most of us don’t get further than Oklahoma City, you know.”

“Yes, I know, Mama, and I will share. But not today. I wanna sit on the couch and do nothin’ but watch movies and eat your famous cookies.”

She sighed. “Very well…go sit, eat.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“Just glad you’re home, baby.”

My bedroom hadn’t changed since I was sixteen due to me not being home much, so it felt kinda juvenile to me now. Time to take down the Britney Spears poster on the back of my door. It was obvious Mom kept the room spotless, and I felt another pang of guilt for not being here. The room existed as a shrine to an innocent girl that no longer existed.

I couldn’t tell her that, of course. If I’d merely grown up and moved out, she could turn the room into a guest room, but I didn’t. Hadn’t. Keeping my room as it was probably held both of us in the past.

Gee, gloomy enough, Della? Get a grip. It’s Christmas, for goodness sake.

The next day, Christmas Eve, we visited our friends, Mom with plates of cookies. She must’ve been baking for a whole week. We’d be at my cousins’ tomorrow for supper, so tonight was only us. After fried chicken and apple pie, we sat in front of the tree to open one present each. I wrapped the silver brush before she got up this morning and she’d be getting it tomorrow. Tonight, I gave her a pair of earrings from Greece. I’d had them in my bag for two months.

“They’re gorgeous, Della! Tell me you didn’t spend a lot on these.”

“Mom, you shouldn’t ask how much your presents are!”

“I only want you to be wise with your money.”

“I know, but trust me, okay?”

“Of course, dear.”

I knew before I opened mine that it’d be a sweater. My Christmas Eve gift was always a sweater. Mom was the type to suggest a sweater at seventy degrees. “Thanks, Mom.”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart. Don’t stay up late, now, or Santa won’t come.”

I grinned. “Okay.”

Christmas Day kept me so busy, I felt normal again. Mom loved the antique brush. There were even a few tears.

I went out with a couple high school friends two days later. Walking back home in the evening, I felt a supernatural presence. I crouched under the pretense of re-tying my shoe and reached for the stake tucked into my sock. The feeling faded and I wondered if I imagined it. Could’ve been the cold giving me goose bumps.

Monday, December 21, 2015

#Christmas Scene #1

Christmas Scene #1

Right now, all I wanted was home.

“Della, let me look at you!” Mama held me out at arm’s length in Baggage Claim. “We need to put some meat on your bones. They’re obviously working you too hard.”

“I’m fine, Mom, really…” At five-foot-six and lean, I currently resembled a tall gymnast, like those girls on the college teams. They’ve grown into height and curves, but the power’s still there. I never wore make-up when I’d just be sweatin’ it off, so I still had the face of a kid.

“Your hair’s shorter, too. Who cut it?”

“Ma…” My braid stopped just past that knob on the spine above my shoulder blades. You learned quick that Sensei would use a ponytail or free hair against you, so most of the girls had short hair. I wrapped mine into a tight bun when I sparred. Mama always liked my hair down to my waist, though.

We had dinner and hung out, watching a Christmas movie, then she went to bed. When I lay down, I couldn’t fall asleep. My body was used to being exhausted at night and I’d done little more than sit the last twelve hours.

“Screw it.” I changed into active gear and snuck out my window, a hood pulled over my auburn hair.

Hunting in Guthrie this time was different. For one, the night was creeping below freezing. For two, I’d just thought of it as hunting.

Didn’t expect to find anything, really, but the practice made me feel alive. Anticipation, like waiting to blow out the candles, but darker.


They would fear me. If I did find a demon, I knew it would be toast tonight.

But no such luck.

When my nose lost feeling, I went home and climbed into my warm bed. Time here was precious.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cover Reveal Day! PROTECTOR by @vivianlanewrite #books

Protector Cover Reveal

Today is the day for the pretty! Only one month away from release, folks. Head on over here to see the awesome cover created by Sotia Lazu!

Protector - Book #1 - Releasing Jan. 1, 2016. Apple | Barnes and Noble | AmazonSmashwords | Kobo |  

First in a new series! 

Carys Taylor has her life perfectly under control. Equipped with a nice inheritance, she goes where she wants, when she wants, pursuing anything that interests her. So when her old professor asks her to come on a research trip for his thesis, she's eager to tag along. 

Until that ill-fated trip to the South American jungle changes her into a supernatural being. Now she's sprouting claws and stronger and faster than any human being in existence. The reclusive tribe calls her their Protector - but from what? And why now? Why her? 

Carys is pulled into a world she never knew existed. Is she up to the task?

ARCs are still available. Win a paperback ARC at Goodreads, or an e-ARC at Library Thing.