I was trapped there for about a week, barely able to get out of bed and too sick to really talk with anyone that came to visit. I could barely breathe, let alone talk.
To keep from going mad with boredom, I started reading Dracula. I loved how the story took me away and I could forget where I was and just get lost in it. I remember when I finished it, I sat there in bed with the book closed in my lap and my hands resting on the cover as if I was trying to absorb the story into my skin.
I sat there for the longest time, then I took up a pad of hospital stationary and blotchy Bic ink pen. I started jotting down notes about characters and scenes that were beginning to take shape in my mind.
That was the start of The Gifted and The Damned. I kept it on the back burner, adding and taking away, all the while creating my other two series. With The Gifted and The Damned, I wanted to create my own epic tale, something that would continue to pulse inside a reader's mind long after the book was closed.
So there it is, the crazy place that this story began to take shape and as we move closer to release day, I kept help but to think back to that hospital stay and how placing my hands on that book, set my feet on this path.
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The Gifted and The Damned
(The Vampire Wars Book One)
I admired Marcel and Isaac Garnier from the bar. The two brothers were deeply tanned in that outdoorsy way that just made them more delicious, even though the black haired, black eyed pair were tempting enough already. They were muscled and hard in a way that made my heart skip a beat and my mind instantly go places it should not.
Why do I do this to myself?
“What can I get for you?” The bartender asked, bringing me out of my fantasies and back to reality.
I turned and smiled widely at him despite his thinning hair and thickening middle-aged gut. His blood shot eyes settled on my chest as I leaned in, “Can I get three beers please?”
His eyes glazed over, “That will be—”
“I don’t have any money,” I reached over and touched his hand. “But I want those beers.”
He tried to resist. I saw the conflict in him, but he gave in like they always did. “Sure,” he said with a quick wrinkle of his brow. He handed me the bottles, shaking his head as if he was trying to clear it.
Normals couldn’t resist me; it was my gift and my curse. It wasn’t my black hair or my green eyes. It was just me. I was not beautiful in the traditional sense, but why should I be? As the only siren in a long line of witches, nothing about me was traditional.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, turning away and releasing him from my hold. I wove through the tables and back to where the Garniers were waiting for me.
Marcel flashed a brilliant white smile as he took one of the bottles from me, “See Issac, it still pays to have a siren out on the town with us.”
“Is that all I’m good for?” I asked with a teasing smile.
Taking the bottle I offered, Isaac pushed out the chair between him and Marcel for me and winked, “It’s nice to have you around just to look at.”
I sat down in the chair sideways so that I could lean back against Isaac and thrown one leg up in Marcel’s lap.
Isaac stroked my ebony hair and eyed his brother, even snarling and showing his teeth now and then, while Marcel traced my bare knee with a finger as he returned every glare. I knew there was no real threat between them and only scolded them when it began to wear on my nerves.
Werewolves...Always wanting to mark their territory...If only they could...
The Garnier family were werewolves, descended from the original family from some nowhere place in Europe. They were sexy, animalistic, and forbidden. I couldn’t get enough of them.
The only problem was once they mated with any person of gifted blood, it was forever, and if one of them chose me, they would have to kill the other since they would be a rival.
Damn the luck...
So, instead of enjoying a fun romp with one or both of them, all I could do was flirt and nothing more. I sat between them teasing and tempting them, but it could never go further. I wondered if they found it and our lives in general as frustrating as I did.
There was an undercurrent of mystery steeped in tradition swirling between the three of us. We were uncommon creatures trying very hard to pass for common beings, raised to hide our gifts and to blend in among the normals, an idea handed down from the hard lessons learned in Salem and later in the sideshow tents of carnivals. For those with gifts, it was better to be unseen, admired, but never noticed.
“What’s the plan for later?” Marcel asked as he dared to stroke the curve of my thigh. “Do you want to go over to Louisville or something?”
“I hate going to bars over there with the two of you,” I scolded with an exaggerated pout of my lips. “You two always do something to cause a scene and draw attention to us.”
Isaac leaned down so that his lips brushed the edge of my ear, “So?”
I shifted away from him and took my leg from Marcel’s lap. “So, I don’t want to deal with all the trouble it causes. You two go out, make a spectacle of yourselves, and get everyone around here in an uproar and then the whole place goes on lock down. No thanks.”
“Oh, none of that is going to matter soon” Marcel smirked with a wave of his hand. He leaned closer so that he could whisper, “The vampires are going to force everyone out of hiding and then everything will be different.”
I rolled my eyes and slouched back against my human pillow, “Oh people have been talking about that forever and a day. Nothing ever happens.”
“Well, it’s going to happen this time,” Isaac warned with an eager smile. He pushed my hair back so he could put his lips against my ear, “Vampires all over the country are telling anyone who will listen that their days of hiding are over and they are calling all of us out for living among their prey.”
I sighed with impatience, “It’s the same thing people have been saying for years. People love to talk about how the vampires want to take over and how they warn that if you’re not with them you’re against them. It’s always the same and it’s always been the same since we were little kids and our parents told us those stories to keep us afraid of the dark.”
Despite my exasperation with them, I curved my lips into a teasing smile. The brothers immediately forgot about the vampires and refocused all of their attention back to me...Just as I intended.
“So Ruby,” Isaac began as he twirled a coal colored strand of my long hair in his fingers. “Are you still afraid of the dark?”
My smiled deepened, “Wouldn’t you love to know?”
“What about me? Will I be finding out?” Marcel moved his hand up my thigh, ignoring the snarls of his brother. The two glared at each other, each holding me tightly.
I wished they would get on with it, and just go ahead and take me out to their black four-wheel drive pickup truck and off to some remote location.
I could picture it, sex with the two of them. I saw enough when we all went swimming at the quarry earlier in the summer to know Marcel and Isaac would look amazing naked. Their broad, muscular shoulders and rock hard abs would give way to slim hips. From there, I imagined impressive members protruding from manscaped perfection.
Oh yeah...That’s what I’m talking about...
Perhaps Marcel would move his hand further up my leg, teasing me through my shorts. Maybe he would move his fingers in a circle, or perhaps back and forth, either way he would know just how to take me far enough...Almost there, but not quite.
Maybe then Isaac would start kissing my neck, nibbling my ear in that way that drove me wild. He would cup my breasts as Marcel removed my shorts, holding me in place and tweaking my nipples between his thumbs and forefingers.
Oh, how lucky to be at some hidden place! We would be too far from houses or streets to be seen. I could take them home to my apartment over the garage, but it was better here, in the cool shade and the delicious scent of summer.
I would slide down from the truck and onto the grass, facing Isaac as I opened his pants and freed him. Marcel would position himself behind me, holding my hips steady. Yes, both of them, then and there.
I would hover over Isaac, ready to take him, and Marcel would move and--
“Are you going to the Wallace’s party tomorrow?” Marcel asked, interrupting my fantasy.
“I don’t have much of a choice,” I replied, fanning my flushed face. “My family would disown me if I didn’t. I don’t know why everyone makes such a big deal about it.”
Marcel looked at me, his dark eyes wide, “Because it’s Litha, the summer solstice. It wouldn’t be summer without it.”
“Besides,” Isaac said with a wink to his brother. “This one is really going to be something.”
“Why would you think that?”
The brothers exchanged conspiratorial smiles. Marcel cleared his throat nervously, “Well, it’s the first one since you and Archer broke up, right?”
“We didn’t break up,” I said with a wave of my hand. “Archer and I are just fine, but he’s in Chicago and I’m here. So, while the cat is away the mice will play.”
“Archer is back,” Marcel mumbled.
“Um,” Marcel looked to his brother hopefully. “You all really didn’t break up?”
“No,” I snapped.
Isaac chuckled, his chest vibrating against my back. “Does Archer know that?”
“Of course he knows,” I argued and sat up. “Now which one of you is going to tell me what’s going on?”
They smiled at each other once again and managed a quick game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to see who would tell me. Isaac won, paper over rock.
“Well,” he said hesitantly. “I saw Derek Osborne this morning and he said Archer is back from Chicago.”
Did I flinch? I looked up at him blankly as I felt myself go numb. The breath left my body in a painful rush and I had to remind myself to inhale.
“Well,” I said slowly. “He didn’t call me, so there’s no reason we can’t still have fun tonight.”
Marcel walked his fingers along the edge of my leg, “There’s more.”
I forced my clenched jaw to loosen, “More?”
“He met some normal up in Chicago,” Marcel said. “And he brought her back here for the party.”
“Yep,” Isaac said. “Some girl, I think her name was Melina. Her and her brother came for the party. I took it to be sort of serious.”
I winced, “How serious could it be? He never told me about her and I talked to him on the phone every night.”
They both nodded, but I could see the doubt in their eyes. Doubt and pity.
Oh Archer...What have you done?
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