Posted in Character Stories

Parent Problems

Lucy moved in three weeks ago. Between her boss being an ass and me having extra space, there was no reason for her to not. She showed up with two boxes and a handful of garments draped over her arms. I carried in the rest of her possessions from the taxi and set them down on the couch while she settled into my arms to make the official announcement. 

We live together. 

I don’t regret a single moment of it. 

There’s a thud in the other room. Scratch that other comment. 

I don’t regret Lucy being here. I could never get tired of her company and positive energy and the way her things have started to fill up my shelves and closet even though I gave her dedicated areas for it. We look together. My vintage records are interspersed with figurines she adores and little pictures from her time at various burlesque clubs. She’s managed to make the kitchen a more functional room and turned the guest room into a changing area for her costumes. Our toothbrushes share a cup in the bathroom and we share a bed. It’s really the best of everything I could wish. 

Another thud. Okay. I’m up. 

Lucy is sprawled across the mattress, somehow taking more than half of it as her arms and legs spread in opposite directions, my green comforter tucked around her while I’ve been freezing for most of the night. I could get a new blanket from the other room, but then I wouldn’t be sharing the one she’s under. I don’t mind being cold. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep if I couldn’t constantly feel the warmth of her sleeping body and listen to the light snores she would never admit to having. 

A rip sounds through the otherwise silent house. 

There’s one problem with Lucy moving in. 

I listen to paws scamper across the tiled floor of the kitchen, the damn thing moving like a rhinoceros on a rampage. I’m on my way. Coming. One slipper on my right foot, I slide my foot around the floor as I blindly search for the other. There’s another rip. 

Forget the other slipper. I can’t rush into this battle fully prepared. I just have to get out there and tear the tiny puppy teeth out of whatever he has managed to destroy now. 

“Dorian,” I whisper yell into the air, using the name we decided on because I’ve always been an Oscar Wilde fan and Lucy enjoys a more contemporary fantasy series with a prince who shares the same name. 

There’s more pitter pattering of tiny paws as the little monster realizes somebody else is in the house for him to terrorize. His head pops out from behind the corner of the wall that leads to the kitchen. A piece of my black slipper dangles from his mouth. 


The puppy lets out a grumbling yap and then takes off as I step towards him. I stumble into a mess in the kitchen that would make an active werewolf proud. Feathers from one of the couch pillows are strewn through the room, some still floating in the air as the little dog bounces away from me. He’s managed to bump the table hard enough to spill the latest bouquet of flowers I brought home to Lucy, decorating the disaster in splashes of green and pink and yellow from the stems and petals. I don’t even want to think about the creature managing to get into a cupboard just to chew up apples and lemons. He didn’t eat the fruit. Just gnawed on it and left it on the floor for me to pick up. 

My heart hammers against my chest. This isn’t going to work. Lucy is amazing. She’s the love of my life, but this, this is far more than I signed up for. 

Red creeps into the edges of my vision as I watch the ball of fluff roll in his mess and then go back to chewing on my shoe. I knew I should have told Lucy no. She walked home from a job interview three days ago and found him in an abandoned box. They were both wet and shivering from the late hour. There was no way for me to be heartless and tell her the pup had to go. 

This is different, though. He is dry and fed and an absolute terror in the face of the kindness I’ve bestowed upon him. 

Light footsteps sound behind me, the only indication that Lucy is about to sneak up on me. I flinch as her fingers skate along my spine. Breathe, Ashby. Breathe and calm down. This is an irrational reaction to uncertain circumstances. 

Lucy doesn’t shy away from my red eyes and odd behavior. Instead, she loops an arm around my hips and pulls me towards her. “Hey. We can do this.”

All of my threats to throw the puppy back onto the street evaporate. Of course we can do this. She and I can do anything together. 

I wrap my arms around her and kiss her forehead. “I didn’t think parenting a dog would be so difficult.”

She laughs into my shoulder. “You’re doing better than my mom. She abandoned me the second things got hard. We can stick together and help him. He doesn’t know any better, Ashby.”

Yeah. Right. I survived a world war and the transition into a vampire, but Lucy had a far more fucked up childhood. This is important to her. I’ll do anything I can to help her if this is something she needs. 

“Do you want to sweep or start coffee?” I ask as the muddled colors of my vision finally clear. 

She takes the broom immediately, sweeping the pieces into a pile in the center of the room, her giggle filling the space as Dorian flounces in the shifting mess. He catches the end of the broom in his sharp teeth, shaking his head from side to side with a growl. Boiling water for our coffee, I watch the exchange. Lucy and Dorian on opposite ends of the black utensil, laughter and grumbles filling the room. 

This. She needs this. 

I watch the two of them for a moment. Dorian wobbles on his end, unsure of his feet and round body. Lucy lets him win, though. She puts on a big show of losing control of her end of the broom before lowering it to the ground. He pulls it several feet, his short tail blurring as he celebrates his success. Lucy chases after him, tucking her arms around his chubby body and hefting him into the air. 

Pure joy filters through Lucy’s green eyes. The pup yips and wriggles in her arms. The two of them together are the picture of a happy home. 

My happy home. 

I prepare the coffee and move to join them, tip-toeing around the mess until I’m on the other side of Lucy. I take a sip of my hot drink and then offer it to the beautiful woman in my kitchen. That’s not what she wants, though. 

Grabbing me by the back of my neck, she drags me down, kissing me like the lovestruck fool I am. Dorian joins in on the action, licking our chins and grumbling about his squished position. I laugh, patting the little monster on his head. 

.     .     .

I’ve slept less than five hours this week. Dorian is a whirlwind pup that needs to have constant supervision lest he destroy something else in my house. Most of the cupboards now have chew marks on the bottom of their doors. The couch is covered in his thick fur. There’s no correct placement for the furniture anymore. Already growing, Dorian bowls through everything in his way, a tornado ready to take out my home’s interior while I hastily put it back together. 

Lucy has a plan. She squeezes my hand before hefting Dorian into her arms. We’re going on a family walk. Just two lost adults trying to figure out how other people manage to train these feral creatures. 

It’s raining outside, the cold streets of the Bay filled with wind and water. My umbrella wavers in my hold as I try to keep it over Lucy and Dorian. It doesn’t matter if I’m wet. My tailor would yell at me for treating my vests this way, but I don’t care. They’re my priority.

It’s a short walk to the pet store, Dorian wriggling in Lucy’s arms the entire time as he attempts to nip the end of our black umbrella. Naughty pup. Mischievous mutt. He’s going to grow up to have Lucy’s total lack of fear in the face of the world, ready to take everything he can with his front paws and floppy ears. 

As if to give into my theory, the customer service members at the front of the little store completely fall over each other to get to Lucy first, all cooing words and pleas to pet the rambunctious creature that has overturned my life. Lucy lets the two women pet Dorian for a few moments before she starts to tell them about our predicament. In a matter of minutes, Lucy and Dorian are whisked away to the back of the store to talk about training instruments and other puppy needs. 

This is her thing. I let her go, her focus solely on giving this stray animal a good life as she happily takes all of the advice the team members can give her. Wandering on my own, I glance at pictures on the wall behind the service counter. There’s sketches of animals done by children: a cat in green crayon, three dogs in a rainbow selection, turtles, lizards, and several birds outlined by a thoughtful adult and then scribbled in by anxious toddlers. 

My chest tightens. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Lucy kiss the top of Dorian’s head as he melts into her hold. I’ll never be able to give her this. Children aren’t really the point of genetically altered vampires. I’m a lab experiment gone right. There’s plenty of research on syrens and vampires, but none of them are exactly like me and her. 

We haven’t even had the sex talk. The woman showed up with her things, took over the spare room, and then begged to share my bed when she realized I only had a cot in the other room. I don’t regret a single moment of it, but there are hard things we’ll have to discuss if we want this to last for as long as we both live. 

Shaking off the sad thoughts, I watch her find a green collar with a bow tie and fit it to the puppy. It’s my favorite shade. Green like her eyes. She marks the pup as an official member of our family, accepting a small metal tag for his identification information. The team members have nothing better to do, so they find him a matching harness and leash set that’s meant to expand as he gets bigger. One of them leaves and brings back a cart full of supplies that they assure Lucy is all necessary for our little guy. 

So quickly, Lucy glances to me and bites the corner of her lip. It’s the most nervous I’ve ever seen her. For once, I get the chance to play Prince Charming and dash in to save my damsel in distress. 

“We’ll take it all,” I tell them as I step over. 

Lucy’s eyes widen, but she doesn’t contradict me until the two women have left for the counter. “I’m between jobs right now, Ashby. As much as I love this dog, I can’t exactly afford all of that right now.”

“I can.”

Resting Dorian on one hip, she puts her other hand on her opposite hip as she looks up at me with a look of absolute disbelief. “Way to rub it in my face that you’re super old and have made good investments.”

That’s not what I expected her to say. I can’t help the laugh bubbling up through my chest. “What if I actually worked for the money I have?”

“That’s so much worse. You already spoil me nonstop. I won’t let you spend your life savings on us.” She quirks an eyebrow at me, her bottom lip trembling. 

Oh. This is an important conversation. I was standing in the corner dreading how I would eventually get this woman to talk to me about our future and it’s already here for us to deal with. 

I reach out and pet Dorian’s nose, his chubby body gelatin in Lucy’s hold as he tries to sleep off the excitement of the last few moments. “What if I want to do that?”

She shakes her head. “I already have to replace your slippers and we both know I can’t really afford the stylist you employ. You can’t do this much for me.”

Tears glimmer in her bright eyes. I have to say the right thing. This is a big moment, a foundational conversation for us to move forward. 

Gently, so scared to look at her too hard but unable to keep from touching, I caress her cheek. “I won’t do something you don’t want, Lucy, but I want to take care of you. I want to take care of him. I,” there’s no stopping the words as they tumble out of my mouth, “want a life with you, a happily ever after with some version of a family, and I want to start that sooner rather than later. Today is as good a time as any.”

She sniffs, her lips quivering. “He ate all of your couch cushions.”

“He just has expensive tastes like me,” I smirk, begging her with my eyes to let herself give into my touch and my words and walk out of this place a stronger couple than when we walked in. 

That does it. She breathes out a shaky giggle, rustling the puppy who gives his own yowl of approval with a shake of his tail. 

“I think I want this, too,” she says, those emerald eyes threatening to drown me if I continue to meet her gaze. “I didn’t know that when I quit my job and showed up or when I brought him home, but I feel safe with you. I like to spend time with you. I don’t know what the future really holds for me, but I might like it more if you promised to do it with me.”

There’s no reason to stop and think this through. I stopped thinking rationally when she plucked my wallet out of my pocket all of those months ago. Lucy Lore has put a beating heart back into my cold chest and I will let the world burn around us if that’s what it takes to keep her in my life. 

“I promise.”

“Me too,” she whispers, lifting on her tip-toes in order to press a kiss to the corner of my lips. 

I steal the dog from her then, nuzzling my face into his thick hair and staring into his blue eyes. “Let’s go get you checked out, Dorian. We have plenty of puppy training for you to do this afternoon.”

Lucy hooks her fingers around my elbow and trails us to the counter. My heart could float from her sheer proximity. I thought this pup was a bucketful of problems. Rather, he’s the solution to so many bigger concerns. 

Lucy and I are going to be parents together. Her, me, and Dorian. 

It’s the best kind of family.

Author’s Note

Guys, I completely panicked when I first read this prompt! I did not know who or what I was going to write about. My wife gave me the idea of Lucy and Ashby adopting a puppy, so I‘m incredibly excited to now incorporate a dog into the general body of my novels. Ashby is such a fun and unique character to explore through these stories as he isn’t a major POV character in my novels and is generally viewed as a “bad guy” by the others.

I hope you all enjoyed reading this cute story as much as I did writing it!

Please be sure to check out my writing partner’s blog for Bridgette’s short story on an elderly couple dealing with the problem of booming bubbles:

Posted in Character Stories


More vampires are popping up everywhere. We have to expand. I got permission from my contact in the mayor’s office to move the tunnels this way, but their help stopped at bulldozing the area.

There’s a thick layer of dust over my clothes. The space around me still looks more like a work in progress than anything akin to a home. I already moved newcomers into the last of the open rooms as well as my own quarters, so I either have to get this finished or resort to sleeping in the halls. 

Footsteps thud down the hall behind me. Seth got plenty of muscles in his change from human to something more, but he never learned to be discreet. I smile at that small fact as his footsteps get quieter in his attempt to sneak up on me. 

Not going to happen, brother. 

He slinks up the corridor behind me on the balls of his feet like he’s trying to stay balanced on a tightrope. Even so, his shoes scuff along the littered floor. Bits of concrete scatter at his every movement. He’s only a couple of feet behind me now. 

I pull the can of spray paint I’ve been using to mark off doorways from my pocket. Wait for it. Almost. Now. 

Spinning backwards, I hold the can at stomach height and press down on the nozzle. Seth stumbles backwards, the yellow paint marring his bare arms as well as the white shirt he’s wearing. I laugh out loud. The look of surprise on his face is definitely the best part of my whole day. 

When he’s finally caught his balance, he scowls at me. “This is brand new, dude.”

I shrug. “Stop trying to sneak up on me. You were supposed to be back by Friday.”

Mischief lights his blue eyes. “I picked up something on my way back, so you act like you appreciate me.”

I roll my eyes. “Your budget is for necessities, Seth. We don’t have extra money for gifts right now.”

“It’s free,” he insists, waving off my concerns as he turns back down the hall and lets out a sharp whistle. 

My heart sinks. He better not have brought home a dog. We cannot handle another stray situation. He gets too attached too soon and I just do not have a space down here for an animal. 

A dark mass comes out from behind the corner. Not a dog. “What’s wrong?” I ask immediately, my eyes taking in the heavily embroidered vest on my youngest brother in comparison to my filth and the paint covering Seth’s shirt. 

His hands in his pocket, he shrugs. “Can’t I just come and visit?”

“You don’t answer my calls.”

Hands in his pocket, he winces at my sharp words. “I’m not a big cell phone person, Gideon.”

I shake my head. “It’s been nineteen years since we’ve seen each other in person. What do you need?”

Seth drops a hand on my shoulder. “Take a deep breath, Gid. Ashby isn’t trying to get one over on you. Let’s have dinner tonight before you’re at each other’s throats.”

I glance around the wreckage in this area. I’m as drab as a nightingale next to the fine plumage of a peacock in comparison to the brother that has just arrived. Ashby looks like he just stepped out to walk the runway. He was always so concerned with his appearance. I haven’t seen him outside of a waistcoat in a lifetime. 

“I don’t have extra rooms,” I finally say. “If you want to stay, you’re going to have to help.”

I expect him to walk away. As much as he won’t say, he’s here for something and he has no intention of helping with the project that has overtaken the majority of my life. There’s plenty of hotels in this area. I’m sure a resourceful guy like him could figure it out. 

However, he undoes the cuff links at his wrists and rolls his white sleeves up to his elbows. “What exactly do you need from me?”

I share a confused glance with Seth. “We’re building the walls to the rooms in this corridor.”

We all stand together then in an awkward stall. It’s going to take a lot of work to change the dismal state of this area. I don’t think he actually intends to follow through and I don’t have time to deal with his emotional meltdown when dust and paint ruins his outfit. 

“Well, tell me what to do or give me a broom, so I can clear some of this muck.”

He’s serious. Okay. We’re doing this. 

So excited to have the family back together, Seth grabs him a broom, already making plans to grill steaks for dinner. 

.     .     .

Ashby didn’t waver. He swept the floors and held all of the wooden beams in place for Seth and I to hammer into place. Between the three of us, we’ve assembled all of the walls for the rooms. There’s no doors, but at least we won’t be sleeping in an open space together. 

Exhaustion pulls at my bones. I haven’t slept in two days since I started this project alone. As is, I already have to go borrow a shower from someone else. Then, I have to survive a dinner with both of my brothers.

Seth has drywall in his hair and a huge grin across his face. “We’re a great team, aren’t we?”

Ashby murmurs his agreement, his dark eyes flitting everywhere but in my general direction. There’s a nervous energy underlining his busy actions. I can’t question him about it without risking him running off on me again, so I stay quiet and give Seth the response he needs before directing them to available showers. 

I take the halls in the opposite direction from them, making my way for my previous room. It wasn’t anything fancy. The same four walls and a bathroom I give everyone else. I did have art on the walls, though, and shelves full of mementos from my long life. Everything is stuffed into a storage closet now. I’ll eventually find time to catch up on building and running this place and be able to remake my quarters. 

Pausing at my blue door, I raise my fist and knock twice. There’s no noise on the other side of the wall. There never is. With just under thirty vampires taking up space down here in my original plans, I made sure to soundproof the place, so we didn’t go mad from the close quarters and never ending noise. 

I could go somewhere else. Any of my occupants would be happy to let me use their shower, but I need to check on Connor anyway. It’s only been a few days since he got here. Seth picked him up in California and dropped him off here before he went back to his duties in the outside world, a job that did not include Ashby until today. 

I knock again. No answer. 

There aren’t locks on the doors here. There’s no point. They wouldn’t keep a vampire out. Connor’s probably asleep. I’ll just slip in and use his shower and then drag myself back out for dinner with my brothers. 

I slowly turn the knob and inch the door open. Connor is not asleep. He’s sitting on the floor with headphones over his ears and a glowing remote in his hands. Seymour is bent over the small television they’ve smuggled down here, trying to plug in cords as he rigs something I have definitely not approved. 

I clear my throat as the door shuts behind me. “Busy making renovations?”

Seymour jumps, knocking his head on the shelf he’s working under and scrambling to his feet. “Gideon. Hi. I didn’t realize you were doing room checks this week.”

Connor whirls to look up at me, carefully pulling his headphones and curving them around his neck. “Oh shit. Are we not supposed to do this?”

I have to work hard to suppress the smile pulling at my lips. “I’ve never made much time for television and virtual games. Will it help you feel more comfortable here?”

He nods immediately. “Feels a little more like home.”

Right. That’s the point of this whole project. I let my gaze move to Seymour.

“Do I want to know how many rooms you’ve updated?”

The older vampire shoots me a mischievous smirk. “Guess you should really start doing room checks.”

I shake my head. There’s enough on my plate. I trust my people. I’m not going to be their landlord and governess in this place. Most of them are adults by the time they make their way to me. They know how to make the right decisions and I’ll help them when things get messy. If they want televisions and video games, I’m not going to stand in the way of it. 

“I came by to see if I could borrow your shower, Connor?”

The large man pushes to his feet, tripping on the tangled bundle of cords as he scrambles to the other side of the room. “Of course, Sir. It’s right in here. I-.”

Seymour is the one to cut him off with a booming laugh. “This used to be his room, Con. I think he can find it.”

I step by the man while he struggles with that bit of information. Questions swirl in his light gaze. Another night I’d happy stay here to answer them all. Today, I slip by and shut the bathroom door. 

The water is running hot in a few moments. I peel off all of my clothes, raining drywall dust and other muck from our project onto the floor. I’ll come back tomorrow to clean it. Folding my clothes, I tuck them in the space between the toilet and the sink. I’ll come back for those, too. 

Stepping past the curtain, I let the hot water wash over me. Soap and shampoo follows. I’m clean too soon. Blowing out a breath, I stand under the hot water for few minutes, anything to relax and recoup before going back out to deal with my brothers. 

I didn’t bring any clothes with me, so I dry off and then tie the towel around my hips. Add this to the list of things I’ll bring back to Connor’s room tomorrow. Deep breath. I can walk down the hall to my storage closet and find a change of clothes and then manage to make it through the rest of the night with Seth and Ashby. 

My shoulders slump from the weight of that task. Seth isn’t the problem. He and I would have done this anyway. We were supposed to be together a few days ago to finish this task of building the new corridor. At no point did we discuss our youngest brother or the real reason he needs to come over. 

I’ll figure it out soon enough. The two of them have never been able to keep anything from me. 

With that in mind, I duck out of the bathroom, wish Seymour and Connor a good night, and then slip back into the hall. It’s a quick walk to the closet I’ve created to store my things. It’s odd that the door is cracked open, but not unusual. I don’t lock away my things and somebody new probably got lost looking for their room. There’s not much here anyway for someone to take. My life’s legacy is these grey, concrete walls. I don’t have much in the way of material items: a couple of outfits; all different t-shirts with grey sweats, a dresser full of important documents and my painting supplies, and stacks of notebooks and canvases that I’ve filled with pictures from my life. 

Closing the door as much as possible, I slip on a shirt and then let my towel drop long enough to pull on my pants. Dressed and as ready as possible, I move back along the halls to the kitchen Seth prefers, the scent of seasoned meats leading me there the entire way. 

I don’t expect to see Ashby actually helping cook, but that’s exactly what I find when I push the kitchen door open. My brothers are shoulder to shoulder, Seth taking up most of the small counter space by himself as he flips steaks on the stove and directs our youngest brother to cut vegetables for a salad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ashby in a kitchen, not holding a knife or taking directions. He was catered to a lifetime ago when we weren’t superhuman and chose not to learn life skills after he became an adult, relying on money to solve most of his problems. 

This might actually be a good visit. “Is there anything you need me to do?” I ask as I step into the space behind them. 

Seth shoos me to the table. “Just sit. We have this completely under control.”

In another part of my life, I would have taken over and made them leave the cooking to me. I would have said something about how his burner is too hot and the seasonings are burning to the pan faster than they can adhere to the meat. Today, though, I do as he says and slump into the chair closest to the door. 

Ashby glances over his shoulder at me. “Thanks for letting me drop by,” he finally murmurs after an awkward thirty seconds of sustained eye contact. 

I tip my head to him. He knows he’s always welcome here. I don’t have to say it again. It doesn’t matter what kind of fights we get in or how many times he walks away, I’ll leave the door open. 

The kitchen is quiet besides the aggressive sizzling in Seth’s pan for a few moments before Ashby clears his throat. “Did you ever get into that art academy?”

Yes. There’s a handful of acceptance letters shoved into a drawer somewhere. I don’t have time for those types of things and I’ve had far longer to sharpen my skills than most candidates. It’s not really a fair submission. There’s no point in taking away a spot from someone who needs it more. Art is a hobby that has kept me grounded for forty years, but this place is my whole world and all that will matter about my life if I ever get taken out of it. 

“Seth told me you’re seeing a girl.”

Red creeps around his neckline. “Yeah, it’s pretty serious.”

I don’t push for more information. We’re not at that point in our relationship and he doesn’t really want my existential outlook on this kind of union. There’s no point in settling with someone he’ll eventually outlive. I wouldn’t be able to survive that kind of pain and I won’t wish it on him, but I can’t stop him from making his own choices. 

Seth gets busy plating dinner as I come up with a suitable response. “I’m happy for you, Ashby.”

He shoots me something like a real smile and then ducks away from my eyes as his hand brushes his chest pocket. Seth barrels to the table with his arms full of food, so I let that gesture go. I’m too tired to ask why my youngest brother is acting nervous. At this point, I’d rather it bite me in the ass another time. 

The plates barely hit the table before Seth is gobbling his portion. I throw a handful of napkins his way. “Come on. We’re family, not animals. Have some kind manners.”

He rolls his blue eyes at me. “You got it, Mom.”

I snort. It’s not the first time he’s made the joke. It won’t be the last. One of us had to grow up to take care of the others and our mother was an extraordinary woman. I don’t mind being reminded of her. 

We eat in relative silence after that, all of us more tired than we would like to admit after the afternoon of hard work. Afterwards, I let Seth pile the dishes into the sink with the promise that I’ll wash them tomorrow. There’s so many things I’m going to do tomorrow. 

I then set them up with a sleeping bag and spare pillow, letting them choose their room in our empty corridor. My eyes are too heavy to fight sleep. I’m out before I even crawl all the way into the makeshift bed. 

.     .     .

I’m still tired in the morning, but better than before. Crepes sound like a good idea. Mom has been on my mind all night and I want nothing more than to sit around the table one more time with my brothers and feed them something she would have cooked. I’m sure there’s fruit in somebody’s pantry. I can have it thrown together before either of them are up. 

I take a moment to peek into their rooms. My heart sinks when I find that not only Ashby, but Seth is gone, too. 

There’s only one reason they would sneak out before I even woke. 

I stagger to the closet where I keep my possessions and yank open the bottom drawer. There’s two things I have left of my Mom, of ma mére: a table that I have stored in a separate storage area and her wedding ring. 

The box is there in the drawer, but I already know I’m going to find it empty as I slide open the black lid. 

Ashby met a girl. He’s going to ask her to marry him. He came here to steal our mother’s ring. 

We’re brothers, but we’re not a part of each other’s lives. 

Practically a stranger I let sleep in here, he’s out there with a piece of our mom, ready to throw his heart into the hands of a mortal woman. 

No gods can save him now. There’s no magic to heal him when this goes wrong. 

I’ll be here, though. I sigh as I slide the empty box back into its spot and lean back on my knees. When this goes terribly wrong and she dies, I’ll still be here with my door open.

Author’s Note

This was a really fun prompt and definitely a great way to pick up the general vibe of these pieces after the sad story last week. It is an absolute blast to craft these blog pieces from different characters. I’ve imagined this story a hundred times through Ashby’s eyes, but it’s really a different feel through Gideon’s. Still, all of this takes place before the main timeline of my novels, so keep checking in here to see all the behind the scenes tidbits I’m releasing before my novels are in the ands of the public.

As always, thank you for making it to this part in the post. It absolutely makes my day anytime I get a view or a like on these stories and gives me the encouragement I need to come back next week and do it all again.

Please be sure to check out Bridgette’s story about an unexpected visitor:

We’ll see you guys next week 🙂

Posted in Character Stories


My brother laughed when I asked for a roadmap to the nearest rare book store. “Nobody uses those anymore, Ash. Invest in GPS.”

“And give the larger powers of this world a way to track my every movement? No, thank you.”

Seth shakes his head at me, one bulky shoulder leaned into my fridge as he drinks my last bottled beverage without any sign of remorse. “Why don’t I just take you?”

I roll my eyes. I didn’t ask for him to stop in, I never do, but he’s here and he’s not going to leave me alone until I agree to his help. “Fine. I’m not answering any questions, though. I just need you to drop me off.”

He sets the empty, plastic bottle on the counter. “I’m definitely going in with you.”

“No. That is not in our agreement.”

He shrugs. “I’m not ditching you somewhere far from your house, Ashby.”

I cross my arms over my chest and stare across the room at the man who holds no familial resemblance to me. The years have been harsh to us. We haven’t aged past twenty-eight, but there’s a dark depth to his blue eyes that tells me he hasn’t even begun to forget the horrors of the last eighty years even though he smiles and jokes at every chance. Seth looks like our father with his short, blond hair and bright gaze. I look more like Gideon. We both got our mother’s dark hair and dark eyes coupled with the heavy bags smeared into our eternally youthful skin. 

“Come on. I don’t have all day. Get your ass outside or you’ll have to walk there,” Seth says as he pulls his car keys from his pocket. 

“I was fine walking there,” I grumble back, snagging my jacket from the edge of the couch. 

Seth passes me on his way to the front door in board shorts and a tank top. 

“It’s like sixty five, Ash. You can leave the jacket here.”

I shake my head as I pull the dark piece over my shoulders. “It completes my ensemble.”

I swear I hear him laughing as he steps out onto the porch. I let my own lips twitch into a smile. Seth is obnoxious, but he’s my brother, so he can get away with it. There’s no one else I’d rather be doomed to live an eternity with. 

Well, there’s one person. 

It’s a maybe. 

I have to do my research and see if she and I have a chance at forever. 

We climb into Seth’s car. He never bothers to buckle. I click my own seatbelt in, relaxing back into the leather seat. The last thing I need to worry about during a car accident is my virus trying to eat people. I’d rather have as little injuries as possible and a rational part of the aftermath. 

“I’m a good driver,” Seth grumbles anyway. 

We’ve had this argument before. I don’t answer. My seatbelt is on and I’m nearly indestructible. We’ll make it to the bookstore. 

I watch him click in a search on his car computer and then select the nearest location. It’s thirty-seven minutes away. This is going to be a long ride. 

.     .     . 

It’s fifty-four minutes later when he finally finds a parking spot behind the bookstore. Fifty-four minutes of evading his attempts to ask me about my life and listening to his poor renditions of songs from the last three decades instead of turning on the radio. I have my seatbelt off before he parks the car. 

“You can just wait in the car,” I try one last time to keep him out of my business, my car door open already as he finally parks. 

Seth shoots me a stupid grin. “Not gonna happen, mon frére.”

I have some choice words to call him in French, but I keep them to myself as I step out and slam the door. This is not how today was supposed to go. I’m going to have to search this place in the next two hours and get him back on the road. Lucy’s show starts promptly at six and I have to be in the front row. 

I can’t let her down. 

Sure he’ll follow without having to watch for him, I stride towards the front of the building, walking around a large elm tree overhanging the left side of the quaint shop. A small bell dangling on the end of a piece of twine chimes when I open the door. I step inside to the faint scent of eucalyptus and something else old and bitter. A single elderly woman sits behind the counter to my right, tipping her head towards me in a welcome before returning to the riveting story in her lap. Dark shelves crammed full of books fill the space in front of me with just barely enough space for an average sized person to squeeze between them.

This has to be the place. 

Seth is still outside, his attention focused on the helicopter flying over this area. He refuses to call them anything besides choppers. All sorts of aviation information has held a special place in his heart since the late seventies. 

Great. I just need a moment to ask this woman a quick question. “Do you have a mythology section?” I murmur quietly, standing several feet back from the counter as I try my best to disturb her as little as possible. 

With a nod and a finger point, she directs me to the back corner of the building. Good enough. It’s a starting point for this adventure. Seth steps in as I slip between the shelves. 

“I’ll be up here if you need me, Ash.”

I leave him in the fiction section with a wave. I’m on a mission. I need information, credible accounts and histories about syrens. They weren’t supposed to be real. Of course, vampires aren’t supposed to be real, either, and I haven’t found a way to lose the parasitic virus that overtook my system in the late forties. If we’re being honest, everything that is in stories nowadays was real at some point. 

Syrens, though, went extinct. 

The last one was taken sometime around the turn of the century. I don’t remember much. I should have cared more at the time, but I was drowning in my own problems and avoiding Gideon. My brother was upset, though. Not punch a hole through a wall mad, but sinking to his knees in the center of a public square because the news took the strength from his legs. 

His friend, I think it was Raleigh, did something bad. He took a syren and ran experiments. The last syren. 

But that can’t be true anymore because Lucy exists. 

I let my fingertips run over the battered bindings of the old books. This first one is about a necromancer. Interesting, but not what I’m looking for. Come on, come on, come on. There has to be something here. 

There’s an entire section dedicated to vampires. We are incredibly intriguing, but most of that is false conjecture perpetuated by Stoker’s fiction. Werewolves and other human and animal creations. There’s a series on modern witches, the entire collection embossed with different runes. A few small novels boast covers with rare species like djinn or fairies. 

My eyes snag on a green cover with a water lily painted across its surface. Kelpies. Not exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s the closest thing to a water-based creature I’ve seen, so I tuck it under my left arm and continue my search.

Kraken. Loch Ness Monster. Selkis. An entire short story covers sea serpents with vivid illustrations of their winding bodies and bloodied fangs. 

I didn’t realize so many myths sprang from the depths of the ocean. The last thing I want to do is have Seth drive me anywhere else, so I sink down to my knees and start to browse the bottom shelves. 


Sirens and Other Untamed Women 

That’s it. That’s her. My Lucy Lore. 

No longer caring about the fibers of this questionable carpet sticking to my pants, I lean back into a sitting position with the book spread over my crossed legs. Powerless to the desire to know more about her, my eyes skim the yellowed pages, sifting through sentence after sentence in order to figure out fact from fiction. 

There are personal accounts from sailors and naval commanders. I know most of those have been debunked, so I skip past it. I don’t have time for manatees. I’m here for real information about the girl who stole both my wallet and my heart. 

She smelled like the ocean and magic coated her words. It’s the only reason I suspected her to be more than a human. If she exists, there has to be something in these books that connects her to the rest of her world. 

Vampires and syrens once had a symbiotic relationship. The original vampires didn’t infect already living humans. They had children in the more traditional sense. Erisa Nabil is proof of that. 

If the syrens could procreate with those ancient beasts, there had to be love between them right? 

Love lives forever. There had to be a way to keep the syrens alive for the duration of the vampires’ life. 

That’s all I truly need to know. 

To take the next step, to commit to this, I need a plan to make it last forever. 

If she wants, of course. 

I’ve lost enough over the last several decades. I won’t be forced to bury the love of my life as well. Should my research fail, I’ll leave town and let her live a life without me. I’d rather walk away than lose myself entirely. 

“She’s pretty special, then?”

Seth towers over me, the brute a silent force when he wants to be. “I told you I wasn’t answering questions.”

Crouching next to me, he pats my shoulder. “You should try the internet.”

I shrug him off. “The internet is full of fake information, Seth, and I do not have time to deal with false leads right now.”

“Because you want this to work?”

I glance over at his stupid smile. “More than I’ve wanted anything else.”

Together on the floor of a quiet bookshop, he pulls me into a bear hug and lets out an incredibly loud whoop. I ignore the shushing from the woman at the counter and lean into my brother. He’s right. This is a big deal. It’s happening fast, but Lucy makes me feel alive and I can’t let her go without trying to make this work. 

I’ll read every book ever written on the topic of vampires and syrens if that’s what it takes to figure this out. Lucy Lore has wrapped her fist around my heart and I can’t pull away even if I wanted to. For just this one fleeting moment, I let Seth’s enthusiasm carry me. We’re going to make this work. A relationship between a vampire and a syren won’t just be a myth I scrounge up from the dusty pages of old texts, but a fact. 

Lucy Lore and Ashby Carter. 

Together we’ll turn myth into reality.

Author’s Note

Ashby Carter is an incredibly special character in my repertoire. A decade ago, he was a cliche villain who manipulated my female protagonist into some sticky situations before meeting his demise. Today, he’s a morally grey love interest to Lucy Lore who is in a constant battle of trying to live out his dreams with her while not getting dragged into his brothers’ problems or the political drama that surrounds the other vampires.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s prompt!

Be sure to check out other stories for this prompt from my writing partners:



I can’t wait to see you next Saturday 🙂

Posted in Character Stories


The railroad stretches forever behind and beyond us. We’ve been on it for days. With just the clothes on our body and a backpack each, Thomas Raeleigh and I step off of the platform and back into the real world. 

It’s loud. More jarring than the consistent hum of the train, I flinch when a man yells off to our left. Raeleigh promises that this will get easier. It’s been over two decades for me. I can’t imagine a day coming that I don’t cringe at the shuffling noise of every passerby or tense at the brazen voices of working men. This world was built large and loud and the human population is determined to make everything bigger and louder. 

A city rolls out ahead of us. There’s warm beds and private rooms somewhere out there. Of course, that’s not where we’re headed. 

I keep myself close to Raeleigh as he ducks under a rope meant to contain the human travelers and steps towards the jungle. We agreed to a meeting. None of us trusted that the others would play fair, so we chose a location outside of everyone’s jurisdiction. After days of travel with little sleep, I wish we had just accepted the invitation to visit a castle in one of their provinces. Raleigh and I have fought our way out of plenty of bad decisions. It could have just been another to add to the list. 

A wasp buzzes by my ear. Tension overtakes my shoulder. Without thinking, my left arm moves. I stare down at the crushed bug in my palm. 

“You’re going to have to get control of that if you want to survive in this world, Carter.”

Yes. I know. The virus is capable of reacting without needing me to check off on its movements. From our research, we know it’s a parasitic entity attached to the base of the brain and wrapped tightly around the spinal cord. Any attempt to separate it from the host ends with a dead host and a pissed parasite. So, for the foreseeable future, I’m stuck as a vampire and have to learn to live with the damn thing. 

“I’m working on it,” I murmur to my friend, shaking my head to clear the fuzziness that comes from the virus working on its own. 

It would be so easy to stop fighting and let it turn me into a deadly creature of the night. That’s what it wants. A strong body, an unstoppable host, that it can use for its own purposes. 

Fire is the only way to stop it. Not a campfire. Not something you light on a gas stove. Scientifically engineered fire that burns so hot it turns violet. 

Typically, decapitation starts the process. There has to be access to the parasite. Then fire. So much fire. 

I’ve only seen it used in practice twice. Once on a battlefield. Once as a criminal punishment. Both times by the royalty we’re going to see today. 

Raleigh glances over his shoulder, his eyebrows pinched together in that concerned expression he likes to use on me. “Maybe I should do the talking.”

I nod. It’s my plan, but I don’t want to talk to these people. No. Not people. Monsters. The things the Nabils did to their own daughter… I can hardly stand to be in the same place as them. 

I haven’t met most of the rest of the company yet. I know of Ivan and his desire for blood. He’ll be accompanied by someone as well. The Nabils will travel as a couple as well as bring a half dozen servants. There are others. I don’t know any of them well. They’re all old creatures that are scared of change and reluctant to make an alliance with humans. 

It’s the only way forward, though. Humans have overtaken most of the world and they show no chance of slowing anytime soon. There’s no longer a way to stay hidden in the shadows. At least, we can’t do that with the growing dissent of the supernatural world. Either we change or there will be bloodshed. 

Thomas holds out a hand to slow me. “We’re here. Keep your wits about you.”

Right. Every person down there is a murderous creature that has lived far longer than I have. Some of them have seen the rise and fall of empires. Others remember the fresh air before humans created steam engines. All are restless. 

Following Thomas, we make our way into the deep gulley, stepping into footprints pressed in by the people who have beat us to this location. It makes sense. None of them trust us. Actually, I should rephrase that. None of them trust me. Thomas is like them. Old and created through the evolution of supernatural creatures. 

Not me, though. Science made me. Human-made science.

I’m an abomination that they paid for. One they now fear. 

It’s dark down here, the dirt clinging to my boots as we slide down the steep earthen wall. A few weeds manage to photosynthesize, protruding from the side of the gulley in vivid splashes of green topped in yellow and white. Life finds a way in every condition. We can’t just get rid of humans. They could try to decide to eradicate me and those like myself, but it would be a failed mission. Somehow we’re all going to have to learn to live together. 

Ahead of us, someone calls out our arrival. “Master Raeleigh is here with his French lapdog.”

Cute. It’s not the worst name they’ve used for me over the years. I let it slide off of me. There’s no reason to give my virus a reason to snap. I’m here fighting for the right to live. I can’t be more of a monster than any of the creatures gathered down here. 

Thomas doesn’t look back at me. He trusts me to stay composed. He trusts me and that’s all that matters as we step forward into the circle that’s been formed. 

The Nabils are directly in front of us. I don’t know their names. They’re so old that I don’t think they remember anything other than the title that comes with their noble surname. The woman stands next to her king. To her left, a black Labrador sits back on its haunches, its brilliant green eyes too bright to be realistic. It’s rumored she has the ability to shapeshift. That dog is likely a servant or bodyguard she snuck in as an animal to keep the rest of us from suspecting an attack. 

King Nabil leans back in his wheelchair, his posture confident and relaxed. This is a throne on wheels more than a sign of his steady deterioration. He has yet to fully recover from the last war he oversaw and will likely not make it through the next. Erisa is his only heir. It’s why they killed her lover and locked her in a dungeon somewhere far from the likes of me. They need her complacent before the king croaks. 

I’d do more for her if I could. Thomas refuses to get anymore involved. 

My thoughts are cut off by the raspy whisper of the man ahead of us. “You’ve kept us waiting, Raeleigh.”

Thomas dips into a bow. “My apologies. I was under the impression none of us would be here for another three hours.”

There’s a bristle of annoyance from the group, but no one argues. They can’t admit that they’re all more paranoid about this meeting than Thomas and me. Making a show of looking at the various people around us, Thomas clears his throat. 

“We’re all here then?”

Queen Nabil steps forward, a threat in simple shoes and flowing, red robes. “The meeting may begin,” she speaks clearly, making no attempt to hide the fangs that dangle from her upper jaw. 

To our right, a man stands up off of a trunk he’d been using as a chair. Ivan. “I vote we do away with their cities. We’ve grown in numbers. They won’t be able to stop us. We can keep the ones we need for food and get rid of the rest.”

Thomas steps forward amidst the murmurs of agreement from the rest of the bloodthirsty lot. “As much as everyone appreciates a modest proposal, I have to disagree. Humans are making technological advances that we would never have managed. Their short life spans and competitive resources make for a people that can be an asset to us. Caging them like they’re cattle will only launch a war.” He stares ahead at the Nabils. “Are you ready for that kind of violence?”

The Queen is the one to speak. “There are humans who are willing to work for us. We’ve had a good system for several centuries. Eradication is a steep choice for a species that serves a purpose.”

Good. We’re already making headway. Humans don’t deserve to die. I think we should treat them as equals who deserve respect and fair rights, but we’ll work on getting to that. For now, just getting them off of the chopping block is a good step. 

Ivan hasn’t been swayed. Dressed in leather armor, he spits on the ground and kicks at the dirt. “They are killing this planet. They’re unnecessary.”

His words spark a new argument. Is their worth greater than their damage to the planet? The group to our left argues that there isn’t much point to keep a pest that will destroy our habits. Another group speaks up. World War Two becomes the topic of the conversation. The devastation that the humans brought on each other and the toxins they released into the air. Some of the creatures in this group were hurt by it. Some communities still haven’t fully recovered almost thirty years later. Humans are dangerous and cannot be left to live unchecked. 

“You could have stopped all of that. There was plenty of time to do something and you all just watched it happen.”

The words are out of my mouth before I have time to think about it. Silence overtakes the circle. Queen Nabil snarls in my direction. 

“You are not a welcome portion of this committee. Raleigh, reign in your pet or I will do it for you.”

There’s prescription painkillers in my backpack. I should have taken some before this meeting. A pounding headache has started behind my eyes. 

It’s going to be a long night. 

“I have as much of a right to be here as the rest of you,” I raise my voice when she tries to cut me off. “I lived through the war. I was ready to give my life on the frontlines until I was kidnapped and experimented on. When I was released, I helped clean up the cities in need. I’ve been going out of my way to stop the scientists still trying to create more vampires and put down the people who can’t be saved. The rest of you would have sat back and watched the world burn, but I’m out there every day trying to make a difference.”

Thomas has a hand on my chest. He won’t silence me, but he’ll keep me from stepping forward and demanding a duel from one of these cowards. Ivan cracks his knuckles. Nobody dares to speak, though. This is between me and the so-called Queen. 

Her lips twitch. “What’s the plan then, Gideon Carter?” She launches my name at me like it’s a venomous snake writhing in the sand. “How will you change the world?”

“We work with them. I already have government officials in America who want to help us. They’ve given me space to fix up and we’re going to set up homes and food systems to help new vampires.”

She barks a laugh, crossing her thin arms over her chest. “We do not speak to them, Carter. We feed from them. Have you made them aware of this?”

Yes. Of course. “They’re going to work with hospitals to get us regular shipments of nutrient-rich liquids.”

“Blood,” her eyes shine as she licks her lips. “They will just hand this to you?”

Thomas is pushing on me, silently asking me to back down, but I can’t. This is my idea, my plan, my purpose. It’s the whole reason I survived the experimentation. I’m supposed to help people. This is how I’ll do it. 

“We’re still negotiating, but they weren’t turned off by the idea.”

“So, you will live among them?” She hisses each word at me, her eyes squeezing into slits. 

I nod. She’s listening. They’re all going to hear my plan and understand that it’ll work. 

“Cohabitation is key. It’s the only way the world gets better than it is right now.”

Her gaze slides from me to Thomas. “He is young. Unlike the rest of us, he was once human. I will let his behavior go this one time, Raeleigh.” My heart stops as she pins me down with her eyes once more. “What you have come with is a child’s dream, Gideon Carter. Let me tell you how that plan ends. 

“The humans will agree to your plans, but they will lie. You will build your homes and lure innocent vampires into them. Then, they will trap you down there. As hearty as your species is, Gideon Carter, I am curious to see how well you would survive a bombing. The humans came into this world a deadly type of people and will allow the death of their own if it means killing us off. Ash will fall from the sky and fire will overtake the land and the deaths of your people will be on your head.”

Before I can open my mouth, Thomas kicks me in the knee. My leg goes out from under me. He doesn’t look down at me. Instead, he holds his palm open towards me. Stay. Don’t move. My hands in the dirt, my hair falling around my face, I do as he wordlessly pleads. As much as I disapprove of this meeting, I won’t get him killed for me. 

“Forgive him for his optimism, Queen Nabil. He’ll lose that soon enough.”


I could never. 

I brought my brothers with me into this world of humans and vampires and story tale monsters. I have to believe there’s a reason I survived. There’s a reason for us to be here. There’s a way for humans and monsters to live together without constantly going to war. 

I say nothing as she returns to her spot by the King. “Have you any better options then, Thomas Raleigh?”

No. We came together with only one option. It’s the only thing we discussed the entire trip here. 

Thomas, however, has a backup plan. “We pitch in for one more experiment.”

Face down, I listen to the shuffling feet around this circle and the murmur of excitement. These are the people that funded my death. They brought me back as well, but they killed plenty of others before they got the formula for new vampires correct. 

This can’t happen. 

“A bit of each of us. We create a creature to unite us all. Something that will rule the earth long after we’re dust.”

That wasn’t the agreement. The man-made virus is taking over the planet. New vampires are showing up on every continent. The planet can’t handle anything else. 

“That doesn’t fix the human problem,” Ivan calls out. 

Thomas is confident in his response. “There won’t be a human problem left when this experiment is successful.”

“We can’t just kill them all,” I snap from the ground, pushing to my feet. 

Thomas turns to look me in the eye. “We won’t have to,” he speaks loud for the whole group to hear, “I’ve located the missing piece of our last project. A syren. The last syren. To mix her DNA with ours would create a child that would grow up with enough power to conquer the world.”

“That’s incredibly dangerous.”

Nobody hears me. They’re all too excited over Thomas’ proclamation. While they speak amongst each other, he leans close to me, his breath hot on my ear. “Just go with it, Gideon. This is the only way to buy us time.”


He’s gambling for more time. 

“They’ll find a way to actually do this,” I whisper back. “You’re signing the death warrant of that syren at the very least, Thomas. We can’t let them do this.”

His blue eyes are void of any compassion. “Sometimes we can’t save everybody.”

I’m losing him. This isn’t my friend. This is one of the monsters prepared to do whatever it takes for its own survival. “You would allow them to experiment on a child?”

He doesn’t answer. He doesn’t have to. 

The future is barreling towards us faster than any of us can handle. Hard choices are going to be made. These creatures are on the wrong path. 

I take a step back from Thomas. 

I won’t be like them. 

I’ll find a way to stop this. 

“If you leave, they’ll hunt you,” Thomas breathes, his pupils wide as concern wrinkles his forehead. 

I know. I won’t stand around and let them agree to kill people. 

“They’ll have to outrun me.”

I’m another step away from the group. 


Desperation pulls at the edges of his voice. He didn’t plan to come here and lose a friend. 

“You’ll have to stop running eventually. You can’t spend the rest of your life like this.”

Another step. I shrug. This isn’t the life I asked for. None of this is. I was supposed to meet a girl when I came home from the war and buy a restaurant. I wanted love and the smell of baked goods to fill our home. There was going to be laughter and we would have family over as often as possible. 

That dream is gone. 

I won’t lose my morality, too. 

“Nothing has killed me yet. I dare them to try.”

Author’s Note

It was important for me this week to make a juxtaposition between Gideon and the older creatures in this series. His actions over the course of the story affect many of the other characters, easily making him friends and enemies at every turn, while giving me a fun character to share.

I hope you had a fun read this week and to see you again next Saturday!

Be sure to check out Bridgette’s and Anna’s stories as well:

Posted in Character Stories

Three Little Words

“It happened again, Sir.”

Back to the door, I glance up from the computer screen to stare at my chief of security. “How many?”

“Just the doctor.”

Another doctor. I nod. “Where is Miles now?”

“We haven’t been able to get into the room, Sir.”

Course. I take a deep breath, careful to keep the disappointment from touching my features. These people have to trust me. They have to believe I have a plan. They can’t know I’m drowning in this predicament just as much as they are. 

“Give me a moment. I’ll be right out to deal with him.”

He shuts the door, closing me in with my thoughts. I kick the extension cord under my desk. Another doctor. Dammit. 

We’re past the stage of throwing things around the room to blow off steam, so I carefully lean back in my chair and stand, leaving my keyboards and papers alone. This was supposed to be easy. It’s the next step up the ladder to power, but I can’t get there without Miles by my side. 

My father is doing everything he can to take power from the world. He’s ready to bloody swords and let his men fall in the face of older, wiser creatures, the kind of beasts that have ruled this world since the beginning of time and aren’t prepared to pull their claws out of its crust. That’ll change soon, though. When I’m ready to step onto the throne, they will hand it to me. 

I step out from behind the desk, buttoning my jacket back in place. Calm thoughts, Matt. A sunrise across the ocean tides. Pine cones with a fine dusting of snow across the forest floor. Miles. Just him. Dressed in sweats and doing something completely domestic in our kitchen. He’d smile or make a joke and the rest of the world wouldn’t matter. 

I have to fix him. 

Out of my office, I walk through the familiar halls of my hotel. My shoes don’t make a noise across the patterned blue tiles. Gold paint covers the baseboards and leads up to light grey walls. It’s a color pattern designed to keep my customers at ease. 

It doesn’t work on Miles. Nothing seems to work on him once the virus takes hold. 

I stab a finger into the elevator button and step inside. Level thirteen is locked for all guests and staff who aren’t scanned into the biometric system. I lay my thumb on the pad and watch the lights flicker. 

I’m on my way, Miles. 

The elevator slides to a stop on his level. Chaos meets me when the doors open. Two women in lab coats pace the space in front of me, their hands full of charts and their mouths full of questions. I raise a hand up, silencing them. Not now. I don’t want to talk about this just yet. We’ve had a failure, a setback, just the like the several dozen before now and I can’t waste a moment on talking about it. 

Miles needs me. 

Breezing by the several security members who already have guns in their hands, I put my thumb on the door scanner. “Nobody enter after me. Do you understand?”

There’s a general murmur of agreement. Nobody actually wants the title of supernatural wrangler. They all would prefer I deal with him myself. 

The tension in the room behind me is nothing compared to the scene in the all white office I made for Miles’ appointments. The carpet in the center of the room is red. Not dyed. Stained. It has soaked up the life essence of the last doctor.

Pity. That one seemed competent.

The door clicks shut behind me. We’re locked in. No help is coming. 

I don’t see Miles at first. Instead, I take a few steps inside and survey the scene. There’s the body. It’s splayed between the couch and the chair. Clearly, the man was standing when my husband attacked. I don’t doubt that he acted in self-defense. The virus is hyper-sensitive, far more trigger happy than the parasite entwined with my own DNA. Someone wanted to make improvements on the vampire virus of the twentieth century and now several doctors are dead. Perhaps science and genetic modification isn’t always the answer. 

Miles is in the corner. Head in his hands, I can see that his claws are still out. He doesn’t show conscious control over the obsidian blades attached to each finger. 

I unbutton my jacket and shrug it off, folding it in half and depositing it on the one couch cushions not sprayed with the doctor’s blood. May Jupiter smile down on my courage today. New vampires are stronger and faster than older breeds. It’s always a risk that I’ll lose a fight if he’s triggered in my presence. 

One step closer. My shoe sinks into the carpet. I’ll have to take them off before I leave this room if I don’t want to trail forensic evidence through the hotel. Miles’ head snaps up. He immediately points one curved claw to the pad of paper by his feet. 

I didn’t mean for it to happen.

I keep my hands at my sides even as my chest tightens. “I know, darling. It’s okay. It was an accident.”

His pupils are too large. I can’t tell if they’re dilated from fear or the virus. I watch him as he stares at me through his curtain of black hair. I don’t know what the right words are now. 

I love you doesn’t seem right. 

I’m going to fix this seems too forward. 

“I’m here to help you,” I settle on. 

He can’t quite close his mouth around the needle-sharp fangs poking into his bottom lip. Carefully grabbing his pencil, he stabs it onto the blood speckled paper to scrawl a single word. Why

“Because I promised to take care of you,” I answer carefully, slowly bending down into a crouch in front of him. 

I watch him pull his shoulders further back into the corner, shrinking from my close proximity. His hand is moving again. Who are you?

Three words. That’s all it is. Words. 

I take a shuddering breath around the sharp pain in my chest. “I’m Matt, Miles. Your husband.”

He shakes his head, vehemently denying my statement. 

NO husband


I close my fists and open them slowly. Slow and steady. I can’t move too fast or I’ll set him off. 

Someone else was in here. It wasn’t anyone on my staff. They’re all too scared of Miles. They wouldn’t want to be the next casualty. 

No. This is something else. Something insidious and political. 

Straightening, I take a step back from him. “What’s the last thing you remember, Miles?”

He doesn’t have to write anything down. Instead, he flings a hand towards the body in the middle of the room. 

Good point. Death is memorable. 

“Do you remember anyone else coming in here?”

A tear leaks down his left cheek as he shakes his head again. Nothing. They’ve scrambled his memory. He was getting better. It’s been weeks since we had an incident. He and I were sharing our apartment again. Things were looking slightly better. 

Which is bad for anybody against our cause. 

Miles is one of only two new vampires. The second is a girl that has been missing for almost two decades. If he got better, he and I could petition to join the world’s council. We would join the group of powerful couples who control the fate of the world. Old vampires have been fighting the genetically modified groups for decades now. Should Miles control his virus and learn to manage his powers, he would change the world and they couldn’t ignore us any longer. 

Which can’t happen. I know who was here. Someone came in here and altered his mind, undid the years of training and passion I’ve put into his project, and left as quietly as a shadow. 

It seems the princess is trying to regain her parents’ favor. 

I didn’t know Erisa Nabil had stepped into my territory. I hope she had her fun because she’s going to regret it. 

One question answered, I have another problem to deal with now. Miles is still curled up into the corner. He doesn’t know me. There’s blood all over his shirt and hands and smeared on his cheeks, his neck, his forearms. I have to get him out of here. 

I move my attention to the security camera in the corner and wave my hands to get their attention. “Clear the floor. I’m taking him out of here.”

This room is soundproofed, but I know chaos has broken out on the rest of the level. With only the one elevator, people are going to grab their belongings and shove inside. A few desperate individuals will push out into the stairwell to scramble to safety. 

Vampires are dangerous. Especially new ones. Especially Miles. 

I don’t blame them for their reactions. Too many of them have seen him lose control. Too many have been instructed in cleaning up the messes in here. I watch Miles sink his face into his hands again, his body shaking with a silent sob. This can’t keep happening. 

“I’ll be right back,” I tell him, not looking for a reaction or an answer as I back up towards the door and let myself out of the room. 

I can fix this. I have to help him. 

White sheets of paper spill onto the floor from several of the desks situated throughout this room. Pens are scattered among the mess. A few purses were completely abandoned. The staff understood the danger in my request and fled. Excellent. Perhaps they deserve a raise. 

With the floor clear, I carefully open the door again. “Miles, let’s go home.”

He doesn’t budge from his position in the corner, preferring to stay curled in on himself like a nervous hedgehog. It’s a good thing none of his extra properties have developed as invisibility. I’d probably never find him again. 

Okay. I’m going to have to move him myself. I can’t just leave him in here. 

Easing my way back into the room, I cross the floor and crouch down in front of him once more. “Hey, Miles. We should get you up in your room to take a shower. How does that sound?”

He doesn’t answer. Obviously. He can’t answer. 

I don’t want to reach out to touch him. I’m not in the mood to ruin a perfectly good outfit by having him claw at me. 

“I’ll get in the shower with you. We have that cherry blossom soap you like and, after, we can sit in bed and eat chocolate ice cream.”

His head snaps up from his arms. I have only a split second to register that his eyes are an unnatural shade of burgundy. This isn’t Miles. It’s the monster. 

No words can save me. I scramble back, falling on my ass into the wet carpet. Blood and fibers stick to my left hand as I hold my right up to fend him away. 

He lunges. I move. It’s a reflex more than a conscious defense. Miles crashes into the couch, shoving the thick piece of furniture several feet away. 

“I’m sorry, Miles. Please, you have to fight this. You have to be okay. I don’t know what they did to you, but we can fix it.”

There’s no rational creature in his head. He can’t hear my words. He doesn’t care. 

Red fills his gaze. Fangs dangle from his upper jaw. 

I’m going to fix him. 

I promised to fix him.

But it won’t be today. 

Fight or flee. Those are my options now. I don’t want to hurt him anymore than I already have, so I push to my feet before his dazed, emotionless eyes can focus on me again. 

“I’ll be back,” I call over my shoulder. 

The door slams shut behind me, muffling the unnatural roar that follows me from the room.

Author’s Note

This is a complimentary piece to the high school prompt a few weeks ago. Miles is my main character with memory problems, but I wanted to give a fresh look on his condition. The vampires in this series are incredibly complicated and versatile, their specific ailments differing wildly between characters, so be sure to keep checking in to see which character I highlight each week as we slowly put together this complex world of flawed and stubborn people.

As always, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to view this piece and be sure to check in with Anna and Bridgette as well!

Anna’s story:

Bridgette’s story:

Posted in Character Stories

Nobody Said There‘d Be Zombies

Cedric should be here by now. I walk around the rundown room, dirt pluming around my sneakers. He told me to wait before I start to investigate. 

Screw waiting. He should have gotten here on time. 

Moving around the dark room, I watch the dim light of the moon reflect in a broken mirror hung on the left wall. Something bad happened here. It’s why we got the call. We’re supposed to investigate and report back to our base. Rumors of a genetically modified individual have swept over the western border. If it’s true, we might be in more trouble than anyone thought. 

There’s an envelope on a table behind the brown couch. Something big moved through this area, knocking the furniture askew. Chairs are overturned in the corner of the room. This table is perfectly fine, though. 


I’ll have to tell Seymour that it’s too obvious.

Picking up the envelope, I rip it open and pull out a postcard of the Eiffel Tower. There’s two words printed on the back. 


Not funny. I glance over my shoulder. There’s nothing there. It looks like there hasn’t been anything in here for a long damn time. 

“Where the hell are you, Cedric?” I whisper under my breath. 

I turn back around. The envelope is gone. I’m alone in this dusty cabin in the middle of nowhere. Outside, a raven caws. 

Real creepy, Seymour. 

I don’t know what I’m supposed to find here. Evidence, Seymour had said. Keep my senses about me and be adaptable. That’s all the skill I’ll need in the new world. 

I move through the living area, stepping around broken bits of glass from the busted windows. Something was trying to get in. All of the glass is shattered in towards the middle of the room. It crunches under my shoes as I glance at the nearest window. Long, gnarled scratches tear through either side of the wall. Something did get in. Something big, something strong, and something likely still here. 

I hate this mission. 

Moving towards the hall, I duck under a bookshelf that’s been tipped across the space. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic. My shoulders scrape across the small area. I can feel the splintered wood against the blue sleeve of my suit. 

It’s all so real. 

More glass and dirt and pictures line the floors over here. Why anyone would frame a picture of a motorcycle and a buffalo in their hall is beyond me. Since that’s not the mystery I’m in charge of solving, I step past it all after only a moment’s hesitation. There’s a single, red tulip placed in front of the door at the end of the hall. Too obvious again. That’s definitely the door I’m supposed to go through.

“You’re going to have to make this more difficult, Seymour,” I murmur aloud, sure that he can hear me through at least one of the wires attached to my body. 

There’s no reply. There never is. Cedric didn’t show and now I’m in charge of dealing with this all alone. 

So not cool. 

A few more steps, I stop in front of the door at the end of the hall and hold my breath, listening for anything on the other side. Nothing. There’s a draft through the entire house. Outside, I can hear the rustle of the leaves on the sycamore trees. 

No point in stalling. I wipe my palms on my pants. I can do this. All by myself. I’m ready. 

There’s a creak behind me. 

Right hand reaching for the door, I freeze. It’s an old, abandoned place in the middle of nowhere. It’s going to make weird sounds. 

Breath caught in my chest, I glance over my shoulder. Nothing. No werewolves or vampires or men. No monsters lurking in the dark hall behind me. 

Chill, Connor. 

Back to the mission and the door I’m supposed to go through, I look forward. I didn’t hear anything, but the door is already open, gaping like an insidious jaw that has unhinged itself in order to make space for me. 


Every scary movie I’ve ever seen has made a point to say that talking into the darkness is a bad idea, but I can’t help myself. Maybe it’s Cedric. He could have come in through a window. He and Seymour could have planned a prank. They’ve never been able to get one over on me. 

“Guys, this isn’t funny.”

There’s a shuffling noise. Bare feet across the floor. I’m no longer alone. 

“Cedric? You in here?”

I force myself to take a step into the room. It’s dark. A sliver of moonlight spills into the room through the broken window to the left. I can just barely make out a sturdy desk off to that side. There’s a coat rack on its side in the middle of the room. Shredded pieces of paper cover most of the floor. 

This is what I was supposed to discover, but something else got here first. 

There’s a sucking sound behind me. The door slams shut. I whirl around to face whatever is there. 



This doesn’t make sense.

I have to find the answer and get out of here. It has to be on one of these papers. All I need is the name of the doctor and the chemical formula for the mutated creature. 

Easy, Connor. You can do this. 

I don’t get a chance to, though. As I turn around, a dark shape separates itself from the corner. It’s here. 

The monster. The doctor’s mistake. The reason I got signed up for this stupid mission. 

It’s in the damn room. 

It steps forward, arms dangling uselessly at its sides. No shoes cover its feet. I watch it as it crosses the window. 

Not a monster. 


His skin peels away in random spots, leaving irritated gaps of flesh across his forearms and over the left side of his face. Most of his hair is gone. His mouth is open. Gaping. There’s no teeth. Only fangs. 

“Ced? What is this?”

My friend doesn’t answer. The monster lunges. 

There’s no time to move, to think, to react. He’s across the room one moment and then on top of me the next. My head cracks against the floorboards. Fangs pierce my neck. I can’t scream or cry or beg for mercy as I watch him spit chunks onto the floor next to our entangled bodies. 

Nope. Fuck this. I’m not playing this anymore. 

Reaching up, I yank the headset off and toss it across the room. 

“Hey! That’s expensive, Connor!”

Whirling to face Seymour, I flip him off, my vision flickering between normal and every shade of red. “You said this was supposed to be like an escape room. I had to find the clues and get out. It’s a mystery, not a horror!”

On the other side of the glass, he puts his hands on either side of his head, bushy wisps of his Afro falling over his forehead. “Okay. You should take a deep breath now.”

“Breathe!” I start to pull all of the wires off of my body. “My breathing is fine! I’m not fine with your sick video game.”

I’m going to destroy it. He’s locked in a separate room. There’s nothing in the way of ripping the motherboard out of his computer and smashing it to pieces. 

“Connor, please, man. Gideon paid for all of this. He’s funding my entire project to use virtual reality technology in order to help transition new vampires.” His face is pressed to the glass. “Please, don’t do this. You said you wanted an extreme version.”

I have a keyboard in my hands. I wouldn’t need to break it over my knee. With the strength that comes from the virus, I could crush it in my hands and watch the pieces fall between my fingers. 

Seymour continues to plead. There’s strict rules, though. In order to protect him from new vampires going crazy in these sadistic games, he has no access to me. Until I unlock that door, he’s not getting in here. 


That wasn’t Seymour. 

I tear my bloodied gaze off of the computer pieces in order to look at Cedric. “Were you in on it?”

He nods. “Thought it would teach you a lesson about snooping when I told you to wait for me.”

The red seeps from my vision as I stare at his smirk. “It was one time.”

He shrugs, his green eyes alight with mischief. “Well, it’ll be never again after this, won’t it?”

“You’re an ass,” I grumble, gingerly setting the keyboard down. 

“Come say it to my face, big guy,” he teases, walking over to the glass door. 

Seymour slumps into a chair on his side of the room as I move to stand across from Cedric. “I’m going to find all of your secret snacks and tell Gideon about how you go out during restricted times.”

His smile never wavers. “Hey. I haven’t threatened to show anyone the footage of you screaming like a wee girl to anyone. Why don’t we sneak out to a movie and call it even instead?”

“Just us?” I ask, my fingers already flipping the lock. 

He shrugs. “You can’t stay mad at Mour, can you?”

Stepping out of the game room, I glare at the nerd lounging across from me. “You can come if you pay for the snacks.”

Throwing his head back, he laughs. “Deal, Connor. Should we go see a comedy? I wouldn’t want to scare the shit out of you in a theater.”

I flip him the bird again and then loop my arm around Cedric’s shoulders, tucking him into my side. “I’m so going to get you back for this,” I whisper, chuckling at the way he shrugs. 

Zombies or not, I think I have something good here.

Author’s Note

I thought this would be the week I couldn’t incorporate my characters.

After a couple days of sheer panic, I settled on telling the story through a video game, so I could answer the prompt as well as give out another minor character and start to show off some of the relationships between the various vampires in this tangled universe. For timeline’s sake, this takes place in the 2010s era inside Gideon’s compound that exists in the underbelly of Washington. There’s so much more that I want to hit on in coming stories, but I hope this was a fun piece to read this week and I can’t wait to come back next week.

Thank you to everyone who stops in to read these posts and be sure to read from my writing partners, Bridgette and Anna:



Posted in Character Stories

The Pink Palace

Image found on Pinterest

“Could you put a shirt on?”

Seth flashes me a wide grin, his green swim trunks the only piece of clothing he has conceded to wear. “We’re on vacation, Gideon.”

Vacation. I’ve never taken a vacation. I’m here on business. 

“We’re looking for investors.”

Seth shrugs. “We could have a little fun on the way.”

We shuffle along with the rest of the crowd leaving the boat. A plane would’ve gotten us here faster. A plane is more likely to crash. I have enough government scrutiny riding on this mission. I can’t destroy our chances by surviving a deadly crash and walking away with little more than already healing scratches. 

The beach ahead of us doesn’t boast the autumnal colors of our home. Palm trees retain their green shades. A thin mist creeps along the sand. Further out, scuba divers swim away from the shore, their bodies ceasing to exist once they duck under the shifting water. 

We make it to the front of the boat and a man steps into my way. Dark skin. Dark eyes. Naturally thick, spiraling hair pulled into a bun at the top of his head. Black tattoos swirl over his upper arms and what I can see of his chest around the tank top covering his mid drift. This is definitely our associate. 

“May I take your bags, Monsieur Carter?”

I cock my head to the side, looking over the man standing a few inches taller than myself. His accent isn’t as obvious as his appearance. Proper English pronunciation and he managed to hit the French accent perfectly. Regardless of his origins or any places he has lived during what can only be a long life, it seems somebody studied me. 

Since my brother hasn’t been fluent in French in at least a decade, I opt to continue the conversation in English. “Thank you, Sir, but I think I have this handled. Will you be showing us to the palace?”

The corners of his lips tweak upwards. “To your room in the hotel?”

“I believe your princess is waiting in the pink palace for me.”

His smile widens. “Yes, it’s the largest hotel in Honolulu, Monseuir. Tourism is incredibly popular here. The Princess requests that you are on your best behavior.”

Of course. As much as I try to avoid seeing the news, I know vampire attacks on are on the rise. Too many humans are being affected. The genetically modified virus that created me has evolved into something difficult to contain and even more impossible for an individual to master on their own. It’s why I’m here. To propose my project to someone of authority and gain the backing I need to buy and develop the space needed to help these people. 

“We will be.”

I watch his gaze flick over Seth, but he doesn’t say anything else before turning to lead us to the hotel. It’s a short stroll to our destination through lush paths and past hoards of humans with cameras roped around their necks. There’s so much more here than I anticipated after reading about the small islands. Of course, the France I knew as a young adult isn’t what stands today. Not everything we read can be trusted. 

On our way, we pass small makeshift stalls filled with handcrafted items. People native to the land boast their shell necklaces and beautiful art. Most of the area is too full of tourists to get a great view. I do catch sight of a small girl crouched down under one of the tables, her thin arms wrapped around the neck of a plush penguin. There was a time I dreamed of seeing zebras on the African plain after my father came home with the news of the wild beasts. Time has moved forward, but some things stay the same. We’re all searching for more than simply what is set before us. 

“This way, please,” our guide prompts, leading us towards the pink building dominating this stretch of beach. 

Seth kicks off his shoes, moving further down the sandy bank. His pale skin stands out against the blue sky. My brother smiles over at me. He could be happy here. He’s promised to follow me wherever I may go, but I could leave him here and he would thrive.

The other man leads us up the path to the hotel. We pass under an archway bracketed by potted palms. The Royal Hawaiian. Of course Princess Nabil would stay in such a luxurious resort. She’s protected from outside forces from the sheer exclusivity of this place while still pampered as the sole heir to the throne. There’s no force or invasion that could overtake this island. Mr. Raeleigh sent me out here to make friends with the old world, to convince them that there is a place for a new breed of vampires, but he had no idea what awaited us. 

Hotel staff members straighten up and bow as the man leading us enters the lobby. Silence overtakes the space. I pause, holding my hand out for Seth to do the same. The sweet scent of strawberries wafts over me. There’s a buzzing at the back of my mind I’ve learned to accept as the sixth sense gifted to me through my transition into something more than human. Strawberries aren’t native to Hawaii. This is something else, something insidious and moving quickly for me. 

I step in front of Seth and hold my hands out on either side of my head, my eyes searching the room but finding nothing. “Tell your princess I just want to talk.”

“You could speak directly to her,” a female voice hisses into my left ear. 

I don’t move. I can’t. To flinch or flail or fight is a death’s wish. Instead, I take a slow breath and try to ignore the bite of the blade pressing into my throat. Seth is a few steps behind me. No amount of speed or strength can win our situation now. I have to trust he won’t do anything foolish. This isn’t the first time my life has been threatened and it certainly will not be the last. 

“My apologies, Princess Nabil. I had read about your powers of invisibility, but never understood just how profound they are.” I speak slowly and clearly, my eyes forward and my hands unwavering. 

“Profound?” Her accented word is a purr in my ear. “What an interesting word to describe royalty, Gideon Carter.”

Her hold doesn’t loosen. She’s thin, the edges of her body pressed into my back. Far older than me, something not entirely of this world, she and I may be more equally matched in skill than she has considered. 

Of course. I don’t want to test that theory. I came here on invitation. I’m here to ask for a favor. It’s my duty to play nice. 

“Should I be granted the ability to see you, I might speak of your incredible beauty and woo you with colorful descriptions, Princess.” I don’t hide the twist to my lips as I grin. “For now, you have a rather tight grip and a magnificent hold on your knife.”

She lets out a bark of laughter, causing most of the staff to jolt and fidget. It seems they haven’t gotten used to the Princess’ antics. “Lead them to my chambers, Seymour. It seems Gideon Carter is worthy of a moment of my time.”

Her hold vanishes as suddenly as it appeared. The sweet strawberry scent dissipates, leaving me breathing in long pulls of the natural flora and the salty sea. Step one is done. We’ve arrived on the island and might even make it to see dinner tonight. Mr. Raeleigh would be pleased. Not impressed, but pleased. 

Our guide waves us forward, his own mischievous grin making his dark eyes shine. “Welcome to Honolulu, Monsieur Carter.”

Staff members take our bags, leaving us with glasses of bubbling champagne to hold while we wait to be escorted into the Princess’ chambers. “Bet you wish you’d worn a shirt now.” I murmur to my brother. 

His eyes are wide. Still on alert, still unable to comprehend all of what just happened. I knew this wasn’t the right mission for him. Raeleigh insisted. He’s convinced that he won’t be around to see the new world and wants me to invest in my own people. Seth is good. He’ll learn and adapt and stay by my side. 

I have to believe that or the guilt of walking him into a viper’s nest is going to eat me from the inside out. 

“I didn’t work hard to get these abs not to show them off,” he whispers back, his expression void of the humor he’s trying to express. 

I understand. It’s been decades since I started learning about all of this. Conspiracies and creatures that fairytales didn’t prepare me for. It’s a lot. 

“You didn’t work for those abs at all. The virus did all of the work.” I tease, trying to get him to loosen up before we head back into danger. 

He shakes his head. “You’re just jealous.”

That’s a little better. I bump my shoulder into his. The doors ahead of us start to open. Time for talking is over. 

We’re going to get through this. We’re going to walk back out of here. Seth is going to be okay. 

I repeat the sentences over and over in my head. I’ve done enough damage to my family. I won’t let Seth get hurt for me. We’re going to be okay. 

We have to be okay. The entire fate of the world relies on my plans for vampire rehabilitation. Without it, the next world war is coming and humans won’t stand a chance. 

Seth walks by my side as we follow the pink carpet leading to a gold throne. Erisa Nabil is lounging, her legs hooked around one armrest while she rests her cheek in her palm and balances all of her slender weight on that dainty elbow pressed into the other armrest. Dark makeup frames her eyes, daring any man to meet her gaze and fall captive to her beauty. Multiple gold earrings line the edges of her ears and dangle from her lobes. Rings adorn her thin fingers. A slit in her pink robe shows off a knife strapped to her upper thigh. Her entire pose is a delicate combination of beauty and danger.

Touch me, she seems to tempt, all too ready to sever the hand of any man that does. 

I keep my hold loose on my champagne, my other hand resting by my side. “You’re far more interesting than any written piece could capture, Princess Nabil.”

“And you’re only here because you’re charming, Gideon Carter,” she spits out the syllables of my name like they’re sharpened seeds from a spoiled fruit. “What is it you want from me?”

“Help,” I state plainly. “The world is changing. Your people are not the only enhanced individuals anymore and I want assistance in carving out space for those that are being changed today. Money can be found anywhere, Princess. What I’m looking for is an open mind and your word to help those that will need it.”

“My word?” She lets out another harsh laugh. “You traveled land and sea to get my word?”

I let myself shrug. “I’m a very thorough business partner.”

One sharpened canine curls around her bottom lip as she thinks over what I’ve said. “Why come to me and not my parents? It would have been far easier to see them in Egypt, would it not?”

“You, Princess, are the future. Not them. I will gladly accept help from anyone who is willing, but my plan rests in the hands of those who will take over this world, not those still grasping at a single continent.”

She clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth and unwraps her form from the throne, standing at her full height in front of me as she looks me over. “Is it brave or stupid to comment on my parents, Gideon Carter?”

I’m ready for this question. Back straight, shoulders even, I don’t let my eyes drift from her powerful gaze. “Is it bravery that keeps you from creating an heir, Princess?”

Irritation falls over her features like a veil being brought down over the face of a woman undevoted to the man demanding her hand. “Charm is easily proven as arrogance, Carter. Watch your next words carefully or you’ll watch me remove your tongue.”

Seth stiffens. If I do something wrong, he’ll jump in front of me. He’s a good brother. He’s a stupid man, though. 

Here’s to hoping my research pays off. 

“I believe you should be allowed to live in a world that sees you with love at your side, Princess. You are worthy of power without a child to secure your hold on a throne. To be yourself is terrifying and rewarding.” I take a slow breath, watching my words sink into her stern expression, smoothing out the tension in her forehead and making her nostrils flare. “You, Erisa Nabil, are the kind of person that will be good for the new world.”

Silence rings through the room. I can just barely hear the soft curls of the ocean. This is it. I’ll have to be faster than Seth if she decides to strike. 

Princess Nabil drops her gaze from me to look over at the man who led us into this pink palace. “How could he possibly know?”

Relief floods my system. I let myself take a small sip of the champagne, smiling at the smooth burn of alcohol at the back of my throat. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will our world be. This is only the beginning.

Two Frenchmen and a queer princess. 

Who knows what will come next?

Author’s Note

I’m having a lot of fun twisting these prompts to fit my wide cast. Erisa Nabil will eventually be a very close associate of Lucy Lore from my first blog post. Thanks again to everyone who stops by to read these personal fan fictions of my future novels.

Also be sure to read Bridgette and Anna’s take on this vacation prompt: