by Margo Bond Collins
A reluctant vampire hunter, stalking New York City as only a scorned bride can.
Elle Dupree has her life all figured out: first a wedding, then her Ph.D., then swank faculty parties where she’ll serve wine and cheese and introduce people to her husband the lawyer.But those plans disintegrate when she walks in on a vampire sucking the blood from her fiancé, Greg. Horrified, she screams and runs—not away from the vampire, but toward it, brandishing a wooden letter opener.As she slams the improvised stake into the vampire’s heart, a team of black-clad men bursts into the apartment. Turning to face them, Elle realizes Greg’s body is gone—and her perfect life falls apart.
Book Excerpt 1We walked all the way to the end of the hall and Deirdre pulled a key out from between her breasts. She caught my look and said, “I don’t want it to be too easy to get to, pet.” Then she turned the key in the lock and opened the door on one of the most horrible scenes I could ever have imagined.
Malcolm’s completely naked body hung from chains against the back wall. His knees sagged so that his arms, stretched to their utmost, took most of his weight. His head drooped to one side. His eyes were closed; he didn’t try to see who had entered the room. I wasn’t sure he was even conscious.
The bed in the middle of the room was a tangle of sheets and blankets, all smeared with old bloodstains. The carpet under Malcolm’s body was also darkened with blood.
Worst of all were the wounds. His entire body was covered in bite marks. Big purple bruises spread out from the worst of them, painful looking quarter-inch puncture wounds, white and ragged around the edges. Several wounds ringed his nipples, another one punctured either side of his bellybutton. There was one particularly livid mark on his neck and what looked like the edges of another one on his inner thigh, though I couldn’t see it well enough to tell how bad it actually was. His wrists had been rubbed raw by the shackles holding him, and underneath the chains he was pale.
Book Excerpt 2
The ballroom was packed. More people had arrived while we were getting dressed. Women in sequined dresses and men in tuxedos sat around almost all the tables. Some of them were even eating. Couples crowded the dance floor. The band was indeed very good--they were playing a version of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to” and the lead singer, a tall woman in a slinky black dress, had a deep, smoky-sounding voice.
It would be easy to be charmed by this setting, by all the elegance that surrounded me.
Of course, all the vampires that surrounded me weren’t quite so charming. They were terrifying.
And in a room full of people, I discovered that it was easy to tell which ones were vampires and which ones weren’t. Some of the humans were easy to spot--the ones who were eating food were easy to pick out as humans, of course, and many of them had bandages or fresh wounds on various parts of their bodies. The parts where the veins ran close to the surface: the neck, the crook of the elbow, the wrist.
There were other humans there, too, though, humans who weren’t eating and who didn’t have any visible blood-donation marks. But they were clearly human, just as some of the other people moving around the room were clearly vampires. The vampires tended toward pallor, of course. And occasionally one flashed a fang here or there, particularly when they laughed--an effect that I found chilling. They were mostly extraordinarily beautiful, but then, so were the humans. Deirdre seemed to like surrounding herself with beauty.
It had something to do with the energy the vampires projected, I guess. They seemed strangely brittle, yet almost vibrating with a nervous vitality. I’ve seen a similar thing with people who were on the verge of an emotional breakdown but attempting to hide it. I’ve also seen it in people with bipolar disorder. It’s a sort of forced, manic gaiety verging on hysteria.
But that energy was combined with an indolence of movement. They swayed through the room slowly, languorously, all the while virtually quivering with some suppressed power.
All in all, it was just about the creepiest thing I’d ever seen--toward the top of the list, anyway, right after “Seeing My Beloved Eaten.”
I recognized now some of that same energy in Greg himself. It wasn’t as pronounced, but it was there all the same. Perhaps it grew with age.
That meant that I was in a room full of old--perhaps very old--vampires.
God. I was in big trouble.
About the Author:Margo Bond Collins is the author of Legally Undead, first in an urban fantasy series coming in 2014 from World Weaver Press (http://worldweaverpress.com/), Waking Up Dead, first in a paranormal mystery series from Solstice Publishing (http://www.solsticepublishing.com/), and Fairy, Texas, a YA paranormal romance series (also from Solstice). She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college English online. She loves paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.