“Henry, run and fetch Sara. Tell her Cloe’s ‘bout to bring her baby. Henry! Boy, wake up, now!”

Even though Henry was awakened from a dead sleep, the urgency in his mother’s voice got him moving. He rolled off his straw pallet, tugged on his trousers, and rubbing sleep from his eyes, dashed out of the cabin into the frosty winter night, hurrying to the big house.

He was as much excited about being sent to run as he was about a new baby coming. Running was freedom. Running with a purpose filled him with an exhilarating joy. So he ran as fast as he could, his eight year-old legs pumping, his bare feet barely touching the hard-packed earth.

There were twenty-five slave cabins on Johnson’s plantation, laid out in two parallel rows of ten cabins, and another group of five cabins nearer the big house. Those five cabins housed the skilled workers—blacksmiths, seamstresses, carpenters and the like—and their families.

Running like the wind, Henry intended to cut a sharp right at the end of his row of cabins, cut left when he passed the parallel row of cabins, and then dash past the skilled worker’s cabins to the back porch of the big house.

He was thinking ahead as he ran, and hoping that old Miss Sara—the plantation cook and midwife—would answer his knock on the back door, rather than mean Peg.

Peg was Miss Sara’s helper, and would one day take Miss Sara’s place as the Johnson family cook. Henry hoped that that day was a very long way off, because Peg was a mean girl. When no one was looking she liked to pinch him or tug at his ears so hard that his eyes watered. He couldn’t imagine what Peg might do to him when Miss Sara died or was sold away and she had the full power of a house slave rather than being just a cook’s helper.

Miss Sara and Peg slept in the pantry off the kitchen in the big house. Henry hoped that Miss Sara was a light sleeper and that Peg slept like the dead. He didn’t want to have to get past Peg’s pinches to give Miss Sara his mother’s message.

As Henry reached the last cabin in his row he decided to challenge himself. He would try to turn the corner without slowing down. His mother would be proud of how quickly he delivered the message to Miss Sara and brought her back to help bring Cloe’s baby.

He took the corner on one foot, hopping to maintain his balance and leaning so low to one side that he almost had to put a hand to the ground to keep himself upright. He rounded the corner and almost ran into her.

Surprised, Henry went back on his heels. He skidded to a stop an arm’s length away from a girl standing in the night shadows at the side of the last cabin. Gasping, he gaped at her.

The girl looked to be just a little older than him, though not as old as Peg. He didn’t recognize her as one of the children from Marse Johnson’s plantation. In fact, she didn’t look like any person he’d ever seen.

Even though her walnut shell-hued face was streaked with dirt, Henry saw that she was quite pretty. Her hair fell past her shoulders in a tangled cluster of thick dark curls. Clods of dirt stuck in her hair. Her dress was dirty, too—not simply soiled from wear—but as if she’d been rolling in mud that had dried on the cloth.

Looking at the girl, a feeling of wrongness prickled Henry’s instinct. And then he remembered. He knew who she was. His surprise brightened to fear.

He couldn’t run. As weightless as his feet had been moments before as he’d dashed among the cabins, now they felt rooted to the ground. And his feet were wet because his sudden fright had made him let go of his water.

He’d never seen the girl before, but he had heard the grown folks talk about her, usually in hushed whispers at night when they thought all the children were asleep. They whispered that she’d been seen by slaves on the Johnson plantation for generations.

They said that she only came around at night.

They said you’d best not find yourself alone when she was walking the night.

The girl from the woods.

“What is your name?” the girl asked.

Henry wanted to scream for his mama. But he thought that if he did the girl would stop smiling and kill him for sure. “Henry,” he squeaked.

“Well, hello Henry.”

Hoping without hope that the girl would let him be and let him go on his way he muttered, “My mama said I got to fetch Miss Sara, ‘cause Cloe’s baby ‘bout to come.”

The girl said, “Then you had best hurry along, don’t you think?”

Before Henry could move or even think to reply she was at his side. She gripped his wrist with one hand and wrapped her free arm around his waist. Henry opened his mouth to scream, but a sudden hard rush of wind kept his cry trapped in his open mouth.

He was moving fast, like falling in a dream. Out of the corners of his wind-blurred eyes the cabins flashed by, and then a blur of dark trees on either side of the path leading to the big house. Henry caught a whiff of the stink of the hog pen and then the smell was behind him, and he was across the rear yard and standing on the back porch of the big house. The scream he’d intended a moment before back at the cabins escaped on the porch as a whimpering gasp.

Facing the back door of the house he heard the porch creak behind him. He spun around, but the girl was gone.

NIGHTWALKERS BOOK ONE: NIGHT CHILD

NIGHTWALKERS BOOK TWO: NIGHT LOVERS

COMING SOON:

NIGHTWALKERS BOOK THREE: THE VAMPIRE LINARES

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Posted: July 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Isle of Iona, Scotland

986 A.D.

The Vikings attacked just after sunrise.

Their savage battle cries and the thump of axes biting into the protective wood of her sleeping chamber yanked Linares awake and upright in her bed.

Then came the terrible brilliance of morning light, spearing through the axe-shattered shutters of the castle’s tower room and the splintered wood of her chamber. For the first time in thirteen hundred years her flesh knew the sun.

Terrified, Linares was going to scream, but the coppery scent of fresh-spilt blood filled her senses. She knew that blood. For five generations she had tasted it, had used its essence to replenish herself. The blood belonged to the O’Brolchain clan and their servants: men, women and children; babies. The blood belonged to people she loved and who loved her—nobleman and servant; man, woman and child—nearly two dozen souls. The blood belonged to the dead and dying.

Her consorts.

Her people.

Linares’ raw sorrow and burning lust for vengeance obliterated her fear of sunlight and her instinct for self-preservation. As the Vikings ripped apart her sleeping chamber and charged her bed she grabbed her blade and sprang to meet them.

She wanted death.

She needed to kill.

The tower room was crowded with warriors who had come to take Linares’ life, but it didn’t matter. With her blade and her teeth and her fists she fell upon the Nordic warriors, slashing, pummeling, biting, ripping, until the first wave of raiders were all dead, until where the castle’s stone floor was not covered by a Viking corpse the blood stood ankle-deep.

But the conflict was not done. Battle cries, clinking armor and boots thumping on the tower stairs told Linares that more were coming—the ones who had killed those she loved.

From the upper landing Linares saw the next wave of barbarians—more than a dozen—charging up the stairs. With her rage and her bloodlust still running hot she leapt from the landing as if diving from a cliff into a river of muscle, steel and leather.

Linares fought her way down, killing as she went, delivering death until the Vikings realized she would not be as easy to kill as the others; that the danger had turned their way; that somehow they were now the victims of slaughter at the hands of a single madwoman. They fell back from her assault, first within the castle, then onto the grounds, and finally fleeing back toward the sea and their longships.

Blinded by her fury, Linares did not consider the sun as she battled and drove the Vikings out of the castle and into daylight. Wild with her craving for vengeance through death she pursued them and cut them down whether they fought her or fled, slicing sinew with her blade, shattering bone with her fists, ripping flesh with her fangs until stone, grass and sand were painted with the blood of nearly one hundred warriors.

Finally she made the beach, where two warships were anchored, awaiting crews that would never return. There Linares found one Viking remaining to face her.

The giant of a man stood with his back to the sea. His powerful veined fists clutched the haft of his battle axe, ready for combat. Waiting for her. The markings on his armor informed Linares that he was their leader.

Stronger than the fragrance of the sea, stronger than the scent of fresh-spilled blood came a stench that clotted the air and made Linares gag.

Abdiel taught her that when she matured she would be able to recognize evil, even when it hid itself within a human host. She would sense its presence. She would know its foul odor—the reek of wickedness. The final proof was this Viking’s hate-filled eyes. His eyes gleamed in their sockets like rubies. The warrior’s soul was imprisoned by evil.

She faced a demon.

COMING SOON

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NIGHTWALKERS
BOOK ONE: NIGHT CHILD

KINDLE     NOOK

Nightwalkers 1 Cover-250

NIGHTWALKERS
BOOK TWO: NIGHT LOVERS

KINDLE     NOOK

Nightwalkers 2 Cover-250

I was tagged by on Facebook by author Michele Kimbrough to share seven of my writing secrets. I don’t know how secret these are, but it’s what I do:

top-secret-1

1. I have three or four unwritten stories playing in my head all the time.

2. Because I started out posting stories online, I have around 20 first draft novels waiting for fine tuning and publishing.

3. I don’t work from a written outline. I almost always lay my stories out mentally in totality before I type the first word.

4. However, I do use what I call my “Notes Page.” This is a document separate from my manuscript on which I jot down ideas for my story in progress, to include background information on characters, character dialogue and links to reference web sites. Some of my Notes Pages have ended up being as long as my manuscript.

5. I edit as I go. Most “experts” think this is wrong. But it works for best-selling author Dean Koontz, so hey…

6. I have a repository of probably thousands of images saved to use for book promos and covers.

7. I create my own book covers. I know enough about Photoshop to be a danger to myself.

Okay, so now my secrets are out. 😉

FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT VAMPIRES

Nightwalkers Book One: Night Child and Nightwalkers Book Two: Night Lovers are available now. Nightwalkers Book Three: The Vampire Linares is coming soon!

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Nightwalkers Book One: Night Child

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Nightwalkers Book Two: Night Lovers

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