I have been busy the last few months trying to balance my work with Naked Reader Press and my writing and family and, well, life. All too often, the writing has had to take a backseat to it all. However, that’s changing, mainly because I have deadlines of my own looming large and I have to put butt in chair and get serious about writing again.
So, what’s coming up? First, my very first short story ever accepted, Bump in the Night, is now available for purchase from NRP and will soon be available from Amazon, B&N and other e-tailers. Bump first came out in 2008 as part of the anthology Better Off Undead.
Next up is Nocturnal Serenade, the sequel to Nocturnal Origins. I’ve snippeted Serenade before, but in case you’ve missed it, I’ll add short snippet below. This series is close to my heart. It’s one of those where the characters are almost a part of me. Other writers will understand what I mean. These books aren’t ones that I have to struggle to write. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have to fight to keep from writing only in this “universe”. There is at least one more book in the series after Serenade. Of course, that also depends on how well the series continues to sell.
There are also a couple of other projects on the fire, with deadlines also coming up. I’ll let you know more about them in the near future. In the meantime, Nocturnal Origins is available in both print and digital versions. You can find it through the Naked Reader Press storefront or through Amazon, B&N, etc. The great thing about NRP is that there is no DRM added to their e-books.
So, without further ado, here’s a brief snippet from Nocturnal Serenade, coming out in November from Naked Reader Press.
* * * *
Elizabeth Santos Wheeler dropped her head into her hands and closed her eyes, fighting back a sob as she did. This was all just a bad dream and she would soon awaken. It had to be. No other explanation, reasonable or not, made sense. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was real? Then what was she supposed to do?
Damn it, why was this happening? It had nothing to do with her, not really. So why was she the one forced to deal with it?
Because you’re the one with the most money as well as with the most to lose. That’s why.
Resentment warred with fear, anger with the maternal instinct to protect. For the first time in so very long, she didn’t know what to do. It was as though her worst fears had suddenly sprung to life and she simply didn’t know how to react, didn’t know if there was anything she could do to protect herself and those she loved.
She shoved back from her desk and climbed to her feet. As she did, she glanced outside. Beyond the window, darkness swathed the yard. Only the light cast from her window and the pale lights surrounding the swimming pool broke the darkness. The leaves of the ornamental fruit trees on the opposite side of the pool rustled gently in the light breeze. The oak trees shielding the yard from the golf course formed a dark curtain against the night sky. In the distance, a neighbor’s dog barked one, twice, as if calling for someone or something to answer. Everything looked so normal. Yet it wasn’t and it might never be again.
Her lips pressed together in a thin, angry line. She moved from behind her antique Georgian desk and began to pace. Her steps were muffled, almost silenced, by the thick carpet. She no longer heard the soft strains of the music she’d put on earlier in the evening when she’d come upstairs to work. Instead, the sounds of her teeth grinding and her heart pounding filled her ears. She didn’t have time for this. She should be focusing on the Allingham case, not this – this stuff of nightmares.
As she turned back, her sea green eyes fell on the photos scattered across the top of her desk. No one else looking at them would be this upset. They would know with a certainty that the pictures had been faked. After all, the images showed the unbelievable, the unreal.
But she knew better. No matter how badly she wanted to dismiss the photos as a simple prank, she couldn’t. She knew the images captured by some unknown photographer could be all too real, no matter how unbelievable they were. After all, she’d lived with this particular nightmare all her life, waiting, fearing for the moment it would manifest itself in either her or one of her children. Now it had and she didn’t know what to do.
Her fingers trembled as she reached for the nearest photo. Her chest felt as though an iron band had tightened around it, making it almost impossible to breathe. Instantly she was transported back to that terrible moment she she’d first seen the picture. Despite the fading light caught by the image, she’d immediately recognized the subject of the photo. In that moment, she’d died just a little. Even as her brain tried to close down, to deny what her eyes saw, she knew the truth and she damned herself for it.
Sharp pain and the bitter taste of blood brought her thoughts back to the present. Absently, she dabbed at the lower lips she’d been gnawing without realizing it. But her eyes remained glued to the photograph she held in her right hand and a soft moan escaped her lips.
Why? Dear Lord, why?
A young woman knelt on the ground, her head thrown back, her expression filled with agony as her hands ripped at her tee shirt. Her green eyes, just a shade darker than Elizabeth’s, reflected terror at what was happening to her. Even then, the change was obvious, if you knew what to look for – and, much to her regret, Elizabeth did.
The young woman’s hands were altering, her fingernails lengthening even as the features of her face blurred. Muscles rippled and bunched as her body was reshaped. Hair seemed to sprout from every pore, short hair that was more fur than hair. All of this was documented in the other photos strewn across the desktop.
A soft sob caught in Elizabeth’s throat as the photo fluttered down to the floor. No, the image was all too real and her nightmare had finally come to life. What was she going to do?
Not even the note included with the photos helped her decide what her next step should be. A single sheet of ordinary white paper with just a few lines printed on it mocked her, revealing nothing about the unknown sender or what he wanted from her.
I thought you might want to see what your eldest daughter is up to these days. Being a parent is such a trial at times, isn’t it? I wonder if your other children will show the same bad habits as their sister. But don’t worry. I’ll be in touch soon to discuss what needs to be done.
That was all.
Mackenzie, what happened?
Unable to stand it any longer, Elizabeth abruptly turned on her heel and started out of the room. Then reality once more intruded and she hurried back to her desk. She couldn’t leave the photos where they might be found.
Without really thinking about what she was doing, she scooped up the photo she’d dropped and then those scattered across the desk top and shoved them back into the envelop they’d arrived in. Once she had, she locked them in the top drawer of her desk and pocketed the key. At least they were safely hidden from view, for a while at least. But how long would it be before the photographer made them public?
And what would she do when that happened?
Her left hand slammed against the light switch on the wall by the door as she passed, throwing the room into darkness. She had to do something, anything to find out who had sent the photos. The envelope had been delivered to her office. Hopefully, the receptionist had made an entry as to who brought in the innocent looking brown envelope. She’d check the log and then decide what her next move should be.
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