October 15th, 2012Blog Tour/Book Excerpt: Dead Faint – Lizzie T. Leaf
One impulsive decision and here she was, scared enough to wet her pants.
This go-for-it take on life got Billie Joyce Nolan in trouble as far back as she could remember. “Dumb, girl. You’re just plain dumb, taking what you thought was a short cut down a dark little street in a strange city. Especially a big place like New York City.”
Billie Joyce hoped talking to herself out loud would help with the apprehension tickling the hairs on the back of her neck.
“What made you think this would get you to the hotel faster in the first place? Granny was right when she said you don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain.” She quickened her pace. “Now, you know that ain’t footsteps you hear. Just your imagination playing tricks on you.” A shudder ran down her body, and once again, she regretted leaving the safety of the small mountain town where she’d lived all her life. The only thing she had to worry about when walking alone there at night was running into some four-legged critter. Instead, something else was stalking her now, and it was two-legged.
Most of her life she’d dreamed of coming to New York, and now she was scared spitless. Sometimes it was best if dreams didn’t come true. Earlier, when she’d come out of the fancy department store, night had arrived and she had to make her way back to the little hotel. The map she carried was hard to read under the street lights, so relying on her sense of direction — which was dead on back home — she’d taken a turn through a dark passageway. She was sure it would connect with the street she needed to find in order to get to back to the safety of her rented room.
“Ouch.” She stopped to flex her right ankle. Heaven only knew what she’d stepped on in this littered little street. She paused to listen, and her heart leapt into her throat at the sound behind her. Footsteps. Her imagination wasn’t playing tricks. Probably somebody else as dumb as her for taking this stupid shortcut, but she wasn’t about to wait around to find out. Hobbling along, she was swallowed up by darkness. No sirree. If she got out of this mess, she was hopping on the first bus home. Yes,
she’d sold Daddy’s little house in town to get the money to check out city life, and true enough, she’d quit her job at Kmart a year ago to stay home and take care of Daddy during his last few months of battling cancer. But she still had Granny’s little farm with its cozy cabin. She could make do living there and maybe putting in an herb garden or a small vegetable patch to bring in a few dollars. No matter how many lights or how much excitement the city had, she’d figured out in a few hours that Billie Joyce Nolan was a small town girl at heart. She was plain country folk and a fish-out-of-water in this strange world.
“Hey, baby. What’s your hurry?”
The footsteps were close enough that their owner seemed right behind her when he called out, and she didn’t like the sounds of it one bit. Dang. Her sore ankle made walking fast difficult.
“I said, what’s your hurry?”
She gasped when someone grabbed her left arm and whirled her around. Billie Joyce came face-to-face with a grinning young man, and the glint in his dark eyes spelled trouble. “Yeah, baby. Why didn’t you wait up?” Another male, younger than the one who held onto her arm, came up on her other side. “We just want to party. Don’t you want to party?”
Hell’s bells. These two were boys. She doubted they were out of their teens, and she was old enough to be their mother. Their idea of partying was probably a lot different than hers. Somehow, she didn’t think sitting out on the front porch after the sunset, picking, singing, and exchanging stories was the kind of party they had in mind.
The taller one reached out and traced his fingers along the side of her cheek as the stockier of the two moved around behind her and pressed against her back. She held her breath to block the stench. From the smell, neither of them had taken a bath in a while. The man dropped his hand from her cheek and cupped her breast. Oh dear God. They’re going to rape me. A short marriage in her late teens might have taken away her virginity, but to have her body violated by these two lowlifes didn’t sit well.
“Leave me alone.” She jerked her face away from the one stroking her cheek.
“Oh, baby. We know you don’t mean that.”
The man behind her slid his hands down to her thighs and started inching her skirt up. The fear that had settled in the back of her throat bubbled up and out.
“Help! Help — anybody!” The plea for help turned into a loud, shrieking scream.
“Shut up, bitch. We just want to have a little fun.”
She continued her loud, shrill screams. Billie Joyce couldn’t shut up, nor did she want to. She jerked up her right knee and planted a blow to the family jewels of the one standing in front of her.
“Son-of-a-bitch.” He backed off for a second then lunged at her. Something hard and sharp slipped into her stomach. It took a second to register she’d been stabbed.
“Fuck! You killed her, man! Stupid bastard! What’d you do that for?” The companion of the man who struck the knife blow sounded scared. “Let’s get the fuck outta here! The way’s she’s been screaming every cop in New York’s going to show up!”
Billie Joyce heard the pounding footsteps as the two took off and she slipped down onto the concrete. Her eyes fluttered twice before they shut. She felt the life flowing out of her, and a white light appeared in the distance, slowly moving toward her. No. She didn’t want to die. Not now. Yes, she missed Granny and the rest of the family, but not to the point she was ready to join them right now. She forced her eyes open, and a face appeared between her and the white light. An angel. She had to be an angel. Billie Joyce always thought angels had long, blonde hair and blue eyes like the pictures above the pulpit at the little community church back home, but this one had short, white hair, and for some reason she knew the eyes didn’t match the image she’d carried in her mind since childhood.
“Please. Please, help me. I don’t want to die. I’ve only learning how to live.”
The face came closer, and Billie Joyce smiled, secure in the knowledge she had a guardian angel who would delay her meeting the rest of the family in the afterlife.
Wind whipped passed Dovey Divine-Lowell’s ears as she huddled on the roof ’s edge of the old Victorian brownstone. The sleeping guests inside the restored bed-and-breakfast wouldn’t slumber so peacefully if they knew who lurked a few feet away. That thought perked her up for a moment, but only briefly, and then she returned to her moody pondering. She’d been in a funk the past few days and didn’t understand why. Life as a vampire was the norm after almost a year. Was that the problem? Next week marked the first anniversary of her becoming one of the undead. Did one celebrate their creation date like they did a birthday? If so, she needed to get her ass in gear and get a party planned. Maybe she should ask Daniel, but somehow she didn’t see the stuffy old vampire celebrating such an event. From what she’d observed over the past year, “celebrate” wasn’t in the somber male’s vocabulary. Or did the fact that her husband had taken off on yet another business trip contribute to the foul mood that possessed her? For cripes sake, you’d think a man as horny as Aaron Lowell would stay home with his just as horny wife for more than a few days at a time. He didn’t have to work after all. The man was a millionaire several times over. If he needed a challenge, like he said, then let his challenge be keeping her satisfied. Nope, that’s not it either. I’m a big girl and can survive on my own when he’s gone. After all, I have a club business to run, and that keeps me occupied when he’s in or out of town. It’s not Aaron’s being gone that makes me feel this way. The thing that’s got me feeling so down is my feeding. I counted on the urge for fresh blood to grow less with time, not more. Over the past week, my hunger is almost out of control. It’s only been an hour and I’m ready to search out another supply. Screw the bottled crap at home in the fridge.
The traffic on the street below came to a standstill, and irritated drivers honked their frustration. Over the noise of blaring horns, Dovey’s sharp ears picked up another sound. She listened intently for a moment. A woman was screaming, probably a couple of blocks over to her left. Dovey leapt through the air toward the sound. Landing on her feet at the end of a dark alley, she detected two people running and also whimpers from a body lying a few yards away. In the blink of an eye, she knelt beside a female clutching her stomach with her hands. The poor woman was attempting to stop the blood gushing from her stab wound.
“No, no. I don’t want to die just when I’m learning to live.”
The words were barely a whisper, and Dovey could understand the woman’s concern. Her life force ebbed away with each gush of blood. The strong metallic odor was driving her crazy with the need to feed. I need to get a grip and stop thinking about my hunger. This woman needs me to think clearly…and quickly. Okay, if I get her to an emergency room, she’ll be gone before they figure out how badly she’s hurt. There is no way I can stick around to instruct them on how quickly they need to act or play fifty questions with a stupid medical staff, especially after they call the cops. Besides, she probably won’t survive long enough for me to even get her there anyway.
“What to do? What to do? Aaron where the hell are you when I need you?” Resentment flared again at her husband’s absence.
“Please, I don’t want to die.” The words were now barely audible, even to vampire ears. The woman
seemed to either be saying them to herself or praying to God — Dovey wasn’t sure which. The only sure thing she knew was the thready pulse and fading aura indicated this pour soul had only a few minutes, if that long, left on this plane. Oh, what the hell? Dovey extended her fangs and bit into her own flesh, grateful she had recently fed. Blood flowed from her right wrist, and she allowed the thick red liquid to drop onto the dying woman’s lips. When it generated no response from the woman, Dovey placed the fingers of her left hand on either side of her new friend’s mouth and forced her lips into a pout that created a small opening. More of the precious liquid dripped into the open mouth, and a pink
tongue tiredly licked at the life-giving fluid.
Brushing aside the cross that lay on the woman’s neck, the vampire leaned down and bit into the soft flesh along the side of the barely breathing victim’s neck. At the same time, Dovey wedged her bleeding wrist against the open lips, allowing for a blood exchange. The woman’s blood slowed, and Dovey forced herself to stop. She sat back on her heels and studied the still face on the ground. Maybe in her late thirties, the woman had a steak of white in the front of dark hair that swooped along the side of a heart-shaped face. The porcelain skin had an iridescent quality to it, which probably resulted from the loss of blood.
“Crap. What now?” Unsure if she’d taken enough or too much, Dovey sat back on her heels and thought. She had no freaking idea how this conversion thing worked. This was her first attempt at making a changeling. Aaron was too far away for a mind-call, but Daniel only lived a few blocks from here. Maybe he could pick up her cry for help. Daniel. Daniel, I need you. Dovey focused harder and sent out another plea. Daniel, can you hear me?
“I hear you loud and clear.” Startled, Dovey whirled around. Daniel stood behind her. If she hadn’t been so intent on mind-speak she would have smelled him. He reeked of the cologne she had asked him to wear so he couldn’t sneak up on her. The strong sweet scent caused her stomach to roll over in protest. She shoved the need for a conversation about his over-kill on the scent to the back of her mind. It seemed men on any plane just couldn’t get things right when it came to wearing cologne and needed a female to guide them.
“What’s up, Dovey?” Daniel moved around her and stared down at the body lying in the dirty alley.
“I think I just made my first changeling.”
Dovey didn’t appreciate the edge in his voice. The last thing she needed or wanted right now was to have to deal with a PMM. It’s bad enough when my husband has one of his pissy male moments, but why do the other men in my life feel the need to bless me with theirs too? Especially this one. She counted to ten slowly to keep from ripping off his lips or something equally as satisfying before she spoke.
“Hey, don’t get an attitude with me. The poor woman was dying and begging not to. What else was I to do, since there wasn’t enough time to call 9-1-1 or get her to a hospital?” Daniel’s dark eyes bored into her. Damn, here we go again. Another lecture coming my way. The man had become a father figure to her over the past year, but there were times…
“So, you decided to play God.”
“I didn’t play God. I tried to help someone who pleaded for me to do just that.” She’d just be damned if she’d let him know how unsure she’d been on who the woman had pleaded for help from.
“All I want is to know how all of this works. My experience is limited in this area.” She glared at him. Sometimes males could be such asses. Shaking his head, Daniel knelt down beside the motionless female.
“She’ll probably be under for a few days while the conversion takes place. We’ll need to keep her in a quiet place.”
“Any thoughts on that? You know what my living arrangements are like. The apartment above the club is fine for Aaron and me, but we don’t have a spare room or, for that matter, a quiet one when the club is open for business.” Somehow, she didn’t think the blast of music from below would give the quiet that Daniel said the woman needed while she went through whatever process one went through in order to wake up dead. Daniel looked up from his squatting position beside the body.
“It’s a good thing I’m so fond of your husband or I’d tell you to figure this mess out for yourself.”
“Ah, come on, Daniel, you know you love me too.” Dovey gave him her best helpless grin and batted her eyelashes. The corner of his mouth twitched, and she knew she’d won him over.
“Yeah right.” Daniel looked at the woman again. “I have to be out of my mind to say this, but I have a room that will serve the purpose. She’ll be hungry when she wakes up, as you know from your own experience, and someone will need to be there to explain her new life. That part I’m going to leave to you. I’ll call you when it starts to happen, and you’d better get your ass over as soon as I do. In the meantime you need to come over and help me clean her up.”
“Yes, sir, Oh Wise One.” Dovey gave him a peck on the cheek. “You know I always do what you tell me to do.”
“We both know how that’s not the case.” Daniel picked up the woman and left.
Dovey sighed in relief, happy he’d taken over the situation. Glancing down, Dovey saw the damage to her new shoes.“Crap. I just ruined a new pair of Jimmy Choos with all the garbage and blood in this alley.” She thought about trying to clean them, but decided the heels were too far gone. “I need to wear sneakers to hunt in the future.
Oh well, these heels seem a little tight anyway. Some idiot at the factory must have mislabeled them.” She shrugged and took one last look around. A tote bag that probably belonged to her new creation lay in the shadows, and she picked it up. The poor woman might have her favorite shoes or outfit in there, and Dovey knew what it was like to miss those essential things. She tossed the bag over her shoulder.
God, I am hungry.
Daniel had things under control, and the cleanup he said was needed could wait a few minutes longer. Surely Daniel wouldn’t miss her if she stopped for
a quick snack.