Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sleeping on the Job

Simon's book just went off on submission! It's a bit shorter than previous works, but it sort of needed to be, I think. A lot happens though. Simon has a lot of growing up to do, and this is the book where the training wheels come off, so to speak.

In other news, I have another submission out in the ether, a high fantasy novel of epic proportions which I think everyone will enjoy. Different from my usual fare I'd say but the humor is still there and there are several darling boys for you all to fall in love with.

I'm working on How to Breathe Fire at the moment, which will be the next in the YA, Guidebook series. It's more of a prequel than a sequel, as it deals mostly with William, the dragon introduced in Vampirism and You! He has quite a backstory and it's been a blast digging into his past.

In other Night Shift news, I've started work on  The Evil Eye, which will be Jack's book, and I'm hoping to finish and submit it time for a Christmas release date. Prior to that will be The Hellfire Boys, which at this stage is turning out to be an anthology from Ian's perspective.

I'm trying to finish twelve drafts this year (one a month, I'm crazy), and I'm a bit behind so I'm racing to catch up. I moved house last month, so things were a bit more hectic than usual, not allowing for much writing time, blogging time or really, any time that wasn't spent packing and/or getting things ready to move.

I'm happy to say that I'm settled into the new place with Sophia and we're much happier. Location is everything.

In the meantime, here's a little snippet of Sleeping on the Job.



“Simon, I’m heading to work, you want a ride in?” Gabriel asked.

I’d spent the night at his apartment, which for all practical purposes was a warzone. He wasn’t exactly a neat person. We’d been doing this a lot these last couple weeks. Spending the night. Sometimes at his place, sometimes at a hotel. I couldn’t take him to my place, Fynn would find out and never let me live it down. It kind of sucked living with two other guys sometimes.

Well, two other guys and their adorable eight and a half-year-old daughter and demonic seven and quarter-year-old son. And a pixie. Fynn and Jack saved my miserable ass so I had to be appreciative, they also saved my job, which was why I was living with them—well that and Fynn was bound and determined to be the father figure I’d been lacking and keep me on the straight and narrow.

Once you’ve started taking strange purple pills from hobgoblins, it’s a clear sign you need serious help. Lucky for me, Fynn had provided. Unlucky for me, until I got my shit together, really together, I was stuck living with them.

So I spent the night at Gabriel’s.

I rubbed crud out of my eyes and blinked at my beau. “Coffee?”

He shook his head. “You are the most hung-over looking sober man I have ever seen.” He walked into the kitchen and poured me a cup while I peeled myself off of the couch. My back creaked in several places a nineteen-year-old shouldn’t be creaking.

“We are so never fucking on that fucking couch, ever again.” I stretched, cracking vertebrae back into alignment. “That is the couch the devil built. Why do you not replace it?”

“Why are you talking like that?” He emerged from the kitchen and pressed the warm mug of black coffee into my hands. “Drink. Wake up. Answer my original question.”

I took a drink of coffee, he pushed hair out of my face with a sort of lazy smile. I managed to smile back.

“Sure, I could use a ride. I think my wallet is in my office.”

“Given that I paid for dinner last night, yes, yes it is.”

“How is it I forget shit even when I don’t drink?” I shook my head. “It makes no sense.” It made some sense though. My ability sometimes overloaded my head, giving me sort of a hangover, only worse. “Did I leave any of those pills here last time?” My meds were supposed to help. I had no idea what was in them. Dr. Chan, the Night Shift’s shrink and doctor, cooked them up with Bronson, House One’s resident witch. I think they were mostly ancient herbs and things I didn’t really want to know about.

“I think so.” Gabriel headed back into the kitchen and looked through some cabinets, coming up with a small orange bottle with a prescription label on it that was totally bogus. “This it?”

“Yeah.”

He popped the top off and poured me out a pair. I opened my mouth and he rolled his eyes, but placed both pills on my tongue. I drowned them with coffee and he tucked the bottle into my front jeans pocket.

“Thanks.” I gave him a quick kiss, took another drink of the coffee and set about finding my shirt and shoes. “And what the hell is up with your music selections for sex? While I’m on the topic of things that bother me during sex. Couldn’t we, I don’t know, throw in some Tool? ACDC? Anything but Garth Brooks?”

“I like Garth Brooks.”

“Dude, you’d marry Garth Brooks if he swung the right way.” I found my shirt under the couch and put it on, relieved it was mostly clean.

“And you have an unhealthy obsession with that kick boxer.”

“Mixed martial arts expert,” I corrected. “And who wouldn’t? He’s all—fit.”

“Uh huh. Your shoes are by the door. Let’s hurry along now, I have a big meeting to get to.”

I stifled a yawn and gathered up my shoes, black and white Converse that looked out of place in the forest of black and brown dress shoes and dusty cowboy boots already next to Gabriel’s front door. “Yeah, yeah. And I have to—do something. I’m sure.”

“I bet Fynn has something for you to do.”

I shrugged. “Things have been pretty quiet recently. Mostly we’ve just been getting things more settled. The renovations at the last station wrapped up last month so I finally got my own space back—it was no fun at all sharing with Fynn—probably spend most of the day shifting papers again.”

“The exciting life of a government employee.”

“Very.” It was better than what I’d been doing before Fynn dragged me out of the fucking gutter. The days when I was still a thief, dodging my way out from under my father’s thumb.
 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Busy, Busy, Tragedy

I have been writing away these past weeks. Trying desperately to finish two different novels. Of course, this would easier were I not also on a one month deadline to find a new place to live. Our wonderful landlord sold the house I and my dear friend reside it, necessitating a move in the middle of winter.

So the house is in an uproar of packing as we attempt to squeeze in time to look at new abodes between our day jobs and our passions.

Today though, I received tragic news. My grandmother was released from hospital, and is unlikely to see the coming summer.

I wish I could fly down to see her right now, but that is simply impossible. I refuse to let the last time I saw her be the last time I ever see her. I will find a way. I have to.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sleeping on the Job : Teaser

That's right, working on the new Night Shift book. Because I'm a sadist, here's a teaser. Ever wonder exactly how Fynn corralled Simon into working for the Division? Well, here's your answer.

Sleeping on the Job Teaser


            There were flashing lights outside of the pizza place when I got back from getting a burger from a local food truck. I froze as soon as I saw the lights. My first thought was that we’d been busted at last, but then I saw the sidewalk in front of the shop—a body covered by a sheet. From the general size, and the tuft of spiky wig, it was horrifyingly easy to figure out who was under the sheet.
            “Jace…” I felt frozen in place. There was an overwhelming sensation of cold. I’d never felt like that before. The cold was quickly replaced by a more familiar sensation—my muscles seized up and I fell to the ground with a thud.
            At least there were handy paramedics nearby to rush to my aid.
            When I came to I was in the back of an ambulance that wasn’t moving.
            “Hey there,” the paramedic said. “Saw your medical alert bracelet. Do you live around here?”
            “I—I work at the pizza place.” I managed to sit up. “Is—that Jason Moore?”
            The paramedic immediately put on his “grief counselor” face. “Yes. Was he a friend?”
            “Yeah. Was he—shot? Stabbed? Do they have any suspects?”
            “I didn’t get a look at the body. The feds swooped in and cordoned everything off.”
            “Like FBI?”
            “No, Special Division.”
            “What the fuck is Special Division?”
            “That would be me.” An incredibly tall, blonde man peered into the ambulance. His eyes were pale blue and I knew I had seen him somewhere before. I wasn’t really sure where right then, but given the state of things, I don’t see how anyone could blame me.
            He gave the paramedic a very specific look, and the man skedaddled. The blonde man climbed on in and sat down. “So, you work here? What’s your name?”
            “Simon, I’m Simon. Yeah, I work at Prince’s Pizza. Why is this a federal thing? What’s going on?”
            “Your friend, Jason, he was involved in some smuggling—”
            “Bull shit. You think I’m stupid? You sure as hell must be.” I blame my outburst on being fifteen feet from my friend’s corpse and the strain of my recent fit.
            “Ah, I see.” He leaned forward. His eyes narrowed and I saw a spark of recognition. Aha. I did know him then. Maybe a one night stand? “Special Detective Fynn Adder, you must be Simon Murphy.”
            I felt a chill. “You know my name.”
            “You look a lot like your father.”
            “So I’ve been told.”
            “You have fits often?”
            “I’m narcoleptic.”
            “Is that what they told you?” He put a hand on my face and I tried not to flinch away. “You’re all sorts of screwed up aren’t you?”
            “Huh?”
            “Sit tight, kid. I’ll be back.” He ducked out of the ambulance.
            Fynn Adder… The name had a ring to it. Maybe he’d been the news or something once.
            About ten minutes later he came back. There was a smile on his face, but I didn’t trust it.
            “All right, Simon, you’re coming with me.” He held out a hand. “Come on.”
            “Why would I go with you?”
            “Because if you don’t, your father is sure to find you and I think we both know you don’t want that. Come on. I promise, I can change your life.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's a brand new year! I've nearly gotten over my dreadful cold and am no longer running about madly trying to finish a thousand things. This of course means I have time to get back to the things I love most.

Writing being among them. The Night Wars books will continue this year hopefully with the release of two books in the series (fingers crossed). I have a new series in the works and most likely a couple novellas as well. The plan is as follows:

Sleeping on the Job (Simon Murphy)
The Hellfire Boys (Ian Mulhaney)

The Evil Eye (Jack) Tentative
Tokyo Nights (Takashi) Tentative

A Curse on the Mountain - Full on fantasy novel of epic proportions.

Collecting Sins - A follow up to Faithless

How to Breathe Fire - Follow up to Necromancy and You!
Becoming Dracula! - Follow up to Vampirism and You!

And perhaps a Night Wars anthology. Going to run that one by a few folks and see how they feel about it.

So many things... You all have a wonderful new year!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Home Sweet Home Cover Reveal.

Here we are! It's the Home Sweet Home cover! It's a short story, but it was long enough for it's own cover! Which is just--awesome. The cover comes from the amazing Brandon Clay.

Blurb:



Kis returns to Columbus on the heels of a bad break-up. Unfortunately for Kis, his boyfriend isn’t ready to give him up—vampires aren’t easy to say no to. With the help of Julius, an old friend, Kis is hopeful. His ex isn’t the only one looking for him. Kis ran away from home after he came out and his Uncle Tobias is now on his trail along with his boyfriend Caspian.  But with a vampire after him, Kis couldn’t have hoped for better than Chicago’s finest vampire hunter on his side. If they can find him first.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chapter Eleven - The Final Chapter - Station House Six

            “Good morning sweetheart,” I said with a smile. Even a young vampire will wake up when there’s silver at his throat. The once dark-skinned vampire had gone chalky, that changed as a vampire aged, but he wasn’t old enough to maintain anything but a darker pallor than typical. He also stank, as I’d been warned.
            I held back a sneeze and continued my menacing smile. I say no tattoo, but he was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans, it could have been anywhere on his person with that much of him covered.
            His pupils dilated, nostrils flaring as he took in my scent. “Dhampir,” he whispered with more than a touch of fear. Oh good, it was nice to know my reputation was still solid. “What—what do you want?”
            “Jonah Swift.”
            “Who?”
            “Don’t play the innocent with me.” I pressed the blade a touch harder to his throat. “His scent is all over you under that ghastly aftershave.”
            As if that would ever be enough to mask the scent of a master vampire. I found rotting fish to be the only expedient cover up. How I made the discovery is a tale I only care to recall when incredibly inebriated and with my recent promotion, I wasn’t certain I could become sufficiently soused anymore. Such a shame.
            Jordan whimpered at the touch of silver. “If I tell you, he’ll kill me.”
            “yes, but if you tell me, I promise I will kill you instead. You know he prefers to linger. I have no such preference.”
            He did so love pain…
            “You will die either way. Do not force me to torture what I need from you.”
            I hadn’t really brought the appropriate tools for that sort of thing and we were short on time as it was. “I will tell everyone you talked either way, Jordan. I’m sure Johan will be happy enough to dispose of you on rumor.”
            “No. No. He’s…he’s holed up in the Underground. That speakeasy near the Troll Market. You know?”
            I knew. “Thank you for your cooperation, the city of Chicago is grateful.” I didn’t feel particularly bad about killing Jordan, but as promised I made it quick. Painless even. As painless as turning to dust could ever be. If I failed to stop Jonah, I saw no reason my snitch should suffer for it. Even if he was a blood sucking mosquito.
            “Well, that was productive,” Tobias said. “I’m not familiar with the area, where are we going exactly?”
            “In the thirties there was a speakeasy near the Troll Market, they called it the Green-Eyed Lady, served absinthe mostly.” I cleaned off my blade and put it away, brushing off bits of Jordan and walked away from the coffin. “It was a favorite haunt for vampires.”
            “I thought the Domino Room was the vampire’s place.” Tobias followed behind me as we left Jordan’s apartment.
            “Been reading up on your history I see.” I shrugged. “There was a vampire at the Domino Room. Strange fellow, called himself MacBeth.”
            “Seriously? Did he have another name?”
            I shrugged. “I don’t know. He wasn’t a killer so I had no reason to get to know him better. He left Chicago soon after the vampire mob was ousted.” I shrugged again. “He had a reputation for killing other vampires who got nasty. Sort of wish he was around still, make our jobs easier if there was a vampire policing with us.”
            “You think those hunters would accept a vampire in their midst?”
            A few days ago, I would have been saying no right along with them but… “I think I forgot that vampire isn’t another word for the devil.”
            Tobias blinked. “Well then. Personal growth.”
            I rolled my eyes. “Shut up. We’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re going to kill that bastard tonight.”
            He nodded. “Don’t worry, this bastard isn’t getting away this time.”
            ***
            The building that formerly housed the Green-Eyed Lady was now empty. There weren’t many people who knew about the speakeasy underneath what had been until a couple years ago a coffee shop, the most recent endeavor to have been tried in the structure. The truth was though, human establishments just didn’t do well this close to the Troll Market. There were too many odd noises, strange happenings and mischievous sprites about to let anyone stay in business for very long. It was just how things were.
            Hiding out near the Troll Market was a wise move. The fey abounded enough to mask his power signature and scent. I had to get very close to the door to catch any hint of it. No matter how powerful a vampire was, they did not last long without being clever.
            Tobias and I had split up outside the apartment. I knew he was nearby now. I could smell him. He would do what he needed to without any help from me. It wasn’t as though I had any experience in his field of expertise. So while I waited for him to join me, I made a phone call to my father.
            It was close enough to sundown that I knew he would be awake. He never did like sleeping the day away. “Caspian. Do you have news for me?”
            “We’ve found him. Preparations have been made.”
            “I will be there. Well done.”
            “Thank you, Father.” The whole family, working together. Briony would be surprised to see that. Even before Jonah Swift tore us apart there had been fighting. Aramis could be so—but I would set aside grievances to exact long overdue justice.
            Tobias joined me, knees muddy and hands covered in clap slip starting to dry and crack. “I’m ready,” he said.
            “My father is on his way.” I eyed the suns position on the horizon. “I’m not overly optimistic about all of this. I admit.”
            “Oh I don’t know. I think it’s about fifty/fifty. Decent odds at least”
            “If we win there will be much explaining to the captain—and the inspector.” I was not particularly looking forward to that.
            “Explanations I can handle. Paperwork, even. All I want after this is done is the whole story.”  He looked me in the eyes.
            “You show me yours, I’ll show you mine?” I quirked an eyebrow.
            “Sure.” He smiled. “Why not.”
            “You want to make a penalty game out of it?”
            He raised his eyebrows. “I’m sure one of us will enjoy that.”
            I shrugged. “I’m certain I will.” It was best to focus on something other than the fight ahead. Keep your mind off the fear and doubt gnawing at your stomach like rats in the cargo hold of a Spanish galleon…those were very large rats. That also somewhat explained my dislike of Spain.
            Tobias ran a finger down my cheek, leaving a streak of clay there.
            “What was that for?”
            He shrugged. “We should break out the guns.”
            “Right.” I took a deep breath. “Let’s go.”
***
            Father’s car arrived before sunset. I wasn’t surprised. I nodded at Tobias and slipped into the back seat. Aramis was not there. “Where is my dour-faced brother?”
            “Lurking in the tunnels I believe.”
            “Fantastic.” I took a breath. “Sun will be setting in five minutes. Jonah is still in there. I can feel him.” Much like the rats in my stomach, except bigger and rabid. “Has he set eyes on our man?”
            “He confirmed his presence, no eyes on him as of yet.”
            “I would have preferred to get to him before the sunset.”
            “I know.” He reached out and put a hand on my shoulder. “Brace yourself.”
            I felt it in my bones when the sun set. Daddy took a deep breath. He’d foregone his usual expensive, tailored attire for something a bit more pedestrian. I’d never seen him in jeans before. He’d paired those jeans with a long sleeved black shirt. I suppose he didn’t want to ruin anything he’d spent good money on. There was a sword on the seat next to him. I remembered that sword pretty well. He used to hit me with it. There were still some issues we had to work out.
            We got out of the car. Tobias gave me a look and skulked off to do his thing while my father and I headed for the entrance to the speakeasy.  There is a plan, I reassured myself. Having a plan gives me a chance. Usually I didn’t plan things. I was more of a take-things-as-they-come sort of person. Tobias was the planner. Perhaps that’s why we had started to get along.
            There was more to it than that, I hadn’t been alive as long as I had without knowing how to recognize the spark of something more. It had been a very long time though. It wasn’t as though I came from a family that was particularly adept at fidelity. My father had sex with three separate women in the three day period before he was full vampire, fathering three children in the process.
            Fidelity is a wobbly concept for him.
            Aramis is the same way. I don’t think he’s ever had a lasting relationship with anyone. Perhaps I should introduce him to Lilac, if only for my own entertainment.
            “Caspian, are you paying attention?”
            I looked at my father. “Yes of course.” I took a breath and quickly texted Tobias to let him know we were in position. “Age before beauty.” I pulled the gun from my side holster and checked it over quickly.  
            “Brat.” He didn’t argue though, taking point as we traversed the tunnel to the doorway. It was so easy to fall in line. I forgot what it felt like to hunt with him. It hadn’t been common practice after Aramis became full vampire because he was suddenly the favorite but it had still happened from time to time. We didn’t need to speak to know in our bones where the other would be.
            I missed this.
            He slunk through the doorway and I followed after a heartbeat later. I kept the gun pointed toward the floor. It was dark inside, not that it matter especially to anyone involved in this conflict. I had loaded my sidearm with some rounds that had come out of R&D a year or so back. They set fire on impact. There was some sort of potion involved. I didn’t ask too many questions. So long as it worked, that was all that mattered.
            Watching Jonah burn to death would be cathartic, but I would much rather tear his throat out with my teeth, cut off his manhood with a dull knife or any number of other visceral methods of dispatching the bastard.
            I heard the crunch of footsteps against gravel when the first of the foot soldiers made their move. Father made short work of them. The quality of henchmen in Chicago was not great as of late. We’d done away with most of the truly nasty fellows. If he had any lieutenants of his own, he would have brought them with him. We had seen no evidence of that and my last experience with the man left me with the impression he had no children of his blood.
            Strange. Though, if I’d been one of his I would have run off the first second I got.
            We searched the speakeasy itself thoroughly, dispatching the half dozen scouts we found before catching on to Swift’s trail. He’d headed into the tunnels, and by the smell of it, there were another half-dozen vampires with him. Aramis joined us at a Y intersection. I’m sure his emergence from the shadows was truly terrifying. I yawned.
            He gave me a look and slunk into position on my left as we moved on down the tunnel.
            “Where is your partner then?” Aramis hissed. “I can smell him all over you.”
            “That’s what happens when you fuck in a bathroom and then neglect to shower before going to battle.”  I gave him a wide-eyed stare.
            “Too much information, Caspian,” my father remarked. “And for the sake of your mother’s memory, do try to restrain your conjugal antics to areas not in the public arena.”
            “I will try.” I was not making any promises. Tobias was way too good looking to make such a promise possible to keep. Besides, who didn’t enjoy a little voyeurism now and again?
            Daddy snorted and we continued on our way. I felt Tobias’ power the further we got into the tunnels. He was doing something—but his part of our plan was of his own making. I wasn’t entirely sure what he was going to do.
            It is very hard to surprise a vampire of any age unless one is also a vampire, and older which was the only reason Jonah Swift was able to appear out of thin air like the Ghost of Christmas Past.  I fired two shots in quick succession, both missed and set the wall behind him ablaze as cobwebs caught fire in a bright flash of light. Just enough to cause a bit of temporary blindness all around.
            So, perhaps not the wisest ammunition choice for underground hunting. I filed the information away for later, holstered the firearm and retrieved a knife from the sheath at my back. I felt a cold hand grip my arm and Jonah whispered into my ear. “The whole family…how sweet. Never did get to play with that brother of yours.”
            “Stay away from him,” I hissed. I wasn’t going to let Aramis become a casualty of Swift’s cruelty. No one else in my family was going to suffer. I struck out at him and was surprised when my blade hit flesh.  
            Jonah recoiled and the knife went flying. I pulled another blade and pressed forward. I saw Aramis out of the corner of my eye wrestling with a vampire. My father was making short work of a few of his own—leaving me with Swift. He was staring at me.
            “You—are different.”
            “Well, I did have a metaphysical change recently, yes.” I leapt at him, but while I came close, I didn’t make contact this time. He hadn’t expected my speed last time, and was clearly compensating for it now. Still, I’d drawn first blood.
            “Master dhampir eh? Hasn’t been one of those in a while.” He smiled. “It’ll be a shame to kill such a rare creature.”
            He came at me, but my new speed wasn’t enough to give me an advantage. I managed to avoid a lethal blow by inches, bouncing off the brick of the tunnel wall. If he stayed close I would have a chance. If I could lock him into a wrestling match, I could kill him. Maybe. I tried to close the distance between us, but he was too fast.
            As I chased after him, I realized he was drawing me away from Aramis and Daddy. Not good. I knew they would catch up.
            “You won’t leave these tunnels, Swift.”
            “Such a passionate fellow.”
            “I won’t let you hurt anyone else.”
            “I suppose you still blame yourself for what happened to your sister then…for not raising the alarm? I would have had you either way boy.”
            “I should have stopped you then—but I will stop you now.”  I didn’t even know what sort of power I had at my disposal yet, but I wasn’t going to leave anything off the table. I reached for the power I had felt when I transitioned. It was warm.
            For all that mastery powers were different, they only came in so many flavors. Transformation, control, conjuring and mental acuity. I was pretty damn sure I wasn’t a mind reader so I was banking on something a bit more martial in origin.
            My fingertips felt itchy and then mildly painful—and then fire sprouted from my fingers. Blue, white fire. I smiled and looked up at Jonah. “Oh look, that’s new.”
            All vampires feared fire.
            This power didn’t come without a price. I could feel my skin burning under the fire. Burning and healing again. I couldn’t hold it for long. I made the fire grow taller. It was instinct that drove me to pitch the fire like a baseball. It struck Jonah and his shirt caught fire. The smell of burning flesh was partly me and now a bit of Jonah as well. He was quick to pull the shirt off and throw it off. I threw another ball of flame, striking him in the shoulder.
            I couldn’t maintain the fire any longer. I couldn’t feel the fire burn, which meant my nerves were burning faster than I could heal them. I quashed the fire and tried to ignore the grotesque look of my appendage.
            Fun new power—yeah. I’d file this one under only under extreme circumstances. My healing hand put me at some disadvantage, but at least I was healing from my burns. Jonah wasn’t so lucky. Good.
            My father had caught up with us. He glanced at Jonah and then at me. “Are you all right?”
            “Spiffy.” I continued to ignore my injury. “Where’s Aramis?”
            “On his way.”
            “Zahari, so good of you to catch up.” Jonah took a step back. “You’re looking well. It’s been too long.”
            “I’m going to rip your heart out and eat it,” Father replied. “You hurt my children.”
            “You hurt me.”
            Daddy rushed toward Jonah and I went for his flank. My instincts kicked in as Daddy got a good grip on Jonah. I bit down on a piece of exposed flesh and his blood filled my mouth. I made the mistake of swallowing.  
            And sank right into a dark terrible pit of memories.
            The memory was Jonah’s, but my father was in it. He was young. Younger than I remembered him. There were cuts all over his chest and a chain was wrapped around his throat. When was this? He was snarling, but he wasn’t a vampire. Jonah was pleased, I could feel that and it soured my stomach. The longer the memory went on the worse I felt.
            Through Jonah’s eyes I saw my father tortured. I was the torturer.
            I pulled out of the memory and spat the remaining blood out of my mouth. I looked at my father. “What the hell? I just—I saw you. Human. Being tortured.”
            My father looked me in the eyes. Aramis chose that moment to arrive on the scene.
            “A fond memory,” Jonah said. “I suppose your father never told you.” Jonah smiled viciously. “I made him and then he ran off to a whorehouse and sired you little monsters.” He looked at me. “You were a bit sturdier than your father, I must admit. I wish I could have had longer to play with you before your daddy interfered.”
            “I don’t understand. Father?”
            “Swift is my maker, Caspian. I told you over and over that what happened—that him taking you and Briony wasn’t your fault. It was mine. I failed you. I failed your sister.”
            “Such a drama queen,” Jonah said. “Always a drama queen. Though to be fair, you are right. Your children did suffer because they were yours. Because you left me. You ran away.”
            “Because you’re a sadistic asshole!” Daddy snarled.
            I don’t think I’ve ever heard my father swear like that before. I’d heard him swear in Hungarian, Bulgarian and even Spanish, but not English and not that term.
            “I’m sorry, Caspian. I’m so sorry. I tried to tell you—none of this was your fault. I am the only one to blame.”
            I’d spent hundreds of years blaming myself, and it seemed Daddy had spent all that time blaming himself. We were quite a pair. I guess we were a bit more alike than I thought.
            Jonah laughed. “Pathetic, Zahari. I’ll save you for last I think. You can watch as I kill your sons.”
            Tobias took that moment to emerge from hiding.
            “This seems like an awkward moment that should be interrupted by violence,” Tobias said. And then the thick clay he’d shifted throughout the tunnels began to move. The clay shifted up and formed into two humanoid shapes nearly too tall for the tunnels. Faster than I thought they ought to move, the golems grasped hold of Jonah. It was like a fly getting stuck in honey. The clay climbed over his arms and legs and around his throat.
            He struggled, but the clay kept him in place effectively.
            “It wasn’t your fault, Father. It was his.” I looked at Jonah. “He’s the monster.”
            Aramis growled in agreement. “Let’s kill him now.”
            “What is this?” Jonah was snarling.
            Tobias laughed. “What? You don’t like my golems? They are filled with holy power. Rather effective against your kind, eh?”
            Aramis smiled. “I think I like him, Caspian.”
            “I do.”
            My father stalked toward Jonah, blade in hand. “I’ve waited a long time to do this. Caspian, Aramis, won’t you join me?”
            I wasn’t going to say no to an offer like that. I only hoped Tobias wouldn’t judge me too harshly for tearing into Jonah’s flesh with relish. Tearing a vampire to pieces was one of the slower ways to kill them. So long as the head was on the shoulders and the heart was  beating, they’d survive most things. We took our time and it would be a lie to say I didn’t enjoy hearing him beg for us to stop.
            He didn’t stop when my sister begged. He didn’t stop when I did. He didn’t stop when my father did. Neither would we. Justice was bloodier when I was born. That still reared its head inside me from time to time.
            Especially when it involved my family.
            Father took Swift’s heart and squeezed it into pulp before consuming it. Tobias let the golems fade back into clay. My hand still hadn’t completely healed. I would need to feed. We went back out the way we’d come, taking care of a couple stragglers along the way. The man who had destroyed my sister was dead. I wanted to feel something but—all I felt right then was tired—and bloody.
            “Aramis and I are going back to the hotel,” Father said softly. “Will you come see us tomorrow night?”
            “Yes.”
            Father nodded. “Good.”
            “I—I love you. I love you both,” I managed.
            Aramis smiled and gave me a careful kiss on the cheek. “I love you little brother.”
            Father hugged me. “I love you too.”
            I watched them leave before turning to Tobias. “Thank you, for your help.”
            “You’re welcome. Now. Let’s get you back to mine. You need a shower and I think we’ll have to bandage up that hand. “
            “I need to feed.” Tobias was starting to smell delicious.
            “We’ll take care of that too. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”
            I nodded. I was too tired to argue. Tobias bundled me up into his car. I fell asleep not long into the drive. Jonah Swift is dead, Briony.  I could only hope that would somehow help alleviate her nightmares.
***
            “I have food for you,” Tobias shook my shoulder gently. “Steak.”
            I grunted and rolled over in bed. “Okay.”
            “Come on. I know you’re  spent but you have to eat. Your hand is not healing, idiot.”
            I was aware of that in a sort of distant way. I was tired, yes, but I was also sorting through the detritus of memories I’d absorbed from Swift. There was some fucked up stuff in there. I managed to get myself up into a sitting position and Tobias propped me up with extra pillows. I suppose the whole fire thing took more out of me than I thought.
            “You look like death,” he remarked, putting a tray of food in my lap. “Do I need to call someone to give you a blood transfusion?”
            “No. I’ll be well enough to go hunting soon.”
            The look on his face said pretty clearly he didn’t believe that for a second. “Eat that and we’ll talk about you wandering around hunting.”
            So I ate. I didn’t remember getting into the bed actually. I half-recalled showering but things got hazy after that. It wasn’t anything like the pain of Daddy’s bite. This was just—like I had run all day. My muscles ached and my hand—it was wrapped up tight in bandages. It throbbed now and again, forcing me to use my other hand to eat. I ate the steaks, vegetables and pie Tobias had presented me with in short order and felt somewhat better.
            But the hunger was still there. I pushed the tray away and tried to stand up, only to realize a few seconds later that wasn’t going to happen as I toppled. Tobias put me back in bed.
            “Told you.”
            “I don’t understand. It wasn’t even that much of a fight.”
            “I think your body is trying to keep you from doing anything while it heals your hand. That, and metaphysical antics take a lot out of someone who isn’t experienced. All that fire came from inside you.”
            “Ah.”
            “Ah. Now, you need blood. I don’t suppose there’s a service I can call?”
            “Blood-whores don’t really work this area anymore. With no proper master vampire in residence there’s been no safety net for them.”
            He sighed. “Can you drink from me?”
            “Before I became a master, no.” I could smell his blood ever since I had, tempting me.
He held out his arm a bit stiffly. “Take some then, to hold you over.”
“Are you sure you want to do to that?”
He looked me in the eyes. “I trust you.”
“Thank you.” I went carefully, licking the thin layer of soft skin of his wrist to numb it first before biting down. It had been ages since I had been offered blood so willingly, I didn’t want the experience to be a bad one for either of us.
I listened carefully to his heart as I drank. Even as a master dhampir I did not need as much blood as a typical vampire, but these past days had been very stressful—and painful. I needed a vacation. When I broke away, I noticed my hand was feeling better by the moment, and I then I smelled arousal. Not an uncommon reaction to feeding. I flashed a smile at Tobias and licked his wound to help it close.
“You’re excited.”
He blushed. “You were very gentle.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you.”
He unwrapped my hand. The new skin was tender and pink, but that was far better than exposed bone.
“All better—thank you,” I said.
“You’re welcome,” he replied.
“Let me thank you properly.” I placed my hand on his thigh.
“I don’t know that you should be engaging in strenuous activities.” Tobias shook his head. “Sleep. Feel better. Sex can wait.”
He was probably right.
***
I woke up to the sounds of cooking and low conversation. I could make out Tobias’ voice and my father’s, and…Inspector Adder? What was he doing here? I managed to get out of bed and pulled on a shirt and jeans that were folded on a chair next to the bed. How thoughtful.
I opened the bedroom doors and went into the main room. Tobias was cooking, Inspector Adder next to him chopping something up and then there was my father. The subject at hand seemed to be—me. Great.
“Good evening, Caspian,” my father said softly. “You look better.”
“What, no Aramis?”
“He is solidifying my holdings here. I have discussed it with Inspector Adder and we have determined it would be beneficial for everyone if I remain in the city to ward off any other contenders for master of Chicago.”
Lovely.
“Great.”
            “Your partner has done your paperwork for you,” Inspector Adder said. “You should probably thank him.”
“I’ll make sure to do that.”
“In the meantime, I’m putting you on paid leave while we restructure.”
“Restructure?” I raised my eyebrows and stole a carrot from the cutting board.
“Obviously some of our hunters are—overzealous. I can’t have them killing the vampires that are now on our side.” He gave me a look. “Your nature is far easier to discern now, and I would prefer your coworkers not try to kill you.”
“Fair enough and how long of a leave am I taking?”
“Four weeks, no arguments.”
I blinked. “Very well, sir.”
“It’s so rare to see my son this respectful of anyone,” Daddy murmured. “I am impressed, Inspector.”
Adder shrugged. “I have that effect.”
Four weeks of paid leave. Well. What was I going to do with myself?
“I got a phone call from my sister-in-law. She needs some help with her son.” He looked at me. “She lives in Ohio, I told her I would help. You could come. There's a vampire along the way in need of killing too.”
“Why not? It could be—fun?”
Tobias smiled. “Thank you.”
“Well, that’s settled then.” Inspector Adder handed the cutting board to Tobias. “When you come back to work, I should have everything organized.”
“You think you can convince a bunch of hunters to stop killing vampires in four weeks?”
“I have a plan.”
Great. He had a plan. “If someone tries to stake me, I will sue.”
“Noted.”
“On another note,” my father interrupted. “I was hoping you would come over for dinner. Briony is on her way. I thought it would be good for you to see her again.”
I swallowed. I hadn’t seen my sister in a very long time. “Sure.”
“Fantastic.” Father smiled and kissed me on the cheek. “Then I shall be off. Inspector, Tobias, good evening to you.”
Father slunk out of the apartment.
“I should be going as well, I have a date to keep,” Inspector Adder said. “Have a lovely evening.”
After he left I looked at Tobias. “I think they thought we wanted to be alone.”
“I told them they had ten minutes after you were up and about to say what they needed to say and leave.”
I blinked. “You are a terrible person.”
“I made goulash. Your father said you liked it.”
I snorted. “Yeah, I do. Thanks.”
“After dinner we’re having sex. It’s going to be awesome.”
“Oh really?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Really.” He smiled. “I have a plan.”
“When you say that, I get a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.”
“Horrible feeling, or anticipation?”
“I’m hungry.”
“Don’t change the subject.”
“Did you put nutmeg in that goulash?”
“Caspian.”
“Let me taste it.”
I could see myself spending a long time with Tobias. That was a bit terrifying really. He was only human after all. I would have to watch him die. I flashed a smile at him to cover the fear in the pit of my heart. He made me feel like I was human. Like I was young. I didn’t want to lose that feeling—I didn’t want to lose him.
“You’re incorrigible.”
“I know.”
“Are you resorting to two word sentences again?”
“Maybe.”
He growled, turned off the burner and stalked around the counter. “I’m not having that nonsense anymore.”
“Oh?” I took off running and we went on a merry chase around his apartment before I let him pin me on the couch. I kissed him so hard I thought I would leave bruises on his lips, dug my fingers into his shoulders and held on tight.
Oh God…I think I’m falling in love.
The consequences would just have to wait, because I wasn’t going to leave him. I wasn’t going anywhere. My name is Caspian Marek and I’m not running any more. 

~Fin~

Thank you everyone for reading. I've had a blast writing Caspian and Tobias. You'll see them again very soon in Home, Sweet Home coming October 2013.