Friday, November 21, 2014

by D.D. Symms

UFI welcomes author D.D. Symms. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview? 

I read a variety of genres and I write non-fiction entrepreneur bios as well as fiction. Some authors delve into one specific genre and never look back. On one hand, I wish that was me. I don't think it ever will be and that matches the varied interests I have.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

Being outside. Preferably hiking, running or reffing soccer.

What is your Favorite part of writing?

Having a solid draft and going back to rewrite segments that you know already work. You're tightening them up and improving them by finding just the right phrase or making an awkward sentence easier to read. That's satisfying.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

Hmm, I like having a cup of coffee near me. It can be stale. It takes me about a half hour to get into writing and unwinding from whatever activity I was doing.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

You know, I just haven't familiarized myself with these genres yet. It's on my list for 2015. I feel like I haven't mastered the various styles of romance.

How would you pitch In His Sights to someone who has not heard of it before?

Our inner wounds hurt the most and a loving partner can lead to healing.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that In His Sights is set in? 

A military base in Southern California's Mojave Desert. It's desolate and yet the desert has an odd warmth that I find attractive, almost comforting.

Do you have a favorite scene in In His Sights?

Yep. A bar scene where Dalton Blake storms out. It's a turning point. I feel I captured the ambiance and the inner conflict.

Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?

I enjoyed creating the bartender, an outgoing female. A minor character. The hardest part about the two men was getting the ending just right so it wasn't gratuitous but had meaning and kept the tension going until the end.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

I've got thoughts of a male-male through the eyes of the character in my novel Boarding. Really, a series of stories and life through his eyes.

I'm also at work on a novel Arrival, a look at the fashion industry and how we define success.
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DD Symms wanted to capture the emotional struggle that loss and new love bring with In His Sights, his fifth book with Breathless Press.

Fiction writing in university was his original calling, but it took a detour of many years as he focused on journalism. The joy of writing fiction is when characters seep into his imagination and take on a life of their own with a story that must be told.

He lives in southern California and hikes in the mountains with his wife, wishes his dog would stop sleeping on his side of the bed, and would like to take more walks along the beaches north of Malibu.

Find D.D. Symms and her books
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In His Sights
Buy Link


Wounds on the inside can be the hardest to heal. Dalton Blake takes responsibility for the death of his comrade and lover when a roadside bomb explodes in Afghanistan.

Back in the states, and preparing to end his military service, Dalton withdraws from society and is prepared to face a new life alone. A perceptive captain on the base notices the pain and tries to find a way to Dalton's heart and soul
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Excerpt:

Afghanistan fascinated him. He saw beauty in what many deemed a desolate landscape. A flower blooming among rocky crags was like an act of defiance interrupting the bleakness. He had gained confidence and felt like his leadership abilities were growing rapidly on the day a colonel, a senior engineer from the States, and a camera crew from a television network were among the audience members.

The last questions finished and he gathered his materials. He headed to the coffee shop on base to revel in his success but soldiers were scrambling amid confused shouts.

"Hey, what's happening?" Dalton tried to get someone's attention.
"An attack. There was an attack just down the road."

The news screamed back to base. An IED had exploded in the field, ripped through a convoy, and killed several soldiers. Jerry was among them.


Dalton froze. A volley of commands were unleashed in his mind to run here or there, but he was helpless. He shook free from the initial shock and ran to his barracks, buried his face in his pillow, and fought to suppress his rage. He wanted to scream, grab a weapon, and head off on his own personal assault and find the son of a bitch responsible. A debriefing revealed a connection failure in the jamming device and the feeling of failure Dalton experienced was like water bursting through the walls of a reservoir and flooding everything in its path.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: A Cursed Bloodline by Cecy Robson

A Cursed Bloodline
Author: Cecy Robson
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Loveswept
Weird Girls Book #4
ISBN:  0553394584
ISBN13: 9780553394580
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley
Just when Celia thinks the supernatural world can’t turn deadlier, a new rival emerges, proving just how dangerous a power-hungry were can be.

Since being cursed with unique abilities, Celia Wird and her three sisters have fought the most bloodthirsty preternaturals in the Lake Tahoe region. But Celia’s greatest threat is someone she would have never suspected: Anara, a werewolf Elder who has allowed his hatred for Celia to spiral out of control. In a play for dominance, Anara tortures Celia and gives her an ultimatum: sever her mate bond with pureblood were Aric — or Anara will kill everyone she loves.

From the instant they met, Celia and Aric have shared an attraction that cannot be tamed. So keeping Aric away is impossible, and Aric would sooner die than allow anyone to hurt the woman he loves. Misha, master vampire and Celia’s sworn protector, also finds his way into the chaos, seeking blood from those who have harmed her.

Now Celia and her sisters are caught in the middle of a war driven by lust, fueled by hatred, and destined to end in tragedy. For Anara is a force to be reckoned with, and he will not succumb without robbing Celia of those who hold her heart.

A CURSED BLOODLINE was a depressing, torturous, and heart wrenching addition to the Weird Girls series.  Come to think of it. The last few books have been like that as well, but book 4 is a little more of all of those. Celia and Aric are finally back together in book 3 and then the battle at the end of CURSED BY DESTINY happens and things once again change. On top of that. A familiar enemy shows up in the beginning of A CURSED BLOODLINE and puts another obstacle in Celia and Aric's path to happiness.

I REALLLY wanted something to go right for Celia in book 4, but every time that happens something rips it apart. It DOES get tiring and it DOES make me want to throw my book against the nearest wall, but I still couldn't put the darn book down. I don't think it's too much to ask that ONE of these books doesn't feature Celia being torn to pieces in some way. Hopefully we will get that at some point sooner rather than later.

The secondary characters of this series play a big part in every book and it is great to see connections grow and strain with each installment. The pace of A CURSED BLOODLINE flows nicely and the plot is anything but boring. I am absolutely heartbroken for Celia after reading A CURSED BLOODLINE, but I'm also hopeful for her too. I have a lot of mixed feelings and until I read book 5 I'm not sure if that will change. Even if I wanted to stop reading the Weird Girls series, which I don't, I would have a very hard time not picking up and reading more after the events of A CURSED BLOODLINE.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Temporal Shift by Nina Croft

Temporal Shift
Author: Nina Croft
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Publisher: Entangled: Select Otherworld
ISBN:  1622661206
ISBN13: 9781622661206
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: Publisher
Caught between destiny and desire...

After diving into a black hole in search of the source of Meridian, the key to immortality, the crew of the Blood Hunter finds themselves stranded in an alternate universe.

Engineer Devlin Stark doesn't want immortality. He just wants to live long enough to get his revenge on the man who murdered his brother. Now, he's trapped in a strange world with a crazy woman who claims he's fated to be her lover.

Saffira Lourdes has a destiny: to save humanity and lead her exiled people to the Promised Land. Haunted by visions of the past and future, she's been sustained through the years by a dream lover. Unfortunately, Devlin doesn't believe in fate. But it's obvious there's a connection between them, one that will soon be tested by the limits of time and space. Saffira is about to make the crew of the Blood Hunter an offer they'll find impossible to refuse.

They're heading back to Earth, and they're going back in time...

First off, I have to address the fact that this is part of a series. I have seen mention that this can be read as a stand alone, but I have to say you will definitely feel like you 'missed' something if you read it without reading the previous books.  All character and world development was done in previous books and the current characters all have past stories you need to know to understand them and their connections to each other. I'm not quite sure why the series name seems to have changed (from Blood Hunter to Dark Desires? according to the book cover). Kinda threw me off at first, but rest assured you won't be disappointed going back to book 1, BREAK OUT, if you want to read TEMPORAL SHIFT and have not done so yet.

We recently met Devlin Stark in DEATH DEFYING so although we have a bit of an understanding of him, we don't KNOW him. He has a lot of anger piled up inside of him and kinda acts like a 'donkey' for most of the book, but we get glimpses of who he could really be as he defrosts in the process of falling for Saffira. Saffira is a new character for us. She grew up being told that she would save her people and she takes the position very seriously. She's very naive and inexperienced until events take her back in time then into the future. I know, kinda confusing, but you will understand once you read it.

Saffira has dreamed about Devlin for as long as she can remember and can't wait to bring her visions into reality. Devlin is NOT looking for a relationship and when Saffira tells him about seeing them together all he thinks about is bedding her and moving on. Ther relationship wasn't an enchanted romance, but by the end they are both on the same page and both fit well together. 

TEMPORAL SHIFT was a fast paced edition to the series. It was great to see the cast of characters after they went through the black hole and I look forward to seeing what happens to them now that they are back on the other side. I have an idea of who one of the main characters might be in the next book and am excited to see if I am right, it's definitely their time to shine.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Guest Blog & Giveaway: The Necromancer's Betrayal by Mimi Sebastian

UFI welcomes Author Mimi Sebastian. Thanks for Joining us!!

Songs in My Characters’ Heads
Mimi Sebastian

Great to be back on UF Investigations!

I love a good movie sound track. How a good song complements a scene, sets the mood, tone, brings on the tears or makes you want to rock out. I often write listening to music, from rock to the Lord of the Rings or Transformers soundtracks, I let the music set the mood and help me find the right words. Some of my characters have their own song or certain scenes are written with a song in mind. Here is a sampling of the many songs on The Necromancer Betrayal soundtrack.

6 Underground by Sneaker Pimps
Fade Into You by Mazzy Star
Providence by Ani DiFranco
I Bleed by The Pixies
Dangerous by Big Data

6 Underground with its fuzzy, techno beats and sense of aimlessness set the stage for Ruby’s relationship with the vampire Lysander. I wrote a scene of them together with this song in mind. Both of them want to lose themselves in each other, forget about everything happening around them, but ultimately they can’t, as the song says, without falling from grace. It’s sad and bittersweet and whenever I think of them, I think of this song.

Talk me down, safe and sound
Too strung up to sleep
Wear me out, scream and shout
Swear my time's never cheap
I fake my life like I've lived
Too much, I take whatever you're given, not enough
Overground, watch this space
I'm open to falling from grace.
(Song by Chris Corner, Liam Coverdale-Howe, Ian Pickering, John Barry)

Dangerous by Big Data also plays into the Ruby and Lysander complication. I hear this song when Ruby ventures to the vampire club to ask for Lysander’s help, but also for other reasons she’s not quite ready to admit?

Nobody's listening when we're alone
Nobody's listening, there's nobody listening,
No one can hear us when we're alone
No one can hear us, no, no one can hear us
And I've gotta get out of here
Sink down, into the dark
Keep on running
I've gotta get out of here (Keep on running)
Sink down, into the dark
You understand, they got a plan for us
I bet you didn't know that I was dangerous
It must be fate, I found a place for us
I bet you didn't know someone could love you this much
(Song by David James Jr. Minehan)

 On the other side, there’s Ewan, the love Ruby can’t have. Kept apart by demon traditions, they are unable to unleash their desires. However, that doesn’t always stop them, and when they do give in to those passions, it’s exciting but haunting like the song Fade Into You by Mazzy Star.

I want to hold the hand inside you
I want to take the breath that's true
I look to you and I see nothing
I look to you to see the truth
……
Fade into you
Strange you never knew
Fade into you
I think it's strange you never knew
(Song by Hope Sandoval, David Roback)

I have always loved the Pixies, since my college days. Frank Black is a maniac. I Bleed, is not only a great play on the whole vampire feeding thing, but touches upon Ruby’s dilemmas, how she’s being pulled in different directions. And I love the line, behind my smile it shakes my teeth.

As loud as hell, a ringing bell
Behind my smile it shakes my teeth
And all the while, as vampires feed
I bleed, I bleed, I bleed
Prithee, my dear, why are we here?
Nobody knows, we go to sleep
As breathing flows, my mind secedes
I bleed, I bleed, I bleed, I bleed, I bleed, I bleed
There's a place in the buried west in a cave
With a house in it in the clay
The holes of hands, you can place a hand in hand
I bleed, I bleed, I bleed
(Song by Charles Thompson)

Thanks for stopping by today. You can find all these songs on iTunes or Youtube. I hope they inspire you as much as they did my writing and characters! You can visit my blog under each book title for more soundtrack songs.
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Mimi Sebastian raised herself on books and the strange and unusual, and an unhealthy dose of comics and movies. When a career as a punk guitarist failed to materialize, she completed her degree in urban planning, spent two years in the Ivory Coast with the Peace Corps, and another three years in Brazil. By day, she debates the merits of transport oriented development, by night she writes about necromancers and pirates. She’s convinced she could live off coffee, ice cream, and comic books, but is sure only one of those is good for her health.

She's a member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA. A transplant from the beaches of Florida, Mimi now wanders the desert in Phoenix, AZ, and attempts to balance writing with a day career, fantastic family, and household diva: her Amazon parrot.

Find Mimi and her books
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The Necromancer's Betrayal
Necromancer #2
Amazon
 Her powers have been hobbled. Her enemies are growing stronger.

Old loves challenge her. And her worst betrayer may be herself.

Necromancer Ruby Montagne is battling for her life in the realm of demons. Unfairly branded for the death of a fellow necromancer, she's got to prove her innocence without the full use of her magic. And the real culprit is still on the loose.

While someone is stalking her friends among the witches, Ruby searches for answers inside the dark intrigues of both the demon and necromancer worlds. Ruby must confront this new, sinister threat while reconciling her feelings for her former lover, a demon warrior. Only it's difficult . . . because a sexy vampire is making it clear that he'd like to be more than just friends.

The competition for Ruby's trust heats up as the enemy pushes her toward a dark side that could threaten the entire realm. Yet what can Ruby do when she's not even sure what she is? With the fabric separating the realms at stake, she must decide whom to trust. But will the ultimate betrayal be her own?

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Review: Destiny by Celia Breslin

Destiny
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Publisher: Champagne Books
ASIN:  B00O6A77FG
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Urban Fantasy

In HAVEN, San Francisco nightclub owner Carina Tranquilli survives a vicious attack by her vampire family’s longtime archenemies. Several weeks later, as she struggles with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, supervillain Dixon resurfaces and kidnaps two of her best friends. To save them, Carina must comply with the evil bastard’s unusual demands. The kicker? She must tell no one what she is up to.

Meanwhile, she has a new dance club to open for the preternatural community, a fated soul mate acting secretive and distant, and a sexy, new, undead friend who’d love to take Alexander’s place in her heart and bed.

Blackmailed, betrayed, tempted…sometimes destiny has a wicked sense of humor.

It seems like I had been waiting FOREVER to read DESTINY and when it finally came I jumped right in.

I am going to jump right in on Carina. Carina has had to deal with A LOT since she found out who she is and who her family really is. I tried to cut her some slack, but I think she made some pretty crappy decisions in DESTINY. I understand the situation and why she kept her secrets, but I think she should have trusted her loved ones a little more and asked for help. She's still mad at her father and refused to speak to or see him even though I think he could have also helped the situation. In fact her friend specifically told her to contact him and she didn't. She should have put her pride aside in that instance. I think it would have saved her (and others) some pain. But alas everything worked out in the end and she will be a stronger person going into book 3. I really wanted Rina to learn more about herself. With all the strife going on in DESTINY and the people around her constantly keeping her in the dark, that just didn't happen. The good news is that I think book three will be dedicated to just this.

There are some issues with Rina and Alexander in DESTINY. Alexander has been ordered away on tour and she could really use him by her side. He becomes distant, she starts questioning things and bam lots goes on on that front. Don't be too sad though.

I think DESTINY was just as well written as HAVEN. I think there was some significant growth happening with the main characters and the world was just as well explained. I was happy with the new characters that were introduced and I'm excited to see what they will bring to future books. Not sure what the future will hold for Rina, but I want to continue the ride.

I gave it 3.5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

New Releases: 11/16-11/22


Mon. Nov. 17th

 Hellish Haven by L.K. Below

Tue. Nov. 18th

 Bound by Ink (Living Ink #2) by Marcella Burnard
 Stolen (Heart of Dread #2) by Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston 
 Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Destiny by Celia Breslin

UFI welcomes Author Celia Breslin. Thanks for Joining us!!

Celia chats with Carina, Alexander, and Fin 

Hi Everyone! 

Nice to be here on the Urban Fantasy Investigations blog today! Carina and Alexander, my hero and heroine from The Tranquilli Bloodline series, decided to tag along and let me interview them. Fin, a new friend Carina meets in Destiny, then asked if he could join us, too.  He’s such a flirt I couldn’t tell him no, despite the fierce negative grumblings from Alexander.  We’ll just keep them on opposite ends of the room, LOL. 

Enjoy! 

Hi guys! Thanks for joining me here at UFI. Please state your name. Also, do you have a nickname? 

Carina:  “Hi, I’m Carina Agostina Ottavia Tranquilli. My friends call me Rina. But my fated soul mate calls me Carina.” 

Alexander:  “That would be me, the soul mate, full name Alexander Wallace. Many call me Alex. I prefer Alexander, especially when Carina says it when we’re…intimate.” 

Fin: “Fineas Fray Vale at your service, my lovely author.”  ::he kisses my hand:: “My friends and lovers call me Fin.” 

What is your hair color? Eye color? 

Carina: “Dark brown hair and eyes. When I go all vampy, though, my eyes darken to black. And when my special super power kicks in? Add some blinking stars in there, too.” 

Alexander: “My hair is more milk chocolate to Carina’s dark chocolate tresses. My eyes are blue-grey. Carina likes to call them smoky blue.” 

Fin: “Black hair, though Rina calls it coffee brown.  She likens my eyes to blackstrap molasses.  Lush descriptions from a luscious woman, wouldn’t you agree?” 

::Alexander growls:: 

::Fin smirks:: 

Relax, boys. How old are all of you? Carina, you first. 

Carina: “I’m 25. Okay, don’t be startled when Alexander tells you his age. He doesn't look a day over about 28. He was turned in his twenties.” 

Alexander:  “I’m 45. Flattery will get you everywhere, Carina.” 

Fin:  “I’m older than Carina’s young pup by centuries.” 

Alexander:  “Call me pup again and I’ll break your brittle bones, Grandpa.” 

Where were you born? Where have you lived since then? Where do you currently call home? 

Carina: “I was born in Italy. I live in the U.S. now. West coast. San Francisco. Best city on the planet.” 

Alexander:  “I’m a San Francisco native. I still live there, in the inner Sunset. But in truth, Carina is my home. I’d follow her anywhere.” 

Fin:  ::he chuckles::  “My, my, such sweet lovebirds, aren’t they? I was born a human in Coventry, England. My rebirth as a vampire occurred in London.” 

What is in your refrigerator right now? On your bedroom floor? On your nightstand? In your garbage can? 

Carina:  “LOL, you really want to know? Okay, fridge first. Thai takeout leftovers, sake, sparkling water, orange juice, bacon, eggs…Stopping now. Otherwise, we’d be here all day. My fridge is well stocked, thanks to my roomies Mark and Ren. Those boys can cook! Workout clothes on my bedroom floor. Water bottle on nightstand. Garbage can is empty. I’ll thank Mark and Ren again. Those boys are super tidy.” 

Alexander: “Is this a serious question? I have blood in my refrigerator, of course. Bedroom floor is clear. Nightstand is also clear. Garbage can…yes, empty. I’m a bit of a neat freak.” 

Fin: “Blood, alcohol, orange juice, steak, vitamins, and an assortment of vegetables.  My regular blood donors tend to keep it stocked with their favorite foods. The rest of my penthouse is spotless, thanks to my housekeeper.” 

Carina: “You live in a penthouse?” 

Fin: “Yes, downtown. I never mentioned it before now, as we were rather busy in Destiny with other more pressing matters. You’re welcome in my home, anytime.” 

::Alexander bares his fangs and hisses:: 

::Carina strokes Alexander’s arm:: 

Okay boys. Almost done. Then you can take this fight outside. Who are the people you are closest to? 

Carina: “My close friends are my family: my business partner Adrian, my psychic pal Faith, her boyfriend Kai, and, of course, my badass bodyguards Mark and Ren. I have three brothers, but I’d call our relationship…hm…let’s just say it’s a bit strained. A work in progress.” 

Alexander: “Thomas, Carina’s uncle. No comment on the family.” 

Fin: “My darling Celia, you know I’m the life of every party.” 

Alexander:  “That’s not an answer, old timer.” 

Fin: “It will do for now.” 

Which talent would you most like to have? 

Carina: “I love karaoke and wish I could sing as well as a trained singer. Of course, my lack of vocal chops doesn’t stop me from belting out the tunes with my pals at our local sushi-sake-karaoke hangout.” 

Alexander: “I have it. I play piano and guitar. Classically trained on both.” 

Fin: “I wish I had even a smidgeon of artistic talent. To paint like the Masters I met back in the day…” 

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

Carina: “When I’m upset I tend to curse in Italian. Porco dio spills out of me most.” 

Alexander:  “Pass. But here’s the word the older vampires overuse - Youngling. I hate it when they call me that.” 

Fin:  “I do tend to call Rina by her royal title of Princess, though she would prefer I do not.” 

Phew! We made it to the end of the interview without any blood spilled between the boys. Thanks again to Urban Fantasy Investigations for having us all over for a visit! 

cheers,
Celia
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Celia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for vampires, werewolves, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find her exercising, reading a good book or indulging her addiction to Joss Whedon’s TV shows and movies.



Find Celia and her books
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Destiny
Tranquilli Bloodline  #2
ARe Amazon BN Champagne Books
Google Books Smashwords iTunes
In HAVEN, San Francisco nightclub owner Carina Tranquilli survives a vicious attack by her vampire family’s longtime archenemies. Several weeks later, as she struggles with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, supervillain Dixon resurfaces and kidnaps two of her best friends. To save them, Carina must comply with the evil bastard’s unusual demands. The kicker? She must tell no one what she is up to.

Meanwhile, she has a new dance club to open for the preternatural community, a fated soul mate acting secretive and distant, and a sexy, new, undead friend who’d love to take Alexander’s place in her heart and bed.

Blackmailed, betrayed, tempted…sometimes destiny has a wicked sense of humor.
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Excerpt: 

My day moved from ordinary to interesting when the deliveryman handed me a box that smelled of blood. 

The scent made my mouth water. Pungent iron mixed with, of all things, lavender. My thoughts flew straight to Tessa, my surrogate vampire mother. When she pulled out one of her specialty powers, the one I fondly referred to as vampire valium, this relaxing, floral herb scented the air and reduced friend or foe to a boneless, helpless puddle. 

I shut the front door on the retreating back of the deliveryman and wiggled the box. Nothing rattled inside. Not particularly heavy, less than ten pounds. 

A peace offering, perhaps? Tessa certainly owed me one. 

She’d commanded her minion, my boyfriend Alexander, to star in a two-month classical music tour of Italy, performing nightly for vampire dignitaries and their lucky minions. While I, the good little predestined, vampire apocalypse averting, Chosen One in training, remained behind in San Francisco to learn how to kick naughty vampire ass with my latent and rather unwieldy fire power. 

“Hey boys,” I called up to the second floor where my friend Adrian and his lover, my mentor Jonas, took their sweet time descending for breakfast. “Bloody prezzie just arrived. And I do mean that literally.” 

Silence answered my shout, followed by the whoosh of water in the master bathroom shower and a husky laugh from Adrian. Given that sexy sound, I could expect a delay. Jonas tended to make their showers last forever. 

A jolt of jealousy stabbed my stomach. Wish I could enjoy some fun and sexy time with my guy. I shrugged off the sensation and strode into the kitchen. “Fine. More for me.” 

I parked my ass in a chair and slid the box onto the table to study it. No return address or package info. Not that surprising. Vampires tended to aim for stealth and subtlety, to fly under the radar of the general human populace. One of Tessa’s minions probably compelled the delivery dude, or he belonged to the circle of humans already in-the-know. 

I ripped off the tape in one pull and peeked inside. No packing peanuts, but rather a nest of lavender branches speckled with droplets of blood, as if the branches themselves bled. Beautiful, aromatic, and so very vampire. 

A wine box large enough for two bottles rested in the nest. Cold to the touch, indicating recent refrigeration. I lifted it out, trailing my fingers over the gold latch, the dark, glossy wood, the Celtic knots carved into each end, and finally over the initials on top. My initials, C A T. Short for Carina Agostina Tranquilli. 

What a well-crafted and thoughtful gift. I bet the wine inside would be equally well-made. 

I flipped the latch and opened the lid. My brows collided. Not wine. 

Nine vials of blood about the size of my ring finger rested side by side in black velvet bedding. A stopper sealed with red wax and stamped with my initials secured the blood inside each vessel. 

I pulled one from its nest and held it up in the light streaming through the kitchen’s bay window. The liquid glowed a rich, ruby red like a shard in a stained glass window. 

“Beautiful.” And odd. 

Sure, I was a half vampire and could appreciate a fine bit of blood, but I was still a human female and for me, nothing says, I’m sorry for disrupting your entire life like high-end jewelry or better yet an all-expenses paid trip with my boyfriend somewhere secluded, luxurious, and far away from vampire politics. Hell, I’d settle for the return of my boyfriend to San Francisco.
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