Souls Rise, Chapter 1

Souls Rise, chapter 1:

Gaspard’s boots crunched on the icy snow as he walked through the 11

Gaspard’s boots crunched on the icy snow as he walked through the 11th Arrondissment, the Jewish sector of Paris. The reek of fear was thick and the shadows so dense they were permanent fixtures, impervious to even the sun. The sidewalk’s stains hit Gaspard’s nose with the telltale stink of old blood, punctuated by motes of new blood, the only remains of residents picked off one-by-one. The sun sank behind the Paris buildings and Gaspard pulled his hood up as he traversed Parmentier Street, mulling how the world had gotten so ugly.

Thud. Gaspard heard what had become an all too common sound. The sound of a boot hitting the abdomen of a man. Another thud. Laughter from onlookers.

“Please, stop! He’s my husband! He’s done nothing!” cried a woman. She carried bread and cheese and proffered the rarities on bended knee to the soldiers. A second soldier snagged the food, then put out his right hand and strong-armed the woman back.

“You will be beaten, too, if you interfere! Step back, old woman. Your husband is a traitor and a spy.” Another woman, who had the sagging skin of someone who’d lost a lot of weight too quickly, hauled the crying woman into a shop doorway, saying, “Don’t be stupid! Your children need you. They can’t lose you both!”

One last kick to the head finished the fun for the German soldiers who withdrew several yards to lean against their car, a German-registered Peugeot, and to share the bread and cheese. No one dared approach the bleeding man in the street who lay there, unmoving.

Gaspard could hear the man’s heartbeat slowly fade. Compelled by the blood scent and his revulsion of the man’s mistreatment, he strode into the street and cradled the man as one would a baby, carrying him off.

“Halt!” came the order from behind him. Gaspard walked toward a nearby alley.

Gaspard heard the clicks of rifles being readied. From the corner of his eye, he saw the remaining townspeople scurry into their homes and lock their doors. Gaspard, three soldiers, and a dying man were the only ones left in the mouth of the alley, hearts either pounding or failing.

Gaspard lowered the dying man onto the concrete, rose to his full height, and pushed back his hood.

“Who the hell are you?” demanded one of the soldiers looking at Gaspard’s sharp features, pale skin, and reddened eyes.

Gaspard took a step closer. “I’m hungry.” He lunged for the soldier, cracking his neck with one twist, sinking his incisors into the carotid artery to drink while the blood still pumped. He hadn’t swallowed much when the next two soldiers were upon him.

Gaspard swung one arm and backhanded the shorter soldier smack in the face, dropping him unconscious on the ground. The third, back-peddling as fast as possible, raised his gun and took a wild shot, which went over Gaspard’s head. Gaspard reached him in the blink of an eye, pressed him up against the alley wall and pulled his head to the side, stretching the man’s neck almost to the breaking point. Taking his time, Gaspard bared his fangs at the soldier, letting the man see what was to come. He was rewarded by the sound of urine hitting the street.

Gaspard broke the skin on the soldier’s neck, sucking like a lover, making sure the man stayed conscious throughout. Gaspard took only enough to weaken the soldier but not enough to kill.

He straightened the soldier’s neck and placed his mouth at the man’s collarbone, drawing his tongue up to the ear in one long blood-scented lave, allowing his breath to wash over the man. When he was certain he had the soldier’s undivided attention, he whispered, “Tell your superiors what happened because I’m declaring it open season on Nazis.” He pushed the man out onto Parmentier Street and watched him stumble to the Peugeot.

Gaspard turned to the beaten man who lay on the ground. Gaspard held his head and drank deeply, not the cause of the man’s death, but hastening its arrival. He briefly considered turning the man, but relinquished the thought as fast as it came. It would be cruel to doom a man to eternity in the hell that now lived on Earth. Better for him to take his chances with whatever lay beyond.

He left the unconscious soldier where he was and turned to leave, catching a swift movement in the corner of his eye. The movement came from above and Gaspard looked up at the fire escape, wondering who had been there. He climbed the fire escape, scanning the rooftops. He saw no one, but he felt someone there.

“Come out!” Gaspard yelled. “What is it you want?” His voice echoed in the darkness.

Silence. The snow swirled from the parapets in clouds of pure cold. Even Paris’ pigeons were hiding, although Gaspard couldn’t imagine where the birds could roost in safety. Icicle teeth grew long and pointy from the gutters, threatening impalement to those below, and the moon was a wan, joyless scythe in the sky.

Gaspard didn’t wait any longer. He leapt to the ground and returned to his apartment, where he sat in his chair and waited for the inevitable. The inevitable came a short ten minutes later. Word traveled fast, Gaspard thought.

The vampire thugs threw the door open, hauled Gaspard up by the shoulders, and marched him into a waiting car, throwing a hood over his head like they were starring in a third-rate gangster movie. Resigned to what he knew was coming, his stomach in knots, Gaspard bit his tongue and stayed silent, swallowing the snarky remarks that floated through his brain.

Numerous twisty turns later, the car stopped somewhere in what Gaspard guessed was the fifth arrondissement, the Latin Quarter. He could smell the Seine and hear the noisy clatter of bistros serving what limited food remained. Still blinded, he stumbled down dank stairs permeated by the odor of yesterday’s garbage and was shoved into a cold room with a concrete floor.

He felt the Master’s presence. How could he not? The Master’s aura filled the room and pressed against Gaspard’s resolve. Someone removed Gaspard’s hood, man-handled him into a chair placed above a drain in the center of the room, and tied his hands behind him.

“Arnaud. You could have asked me to come. Politely. I would have. There was no need for all of this subterfuge.” Gaspard crossed one leg over the other to appear casual.

The Master of Paris held silent, but his long, lithe body was shaking with rage. He wore a fine suit, unusual in fabric-rationed France, with flat front trousers cuffed at the bottom. The material was a suitably somber grey with white chalk marks and a double-breasted blazer. He’d removed his Fedora and placed it safely out of the way on a hook installed on the back of the door. Gaspard glanced at Arnaud’s feet, expecting to find two-toned spats and was shocked to see that the vampire wore what looked like black leather German military boots.

Finally, Arnaud spoke, almost a whisper, as if he was hanging onto his temper by a thread.

“Did you or did you not send a message that it is, how did you say, ‘open-season on Nazis’?”

“I did.”

Gaspard didn’t see the blow coming. One moment he was in the chair, the next on the floor, chair broken, blood streaming down his face from his forehead and nose. Since he had drunk his fill earlier, the blood was rich and red.

“They were beating a man, threatening his wife, and laughing openly about it. Germans. In your city. Why do you let them? What happened to you, Arnaud, that you would let them invade Paris unchallenged? Your forces are formidable. You could beat them!”

Arnaud’s long fingers reached for Gaspard, pulling him to his feet only to launch a vicious attack of fists and feet until Gaspard was down and stayed down, the blood from his body flowing out as fast as he had gotten it, down the drain for the city’s rats. Gaspard could hardly see by this time, his eyes were so swollen, and his ears rang from the repeated blows. But he heard Arnaud hissing at him in anger.

“You ibécile! We could beat them, some of them, but more will come. They are like cockroaches, scuttling in and out, hiding in the corners and cracks of the city. We cannot take on the entire German army, so I brokered an agreement. We don’t bother them. They don’t bother us. We co-exist, exactly as our former Prime Minister Reynaud intended, that chicken shit coward.”

“It is our current Marshall Petain that is the coward,” countered Gaspard, through swollen lips. “He’s the one who invited the Germans in.”

“Doesn’t matter. French government is all the same, whether republic or monarchy. Weak. Shallow. Without pride or dignity. We would have fought beside French forces if they had stayed true. Now the Germans hang swastikas from our buildings and ransack our art.”

Gaspard wiggled himself to a seated position on the floor and pushed back until he could lean on the wall, his hands still tied behind his back. “Then why are you working with the Nazis? Why not help the Resistance?” he said, eyes flaming despite the injuries.

“It is better to co-exist than start a vampire hunt in the city. We have lasted this long. This too shall pass.”

“Are your people helping them?”

“No. We neither assist nor hinder.”

“Semantics. If you aren’t fighting them, you’re enabling them. They have overpowered the great Arnaud? What has this world come to?”

“You have no right to judge.”

“Are you having me followed?” asked Gaspard, changing the conversation’s direction.

“No, but maybe I should.”

“How did you get the news about my actions so fast?”

“A member of the seethe saw you and reported back.”

“Incredible coincidence.”

Arnaud leaned down into Gaspard’s face. “Let me be clear. We are waiting this one out, and you don’t get to change that by issuing threats! You do not speak for me. You do not speak for Paris, and so help me, if any of mine are killed because of your stupidity today, I will hunt you down and behead you myself. Am I clear?”

Gaspard nodded, struggled to a standing position, and wiped his bleeding nose on his right shoulder. “I’ll remember, Arnaud, if you’ll remember that I took this beating out of respect for your position as Master of Paris.” Gaspard broke the ropes that tied his hands with one twist, stepped into what was left of Arnaud’s space, held his hands up, and brushed both of Arnaud’s shoulders, as if he was dusting off his best man’s suit before the wedding.

Gaspard pivoted to leave, staring the guards down until they moved out of his way, got halfway up the stairs, and said, “I wouldn’t be too sure some of your seethe aren’t helping the Germans. That vampire that reported to you? If he wasn’t there to spy on me, why was he there?”

Gaspard was indeed in the Latin Quarter, and he was beaten, swollen, and weakened with blood loss. Soldiers filled the coffee shops, drinking the only real coffee left in Paris, studying the French waitresses with half-lidded eyes. When he saw one of the soldiers slap a waitress on her derriere, he had his mark. The waitress grimaced at the slap but didn’t protest. Gaspard swore he would do the protesting for them both.

His opportunity came when the soldier needed to relieve himself. The soldier sauntered to the back of the shop, unbuckling his belt and trousers before stepping into the loo. Gaspard had stolen into the alley behind the bistro and slipped in the back door. Once the soldier entered the lavatory, Gaspard followed, locking the door behind him.

“What the fuck!” was all the German got out. Gaspard pulled the man toward him and in one motion, sunk his fangs into the man’s neck and lowered him to the seat of the toilet. He drained the soldier dry, taking pleasure in the thump of the heartbeat and how it dwindled to silence. Gaspard left the soldier on his throne, exiting as silently as he had come. Already healing and high on the caffeine-laced blood, Gaspard stole away into the night.

Buy now or purchase the first in the series, Souls Collide, for only 99 cents.

7 Days Until Souls Rise! Excerpt #1

Only 7 days until Souls Rise, the third novella in The Soul Wars series, is released. This is the novella in which we learn how Kara came to be with Gaspard, and why some vampires have souls and other do not.

Excerpt…beginning of Chapter 3:

He headed back into Paris and disappeared in the shadows. Hunched against the cold, he walked and walked, thinking about how to push Arnaud into the fight.  He arrived at his destination, a small bar down a side alley with the romantic name of Le Bar des Ecrivains, the Writers’ Bar, and stepped in, hoping the usual vampire crowd and real whiskey would be there. As soon as he entered, he realized at least one of those two things was there in numbers.

Ashes Reborn by Keri Arthur

ASHES REBORN

Souls of Fire #4

Keri Arthur

On Sale: September 5, 2017

ISBN: 9780451477910 | Berkley Mass Market | $7.99

 

The next blazing-hot installment of the Souls of Fire series from the New York Times bestselling author of Flameout

The clock is ticking as Emberly—a phoenix capable of taking human form—races to take revenge against the sadistic and mysterious Rinaldo. The elusive rebel leader threatens to keep killing until he is given all of the research about a plague like virus derived from vampire blood.

Forced to reach out to the Paranormal Investigations Team for help, Emberly and her partner, Jackson, must decide who to trust as they follow the trail of dead bodies. When classified information is leaked and their safe house is ambushed, Emberly’s suspicions are confirmed—someone at PIT has betrayed them.

A final battle looms and Emberly will need to command all her powers—or watch the world turn to ash….

Keri ArthurNew York Times bestselling author of the Souls of Fire, Outcast, Dark Angels, and Riley Jenson Guardian series, has written more than thirty-five books. She’s been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and has won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy.

DragonCon is this weekend!

DragonCon is a special event to me because it is where I got serious about writing, so, in a fashion, it does feel like going home, especially because I have so many friends who will be there.

Squee! I will interview Kim Harrison, author of the Hollows series, about the prequel she published called The Turn.  I’m excited to get to know her and talk to her about this book and the series. I will post the file when I come back so everyone can listen in. The Turn is available now on Amazon in ebook for only $1.99.

I’ll have print copies of Souls Collide and Souls Fall to sign and sell, if anyone is there and wants to grab them, and though I do not have a table or panels this year, I am reading in the Hyatt Marietta room on Friday, 4pm, Saturday 1pm and Saturday at 4pm.  I plan on reading from Monster Hunter Mom (releasing mid-October), so come listen to that and hear some other authors as well.

Otherwise, I’ll be in the Westin bar or attending panels, attempting to stay hydrated, not get sick, and enjoy myself, because DC is a lot of fun.

Souls Fall Update!

Hello everyone. It is possible that if you bought the digital edition of Souls Fall yesterday, that you have a copy that starts with what is really chapter 3.  Please let me know and I’ll replace it.  The first words should be, “Vampires don’t have souls!”

Technology sometimes stinks.

Thanks!

Souls Fall! Out today!

Number 2 in The Soul War series is out today. Click here to buy Souls Fall, now available both in digital form and paperback

Here’s an excerpt for my readers:

Gaspard turned on his heel and exited, Marc and Kara following.

They switched positions as they exited the building with Kara leading, Gaspard in the middle, and Marc at the back, and the three worked their way toward their car, which was parked in a VIP space in the hotel’s reserved back parking lot. Gaspard and Marc were talking together in low voices, intent on their discussion, so it was only Kara who sensed the danger.

She whirled, grasped Gaspard by both shoulders, and propelled him toward the car, instructing Marc to take point and cover their charge. Marc placed a hand on Gaspard’s elbow and pushed him the rest of the way, throwing Gaspard in the back seat with an order to stay down. Kara watched this from the corner of her eye until a crushing hand came down on her sword arm, drawing her full attention to the big man who was making himself a nuisance. The last thing she heard was Marc shouting, “Let her do her damn job!”

Kara’s right arm was numb from the blow to the nerves at her elbow, so it would do no good to draw her sword. She turned and ran, calling for Rikassa as Jarius emerged fully from the shadows and gave chase.

“I keep my master safe!” he bellowed. “And you are a danger to him. He’s forbidden me from killing you, but he never said anything about hurting you. I’m going to rip your arms off at the sockets and…”

Kara never heard the rest of it. She leapt on top of a car and vaulted from car roof to car roof, using her agility to stay ahead of the human rhinoceros behind her. Jarius was human, or at least not a vampire, but he was unreasonably strong. It occurred to her mid-leap that he may be part jötnar, part giant. That made it all the more important that she stay out of his grasp. Jötnar, even half-breeds, were famous for compressing human heads between their huge hands, popping the brains out like pus from a zit.

Not a pretty picture.

Her hand tingled as the nerves returned to life. She hurdled over Jarius’ outstretched arm and settled on Rikassa’s back, who had flown at full speed to her Lady. Kara urged the horse to fly higher and used the ascent to transform into the Valkyrie she was, armor glinting with the light of the street lamps in the shadowed parking lot. The wild horse neighed a challenge to her Lady’s attacker and veered to the right to give Kara time to draw her sword.

“I am no threat to you!” Kara yelled. “There is no need for this!”

Jarius looked up, face screwed tight in anger. He clambered on top of a Ford 150 with monster wheels, denting the hood with his weight, and jumped toward the horse, arms outstretched as if he thought he could catch Rikassa like a firefly. He landed with a thud on the concrete, a spider-web of tiny fissures spreading out from his feet. Rikassa flew directly at him and used a front hoof to kick him squarely in the head. It should have been a killing blow. Instead, Rikassa’s hoof bounced off the giant, who shook off the attack like a dog shaking off water after a lovely lake swim.

That confirms it, thought Kara. There was definitely jötnar in Jarius’ family tree. The giants were great when it came to brawn but not so valuable when it came to brains. And as Rikassa’s kick made thoroughly obvious, it would also make him harder to strike down because jötnar had skin like stone. It would take a deft touch. There were only a few vulnerable places she could assail and do any damage.

Jarius beckoned in a “bring it” sort of way, and Kara obliged. She threw Rikassa into a steep descent, flicked her sword, and then bade Rikassa to fly up, up, and away. This left Jarius gaping at his right ear, which now sat on the ground like a leftover potato chip. He roared his anger to the sky.

 

 

Fangdemonium is Here! Lucienne Diver Crosses Buffy with Rick Riordan

Recently I got to interview Lucienne Diver about her her book with the awesome new cover, Fangdemonium AND was gifted an excerpt. So fun and exciting. Read on…

1. How is writing for YA different than writing for adults? 

It’s not all that different, really. I go where the voice takes me. I think the important thing is to sink so deeply into your character’s mind and heart (which can be a frightening thing when it comes to Gina!) that what pours out onto the page is them, purely them. If your character is young adult with concerns based on that phase of life, your narrative will be young adult. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of wonderful adult novels with protagonist who start off or stay young. The difference is in the concerns, themes, and overall storyline.

For me, the biggest difference in writing for the young adult market is my heat level. Each author and each publishing line has a certain level they’re comfortable with when it comes to younger characters, and it’s partly informed by the needs of the story and the background of those characters. My hero and heroine are pretty hot and heavy for each other, but they close the door on things before I get to the point of learning what they have or haven’t done. I’m good with this. My family has made denial into an art form. I might have taken it to the next level.

2. How does your work as an agent affect your writing? Are you ever satisfied?

I write first thing in the morning before the critical, agent-y side of my brain wakes up. Once it does, I second guess myself; I get into rather than out of my own way. For my creative side to shine, I need to have the freedom to fail. I need to be able to get it wrong to get it down on the page. I can always fix things in revisions.

Am I ever satisfied? Well, not exactly. There will be stages of writing where I think, “Hey, I don’t hate this. I think this novel might be pretty good. Maybe the best I’ve ever written.” Then other stages where I think, “This is dreck. Why do I think I can write?” The confidence and doubt come in waves. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who reminds me that I go through this each time and live to tell the tale. He says that at the moment I hate it, I’m too close, like looking at a bare rockface and not realizing it’s part of a big, beautiful mountain. (His analogy. See why I love him?)

I know that my clients go through this as well, and that’s comforting. I’ve had authors tell me they’re sure they should scrap the novel they’ve just written only to have it become an award-winner and their biggest seller. Sometimes the novels that cost us the most, that wring us out and leave us sucking air, are the most rewarding in the end.

3. What is it you like most about this particular book?

I really adore how much Gina has grown over the course of the series and how much, I think, I’ve grown as a writer. Both Gina and Fangdemonium have more depth than in the earlier Vamped books, and that’s very satisfying to me. I’ve always had so much fun writing this series, but now I feel like something deeper has developed as well.

But that’s not the fun answer! The fun answer is that I absolutely love being back with Gina and her fanged and fabulous band of misfits. Most of all, I love having the freaky/deadly/dangerous Alistaire back to play with. Or to play with us, really, as I have no control over him whatsoever.

4. If you asked any character, “What is it you want most in the world, what would he or she say?”

Gina just wants the world to be beautiful. Not only in the physical sense, but overall. People should love and accept each other. Without power struggles, bigotry and bias there’d be so much more time for shopping. (And far fewer fashion disasters caused by stakes, beheadings and bullet holes.)

EXCERPT:
“You okay?” Bobby asked, squeezing my hand. “I mean, that’s good, right? Your parents—”

“Never cared about a thing in their lives,” I cut in.

“It’s easy to take for granted what’s right in front of you, but once it’s gone—”

“So, like, distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that? That’s what you’re saying?” It came out a little hostile. Well, I felt a little hostile. Not at Bobby, but he was there and my parents weren’t. Like always. If they cared so much, why weren’t they there to greet me. If they knew I was alive . . .

“I’m saying that maybe they didn’t realize what they had until they lost it. Lost you.”

“Give me a minute,” I said, taking my hand back and turning away so that whether he was there or not, he couldn’t see my momentary pity party. Weren’t we vamps supposed to be soulless? Shouldn’t that mean less pain and torment?

Bobby touched my hair, just lightly, and a blood tear started to form in the corner of my eyes. Then he was gone and I was left in the van alone. Like I’d always been. Really. At heart.

My parents had always been too busy with their own thing. And I was never interesting enough to draw them away from all that. Nothing but a pretty little doll to dress up and show off and then banish out of sight, out of mind. Once in a while to take down off the shelf and play with in beachy pictures meant to present the image of a happy family or for a day at the spa so Mom wouldn’t have to eat her lunch alone. It wasn’t like I’d been brilliant or intriguing or . . .

Except maybe now. Maybe that’s what this was all about. Now I was a curiosity. Not unique, as far as the undead went, but certainly a talking point. Something to set them apart from their friends. Your daughter is a neurosurgeon. So funny, mine has conquered death. Oh, you don’t know? Eternal youth and beauty, an all blood diet. It’s quite the thing now. They did a whole segment on her on Ghouligans. She’s famous!

GIVEAWAY
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for copies of FANGDEMONIUM and a Rafflecopter gift certificate for 20 dollars! Open to US residents only. In addition, each blogger has a chance at a 20 dollar gift certificate.
Rafflecopter code:

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ABOUT FANGDEMONIUM:

Fanged and fabulous…and hunted.

Gina Covella, fashionista of the fanged, and her entourage are primed to reveal the existence of vampires on the popular Ghouligans television show, when their former federal handlers swoop in to shut them down and imprison the vamps in one of their super secret testing facilities. Or not so secret, as the gang knows all about the horror hospitals and has sworn to take them down.

Their daring escape runs them right into the arms of “the resistance”—a group of humans and vampires who’ve joined together to stop the fighting that’s made Gina and her boy Bobby’s hometown a bloody battlefield. Going home brings them back to old nemeses as well, including the psycho psychic who declared Gina “chaos” and Bobby “the key”. They hope he’ll unlock the secret of stopping the Feds’s freakshow experiments for good, because they’re building up to something big. Huge. And they’re consolidating their power in the Big Easy, aka New Orleans, where what’s cooking is nothing less than the final showdown.

Publisher: Lore Seekers Press

Price: $6.99

Release date: July 17th, 2017

ASIN: B073BMFDJ8

Purchase Link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fangdemonium-Vamped-Book-Lucienne-Diver-ebook/

About LUCIENNE DIVER 

Lucienne Diver is the author of Vamped young adult series (think Clueless meets Buffy) and the Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series from Samhain, which Long and Short Reviews called “a clever mix of Janet Evanovich and Rick Riordan”. Her short stories have appeared in the KICKING IT anthology edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price (Roc Books), the STRIP-MAULED and FANGS FOR THE MAMMARIES anthologies edited by Esther Friesner (Baen Books) and her essay “Abuse” was published in DEAR BULLY: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperCollins). More information can be found on her website: www.luciennediver.com

Shhh…Souls Fall Coming Sooner Than You Think

In the second novella from The Soul Wars, Souls Fall: A visit from the obnoxious Simon Whitleigh, a representative of the Vampire U.S. Assembly, reveals how far Gaspard’s enemies will go to in order to remove Gaspard from influence and power. Meanwhile, Kara meets an interesting neighbor who must be handled with care.

In this novella, Kara takes on an enormous alligator monster, a giant, and a vampire with seer powers, all the while balancing her increasing feelings for Gaspard.

It’s enough to make a Valkyrie a tad antsy.

 

“Kara dressed in black fire-retardant tactical pants with a thin layer of Teflon fabric protection which muffled sound and was good for silent operations. She packed gear in every pocket, including a custom flashlight made from aerospace grade metal with special LED sunlight synthesizing bulbs and extra nine millimeter rounds for her Glock 19. She donned her camouflaged sword, throwing stars, and shield and shoved the gun into a sleeveless holster top. A black fitted cotton jacket concealed her weapons. She preferred her sword to guns, but it was better to be prepared. If things got extra rough, none of this would matter and she’d generate her armor, but she hoped the shit wasn’t going to come close to hitting that fan. In fact, she wasn’t certain anything bad was going to happen, but her Valkyrie spidey-sense was tingling, and she had learned long ago to listen to it.”

Because words are slippery little suckers