Although there’s still work to be done, some parts of my new book (no title yet) are ready to share! I thought I’d give you all a taste of the opening chapter. This book continues the story started in Love Lies Bleeding, introducing some new characters along the way. Fair warning, if you haven’t read Love Lies Bleeding yet, this excerpt contains spoilers. (And a trigger warning for anyone sensitive to violence.)
Mara was hungry and lonely. Hungry, she could take care of.
She was in London. She’d been there for what felt like months, but really was only a little over a week.
Nigel and Dominic were dead.
She’d killed them.
They’d deserved it, she reminded herself as her anxiety started to spike. Dom had betrayed her, and both of them were threats to her and Lee. Even more than vampires usually were.
Her mind, as it so often did, latched on to Lee. How was he doing? Was he all right? Did he forgive her for leaving, for abandoning him?
It was for the best, all for the best. Always for the best.
An image of a bashed-in skull appeared in front of her. Nigel’s unseeing eyes staring, judging. She blinked and Dominic was there, lying on the ground, a dagger with a broken handle buried in his chest.
No, she muttered; not real.
But it was real. Or had been. She could still feel Nigel’s skull shattering under the iron poker, could still feel the handle of the blade breaking off as she tried to twist it in Dominic’s heart.
She knew it had happened; she just couldn’t believe it. Maybe because it felt as though they were still with her. Or maybe because she hadn’t bothered to check to make sure Dom definitely wouldn’t be coming back. Either way, she’d felt as though she was being followed ever since.
Part of her hoped Lee had tracked her down, not only because she desperately wanted to see him, but also because the alternative didn’t bear considering.
Was Dominic still out there? Was he her ghost, her shadow, her hunter? Leave it to him to keep chasing her from beyond the grave.
Or had all her victims broken free, the restless shades of her centuries of slaughter? She’d come home and unlocked their tombs.
The edges of her vision started tinting red. Right, she was hungry. Blood first, ghosts later.
The bars were always good for an easy meal. The streets were already full of rowdy patrons heading to the next place, or getting into brawls, or stumbling home, heads fuzzy and defenses down. It wouldn’t take much to get one to follow her instead, to wander off into a dark corner of the city where prying eyes didn’t reach.
She’d have to play the game a few times tonight, if she wanted enough to be sated without taking too much from anyone. It wasn’t how she usually fed—how she used to feed—but she was trying something new. Feeding without hunting, without killing. Without the thrill. No matter how much blood she drank this way she was always left empty. But she survived, and it kept any more ghosts from haunting her.
Rising voices caught her attention: a man and a woman’s. The man’s voice was laden with threat; the woman’s, distress. Mara’s pulse quickened. Maybe she’d be playing a different game tonight, one where a predator would get bled. It was always nice when people got what they deserved. And so rare.
She approached the area where she’d heard the voices, making sure to look innocuous. Just a girl out late, alone, quick steps and head down—no threat to anyone. Or so they’d think—so they always thought—until it was too late to think at all. But when Mara reached the spot, an unlit path next to a park playground, she found a woman standing calmly facing the other direction. No one else was around. Had they already left, or had Mara misheard and gone to the wrong place? She stopped, confused. The woman turned to look at her.
(© Aspasía S. Bissas)
Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. If you haven’t read Love Lies Bleeding, or my free stories “Blood Magic” and “Tooth & Claw,” download them now:
If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
Aspasía S. Bissas