Thursday already, guys. THURSDAY. Has the week been flying for you too? Friday is around the corner, but before we can get there, two things:
1.) I see you all of you promoting one another for the Fall Fantasy Conclave, and I have to say, it is *AWESOME* to watch! Just knowing how you Indies are supporting and encouraging each other they way you are makes me proud to be one.
2. Help me welcome my third and final Author I have the pleasure of promoting during this week long promotion-support fest: Gabriella Messina!
Gabriella is the author of the Kate Gardener Mysteries series and Bloodline, a contemporary fantasy shifter novel:
Unfortunately, due to a little technical difficulty, we’re flipping things around a bit. Instead of the Q&A first, we’ll be taking a look inside Bloodline, as that was the attachment I was able to open. 😉
“Nice shot.” The Hooded Man’s voice was surprising: rich yet with a touch of softness to the timbre. Sam watched him walk to Franco’s body. The Hooded Man crouched for a moment, looked steadily at the body.
“I’ll call… for help.” Geez, is that my voice? The Hooded Man didn’t respond and Sam started to wonder if he’d even heard her. Sam reached into her pocket for… the phone. The phone that got tossed. Shit!
“There’s only one way to help him now.” The Hooded Man stood up, raised his weapon and aimed it at Franco’s abdomen. He fired, the bullet blasting into his body just below the sternum. Sam quickly raised up the gun and trained it on him. “Put the gun down!”
The Hooded Man glanced toward her briefly but seemed untroubled by her clipped order. Franco whimpered a final time and was still. “Any minute now.”
Sam kept the gun aimed at him as she looked at Franco’s body. The skin color had changed, taking on a silvery sheen. Sam closed her eyes, opened them. The body seemed to be moving, a subtle gelatinlike shudder. Beads of the silvery sheen rolled off the body like sweat, soaking into the ground below.
He’s… it’s melting. The fuckin’ body is MELTING. Sam backed away and leaned against a nearby tree, the gun lowered at her side. The Hooded Man continued to watch the body until nothing remained but a darkened patch where the body had been. He holstered his weapon and pushed back the sweatshirt hood, ran a hand through his wavy black hair, causing longish pieces on the top of his head to stand at odd angles. He looked to be in his early thirties, but a kind of dark maturity gave him an air of timelessness.
His eyes were dark, a rich coffee brown that nearly verged on black, with heavy black eyebrows rising above them. She’d been a little over-generous in her height estimation; with the hood back, he was tall, but his wiry build gave him an illusion of greater height. He watched Sam for a moment before he stepped away from the melting site and joined her by the tree. “You all right?”
Sam was silent, staring at the spot where Franco, or whatever he had become, had melted away. The Hooded Man watched her a moment more, then reached into his pocket, pulled out a piece of soft white cloth. He reached over, dabbing at the blood that had trickled down her neck from the cut Franco had made. He dabbed once, twice; as he reached to dab a third time, Sam shivered slightly, grabbed his hand.
She watched his face relax a bit as he released the cloth into her hand. “That was a little close, wasn’t it?” His voice had a bit of an accent, maybe Irish or something. That wasn’t going to help her concentration. Sam blotted at her neck, glared at the handsome man in front of her.
“Close, yeah, thanks. What was that?”
The Hooded Man glanced at the melting scene then looked back at Sam. “Some poor bastard infected with LV.”
Sam stopped blotting. “LV?”
Sam gave him a blank look. “I’m sorry, I left my medical encyclopedia in my other coat. What does that mean exactly?”
“A virus which causes Lycanthropy.”
“Lycanthropy, I see.” Sam moved away from the tree, began to make big circles as she scanned the ground searching for her phone. She stopped suddenly. “Wait a minute. Is that, like, werewolves?”
“Like, yeah. What are you looking for?”
“My phone.” She groaned, resumed her search. “Werewolves, huh?
Not to antagonize the crazy person or anything, but when was the last time you had a CAT scan?”
Her phone appeared in front of her face. Sam looked up at the Hooded Man, took the phone from him. “Six months ago.” He raised his other hand; Sam’s Lorcin pistol hung before her eyes. Sam hesitated a second, then took her gun, tossing him a small smile in thanks. “Uh-huh, well, you need another one.”
She started walking away from the scene and toward the low-level noise and movement of Broadway. The Hooded Man followed her. “You know, after what just happened, after what you just saw, I would think you’d be more open-minded than this.”
“I’m a New Yorker, I was born open-minded.” Sam picked up her pace, keeping it steady and brisk as she reached Broadway and started up the street.
“So, what happened to Sick Boy?”
“The kid who robbed the store, who was hit by the bus.”
Sam stopped suddenly. The Hooded Man had walked on a few steps before he noticed that she had stopped. He backtracked to stand in front of her. Sam looked at him warily, placed her hand near the gun in her pocket. “You. You were there, by the vendor. The man in black. Who are you?”
“Vincent Kremer, at your service.” He bowed slightly at the waist, adding a flourish with his right hand then smiled. He has a nice smile, nice everything actually… oh, what the hell, Sam? You’re just one big hormone anymore…
Shook her head, banishing the thoughts away and focusing in again on Vincent where he stood on the sidewalk. She frowned. “Why were you there? Were you following that kid? Oh, wait, let me guess… He was a werewolf.”
Vincent grinned. “You’re catching on.”
“Good Lord.” Sam rolled her eyes and marched past him, continuing up Broadway. Vincent hurried to catch up to her, talking all the way.
“Jekyll and Hyde. The beast within realized. The virus enables the physical transformation; drugs eliminate the ability to control it. Result – a short, violent life spent preying upon the homeless, the sick, the weak, spreading the evil as they go. A physical manifestation of everything dark that lurks within.” He paused, seemingly for breath, as they neared St. Paul’s and Vesey Street.
“You know, that bastard had been running around for two days. Gutted a junkie in the Bowery the other night.”
Sam stopped walking, her gaze fixed on the sidewalk ahead of her. “The Bowery, huh? Now that’s funny.”
Vincent frowned, puzzled, “Why would that be funny?”
Sam looked up at him, a matching frown on her own face. “Because someone was spotted leaving the scene that night. A man like a shadow.” She paused, letting it sink in, looking him up and down.
“A man in black.”
“Oh.” Vincent looked down at his clothing. “I suppose my wardrobe is a bit incriminating, then.”
Sam nodded, started walking again. “A bit. Now, I’m torn between hauling your ass in on murder charges, or my personal favorite, me walking this way and you not following me. So -”
Sam turned to look back at him, but Vincent was gone. What the hell, c’mon with the disappearing people!
Sam noticed something laying on the ground behind her. It was just about in the spot where Vincent would have been standing if he hadn’t high-tailed it out of there. Sam wondered what did it… the threat to haul him in or that she encouraged him to go away.
Sam bent to pick up the small piece of folded cardboard. A matchbook, plain and white, half the matches gone. She opened it and despite her tiredness, the aches and pains setting in already from the altercation with Franco-thing, the fear and anger and loneliness she felt right now with Ivan locked away in the hospital… despite all that, she smiled.
Written on the inside of the matchbook cover were the initials VK and his cell number.
Thanks for sharing, Gabriella!
Come back tomorrow for a *possible* Q&A (technology pending) or check out some of Gabriella’s other works, like the Kate Gardener Mysteries series:
On a crisp September morning, a jogger stumbles upon an horrific scene in a London park…
When forensic photographer Kate Gardener steps in for her injured supervisor, the brash American ex-pat finds herself at the scene of a truly brutal murder. The naked, castrated body of a young pharmacist has been found at the edge of Regent’s Park.
Get it here
As faithful parishioners gather for Vespers on All Saints Day, a beloved priest is bludgeoned to death in the church sacristy…
Though he is no stranger to controversy, the priest’s death sends shockwaves through the community. Allegations from the past come to light when a young seminarian, the victim of sexual abuse, is found hiding on the church property, his clothing covered with blood.
Forensic photographer Kate Gardener has her doubts about the young man’s guilt, and her hunches are seldom wrong. The twists and turns of this complicated and controversial case throw Kate into the path of the members of a notorious dining club…. and a very handsome young architect. Romantic entanglements must take a backseat to the case, however, as the investigation intensifies and the inquest into the death of Neville Crane looms.
Together with Detective Sergeant Richard Pierce, Jimi Khan, and the rest of the team, Kate must overcome her fears and face the ghosts of her past in the race to piece the clues together and catch a brutal murderer before he strikes again.
Get it here
Thanks again for sharing, Gabriella, and for participating in the Fall Fantasy Conclave!