Do you believe in ghosts? Story #2

Another paranormal encounter unveiled. This was a guest post I wrote for Mother/Gamer/Writer during my recent BLOOD LIFE book tour.

I love the idea that we are not alone. And I don’t mean aliens, although aliens are cool, too. I mean ghosts, spirits, beings, guardian angels, apparitions, entities, orbs, whatever you want to call them; I love them. And I completely believe because I’ve had experiences throughout my life that have proven to me that they exist, and if we allow ourselves to see them, we just might.

So, I thought it’d be fun to share one of my encounters with you. Hopefully it will open you up to do the same here and not be afraid to comment on what I’ve shared.

When I was 10-going-on-20, my parents left my brother in charge of me while they went out on the town for a date night. My brother was kind of a rebellious brat and took off with some friends instead, leaving me home alone! But, honestly, I didn’t mind. I just locked myself in tight and decided to take a bath, listening to the TV in the background.

While I was in the bathtub, the TV volume shot all the way up. The really eerie thing was that this was back in the early 80’s. We didn’t have a remote control. You had to physically turn a knob on the TV to turn it up, and that particular knob made a lot of static-y noise while it was being turned up—which it did! I sat up wide-eyed for a moment, deciding what to do. I slowly stood up, gathered my robe, and ventured out to investigate. I was a pretty brave little kid. There I stood defiantly in my parents’ bedroom in front of the TV, just staring at it, feeling the baby hairs on the nape of my neck rising and the skin on my back crawling. It was not a welcoming feeling, and the room seemed to close in on me a little. I realized I was scared, truly scared because I could feel something in the room with me, and it didn’t seem friendly or welcoming.

I backed away from the TV and onto my parent’s bed. That’s when my brother came home. I was so glad to see him. I told him what happened and he tried to convince me I was imagining things. I explained the knob and the volume and all that, but he shrugged it off and went to bed. I promptly followed him.

As I lie in my own bed, with the sheets up to my nose, still feeling uneasy, I looked at the open doorway to find beautiful, Victorian-looking men and women waltzing by my bedroom door! It was incredible. And soothing. I must have watched this go on for an hour before I heard keys in the front door. My parents had returned, and the beautiful “friendly” ghosts ceased to dance down our hallway.

To this day, I’m not sure what that was all about. The dancing figures were beautiful and warm and left me with a sense of serenity. They were not threatening at all; however, the force that turned up the TV was, because my intuition reacted very differently. What do you think? Was my house truly being haunted that night by two sets of entities, or was it just a girl alone at home with a vivid imagination . . . and mild telekinesis? 😉

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Tour Stop #1: Sassy Book Lovers Interview

I’ll re-post any interviews that happen along the way for my Dark Minds Book Tour, just in case you missed them. But you should really visit the site if you’d like the full experience.  =) They all have giveaways to offer, and some give their review of the book as well.

This interview courtesy of Sassy Book Lovers.  Enjoy!  I’m always quite the candid one. 😉

Q1. What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Early on, I was drawn to paranormal stories and dark twisty movies. My family is full of creative genius; I guess it was always in my blood and there wasn’t one single trigger to get me going on the thought. Although, Blood Life was inspired by a paper I wrote on vampires in junior college. The professor hated my topic and gave me a D, even though it was a great paper. So, I left her class after telling her off and went home to start writing the first draft. 😉

Q2. Who is your favourite Author & what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have many favorite authors. I guess the author that truly inspired me to write about vampires was Anne Rice. Her intricate, romantic, and dark alluring worlds intrigued me. Her way with words really spoke to me and resembled mine (at least I thought so).

Q3. What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Letting it be finished. I couldn’t let it go. I kept revising and reediting it. That’s why it took me 15 years from start to finish. That won’t happen with the next book. The first born is always a little special.

Q4. Has the paranormal been something that has always interested you?

Always! Ever since I can remember; even as a little tiny girl.

Q5. What was your favourite chapter to write and why?

I’d say my favorite was the first sex scene between Roman and Alexandria. I am a very passionate person, so writing erotica like that came so naturally and exciting. I’ve toned it way down since the first draft, let me tell you… only because I felt what is there now is enough for that story. Had it been a straight erotica story, I would have left it as it was originally.

Q6. What was the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your book?

That I can really tell a story from beginning to end! It was such a trip to piece it together, and this particular book, since it was written over the span of 15 years, has undertones that tell the story of my life and growth as a writer and a person. It’s pretty cool if you think about it.

Q7. Do you ever experience writers block?

Yes! Usually when I’m stressed out in my daily life. Stress really affects my writing.

Q8. What is the last book you read?

“Inside the Outside” by Martin Lastrapes. Excellent book!

Q9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?

My inner witch, Devendra. She’s the bomb. I love everything about her.

Q10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Exercise. Watch movies. Have coffee/tea with good company. Watch live music. Read. Cuddle.

Q11. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first thing I wanted to be was a nun (I went to catholic school). That quickly turned into a bus driver (WTF?) and then a veterinarian. Writer came next and stuck. =)

Q12. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Me… Or Madeline Stowe. Or Sherilyn Fenn. Or Monica Bellucci.

Q13. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes, always remain true to yourself. Don’t write for others; write for you. And write with all your heart.

Q14. Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thanks for giving my debut a chance and for your amazing support! More to come, even stronger than the first, so stay tuned! =)

Some quick questions…

Q15. Light or Dark chocolate?

Dark

Q16. Sunrise or Sunset?

Sunset

Q17. Dogs or Cats?

Cats

Q18. Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Q19. Favorite Colour?

Purple

Q20. Favourite Disney movie?

Old Yeller

Paranormal Encounters: Do You Believe? Story #1

I think the main reason I write about the paranormal at all is due to unexplained life experiences. I am drawn to the supernatural. I believe in ghosts because I’ve seen them, felt them nearby, been touched by them, and even saved by one.

That last one, “saved” by one, refers to the time I was hit by a car at 16 years old. There I was riding my bike IN THE BIKE LANE (apparently silly me?) when a car swerved and crashed into me from behind at about 35 mph. I only heard this happening behind me, along with a cry from my boyfriend at the time to “look out!” I had no time to react as the car hit me, but in the seconds between impact and consequence of impact, I literally felt hands under my arms, at the arm pits, lifting me up and tossing me to the side. My bike was tangled up in the vehicle, and sent with gravity up and backward into the windshield, making a nice spiderweb crack, and then moving up and over the top, landing in the rear of the vehicle, a bit mangled. Wrecked, actually, beyond repair.

I, on the other hand, landed off to the right side with only a broken wrist (which protected my face from the pavement on instinct) and a banged-up hip that pops to this day. Officers at the scene were amazed, perplexed even, as to how I ended up where I did. They were quoted saying, “Judging by the impact, you should have been lifted up with the bike and taken for a much worse ride. You’re one lucky girl!” I didn’t tell them what I felt happen.

The interesting thing: my grandfather, whom I was very close to, had died only a week or so earlier, and his hospice nurse happened to drive by at the precise moment to witness this accident. She saw the whole thing and, as she comforted me while we waited for transport to the hospital, asked me what happened; how I ended up where I did? I felt compelled to tell her exactly what I’d experienced, and to my relief, she attributed it to my grandfather’s spirit watching over me. I completely agreed. That was a nice experience. My heart was warmed and I felt safe.

However, that’s not always the case. Another noteworthy experience happened just a couple of years later. My group of friends at the time developed a fondness of going to the graveyard at night, saying it was a very active graveyard and if you went enough, you might actually see something. They’d gone countless times before I ever joined them. And when I finally agreed to go, an active night it was!

This was one of my more haunting encounters, one that followed me around for years. There we were in the heart of the Petaluma graveyard at around 11:30 p.m. Out of nowhere, all of us pointed at the exact same time to a group of headstones where we witnessed several “people” running and crouching between them. Only, there were pebbles and dead leaves all along where they were moving and not a sound produced. Then these “people” seemed to notice us, and responded by moving straight toward us (still producing no sound on the leaves). In fact, they seemed to float.

We ran like crazy. For some reason, I was trailing behind (like the typical female in a horror movie). Except I didn’t trip over anything. I was doing just fine until all of the sudden I felt something tug fiercely at my shirt, which knocked me back a few steps. I turned around to see where they were, kind of a dumb move, but purely out of instinct, and right there in front of me was what I want to call a shadow of an adult male form. I felt a tug at my wrist, and then a slight push that knocked me off balance and into a tree behind me. I wiggled away and continued to run, not looking back until I reached the group. My friends had seen this happen to me, but didn’t make a move to help. They were all too scared! I guess I would have been, too, but thanks guys!

After that night, they begged me to go every time they went. Those crazies continued to go! But never saw anything except for the night that I went with them, so they were convinced that I was some sort of “key.” Great. Not the kind of key I’d like to be. Those spirits were mean. No thanks! Not something to mess around with.

For years I would see these shadowy figures from the corner of my eye, but when I turned to look closer, they’d be gone. I thought, “Okay, this is just my nerves. I’ve been traumatized. I’ll get over it.” One night I was driving down the 101 freeway with my best friend at the time and right there in the center of the lane was a “shadow man.” Thinking I wasn’t really seeing anything at all, my friend yells, “Look out!!” I drove right through it and she freaked out, looking at me in disbelief. I pulled off the freeway and explained everything to her. She believed me, thank goodness, and talked me into attending a free “healing” at the Berkeley Psychic Institute (Santa Rosa location). That she’d been wanting to go try it out for a while and what a perfect reason to go.

We showed up at the door on one of their free community nights. A woman by the name of Jane greeted us. She was so warm and inviting. It was myself and two girlfriends. They went in first, but I was blocked by Jane immediately. She looked at me wide-eyed and said, “Oh, no, not you! You need to be cleared first.”

What?!

After “clearing” me, she allowed me inside, pulled me right over to her area, and proceeded to tell me that I had beings all around my space. Some good and some bad. She was going to clear away the bad. I then told her of my recent experience and she nodded as if she knew the whole story already. She also said I had been a powerful witch in a past life, and that the spirits around me were quite attached to me. They couldn’t let me go, so I might have “bouts” of experiences with them for the rest of my life, but she also made the point to say that I was strong enough to keep them at bay myself. If they ever overwhelmed me, like they had been of late, I was to look her up for a true cleansing.

Wow. What do you say to that? Sounds a little hokey, and if I hadn’t experienced it all first-hand, I might have agreed with that. But I’d had many paranormal experiences since I was a child. And now it all made sense to me. Sorta. Apparently, I was sensitive to energy. At least that’s what Jane believed, but I never found her again. Which was also strange to me. Then  again, I only knew her as “Jane.” No last name, so that didn’t help.

There have been more experiences, but those were the biggest, most noteworthy to blog about. Do you believe in spirits or beings? Have you ever been haunted or saved by one? Share your experiences with me! I’d love to hear them, and I am a believer, so you won’t have any flaming here.  At least not by me.  😉

Free download of BLOOD LIFE!!

I hate to sound so spammy but it’s true! I’ve decided to offer my novel, Blood Life, for FREE at the Kindle store. Good for only a few days this week… Go get it!! And then review it there after LOVING it. Or just really REALLY enjoying it. 😉 hehe

Kindle version can be read on the Kindle, as well as the Kindle App offered to iPhone and iPad users!

Get it here: http://tinyurl.com/8857h9x – and then PRESS THIS or tweet it or facebook it to your own little space to help me spread the word – offer ends at the witching hour (or a minute before) on June 1st. xoImage

Character Intimacy

My cover designer and friend, Myah Frazer, came up with a great blog topic for me to go over. A beautiful, multifaceted question regarding character development and intimacy.

“Character development and the intimacy that you, as a writer, do or do not allow yourself to create with your characters. How do behaviors, quirks, nuances, even notions become full fledged characters – what is the process and how much of *you* does it take over? – with their very own psyches and needs – are they demanding and do you find yourself interacting with them on a more substantial level than character/creator.. and how does that affect you?”

I am VERY intimate with my characters, and each and every one of them (the main ones especially) carry traits and quirks of my own. Anything from my past or present comes alive within them. I allow them free reign of my imagination and never worry about how much of me they are taking, because I am always the stronger one. I always walk away me. And that’s not to say I am perfect, but to say that I am strong and extremely malleable. I can share many parts of my own psyche with them, without losing any part of myself. I can jump in and out of writing. There is only one who remains with me always, and that’s Devendra.

Demanding? Devendra is the most demanding. She resides in me always. She’s my inner witch. I have had Devendra with me for as long as I can remember! It’d be hard to let anyone else play her on the big screen, should that opportunity ever arise, and I think it will be in the stipulations of contract that if I cannot play her role (haha!) then I MUST be in the casting room when her actress is chosen. It is so important to me. She is the only one that I consider parallel with me, or part of me on a daily basis, whether I am writing or not. When I finished Blood Life, she kept chattering away at me, wouldn’t leave me alone to sleep, until I agreed/decided to write her story leading up to Blood Life, a prequel that I am working on now and hope to have ready for release by late October. Halloween, maybe. Seems fitting of a vampire / witch novel.

The rest of my stars, although important, they take smaller parts of me and run with those pieces becoming their own individual characters. Lokee is tricky, as he is the bad side of me. He’s dark and dirty, but also wants nothing more than acceptance and love. Since he does not get it, he strikes out at everyone and exudes hatred instead. Alexandria/Alethea is my weaker side, my inner victim becoming strong with every growing day. Roman is my perfect lover projected… he is every man I’ve loved and want to love. He’s my “Weird Science” creation of a man instead of a woman. 😉

Lillith… she is very special. The mother of the Combined. The Goddess of the vampires and the witches of the Spectrum (the world I’ve created for them to exist among humans). Lillith is my dangerous but controlling side. She is the most powerful character among them all and next to Devendra. She is my own mother in many ways. The strong one holding us all up, the one that remains in control, and the ultimate nurturer and protector.

I allow them all that they need to help me write their stories. I channel each and every one of them into my words and my life as needed. And I hope they decide to stay with me through the bitter end. Maybe even forever after. ❤

And in case you missed it, I recorded a live excerpt reading of Chapter 12. I’ll be reading live, from a different chapter, on May 22nd, at this cute little local cafe that hosts local author readings monthly. Check out the little website… buy the book! Watch the video. What else? Oh, like the fan page or follow me on Twitter to keep updated! hehe

The Writer in Me

I am so much a writer, the blessing (and curse) runs through my veins like nothing else in this world. It’s magical, like a predestined craft, a trade, a calling, even, that no other hobby or profession can satisfy. And I must have time to write.  Correction, in this crazy world, I must make time to write or my life just feels . . . ordinary. Writing is my life. I wrote my first short story, about a crazy cat lady who died and all her cats ate her, at 10 years old. And look, I didn’t become a serial killer!? You’d think, “Whoa, troubled kid!” Nope. Not troubled (in that sense, anyway). But wildly imaginative, and a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Edgar Allen Poe shorts, et al. Enough said.

Many authors will tell you they come up with story ideas through occurrences in everyday life or through dreams / nightmares, and then outline them before sitting down to write them out. Not me. In fact, outlining really messes up my flow. I sit down and channel the story.  It just comes to me.  I’ll sit with no idea which story I’m going to write in (since I have five other books in progress at present). It depends on the mood I’m in.  I’ll sit down in my office and place my fingers on the home keys of my Asus keyboard, feeling the firmness of them, waiting for the first words to come to me. And that’s just what happens.

Sometimes I will start slowly and speed up as pictures and ideas invade my mind, or, if I’m lucky, my fingers start smoking across the keys as I pound out a scene or two, even a chapter, in record time.  When the temporary possession ends, I go back to read what I’ve written.  When it’s good, I can’t believe I wrote it. I get humble but excited. When it’s bad, it gets deleted and I walk away.  Simple as that.

I will say, though, that some ideas do come to me through everyday life occurrences rather than dreams.  Dreams do sometimes play a role in my imaginative tales, but being out in society, people-watching, gets me the bulk of my material. I see people, I study their actions and body language; if I make eye contact, I decide what they’re thinking (or their thoughts literally fly out at me – it’s frightening!) and it fuels a character or scenario. Little do they know they’re supplying my story tank in some little important way. I wonder if they’d be flattered or weirded out by it? I’d be flattered, but I’m a writer, so I understand. How about you? How would you feel if you found out the reason for a stranger’s stare was that they were momentarily struck by your presence and that you’re quite possibly supplying ammo for a fictional character’s actions?

Vampires: An Insight

The Blood Countess: Erzebet Bathory

There are many books and movies on vampires out there, both past and present. It’s all the rage right now, as they have been resurrected from Anne Rice’s romantic and sexy reign into a new, more carefully crafted modern version consisting of glitter, current clothing trends, and youth. And people are eating it up. Can’t get enough! Nothing wrong with that. Stephenie Meyer created a masterful series that is completely unparalleled and I applaud her. Nor is there anything wrong with the wildly popular series’ Vampire Diaries or True Blood. I remember when True Blood was getting ready to reveal itself. A vial of fake blood in a syringe made its way to my mailbox with absolutely no explanation and creeped me the eff out. O.o

MANY MANY versions of vampires these days… and they are all unique. That makes me happy, being that I’ve just released a book chock full of my very own version of these alluring, lovable, sexy immortal creatures. These days in literature and in Hollywood, the vampire has been dissected every which way but loose. (Well, maybe a little loose if you consider Eddie Murphy or Leslie Neilson as the vampire!) Some wear sunglasses, foundation, and sunscreen to blend in, others bathe in the blood of virgins, impale guests at dinner, vaporize, shape-shift. Still others walk around in Victorian lace, Levis (or the like), patent leather or latex, combat boots and cloaks… some even resist the urge to feed (gasp!) with special serums, while others prey on the weak or ruined. You name it, it’s out there; there’re never-ending possibilities. They’re fictional characters after all, are they not? But mine don’t sparkle or burst into flames when sunlight touches their skin. Nor are mine geared toward the young adult audience. I’m aiming at the 16+ crowd.

My vamps live in a colorful world of their own, borrowing little to nothing from anyone else. They play and prey by their own rules, they love sex, participate in violence, magic, and match and test Fate on a daily basis. They don’t sparkle in sunlight; in fact, sunlight doesn’t affect them at all. They walk among humans and witches and wolves (not werewolves… just wolves). Some even share blood with witches and become their own race: The Combined. These are mega vamps or mega witches, if you will, whichever side you’re on. Me? I’m on both. I play for both teams, the witches and the vampires. And I prefer mine dark and sexy, with a splash of undeniable intrigue. And magic, of course.

Who do you play for? Why? What do you like in your vamp or to get your vamp on? Humor me.

Excerpt from Blood Life

The following excerpt is from Blood Life

Copyright (c) Gianna Perada 2012

He led her upstairs into his office. She remained in front of the doors after he had closed them and waited for him to say something, anything to justify her being there.

She stood staring at him, waiting, hoping she would be able to keep her face hard in the presence of such a man, because what she really wanted to do was fall into his arms and just let him hold her forever. That thought troubled her the most because her feelings were unrealistically strong. She never seemed the type for this sort of thing. She was always the one in denial, especially concerning matters of the heart.

“Alethea,” he started, pouring her a glass of merlot, “allow me to explain myself to you.”

He picked up the crystal glass and set it down on the dark granite coffee table in front of the checkered brown and black suede sofa, motioning for her to take a seat. She flinched when he spoke her name.

Hesitantly, she walked over and accepted his offerings.

He continued, after giving her a few seconds to adjust. “Now, I realize you must be quite confused right now, but—”

“Yes, I am,” she cut in, trying to sip her merlot and keep her wobbly self under control at the same time. Of course, she failed, causing a stream of wine to jump out of the glass onto her dress.

“At least the dress is dark,” he laughed and passed her a handkerchief. “There’s a bathroom right through those doors if you need to wipe it up better.”

“No,” she said, soaking the wine up with the handkerchief, “but I don’t think this handkerchief will ever be the same.”

“I don’t mind. Keep it.” He strolled over to the window, and, although she kept herself busy wiping at the wine, she knew he was watching her through the reflection of the glass. She could feel his eyes again.

“I do apologize if I have upset you. You must understand that it is not my nature to explain myself to others.” He turned and faced her squarely, locking into her eyes as he walked towards her. “In fact, what I want to tell you will be hard for you to accept and I greatly fear your disapproval. But it is very important and so you must know.” He looked down at the wet spot on her dress. “Is that wine coming out all right?”

“Oh—” She unlocked her eyes, looking down at the dress, “yeah, it’s black, no one will even notice.” Her heart beat dangerously fast.

“I’m glad,” he replied, lifting her eyes to his and holding them there. He searched her again and finally saw it. Through her soul mirrors, when he looked deep into their abyss, he saw Alexandria’s spirit and his heart rejoiced.

Keeping his emotions at bay, and releasing her gaze, he said, “Good. I don’t think that I could tolerate having you stained in my club. It took me a long time to get this place and I would hate to have to tear it down for ruining your exquisite dress.”

“Tear it down?” she half-laughed.

“If that is what you wish. You see there are some men who would do anything for love, my sweet Alexandria.” He closed his eyes, tapping his fist on his head.

“What? Who is Alexandria?” She was confused, and surprised about the feeling in her chest, the pang of jealously that struck her deep inside.

“Oh, but you know, I assure you,” he whispered softly, opening his eyes again to focus on her sitting there, angry, confused and beautiful. “And you know who I am. I should never have to explain anything to you, should I? Do you need to be reminded of who I am? Are you so soon to forget?”

He sat down beside her, his words upsetting her so much she fought to keep from losing her temper. Her head swam; it felt as though it were floating just above her neck, disconnected and threatening to fall at any moment.

“Forget what?” she managed to force out. “No, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Your name is Roman Demone and you own this nightclub; that is all I know about you!”

He moved, no, crawled over to her giving her a look of such desire she couldn’t swallow the lump of anxiety that formed in her throat, suffocating her. She jumped up and started backing up toward the door, shaking her head furiously.

“Alexandria, my love—” he cooed, opening his arms to her.

“Why do you keep calling me that?” Tears were streaming down her face.

“Calling you what?”

“You know what!” she snapped, slapping at the hands he extended to her. Her eyes widened, growing as big as her face. “You’re crazy!” she cried.

“I have already considered that, but frankly insanity doesn’t suit me,” he commented, smugly, “nor does this ignorance suit you.”

He hadn’t meant to be cruel, but something came over him. Perhaps it was the tension of the long-awaited reunion, vampire-style? He did not know for sure, but she was beginning to understand, and she was not leaving him ever again.

Before she knew to be alarmed, he was painfully pinning her against the office door.

“In two hundred years my memory has never failed me, never left me. You must remember me, my love.”

She shivered beneath him. He cocked his head at her.

“But, if you truly do not see, than I shall give you the memories back!” he boomed as he pressed his fingers against her temples and his thumbs pressed gently over her eyes.

Alethea collapsed under his grip as the pictures began to invade her mind.

For an instant, she was hovering above a gleaming white castle, surrounded by the density of a lush forest. Then, with a sudden flash, she witnessed herself with a different face, closed in by maids and imprisoned by those same castle walls.

Looking out one of the stone portholes, a young dark-haired man stood, watching her, hiding himself on the edge of the thicket. And as he walked out into sight, she instantly recognized Roman’s face.

There was blood streaming down from his temples over the sides of his face. He was being restrained by two ironclad guards. Snickering by her side stood a man drawing pleasure from Roman’s pain. That’s when she looked down at herself to discover she was dressed in a wedding gown, obviously given to the strange man standing next to her.

She fought for control, prying her eyes open with all her might. As soon as she saw Roman in front of her, the images flooded again.

The two of them, wrapped around one another on top of a horse, walking across the thin green lining of a forest floor. She saw him above her and felt him come inside. Could feel him holding her in his arms with such love, the kind of love you cannot explain, but you know you’ve waited all your life to have. She was remembering, all at once, without warning. She did know him and had once loved him deeply, with all she was made of. But what stood before her now seemed only a cold reflection of the images. He was not the same warm man; he was cold to the touch, an animated statue.

With a frightened push, she shoved him away forcefully, but even then it seemed that he was the one who released her. She remained fixed, contained by one of his lordly stares, a look that seemed to coat his face like hard, gray marble. Though she was free from his hold, the images continued to overwhelm her. The intensity increased and her body became weaker as she slid down against the door in defeat.

Raising her hands to her head, she closed her eyes tight in a vain attempt to refuse the flashes. Roman continued to stare at her with eyebrows closing in together; a parallel vein ran down the center of his forehead. Rage surfaced at her inability or unwillingness to understand. He stood before her, frozen from emotions.

Alethea began mumbling, and as the mumbles rose into screams, the visions of Lokee moved in, torturing her.

A flash of a bathroom. A faint perfume. The woman emerged in a steaming tub with her eyes closed, relaxed and in peace. A slender form invaded her home. She was startled by screams in the next room, jolting herself upright in the tub.

The intruder made his way into the bathroom, and she looked up into the vengeful face of Lokee, with rich mahogany streaks of blood lashed across his clothes and face. Slowly, his arms rose and extended down towards her squirming body. He placed his hands on both sides of her head and forced her to look at him. She was kicking madly, spilling water from over the tub. With a swift motion, he pulled her from the tub and threw her into the wall behind him. Alethea could feel the woman’s pain, her suffering. Her thoughts of Roman, in the moments she could still think, before hitting that wall with force enough to break her neck.

Alethea panicked, stumbling against the wall, reaching out to strike back at the vision, trying to save the woman, Alexandria . . . her. Alethea called out for someone to help her, this dying, suffering woman.

Unable to move before he reached her again, Lokee pierced her breasts and stomach with his long, jagged nails. Alexandria screeched in pain as he finally drug her by the hair back into the other room to see the other woman lying with eyes glazed over, drained of life on the floor.

Alexandria started scratching at him, frantically, anywhere she could reach but he again threw her up against the wall, with twice the force as before. Alethea tasted blood in her mouth. He tugged at Alexandria’s hair to pull her face towards the ceiling as he pierced the skin under her rib cage and picked her up like a ragdoll to toss back into the tub. The water became a pool of gore, a Red Sea, disturbed by turbulence, stained from the blood draining from her near lifeless body. He stole the last breath from her neck as he bit and drank until her heart finally gave up its fight, leaving the world with a single memory of Roman’s face, her beloved, an image to save with her soul. Then she was gone. Even when she breathed no more, Lokee decided to drink from her neck, like a fiend, a scavenger in the wild, caring not of poison.

Alethea’s eyes opened wide to catch a glimpse of Roman leaning over her. Unable to differentiate the images of Lokee from crossing her sight, she started lashing out at Roman, wildly, trying to fend off his approach.

Scrambling away and grabbing hold of anything in reach, she started blindly throwing things as she tried to pull herself out of the vulnerable position she was in. Sheer terror blessed her with a new pulse of strength, enough to lift herself up, but again her legs gave out and she was flat on the floor.

Roman looked down at her body and was suddenly hit with the intoxicating aroma of fresh blood. He stepped over her, searching for the outlet of a wound.

Salivating, his fangs pushed through his gums, razor sharp and ready to assist him in breaking through tough, human skin. Biting back the urge to feed on her, he noticed her back.

Memories surfaced as he studied the Vampire Mark. It had raised on her back as if pushed out from within. It bled as if fresh!