On another note, here's a couple quickie reads for Labor Day weekend. The first is an excerpt from The Getaway Girls: A New Orleans Tale of Monsters, Mayhem and Moms. The second is an excerpt from the sequel, which I'm working on right now. Enjoy!
(The Getaway Girls - From Chapter 3)
Hey, girl.” Audrey nearly jumped as a tall, skinny blonde man wearing obscenely tight jeans and a tattered Madonna t-shirt appeared out of the fog with an unlit cigarette in his hand.Audrey could see the shadowy figures of Declan and Beth just beyond the mist. They had already exited the alley into Jackson Square.
The skinny man put his hand on his chest, saying, “Oh, honey, did I scare you? Y’all, I am so sorry. I was just lookin’ for a light. Do y’all have one?”
Audrey took a deep breath and nodded. “Uh, sure.” She fumbled with her purse, looking for her lighter. Then she remembered. “Oh, crap, I lost my lighter.” She looked up at the man to apologize.
The tall, thin blonde man was gone.
Carl was standing in his place. He stared down at her with intense, black eyes and spoke in his chocolate-rich British accent. “No need to apologize. I believe you left your lighter with me. Now,” he said, coming in closer as Audrey tried to shrink back against the window, “where did we leave off the last time we met?”
Audrey’s breathing sped up and out of the corner of her eye she tried to see Declan, but she couldn’t see a thing in the cool, damp gloom.
“Oh, yes, I remember.” Carl’s finely chiseled face loomed over Audrey as his eyes traced the curve of her neck down the plunging line of her purple dress. His nostrils flared as though he’d just smelled freshly baked cookies.
Audrey’s throat tightened, suffocating the scream she wanted to let loose. She prayed that Carl hadn’t seen Syd, who had backed up behind the restaurant sign. Audrey tried to feel inside her purse for something, anything to use as a weapon but her fingers were clumsy. All she could feel was a half-empty chewing gum package.
Carl’s lip curled as she flailed around in her purse. “I think you’re out of lighters, Audrey.” A curious look flickered in his dark eyes. “I see someone has cleaned up your face,” he noted. “I do hate to hit a woman, but you left me with little choice. You really ought not to bite a man’s ear when he’s trying to kill you.”
Audrey began to sweat as Carl stared at her. “Lift up your hair,” he ordered.
Because she didn’t know what else to do, she complied, twisting her brown hair around her finger and holding it at the crown. “Why?” she pleaded.
Carl cocked his head. “You have a very supple neck, Audrey.” He stroked his lower lip. “I’m trying to decide from which angle to break it.”
Audrey’s chest burned, shooting acid up through her throat and she screamed, “Declan!”
Carl looked quickly over his shoulder and then turned back to Audrey and shook his finger, saying, “I don’t think so, Audrey; I’m not into threesomes.” He inched forward and wedged his muscular thigh in between her legs. “Now shut up and fuck me.”
“No. Fuck YOU!” Syd jumped up from behind the sign holding a can of hair spray, and she pushed down the nozzle as hard as she could. “That’s real aerosol, motherfucker, you better run!”
Carl stepped back as the fumes filled his mouth and eyes. “You’re going to regret that,” he growled.
“Get away from her, Carl!” Declan snarled as he leapt in front of the women, yanked up the wooden placard and swung it at Carl’s face, keeping a healthy distance as Syd and Audrey scooted further down the alley.
“She’s mine. This isn’t your business,” Carl said, wiping his eyes and looking at Declan with mild annoyance.
Declan shoved the women behind him as he swung the sign again, but Carl sneered at him and merely swatted at the makeshift weapon. “You know you can’t save her, Declan,” Carl said, walking toward him. “Just give her to me, and I’ll leave the rest of them alone.”
Suddenly the gleam of red and orange flames swirled through the alley, flashing through the mist. A long, thin stick lit on both ends sailed through the air, the smell of sizzling fire sharp and close.
Audrey gasped as a young Hispanic man back-flipped in front of her, snatching the fiery stick just before it reached her face. She looked beyond him into Jackson Square, where street performers waylaid straggling tourists on their way out of the Quarter. A nearby crowd watched the man, oohing and aahing as he tossed the stick up in the air again and caught it with a quick flick of the wrist.
The man came closer, juggling his flame near Carl, who hissed, “I’ll find you again, Audrey,” before melting away into the mist. The man winked at Audrey, before turning his stick upside down and swallowing the flame first on one end and then the other. The crowd cheered, he blew Audrey a kiss and then flipped back to his audience.
(Getaway Girls Sequel - as yet untitled.... Warning: this is 1st draft stuff, so yes, there will be typos)
Jean-Paul grabbed her waist and swung her so that she straddled him. She could feel one very unvampire-like part of him hard against her bikini bottom. Her very flimsy, easily ripped off bikini bottoms. She pulled away. “What am I doing? What are you doing?”
Jean-Paul grinned. “I’m about to make love. But if you want to pretend we’re doing something else, I can role play.”
Beth opened her mouth, a retort on her lips, when a loud BOOM startled her.
Jean-Paul looked to the window and yelled, “DOWN!” He shoved Beth off his lap, and crouched over her body.
CRASH! Bullets disintegrated the window, sending deadly splinters everywhere, missing Beth by inches as Jean-Paul rolled her to the side, pushing her out of the way. He jumped to his feet and punched keys on a small black panel mounted to the wall.
Another window shattered and Beth felt the cool slice of glass against her thigh. She began crawling toward Jean-Paul as the panel flashed a green light and opened, revealing a long, barrel-shaped weapon. Jean-Paul heaved it easily over his shoulder, putting his finger to his lips as he directed Beth to the opposite corner. He pulled a trigger and a compact ball of flame shot through the gaping remains of the window and Beth heard a loud explosion outside.
Another bullet pierced glass, this one lodging in Jean-Paul’s bicep with a loud, wet thud. Beth gasped as Jean-Paul squinted into the scope of his weapon, aimed, and sent another fiery missile toward the unseen shooter. And another. And another.
Finally, after lobbing what seemed like an endless barrage of explosions outside his windows, Jean-Paul backed up and reached down with one fluid movement and plucked Beth from the floor. “Come. Now.” He grabbed her hand, and pushed buttons on the panel again. This time, instead of revealing a hidden compartment, the wall itself slid open and Jean-Paul tugged Beth inside.
The door slammed neatly shut behind them and Beth looked quickly around. They were in what appeared to be a safe room, walled in marble threaded with streaks of grey and gold. The air was cool and stale, but from somewhere within the house, Beth heard a pump kick on, and a small vent in the ceiling began dispersing an almost invisible mist.
“What is that?”Beth demanded, panicked that somehow biological weapons were now involved.
“Oh, that’s just humidity. It gets very dry in this room if you’re in for any amount of time,” Jean-Paul answered almost absently, as he picked at the bullet in his arm.
Beth let that information sink in, picturing Audrey and Evie sitting safely with cocktails by the pool. If she just hadn’t taken up Jean-Paul on his invitation to tour the gardens, she’d be with them, enjoying a Bloody Mary that she could certainly use right now. Goddamn flowers.
Then she turned back to Jean-Paul, who frowned as he tried to pry the bullet out of his arm with a pair of tweezers. His large fingers fumbled over the slim tines, and the tweezers slipped from his grasp.
“Here,” Beth picked up the tweezers and started to hand them back to Jean-Paul. “Do you want me to try?”
Jean-Paul sighed, “Please. I can usually do this myself, but today I seem to be clumsy.”
Beth stepped closer, her head bending over his arm as she slowly lowered the tweezers to the pulpy red wound. She was conscious of the smell of him; the spiciness of his cologne and the bitter scent of his blood, as she maneuvered the delicate tongs around his flesh. But decades of eyebrow maintenance had given her an edge over Jean-Paul in the tweezing department, and eventually she wormed the bullet out.
“Thank you,” Jean-Paul murmured as he slapped a sanitized wipe over the hole in his arm, which already appeared to be healing, and then sat down on the floor, looking tired.
“Who was shooting at you?” Beth asked.
“That’s the problem I need your help with – an unfriendly neighbor, you might call him.”
“Scavenger.” The name rolled off Beth’s tongue and she shuddered.
“Yes, a scavenger – well, his human guards, probably.” Jean-Paul shook his head. “They have the worst timing.”
“But why would a scavenger’s guards try to shoot you? They do know you’re a vampire, right?”
Jean-Paul stretched. “Yes, of course, but they weren’t trying to shoot me, Beth.”
“Then . . .” Beth found it hard to finish her question.
Jean-Paul looked up at her. “They were They were aiming for you.”
“But,” Beth paused, “you shot him first. You saved my life, kind of.”
Jean-Paul continued his even, dark stare into Beth’s eyes. “What kind of host would I be if I brought you here and left you unprotected?”
As soon as the words left his lips, what sounded like a heavy hailstorm rocked the walls. A video monitor inside the room showed a dark figure jumping through the window with an automatic weapon.
Beth began to shake.
Jean-Paul put his finger to his lips. “It’s okay,” he whispered. Then he reached into a built-in metal drawer, pulled out a long, sharp machete and turned back to Beth. “Just a minute,” he said. Pushing the keypad, he slid the safe room door open just enough to lob the knife out into the living room, aiming straight for the dark figure, who slumped to the ground.
Jean-Paul quickly slammed the door shut again. He leaned against the cool metal for a moment, and then his eyes met Beth’s again. She didn’t look away. He strode over to where she stood, stopping inches away from her. He seemed to hesitate for just a moment until Beth licked her lips. Then he kissed her again. This time, Beth didn’t pull away. She didn’t think about her husband or her friends. She didn’t think about anything. She just kissed him back and she didn’t stop.