Charlene sets her copy of Dark Liaison on the coffee table and then turns off the light. Pausing, she recalls the last time the stars of the Ema Marx series came for a visit and she tried to accommodate their light-sensitive eyes. The potted plant almost didn’t survive due to her poor memory of the layout of her own living room. Thanks to Jesu’s quick reflexes, the table and greenery were upright before she could reach for them.
She opted for a compromise and dimmed the lights to a soft glow as a knock came at the entry. A smile stretched across her face and she swung the door wide.
Jesu and Ema stand hand-in-hand. Jesu, wearing his signature black on black, smiles politely, the left corner of his mouth lifting into a soft dimple. Ema blinks a few times in attempt to dispel the artificial light. She gives up with a sigh and then plasters a huge grin on her face while stepping past the threshold and wrapping her arms around her old friend.
Charlene: *Throws her arms around Ema. Her lungs hitch as she tries to breath under her vampyre friend’s strong hold. Giving up on sucking in air, her voice squeaks as she pushes it out.* Jesu, Ema, it’s so good to have you back.
Ema: *easing back from the bear hug to let Charlene breath* It’s so good to see you again, Charlene!
Charlene: *snatches a quick gasp to respond* It’s so good to see you! Do come in.
Jesu: We brought you a souvenir from Berlin. *Hands Charlene a gift basket. Nestled inside is a stationary set with vintage prints of the Brandenburg Gate.*
Charlene: *Lips pucker into a large O* Oh, thank you! This is beautiful.
Ema: I told him no one writes on paper anymore, but he insisted.
Jesu: *Cheeks tinged blue* Every author needs a stationary. Computers are prone to breaking.
Ema: And paper is prone to tearing. And coffee stains. And it’s highly allergic to fire.
Charlene: *imagines the pretty pieces of paper teeter-tottering on their corners as they run sneezing from the flames* Hahaha, it’s perfect. *heads to the kitchen* What can I get you to drink? I understand you’re able to handle being around blood a little better now, Ema.
Ema: Around it, yes. But I better not drink any just now.
Jesu: *smiles* You needn’t trouble yourself with securing blood for us. We ‘ate’ before we came over.
Charlene: Oh, well then make yourselves comfortable. *Picks up her book from the coffee table and settles into her chair across from them* I’m anxious to talk to you guys about book two, Dark Liaison! I hear you have quite a tour going on.
Ema: Yes, J.D. has us working like circus elephants! She has a whole list of blog stops scheduled through the month. It’s posted on her website.
Jesu: There’s a lot of anticipation this time around. Our fans have been waiting for months to see how our journey develops.
Charlene: Yes, a lot of anticipation. Dark Heirloom was fantastic! So, tell us. How’s the training going?
Ema: *Gives Jesu a sidelong glance*
Jesu: *Blinks innocently* What?
Ema: Let’s just say it keeps getting interrupted.
Charlene: But don’t you have a new trainer?
Ema: Yeah, that new trainer? Turns out her attention was really on someone else. *Narrows her eyes at Jesu*
Jesu: I’ve apologized for that a hundred times and I will apologize a hundred more, a thousand more, a million more, until you believe it. Ema, I am so very sorry…
Ema: *Raising a hand to ward off Jesu’s theatrics* Save it. I’ve already accepted your apologies.
Jesu: That is not the same as truly believing. I will earn your trust back.
Charlene: Oh, Ema, how could you hold back from such an amazing guy?
Ema: *Rolls her eyes at Jesu* Like there is anyone I trust more than you already. *Snorts and looks at Charlene* He might be amazing, but he’s not always honest.
Jesu: A million times I will apologize, and then a trillion more—
Ema: Please don’t.
Charlene: *Grins and leans toward Jesu* Any luck getting hold of Ema’s heart? I mean, really?
Jesu: *Looks at Ema and lifts his brow*
Ema: *Laughing* Oh, yeah, it’s his all right. And you won’t believe the things he does with it.
Charlene: *Blinks, unsure if she really wants to know what those things are. Decides to take a little bit safer route and quirks an eye at Ema’s hand* I know Apolyon isn’t wasting time... Um... Tell me about it?
Ema: *Follows Charlene’s line of sight to the thin pale-pink scar ringing her finger and then groans* Apollyon is a pain in my ass. Can you believe it? First his zombie thug bites my finger off, then Apollyon sews a new one on! Don’t even ask me where he got a new finger. I mean, what? He shops at a human body parts store? Like Ace Body-ware? And what’s the point? I mean, was that his sadistic way of saying, “Oops, sorry my jack-ass minion bit you”? It’s not like he doesn’t want me dead anyways.
Charlene: He gave you a new finger? It’s hard to imagine him wanting to make up for anything. *Mumbles in contemplation* He’s got to have ulterior motives. I’m so glad you have King Nikolas on your side.
Jesu: *Looking a bit green, he sinks a little lower in his seat*
Charlene: *Notices the she stepped into a touchy subject and decides to shift the comment* Er... What’s it like staying at an ancient Vampyre king’s castle?
Ema: Oh, you know. Dark. Dank. Kind of like you hitched a ride on a time machine. It’s cool, though. I never thought I’d live anywhere other than the slums of Chicago. Suddenly I’m living among royalty. Vampyre royalty, but still.
Jesu: Nikolas’ estate is much larger than our home in Finland. Every time he and his wife had a child, or when their children had children, they added another wing.
Charlene: Wow. And I thought Prince Jalmari was excessive. By the way, have you heard from him at all?
Ema: No. Thank God.
Jesu: *Ignoring Ema’s comment* He must be grieving pretty deeply.
Charlene: Yeah, I know he really loved Leena. I hope he doesn’t go off the deep end.
Jesu: *Frowning* I worry for my brother. He is not always…stable.
Ema: You don’t say?
Charlene: Okay, let’s lighten the mood. Dark Liaison is out! Woo to a double Hoo! Would you share an excerpt?
Dark Liaison – Excerpt
I bolted toward the cherry blossomed panel, slid the door to the left, and stepped inside. The space was very zen with red and black crêpe paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, stained wood floors, and bamboo furniture. The bed sheets were a crisp white and everything gleamed softly, including the adjoined matching bathroom. My chest heaved in a slight sigh. The theme was a bit much, but the room was just vacant enough that I could cling to the fact that living here was temporary. It’s a hotel, not an apartment.
My fingertips traced the pale bamboo knobs of the wardrobe as I wondered what kind of garments hid inside. I pulled the drawers open. An array of dresses lined the rack, arranged by color, length, and material; short cotton summer dresses on the left to floor-length ball gowns on the right. I scrunched my nose. Ick.
Below them were six smaller drawers. I opened the top one and found several new packages of panties with the tags still on them, an oversized nightgown in lima-bean-green with tiny puke-green bows, and something made of red lace.
I pinched the red lace between my thumb and middle finger and pulled it out for further examination. It clearly was not an I-want-to-feel-feminine-while-I-sleep teddy, but a fuck-me-immediately teddy. The entire thing was see-through, the cups cinched into an empire waist and the hem ended in a tiny ruffle that wouldn’t cover more than a third of my butt.
“You like it?”
I jumped, did a one-eighty, and then threw the teddy across the room like it was a hand grenade. It hit the wall and then floated behind the bed. My lungs released a painful breath. “Of course not. I’m not a slut.”
Jesu leaned a shoulder leisurely against the door frame with his arms crossed, the duffle bag hanging from his forearm. He chuckled as his gaze fell to the floor and then swept back up to face me, the dimple in his left cheek more prominent than ever. “I meant the room…not the—”
“The room’s great, thanks!” Heat rose to my cheeks as I slammed the drawers shut.
He snickered and I glared at him. He cleared his throat and stood straight, but his smile didn’t wane and the laughing sparkle in his eyes still twinkled.
“Here,” he said. He reached into the duffle bag and then pulled out a rolled up scroll.
My breath caught. “You brought it with? I didn’t think we could.”
“Technically it belongs to the Neo-Draugrian library, but we can always return it later. I think you should have it.” He extended his arm, pushing the frail paper into my hands.
I looked at the ancient document that detailed the knowledge of the Jumlin clan; my father’s clan. The foreign script might have been impossible for me to decipher, but the weight it carried in sentiment was something only I could understand. A knot twisted in my stomach, the same kind I used to get whenever Mom and I fought. I tried to swallow but my throat had thickened. I managed to mumble a “thank you.”
His expression was suddenly serious. “I can read it to you…if you want.”
I shook my head. “Thanks, but it’s still a sore spot.”
He nodded his understanding. Then his eyes lit up and he snapped his fingers. “I almost forgot.” He reached into his jeans pocket. “I found this in the trash in Naamah’s bathroom, along with your clothes. I thought maybe you forgot about it.”
He pulled out a small crinkled square of paper folded in half and splotched with red stains. I recognized it immediately as the Jack the Ripper newspaper clipping I took from Jalmari’s library. “You want me to keep that too?”
He shrugged. “I do not know what this is. I just thought it might be important since it was in your pocket.” He turned the paper over in his hand and then slowly ran his thumb under the edge as if to open it.
I snatched it away. “Thanks.”
He shrugged. “I am sorry there was not time to get the rest of your things.”
“I’m pretty sure I won’t miss them too much,” I said, looking at the wardrobe again. I placed the article and scroll in one of the small drawers. “They’ve thought of everything here. You’d think we were moving in permanently.” I winced in hindsight. “We’re not staying here permanently, right?”
“Vampires tend not to have permanent homes, but the length of our stay does not make a difference to Naamah. He would have only the highest quality, no expense too great. It is part of his job.”
“It was part of his job.” I sighed. “Now his job is…whatever Apollyon wants him to do.” Just thinking about Naamah—and Maria—sent reality crashing down around me. “This isn’t fair. We’re expected to live like kings while Naamah and Maria suffer at the hands of that psychotic Apollyon? Who knows what horrible things he’s doing to them?” After witnessing Leena’s murder, I really did not want to imagine what Apollyon might have in store for Maria or Naamah. I hugged myself.
“I should phone the Council but…”
My brow quirked. “But?”
“It may be too risky. They will figure out where we are.”
I sagged against the edge of the bed. “They’ll arrest me and hand me over to Jalmari. We shouldn’t have come here. We ran and they’ll think it’s because I’m guilty.”
Jesu shook his head. “No, they will not come here for you. Germany belongs to the Alpan clan; no Neo-Draugrian vampyre or vampire can arrest you here. You are safe as long as you do not set foot in Neo-Draugrian territory again.”
“Then why do you think contacting the Council will be dangerous?”
Jesu raked his fingers through his long tresses. “I know my father. He will take back the throne as soon as he is able. Once he declares himself the Neo-Draugrian king again, we will have no allies there, only enemies.”
“But…but I thought Apollyon was an enemy of the clan, can’t they arrest him?”
Jesu shook his head. “My father will not let it be that easy. He will find a place to hide, build an army, and lay in wait until the right moment. Or perhaps he will pick the Council members off one by one. Besides, he married into the Neo-Draugrian clan. He is the rightful, legal king. Not even Jalmari can do anything about that.”
Nausea twisted my stomach in knots as a mortifying realization took hold. “He won’t care about the law. If the Council doesn’t arrest me, Apollyon will find other ways. I know he will.”
“That is why I cannot risk calling. You are safe here, Ema.” He closed the distance between us and then touched the tip of his forefinger under my chin, lifting my jaw until our gazes locked. His eyes were a deep stormy emerald. “I promise you are safe.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat and then nodded.
His hand fell away from my chin. “I believe there is a reason why Naamah specifically chose Berlin for us. The Alpan king and queen live nearby. King Nikolas despises my father.”
“Do you think he will help us?”
Jesu scrubbed the base of his palms against his forehead. “I am hoping we never have to ask, but I am positive Naamah placed us here just in case.”
“I don’t understand. Why don’t you want to tell Nikolas? Why risk waiting for Apollyon to come here?”
Jesu glanced at the floor. “Ema, you are a bit of a commodity; a vampyre born to two humans. My father already wants to use you… I do not know how the rest of our kind will react. If we tell Nikolas now, he will ask questions.”
I scoffed. “So tell him about your premonition. I’m sure he won’t hurt me if he wants Apollyon out of his hair.”
“What if that makes things worse? If word gets out about you, people might try to force you to fight—”
“I want to fight Apollyon. I want to send him back to hell.”
His wide eyes gazed into mine; a plea sparkled across them. “You will get your chance. I know that better than anyone else, but you need time. If you go after my father now, you will lose. Please, wait and learn how to fight before you do this. Give yourself a fair shot at least.”
A sigh pushed past my lips. I wasn’t dumb; I knew I didn’t stand a chance against Apollyon. I had only been a vampyre for a few months, and I sucked at using my powers. “Of course I’ll wait.”
His shoulders relaxed and he nodded his appreciation. I wet my lips and then moved my arm around so that my hand was hidden behind my back, where I crossed my fingers. I will wait, but I might not wait as long as he wants.
Charlene: It’s wonderful to hear about how your story is continuing.
As Charlene sets her book on the table, Ema and Jesu stand. She meets them near the door and throws her arms around them both.
Charlene: Thank you so much for coming all that way to visit with me.
Ema: Let’s not wait so long to do this again, okay?!
Jesu: Indeed. Don’t be a stranger, Charlene. Call on us any time.
Charlene closes the door and pinches her lips between her teeth as she picks up the basket of beautiful stationary. She squinches her nose and leans close to the pretty pages. “Don’t you worry, little guys. I have plenty of flameproof antihistamine to protect you from those fire allergies.
~ Giveaway ~
J.D. is offering a special giveaway for Charlene Blogs readers!
1st Place$5 Starbucks gift certificate AND winner's choice of book 1, Dark Heirloom OR book 2, Dark Liaison.
2nd PlaceWinner's choice of book 1, Dark Heirloom OR book 2, Dark Liaison.
Available formats include .Mobi (for Kindle), .Epub (for all other e-readers), and .Pdf (for computers). We’ve added ways to rack up more entries in the Rafflecopter below. So, have fun and Good Luck!
Here’s a little bit about each book:
Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel 1)
She wasn’t bitten. She’s not undead. So how did Ema Marx become a vampire?
“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?
Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.
The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…
Dark Liaison (An Ema Marx Novel 2)
Being a Romani-Vampyre with an ancestor who wants you dead isn’t normal. Neither is this sequel.
Ema Marx wishes her life would go back to normal, but there’s nothing normal about being a Romani-Vampyre with an ancestor who wants you dead. Apollyon is back, wreaking havoc on the lives of everyone she cares about while plotting her demise.
Ema thought she would find a new best friend in her trainer, Bridget, until the exotic vampire vies for Jesu’s attention. Jesu can date who he wants, right? Ema has more important things to worry about, like honing her powers. When Apollyon’s thugs appear out of the shadows to attack her, Ema knows it’s time to take action. But everyone else has other plans in mind.
One thing is for certain, being under house arrest in the German vampyre king’s castle was not part of her plan to save the day.
About the Author:
Author J.D. Brown writes Urban Fantasy for MuseItUp Publishing, as well as a monthly “how-to” newsletter column for PDMI Freelance Publishing. She graduated from The International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts and currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. J.D. loves paranormal characters; from vampires and werewolves, demons and angels, to witches and ghost. She is a self-proclaimed expert in vampire and Greek mythology. Her writings are often a combination of suspense and romance. J.D. enjoys helping her fellow writers and interacting with her fans and leads an active life on the web.
Connect with J.D. around the web:
Winners will be chosen by Random.com and posted on Saturday, June 29th, 2013.
Until next time, may your dreams be magical.