Ask The Character!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2013 by The Author

Have a question for a character from Strange Roads?  In honor of 51 likes for our Facebook Page, introducing the Ask a Character feature.  Post your here as a comment, and receive an answer–just don’t expect certain characters to hold back tart opinions!

And Now, A Sneak Preview from “The Demon That Is Dreaming”: Elaine Makes a New Friend

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2013 by The Author

“Not a party person?”

Elaine jumped, and then mentally kicked herself for it. Even with the noise of the party (mercifully muffled by the stairs) she should have heard someone coming, sulking or not. At least the voice wasn’t anyone she knew. Turning around, nor was the face. The man who’d spoken was a stranger–sandy-brown hair, friendly smile, not too tall (though possibly Alan was skewing her perception there), a slightly crooked nose that kept his face from seeming too boyish, and hazel eyes that crinkled at the corners with the grin. The obligatory tuxedo he wore looked like another rental with some hasty tailoring, and someone had tied his tie just barely lopsided. Somehow, on him it worked.

“Not really, no.” She kept her back close to the wall, not that she’d be able to run if she had to, but she couldn’t quite imagine a would-be kidnapper, rapist, or other opportunistic criminal would have paid the ticket prices just to troll for victims. She noted the two wine glasses, not champagne flutes, he was holding, both filled with something red. “Lose someone, or are you a two-fisted drinker?”

“Neither.” The smile was, if anything, more charming. “Hoping to find someone thirsty so I wouldn’t have to drink alone.” He held one out. “You strike me as woman who could use a drink.”

That was almost too uncannily accurate to be a coincidence. Still, she took the glass, not taking a sip. “You appear to think I’m stupidly trusting, too.”

“There’s nothing in the wine, I promise.” He took a sip of his own, not that that was reassuring. “Including much in the way of quality grapes, but then I suppose one can’t be too picky.”

“It can’t be as bad as the champagne they’re serving.” She didn’t try it.

“I can’t imagine you’re hiding up here with red eyes because of bad champagne.” There was just the faintest softening of his voice. He was still smiling, but that had a gentler edge now, too.

All of which cut off her instinctive response, which was to tell him to go and do something obscene with himself. “No. I just . . . this isn’t my sort of crowd. And I think I’ve put my foot in it with someone whose good opinion I value, no matter how much that annoys me.”

“Annoys you that you stepped in it, or that you value his opinion? I assume it’s a he we’re talking about.” From Val, that gently teasing tone would have been irksome, and she couldn’t imagine Alan teasing her at all, but somehow she couldn’t read this as malicious. “I’m sure he’ll forgive you.”

“Really? I’m not. And it’s my own stupid fault for thinking I knew someone when we’ve really never spent that much time together.” The irony of that statement, made to a total stranger, wasn’t lost on her, but even without touching the wine she felt uncharacteristically like purging. “Of course it’s all more complicated than just bad personal judgement, so I can’t really walk away, either.”

“Always is, isn’t it?” Something in the stranger’s tone said he knew from experience. “Still, we all make mistakes when getting to know someone. I’m sure if he’s at all a worthwhile sort of person, he’ll forgive you. Though you do seem like you need that drink.” He obviously could see what she was thinking, and took the glass back and took a healthy sip before handing it back. “See? Not poisoned, not drugged. And I can promise you, I don’t have anything catching.”

In spite of herself, Elaine felt a giggle creeping up her throat. “You are pretty damn confident you’re charming, aren’t you?”

“You’re laughing, aren’t you?” He raised his glass in salute, and she caved, returning the gesture and taking a sip. All things considered, if he was playing her, being drugged might be the highlight of her evening.

Gods Above, I’m Getting Too Old For This

Posted in On Guard, Private Thoughts on December 2, 2012 by The Author

Physically, I am only slightly older than I’ll admit. By the standards of my day and my then-chosen profession, I’m certainly getting up there. Of course I’ll never face the further degeneration of the body and mind I would have, the increased weakness of the bones and muscles with the decreased sight, hearing, all the drives that make life worth living. Instead I’ll remain the specimen I was the moment it all nearly stopped (and in some ways it did). Until one day when I finally am too slow, not quite ruthless enough, or simply not paying attention, and then it will end quickly.

Mentally, I am of late feeling every single year I’ve actually seen and then some, and it is entirely the fault of two people I am supposed to protect. I wonder if they would accept an interpretation of ‘protect’ that would involve their not being permitted out without an escort. If necessary I’ll enlist Nicodemus, as soon as I can find him, though my honey-sweet has that serene, smug, I-know-something-you-don’t look she usually gets when the cards have told her he’ll be turning up. If she or he thinks we’re in for a repeat of that business in 1889, they have another think coming unless they’re very persuasive. Or by some impossibility I’m very, very drunk.

There have been times of late I wish I could get drunk. I don’t miss the headaches and nausea afterwards, but the blissful oblivion Bacchus can provide would make my work lately much easier. Alan is not in fact that difficult to keep an eye on, as he’s distressingly predictable, but I have the very distinct impression he is not enthusiastic about the idea of having a protector, or even an adviser. Strangely enough he is less resistant to my Nadia’s attempts at mothering. My poor love is feeling the emptiness of the nest more acutely, I think, now we’ve had these reminders around, and in fairness, besides her compulsive need to cosset the ‘children’, Alan does seem to rely inordinately on fast food and pre-made items from the supermarket, so letting her feed him serves a dual purpose: makes sure he doesn’t die of malnutrition, and allows me to observe without him complaining. Plus it spares me loitering around his coworkers, whose latest entertainment during their weekly happy hour has been teasing Alan about his new ‘girlfriend.’ I can tolerate many things, but that kind of inanity is no longer one of them.

Elaine won’t handle it well, either.

I’m told, via Alan, she’s home safe and at the least no less sound than when she left us. That does not make me feel better about letting her go that far away. True, the odds are long that either of our surviving friends will follow her, and there are only two of them–but then again weeks ago I would have said there were none of our Mages left in the world, either. The worst part is I understand–I understand her reticence, her need to keep this compartmentalized, and I sympathize, but it also means she’s not exactly helping me protect her. I don’t know how much longer I can, and I don’t want to waste that time, before her powers are truly developed, with her hundreds of miles away. And of course there’s the possibility she will decide the simplest solution is to never come back. To ignore the call and do her best to pretend it never happened. Or even to finish the job she first came to D.C. to do. Though somehow I don’t think so–Elaine was considering that route because she thought she was useless, and now she knows there’s the chance, at least, she has a purpose, one no one else can do. I doubt she’ll be any more amenable than Alan to my keeping a close eye on her, though without a job and living so close, she may have a harder time avoiding it. But I am increasingly sure that Elaine will come back.

First, when she left, she kept the Key.

Second, I still have her gun.

Remember This E-Mail is Subject to Review

Posted in In Harm's Way, Notes From The Hill on June 10, 2012 by The Author

From: Alan Graves, Legislative Assistant to Senator Cannon
To: Elaine Gates

Hi, Elaine,

Just wanted to make sure you got home all right. I was checking out USAJobs and saw a few positions at Dept. of the Navy that might be interesting.

Let me know when you get back.

Alan

*

From: Alan Graves
To: Elaine Gates

Did you get my last e-mail? I thought I’d send it from my google account since sometimes the Senate address has trouble. And you’re not on Facebook?

*

From: Alan Graves
To: Elaine Gates

Just checking in….

*

From: Elaine Gates
To: Alan Graves

Alan,

You sent that first one twelve hours after I left. The train wasn’t even to Chicago yet. I’ve barely been home for five minutes. You’re worse than my mother.

No, I’m not on Facebook. Or YouSpace or MyFace or Twitterbrained or any other “social-networking site.” But I’m home. And no, I wasn’t attacked by anyone or any thing on the way.

Elaine

*

From: Alan Graves, Legislative Assistant to Senator Cannon
To: Elaine Gates

I’m glad. I mean I’m glad you weren’t attacked. I haven’t been, either, not that I could be with certain people following me all the time. I don’t SEE Val but I swear I can feel him watching me. Everyone in the office is starting to think I’m paranoid the way I keep looking over my shoulder.

I checked out the jobs site again. If you want I can ask around, too. I don’t know many people who work with engineers. If you want to still be an engineer. You probably qualify for veteran’s education benefits. I could look into that. You could get a doctorate, even. Like I said if you stay with me you don’t have to worry about rent so there’s no real rush to decide or anything.

Alan

*

To: Alan Graves
From: Elaine Gates

You’re not paranoid if there actually is a vampire following you.

*

From: Alan Graves, Legislative Assistant to Senator Cannon
To: Elaine Gates

If that was supposed to be reassuring, it’s not.

I’m attaching links to a couple of the universities in D.C., and the ones pretty close in Maryland and Virginia. I don’t know what makes a good engineering program, not that you’d have to study engineering. Like I said, you don’t need to worry about rent once you get back, so if you’d rather look at schools than jobs I’d be fine.

*

From: Elaine Gates
To: Alan Graves

Would I not have to worry about e-mails every five minutes?

My Partner Clearly Thinks I’m An Idiot

Posted in Enthralled on June 9, 2012 by The Author

That’s unfair, I suppose. Val doesn’t think I’m stupid, he simply thinks he’s just that sneaky. I know when he’s been gone-even asleep, I can tell when he’s there, and when he isn’t. It was just the once, the night Elaine went home (temporarily, she assures us) and I know he wasn’t hunting. If he had been, he’d have either bragged about finding that blond vampire and finishing him off, or he’d be going out every night. This means it was another one of those “meetings” he thinks I don’t know about.

Val might be my love and my life, but I do think sometimes he just still has that Roman patriarch’s take on women. You’d think someone who actually saw Livia in the flesh would know better.

Admittedly I don’t know who he seems to answer to or why, but I suppose if it’s ever desperately important he’ll tell me. Usually Val keeps things quiet for one of two reasons: it’s something he’s not particularly proud of, or it’s something he thinks he needs to protect me from. I’d be a bit insulted, except that things which fall into the latter category he usually keeps from Nicodemus as well, and if he shares the former with Nico, it’s not as if Nico doesn’t have his own list of things he’d prefer to keep to himself.

Speaking of our jack of diamonds, I wonder just how far out the cards were projecting? He’s someone Val wouldn’t mind taking along on a vampire hunt, although I must confess that blond one was rather sporting, all things considered. That or just a thousand times more sensible than his allies, which is perhaps more likely. Setting aside my fractured wrist (hardly worth the fuss Val made, breaking his arm like that) he fought fair, as fair goes, and he certainly knew when to retreat. I think we can credit our new Lord with that, though. After the firestorm I think even Val is giving Alan a bit more respect. Not that poor Alan appreciates it; I don’t think I’ve ever met a Mage who’s so naturally talented and so ambivalent about using it. Once he gets more practice and control, I’m sure he’ll be more at ease.

Of course there’s Elaine to consider, too. I don’t know quite how to view her…unorthodox solution to the standoff. Or whether or not to take her word for it that she’ll move back to D.C. just as soon as things are sorted with her family. Val, on the other hand, while displeased that she’s going is certainly more confident than am I of her intent.

For some reason this annoys me quite a bit.

Now Available on Smashwords

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2012 by The Author

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/144799

And this version includes a first peek at The Demon That Is Dreaming: Book Two of Omens in the Night. New paperback including the excerpt coming soon at CreateSpace and Amazon, and as always you can still purchase the Kindle edition at Amazon.com

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2012 by The Author

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