And what day is that, pray tell? Why, the launch of my first original novel, Chains of Jericho at Linden Bay Romance.
Declan Jericho is a vampire with a purpose. His best hope for success is a brilliant young cancer specialist, but unfortunately, saving the undead isn't exactly the career path Dr. Maya Sheldon has in mind.
Maya finds her entire belief system thrown into question when Dec kidnaps her from her hospital, taking her to his home so that she can develop a cure for the mysterious illness that is killing the young vampires in his care. Her instincts as a doctor kick in quickly. Vampires or not, she's unable to abandon her charges. Working with Dec, it soon becomes clear that there's more than a professional interest between them, but as their attraction grows, darker secrets threaten their newfound relationship. Dec has his own reasons for wanting the young vampires cured, and he's not telling.
Vaguely, she became aware of footsteps approaching her from behind, and thanked whatever god that was listening that the police decided to be fast for a change. When she straightened to start the chest compressions, Maya risked a glance over her shoulder, and frowned when she saw the tall man emerge from the shadows.
No uniform. No sense of haste to indicate he was here for an emergency. His pace was slow and measured, and instead of the traditional plainclothes attire she’d seen some of the policemen wear, this man wore jeans and a worn, black leather biker’s jacket. Cops didn’t dress like that.
Turning away before he could see the flash of fear in her face, she resumed the CPR on the woman. “If you’re here to help,” she said, her voice eerily calm, “go to the ER and send someone out with a gurney so that we can move her.”
“You don’t need a gurney, Dr. Sheldon.”
Her first instinct was that he was offering his aid in carrying the woman inside, but then the rest of his words sank in as he rounded the body to obstruct them from anyone looking from the street. When she glanced up again, she saw his hands thrust deep into his pockets, his muscles still. He had no intention to assist her.
“If you work for the hospital, I’m going to make sure you end up fired if you don’t help me,” she warned.
“I don’t. Get up, Katie.”
All of a sudden, Maya felt a tensing beneath her hands, and fell backwards, onto her ass, when the woman without a pulse opened her eyes and sat up.
“What the…?” With her heart suddenly pounding inside her ribcage, Maya swallowed to quell the surge of panic rising inside her as Katie rose to her feet and stood next to the man. “But you were dead---.”
“Am I done here?” Katie asked the man.
Taking off his coat, he put it over her shoulders, covering her nearly naked torso. “Go home,” he instructed, and in that second, with the nearly foot difference in height and the protective tone of his voice, he appeared very much like a father to her. It was impossible, of course. Even in the dim light, Maya could see that he had to be no more than thirty, his long face unlined. But there was still something about the way he guided her toward the back of the alley, and the way Katie glanced back at him as she went, that made Maya believe there was more to the relationship than met the eye.
“What’s going on here?” she demanded, scrambling to her feet. She pointed at Katie’s retreating form. “She needs medical attention. Those cuts---.”
“Will be gone by morning,” he interrupted. He took a step forward, prompting her to counter with her own step back. “I just needed to get your attention, Dr. Sheldon. I needed the chance to speak with you in private.”
That was the second time he addressed her by her title. “And you couldn’t have made an appointment?” she said.
“You and I don’t exactly keep the same hours,” he replied.
He took another step. This one positioned him beneath the streetlamp, clearly highlighting his features for the first time.
She’d been right about the age, she decided. Maybe just a hair over thirty, he towered above Maya, probably standing around six-four or five when all was said and done. It was impossible to tell what color his deep-set eyes were, but they glittered with intelligence and pinned her in place just as effectively as if he’d used his hands. Dark hair tumbled across a low brow, and his aquiline nose had to have been broken at least once in the past. Noting his powerful chest and the strong hands that now had nowhere to hide, Maya could only wonder if the other guy in that particular fight had even survived.
As he moved closer, every flight instinct in Maya’s body screamed at her to take action, but the best she could do was slowly back off, her gaze fixed on his face as she tried to determine what it was that he wanted with her. Clearly, this had been a set-up of some sort, though how the girl could’ve faked not having a pulse, Maya had no idea. But this man radiated danger, from the top of his head to the sole of his scuffed boots, and she was terrified that if she turned and made a run for it, it would be the last thing she ever did.
“Who are you?” she asked instead. Maybe she could talk her way back to the parking lot. There were more options for her there, more things she could use as a potential weapon. Her backpack was already lost to her, resting on the ground between them, and she kicked herself for not picking it up when she’d had the chance.
“I don’t wish to hurt you,” he said, ignoring her question. “But I need for you to come with me.”
She realized he hadn’t said, “I won’t hurt you,” which made her terror about what he really wanted burn just a little bit brighter. “I’m thinking…no,” she started to say, and then stopped when she saw the familiar strobe of police lights at the end of the alley. Relief flooded through her as her pace hesitated, but it must’ve shown in her face because the stranger’s head whipped around to see what she was looking at.
“What did you do?” he asked.
“It’s called 911, asshole,” she retorted. “Now’s the time you might want to think about running before they lock you up.”
He moved so quickly, she didn’t even have time to scream. One moment he was six feet away, the next he was behind her, his hand over her mouth, dragging her backward toward the parking lot and away from the police in a whirlwind that left her breathless.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” she heard him say.
Fury overwhelmed the fear that had been holding her rigid, and Maya began to fight back, shoving her elbow back into his solar plexus as she tried to use her feet to kick at his legs. It only worked for a moment before his arms turned into iron bands around her, and she was locked against his unyielding chest, his hand cool over her mouth. The chilly air stung her cheeks from the speed at which he was moving, her eyes watering as her exhaustion began to help the stranger out, and by the time she’d blinked the tears away, they were already on the far side of the parking lot.
He stopped beside a dark van, opening the unlocked door on the back to reveal darkness within. This can’t be happening to me, Maya thought as he climbed in and shut the door behind him. This only happens in the movies. Or to other people. This can’t be real.
Except it was, and her legs were now more exhausted than the rest of her from struggling to free herself. The stranger wasn’t even letting her go, moving through the inky interior with the comfortable ease of familiarity. There was a clink of metal hitting metal that echoed between the walls, and then Maya felt something cold snap around her wrist.
“I’m going to sit you down now,” the man said close to her ear. “You can scream if you want, but it’s not going to do you any good. Nobody’s going to hear you.”
The instant his hand moved from her mouth, Maya gulped at the fresh air. “Just tell me what it is you want from me,” she pleaded. “I’ve got money. Just tell me---.”
“I don’t want your money. All I want is you.”
With that, he was gone, out the back doors of the van, leaving her alone and terrified. A forceful pull against the handcuff around her wrist demonstrated just how stuck she really was when she nearly pulled her arm out of its socket and it didn’t budge, and Maya sank to the cold, metallic floor with tears in her eyes. How the hell was she going to get out of this?
The story is novel-length, 31 chapters and just shy of 95,000 words. Plus, did I mention the smut? ;) Erotic romance, how I love thee...
BUT, I'm not the only getting published today. sadbhyl has reworked her marvelous Spuffy story, "More than Strangers," and turned it into an even more delicious original novel, What They Call Sin. It's hotter than the original, if you can believe it. :)
There's more. kallysten and moxie_fic both have stories available at Linden Bay as well. Now, *everyone* can appreciate the talent that's been floating around in the Spuffy fanfic pool, as it should be. :)
This isn't going to be my last original work. Oh no. I've already got the outline and research done for my next novel, a mobster noir story (go figure!), and there's a strong possibility that I'll do a sequel to Chains of Jericho as well. I've created a new LJ for my original fic stuff, where I'll post announcements and the like. It's viviendean, surprise surprise. There's nothing there right now, but feel free and friend it if you want. As soon as I have more of my life under control, there will be content there. I promise. :)