Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Eliza Morgan”

Flash Fiction Friday: SURPRISE! EXCERPT FROM RUNNING AWAY

TODAY’S BREW: Autumn Roast. Okay, it’s snowing, but AUTUMN ROAST.

By Julie

SURPRISE! I’M EXCERPTING YOU! BOOM!

For today’s Flash Fiction Friday, and because of last week’s Virtual Book Signing Party (http://wp.me/p2x7oj-DX) for RUNNING HOME, and my incessant babble about the sequel, RUNNING AWAY, I thought I would surprise you all with an excerpt! YOU’RE WELCOME.

I have one week to finish this first draft, and my excitement to get it out to all of you who’ve been so supportive of Eliza and crew is making me insane. I hope this little bit leaves you wanting more.

spring snow

Where vampires are made. Japan, naturally.

EXCERPT FROM RUNNING AWAY

By Julie Hutchings

It was dark, and I had no idea where I was.

“Nicholas? Nicholas?!”

I heard noises, and worse, I felt something. I felt it again, death, lurking around me, as invasive and comforting as always.

My limbs shook when I threw off the blankets and threw my legs over the side of the bed, only to discover the bed was on the floor. The noise of my feet hitting the floor made me gasp.

When my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw thankfully, nothing in the room but for the bed I’d been in and a few very small pieces of furniture. Shadows flitted across the walls from outside, the trees swaying in the winter night.

Japan, I’m in Japan, and in my own room. Nicholas isn’t here.

I steadied my breathing, knowing I was alone, and knowing anything could be waiting for me. The vampires had kept themselves hidden during the day, and now they were out, looking for blood.

No. These are Shinigami. They’re not that.

I needed light of some kind. Something. But there was nothing.

“Perfect time for some crap karate test, Nicholas, for the love of—“

A branch snapped. I could hear it as plain as day, the rice paper walls concealing nothing. Two walls of paper lead outside, and there was enough snow on the ground that a branch would have to be stepped on to snap.

Death was all around me. It was the only familiar thing I had here.

The silhouette of a man appeared on the other side of the door, inches from my face, and I screamed, stumbled backwards, and fell onto the bed.

He didn’t move. Didn’t try to run or come after me. He waited. Like death itself.

Death always knew I couldn’t resist. It owned me.

I stood, and walked to the door, never doubting if I should open it. When I slid the door open, the figure made no movement, and didn’t even blink. The full moon illuminated him.

He was breathtaking in his darkness.

The night made him brighter somehow. A full head taller than me, bare chested with only thin white karate pants the same crispness as the snow. Perfectly chiseled, smooth, strength in every pore. Beautiful and fearsome. He looked down at me with onyx eyes, shining black hair falling around his cheeks and chest, the front held up in a traditional knot.

He smelled like red wine and roses.

Rich, heady and slightly nauseating. The scent of looking into something beyond.

The smell slapped me with memory, one I hadn’t touched since it occurred. I knelt at my mother’s casket, eyes on my father’s next to her. My grandmother leaned over me, wine heavy on her breath, the scent of failing roses succumbing to it from the wreaths and bouquets all around us.

There’s shadows all around you,” she said into my ear. I hadn’t budged.

My mouth was opening and closing, no sound coming out as I stared at him.

He was Shinigami. And he was looking at me with as much wonder as I was him, all in his eyes. The rest of him was rigor mortis still.

A crack resounded, one I knew all too well, and the man was gone.

I think I scared him away.

Snow was drifting in over my bare feet. I shut the doors and turned to run back to the bed, only to smack into Nicholas, making me scream.

“You’re late,” I muttered, and breathed in his cinnamon plum scent. A mix of New Hampshire and my new home, Japan.

“Who was that?” he asked, like I’d answered the door to girl scouts, not a vampire.

“I don’t know. But he was the same vampire from earlier, in the shadows.”

Nicholas flashed to the doorway, and looked out but we both knew nobody was there.

I collapsed back onto the bed, still drained. I could have slept for a month. I didn’t know what day it was, or what time it was. But I knew that Nicholas was in the room with me, and that I wanted him to stay.

Dragging myself to sitting, I pushed away the nothingness I’d been feeling, reminded myself that what had happened all around me was not my fault, and wasn’t his. I tried to make it a fact in my head before I spoke to him.

“Nicholas,” I said to his back. He didn’t move. “I know I’ve been—missing pieces—lately. And I wish it hadn’t been you I saw every time I thought of Kat being dead. But I’m trying really hard to fix it, Nicholas, I promise you.”

His shoulders relaxed some, or they sagged. I couldn’t tell which. I didn’t see him turn around or come to me, but he was there, kneeling at the edge of my bed.

“I’m not a man who needs apologies for everything to be all right.”

“Good. Apologizing is awful.”

“But necessary. I’ve nearly killed myself for you, Eliza Morgan, and you resent me for it. Feelings don’t die any faster than I do, and it’s agonizing trying to kill them.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m dying, and you’re spending the time we have hating me for something I had no control over.”

I stopped breathing.

“What is it, Eliza? All the times you said to me no, it’s not your fault, this is my fate you didn’t mean it? You seemed so sincere.”

“Your sarcasm isn’t making this easier.”

“Nothing is easy! Nothing!”

I was terrified that he was calling my bluff. I was terrified that I’d pushed him too far.

But I was pissed that he was treating me this way, knowing what I’d seen, what I’d been through, and what I was leaving; my life.

“I lost my best friend,” I said.

“And so did I. I spent my immortal life with Roman. Until you. Do I hold it against you? No. Because it’s not your goddamn fault. And for the number of times you’ve said to me through gritted teeth that it’s not my fault, it’s yours, maybe I started to believe you. You and I both know we need this to be somebody’s fault.”

The wind was knocked out of me. It felt like I was losing him, and of course, I was. He was melting into nothing because Roman took Kat’s life and he hadn’t. All this death for nothing, and no explanation except that there was no choice.

“I think we both need to remember what it feels like to be alone,” he said, and in a sickening flash, he was gone.

The only scent that lingered was red wine and roses.

 

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Flash Fiction Friday: Excerpt from RUNNING AWAY, the RUNNING HOME sequel

TODAY’S BREW: Egg nog coffee! For all the best things in life.

By Julie

I’m trying to breathe here, but it isn’t really working.

I promised you all an excerpt from the Bethlem Royal Hospital scene in the sequel to RUNNING HOME, and here she is! I didn’t give you alllll of it, but hopefully enough to whet your appetite and not feel spoiled. You very briefly meet a new character who I’m inappropriately obsessed with, and see something monumental for Eliza, right when she needs it. I hope you all feel it like I do. Thanks so much for reading.

Excerpt from RUNNING AWAY

*work in progress*

“You’re a Stephen King book waiting to be written, woman,” he said out of the corner of his mouth, nodding at a matronly nurse who looked like she could use a little mental help herself. “But I have to say, I’m impressed with how you’re holding yourself together.”

I tore my eyes away from the doors at the end of the hall, suddenly curious about him. “What was it like for you the first time you fed?”

The scent of old smoke from him. I wondered if it was consuming him or giving him strength.

“Angry. Sad. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to, of course. And the man I killed wasn’t ready. He didn’t want to die.” He was quiet, but the fire in him blazed so much I thought it might singe me next to him. I couldn’t believe the expressionless people around us didn’t feel it.

We went through the set of double doors at the end of the hallway, and I saw the sign for the kitchen. It was all I could do not to run there, leaving every questioning staff member and Kieran behind. I wanted her more than anything in the world.

“You knew the man,” I said before I realized I’d said it. I was transfixed on the kitchen doors, my fangs impossible to retract.

“I did. But how did you know that?” Kieran said from next to me.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry you had to do that to your friend. It should never happen that way.”

The kitchen loomed ever closer.

“You’re creeping me out, Eliza Morgan,” he said, but I couldn’t look at him to see how much he was kidding.

We’d arrived at the kitchen doors. They were as foreboding as all the others we’d passed with droning buzz that opened them.

“Do you want me to go in there with you?” he whispered.

Clara was whistling from the other side of the dingy white doors. I put my hand on the door, and wanted to cry.

“Yes, please.”

I pushed open the door, Kieran at my side.

The hospital kitchen was a jail cell in itself. Water-stained walls brought shadows of metal pipes to life, industrial puppets clanking and banging from within. Cracks littered every ceramic tile on the walls over the sink and stove, discolored and rusty like the slop basins and trash barrels around them. The cabinets would never be white again, the window never quite clear. One wall was cement, blackened in spots with age and damage. Every corner underneath the rusty metal work surfaces was brown with leakage and dirt that could never be hidden. Nobody may be looking there, but the grunge seeped onto the floor, as old as the horror that lived here. It was vacant of scent, not like any kitchen should be; there was no soup boiling, or cooking meat wafting through the air, or even cleaning fluid. Empty. The huge window over the sink housed a sadly spinning fan at the top, high enough that an inmate couldn’t reach it to escape.

And under that streaked window that looked out to nowhere, a gleaming thing in the yellowing disease of this place. Clara stood with her back to us, humming sweetly as her body gently shook with the scrubbing of dishes. Stacks more waited for the same. Stacks had already been done. And still, she hummed, despite the relentless filth here.

“Clara,” I said, not with a whisper. There was nothing to hide from her.

She spun on us, the whites of her eyes the brightest thing I’d seen in London.

“Oh,” she said, her fear spreading to a welcoming smile. She dried her hands as she walked towards us, her shapeless skirt swishing around her, and wiped a tendril of orange-ish frizz out of her eye. “I wasn’t expecting any visitors.” She positively glowed with simple happiness that was too good for the hospital, and yet so desperately necessary.

I hated what I was going to do, and wanted it even still.

“We aren’t really here to visit, Clara,” I said, looking as hard into her eyes as I could while her heart still beat.

Her eyes slid between me and Kieran. Panic set in, making her back away. God only knew the kind of danger she’d found herself in this place. But I would be the last danger she faced.

“What do you want? I don’t have anything,” she pleaded. Kieran was shuffling his feet in my peripheral vision, rubbing his fingers together, wishing he had a cigarette I was sure.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, not knowing what else to say. She laughed at him. She may be sweet, but she wasn’t stupid.

But within a beat of her heart, her shoulders relaxed, and she stopped backing away. She looked at me, confused, but becoming less afraid, until there was no fear there at all. I made to walk slowly to her, but realized that was a human thing to do, a human thing that would frighten her again, make her think I was trying to diffuse the situation.

So I pictured myself next to her, and I was. She gasped, but her eyes remained unafraid as she met mine.

“That smell—“ she muttered.

“What do you smell?” I said. So, this was my first thrall. Designed especially for my victim.

She breathed in deep. “Peonies.”

I went cold at the mention of Kat’s favorite scent, the one she wore no matter what the season or event. Clara reminded me of her; the decided obliviousness to the cruelties around them. That light in them that created happiness wherever they went. Tears sprung to my eyes, and I touched Clara’s hair, remembering Kat’s red locks, and thought Clara’s might be that beautiful if she had the mind to bother with it.

“Clara, I’m so sorry for what I’m about to do.”

Her eyes welled with tears, and something in me responded.

“My mother had peony perfume,” she said quietly. It was hard to say who was more mesmerized, her or me. She gasped suddenly, a tiny noise. “And when she smelled just like that,” she said, pointing her finger at me, “a mix of lemon pie and peonies, I knew she had something bad to tell me. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, she put on a squirt of her perfume, and made me a lemon pie. She hated that pie, said it wasn’t sweet enough. I told her I had all the sweet I needed when I smelled her perfume and saw her smile. We were alone, you see. Always alone, and she was so sick. I loved her more than anything. Even when she had to tell me bad things.”

My throat was thick with tears I couldn’t bear to shed for her. I wanted to hold her, and kill her.

“You have bad things to tell me right now, don’t you?” she asked, entranced.

I closed my eyes ever so briefly, and hoped she had wonderful love in life. I hoped she wouldn’t remember how awful I was in her last breath. I wished it wasn’t all my fault. Kat, I wish it wasn’t all my fault.

“I forgive you,” she said.

And with a roar that deafened only me, I plunged my fangs into her neck.

 

Eliza and the Bethlem Royal Hospital: Julie Gets Choked Up

TODAY’S BREW: Something from Costa Rica. Or Target.

By Julie

THERE IS A BIT OF A RUNNING AWAY  SPOILER IN HERE. IF YOU ARE AFRAID, TURN BACK NOW.

I’m hot and heavy into the sequel to RUNNING HOME, and RUNNING AWAY has become a part of me. Eliza has grown, transformed, and her new life has been forged in a lot of suffering. When writing this book, I needed to pay close attention to keeping the tone and themes of it as dark and complex as Eliza has become, so when I wrote the scene of her first feeding as one of the Shinigami vampires, I needed to make it more than just a bloodfest. Embracing a little darkness when writing a vampire scene isn’t always hard, but keeping it a thing of beauty and depth without any form of eroticism is a bit more difficult. It needed to be significant, symbolic. The first feeding needed to carry a lot of the tone of the book, and so I took my sweet ass time working on it.

I knew where I wanted her first feeding to occur, and there is plenty of reason for it which I won’t be so cruel as to divulge to you now. It had to be a place that had patched-over horror, hidden ugliness in plain sight. It needed to be dank, riddled with ghosts, melancholy and be the variety of dirty that can’t be cleaned. And I wanted a pinnacle of light and glistening freshness in the middle of it that couldn’t escape her fate, no matter how brightly she glowed in its dimness.

http://stlawrencesbodmin.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/kitchen.jpg

Inspiration for my Bethlem Royal Hospital scene. The Kitchen. http://stlawrencesbodmin.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/kitchen.jpg

I was so disturbed by the research I did on the Bethlem Royal Hospital of London (http://wp.me/p2x7oj-j7 ) for our March Madness blog series last year that it never left my thoughts. I wanted to do more to commemorate what had happened there, to show my respect for this terrible piece of history the best way I knew how; to write about it. When the idea hit me to make it the scene of Eliza’s first feeding, it worked itself in so perfectly that I breathed a mental sigh of relief to write it. Now that it’s done, and the end of the book is just a series of falling dominoes, my pride in this scene is a little overwhelming. I mean, I’m kind of a jerk about it in my head. I love this scene and all the subtext to it, the meaning it has for all the characters–I just can’t wait to share it.

This Flash Fiction Friday, I’ll let you see it. I’m desperate to share it, and also entirely horrified about letting go of it. It still feels so much a part of me, entrenched in me. But I promise to loosen the grip, and give you some of this scene come Friday. Unless you don’t want me to. Then say so and I shall cling to it like a tiny life preserver for a while longer.

YOU DON’T SCARE ME, NEW BOOK. A story told with Matrix images.

TODAY’S BREW: Caramel Apple Coffee because that is a real thing!

By Julie

I’m a bit of a writing jerk, I’ve realized. I never have had the dreaded writer’s block, and when the time hits that I feel like I have no new ideas, I get one just from being angry that I haven’t got one. They may not be the next Cathcher in the Rye, but when I settle down to write a book, I do it. The words come.

I began re-working my first draft of Running Away, the sequel to Running Home September 3rd. It’s a mix of new material, and a first draft that is so old at this point it’s like the grandmother of books. So, there’s WORK involved, and writing a sequel is HARD, yo, because you have to make sure you give enough basis that a newbie would understand the book if they hadn’t read the first one, but weave that information in seamlessly and in a storytelling fashion, that doesn’t take the reader out of the moment.

So, the whole thing has made me a little slow on the uptake with this book. I don’t like that. I have what the husband calls the ME FIRST attitude. I always go first, it’s sorta my thing. I don’t hesitate. You can’t hesitate in life, or you’ll miss it.

Right now I feel like this.

RUNNING AWAY IS SAYING “STOP TRYING TO HIT ME AND HIT ME!”

I am tired of pussyfooting (pardon my French) around this book. Time to write it and if it sucks, write it again and again. But it has to be dove into. This is the point in all those boxing matches when everyone starts yelling “HIT HIM ALREADY!”

Time to hit the book. Time to get whatever crappy words down I have, and then make them better, and better still. This is different from the way I usually work. I write sparsely, and make every word count, then go back and embellish. I leave a good 10-15,000 word opening at the end of a first draft, so that I can ADD instead of DELETING words that I labored over. I did the deleting thing with Running Home. No thank you, Writing. No thank you.

But every book I write has its own process. My process for Running Away is different, still. That’s cool. It means there’s a new thing to be learned, and a new challenge to master.

SO HELLS YEAH, I’M READY TO WRITE A BOOK. I’m ready for you all to meet the new characters, one of which I am in love with to the point that even Nicholas would be jealous. And I’m dying for you to see the way Eliza is transforming. How she plummets into her own despair, and what changes in her, for her.

And I am absolutely dying to see what these changes do to me.

Bring it on, Running Away. Bring it on.

The Anatomy of a Vampire: Running Home style

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate cappuccino stuff. Also known as Waiting For Pumpkin Spice.

By Julie

VAMPIRE WEEK, BABY! And yes, the anatomy of a vampire, but not like that. Come on, dirty birds.

This is all about my vampires, and what makes them mine. Not their personalities, but what makes them up, the bones of them.

The Shinigami vampires of Running Home have this stuff going on:

1.  They feed on whoever they are called to feed on, a fated urge to take the life of a specific human, for reasons revealed in the book. If they don’t do it, no other blood will be able to nourish them. They will wither to the brink of death, but never really die. WAY WORSE.

2.  When they feed, they’re left with a human residue, certain aspects of the human’s personality that they carry around in themselves for indeterminate amounts of time. Sometimes the human’s memories invade their own, making life for them kinda sucky. If they feed on an animal, they take on the traits of that animal, as well.

3.  My vampires can go out in sunlight if they drink the blood of a person who is essentially good. The better the soul, the more light they can withstand and enjoy. But if they drink the blood of an evil man, they are condemned to live in darkness until the blood wears away, and it becomes a darkness of the very soul.

4.  They create a shield of sorts, a bubble that protects them from the view of humans. Some are better at it than others. Lynch, for instance, isn’t disciplined enough to bother sometimes, while Nicholas has made it an art form, as expected.

5.  When the Shinigami vampires get angry or turn into their vampire selves, it creates a blast of cold that can actually radiate a frost from them and chill everyone around them. Again, the stronger the vampire, the more this is felt. Nicholas is entirely unique in his abilities with cold. READ THE DAMN BOOK, WHAT IS THIS, YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING?

6.  They can’t read minds, folks. Nope.

7.  They don’t sleep because they get tired. They sleep because they become weary.

8.  They do have a thrall, a mesmerizing ability to lure a person in, unique to every human, but scent is usually the one that hits home. The scent of a vampire is ever-changing, speaking to the needs and emotions of the person as they change as well; for Eliza, the scent of peppermint brownies makes her calm down, puts her right at home when she’s at her most restless. Nicholas seems to always have a scent of woods and baked goods for her.  Roman smells differently to her, settles her in a different way that is soothing, but not connected to her heart the way Nicholas is. Roman smells of the ocean and salt air.

9. They’re fast, and strong. Stick to the classics.

10. You don’t just get turned into a vampire willy-nilly. The Shinigami are born and found, and trained before they’re given eternal life.

That was fun for me, and I hope it was fun for you! And please, if you have questions about how I created the mythology, or about the vampire anatomy, please ask here or find me on Twitter!

Roman Effs Up: An Excerpt From Running Home

TODAY’S BREW: I wish I could say it was a Pumpkin Spice Latte but it’s not.

You folks are long overdue for an excerpt from Running Home, so I figured I would give you one full of fun and violence. Enjoy!

“Roman?” I called through the door. “Roman, can I come in?”

In an awful moment, the door flew open. Roman pulled me inside and slammed it shut in one movement. Then he reappeared on his bed, amongst several empty bottles of hard alcohol.

“Please, amuse me with your thoughts on how much better I am than all of this,” he said, sweeping his arm across the disheveled room.

Suddenly, I was not sure why I had come, and wished to God I hadn’t. I knew much of the day Roman had to have been hiding his real anguish, his memories, his victim’s memories. Now he could unleash them the way the blood begged him to, a last alcoholic farewell to a dead man.

“I…just wanted to check on you. Let you know I was thinking of you.”

And in the snap of a finger, he was too close to me, the stinging odor of booze coming in waves out of his body. His hands pinned my arms to my sides, and I struggled to turn my head away from his rancorous breath.

“Thinking of me, were you? Now, what could you have been thinking about me, late at night, alone?” His tongue swirled hard and fast inside my mouth, stifling my cry. His fangs penetrated my bottom lip, hot metallic blood filled my mouth and dripped down my chin. I managed to break free of the forced kiss to whimper, “Roman, stop this,” but his attention was directed to the blood on my mouth.

“Oh,” he groaned. It was like my blood froze and put the rest of my body under Roman’s icy spell. His fingers were bruising my arms, then the back of my neck as he tried to twist my head sideways, to my horror. “Just a taste, then…”

A violent, freezing wind invaded the room, blowing the mess around it, and slamming Roman into the opposite wall, high near the ceiling.

Nicholas’s figure formed seemingly from thin air. He came together where before there was nothing. Thousands of tiny crystals migrated from the cold in the room to one spot, where they joined together to somehow become his sinewy body. The cold had become him with such force that his lips were blue, his face and hands ashen gray, like he had been in a frozen grave.

“Nicholas,” I breathed.

Roman had slid down the wall, falling into a pile of clothes and bottles in a slump. I hadn’t realized how much a vampire can apparently drink.

Fully formed, Nicholas stood, chest heaving, staring at Roman as he lie in a heap on the floor. “What the Hell were you doing?!” he demanded in a growl. His bellowing voice shook the room, dripping icicles fell to the floor.

Struggling to his feet, Roman spluttered and slipped, the blood from my lip still on the tips of his exposed fangs. His gentle face was not meant to wear a snarl like this. I was afraid of him, and for him then. And Nicholas was so terribly angry, the fury showed no sign of compassion for his friend.

“Oh, she wanted it, just not from me,” Roman was stupid enough to voice.

I hope you had fun, and are looking to read more! Thanks for playing!

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