Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Nicholas French”

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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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!

Running Home Character Expo: Nicholas

IF THIS IS ABOUT ME, IT BETTER BE GOOD. OF COURSE IT WILL BE GOOD…IT’S ABOUT ME.

TODAY’S BREW: The end of my S’mores coffee. Now I must drink coffee like a peasant.

By Julie

HOLY JESUS CHRIST, RUNNING HOME WILL BE OUT IN A WEEK.

Before the masses meet my main man, Nicholas French, you guys do.

Nicholas is a bit of a celebrity among the Shinigami vampires. The classic ‘men want to be him and women want to be with him’ golden boy that does everything just a little better than everyone else, and never lets you forget it. One of those guys that everybody likes almost as much as he likes himself. Sincere underneath the sarcasm that will bite your face off, what you see is what you get with Nicholas, once you dig deep enough, if you get that close.

When Ellie gets her first glimpse of him, he looked like this:

But usually, he’s more like this:

He may look really good in a tux, but he’s a lot more of a thermal shirt, tee shirt, shirtless guy, living deep in the woods in a cabin he and a few of his fastest friends built, filled with a bunch more stuff that he built, all of which help hide him away when he can’t take being Nicholas French, public spectacle anymore.

His connection to Ellie is evident right away. Only he knows why, and he’s not telling. It makes things agonizing for Ellie much of the time, knowing that there is more to how they feel about each other, and having to trust Nicholas when he says it will all make sense one day. Nothing ever makes sense for Ellie Morgan, and when Nicholas shows up, filling all the gaps she’s always lived with, she doesn’t care to wait to uncover any more mysteries. As usual, Nicholas knows what’s best, and the rest of us are just along for the ride.

You may have noticed, Nicholas looks a lot like Robert Downey Jr.

THAT’S BECAUSE HE KINDA IS.

So, if you had another vision of him, sorry. But this charming, mature, painfully witty, well-read, martial artist extraordinaire is Nicholas French in every aspect, right down to his voice and eyes that can almost make his snarky comments for him. He’s perfect. And like any perfect man, he has depths that stay hidden even from him at times, making him not just another pretty face. And arms. And hands and abs and thighs.

Wait, what was that? Oh yeah, blog post!

I don’t want to tell you about Nicholas’s life here, or why he’s a vampire, or what the Shinigami truly are. I don’t want to tell you what tortures my Nicholas….Ellie’s Nicholas, whatever….but you’ll know soon enough. I promise surprises with this character that you won’t soon forget.

He’s My Roman But I Will Share: Running Home Character Expos

TODAY’S BREW: Water. I went out in the sun for an hour & feel like Vampire Bill. HELP ME, SOOKEH.

By Julie

 

Running Home’s release is quickly approaching. Like, HURK every five minutes or so approaching. What I want to do until then is A) HURK B) Dance and drink C) give you guys, our faithful readers, some extra insight into the characters and where the hell they came from and where they will go. (Without giving away too much.)

I’m overwhelmed by the amount of love there is from my early readers for Roman. HoHWhen it started, I just didn’t want Nicholas to be alone. I loved him too much for that. So I needed someone I could love as much to share his company.

I was on maternity leave when this whole Running Home thing came to fruition. And I watched The Departed, basically every day. I fell in love with Leonard DiCaprio’s character, and loved that it was set in New England, like the book. So, here’s my boy.

 

 

He was the perfect companion to Nicholas; humble (not Nicholas), and reserved (not Nicholas). Roman’s heart of gold is exposed throughout Running Home, as is his heartbreaking story of family, loss, and ghosts that haunt his heart. He was much beloved in life, and still is as a vampire, but the sadness in him makes him broody (hot), and gives him a darker side that takes everyone, especially Eliza, by surprise. It’s the understandable kind of dark that comes from a difficult life and expectations, and some piss poor luck. (Chris Lynch is his walking, talking reminder of what bad luck can do for a person.) This is what Roman feels like when he has to deal with Lynch, as he does too often:

Nicholas admires Roman greatly for his generosity and quiet confidence. It gives Roman the protector he deserves, someone as strong and worthy as he is, who always has his back.

Roman’s committment to Nicholas has a darkness to it, as well, that you don’t expect.

BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT A SQUEAKY CLEANY ANY MORE THAN I DO.

HE’S DEEP, MAN.

I hope you readers love Roman the way I do, because wow, I really do. It’s not the swoony kind of love I have for Nicholas. It’s that he’s so real, perfect in his flaws, which I completely understand and don’t fault him for. And his undying loyalty for those he loves makes him the kind of person I want to give the same to. I’m glad I could create a family for him that did.

Thank you all for your support of Running Home and me. Being able to talk about this character who lives so deeply in me to people who want to know him fills me with love for you all.

Robert Downey Jr. Would Be the Best Vampire Ever

TODAY’S BREW: A little thing I like to call bottom of the pottom. Nothing good.

Not sure what it is about a superhero movie that really inspires me. Sure, I am inspired by nature, and music, and the kids, blah blah blah, but Iron Man? That’s what I’m talking about.

I am a snob about the superheroes I like. A long-time fan of Batman and Iron Man, I know exactly what it is about these guys that gets my creative juices flowing…they chose to be superheroes. They had it in them, and they knew it. That’s a hero to me. Regular dudes who up the ante, who push themselves past their limits. They may have inherited money, but they use it for the greater good, and to further their ideals. Superman, on the other hand, was born into heroism. This does nothing for me. Superman got lucky. Batman busted his ass on a bitterly cold mountain top to become fantastic. Iron Man built a suit based around his new disability, for crying out loud. Both Batman and Iron Man have their flaws, also, which is what I need for a superhero to be truly believable. Most of all, both of them have occasionally questionable ends to serve the greater good, and that is where my vampire crosses paths with them at the heart.

Where does Superman get off thinking he’s special? He did nothing to deserve it. (Side note: I like Christoper Reeve as much as the next opinionated person, but do not identify with his world renowned identity.)

This all being said, Iron Man was the source of inspiration for my fantastically cool vampire, Nicholas French. Nicholas is one of those guys who is inherently good at things. People like him, he’s smart as a whip, handy, sarcastic to the point of physical pain, and just a touch conceited. I like this in a person. I far prefer a person, not just a man, with a bit of a superiority complex over one who struggles with disliking themselves. Nicholas and RDJ also share a crazy skill level in martial arts. And not for nothing, Nicholas is a stone cold fox just like Robert Downey, Jr. He is Nicholas, there is nobody else to picture. The movie in my mind stars Robert Downey, Jr., who I believe is the highest paid actor in Hollywood. I love RDJ as Nicholas because they both have their darker sides, and it creates a depth that you don’t get just anywhere.

RDJ are you reading this? Could you possibly care less? Probably not.

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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