Saturday, 23 June 2018

Interview with Mike Schlossberg

On June 5, 2018, Redemption by Mike Schlossberg was released and I featured the book here on Just Books.

Today the author,  Mike Schlossberg, has joined me to answer a few questions about the book and himself.

Hi Mike, welcome to Just Books.
Would you like to kick off by telling me a little about yourself and your background?
Hiya! I’m Mike Schlossberg. I’m 35, married with two kids (Auron, 7 and Ayla, 5 – bonus points for your readers if they can figure out what video games the names came from). My full time job is serving as a Pennsylvania State Representative, where I represent 65,000 people in the city of Allentown and South Whitehall townships.
I also suffer from a major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, and have since I was 18 (probably longer). I’ve been openly discussing my mental illness for the past 3.5 years now, and that experience has become the biggest issue of my career. That experience, in particular, helped inform Redemption.

When and how did your interest in writing begin…?
6th grade. That’s an easy one. I remember my teacher at the time teaching us about writing and I remember thinking, “WAIT. I can just…make things happen in my magical story land and have total control?” It was a blast. And I never stopped. So much so that I dedicated my first book (a non fiction book called Tweets and Consequences about how politicians screw up their lives with dumb things they do on social media) to my middle school English teachers.

And what made you decide to put your work out there to be read by others?
I hate to say it, but that makes it worth it. I view writing the same way as I view my career in government and politics – it’s a chance to inspire and help people. Writing for myself – and only myself – just isn’t enough.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
The ability to create and manipulate worlds and organically allow characters to grow – and using that ability to help people.

How did you come up with the title, Redemption?
I did a whole blog entry about this:
Short answer: It’s the name of the ship, but it’s also a journey that I think every person who suffers from mental illness seeks: Redemption from imagined guilt and wrongs. Redemption from their own minds.

So you use your personal experiences in your writing?
Absolutely. The main character – Ash – is largely informed by my own experiences with depression. He’s what would have happened if my life had gone a different way (minus the Spaceship part, obviously). He’s not exactly like me – he’s more stoic, more reserved – but he still presents an interesting perspective of how my life could have been (and almost was).

Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
It is not Ash, the character based on me. It is Alexis, the character largely based on my wife, albiet in a more exaggerated form. She is brash, vulnerable and multi-layered. Her experiences sent her life in a different direction than Ash’s, and I loved writing her growth as a character – but much of that comes in book two!

For those of us who are thinking of reading your book, could you tell us what to expect?
I summarize it in one sentence like this: “A story about depression, anxiety and the end of the world.” That being said, it’s a story of personal growth, set against the background of a world-ending plague. It has action, adventure, romance and a decent amount of crying. I hope – and I think – that it keeps you on your toes. And it’s certainly something that has broad appeal for anyone who likes a coming of age story.

Tell us about the cover and how it came about.

So this part was one of the neater things. It’s a space adventure so I had to incorporate that, but at the same time I wanted to make sure that the mental health component of my book was captured as well. I merged them the best I could and I think it rings true for people with mental illness or depression – the world is exploding around the person in the picture (supposed to be Ash), but his hands are in his pockets as the galaxy burns. I think that is something that every depressed person can sympathize with.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
No question about it – who doesn’t look twice when they see a great cover?

Do you have a special time to write? How do you fit your writing around your family and work?
Usually, yes! Evening. Kids go to bed, wife watches TV, and I do at least 1,000 words, every night/every other night. I have an easier time writing in the evening than anything else. As for doing it with family around…noise-cancelling headphones, man. They’re the best.

When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
I would like to be in politics as long as I have the passion for it – and you need that passion to survive the insanity that comes with it sometimes. That being said, I’m employed at the will of the voters, and if they decide they are done with me, that’s that. Whenever this part of my journey ends, I’d love to swing it as a writer full time. This is so much fun – and I enjoy interacting with people like this.

Other than writing, what are you passionate about?
Again, helping people, and particularly the most vulnerable in society. I’m a pretty progressive Democrat – I believe in giving those who need it a hand up and making sure that everyone in society has the same opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have.

It’s time to relax! What do you do?
VIDEO GAMES. I mean, reading, obviously. I read vociferously. But video games. Skyrim and Final Fantasy are my two favorites.

Quick fire round:

Favourite Season?
Favourite quote?
“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Favourite book?
Hard one. The Dome, Stephen King.
One food you will NOT eat?
Tuna fish.
Dream vacation?
Hawaii or Jamaica.

Which fictional character, book or film, would you like to meet and why?
That is a good question! I am legitimately going through my Goodreads books to try and come up with an answer that sticks out more than anything else. I’m gonna go with Phoebe, the sister in A World Without You by Beth Revis – the most aware character I’ve ever read that she is not the main character of the story.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
That I can answer easily. This speech. If you watch it, you can’t tell, but I am utterly terrified. I finished it and sat in my seat and just shook for five minutes. People don’t realize how much all of us are pretending to be strong and smooth, when in reality, at moments, we are collapsing or raging inside.

It's an outstanding speech, Mike, thank you for being a voice for anyone affected by mental illness, myself included!

Thank you ever so much for joining us today, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
This was really comprehensive! Thanks so much for the excellent questions.

If you would like to know more, you can catch up with Mike Schlossberg here:
Website  Blog  Facebook  Twitter

Redemption is available to buy in ebook and paperback
Amazon  B&N  Kobo  Smashwords

Friday, 22 June 2018

Wolf Boy by Gerry Sammon

Peragrim was his name. An inhuman human sworn to destroy his quarry, three human children – Connor, Evey and Billy. They had been transported to a world ruled by the Wolf People, but Peragrim was waiting for them.

Author Bio: 

Gerry Sammon is a journalist and former newspaper editor based in Bolton, Lancashire.

From September 2015 he has been a tutor in Media Law at News Associates in Manchester, an award-winning private training provider, tutoring trainee journalists in media law and ethics. He also teaches media law to students at Manchester Metropolitan University, and at the University of Central Lancashire based in Preston.

He has travelled widely, both for business and on family holidays.

The idea for Wolf Boy came from a dream my daughters used to have when they were small children. The elder daughter would dream there was a wolf in the wardrobe (this is how our adventure begins in Wolf Boy), and my youngest daughter had a dream that a crocodile lived under her bed.

Gerry is married, with two grown-up daughters.

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then the right is reserved to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time the data will be deleted. Rachel's Random Resources is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Princess of Draga by Emma Dean

Title: Princess of Draga
Series: Draga Court, #1
Author: Emma Dean
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction
Publication date: October 17th 2017

In the first book of the Draga Court series, Princess Adelina’s coming-of-age party will declare to the worlds she is finally eligible to wed. All she wants is to serve her people and the crown with honor, but when a dangerously attractive prince from another galaxy – one who they all thought was dead – arrives with warnings of monstrosities and war, will her feelings put her in a position where she has to choose between her people and love?

The Draga Court series is a beautiful combination of fantasy and space opera set in a faraway future where humans have altered their genetics to save their species from their destructive natures. Dominance and rank weave a complicated dance among the galaxy’s society where a true submissive has to find her place, and learn the true meaning of power and love.


      Nadyah made her way through the city streets. She stopped and glanced over her shoulder, pulling her hood up further. She quickened her step and kept close to the buildings. Each circle of Stella di Draga eased into the next. The houses of the nobility, the upscale businesses, to the merchant class houses, and then the markets all transitioned smoothly like a painting.
      She loved the capitol but she did not enjoy having to cross it on foot.
      It was the only way she could make the trip to the House unnoticed from the palace. No one could know of this trip, not even Adelina. Nadyah crossed the street with her head down as a hov-carriage passed. Only one more city circle and she would reach the edge of the House’s property. Then she would have to make her way to the secret entrance all the spiderlings used.
      Nadyah had to be back at the palace in a few hours and she was already exhausted after spending most of the day working with Adelina. They had run the length of the palace grounds twice, and then did some ai-kuda sparring. Nadyah even taught her a few moves in the courtesan’s fighting style. They still had a lot to cover, but she was convinced the princess could handle herself well enough to keep an attacker at bay until help could arrive.
      Nadyah skipped over a puddle that shone with the green of the moon Vekaza. Mala’s large form hung to the west and was not yet full. The purple moon wouldn’t be full until the night of Adelina’s party and the anniversary of her birth.
      Earlier that night Nadyah sat at the royal table with Elara and ate with the royal family. The honor they bestowed on her still dazzled. She had never anticipated such a rise in station even if only by association. Prince Nash had been there as well, but she suspected it had more to do with the king wanting to keep an eye on him than to embrace him with open arms into the family.
      There was a definite spark between her princess and the lost prince. That Giselle would give Adelina the assignment said a lot. There was so much to learn yet, and Nadyah knew she had to tread a fine line between gathering information and betraying Adelina’s trust in her. The news of Prince Nash was reason enough to report back to the Spider and Nadyah still hadn’t decided what she would do with what she had found on the private shreve Princess Adelina kept locked away.
      Adelina was a master at dissembling. The princess made herself into what she thought those around her wanted or needed. Masks came and went until even Nadyah was unsure of who the female truly was underneath them all. The skill required to confuse a courtesan astounded her. Adelina was truly submissive, but she played with that nature so well she made herself invisible to those around her, to those who only saw what they wanted to see.
      Nadyah had seen the princess move through those masks like a fish through water, so seamless the deception was beautiful in its simplicity.
      She shook her head; Princess Adelina was a mystery she could not wait to solve.

Author Bio:

Emma Dean lives and works in California with her husband and son. She loves romance but needed something different so Draga Court was born. With too many stories to write the schedule has been filled through 2018.

When she’s not writing she’s reading, or spending time with her family.
With publishing now at least she has an excuse for not folding the laundry ;)

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Escape Forbidden by Ruth Silver

Title: Escape Forbidden
Series: Aberrant Prequel
Author: Ruth Silver
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Publication date: June 15th 2018

Fight to stay alive.

The Gravelands are a dangerous place.

In a world of uncertainty, Cora Manning knows one thing without a doubt: getting into Genesis will offer her a brighter future.

When the intake coordinator agrees to let her in because of her genetic makeup, Cora discovers the promised city of utopia is nothing like she imagined.

The rebellion has begun.

Excerpt #1:

         “Sit,” Noelle said and gestured toward the cot positioned on the floor.
         Without much thought I wandered over and stretched out to lie down. Had it not been a trying day and with bombings outside, I’d have opted to go home or at the very least refused special treatment. That was what Noelle offered me, wasn’t it?
         “You don’t have to stay here all night,” I said. It felt weird to be watched as I slept. “If I need anything, I can let you know. Or I mean, whoever stays.” I didn’t want to assume she wouldn’t go home either. I shut my eyes and relaxed against the cot. It wasn’t the most comfortable bed I’d been in, but it beat the straw in the barn.
         “Toby and I will alternate, unless your fever breaks. Then we’ll both go home and let you sleep in peace.”
         Hearing her words was enough to help me relax. “Okay,” I mumbled. If only I had the ability to control my own body temperature.
         Noelle shut off the lights which helped ease the throbbing pulse behind my eyes. The distant wail of the siren ceased. Had it ended? Was everyone safe? I took momentary comfort in the quiet of Noelle's office and allowed myself to fall asleep.
         During the night, I heard the door whine and I attempted to roll over, only half cognizant of where I was. The cot groaned beneath me and I felt the warmth of metal against my cheek.
         “Wake up, little girl,” an unfamiliar voice said, and I heard the distinctive click of the safety released from a gun.
         My eyes flashed open, staring up at the intruder, the gun tight against my skin. How would I get out of this mess?

Author Bio:

Ruth Silver enjoys reading, traveling, writing, photography, boardgames, and playing with her dogs.

Refuge Forbidden (Aberrant Book 4) by Ruth Silver will be available June 29, 2018.

She also writes adult romance under the name Allison West.

Website ⬪ Facebook ⬪ Twitter ⬪ Goodreads

Excerpt #2:

         “What do you want?” I didn't dare ask how he got inside the facility. Based on his clothes and the fact he could easily be my father, I knew he didn't belong inside our walls. Had the fence fallen? The office had no windows; I didn't have a clue as to the hour or how long I'd been asleep.
         “You, pretty girl.”
         My stomach lurched at the man's tone and his icy touch as he inched the barrel of the gun away only to caress my cheek with the pads of his fingers.
         “Get away from me,” I said through clenched teeth and sat up, backing off the cot as I tried to out maneuver him and slip out of the room.
         Faster and closer to the door, he blocked my escape. My heart raced and I wiped my sweaty palms against the front of my pants. “Let me go.” I held his stare and refused to show him how afraid I felt.
         “Now why would I do that?” he asked, his smile crooked with his left front tooth missing.
         My eyes scoured the desk, trying to find something I could use to defend myself against this monster. Did he do something to Noelle and Toby or had they gone home? I felt hot but I knew it was the adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami

Title: The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
Series: Out of Time Series Book 1
Author: Belle Ami
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Thriller
Publisher: Tema N Merback
Publication Date: May 31, 2018

What she knows could kill her.

In the spirit of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami unravels an unforgettable mystery.

Three destinies, one remarkable painting.

Will her visions lead her to the truth?

Art historian Angela Renatus is haunted by dreams of Leonardo da Vinci and a mysterious painting of Giuliano Medici and his mistress Fioretta Gorini. A painting that, as far as the world knows, doesn’t exist. Compelled by her visions, Angela is determined to find out the truth.

When Angela is contacted by art detective, Alex Caine, she’s shocked to learn that he too is seeking the same painting. Alex’s client, a wealthy German financier, is determined to clear the name of his late uncle, Gerard Jaeger, an art historian, who went missing in Florence, during World War II. In letters written before his disappearance, the historian describes his love affair with a beautiful young Italian woman named Sophia Caro, and the discovery of an extraordinary painting by the great master himself—a painting depicting Giuliano and Fioretta.

Alex and Angela journey to Florence in search of the priceless treasure. Is it a lost da Vinci, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or a wild goose-chase that will only lead to a dead end? But someone else is searching for the illusive painting—Alberto Scordato is a powerful man in the art world and a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even murder. Scordato knows something about Angela that even she doesn’t know, something that could threaten both Angela and Alex’s lives, forcing them into the crosshairs of fate.

Deleted Scene:

         Lying to Alex had been hard. Rationalizing her reasons for lying to him hadn’t made her feel any better about it. She knew he was going to be angry when he realized she’d lied to him, but hopefully he’d forgive her when he saw the Leonardo da Vinci painting. Unfortunately, she was having trouble convincing herself that going alone to search for the cave was a good idea. If anything happened to her or the painting . . . No, there was no way she was going to think about that.
         No one knows what I’m planning, but me, and nobody has any idea that I’ve figured out where the painting is. It was a mantra she kept repeating to herself, a pat on the back, a reassurance to herself she was doing the right thing. But the one thing she couldn’t be sure of was whether the nightmares, the sleeplessness, and her being dragged back and forth in time and losing herself would stop. There was no guarantee that finding the painting would cure her of her psychic visions, or if she’d ever get her life back.
         She found a good-sized weather proof backpack in Alex’s closet and put it on over the hooded rain jacket she’d also found. She was halfway down the stairs when she remembered the gun Alex had left for her. Should she bring it? Better safe than sorry. She returned to the bedroom and removed the Glock and the extra magazine from the nightstand. Following Alex’s instructions, she practiced gripping the handle and assumed a shooter’s stance, cradling the weapon in one hand and cupping it the way he’d had shown her. She sighted down the muzzle and felt a sense of power. Alex was right. There was no question, there was a confidence of knowing she could defend herself if she had to and it relaxed her.
         She left Zaba and and Ama in the house, even though they protested mightily, razing a raucous when she closed the door locking them inside. “Someone has to guard the house while I’m away.” Misu on the other hand would come in handy. A scent hound would be able to sniff out exactly where the opening was and would pick up the scent of anyone on the trail, warning her in advance.
         The day was crisp and smelled of impending rain. In the vineyard the vines were laden with fruit and she could tell by looking at them that what Alex called the vendemmia would probably be very soon. She’d made up her mind that she would stay for that harvest and maybe even longer. Her feelings for Alex had grown like the fruit on the vines, sweet and ready for harvest.
         She thought about Alex and the incredible changes in her life. This love they nurtured under the most extraordinary circumstances. She remembered that as a girl she’d wished to find the perfect heart that would beat in time with hers. But as she grew older and immersed herself in the pages of history, she’d come to believe that people mostly came together because of proximity and common goals, not love.
         What she and Alex had was rare in one lifetime, let alone several. She was crazy about him.

         She slowly climbed the path, the wind blowing against her face, and Misu, his nose to the ground, a few feet ahead. She was lost in her thoughts of Alex. She was in love with him, but would it be enough to sustain a marriage when the thrill of the chase for the da Vinci was gone? The treasure hunt had been all consuming for them both, but what would happen when it ended? Would she ever be able to look at him and not see Giuliano or Gerhard? Wouldn’t it be better to love someone with no ties to her past lives? Wouldn’t she always be questioning whether it was the past speaking or the present? She didn’t want to live every minute of her life questioning whether it was karma. She wanted a fresh slate and a new beginning, she wanted to simply live. Could she and Alex ever give each other that? Did Alex ever question what was happening between them? Obviously not, she thought, smiling.
         Misu ran ahead, sniffing. He circled and returned to the slab, his tail wagging. “Well, Misu, what have we here”

Author Bio:

Belle Ami writes intriguing romantic/suspense/thrillers with a teaspoon of sex. A self-confessed news junky she loves to create cutting-edge stories about politics, espionage, and redemptive love.

She is a Kathryn McBride scholar of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Writing, cooking, spinning, hiking, boxing, and skiing are her passions.

She is the author of The Only One series, The One (#1), and The One & More (#2). Her third in the series titled One More Time is Not Enough, was published July 13th, 2016. She was honored to be included in the RWA LARA Christmas Anthology, Holiday Ever After featuring her short story The Christmas Encounter. Her next series entitled The Tip of the Spear begins with Escape, published January 10, 2017. The sequel to Escape, entitled Vengeance was published September 12, 2017.

The Girl Who Knew da Vinci is her latest release. It’s an intriguing romance/paranormal/thriller. She is currently working on book three of The Tip of the Spear Series, titled Ransom.

She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, a horse named Cindy Crawford, and her brilliant Chihuahua, Giorgio Armani.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Gideon and the Crimson Samurai by R.L. Baxter

Title: Gideon and the Crimson Samurai
Series: Gideon and the Crimson Samurai Book 1
Author: R.L. Baxter
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Ricky Lee Baxter
Publication Date: December 1, 2014

A timeless tale about friendship, family and betrayal

Gideon Joust is your average twelve-year-old boy, with all the growing insecurities one would expect, following the mysterious disappearance of his father. On one fateful day, the boy’s world is turned upside down – leading to a chance encounter with a brash child warrior: Kibishi the Crimson Samurai.


Meanwhile, after some time, covering a surprisingly large distance, the timid boy stumbles into an open area filled with stone floor and fragmented temples. Many half broken statues, bearing images of horrific creatures can be seen, still standing as though they were once worshipped. Clover sits to his knees among the abandoned ruins, crying amidst the eerie night.

Clover: (Gideon has his father, Kibishi has his job to do and Albion has his family elsewhere, but what do I have? The only thing I want to do is stay together – forever. If going to Valero means to leave Gideon’s side, I would rather stay in this big old forest for the rest of my life. Why don’t they understand, I don’t even know who I am. What will I do with myself once I am all alone?)

At that moment, Clover hears footsteps coming from behind. He turns around to see Gideon standing with the adult tiger – white as snow. The young boy shows a stern face as he looks upon Clover who now twiddles his fingers.

Gideon: Clover… what on earth are you doing, running so far away from the rest of us? Don’t you know it is dangerous to go off on your own?

Clover: Gideon, what are you doing here with Ramza?
The blonde haired boy strokes the feline while answering the worried boy.

Gideon: Ramza is accompanying me while I look for you and bring you back! The sad boy rises to his feet before stepping backward, refusing Gideon.

Clover: No, I won’t return. You’re only going to leave me alone in the end. You heard what Albion said about us all disbanding. When I tried to talk to you all about it, none of you disputed it. It feels like nobody cares – at all.

Gideon is slow to reply as he strolls towards Clover.

Gideon: Listen to me… Clover. We all care about each other and I'm sure none of us want to split up. I too wish we could all stay together - in some way. However, the realities of our situations are so complicated, it can’t be helped. Albion is not even from this land, stumbling here by accident and plans to return home with his brothers – once they’re found. Kibishi is only aiding me on my journey, yet he has his own vendetta against the Tetsue Empire who is keeping someone dear to him held captive. Finally my whole reason for travelling in the first place was to meet my father. We all have our own reasons that drive us forward. Unfortunately, they do not all coincide with one another.

Clover: But what if you don't have any reason like that? The only thing I remember was being rescued by you. Now I have to face the prospect of being alone, without even knowing my past. Won’t you let me stay with you and your father?

Leaning against the side of a stonewall, Gideon replies while looking up at the twinkling stars.

Gideon: That would be nice and I am quite sure my father wouldn’t mind at all, however I would be lying if I told you that your presence wouldn’t attract bad attention.

Other Books In The Series:

Be sure to catch Book 2 in the Gideon and the Crimson Samurai series.

Thanks to Kibishi's help, Gideon was able to know the truth of his father. However, before they have time to accept his fate, Kenoke appears - bringing to light a sinister ambition.

Author Bio:

Ricky Baxter is the author of Gideon and the Crimson Samurai and a slew of short novellas. He is an avid blogger, giving advice and thoughts to fellow creators from all walks of life. Currently he lives in Tokyo Japan, where he writes and blogs. Starting out as a composer since graduating with a Ba(Hons) in music and multimedia, Ricky worked for many independent short film directors, gaining notable IMDB credits . Since then, he has embraced his earlier passion of writing fictional stories.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Drawing Dead by Brian McKinley

Faolan O'Connor spent his life killing for men like Legs Diamond and Lucky Luciano, and now it’s his turn to face the music. But when vampire Darcy Killian offers him immortality, Faolan enters a world of violence, wealth, and power beyond anything he’s ever imagined.

Driven by ambition and guilt, Faolan fights his way up the ranks in a battle to justify his sins with success. He’s learned the hard way that relationships are vulnerabilities and friends are just enemies in disguise, but he also knows that he can’t conquer a city alone.

Aided by an emotionally-crippled genius and a warm-hearted call girl, Faolan builds a loyal crew with which to challenge the tyrannical Killian’s rule. However, will this re-awakened humanity prove a fatal flaw or his ace in the hole? With his life and the future of the city he loves at stake, can Faolan play his cards right or is he drawing dead?

Amazon ~ Goodreads ~


Faolan O’Connor wanted to be somebody before he died.

He burned with fever and shivered under a pile of blankets on his sickbed as the snowy world outside prepared for 1932 to arrive. The bullet wound in his side tingled and burned. He thought it smelled funny, too. He had to remember to ask Colleen to hit it with more iodine when she changed the dressing tomorrow. He looked over at his watch—lying next to his prized Remington Model 51 on the small nightstand—and saw that it was only eleven at night. Colleen wouldn’t be in to open her parent’s café until five. He could call her if there was an emergency, but if the Dutchman’s boys were watching her, she’d lead them right here. That’s why she was at home and he was here in the vacant apartment above the café.

Actually, Dutch Schultz was the real reason he was here. After negotiating a very fair contract for the emotionally difficult task of killing his best friend and mentor Jack, Faolan was enraged that Dutch had the nerve to pull a double-cross. Only Faolan’s instinct that something was fishy at the meeting and his skill with a pistol had allowed him to escape Dutch’s death trap. Worse still, when Faolan had called Vincent Coll—Jack’s frequent ally against Dutch—Coll had cursed him as a traitor and threatened to kill Faolan if he ever laid eyes on him again. Dutch had spread the story. The rest of Jack’s gang would go with Coll now. He was alone.

Then he heard footsteps on the stairs.

The only light came in through the closed dormer windows. He’d become accustomed to the creaks and groans of the house during his time here, so he recognized the sound of someone climbing the stairs. Faolan grabbed his Remington from the nightstand and dragged himself to a sitting position. Colleen wouldn’t come over without calling first. The pistol already had a round in the chamber, so he released the safety as quietly as he could and aimed at the door. He thought about trying to hide under the bed, but knew he couldn’t get down there fast enough in his current condition.

“Don’t shoot, eh?” came a voice with a strong Irish accent. A voice that Faolan didn’t recognize. The door opened and a short, skinny man strolled in. He didn’t walk: he strolled like a man without a care in the world. He wore a camel hair coat against the cold, soft soled shoes that made almost no noise on the wood floors, and a tan derby cocked at a rakish angle.

As the man approached, he picked up the wooden chair Colleen always used and plunked it down at Faolan’s bedside. He straddled the chair backwards and hung his hat on the back of the chair before resting his arms there. He was pale and gaunt, but youthful looking despite the gray streaks in his straight black hair. His eyes had heavy lids that made him look sleepy. However, the hazel eyes beneath were bright and inquisitive. He was a man made up of contradictions. “You’re a difficult man to find, Faolan O’Connor,” he said with a smile.

Faolan lowered the pistol, but didn’t let go of it. “Not difficult enough.”

The stranger chuckled. “Sure, I’ve ways of learning things that most don’t. Name’s Byrne, by the by. Liam Byrne.” He reached out his hand and Faolan shook it with his left, keeping his pistol ready. Despite the temperature outside, Byrne’s hand was warm and he released Faolan’s hand without trying anything. The gun didn’t appear to bother him in the slightest. “I’m here to save your life, Faolan, if you agree to my terms.”

“I can handle the Dutchman.”

“Not in your current state, you can’t,” Byrne said. “Sure that wound’s going septic, I can smell it. By the time your lass comes to check on you in the morning, I wager you’ll be past saving. You could go to a hospital, but you know Dutch’ll send someone in to finish you there.”

Faolan found himself touching his wounded side and didn’t like how tender and swollen it felt. “You some kinda doctor?”

“No, I’m a vampire.”

Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire as much as he loves Chicken Fried Steak. He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer who doesn’t believe that “liberal” is a dirty word. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

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