Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta Parte 27: Snitches

Fedelta 27
Image via Pixabay

All of the old hat detectives delighted in reviving their alter egos from yesteryear, “Hey you mutha fuckas ready to roll?” Jimmy yelled from the end of the hall.  “Aihhh, keep your toupee on!” Amato yelled at Jimmy.  As the others at the bar laughed at the exchange, Cassie kept checking her phone.  She got a call from her ex Stephano, over an hour ago, but couldn’t answer it without looking suspicious.  She already knew that Amato would figure things out eventually but how long that took would all depend on her ability to play it cool.  She had to make good on this one deal with Stephano because it could change her life.  As Cassie watched the boys chum it up, she was desperately waiting for them to just leave.  Finally her prayers were answered when the guys started filing out of the room, and as the door slammed behind them, she fumbled around in her purse until she found her phone.  Looking at the screen, Cassie saw that Stephano left a text that read, “Location, location, location.” With that text was a pic of an empty parking lot and an unguarded gas station.  Her heart leapt for joy, it was starting to look like she had a business partner. Getting up from her chair, she texted her location and invited him to the VFW.

There was no way Amato and Jimmy’s crew of grumpy old men were going to be able to pull this off without a little help.  Okay, a lot of help.  She hoped it wouldn’t come to this but it looked like her worst fears were about to come to fruition.  She would have to watch Amato get killed, or be killed herself.  Looking at their stupid corkboard, Cassie ran her hands over the pictures and chuckled.  She knew it would never be enough, because once you learned how the play the game was played, the rules would change.  And she could sense change in the air, it was a sudden decision but she had to seize the moment.  Cassie would return, back into the fold and take what had always eluded her father and brother—kingship.  She knew Stephano could get her that, and she had to try for everybody’s sake.

From behind the bar, she took out two Champaign flutes and borrowed a very expensive bottle of Dom Périgon Rosé.  She would pay Jimmy back later, today, she had a lot to celebrate, her rebirth and the Cosimo’s funeral.  She convinced herself this was the best for everyone, Amato would get what he wanted, and she would get off the hook, so it was win-win.  Putting the Champaign on ice, she smiled as she grabbed the glasses and put them on the counter of the bar.  This felt right, no longer would she be at the behest of Amato or the FBI and now she would have a new family, the Alunnis.  Once the money started pouring in, Stephano would make his move and she would help him rule over the entire family.  This was her chance to reclaim her family’s honor and to lead the next generation into a new era.  First however, Amato and Jimmy had to play their parts.

As Cassie planned her next move, Amato and his crew were parked down the street from Clark’s gas station waiting on Caruso to come back with the intel.  Info had trickled in via social media in the form of pictures and videos which he was sure to encode with hashtags and phrases like, #CarusosDayOut #OpReCon to be sure that the threads were vague and understood only by those it was meant for.

Things were going great and when Caruso returned to the surveillance van, Amato was relieved that the first part of their operation was done.  “I can’t believe how little security there was!” exclaimed Jimmy as he went through photo after photo of empty rooms accessed by Caruso.  “They’re getting very sloppy.” Amato answered back, “This would’ve never happened on Frank Fenetti’s watch.”  Surprised, Jimmy responded, “It sounds like you admire the rat bastard.”

“No, but I do admire a tightly run ship.” Amato replied.

“Well, we got what we came for maybe we should go back to base an…”

Amato cut him off and said, “No, we need to move now before they have time to redeploy.”

Thrilled by the response, Jimmy said, “Okay, we can throw down today but we need backup.”

“Let’s roll.” Amato said as he exited the shabby, white van.

Walking up the street to his car, an elderly woman approached him on the sidewalk and said, “Hey I know you, you’re the guy from T.V..” she said.

Confused and taken aback, Amato said, “I think you have me mistaken for someone else.”

“No, you were the cop.  The double-crosser!”

Laughing nervously, he replied, “Ma’am you got the wrong guy.”

That’s when another older woman who was sitting on a porch next door threw a glass jar at him and yelled, “Rat!”

Dodging out of the way, the glass jar shattered all over the sidewalk but Amato kept his cool and remained silent even though his cover had been blown.  Getting on his cell he called Jimmy and said, “Get the hell outta here, we’ve been made.”  As he heard the van start, he made it safely to his car, when a black SUV pulled up blocking the road ahead, trapping them all.  Bewildered, Amato stared in disbelief as four heavily armed men popped out of the SUV and proceeded to enter the gas station.  “Son of a bitch!” he muttered to himself.

“What the hell is goin’ on?” yelled Jimmy still on the speakerphone.

“I don’t know.” Amato answered.  However deep down he had a feeling Cassie had something to do with it but how, he didn’t know.  Scrambling to get inside the car, he started the ignition, and put the car in reverse, then Amato ordered, “Back to base boys.”

Author Bio:
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel Hag and The Eternal Bond Series both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.

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books, Fiction, JD Holiday, Karen Vaughan, Thriller

The Book Report: Dead Comic Standing by Karen Vaughan

On THE BOOK REPORT: Dead Comic Standing by Karen Vaughan

Image result for Dead Comic Standing by Karen Vaughan
Dead Comic Standing
With a chance at success quelling their fears, a slew of new comics are eager to have a chance, even with a psychotic serial killer out to get them all, to step on stage following each seasoned comic murder in Karen Vaughan’s, Dead Comic Standing. It’s a humorous whodunit full of hilarious comedy relief by many of the future victims in this tightly written book. You get the benefit of a cozy mystery, a sizzling romance and laughs all in one that keeps you reading until the end. I so enjoyed this book! 5 stars.
Karen Vaughan’s site: https://karenwritesmurder.com/
Crime, Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta Parte 20: Lost & Found

Fedelta Part 20
Image via Pixabay

The sound of wheels screeching on the pavement echoed down the busy intersection of 5th and Lexington, “Hey, get outta the way, crazy broad!” yelled the driver at a woman who wandered in front of his car.  Mumbling to herself, she seemed mentally ill as she ignored the world around her.  Looking down at her phone, she constantly checked the street signs as she progressed through the city.  Knowing her battery was low, Cassie had only one guess as to which VFW hall Amato was going to and she had to get it right.  Variations of the worst case scenario filled her mind as she walked in the freezing cold to an old store that was converted into a VFW, just a few years prior.  It looked suspicious enough to be a police hideout.  Her father taught her how to spot a cop a mile away and this place reeked of cops.  It was too neat, and clean right in the heart of a bad neighborhood where the buildings were dilapidated and covered in graffiti.  Staring at it from the corner of the street Cassie figured it was either a drug trap or a pig pen. She was hoping for the latter but felt for her 38 just in case.

Cassie didn’t know what she was going to do when she got there, but figured she should stake out the place before making a move.  First she walked past the building and then even went as far as to view the it from behind on the other side of the street.  Cassie couldn’t leave anything to chance.  This already was a huge risk she was taking and for what, a guy who enjoyed leaving her on the sidelines?  Though she wasn’t pleased with his actions, she knew he couldn’t do this without her.  Too many people had already died from her dad, all the way to a news reporter, it had to stop and it was going to stop with her.

The snow had finally let up and now a punishing wind was blowing through the neighborhood, making her face numb.  Covering her entire head with a baby blue scarf, she left only a small slit for her eyes which were now watering from the bitter cold.  Fighting the urge to shiver, Cassie carried on and found the back of the building and peeked over a tall wooden fence.  She scanned for cameras and found two, one in the back and another on the side.  “Bingo,” she said aloud.  This couldn’t be a drug trap, it was too well set up for some petty dealer.  The place was perfectly monitored on all sides she noticed as she took a second tour of the outside of the building.  Going back to the corner, she noticed a large balding man come out of the building and look directly at her.  Smoking a cigarette, she watched it dangle from the side of his mouth before he grabbed it with his hand, flicking ashes into the wind.  He kept his focus directly on her which made Cassie turn the corner to hide.

“Shit!” she growled, they noticed her.  There would be no slipping into this building undetected.  As the heat left her body with each gust of wind, Cassie knew she had to something before she had to retreat or die from hypothermia. Just then a loud bang jolted her, in her already heightened state.  Looking down the street there was a mail truck and a postal carrier crossing the street to start his route.  Cassie looked down at her blue coat and dark pants and figured she sort of looked like a postal carrier.  This would be her way in.  Casually, she walked over to the truck and noticed the key still in the ignition.  It was as if God were smiling on her, and with that, she happily got into the small white truck, and started the engine.

Pulling up to the building, she changed her appearance just slightly by putting her hair up in her knit cap and grabbing a pile of mail.  Taking a deep breath, she gathered her courage and walked right up to the front door and knocked.  The same large bald man opened and said, “Whattaya want?”  Smiling nervously, Cassie said, “I have a certified letter for Jimmy the General.”

Laughing, the security oaf said, “You got lotta of nerve.  Who do you think yer foolin’?”  He stepped back and went for his jacket but before he could, Cassie got the drop on him and had her gun in his face before he could even reach.  Having no choice, the guard put his hands up in the air in surrender.  Calmly she instructed him, “Put the gun on the ground real slow and you won’t get hurt.” Following the command, he put his Glock on the ground.  Gesturing with her gun she said, “Walk,” and when he hesitated, she barked, “Move!”  Once he was out of the doorway, and outside with her, she ran in the building leaving him out in the freezing cold.  Bolting the door behind her, he could only pound on the door as Cassie grabbed a nearby chair and securely barricaded herself inside with Jimmy the General.

Author Bio:
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel Hag and The Eternal Bond Series both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.

 

Crime, Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta Parte 17: Misplaced Faith

Fedelta Part 16
Image via Pixabay

When Cassie got to apartment, she was startled to see that Amato was nowhere in sight. He must be sleeping, Cassie thought to herself. Putting the groceries on the kitchen counter, she took off her jacket and began looking for a solo cup to put her cereal and milk into. As she munched down she reached for yesterday’s paper and out of it slipped a piece of paper. Picking it up, Cassie noticed it was a legal document of some sort. Curiosity killed the cat and she read it, to her shock it was a will, Amato’s will. It read:

I Jonathan Amato of Brooklyn, New York, revoke my previous wills and condicils and declare this to be my last will and testament.
Article I
I am married to Irene Butler and all references in this will to my spouse are references to Irene.
Article II
I direct that all my just debts; funeral expenses and expenses of my final illness be first paid from my estate.
Article III
All remaining tangible properties shall be distributed to Irene. If Irene is unwilling or unable to accept this property then it shall be distributed to my favorite charity Blue Heroes.

Cassie’s hands trembled, she had forgotten about Irene. Were they still married? How could that be? He told her that…

Immediately Cassie’s face burned with anger as she realized she had fallen for the oldest trick in the book, the old: I’m gonna leave my wife bullshit. If she didn’t have a head wound, she would’ve slapped herself silly for being so naïve. Hearing Amato starting to stir in the next room, Cassie tucked the will back into the newspaper, pretending that nothing happened. As she sat there mindlessly munching on her generic Cheerios that she purchased at the gas station, Cassie wondered what was the point of risking her life for someone who wasn’t on the up and up with her? Maybe she had fallen for the blue uniform, many women do. She of all people should have known better, cops are no better than the mob. Maybe years spent amongst the mafiosos made her desperate to believe in something or someone good.

As Amato made his entre into the kitchen area, Cassie remained silent as she bitterly ate her crap breakfast. In only his sweatpants and tank top, he yawned his way over to the stool in front of her. Seeing the newspaper, he pushed it over to the side and grabbed the box of cereal and looked at it, “Ah Cherrios, nice choice,” he said.
Not able to contain herself anymore, Cassie said without any emotion, “When were you going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”

Grabbing the newspaper Cassie shook it and out came the will. “You said you and Irene were through.”
Rubbing his jaw, Amato said, “We were but…”
“But what?” she growled, throwing the paper down in front of him knocking over her cup of cereal.

“It’s not easy ending a marriage Cassie.” He said completely defeated. “I loved Irene once upon a time and I owed it to her to at least try to fix our relationship!” It was an honorable answer but it stung nonetheless. “Jesus John, where’s your wedding ring?” she asked outraged.
Pulling it out of his pocket, he stuck it in her face. “What do you take it off when you want to get a girl in bed?” she yelled.
“I took it off when she filed for divorce three months ago!” He yelled back at her. “Three months ago? That was when…”
“That was when you happened!” he shouted.
Stunned all Cassie could say was, “Oh.”
“Oh?” You turn my life upside down and all you got to say is “Oh?”

She could sense he was holding back and so she finished it for him, “If it wasn’t for me, you and Irene would still be together, huh?” Looking away, Amato’s silence condemned him. Not knowing whether to feel flattered or guilty, she did the Catholic thing and went straight with the guilt. “Sorry,” she said softly as though someone had died.
“Don’t be, most cops get divorced,” he informed her, then to her surprise, he hooked her chin with his finger and lifted her face kissing her. “When I saw you two years ago, I knew I was done. I thought I could be professional and play the role but I was just a chump.” Kissing her again he continued, “Irene knew something was up but if I told her the truth, it would’ve killed her. I mean what else was I gonna do, tell her that I fell in love with a mafia princess?”

“Yeah but…” Cassie said breathless. Pressing his finger to her lips he shushed her, “I couldn’t tell her our marriage was a mistake so I had to play the two timing bastard for her sake. I didn’t want her to think it was her fault.”

Looking up at him, Cassie stroked his face and said, “God this is a mess,” then kissing him softly on his lips she ran her fingers through his hair igniting a passion he hadn’t felt in years. Just as things were getting hot and heavy, there was a pounding at the door. “Just my luck!” Amato said beyond irritated. Cassie however sensed something was wrong and ran to get her purse and her dad’s gun. “NYPD! Open up the door!” They both froze in terror, this was not how a kiss was supposed to end.

Author Bio:
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel “Hag” and “The Eternal Bond Series” both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta: Parte 15: Reunion

Fedelta Part 15
Image via Pixabay

Through the dirty window only a sliver of sunshine pierced the dimly lit hallways of the abandoned apartment building Detective Amato was now using as a hideout. Leading Cassie through the maze of littered corridors, they came to a staircase that went up 4 stories. In the stairwell, they encountered a homeless man sitting on the steps with his dog on his lap. Looking up at her, he smiled a toothless grin which Cassie returned rather nervously.  When they reached their floor, there was a young woman standing next to window babbling incoherently.  This place scared Cassie but she kept her mouth shut and moved along quietly behind Amato.

In complete silence she followed him until they reached a beige steel door with the number 42 written in worn out brass. It became obvious why Amato chose this place, it was a government housing project. These places were well built to endure the abuse doled out by tenants and the neglect from building managers. If he was ever compromised, this place would give Amato the precious seconds he would need to escape an attempt on his life. The homeless who ran in and out of this place also provided the cover he needed to slip easily in and out of the neighborhood undetected.

Cassie acted as a lookout while Amato unlocked the door with a lock pick set. Recognizing it, she asked, “Hey didn’t I get you that for Christmas ‘09?”
“Yeah, it’s the best set I ever got.” he said smiling as the door swung open. Cassie couldn’t help but smile back because despite the boy in blue routine, deep down, he was still just a hood. If she didn’t hate him so much, this would’ve been a turn on. With his penlight he searched the room for intruders then going over to the tiny coffee table, he took out his lighter and lit a dinner candle left behind by the former tenants. “Home sweet dump!” Amato said laughing as his arms stretched wide open as in presentation mode. “It’s not that bad, at least you have a view of Riverside Cemetery,” she said pointing out the window to the rows of headstones lined up in perfect symmetry on the adjacent hill.

“Yeah, at least the neighbors aren’t that bad, just the dead, the damned and the destitute here.” Sighing, he threw his hat off onto the kitchen counter next to a greasy bag of fast food. Being the hospitable host, he offered her some. At first she refused, but hunger got the best of her. She hadn’t eaten since she left the hospital almost 12 hours ago. Grabbing a ball of warm waxed paper, she unwrapped the mystery sandwich to find a chicken BLT. It wasn’t Caponata or Bruschetta but it would have to do, she was famished. As she tore through the processed food like substance, Amato watched in fascination as Cassie inhaled her sandwich. Handing her a soda, he asked, “Hungry?” Nodding her head, Cassie barely looked up from her sandwich as she finished her last bite. When she was done she grabbed the soda and guzzled it down.
Bringing over the candle to the kitchen counter, Amato illuminated several cockroaches on the wall causing Cassie to jump off her chair running right smack into Amato. Hiding her face in his chest, Amato grabbed a newspaper from the counter, rolled it up and vanquished the vermin. When it was all over, Cassie embarrassed, tried to break away but Amato held on to her. “Cassie why are you here?” he asked. “I thought you might need help,” she answered.

“This isn’t your fight anymore, I got this,” he said rather softly.
That’s what her dad said to her mother when she pled with him not to go with the Cosimos that fateful night. “They all say that and they all die” Cassie said angrily.

“What? I’m not going anywhere.” He said defiantly.
“Swear it,” she demanded.
He let out a nervous laugh and said, “You’re crazy.”
“And you’re patronizing.” She responded. “I know what’s at stake, I know more than you think. I’ve been around these people all my life, they won’t stop until you’re dead.”
“Cassie just go home.” He said nearly begging.
“Go where?”
“I don’t know, start over.” Grabbing one of her blonde curls, he said, “I hear Miami’s nice, I can call one of my…”
“To hell with you! I’m not running!” She yelled, breaking his embrace.

Pointing his finger in her face, he yelled back, “The last time you got involved, it cost you 3 months of your life and a bullet permanently lodged in your fuckin’ head!” It was harsh, but he had to do it. She was tough to scare away. He saw the effect of his words when tears welled up in her eyes, which forced him to look away. “God damn’ Cassie, whatya gonna do, hang out here with me in this hole with the bums and junkies?”
“I’m in this!” she said pointing to the bandage on her head, “Just because my brother Dom is dead doesn’t mean this is over.”

It was hard to argue with her, so he relented by offering her a chair next to his and saying, “Welcome Miss Fenetti to Chez Amato’s, where payback’s a bitch.”

Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Uncategorized

The Blood Seed – a flashback chapter

by Ruth Davis Hays

Circa 1645:
The music and candlelight attracted Keegan. He wanted to slip into a side door and join in the festivities. No one would notice him; Phillipe was the only one in the Family Gathering that knew him. He could easily fade in, unrecognized by anyone of importance because of his anonymity. He also desired to see Phillipe mantled in one of those long, ridiculous curled wigs that were so popular now. That would definitely make his risk worth the effort.

He crept along the maze of hedges that spread just below the rear balcony in the massive garden of this noble’s Motherhouse. The stone steps crept up to the open French doors looming elusively above him. He was deep in the ocean of green. Soft, crisp notes from the lively harpsichord tickled his ears and brought a playful smile to his lips. It made him cheerful. He stopped stalking and listened to the cascade of merry music. The tune hummed and giggled inside him, and he found his toes tapping in time with it. Smiling wider, Keegan closed his eyes and let his body wander into the melody with a blissful abandon.

Hopping and skipping about in a raucous, mock minuet, he began plucking the waxy leaves from the hedge and tossing them into the air. They fluttered down upon him with so many pleasant little caresses. He was laughing aloud and his mind spun recklessly through the flow of music. He crashed and cavorted up one length of the tall, green maze without opening his eyes. The short branches poked him like indignant spectators shoving an intrusive drunken man away from them. He did not care; the joy tickling him inside was a welcome change. The fact that he could be lost in this jumbled path of greenery never even made him balk. He simply followed the music of the harpsichord up one limb of the labyrinth and down another.

It might have been an hour or two before he emerged from the garden maze; he neither knew nor cared. All he cared for was the bouncy melodies from inside the house and the delicious, lighthearted mood they had struck in him.

Now, more than before, as he exited the leafy walls a little way from the balcony stairs, he wished to enter this sparkling carnival of laughter and chatter. He wanted to dance. He wanted to talk to others of his kind; he simply wished to see another vampire’s face–besides Phillipe’s. He was so dreadfully tired of Phillip.

Ever since Oliver ran away, Keegan had no one to talk to, except humans. And humans, no matter how interesting their stories are, always end up making better food than they are companions. He hated getting personally involved with humans. It was heartbreaking and disappointing.

Thinking on this began to make him feel cold and callous inside again. He decided to stop. He should not think when he was happy. It always ruined the feeling.

He blocked the words that whipped around inside his head and drown them in music. Soon, they were dead and floating near the bottom of his skull, and he was feeling giddy once more. The air around him vibrated, tingling with the echo throughout his skin. Emotions flowed along his limbs and seeped out in an invisible pulse that living creatures could feel and be affected by. He felt the thick bush beside him answer this pulse with a trembling that only another vampire would be able to see. This excited him more. He smiled broadly, his sharp canines flashing in the moonlight. This was to be a wondrous night.

He tentatively mounted the wide, stone staircase that curved up towards the house. He felt the small, inch-high heels of his fashionably styled shoes creak under his weight. They clicked softly on the steps. Keegan felt that most fashions of this day were ridiculous. It was almost impossible to look serious or threatening in the garments. He usually scorned the large, bell-like cassocks and gartered stockings, but he knew that tonight it was important to blend with the Fashion Hounds that these vampires were.

He had mocked his reflection in the mirror as he had slipped into these cumbersome, pompous clothes. The coat hung well on his tall frame, but the shoes looked feminine and silly. The large ribbons dangling off him at every joint, and the ruffles at the neck. He had felt like Pantaloon in the Commedia as he gazed at himself. He had stolen the foolish rags from a rich fop who had mistaken him for a beggar. The man’s corpse had lain on the settee and stared with disapproval as Keegan had paraded before the gilt mirror in the man’s own house. But, the dead man had had no words of refusal, as the vampire had stripped him of his ornaments. Keegan had donned the man’s outfit, right down to the face patch, but he had flatly refused to wear the dead man’s long, overly-curled wig.

That would have been too much, he thought. Keegan had politely refused the dead man’s mute offering of the wig; though, none had been made. But, as the man’s glazed eyes continued to stare at him, insistently it seemed, Keegan had grown irritated by the corpse’s blatant ignorance of his sense of dignity and style. So irritated that the vampire had smashed his fist into the dead man’s blank, staring face. And then, he had marched out.

“Bloody French shoes,” Keegan cursed the breaking shoes as he climbed the steps of the Motherhouse. They must have been ill-made to come apart so quickly, he had thought. As expensive as they had looked, they did not hold up. The delicate silk had broken apart as his weight had danced within it, and now the wooden heels were cracking below him.

As he neared the top step, he paused. Two vampires had come out into the cool evening air and were having a polite conversation on the balcony, near the statues that he saw standing as sentinels on the far end. He crouched down and listened to their talk. Silently, tense and excited to hear a new voice, he glanced between the short, carved, stone balusters.

He saw them. Two tall, dark-clothed figures standing at the far railing; their pale faces glowing against the clouded night sky. One was Phillipe. Keegan recognized the Spaniard’s smooth profile and taut jaw. He was in a black, heavily buttoned cassock and a dark brown wig that fell about his shoulders. Keegan smirked. The other one was also in black and wore a black wig. It was obviously the Head of this French Household, for the look on his face was one of authority and strength. A new face. Keegan was mesmerized. Then he looked over to Phillipe again, a movement caught his eye.

Phillipe turned to look at him with the most menacing glare, that Keegan’s heart fell into a pool of ice. In the next instant, Phillipe calmly pulled out a pistol from his wide belt and shot Keegan in the right shoulder.

He was shocked. The pain spilling with blood as the vest and cassock seeped up the juice. The threat from the pistol had hurt him, but the look in Phillipe’s eyes was a clear promise of more punishment to come. A warning. The muzzle of the pistol still pointed at him. He heard Phillipe say to the other vampire, “Only a small animal, nothing more. It’s dead. Or soon will be.”

Keegan vaulted the railing and dashed quickly off into the garden to hide from Phillipe’s anger. But, he knew he could not. Phillipe could track his fear like a hound tracks a rabbit. It had happened countless times before. It perpetuated the hold he had over Keegan; the power. He felt he could never escape. Phillipe was stronger, bigger, older, and seemed to take great pleasure in designing tortures. Punishments, he called them. The drawback to immortality, as Keegan saw it, was that one’s body could survive devastating depths of pain, even if the mind could not.

So, he ran. As he always did. The blood poured from his wound. He held it tightly with his other hand, to try and cut the pain. His shirt pressing to him with the spreading red stain. He knew better than to cry out. He bit down hard against the hurt and ran deeper into the garden.

The close bushes slapped his legs and grabbed at his coat. One low branch snagged the ribbon that held his long hair back and pulled it free. The hair gently licked his cheeks and collar as he plunged into a woods. His heartbeat pounded with his running feet. Faster and faster he went, to where he knew not. Dodging, turning, seeking a safe haven in which to nurse his shoulder. Knowing there was not one.

He felt Phillipe’s breath on his neck, heard the snick of a twig under Phillipe’s boot, whipping around with a outcry to find nothing there. He wanted to scream his fear to the darkness. Scream his panic. Scream his pain. Feared to scream. That it would bring down swifter punishment.

He was over six hundred and fifty years old and yet he was as frightened now as he had felt at ten, when he would steal sweetbreads from his mother’s table and hide to eat them only to hear her approach and threaten to whip his thieving hide.

Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Uncategorized

The Blood Seed – Chapter …whatever

Now, I will admit that I have not had the time or inspiration to fill in the blanks of this story, and for that I apologize to anyone that is trying to follow it with any coherence. But, I can sum up what is missing!

Okay, Roxi and Cat dug up a block of ice from the old well behind the Haunted House. They and their friends dumped the ice, with the help of a bulldozer borrowed from Dale’s construction site, into Cat’s pool and covered it with the pool tarp.

While Roxi met and followed a strange young man she ran into at Eckerds’ Drug store, Cat was getting ready for bed when she heard a ruckus in her backyard. Thinking that it was some troublemakers trying to mess with the ice block, she went outside to discover the tarp dragged halfway across the lawn and a strange man hiding under her porch. He seemed more lost than dangerous, and after struggling with the absurdity of what she was doing, Cat invited him in to dry off. This was Oliver. The man from the ice. And she found him to be intriguing company.

Cat watched him, fascinated at his composure and grace. What was this creature that could so imitate a human in speech and movement, and yet be so strange to behold. His skin so flawless, sleek. The light struck it oddly at times. Making it appear a light silver. The paleness lending a sheen to it. His face was strong, handsome in almost a ruthless way. Animalistic in moments of fierce emotion, and his eyes – black. The deepest, emptiest black. Staring into them, she felt as if she were spinning and collapsing into the recesses of space. No stars, no light, only her and the darkness. Floating, forever. Time had no meaning in those eyes, in that cold emptiness. She would become nothing.

It was so easy to become lost in his eyes that she had to shake herself out of the vertigo. She would think of them as soulless if it were not for his gentle, sad expression. The expression filled his entire form and lent an air of compassion and restraint to an otherwise frightening figure. His mouth held kindness quicker than fury; and the silky russet mane that fell languidly from his head to spill across his back was glittered with silver, like a nebula pocked with so many stars.

Long, muscular limbs flowing off his sinewy body. Broad shoulders and a smooth, agile neck. His movements seemed refined, liquid. Hypnotic in their own way. It was easy to imagine the crowds of interested persons that Oliver must have attracted at gatherings in the past. It could be said that he was magnificent.

A creature that seemed to be formed out of the night itself and here it sat, reclining in her house as if no other place existed in the world. He had accepted his situation, with only the most fundamental confusion and fear at first, and was adapting to the new era and surroundings with an ease that was scary.

Curiosity about him had filled her faster than fear. And her interrogations had been met with the most courteous, open replies. He volunteered information about himself and the events he had witnessed without a moment’s hesitation. Though, he apologized for the uncertainty of some of his memory. There seemed to be gaps in his life history that were predominantly during the years before he was in The Family. Before he had become what he was now.

Yet, his language suggested that he doubted ever being human. He constantly spoke of people as if they were other beings set apart from himself and always had been. He admitted to feeling little empathy with humans, if any at all. To his credit, he insisted that he had always loved learning from them and being in their company.

The only memory that caused him confusion, and suggested to him that there had been any existence before The Family, was one that stood out in his mind as if branded on it.

He had been small. The room, his room, around him was a collection of large, looming objects. Furniture. Wooden, carved and dark. Heavy drapes hung down the sides of a bed. Burgundy cloth, thick and warm.

The floor was hard, cold, wooden. There was a small rug in the middle of the floor, and it was guarded by a large, dark chair. He remembered not liking that chair. Some sort of pain was associated with it. He was not sure what. The wall in front of the rug had a small opening that was bright, a fireplace. It was warm and comforting there except that the chair was so close.

The walls everywhere else were lusterless panels echoing each other all around the room. The door even blended in and appeared as a panel. But, there was a window. Opposite the door, near the little table that stood beside his bed. It had a criss-cross design on it, that tall window did. The little diamonds of glass were frosted lightly and the long drapes in front of it were half way open.

He remembered feeling relieved because some strange man had just left him. A doctor, the nursemaid had said. Oliver had been sick, very sick. The household was busy with many things and a sick child was only another worry. People had been rushing around outside his room all evening. Jabbering about a queen dying and another queen that they did not trust coming. Politics. He was unconcerned about all that. He was even unconcerned about his health.

The only concern he had was a little toy knight that he had been missing. It was lost and he was determined to find it. He had climbed out of his thick, soft bed. Knowing that he was doing something that he should not. And was kneeling on the hard, cold floor to search for his missing toy.

The fire’s light made everything jump and dance around. It was difficult to hunt for the small, carved soldier in the unstable light. He crawled on hands and knees, his long night gown tucked beneath his legs for warmth. He was beside his bed, the window behind him. Wind pelted the panes with a hollow roar. With an ear pressed to the floor, he lifted the blankets that hung down the sides of his bed frame and gazed intently into the darkness below it.

A clicking noise.

Behind him. He knew that it had come from behind him, which meant that it was at the window. He froze. Another click and a chilling gust of air filled the room. The fire sputtered its angry light and grew again. The wind was gone then. Oliver found the resolve to drop the blankets and sit up. He turned with the courage that only children know, and his eyes fell on the dark form of a tall, thin creature.

It was standing in front of the fire, the shadow bouncing and shifting in the close confines of the dark room. It moved and circled the chair. It reminded him of a snake’s movements when it shifted from place to place. Long arms bracing its thin frame behind the chair. Its hands, curling over the back, were long, slender … bony. He remembered seeing shiny needle nails on the fingers that were utterly white. The skin was pale and shimmering. There was little or no hair. It was smooth. Just smooth.

The creature approached him without the slightest noise, crouched with limbs bobbing like a giant, slow locust. The fire lit the face as it drew near him. Black eyes. They were large, black holes in pools of white. And its face was tight. It had a large mouth. Large fangs.

Deep in his mind, a warning alarm was set off, but he could not seem to move. He was frozen with a languid terror and a horrid curiosity. Part of his young mind had recognized the fear and demanded that he run screaming from the room that instant. Yet, a more willful side of him wanted to face the invader and stand his ground, like the tiny knight he had been searching for would have done.

His small, infected body was too slow to make a firm choice and the decision was then taken from him as the creature’s hands caught him up, and raised him to his feet. The steely hands held him, ready to encircle him if he attempted to escape. He did not move. He did not scream. He was transfixed by the dark, deepening stare of the creature’s eyes. Black orbs held him. Wide, staring voids. Staring. He stared back. Defiant. The creature had seemed to smile.

The strange being crouched directly in front of him, blocking the fire. Their faces level, its elbows touched the floor. The head and face were a shadow rimmed in flame. Its hands twitched, moved slowly to the floor.

He felt its hard, cold fingers touch his bare calves and recoiled inside with revulsion. Yet, he did not move. He remembered the soft skin, ice on his legs, creeping up his small body. The creature ‘s touch sent warm sensations through him. Feelings of comfort, of affection, of safety. They calmed, and frightened him. It communicated without words. Speaking directly to his heart.

The talons spread across his back, talking to him. Reassuring him. A gentle pull. The face was taut and wide, coming close. The hard lips pressed to his neck. His heart raced. He was certain that this was Death come for him. The doctor had been right.

He felt a quick pinch on his neck at the same moment as two slicing pains on his back. He pushed against the great beast, only to feel the arms clamp down hard on him. Pinning his body to it. Something tingling and wet touched his neck where the teeth had been. Then the hold was gone.

Oliver had kept his eyes tight shut, and only opened them when he felt the presence of the creature retreat. The empty air was around him again. Thin and somehow different.

He had opened his eyes to see the thing at the window sill. The fire light seemed to engulf the room. A smile slid across its wide jaw. The window flew open and the dark form was outside, disappearing beneath the ledge in an instant. Stunned, he watched as a long finger reached up and silently closed the window pane. Then it was gone.

Oliver was left trembling beside his bed. The lost toy knight forgotten. After a moment, the pain in his neck had vanished, but the ache in his little back had remained. A throbbing sensation was just below each shoulder blade. They felt warm and stinging. The wet feel of blood sat on top of his skin there.

The wetness on his neck reminded him of that strange kiss. Or was it a bite?

He broke his shell of fear and ran to his little mirror. Standing at his dressing table, he held a big silver mirror that someone had given him up to his neck. There were no marks to show any kind of bite. Nothing. Placing the mirror down, he pulled up his night shirt and bending down, he held the mirror behind him to see his back. There were two, long, red cuts that followed the lower curve of his shoulder blades from the spine to the sides. He let the gown drop back down and replaced the looking glass. His young mind was clouded with a new fear. Fear of the creature coming back. He determined that it most certainly was Master Death. It was waiting for him. More solid and literal than the kind his parents were speaking of, this Death would get him.

He began to cry. No one would believe him if he told them that he had been visited by Death and It had promised to come back for him. It had told him it would. He ran to his bed and cried into his pillow. He had not understood what the physician had explained about infections, but he knew that this was worse. This personal acquaintance with Master Death. Much worse. He cried all that night.

In Cat’s olive drab living room, Oliver had fallen silent, then stopped his narrative altogether. His face faltered, and he told Cat that the Death of that memory did not come again. But, his next clearest glimpse of a previous life had been a wife. She had brought him to meet The Family. A new family that was to be his only family. She was acquainted with Master Death, and as a grown man it had kept its promise.

–Ruth Davis Hays

Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Uncategorized

The Blood Seed – Chapter 11

by Ruth Davis Hays

Gathering a small collection of friends to help excavate and transport, the large block of well ice is placed in Catherine’s pool for safekeeping until they can prepare how to document their findings and who to contact about a body frozen in a well that may have been there for over 150 years. But, before the dawning of the next morning things go beyond their control.

They cover it with a pool cover and wait. The girls’ friend, Dale, and a few ever-hopeful admirers of Roxi, distract them with dinner and Cat is making up stories to write, based on the figure in the ice. As the ice melts, the murder streak that has upset the town and neighboring city continues; lasting longer than previous times, if anyone had cared to look it up. But the only ones that had noticed the similarities were busy watching ice melt.

Cat and Roxi grow tired of their vigil and lament that they must work the next day. Both agree that if anything changes in the melting, that Cat will contact Roxi and they will call in sick Monday. The tarp over the pool protects the figure in the diminishing block of ice from the sun as the girls document the changes and what is appearing inside it.

Their friend Dale has not returned after he took his equipment home. They do not wish to leave him out, but can’t wait for him and can’t seem to contact him. They want credit of discovery before turning whatever comes from this frozen time-capsule over to authorities or universities.

Having gone to pick up snacks for the evening, Roxi is at the Eckerd Drugs store again before going home for the remainder of the night when …

She became aware that she was being watched. She lifted her head and looked directly at him. The strange young man in the black denim coat was staring at her. His hair down in a silky cape of dark blonde, seemed much longer than she had suspected it to be the time before. He was clean shaven except for long, thin sideburns that came down onto his cheeks. It reminded her of a European style. He was not wearing his sunglasses and she saw his eyes for the first time. They were large almonds of intense turquoise that could gleam across a room for consideration. His long, dark brows creased a moment as if trying to reach one another over the hairless separation, and a strange half smile hovered on his full lips.

He sprang to life and approached her.

“Pardon me,” he said directly. Looming over her, the pronounced features in his face looked smooth and roguishly handsome. There was a definite accent to his words, though of what origin she could not pinpoint. He continued, quite animatedly, “I’m new in town. My name is Kevin.”

Roxi stared in shock for a second, then gathering herself, responded, “Hi. I’m Roxi. My name is Raquelle, but friends call me Roxi.”

“What should I call you?”

“That depends.”‘

“I see.” He had a curious way of moving his mouth. As if he did not like to smile while talking. “I’ve seen you around. Do you live here?”

“Do I? I wouldn’t hang around here if I didn’t. Sorry. Yes, I do live around here. Why?”

“Just trying to meet people. I chose the direct approach because making friends is not my long suit. But, you… you looked different.”

“I am.”

“And your friend, I saw you with her before. What’s her name?”

“Cat? I didn’t think you saw her. I mean, I noticed you a few nights ago, but Cat missed you. Personally, I didn’t think you even saw me…”

He broke her off. “Oh, yes. Yes, I did. But, tell me, is there anything to do here at night? Are there any local night clubs? I find myself bored at times.”

She was confused. “Yeah… there are. But, not here in Orange Grove. In Jacksonville. It depends on what you’re looking for, though. Have you moved here?” She had decided to take control of this conversion and get some information.

“Not exactly. I’m here for a short period… on business. But, if my plans change, I want to know where to go for a little excitement. And, to know a few people in town.”

“Have you been here before?”

“Yes, many times in fact. But, I usually stay to myself. Only go out for meals… you know how it is?”

“I can guess. Where are you from? Your voice, your accent is not American.”

“Oh, everywhere. I hail from Scotland, actually. Southern end.”

The chat was growing more benign as the fellow gave obtuse answers to Roxi’s inquiries, and she felt a odd glow of jealousy each time Cat’s name passed his lips. Flirting faded into the recesses of her mind, for the pessimistic voice in her heart shouted louder with every passing minute. This was not a budding relationship. The strange man was not interested in her. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen to her. He will leave; he’s married; he’s gay; he’s just being friendly, strange or psychotic. It’s just not real. Finally, disgusted with the voice nagging her, Roxi decided to end this pointless conversation in the usual manner. She offered her father’s old business phone number. That way, if the young man truly was interested in contacting her, then she would know. The dead man’s phone was still active and gathering dust in the basement of her house.

Kevin stared at the scribbled number rather blankly for a moment before offering his awkward excuses to move along. Watching him leave the store, Roxi stood at the cash register, immediately regretting her sudden disgruntled mood. She found the stranger attractive, but there was a tension between them that seemed forced, strained, and she had assumed it meant that he did not want to be near her. This had put her off. As she left the store with her purchase and saw the tall figure of Kevin rounding the far corner of the Winn-Dixie storefront and fading into the dark side of the twilight hour, she wanted to kick herself. Then, a devious notion struck her, and she hurried to her car with his words about visiting Orange Grove many times before and the printed microfiche words of the old newspapers flashing through her mind.

Every forty-five years…bloodless corpses. Her mind spun with ideas.

Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Uncategorized

The Blood Seed part 10 by Ruth Davis Hays

(This segment is not necessarily in order, but to pick up the pace of the story a bit, I thought that I would offer up a short something from the “vampire’s” side.) While Catherine and Raquelle are investigating the ice in the well, what it holds, and the mystery of the “maniac” that visits the city of Orange Grove every 45 years, a new group has moved into the sleepy little town:  The Family.

——————————————
He sat. A loathsome imp banished to the lonely shadows to wait for the ‘favored’ ones to leave. On the damp grass, outside the house, he sat. Lean, sculpted arms wrapped tight about his knees. Hair, long and cascading, around him like a little brown drape. Mouth pressed to the arm of his denim coat, blue eyes staring straight ahead, unblinking. He sat. Waiting.

Quietly, he clicked his fangs together; the noise ricocheting in his mind, something to concentrate upon. Inside the Mother House, the Family was getting ready for the hunt. They were dressing, primping, talking. They were sharing with each other. Kind words, affectionate touches. Things he would never receive from them, or anyone. They did not know of his existence. Never had, never would. Phillipe kept him separated from them, telling Keegan that it must be that way. The Family members could never see him or speak to him. For, if they knew of his existence, they would surely kill him. Phillipe allowed him space and funds, but his protection of Keegan could only go so far. And for this gracious generosity and protection, Phillipe asked only two things of Keegan:  That he obey Phillipe’s rules and carry out a few ‘requests’.

‘Commands’ were closer to the point.

Keegan was a henchman. Doing Phillipe’s dirty work for him. No matter what chaos was wreaked in the vampire world or the human one, nothing could be traced back to Phillipe. His hands were clean. The Family was protected from finger pointing. And, as long as Keegan kept himself anonymous, nothing would be traced back to him either, for he did not exist.

(No one in this Household knows anyone of “that” description, “no sir!” No one knows his name.)

So, he sat in the darkness each evening waiting for the time when Phillipe would summon him. Alone and despising it. Over seven hundred years, he had waited like this. In different places. At different houses. Listening to different voices chatting merrily inside. Locked out of their closely knit world by danger and out of the humans’ world by nature. He’d had only one friend, in all that time who had been able to accept and acknowledge him:  Oliver.

As reluctant as he was to try and force Oliver back into The Family, Keegan had to admit that he was glad he would have someone to talk to again besides Phillipe.  Besides himself.

Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Ruth Davis Hays, Thriller, Uncategorized

The Blood Seed – Partial

(As this serial has been posting sections from a story that I began many years ago and never finished, there are some segments that are missing. I know they are written somewhere, just nowhere that I can find. So, forgive me as I play Fill-in-the-blanks this month with my intro. I will do my best to give you a more complete chapter next time. – Ruth Davis Hays)

The ice in the bottom of the well proved too far for the two girls to reach alone. They broke off their investigative frenzy to drive to the store for a much belated meal.

Thinking on a course of action, they decide to convince a friend Dale who was working on a nearby construction site (while he studied at college to become an architect) to help them dig up the well. At least then they could pull out the huge block of ice and use all their collective resources to find out why it existed in Florida, at this time of year.

Their endeavors will have to wait until Dale’s day off during the week, which will cause the girls to have to delay it until after work or take the risk of calling in sick. Cat daydreams that the ice holds something mysterious, but Roxi doubts that it will have anything besides really cold bacteria. Sunday evening finds Roxi in the neighboring town of Jacksonville, trying to sort out her feelings.

****************************

She had been drowning in a river of darkness. Being pulled along against her will. Reaching out to grasp with numb hands to anything that would steady her and offer the slightest chance of freedom. But each weed or stone she clung to would give way or slip from her grasp before she could pull herself clear of the stinking water. If she screamed, she would drown in madness. If she struggled, the water pulled her quicker. She was lost. The only thing she could do was let go, let the river claim her as it had thousands of others. It would be the easiest thing to do.

Roxi sat on the stone bench staring at the St.John’s River as it labored north to the ocean. The bench was cold beneath her and it seeped into her bones. The ache she felt, as she rested near the large cement fountain in downtown Jacksonville, was not the chill of a cold body but that of a frozen soul.

She had come to the science museum to sit by the river and think but she had found that most of her time had been spent staring at the dark waters and letting her mind wander. Her mind had wandered down some very dark paths and only frustrated her more instead of clearing things up for her. The only thing that kept repeating in her thoughts was the idea that she was stuck. Stuck in Orange Grove. Stuck in a dead-end job. Stuck in her father’s house. Stuck in the mud of her life, alone.

The limits of her possibilities crowded against her so tight that she wanted to scream and rip her hair out by the roots in the frustration. Not that that would have changed anything. Except that she would be bald, she mused. A small smile touched her lips.

There was no prince on a white stallion to rescue her. There would be no one announcing that she had just won a million dollars. All her problems would not be swept away by a benevolent genie that would give her three wishes. It was all up to her to change her life and she had run out of ideas and energy. The small town had beaten her. It had won. She had no money to move or do the things she wanted to do with her life. She had no resources that she could trust. No one that could help her achieve her goals.

Cat was her best friend, but despite all their big dreams of childhood, they had never been able to get any of the things accomplished. Nothing to show for all their combined talents and efforts. She had a closet full of fancy and outlandish costumes that she had designed and, with Cat’s help, had made. But, she could not wear them. There were no occasions in her life that she could give them the proper debut without feeling out of place and silly. They belonged on the runways of New York, not the streets of Jacksonville. So, what had they accomplished? Nothing but her having a closet full of clothes that no one would see unless she got famous. Got Famous, she pondered that one with a bitter smirk. What a frustrating dream that had been. Get noticed, get recognized, get famous. That was how it was supposed to go, right? Ha! she thought. Sounded easy enough when the celebrities on television said it.

Except that with all her reputed “talent,” here she sat. In Jacksonville. A data entry clerk for the city of Orange Grove. A nobody.

“I hate life,” she muttered to the soft autumn wind. “I’m sick of it. If I didn’t think suicide was a waste, I’d jump in that river right now and get it over with. At least then, I wouldn’t have all these stupid worries anymore.”

She sighed and looked over her shoulder at the tall office buildings surrounding the little green park in which she sat. “And, I wouldn’t have to work anymore. Or worry about money.”

The day was growing darker and the evening’s lavender hues were painting the city all around her. She decided that it was time to head home. Before all the crazies came out, she chuckled. That was definitely not the way to die; at gunpoint or on a knife, over a twenty dollar bill. She decided that that would truly be pointless, and unpoetic.

Wanting to end her life did not rob her of her sense of the dramatic. Now, falling victim to a fatal disease or something totally out of her control… that would be dramatically tragic. And, might even make the newspapers.

She laughed at herself. Even in choosing a death, she wanted to get noticed!