Saturday, August 31, 2013

The artwork here, though I do not know the artist, when I saw this picture it called to me. It was as though they captured the story I'm working on. At you will find information about my Bromance piece placed in an A/U - Space Opera setting. The story is pouring out of me. 37,000 words in one month and that's just the outlining of it. The actual orchestration of the plotting will begin as soon as I get enough back story put together and let the idea of the ending cook a bit more. It may be 2 books in length as the story is gaining ground with each day. The characters are speaking at extreme volume levels, complete with a need to chat me up along the lines of detail and personalities. "Merlin" became an outlet for me in regards to inspiration. I'm using the cast as models for the characters in my story, but those characters are fast losing the Merlin influences and taking on lives of their own. It's the visual aids I still look to for that continual push.

Yes, in talking with my sister today I can honestly say that the Male/Male Genre' is fast becoming a thing of my past. In dealing with lack of sales, it has occurred to me that readers of that genre' are also the writers, so in a sense I'm, to use my sister's words: "preaching to the converted". My strength is just not within that area of writing. I cut my teeth on Bromance at the age of 12. It's been my passion ever since. I thought I could make a go of it, by taking male love a step further. It's just not going to happen, at least not now. I may pursue it again in the future, but this... THIS is where my heart is. The story is coming together. When I told my sister I had done over 37,000 words in a month she said, "This is it. This is meant to happen." When I told her I was enjoying writing again, she said, "This is where the Universe wants you."

She was echoing exactly what I had been saying to myself since making this change, just a tad over a month ago. It's happening, my friends. This is the line of writing where my heart soars and the words flow and the struggle ceases. I hope you will join me on my this journey. Check out the above FB page and hit 'Like' for me, would you? If Bromance is at all a part of your heart, I honestly think you're going to like where I'm going with this story. And, for those of you who enjoy het, I have some strong female characters as well, but remember... it's all about the Bromance for me, so that's where the story will be focused. If that appeals to you... come and join me. It goes without saying that I hope the stories will please you. I'm shooting for an April 2014 release, at least for the first book. If editing and artwork for the cover get done in time. I'll work hard and true on it. This story is screaming at me and that tells me it needs to be told.
Now... back to writing.
Janalyn (formerly known as Myristica)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Serious Shifting of Focus

I never thought this day would come. I have two series out and it looks like they're not going to get finished. So much has happened in the last 2 weeks. Mostly inward workings. Shifting of focus. I may get back into the swing of M/M (Or Gay Male) Romance writing, this may just be a phase I'm experiencing, but I've never even come close to this way of thinking and I never thought I would.

I'm going through a lot of confusion right now. Since becoming pagan over 12 years ago I've spent that time playing and laughing and frolicking like a child who has just been shown the world for the first time. I took my love of Bromance a step farther and dove into the world of Gay Male Romance (loving every minute of that jaunt up to this point, I assure you.)

But things happen. Desires change. Over the last 5 years I've been struggling with something within the realm of this genre' of writing. Mostly the sex angle. I don't like sex scenes. I can't deny it. They do nothing for me. What I love to focus on is the intimacy factor between men, be they of platonic or romantic involvement. Unfortunately the audience of this genre', most of them expect a heat factor. No matter what erotica setting you shoot for be it straight or gay, the heat factor in such romances is expected. I cannot deliver it. I write lousy sex scenes. It's simply not an area where I excel. And it appears that without that factor, sales plummet. I work a 40 hour a week job. I'm single with no prospects for a significant other coming to my side. I'm a single person income. I'm close to retirement age, my prospects are not that great so I need to think about doing what I love to do in order to compensate for a measly pension when the time comes to retire. Writing is my passion. So, some conundrums have surfaced. Read on...

Then there's the spiritual thing. Totally not part of the above conversation, something different, but it factors in to the confusion arena I'm going through right now.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2009, and when it raised its head and said, "Boo!" in February of 2010, I was faced with a mortality dilemma. Suddenly writing took a back seat, my dreams of becoming a full-time author where I could live my life happily and secure within a modest set-by-me income, everything took a back seat. And a question that had been presented to me back in 2004 became a gnawing revelation: Teach!

So I made a deal with the Universe... they heal me and I would teach. Whatever it was about magick about Wicca/Witchcraft, I would teach because there's more to that path than just spell-work. I would teach. Unfortunately, when I was given an opportunity to do so at a spiritual center for Science of Mind where I had been attending for close to a year in 2011, I put my curriculum together and was extremely excited. But something happened... it fell through the cracks. The doors were shut down immediately. Changes were happening at the Center. New Board members, new pastor... I knew a transition was going on there. I didn't pursue it. The more I studied SoM, the more I learned and yes it was wonderful, but the path of Wicca kept calling me back.

Now it appears I'm to learn techniques in Shamanism. I don't believe I'm being called into that path, but to learn the techniques for my own spiritual benefit and hopefully to be able to help others.

Some other things are happening, too. Publishing woes. I won't go into any detail, but to say I'm very disillusioned with the whole publishing business is an understatement. Hence my desire to seek out self-publishing. With Kindle and Nook both areas are wide-open to this field, but everyone wants to make a buck and everyone wants to tear down others who they are jealous of. I'm not just seeing it with me (I've had one experience so far and Amazon refused to do anything about it. The person 'made a mistake' in buying the product and left a rating that plummeted the rating stars. I've not had much success with the story, anyway so what do you do?) I'm seeing it with many other writers. Let's face it, ratings on a book helps sales. But get anti-gay reviewers blasting books by Gay Male Romance authors and the sales begin to plummet and Amazon refuses to do anything about the discrimination. According to them, it's not part of their review abuse policy as they "are interested in what all people think." It doesn't matter it seems that these people are just being used to rip apart an author's hard work just to sabotage their sales.

I cannot believe the level of hatred in this field. There are rumors of authors hiring people to go in and blast another author's work and then to praise the work of the one who hired them. I have no idea if this is true, but it wouldn't surprise me. I'm that jaded, now.

My Harp & Sword Chronicles has been out for over a year on the first book, close to a year on the second and third books. No one is biting. It's a school-of-hard-knocks lesson, but it also makes me wonder if my struggle with the heat factor has something to do with it. Mostly it's called homo-erotica. But I don't really write that. I write romance. I don't even read sex scenes in other author's works because it bores me to tears. Honestly. Again, being jaded here. I've read more than one sex scene and they just seem so repetitive to me. Others however see them differently because it's what they love about the stories. That's fine. I'm not knocking what other people love, but I can't get into that groove, so it's pushed me to confront a fork-in-the-road.

I began writing when I was 12 years old. I would later learn that what I was writing, my first love in writing, was termed hurt/comfort, later to be called 'Bromance'. Love between men, but strictly platonic friendship. Like "Star Trek" between Kirk and Spock, "Starsky and Hutch", and recently "Merlin" between Arthur and Merlin.

Now please let me clarify here, I have nothing against the Gay romance angle. It's lovely and there are some fantastic stories I've read with that theme, but then I have to deal with the sexual aspect. I'm just not THERE! I've struggled with it for over five years now and I have to be truthful with myself. I can't write it.  It's not what moves a love story between men for me.

A friend of mine and I talked a while ago and she said, "Just follow your heart. Write your bromance stories." And honestly, my lovelies, that is where my heart is. I can't go back in and rewrite what I've published, the back stories and histories of the characters are too set in stone. I'd have to do an entire rewrite of both entire series' and I just can't do that, but I also can't pursue what I've been trying to do and failing for all this time.

What I'm hoping for is that the stories I wish to write at this time, my Bromances, will help to unleash a flow of inspiration within the Gay Male Romance areas I wanted to take H & S and most recently my "Blood-Mark" series. But until that happens, I have to leave things alone for now. I'm not saying I'll never go back to the GMR story writing, but for now I have to pursue areas in my life I've ignored for far too long.

I'm working on an outline for a space opera bromance story I wish to pursue for NaNoWriMo this year. It's about magick, it's about witchcraft, it's about spirituality but done on a broader scale set in the realm of futuristic fantasy, an A/U if you prefer. As I write the outline I get all excited and my heart leaps all over the place as a result. A feeling that has not been felt for a very, VERY long time.

In the area of the shaman teachings, I've read that dealing with the shadow-self, you end up dealing with crap, looking at yourself from other angles and seeing what needs to be shoved out the door. Anger, confusion, lots of things come to the surface and you have to face it head on. Being truthful with yourself is the best way to deal with it all. So, here I am confessing and realizing that I just may not be ready for the area of GMR writing. My stories are not making headway and I just don't see the point in pursuing them any further at this time.

I have a new FB page if you're interested in checking out my progress in the Bromance field:
I've put up some Merlin shots in the Photos/Albums section with captions explaining why I chose those particular pieces to share. I'll be putting up quite a bit of inspirational items to help me along when November gets here and I can officially begin the work on this new venture.

I'm excited, to be honest with you. When I made this decision this week, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The burden has slunk back under a rock and when I'm ready to face it again and have it not be such a burden to my soul, then I'll call it out of hiding. But for now, Bromance is taking point.
I hope you'll walk with me on this journey. Two paths converged in the woods... I'm taking the one less traveled.
Thanks for reading.
Hugs and love Myristica (aka; Janalyn)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blood-Mark-The Black Tigress Episode 2 "Reunion" (Excerpt)

Upon entering his house, Vic stripped off his dark suede jacket, careful not to aggravate the injury to his arm, and hung it on the coat rack just inside the entryway, examining the cut and bloodstain made by the knife. He shook his head and muttered, "Damn. Well, maybe the dry cleaner down the street can take care of it." 

He turned away, refusing to cry over spilled blood. He accepted it was his own fault for wearing the thing while searching for a bounty. He tossed his keys into a small bowl on the inside table he also used for mail and went into the kitchen to get a beer, unable to stop thinking about the last few hours with Kevin.

Due to the chance of infection, they decided it was best to sleep separately tonight, warding off the temptation for sex, so Vic had come back to his place and Kevin had gone to his home. It was not an arrangement either liked, but it was a necessary one.

The conversation at the bar only a half-hour ago had been both a disappointment as well as revealing. So much concern from Kevin, and they had only really been exploring their feelings for each other for less than a week now.

If anything it made Vic wonder where the relationship was going, and if he should really let his wishful thinking get the better of him.

Was Kevin developing feelings for him deeper than simple attraction? If so, then were those feelings simply from a deep-rooted connection due to their interactive, though choppy past encounters? A connection based on similar losses and circumstances? Did Kevin need to be near Vic as more than just a lover?

Vic rolled his eyes as he took another swig from his bottle of beer. He could allow his mind to go where his common sense feared to tread, letting his imagination wander into the forbidden grounds of hoping against hope, but in reality, no one had ever been able to truly stop their heart from desiring what it always desired… to fall in love with someone and have that person fall in love with them.
Vic shut his eyes and leaned back against his kitchen sink. His arm throbbed as the local anesthetic started to wear off. He would have to take a pain pill in a bit, but not right now, not while he was drinking and thinking… and hoping.

A shadow swept across the kitchen window facing the backyard, and then the sound of something crashing to the wooden deck broke his line of thought.

Vic froze. He focused his hearing and listened intently. The house was dark except for the light in the living room. None of the security lights had kicked on regardless of the fact something was out in the backyard. He quietly set his bottle of beer on the counter and pulled his .45 from the holster still strapped to his waist. It didn't matter that the wound had been inflicted on the arm he normally used to shoot. Vic had been trained to use a gun with both hands, and so he gripped the butt of the .45 in his left hand and took in a deep breath.

He stealthily moved out through the back door and examined the area around the deck. He saw nothing, smelled nothing and heard nothing but the normal sounds of outside; crickets singing one of their final songs before fall hibernation, dead tree leaves rustling in the evening breeze. 

He took a step off his deck and the movement caused the security lights to flash on, yet even with extra illumination, he could see nothing except for a planter that had fallen from its wire stand—an aloe plant, its broken leaves spilling their healing liquid onto the wood of the deck. As was his nature, he quickly sent up a prayer to Demeter to ask her help in the plant's healing. He reached down and carefully set the potted plant upright again. Hopefully he could save the rest of the plant later, but right now he needed to make sure no one was creeping around his backyard.

It could have been a cat, or a raccoon or a squirrel rummaging around, sure, but the thing passing the window had been too tall for a four-legged beast.

Vic's heart pounded against his ribcage, as he moved quietly over to the big pine tree in the center of his backyard.

Careful to not make noise, he put his back to the trunk, holding his gun up, and inched around, listening for any foreign sound.

In a flash of movement, too quick for him to react, he felt a hand clamp down on his gun hand, squeezing it with incredible strength, forcing his fingers to let go of the butt. The gun dropped to the ground and another hand grabbed him by the back of the neck, pulling him forward.

Everything happened too quickly and he was suddenly looking into gray eyes and a deathly pale face. He opened his mouth to yell, when the urge to call out was stifled by a vise-like squeeze to the back of his neck. He winced, pulling in a quick intake of breath.

The hand was cold like death, and the smell of the grave triggered a nasty memory in his subconscious.

Something… something from a past he wasn't sure was his own filtered through his inner vision, and he fought to chase it, to grab it and face it head on. But it was too elusive, like a specter riding the wind.

"I'm afraid I'm going to need a bargaining chip in the days and months ahead, beautiful one. Don't worry. You won't remember any of this."

The warm and sensual, calculating and confident voice entered Vic's mind and soul making him fall under the heady effects of both the touch on his body and the voice caressing his mind. Cold lips brushed over the back of his neck, under his hair, and the sharp sting of teeth sank into his flesh.

In seconds everything disappeared into darkness.
(Coming soon to Kindle. :D)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Reason I'm attracted to Guy-Love...

Why do I love male/male love or bromance stories? I can only assume it's because of something I saw outside my bedroom window when I was 4 years old. There was a chain-link fence separating our property from our next door neighbor's. From my window I could see into their back porch and yard. My window was open and I heard something I had never heard before and it was coming from next door. I went to peek around my curtain and saw two of my neighbor's teenaged sons weeping in each others arms. The middle son was about 18 and the youngest was around 16. They were sobbing so hard together. I had never seen men hug each other, let alone cry, and let alone in each others arms. I was later to learn they were grieving over the loss of their 2-year old niece who had drowned in a boating accident. I was mesmerized. I could not tear my eyes away from them. If they saw me, they did not care. Something about this scene struck me in my heart and has stayed with me ever since. Two brothers loving each other enough to comfort each other like that. It was a very powerful scene for a little girl of only 4. I never forgot it and ever since then I've come to realize it has paved the way for more of the same.

When seeing men love each other, not afraid to touch, to hug, not afraid to weep in each others arms, this to me is a sign of being comfortable enough in their maleness that they can do this without fear. It is incredibly empowering. A former friend of mine (she ended the friendship when I told her I was beginning to stand up for Gay rights) once said, "Real men don't act like that." I sort of looked at her weird, and gave her something to think about; "They do if they face death together every single day they're on their job. Police, firemen, soldiers... if death is hovering, you better believe they'll get a bit more touchy-feely with each other. After all, they're putting their lives in that person's hands." I remember a captain of a troop in Iraq during the Kuwait war pepping up his boys and do you know what he told them? He said that the person who would get them through the upcoming battles were the ones standing right next to them. "Look around you. The men standing next to you are the ones who will get you through it. Remember that." When you care about someone you will face death to make sure they make it. I remember seeing live footage on the news of a policeman trying desperately to bring his partner back to life with CPR. When the paramedics came he kept shouting for his partner to make it, to please live. But when they couldn't save his partner, he broke down in sobs into the arms of another police officer. Right. Real men don't act like that. *rolls eyes*. 

Why do women need to see this, experience it, feel it? Because we're emotional beings. We need to see things from the heart as well as from the physical. When seeing those brothers hugging and weeping in each others arms at that age, it stayed with me. 

So, my question is this: What brought you to love Guy-love, either in the Bromance or Romance area? I would love to hear your story. What does it do for you and do you have a specific area in your life that you can pinpoint and say, "There! That's when I discovered Bromance or Male-love for the first time."

It wasn't until 1996 after getting my first computer and discovering 'fan-fiction' that I realized I wasn't alone in the world, that I wasn't crazy. That there were other women out there who felt exactly as I did. It felt like I had found a family, people who understood my emotional dependence on this form of love. Tell me your story! I would love to hear about it. :D

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Passion's Chill... my heartfelt plea or argument however you want to look at it...

Hi, FT's!
(My title for those who want to join me on my journey... 'Fellow Travelers'.)
First of all let me say I never do anything arbitrarily in my stories. In the "Harp & Sword Chronicles" there are reasons for certain characters and occurrences within this 4 part story line. Now, "Passion's Chill" is book 2 in this arc, and it contains  A LOT of information. As a result people are probably finding it difficult to get through. I received a very sensitive, but critical private message from a reader who commented on what they did NOT like about the story. However, I should note they didn't tell me anything they did like. So, though their points coming from a reader's perspective were valid, the criticism in and of itself was unbalanced. Why? Because they confessed that they actually skipped through most of the book to get to the major battle near the end. Their take on it was that there was too much back story. Ok, I get it, I understand. So, here's my request (plea, argument, what have you): skip book 2. I mean, seriously. There is a lot of back story, and... another criticism was that the promised 'wedding night' between Thaddeus and Stephen didn't happen. However, I don't know what this reader skipped, but it's possible they missed the hint from Thaddeus' POV that there would be no 'wedding night' between Stephen and himself because of Stephen's terminal illness. Even the possibility of sex with Stephen never crossed his mind.

So, no I never promised a 'wedding night' between them. I'm sorry the reader was expecting one, but with the circumstances surrounding Stephen's lung illness it just didn't make sense to put it in this area of the story arc. (Trust me they will get together, their sexual union WILL happen, just not until the end of book 4. How it's done, though, is one of the things I refuse to give away. :) )

Onto the battle scene:
Granted it could be construed as a tad anti-climatic, as the Mist of Light making an appearance in Thaddeus' battle to the death, sort of threw the reader off guard a bit, but... the Mist of Light is very necessary to the story. As I said I never do anything arbitrarily. The Mist of Light is invested in the lives of Thaddeus and Stephen, and it will do whatever is necessary to keep that investment intact. Even if that means assisting Thaddeus in drawing first blood in the battle. The superstition being that the people will cheer the one who draws first blood, as that is a sign the fighter is blessed by the Gods. With Stephen being in danger of execution for the charge of 'treason' against the established religious order, his champion to win favor with the people was something I deemed a necessary punctuation to the battle. Yes, the battle could have gone on longer, but the story was already over 95,000 words. I needed to cut somewhere, and to prolong a battle where the hero is obviously supposed to win, just seemed gratuitous. I could have cut scenes in other places, true, but that would only have cut the word count down to about 92,000 words. In going over the story line yet again, I honestly could not see where I could cut from it any more than that without damaging the set up of other characters who are necessary to its development.

In a sense 'Passion's Chill' is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen in the future installments, even beyond book 4.  So, it's up to you. If you honestly cannot get through Passion's Chill, just know that Thaddeus and Stephen get together as Warrior Guard and Royal Charge; then move on to book 3 "Visions", which takes place a year later. That book begins the second half of Thaddeus and Stephen's story regarding how they find out what their destiny entails. It's a shorter story, building up to the ending of this arc in book 4 (which may yet turn into two parts, as again there will be a lot of story. This time more action, more reveals, and the whole purpose of  why Thaddeus and Stephen are brought together.)

This story took over 12 years to write. It's seen revision after revision, rewrite after rewrite and a lot of heart and soul has been poured into it. I have a vision for this story. There's a lot more coming than just the first 4 books. And I would hate for readers to miss out on anything even remotely associated with all that Thaddeus and Stephen are going to be facing, as well as the supplemental characters. It's not going to end with book 4, just this story arc. What happens after book 4 will be worth this entire journey.
I ask you to trust me... I know where I'm going with it.  But, like I said, if you absolutely cannot get through book 2, or if others told you it's not worth reading, then skip it and move on to book 3. I'm being completely serious. Passion's Chill sets the stage for the second half of their story line, but "Visions" will begin to move the characters into the ultimate showdown.
I hope you will view this as a capitulation on my part that I understand some may find it difficult to get through "Passion's Chill". I just don't want you to miss the rest of the story. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Thank you for taking the time to hear me out.
Blessed Be,

Friday, June 7, 2013

Check out this GREAT review from MM Good Book Reviews! :-D

Title: Blood-Mark: The Black Tigress: Episode 01 Ghosts
Series: Dimenlien Chronicles
Author: Myristica
Genre: Paranormal, Serial Fiction
Length: Novella (87pgs)
Publisher: Dimenlien Projexts (27th May 2013)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½ – 4 Hearts
Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: A black tigress shape-shifter is loose on the city of Sapphire Ridge, California, seeking vengeance against Thomas Hampton, the lead vampire who once assisted in imprisoning her over 400 years before. When the Dimenlien Guild, led by Mistress Garen, the only being who has full knowledge of portal usage, refuses to help Hampton recapture the Tigress, he must turn to an enemy who long ago vowed to destroy him if they ever crossed paths again: Jonathan “Pal” Palomino, now a private investigator with Eagle Eye Investigations headed up by Kevin Laredo.

Kevin Laredo never believed vampires existed, let alone creatures of other worlds, but when Jonathan’s past comes back to haunt him, the world for Kevin and his team becomes smaller… and darker. And when Jonathan refuses to help Hampton, the vampire proceeds to mark Vic Turner, Kevin’s lover, threatening to pull him into the Shadow Change completely unless Jonathan agrees. But in messing with Vic, Hampton never bargained for Kevin’s interference, and he soon learns that no one messes with Kevin or those he loves.

Not humans, not monsters… and not vampires.

Purchase Link: US:


Review: Kevin meets Vic again when he is attacked in a parking garage. They had met briefly years earlier, and Kevin has an instant attraction to Vic and soon discovers the attraction is mutual. Kevin offers Vic a job in his investigation agency. Vic wants to accept, but first he has a secret to admit to Kevin. Thomas Hampton is the lead vampire in Sapphire Ridge and he suspects that Arina has escaped from her prison. Now she is coming for him, but is also wrecking vengeance across the city. There’s only one way to bring her to heel and Thomas needs Jonathan to do it. But, Jonathan has hidden from the vampires for years ever since his lover’s life was taken by Veritan. To make matters more interesting, Kevin’s new lover, Vic, is the spitting image of Jonathan’s lost love and Thomas will use whatever means he has to, to gain the bait that he needs.    

This is a great beginning to a great new serial where some humans and paranormals clash. We begin the serial getting to know the characters and the parts that they slot into; the foundation on which the serial is built on and the beginning of what looks to be an interesting and compelling storyline. Each character that we visit plays an integral part in the story; the build up for what is to come in future episodes and showing us the beginnings of relationships and friendships. There are different character perspectives and they do change from scene to scene, but it is quite well done so you never really lose the thread of what is happening. it is trying to show you the characters involved and what is happening to them.

I really enjoyed this installment and how it builds the world around us as we read, introducing us to the interesting characters and giving us a background that is built upon as we go through the story. Kevin and Vic are just beginning a relationship in this first installment. We get the background story on Kevin and Vic slots in some details as he makes a confession. Jonathan is shrouded in mystery and we get hints that something in his past haunts him. As we progress, we discover what it is and the lasting effects it has on him. Thomas is someone who you think quite kindly about at first, but then he reveals his not so nice nature later and he begins to give you the creeps.

I have to admit that I was just a bit disappointed with the blurb because it has revealed details that haven’t appeared in this installment. It has whetted my appetite for the future books though. The characters are really good and we do get to know a bit about them. I have a feeling more details will be revealed in the future as the story is more padded out and expanded on. The storyline is really good and drew me in quite quickly. you have paranormals who hide from the humans and a few humans who know about them, but you also have politics going on in the paranormal world with political maneuvering, side stepping and veiled threats.

I will recommend this to those who love serial paranormal fiction, vampires, humans being dragged into the paranormal world, bloodshed, secrets being revealed and a budding new relationship.

Excerpt from "Blood-Mark: The Black Tigress - Episode 1 "Ghosts"

 A few hours later, after catching up on the news and having another cup of tea, Jonathan entered his upstairs bedroom and flipped on the light, but he did not really see anything in his room; nothing registered. He felt like he was moving through a haze. What had happened over twenty-five years ago was once again a raw, gaping wound in his soul. Vic Turner's presence had ripped it open, forcing Jonathan to reel from the impact.

Closing the door behind him, he ached to get into bed, to fall asleep and rid himself of the torrents of remembered grief he could no longer hide.

He thought about calling Richard but thought again. He didn't really want to talk to anyone about this—not a therapist, not a spiritual counselor, not even his best friend.

All he wanted to do was sleep and wake up in the morning to face his life as though this day had never happened.

Maybe it was his karma. Maybe after all those years of hiding, of running, his past had finally stepped out of the shadows, tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'boo'. And his past was the one obstacle keeping him from moving forward with his spiritual quest, the result of his own inhibitions… his own damn fear.

He glanced over to the bookshelf on the far wall in the living room. The album was there, hidden behind heavy tomes. The pictures…

He had flinched the last time things went bump in the dark. Would he flinch again?

He shut his eyes. Andrew would be ashamed of him right now. The old Andrew, whose soul had yet to be tainted by the dark kiss of demon spawn, would have made fun of him, were he to see Jonathan's reaction right now.

Who was to say Andrew wasn't there?

Jonathan had set his lover's spirit free that terrible night with a stake to the heart. He was certain Andrew had been set free, because Andrew's face had returned to its beautiful human appearance, his eyes returning to their natural sapphire blue. Proof he had not been turned completely. Jonathan would have been his first victim, his first kill. Once a half-turned human killed, they then turned completely. Andrew had been what the vampires called a Halfling. Halfling souls could be saved but only one of two ways—either the one turning them was killed… or they were.

Andrew's eyes had smiled up at him, their dark blue irises glistening in the moonlit beams that danced over them.

He had smiled, reached up with a warm hand covered in his own blood and touched Jonathan's face, and Jonathan had gripped the stake harder, unwilling to release it, unwilling to disconnect from his final seconds with Andrew's conscious awareness.

Andrew had gently brushed Jonathan's cheek. "No regrets," he had whispered, the blood issuing from his mouth in dark rivulets, marring his beautiful, full lips.

Even now the still painful memory moved him, and Jonathan shut his eyes against the sting of tears.

He reminded himself he'd had no choice. Andrew's soul had been at stake… pun not intended.

A small, ironic smile crossed over his lips. He had hoped time would have helped him avoided another run-in with vampires long enough for him to pass on from this existence and move on to another.

Reincarnation—the ultimate in witness protection.

He allowed the paralysis of fear to keep him immobilized for one more minute as he stood inside the doorway. He had to take that first step back into his past, but he didn't want to. He wanted to run away again, call Richard and tell him not to bother looking for him. He could create a new identity, had done so after his parents had been killed; changing his last name, forming a new life. Hiding.

The scent of Andrew's half-dead skin, with a vague hint of cinnamon… Andrew's scent. It had been the last scent Jonathan had smelled on him before Veritan had found them. It now filled the air around Jonathan, and he stiffened. "Stop it!" he groaned out, unwilling to open his eyes for fear of seeing his dead lover with the stake through his chest standing before him. "Go away."

You know what you have to do.

Jonathan leaned his head back against the cool surface of his bedroom door.

You can't run anymore, Jonny. You never really could. Sanctuary can't protect you forever.

Jonathan shut his eyes tighter, forcing the sound of Andrew's voice to leave his memory. "Under the power of Anubis," he called out. "I command you to leave."

In seconds the scent left; the feeling of Andrew being near was gone.

Jonathan chanced opening his eyes. He sucked in a deep and shaky breath when he realized he was alone.

"Andrew," he breathed . He buried his face into his hands and gave in to the racking grief seeking release.

"Oh, fuck!" he moaned, seeking comfort from any deity who would hear his cry.

His body's heat intensified under the assault, and he listened as the rain poured down. It was as though Heaven wept with Jonathan. He slowly walked out onto the terrace, letting the rain wash over him, his human tears mixing with the blessed, cleansing ones.

He didn't care if his clothes got soaked. He didn't care if the cold wind outside mixed with the rain, or that he would go to bed with a chill as a result. He would take a hot shower later, but for right now he needed to cool down, to become one with the element of water and symbolically wash away his pain.

He spread his arms and lifted his face to the sky, his tears mixing with the rainfall, and it was as though Sophia herself had come as Mother Goddess to wipe the tears from his face, to shower him with her love, assuring him he was not alone in his grief.

After a few minutes, he lowered his arms, forced his emotions back under the control he had trained his mind into accepting as normal, then turned… and yelled.

There, not five feet in front of him, standing as straight in this onslaught of rain as though still grounded inside Mother Earth's soil, were red and white roses arranged in a beautiful Eastern Indian vase.

The card attached was encased in cellophane to keep it protected from the promised rain.

His mind went back in time to when he'd received another such offering, after Andrew had been killed. After the funeral, Jonathan had returned to the retreat campground, where Andrew had been taken and turned, seeking for some clue which could lead him to find the one who had tried to curse Andrew's soul into darkness.

He had gone back to the barn where they had made love in what would turn out to be their final time. He had found the blankets still rumpled, but as cold as the wind had been on that night. He had lifted the blankets to his face, breathed in the scent of Andrew's skin still clinging to the threads and wept there, as he had never wept before. He had wept because Andrew being taken and then killed could have been avoided… if they had not taken so much time to please the desires of the flesh. If they had done the deed only a few times, then returned to the retreat fellowship before dusk, Andrew might very well still be alive today.

Jonathan had wanted the pleasure as much as Andrew, even though he knew better the things hiding behind the cloak of night. He'd been warned time and time again, but the need within his body had outweighed the need for rational thought.

Andrew's death was just as much his fault as it had been Veritan's and when he had seen the threat, he had done the only thing possible. Vampires, in spite of what Stoker wrote in his book, did not need to be invited in before attacking. They sought their prey and went after it, the only things separating them being whatever sunlight still streamed down during dusk and… the ritual of Sanctuary.

So Jonathan had chosen to run, to try to beat the vampires back to camp, but they had wasted too much time in the barn—far too much time.

He could have saved Andrew. Could have… should have.

When he had returned to his truck, after searching the retreat grounds and barn, he found on the hood a bouquet of roses tied in water-soaked paper towels and a note attached:  "This is the beginning, Exeter. The sins of your great-grandfather have been passed down to you. Andrew was only a warning. Prepare yourself." It had been signed: ~V~

Now after twenty-five years, another bouquet was there to greet him. Jonathan cautiously moved closer to the vase. His curiosity to find out who had left the roses warred with his desire to not find out for certain. He ripped the cellophane-covered card off its holder and read the inscription:  "I've been watching you. ~V~."


In anger, Jonathan pulled the cellophane off the card and crunched the paper into his fist. He reached down to pick up the vase and, making sure no one was below, he slammed it down to the gutter, the pottery shattering on impact, the roses crushed and mangled.

He hurried inside, closing and locking the door behind him. Running down the stairs, he hurried to the kitchen and turned on the burner to his gas stove. He glanced once more at the words Veritan had written and tossed the card into the flame, watching it burn. The handwriting he remembered so well distorted under the assault until the card turned completely to ash.

He quickly pulled out his cell phone from the case on his hip and dialed Richard's number. When Richard answered, Jonathan could only say, "Veritan has found me."