Eve Langlais is so kind to offer up yet another giveaway for my Halloween Spooktacular.
Either you’re with me, or you’ll feed me.
Humans are for eating and I am not one to play with my food, so I’m baffled as to why one geeky mortal doctor makes me wish our kind could be together without my brand of love being toxic. As if suffering from human emotions isn’t problem enough, our world is about to engage in a war where our chances of survival are slim at best. And no one wants to listen.
But, I didn’t become the general of the vampire Queen’s army by being diplomatic. Everyone will fight in the upcoming battle, or they’ll feed my troops and I. Either way, all things living will do their part.
I am after all the Blood Countess, toxic lover to humans, vicious bitch to my enemies, and my word is law.
I tapped the microphone and winced at the screeching feedback. I still couldn’t believe I’d ended up roped into doing a press conference—I would have preferred a visit to a sadistic dentist. But my wish for physical pain went unheeded and the moment of truth, so to speak, had arrived.
“Um, hi there, thanks for coming.” Nervousness, an unfamiliar feeling, made me fidget in front of the sea of reporters watching with disinterested faces. At least they showed up. I hadn’t been sure they would when I’d had my minions contact the various media outlets. Of course, my forthcoming announcement was momentous even if they didn’t realize it yet. With my next words, I would change the world as they knew it. And probably create a decent amount of panic—an entertaining perk to the whole affair.
I inhaled deep and said in a rush. “I’m a vampire.” My declaration made, I stood back and waited for their reaction—and even yummier, their fear. I’d actually prepared a speech, a long flowery thing with historic references to precede my coming out announcement. However, faced with humans who spent more time looking at their BlackBerries than me, I changed my mind. Besides, I preferred getting straight to the point.
My admission definitely caused a reaction in the crowd. They tittered and shuffled in their seats, turning to grin and whisper at each other. I returned their mirth with a glacial stare. How dare they laugh at me!
One smirking fellow called out, “Gee, I’m so scared. Please don’t eat me.” He laughed at his own weak joke. I didn’t. And the man—courting a death measured in heartbeats—decided to further his comedic career. “So, did you get your teeth filed at the same dentist as that other vampire charlatan?” Guffaws and high fives met his mediocre humor. I still wasn’t amused.
I knew of the fake vampire he spoke of. He and the other charlatans of my kind would be dealt with. “I assure you that everything about me is real.” And the real me truly wanted rip his head off. The fact I couldn’t pissed me off, especially when I heard the jokes they bandied about with raucous laughter.
I had a joke for them. What do you call a human who mocks a vampire? Dinner.
My nails elongated and dug into the wood of the podium creating deep gouges. My eyes bled black, I couldn’t stop them as my ire grew, feeding my dark side. A few of the reporters squirmed under my gaze and went silent, but others met my eyes and instead of the flinching I’d grown accustomed to, roared louder.
My face tightened and I pursed my lips. Don’t get mad. Don’t get mad. They’re just stupid sheep. But for someone as old and powerful as I, disrespect wasn’t something tolerated, from anyone. “I don’t usually give warnings but in this case, given what I’m trying to accomplish, I will. Cease this laughter before I make you all—” I paused seeking something suitably nasty without being harmful—I was well aware of the cameras trained on me, just waiting for a misstep they could broadcast to millions. “Um, if you don’t listen, I’ll make you cluck like chickens.”
Wrong answer. Waves of fresh laughter erupted. I fumed as my plan for my grand come out was buried in a sea of mirth and disbelief. Courtesy be damned. Time to make them believe.
Standing up, I felt my power, cultivated over centuries and made greater by an obscene amount of kills, race through my body. I drew upon it with my will, my indomitable will, and then used it.
“Quiet,” I boomed, my voice echoing out like a sound wave and stunning them into abrupt silence. Wide eyes stared at me, they had no other choice. I’d frozen them in place with the esoteric force I wielded. I levitated up and over the podium because the time, it seemed, had arrived for a more up close and personal chat. I sank gracefully down to the ground directly in front of the first row of humans. I flicked at a piece of lint that dared mar the sleek black leather I wore. Cliché, but I enjoyed the suppleness and look of skin-tight leather. And the blood came off it nicely, too, for the times my dinner fought me.
I beamed widely at the reporters, my fangs—all natural of course—flashing as I let them drop from my gums. “Now, as I was saying, I am a vampire, and not just any vampire. I am the Queen’s general, her most loyal servant and spokesperson.” And next in line for the throne if someone actually manages to get past her safeguards and kill her. Not that I wished her dead. On the contrary, I preferred my current queen keep the headaches and annoyance that came with being ruler. That, and I couldn’t stand the sycophants that surrounded people in power.
I released my will and like puppets with their strings cut loose, several of the crowd slumped. One reporter, his eyes wild with fear—my favorite look after adoration—stumbled from his chair and raced out of the room. The rest of the reporters, though, gathered their resolve and leaned forward raptly, the scent of a story, the story, overriding fear and common sense. Stupid humans.
Questions suddenly ambushed me from all sides. I frowned at them, my expression much like the one a parent bestows upon unruly children and they immediately silenced. One reporter, a petite female, raised her hand timidly.
I inclined my head with a cool smile. “Go ahead.”
“Who are you?”
“I was known during my human life as Countess Elizabeth Báthory. But, isn’t the better question, why am I here announcing my existence and that of my brethren?”
The humans leaned forward.
“We are tired of hiding our nature. The introduction of blood banks and willing donors has made it unnecessary for us to conceal ourselves anymore.” What a crock of crap. The real truth I hid, for I didn’t think the humans were ready to hear of the coming war that would see their numbers decimated if my kind did not step in to help. Even as it galled me, I’d come to the realization—with the forceful prodding of my queen—that we didn’t have a choice but to team up with the humans to save them. We were talking, after all, about our food source here. If they died, I’d go hungry. A hungry vampire translated into a grumpy vampire, which, as any idiot could figure out, was not a good idea.
The same brave woman who’d asked my name fluttered her hand again and I nodded at her to speak. “But aren’t you afraid that people will panic at the news of your existence and hunt your kind?”
I smiled, not a very nice smile judging by the blanching faces and the way they leaned back from me. I even heard a whimper—how sweet. “Might I suggest that any attempts to cull my kind will be considered an act of war. And trust me,” I said angling forward and lowering my voice. “You do not want us as your enemies.” The smell of fear radiating from them assured me they understood.
An older gent at the back lifted a hand. “Are you the countess that history claims bathed in the blood of virgins?”
I rolled my eyes. “Oh, bloody hell. First of all, it wasn’t exactly my fault. The vampire who turned me was accidentally killed, and with no one to guide me and my newly found hungers, yes I went a little wild. But that was hundreds of years ago and I’ve learned to control myself since.” And the reports that I’d killed over six hundred virgins, wrong. In those early days I was ravenous, and my body count went well into the thousands. Not that I’d admit that to the mortals. The fact we relegated them the same status as cows wasn’t something they needed to know.
“Do you still kill people?” the same reporter queried with a tremor.
“Of course not.” I lied. “In this day and age, blood is easily acquired via willing blood donors or purchased from blood banks.” The young ones with no control were forced to use the chilled blood—warmed in the microwave, ick. The older ones, like myself, fed off the vermin in the world, usually to the death. The inhalation of their last drop of blood imbued with their life force was a potent cocktail if you could handle the screams in your head as their essence fought joining a vampire’s psyche. But in the end, my will always won, and like the Borg on Star Trek, I assimilated them all. And my power grew.
“How many vampires are there?”
I inwardly smiled at the expected question. “Many, and we live among you without notice.”
I could tell several in the crowd weren’t crazy about this knowledge. They’d dislike even more knowing the number of people from the ranks of our loyal servants we had close to the President. We even had a member of congress who was a vampire. We’d given that well placed political ally the gift of daywalking; achieved through the collaboration of several witches and great sacrifice. Personally, I preferred to stalk the night.
More comfortable now that the reporters realized I wasn’t going to eat them—even if I was tempted—the questions started piling up on top of each other again. I raised my hand for silence and got it. “That is enough for now.” Then in a move meant to awe them, I drew shadows around my body, cloaking my presence. Invisible to their sight, I slipped out amidst their collective gasps of surprise and wonder.
My limo waited for me on the street under a look-away cloak that caused mortal gazes to slide over its presence—although, in an odd twist, meter maids always seemed to notice and leave tickets. I slipped into the backseat and the car pulled away from the curb. Thank hell that’s over. I pulled out my phone and dialed.
“Is it done?” the answering dulcet voice asked without greeting.
“Yes, my queen.” My respectful tone was sincere. I loved my queen because she was the one who’d saved me so long ago from myself and the villagers who would have killed me.
“Excellent. Follow the plan for the moment, and if there are any changes I will let you know.” The queen dropped her regal tone to say almost in a whisper, “And now the lines have been drawn. Let us hope our daring act is not met with chaos.”
What she meant was hopefully the humans didn’t freak and start sharpening stakes. If we could somehow end up accepted by the humans for what we were, then perhaps the others who hid in shadows would come forth and join us. Death was coming, and to survive—much as it irritated me to admit—we’d need the help of every race on the planet. And if they refuse to join our army, then they’ll feed us as we fight to save the planet from extinction.
1.Giveaway is international because the book is in ebook format.
2. All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below and be 18 & over.
3. Giveaway ends on 10/31.