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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night — not to mention sexy vampires!

Linda Nightingale’s latest release, CARDINAL DESIRES, is a sexy, suspenseful page-turner from Double Dragon Publishing and available on Amazon.  Take a look at the excerpt on the publisher’s web site.  Soon to be released in print, too.  Take a look at this intriguing cover.

From inside the flap

How can Katy McCaully resist Sterling Fox?  In her early teens, she fell in love with a thirteenth century warrior in a painting, and Sterling is the image of that Novgorodian knight.  He definitely has the keys to her chemistry set, but she mustn’t succumb to his charms.  She’s a forensic psychiatrist working with Scotland Yard.  He’s a high-profile journalist who invades the underworld for a story or broadcasts live at the scene of the world’s worst tragedies.  Police and media do not mix.  They are both trying to capture the animalistic killer the newspapers have dubbed the Vampire Slayer.  Modern London doesn’t know that the Slayer has also killed four vampires.
CarnalDesire-510 (5)  Excerpt:

SCENE:    London Hilton, Present Day.  Katy McCaulley, heroine, is attending a formal charity benefit.

“Trust Morgan to find the most beautiful woman in the room.”

The voice flowed as hot as molten silver.  Katy spun to see who’d spoken.  Dreams, past and present, fused.  Her mind reeled under an onslaught of impossibility.  Her soul did a double back flip.  On her thirteenth birthday, Katy had fallen hopelessly in love with a man in a painting.  On the canvas, medieval knights, armed with mace and sword, mounted on massive horses battled on a frozen lake.

The breathing replica of her warrior invaded her comfort zone.  “I swear he’s a divining rod.” A laugh, rich, magical.  “Where there are beautiful women, you’ll find Morgan.”

Rarely did one see a face of such striking beauty, but there was nothing weak or effeminate about her warrior.  In white tie and tails, not armor, he was the epitome of svelte strength.  She itched to touch him, make sure he was real.

“I suppose I must introduce my friend.”  Morgan clapped her warrior on the shoulder.  “Sterling Fox.  Dr. Katy McCaully.”

“Good evening, Katy.”  His eyes were wicked, emerald green.

His name suited him perfectly.  Sterling was six-and-a-half feet of shimmering energy.  Silver blond hair fell in gentle waves to his collar. The tucked formal shirt enhanced a broad chest.  Powerful arms sculpted the sleeves of his jacket.  Struck dumb but not blind, her gaze traveled down his body, savoring the length of his legs to the tips of patent leather shoes.  The journey was a banquet for the senses.

Gentle laughter jerked her gaze back to his face.  The rhapsody of sound and light around them seemed unreal.  The touch of his hand was impossibly real.  Intelligence fell victim to awe.

Katy shook her head.  “You…you…”

Fate was having a good laugh at her expense.  She was never speechless, and here she was stammering, blushing like a wallflower at a high school dance.

“Me?”  He arched an eyebrow, dismissed his formal attire with a wave of his free hand.  “Tuxedos are totally out of character.  I’d rather be in jeans at a Rod Stewart concert.”

The pianist had fluttered her pulse, but this long, cool drink of water named Sterling Fox made her romantic heart thirst.  The man who’d shot her poise to hell was probably ten years younger.  He was handsome, fully aware of his effect on women and knew precisely how to play the game.  In two thudding heartbeats, Katy resolved never to dangle on his sterling chain of hearts.  As if she had no interest in him, she scanned the crowd.

Like a physical blow, a painful realization struck her.  “Sterling Fox, the Night Fox?”

This renowned journalist made her feel positively sexy and she loved his hands—custom-made for loving, not penning true-to-horrible life works.  “I’ve read your articles; wondered what kind of man would disappear into a Colombian cartel to profile the inner workings of a drug lord. You’re nothing like I pictured.”

“Disappointed?”  His voice was hot enough to endanger the ice sculpture on the hors d’oeuvre table—and to melt Katy.

Two tectonic plates collided deep inside.  Sparks?  The man was a bloody sparkler.  Hell, he was an arsenal of fireworks.  Her rabid hatred of the media suddenly seemed unjust.

 

To celebrate, Linda is giving away a download of Cardinal Desires to a commenter on her blog at:  http://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/

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I posted this story on Sharon Donovan’s blog, but I thought it might be interesting to repost it here and see what people think of my first attempt at flash fiction.  It doesn’t even have a title!!

The tower clock struck midnight.  Ravenwood tensed, glanced over her shoulder at the Sanctuary.  No lights shone in the mullioned windows.  The Masters mustn’t catch her out alone at night.  Her reputation at the school had suffered for her sister’s sin.

She lit the torch, black smoke billowing from the flame. A darkling shiver crawled down her rigid spine. The voices that had roused her from sleep whispered a warning as she crept into the abandoned barn.  A lonely owl hooted from the rafters,ruffling its feathers and blinking. Red light winked in the bird’s golden eyes.  She swallowed hard, straining her ears for any sound.  Like a chill, the eerie stillness oozed over her.

Ravenwood had come to say her last goodbye to her sister.  Tonight, Alethea slept the peace of the dead in this old outbuilding. Tomorrow, she would be lowered into unhallowed ground.  Then only god knew what the fateof a demon ’s consort would be.  Her breathing rasped loud, puffing white clouds in the October air.  She inched deeper into the gloom, shoved the hood of her robe back so that she could see from the corners of her eyes. A web caught in her hair, clung to her face.  Another hard shudder coursed through her, and gooseflesh prickled her limbs.  Nausea swirled in her stomach. Frantically, she swiped the crusty fly stuck in the web and the disgusting stickiness from her skin.

A shadow moved along the rotted wood pile. A mouse squeaked, scurried out and scampered away. The shade loomed larger, distorted in the flickering light.  She flinched back a step. With a shaking hand, she clutched the crucifix around her neck. The shadow crossed the pitchfork, fell on the coffin.

Darkness coalesced into the figure of a winged man.  Two yellow orbs glowed in his leathery gray face.  The wings were shiny, rubbery black with spines and points.  A sweet
smell rose from him, but she knew the fragrance was a glamour masking the reek of the Pit.

“Daakiel,” she whispered.

“Well met, Ravenwood.” A laugh rumbled from his broad chest. “Such pretty blonde hair and lovely ivory skin, but beneath your rose and gold beauty is a soul as dark as I am.”

As always, her sister’s lover was naked, his grotesque, swollen equipment proudly on display.  She shuddered head to toe, glancing around quickly, studying her options.

There were none.

The creature with hellfire eyes passed a hand with long, vicious claws over the coffin.  From inside, came a soft scratching then the lid rattled, an urgent pounding echoing in the ruined
barn.

Ravenwood’s heart caught in her throat.  A sudden silence crawled along her nerves.  The owl hooted and took flight, a wingtip brushing her cheek.  She flinched, clamped a hand to her mouth, but a little cry escaped.   The demon flexed his wings, stirring a tornado of moldy straw.

A malicious grin split the monstrous face.  “Come my pretty,” and with the rasp of claws, he ripped the lid off the pine coffin.

Her dead sister sat bolt upright, empty fish eyes locking to Ravenwood’s.   A chilling smile spread Alethea’s blue lips. Crimson pinpointed the black irises. Any innocence that might have remained in the once Acolyte had perished. Like a spider, elbows and knees arched at odd angles, she crawled from the casket.  Grave clothes clung to her pale, withered body but her breasts were exposed and bloody.  She was horrible.

Ravenwood wouldn’t give the monster the satisfaction of screaming.  She bit her tongue hard enough to draw blood.  The demon turned and stalked toward her, fangs dripping thick, green saliva. Terrified, she backed away, collided with a stack of old cans, sending them clattering to the ground.

“Dear sister.”  Alethea’s corpse spread her arms in invitation.  Sharp fangs dented the lower lip of her smile.  “Raven, forsake your god.  Join me.”

Ravenwood ducked, grabbed the pitchfork and brandished the rusted prongs at the demon.  Another unholy laugh rumbled from its throat.

“You cannot escape, Ravenwood.

Your sister has paid her dues.  She is mine.  Tonight, Acolyte, you join me in Hell.”

Playing for time, she flung the pitchfork at the demon and dropped thetorch.  S moke billowed from dry straw. Flames sprang up, reaching for the cracked roof.  Laughter boomed in the fire.  Engulfed in the holocaust, her sister’s horrified face branded the nightmare in memory.

The demon’s leering smile didn’t falter.

She whirled and fled, her legs pumping, her feet going nowhere.  The school seemed hundreds of miles away and her feet leaden.  If she reached the Sanctuary–

A claw sliced her shoulder.  Pain scalded her arm.  Blood oozed warmth down her back.  She whirled, staring straight into the demon’s burning eyes.  Lethal pointed teeth lined the creature’s gaping maw.

A scream ripped the black velvet night, searing her throat.  She stumbled a retreat, praying aloud.

“No answer?” Daarkiel cupped a hand to his pointed ear. “Pray to someone who will hear you.”

The ground beneath her feet rolled and tossed.  She fell to her knees.  Fear lodged in her dry throat, strangling her prayers.

“You have taken my lover from me. Burned her alive, you did.”  The creature beckoned with a bloody claw.  “You will replace her.”

An image of her sister’s living cadaver blinded her. She shook her head.  “Never.”

The earth opened, swallowing her.  Down she plunged into a loamy grave, the velocity of her fall sweeping her robe over her head.  Her feet scraped something hard.  Bones.  She didn’t have time to scream.  The hole closed over her head, burying her alive.

Insects climbed over her feet. Something slithered up her neck.  She swallowed the horror and the bile burning her throat. The black dirt caressed her naked arms and legs and matted her
hair. Trapped in the earth and in her robe, unable to claw for the surface, she held her breath until her lungs threatened to implode.  Terror gripped her heart in an icy hand.

I’m going to suffocate.

A desperate gasp for breath sucked the fatal soil into her mouth and nose.  Ravenwood whispered her final prayer.  For forgiveness.

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