Yup. Clickbait ahoy! The month of May is a grand month indeed. Spring weather (bleh, give me cool sunny 70s, not this 89 at 2 AM shit!) Beltane (yay Sunlight, Horned God’s time to shine!) and a personal favorite, National Masturbation Month!
I won’t wax poetic too much about the benefits of said practice, nor will I bloviate about the potential for ritual to increase your magic’s potency if such a thing is for you. And if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you already know why and how the ‘holiday’ month started.
There isn’t truly too much to say at the moment. I’ve been working on Denial, the final Nights of Lust story. I’m finally setting up the back matter on my self-published titles up at Amazon, so our new readers will flow from one novel. To another and to another series, etc. I’ve been pushing as a writer since making a firm commitment and talking to the folks at Amazon Ad School. I’m pretty happy, though impatient, with results, but patience has never been my strong suit! We’re dealing with the one female we don’t get a POV from having the realization that the two POV characters are mated to each other and to the third. The story was called Denial for a reason.
Big piece of news? It’s been a year, literally, since I walked into the hospital and had my electrophysiologies to cut into my groin (yes, my groin, fucker LOL!) and run a catheter into my chest and freeze AND burn what he considered were the bad pathways so my heart would stop misfiring, trying to overwork, etc. In previous blog posts I’ve talked about how much of an improvement this has made in my life and I’m happy to report that besides a handful of other smaller changes I’ve made, I feel FUCKING GREAT!
Last week we had temperatures in the mid-80s and I had to work at the cigar shop for two days. Before the surgery, I’d go in, smoke my cigar, work, sell cigars, etc and then come home in a horrible state of exhaustion. I’d nap, maybe spend twenty minutes, then come back outside to have my at home after work cigar. To paint this picture properly, I sell cigars. That means even if we’re hella busy, it’s a small enough shop that I”m literally either in the humidor helping customers, or I’m at the register ringing them up. Of course, we’re talking, too. The industry is notorious for being friendly and awesome!
Our shop is small so we have our ebb and flow, but I’m not busy a good portion of the time, which allows me to dick around on social media (waste of time) or spend time on Duolingo imprisoning my Spanish and learning Russian. (More on that later – it started out as a joke) I’ve read countless romance novels at the shop, handful of motivational and personal growth books including this one, spent time taking it easy on what I’d consider one of the most rewarding jobs outside of writing romance.
The point I’m making is that I’m not busting my ass behind a bar moving product, moving between servers, customers, restocking the bar, etc.
Yet I’d come home and be exhausted.
No more. And I cannot tell you the amount of sheer relief I feel, and the amount of joy, at almost 44 years old, have. After the surgery, I apologized to my heart. I did this in part to myself. I was a furious teenager, which translated into a furious young adult. That’s part of why I began writing romance. But all that forcing down of emotions and bullshit we do to ourselves only hurts my physical heart more. So, I apologized after surgery. I apologized before surgery and said I’ll fix it.
A year later, I cracked a bottle of Decoy NV Brut Cuvée and lit up an ATL Black (new favorite) while sitting on my balcony being thankful for my fixed heart, grateful that I still have it, and grateful for all the days to come where it will no longer be a burden because I will no longer be a burden to it.
I know, ya’ll saw the headline and expected come shots, facials, jacking off, how to get the best orgasm (sleep with me!) and all that comes (haha) with Masturbation. Ya’ll didn’t expect me to hit up the heartfelt shit, did ya’ll? LOL! I didn’t either.
Most of the noise in my head is STILL GONE. What’s left is mine to deal with. I have put those sleeping demons to bed. Now it’s just a house of wolves.
Oh, and two kitties… but we’re back to clickbait again, aren’t we?
~~~Have you read ENDANGERED yet?
With all the homeless people and bums milling about, one would think Joséf would be distracted, but he had a job to do. The stench of vagabonds and dirty streets was enough to make him sick. Watching the streets fill with trash, cans and an occasional body was something Joséf did not want to do, but it was part of the job when you were in law enforcement.
A vampire had provided enough distraction for him. She’d brushed up against him in a seedy club just outside the Haight. The Queen of the Night, eternal lust herself, had even made eye contact with him and smiled. Luscious breasts pillowed against his chest when he bumped into her, distracting him momentarily. That got him hard until he’d walked out of the club and reality set in. He had a deal to make. Well, not actually make it, more like kill two pushers and rob them of their prized drugs before they had a chance to infect anyone further. He did a quick bump with the men and then aimed his gun at their chests, emptying a clip into the two of them. The residual smell of smoke and gunpowder mixed with trickling blood from the wounds in his victims annoyed his senses, but let him know that he’d done his job well.
The rush of shooting the two vile men made Joséf remember why he stopped operating within the code of ethics that most cops had. All the paperwork built into the system to protect the innocent ended up costing them more money. While bodies continued to pile up, papers continued to be processed and eventually the body count outweighed the cost of keeping the innocent safe from being wrongfully accused. It was easier to kill the offenders than it was to send them to jail to await trial, prison and then be put back on the street. He was judge, jury and executioner. Killing vampires was still illegal, they were citizens under the protection of the law. Things had changed because the grand fathered vampires had earned places in a few high offices, and so the laws were written with them in mind.
Joséf shot both men coldly, killing them both with wounds to the head. He grabbed their stash and ran down out of the alleyway towards the Warf to hide the needles along with the rest of the supplies.
A thick fog set in and Joséf realized paranoia was setting in quicker than normal. The shakes were setting in faster and it gave him the willies. But after a few minutes, everything was unusually calm.
A few hours later, Joséf had come off his high. He pulled his leather jacket over his shoulders tighter as the breeze from the Warf blew over him. It couldn’t be her, he thought as he walked down the street in a huff, kicking a glass bottle several feet away. Chills raced up his spine. Joséf glanced at himself in the window of one of the shops, realized his hair was a mess and the beard he was growing would give him away as it emphasized his very Russian features.
Looking at some of the other folks on the streets, he noticed most of them were either late night tourists or vampires who walked around at night. Some of them looked too young to be vampires, but who knew how old they really were. Joséf hoped they weren’t fucked up addicts that owed a debt to the Syndicate, too. When he strolled down Market, he saw several who were and it made him sick. Vampires throwing up blood they’d just consumed, or worse. The smells made him sick and want to forget the sights as fast as possible. He needed a fix, and bad.
After bumping into the very buxom and luscious Queen of the Night, he needed to forget. She had spared his life and he was somewhat grateful in that moment. But now that reality had set in, he realized she was possibly toying with him.
Her scent wasn’t like that of other vampires, it was more primal. She reeked of lust and passion. Even before the drugs had kicked in, his senses were on overdrive, making him question if her body was really that ethereal and beautiful or if she was using magic to appear that shapely. His cock couldn’t tell the difference.
Rumors abounded that she chose her victims based on attraction or fatal accident, meaning you either looked damn good, or had pissed her off somehow. Joséf never believed any of the rumors.
She’d made eye contact with him. He’d stared into gorgeous eyes that were very arousing, but he wasn’t bespelled. Just so fucking horny that he’d probably die if he didn’t end up inside her soon. Except that she’d never fuck him, or desire him in any way whatsoever. It was pointless to even think about it. She wasn’t rumored to waste her time on men who were already dead inside.
Joséf made a B-line for the corner store, picked up a pack of smokes and walked out, his nerves on edge. He’d been followed earlier and had managed to shake his potential assailants.
Joséf looked at his watch. It was almost 3 A. M. and he was acutely aware of the fact that two female vampires had been tailing him. If they were after his life, they’d have done him in now. It didn’t matter, he’d be dead soon enough anyway.
Joséf spotted movement on the rooftop of a nearby brick building out of the corner of his eye. It was them. He didn’t bother with his pistol; it’d be too much trouble. Instead, he pulled out a knife as he walked and began toying with it, tossing it in his hands carelessly. Occasionally he’d enjoy the feel of the satiny grip, look up and smile, then continue walking. He made sure to let the streetlights reflect off the silver blade. The silver wouldn’t kill the vampires, but the holy symbol embedded in the handle would. He made sure to hold the knife by the blade just so his watchers would see the holy symbol. He swore he heard laughter, but that could have been the fog rolling in over the bay. It had that effect
Joséf crossed the street at a pretty brisk pace and noticed debris falling around him. He didn’t bother to look up. Clumsy fucking vampires! They were probably high on coke. New vamps always were. Hell, if your heart wasn’t going to explode from the rush, might as well do an eight ball a night. Of course that meant for many that they’d have to steal for their habits and it used to be his job to stop them from stealing. He remembered how he’d stake them quickly when he was an honest cop.
“Fuck this shit.” Joséf pulled a cigarette from the pack in his black leather jacket, grabbed the lighter from the same pocket and shook it. A quick flick of the wrist and he inhaled the cancerous salvation before blowing a cloud of smoke out in a long slow breath.
He thought back to earlier in the night when he bumped into the dozens of vampires at the club he’d been working. Joséf took another long pull on his cigarette and tossed the butt aside. “Was she?” he thought. “No,” he tapped his fingers against his jeans. “She wasn’t the one they called Queen of the Night.”
“It wouldn’t make sense,” he thought again. The sort of woman that had all sorts of toys and plenty of uses for them usually preferred her men sober, which at the time he wasn’t.
Joséf didn’t care that he was being watched. If his assailants were dumb enough to follow him into the Tenderloin, it was their own funeral. The way it used to be was that thugs owned this part of the town and ran it gangland style, until the vampires started muscling in. Then the rules changed, alliances were formed and broken and within months, the Syndicate sprang up as the largest crime organization in San Francisco.
Joséf didn’t stop walking, but kept aware of the energy surrounding him. It didn’t feel like Draiman or Corsetti, so whoever it was could fuck themselves until he had time to deal with them. Joséf slammed the door to his apartment open and examined his surroundings, flashing his gun around the empty room. He put a hand out and tried to feel for extra energy, opened his mouth and started to speak, but nothing came out. Hell, he couldn’t even read the presence of energy in the state he was in right now.
He had good reason to be paranoid now that the drug lords were after him. It wasn’t every day that a former junkie and pusher ripped them off and escaped alive. Or in Joséf’s case, with just a few cuts that would certainly scar. Hell, he needed medical attention. Also, he could have used therapy to get rid of his suicidal tendencies. Or was that just a front for trying to do the right thing?
He shut the door and pulled out his cigarettes. Stumbling into the tiny studio, his shoes clattered against the worn wood floors. He pulled one from the pack with his mouth, tossed the rest on a table beside the door and lit up. Joséf walked over to the window, drew down the shade. The studio apartment was dingy, rank and cold, but the cigarette warmed his hands. The rest of his body would wait just a little longer before the shakes kicked in.
Joséf drew a breath and puffed on his cigarette. He thought about how he’d been waiting all day for this as he wrapped his arm with a piece of rubber, picked up the needle and tapped it to get the air out of the syringe. He tossed his cigarette aside, set his arm on the table and found a vein. He pulled the rubber band tighter, flexed his arm and saw where he wanted the needle to go.
The shade flipped open, startling him enough to make him lose concentration on where the needle was about to gouge him. Taking a deep breath, he plunged the needle in and squirted the yellowish liquid into his body, poisoning himself with what seemed like too much heroin. The warm liquid burned at first and then tranquility set in as he pulled the needle out. His day was done. He could worry about his life tomorrow, but today he was a slave to pain and suffering. Even as his senses picked up the dull stench of the drug, he realized the taste of it had changed.
The redeeming fact of all this was that Joséf was trying to stop the pushers from pedaling their wares onto the growing number of teenagers who are obsessed with vampirism and death. He couldn’t do much about the former since anyone who wanted to become the undead, could. But the reality of becoming a vampire had a price and the powerful drug lords who reigned over the area like mafia dons knew that they could make lifelong customers out of vampires if they hired the right help – meaning something stronger and scarier than a vamp. The problem was that Joséf hadn’t lost his conscience, he merely lost his mind until he’d become addicted to the very shit he was trying to keep off the streets.
Joséf concentrated his gaze on the window and swore he saw two pairs of vicious eyes peering into his apartment. Slumping against the wall in his chair, he opened and closed his eyes until the haze replaced clear vision and Joséf drifted off to a nightmarish slumber in hopes that he’d be dead in the morning. If Corsetti or Draiman found him otherwise, he’d be in a worse state than death. Joséf had seen how they tortured new vampires who refused to pay their bills.
Joséf didn’t care if he died from the heroin overdose, he just didn’t want to be turned and tortured. That would have been the worst way to die, knowing that his captors would keep him addicted to their product and let him wish for death while they abused his body.
At one point, Joséf woke, covered in sweat. Had he been dreaming? Were those eyes staring into the windows real? Was there compassion in one set? There couldn’t have been. Hell, he couldn’t recall, but whatever was happening to him scared him enough that he had to force himself to wake up and remind himself that he was still in the same dingy studio he’d been in for the last few months. How had he fallen to the floor? He felt the floor beside him to make sure his gun was still there. The cold steel reassured him.
He was still in the same fucking rat hole that drug money bought in the worst part of the neighborhood. Joséf reminded himself that life was shit and lay back down. He slid his jacket off in an attempt to cool off, but it didn’t help. The sweat covered shirt he wore was too hot. It felt heavy. Joséf looked out the window, it was still dark but the sun would be up soon. More than likely, so would the living members of the Syndicate, and they’d be out looking for him, pronto.
Joséf rolled over, his hazy vision distorting things as he rummaged through his dresser for a clean t-shirt. He found one, slid it on and found his way to the mattress, letting his heavy body hit it with a thud.
Afraid to close his eyes, he kept his focus on the walls until in time, they faded from his vision. As sleep overtook him, the nightmares returned to haunt him.
Joséf woke hours later to the bright sunlight glaring in his eyes and a loud pounding on the door. He wasn’t hallucinating that.
Without thought, he rolled over, grabbed his pistol and pointed it at the door. “Shit!” He should have picked up the scent of company. His instincts were usually better than this, unless you counted on the drugs in his system to fuck things up.
Nothing. Joséf adjusted his jacket over his shoulders and waited as seconds passed that seemed like eternity before the door was flung off the hinges. Bright sunlight made him shield his eyes with a hand. Two men stood in front of it, guns pointed inside.
The man on Joséf’s left was shorter than the other one, dressed nicely and had a large revolver in his left hand. Black boots, wrist bands and wild hair made him look like someone straight out of a Devil worshiping service. His wry grin didn’t make Joséf feel any more comfortable.
“Draiman,” he said. “Isn’t this the punk that ripped us off?”
“Yeah,” the other man replied casually. He was taller, bald and built like a bricklayer. His presence intimidated Joséf even more as he took another step forward and his black boots clicked against the tile.
Even at 6’4”, Joséf didn’t have Draiman’s build. Draiman was nearly as tall as Joséf but worked out much more. He’d been a professional bodybuilder before discovering how much fun sleeping with the undead was. Sadly, that association led him into a life of crime and ultimately into the Syndicate as one of their lead hit men.
Joséf stood slowly, gun still in hand.
Corsetti turned his head to the side, his smile exposing missing teeth. “Now Joe, why don’t you be a good little Ruskie and drop the piece.”
Joséf didn’t flinch. “Fuck you Corsetti.”
Draiman stepped forward. “It’ll be easier this way,” he said. “Besides, I am the strongest of the two of us, remember?”
Draiman was right. A quick glance around the room reminded Joséf that he had an escape route if he planned his next move carefully.
Slowly, Joséf raised his arm with the gun pointed at the ground. “You’re right Draiman, you are the stronger of the two of us. I’ll…”
He paused. Corsetti jumped in front of Draiman as Joséf flicked his wrist and the gun was aimed, fired and thrown at Corsetti.
A bullet landed in his chest and the shorter man felt back into Draiman’s arms while Joséf took off running down the hall. He sprinted into his bathroom and jumped through the window, landing on the dirt and grass covered ground. He rolled off to one side, stood and jumped over the wire fence that separated the building from a vacant parking lot.
“Damn you Joe! Why did you have to shoot Corsetti?”
Joséf barely heard the other man’s angry footsteps hit the ground but he knew Draiman was chasing after him. He didn’t care. Joséf was damned if he was going to die today, not by mortal hands anyway.
Sweat formed at his brow and his heart beat rapid fire in tune with his footsteps. He turned down the corner and headed into the crowd. Draiman wouldn’t want the attention a crowd would have and he was just too clumsy to barrel through without similar consequences.
Amidst the sea of people, Joséf could get lost long enough to collect his thoughts. Warily, he saw other Syndicate members taking positions to surround him. Just great! Joséf reached into his pocket for his sunglasses and slid them on. He stumbled over a few bums and was slammed into a large signpost. “Hey,” he turned around and yelled. Joséf swung and dropped the large man in front of him with a blow to the jaw. When the man doubled over from Joséf’s second punch to the gut, Joséf took his chance and ran further into the crowd. He reached into his pocket for his knife and—damn!
He’d left it back at the studio.
Great. Defenseless for the time being he’d have to hope that he didn’t run into any of Amalie’s vampire drones. He’d be in trouble, otherwise.
Joséf heard someone yell out “Somebody stop that man, he stole my wallet!”
Crap. It was time to hightail it out of this area. Joséf glanced around and saw a man pointing in his direction from across the street and two other men neatly dressed in suits scrambling to make their way to where he was.
Joséf didn’t have time to think. He pushed his way past a few people and took off running, his heart beating madly in his throat. He didn’t have time for this, not now! He looked back to see three men chasing after him with guns drawn. This wasn’t good. He wanted to die, but not at someone else’s hands.
Of course it didn’t really matter how he went, did it?
That was the last thought he had before someone stopped him and hit him squarely in the side. He’d been bum rushed by a bystander.
“I got him. I got the man who stoled your wallet.”
“Get off me, bum!” Joséf struggled to free himself but the homeless man’s grip wasn’t all that weak.
“I got him,” The large man repeated but stopped when he loosened his grip on Joséf. A swift kick to the knees let Joséf break free of the man’s grip long enough to deliver a sucker punch to the man’s stomach and one to the chin.
He stumbled back and nearly tripped over his feet before looking straight at Joséf. Dark hair matted over his forehead blocked his eyes but Joséf didn’t care to stick around and examine the confusion in the man’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, you poor bastard.” Joséf shoved the man away and continued running, praying he’d not lost all that much distance.
“Stop right there,” a voice shouted out but Joséf kept running.
He glanced up at the sign, 3rd and Park Avenue. The ritzy part of town was a safer place to hide if you were a vampire because the undead had a lot of money. They were like the elderly, cheap, stingy and assholish, but they lived nicely.
If you were an ex-cop, your chances of survival depended on whom you’d killed or turned. Many of the new rich felt that becoming the undead was the ultimate way to ensure that fortunes were kept in the families. Feuds between gangs resulted in a lot of new vampires, who often hated who they were so much that they tried to spread the disease like wildfire, or until someone took them out.
Vengeance was good motivation, but once turned you were stuck like that.
Joséf continued running, all the while remembering where he could and could not go to for help. He’d killed his share of drug lords who’d come back as the undead and formed alliances with Amalie Chiroc. Most of them lived across town in the Marina.
So far, so good. Right? Except that he was still being chased.
Because of the fact that most of the rich in this part of town were undead, the only people usually out were human servants and tourists. During the day, the streets were filled with the sounds of vendors, the scents of foods and ocean brine, families who were on vacation with their whining kids and the few homeless peoples who wandered too far out of their circles. Usually, the drug lords kept their vampires and pushers out of this part of town.
Still, Joséf knew they’d follow him for a bounty.
Joséf ran towards the large parking lot in front of him. If he remembered correctly, there was a gun shop in the mall.
“Stop that man,” the voice continued to yell out.
Joséf knew he needed to find a place to hide, and now! Another ambush and tackle sent Joséf to the floor.
“Damn, you guys are everywhere,” he yelled, shoving the man off as he stood and tried to sprint away.
“Yeah, we are.” The other man pulled a gun and pointed straight at Joséf’s head. “I wouldn’t move if I were you, Mr. Staganov.”
Joséf’s body froze. His heart caught up to him and the blood that coursed through his veins still had plenty of heroin in it. Soon the high would start all over again and this time, there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
“Look, guys. It’s just a few doses to last me until—“ Joséf took a planned step towards the strange man and with his incredibly long reach, swung a fist, knocking the man upside the head. Joséf landed two more punches and dropped the man to the ground with a swift kick to the solar plexus. The gun fell from his hands and he spit blood.
“Bastard. Leave me alone.” Joséf picked up the gun, put the barrel to the man’s head and pulled the hammer back.
He knew in that instant that the drugs had kicked in and what was about to happen wasn’t by his own doing.
The man looked up at Joséf. He couldn’t see his assailant’s eyes through the smoke and haze of whatever had been added to the heroin to make it more potent. He didn’t care.
Pull the trigger. He is useless, he heard a female voice say.
“Who is there?” Joséf turned around and pointed the gun in the direction he faced. Sadly, that was his mistake as the other man came to his feet and knocked Joséf down.
Gun still in hand, Joséf pointed at his assailant and pulled the trigger before the man was airborne. Blood poured from the man’s chest, he cried and fell onto the ground.
“That’ll teach you Syndicate punks to mess with me.” Joséf spat at the dead man’s body and noticed that he was alone. Very alone in the middle of a parking lot full of cars on a weekday. What happened to the men chasing after him? He spun around, pointing the gun in every direction he faced just to be sure that he was alone. So far, so good.
“You did it. I’m proud of you.” The voice said again.
“Who is there? Show yourself.”
Nothing but dead silence responded. That was better than someone or some thing. Right?
Deciding that nobody was around, Joséf knew he had to find somewhere to go and hide while he let the rest of the drugs run through his system. No place was safer than the methadone clinics but those didn’t exist in the rich part of town. The rich viewed drug users and pushers as evil and didn’t plan for the hypocrisies that would certainly occur when the pushers found other ways to make money and grease the palms of those in charge of the law.
Joséf knew he couldn’t run into the mall, either. Too many people, too many hallucinations and being out in the open would only get him killed by his enemies. No good.
Joséf scanned his surroundings quickly. His heartbeat picked up and his vision became blurred. The drugs were taking effect and he was going to become useless very, very quickly if he didn’t find a place to hide.
The park behind the mall was usually unoccupied during the day and had plenty of benches for him to rest on until nightfall when hopefully he could go back to ending his nightmare by his own hands.
Joséf wandered over towards the park, stumbling as he walked. His vision blurred further with each step. Trees swayed and faded from his sight. He hoped he could make it before the others from the Syndicate found their crony dead. He didn’t want to be alive when they did.
A bench was in sight. Good. It looked solid.
Joséf made slow, semi sure steps towards the bench and he fell down when he reached it. He picked himself off the ground and lay over the wooden slats and closed his eyes. It was time for sleepless rest. He didn’t even care that he’d been spied on throughout the chase. It was probably the same vampires as before, but the drug haze kicked in before he could care.