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ICCNC in Oakland, CA on a foggy night – the building was once a Freemason lodge.

I want to be a light in a darkened world. – Tell The Wolves I’m Home (the band, not the book) I’ve heard there was a book, but I discovered the metalcore band, but this post isn’t about that.

I don’t. We have PLENTY of light. What we don’t have is protection FOR said light bringers. You know who I’m talking about. Those who have and offer unlimited compassion, those who have hearts bigger than any of us can imagine, those who attempt to offer hope when all else seems like it’s fallen to shit? Those people are an abundance thank FUCK.. Many of them are lacking in physical strength and stamina, which seems unfair to me. Many of them have clear moral beliefs and look less at the gray and more into the black and white of this existence. But who looks out for them?

Those of us who don’t mind getting our hands bloody, that’s who. I’m not talking about killing others to eradicate the bad in this world. Senseless violence sounds like fun until you’ve accidentally snubbed out the life of the person who may change your world, if not the broader world.

I’ll tell a short story. Years ago, when I still lived in Oakland, a member from another Toastmasters club visited Andeesheh (my club) and shared his story about the newly acquired gunshot wound he didn’t think was terribly fashionable. It turns out that he was catching the Number 1 bus back down E. 14th and (bad part of town) and when he sat down; he saw some young fool trying to rob this elderly couple at gunpoint. Well, our friend didn’t like this, so he tried to stop it.

With words.

The other side of Lake Merritt, near where our hero was shot.

A physical struggle ensued and as he was off-boarding the bus, he acquired his new fashion piece – a bullet hole in his stomach. Obviously, he lived, but it put him out a bit. When he came to speak with us, his story moved us. If you hear stories like that, you don’t think that someone would try to stop a crime in progress, especially when it involved firearms. Most people look the other way out of fear and cowardice. Bold action isn’t something we teach our children anymore, but that’s a separate blog post probably best left for another time.

Our friend came back to another Andeesheh meeting. Our Toastmasters chapter was (and probably still is) made up of immigrants mostly from Iran (fuck you, it hasn’t been Persia for how long? LOL!) and a handful of what I would lovingly, jokingly call miscreants. As in, we’re not Muslim, we’re not Iranian, nor do we have ties to the Middle East Wtf was I doing there? Learning to be a better communicator, like all the members of that club, of course!

When we had some time, our friend and I finally talked alone because he found out I was a published author. He was a poet (double ugh) and had shared some of his poetry with me. The words were typical to someone who recognizes the heart, even if he (me, yeah I did) ignores the message. His writing was heartfelt, an attempt to heal this world and bring it joy, bring it happiness. A thought occurred to me. I asked our amazing humanitarian the following question, knowing the answer already. “If you had a gun, would you have shot back?”

You already know what the answer was. The why? It would bother him that he had to harm someone else to stop them from doing bad. He couldn’t stand the blood on his hands. It would have made him terribly sad. Repetition of events like that would eventually break him, snuffing out his light, even if he remained alive.

Me? I’ve had shot those fuckers without even thinking about it, had a truth prepared for the law and been ready to deal with the consequences of preventing an elderly couple from being robbed and maybe killed because that’s my standard for behavior. Blood can be washed away, memories caged and events categorized and stuffed down. No, it’s not ideal, but that was thirty-three-year-old me. Those of us who aren’t bothered by the blood on our hands, as long as it’s for the greater good, exist to protect those who, for one reason or another, simply won’t take the extreme measures necessary in situations like those. Without those of us who remain comfortable in the gray areas, those who bring Light would struggle more and evil might stand a chance.

I may be dead wrong. But…food for thought.

Also, tell the other wolves, this wolf is home and putting in some work before going to see Thy Art Is Murder with After the Burial, Currents and newly discovered favorite, Brand of Sacrifice.

You already know what to do!

Someone who definitely believes in gray areas is Josef Staganov from Endangered.

A rogue werewolf with a heart of gold. An undead Queen seeking salvation. Can they work together to rescue their city from a criminal organization?

Joséf Staganov’s conscience won’t let him look the other way, even when his police department is turning a blind eye toward crime. But when he commits atrocities while under the influence of a dangerous substance used to create addicts out of shifter and vampire alike, he finds himself at the mercy of the seductive ruler of the city, and his own self-destructive regret.

Vampire Queen Livía feeds on the thrill she gets from ruling San Francisco with her own brand of justice. When a criminal organization forces a regime change, a cornered and frustrated Livía fights back until her loved ones are threatened. Lost and afraid, she finds herself seeking aid from an addict with a hero complex who constantly tests her heart.

Can Joséf and Livía fight a multi-front war, restore order and save the city while discovering unbridled passion between them, or will their struggles be in vain?

Endangered is the first thrilling tale in the Nights of Lust paranormal romance series. If you like fierce passion, tormented heroes and feisty women, then you will enjoy Sascha Illyvich’s tale.

Grab your copy on AMAZON here!

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