Imogene reclines on the seat with the champagne I offered her. I’ve decided to do this week’s interview from the sports bar (I felt the bench might be a bit crowded with two guests.)
“Gee Donna, I love what you’ve done with the salon!”
I nod, and take a sip of my cold bubbly drink. The fizz tickles my nose a little but I smile. “And your guest…?”
The sound of knocking has me raising my head.
“That should be her now.” Imogene hops up from the seat and opens the door.
A magnificently beautiful woman is there, smiling. Her cat green eyes glint in the light and her red hair shines. As she moves into the room, her green chiffon gown swirls around her voluptuous figure.
“Sorry I’m a little late. Javed needed me to run an urgent errand.”
She plops down onto the chair beside Imogene.
“It’s great you could fit us in. Imogene has offered to run the interview for us.”
Imogene lifts her battered notepad and flicks through the pages. “I sure did. Now I know your time is limited, so let’s get straight into it.” Celina nods but it’s clear there is a deep well of reserve in the woman.
“You were raised as an orphan, in an environment that didn’t really discuss vampires. That must be hard to reconcile now.” Celina’s eyes flare a little before she smiles. “It’s true, I didn’t really know a lot. It was something that wasn’t discussed. But then again, neither was magic. It has certainly made it harder on some levels to find my way in this world. I mean, after the investiture I didn’t really have any understanding of what was needed of me. I had to learn by trial and error.”
“How did Javed factor in helping you find your place in this unknown society?” Imogene smiles encouragingly at Celina.
“To be honest, in some ways it didn’t. You see, no one told me that we shouldn’t… At least, not until Bertha.” Celina stops and bites her lip. Imogene reaches out a hand and grasps Celina’s. It’s clear she is a little upset by the question.
“We’ll move on then.” Celina nods at Imogene’s quiet words. “When you woke after Javed changed you… How did it feel to know that forever was in your future?”
This time, Celina’s smile is beatific. “Oh. On one level it was overwhelming. I didn’t know initially what had happened, though there was definitely something big. When I realized, I guess I accepted it at face value for a few minutes. I mean, who thinks of all the rules when that is there?”
“You were surprised? Did it occur to you at that time how big the chance Javed took?”
She laughs. “No. That took some time. But I have to say, with the enhanced senses… Things are soooo much better than ever before.” The look on Celina’s face is naughty and forces Imogene and myself into a choked laughter.
“You mean the sex?” Imogene’s voice is thin and her eyes grown round.
“Oh man! Do I ever!”
“What does the future hold for the house, now that the master and his mistress have uncovered the threat in the prophecy?”
Celina winces. “Well, I’m sure you understand, I can’t go into a lot of detail. The threat is real. And it’s scary. I mean… The power we are talking of… The ability to make vampire armies. The amount of blood they’d require. We have to find him, before that eventuates otherwise…” Celina’s voice tapers away.
Imogene shudders. “Yeah I kinda got that.”
I can’t help myself. “But what about the blood? I mean needing to drink blood is, you know, not really the most pleasant concept.”
Celina and Imogene both glance at me. Celina leans forward. “The drinking of blood is no different to the drinking of water except, it’s a truly sensual experience. It’s the act of giving and taking between those consenting to the relationship. When it’s deep and overwhelming, there is no pain. Only passion.” She grins and I can’t help myself. I grin back.
“But it’s necessary to be consenting?” Imogene cocks an eyebrow.
“In the houses most vampires only take from those donors who agree or rely on bagged blood. Of course, that blood is carefully sourced. We don’t believe in the animalistic taking of it from those who don’t wish to share.”
Imogene smiles. “I get what you are saying. Can I ask…? How often…?”
“Not every day. Many of the older vamps only need to drink every two or three days. The younger ones, like myself need several feeds a day. Javed usually imbibes once a day. It really depends on age and occupation.”
The chime of a phone fills the air. “Excuse me a minute.” Celina reaches into her pocket and reveals an iPhone. “Oh. I have to go now.”
She rises and extends a hand. “Donna it was so good to meet you. I loved your League of Love books and look forward to the next one.” She then sweeps Imogene into a hug and is gone in the blink of an eye.
“She’s amazing, isn’t she? From a lost woman to the self assured vampire is such a change.” Imogene gazes at me. “Well, I guess I’d better be off too.” She snaps her notebook closed. “It’s been fun! Let’s not wait so long to do this again.” Then with a peck on my cheek she pulling back towards the door. “Oh and Donna? I loved your books too!”
Celina has always been alone, until the new Master, Javed, draws her close. But danger and passion are never far away.
After years of struggling alone, Celina—a witchling of immense power—must find her place in the world of vampires.
But while Javed is building a new nest—the first new one in a century—and struggling to overcome his own demons, an ancient evil stirs.
Now with Celina in danger, time running out and the demands of a fledgling nest, can their love possibly overcome every obstacle?
Reader Advisory: This book contains brief reference to incest.
Celina grabbed her aching head. Another headache, just like the day before, but perhaps it was more violent. Her stomach lurched uncertainly and she rubbed her belly while it heaved and roiled. It was only four in the afternoon, too early to head home, but she glanced around the office, looking vainly for an escape.
“Hey, Celina? Can you cover for me tomorrow? I’m going to call in sick ‘cause I’ve got a hot date tomorrow night,” Sylvia, her cubicle mate, whispered to her excitedly.
Celina closed her eyes. Great. Just what I need. “Honestly? Syl, I don’t know. I’m not feeling so great.” She mumbled a little, knowing what Sylvia’s reaction would be.
“Have you been to see the doctor yet?”
Celina swivelled in her seat and cast a dark glance at her workmate. “I’m going to call—” Her words ended abruptly as the lights dimmed and went out. “Damn… This is like the third time this month. What the hell is going on?” The heat of the office space swelled as the air conditioning failed. The cloying scents of a multitude of perfumes and hot sweaty bodies in the summer wave closed in on her.
Celina’s tummy jostled once more, demanding her attention. She rose, racing unerringly to the bathroom, making it just in time to empty the contents violently into the toilet. The clunk of the door somewhere behind alerted her to the fact that she was no longer alone. She sighed loudly. Sylvia had followed her, she knew. The sound of wood banging closed reverberated off the walls. The ensuing echo splintered her thoughts.
“Celina, you have to see the doctor.” There was concern in Sylvia’s voice and Celina shied away from it.
Celina leaned limply against the wall of the stall, the dim security lighting flickering in and out. “Yeah, I think you’re right.” She didn’t want to face it, but the headaches had become an almost everyday occurrence in the past few months. One she’d tried to ignore, but with little success. But something had to be wrong. Her stomach quivered at the possible reasons.
She pushed away from the wall and headed for the sink, turned the tap and was rewarded by the sound of running water. Celina scooped the liquid up, washed her face and swilled some around in her mouth, trying to banish the sour taste. Her knees shook like wet noodles beneath her.
“Okay, I’ll ring in the morning and see how soon I can get in for an appointment.” A sound from outside caught her hearing, a thudding noise, as if someone was testing the door. She wouldn’t be able to hide from the problems for much longer and right now, she really needed some air. “We’d better get out there.”
“Yeah. Okay.” She heard the concern in Sylvia’s voice. “Will you be okay to get home?”
They slowly made their way through the door and back into the office, where the blast of heat and the waft of body essences made her want to gag again. She struggled through one shallow breath then another.
“I’m planning on going straight home anyway.” Celina shuffled towards her desk and groped around in the dark, hunting for her phone. She grasped it in her damp hand and pressed the screen, waiting for it to lighten sufficiently to see her desk. She spied her bag and opened the desk to find her keys. “It looks like these are going to be out for a while. Can you…?” She indicated the light fittings, then towards the office at the end of the row, hoping Sylvia would understand.
“I’ll go tell the supervisor. You go on. Head home and take some painkillers.”
With a small nod, which she quickly regretted as a pulse wavered through her throbbing skull, Celina headed to the emergency stairs. As she passed desks she saw others grabbing up their items, including laptops. No doubt they obviously thought the same thing.
Finally she made her way down the fourteen flights of stairs. On the way she heard many voices, some shrill and others filled with laughter in the darkness. Here and there she caught glimpses of light, probably from mobiles, illuminating the gloom.
One foot after another she plodded down the steps, her head aching viciously and finally, light glowed ahead and a breeze started to clear the stuffy wooliness from her head.
* * * *
Javed shook his head. The missive he held in his hands filled him with emotions he hadn’t experienced in hundreds of years. He knew what it was. It was confusion. The sense of having the carpet jerked out from beneath him. His hands felt clammy.
“So… That’s your destiny, there in your hands.”
His hand shook and the sound of parchment moving back and forth filled the air. He held not just his destiny, but also that of so many others.
He glanced at Xavier, his master, and Hope. They were two very powerful vampires as well as his friends. “I don’t know what to say.”
Hope rose and glided towards him. “You don’t have to say anything. We will say it all. Your leaving us on one level makes us sad, but you will be a master in your own right. You’ve earned this.”
Javed wanted to sputter and stop her words, but he couldn’t. The intent of the letter was clear. On the night of the next full moon, Cressida would grant him his own nest. He would be elevated to the position of master.
If that wasn’t enough to accept, there was the knowledge that there hadn’t been a new house in over a century.
There was so much to do. So many decisions to make and all of them would fall on him. He would need to choose a Yeux Secondes, the human who would oversee the financial and day-to-day aspects of the nest. He would also require a second, a guardian who would stand at his side. A fellow warrior, in whom he could place his trust, one who would help him build a safe haven in their house. He would need witches to help protect the vampires and followers… Where the hell do I even start with that?
“You’ll need a house. Somewhere for your people to call home.” Hope grinned and he saw the lurking humour she couldn’t quell. “I know of an interior designer, if you want their details?”
He rolled his eyes, remembering the problems she’d had with her parents before she had been turned and the way she’d arranged for the entire block of units to be furnished. It had taken her one night to order and arrange for the delivery of all the furniture. Unlike the immense task her mother had proposed.
But her smile died away as her own memories must have surfaced.
“I don’t know about that, but if you’re offering help, then I’ll accept it. I don’t have a clue where to start.” He moved back to the armchair and slumped into it. “I don’t usually concern myself with those types of problem.” He allowed his head to drop into his hands and muttered. “I don’t think I’m ready yet.”
A soft touch on his shoulder captured his attention. “Cressida thinks you are. Otherwise she would not have petitioned the Councillors. Now come on. You need to start planning. We have one month to arrange your investiture…”
Wife, mother and nutty bookstore owner all describe Imogene Nix, but the real secret is Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance with a hefty dose of Romantic Suspense is what she adores. Dedicated to high quality romance, with a dollop of erotic interactions, Imogene has dipped her toes into Science Fiction, Contemporary Rural Romance and Paranormal Romance featuring feisty headstrong female leads.
About The Illuminated Witch: The Illuminated Witch is the second in the Blood Secrets Trilogy. The first, The Blood Bride, was an ARe and Totally Bound Best Seller.
How to follow Imogene:
Imogene is running a Rafflecopter Giveaway in conjunction with this blog hop, there are heaps of great prizes on offer, here are the dates and blogs where you can enter…I couldn’t get the link to run on my blog *sigh*
The Illuminated Witch Blog Hop
Dates and Blogs
Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com.au