Inside the mind of a fantasy writer

(NW #3) Blood War Excerpt

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Ashleigh stirred from her dream and grabbed the closest thing, her heart racing. Baring her fangs, she bit down on flesh, the teasing taste of blood making her take a firmer grip.

“What the fuck?” Caleb’s angry voice woke her fully, and she pulled away.

Licking her lips, she glanced at Caleb then the scared child in his arms. “I’m sorry, Caleb. I was having a nightmare and—”

Caleb pulled Zander closer as he studied her. “What were you—” His eyes widened when he felt a smaller set of fangs embed in his skin. “Aww…Zan! Not you, too!”

Ashleigh laughed as she watched Zander suck on his father’s arm. “He won’t let go until he’s done, you know.”

“Why does everyone want to bite me today? Jeez.” Shaking his head, Caleb reached over and picked up a thermos. He handed it to Ashleigh. “Well, here you go. Since everyone else is doing it, here’s breakfast in bed.”

“Thanks.” She took it with a flirty smile. Her slender fingers tapped playfully on the shiny surface. “How thoughtful of you.”

“What was your nightmare about?” Caleb ruffled Zander’s short, black hair. “Drake?”

“No.” Ashleigh sighed. She was in a bad mood, but the blood perked her up a little as she drank.

“Aren’t Natalie and your Gran coming today?” Caleb made a sour face as he pried Zander off his arm. Zander giggled, his lips dripping with blood. He was a cute kid, with striking, sky blue eyes.

“Oh, yeah. I completely forgot.” Ashleigh grabbed a tissue and wiped her son’s face. Then, she jumped out of bed and grabbed some clean clothes. “Did you feed Zan?”

“No, he fed himself.” He glared at his arm as he placed a tissue on the quickly healing wound. He looked briefly at Zander’s smug face then playfully nudged his arm. “The kid came in here screaming and jumping on the bed. Didn’t you hear him?” Caleb ran his hand through his messy hair. He was shirtless and still in his boxers. “You usually wake up before me.”

“Oh, God, Caleb.” Ashleigh ran back over to the bed when she saw blood on Zander’s pajamas. Pulling him to his feet, she checked him over and saw that it wasn’t from him. “What did you eat, Zan?”

“Arf arf!” Zander put his hands up and stuck his tongue out like he was a puppy. His actions made Caleb laugh, but when he saw Ashleigh’s angry face, he covered his mouth. Noticing his father’s laughter, Zander rubbed his tummy and wrinkled his nose. “Mmm…puppy.”

“Why did you do that?” She watched Zander shrug his shoulders then begin bouncing on the mattress. “Damn it…” Palming her forehead, Ashleigh closed her eyes for a few seconds. “I thought you locked his door last night.” She began taking off Zander’s clothes, revealing his tanned skin.

“I must’ve forgot.” Caleb wiggled his nose then pulled out his phone. His eyes were glued on the screen as he started texting someone. “Whoops.”

Whoops?” Rolling her eyes, she tossed Zander’s clothing to the floor. He now stood in his underwear, little tigers printed on the fabric.

“Mama’s angwy?” Forcing an over-dramatic pout, Zander fidgeted with the friendship bracelet around his wrist. The threads were dirty, the colors now muted.

“We don’t eat puppies, Zan.”

Caleb rolled on his side, pulling Zander into his arms. He playfully swatted the little boy’s bottom. “We eat kitties.”

“Not funny.” Ashleigh whacked Caleb with a pillow, but he raised his hands to ward it off. He erupted into laughter, Zander joining in with a high-pitched giggle. “You two! You’re just as much of a kid as Zan is.”

“What’s with you this morning, grumpy?” Caleb stood, grabbing Zander. He held the squealing boy under his arm, limbs dangling. He walked them over to the bathroom.

“I’m just…stressed.” She watched Caleb draw a bath. Letting out a small sigh, she ran a hand through her hair. She was wearing only a T-shirt, but it was long enough to cover her underwear. “This whole thing with ruling the Council. And the pressure of being this powerful vampire that everyone relies on…and I’m way behind on my next book…and all these notes coming in from Drake…and these nightmares…I just want it all to slow down. I can’t take it.”

“Chill, Ash. You’re fine.” He lifted Zander into the tub. The boy grabbed the sprayer and shot it in his face. Caleb weaseled it from the child’s hand and retaliated before hanging it back up. He stood and dried his face. “We’re fine.”

Holding out her arms, Ashleigh wore a fragile smile, her bottom lip pouting slightly. She motioned for him to come to her.

Abandoning his duties at the bath, Caleb tossed the towel and went to her. Embracing her, he playfully squeezed her butt. “We’re all right. So, stop worrying.” He kissed her cheek then pulled away. “’Kay?” He squeezed her chin and bared his fangs. “Or else, I’ll bite you.”

“You will?” Her face filled with a giant smile. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pushed her nose up against his and stared into his eyes. “Where?”

A devilish chuckle escaped his lips before he started kissing her. His hand ventured under her shirt and took hold of her breast. Shoving her against the wall, his kisses deepened. He took a firm hold of her hair and pushed hard into her hips.

Her hand squeezed between their tightly pressed bodies and into his boxers. She grabbed hold of the prize with a firm, painful grip.

Biting her bottom lip, he held it hostage as he murmured, “Wanna play rough, little girl?”

He wrinkled his nose and bared his fangs. Swooping down on her neck, he playfully nipped at her skin. Ashleigh began to laugh as he tickled her tummy.

Her eyes wandered over to Zander, who was chewing on the cord to the faucet. “Zan!” Holding onto Caleb’s shoulders, she pushed him away. “Get that out of your mouth, right now!”

Caleb turned around to look, a small huff of air escaping his nostrils from a muffled chuckle. He then turned when a large man entered the room. “Hey, Robert.”

Speaking in a monotone voice, the suited man addressed Caleb, “Master Mason.”

“Will you take Wolf Boy for a little bit? Ash needs a break.”

“Of course, master.” Robert bowed to him then went to retrieve Zander. He wrapped the boy in a towel and carried him from the room.

Looking to the side, Ashleigh avoided Caleb’s eyes, “Thanks.” He took her hands and placed them on the sides of her head, his body pressed against hers. “What if he bites my Gran? She’d freak out.”

“As long as she doesn’t get too close, he won’t.”

“What grandma doesn’t want to get close to her grandbaby? Zan’s so cute, she’ll just want to cuddle him.”

“We’ll say he’s contagious or something.” Caleb gave her a quick kiss then pulled away. “Stop worrying—he’ll be fine.”

“I just…” Pushing her lips together, she tried not to cry, but the tears came. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she held him tightly. “I just want this to be perfect, you know?”

“It’ll be perfect.” He pulled away and gave her a quick kiss. Tossing his boxers at her, he smirked when she caught them. “Just calm down. You’re gonna kill someone if you keep this up.” He stepped in the shower. “Relax.” He shut the door.

Ashleigh watched him for a few seconds more then walked back into the bedroom. She went to the dresser when she noticed new flowers sitting there. A deep frown filled her lips when she saw the card.

 

My heart is black, but my love for you is as bright as the sun. Forgive me, my love. Come back to me and…

 

Instead of reading the rest, she crumbled up the paper and tossed it in the trash. She waited for Caleb to finish then washed up as well. When she was dressed, she slipped downstairs where Caleb was now playing video games in the living room with Kris. The guitarist seemed to live at their house more than his own, something that could be quite annoying for her.

Zander was with them, dressed up in a trendy tee and jeans, his hair in a perfect Mohawk. He was gnawing on a sucker. Even though he was grown out of the teething stage, Zander chewed on everything. They had tried binkies, but his sharp little teeth quickly shredded them. Raising a little vampire was not easy, but at least she had a lot of help.

 

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