It has been a h o t minute since I posted here. Between art commissions + personal art, writing (some News™ on that front coming up soon, keep your necks craned & your eyes peeled) in several books, and a shocking upswing in my social life, I haven’t had ideas large enough for full blog posts. Technically I still don’t – but as I passed 40k in No Dark Disguise, my sequel to Dark is the Night, I thought it only fitting that I post a handful of snippets for you guys. I’m loving this book – these characters are some of my nearest and dearest, but new characters are entering the mix and adding a little more spice (unwelcome to some of the OG’s, but who cares). Note that this hasn’t been at all edited or proofread, so if you see any typos just back away slowly.
Instead, he found himself in the center of town, walking into the shop under the carefully hand-lettered sign reading Sticks and Stones.
A small golden bell over the door rang to announce his presence, and Easton looked up from behind the counter. “Welcome to – Angel?”
“I don’t think that’s how the phrase goes.”
“To be honest, I’m a little disappointed. I expected a more foaming out the mouth and less King Tut impersonation.”
“I’d rather he wasn’t trying to get out,” Skata replied, “so I don’t mind him this way.”
Angel tilted his head. “Same difference. Good thing Skinner bugged out, or we’d really be getting an earful.”
Skata glanced over his shoulder at the mention of the shape-shifting doppelganger’s name, and Angel grinned.
“Would’ve been creepy if he’d shown up right then,” he remarked. “Too bad. No sense of dramatic timing, that guy.”
.” She lifted the knife. “I’ll need blood from each of you.”
Colton looked distinctly uncomfortable as he stepped forward. “From where?” he asked, offering his hand.
She pressed her lips together and gave him a withering stare. “Do you plan on using your hand any time in the next week?”
He cleared his throat. “Yes?”
“Then not your hand. For heaven’s sake. I don’t need much, I’ll take it from the outside of your upper arm. I have band-aids on the shelf by the window.”
Colton rolled up his sleeve and Angel shared a mildly impressed glance with Skata. “Finally,” Angel murmured to Easton. “Some good bloodletting sense.”
“Well, they would,” he said, “until they knew better, I suppose.”
‘Ah s’pose.’ Even in the darkness, she could envision the way his mouth moved when he talked. He was one of those people who expressed their accent in the way their mouth moved. You could see the Southern in the corner of his mouth when he spoke. “At least you have Gideon,” she said, wondering immediately if that was insult to injury.
“Shame,” he muttered, tossing it onto the floor. He jogged down the stairs and was about to enter the kitchen when he noticed Skata and Colton sitting in the living room like parents waiting to discuss the actions of a rebellious child.
“Family meeting?” he asked, walking in.
“Yeah. It’s called ‘what the hell were you thinking?’” Skata demanded, standing up.
Angel blinked once, then smiled annoyingly. “You’re cute when you’re mad. Also, that doesn’t really go—”
“I second the question,” said Colton.
Angel widened his eyes a fraction. “But it has a swear word in it.”
Conflict raced across Colton’s face. “This isn’t really my place,” he began.
“Then it’s right up your alley,” Angel interrupted with an indulgent smile. “Yes?”
“Go easy on him.”
“Go easy on who?”
“Pfff. If he couldn’t take the heat, he’d move out of the mansion.”
Angel felt himself go stiff. He hated when people were serious with him almost as much as he hated being serious with them. He was out of his depth. If he couldn’t twist it into something humorous, he simply didn’t know how to deal with it, but here he was. Apparently, life was trying to tear his carefully-built façade own with even more ferocity than he was trying to keep it up.
He began without preamble. “You’ve known me since the twenties.”
“Would you consider me a good friend?”
“Zach. Babe. You might be the only person I still know from the twenties. You might be a necessity caused by shortage, but I do consider you a friend.”
“A good one?” he pressed.
She sat down on the bed next to him and pulled the elastic from her hair with a sigh. “Where is this coming from?”
“Internal angst,” he replied shortly. “You didn’t answer the question.”
“Well,” she said slowly, her eyes gazing thoughtfully, softly, into the middle of the room, “That depends on what you consider to be the qualities of a good friend. We haven’t seen each other for a very long time.”
“I know that,” he retorted, “but we’re vampires. It’s not that unusual.”
She smiled. “So what do you consider the qualities of a good friend?”
“I don’t know,” he said, and for once it wasn’t evasive. He searched the corners of his mind for a solid answer, but found nothing. “I’d kill for the people I care about.”
Her mouth tightened for a moment. “There’s more to life than killing.”
“And there’s more to friendship than killing.”
“Well, that goes without saying.”
Angel jogged down the stairs. He felt like a kid who had just been handed a pop quiz – except he’d known the pop quiz was coming, and he still hadn’t prepared a single thing. Skata was kneeling in front of the door with an open toolbox on the floor beside him, removing both latches from the doorframe with a drill.
“Yo,” Angel shouted over the noise.
Skata looked over his shoulder and switched the drill off. “What?” He looked pretty calm for a guy who had played Superhero just hours before – but then again, he was holding a power tool, and Angel didn’t want to push his luck by being a smart aleck.
“Listen.” Angel hesitated. “You….ah, were right.”
Skata frowned in bewilderment. “I don’t know what I was right about, but that had to taste bad.”
“Like peppermint tooth paste and orange juice.” It would be easy, right now, to segue into Skata fixing the door – remark on that, leave any apology unsaid – but he couldn’t do that, and he knew it. “I’m not great at apologies.”
“Don’t make me regret this one.”
“Is that what this is? Because looks to me like you’re going to hem and haw until you say something sarcastic and beat it.”
“That was…scarily accurate,” said Angel.
“You have an M.O.”
“Okay, so we should probably move him to a bed or a couch or something.”
“Should you just move him like that?” Skata asked.
Angel rolled his eyes and stood, bending over and scooping Gideon into his arms with a grunt. “He’s a vampire. He’ll heal. Might take him a while, though. His spine is in bad shape and who knows what broke when he hit that wall.”
“I get that having fast healing is nifty and all,” said Skata, following Angel up the stairs, “but why couldn’t vampirism have given you extra-strong bones or thicker skin in the first place?”
“Hush, child. Ask not the accursed questions. Get the door.”
Angel breathed out a sigh. After a few seconds of silence Easton asked, “Is Skata there?”
“Are you on speaker?”
“Because I like watching the faces he makes while he tries to figure out the other half of the conversation.”