Since last Friday, so just over a week ago, I’ve been making music, and today, I’m releasing my first EP.
I know this is not the post that I had promised you. I thought I would write an article about Blade, but then… I didn’t feel like it. I said I would write a short story, but then… I downloaded Mixcraft 9 Recording Studio.
On Saturday last week, I found myself still needing to even decide what I was going to write about, and instead, I opened Mixcraft and immediately knew that I wasn’t going to get a blog post done. When something catches my attention, I fixate, and it’s all I can think about. It was all I could think about last weekend: I want to make another song.
But I know myself, I knew things would go down that way, so on Saturday, when I started playing with Mixcraft and layering tracks together to form a new song, I said, “You know what? If I’m going to do this instead of what I should be doing, then I’m going to make it work for me.”
So I got to work on a spooky song. And then I made two more songs. And I even have two songs from before that (they’re not good, but one of them is pretty funny). By Tuesday, I was done with my songs. I uploaded them to my Youtube Music and listened to them in my car on repeat, subjected my child to them over and over. I continued to tweak things that I realized I didn’t like or I realized didn’t work. It’s amazing how much different things sound through different headphones or speakers.
Finally, I went to type up this same post yesterday. I uploaded the videos to Youtube (just my music tracks with a still image of the album cover I made). And THEN I checked the licensing on the royalty-free music that came with my Humble Bundle that got me Mixcraft 9 for cheap.
I learned from the FAQ on the music library’s website that I was not allowed to release my media without some amount of my own original audio included. Literally any amount of audio. And that was something that I hadn’t included yet.
Now, I could have made this fix very quickly and easily and recorded some sort of intro/outro and appended the same thing to each song.
But I’m too creative for my own good; I got literary with it.
So yesterday, the day I should have posted this blog post, I sought out public domain literary works to read into my three songs. Now, you’ll find quotes from Hemingway and Stoker, and even a song with my own musical vocals (not just a reading), inspired heavily by Robert Frost’s poem “Acquainted with the Night” that gave me WAY TOO MUCH trouble. Harmonizing with yourself is hard when you’ve never done it before!
So without further ado, here is AFTER DARK COMES SUNRISE:
NEXT MONTH. Let’s celebrate Halloween by playing literary dress up and writing some FAN(G) FICTION. I’m going to try very hard to make some of my fanfics into reality and share them, but if you have vampire fanfiction you would like to share with an audience full of vampire lovers, contact me on Twitter @shailo_sator or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wanna come hang out with me and other vamp lovers on Discord, I’ve got the server for you!
Join the Vampire Fiction You Won’t Hate Discord.
Guest post by Jenn Windrow
Vampires. Throughout their history they’ve come in different shapes, sizes, and sexiness. They’ve been kind and they’ve been killers. They’ve been loved, hated, and every emotion in between. And no matter what myth you follow, most have the same aversions. Whether it be sunlight, garlic, holy water, or a wooden stake to the heart, most vampire purists stick to the basics of vampire lore.
But there are exceptions.
Today I want to talk about one of those exception…sunlight. The how and the why some authors decided to break the rules and let their vampires have a little fun in the sun.
While vampires have always been considered creatures of the night—anyone else hear the Rocky Horror Picture Show song in their head? No. Just me—their aversion to sunlight wasn’t always an issue. When vampires were first introduced the only thing the sun did was suck…haha…some of their power. Make them a little weaker during the day. But through the years, as the stories of vampires evolved, the aversion to sunlight did too.
But why? No one knows for sure. Maybe they wanted to make them darker, scarier, creepier, more horror like. But whatever the reason the aversion to the sun has become a major theme in the world of vamps.
However, I did mention exceptions above, and I wanted to look at a few of the more popular ones in modern day fiction. So, let’s dive into the world of daywalkers.
Probably the most popular daywalker. The half human, half vampire, all around bad ass has been a cult classic for years. Blade can walk in the sun thanks to the human half of his DNA. All the strength and speed and skills of a normal vampire without the pesky burning up in the sun issue. Making him an effective vampire killing tool…and kill vampires he does.
While the vampires in TVD have the normal aversion to sunlight, the author found a fun and stylish way around having to keep the characters indoors until after the sun went down. Witch spelled rings. Rings so powerful that when worn they protected the vampire from the harmful rays, allowing them to lead a normal high school life even though they were centuries old. Because how could they help with the annual cheerleader carwash if they couldn’t go outside?
Yes, the sun could still kill vampires in the Buffyverse, but Joss Whedon took some creative liberties with his vamps. As long as the sun wasn’t directly touching them, if they were wearing a cape or in the shade, they were safe. Afterall it is hard to have a show, about vampires, set in California, in a town called Sunnydale without letting the vampires have a little bit of daytime drama.
The lore around Twilight is not fully understood by everyone, but Edward had no problem going out in the sun, in fact it made him sparkle. Yes, sparkle. And the story is set in the Pacific Northwest, so they really didn’t have a lot of sun to worry about. Just werewolves and teenage angst.
Yes, even the original Dracula could walk in the sun without any harmful UV effects, but it did render him less powerful. He was his full scary strength at night, but if he needed to torture a local villager during the hottest part of the day the pesky rays of the mid-day sun wouldn’t have stopped him.
When Lestat was first introduced he couldn’t go into the sun, in fact we all remember that famous scene of poor Claudia frying to death in the torture chamber, but as Lestat grew older and after he drank Akasha’s blood he was able to endure the rays of the sun. Anne Rice liked to reward her vampires for years of torture.
Simon didn’t start off as a vampire, and after he was turned he couldn’t walk in the sun. It wasn’t until he drank Jace’s blood, the blood of a full angel, that he could start hanging out with Clary, his bestie, during the day again.
Those are just some of the vampires in modern literature or film that are allowed to spend a day on the beach, but they all have one thing in common, the writers have given us a reason why their vampires are different. And with a why, I can believe anything.
Personally, I like the idea that vampires have a weakness. That there was something so powerful, to keep their almost unlimitless power in check. I don’t care if they eat garlic or knock back a vat of holy water, those are little things that a vampire can avoid, but not the sun. The sun gives our favorite bloodsuckers a true enemy beyond angry villagers and jilted lovers.
Jenn Windrow is an award-winning author of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Vampires, Greek gods, and a bit of Demon fun for everyone.
She loves characters who have a pinch of spunk, a dash of attitude, and a large dollop of sex appeal. Top it all off with a huge heaping helping of snark, and you’ve got the ingredients for the kind of fast paced stories she loves to read and write. Home is a suburb of it’s-so-hot-my-shoes-have-melted-to-the-pavement Phoenix. Where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a slew of animals that seem to keep following her home, at least that’s what she claims.
Before I give you a Sucking Ashes Sneak Peek, let’s all marvel at my follow-through. As I promised you last month, this blog now has a monthly theme, and for September, that theme is Sunlight. Oooh. Ahhh.
We all know vampires aren’t allowed in the sun… except the ones who are. This month is dedicated to the Daywalkers and the effects of sunlight on vampires. I might even go wild and read Twilight. It’s the wild west of vampire media out here, folx.
Last month I decided to instate a Vampire Movie Weekend once a month, and ideally, the vampire movie(s) of the month will link to the month’s theme. You may have missed my livetweet session of my viewing of the 2012 version of Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton. I decided this movie fit the theme of rebirth for multiple reasons:
Curious what other vampire-filled media I’ve been consuming? Check out my Vampire Fiction Aficionado Progress Report.
To read my thoughts as I watched Dark Shadows, head to the thread I tweeted last weekend. Here’s some highlights (you should follow me on Twitter too!):
For this month’s theme of Sunlight, I’ll be watching The Blade Trilogy. TONIGHT! And I’m gonna drink margaritas and take notes for a future blog post while I do it.
Writing is hard. I’m sure no one has ever told you that before. As usual, I’ve adjusted my plans for completing my novel, but rest assured I will complete a draft, as in from beginning to the ending of the story instead of deciding to rewrite things a third of the way in, by the end of October! For now, I’m leaning into my brain’s malfunctioning at the idea of continuing drafting when things in the beginning are up in the air and revising what I have so far before I add more. Honestly, revising will involve writing more anyway because I know there are some major scenes that need rewrites from the last version of the story to make this one make sense. After all, it is, as they say, what it is.
A Sucking Ashes sneak peek! TWO OF THEM, actually. Every once in a while, there is a passage of my own writing that I really enjoy, and I hope that you will do the same. To stay on theme, I’m choosing passages from when Lai was still a human and could go in the sunlight as there will be a major flashback thread through Sucking Ashes.
This is the very VERY beginning of the book. You’ll need this sneak peek to help prepare you for the next one. It’s like a quest!
“You smoke?” Matthew asked.
I wondered if he was talking to me, even though I was the only idiot sitting there, alone in the passenger seat of my brother Ras’s blue 85 Civic where Matthew and his killer smile leaned in to talk to me.
The answer was: I didn’t smoke. Decades of smoking had put my dad in bad shape a long time ago, and I knew it. I wasn’t going to forget the recent coughing fits, the hospital visits, the lung cancer diagnosis, the tension in the room when Mom and Dad told us about it a year ago just after my nineteenth birthday, how mad I was that Dad had been killing himself slowly in front of us since we were kids.
And I still took the cigarette from Matthew through the open window. He handed the lighter off to me, and I took it gingerly, as though it might explode. Then I watched his dark eyes watching me until I’d waited too long and there was no way he didn’t know I was staring.Chapter 1, Sucking Ashes by Shailo Satór, work-in-progress
Want to read ALL of chapter 1 RIGHT NOW? Sign up to join my audience.
Lai and his home life. #relatable? I made this one longer because I love you so much.
By the time we got home, Mom was making dinner, and Dad was sitting at the table doing a crossword puzzle. Before we walked in, I helped Ras make sure he didn’t look like he’d been beaten up. He said he’d taken a hit to the stomach while he was inside the house, but it wasn’t like he had a black eye or a busted nose. I couldn’t quite figure out if he’d tripped when he came out of the house or if Adam had thrown him out.
Mom noticed us first, turning up her eyes from a skillet with sauerkraut and brats. We had the same colored hair, a light brown trying very hard to make me look like a ginger (I’m not, I swear). She kept her hair in a tight bun, always flat to her head with few pieces straying aside from those little curlies that were impossible to control for anyone.
“Good, you brought your brother home,” she said, probably to Ras.
I had to pass the kitchen to turn down the hall to get to my room, and I tried not to let her see me roll my eyes. I dropped off my backpack in my room.
“Laisellus!” she called. I groaned at the full name. God, I fucking hated my name.
“What?” I stood quietly and waited for her to answer, but she didn’t. With a frustrated sigh, I turned back to the hall and called back to her again, but I still didn’t get a response until I was all the way in the kitchen. “What do you want?” I asked, exasperated and ready to go to my room and not be seen.
“Your father needs a drink.” She didn’t look at me, pretending to pay attention to the stove again like it was more interesting than anything I could say at that moment.
I stood completely still aside from casting a look around the room at all of the completely capable hands available at the table, including Dad who wasn’t so sick he couldn’t grab a beer or water or whatever he wanted.
“What would you like, Dad?” I asked, deciding against arguing. I opened the fridge and looked over the options, ready to read them out to him if he needed a menu for some reason.
“Hm?” He turned around from the table, stopping mid-sentence in his conversation with Ras to pay attention to me. “Oh, I’ve got a water right here.” He held up a near-full glass of ice water and rocked it back and forth to illustrate.
I shut the door on the fridge while giving my mom the flattest look I could muster.
She nudged at a brat with some tongs and said nothing.
I pushed my tongue over my teeth as I considered saying something. Not sure what I could say. Call her out?
“So what did you really want?” I asked.
“I guess I was wrong. Is that what you want to hear?” She slapped the tongs down onto a paper towel on the counter and turned off the stove more forcefully than I knew could physically be possible.
“You always fucking do this,” I said. “If there’s something you want from me, just say it.”
She didn’t listen to the second sentence, her eyes growing wide at my use of fuck. “Laisellus.”
I opened my arms wide and looked around the room. Ras and Dad had both shut up to give audience to my spat with Mom. “What?”
“You won’t use that kind of language in my house.”
“What kind of fucking language, Mom?”
“You know damn well what you’re doing right now.”
I scoffed. “Jesus fucking Christ, just tell me what you want!”
Dad stood up. “Lai…”
I backed up, putting my hands up in a show of innocence.
“Sit down,” Mom ordered Dad, wiping her hands off on a dish towel as she came around the center island to physically escort him back into a chair. “Laisellus, you’re grounded.”
“Mom, I’m twenty years old.”
She spun around and planted her fists on her hips, her eyes just as wide as before. She stared me down. “Should I kick you out instead, then?”
I was already backing down, so I didn’t get it. I waved her off. “Whatever. I’m going to my room.”
“That’s exactly the problem!” she shouted.
I was in the middle of taking a step toward the hall when I stopped again…to get yelled at some more.
“You stay in your room. You listen to your music. You do…” she fluttered her hand in the direction of my room. “Whatever it is you do in there, probably inappropriate things. You never spend time with us. With your father.”
She emphasized the last part in the way that made me feel guiltier than anything. Didn’t she see why I didn’t want to spend any time with her? Didn’t she know what I was avoiding? But I heard everything she didn’t say: Dad probably doesn’t have much time left, and I didn’t care about him. Boy, was that the fucking untruest shit ever.Chapter 3, Sucking Ashes by Shailo Satór, work-in-progress
Next week, you can read an article from Jenn Windrow about vampires and sunlight in pop culture. And later this month, I hope to entertain you with an article on Blade and a short story of my own. Stay tuned!
I was fifteen when I died.
I was in the car with my mom, Sheila, and my stepdad, Robert. We were driving home from Robert’s cabin north of Canada. Mom and Robert were arguing in the front seat; Mom wasn’t pleased that we had to cut our vacation short because Robert’s boss had called him and told him to cover someone else’s shift at the construction site. It had been several months since Robert had started his job as a contractor, and he didn’t want to be on his boss’ bad side, so he obliged. So, on the road we were, in the middle of the night.
I tuned out their arguments by plugging the headphones into my ears and putting the music on full blast. My mom and Robert got along fine and I guess he was alright. I mean, he took good care of my mom and deep down I wanted her to be happy, but I absolutely hated it when they argued.
This little cabin trip had been Robert’s idea to kindle our relationship. Mom had been thrilled, but I was less enthusiastic. I complained that I had plans for something else already, but after some convincing from Mom, I grudgingly complied. So, Robert was just as miffed as Mom that we had to cut our efforts so short.
“Bob, watch out!” Mom’s sudden scream pulled me from the rock music pounding in my ears.
He thrust his foot down on the brakes. The car came to a screeching halt a couple of yards in front of a heap on the road.
“Oh my god,” Mom gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. “I-is that a person?”
The headlights from the car shone down on a big man, sprawled face down on the asphalt. He wasn’t moving.
“What happened?” I asked annoyed, having slipped down on the car floor in the abrupt stop. I gazed through the windshield, spotting the man. “Is he dead?”
Mom’s worried eyes darted between me and Robert. “Should we call 911?”
Robert shook his head slightly. “Wait here,” he said as he opened the door and slipped out from his seat. “I’m going to see if he’s all right.”
“No!” Mom tugged at his sleeve. “Stay here, with us.”
I understood Mom’s fear. My mind was already filling up with stories and urban legends of some crazed man who stopped unsuspecting people on the road and then butchered them in tiny little pieces. A lot of people have gone missing on the highway. What if one of us would become one of them?
“I agree with Mom,” I said, my eyes fixed on the immobile body. Sweat dripped down my back from trepidation. “Let’s just leave him and get the fuck outta here.”
Robert narrowed his brows before he shook his head. “I’ll be fine,” he began walking cautiously toward the big man.
Mom bit her lower lip. Then she opened the passenger door, letting herself out into the night.
“Mom!” I protested, sitting straighter in my seat. “What are you doing?”
Mom shushed me. “I’m going with Robert.” She quietly closed the door, leaving me alone in the car.
Defenseless. That’s what I felt as I watched both approach the man. I chewed on my nails as Robert knelt to check the man’s vitals, placing two fingers upon the man’s neck. Mom was close by, hugging herself against the autumn Yukon cold.
“He’s got a pulse,” Robert shouted.
Mom’s shoulders sag in relief.
I exhaled, realizing I had been holding my breath the entire time.
Mom was about to punch in nine-one-one on her phone when it happened.
The man got to his feet in record speed. He grabbed Robert by the shoulder with one hand and with the other, snapped his neck. Mom screamed. The man threw the lifeless body of her lover away like a piece of log and turned to her. She scrambled backwards, tripped, and fell on her butt. The night filled with her screams. The man grabbed Mom’s leg and drew her closer to him. Her pleas transformed into hysterical sobs. With one of his gigantic hands, he secured both of Mom’s and then pulled her closer. He locked his teeth—his really sharp teeth—on Mom’s throat.
The last gleam from Mom’s eyes slowly faded away. Her screams dissolved into gurgles. That monster held her tightly, in a gruesome death’s embrace, hungrily sucking her blood.
I couldn’t move. My own screams were lost in my throat. My face was wet with tears. The man stood up and dropped the corpse of my mother on the ground. She was joined with Robert’s lifeless, broken body.
I jerked awake when he approached the car. He was a big man, maybe around 6 feet tall. His gut was round, but his arms and legs had muscles that pulsed with each movement. His face was obscured by an auburn beard and shoulder-length, unruly hair. Even his eyebrows were thick and grisly. If a bear ever transformed into a semi-human, it would look like that man. Heart hammering in my chest, I crawled into the front passenger seat and quickly locked both doors. I looked around for the man, but he wasn’t in front of the car.
A horrifying screech filled the car and then metal grinding together as the passenger door opened. The man’s dark and frenzied eyes found me frozen in the seat. He made to grab me. I screamed and threw my phone in his face. I backed away closer to the driver’s seat’s window. The man snarled ferociously and grabbed my leg with such strength I thought he had crushed my ankle. In one fluid motion, he threw me out of the car.
My back collided against the gravel by the road. The wind was knocked out of me. I struggled to regain my breath. Suddenly, the man was right on top of me.
How did he get here so fast?
He tried to secure me in the same way as he had done with Mom. I kicked and punched as hard as I could. I managed to wrestle with the man for a while, but he was bigger and stronger. He landed blows after blows to my stomach and face. Every bone in my body felt like breaking in pieces.
I had been in fights before, even broken my arm once in a fight between a guy who had been twice as tall as me, but this was unbearable. With each blow to my chest and back, my lungs released every pump of air out of me. My stomach relieved me of its contents. I wanted him to stop, to just get it over with but clearly, he wasn’t done with me.
He grabbed my hair and pulled me up. I glimpsed the sight of his jagged, shark-like teeth before he plunged them into my throat. Blood gushed out my wound, spilling down my neck. I should have felt pain, but instead I had an odd feeling of bliss.
The images of a great, wide tunnel in shining light didn’t appear before me as I laid on the uncomfortable gravel. I didn’t hear any voice of God that beckoned me to come to His side. What I did feel was my own ragged breath. My lungs that desperately tried to retrieve air. My primal urge to remain alive on this God-forsaken planet.
Blood flowed freely down to my chest. Coldness crept over me. My eyelids threatened to close at any moment. My ears were occupied by the sounds of my thumping heart, desperately pumping blood into the open, exposed vein on my neck. I felt the man’s presence beside me.
“You’re a pretty little thing, sweetheart,” he said in a grisly voice. “I’d hate to see you go.”
Through my blurred vision, I saw the man bite hard into his own wrist. His blood dripped down his arm. He forced the wrist up to my mouth.
“Drink it,” he growled.
It was disgusting. The blood tasted like bile. I had no choice but to swallow. My pulse slowed. My eyelids shut down. Ice encircled me. Everything became dark. I couldn’t see anything, not even my own hands.
Then, an electrical current surged through me. My body writhed on the ground like an injured snake. My voice came out in a gurgled cry. I thrashed all over the place, my muscles spasming. My bones creaked. My ligaments twitched. The veins beneath my skin wriggled like maggots. My heart was near to bursting. The gaping wound on my neck throbbed horribly. My teeth were giving me agonizing headaches. It felt as if the dentist was taking sheer pleasures in drilling your teeth all the way into your gums without any anesthetic. Take this pain away from me. Let me die.
I opened my eyes. Darkness greeted me once again.
But I was somewhere else. The ground felt smooth, but cold. I wasn’t outside anymore.
I rose and felt around for the wound on my neck. It was gone. Healed, it seemed.
Suddenly, I keeled over, holding my stomach. I felt hungry but it was hunger like I had never experienced before. I felt it in my entire being. It echoed loudly within my body. I was hollow from deep within and I needed to fill it with something. I had to find food and fast!
A delicious smell tickled my nose. Saliva gathered in my mouth. I sniffed the air. In the middle of the room was a small, square table. On top of it was the source of the tantalizing scent. Like a starving beast I ran toward the table, snatched the plastic bag from it and ripped into it with my salivating mouth. Liquid burst out of the bag. I tried with all my might to catch every drop into my mouth. I sucked hungrily from the bag. It was so sweet, so supple that I wasn’t even aware that I was moaning. I squeezed the bag empty.
My hunger finally sated, I looked around. My senses were heightened. The room was pitch black, but I could see perfectly well. There was a bluish tint around the things, like when seen through sunglasses. My mouth, or more like my teeth, ached horribly. I pressed my fingers gingerly to my teeth and winced. I drew them away and saw droplets of blood—darker than usual—seep from small wounds on my fingertips. My ears picked up the electricity humming within the house. A slow, methodic heartbeat drummed inside the room.
“You finally awake?” a gruff voice asked behind me.
I turned around and saw the man who had attacked me. His beard was matted in dried blood. My blood.
“Where am I?” My eyes never left off my assailant and kidnapper.
“My living quarters,” the man said, smirking. “You’re going to be staying with me now, sweetheart.”
The man leaned in close. He gave me a toothy, sinister smile. “Because I made you as one of my own.”
I ran my tongue across my teeth. I looked down at the torn bag at my feet and noticed that it was a blood bag. Marked O+ on the side. The sweet taste of the blood still lingered on my tongue.
“You made me a vampire.” I stated matter-of-factly, gazing up at the man. “What about my mom? And Robert?”
He snorted. “Dead.”
Spittle built up in the corner of my mouth. Of course. The bastard killed them. Left them to rot on the side of the Yukon road. I barreled toward him, a shriek tearing my throat. His laugh filled the room before he grabbed my hair and slammed me against the wall.
I gasped, stars popping within my blurred vision. My breath was caught short when he clutched my mouth.
“There’s no way you can take me on, dumbass. They’re dead and you’re going to accept that.” He snarled, his foul breath choking me.
“Fuck you!” I hissed as I tried kicking him in the crotch.
My head slammed against the wall for the second time. It made a dent in it. Something wet ran down behind my ear.
“I’m your bloodfather now, and you will do as I say. You’re mine. Don’t you forget that.” He dropped me on the floor. He made to leave, but not before delivering a fierce kick up my abdomen.
Coughing and retching, I made a feeble attempt at crawling after him. Even though I’d become a bloodsucker, I would not stay here with that monster. He smirked and locked the reinforced steel door.
There was an ache in the back of my throat. A lump that threatened to lodge itself there. My eyes burned as I bowed my head.
Orphaned, alone and trapped inside, at the hands of a beast.
What cruel fate awaited me?
Villimey Mist has always been fascinated by vampires and horror, ever since she watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula when she was a curious, little girl.
She loves to read and create stories that pop into her head unannounced.
She lives in Iceland with her husband and two cats, Skuggi and RoboCop, and is often busy drawing or watching the latest shows on Netflix.
She has written a vampire horror series with the first two books out on Amazon:
The third book, Nocturnal Salvation, will come out in January 2021.
First of all, let me apologize to anyone who was reading ILU and looking forward to another installment:
I’M SORRY. ;~~~;
I had truly anticipated posting another chapter, and obviously, I never did. Here’s what happened:
I had the chapter written, and it went through far more revisions than any of the other chapters had been through thus far. When some things weren’t working for me, I collaborated with my co-author D.B. Graves, and we made a major overhaul to the plot.
And then I took a long time off. Longer than I meant to. And the longer I took to get out another chapter, the less confident I felt about showing my face with none of the promised chapters I was supposed to have been delivering. Eventually, I committed to creating a complete outline to ILU before really drafting. I’ve dubbed completing it as my #1 priority among a long list of other priorities. And I did it! I have a complete, but messy outline, but I have been improving on it a little at a time.
The result of reworking the plot over and over (and over and over and over) again is that… While I’m keeping a lot of the primary events of the first few chapters that were posted online… they don’t work for the overall story in their current form anymore.
I’ve probably said this before, but Lai’s story is particularly important to me. I started out writing by role playing, and Lai was created somewhere around 2008, so there it’s no coincidence that ILU takes place in 2008. He’s gone through a lot of development, and the way I think of him today is so so different from the way he was originally. I may be biased, but I feel like recreating this growth throughout my twelve years of RPing Lai is a beautiful character growth arc that I feel particularly attached to and that deserves to be told in a way that honors everything I love about writing Lai.
So with my respect for my own character and a little bit of a perfectionist attitude, I hereby retract In Lieu of Underwear: A Vampire Story in its current form. It will no longer be released in serial form. I believe in the art of mastering a story through rewrites, and I think it would be ill-advised to start releasing it again before it’s been written completely. For now at least, I will leave up the posts that do already exist. Feel free to read them over and over again and maybe guess what will change when the book is finally released. My intention is to self-publish.
You know what I’m not attached to, though? The title In Lieu of Underwear: A Vampire Story. I’m thoroughly prepared to toss that shit out the window. Despite the cute way it can be shortened to ILU which happened by happy accident and is more apt than I ever could have designed (it is ultimately a love story after all), I just… I grabbed a random intriguing phrase out of the first chapter when I spewed it out and then I had to commit. The “A Vampire Story” part is only on there because I wanted to make sure you knew it was about vampires. I played around with new titles almost as much as I attempted to overhaul the entire plot. I’m happy to say I’ve found a title for the first book and several more that I think incorporates both the theme and the fact that it’s about vampires.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS?
Not only have I rebranded the novel (series), but the other thing I’ve done a million times is redesign the book cover. The fact that I have invested so much of my time into multiple iterations of a book cover for this book is part of the reason I’m not even really entertaining the idea of pitching this book/series to an agent (that and the fact that the number of times the word “fuck” will show up is astronomical and I don’t know if agents or trad publishers are going to agree that they’re necessary uses).
What was I saying? OH YEAH. New title. Right right right. (; Maybe you’d like a tiny sneak peek at the most recent cover too? How about both at once? I think that’s what we want.
Well, DRUM ROLL PLEASE? From here on out, we will ONLY refer to it as…Read More
You may have noticed that you haven’t heard from me in a while, and if you guessed that it’s because of In Lieu of Underwear: A Vampire Story, you would be hella correct, but I’ll tell you more about that next week. Right now, I want to tell you about how I have taken my time to plan a relaunch—a rebirth, if you will—for this blog, and I am very excited to show you what’s different and what to expect going forward.
As you may already know, I am an author of vampire fiction on a journey to consume as much vampire media as possible. This goal is born out of not just a love for the vampire genre, but also out of a deficiency of mine in how much I actually have consumed within the genre. I’m the type who likes an album and plays it on repeat all day long for a month. I’m a little bit the same when it comes to vampire shows and books. I haven’t branched out because I’m comfortable enjoying one thing.
As someone who loves to write about vampire protagonists, I have decided to use my author blog as an accountability program to my goal of expanding the breadth of my vamp fic knowledge. In doing so, I’m inviting you to come on the same journey. We can become Vampire Fiction Aficionados together.
So how are we going to navigate this adventure together? Here are the things you can look for on this site on a monthly basis:
Another thing that isn’t official, but that I’m considering is a weekly livestream, but I have a bit of workshopping to do on the idea right now.
It’s… a lot, I know. If you want to keep me going through this journey, it would be great if you could buy me a coffee. A tiny bit of financial support will produce a lot of emotional miles (and probably even some tears; I’m a big cry baby lol ;v; )
Have something to say about vampires? An entertaining top 10 list perhaps, or something thought-provoking and deep? Perhaps you even have a vampire short story you want to put out into the world, or want a prompt for a story to write just for us! Assuming you’re here to support those of us in the vampire fiction community, we want to hear from you! Speak with me directly about guest blogging opportunities on Twitter @shailo_sator or through email at email@example.com.
Our vampire fiction journey is reborn! I’m back for regular weekly content. And next week, I have some news about ILU, so look out for it.
Fangs for reading! I love you and I’ll see you around. MUAH!
Buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi!
This story is updated monthly. You can be the first one to know when new chapters have been published.
“Fuck, man, don’t shoot.” I put my trembling hands up in surrender and a futile attempt to Force Push Johnny and his stupid gun out of my face. I’d been shot enough lately.
Johnny’s gun hand trembled, and he fidgeted like he might explode if he stood still for too long.
“You think you’re fucking special!” he shouted, his voice tight and strained like he was crying, and realizing he was red in the face, I thought maybe he was. “You come in here and fuck my girl like you own the place. Like you have a right?”
He pushed the nose of the gun to my already sore cheek, and I turned my head, pulling back into the pillows as though half an inch of distance could save me from a bullet.
“Fuck you,” he growled. “I’ll blow your head off right here.”
I knew two things in that moment: 1) Jess wasn’t “Johnny’s girl,” and 2) I absolutely should not say that.
“Shit. You’re right. You’re right.” Give him what he wants, I thought. But what the fuck could I give him now? I
Maybe I could stumble my way into it. I said, “I came in uninvited, and I disrespected you. I get it. You want me to leave? You want me to put in a good word with Jess?” With my head turned, I couldn’t see him or his face, but I could hear him sniffling. Yeah. He was crying.
When he didn’t answer right away, I got scared the pot wasn’t sweet enough. I thought of what I could do that he clearly couldn’t; I should have kept my mouth shut.
“I can tell you how to blow her mind in the sack,” I said. It was a genuine offer, but Johnny’s battered and bruised ego couldn’t handle it, and to top it off, I’m a big fucknig idiot.
The gun lifted off my face, and then I felt a flash of cold steel in the middle of my dick.
“How about I shoot your dick off first?”
“No!” I scrambled away across the bed, only managing a few inches of distance with Johnny on my case. “Look. I just meant—” I tried to hold my hand up between my dick and the gun. I wanted to bolt, but I also wasn’t interested in finding out if a vampire could grow his dick back. I’d rather be shot in the head. “I just meant you could—like, I’m trying to give you all the tools you can get to win her back.”
“Sex tips ain’t gonna win her over.”
“Oh, it’s gonna hurt.” He cocked the gun.
“Ah!” I shouted at him with a wagging finger, the way you berate a dog for trying to sneak food off the counter.
Somehow it worked, at least momentarily, and I scrambled my lucky, bare ass the rest of the way to my feet, backing toward the door, just praying I wouldn’t trip over half a Big Mac or whatever other garbage was between me and the exit. I glanced at the curtains for signs of sunlight around the windows. It seemed dark enough. Jess must have been at work. I knew she’d be in there going gorilla on Johnny if she was around to witness this bullshit.
Johnny advanced with the gun pointed at my chest again, rounding the bed while I continued to back my way out. He closed the distance quickly until I bumped my ass into the couch, and he pressed the barrel to my bandage.
“I oughta kill you. I want to. I’ve always wanted to. Mr. High and Mighty.”
I stood silently. He could just kill me if that’s what he really wanted. He didn’t have to wake me up. He didn’t have to villain speech me. If he wanted me dead, I would be already. Right?
My breath shook, and my heart raced to deliver that much needed adrenaline.
His wet eyes stared at the place where the gun met my gauze, and I ignored the deep pain in my nearly-healed wound while I watched him debating on shooting me.
I had to guess there wasn’t a voice in his head on my side of all this. “You really think shooting me is gonna get her to want you?” I waited a second to see if I was helping or hurting myself.
His lip bulged as his tongue ran over his fangs.
I continued. “Why don’t you start with throwing away a taco wrapper? Hell, I’d blow you if you did that. I can’t imagine how excited Jess would be to know you vacuumed for once in your fucking life.”
He lifted his chin, finished sucking on his teeth and stepped back. He lifted the gun with one hand and brought up the other hand to support it, taking serious aim with a look of resolve—still, calm, quiet, finger on the trigger, frightening. “You have three seconds to get out of here, and then I shoot.”
I stepped away from the couch, taking an entire valuable second to compute what he’d just said. I was off?
Fuck. I turned and found the keys to Jackie’s Porsche on the counter where I’d left them…right next to the cigarette I couldn’t find last night.
I snatched them both, aiming my naked ass for the door. The cigarette dropped to the ground. I stopped to go back for it.
I realized I’m a fucking idiot and made for the door again. But goddamn did I need a fucking cigarette.
I slammed the door behind myself, and that didn’t stop Johnny from firing the gun at the door four times in a row. I ran for the stairs, down two flights and shoved my way through the door to the apartment building—out into the sunlight.
I screamed at the instant burning sensation, eyes squeezing shut, and knowing I couldn’t go back in, I kept on, hoping to find a dumpster or some other cover before I… exploded or whatever. I didn’t actually know what would happen to a vampire in the sunlight. It wasn’t like they went into it often.
The brightness subsided almost right away, and when I opened my eyes, I found that the sun was setting, and the buildings on the other side of the lot were what was blocking the sun from me now. It was brighter than my eyes were used to, but I quickly located Jackie’s Porsche and the stripe of sun on the driver’s side. I got in through the passenger seat. I huffed and puffed with sore lungs, a huge dose of adrenaline and a burning and itching left arm and left side of my torso. Carefully, I tested out with the same arm whether it would burn in the sunlight leaking through to the driver’s seat. The tinted windows must have been doing their job. Glancing out the windshield back at the building for signs of Johnny, I repeated the fuck word under my breath repeatedly until I was positioned behind the wheel and throwing the car in gear.
After some reckless driving, poor attempts at using the clutch, and a little bit of deliberation, I drove to Ras’s. I knew he’d help me, and Jackie lived with him, so it was a good way to return the Porsche, not that I wanted to. By the time I pulled in the driveway, it was twilight, but not any more painful or dangerous to be outside than it would have been in true darkness.
I stopped on the porch. I wasn’t ready to talk to Ras after finding out he’d been lying to me for over a decade. I didn’t want to beg him for help. I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to forget the last few days had happened and go back to smoking and fucking and drinking like I was doing a few days ago, like I’d been doing for years. Before I was shot. Before Jess destroyed my living room. Before Seth got killed…
I stood still for a moment, allowing that thought to truly sink in for the first time since I’d heard he was dead.
But I cut myself off. I didn’t have time to think about it. He didn’t matter. He didn’t mean anything to me. Nobody did.
I put my mind back on the task at hand, scratching at my side and arm where it was swollen. What was I gonna say to Ras? I had to confront him about him coming between me and Matthew. Should I bust in there and shout him down? The silent treatment? Punch him in his goddamned face?
I could hear muffled voices through the door. They weren’t that close, but if I listened hard, I could make out Jackie’s voice and Ras’s, and another one on speakerphone that was harder to distinguish.
“That’s why I want your help,” Ras said. “Lai can’t stick around here, and you know that.”
I stepped closer to the door and pressed my ear to it to get the next line.
“I don’t see why it’s my problem,” said the phone voice. After a few seconds, I put together that it was Micah.
“Come on, Micaiah,” Jackie purred. “I know you’re not Lai’s sire, but would you keep him safe for me?”
I had to admire Jackie’s seductive prowess. And just everything about Jackie, really. I had to stop scratching my swollen, itchy arm for a second to hear the voice coming through on the speakerphone.
“I don’t see why it’s your problem either,” Micah said.
“Please, Mr. Castagnier,” Ras said, his voice wracked with desperation. “You know how dangerous Matthew is. You helped him before. This is just to make sure all the work you did wasn’t for nothing.”
My arm had swollen up so much, the hospital bracelet now pressed into my skin, and every part of my left arm from elbow to wrist was red and in pain. The rash on my body was following suit. I think it was spreading.
I let myself in through the front door, scratching heavily at my arm and chest and hip and leg and fuck it was terrible everywhere.
Ras and Jackie both turned to face me as I stood scratching, and I could hear Micah sigh on the phone between them. “I can arrange any travel arrangements he needs,” he said, “but I can’t keep the state police force off his case. I’ve tried.”
“Lai,” Ras said, standing up from his stool and hobbling a few steps in my direction. It was weird these days to see him without his cane.
“It’s a long story,” I said.
“Get him some clothes,” Ras said to Jackie.
“Micah, he’s here,” Jackie said, her eyes on me while she leaned toward the phone. She looked Ras over, and with a nod, she left the room.
Micah’s voice chimed in again. “Is he all right?” He sounded exasperated, but not angry, which was unusual for him as far as I knew.
“Why are you scratching?” Ras finally came to my side and guided me to the couch, offering a seat with a bit of reluctance.
“I got a little dose of sun. No big deal probably,” I said. I hissed as I broke the skin on my forearm from scratching so hard. The hospital bracelet was tight now. I didn’t want to sit down.
“Jackie. Benadryl,” Ras called out. His eyebrows dipped in as he took my arm from me. “How long were you in the sun?” His eyes skimmed over the rash on my hip and leg and then to the other side of me, searching for more rash.
“A few seconds.”
Jackie came out with a pair of gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt. She shoved them into my hands and then started pouring benadryl tablets into her hand. “Take these. They’ll keep it from spreading.”
I had hardly unfolded the pants before she was trying to put the tablets straight into my mouth. I grabbed her by the wrist to stop her. “I got it, I got it.” I let her pour the handful of pills into my palm, maybe a dozen of them, and then I swallowed them two at a time. “This seems like a lot.”
Ras brought me a glass of water. “Better than not enough. You might get drowsy, but at least you won’t be dead.” Funny coming from the one who told everyone I died.
“Is he going to be all right?” Micah asked with more force than before.
“He’s gonna be fine,” Jackie said. I was glad she sounded confident about it.
I finished my pills and pulled on my clothes. The medicine didn’t help instantly, but since they seemed to know what they were talking about, I felt slightly better just for taking something. Very slightly.
“Laisellus,” Micah said, once things calmed down. “I’ve been discussing your situation with your brother, and we’ve decided—”
I scoffed. “You’re deciding things about my situation now? Oh wait. Not now. Since forever. Since I’m apparently dead and all.” I turned to Ras. “Is that why Mom never called me? Does she think I’m dead too?”
Ras frowned, and took too long to finally open his mouth to speak.
I waved my swollen hand at him and shook my head, turning to look back at the phone on the island. “So tell me, Micah. What did you decide for me this time? Do I get to come back from the dead? That sounds pretty fucking sweet.”
Micah sighed. “Your faked death was for your own good.”
“Any reason I couldn’t be in on that good thing I didn’t know anything about for twelve years?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Micah said. “It happened, and now you know. There are more important things to concern yourself with right now. The state police have managed to connect your case with an incident you’re suspect in from Northern California a few years ago. I have full control of how vampire crimes are handled in the City of Los Angeles, but only if the county and the state don’t claim jurisdiction. Even the county can be dealt with, but…”
“Micah hasn’t exactly rubbed the California State Police the right way,” Jackie filled in.
Micah fell quiet.
Ras sucked in a breath, and I spun to look at him. “No. You don’t get to say anything.” I waited to make sure he was going to stay silent, and then I looked at the phone one last time. “I’m not sure why they’d be after me. I’m the victim. I was the one who got shot. Jess—” I shut up, not wanting to incriminate her, though I worried I’d already said too much. “Look. It wasn’t me, and I haven’t done anything in North Cal anyway. They’ve got the wrong guy.”
“You partied in the Bay area. Probably someone you fed on?” Ras asked, his voice soft.
I scowled at him. “Whatever. I’m innocent, and the cops can eat my ass.” I hung up the phone on Micah. I faced Ras. “I don’t know why you think you can take over my life, but you’re done. Matthew left me because of you—”
“Exactly!” Ras stepped forward to interrupt, desperation once again in his voice and now in his pleading eyes. “If you want to talk about someone taking over your life, just look at Matthew. All that shit he did to you, and you worshipped the ground he walked on—”
“Because I loved him!” I screamed it so loud, the silence that came after hurt. All I could hear was my own ragged breathing and my heart still pumping furiously in my chest.
The phone rang. Probably Micah calling back. Nobody moved to answer it.
“He would have killed you,” Ras said. “Don’t think he won’t still try.”
I lifted my chin, fixing him with an incredulous half-smile. “He’s not the one who gave me a headstone.”
I did my best to blame my watery eyes on the reaction I was having to the sun or on the benadryl. I wiped my face on my good arm and checked out my bad one. Was I gonna die from sun exposure? Maybe it was a shame I hadn’t stood out there longer.
I stormed past Ras to the door and stopped after it was open to look at him. “Stop trying to help me.”
I slammed the door shut on my way out. The phone kept ringing.
It’s November aka National Novel Writing Month. So guess what I’m doing!
Youuu guessed it (probably)! I’m working on In Lieu of Underwear, a Vampire Story this month. I’ve been posting chapters monthly and therefore writing them monthly…And that’s a long time in between story bits for me so I can only imagine how frustrating it might be for the readers like you to have to wait! If I’m forgetting what I want to write next before I actually write it, then you’re probably at least forgetting what happened a month ago. I committed to one chapter a month because I knew I could manage that much writing, but I didn’t think about the complications so much time in between would cause. Not only is there a lot of forgetting going on, but it’s interfering with my other writing projects!
I thought by only writing/releasing one chapter per month, I would have plenty of time the rest of each month to commit to working on Destroying Eden. While this effort hasn’t been entirely fruitless, I do know that wanting to work on one when I feel I should be working on the other has the ultimate effect of allowing me to wind up working on neither! Yay perfectionsim! Yay anxiety! Yay the crippling pressure of no one but my own brain! 😀
So I’m committing myself to writing the rest of ILU in one month. I had never intended a story about Lai to be my first novel, but it looks like it’s going to be. I’m a little scared, but I am so so so excited!
If you haven’t seen it yet, I posted the newest chapter (Chapter 6!) of ILU on Halloween!
I’m a little undecided on what will happen after NaNoWriMo. I will need to revise the novel, perhaps more than usual because I won’t have been revising each chapter as I go the way that I do when releasing monthly. I don’t want to be too ambitious in my promises to you, but I also firmly believe that having written the entire novel should result in one of the following:
Ideally, I will continue to release chapters on a regular basis, but will release a complete book so those who want to finish it off can do so in a more binge-like fashion. We’ll see how revisions go.
Speaking of releasing new chapters, Chapter 7 is on deck, and I’m only going to make you wait until NEXT SATURDAY for it! It’s written, it needs a little more revision, but then it’s ready to go. Keep an eye out.
For now, I’ll leave you one ILU tidbit – Lai’s theme song.
He’s my…most precious baby, and he’s existed for a long time, for more than just this story. This song is just so fitting, and I hope one day you’ll be able to share in all of the reasons why.
Anything else you want to know about Lai? I’ve got a post coming up that could potentially fit some more bonus info about him into it, so if you have any questions I can answer, especially without spoiling things, let me know! Thanks for reading!
This story is updated monthly. You can be the first one to know when new chapters have been published.
“The best way to get what you want out of someone is to do whatever they want,” Matthew whispered to me. I didn’t realize at the time that Matthew was bestowing upon me his biggest secret.
It was 1990, and he stood behind me while I stared at the frat house door. What he said was some sort of last-minute, good luck wisdom for rushing Rho Theta Nu. I had put on a stupid, boxy suit my dad owned from the 80s, and I was not looking forward to trying to get guys way cooler than me to like me, even with Matthew, the president of the fraternity, on my side.
“I’m doing this for you, you know,” I said.
“And later you can have anything you want,” he purred softly. He kissed the back of my neck, and I flinched away, glancing around for onlookers. I didn’t want to let anyone know I was like that.
“Congrats, bro. You’re a Rho Theta Asshole now,” my brother said at the dinner table after a successful rush. He sat across from me while his girlfriend Alexis sat to my left, quietly eating from her bowl while maintaining a polite level of interest in our conversation.
I rolled my eyes at Ras and glanced at Alexis and her pretty blonde hair and tight fucking body, sitting next to me while I poked a spoon at my chili—the only thing Ras knew how to cook that tasted any good, and dinner that night was the last bits of a batch that had lasted a week.
“Your brother’s the one that nominated me. Or voted me in or whatever,” I said to Alexis.
“Just further proof the house is full of assholes,” Ras interjected. He shoveled three hefty spoonfuls of chili into his mouth in a row.
He was the cool guy back then. The one who was successful and smart and had luck in relationships. He was athletic and handsome and a fucking asshole.
“He’s not always an asshole,” Alexis defended, though with little conviction. She wiped her mouth with her napkin and then smiled at me. “I’m happy for you. When do you move out?”
:”I guess soon.” I hadn’t actually expected to make it in, but I suppose I’d committed myself already to Rho Theta Nu.
I pushed my glasses up my nose with a finger to the corner of the frames. They were thick and out-of-fashion, but I didn’t really care. I couldn’t see much without them. Ras got all the eyesight too. Son of a bitch.
Speaking of said bitch, she trudged into the room in her annoyingly small, rapid steps. Yet somehow every one seemed heavier than the last. Her light brown hair was pulled tight to her head with a tiny bun held in place in the back by black bobby pins. Her eyes were brown and bright despite the scowl on her face.
“Which one of you boys told your father you’d bring him orange juice? He’s been waiting 20 minutes.”
Ras jumped up. “Oh shit. Sorry, Mom.”
The way she visibly relaxed when she saw it was Ras who’d been the one to fuck up made me roll my eyes again. I dug back into my food, forcing myself to eat because if my mouth was full, I had an excuse not to answer when she inevitably turned her attention on me.
When Ras took off down the hall with Dad’s OJ, that’s when she struck. She tossed a dish towel over her shoulder, and even though I couldn’t see it, I could feel her looking me over with sharp eyes from her place across the kitchen.
“Your father’s lighter went missing. Have you seen it?”
I took my time, slurping chili off my spoon and taking a bite, slowly chewing, and then finally swallowing and wiping my mouth. “Nope.”
She stood quietly for a moment. “I thought you had a friend coming for dinner. What’s his name? Michael?”
“Matthew. And he didn’t want to eat chili. He’s a vegetarian.”
“I bet he’s skinny as a rail too,” she said in a huff. She turned to the sink and started on the dishes. “What does he like to eat? I’ll—”
The doorbell rang. I dropped my spoon into my bowl with a clank and jumped up to get the door, happy to put a wall between myself and my mother. Not much put a spring in my step back then. But Matthew did.
I opened the door with a smile, and Matthew, seeing my face, smiled back. Something inside me perforated, and I quickly filled up with the dopamine that poured out. It was all I could do to keep from telling him to smile at me forever. It was the only thing I wanted.
Matthew’s eyes found my unbuttoned collar. “Oh,” he said. “You took off your tie. After all that hard work I put into getting it on you.” The amused creases by his eyes let me know he was joking. He reached out and touched the collar. His face became a little more serious. “And you have a stain.”
“What?” I pulled my chin back as far as I could while he pulled the collar out in an attempt to show me the spot of chili on my white shirt. “Great.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He dragged his finger down to my first fastened shirt button and fiddled with it until it was undone. His eyes shimmered with mischief and he looked up at me from under his gorgeous lashes. He spoke softly, above a whisper. “It’s a good excuse to see you without a shirt.”
A lopsided smile plastered itself to my face. “Yeah?”
“So can I come in?”
I stepped aside quickly. “Yeah, yeah. Come on in.”
The living room was over-decorated with chickens, plaid, and white wicker in the form of various baskets full of ceramic eggs and the most uncomfortable matching set of sofas and tables that existed. The pendulum of the clock ticked in a pleasant rhythm over the entertainment center my mom had made me paint white last summer, insisting I needed to get “out of the house” after a girl had broken up with me.
“Somebody likes cocks,” Matthew said, poking the beak of a rooster statue on top of the stereo speaker.
I scoffed. “Don’t be gross. Come on. My room is this way.”
We had to walk through the kitchen to get to the hall that led back to my room. My mother shut off the sink when we stepped in. Ras was in the middle of clearing the table. He opened his mouth to speak, but his eyes fell on Matthew.
“What’s he doing here?” he asked.
Alexis stepped around the table and rescued my unfinished bowl from him. “Ras, they’re friends,” she said gently. She smiled at us both, and I melted all over again. I wasn’t crazy about everyone, but somehow I was in the room with the two people my body went craziest for.
“Hi, Matthew,” Alexis said. “How was Rush?”
“Fantastic. We have the best new edition so far,” he replied, clapping his hand on my shoulder.
“New addition? Lai, did you join a fraternity?” Mom stepped closer, and her voice wavered on the edge of hysterical. She looked him over with appraising eyes. With acid in her tone, she greeted him. “Hello, Matthew.”
“Mrs. Martire,” he said, sounding delighted as though it was a surprise to see her in her own kitchen. “It’s lovely to finally meet you. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it for dinner. It does smell delicious.”
“Apparently you wouldn’t have liked it anyhow,” she muttered.
She hadn’t always been that way. There was a time before Dad had cancer that she was all smiles, mostly fake ones, but that bitterness for the world stayed hidden behind them instead of on display. I liked her scowling better. I could respect the honesty even if we fought like rabid animals more often than not.
“Let me help you with the dishes,” Matthew said.
She shook her head. “Lai will do them. I’m going to go lie down and watch my programs with your father. Don’t be loud.” She said it to me and to Ras.
I stayed quiet until she was gone. But she came back. “It was nice to meet you, Matthew. Let Laisellus know what you like, and I’ll make it next week.” She said it more gently than she’d ever said anything to me. I stepped away to take my bowl back from Alexis and I took it to clean it up in the sink.
Ras and Alexis finished cleaning up and went back to the living room. Matthew stepped up next to me at the sink.
“You’re learning,” he said. He reached to take the bowl from me.
I pulled it away. “I’ll do it.”
He quietly appraised me for a few seconds, and I glanced over to look at his face. He was three inches shorter than me, and there was something electric in his gaze that made me need to look at his eyes, dark and beautiful, magnetic and daring. Confident. Sexy. Dangerous.
“You’re the reason I made it in,” I said, referring to the event earlier. “You told Adam to bid on me, didn’t you?”
He put on an easy grin. One that made me feel silly for doubting him. “I promised you it would be as genuine a process as possible, didn’t I? I’m not sure why you don’t want the help I can give, but this win was all on you. I swear it.” He took the bowl from me, this time successfully.
I let my mouth hang open, having trouble objecting to his help. “My mom told me to do it. She wouldn’t like me letting you help.”
He pressed a finger to my lips. My heart thumped in my throat like maybe it could bust out and kiss him the way I wanted to when he stood so close.
“Then she won’t find out,” he said. Matthew turned to the sink and helped me wash the rest of the dishes, and when we finished, I showed him to my room.
I hadn’t shown him sooner because I was embarrassed. My room was full of all the tell-tale signs of a nerd, Star Wars paraphernalia pretty much anywhere you looked, most of it vintage from seeing it and being obsessed with it when it first came out. The one thing Ras and I could really bond over, even to that day.
My other nerdy hobby was on display on my bedside table: an erotic novel with a very typical cover and a “Happy 20th Birthday” card signed “Mom and Dad” from that summer wedged into it to save my page. It was the only thing out of place, if you could call it that, as I maintained an immaculate living space, things put where they belonged, carpet vacuumed every other day, shelves and blinds dusted just as often, bed made, laundry cleaned and ironed and put away, and decor routinely rotated when I got tired of it (not that I could ever get tired of Star Wars).
I stepped into the middle of the room and did a slow spin with my arm out to show Matthew that… this was it. I had a full-size bed pressed into the corner, with the door and my dresser on the opposite long wall, and the closet on the opposite short wall, the window lining up with the center of my bed where I sometimes woke up from kicking it in my sleep.
Matthew shut the door on his way in and his face showed nothing but delight as he took in everything.
“Big room,” he said.
“Really? I always thought I could use a bigger one.” I had a lot of stuff.
“It’s twice the size of the room I grew up in. Though I did tend to have the whole house to myself, so I suppose it never bothered me.”
I took a seat on the edge of the bed, watching him as he wandered the room, carefully picking up Star Wars nick-nacks and examining them while he spoke. “So your mom and dad were never home?”
He glanced at me. “I never knew my father, and I’d wager my mother didn’t either.” He shrugged and set the X-wing back in its place, adjusting it until it sat in just the same position it had been in to begin with. “My mother regularly left me alone for a week at a time. She had more important things to do, I guess. I didn’t mind.”
“I’d love it if my mom left me alone for a whole week.”
He chuckled, and putting his hands into his pants pockets, he meandered toward me. Once he got to my side, Matthew sat on the bed next to me.
“So what do you want from me?” he asked, and when he saw my confusion he took my hand and continued. “I mean from earlier? When I said you could have anything. Have you thought about it?”
“Oh,” I said. I thought about it, looking at his face. “Not really.”
“Not at all?” Matthew tilted his head, and his eyes glanced over my lips. “I can make a few suggestions.”
He leaned toward me, and I thought he would stop to say something in a raspy, sultry voice, but instead, he kept going until his soft mouth caressed mine, slow like he always was until I finally got the courage to kiss him back. But this time, my parents were in the next room watching L.A. Law, and my heart beat my ribcage like a frantic marimba solo.
Matthew eased me onto my back, and climbed over me, legs on either side of my hips, to bend down and kiss me more. When my hands didn’t know where to go, he put them on his waist or his hips or his arms. When my glasses got in the way, he plucked them gently from my face and carefully set them on the table. When my shirt was in his way, he unbuttoned it and pushed it off my shoulders.
He unfastened my belt and reached his hand into my pants to caress the bulge in my underwear, and when I whimpered, he sat back with a huge smile. “Any ideas yet?”
“Maybe a few,” I said, my hands pushing up from his knees, across his thighs, to his hips.
“I’ll do all of them,” he said. “Anything you want. Even some of the things in this book.” He lifted my novel from the table, and I blushed.
“Shh. You’re not supposed to know I read that.”
“That bad, huh?”
He licked his lips, and with that cat-like smile, he slithered down to kiss me again, once, nipping at my lower lip. “If it makes you feel better, I can forget you read those novels. I can forget you can read at all.”
I snorted. “I’ll settle for…” It was hard to get myself to just say it, but I gathered up the courage. “A blowjob.”
“Predictable,” Matthew said. “Just one?”
“You can really only do one at a time, right?”
He laughed. “We’ll just play it by ear then.”
And that’s what we did. He let me blow my load in his mouth while I laid on the bed, and then a while later, I shushed him incessantly while I fucked him on his back. I froze when I heard people in the hall, but eventually, with some coaxing, I didn’t care anymore, at least not in that moment, and when we were done, we both faced the window, and I spooned him, unable to bring myself to request a reverse in cuddle positions.
In my hazy post-coital near-sleep, my thoughts wandered back to earlier that day, and what Matthew had said to me before Rush, and I found myself thinking: what did Matthew really want from me?