Monday, November 20, 2017


It's fair to say that I'm kind of obsessed with the Raina Kirkland series. Besides my children, I've never made anything so grand as this five book adventure. I want to stay in Raina's world.

I started writing the adventures of secondary characters. What happened when Raina, the narrator, wasn't around. When Nick was sent away after murdering two people, before coming back in book 3. And how Katie changed from meek child to bad ass between books 3 and 4. Books 2.5 and 3.5 respectively. But, I never finished them...

I wrote a screenplay for a television series pilot episode, and I submitted it to exactly one production company. They got back to me after 4 months and said, "If I changed some things I should resubmit it" but never said what those things were...I haven't submitted it to another company or changed anything yet...

Because I possess some artistic talent in the area of drawing and graphic design, I thought I could convert my novels into graphic novels, but...I don't know...

I've entertained the idea of writing a 6th book, but I'm sure Raina's story has been told pretty thoroughly. All the bad guys have been dealt with and all the surviving good guys have their happily ever afters. 

I have the fullest of plates at the moment. I'm currently looking for a new day job, while also trying to start a small business (Kickstarter) and write The Librarian, The Zombie Book 2 and hopefully an erotic novel. Maybe a time-traveling piece...You could say I'm kind of busy, but I really want Raina in my life. I'm just not sure which direction to go in. 

  • Novels 2.5 and 3.5
  • Television Series
  • Graphic Novel
  • 6th Book
What do you think?

Sunday, November 19, 2017


After years of planning and research and all that jazz, I'm going for it. I want to be a small business owner. I have so many ideas for a business, but I believe the most profitable is the kid's cafe. Ever since my daughter was born I've had this idea in my mind. When a kid's cafe opened in Lynnwood, Washington I really hated myself for not pursuing it before. But Lynnwood is so far away now. I need a play cafe in the Tacoma, Washington area and there just isn't anything like that around, so why not open one? I wanted to name it Rainy Day Cafe, but as a compromise with the husband, I named it Stay N' Play Cafe. 

My first plan of action is to do a Kickstarter

It took some time, but I made a video to promote the venture

After months of working the budget side, I've come up with the barest of bones financial goal to open the business ($18,000)

The cost includes rewards given to those who back us on Kickstarter.  

Most projects don't get by only on large backers, but mostly $15 to $30 backers. Well, in any case, the Kickstarter ends near the end of December. We will see. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


J.K. Rowlings said that she was inspired to write Harry Potter while she was riding a train. She imagined children on their way to a magical school and the plot developed from there.

Stephany Myers said she was inspired to write the first Twilight book one night as she laid awake in bed. She had an image of a man and woman together. The man wanted to devour the woman but he wouldn't let that happen because he also loved her. The rest of the plot developed from that point out.

Steven King said he wrote Dreamcatcher out of the idea that horrible things happen in the bathrooms all the time; diarrhea, heart attach, slips, vomiting...aliens tearing their way out of your ass while you're on the toilet. The rest evolved from that idea. 

Stories don't usually come to writers in their completion. They come bit by bit, flowing in the path of least resistance, like a river. It starts with an idea or picture you can't get out of your mind. For the Raina Kirkland Series, it started with the idea of a normal girl becoming a killer. For The Artist, it was the idea of a killer who used the human body as his clay. For The Zombie Book, it was about nerdy dorks surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.  

The idea is like an algebra equation. 

Idea + X = A story             Solve for X

Once the idea is solved there is no real rest until it's all written out, perfected and published.   

It's helpful and natural that once you start thinking about your idea, complimenting ideas come to the surface. For The Zombie Book,  it was the idea of a mom and young child surviving alone. Another idea that came up while researching human activity during war times was the ramped depravities humans are capable of; mass murder, raping, torture, cannibalism... This expands the equation.

Nerds & Zombies + Mom & Child + Depraved Humans = Story

How do these things connect? Find a starting point and follow the natural flow of events. 

So now I have the story's major components. Next, I compile goals to meet. Staying with The Zombie Book, I went into the story with some specific goals in mind. 

  • Bad Ass Mom (who else could keep their baby alive?)
  • I love me some Cannibalism (been obsessed since I was a child)
  • A Realistic Concept of Zombism (which meant a scientist who understood it)
  • A Realistic Survival method (the nerd's bunker)
The equation is coming into focus.

Nerds in bunker + Scientist + Bad Ass with Baby + Evil Cannibales + Zombies = Story

You want to start a story strong and pick your voice. If I were a man I might have started the story from one of the nerd's perspectives, but I'm a lady and a mom. The first part of the equation is in place.

Bad Ass Mom with Baby, fighting Zombies...+ Bring in the Nerds! + Set up for Evil Men & Science.

The story has begun. At this point, I had a rough outline from beginning to end, but everything was flexible and fluid and from point A to Z things changed depending on feelings and new ideas and information coming late in the game. Like in Dungeons and Dragons, the board is set, the players are in place and the rest is an adventure that surprises even the dungeon master at times. Roll the dice! 

Sunday, November 5, 2017


After finishing the Raina Kirkland Series in 2016, I quickly started plotting out two short story series. The first one was about serial killers in Seattle and the second book was about Zombies in the Olympic forest.

The serial killer series was published on New Year's Eve 2016.
The Artists is the beginning of a new serial killer series.

There are 35 active serial killers at any given time in the U.S.
There are 271 serial killer suspects currently on the FBI list.
Nearly 50% of serial killers kill for Enjoyment (thrill, lust, power)
The Average IQ of serial killers is 94.7 
90.8% of serial killers are Men, while only 9.2% are women

Carmen is a studious woman with a peculiar manner and odd interest in the criminal mind so you might imagine her delight when she finds herself in the middle of an FBI investigation into a serial killer, known as The Artist; a killer who literally turns his victims into works of art. It really is a dream come true...until it becomes a nightmare too real.

“The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination.” 

~ Richard Wright

The book has had 4 cover changes in the 11 months since it's release.

The first cover lasted less than 30 days. In that short time, I sold just 1 copy of the myself!

The second cover was a drawing I made for an adult coloring book I put together called Dark Whimsy. From the end of January 2017 until the end of June 2017. I sold only 6 more copies, 2 in February, 3 in March and 1 more in April. 

The third cover sold 0 copies between June and October!

Since this cover's release in October, I've sold just 1 copy. 

The second book in this series, The Librarian, is about 2 months away from being published.  

Published October 20th, 2017.
The Zombie Book

Erin is a single mom facing the Zombie Apocalypse alone until she chased by a horde of rotting corpses, into an adorkable group of bad ass zombie hunting, video gaming playing man-children and their sweet doting Gran Gran/ mad genius... 

But if Erin has learned anything from the end of the world, it's that humans are far scarier than any flesh-eating zombie. Deadlier too.

In the 16 days since The Zombie Book's release, I've sold 13 copies...

Because of these numbers, I'm actually considering putting off finishing The Librarian in favor of writing the sequel to The Zombie Book. Meanwhile, I'm trying to plot out an erotic fantasy novel to come out this coming Spring 2018. Thoughts? 

Monday, October 23, 2017


This will be the last chapter from Fatal Retribution that I will be posting here. I just published a novella aptly titled, The Zombie's about zombies. Now, I must delve deep into my next book, The Librarian, the end of the Serial Killer Series, which was supposed to be a three book series, (THE ARTIST, THE LIBRARIAN & THE RAVEN) but since only 7 people bought the first book, I don't want to waste more time on a book no one wants to read. However, I can't leave a story unfinished, so I'm combing the last two books into one. The covers below are linked to Amazon...


If you haven't read Chapter 1, PRESS HERE

Book 1
By Diana Graves

Copyright © 2011 Diana Graves
All rights reserved.
Book cover & format by Diana Graves,
Kindle Edition
License Statement
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of pure fiction.  Characters, places and incidents are creations of the author’s imagination, and any similarity to people, living or dead, businesses, events or places is purely coincidental.
To my family and friends, thank you.
Fatal Retribution
Mortal Sentry
Grave Omen
Deadly Encounters
Toxic Warrior
The Artist: The Serial Series Book 1
The Librarian: The Serial Series Book 2
The Zombie Book: Zombie Book 1

Adult Coloring Book: Dark Whimsy


I ARRIVED AT Bastion Fatal early.  I’d only been there once before, when Uncle Seth was directing a play, Anna in the Caribbean.  I’d never been to the Bastion on my own.  I was intimidated, to say the least.  Alicia offered to lie to her father so that she could come with me, but I was too mad at her to have her around.  She shouldn’t have to lie to be with me.  She was my best friend of fifteen years for Goddess sake!  We survived public schools together and college, and now that all meant nothing.
The Bastion was built half on land and half in Commencement Bay, with a large part of it under water.  It looked like an Indian palace, all gold, and white, with the water behind it.  The only entrance was through a gilded wrought iron gate, guarded by three humans.  I thought the guards’ uniforms were a bit odd.  They wore white and gold getups that looked like pajamas.  And, besides a slim red sword, the guards didn’t exactly possess intimidating guard gear either.  But, what they lacked in weapons and armor, they made up in numbers.  The place was lousy with them.  

The parking lot was full of both cars and people.  Some were just standing around in cliques; others were making their way toward the building like me.  It was warm for a summer night in Washington, and most of the women were wearing skimpy clothes that showed off a lot of skin.  I felt frumpy in my baggy jeans and flip-flops.  My hair was combed neat and short in the back, while the front was allowed to cascade over my shoulders long and red.
I didn’t mind the long walk through the massive parking lot.  The Bastion looked magnificent in the growing dark, with the bay in the background.  Most of the Bastion was painted white with red accents.  At the top was a huge glass dome, gilded and shining.  The marble steps that led to the large front doors were crowded by guards.  I had to squeeze my way through.  There were two more guards standing just inside the doors, like Wal-Mart greeters.
“Thank you for visiting Bastion Fatal.  Please refrain from going beyond the first two floors, as those are off-limits to guests.”  The guard smiled down at me with big white teeth and an excessive amount of eyeliner.
I entered the grand hall.  You would think the inside would be just as bright as the outside, but it was all plain dark marble walls, floors, and ceiling.  Small round lights in the ceiling provided spares lighting.  
“Excuse me?” I asked a guard standing at the entrance of a door along the hall.  Her dark hair was pulled back tight, leaving her face bare to the world.  All her features seemed too much; eyes too big, lips too plump, eyebrows too thick and dark.  
She didn’t move a muscle as I approached her.  She didn’t look at me, she simply replied, “Yes.”
The pamphlet didn’t have a room number, just the address of the collective’s compound. “Um, I’m here for the class taught by Damon.  The one for vampires and I was hoping you could—.”
“Down two floors,” the woman interrupted.
“So, it’s okay that I go beyond the first two floors?” I asked.  
“Yes,” she said with her eyes still staring straight ahead.  By looking at the other guards I knew standing still, eyes front was not a rule for them, which meant she probably took her job way too seriously.
“Do I need a pass or something?”
“No,” she said loudly and with an inflection that told me I was rubbing her the wrong way.
I began to walk away, but then I turned back to the guard.  “How will they know I’m going to class and not trespassing?” I asked, so not wanting to get in trouble in this place.
The guard looked down at me.  The weight of her stare made me hold my breath.  What big dark eyes coated in black makeup you have.  
“There are no other rooms being used two floors down due to construction, so that would be the only reason for anyone to be down there.  Normally that class is held on the first floor.  However, that space is being used for something else, due to construction.”  She gave me a stern look.  I backed away slowly.  The other guards seemed to be friendly and smiling.  Lucky me, I decided to talk with the one with a chip on her shoulder.  
I followed the plain black and white signs hanging from the ceiling that pointed the way to the elevator as I walked down the hall.  I found the elevator with a crowd of people hanging around it; most of the people weren’t human.  Don’t ask me how, but I could always tell if someone’s not one-hundred percent human.  The guards, all of them, were human.  But, most of the people standing around me were other things; witches, were-creatures, Sasquatch.  Well, it’s not so hard to tell Bigfoot from human.  Bigfoots are big, and if the size difference somehow escapes your notice, there’s always the thick fur jumpsuit and exposed genitalia.

The doors opened, and we all piled into the redwood box that was the elevator.  I didn’t like elevators because I didn’t like heights and elevators usually go up.  Thankfully, I was going down.  It was a big elevator, but I still managed to get squashed against the wall in the back.
“Floors?” someone shouted out from the front of the elevator.  People started shouting out numbers.  I waited until everyone was quiet before I said, “Two floors down!”  I didn’t think anyone could see me behind the two Bigfoots standing in front of me.
“Down is first!” announced the same voice.
I felt a pull when the elevator started moving, and I clutched at the bare wall, trying hard not to touch the people in front of me.  Why oh why don’t Bigfoots wear clothes?  
“Negative two!” shouted the voice.  
“Um, excuse me,” I said as I squeezed my way out of the elevator.  I didn’t look anyone in the face, just their feet, as I made my exit.
“Sorry. Excuse me. I’m so sorry,” I muttered until I nearly fell into the hall.  The doors closed behind me before I could apologize one more time.  
It was a part of Bastion Fatal I’d never been in, not that I’d been in much of it, mostly just the grand hall and auditorium.  The hall was empty, dark and all the doors were open or missing.  It was smaller than the grand hall, narrower.  As I walked down the hallway, past all the open dark rooms, I had that feeling of being watched that you get when there’s too much darkness surrounding you.  The lights in the hall were dim and unlike the marble walls on the first floor, this floor had thick old wood paneling and tapestries.  It looked better to me.  More sophisticated and warm.  There were carvings in the wood.  I walked up to one of the panels to get a closer look.  The carvings depicted creatures, vampires, and humans in various situations.  I ran my fingers over the dusty, cobwebbed walls.  I admired the care and talent that had gone into making them.  One carving was of a woman with long curls flowing in the night’s sky.  There was something familiar about her.  
“Beautiful,” I whispered.
“Yes, she was.”  It was a booming voice that cut through the empty hall and I jumped high and screamed—just a little.  
“Shit,” I spat.  I put my hand over my heart to calm it.  It didn’t work.
“Sorry,” said the silhouette of a man standing in the doorway of one of the rooms.  He appeared to be crossing his arms and leaning against the door’s frame, but there was no knowing for sure.  He was simply that dark.  The only thing that was clearly visible was his teeth, ultra white in contrast.  He stepped into the light of the hall and still he was a shadow of a man.  He was complete darkness, like a walking talking man made of tar, without the luster.  

“Are you here for the class?” asked the dark figure.  His voice had lost none of its boom.  Like Ruy’s deep masculine tone, it was unsettling but strangely alluring.
“Yes,” I admitted.  My voice quivered just a little, but enough to make me ashamed of myself.  I hated being afraid, probably more than I hated heights, and since I was afraid of heights that was all the more reason to avoid them.  
“You’re early,” he said.  He had no whites in his eyes, smooth black skin and short black hair.  He wore black on black clothes, shirt, slacks, shoes, and belt.  I stared at him for a moment longer than was polite, until I realized that this man was the silhouette from the pamphlet Tristan had given me yesterday.
“Are you—Damon?” I asked.
“Yes, you’re Raina?”
My heart jumped into my throat, “Um, yeah.  How did you know my name?”
Damon waved his hand as if he could shoo away my fright.  “Your uncle, Seth, told me to expect a witch-elf with the deepest darkest auburn hair I’d ever seen.  That’d be you,” he smiled, revealing warmth I wouldn’t have guessed would be there.  “You’re a living vampire?”  He came closer to me, and I almost took a step back but stopped myself.  
“That’s what they tell me.”
His dark face leaned in closer, too close for comfort.  He was in my bubble, but I didn’t back away.  At this distance, I should have been able to see his pores but I saw none.  His skin was smooth, smooth like glass.  There was no hair, no wrinkles.  In fact, if he stood still and kept his mouth shut there would be no telling him from a statue.
He sniffed the air around me.  “What are you?” he asked himself more than me, but before I could think of an answer that wasn’t sarcastic we were interrupted by the arrival of a noisy vamp.
“Yo, D!” shouted a vampire walking off the elevator.  He had smooth brown skin and eyes that revealed some distant elf relation.  He was wearing a hoody and a pair of light colored jeans.  
He walked right up into my bubble with Damon.  Does anyone here understand the concept of personal space?  
He smiled down at me.  “Hey, I’m Charley,” he said, and he offered me his hand.  I took it and found it cold and rough, but firm.
“I came early so you could help me with my problem,” he said, looking over my head, to the shadow man.  Damon nodded as if he knew what the vamp was talking about.
“Well, why don’t we step inside the classroom, and then we can talk, Charles,” Damon said, gesturing with an incline of his head.
The classroom was beautiful.  Like the hall, it was full of rich wood carvings and tapestries.  One wall was made of thick glass, a window looking out into the bay.  Right now the window was black with dark night waters.  I couldn’t imagine what it must look like during the day.  There were five long tables with plastic chairs, facing the chalkboard at the front of the class.  I sat at the first table and doodled on a pad of a paper, while Damon and Charley talked in hushed voices at the back of the classroom.  I could have heard them if I wanted to, but I had more integrity than that.

Once other people started arriving Charley sat down far from me, and Damon headed to the front of the class.  He wrote his name on the chalkboard and turned back to the class.
“Have a seat!” he shouted over what was now a room full of people. “My name is Damon, and before you all ask I’ll answer some common questions I get.  What am I?  My race is called Barguest.  What the hell is that?”  I heard giggling from behind me.  “It’s a little-known shapeshifter race.  My people commonly get mistaken for the black dog or death omen, which is part of the reason why Barguest is an endangered species.”
“Yeah, Yo, D needs to repopulate his peeps, so if any of you hot honeys want to save a species I can give you his number!” interrupted Charley.  
Several of the vampires around him gave him high fives and Damon smiled.  Charley and his pals sat away from the rest of the class, like a little gang of street-smart vamps.
Damon cleared his throat loudly, “If I can continue.  To combat some rumors you might hear.  I am not immortal, but barguests do live about five times that of a normal human, so about four hundred and fifty years, give or take a century or two.  We don’t drink blood or eat people.  We eat what you would eat.  Though, most of us are partial to vegetarianism.  It can be hard to eat something that you can shift into.  It feels too much like cannibalism.”  He looked out over the class and when his gaze ran over me I looked away.  His darkness was intimidating.  
“I see a few new faces today, and for those of you that are new, there is really no beginning to these classes.  I teach you seven rules to live by, two hours a night, five nights a week.  So, by attending seven classes in a row, you’ll have learned the tools a modern vampire needs in order to live in today’s America.  Usually, before and after class I’m free for personal advice, any questions you might have or a group discussion.  And, while I’m not a vampire, I have lived long enough among them and I have doctorate degrees in sociology, economics, politics, medicine, psychology, and theater.  Believe me, when you’ve lived as long as I have, you have time to remake yourself a few times over,” he added when many of my classmates made faces of astonishment.  I was one of them.  That was a lot of school.  Damn.
“So, without further ado, shall we begin tonight’s lessons?”
No one made a sound.  In fact, the room was deathly silent.  Charley and his gang of vamps were leaning forward over their table listening intently.  I found myself not immune to the appeal of what Damon might teach us.  The life of vampires was all mysterious and scary.  
“The first thing I want you to get out of your heads is that vampires are foreign and mysterious things you could never be, because if you’re in this class, you are either on your way to becoming a vampire, or you’re one already.  And, to live successfully as a vampire you need to admit to yourself that those vampires out there are just as much human and feeling as you are.”
Damon was a passionate teacher.  His voice was charging and his very presence demanded respect and obedience.  Our faces followed him about the room as he lectured.  I was almost mesmerized by the void of his dark skin, and the muscles that worked under it, and how he moved his arms when he made important points.  I had brought a pen and a notebook, but they sat on my desk with not a single note taken.  I could never write fast enough to keep up, why even bother?  

I noticed that many students had recording devices on the table in front of them.  Damn, what a good idea.  I would have to remember that next time and maybe repeat this class.
“Now that you understand that vampires are people and that becoming one doesn’t make you less of a human, I must tell you that this class isn’t a philosophy class.  I won’t be lecturing you about morals or anything of that nature.  If you want to throw around ideas after class, that’s great, but my class is about practical life as a vampire.  The belief in your innate goodness is essential to being a productive member of society.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is as philosophical as I will get during class hours.”
For the first hour of the class, he went on to explain the vampire’s economic place in America.  He handed out career placement quizzes to the class, at least, those of us who hadn’t taken this class before.  Apparently, many of his students simply came back for his good company and to hear his lectures.  There were only three of us that were completely new to the class, and there was one more that never took this particular class.  The quizzes were short and done quickly.  Once the quizzes were all taken, Damon gave us a ten-minute break while he evaluated them.  As we came back into class Damon handed us our quiz results and asked us to move the tables to the side and make a circle out of the chairs.
“Now,” he began, standing in the middle of the circle as we sat in the chairs.  “I want you all to go around the circle and introduce yourselves to each other.  I want names, interests and how you became a vampire or why you want to become a vampire.  If you feel comfortable sharing, go ahead and tell us about the quiz you just took.  If you’ve taken it before and you want to share your quiz or your current career, feel free to share.  You have thirty minutes, go!”
Squeezing through the circle, Damon walked back to the front of the class and sat behind an old oak desk, cluttered with papers and old knickknacks.  

“Okay,” said a girl wearing a powder blue sweater.  She had a real down to earth look to her.  She wore no makeup or jewelry that I could see.  She seemed utterly plain until she actually spoke.  “Let’s get it on, bull shitters!” she announced and half the class laughed, including me.  

You can buy the book for $3.99 PRESS HERE 

Saturday, October 14, 2017


If you haven't read Chapter 1, PRESS HERE

Book 1
By Diana Graves

Copyright © 2011 Diana Graves
All rights reserved.
Book cover & format by Diana Graves,
Kindle Edition
License Statement
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of pure fiction.  Characters, places and incidents are creations of the author’s imagination, and any similarity to people, living or dead, businesses, events or places is purely coincidental.
To my family and friends, thank you.
Fatal Retribution
Mortal Sentry
Grave Omen
Deadly Encounters
Toxic Warrior
The Artist: The Serial Series Book 1
The Librarian: The Serial Series Book 2
The Zombie Book: Zombie Book 1

Adult Coloring Book: Dark Whimsy


WHEN I GOT home it seemed like a good idea to escape into a book for a while, so I spent the rest of the day in my room reading a Wanda Winks novel.  My room was my sanctuary from the crazy hateful world outside.  With soothing green walls smothered with inspiring and artful photos and the pleasant aroma of vanilla incense heavy in the air.  Just sitting in it had an extraordinary calming effect on me.
I owned all of Wanda’s great works.  She was renowned for her many detailed adventures as a witch private detective, and for producing books thick enough to use as a short stool.  She died only five years ago and I was reading her last book.  It was written just months before her untimely death at the hands of her town’s local werewolf pack.  I was actually reading her last days on earth.  I didn’t understand at first how Wanda’s beloved local pack could ever attack her, but as I read on I discovered that she had been deeply in love with their wolf king, Raymond.  When she asked his favor another woman of the pack challenged her.  They set up the fight and there was a terrific battle.  Reading it made my heart race.  I gripped the book tightly, hanging on every word.  I tasted the pain and fear and my heart raced for it.  In the end, Wanda’s superior magic won out as it usually did.  However, when werewolves die they change back to their human form, and the werewolf in question had not been the woman who had challenged Wanda, but the wolf king’s own sister.  She had loved the woman who had challenged Wanda and had tricked Wanda into coming early.  She was in wolf form when Wanda arrived.  The two women looked identical in the wolf form.  Wanda had killed the sister of the man she loved, and the sister had died for the love of friendship.
Despite the king’s love for Wanda he sent orders out to his wolves.  Wanda imagined him standing in the den of the vampire stronghold, The Killing Castle of Detroit Michigan, “Kill her on sight!” he might have shouted out over a crowd of at least seventy werewolves.  
Right now in the book, Wanda’s hiding out.  Goddess, how scared she must have been.  I didn’t need to read the rest of the book to know how it ended.  Eventually, they must have found her because she disappeared.  All the police found of her were body parts, and when they put the pieces together they didn’t make a whole person.  The king was prosecuted for murder and sentenced.  He was given a MARK, mandated right to kill.  A MARK gives anyone the authority to kill the marked individual on sight for a sizable reward.  Any non-human can be marked, which wasn’t a terribly comforting thought.  
With Raymond marked, Wanda’s partner, Sen, had the pleasure of hunting down and killing him.  Sen hacked him into little bits with a silver sword.  It had been all over the media for months.  The headlines read, “Famous writer and detective eaten alive.  Partner brings murdering werewolf to justice with his blade.”  A Shakespearean romantic drama if ever there was one.

It was dark outside, and even though I had only a few more chapters to go, I needed to stop.  I needed a break finally.  I had read through Mom coming home.  She had called me for dinner but I declined it.  I could still hear the television, which meant Mom was awake.
“Hey, Mom,” I said as I walked into the living room.  The living room was spacious, and walking into it was like walking back in time to Victorian England—with a flat screen and a computer.  In the center of the room sat a long blue Victorian sofa, and a highly polished coffee table.  Sitting directly behind the sofa was an antique desk.  Mom was sitting on the sofa with a bowl of homemade mint ice cream and watching the local news.  She was wearing her gold nightgown.  Her hair was braided loosely and hanging over her shoulder.  She matched the d├ęcor, a classic beauty.
“I didn’t think you were coming out tonight,” she said without turning her head to see me standing behind her.
“I just needed to get out of my own life for a while.”
She nodded and I got the impression that she didn’t really hear me at all, that she really didn’t care.  “Are you going to be okay coming to work tomorrow?”
I plopped down beside her on the sofa and curled my feet into the throw pillows to warm them.  Snuggling in against her I said, “Yes, I’ll be okay.”
“I want you to tell me if it becomes too much for you, Ray.”  Her words were full of care but her eyes never left the TV.  I let it go.  Mom always seemed to be in her own little world.
“How was work?” I asked.  I didn’t care, but I wanted her to pay attention to me, more than she was.  I thought that if I made the conversation about her that she might show interest, but this tactic never worked before.  Why would it work now?
“Budgeting, sending out invoices and preparing for the shipment of the two giant mandrakes.  They arrive Tuesday morning and I’ve only finished one pot,” she said it with a spoon full of ice cream in her mouth, eyes on the TV and absolutely no interest.
“You should have let me come with you,” I said, always willing to give a full on conversation with my mom one more shot before giving up entirely and sitting like a zombie until bedtime.
She actually looked at me then and my eyes went wide with hope.  “You needed this day to yourself.  What kind of mother would I be if I asked my daughter to come to work the day after being attacked by a—.” She let the last part go inaudible and turned back to her TV program.  And, just like that, awkward regularity was back.
“Alicia and I will prepare the other pot tomorrow,” I assured her before I got up and made myself a plate of leftovers.  I sat back down with a freshly reheated plate of baked tofu and garlic bread with steamed veggies.
“What’s going on?” I questioned, motioning to the television with a mouth full of bread.  There was a young man being interviewed.  He had a dark tan, short brown hair, and perfectly straight big white teeth.  
“Oh, um, he’s part of a group of students who think they’ve found a way to manipulate the vampiric virus in some way.”  

I listened in on the interview.  The sun was in his eyes and the news camera was too close to his face.  It was a very unflattering shot.
“How close is your research team to creating your miracle cure?” asked the interviewer off camera.  The man listened to the interviewer with thin pursed lips and then nodded knowingly.
“We are very close to unraveling the mysteries of the vampire.  How does the disease alter almost every cell in the body; rewrite the DNA? Why does the body die but seemingly live at the same time?  We aren’t the first scientists to ask these questions, but we are the first to come this close to the answer, Stacy,” he said.  He looked at the unseen interviewer as if that had answered the question.  It didn’t…he should go into politics.  The camera moved from him to Stacy, a beautiful Asian woman with flowing sandy brown hair in an elegant red blouse.
“This has been a lovely interview with University of Washington grad student, Mark Press.  It’s been a privilege talking with you, Mark,” she said while shaking his hand before she turned back to the camera.  “Back to you, Steve.”
“Thanks, Stacy.  Well, that’s just fascinating isn’t it?”
“Oh shit!” I shouted as a thought came to mind.  Mom sat up straight and looked at me, “Nicholas!”
“Yeah,” she said, thoroughly uninterested as she relaxed back into her seat.  
“He’s being moved tonight.”
“He was moved.  Tristan called about an hour ago to tell me everything went fine.  He’s at Bastion Fatal, safe and sound.”
“Oh,” I said.  I sunk back into my seat.  If I had remembered sooner I would have been there when they moved him—maybe.  I cuddled into the throw pillows on the other side of the sofa and ate my dinner.


MY JOB AT the Natural Kitchen was in the plant nursery.  Though, my responsibilities were rather limited due to my black thumb in gardening.  I helped with the plants in small ways, like filling the pots and turning on the irrigation system.  You know, stuff where I didn’t actually have to touch the plants. So, why did my mom put me in the nursery if I’m so horrible with plants?  Because, I’m worse with people; easy to anger and quite unforgiving.
I was on a platform preparing the last pot for the shipment of mandrakes.  My gloved hands smelled like fertilizer because I’d been digging in it all morning.  I arched my back to stretch before bending back down to the ten-foot pot.  The mandrake’s roots look like humans, and they come in female and male form, but giant mandrakes are also human-sized, hence the twin ten-foot pots.
We needed the giant mandrakes for a recipe Mom had designed that required its leaf juice.  Mom demanded the freshest ingredients for her work, so ordering the juice alone wasn’t an option.  She loved her plants as well.  Mom will no doubt spend many hours singing to her new plants.  Sometimes I felt like she loved her plants more than her children.  
“Okay, I’m done!” I yelled down to Alicia, who was waiting at the bottom of the platform with a long watering hose.  
Alicia climbed up the platform vigorously, “Can you turn on the water?” she asked.  
I slid down the ladder like a pro and dashed to the water knob.  
“Okay, okay!” Alicia yelled down to me and I stopped turning the knob.

With our job almost done, I looked down at myself.  I was wearing old holey jeans and a pink undershirt, which I wouldn’t wear in public because it shows way too much cleavage and side boob.  The greenhouse that Mom and Fauna had built against the back of their shop was humid and hot, and eventually, I had to take off my cream colored top in spite of my poor choice in undershirt.  
“How did Mom get the other pot done yesterday?” I shook my head.  “I mean, there are two of us and we took the same amount of time as her?”
Alicia shrugged, “I don’t know.  Turn off the water.”  I did.
Alicia climbed down the ladder, wrapped up the hose and laid it on the floor.  “Lunch?” she asked.  “Or, would that be dinner?”
I looked up at the clock hanging over the door, which led to the storage room, and beyond that, the store.  We worked all day, straight through lunch.
“It’s about five.  I have some time before class.”
“You’re going to that vamp class, aren’t you?” she asked with bright eyes.
I smiled at her.  I was in a much better mood today.  I credited that to working.  It helped me get my mind off of everything that was going wrong.  
“You sound like you want to go.”
“Well, yeah, I mean, it’s held at the compound of Bastion Fatal!”
“Do you want to come with me?  I didn’t see anything on the pamphlet that said I couldn’t bring someone for support.”
“Yeah, I mean, I’ll have to ask my dad.”
“That means no.”  I couldn’t keep the disapproval out of my voice.  Alicia was a college graduate in her early twenties, and she still let her dad run her life.  “Your dad would never allow you to go anywhere near Bastion Fatal.”  
“Just let me call him.  You never know,” she said, before disappearing to the stockroom to use the phone.  It didn’t take long for her to come back with a frown on her face.
“Is an ‘I told you so,’ in order?”
She nodded.  “I can’t go, and I’m not coming to work—anymore,” Alicia said quietly.  I looked at her for a moment, unsure what she just said.  I replayed it in my mind.  She’s not coming to work anymore, as in never again.
“What, why?”
“I asked him if I could go with you to the Bastion.  He asked why, so I told him about your condition.”  She was turned away from me, so she didn’t see my immediate scowl.
“And let me guess.  He doesn’t want you around me?  He thinks I’m a worse person because I’m a living vampire!” I shouted.  “Or, maybe he thinks I’m not a person at all anymore!”  And just like that, all the fear I had bottled up inside came spilling out.  I didn’t want another reason for the world to hate me.  I didn’t want to lose one of the few people I loved.  I was glad Alicia wouldn’t look at me because I couldn’t help the tears streaming hot down my face.
“No, it’s just that he is afraid you might turn or something stupid like that.”  
“If that was meant to comfort me you failed miserably.  What difference does it make why I’m losing my only and best friend.”
“You’re not losing me.”  Alicia looked at me with pity in her eyes, and I had to look away.
“I have to lose my best friend and my soul all at once.  Is that it?” I shook my head.  “You don’t have to do what Daddy says anymore!” I shouted.  My voice had never sounded so fierce, so full of rage, so chilling.
She froze.  For the first time ever Alicia looked scared of me.  With her ogre temper, that was certainly a switch.  Looking at her damn near cowering before me, I wanted to apologize, but I couldn’t.  It’s not like me to admit fault easily.

Aunt Fauna slammed the stockroom door open.  She was short and full figured with black eyes and red hair that dragged on the floor.  
“Damn it, child, we have a business to run,” she said.
My mind was an inferno of outrage, but I smiled sweetly at my aunt. Through tight lips, I said, “I’m sorry.”
Her eyes were wary, but she nodded and left us alone without another word.  I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.  I was trying to let go of the rage, to cleanse it from my mind like I was taught in meditation. I imagined my anger as feathers clinging to my clothes.  I shook and the feathers and my anger fell from me, drifting out and away.
“Alicia,” I began to say but was interrupted by yelling.  It was coming from the front of the shop.  I looked at Alicia and she looked pissed.
“No!” Fauna screamed from inside the shop.  And on that note, we both ran through the door, through the storage room, and into the store.  
The store was small, with dark shelves against the walls and three long shelves running the length of the store.  The goods ranged from the freshly baked and brewed to the pricy exotic.  It was lit by many wall sconces made to look like torches, and long beautiful rugs ran down every aisle.  Normally customers quietly shopped while soft music played, but not today.  Today you couldn’t hear the music at all.  Today it was a madhouse.  Fauna was holding a woman away from a man, who was red with anger.  The woman kept yelling “I’m going to kill you!” over and over again as she squirmed in Fauna’s arms.  Other customers were fighting each other near the front of the store.
“What happened?” Alicia shouted angrily.  
Mom came around the corner with another customer in her sights, and her wand out.  The customer she was aiming for was beating a child ruthlessly.

“Everyone’s gone mad!” shouted Fauna, her own eyes looking a bit too wild.
Alicia ran for the customers fighting in the front and dove into their fight with punches flying freely.  
“Shit!” I yelled.  
Mom finally managed to get the customer away from the child, and had her wand pointed at the woman’s chin.  The kid wrapped himself around a man’s leg and started biting him!  I didn’t know what to do.  
I grabbed the little boy by his shirt and tried to pull him away.
“Stop!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, and everyone stopped and looked directly at me.  Some came around shelves so that they could see me.  They didn’t speak.  They just looked at me, long-faced and limp.  
Mom, Fauna and one man seemed to be the only people who were as perplexed as me about what just happened.  The man took advantage and punched the man he had been fighting square in the face.  “Jerk off!” he said, as the other man hit the floor.
“Mom?” I asked.  She was looking at me, her mouth open in shock.  “Mom what should I do?”
“What the hell’s going on!” shouted the man.
“Sir, we’re trying to figure that out,” said Fauna in a reassuring voice.
“Mom?” I was feeling restless under their stares.  
“Go to the back room,” Mom said between heavy breaths.
“Okay,” I said.  I slowly walked to the back room, though I kept my eyes on the people.  Once the door closed behind me I almost wanted to lock it.  I couldn’t get the picture of the zombies from Dawn of the Dead out of my head.  “Brains,” I imagined the customers chanting as they came through the door.
I sat on a box in the dark.  I could hear a lot of apologies from a lot of different people.  Eventually, the door opened wide, letting in light.  It was Mom who walked through.  She paced the storage room for a bit, her gorgeous blue robe trailing after each elegant movement.  
“How did that happen?” she eventually asked.
I looked down, searching for the right words.  “I don’t know.”  I just shook my head.  I couldn’t meet her eyes.
“No one seems to remember the fight, except for Fauna and one customer and myself.  His family wasn’t hurt so he’s willing to keep quiet for a sizable lifelong discount,” she said.  
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“You think this is your fault?” she asked softly, sitting on the box next to me.
“Maybe,” I said with my head in my hands.  I was almost in tears.  “I was angry, so angry, but I let it go.  I sent it out.”
“You’re an empath, Raina.  You sense emotion, you don’t create it in people,” Mom said, but she looked scared.
“But it felt like I did, create emotion I mean, in them.  Their anger felt like mine.”
Mom hugged me tightly, “Maybe you couldn’t tell the difference between what you were feeling and what they were feeling.”  I gave Mom a raised eyebrow.  Did she even know how empathy worked?  
“What if my empathic abilities have changed because of the vampirism?” I asked.
Mom looked sad.  “Maybe,” she said, but she didn’t look like she thought that could be the case at all.  “Just go to the vampire class tonight and ask the instructor.  You might feel better once you have some answers.  You never know.”  She clapped her hands on her legs.
“I don’t want to go alone, Mom.”
“You’re a witch, get used to being alone.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know.  It’s just something my mom told me once when I said something similar before heading to Mythos University.  I’ve been alone since your dad left, so I guess she was right.”
I didn’t agree with that.  Mom was alone because she wanted to be alone, because no man was ever good enough for her, or could take her ultra-feminist lifestyle.  I admired that about her, her unrelenting demand for just the right man.  I guess she learned her lesson with Dan. Never settle for less.  
We looked toward the door.  The talking had stopped, and all I could hear were light footsteps.  
“I guess Fauna closed shop for the day.  No matter, it’s five anyway.  Why don’t you go help your aunt clean up?”
“I’m so sorry, Mom.”  
“Whatever for?

CHAPTER 14 will be posted soon, or you can buy the book for $3.99 PRESS HERE