Did You Know…The Ningyo. How to Become an Immortal, Part One

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The ningyo are Japanese mermaids, but they’re different from the pretty, western versions many of us are used to. They’re often described as monkey-mouthed, half-human-half-fish creatures. And these poor things are famous for being eaten.

For good reason, their flesh is both tasty and leads to astonishingly long life.

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Now, Japan has some pretty weird shit in their waters, and the ningyo are no different. Catching them are believed to bring on storms and bad luck, so they’re often thrown back. And washing up on shore warns of oncoming war or disaster.

But of course, if one’s lucky enough to sample mermaid meat and get a taste of the ningyo, they’ll be rewarded with immortality. Seems like a storm or catastrophe is a small price to pay.

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Several fictional stories utilize this myth in their story-lines, like Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Forest or the Mermaid Saga, an anime/manga series that centers on Yuta who ate mermaid meat and lived for more than five-hundred years and searched for a cure to the more common side effects of this treat: death or becoming a damned creature known as a Lost Soul.

And its origins come from Yao Bikuni, a myth that depicts a young woman eating some after getting drunk at a party, and she stayed sixteen for over eight-hundred years before she became a nun and died in a cave.

Want to read more? Check out this link.

Guilty of Goal Goldbricking.

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Let’s talk about goals.

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I made a lot for this month, and I tried for the first half to keep on track, but as usual, I got caught up with life and my family, and now, I’m behind. A thousand-words-a-day behind.

But let me say something about goals and procrastination. The only thing that will keep me from finishing this is me. Getting behind doesn’t mean giving up, and I’m happy, frankly, that I’m getting anything done, as I’d let this story sit dormant for almost a year as other projects took over. I’m okay with the other three sitting and waiting for this one to get done, since it, too, will have to sit and wait to be edited afterwards.

Nanowrimo, for me, is designed to kick my rear back into action so that I can get my own creative work done because the rest of the year will be devoted to editing.

So, as long as I keep going, I’ll get my shit done and meet my goals.

Without the guilt of not getting it done sooner.

Are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo? Link me to your project below.

Not participating but still have massive goals to meet? Tell me about them and your tricks for staying on track.

Plan With Me: July & Quarterly Planning

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Summer is a time for big, creative goals. I focus on creation and new habits as the rest of the year is devoted to editing and publishing and grading…

So. here’s what I’m currently focusing on and how I’m keeping myself on track.

One of my favorite things about summer is that I don’t have a second job to get in my way of working out, which means I can up my workouts from two or three times a week to five or six. The problem is…I’m home all day…with all of that food I buy each week…

That’s why I implemented two spreads, my 21 Day Challenge, which incorporates four exercises I actually enjoy doing, and a longer plan for my workouts in hopes of creating variety and mixing up my normal heavy-lifting workouts with cardio programs and light weights.

I also have a special spread for July Camp NaNoWrioMo and my four major writing projects for the year. I’m actually working on the same project I started for last year’s NaNoWriMo, which got put on the back burner for the After the Happily Ever After anthology.

I’m excited to dig into each of these again, my snarky YA paranormal detective, Boden’s journey home, a fire story about Ria’s father, and the prequel to Loving Red. The last three are short, so I’m hoping I can tackle each one with enough vigor to get their first drafts complete, or near-complete. You can join my cabin, Transmundane Team, or simply wish me luck. I know I’ll need it.

Finally, I’ve updated my quarterly goals to be more beneficial to me as a whole rather than simply working towards a better business. Sometimes, I forget other things exist outside of publishing, and I really need to focus on family, my home, and personal development with a bit more cohesion than I have been.

And in case you were wondering what planning for the next three months looks like. Here’s a quick peek.

How do you plan? Set goals? Stay productive? Share your process and hopes with me. I’d love to cheer you on!

Want to see my entire set up? Check out my plan with me on YouTube.

 

Did You Know…About Phea and James?

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I know, this isn’t my normal DYK post, but I’ve been in a sharing mood.

I’m a fan of context and connections and deeper meanings, so this is from the author’s mouth…urm, fingers? You know what I mean.

Two of the oldest characters featured in my Broken World series, Phea and James have pasts locked together with violence, manipulation, and the struggle for power.

If you’ve read “Maiden of the Underworld,” you know about Phea’s beginning. But if you haven’t, let me give you a recap: Phea is the daughter of Chronos, the Primordial god of time and an Atlantean woman. She’s set against the twin gods of the Atlantean pantheon: Markandeya, the god of the underworld; and Jydios, the god of war. Without too many spoilers, she dies, becomes the first vampire, finds some romance, and makes some heart-breaking sacrifices. Hers is a tragic story.
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There’s much more I haven’t written about her past yet, like how she started the war between vampires and shifters because she was jealous of her son’s wife and family. Or how she’s the grandmother of all shifters. Unfortunately for the lot, blood ties don’t seem to curb her cruelty. She’s merciless.

How does James fit into this? Well, mini-spoiler: James is the reincarnated Jydios—the war god that tricked and murdered Phea to steal her power by using her love for him against her. Does that give her some more sympathy? Kinda, yeah. Does it undo the six-thousand-year-old torture she lays down on James? No, not really. It’s complicated.

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Jydios tortured and killed any demi-god who had the balls to visit his real godly temple. That’s more than two dozen sacrificed to feed his well of power. James knows this, the knowledge beaten into him by Phea, and he understands that he suffers for the dharma branded on his soul.

The two of them have been allies and adversaries at once. She was given a child that abandoned her, so Phea made James abandon his wife and child, taking their second from them before his birth. She claimed and refuses to release him, although she invites others to her bed to test his faith and force him to fight for her. He fights to survive and does her bidding because he has no other choice.

He really doesn’t. Because Phea’s powers were bestowed on her from the higher pantheons, she can control him just enough to disable his uprising, but he doesn’t make it easy on her.
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Especially now, he’s played his trump card, and they both have limited time to put their warring plans in motion to see who really controls their kingdom.

So there it is, some Broken World history. Want to read their story? Got some unanswered questions? Let me know!

In the meantime, I’ve got four full novels and three short stories in the world. Take a look and catch up in time for the upcoming stories featuring Ria’s father, Aderyn Tanguy, and Boden’s trip home to see his family for the first time in better part of a millennia.

Reading as an Editor

I am doomed. I can’t seem to finish reading most of the books I pick up. I can’t do it. And I used to read between fifty and one hundred books a year. Last year, I started thirty and completed four.

I get shit sometimes for reading multiple books at once. But I’ve always had the belief that all books require a certain attitude or mood. So, I’ll start something that speaks to me, and if I can’t struggle past the first few chapters, I’ll put it down for another time.  Once, I finished a book four years later, sporadically struggling through a few chapters at a time. As it turns out, the book developed into quite the story by the end. The last seventy-five pages flew by, and I was glad to stick it out.

The majority aren’t so lucky, and I often wonder what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I read?

Then, those books come along that sucker punch you right in the kidneys. The Hunger Games was one. Divergent was another. The Testing, Cinder, The Clockwork Scarab, and Feed, etc. They have a rather distinct theme—young adult, satirical, dystopian fiction. This is my brightest of geek buttons, and if I ever decide to go for my PhD, this is what my dissertation will focus on. Ask me for a book to read, and most of them will be in this niche. Just saying.

Anyways, the reason for the massive DNF pile is my equally large list of pet peeves: dialogue tags and adverbs—especially together—passive voice, vague words, and missing Oxford commas. Believe me, the list is rather extensive.
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Instead of wallowing on this inability to read, I need to learn to focus on those moments when a writer can capture me despite the faults I might find in their style or grammar—ones that remind me that my voice is not the only voice—ones that make me throw away my editing pencil for the cats to play with and feel the adrenaline of being surprised by a story.

I had two of those moments this year, and I’m concerned that it’s already June…maybe the two-day train ride without my laptop will help.

Anyways, the first was Red Queen, which I’m almost finished with and will review soon. Man, this had character and a world I’m not used to seeing. A mix of mutants, future dystopia, and a medieval system. Plus that snarky, quick-witted, and rebellious female lead that I love all too much. *Coughs* Ria*Coughs.* Since I first wrote about this in my March newsletter, I’m still almost done with the novel. I ran out of steam again, and I don’t know why, but I’ll get there.

The second book that gripped me probably harder than a book has in the last few years was Like Clockwork, and I had the privilege of publishing this novella. Before you know it, this story has its nails in you, and it drags you, stumbling behind, until the very last word. And by the way, I read the story at least seven times, and the layers Ali needed to deliver the blow that he does grew more and more complex with each read. He truly did a brilliant job.

So, tell me, do you read more than one book at a time? How do you overcome reader’s block?

Did You Know…About Ria’s Meditation Techniques?

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From early on in the Blood Phoenix stories, we watch Ria use meditation to deal with her newly acquired vampirism. She uses her chakras and focus to keep from killing her victims and controlling her visionary powers in Rebirth. In Claimed, she learns to stack them to tap into her powers and defend herself. With practice, she uses them to heal her mind and deal with her PTSD in Imprinted.

Here’s a little background information and the techniques she uses.

Meditation with chakras allows one to strengthen the connection between body and mind, to build on each chakra, and to tune intent and energy to create ultimate focus.

The six physical chakras stack like a pyramid:

chakra pyramid

The base is dense, heavy, and difficult to change as it represents strength and stability, opposite in nature from the tip, the sixth chakra is easily changeable, light, and airy. The seventh chakra, at the crown of the skull, is our connection from the body to consciousness.

Stacking chakras through meditation, as Ria does, means visualizing and stimulating each chakra from the root through the navel, chest, throat, and forehead to the crown. As each grows balanced, one gains a better feel for the world around them, relating to it physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Ria often imagines the process as wrapping a suit of armor around herself, and the regular activation lends to her advanced healing and controlling the excess of energy feeding her wild abilities, essentially caging in the feral chaos she holds onto—more to come on this later.

The other techniques Ria uses in the books are not as elaborate, so a brief overview will do.

Flames—this was the first technique I used when I learned about meditation in college. This takes on a variety of starting points, staring into a real flame, creating an imaginary flame in the mind, and building a shrine either physically or mentally, that allows a person to add means of reaching into our consciousness.

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Focus/Re-Focus—this is one I learned of through my husband. When clearing one’s mind, we must allow the noise in our heads to have their say before they can give us any peace. This is what he does, calling up his worries, filing them if important, and swatting them away if he lacks control to change them. Similar techniques relate to the effort it takes to shoo away that random, chattering noise in the mind (at least in my mind). For Ria, this means dealing with her survival’s guilt after killing another renegade vampire.

The vitarka mudra—this hand gesture is commonly seen in Buddha statues as the sign of enlightenment. The term vitarka in Sanskrit means reasoning, consideration or deliberation, and mudra means closure, mark, or seal. Together, vitarka mudra is the gesture of debate. In yogic practices, the mudra aids in controlling the flow of energy and unblocks chakras.  Ria uses a variation of the mudra by touching both the index and middle fingers to the thumb, symbolizing compassion. When she uses it, she’s honing her powers in attempts to keep others from harm.

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Got questions about these techniques? Leave them in the comments below.

Want to know more about Ria? Check out the Blood Phoenix novels here.

Polyamorous Relationships & Urban Fantasy

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Ria has three men in her life, and I know a lot of readers are over the love triangle—or square in this case. I know people are going to react to this. In fact, a reviewer already has: How can Ria love more than one man at the same time? Here’s a disclaimer, the Blood Phoenix mini-series is not a romance. It’s more of a sexy horror/urban fantasy.

Well, let me try to explain this fictional set up and why it reflects a bit of my life and beliefs.

One of my major influences, Laurell K. Hamilton, talks about polyamory in several blog posts and interviews. In fact, here’s a quote from her in a 2015 interview:

“Even in the LGBT community, polyamory and bisexuality are not totally accepted. They are both seen as a way of not committing to one sexuality, or one person, even among those who you would think would be the most accepting. Most people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are very invested in the ideal of finding the love of their life and living happily ever after. It works for some people, but happily ever after is from fairy tales, which are bedtime stories for kids. Why does everyone try to fit real world love into a model from children’s stories? Shouldn’t true love be able to grow up, at last?”

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Over the last year, I’ve written, read, edited, and presented over fairy tales and gender roles and societal influences, etc. Her quote fits for my recent state of mind. I highly believe we can love more than one person at a time, and most of us do. We love our significant others, our parents, our siblings, our children, and our friends. Each love is different, even if they’re the same “type” of love.

I feel as though I try to get into the intricacies that comes with polyamorous relationships—as with every relationship, the variables apply to the people involved—that I’ll just say that having multiple partners—sexual or not—can be done in a healthy and respectable way. So long as honesty and open communication exists, more love can only lead to positive outcomes. The same is true with couples.

I’m in favor of combating pre-designated ideas about human behavior. Love who you love and fuck everyone else. It’s none of their business, anyways.

Okay, with that in mind, let me elaborate on Ria’s men and her need for all three. I’ve been told that they could be combined into one or two at most.

They can’t. Maybe this is an author pout, the characters are real to me, and I cannot eliminate one out of the selfish attachment to them. Maybe.

Or they represent the three versions of my husband. Without spilling too much personal information about him, Jason, I will say that the combination of his high intellect, his enormous vault of experiences, and the effects of twenty-six months of extremely active combat in Afghanistan, I don’t always know which version of him I will get on any given day: the surly sergeant determined to fix the corruption of his government—aka James; the needy, silly, goofball that spends a lot of time entertaining himself and causing mischief—aka Boden; or the lonely, sullen man in need of affection and fighting a mouthy, combative female he’s meant to take care of—aka Gene.

The three have a bit of overlap, but they’re distinct enough to make them different people. Besides, Ria needs all the help she can get, and each supports her in different ways as she adapts for each of them.

In any case, my novels are meant to be satirical, poking fun at the tropes of my genre(s), like the ever-popular and overly-used love triangle.

Got a trope you wish more authors used, eliminated, or adapted? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Plan With Me: June. Let’s Try This Again.

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Hello, lovelies!

Sorry for the duplicate post, but the links didn’t work in the email. So, round two, let’s try this again.

I’ve been slowly integrating some planning elements into my blog posts. You’ve seen my bullet journal(s) for my projects and some of my doodles, but I don’t think I’ve revealed just how deeply obsessed I am with my bullet journal.

I am equally as obsessed with watching how others utilize their planners and journals, aka my YouTube history is littered with plan with me videos.

I’ve finally filmed my own, and here are my highlights.

PLan With Me June Cover

First, this my month at a glance. On one side, I have my appointments and dates—as you can see, I don’t have a ton of them, but it’s nice to have a place to jot them down when they do come up and to see when birthdays are and if I have a promo (something I try to do every month to some degree). I might also use it for delivery dates to track packages as we need to open our gate for deliveries. It’s the first time I’m using this in my bullet journal, so we’ll see how it works.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the top is a small section for future appointments that I can take with me when I plan my next month.

Down the right side of the page, I have a habit tracker. I smashed these together because I didn’t want to waste a lot of space for either of these spreads. I’d used the bigger habit tracker when I first started bullet journaling over a year ago, and I put my spin on it for a few months before it became too much. I’d forget to look at it and fill it out, and quite frankly, it wasn’t making me feel guilty enough for not getting things done that I needed to—especially self-care items.

This version hits some of the same things that my creativity calendar does and my weekly spread does, but I wanted the overall representation of how I’ve improved and if I’m staying on track. Now that I’ve gotten a handle on my social media schedule, I hope this will remind me that I am actually getting shit done.

On the left is my Week Of…spread that I got from Boho Berry and Lisa Jacobs. I tweaked it a little to fit my overall aesthetic and put my major goals down the left, and my weeks on the right. Each holds tasks that I need to complete in order to achieve project goals. I’ve found this really helpful, even when I don’t cross everything off. (Let’s be honest, not many sane people like to pile to-do’s on themselves like I do).

At the bottom of the spread, I listed my main monthly goals. I used to have a full page spread for this, but I noticed a lot of repetition in my Week Of spread and my goals spread, so I smashed them together to test it out. I’m hoping that this means I can cross more off and, once again, not overload myself, which often leads to less productivity.

I’ve posted about this next one in passing before. This is my creativity calendar. I plan out when I need to post what and where it needs shared. If you think it looks full now, wait until I put my #WritingCommunityChallenge posts in there for Instagram and facebook. Fun times.

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Next, I have a page for my mood mandala. It’s not much to look at now, so here’s a picture of this month so far, so you can see what it’ll look like.

This next spread is also new to me, it’s simply to track one line a day of my life, diary style. I’ve found this helpful in my dailies, but when I mark major notes, it’s nice to have them in one place.

The last monthly spread I have is new as well. Essentially, I hope to track my husband’s moods with more intent to look for patterns with his bipolar and undiagnosed PTSD. I show off my community challenge spread and my weekly in my YouTube Plan With Me companion.

Let me know if you have questions about bullet journaling, planning, and the writing/publishing process. Or personal shit, I answer those sometimes, too.

Interview with Tahe Love: The Battle Buddy.

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Welcome, Tahe Love, full of sass, crass, and class.

That’s me, chica.

 

I hear you once met Nikola Tesla, can you tell us about that?

It was brief. He shook my hand and looked me in the eyes. The intellect and general good in him astonished me. I’d probably have bent over for him there if he’d asked me to, even though I wasn’t into the mustache.
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Sorry, sista. I tell it how it is.

 

I heard you dabbled in magic. Can you tell me about your time as a magician’s assistant?

I loved magic and sleight of hand. There was this young bloke, charming as shit, good at misdirection, and good with his hands. I saw him perform on the street one night and took him to an alley for a little nibble. Impressed him when I stole the cash he’d made from the show right out of his pocket. So we did a lot of disappearing assistant acts. Didn’t get anywhere, and his obsession got dark, confinement and danger, and I ain’t gonna watch a good man descend like that. Watch him kill himself. No thanks.

 

Which trick was your favorite?

He taught me how to fling cards, which he’d cut with his double-sided dagger. We got some speed on that trick. Got noticed for it, too. That’s when shit went wrong.

 

I also heard that you’re a bit of a car nut.

I love what industry has done to them, well before all of the electronic controls. The ignition system though in the early 1900s, those were brilliant because the hand cranks were monsters. But people don’t know their cars now, all those automatic regulators get in the way. I enjoyed getting to know my car, its quirks, its parts, its language.

 

What was the first car you stole?

A Cadillac Roadster Type 61 in 1922.

 

Can you tell me about how you and Julia met?

I was hanging out at a biker bar, cheating a few big guys at pool and hitting on their ladies. I felt her watching me, and when she challenged me to a game, I let her take the first shot, and she swept the game. Cost me five hundred dollars and a round of beers. Worth every penny.

 

What can you tell us about Julia?

She was a rare kind of human. Ain’t a lot of them out there that have such open minds, that don’t judge or react out of fear. That made her a hell of a lot of fun to pull shit with. Besides, she had an imagination, especially in bed. I’m a dog without a bone, if you catch me.

 

I do.

Figured you would.

 

What was it like to have a man as a mentor?

I think that’s a story for another time, sweet cakes.

 

Thanks for spending some time with me, Tahe.

You got it. Anytime.

 

Interested in learning more about her story? Click here!

Super Dork Reading, an excerpt from Blood Phoenix: Imprinted

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In all of my dorky awkwardness, I recorded myself reading a chapter from my new book, Blood Phoenix: Imprinted. Watch until the end and get an extra 45 seconds of bloopers.

If you want to read along, I’ve posted the chapter below.

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

Gene’s blade slammed against my own, the movement jarring vibrations down my arms and chattering my teeth. The sword in my hand felt like I wielded a skyscraper as a weapon. I took two steps back, wiping sweat from my lip, my other arm lowering in the process.

He advanced, and I twisted out of the way, throwing my sword down so that it stuck straight up in the dirt, swaying slightly. “I need a break.”

“You don’t get a break in battle.” Yet he stopped, gaze narrowing at how I discarded my weapon.

“Well, I’m done. Since this is practice, I’m taking five. My arms are about to fall off.” How likely would I use a sword in a fight anyways? Was I traveling back in time?

“A great number of us still use old-fashioned weapons to fight each other. Guns are useful against fae and bosex on a small scale, but most of them move faster than a bullet, as I’m sure you already know.”

I did; both Boden and I caught a bullet each before I arrived at Boot Camp.

“And you also know how conventional we can be. Stakes, swords, silver.” He gestured to my side where I’d been staked by a lion in a dark alleyway.

“Never seen anyone wielding a sword or a mace or even nunchucks, except for maybe Bruce Lee.”

The way Gene smiled made me suspect he’d watched his share of martial-arts films. I dated a boy once who loved Bruce Lee, part of the reason I took kickboxing as a self-defense class. That man could fight.

“You haven’t encountered many of us yet. Give it time.”

“Time’s what people keep telling me I’ve got.” I shook out the tired in my limbs and reached for the sword again. “So long as I survive being claimed.”

He gave me a pointed look, but let the amusement softened the small wrinkles around his eyes. His sword swung up to the ready again, and I yanked mine from the dirt.

Giant imaginary spiders clambered along my spine, freezing the sweat to my skin. Felix walked out into empty meadow with Adelina, Julia in tow behind them both. His hair styled in his signature faux hawk, pointed and threatening. They stopped where we could observe them from our little opening in the trees.

Cheeks sunken further than the other morning when I saw her last, Julia stood compliant between them. Felix gestured for her to put her hands up.

She did.

“Advance,” he said, the same way Adelina trained me.

Julia jerked forward, swinging at the female warrior. Adelina blocked the advance with ease and hooked Julia in the cheek, sending her staggering back.

“Again.” Felix circled around her, like a predator.

She started her swing with the twist of her hips, but faked and jumped out of the way before Adelina struck. Felix pushed her into the fight and his partner’s kick, making contact in her stomach and sending her breath wheezing out of her.

“Don’t be a coward.”

My heart ramped up, repulsed by their training. She’d made the right move, anticipating her opponent’s blows. They weren’t helping her.

“Get up.”

Adelina smiled, sharp white against her tan, almost as demented as Felix’s. They were made for each other.

That wasn’t good for Julia.

She straightened, hands up in defense.

Gene’s grip found my shoulder, and I didn’t realize I’d stepped forward.

“Get me,” Adelina said. Laughing. Taunting her.

Fear showed in her posture, shoulders angled in, elbows protecting her ribs. Hesitation shifted her, tipping them off to her attack before she made it. As soon as her arm cleared her side, Adelina kidney punched her, crossed, and sprawled Julia on the grass.

I shot forward, ready to kick some common courtesy into Adelina or Felix or both.

Gene pulled me back, swinging me around so that I couldn’t see them fight anymore.

“No,” I said, my voice squabbled out. “No. I need to help her.”

“You have to choose your battles.”

Another three whacks sounded against flesh, and a soft noise emitted from Julia before she thudded to the ground again.

I twisted in Gene’s arms harder. I wanted to kill Felix, knock out his fangs and make him eat them; slice him from his sternum to his pelvis and gut him like the pig he was.

I caught a glimpse of Julia as she struggled to stand on shaky limbs.

Gene grabbed either side of my face, shoving images at me as quickly as I could swat them away. Bent close to me, he blocked my view of everything else. “If you don’t calm down, you will start something that I will have to finish.”

“How can you let this happen?”

“Because they’re not breaking any of the rules.”

Cobalt blue overtook my sight.

“Pick up your sword. Move to the gym. Now.”

Sucking in a breath, I grit my teeth.

Whack. Slap. Whack. Thud.

His thumbs pinched my chin as I sought out Julia again.

God damn it.

Spun on my heel, I grabbed my things and stormed off toward the squat building at the end of the semi-circle and the storage closet next to the room we trained in. I replaced my weapons in their allotted spots, hand convulsing around the handle a few times.

I turned on Gene. “Why won’t you let me help her?”

Reaching in beyond me, he replaced his sword and spread his fingers between my shoulder blades. “Do you remember how hard fighting Harris was? A renegade vampire not even two weeks younger than you.”

Instead of revving me up, my rage pacified me. I nearly died. How could I forget that? “Yes.”

“So what makes you think you can take down two vampires that are much older and much stronger than you? In front of the rest of the facility at that. Do you believe the others would merely stand there and watch? Especially when you take on one of Phea’s favorites for actions that do not break any rules. What do you think would happen to you? Do you think you would win? That you’d merely be beating down? That they wouldn’t kill you right in front of me? Because they would have the right if you interfere.”

“I could beat them if I used all of my abilities. My flames. Wind. Earth. Visions. I have more than enough to do that.”

“To what end?” Gene grew larger, protective. “To save one woman. A woman you don’t even know.”

“To save an innocent being from what will only amount to torture and rape before long.” Emotion, such a mix of hatred, despair, and helplessness, strained my voice. “It doesn’t matter if I know her or not. And you should know that.”

I wanted to tell him how he didn’t understand because he wasn’t a woman, but I couldn’t. He did know. Adelina had done this to him and worse—made him fight her before she raped him. And no one helped him.

Swallowing past the pain in my chest, I gently touched his tie. “So, I’ll ask again. Why don’t you want me to help her?”

His pause cracked my righteous foundation.

And he whispered, “Because I don’t want to lose you.”

Interested in seeing more? Check out my last post’s teasers. Also, here’s a few excerpts: Chapter Ten & Chapter Eleven.