It’s always a blast when Sweetblood series author Laurie London stops by, and when she’s giving her trademark scary and sexy take on alien abduction urban fantasy stories, it’s even better. If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, you can start with the novella in A VAMPIRE FOR CHRISTMAS, the anthology from Laurie London, Alexis Morgan, Michele Hauf and Caridad Piniero (available now from Harlequin). Laurie is also giving away a signed copy of the most recent Sweetblood book, EMBRACED BY BLOOD. See details below.
Click to see the Spooky Legends Master List with links to all the previous posts and giveaways
Alien Abduction, Sweetblood Style
Thanks, Abigail, for inviting me on today as part of the Spooky Legends feature. Telling and listening to spooky stories, sneaking into graveyards at midnight, visiting haunted houses—all were big parts of my childhood, and as an adult, I’m still strangely fascinated by the unknown.
The following story is told from the point of view of Tracker agent Kip Castile, a secondary character in Embraced By Blood, book two in the Sweetblood series. Something terrible occurred in that book and he’s dealing with the aftermath here. He also makes an appearance in the third book, Tempted By Blood, coming out in March.
With his back hunched against the wind, Kip Castile jogged across the street to the coffee shop, careful not to shadow-move in the darkness. In case anyone was watching him, he needed to appear human. The bell over the door tinkled benignly as he opened it, but the scent of Sweet hit him like a blow to the head.
He hesitated, almost turned around.
The cloying scent wasn’t as diluted by the strong smell of espresso as he had hoped—his gums ached as his fangs threatened to emerge. Damn. Maybe he’d made a mistake in coming here. But then, he didn’t think this was going to be a cakewalk either.
“Close the door,” someone said. “You’re letting all the cold air in.”
Keeping his head down, Kip entered the coffee shop, threaded his way through the tables to the barista and ordered a drink. As the espresso machine hissed loudly, he scanned the small group of people sitting in various mismatched chairs around the fireplace.
If his shrink knew he was purposely in the vicinity of a couple of sweetbloods, she’d have him committed again, saying he obviously couldn’t be trusted yet. Which meant he’d be locked up in one of the treatment rooms at Region headquarters, forced into daily therapy sessions where he’d have to bare his soul to a bunch of idiot strangers, and the guys he worked with—Guardians and his Tracker trainer, Lily, who were sworn to protect humans, as he was—would again feel sorry for him. Their expressions of sympathy would make him want to shove his fist through a concrete wall over and over until every bone was broken.
He flexed his fingers at the memory. Been there. Done that. It sure as hell wasn’t going to happen again.
And yet, here he was, the last place on the planet he should be, playing with fire.
But he had to come. He wanted to see things for himself.
After paying, he grabbed the oversized mug from the bar and found a place near the back where handbills and ads were stapled to the bright yellow wall. It was as far away as he could get. He dumped in a healthy splash of whiskey from the flask he kept in his pocket and took a big swig. It went down smoothly, calming his frayed nerves. Screw his doctors who told him he shouldn’t self-medicate.
As he licked the foam from his lip, a willowy young woman stood and approached the front of the room. His heart quickened. It was her.
She looked good. Better than he’d hoped actually, especially considering the last time he saw her. But he didn’t dare relax now.
“Thanks, everyone, for coming to this meet-up.” She brushed a strand of dark hair from her face. “I had no idea when I posted the message online that there were so many people in Seattle who’d had personal experiences with alien abductions.”
Kip glanced around the room again. How many of them actually had something happen to them? For sure, the two sweetbloods who were here, but everyone else? He hadn’t detected any other desirable blood types. But then sweetblood, being the rarest human blood type and highly addictive to vampires, could be drowning out the scent of the others. At one time, he’d been a pretty decent Tracker, able to single out the subtlest of scents, but now…
A few of them murmured, nodded their heads in response to the woman, and Kip took another drink.
“Let’s start with introductions,” she said. “I’ll go first. My name is Elisabeth. A few months ago, I disappeared from my life. The last thing I remember was heading out to my car after work. It was darker than normal because the lights in the back of the building were off. Next thing I know, I’m waking up at my house, stunned to learn that almost a week had passed. My houseplants had wilted, mail was piled up in my mailbox, and my neighbors were threatening to turn me in to animal control because they thought I’d abandoned my cat.”
A young man up front was nodding his head. Kip was pretty certain he was the other sweetblood.
Elisabeth continued. “I have a vague sense that something bad happened to me during the time I was gone, but that’s it. The rest is just a blank. As crazy as it sounds, the only thing I can think of is that I was abducted by aliens.” She held her palms out. “Do any of you have similar experiences?”
Kip wasn’t surprised by her rationale. Many sweetbloods and other humans who were lucky enough to make it back alive after being held captive explained it away by saying they’d been taken by aliens. That or amnesia. Vampires could alter their memories but not turn back the clock.
An older man raised his hand and introduced himself. “Yes, I’ve been abducted many times. It happens every year around Halloween. I think they come back and use it as a cover so they can conduct their horrible tests and experiments on Earthlings without anyone getting suspicious. Let me tell you, no one pays attention to a green-skinned alien walking around on Halloween.”
Kip couldn’t read Elisabeth’s blank reaction to the man’s claims. Did she believe him? Did she think he was full of crap?
A few more people shared their experiences, including the other sweetblood. Kip was right—it was the young man up front, a college student at the University of Washington. His story, in addition to Elisabeth’s, was the only other one that was probably true. The rest were wannabes and alien abduction enthusiasts.
It didn’t shock Kip that both of the sweetbloods were young. Considering that vampires lived in secret among humans, most sweetbloods didn’t make it past the age of thirty or so. Even to the most civilized vampire, their blood was a siren’s call, and sooner or later, something bad was bound to happen to them.
Like what had happened to Elisabeth.
He was about to pour another shot of whisky into his cup when he became aware that everyone was looking in his direction. He automatically ran his tongue over his teeth to double check he wasn’t flashing fang.
Elisabeth stared at him, but unlike several months ago, this time she looked at him without any fear. “Can you introduce yourself and tell us why you’re here?”
He frowned. “Me?”
Shit. He hadn’t expected this. He fought to place his mug gently in the saucer without breaking it, then he said the first thing that came to mind.
“I knew someone who disappeared once. And…ah…I’ve always wondered if it was because of aliens.” There. That sounded reasonable enough.
She smiled. “I’m really glad you came.”
Guilt stabbed into his gut like a dull knife point. She’d change her tune if she knew that he was the monster responsible for what had happened to her during her missing week of time. Grinding his teeth together, he stared into his drink, repeating his counselor’s words of affirmation in his head.
It wasn’t my fault. I was forced to do it. They weakened me until I was no longer in control of my senses. I’m stronger now and in complete control of my dark desires.
The blood—her blood—was sweeter than anything he’d ever experienced. As much as he tried to forget, to condition himself against it, he could still imagine her lifeblood filling his mouth and lingering heavily on the back of his tongue.
“Thank you for…joining us,” she said hesitantly, a curious expression on her face. Her hand went absently to her neck. A few people turned around again to face him, wondering why she was looking at him that way.
A faint unease settled over him.
Did she recognize him or have any inkling what had happened to her out in that abandoned cabin in the woods?
No. It wasn’t possible. The medical staff at Region had completely wiped her memory before they deposited her back into her regular life.
Besides, Elisabeth would be running like hell away from him right now, if she suspected the truth…that he was the one who had killed the other girl and that he would’ve killed her as well.
If you love freebies like I do, the Sweetblood e-novella, Hidden By Blood, is still a free download at Amazon and BN & be sure to check out the latest Sweetblood story in the anthology, A Vampire For Christmas, which comes out in print now, digital on November 1.
(US version on left, and animated UK cover for the ebook on right)
If you want to know more of what happened between Kip and Elisabeth, I’m giving away a signed copy of Embraced By Blood, book two in the Sweetblood series, to one lucky commenter.
About the author:
A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Business Administration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie London now writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children.
Want to read more from Laurie London?
Giveaway provided by Laurie London
One signed copy of EMBRACED BY BLOOD by Laurie London
And don’t forget to pick up the latest Sweet Blood installment:
Available now from Harlequin
Anthology with Laurie London, Alexis Morgan, Michele Hauf and Caridad Piniero
All they want for Christmas is you…
It’s the time of year for twinkling lights on trees and kisses under the mistletoe. Yet the passing of another year means nothing to the stunning immortals who lurk in the shadows of the new-fallen snow.
And they don’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice.
Let four fanged lovers open your eyes to a passion you never dared to imagine. After all, there’s no place like home for the holidays–and these dazzling vampires can’t wait for an invitation.
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**Don’t forget to visit Dark Faerie Tales today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Nancy A. Collins author of LEFT HAND MAGIC**
About the author
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