Boy, I was blindsided last night. Saved, but not really, by the husband changing the subject to Anne Rice.
I was standing in the smoking area at the local hockey arena and was suddenly asked a question! Seems at least SOME of my day-to-day, flesh and blood friends actually do read all my Facebook bullshit and know I am writing. *gasp* What have I done?! We had been standing there talking about gods only know what, when Cheryl (I think it was Cheryl, I was so stunned I’ve forgotten) pops up with a question.
What is your book about?
I look up, Lynn is looking at me, Cheryl is looking at me, a few other faces join in. I’m like a deer in fucking headlights and ***(see below) FEEL surrounded by villagers with pitchforks. I stammer, “Vampires.”
Oh, boy. That’s all I had? *sigh*
Bobby comes to the rescue by telling everyone he thinks I’ve shot myself in the foot by picking a fight with Anne Rice. Hell, I’ve been dead in Anne’s ass since Memnoch, that cat fight is nothing new, has been raged very publicly through the internet for a decade and is eternal. But I sorta have shot myself in that anything I write now has to be good or I’m gonna look like an idiot. So, yeah. I’m being overly critical about everything I write. That conversation gives me a few minutes to think of SOMETHING to say about the subject of the book in particular. Epic fail. ***I have performance anxiety like a bitch and just could not spit anything out.
***I flat do not do well with unexpected questions out of the blue where my writing is concerned. No one should take that personally, ever. It’s the whole performance anxiety thing as well as being that I don’t discuss it on a regular basis with flesh and blood human beings that are not writers themselves. It’s almost like it’s a dirty little, NOW very public, secret of mine. I’ve always been a writer. Betcha’ that a LOT of people don’t know that because I just… don’t…. talk about it. *shhh* One writer can look at another and say, “You’re a sick bitch.” And the other will say, “I know.” And grin and move on. With non-writers that conversation goes that way not so much. *shrug* So! *shhh* It’s been a rule. Don’t talk about Fight Club.
Well, now I gotta because I’ve thrown it out there. Shit.
After we move on from Anne, I manage to say I’d been “writing” this story line for about 13 years (it’s actually been longer) and just decided it was what I needed to do. I’d finished the paralegal thing and this is a bucket list kinda thing. Cheryl is kinda making the ‘oh’ face. Christ. What did I not do? Tell them what the book is about.
So…. here goes. At least with me sitting here typing, I’m not looking anyone in the eye and to erase any stammering, I just hit the backspace key. LOL!
An Ordinary World
Once upon a time in 1996, in the blistering heat of a New Orleans July, we find sixteen year old Lien doing his level best to get into college, and drive his father batty with his running around with his best friend, Marcel. Lien is a trip, he’s also pretty damned cute (understatement of the decade), and Tulane is his dream. He wants college, parties, friends, maybe a boyfriend.
Yes, he is GAY if you want a label! I’ve found it’s really more that supernaturals have enough different things to worry about – like fangs, claws, maybe demon summonings, definitely just staying ALIVE – than what label they put on their sexuality.
All he wants is just a normal life. (An Ordinary World, anyone?) Of course, there’s a problem with this. Lien is not human.
He’s a leopard shifter, sort of like a werewolf to explain to the non-paranormally inclined reader. He belongs to a group of leopards, a pard, that inhabits the territory around the Honey Island Swamp just outside of new Orleans. They’re pretty old school, hard core about heritage and very proud, they keep to themselves for the most part and run a fishing/shrimping company. Lien’s father is Julian. Julian is the Ra, the king, of the pard and sports a Cajun accent from Hell. Julian is not only in charge of his own territory, but he polices the unclaimed swamplands to keep the peace. Hard to do because Delacroix, the neighboring wolf pack, are a bunch of hard-ass pains in the asses that make the leopards look like the Brady Bunch. The kicker here? It’s getting close to time for Julian, who has reached his early sixties, to step down and turn the pard over to the new king. Who is Julian’s heir apparent? Not Lien.
One, that’s not how they do it; they name their successors. Two, Lien is different. Telling you how different he is would spoil the story for you, but he’s so different that some of the pard just don’t like the boy. The named successor, Fernando, being one of them.
To make the situation worse, the leopards don’t like vampires. They have a one word rule about them in their hand book beside the question on personal fraternization.
It says NO.
Back in New Orleans at a place called Luce (loo-CHAY), we have Esteban Marquez. He’s a Spanish bred vampire and over five hundred years old. Depending on his mood, he’ll say he was twenty-five or thirty when he was made. He is married to a “unique” vampire named Nita Marquez. Just the mention of her name makes his eyes roll and his temper flare.
Luce is a consortium, which means it’s a gathering place for supernaturals of all kinds. It’s a bar, a hotel, a dance club, and Vampire Council outpost. They have one in every major city across the globe. Vampires and shifters are the main visitors, but you will find faeries and demons, witches and such. And some things even I can’t put a name upon. Nefarious is a good word to describe the goings on at Luce. Esteban is Master there and serves as judge, jury and executioner when the supernaturals of New Orleans get out of hand. Without him, New Orleans would be a blood bath and the powers that be in the human government know it, so they tolerate Luce and everything that comes with it. Luce consumes all of Esteban’s time and energy, save when his wife is being a pain in his ass. (You could also equate the book’s title to Esteban, but you’ll have to read to find out why.)
And lo! Someone, in his first three years of taking the position of Master, has tried to kill him by burning Luce down around his head. You see, there is a strange connection between Esteban and his lady, Luce. One that now has Esteban wounded and the Vampire Council on his back because they think he’s too weak to hold New Orleans after all. They’re just chomping at the bit to take it away from him. Which would be BAD for Esteban in more ways than one. His wife wants to help him in a way that only she can, a way that will solve everything. He just wants her to go away, but…. for reasons he may or may not say (because I’m still editing that speech), he does not make her leave.
One thing that could help him, help that he would happily accept, is something he does not have. It’s called a One. One shifter meant only for one vampire. A bond so sacred that even the Council has laws that back their significance.
A small part of proving that Esteban, with no help from anyone, is strong enough to keep Luce is by keeping the truce he made with Julian three years ago. The truce: The leopards handle swamp business, Esteban handles city business and neither the two shall meet. It’s a pact. Leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone. We’ll cooperate if we need to, but lets just stay away from each other, m’kay? However, there is a clause that says one will without fail come to the aid of the other should they ever ask. The key word is ASK.
Never will you meet two more hard-headed men than Julian and Esteban. Throw Lien into the mix and…. oh, boy.
Can you see where this is going?
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