Those of you who follow me on social media know I recently spent ten amazing days in Hawaii. I was lucky enough to visit fellow indie author, Toby Neal (who I’ve featured on this blog before). Her Lei Crime Series is one of my favorites. It features a strong female protagonist and her loyal Rottweiler, Keiki, and the series is set in the Hawaiian islands, so you can see why I might like it 🙂
Toby’s series is so awesome that Amazon is giving her a Kindle World. What does that mean? Well, you’ve heard of fan fiction. This is licensed fan fiction. Basically, starting April 7th anyone will be able to write a story using characters from the Lei Crime Universe and publish them on Amazon through their Kindle World platform. Toby blogged about it here in more detail.
Toby invited a bunch of her author friends to kick off the world with their own stories. Not only do I love this series but writing a story in the Lei Crime world was the perfect excuse to escape to Hawaii in February. So I headed down to Maui, met up with Toby, and we went and wrote in Hana for a couple of days. It was totally inspiring to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world and to be writing side by side with a power house like Toby Neal.
I managed to blaze through the entire first draft of my Lei Crime Kindle World novella, “Warrior Dog”, while in Hawaii. I decided to focus on Lei’s dog, Keiki… I know you’re shocked, just shocked 🙂 But I’ve always wanted to write a story from a dog’s point of view and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had a blast writing this novella and I can’t wait to hear what you all think about it.
“Warrior Dog” will go live April 7th along with eight other stories by well-known writers exploring the Lei Crime World. I'll have more information in the coming weeks but for now here is the cover.
He curled around me, holding me so that my back pressed against his chest. My heart thundered in my chest as he kissed my ear, my hair. Power coursed through me so that my vision was saturated with colors. Sounds traveled to me from great distances. The crackling of the fires miles away, the individual steps and sighs of the zombies that wandered the streets below. The blood rushing through my veins.
I rolled, turning to Dimitri. His eyes were gray, lids heavy with exhaustion. I placed my hand against his neck and felt the blood moving through his veins, powered by magic instead of life. I kissed him gently, afraid now that I could hurt him. That I could take too much. “We must go,” I said, sitting up and looking around for my clothing.
We dressed silently. Dimitri occasionally reached out and brushed against me; his fingers playing with a strand of my hair, lightly touching my ankle as he tied his shoe. Once we were clothed, my chain wrapped around my waist again and my one remaining knife in the makeshift holster at my hip, Dimitri pulled me against him. “Darling, I do not understand what you are,” he said, kissing the top of my head, inhaling my scent. I leaned against his button-down shirt, wrapping my arms around his narrow hips, feeling his hard chest against me. “But in all my centuries on this planet I've never known this before.”
I looked up at him. “What?” I asked. “Known what?”
He held my face and kissed me, his tongue tangling with mine, more of his power drifting to me so that I rose on my tip toes and pulled him closer. The strength within him was intoxicating. I broke the kiss and held his hand as we walked toward the door that led down into the apartment building we stood upon.
I pulled on the handle, which was still warm from the sun that had sunk hours ago, but the door was locked. “Let me,” Dimitri said, reaching around me. I stepped aside and saw his forearm strain as he pulled. The door didn't give and Dimitri's brows conferenced. He looked over at me.
“What's wrong?” I asked.
Dmitri shook his head. “I need to feed,” he said, putting both hands on the handle and yanking hard. I heard the metal give and the door buckled. With one more tug it opened.
It was dark inside, I reached out blindly for the railing. Dimitri wrapped his hand around mind. “Follow me,” he said.
The door closed behind us and total darkness descended. I felt his hand on my cheek, his thumb running under my eye, his fingers gliding into my hair. His lips brushed against mine. “I want to drink from you,” he said.
I imagined the delicious sinking of his fangs into my flesh, the pleasure of satisfying his hunger, nourishing him. But I knew that I could not help him and stay safe at the same time.
“I can't let you,” I said, my voice sounding breathless but strong. His lips skimmed the skin beneath my ear as they traveled down my neck, his tongue came out and flicked against my skin. “I'm sorry Dimitri,” I said, “but I can't feed you.”
“I understand,” he said, backing away from me but keeping hold of my hand. “You can't see in the dark?”
“No,” I laughed. “I bet you can though.”
“Of course,” he said sounding almost insulted. “Shall I carry you?”
“I'm fine,” I answered, feeling strong and steady even in the dark. While I could not see the steps, I could see his energy all around us: it was pale and weak. I had taken a lot from him.
We started down the steps and at the first landing Dimitri opened a door to a hallway. The lights were still on here. They flickered as we walked past apartment doors. “I need to find a human,” Dimitri said.
“I thought all the people were moved by the army.”
“Yes,” Dimitri said, stopping in front of a door. “But not everyone went. Some people have hidden in their apartments.”
“How can you tell?”
A smile twitched on his lips. “I can smell them and hear them.”
“Their blood, moving through their veins,” Dimitri said, his fangs descending slightly. He turned to me. “Yours is driving me almost insane.” He made eye contact and I saw a voracious hunger in his gaze. Something that no amount of sex, touch, or feel, could heal. He had to suck someone's blood to satiate it.
Dimitri dropped my hand and kicked the door open. It banged on its hinges and Dimitri stepped into the apartment. I followed behind him into a living room. A ceiling lamp illuminated a worn couch and two chairs facing a large tv. The screen was blank except for small lettering in the upper left hand corner that read “no signal”.
Three doors lead off the living room and Dimitri headed toward one of them. A gun shot rang out and the door splintered as a bullet passed through it. It thunked into Dimitri's stomach and he stumbled back, knocking into me. I fell onto the ground and stayed there, covering my head with my hands as more bullets flew. Dimitri took a step back as they penetrated him. One ripped through his shoulder and a mist of blood filled the air as it flew through his flesh.
Six bullets and the shooting stopped. I heard the sound of someone reloading and Dimitri kicked the door in. I sat up to see a man fall back into the room, Dimitri upon him. The man's scream was cut short as Dimitri dove into his neck.
A woman was screaming. I stood up, feeling her scream against my skin, the fear and shock filling the apartment. Dimitri was sucking at the man's neck, the sound strange and vaguely erotic. The man groaned beneath him, his arms coming around and embracing the vampire, pulling him closer.
He was going to kill him I realized as I walked toward them. When I crossed into the room I saw the woman. She was clutching a child, her eyes wild, almost feral. Her mouth open wide, sound erupting out of her small frame. The child in her arms didn't move. It was dead I saw, there were no emotions around it, no spark of life. “Dimitri,” I said. He did not acknowledge me.
I stared at them, my eyes focusing and unfocusing. There were lines I saw, cords wrapped around both humans. Faint lines of light, thin, loose; almost like old fashioned telephone wires leading off both figures. The man's ran to the woman and child and back, a crisscross of ties linking them.
Several ran off Dimitri and disappeared through the wall. Others sprung from him and wrapped around the man, pulsing with each suck.
I put my hand on Dimitri's shoulder and then ran my fingers up into his hair. “Enough,” I said, pulling him with my mind, twirling lines of my own around him. Taking a deep breath I felt the pleasure he was experiencing. It was magnetic, incredible, sent shivers through me. I stepped closer, pressing my body against him. He slowed down. “Do not drain him,” I requested, my breasts resting on his arm, my emotions pressing against his, attempting to slide between him and his victim.
Dimitri raised his head. The wound on the man's neck was small, just two punctures. They oozed blood, which Dimitri lapped gently with his tongue. I watched the wounds close. Dimitri stepped away from the man who wobbled for a moment before dropping to his knees. His wife kept screaming. I could tell her fear was turning Dimitri on. He wanted to feed from her too.
I left Dimitri to attend to the man at our feet. His eyes were glazed. A satisfied smile on his face, like a drunk who’s had his fill. I heard Dimitri move away and the woman fell silent. The sound of that gentle, erotic slurping started up again. I felt the pleasure they were both experiencing on my back like the sun's beams, a nourishing warmth.
The man's gun was still in his hand. Silver and unloaded. I took it from him. “Where are the extra bullets?” I asked.
He did not respond. Looking around I saw them sitting on a dresser. We were in the couple’s bedroom. The child's body was on the ground next to where Dimitri held the woman, his face pressed into her neck. He picked her up and carried her to the bed.
I walked over to the dresser and loaded the gun. I placed it in the makeshift knife holster on my waist. It stayed well enough but I made a mental note to pick up a better one.
I looked down at the child. Skin that was once a deep mahogany now looked pale and grey. It was a girl, must have been about two years old. I didn't see any injuries. What happened? I wondered. Then its eyes opened and I realized the child had turned. It reached up for me and I stumbled back, knocking into the man. We both tumbled to the ground. The zombie child crawled toward us, reaching out. I kicked it away and the man snapped out of his haze.
He reached for the child. “Baby,” he said, his voice tight with emotion.
“Don't,” I said, grabbing for him. But he shrugged me off and reached for his little girl as she reached for him. “No,” I said, feeling power pour out of me, the horror of that child biting her father too much for me. Not on top of everything else. I had to stop it.
And I did.
They both stopped. Frozen in place, their fingers centimeters apart. The girl's jaw was open, eyes filmy, a faint green glow coming from behind her irises. Her father, his skin darker than hers ever was, reaching for her, his expression loving and pained. Dimitri's soft suckling continued. I looked over at the bed. The woman was on her back, Dimitri was between her legs, his head buried in her thigh, those ties that disappeared through the wall pulsing.
Fear thrust through me and they began to move again. I jumped forward grabbing the girl up and holding her away from me. She turned her small face toward me and snapped the air. Then Dimitri was there, he took the child from me and turning his back to the rest of the room crushed the girl's skull. I recognized the sound.
Sadness, limitless and impenetrable, expanded through the room. It was coming from the father. He began to weep. His broad shoulders shuddering. Dimitri threw his influence over the man but it could not quell the grief that thundered out of him. Dimitri thickened the cloak around the father until he calmed, his eyes going hazy again.
The woman was motionless on the bed, her leg seeping blood from two puncture wounds, staining the quilt she laid upon. Dimitri put the little girl's body down gently before bending down and licking the woman's wounds, closing them.
I turned and left the room. Crossing through the living room I opened another door hoping to find a bathroom but what I saw was a hospital bed, a child's hospital bed. I stared at it, the metal sides glimmering in the low light that filtered around me from the living room. Machines surrounded the bed, their lights off.
“I'm sorry,” Dimitri said behind me. I closed the door and turned to him. “Blood lust,” he said as if in explanation.
“I… it's been a long time since that happened to me.” I didn't say anything. “I was very hungry.”
“What will happen to them?” I asked.
He looked back at the open door of the bedroom behind him. “They will be taken to our camps, if they survive long enough to be picked up.”
“Their little girl,” I said, my throat closing as a lump of tears moved up from my gut.
“Not from being bit though,” I said. “She was sick.” Dimitri didn't say anything. “The dead turn no matter what?” I asked.
“Perhaps,” Dimitri said.
“Will they rise from the ground?” I asked.
“Perhaps,” Dimitri said again. So calm. So fucking cold.
I pushed past him, opening another door that turned out to be the bathroom. I slammed the door and grabbed for the toilet just in time to hurl into it. Tears poured down my face as I retched, my body heaving, bringing up nothing but bile. I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten.
The spasms subsided and I sat back, leaning against the wall. Closing my eyes I took some deep breaths, pulling myself together. How did I stop them? I questioned. Where did that power come from and how could I use it?
As I write this I am on the train from Bergen to Oslo after spending a couple of wonderful days with Sean, my friend, Mette, her fiance, David, and Mette’s parents. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway. The whole population of the country is only about 5 million so it isn’t that big. Bergen is beautiful and charming. The air is clean, the tap water tastes great, and the selection of rain gear is amazing. Which makes sense because it rains an awful lot there.
Bergen from above
After stocking up on wellies and rain coats we headed out of the city and explored Hardangerfjord and the surrounding area for two days. Spending the nights in a wonderful little cabin with amazing views.
My new rain boots in front of the view from our cabin
Our view at night. It never gets fully dark there in the summers.
The area is populated by stone faced Norwegians and Trolls. I actually never saw a troll but come on. If this isn’t troll country than I’d say they straight-up do not exist.
My friend Mette is half Norwegian and her mother, a full-blooded viking, is one of the smiliest, sweetest people I’ve ever met. But our experience with the average Norwegian was very different. I always thought it was basic human nature to smile at strangers when running into them on a hiking trail. After all, you’re in beautiful nature, there is no one else around, it’s nice to give each other a grin. You don’t want to come off as a serial killer after all. I’ve never smiled and nodded at so many people to be glared back at or just ignored while they frowned on. We saw one guy trying to hitch hike who was attempting to smile but it came off as a grimace. A twitching grimace at that. Poor man. Maybe it’s the rain or just their stoic nature but we found the people to be almost comically unfriendly. Except the children who seemed very happy.
The country side is incredible picturesque. Little villages with slate roofed cottages painted bright colors hug deep, emerald-green fjords. Apple orchards stretch up the hills looking like vineyards because of the way they are pruned. The roads are in perfect condition, if a little narrow, and the tunnels are testimates to the ingenuity of man. Waterfalls cascade down the sharp cliffs in dramatic rushes of white.
Roundabout in a tunnel!
Adorable villages everywhere
Sunlight hitting a glacier, sure, why not? Oh, and a little adorable cloud skimming across the still water. Nothing gorgeous happening here.
While the weather is rainy we lucked out and had quite a lot of sunshine which allowed us to get out onto the trails and take ridiculous pictures.
That moss was the softest thing ever.
I had to race across slippery rocks in order to make it into this shot before the timer went off. But I think it was worth it 🙂
We drove up Osa mountain almost by accident and discovered ruins and a gorgeous, secret little pond with crystal clear water surrounded by large boulders and blueberry bushes. We also took more ridiculous pictures… but I'm going to hold back here and not post them 🙂
A ferry ride allowed us to get a water view and it did not disappoint. The ride was beautiful and it made me ache for OUR WAY. I miss that little ship. By the way, the new owners are taking her to Bermuda which makes us very happy.
View from the ferry
On our drive back to Bergen we stopped by a glacier (as you do) and enjoyed a short hike. We came out of the moss covered woods to discover a steam lined with stacked stones. The water was a bright blue and white just like the glacier that fed it and the stones (obviously placed by trolls) were a wonderful addition to the landscape.
After returning to Bergen we stayed with Mette’s parents for a couple of nights enjoying their warm hospitality and wonderful home. We even went fishing. The only thing we hooked was a star fish but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of being out on the water in a little row boat in a beautiful place.
Don't worry, we threw him back.
I’m looking forward to the few hours we will have in Oslo where we plan to visit the Viking Ship Museum. I hope you’re all doing well out there in reader land. May the trolls be with you.
My beach site was burgled while I was boogie boarding. They left a couple of towels, my jean shorts, the cooler full of drinks, and a few other little things. They got my iPhone and sean’s wallet. I bricked my phone when I got home and have it insured so no loss there except being able to attach my brain to it every 15 minutes for the remainder of our stay here. We canceled Sean’s cards and decided that his wallet was at an age where it was ready to move on from us anyway.
There are two cops in town, a man and woman who ride around on a motorcycle together looking like buddies but hardly intimidating the criminal elements lurking on the beach waiting for someone as foolish as myself to boogie board by. We saw them on our drive back to the house and informed them that we were burgled. They told us to go to Cobano (a town 45 minutes away) to report it. Which we did.
Mario, a friendly Tico detective with a strong accent and easy smile, took our report. When he asked me if I was married I answered “yes” and then shot a thumb towards Sean and said “to this guy,” in what I thought was a funny voice. Mario cracked up. He told us that “most people who sit in that chair are very sad. But you are joking. This is very good.” We totally made his day and he made ours.
Mario told us about his frustrations of being a detective in Cobano. It’s mostly crimes like ours where it’s reported at least a day later. Additionally, even if they caught the guy we would probably be back in the States by the time his trial came around and since the victim needs to identify their stuff in court the culprit would go free. Mario told us that people just show up to get the report for their insurance. He also said he is keeping my signature for when I’m famous which I thought was nice of him. I didn’t share with him what I thought Sydney would do in a situation like this…
Anyway, having our stuff stolen was a nice reminder that we are not living in la la land but rather the jungle. I’ve replaced my iPhone with a similar size notebook and a mini pencil which I think may prove good for me. It’s an interesting experiment anyway. All in all what seemed like a huge mistake turned out to be a really interesting learning experience and we made a new friend. So while I’m not going to thank the thief who took my stuff I can see that there is usually something positive on the heels of something negative. After all, every stumble brings us closer to success.
I hope you’re all safe and secure out there in Readerland.
If you are feint of heart do not read on. This is about to get gross. Our landlord told us that a crew of Howler Monkeys would eventually move into the tree behind the house. They have a territory that they roam and show up in our yard about every 2-3 weeks. Well, they’re here. Great, so cute, right? Monkeys are adorable. Here is the problem: they are throwing shit at us.
Of course, this is Kinsey’s dream come true. She never, even in her wildest imaginings, thought that hairy creatures with opposable thumbs would show up and start hurling their feces at her. Every time I turn around she is back there, nose deep in monkey poo. Every time we have to go to the car we dodge dung. I’m not kidding. Stop laughing. This is terrible. It’s only the first day, I’m hoping they don’t stay long.
The second disgusting thing, I crushed a lizard with our sliding door last night. Heard a crunch sound, looked down, and I’d decapitated the poor thing. Neither of us could deal with cleaning it up and since it was on the outside part we left it. Next morning, it’s almost gone. A crew of ants removed it piece by piece. Don’t fall asleep in the jungle people.
Now, for the third disgusting thing. Bot Flies. Heard of them? Don’t google it. Basically these flies put their eggs onto mosquitos and ticks who then bite us and drop the larva into the wound where it grows! Yup, a larva grows in you. Ew! Well, they have them here. I just read an article about it in the local magazine and now I’m pretty paranoid that every little tiny bump on me is a larvae. God, I hope I don’t get one. Jesus, that would be too gross. I don’t know if I could handle it. Then again, it would be a hell of a story to tell at cocktail parties.
Yes, that’s how I’m going to think about all this grossness. One day, I’ll be drunk, and it will be hysterical.
Sighing off from Paradise,