Light Up the Night releases tomorrow! Here's a final excerpt to tempt you...
The following evening, found Heather in Akeldama, once again, staring at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar, and wishing that the old myth about vampires and mirrors could have been true. That way, she wouldn’t have to see how plain, and young, and ordinary she looked. Especially when she compared herself to Liz and Brook, who were gorgeous and glamorous. And unmistakably all grown up.
She’d really tried tonight, too; for all the good that had done. She’d taken pains with her appearance when she was getting ready earlier in the evening. She’d spent hours putting on makeup and experimenting with hairstyles, hoping she could hit on a combination that would make her look older. She’d wanted to look nice for Drew, even though he’d ghosted on her the night before.
No—that was not true. She wasn’t doing it in spite of the fact he’d left without saying good-bye. She was doing it because of that. She’d wanted to make him sorry for what he’d done. She wanted him to see what he was missing. Although it appeared he was happy to go right on missing it because he’d barely said two words to her all night! He was spending all his time at the other end of the bar—about as far away from her as he could get.
To be fair, Jason and Aiken had also gravitated in that direction, so maybe it was a guy thing? But even though she’d caught Drew watching her a couple of times, out of the side of his eye, he made no effort to move closer. And that just hurt.
What had she done wrong? They’d had a nice time last night, hadn’t they? Why was he suddenly avoiding her?
She wasn’t just imagining it, either. She knew this to be true because Drew’s defection had left Danny, one of the few humans who worked for him, to cover this side of the room all by himself. And that was something Drew had always made a particular point of not doing.
The very first time she’d come in here, back in her wilder days, she’d scared the piss out of Danny. He’d never really recovered. He still was palpably nervous whenever she was around. And Drew knew that! So what the fuck?
She blew out a frustrated sigh. She was hungry and annoyed and should probably go check out the dance floor and find someone to eat—just to take the edge off. Except that Liz had just excused herself to do the same, and it didn’t seem polite to leave Brook here all alone.
At least shopping had been fun. It turned out that Brook was only a little older than she was. And Liz, who’d apparently spent most of her life locked up like Rapunzel, lacked that been-there-done-that, jaded attitude that made most vampires so annoying to hang out with. Heather had enjoyed spending time with the two of them—even if they did talk way too much about their boyfriends. And even though they’d teased her about Marc, which was simply irritating.
They acted like she must be hung up on him, just because she was buying him a present. Didn’t either of them buy presents for their sires? Well, Brook wouldn’t, of course. Being “something else” probably meant she didn’t have one. And Liz’s sire was Marc now. So, obviously, no, they didn’t.
Not that Heather really cared. Giving gifts to the people you were close to was as good a way to show them how you felt as any other. And she and Marc were close—in fact, she loved him a lot—just not in the way they thought.
The two of them were family. Marc was the closest thing Heather had to a father now. So, no—eww—she did not view him as boyfriend material! Not to mention that he already had a sort-of girlfriend.
To be honest, Heather wasn’t quite sure how she felt about Elise yet, but she liked her well enough that she wouldn’t have felt right about creeping on her boyfriend behind her back, even if he hadn’t been Marc.
Besides, how pathetic would that be—falling for someone who was already taken? Although, it was probably less pathetic than falling for someone who didn’t even care enough about you to come over and ask if you were enjoying your drink—looking at you, Drew! Which, for the record, she was not.
She took another sip, just to check. But, nope, she still didn’t like…whatever this was. What it was not was the egg cream she’d ordered, that was for damn sure. And she was stuck with it, too, since she couldn’t ask cry-baby Danny to re-make it. She was feeling too snarly; and he’d likely pass out on the floor if she so much as scowled in his direction.
Beside her, Brook’s phone rang—for the eleventy-thousandth time. Heather watched as her friend snatched it up and put it to her ear. “Hello? Hello? Who is this? What? Speak up; I can’t hear you.”
“That thing still giving you trouble?” Heather asked sympathetically as a frustrated Brook slammed the gadget down on the bar and growled at it.
Brook’s phone had been acting up all night. It would ring, but then immediately disconnect as soon as she tried to answer. She couldn’t call back, to see who it was, because the number was listed as private. And she didn’t want to block it, because she couldn’t be sure it wasn’t someone from home trying to reach her.
She and Liz had even joked that Aiken must have put a spell on it to keep Brook’s family from finding her. Or, at least, Heather thought they were joking. But then Brook borrowed Liz’s phone so she could call Aiken to ask if he knew anything about what was going on. So, maybe they’d meant it after all?
As far as Heather could tell, Brook’s parents had been a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, complete with feuding families, and untimely deaths. Although at least they’d lived long enough to raise Brook to adulthood. And, to hear her tell it, her childhood, which she’d spent in a tiny little town in Nebraska, had been idyllic.
So, while it was a much better story than the original version, it still meant that Brook had never had any sort of contact with her relatives on either side. So Heather wasn’t quite sure why she thought they’d suddenly be looking for her now.
“It’s too noisy in here,” Brook said, still scowling at her phone. “That’s one of the problems. This time there was actually someone there, you know? I could hear them talking, but I couldn’t understand a word they were saying because of this weird-ass music.”
Heather nodded understandingly. “It can be distracting.” Truthfully, the music here was one of her favorite things about the bar, although that hadn’t always been the case. It was layered with the sound of human heartbeats, with the rush of blood through veins. When she’d been starving it had driven her nearly mad with hunger; now it just sounded delicious.
But it was supposedly pitched in a way that meant humans couldn’t hear it; so as not to spook them. And that was more proof, as if she’d needed it, that whatever Brook was, she only looked human.
Heather thought for a moment then asked, “Do you want to go outside? It’s usually pretty chill in the back alley. We could hang out there for a bit and see if they call back?”
“You wouldn’t mind?” Brook asked. “It might be a while.”
“That’s okay,” Heather said, as she hopped off her stool. “I got nothing better to do.” Maybe, if they were gone long enough, Drew might actually notice, or even start to miss her. “I figure, if we can finally solve the mystery of who’s been calling you, it will be worth it.”
Heather is having the worst Christmas ever! Or, at least, the worst Christmas since she was forced to become a vampire. Her sire's distracted, her nestmates have forgotten her, weirdos have taken over the lair. The only bright spot in her life right now is Drew — who didn't even used to like her! She knows he's fond of her now, but 'fond of' isn't good enough. She wants more. She wants everything. She wants him. And she's not giving up.
Drew Geiger gave up on love a long time ago. Such tender emotions have no place in a vampire's heart. But, somehow, the girl he once described as a "feral kitten" has got her claws in him, and she's not letting go. That would be fine, if only someone didn't want her dead — and if her sire didn't recall that it was Drew who once suggested that maybe she'd be better off that way.
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