A Blood Kissed Story
Jocelyn has finally found her knight in shining armor in Chad, and ghosts are the last thing on her mind. Even when one shows up in her bedroom on Christmas Eve, Jocelyn's a bit more concerned about the other guests on the agenda. She'd prefer to never see another vampire, and the ghost tells her to expect not one, but three.
When the one from her past shows up even though he's supposed to be dead, she decides she's dreaming and suffers through the night. By the time dawn breaks, she's not so sure anymore.
But if it's not a dream that means her nightmare is far from over.
Genre: Erotic romance, paranormal, fantasy, vampire, holiday
Heat level: 4
Cover art by Dara England
~The Ghost of Vampire Present is our December 2011 "Read for a Cure" story. All publisher proceeds during this month will be donated to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life program.~
“So…your dead grandma came to you in a dream?”
So much for Kait not making jokes—to her, sarcasm is the highest form of humor. The way her eyebrows reach for the sky makes it obvious she isn’t taking this seriously. At all.
“Fine, yes, it sounds stupid when you put it like that, but Grandma barely talked to me when she was alive." It never really bothered me much as a kid since she was kind of weird, but now all those sideways looks and whispers are stacked with meaning. "I think it might have been because my mom thought she was crazy, but still. Why would the grandmother I had zero relationship with show up in my messed-up dream?”
Kait tucks her short blond hair behind her ears and sips her coffee, her eyes rolling and slipping shut as she inhales the rich aroma. “I don’t know, doll. Why don’t you tell me the whole thing from start to finish.”
I squirm in my seat and pray to God Kait doesn't see me doing it. There are things she doesn’t know, can’t know because she’ll never understand. If I tell her the dream, will she manage to see the tiny grain of truth in it amongst all the rest? And if there’s more truth than I realize...
She taps a cherry red fingernail against her mug, the sound more soothing than it should be just because it's so normal…so human.
This is Kait. Nice, logical Kait. The one in law school, destined to become some high-priced lawyer in a posh office with a killer view. Her world has no room left for the odd, much less the supernatural. Even if I tell her my dead grandmother’s ghost appeared to me and threw things around my room when I refused to talk to her, Kait would insist it was a dream and any evidence of a violent specter nothing more than me sleepwalking or thrashing around in my bed.
Sucking in a deep breath, I make my decision and only the smallest part of me wonders if I won’t regret it someday. I set down the coffee mug, my icy hands having already leeched the heat from it, and shove my hair off my face.
“I realized it was a dream from the get-go because, like I said, Grandma never talked to me when she was alive...”
“Wake up!” a shrill voice commands.
I bolt upright, startled from a dream involving a castle and riding a horse bareback, blankets tumbling from shoulders covered with nothing but thin spaghetti straps. My breath comes out in tiny puffs of condensation as I yank the blankets back up. My eyes dart around, searching for whatever woke me. Where my clock should be is another black space in the darkness.
Another power outage. Fabulous.
“Damn it, girl, get some clothes on. If you’re dressed in nothing but a nightgown when they get here, you’ll never survive the night.”
My head jerks toward the sound. There she stands, at the foot of my bed, the tiny slip of a woman I’d barely known but recognize instantly by her glowing white curls and delicate features. Grandma Cooper. Even her dress is familiar because my mother had said it was in poor taste to bury the dead in white. Makes them look washed out. But even the choice of her funerary outfit had been part of Grandma’s will, and though we didn’t know it until she died, Grandma spent a lot of money to have lawyers who made sure every instruction was followed to the letter.
My mouth goes dry and my fingers shake as they reach beneath my pillow. Sure, I know her on sight, but she still shouldn't be here. And that means a weapon isn't the stupidest idea ever. But, if I turn my head to the side at all, she disappears as if she’d never been there in the first place. Only when I look straight at her does she have substance, her body catching enough of the moon’s light coming through the window to be visible against the darkness. And apparently with enough solidity that next time she speaks, her hands grip the covers and jerk them right off me.
“I told you to get dressed! Chop, chop.”
For a long minute, I sit there shivering in my nightie and staring at the blankets in her hands. “But...but...you’re dead.” Please don't say vampire. As I think it, I realize she can't be one. Regardless of whatever else they can do, I'm pretty sure vamps can't disappear without moving.
“As a damn doornail. It doesn’t change the fact you messed with the way of things and the time has come for you to face some hard facts.” Her eyes actually twinkle as she smiles. “And I’ve been waiting a lot of years to help you figure all this out. Now, time’s a-wasting. Get up and put on some damn clothes.”
To enjoy a wonderful holiday video of Seleste reading from The Ghost of Vampire Present, click here.
Seleste deLaney's first attempt at a novel was a sweeping epic romance called Wars and Wishes, Disasters and Dreams. She finished about three chapters before deciding she had better things to do. At twelve years old, most girls wouldn't have made it that far. She went on to write numerous short stories and poems throughout her teens, but it wasn't until after earning a degree in chemistry that she returned to her love of writing fiction.
These days, Seleste splits her time between the worlds in her imagination and her home in southwest Michigan. Her husband and two children have learned not to worry too much when she doesn't seem all there, and her dog is attached enough that he waits patiently by her feet until she returns.