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What people are saying about Nightfire:
"One of the best vampire books I have ever read." -Michael Offutt, author of Slipstream
"The prose is remarkably lovely."- Rhea Rhodan, author of Finding Grace
"A hunger un-foretold by humans. A thirst for life and warmth. All wrapped up in a book."- Yougottaread Reviews
When a murder shakes the small town of Peninsula, all eyes are on Olivia Townsend. She may look eighteen, but the townspeople can sense there’s something darker hiding behind her pretty eyes. Olivia knows the smart thing to do is to get out of town. Suspicious neighbors can only mean trouble for a vampire. But leaving becomes much more difficult when William, a mysterious man from her past, arrives in Peninsula. Finding out what brought him back is a temptation Olivia just can’t resist. William’s kindness and interest in Olivia only makes leaving harder. As she starts to fall for him, she’s forced to decide if sticking around is really worth the risk of being discovered. Of course, her mystery man has a secret of his own-and he’s not talking.
I should have seen him coming. I should have heard him coming a mile
away, understood he meant danger. My life was full of things I should
have done. I didn’t expect him to change everything I understood about
myself. That night, in the dark Ohio forest, I only heard his footsteps
coming closer as he stepped lightly along the path.
He came toward me without hesitation. Without fear. Most people
were not so careless after dark. As he drew closer, the sound each step
made revealed more about him. The first was deep, loud, and told me
he was tall and well-built. With the second step, I heard the rustle of
fine leather and knew he must be wearing expensive boots, the kind
that tended to be handmade. The third sounded more like a whisper,
and I wondered if he was deep in thought about some trivial challenge
or a girl he was interested in impressing. But nothing about him was
familiar. Once I decided he was a stranger, nothing else mattered to me.
I could only picture him as one thing — my next meal.
When he gets close enough for me to get a good look, I take a
moment to measure the parts of him that his stride can’t tell
me. He’s well-dressed in tailored pants and a shirt mostly covered by
his hooded overcoat. Dark hair peeks out from under his hood and just
brushes the top of his eyes. He stares at his feet as he walks, hiding his
face from the scrutiny of my gaze. I wonder for a split-second if he will
be handsome. Then decide to make my move.
I slide down from the forgotten stone quarry wall that’s been my
favorite hiding spot for years. It looks ancient, a forgotten relic from
another time lost in the depths of the forest. The wall stays hidden
behind a line of towering trees that stand like guardians at the gate. I
leave the safety of my secret fortress and move almost silently through
the brush. I stalk him until I get close enough to reach out and touch the
back of his neck. In one swift motion, I grab his broad shoulders and turn
him toward me so that I can taste the sweet flavor of his blood. What I
see stops me in my tracks. I’ve seen his face once before, an impossibly
long time ago. Two familiar blue eyes gaze back at me in surprise, as
he appears to question what I’m doing. For the first time in a very long
time, I remember I have a conscience.
He doesn’t even flinch at my touch. I keep my grip on his shoulder.
“What do you want?” he asks.
It surprises me that he doesn’t tremble under my grip. Most people
are afraid of me, at least when I’m hungry. He simply stares back as if
I’ve said something inappropriate.
“Do you need money or something?” His eyes move over my entire
body, slowly examining me. “Take all the cash you want.” He reaches
down and pulls out a worn leather wallet from his pocket. He holds it
toward me, focusing his eyes on my own. The steadiness of his gaze
makes me uncomfortable.
“I don’t want your money,” I say, finally loosening my hold. I’m
it’s your blood I want, but I don’t think that will go over too well.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I hope for an explanation that will
make sense to me.
He’s polite enough to actually look at my face. I know it can be a
frightening sight. Hunger has a way of bringing out something strange,
unnatural in my eyes. Fortunately, I’m attractive enough to throw most
people off. You might even say I look normal. His eyes widen, and after
a moment, he shakes his head no, almost violently. Perhaps he is beginning
to understand. Perhaps he gets that I mean trouble.
“I’m sorry. I must have mistaken you for someone else.” I take a step
He looks relieved but a hint of terror hangs in the depths of his eyes.
“Are you lost or something?” he asks. Hesitation hangs in his voice. “Do
you need me to walk you home?”
“No, it’s okay. I live close by.”
He really is handsome.
“I should probably get going, then.” He adjusts his jacket and then
walks through the black space of the forest. I watch in fascination as
he disappears into the darkness. He’s smarter than I initially thought.
I spend the next hour sitting in the crumbling remains of the quarry,
trying to place those far too familiar eyes and high cheekbones that keep
replaying in my head. I twirl an emerald leaf through my fingers as I
stare up at the starless night sky peeking through the canopy. I stand
up and pace back and forth across the fragile rocks in a strange state of
frustration. It isn’t until sunup that it hits me.
I finally know who he is, but it still doesn’t make sense. He’d been
the one person to try to save me, although the saving part had gone
horribly wrong. The memory feels so far away, so distant. The face of
my rescuer, the deep blue eyes and almost olive skin, is something I’d
tried to forget. But I’m sure it’s the face I just encountered. But how
could it be possible? It’s been nearly one hundred years since he tried
to rescue me. It was the night I became, well, a monster.
I mull all morning over what happened. I hardly notice the morning
sunlight dancing off the leaves or the birds in their start-of-day songs.
I dwell on the stranger’s face for hours. I picture it in different lights, at
certain angles. I try to come up with some bit of reason to make sense of
it, but it’s always his face in my memory. I imagine it making different
expressions — smiling at a pleasant surprise, yelling in anger, sobbing
with grief. His face haunts me in a way that nothing has before. I know
I need to find out who this man is and why he’s returned to my life
once again. I need to know what brought him back to me. A purpose is
something I’ve never known.
It’s a quick walk to downtown Peninsula and an even quicker walk
through it. The small display windows of the stores downtown change
only at Christmas. Peninsula is so small there isn’t even a gas station,
which doesn’t seem to bother its tiny population of almost six hundred.
It’s like the town stays stuck in the past, unchanging, unmoving. At least,
that’s what the tourist board wants people to believe. But even Peninsula
has its secrets. I think that’s why I like it. The place is so much like me.
I still need to feed, but hunting in town isn’t safe. A local woman
was killed two weeks ago, and not by me, but people are quick to jump
to conclusions. I need to keep a low profile for a while. Being careless
isn’t an option. I can’t risk getting caught.
It doesn’t take long before I spot a pair walking down the sidewalk
— a mother leading a young girl, maybe six or so, by the hand. The
sight of them causes my hunger to swell inside of me. The woman pulls
her daughter closer as I move toward them. I look normal enough but
that never stops people from keeping their distance. Even before Mary
Hamilton’s body was found, all eyes were on me. The murder just gave
them one more thing to talk about.
As I watch the pair hurry down the sidewalk, I consider how they
would taste as a meal, the child’s fresh blood followed by the aged, thick
taste of the mother’s. But times are different now. I know enough to
stay away from the locals. A string of killings can no longer be excused
by a disease epidemic or some violent superstition. Most of the time, I
hunt outside of Peninsula, just to be safe. Things are easier that way. I
try to push my hunger aside and focus on my search.
I walk down Main Street in the hopes that I will spot my mystery
man or hear word of a visitor in town. I stop and nod at several women
completing their daily errands. They nod back at me with cautious smiles
and keep a safe distance. One pretends to look at a TV playing in one of
the store window displays when I smile at her. I will never quite belong
here in their minds, although I was here long before any of them came
around. I follow her gaze. Some old movie is playing. A powdery white
creature perches on the bed of an unsuspecting woman. Sometimes I
wish I was like the vampires on TV. Strong. Fast. Magical. But I’m none
of those things. I’m just a girl with an appetite and a knack for survival.
I try to hold back a laugh at the irony of the situation and walk away
from the clueless woman.
Several men on bicycles go out of their way to avoid me. One of
them is almost hit by a speeding car in his attempt to cross the street. I
pretend not to notice and continue to move down the sidewalk. It doesn’t
bother me. I learned long ago how to get by on my own.
As I round the corner, I think I feel a pair of eyes on my back, but
when I turn, no one is there. I shrug it off as a curious townsperson and
carry on with my search. It’s a quiet morning in Peninsula and I don’t
have any leads, so I decide to just start searching the town, house by
house if I have to. I’m pretty sure I can do a sweep of the entire town
in a day or two. Hopefully the mystery man from my memory will
stick around long enough for me to find him. I can’t help but think he
might be different. Like me. A vampire, or something resembling one.
I’ve never really met someone like me before. The idea makes my heart
speed up in excitement. The man whose image now burns in my mind
had been well-dressed, so it only makes sense to start on the north side.