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THe VAMPIRE SHRINK

EXCERPT #1: The beginning ...

CHAPTER ONE

My involvement with vampires began innocently enough, long before the blood hit the fan, so to speak.

Like most psychologists, I’d been trained to view the world through a diagnostic lens, to hear my clients’ stories with my metaphorical ears, searching out the deeper meanings. Thankfully, my tendency to reduce each person to a prevailing neurosis was tempered by my irreverent, dark sense of humor, which kept me from taking myself and the world too seriously.

While I was never as bad as some of my colleagues about believing only in what I could prove – if you can’t quantify it, it isn’t there – I had seen enough bizarre situations in my psychotherapy work over the years to make me more skeptical than I was comfortable admitting. That said, my private practice had its share of UFO abductees, demonic possessions, satanic-ritual survivors, religious cultists, attached entities – all the newest selections on the menu of emotional and mental pain – alongside clients with all the “regular” therapy issues.

So when I opened the door separating my reception area from my office that fateful Friday to welcome my new client, I was only momentarily surprised. Waiting for me was a young woman wearing a long black dress covered by a dark-purple velvet cape. Rings adorned all ten fingers, and a long snake bracelet with sparkling ruby eyes wound its way up her arm from wrist to elbow. She had waist-length light-brown hair with multicolored streaks, and she wore white theatrical makeup, dark-red lipstick, and remarkably lifelike, high-quality fangs.

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THe VAMPIRE SHRINK

EXCERPT #2 - Vampire in the Waiting Room . . .

I met with a few more clients that afternoon and early evening and had just kicked off my shoes when I heard the door to the reception area open. I quickly scanned my appointment book to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anyone. Finding I hadn’t, I put my shoes back on and opened my office door.

Sitting in one of the chairs in the waiting room was the very same gorgeous, blond-haired, leather-clad man I’d seen outside my building and in Midnight’s drawing.

My stomach lurched and I think I gasped out loud.

He stood when I opened the door and it was fluid motion, as if he had simply willed himself vertical. His body was all lean muscle radiating some kind of primal power. He moved elegantly over to me and gave a slight bow of his head. He offered the kind of smile that made my Inner Nerd want to fan herself and hide in the closet.

Dressed in black, his snug leather pants, form-fitting silk T-shirt, and long leather duster gave the impression of high fashion rather than Harley-Davidsons.

I froze in the doorway with my mouth hanging open, speechless, staring into the most amazing pair of turquoise eyes I’d ever seen.

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THE VAMPIRE SHRINK

EXCERPT #3 - Evil Vampires Come to Call . . .

By the time we left the hospital, the mountain skyline shimmered in the midst of a breathtaking color and light show. Brilliant shades of red, orange, blue, and purple swirled around and through each other, muting into pinks, peaches, and lavenders as shafts of sunlight streamed through openings in the kaleidoscope of colors. Off to the east, faint points of light floating in an indigo void sparkled as the sun retreated behind the towering peaks in the west. Nothing’s as magical as a Rocky Mountain sunset.

We were all exhausted and worried about Emerald, and the ride back to my office was a silent one. It appeared my companions had buried the hatchet because Ronald offered to take Midnight home, and she accepted. Before they left I rescheduled Ronald’s appointment and thanked him for being such a big help. He seemed ill at ease with my expression of appreciation, but gave me a tentative smile. I looked forward to finding out if I could help alleviate the sadness I saw behind his warm tawny eyes.

I wrestled with myself about whether I should go up to my office and work for a while or head home to a glass of wine and a hot bath. Guilt won the match and I rode the elevator upstairs, daydreaming about sinking into an aromatic bubble-filled tub.

I was gratified to find several voicemail messages from prospective clients, and I sat at my desk for the next hour returning calls and answering emails.

I had just decided to pack it in for the evening when my office door opened and two of the whitest men I’d ever seen walked in. I don’t mean just pale, like the British actors on the BBC, but chalk-white. Unlike the makeup Midnight used, the tone of their complexions hadn’t come from a tube. Suffice it to say they weren’t sun worshippers.

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THE VAMPIRE SHRINK

EXCERPT #4 - A Really Bad Night . . .

It was perhaps lucky that I didn’t know right away that I’d woken up in a coffin. The first thing I noticed was a putrid smell, a unique stench consisting of backed-up sewer, rotted meat, blood, mold, mildew, and death. The smell was so horribly potent that it caused me to become aware of the second thing: it was very dark. The reason the smell triggered me to notice the darkness was because as soon as I got a good whiff of it, my stomach heaved. I tried to sit up, or roll over, because I didn’t want to throw up on myself, and I was certain that barf was in my immediate future.

My attempt to sit up caused me to bang my head against an unexpected barrier, which led me to discover there was a ceiling directly above my body. I began to push against it and quickly deduced it was an immovable object, or at least a very heavy one.

Then I panicked.

The feeling of my hands pushing against the resisting material immediately triggered a cellular memory of the aforementioned movie and I started to scream, which shifted my attention away from throwing up. This proved to be very helpful: fear is a powerful motivator. Like the mothers who lift multi-ton vehicles off their children, imagining myself locked in a box for my ride up the Entry Ramp to Eternity allowed me to become Hulk-like in my strength, and to force open what turned out to be the bulky lid of an old coffin.

I sat up, still screaming, the sound reverberating off the walls of the small, decrepit building I’d awakened in. A building that smelled extraordinarily bad.

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THE VAMPIRE SHRINK

EXCERPT #5 - Close Encounter with Devereux . . .

He removed his black leather duster and threw it in a chair in the corner.

Enjoying the view of the physique that’d been hidden under the coat, I moved over to him and lightly kissed his lips. “Definitely yes.”

I opened a brand-new set of silk sheets I’d had for a long time but never used, while Devereux stripped off the old bedding.

Quite an efficient team, we smoothed on the new sheets, watching each other with hungry eyes.

“Do you have candles?” he asked.

Uh, did I? I thought for a moment and remembered which box in the closet I’d stashed them in. I wouldn’t tell him that I’d only bought them in case the electricity went out and I needed emergency light. I was trying to learn to keep my unromantic, nerdy explanations to myself. At least under certain conditions.

While I was in the closet I stepped out of the Miss Piggy slippers and put them back in their special place, next to my Glenda the Good Witch sandals.

Okay. So I did let my inner child out sometimes.

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Diary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker

Excerpt #1: Meet Zara the vampire

Jesus. I radically overslept.

I could've sworn I set my inner alarm clock for a century. Blame it on my over-worked snooze button. I always try not to downshift for longer than 100 years at a time because I might miss something interesting. Or someone interesting.

But then, the word "interesting" is relative when you've been alive – excuse me, I mean undead – for thousands of years.

Yes, I'm a vampire. And not only am I a vampire, but I'm the oldest, most powerful vampire still exploring Amusement Park Earth today.

I've got the nosferatu thing down to a science.

And, who would have guessed that my powers would keep on increasing, branching out, and surpassing themselves?

Pretty soon, there'll just be no living with me. So to speak.

Anyway, I thought it was time I started writing down some of my exploits on paper. Craft my memoirs. Spread the goodies around, as it were. So, I've begun this flow-of-consciousness journal, and am sharing it all with you from my luxury mausoleum beneath the glittering city of Paris, France. A great place to hide. Not that I need to hide, mind you. There are just certain individuals I'd rather avoid, if possible. Devotees can be so draining – and drained.

I've already discovered that it is now 2160 and I missed my wake-up call for the year 2100, but it really doesn't matter. I'll share my delectable presence with the population of this time period soon enough. But I want to tell you about my last visit, during the late 20th/early 21st century, and the juicy human I encountered and fell for. Hard.

Of course, I'm sure he's still pissed at me. But, believe me, we have plenty of time to work things out.

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Excerpt 2: When I arose from the dead, I sensed . . . something

Anyway, on that fateful day where our story begins, as the last rays of the sun slid behind the mountains, my eyes opened, I sat up, and immediately knew something was different.

It was as if there was a blip in the space-time continuum. Or the vibrational soup I'd grown accustomed to swimming in had a new carrot in the pot. Or someone's soul signature was pulling me: As if a special radio station with a signal that only I could hear had gone on the air.

And, while we're on the subject, let me clear up another thing right now. Vampires have souls. It is the body that dies. Any respectable metaphysician will tell you that the essence of what we Earth inhabitants are – fundamental and deeper than alive/not alive – is some kind of etheric energy. This energy continues, regardless. It does seem to be the case that each soul – yes, that includes vampires – has its own song and, according to legend and myth, each soul is theoretically matched with another soul whose song is similar. We've all been bashed over the head with the soul mate thing, so I won't bore you with that. Besides, the entire topic really is much more complicated and interesting than we usually hear about.

But, back to what I was saying. When I arose, I sensed…something.

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Excerpt #3: Gorgeous human tempts naughty vampire

It was a beautiful spring night and the air was perfumed with a wonderful combination of lilacs and the blooms of Russian olive trees. The full moon was doing that mystical thing where it's shrouded in haze and surrounded with wispy, shimmering rings of colors. The kind of moon that foretells magical and momentous events.

Scrumptious Niven led me through a parking area, next to the creek that runs through the center of town, and over to a grassy oasis, replete with benches, pot-smoking lay-abouts, and enthusiastic fornicators.

While it isn't usually my style to allow one of my "companions" to call the shots or take command, I found myself amused by Niven's assumption of my acquiescence. In fact, I was getting a going-to-the-prom rush (okay, so I have no idea what that would feel like, really. Play along, won't you?) from the mere touch of his hand holding mine. Anyway, since it felt good, I decided to continue doing it.

He navigated us to a relatively human-free area and audaciously backed me up against the trunk of a huge tree, where he proceeded to run his hands up and down my arms. I have to say that I was really enjoying my temporary role as wolf in sheep's clothing. I figured there'd be plenty of time later for this delicious dish to find out what kind of cage he'd rattled.

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Undead in the City, Erotic Paranormal Romance

Excerpt #1: Meet Malveaux

Malveaux skulked in the shadows along the abandoned industrial buildings. A relentless blizzard – an uninvited Canadian visitor – pounded the urban landscape, causing even those with exceptional vision to falter in the wall of white. Hard snowflakes, slamming earthward like mini ice darts, caused him to raise an arm above his eyes as a shield to forestall the storm’s assault. The frozen projectiles couldn’t hurt him – almost nothing could – but the act of protecting one’s eyes was habitual. Instinctual, perhaps. Even for beings that hadn’t been human for a very long time.

Parts of the inner city of Detroit had become the stuff of nightmares. Not only because they were inhabited by creatures of the night like him, but because of the frighteningly ingenious methods humans had devised for harming each other. And they called him a monster.

One benefit to frequenting this seedy part of town was the readily-available food source. Prostitutes displayed their charms for pitifully small amounts of money, and they were always more than willing to donate a bit of blood for the right price, even in a storm like tonight’s. He quite enjoyed sucking the throats of these ladies of the evening, then erasing their memories of said event. They always struck him as painfully honest, acknowledging the very human need for sex, unlike the masses who pretended to feel no such compulsions.

He was excruciatingly aware of his needs. Blood and sex. Even though those two things weren’t commonly linked in most vampires, Malveaux’s creator had been unique. A human who’d been addicted to sex of all kinds before being forced into vampirism against his will, he’d passed along the mutated desires to his vampire offspring – who were also taken against their wills. A family tradition. Certainly not Norman Rockwell’s idyllic vision, but a tradition, nonetheless.

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Excerpt #2: Meet Tempest Moon

A burst of frigid air hit Tempest as the front door opened. Thinking a few more customers might be braving the sudden ice age to show up for the last set, she was disappointed to see only a solitary man step inside. He shook his hair away from his face, sending a shower of melting snow down the walls, and straightened the collar on his coat. The entryway was directly in front of her at the far end of the club, and luckily, there were a lot of overhead lights, so she got a good look at the new arrival. Even with his long, dark hair snow-covered, wet, and plastered against his shoulders, she felt her breath catch – and not from the cold air. He had to be the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. Tall, with light skin and piercing eyes. She appreciated the cut of his leather duster and suspected it was high dollar. What the hell was a fancy number like him doing in a crap hole like this? Maybe he was another one of those mafia jerks. They were always showing up to extort one kind of payment or another.

Hidden in the darkness of the stage, she followed him with her eyes as he strode purposefully to the booth tucked back in the far corner. The bartender, along with every other life form in the smoky room, had gone completely still as the newcomer passed. Pausing next to the booth, the man removed his coat, shaking it to dislodge the melting snow and ice. A smile spread across Tempest’s face as she noted the form-fitting leather pants and muscle-hugging, light-colored t-shirt he wore under the expensive coat. It didn’t take much creativity to imagine how it would feel to run her hands over that muscled expanse, but Tempest had creativity and imagination in abundance. So much, that her body stirred in satisfied anticipation of the unexpected possibility that had just magically offered itself for later that night. She would’ve been happy to bounce on Stan again, but as far as men went, new was always better than familiar. She’d learned that the best thing about her looks was being able to use them to pick up any guy she wanted. Pitiful that males were so easily controlled, but it was just as well, since she so enjoyed being in charge.

She watched the handsome stranger fold himself into the booth, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Chaz, the bartender, spring from behind the bar. The previously laid-back – read stoned – fellow practically fell over his own feet in his frantic attempt to reach the leather man. He hovered near the booth, wringing his hands, nodding energetically at whatever the new customer was saying. Chaz finally pointed toward the pay phone near the shelves of liquor and speed-walked in that direction, leaving the man alone.

Tempest realized she’d been holding her breath during Chaz’s strange performance. Of course, she’d only met the bartender that day, so she had no idea what his normal behaviors were. But still, the vibe he gave off around the stud muffin was unusual, almost as if he was afraid or something. She could feel the thrum of his anxiety from her observation post. No surprise, really. Most of the businesses in the inner city were mob controlled. Maybe the eye candy in the booth was high-up on the motherfucker feeding chain. She smirked. A lesser woman might take a pass on rolling around with a member of The Family, but she always enjoyed a challenge. None of the assholes had gotten the upper hand with her yet, and she felt confident she could call the shots with this yummy specimen, too.

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Trick or Treat, Erotic Paranormal Romance

Excerpt #1: An unexpected blind date. . .

Sliding through the darkness, Natasha entered the cold, quiet house. She ran her hand along the side of the wall, found the light switch, clicked it, but nothing happened.

“Hello? Is anybody here?” she shouted.

Her words echoed back to her in the shadowed emptiness. She stood still for a moment, straining to detect any signs of the presence of the man she’d expected to meet there.

He’d sent a note with a black rose attached. Her favorite. Being a punctual sort, she was right on time for what he’d said would be a night she’d never forget.

Holding her hands out in front of her, she inched forward in the darkness, searching for another room where he might be waiting. She shivered with excitement and fear. The man’s note had been so enticing. Asking her to meet him in an ancient, abandoned house seemed adventurous at first. Now she was anxious. But she had told him she liked surprises. Especially wicked ones.

Just as she passed a set of etched-glass windows, the full moon emerged from behind a cloud and illuminated the room. She gasped, pressing a hand to her breast.

A man stood before her. And what a man. He was over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a muscular chest. The state of his chest was apparent because he wasn’t wearing a shirt. His hair was very light and long enough to brush  his elbows. He had amazing eyes. They seemed to shift in the ever-changing moonlight that played over his face, flowing from blue to silver and back again. She’d never seen their like before.

He smiled, the corners of his lush lips rising.

Her heart beat like a ritual drum, the rhythm escalating as her breathing quickened. What an astoundingly desirable man. Almost unnaturally so. Hot juices dampened the silk thong she’d purchased for this special occasion. Her bra-less nipples hardened and pushed through the fabric of her black velvet blouse as her breasts swelled in anticipation.

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