Friday, April 13, 2012

Plucking Cupid's Bow by Rebecca Murphy & Alex Potvin: Excerpt

Cami has spent the last 80 years trying to kill herself. She might even have succeeded if she weren’t a vampire. Aside from being undead, Cami has a little problem with being schizophrenic, which allows her to catch glimpses of the future, but also complicates the little things in life like talking (or knowing she is a vampire).
Elements from Mistica Designs, Raspberry Linen Delight (DCS).

Every night, she walks the streets of Washington D.C. while Barry and Melvin, her two inept demon companions, try to convince her to wreak as much havoc on the city as possible. The night she is hit by a car, driven by the last pure hearted priest in the city, her un-life is changed in ways she never thought possible. When her world is thrown into upheaval with people trying to kill her, hearts being broken, kidnappings, torture, and Shakespearian plays, Cami’s desire to kill herself fades to an afterthought as more important aspects of life, love, and vampire politics take over.

Caught in the middle of an undead power struggle, Cami is coming of age...a century after her death.

Brianna relented her keys to Cami without protest, claiming it would leave both hands free to make more ‘bunny bloods’ as she called the mixture of strawberry milk and vodka. Brianna said it would likely taste even better if it were blended with Neapolitan ice-cream; Cami agreed, although the whole thing sounded stomach churning to her. Cami followed the meandering path to the club as Brianna rattled off the directions, often too late, causing them to take several detours around the city before reaching their ultimate destination.

  They walked past the line outside the Thorn Swallow Club, heading directly to the imposing bouncer behind the velvet rope. Sipping on a bendy straw from her pink bunny carton of strawberry milk, which was almost entirely vodka by that point, Brianna smiled sweetly to the large black man in the “staff” t-shirt.

 “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm—girl, you fine.” The bouncer winked to Brianna.

 “T-Bar, that’s sexual harassment and I don’t have to like it,” Brianna replied. “But I will, because you’re so damn cute.”

 “Whose your friend there, Bri?” T-Bar nodded in the direction of Cami.

 “This is Cami the Goddess of my nights,” Brianna said, drawing Cami in close for a half hug. “Cami, this is my boyfriend T-Bar.”

 T-Bar extended an impeccably groomed hand to Cami. Taking hers between his soft strong fingers, he drew her hand up to his lips, kissing the back dramatically. “Troy Blake, down for whatever,” T-Bar said, adding a subtle wink.

 Cami smiled politely at first. Slowly the warmth of his hand heated hers. She felt a peculiar kindness in his imposing figure, one of genuine affability mixed with a touch of naivety. Briefly she flashed on the scene of the large man playing piano for his blind grandmother in a small room in a nursing home on the day after tomorrow. Cami reluctantly pulled her hand from his, offering him a heartfelt smile.

 “Your grandmother must appreciate you,” Cami said.

 “How do you…” T-Bar started to say.

 “Excuse me, G-String or whatever your name is? Can you stop talking to the tanningly challenged and let me in already?” a young woman with a Bluetooth headset stuck to her ear said from the head of the line.

 T-Bar looked the girl over with one eyebrow raised. “You got a tattoo on your lower back?” he asked her.

 The girl nodded happily. She turned around to show off her lower back with a string of butterflies prominently displayed above her miniskirt, which could just have as easily been called a wide belt.

 “You ain’t getting in here with that cliché tramp-stamp.”

 “Tramp-stamp!? Are you out of your cotton picking mind?” the girl yelled.

 “Oh, hell no,” T-Bar said. With a flick of his hand he snatched the Bluetooth from her head and tossed it into the parking lot. “You just got yourself a lifelong ban, butterfly. In fact, any of y’all underage bitches with bugs above or up your ass can go ahead and get the hell out of my line.” T-Bar shouted over the entire line, pointing to several specific girls, waving them off. “You two can go right in,” T-Bar said to Cami and Brianna. He held the velvet rope open for them, and slipped back into his badass façade, even managing to maintain his stony veneer when Brianna squeezed his ass on the way past.

 The interior of the Thorn Swallow was decorated in a combination of BDSM dungeon, Gothic Cathedral, and contemporary dance club. Fake skeletons painted in black light reactive colors hung from chains around the dance floor. The tables and surrounding sconces were filled with fake black roses or candelabras with electric candles in them. The long stairwell leading down into the club was narrow, dimly lit, and lined with posters from Goth and punk bands who had played there. Cami struggled to block out the whispered accusations and threats made by the people in the band posters as she passed them—she wondered why Brianna couldn’t hear the mocking posters.

 “He’s cute right? I mean in the big, black, and smooth all over sort of way, you know?” Brianna leaned in close to Cami to be heard as they descended into the club, greeted by thrumming music and darkness. “Don’t fall for the act. That’s just his ‘T-Bar’ side to keep his night job. He’s actually trying to become an orchestra conductor.”

 “He’s kind, musically talented, funny, and loves his grandmother,” Cami replied. “It is hard not to like that cake recipe. It isn’t really for me to speak to your tastes though.”

 “Yeah, his Grammums is good people—wait, what?” Brianna leaned against Cami, this time for support. “Hey, let’s go dance!”

 Cami looked at Brianna skeptically. “Or wobble in place?”

 Brianna led her down the stairs, into the throng of people dancing on the metal-grate dance floor where Cami found herself awash in a world of warm bodies, flashing lights, and deafening music with a beat she could feel in the center of her chest more than actually hear. Brianna linked one hand through the front of Cami’s belt while she sipped from the pink bunny carton in her other hand. Closing her eyes, Cami felt the music creep up from the floor into her legs, her body moving to the pulsing music, her hair whipping across her face. She heard a hundred hearts beating around her, felt the breath of people panting against each other, and breathed deeply of the sea of unadulterated humanity. Time fell away. She might have danced in the swirling storm of life for an entire lifetime or just a few moments for all she could tell. Brianna’s warm hand looped through her belt was the only tether preventing her from being washed away in the storm of bodies, and Cami began to feel a particular closeness to the other girl. She felt secure enough to let herself go, as long as Brianna held onto her while she danced. Trust was a strange, nervous creature for Cami, but she found it strengthening from the warm, soft hand looped in her belt.

 Brianna leaned in close, her breath hot against Cami’s neck and ear. “My drink is empty. Let’s go get more,” Brianna shouted, heard as little more than a whisper.

 Cami’s eyes fluttered open, and she nodded. Brianna folded her hand into Cami’s, leading her off the dance floor toward the bar. In line, Brianna’s legs began to wobble a little, before completely losing her equilibrium; the pink bunny carton tumbled to the floor, nearly followed by Brianna. Cami scooped up her friend and carried her over to an empty booth still covered with several glasses and a few cigarettes stubbed out in a black ashtray. Brianna slid into the booth, mostly under her own power, her head lolling from side to side with the music. Cami sat next to her, positioning herself sideways to hold her friend up.

 “Are you okay?”

 “My head feels like it’s full of goldfish,” Brianna said.

 “Mine too. I think it’s the music.”

 Brianna laughed. Her head fell against the plastic covered headrest of the booth with a little thwack. Her long, black hair tumbled away from her neck, drawn away like a silk curtain to reveal the alluring skin below.

 “She wants to be tasted,” Barry whispered, slithering up onto the edge of the table. His voice came clearly to Cami, pushing aside the deafening music and din of the club.

 “Where is Melvin?”

 “Not important right now.”

 Cami could smell the perfume of Brianna’s skin, the strawberry milk on her breath, and something deeper, more meaningful. Brianna’s vulnerability and desire had an intoxicating, yet familiar aroma.

 “You can smell that?” Barry purred.

 “Lemon poppy seed muffins.” Cami’s head began to swim.

 “Yes, she is a baked good yearning to be yours.”

 “There are rules though,” Cami said, leaning in closer to Brianna’s neck.

 “The Baron’s rules are in shades of decay.”

 “But what of the sin of women with women?” Leaning in even closer, her lips tickled against the softest skin of Brianna’s neck, just below her ear. Brianna’s silver, skeleton earring danced along the tip of Cami’s nose.

 “Those rules do not apply. You are a vampire and she is a muffin,” Barry said.

 “Yes, what would the bible know of vampires and muffins? How could anything be a sin in such a moment?” Cami opened her mouth tentatively, feeling the tickle of her fangs extending with a delicious longing. She reached out her tongue, flicked it across the soft skin of Brianna’s neck, wetting the white flesh an instant before her fangs sank in.

 Little or no notice was paid to the two girls seemingly necking in the booth. The club had witnessed such spectacles before, though none so ecstasy filled, and couldn’t be bothered to tell the difference between kissing and feeding. Brianna’s blood was fire down Cami’s throat, the warmth of life and love filling her throughout, but with something more, something intoxicating. For Brianna, Cami’s fangs were more than just the quenching of the longing to be bitten, they were sharpness embodied, predatory lust, carrying with them a joyful oblivion she hadn’t even believed possible without death. For Cami, Brianna was trust personified and human sensuality with an excitingly feminine edge she’d never experienced before.

 Drawing away from Brianna’s neck, a splash of red across Cami’s lips, Brianna’s brown eyes met Cami’s green, both glassy from vodka and pleasure. Brianna leaned forward and licked her own blood from Cami’s lips, trying desperately not to scream to the entire world that she’d finally found a vampire—a real live vampire to worship.

 “The room is spinning,” Cami whispered.

 My world is spinning, Cami heard Brianna’s reply in her thoughts.

 “I think I’m drunk.”

 We both are.

 The combination of surging power and chaotic alcohol pushed against each other in Cami’s head. She closed her eyes, in hopes of dispelling the vertigo, only to have it intensify. She opened her eyes again to see the darkness encroaching around the edges, the back of her head growing heavier and heavier.
 “I think I’m falling,” Cami said, as the darkness pulled up from behind her, dragging her back into the abyss.

Author bio for Alex, written by Becky

Alex made his name and managed to finagle a few beers out of fans by penning a long running comic strip about the life and times during college of him, his friends, and his beloved girlfriend Becky. When college ended, he made the stumblingly awkward transition to more mainstream writing endeavors like zombie books and possibly fortune cookies. Eventually he hopes to get his church of Cthulhu off the ground, literally, as it is an airship constructed from a single wide trailer and Thanksgiving parade floats. In the writing shared (unequally) between him and the aforementioned beloved girlfriend, his sections tend to be the subjectively more funny ones and/or the action sequences.

Author bio for Becky, written by Alex

Rebecca Anne Murphy, who was born Rebecca Anne Murphy, is a face piercing enthusiast with impeccable taste in men. At the small liberal arts college she attended in the mountains of southern Oregon, she excelled at such worthy endeavors as karaoke and skateboarding, which amply prepared her for her future as a “chick lit” romance novelist and professional goof off. She has also been known to dabble in other art forms that are inferior to cartooning like painting and sculpting. When writing with her infinitely talented boyfriend, her sections tend to be fraught with steamy bisexual sex and prominently feature a character’s naughty bits.

About the Cupid Project
 The world of publishing has changed. The distance between reader and author has shrunk. The time between a book’s writing and its reading is a fraction of what it once was. The role of the publisher is now that of a facilitator. In the spirit of this new golden age of literature, Hungry Panther Publishing is proud to announce a revolutionary new project that will grant unprecedented interaction between reader and author. The Cupid Project utilizes the rich, creative urban fantasy world created by Alex Potvin and Rebecca Murphy to create a unique series of novels and novelettes. No longer will readers have to wait for months or years for the next book in a series. Major, full-length novels will be updated at regular intervals by novelettes. These novelettes will add story to the overall world, but are not required to keep up with the series. Simply put, if you like a character, want to know more of what they’re doing in the space between books in the series, you can purchase the novelettes featuring that character’s ongoing story while you wait for the next book. Have you wanted to know what became of other characters and story lines between books? Wonder no more. The combination of a revolutionary publishing house and two prolific writers brings you a never before seen fiction structure–The Cupid Project.

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