This Fantasy/thriller is book 1 of a vampire/fantsay/thriller series. Referred to as "edgy" by many of its readers, it is fast paced, filled with martial arts action, vampire fantasy and some gore and sure to grab your attention! You can find it at your bookstore,amazon.com,bn.com, raularpublishing.com and possibly more locations.
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Amongst the hustle and bustle of glittery Fremont Street, in the modern day city of Las Vegas, exists an 18th century vampire's den. But this is no ordinary vampire den; it houses vampires who are able to walk in the light of day! They accomplish this by absorbing human DNA when eating their flesh; something that took centuries to perfect. Why would they go through the excruciating ordeal of mutating their bodies? Could walking in the daylight be that important? Not really, but getting the approval and admiration of the great Count Dracula is! The leader of the den is the bastard son of Count Dracula who is obsessed with his need to stand out as special in Dracula's eyes. What better way than to master the ability to be immune to the rays of the sun? In order to provide a continuous supply of only the purest source of flesh, while keeping a low profile, the vampires breed their own humans. They get their supply of breeders by participating in a slave and prostitution trafficking business; abducting immigrants who are smuggling themselves into the country and whose absences are not as likely to be reported to the authorities and keeping the most desirable of these captives as breeders for food. But when they capture the childhood friend and bride-to-be of a martial arts master it is the beginning of their end!
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“...And may the good Lord be waiting as the gates of heaven open wide to accept our dear sister. Amen.” The spindly priest’s voice was barely audible amidst the gusts of wind and pelting rain.
Water drizzled off the canopy that had been put up, in anticipation of the storm, to offer protection to the attendees; a futile effort at best. A small group of mourners gathered around the open grave, bowing their heads in silence as Father Robert closed his bible and stepped back, indicating that he had completed what he had come to do. His eyes bore into the crowd as if he were searching for something; but what? Although he had never met the deceased, he had been a long time friend of her uncle who had entered his church asking for help after immigrating from China twenty years ago. The priest knew that there was a small population of Catholics in China, but he never dreamed one of them would find his way into his small congregation. Curious to learn more about the conditions of Chinese Catholics and duty bound to help those in need, Father Robert eagerly took the family under his wing and soon developed a genuine affection for them as their population slowly increased in number over the years.
The deceased was Li Rong, a Chinese woman in her thirties who was to join her husband, who had immigrated three years earlier to join his family, but had disappeared after leaving China. There had been rumors about where she was and why she had disappeared ranging from ‘she met someone while traveling and ran away with him’ to ‘she had become a vampire and was killed by a blonde American’. Father Robert had heard them all, but the latter raised his curiosity. What would cause such a rumor to start? He made a brief visit to the funeral home to inspect Li Rong’s young, emaciated body. He noticed the scars on her wrists and one at the nape of her neck and questioned the doctor, who explained them away as scabs from living in an unclean environment for an extended period of time; or perhaps she fell asleep in a rat infested alley and was bitten. The doctor did say that her blood seemed tainted, but there was no sign of drugs and so he concluded that it was from eating garbage or rodents. There seemed nothing that would indicate that she had been anything more than a beautiful Chinese woman who had taken a wrong path in life and literally starved to death.
Father Robert had developed a stronger understanding about Chinese culture over the years and their powerful ties to ancestral tradition. Because of this, he was as surprised as his Chinese comrades at the alarming amount of women from China who seemed to be running away before they would reach their final destination and the arms of their awaiting loved ones. It seemed almost epidemic. Something in his gut told him that there was more to it than simply Western ways reaching and influencing these women; and it had a sinister feel to it. He had prayed for clarity, but received no answer that could shed light on the situation.
The wind seemed almost angry as it howled amongst the thick oak trees that afforded a small amount of protection to the endless rows of ancient headstones. Flowers escaped the confines of their tightly woven arrangements and swirled through the air, riding on the closed casket as it was slowly lowered into the ground. Father Robert adjusted the collar of his black trench coat in preparation for his drudge across the cemetery to the dry warmth of rectory. He looked briefly at the figure of a man making his way across the cemetery toward them and sighed. Normally he would wait and offer comfort to late arrivals, but he was cold and wet and his head was beginning to pound to the point he felt it would burst. He wanted nothing more than to be dry and warm with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea. With a parting nod to the remaining mourners, he stiffened his body against the pelting rain and steadied his umbrella in preparation for the rapidly increasing wind and then made his leave.
An elderly Chinese woman shifted uncomfortably while the crowd around her slowly dispersed. Strands of long gray hair had escaped her tightly wound bun and her rain-soaked, thick legging-like stockings were beginning to sag along her calves; but she seemed not to notice. As if mesmerized, she focused on the slow moving casket until she heard the “thud” that indicated it had reached the bottom of the neatly dug grave before raising her gaze to the late arrival.
Dave walked slowly across the well groomed cemetery toward the dispersing group. He wore a Fedora that was pulled down low over his eyes, completely covering his close cropped blonde hair and had flipped his coat collar upward in a way that allowed him to burrow his chiseled face, making it barely visible. This gave him the ability to not only ward of the stinging pelts of rain, but maintain a small amount of anonymity. His strong hands clutched the remnants of a flower bouquet that had suffered the storm’s as he made his way to Li Rong’s grave. He saw no one that might know him amongst the remaining mourners, but he still decided to stop far enough away to keep him from being recognized, just in case; he was in no mood to converse and explain who he was and why he was here.
The old woman stared in his direction. Dave did not know her, but felt a small comradeship with her that he could not place. Was she related to Li Rong? Although old with deep set wrinkles, her face still had the remnants of the beauty she once was and he thought he could see a resemblance. Or, was she more than just a mourning relative? Did this old woman know who he was? He searched her hooded eyes for answers but they, as well as her face, were an unreadable stone image.
Two workmen strode rapidly through the rain with their cart of tools and started to shovel dirt onto the coffin, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there were still mourners mingling around it. When Dave moved closer, one of them tapped the other on his shoulder and motioned for him to stop and leave the grave site. The worker reluctantly put his shovel down and backed away with a dark scowl covering his face. His co-worker opened an umbrella and tipped it forward to offer the disgruntled grave digger some small amount of shelter from the thick, cold pellets of rain.
“Don’t these folks know it’s raining? It seems to me they would want to get out of this shit and into a warm house. I know I do.” The disgruntled worker’s voice carried to the straggling attendees and, with a look of disdain, they slowly made their way toward their cars; leaving the Asian woman and Dave as the sole attendees.
“Hush now and have some respect for the dead, will ya? We’ll be done soon enough.” The co-worker pulled his hooded coat over his hat in an effort to provide greater protection from the storm. A native of Phoenix, with its arid climate, he was still trying to adjust to the New York’s ever changing cold and wet weather. Trying to perform a funeral service in such an unpredictable climate was something they had not experienced prior to coming to the east coast. He sympathized with his co-worker, but death was not something that could be scheduled for a sunny day and it was always a crap shoot with the weatherman. They knew this when they took the job. And besides, they got paid extra for inclement weather.
Dave moved past the huddled grave diggers and stood at the grave opening. Looking down at the casket through teary eyes, he fell to his knees and gently placed the remnants of the bouquet of flowers on top of it; ignoring the sensation of the old woman’s eyes burrowing into his back.
Forgetting about his desire for anonymity, Dave pulled his hat from his head and wiped a stray tear as it coursed its way down his cheek. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. If only I had been... if only... Oh God, why...
“She is safe now.” The old Chinese woman’s voice was just as emotionless as her face. Dave watched through red rimmed eyes as she turned and silently picked her way through the ancient headstones in the older part of the cemetery until she had made her way over the small mound in the distance and disappeared.