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Vampires, Mysteries and More!
SNAP is a multinational celebrity media machine covering the world's celebs 24/7. The difference? It's owned by vampires.
SNAP, a multinational celeb TV show and magazine, is the holy grail for Maxie Gwenoch. When she snags the job as managing editor, she's looking for fame, fortune and Jimmy Choos. What she finds is a media empire owned by Baron Kandesky and his family. A family of vampires. They're European, urbane, wealthy and mesmerizing. And when she meets Jean-Louis, vampire and co-worker, she's a goner.
The Kandesky vampire family rose in Hungary centuries ago. They gave up violence and killing to make a killing on the world's commodities markets and with that beginning they built SNAP, an international celebrity multimedia empire. Now cultured...and having found food substitutes for killing...they’ve cornered the world market for celebrity and gossip journalism.
They haven't fully left the past behind. Their Hungarian neighbors and rival vampire clan, the Huszars are starting to ramp up attacks, maybe looking to start a war to take over all the Kandeskys have built.
Maxie believes she's found her ultimate career. She doesn't realize that she's found a family feud like none other, a centuries-old rivalry between vampire families, with her as the linchpin. Bells ring with Jean-Louis, but she doesn’t realize they’re alarm sirens until she learns that Jean-Louis is second in command of the Kandeskys...but by then it's too late.
They were comfortable, their pace not quite a lope. The woods were dark, but the just-past full moon showed the path.
“Those pigs...” the first one snarled.
“They’re more trouble than they’re worth,” the second one growled. “They make way too much noise when they’re hunting.”
Baying suddenly broke the night silence. “The rest of the pack,” the first one tuned his head to listen. “How many coming out tonight?”
“Only three besides us,” the second one sniffed. “Every body was out last night. Tonight, it’s just patrol and checking traps.”
Snuffling came from ahead just to the right of the path followed by fast-running feet. Night birds—ravens and owls—took off with rustling wings, swooping over the two heavy-shouldered men on the path. The owls were silent, only rushing air marking their passage. The ravens raucously called to one another, making the men pause.
“Who else is out?” The first one’s voice rumbled low in his wide chest. Before he could answer, the second one let out a startled bellow.
“I smell something.” he screamed, rapidly shape shifting into a wolf and going down on all fours. The first one dropped too, and, now both werewolves, they whirled and ran toward a snare net.
“I knew I smelled him,” the first one said as they came upon a figure struggling in the net. The net, woven with strands of silver, was pale in the moonlight showing the prey.
“It’s a Kandesky, let’s get him out and take him to Matthais.” Shifting to human form, they tied the Kandesky vampire’s arms behind his back with strands of the silver woven rope.
“This is a big mistake,” the vampire hissed., his fangs gleaming in the dim light. “You know these woods are neutral. You’re not supposed to be hunting here.”
Instantly, snarls, high-pitched screams and shouts filled the dark. Wings beat overhead, bodies plummeted down with talons searching for flesh and another figure spun into the man holding the trussed vampire. A blade flashed and the man dropped the rope, howling, holding his right arm with blood spurting black against the night.
The two figures, now clearly vampires, were rising to escape when the pigs attacked. Heavy-chested boars with scimitar-curved tusks, slashed and gouged, giving the two captors time to call the pack. The pack answered, leaping through the brambles and saplings to bring the vampires to bay. The first man, licking the wound on his forearm, grabbed the net and threw it over the two cornered vampires. Werewolves, snarling and snapping, watched while the first two shape shifters bound the vampires together and dragged them down the path.
It was blood. It looked like somebody dropped a cup or glass. It puddled in front of the sinks and filmed out on the bathroom floor.
I was startled; usually the bathrooms at SNAP Magazine were spotless.
It didn’t smell like fresh blood, that odd, kind of tangy, metal-y smell, but for sure I wasn’t going to touch it to see if it was warm.
I couldn’t scream, but I was suddenly queasy. My makeup didn’t need a touch-up that much. My knees shook as I spun back through the door and headed straight to my assistant’s desk to have her call maintenance or whoever and clean up the mess.
She looked up at me. “There’s what on the bathroom floor?”
“A big puddle of blood,” I whispered. “Come see for yourself.”
I didn’t want to run, didn’t want to incite concern in the rest of the staff and have it spread out through the cubicles, but we walked fast. When we got across the office and down the hall, I pushed open the door and said, “Look!” with a flourish.
“Look at what?” Jazz’ eyebrows disappeared up under her bangs.
I turned my head and saw...nothing. No blood, no remains, no pink sheen, not even water on the floor.
“Are you sure you saw it?”
“Of course I saw it,” I insisted. “It was right in front of the sinks. It covered a patch of the floor.”
Jazz shook her bangs out of her eyes and gave me a withering look that could have dried grapes into raisins. “I know you’ve only been here a few days, but I can’t think you found blood on the floor. SNAP has a reputation to keep up and they wouldn’t let something like that sit there for anyone to find.”
“I don’t think anyone would wander into a bathroom back here,” I said. “Isn’t this for employees only?”
“It’s supposed to be, but sometimes people who are here for a meeting or a shoot use these bathrooms instead of walking up front. These aren’t nearly as nice as the ones off the lobby and main conference rooms, but it’s quicker.”
I wasn’t happy. I saw the blood. I knew it had been there. I didn’t know why it was gone, but it wasn’t my imagination. There was nothing I could do about it now, but I was going to be on guard whenever I walked into a bathroom at SNAP.