Thank you and hugs to Manic Readers for having me again at their site!
What better way to introduce my second book in the Lash Series than a paragraph of introduction by each of the central and supporting characters of Shadow Man, from their own POV?
Lash a.k.a. Trystan Valeras
My name used to be Trystan Valeras. I left it behind, like my old life. Now there is just the careful maneuvering of the world of vampires, trying to help Abraham retain control of his city while not offending anyone above him. I never wanted this life, but I’m getting used to it. Hell, I’m good at it, so I might as well make the best of the easy money. My only gripe is having to deal with that whore Iso. But now that I’ve got Cassy, I’m in the gravy. She might be older than me, yeah, but so what? We understand each other. I’m tired of the party scene, and I’m ready to have a live in mistress. That wasn’t good enough for Nancy, but I can make it work with Cassy. And Abraham…he’s going to have to adapt, or lose me.
Reserved and hardworking Vampire ruler of New Orleans
I am Lash’s boss, and the master of New Orleans. Lash is right that it has become recently more difficult to stay off the radar of either Jacob, the state Ruler, or Dalcon, the Ruler of this country. Eli has put us all in an untenable position. I’m sure he seeks to overthrow the existing vampire hierarchy. While they may be corrupt to some extent, I don’t like to think what would happen to my city if Eli got his wish. Lash has taken the job to stop him, but I’m not sure he can handle the sheer numbers of Eli’s followers. And he’s also taken up with that Cassandra Nile. She’s bad news, and I’m sure she’s gotten him using drugs. Lash is not the man I used to trust. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to save him from a fate he’s bent on embracing.
The vampire elite are not to be trusted, no matter what terms they offer. They want to kill me, and enslave all of us to feed their loathsome appetites. We are better than that, or at least, we could be, if an effort were made. So many people’s world ended in the Crash. We have to fight to build something new, something that would be good for us all.
Lash is after me. He’s sworn to kill me, and he’s got the help of another deadly assassin, Burl. They are picking us off in twos and threes. Our last hope is to make a stand, and overwhelm him and his man. I do not like to kill, but the Good Book teaches that there is a season for everything. If Lash forces my hand, I’ll do what I must.
Lash’s Half Faerie teen apprentice
Lash took me in when I was living on the streets, after my father died. He didn’t want to at first, but I showed him I could really help. Now he’s taught me practically everything he knows. I’m grateful for that, and for the job that Abraham gave to me. Like Abraham, I’m also worried about Lash. He’s never been serious about a girl…not even Nancy, who I was sure he would mate years ago. This Cassy seems to have him wrapped around her finger. But if Lash is happy, I’m not going to say anything. Besides, I can handle taking care of Hill House and Abraham for him.
Loyal weresnake mistress of Lash
I took Lash’s offer of being his mistress, sure that I could change him and take off his rough edges with a little TLC. It’s obvious no woman had ever given him her affection, only her body. I hoped and dreamed of so many things when I answered his letter, and he asked me to come to him. But he doesn’t want me…or at least, me only. I’m not going to spend my life as someone’s mistress, even if I do care about him. He offered to marry me, but I knew it was because he’d had a close call with death, not because he loved me. If I stay, nothing will change. So I’m leaving, hoping that will galvanize him to come after me. Either way, it’s better than what I have now.
Nightclub owner and singer
I have to admit, I knew Lash’s desires as soon as I saw him ogling me on the stage. I just had no idea they would be so exhausting. He’s a good guy, and we understand one another, especially our idea of recreation after work is done. He’s saved me from a beating—if not worse—several times already. But our age difference is weighing on me, especially his nightly demands on the weekends he visits me. Together with the club, I can’t keep up. To deal with that, I’ve devised a little plan that will take the pressure off. I just need to find a way to get it rolling.
Vengeful Vampire Ruler of Colorado
I have never forgiven Lash for his part in Brianna’s death years ago. I acted the very spirit of cooperation with the Eli situation, as Devlin Dalcon instructed, but once it is over, my man has his orders. Lash will be dead, with no way to trace it back to me. For once, I’ll have gotten vengeance against a monster who sought to take my lover away from me.
Blurb from Shadow Man:
A renegade vampire begins amassing a flock of true believers, threatening America’s vampire hierarchy. Weresnake Lash partners with old enemy Danial and new allies Burl and Spiderboy to track down and annihilate them. Betrayed and left for dead, Lash reemerges the victor, edging ever upward in the Assassin’s Ranking, and catching the eye of the sultry nightclub singer Cassandra Nile. Drawn into drugs by Cassie, Lash begins to doubt himself, yearning to leave his life of violence, even as enemies close in from every side.
“What’s that smoke?” Spiderboy asked, changing back as he pulled on his clothes as fast as he could. “Something’s burning, and it’s huge!”
My gut clenched like a fist, and I hit the accelerator, swearing to myself.
I drove up to the small town outside Lafayette at dusk. It was smoking, and the grocery store and the diner were partly burned. There was no one in their homes, and no pets to be seen. The old man I’d spoken to years ago was gone, his house empty, the lights on. But something made me curious. By the breakfast plates set out in the kitchen, it was clear that he’d been fixing breakfast this very morning. So how had the vampires come for him in daylight?
We checked the other houses, our guns out and ready. Everyone was gone, though some, by the blood and mess left in the houses, had not gone willingly. By the time we were done, it was full dark.
When we went to the church, we found that it was burned too, to the ground. Standing in the still-smoldering ashes was a three-foot-tall pole, the top covered with a black bag. Spiderboy’s eyes were very wide as he stood, staring, but I just walked up to the pole, and gently took the bag off. As soon as I did, Spiderboy threw up behind me, making mewling sounds.
Stuck on the end of the pole was Jeanna’s head, her mouth lolling open to reveal a tongue that had been split by a knife so it was forked. Her fangs had been pulled out, and her eyes burnt to cinders. The word ‘traitor’ had been deeply burned into the flesh of her forehead.
I stood for a moment, considering the message. The forked tongue meant Eli knew I was spying on him, or that I’d been working with her. The brand of ‘traitor’ and the pulled fangs meant he knew it was Jacob behind this, that Jeanna hadn’t been working just with me. She’d been covered to ensure that the sun wouldn’t be able to erase what she’d suffered before I got a chance to see it.
I didn’t know who’d killed her or tortured her, but someone had come for the humans here in the day, to take them. And there was only one group I knew of that worked for Eli who could walk in daylight: the members of the werecreature church.
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