Unforgiven is a dark fantasy love story, and I'm stoked that it's been chosen as part of this cool anthology. Look at all these awesome authors.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Eight cutting-edge stories
of the darker side of love.
Tiffinie Helmer ~ Heartless
Alex Bledsoe ~ Tantrabobus
V.R. Barkowski ~ Just A Lie
Erica Hayes ~ Unforgiven
Lizbeth Lipperman ~ Sweepers: A Kiss To Die For
Charlie Holmberg ~ Salt and Water
Coreene Callahan ~ Fury of Fate
S.G. Redling ~ The True Love of Sherry Papers
The premise of this antho was simple: the story had to begin with the words 'love hurts'.
So, y'know. Vampire revolutionaries. Bwahaha. Just in time for Valentine's Day…
Here's the first little snippet of my story, Unforgiven.
Love hurts, they say.
Still, I find it an impractical tool. In all my years, I've never extracted a traitor's confession with the threat of a broken heart, for the simple reason that on the subject of love, imagination fails us. We cannot conceive before the fact how excruciating its loss can be. Whereas any torturing scoundrel will tell you that the instinctive human dread of physical pain—a dagger pressed into the eye socket, for example—is often more persuasive than the pain itself.
I poke my blade in a little harder. "Give me a name, monsieur, or by Jupiter, I'll slice your eye in two."
"Don't know what you mean." The boy's in shirtsleeves, and sweat darkens his white linen. The pleasure den's warm gaslights slant my shadow across his face. He's bleeding all over his waistcoat, poor lad, his cupid's-bow lips split and swollen, and it isn't making my job any easier.
A few feet from us, behind the half-drawn curtain, the dance whirls on, oblivious, a riot of silk and brocade, paste jewelry, painted faces, dusty relics of the bad old days. When he approached me at these revels—me, a lady wearing a gentlemen's swallow-tailed coat and breeches, rapier and dirk at her belt, glossy brown curls twisted in a red ribbon—he had more erotic recreation in mind.
Perhaps, so did I. He's handsome, this minion of evil. Delicious. The eye I'm threatening to pierce is ocean blue, bright with belladonna, and the smell of his skin maddens me. Absinthe and fear and a succulent boy's sweat, a toxic reminder of days long gone, when truth and liberty were more important than tomorrow, and my blood raced wild and free.
But I'm a different woman now. A married woman. And though I worship my lord husband with my entire heart, on evenings such as this—with the prey trembling in my grip, warm night air sparkling on my skin, the scent of satisfaction inches from my reach—the interminable emptiness of that tomorrow stretches ahead of me, terrifying.
"Your coven master's name, villain." I slide my dirk under his chin. "Or perhaps you can do without the eyeball. Should I instead slice your throat asunder?"
"Please, don't hurt me. He'll kill me if I tell you." He's sobbing now, begging in the fashion I once enjoyed so ruthlessly, and sweat trickles between my breasts. I'm burning. Eager. Parched inside, as if my soul wastes away for want.
"Yet so shall I, if you remain silent. What a dilemma." I twist his hair in my damp fist. My mouth is dry. I want to lick his swollen lips, taste that shimmering moisture. "Give me his name, minion, or you'll know sorrow."
The boy's eyes harden, the besotted glitter of the Possessed. "His name is master," he rasps. "But he signs himself Charlot."
The syllables echo backwards in time.
I taste them. Mysterious, slightly bitter, like an old wine. Enticing. Just as he tasted, long ago in those restless days of revolution, when he and I were drunk on power and fury and the sheer brilliant bliss of being alive.
My heart beats faster. Fear or excitement? I ought to feel nothing.
I must feel nothing.
Cool, eh? You can read a bigger excerpt at my website.
Buy links for the antho: Amazon ~ B&N