They are untouched by time, and ravaged only by silver, the sun, and decapitation. They travel where they will and take to themselves humans to be their eternal companions.
One such creature, a vampire with the appearance of a young man, finds himself in a small, dusty town in Ohio in 1837. There the Blood Moon, an ancient force spoken only in legends, forces him to take an unwilling young woman as his eternal companion. They are bound by their blood relationship, and he must now protect her as her Blood Guardian against those who seek to do them harm.
The first part to the four-part New Adult paranormal romance Blood Guardians series. The first book is set in the western United States of the 1830s.
The town was a dust bowl of broken dreams and faded memories.
Or at least that's what one stranger thought as he walked among the dark, dingy streets. Overhead was a clear night sky, and down below not even a cool breeze disturbed the dusty ground. He would have been glad for one. It would have made the air that much less stagnant.
The young man looked to be about twenty-five years old, but he walked with an air of one possessed in knowledge beyond his years. This small town out west had no theater to amuse him, so his footsteps were taking him to the nearest saloon. There maybe he could pass the time in some base amusement or be entertained by some other man's foolish antics.
And then there was the watching.
He always had a purpose in watching everyone in every town he traveled through now. He'd ran out of his supply of food a few weeks back, and was forced to scrounge up a meal where he could. That meant watching to see who was stupid enough to stumble out of one of these rough and tumble saloons only to pass out in some alley close by. Then he would get what he needed.
The town he was in right now wasn't big, maybe a thousand people counting the farms just outside. It'd been settled within memory and built up around the stage that passed through town every few days. That meant there was only one business street to attract the visitors of the coach, and the town made the best of it by stretching out for a good mile along the vehicle route. Houses spread out from the important road, and farmhouses lay beyond, closer to the river. There was also a nice school there taught by one of the local girls. He'd heard some whisperings about it earlier at the hotel he was staying, a gathering place for the old men when the general store shut down for the night, but he didn't think much of those talks. Everyone around him had such short stories that he never bothered to learn them anymore.
The town had about four saloons, and the young man chose the first one he came upon. It turned out to be one of the most popular for locals and travelers alike, and he was fortunate to find a seat in the far back. There he was partially hidden by the shadow of the overhang of the balcony upstairs. That hall led to the rooms where prostitutes worked their wares and men paid for their sins. His eyes swept across the crowd as they gambled and drank away their earnings for the day, and sometimes for the month. The young man had no interest in those affairs, though. He was out for his prey.
However, one boisterous table caught his attention. The men, four of them, were surrounded by some of the more well-endowed women of the brothel upstairs. Those men were well-dressed, even handsomely clothed, in the case of one prominent individual, and they appeared to be gambling quite large sums, if the gasps from their lady friends were any indication.
"Don't bet that much, Hank," one of the women cooed. She was wrapped around a swarthy gentleman who looked rather perturbed at her presence.
"Don't tell me what to do, woman," he angrily shot back. He slammed a fifty dollar gold eagle on top of the pile already laying in the center of the table, and then he scowled at his opponent across the table. It was the best-dressed gentleman. "Now what you got in your hand, Simeon," he demanded to know.
His opponent, apparently Simeon, smirked and laid out his hand. It was a straight flush. The portly gentleman was very displeased and threw his cards down on the table.
"You bastard," the unknown man swore. "You were just stringing me along."
"Perhaps," Simeon smoothly agreed. He had a voice that could charm a saint, but the young man sitting in the shadows didn't trust that. He'd met too many vipers hidden beneath those slick silk tones. "But no need to throw your cards. We're all friends here," he scolded as he swept his winnings toward him.
"Friends don't fool friends..." the portly man mumbled.
"Well, just think of it as an early wedding present to me," Simeon pointed out. The young man noticed a few of the saloon's patrons stiffened. He figured they were locals who were acquainted with this affair. "My bride-to-be will appreciate it."
"You don't have a bride until she says yes," one of their other companions at the table commented.
"She'll come to her senses soon," Simeon argued. There was a strain in his voice that hadn't been there before. Apparently matrimony wasn't suiting the woman he sought as a bride. "Besides, what other choice does she have?" he asked with a laugh.
Suddenly one of the listeners along the bar loudly pushed back his stool. His face was red and his hands were clenched into tight fists at his sides. He stalked up to the table of the wealthy men and glared at Simeon.
"Violet's too good for you," the man sputtered out. "Even if you were twice the man you are, she'd still be too good for you."
"So I'm not a perfect man, Jeb," Simeon agreed. He still had a smirk on his face. "But I can still support her better than this town can, unless you want to give her the life I can offer."
"She deserves to go to college," Jeb insisted. "But you ain't caring enough about what she wants to do to send her there."
"I don't see how sending a woman to college will help anyone," Simeon argued. "Besides, marriage fits her better," he added. He leaned forward across the table and the grin on his face was one filled with lechery. "She'll make a pretty little wife."
Jeb's face went from red to pale, and he lunged at the man. Simeon, though, was at the ready and pulled out a brand new pepper-box pistol. The room grew deathly quiet as he aimed six small barrels straight into the man's face. They would fire off a bullet with each pull of the trigger without him needing to reload.
"I wouldn't be making that kind of trouble for me, neighbor Jeb," Simeon calmly scolded. "Especially since I've as much a claim to her as any other man in this town."
"It ain't right," Jeb continued to protest. "She's too good for staying in a town like this."
"She's not too good for me," Simeon snapped back. He was getting angry now and he cocked his gun. "Now you just get out of here before I decide to plead self-defense in your trying to attack me."
Jeb glared at the man, but there wasn't anything else he could to but shuffle out the saloon doors.
"All right, folks, the show's over," Simeon announced to the room. He put away his gun and smiled at everyone "You just get back to making your ruckus."
Everyone obeyed his orders, for he was one of the richest men in the county. No one but a few brave souls dared stand up against him for even a moment, and most then just ended up like Jeb. Threatened and beaten, and not willing to risk another confrontation for a long while.
The man in the corner, however, didn't worry about such matters. This story of human evil intrigued him, mostly because it reinforced his view of mankind as a blight upon itself. He must have been staring a little too intently, though, or the shadows weren't as deep as he had guessed, because Simeon turned his eyes on the stranger.
"Something I can do for you, boy?" the man rudely questioned.
"I doubt someone like you could ever help me," the stranger deftly shot back, apparently unperturbed by the insulting tone.