A collection of seventeen short stories, each about a different character from the Amaranthine universe. Includes:
Kateesha - When Kateesha and her partner are sent to apprehend a rogue coven, things go awry and carry terrible consequences.
Michael - Michael isn't interested in finding a job, so his mother finds one for him. If only she'd known she was sending him to work for vampires.
Troy - Claudius is having a get together, and leaves Troy in charge of greeting the guests. But what happens when he finds himself stuck babysitting a pretty boy vampire?
Jesslynn - When Jesslynn's baby gets sick, she sees only way to save him; by discovering whatever dark ritual keeps their neighbor, Jorick, healthy and eternally young. She gets more than she bargained for.
Also includes: Velnya, Sarah, Nirel, Kariss, Herrick, Elsa, Claudius, Bethina, Benjamin, Ashton, Arowenia, Alexander and Adam.
Excerpt from Adam:
Adam leaned back in the barber’s chair and closed his eyes. The buzzing clippers moved slowly over his scalp and sent a rain of brown curls falling around him.
“So you’ve joined up?” old man Winslow asked from what served as the waiting area. “You gonna go over there and kick some Commie ass?”
The barber coughed loudly. His eyes skipped to the girl who stood near the counter wearing a proud smile and a poodle skirt. “There’s a lady present.”
Mr. Winslow snorted, but amended the question. “So when you shippin’ out, boy?”
Adam opened his eyes and tried not to sound too excited. “I have to go through Boot Camp, first.”
“Ah, just don’t mess around and get there too late, eh? Wars only last so long.” The old man winked.
The buzzing stopped. The barber brushed away the loose hairs and spun the chair towards the mirror. The reflection was a shock, and Adam ran his hand over his nearly bald head. But, even in the wake of surprise, his chest puffed up with pride. He had a man’s haircut; like his brother Randy’s, and in a few months he’d get to join him over there in Korea. Yeah, a real man.
Adam stood and paid the bill while the pretty girl by the counter gushed and giggled. Susan Harley was his steady, and though he’d been afraid she’d get mad about him joining up, she’d taken the news well. He wondered if it was because it hadn’t really sunk in. That was part of why he’d been in a hurry to lose the “civilian cut”. Let her get a good look at the reality of it and see if it was still as appealing. To his surprise, the gleam in her eyes said it was.
He offered her his arm. With a warm smile, she took it and they strolled out of the barber shop and towards his dad’s grocery store. He’d been working there as a clerk since his graduation three years ago, but he spent more time hauling boxes than running the register because he was “built for it”. Tall and broad shouldered with thick arms, he stood out in a crowd and more often than not found himself carrying heavy objects, or reaching high places for other people. He didn’t mind doing it, but he wanted to do something more significant.
“I think it’s so romantic!” Susan prattled, and he realized he hadn’t been listening to her. “And when you get back, we can get married!” She grabbed his arm and nearly swung around him like a kid on the monkey bars. “We can get that little house on the edge of town, you know, the one with the big elm in the front yard?”
He made a non-committal noise and she went on as though he’d agreed. Susan had their lives all mapped out. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to marry her. If he had to marry someone, it might as well be her, but he just couldn’t settle his mind to it, yet. Maybe he’d be able to when he got back.
They reached the grocery store, and Susan peeled herself loose, all batting eyelids and suggestive giggles. “I’ll see you tonight. Meet me at the beach at eight and-” she broke off and drew closer. Her voice dropped low. “-If you’re a good boy maybe we’ll go for a swim in the ocean.”
She hurried away, her hips swaying just because she knew he was watching. He briefly imagined her walking towards the water wearing nothing but the skin God gave her, then shook it off quickly. He had to get to work.