A sneak peek into Midnight – Book 2 in the No Death for the Wicked series

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If you’re a Rush fan or have read Daylight and have been anxiously waiting for book 2 in the No Death for the Wicked series, well…  please bear with me.

As some might already know, I have recently lost my best friend, my husband. He passed away August 13th and I have been completely and utterly lost without him. I know some may say it’s too soon or take it slow, which I am. But, the one thing that has always kept me grounded is writing, my husband used to always say he loved it when I wrote simply, because it fueled me with life. Writing helps me on so many different levels and I know it’s the one thing he would want me to continue even with him gone.

With that being said, here’s the first chapter to Midnight. I’m working on it here and there, whenever I get the chance, mostly nights since sleep evades me. Also, I would like to mention before I cozy up to write, (book one) – Daylight should be out in audio very soon. I will post links as soon as I can and I hope you enjoy the beginning taste of Mattie and Graham’s next story.

© 2015 Karli Rush

Chapter One

“A stake through the heart…” I flip another page and grumble, “Exposure to the sun.” Another page. “Decapitation.” And another. “Starvation.” I roam my eyes over to Graham, annoyed.

“Where’s the good stuff in this fossilized book?”

He directs a shimmer of a glance my way, but still keeps his blue eyes on the ill-lit road. The city of Solace is a distant memory, but one I will not soon forget. Graham found a set of wheels for us, more like a war machine. A Gothic black 1965 Buick Rivera, to travel the wastelands, the barren lifeless roads. Each mile means I’m that much farther away from the Elites. The elites are hunting us, and every pit stop we make, someone’s watching us. So, whether it’s a cashier at a gas station or a hitchhiker wandering the dusty roads, Graham makes sure they have no breath to reiterate what or who they just saw.

“There’s more in the book, Mattie,” Graham reveals, and magically flicks the pages backward with a simple gesture from his finger. His unworldly succulent eyes study me. “Bleed,” he says in a deep and throaty tone.

The only way I can read the book in my lap, the Voynich’s book, is for a drop of vampire blood to touch the page. I press my nail into my hand and squeeze the ruby-red blood from my palm. The crimson fluid turns into ink and the encrypted symbols begin to form into words. Readable, fluent sentences appear, and I start to decipher what I’m seeing.

“Vampires have existed since the dawn of man, and since that time, the two races have been at war. Both fighting for their own instinctual survival. Mankind had daylight on their side, to them vampires were nothing more than a menace.

The vampires ruled the night, but were also reliant on the humans… for their blood. After centuries of bloody war the humans believed they had finally won, and fell into a state of complacency, but the vampires, concealed by shadows of night, discovered another race being hunted and persecuted by the humans… witches.

These two formed an alliance and began slowly developing a strategy to infiltrate and take over humanity, without mankind ever knowing. First, a serum was created, giving them the one thing the humans had advantage of, the sun. Now the nightwalkers walk the day, and soon all aspects of society will be within our grasp. In five hundred years, we shall rule the world.”

As soon as my last word expels from my lips the sentences fade, no words, no ancient scribbly handwriting, not even a hint that my blood had even spilt there.

“So all this time humans think that vampires are mere stories of myth and forgotten legends, but in fact they’re the ruling class of humanity. How ironic— wait a minute… how many cities are there like Solace?”

Graham hits the lights, deadening the path in front of us even more, and steers the car off the road. The town, Shadow Hills, caps the dry scenery in the distance. Graham slips out and scouts the area. He walks, no that’s not accurate, he glides toward the front of the car. His long trench coat whispers along the ground as he waits a breath before he answers me.

“There are more cities like Solace than you would like to know about, Mattie.”

“So, we’re fucked?” I quip getting out, my eyes roam around the dreary landscape. I set my hope for blood on a metaphorical shelf for now and stride toward the back of the car. I slam my fist hard against the dusty metal and watch as vials of daylight shine like the Holy Grail from the trunk. I slide one translucent bottle from its precious cushioned protection and inspect it. The entire trunk is filled with cases of daylight, and if I’m careful, it will last me a couple of years. But, if I am not, I may just end up being a flesh-skinning nightwalker and that’s not a go-to option for me.

Graham motions over at the horizon just as the sun breaks through the early morning light. I quickly slip the vial back in its snug, tight concealment and make sure the cases are securely closed before I slam the trunk shut. I might be able to go a few days without needing another dose, but a thousand or so vials of daylight won’t last me forever. In the book it mentions witches, an alliance between us and them. And how they conjured the serum, now, all I need is a witch.

“Your friend… she’s there,” Graham announces and shifts his provocative eyes toward me.

“How do you know? You have a thing for witches too?” I sass meeting his pace, his body meets mine. We’re close to touching but not. I swallow hard watching as he licks his full sinful lips. He’s been careful not to touch me since we hightailed it out of Solace, all of his energy and concentration has solely been on keeping us safe. But now, I can see his sexual frustration building, he wants to touch me, he needs to touch me.

Finally, his right hand ensnares around my waist, pressing our hips closer. His blue eyes scour over my face as if he’s deciding on how he wants to take me. “Witches? No… They couldn’t survive my ways, they’re not nearly wicked enough.”

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.” ― Stephen King

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When I first started writing out the story for ‘Daylight’ which is the first book in the No Death for the Wicked series, it was for a Halloween anthology dedicated to a charity. It was meant to be a short story with a limited word count and a wonderful opportunity to write with so many talented writers. As most now know the story has evolved and I am currently writing book 2 Midnight. As soon as I am finished with Midnight I will announce the release date, which I’m hoping will be sometime next month.

It is the ultimate challenge, writing a book with balance. As an author, I want to write a book that is capturing, intriguing and brings you along as my characters live out their lives. But here’s the thing with my writing, I write what the characters show me, they are the ones that take me down the writing path. I follow their lead.  Do I want to be an author that is too easy? Predictable or boring? Well I certainly hope not, but do I want to give up everything to you in the first book? No, I don’t. I want you to desire for more, to have unanswered questions that stick with you and allow the secrets not yet whispered into your ear to bring you along as the full story unfolds, whether it’s one stand alone book or a series.

Daylight, my first book in the No Death for the Wicked series, is a great example of this. I understand that my readers are open minded, thought provoking, and intelligent.  So, I don’t fill my book with explanations of why a Reaper (Graham) and a young vampire (Mattie) have an instant attraction. Book two, Midnight, will bring more of this to light and book three, (Untitled) will wrap it up.

I also don’t dive into much of the backstory of Mattie or Graham because the first book is more of a discovery into who they are right now. How they handle themselves in different situations. What are their boundaries, or restrictions? What are their strengths or weaknesses?

There is so much in Daylight that can be expanded on, and that’s the fun part of a series. Why was Mattie so stuck in being young?  How did Mattie’s Mother Dearest control and use her? Why is Graham so thunderstruck with Mattie? Why can’t Mattie get enough of Graham? What’s the deal with the serum Daylight? How is the serum made? What’s the rest of the world like outside of Solace? Are there other vampires out there? How does Pandora fit into the picture going forward? Or does she? Why wasn’t Krew a truly evil bastard? Was he really meant to be the villain or just someone representing the other side?

All of these questions and much more are set into Daylight for a reason. The answers are my secrets. Secrets to be whispered to you as you read along with the rest of the series. And that’s the real trick isn’t it? In Midnight you’ll find out more about the questions above, more secrets will rise up too. The one thing you can rest assured is that I will always wrap up my books with a nice little bow at the end so that you’re not left hanging.

 

Midnight coming soon…

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Cover reveal for Midnight – book 2 in the No Death for the Wicked series

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Synopsis

I have what I came for, the serum they call Daylight, and him. Graham is a dangerously seductive Grim Reaper who shadows my every move. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, necessarily. Now, a clan of unforgiving elite vampires hunting me down by night, that’s a downer.

Why? Why would another vampire, especially the ‘Elites’, care if I walk the streets by day? It’s because I have something they want.

The Voynich manuscript, a book you wouldn’t believe is real unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes. Bound in the skin of an unnamed animal, this legendary book contains the history and knowledge of all vampires that walk this earth, and I have it.

They hunt the nights searching for me. I walk in the light of day trying to keep one step ahead of them, but what happens when my Reaper’s last grains of sand run out, forcing him to return to the underworld?

What will win? Love or revenge?

Join Mattie in this unique vampire love story with a gritty Gothic twist as we find out how far she will go to keep what she has.
 Release date to be announced. 

Let Your Heart Drive – Release!

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Synopsis 

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye.” – Jimi Hendrix

I live in the shelter of darkness.

This darkness holds a secret over me… one that I have come to protect and in return it controls and holds me back.
It’s time to start fighting against it and break free. To become the unrestricted woman I yearn to be. For this to happen it will take a sixteen hundred mile road trip to let go of all that I fear and hopefully discover that the darkness doesn’t lurk everywhere. I stand on the edge overlooking a horizon of possibilities for the first time. Will I let my heart drive… to where it needs to be?

A unique romantic tale of one girl, one road, and a chance meeting with someone that will change everything in every way.

Disclaimer – This book is intended for mature audiences only.

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Available on Amazon Now!

Deadwood Diner – part 4

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Copyright © 2015 Karli Rush

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Please note this short story is a small link in a chain, so to speak. A sequel to another short story titled – The House.

Mary Jane – part 4 

I adjust my cap back on my head and feel that eerie prickly sensation as soon as I step out into the night. Thunder shakes the ground like a Cobra Gunship. I harness my nerves and scout around for Mary Jane through the pitch-dark parking lot. I wait a beat, hoping for that millisecond bolt of lightning to briefly brighten my view. But I’m shit out of luck.

My feet trudge through the pouring down rain and my eyes roam the area. “Mary Jane!” I holler out while passing by a white 1970 Cadillac, it’s the only thing that shows any prominent color. I carry myself on over to the next vehicle and catch a glimpse of her scampering between two more cars. Her drenched form is hunched over and staggering to stand upright in the hammering steel cold rain. “Mary Jane!”

I chase after her, listening to her muffled down whimpers and cries. She’s terrified and I can’t seem to get close enough to her. The punishing rain blinds most of my sight, it doesn’t matter how much I shield my hands over my cap to help, it’s relentless. Thunder slams against the woeful dark sky making my body shake. I grasp a blotchy tall figure lurking behind a truck and I follow it, the shape is too misshapen to really tell if it’s Mary Jane. My gut twists and buckles with uncertainty, but I have to make sure she’s okay.

I slosh my rain slicked boots through a crater-like puddle and terminate my next step. Rain falls thickly along the passenger’s side window of a late-model red pickup, it looks no different from any of the other cars I’d just passed. Apart from the fact that an orange hazy glow pulsates inside, pulsating with a beat. In precise time and cadence to a song by Simon and Garfunkel, “Sail on silver girl… sail on by… your time has come… to shine…” I jerk my head to the right of me, searching for the cause. No one’s inside, the engine from the weather-beaten clunker doesn’t rattle with life, but the old-fashioned chrome radio recites the song from my past.

I slow my movements and strengthen my grip on my duffel bag. My heart pounds like someone called in an air strike, the hairs on the back of my neck stands on end and I breathe in the icy air. I let out a warm humid breath from within me and it reminds me of winter, the dead of winter. My body involuntarily shudders like I’m standing in my skivvies, aggravated and unnerved I sling my soaked cap off and swipe the rain away. Stubbornly I set my cap back on and glare over the truck. “Mary Jane… is that you?

The radio keeps warbling out but when it hits the last track from the song, it carries that unreal static noise that can only come from a record player back in the day. Each time the static is louder, more hair-raising and then the song begins to play…again. I flicker my glances back and forth tensely. I’m lost at what could be the source, how could anyone around here know that song from my childhood? The disheartening thunder drums the shade of the scenery, bleak and wrong. Regardless, I stick with my mission and force my feet to move.

I dog the footsteps of every shadow, every movement, and unnatural sound. The faded cracked pavement becomes nothing but a river of rain, and eventually I find myself on the opposite side of the diner. I cup my hand around my wet soaked mouth, and call out her name. The muttering and detached cries stop and turn into breathless words, stammering and wandering words that I can’t grasp. Words that sound like a thousand voices, crawling over each other, trying to be heard in the deranged storm.

Distant lights fray out along the slickened dark highway and I see her, the small angular shape of her. Cradling her body, with her head swaying low. It takes a breath for me to unfold the grappling iron lodged inside my throat. My boots race soundlessly across the stretch between her and I until I’m standing on the skirt of the highway. The rain showers us both as I ask, “Mary Jane?”

I raise my left hand outward, prayin’ she’ll accept it. Her long dripping wet hair screens her face and I can’t make heads or tails if she even knows where she’s standing. “…It’s not safe here, just take my hand, Mary Jane…take my hand,” I plead, but the only reaction I get is her gripping her arms closer to herself withdrawing from me. I glance up and along the unnerving long road is a curve guarded by trees.

And through the timber I see a beam of headlights quivering between them.

I drown my reserve and stride out to her, meeting her stance I grip her haggard, threadbare arms and command her to look at me. Her down-casted green grieving eyes drag upward, fear infiltrates every ounce of her blanched face. Tangled unavailing words drop from her stark lips so fast that it takes me a moment to catch her trembling chin and ask, “I… I don’t understand—”

“I’m afraid…I’m so afraid…”

I release her chin and wrap my arm around her and try to shield her from whatever she fears. I lower my head and mouth against her damp hair, “It’s okay, I’m not going to let anything harm you.” I brace myself closer, hoping she’ll have enough faith in me to get her off the highway, to get both of us to safety. “It’s too dangerous to be out here, in this rain and in the middle of the…

“But it’s too late… ”

A loud screeching sound erupts through the darkened night and all I can see a blinding light.

To be continued…

Deadwood Diner – part 3

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Copyright © 2015 Karli Rush

Mary Jane – Part 3

I offer to shake her hand but she flinches back and mouths warily, “I’m… I’m Mary Jane.” Her words aren’t broadcasted without forethought, she whispers it out like she’s exposing something highly classified. Her troubled green eyes dodge madly around the diner, watching, scouting for whatever danger that’s supposedly stalking her. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s all a made-up creation inside her mind, because either way her fear is real. Real enough that I see it as plain as a nose on a man’s face. Maybe it’s my gut instincts or it’s imbedded so deeply in me, but I just want to make sure she’s safe and unafraid for a moment.

“Well… it’s nice to meet you, Mary Jane,” I respond and motion at the waitress to hold on a second. She calmly sits my heated coffee back on its small saucer and waits patiently while I tip my head toward Mary Jane and ask, “Want some coffee or something to eat—?”

“No…” she abruptly answers wringing her hands tightly together, she’s rubbing them so tightly that the tips of her knuckles turn as white as bone and she jerks her head toward the diner door. It dawns on me that she isn’t really answering me directly but rather a silent plea for help. She coils her mud covered legs up to her chest and nearly perches herself like a wounded bird on top of the barstool, she winces once as her eyes squeeze together. Her bizarre reaction makes me think of someone huddling up and bracing themselves for a twister ready to take whatever it wants in it’s deadly path.

“No…  no… no…” she whispers over and over covering her ears and rocking her fragile paling body. I start to ramble out a line of growing, concerned questions, but then I hear a spineless tick hit the glass door. A light metallic sound and then another, a trickling rhythmic tapping slowly one after another until it sounds like the heartbeat of a furious thunderstorm. I strain my eyes harder to see, to see the proof of what my ears are hearing. I watch as angry massive drops of rain sheet and distort the diner windows. Beating and pounding so insanely I bet you couldn’t even see your own hand right in front of your face.

No one inside seems perturbed by the onslaught except for Mary Jane, unexpectedly she whirls herself from the counter and jumps off the barstool and runs out of the diner and into the hell storm outside. I throw a quick glance toward Ray but he doesn’t offer a word other than a ‘I told you she’s crazy’ kinda dubious shake from his head. The jukebox rattles out, ‘I knew Mary Lou, we’d never part, so hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart, so hello Mary Lou goodbye heart…” 

        An uncomfortable pang inside me strips my dispassion away and I can’t ignore the fact that someone, crazy or not, just ran out of here like a bat out of hell. I pull out my wallet, slap a twenty down on the counter and swing my duffel bag over my shoulder.

And hastily head for the door.

Deadwood Diner – part 2

Copyright © 2015 Karli Rush diner snippet

Mary Jane

The young woman is as thin as a rake, but holds an unfading beauty to her. Her shadowed eyes skate nervously around the sudden quiet diner, her hair streaked with proof she’d seen her days of the summer sun pelt throughout. Half sticking straight up, the other half tangled in hellish twisted knots. Skittishly, she tiptoes up to the empty barstool on the right side of me. Ray, on my left, mumbles something under his breath but his mutters go mute.

The woman clings her skeletal-like hands against the metal edge of counter and whispers, “It’s out there…” Her hushed words are so voiceless that I’m not even sure I heard her, but as I bite into my burger, leaning farther forward I hear her say it again. “It’s out there…”

I sway a look over my shoulder, wondering what’s got her so spooked. The diner’s speckled with fewer customers, only a handful sit in booths near the glass door. The darkness outside creeps up starving off most of the light that once shined from the aging street lights. The highway wasn’t much to see unless a Greyhound or a truck shined their daring headlights along the shrouded lifeless road. But I can’t pin point what has her clutching the molding of the counter so desperately. I jump my eyes back over to her and see terror bathed deeply inside the green-eyed girl. It takes me a second to swallow down the bite of my cheeseburger I had just taken, simply because I had never seen someone so damn attractive, yet so damn terror-stricken at the same time.

Her unkempt loose-fitting clothes are not enough protection from the bite of the chilling late night breeze outside. She keeps her head tilted slightly downward so that I can’t see the complete view of her pale face. Her frightened eyes shift anxiously through her disheveled hair, and I try not to stare. She uses the counter as her anchor as she eases herself timidly on the barstool. The nostalgic waitress never delivers herself over to the young woman, never even gives her a welcoming comment like – ‘Be right with you, sugar’. Instead, she wanders off to the opposite side of the diner as if to give a pronounced space between them.

“Don’t listen to nothin’ she says,” Ray rumbles in a low grouchy tone. I catch his subtle head gesture toward the girl. She looks lost and afraid like a doe standin’ smack dab in middle of a hectic highway. A light sound of silverware clanks against a plate and she practically jumps ten feet out of her seat. She curls her skinny body forward and chews on her short frail fingernails feverishly.

I narrow my brown-eyed glare over to Ray and ask with the same low restrained tone, “Is she from around here?”

He grunts and blows out a cynical snort through his nose as he leans on the counter. Keeping his head, his unreadable whiskered expression forward, he replies, “She’s crazier than shithouse rat and it’s best you’d stay far, far away from her.”

I’m not sure what to make of what he just said, so, I steal another curious glance her way. There’s no way someone like her could be ‘crazy’ maybe she lacked good common sense and a decent pair of clothes but then I drop my gaze down to her feet and realize they’re bare and covered in mud. I stop my mind from overrunning with assumptions and judgment but Ray bounces his meaty elbow against mine and mumbles, “She’s gotta a few screws loose up in the head, they had her admitted to Reidhaven when she was young.”

I whisper back quietly and tactfully as I possibly can, “Reidhaven?”

His bushy camouflaged eyes dart my way incredulously. “You know, the hospital they kept sick people in, but…” he shrugs his broad overalled shoulders and says, “…they closed it down. Said they’d run out of funding or something to that effect. I just think it’s a damn shame really, but whatever you do… don’t let her get to ya.”

I’d only eaten three-quarters of my food when I finally had to stop and wipe off my mouth and force myself not to look over to her as she sputters, “They’re everywherein-in the darkwa-waiting…” She cradles her shivering bony hands like a child that’s been hiding from the boogie man all night. Has she been living in this fearful state all her life? The question floats to my mouth, wanting to ask, wanting to interrogate Ray how could some so young lookin’ as her, someone so uncommonly pretty be so distraught?

“I know what you’re thinkin’, Sgt. Knight,” Ray announces as he cranes his head closer to me. Still keeping his voice as low as possible he swallows slowly and informs me. “She hears voices, they say she never could tell which ones were real. So, nothin’ coming out of her makes sense.”

I mentally chew around on his words for a moment, nodding lightly to him so that he knows I hear him. The outdated waitress eventually saunters around and angles a flashy red nail toward my barely touched coffee. “You wanna have me reheat that up for you, honey?”

I idly scratch the side of my jaw and start to answer ‘no’ to her when the woman beside me says, “He wants it heated… it’s cold, isn’t it cold?” My weary eyes connect with her sober green and for the life of me if it wasn’t for her strange, out of the ordinary appearance, I’d never claim her crazy. Her voice as she spoke was clear and concise. And just as soft and polite as anyone else here in the diner.

“Yeah, it is kinda cold,” I evenly reply never taking my eyes away and the waitress quietly hustles herself back to the kitchen, coffee cup in hand. I study her features now that I can, and I find that she bares no trace of someone once locked inside a psychiatric hospital. But something, whatever it is has it’s claws sunk so deep inside her that I can plainly see she’s truly afraid. She tucks her bottom lip beneath her teeth, nervously she looks over me, searching my own features, tryin’ to decipher whether or not I’m someone trustworthy.

“I’m Jason Knight…” I mention and point at my last name stitched across my Army jacket.

To be continued…