The Jewel of Darkness
Today's Spooktacular Spotlight Author is J. Annas Walker!
She's bringing us The Jewel of Darkness (a sequel to Midnight’s Jewel)
The second book in the Celestial Jewels series.
Sabrina starts out in book one believing she’s a half-witch with a mysterious necklace she can’t remove. When mercenaries come after her, her aunt and guardian takes her Brandon Thorpe, Atlanta’s vampire kingpin. Book two is where we get to see Sabrina and Brandon’s second adventure, one that involves a trip to the Underworld and an explanation as to how earth-bound death magic works.
How About A Sample?
Brandon sat up with her, placing one arm around her. The other hand rested on her nearest shoulder. He rested his forehead against the side of her head.
“You’ve been through a lot. It’s only been six months. Give it some time,” he whispered.
“Time,” she said. “I have plenty of that now, don’t I?”
She pushed him back on the bed and straddled him. His bare flesh felt good between her thighs. Lifting her arms to stretch, she brushed her hair back from her body, revealing her breasts. The feel of the thick, blue-black curls brushing her nipples caused them to tighten.
Brandon grinned, flashing his fangs. “Oh, if your father wasn’t waiting, what wouldn’t I like to do to you right now?” He traced his fingers along the tops of her thighs to her waist. Palming her hips, he pressed her against his hardening dick.
Hadrian’s gruff, impatient voice called back through the closed door, “Well, he is waiting, and he doesn’t want to know the answer to that question.”
Sabrina covered her mouth with both hands to suppress another giggle. If it had been possible, she might have blushed. She only met her father six months ago. Although married, she still became embarrassed at the thought of his hearing her and Brandon.
Brandon pulled her hands free. “Don’t hide those beautiful fangs. We’re at home and can do anything we want to with each other. There’s nothing shameful in a man wanting his wife.”
“You’re right, but I suppose we should get dressed. Let’s go eat,” she agreed.
She bounded out of bed, scooping up her robe off the floor as she did. She glanced back to find Brandon leaned against the headboard. Staring for a moment, she took in the sight and thought how lucky she was to have him.
His dark brown eyes looked at her appraisingly. A wide smile spread across his face. The tip of his tongue toyed with his fang points. Thickly corded arms folded behind his head made him seem casual and laid-back. Broad shoulders and a sculpted chest tapered down to washboard abs and a narrow waist. A sheet of white silk hid everything else.
Her nipples hardened into peaks just seeing him, knowing he belonged to her. She bit at her bottom lip and dropped the robe. She wanted to climb back onto the bed and stay there with him for the rest of the night.
A heavy pounding on the door jarred her from her thoughts. “I’m waiting!” Hadrian bellowed.
“And not very patiently,” Brandon muttered. He reached over the edge of the bed to retrieve his black, silk pants from the floor.
“I heard that,” Hadrian added.
Sabrina hurried into her robe and tied the sash. She took two quick strides to the door. She gave her hair a tussle, making it more of a rumpled mess than it already was. She pouted her lower lip and tugged the door open.
“Oh, Dad. And I was having fun,” she said in a disappointed tone.
Hadrian stood there, hands on his hips, looking down at his daughter. Up close, he seemed even taller than usual. His very square shoulders made his white, button down shirt appear box-like at the top. His thick, curly black hair fell down his back tied up in its usual braid. A neatly trimmed, matching, curly, black beard covered his jaw and chin. Below his crooked and slightly hooked nose, his thin lips formed a frown. His bright brown eyes squinted down at her. He held the look of displeasure only for a moment before giving in to her with a wide, fanged smile.
“Mea Dulcis, you are your mother’s child. I will give you that. I could never stay angry with her, either.” He pulled her in for a hug.
Sabrina nearly cried and hugged him back. She grew up thinking she had been orphaned. Her Aunt Eleanor refused to speak about her father and maintained her mother was dead until six months ago.
Mercenaries sent by Lucifer, God of Light, to take Midnight’s Jewel chased them from their century-old hiding place in the Platt Balsam Mountains of North Carolina. Eleanor ran to the closest safe haven, Brandon’s penthouse apartment in Atlanta. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Sabrina, and Eleanor’s worst nightmare. Sabrina fell in love and found her father at the same time. Her mother, Aradia, Goddess of Midnight, remained in exile, but at least Sabrina knew she was no orphan.
Brandon walked up behind her. “Good evening, Sir.”
“Brandon, my boy,” Hadrian greeted him. He let go of Sabrina and walked back down the hall toward the dining room.
The table was laid out with all the trappings of their meal. Fresh flowers sat in the center of the table. Fine china cups on saucers waited by each of the three place settings. One of the staff placed a warm carafe in front of Hadrian as he sat at the head of the table.
Hadrian filled his cup and then Sabrina’s. He moved the carafe to Brandon’s place and motioned for them to take their seats. He closed his eyes and inhaled. Satisfied, he sipped.
Brandon sat and motioned for his morning papers. He thumbed through the headlines before pouring the thick, red, copper-scented liquid into his cup. He paid no attention to the contents before drinking.
Sabrina watched him as she tipped her cup, spilling the warm, viscous fluid into her mouth. Warmth and life spread through her as the blood flowed down. Everything about the world seemed louder, sharper, more focused. She was hungrier than she realized. She downed the rest of the cup like a shot of whiskey and reached for the carafe.
Brandon folded down one corner of his newspaper and raised an eyebrow. He asked, “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m just really thirsty this morning. That’s all,” she said truthfully.
After the second cup, she sat back, feeling a little slushy inside. She hated the way drinking too much in too short a time made her feel, but tonight the need outweighed the consequences. This evening marked the third time in as many weeks she’d overfed. For a moment, she wondered if vampires could get eating disorders.
Lost to her thought, she tuned out Brandon and Hadrian talking business. She knew they ran the Atlanta underworld like a Don and his underboss. Only this Don ruled the entire vampiric underworld with numerous underbosses scattered across the globe. This Don just so happened to be her father and Atlanta’s underboss her husband. She knew everything and yet looked the other way.
A servant with white, cotton gloves carried a wide silver serving tray from the kitchen to the living room. The small, dark-colored woman tucked the massive piece under one arm like a book. The flat, highly polished surface acted like a mirror. She stopped to speak to Brandon, holding the tray still long enough for Sabrina to see herself.
A dark swirl of mist seemed to float under the surface. The mass formed into a cloaked figure, stretching one hand out in her direction. An unspoken whisper echoed in her ears.
“You will be mine,” the low, harsh voice said.
Sabrina pushed back from the table hard enough to slam her chair into the wall as she stood. At the same time, she threw the cup at the tray, shattering it. Blood leftover in the bottom of the cup coated the surface, and the figure faded.
The maid screamed and threw the tray up in the air. She ran from the room shouting in Spanish. Other voices shouted back as she made her way back to the kitchen. The word Diablo passed between them several times.
“No! I won’t!” Sabrina shouted at the place the figure once occupied. She covered her face with both hands and broke down into tears. Was she hallucinating? Going crazy?
Firm hands and strong arms surrounded her from both sides. She felt small and vulnerable like this and wanted to shrug them off. However, they made her feel safe and loved. Right now, she needed the security having them near gave her. She recognized Brandon’s kiss on her forehead and leaned into him.
“What happened? What was that about?” Hadrian asked, still holding her from the other side.
“I don’t know,” Brandon answered. He kissed her again. “This has never happened while she was wake.”
“What haven’t you two been telling me?” Hadrian demanded. He let go of Sabrina and pushed her chair back under the table.
Sabrina turned to see his scowl looking back. She dreaded confessing. She told Brandon about the recent dreams but not everything, not the things from before.
As far as Brandon knew, the dreams started about a month ago. In truth, a version of them started the night she turned vampire. She convinced herself everything would be all right, but things only grew worse.
“Dad, I don’t want you to be angry with Brandon. I’m the one who insisted we not say anything,” Sabrina started. She walked to the living room and sat down on the overstuffed leather couch. “You’re going to want to sit down for this. You, too, Brandon. Since I’m confessing, I might as well tell both of you at the same time.”
They gave her unhappy looks. Hadrian took the chair across from her. Brandon filled the empty space beside her.
“I started having odd dreams right after I was turned. It was nothing really, just a snippet or a flash of something out of place from the rest of the dream. I thought nothing of it and chalked it up to the stress of major life changes. Then, I started getting the feeling I was being watched any time I stayed in front of mirrors for more than a few minutes. I thought it was just paranoia after nearly being nearly dragged through one by Diana. But the dreams have become more real. I feel it when I’ve been touched after I wake up. The reflection in the tray was the first time I’ve seen the whole figure, not a hand. I freaked. I’m so sorry,” Sabrina admitted.
Brandon looked hurt. Then, the look shifted from hurt to mad. She knew he would be, if he ever found out. It was a matter of trust.
Hadrian looked stoic. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He glanced at Brandon, giving him a hand signal to simmer down. Turning his attentions back to Sabrina, he simply placed his hands on the arms of the chair, patted them lightly a few times, and stood up without speaking. He walked out onto the open balcony.
“Brandon, I’m sorry—,” she began.
He cut her off with a withering glare. He shook his head, placed a finger on his lips, and then pointed at Hadrian. The message came through loud and clear. Not now. Pay attention.
Hadrian pulled a cell phone from his pocket. His fingers flew across the keypad. A few moments passed with the little device at his ear. His entire demeanor changed from stoic to lively.
“Hello, Delilah! It’s good to hear your voice.” Pause. “Would you be a dear and visit me at your earliest possible convenience?” Another pause. “That would be fantastic. See you then.” He hung up.
Depositing the phone back in his pocket, he leaned on the railing. Without addressing either of them, he said, “Mea Dulcis, you’re in more trouble than you know. I suspect you’re being tracked. The question is by whom.”
A Little Facetime With The Author
K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
J.W. My name is J. Annas Walker. I have a background in transportation design engineering and wrote as a hobby for a number of years. I enjoy doing crochet, knitting, cross-stitch, embroidery, sewing, reading, and cooking.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
J.W. I really like to write when the house is quiet. I come with ideas while I’m doing chores or cooking, but I don’t actually write until I have some time alone. Everything else goes down in notebooks or a digital voice recorder. I listen to music for inspiration, but not while I write. It was a study habit I learned early and still use.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
J.W. I’ve always kept notebooks of my scribblings. My sisters and husband encouraged me to fluffy out a short story they found interesting and shop it around. It worked! Siren Publishing took it and I’ve been writing for them ever since.
K.S. What genre do you write?
J.W. My main genre is erotic paranormal/fantasy romance. I am looking to branch out into a similar genre, but I want to have a happy ending without always having a happily- ever-after every time.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
J.W. Stephen King is one of my all time favorites. How he takes the mundane and twists it is incredible. His personal story is just as inspiring and fascinating. One of the greatest writing resource books I’ve ever read was his On Writing. There’s no way to tell someone how to write but getting to see his process and hear his story gave me insight to developing my own writing process.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
J.W. The ones I have in my daily life are a great cheering section. They seem just as excited when the next book gets accepted as they did for the first. My sisters ask constantly when they next on is going on sale and never fail to tell their friends. I have a cousin and aunt to read everything as I write it and give me great feedback. Not being romance fans, my husband and kids cheer me from the sidelines.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?
J.W. I learned that being an engineer makes me great at logic and organizing but did not prepare me to edit. It’s my biggest weakness. I have a software program and the awesome help of the Siren editors to make sure my work reads correctly. My Harbrace Handbook also helps keep me on the straight and narrow.
K.S. What inspires you?
J.W. Music helps the ideas flow, but often times I catch a single phrase from someone’s conversation I overhear in passing. When you have no context for the phrase, you have to invent everything around it. Combining the single sentence or phrase with a song or a picturesque scene can really pull a story together.