Originally, I, along with several other authors, had worked on a project for a now defunct publisher. It was based on the old Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Each author was given a character from the original storyline. I was given the Knight. We had to come up with our own version of our character, and believe me, they were a far cry from Chaucer's originals. While a knight is typically heroic, I wanted to write a different type of hero, one born from darkness and evil. I was really into vampires at the time so I came up with a story about a woman whose last name was Knight, but who became the first vampire. When I moved that story to a new publisher, I revisited the idea, changed, and recreated the main character into one a lot darker, sexier, and mysterious.
In the second version, I focused more on the history of Vlad Dracula and the supposed cruelty of his reigns (he had more than one) and gave the reader a chilling account of how Ivona's character developed as the actions of Vlad impacted her life. While the original had no romance involved, the romantic in me couldn't help but add a devilishly handsome character who hints at the possibility of a link with Ivona's history. I hope to continue this idea with a second story, one that focuses more on the man but develops the idea that he and Ivona do indeed have a link to each other, one neither anticipated. Since the first story focuses on one historical figure who (if the recounts are indeed true) did some things to people that couldn't be anything less than evil, I considered tying the second story in with another infamous person of history, one who committed some equally chilling crimes: Elizabeth Bathory. It was rumored that she had an illegitamate son, you know. Muahahahha....
On a more serious and personal note, while researching Vlad Dracul's history, there were several times when I found myself deeply disturbed and even horrified. There were things he did to people that are so grim and cruel that it makes you wonder if he were even human at all. I found myself in tears many times as I imagined what his victims went through. It certainly made me hope that some of the things I read were perhaps exagerated or even false. I know there's been others in history (Hitler for example) who seemed to have no heart or mercy when it came to killing off what he considered lesser humans. But to try and fathom the depth of wickedness that had to fill Vlad's soul is almost beyond my comprehension. I wonder if that's why I've put off writing the second story. Perhaps I'm not ready to delve into another gruesome history lesson.
DARK TALES 1: VAMPYRESS
Author: Shannon Leigh
Length: Short Story
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Purchase URL: Wild Child Publishing
Cursed to harbor the beast that drove the Prince of Walachia to perform unspeakable acts of cruelty upon her loved ones, Ivona Knight has spent the last five hundred years eliminating all descendants of the Dracula line. Trapped within a remote tavern by a hammering storm, she engages in a storytelling game with her fellow patrons. But as she conveys her tale, she senses a familiar presence emanating from one of the others that stirs emotions deep within her which only one other has ever evoked. Has she found her next target? Or has she become the hunted?
“What do you propose we do for the next several hours?” The deep voice had a strong southern drawl, the rich baritone filling the cold room with the warmth of vibrant sunshine on a lazy summer day.
Ivona vaguely remembered the sun. Centuries had passed since she’d felt its welcoming rays. It boggled her mind how the sound of this man’s voice brought forth such an ancient and precious memory.
Though he posed the question to the bartender, Ivona had the distinct feeling it held a silent proposition for her. She glanced toward the bar. Sure enough, her inquisitive gaze met a pair of striking blue eyes, overshadowed with thick, but neat, black brows.
The man’s firm, sensual mouth pulled into an appealing grin, his straight white teeth a stark contrast in the weak light. He lifted his shot glass in mock salute before downing the amber colored contents in one gulp. Before either acknowledged the other’s attraction, someone posed another question.
“And what about food?” a mature gentleman called. “I don’t know about the rest of ya, but I’m starving!”
Several others nodded their head.
The bartender stroked his stubbled chin between a thick thumb and forefinger. “Well, I’ve got a sandwich and chips in the back. But it’s not enough to feed all of ya.”
Ivona couldn’t believe how quickly the others dismissed the roaring wind and thunderous blasts outside as the paltry meal became the center of everyone’s attention. Everyone excluding her and the blue jean-clad man propped at the bar. Voices once again rose in excitement as the patrons argued over how to divide the bartender’s offering.
Propping her chin in her palm, she silently watched while the chaos grew, males and females forming sides against each other. It seemed the men favored purchasing a share, but the women disagreed, claiming they should be chivalrous and donate their portion to them. Ivona snickered when one poor soul was threatened with being tossed outside to the tempest after suggesting drawing straws. No matter how much they fussed and argued, no one agreed on how to partition the food.
“I have an idea,” a slight feminine voice butted into the midst of the maelstrom.
Ivona glanced about the room, noticing that no one paid the woman any heed. “I said, I have an idea,” she repeated louder.
Everyone ceased bickering, turning all eyes toward the middle-aged woman seated in the far left-hand corner.
“We’re listening,” the man in the expensive suit sneered.
“I propose we play a game. The winner will get the entire sandwich and the chips. Everyone has an equal opportunity of winning, and since we’re obviously stuck here a while, it will also pass the time.”
Intrigued by the suggestion, the others settled back into their seats. A look of triumph pasted on her otherwise plain features, the woman stood up next to her chair. “Each participant will have a chance to tell a story—real or fictional— without interruption by any of the others. Once everyone is finished, the bartender will judge who gave the best anecdote. The winner takes the spoils.”
Ivona couldn’t believe the ridiculousness of the rules. She had no desire to sit for hours and listen to any of their silly tales. Besides, what qualified the bartender as judge?
She snorted with contempt when, despite her aversion to the idea, everyone else jumped up to make preparations to get started. The room bustled with animation as men hurried to move tables out of the way and women rearranged chairs into a big circle in the middle. Only the blue-jean clad man remained seated.
“Now what?” the young blonde asked, her voice shrill with excitement. “Who goes first?”
Ivona stared at her a moment. Seems she’s forgotten the waiting husband.
“I’d like to hear from the lady in red, if there’s no objection.”
The smooth baritone sung through Ivona’s veins like a bow across a well-tuned cello. A strange shudder worked its way up her legs and centered at the juncture of her thighs, followed by a flash of moisture, a rush of heat. She glanced back at the bar, taking in his attractive physique from the top of his dark head to the rounded toes of his black Harley boots.
He’s straightforward. She liked that. No beating around the bush.
Tall, muscular, well proportioned, the man looked like an athlete. A black T-shirt clung to his broad shoulders, the taut garment stretching to the point of full. His worn jeans hung low on his trim waist and long legs, molding along his muscled thighs and outlining the form at his groin with delicious clarity.
Ivona’s gaze lingered there a while. Bold in her appraisal of his endowment, she had little concern for her bawdy behavior. Nice.
She moved her inspection upward, finding his rugged features equally appealing—face beardless and sharp, profile strong and rigid. He comes from good stock.
His overall form portrayed a lot of history within his genes, and perhaps, quite a bit within his jeans as well. She doubted he suffered from a lack of bed partners. I should like to explore that avenue later.
Amused by her careful scrutiny, he winked. Shifting to lean against the bar, he used one elbow to support his pleasing form. The movement drew her gaze to his muscled chest and flat abs. A leather coat would complete this bad boy appearance. She wondered if a motorcycle waited out back.
Amber Quill Assistant Review Coordinator
"Giving readers the O in their erOtica."
*Nana's Little Black Book--calling all incubi*
*Chasing Booty--the payoff is too good to pass up.*
*Dark Tales--not your average bedtime story.*