Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Joey W. Hill’s Lyssa and Jacob from Bound by the Vampire Queen.
Sworn to obedience, compelled by loyalty, and threatened with damnation for betrayal, Jacob entered Lady Lyssa’s servitude as a human servant. Now he is a vampire, but still bound to Lyssa, who has found herself struggling with the capricious powers that have come alive in her paternal Fae blood—and challenged by two enemies…
While the Vampire Council threatens to take away Lyssa and Jacob’s newborn son, the Fae Queen has ordered Lyssa to appear before the Otherworld court to face inescapable charges. The Fae have nothing but contempt for vampires, but to serve her, protect her, nourish her, and pleasure her, Jacob will follow his lady into hell itself. No one—neither Fae nor vampire–will compel him to break the oath he made to serve a vampire queen forever.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of a Vampire Queen novel (winners choice).
In thinking about what a Christmas mall trip would be like with Lyssa, my thousand-year-old vampire queen, and her servant, Jacob, the main characters of the December release, Bound by the Vampire Queen, I decided to tag along on an actual trip and see if I could hear a few snippets of conversation. They of course decided to bring their son Kane with them, because what could be more fun than shopping with a vampire toddler?
* * * * *
“We don’t have too many left on the list, when all’s said and done.” Jacob pulled the folded paper from his back pocket and examined it. “Gideon? Get him a 5-pack of black Hanes t-shirts, slap a bow on them, and he’s good to go. He’d consider it a treat, getting them new. I’ve seen him pull them out of dumpsters. Most of the time he gets them from the Salvation Army for 50 cents apiece.”
“Speaking of which…” Lyssa nodded at a volunteer dressed as Santa, ringing the bell next to the red donation bucket. Before Jacob could reach for his wallet, she stopped him, her long-nailed fingers moving into the space provided by his bent arm to reach into his back pocket herself, caressing the muscular terrain beneath the denim. He gave her a wry smile, sliding his arm around her waist as she opened the wallet, pulled out one of her hundreds and handed it to him.
“You know, most women carry a purse. You just haul me around.”
“Far more convenient. With the added benefit of finding things much better in your pockets than lint and gum.” As he stepped away to give the money to the volunteer and re-pocket his wallet, she plucked the list from him. Kane was belted into his stroller, but his eyes were darting everywhere. Jacob obligingly brought him close enough to an animatronic display of Rudolph that he could pet the deer’s felt-covered leg.
“How about custom made boots for Gideon?” Lyssa suggested. “With a pocket sole for an extra blade? Your brother would like that.”
“It’s a little close to the holiday to order custom made boots.”
“Not if I ordered them three months ago. I just need you to pick out the knife.”
He was pleased, but on principle he rolled his eyes. “I think you’re way too fond of my brother. I bet I won’t get a Christmas gift half as nice.”
“You won’t if you keep acting like that.” She gave him her sultry smile, nodded toward the tobacco shop which offered high end knives for sale. As he rolled the stroller up to the display case, Lyssa reached down to keep Kane’s candy cane sticky hands off the glass.
“Oh, what a beautiful boy.” The sales girl crooned it, leaning over the counter in her low cut Santa elf suit. She was besotted as everyone was by Kane’s long lashes and jade-colored eyes, even if his focus seemed a little intense for a toddler. It became even more intense as her position exposed more of those plump breasts. Even though he nursed on blood, he took it from the breast area.
“Yes, honey, you’re a little too young for those,” she told Kane as Lyssa kept his hands off the glass. “You could nick yourself.”
Jacob thought the more likely danger was Kane nicking the sales girl. Then they’d have to peel him off her like a leech. He felt Lyssa register his thought, a frisson of amusement passing from her mind to his.
For the pocket heel, Jacob chose a blade that could spring open with the touch of a finger. He also picked out a wicked eight incher to go on the inside of the boot, his personal gift to his brother. Gideon didn’t feel dressed if he wasn’t carrying three or four blades. And a nine millimeter.
As they moved from the tobacco shop toward the toy store, he tucked the bag in the back of the stroller. “I could buy you one of those elf suits for our Christmas dinner,” he told Lyssa. “All the male guests would find it very festive.”
“And how fortunate, it’s the color of blood.” Lyssa sniffed. Jacob brushed his lips over her ear.
“I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off you. You’d probably have to punish me, a lot.”
“Stop trying to distract me,” she told him, but he saw the curve to her lips, the glint in her green eyes.
On their way into the toy store, Kane snagged a plastic handgun from the wall display. It came with soft rubber projectiles and targets. Lyssa pried it out of his fingers. “No, we have no use for that.”
“Oh, good for you,” a matronly woman gushed, leaning down to chuck Kane on the chin. Jacob put a hand on his son’s small shoulder, a strict “no biting” warning. “Definitely good to teach them that lesson young.”
“Yes,” Lyssa said. “He can disembowel someone far faster than he can shoot them.”
The woman’s eyes snapped up. Meeting a mature vampire’s gaze was unsettling on the best of days, and when it was the gaze of an irritated vampire queen, it was downright disturbing. The woman edged around them, disappeared.
“My lady,” Jacob said reprovingly. “You know he’s not old enough to disembowel anyone yet. Plus, aren’t we trying to blend?”
“I’m blending. She was annoying.”
Jacob had to hide a smile. He’d been nonplused that Lyssa wanted to go mall shopping, but once here, the reason for her decision was clear. This mall had a variety of animatronic Christmas displays: elves hard at work in their workshop, feeding the reindeer in their stable, or hitching them up to the sleigh, getting ready for the big night. She’d wanted Kane to enjoy all of those, as well as the center atrium, where faux snow was falling on a giant Christmas tree made of sparkling wrapped presents. Carolers strolled through the mall in Dickens period clothing, and all the mall employees were dressed as their favorite Christmas characters. It was a delight for children and adults alike.
His lady was proving, no matter the age of the parent, seeing Christmas through the eyes of your child was hard to resist. Jacob had no objection. Given that the things they usually faced were life-and-death decisions or the volatile world of vampire politics, he was all for a Christmas outing with his lady and their son. It gave him a twist of poignant memory he put away as Kane started making excited noises. The toddler was bouncing in his stroller. Fortunately, when he laughed and made such noises, his kitten-sized fangs weren’t all that noticeable.
Following his insistently pointing fingers, Jacob saw a toy train coming out from under an archway of stacked puzzles. It was a vehicle large enough to seat children Kane’s size. The track apparently ran throughout the store.
“You know, we could put that in the sunroom, run it out to the garden and let it circle through the garage. He’d love it.”
“Yes, he would.” Lyssa took Kane’s hand by the wrist, shaking it playfully as she made a face that delighted him, as well as Jacob. He loved to see her act silly, girlish. Relaxed. “I think he wants to test drive it first, however.”
“What gave it away?” Jacob snorted. He unbuckled the stroller and put Kane on his feet. The child made a dash for the train, which Jacob interrupted with a neat snag that swung him up in his arms, masking the fact the child was far speedier than most toddlers. Actually, more than most teenagers. When they reached the train, Jacob set him down and Kane dashed again, this time for the first car. Another child was already climbing in. Kane wrinkled up his face, bared his teeth and hissed.
“Hey, hey, none of that. Jesus. Just like your mother.” Jacob pulled him back with a stern, quelling look and motioned to the other child. But that one was already running white-faced back to his harried mother.
Lyssa came to his side. “I heard that.”
“Nothing I wouldn’t tell you to your beautiful face, my lady. You do like to have your way.” Hooking an arm around her hip, he nudged her hair off her shoulder, kissed her throat. “Last time we were in a mall,” he murmured, “you had me carry you behind the center fountain so you could second mark me. And do other things.”
“Behave.” But her jade eyes glowed at him, her hand slipping into his back pocket again for a more intimate caress.
Giving her a smile, he turned back to their son, still firmly in his grasp, but who looked perilously close to tears because the train had taken off without him. “No sir. You wait until the next round, because you were rude. You going to behave this time?”
Kane nodded, pointing insistently at the train. Vampire children didn’t verbalize as early as human children, because of the interference of their fangs, but his face was as expressive as a book. Jacob had no trouble reading it. “Yeah, I know you want to ride the train. But we’re going to do it with manners. All right?”
Before the arrival of their son, Lyssa would have said it was impossible for Jacob to be any more irresistible than he already was. But a handsome, powerful man who obviously adored his child could attract the eye of every female within a hundred mile radius. As such, when he looked around for a sales clerk, one trotted up to him instantly. She was a pleasant-faced, dark-haired girl in a much more child-appropriate version of an elf costume. Nodding to the train, Jacob put his hands over Kane’s ears, to Lyssa and the girl’s amusement. “We want one of these please. I assume you can deliver?”
“Yes. Oh wonderful. We only have two more in stock and we were hoping to sell them both by Christmas. Credit or cash?”
The train came back around, slowing for new passengers. Kane started pulling Jacob toward the front. Glancing back at Lyssa, Jacob tugged out his wallet, tossed it to her. “Ask her,” he called. “I’m just a kept man.”
The sales clerk watched him lift Kane into the train car, his T-shirt pulling across the broad shoulders, denim snug on his long thighs. Though the girl whispered it under her breath, Lyssa’s enhanced hearing picked it up clear enough.
“Baby, I’d be happy to keep you anytime.” Then she pivoted to face Lyssa. “Cash or credit, ma’am?”
“Credit.” Lyssa said, hiding her amusement. But he’s not yours to keep, love. He’s all mine.
After she handled the transaction, she went to find her boys. Kane was still circling in the train, where she expected he’d be happy to stay until the mall closed. After circling with him a couple times, Jacob had found a perch on a stock ladder where he could see most of the train’s circuit. He wasn’t aware of her perusal yet, so she indulged the private pleasure of watching him, a rugged thirty-something who could handle himself exceptionally well, whether it was in a fight or in a woman’s bed.
Now, she allowed herself a quiet dip into his mind, to see where his thoughts were going. While keeping watch over their son, he was letting his gaze was wander over the store, looking at all the Christmas decorations, the decorated trees. Since their parents’ deaths, he and Gideon had not celebrated a traditional Christmas. In fact, this Christmas would be the first time in some years the two of them had been together on the holiday. His emotions about that were a tangle of old regrets, sadness over his parents, and yet a quiet, eager anticipation of the coming holiday. Which in turn made her want to make sure it was his best Christmas ever.
She commandeered another sales clerk. “I want the five decorated trees as well,” she told her. “And that Christmas village display over there, plus the toys that sing Christmas carols…”
When she at last came back to Jacob, he was still on the ladder, though he turned his head toward her as she came, telling her, not surprisingly, that he’d been keeping an eye on her whereabouts as well. She climbed up the two steps, leaned against his body as he cinched an arm around her waist, holding her. “You know,” he chided her, “between us and our guests, we’re going to have so many gifts for him, we’ll need to add another wing to the estate.”
“I wasn’t buying more gifts for him. Not technically. Are we done with our list?”
“I don’t have anything for you yet.” He cupped her cheek, caressed her mouth with a thumb. She nipped him with a discreet fang, tasting a drop of his blood, enough to whet her appetite for more.
You are my gift, Jacob. Lifting up on her toes, she pressed her lips to the corner of his mouth. He smiled against her skin as she added, “But you know I always appreciate your taste in jewelry.”
Her jewelry collection could compete with the Queen of England’s, but she still prized the simple ring he’d bought her at a Renaissance Faire, so much so she wore it even now. He lifted her hand to his lips, touching his mouth to it. It always touched him that she wore it, which she realized was why she did it. She was a thousand-year-old vampire queen, yet she was quite simply in love with him, this heroic man who’d been a vampire hunter, a Faire player, and now her bound servant.
“Whoops, hold on. Trouble.” He stepped down off the ladder, keeping his arm around her and supporting her weight to set her on her feet. “They’re shutting down the train for a few minutes. If the conductor tries to pluck him off, he’ll go after him like a rabid dog.”
“Oh, that reminds me. We need gifts for Bran and his siblings.”
“Already handled. I have an order out to the butcher shop. Plus squeaky balls for Maggie, new collars for everyone, etc etc etc.”
“You are proving quite useful. I might keep you around a century or two.”
He tossed her another grin as he went to retrieve Kane, fortunately before the conductor reached him.
Several stores later, they were approaching the midnight closing time. A tired Kane was tucked into his stroller, as well as several more packages. Jacob had reviewed the folded receipts, amazed at all the additional Christmas items his lady had bought. He was going to be doing a lot of decorating of the Atlanta estate. He’d love every minute of it. Gideon was getting there a few days early with his two vampires, Daegan and Anwyn. He could help Jacob, Kane and John, their majordomo’s grandson, decorate some trees. Maybe Lyssa and the vampires would help as well. Christmas miracles did happen, after all.
She’d finally wandered into one of the dress shops, a place she didn’t necessarily need him in close attendance. Throughout their trip through the mall, he’d been carefully scoping out the jewelry, filtering it among the other pieces of information in his mind so as not to catch his lady’s attention. Now he returned to a kiosk where a girl was sitting on a stool, bending different weight silver wire into jewelry. He touched the body of a green-eyed silver fairy, her wings an elaborate interweaving of Celtic knots, and sent it swaying on its delicate chain.
“What do you think, Kane? Will Mama like this?” Kane gurgled at him tiredly, but with a sweet smile. “I agree.” Jacob fished out his own money from his other pocket. It was a much smaller largesse, but it was important to him that he had those separate funds for moments like these.
When she emerged from the shop, he was back where she’d left him. She tilted her head toward the checkout counter so he could pick up her purchases, which included two new pairs of shoes to wear with her holiday outfits. His lady, a mass of contradictions. She eschewed carrying her own packages, but while he retrieved them, she had no problem finding a towelette in the stroller pack and wiping drool off Kane’s chin. Of course, picking up the bags revealed she’d bought more than shoes. There were some tiny, transparent bits of silk and lace in there that he definitely classified as Christmas gifts to him.
“Men are so easy,” she said, reading his mind and face.
“Yeah, God love us.” He took over stroller navigation as she slid her hand into his elbow. “I see they gave you a stuffed animal.”
“Yes, the polar bear came with a purchase over a certain amount.” Kane held the white stuffed bear, and Jacob had a feeling in a few minutes he would be using it as a pillow.
There was a large box by the exit, intended for toys for the local homeless shelter children. When they’d entered the mall, Lyssa had Jacob drop a sizeable cash donation in their jar, just like she had for the Salvation Army Santa. However, a group of adults and children from the shelter were now there, performing Christmas carols to add to the festive mall environment and draw more attention. They were using silver bells to punctuate their tunes. Kane started making noise, pointing at the shiny objects, so in mutual accord, Jacob and Lyssa drew closer to listen for a few minutes.
It was then Jacob saw two children sitting behind the box. Since Kane was continuing to wave his arms and fuss, he realized it wasn’t the bells, but the box and children that were intriguing him. Like most toddlers, Kane loved a large box, so Jacob rolled him right up to it. “No, you can’t get into it. There are toys in it.”
The two children sitting behind the box were now studying Kane. While those that were singing were smiling and having a good time, Jacob could see these two were less well adjusted. They were still wary, unsocialized, their lives filled with too much uncertainty at the moment to be comfortable with all this.
When he gave them a warm smile, a calm nod, the little girl spoke up. “He…he has strange eyes.”
She turned beet red, as if she hadn’t meant to speak aloud. Jacob looked down to see Kane staring back at her, just as intently. “He seems to think you’re just as fascinating.”
Kane made some unintelligible noises that raised her brow. When he made a face, it nearly made her smile. She put her hand up to her mouth, hiding it. Then Kane extended his bear, shaking it at her over the mouth of the box. Thrusting it at her with unmistakable intent.
“Charmer,” Jacob murmured. He glanced at Lyssa. Kane might be unaware of the significance of his gesture, but it had moved both his parents. The little girl got up, came around the large box and took it from his hands, giving Jacob and Lyssa an uncertain look.
“Yours,” Kane said. “Yours.”
While he had few words yet, Kane knew “yours” and “mine”. In fact, Jacob was pretty sure “mine” had been his first word. The little girl nodded. “Thank you.”
She retreated back to her brother, who put an arm around her and stared at them suspiciously. Kane looked up at Jacob, and Jacob tousled his dark hair. “That’s a very good boy,” he said. Not for the first time, he realized how fiercely he loved his son. As well as the woman who’d given him birth.
Lyssa’s hand covered his, drawing his eyes to her. “Go back to the toy store,” she said. “Have the other train delivered to the shelter. Make sure you buy enough track for it.”
“Yes, my lady.” As always, he was reluctant to leave them, even knowing the mall was one of the safest places they could be. Still, as he reached the center atrium, before heading toward the toy store, he stopped amid the faux snow fall, looked back. His lady, beautiful and remote, the type of being that even the mass of intent shoppers gave an unconscious berth, had lifted Kane out of the stroller. She was holding him on her hip, the two of them swaying together, her holding Kane’s fist as if they were dancing. She turned them in a circle as the singers crooned a poignant Silent Night.
His family. His heart swelling with love, he gave himself an additional moment to watch them. Because love was what Christmas was all about, after all.
* * * * *
Bound by the Vampire Queen, Book VII of the Vampire Queen series, but the third book involving Jacob and Lyssa as the main protagonists, came out the first week of December. If you’ve never read my vampires, you’ll want to read Vampire Queen’s Servant and Mark of the Vampire Queen first to get to know Jacob and Lyssa from the beginning, but you can read free excerpts and blurbs from the Vampire Queen series and all my other books from my website, www.storywitch.com. You can also find other free vignettes at the JWH connection fan forum (must register/logon). Merry Christmas to all!
Meet Joey W. Hill!
Joey W. Hill writes about vampires, mermaids, boardroom executives, cops, witches, angels, simple housemaids… If there’s an erotic love story to be told, she’ll take the plunge. As a result, she’s proud and humbled to have four series and almost thirty award-winning and highly acclaimed titles, as well as the support and enthusiasm of a wonderful and widely diverse readership. In 2009, she was nominated for a Career Achievement award in Erotica by Romantic Times.
She has become known for writing the type of erotic romance that not only wins her fans of that genre, but readers who would “never” read BDSM romance. That’s because first and foremost, she thinks what attracts a reader is strong characters.
Want to purchase Joey’s novels?
- The Vampire Queen’s Servant at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Mark of the Vampire Queen at Amazon | Book Depository
- A Vampire’s Claim at Amazon | Book Depository
- Beloved Vampire at Amazon | Book Depository
- Vampire Mistress at Amazon | Book Depository
- Vampire Trinity at Amazon | Book Depository
- Vampire Instinct at Amazon | Book Depository
- Bound by the Vampire Queen at Amazon | Book Depository
Daughters of Arianne
- A Mermaid’s Kiss at Amazon | Book Depository
- A Witch’s Beauty at Amazon | Book Depository
- A Mermaid’s Ransom at Amazon | Book Depository
Thank you Joey for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Contest Time! Joey is giving away a copy of a Vampire Queen novel (winners choice). To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: Do you enjoy strolling through the malls and seeing all the holiday decorations? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.