You scoff. I hear your dubious snort from all the way over here. Stop it.
A reader asked if I’d ever considered writing paranormal during an Ask Me Anything. Someone else said “Oh! What about vampires?” I said I probably wouldn’t because what’s left to add to the genre? Is there any way to bring something new? I didn’t think so but the thought became a tickle in my brain. Then, it became an itch that spread like a rash and refused to be ignored. I asked myself: “Sarah, IF you were going to write a vampire, what would that vampire look like? How does one become a vampire?” My first instinct was to catch up on modern vampire tropes. I was a morbid, depressed, lonely girl in high school. I’d just moved to Upstate New York and I kept my nose buried in a copy of Interview With A Vampire and it had passages highlighted in various colors, for academic reasons. I just don’t understand why I wasn’t more popular… I think those kids are considered emo and introverts now but in my day we were just called freaks. But, back to my itchy brain! I was obsessed with Anne Rice’s vampires until around Memnoch. I also read Dracula too many times but I didn’t pick up another vampire book until I skimmed Twilight to see if it was ok for my then ten-year-old. I’d missed just about everything else. I was aware of True Blood and The Vampire Diaries but they sat on my “To Watch” list and life happened. “Do I need to, though?” I asked myself, as I pondered who my vampires would be. I decided I didn’t want to get caught up on what was currently happening in vampires these days. I didn’t want to subconsciously pull from other people’s work and went in with as close to a clean slate as I could get. I pondered the beginning and my research started with the Bible. There, I found a curse.
I am also aware that Cain is pretty popular and there are many books and TV shows with Cain-based characters but I took another step back from his story and the curse. Cain was a farmer and God took the soil from him. God told Cain he couldn’t touch the soil or rest in it. Imagine that? Taking the very earth from a man born to turn his hands in the soil and bear fruit. Cain was the first farmer and father of farmers and God cursed him with the ground and I made that the essence of my vampires. What does that even mean, Sarah? Well, take a look:
“How was the farmer’s market?” Darcy asked giddily as she dropped onto the sofa next to Sebastian and he rolled his eyes but he didn’t look up from the report on his knee.
“Delightful,” he murmured and she hummed knowingly as her arm stretched along the back of the sofa and she curled her feet under her.
“Jasper seems quite happy. He’s singing and dancing and working up quite a sweat in the kitchen,” she whispered and Sebastian looked toward the kitchen and swallowed hard as his heart began to slam against his chest and his groin tightened.
“Is he?” It came out a little hoarse and strained so Sebastian coughed into his fist then squeezed his hand tighter as it trembled.
“Don’t tell me you can’t smell him from over here,” she purred in his ear and Sebastian swore as he tossed the report on the table.
“I’m so glad you’re amused.”
“Oh, but I am! Do you know how long it’s been since you were smitten?” she cooed and Sebastian hissed for her to keep it down.
“I am not and nothing is going to happen!” he vowed in a loud whisper as his hand cut through the air and her lip pushed out.
“Why not! He looks so yummy and you could use a little distraction,” she pouted and Sebastian shook his head.
“That’s what I have Tiffany and Miguel for,” he said firmly and she made a loud spluttering sound as she waved it off.
“That’s just sex. You need more than that. You’re lonely, Seb,” she accused and he gave her a flat look.
“How can I be lonely when you’ve got your nose pushed right into every single corner and crevice of my life?” he asked sweetly and she clapped her hands as she silently applauded.
“I try my best, my love, but I can’t give you everything you need,” she said as her fingers dragged up the back of his neck then sifted through his hair. He sighed as he shut his eyes and enjoyed the tingling of his scalp as her nails scraped. “It’s been too long since you’ve let someone in and opened up,” she scolded and Sebastian chuckled.
“And you think it’s time I opened up? To a twenty-eight-year-old vegan?” he confirmed and she made a thoughtful sound as she chewed on her lip.
“Obviously there are challenges…”
“He’s a child. And a vegan,” Sebastian repeated and she hushed him.
“And you want him,” she added heavily and he let out a long, weary sigh as he pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Of course, I want him. He’s beautiful, incredibly fit and probably quite flexible,” he said then gasped when she swatted his chest hard.
“That’s not it and you know it! I see how weak you get around him,” she said as she poked at his chest and Sebastian pushed her hand away.
“None of that matters because I don’t get involved with my employees,” he stated firmly and she gave him an arch look.
“You do whatever you please, whenever it pleases you,” she said just as firmly and he held up his hands.
“This time it pleases me to keep my hands to myself and my pants zipped. We are nothing but animals without our control,” he replied and she blinked at him for several moments before her head snapped back and she cackled.
“You’re going to fail miserably,” she predicted then raised a finger, halting him when he tried to argue. “You won’t be able to help yourself because he’s exactly what you need and it’s time, Sebastian. You’ve punished yourself enough and it’s time you started living again.”
“My problem is that I can’t stop living,” he muttered back and she wagged her finger at him just before Jasper’s head popped around the wall.
“There you are!” he said brightly before he stepped into the living room and pulled a tray from behind his back. “I have a surprise. I made cookies!”
“Oh! I need to call Beijing!” Darcy yelled as she clamored from the sofa and Sebastian cursed as she slipped from his grasp and fled.
“I should go with her,” he began but Jasper clicked his teeth as he pushed the tray at Sebastian. He pulled his head back and leaned away but Jasper’s eyes grew wider and more hopeful as he waited. “I wouldn’t want to spoil my dinner,” Sebastian attempted.
“Nonsense! One or two won’t hurt and it’ll be a few hours,” Jasper said as he watched Sebastian’s face excitedly. “Don’t they smell amazing?” he asked and Sebastian took a quick sniff then bit back a whimper as goosebumps rushed down his arms and the hairs on the back of his neck stood. All he could smell was Jasper. He’d worked up a light sweat in the kitchen and Sebastian trembled as his mouth watered and need burst within him.
“Amazing,” he breathed as his eyes clung to Jasper’s. They were the softest, clearest blue and seeking, so full of honest curiosity as they spilled into Sebastian’s.
“Here,” Jasper said as he took a cookie and guided it to Sebastian’s lips. He was utterly helpless as his jaw fell and he obediently took a large bite. The cookie turned to ash on Sebastian’s tongue but he moaned rapturously as he chewed and was rewarded by a bright flash of joy and pride in Jasper’s eyes as he watched him. Sebastian swallowed loudly and made his eyes appropriately wide as he took the cookie from Jasper.
“Delightful!” he said as he waved the cookie at him. “In fact, I have to take one to Darcy. May I?” he asked as he swiped another cookie from the tray then slid off the sofa and around Jasper.
“Sure! Want me to send some tea?” Jasper asked as he started to follow and Sebastian shook his head quickly as he backed away from him.
“No! These are absolute perfection!” he insisted then crammed the rest of his cookie in his mouth before he bolted into the hall. Sebastian made sure Jasper wasn’t behind him before he flew up the staircase and down the hallway to the master suite. The bathroom door slammed behind him and he collapsed against it as a plume of red dust burst from his lips and nose as he coughed. He staggered forward and tossed the cookie in the toilet as molten pain twisted his stomach and his chest began to heave.
“Sebastian?” Darcy called softly as she tapped at the door and he groaned as he leaned over the toilet and a boiling froth of red mud spilled from his lips. “Ew,” she noted as she crossed her arms over her chest and rested her shoulder against the bathroom door. “I was wondering how you’d handle that,” she murmured as he coughed up the last chunks of lava.
“Without any help from you, apparently,” he panted as he held onto the wall and waited for the room to become steady around him.
“Well… He’d be even more suspicious if we both acted like he was feeding us poison,” she said and Sebastian gave her a disgruntled look as he went to the sink. “How are you going to survive this three times a day plus snacks and tea?” she asked and Sebastian shook his head as he turned on the water and reached for his toothbrush.
“He’ll be a bit overzealous in the beginning and want to make a good impression but I’m sure we’ll settle into a routine quickly and learn to ignore each other. I just have to time it so I can be away for most of my meals,” he said and she looked dubious as she flushed then closed the lid so she could sit.
“He’s quite excited about dinner. He’s got big plans for you and some lentils,” she warned him and Sebastian whimpered as he looked toward the kitchen.
“I can tell him I’ve already got plans,” he said and she grimaced hard, making Sebastian’s stomach clench again.
“He asked and I said you’d be staying in,” she admitted sheepishly and he swore as he reached for her throat. “I’m sorry! I thought he was testing the waters to see if you were single or if we were a thing and I totally misread that. I told him you usually go for a run in the evening but the rest of your night was wide open,” she said and Sebastian muttered several more curses as he jammed his toothbrush in his mouth. The toothpaste and water evaporated almost immediately as he scrubbed then swished but it carried the taste of the dust with it and he felt stronger as he stood and dried his face with a towel.
“Do not meddle, Darcy,” he ordered then gave her a hard look. “This is just a temporary arrangement. He’s going to find another restaurant or rich client and move on soon,” Sebastian predicted. “In fact, you and I are going to do whatever we can to help him find a new arrangement as quickly as possible,” he added and made sure she was tracking before he leaned forward and checked his eyes in the mirror. The fine wrinkles at the corners were more pronounced and there were a few wisps of grey at his temples. “I’m going to change and go for a run. I need to eat,” he said and she nodded as she stood and her hands glided up his back and over his shoulders.
“You’re fading a bit. Try running by the canyon. I think I picked up his scent by the trail that goes past the overlook,” she murmured soothingly as she kneaded and he pushed out a cleansing breath.
“I’ll see if I can find him. I need something more than a few mangled cats and puppies,” he complained as he turned and let her cradle his head against her chest.
“Have you thought about hunting for something larger? It’s peak tourist season. I’m sure someone’s up to no good,” she suggested and he shook his head as he pulled away.
“I can’t afford to slip right now, not with someone like Jasper this close,” he said and her lips pulled tight.
“I don’t know how long you’re going to be able to last like this,” she worried as she brushed the hair away from his face and he shrugged.
“I’m going to be gone during lunch and I’ll see what I can learn over dinner. I want you to talk to your contacts and see if we know of anyone stupid enough to open a vegan restaurant in a town that caters to rich old people who worship red meat and wine,” he grumbled and she held up her thumbs and gave him her biggest smile.
“I’m on it, boss!” she promised and he rolled his eyes as he shooed her off.
“Hurry and find something before this vegan murders me.”
Now, some have asked why Isla Bright? I didn’t want longtime K. Sterling readers to go into Crave expecting a K. Sterling book and feel misled. Sebastian is pansexual and has sex with females. The next book in the series will follow Sebastian and Jasper’s relationship but it also splits focus with Darcy’s storyline and she’s all over the place. We’ll have f/f, f/m, f/m/m/m… sexual relationships in the series and I didn’t foresee those future books appealing to K. Sterling’s general audience. I also didn’t want anyone to love it or hate it just because it’s a K. Sterling book. Mostly, different genre, different name. Just like I write (terrible) m/f romance as Abigail Graves and m/m romance as K. Sterling, I write queer vampire romances as Isla Bright. I’ve begun the next book in the Curse of Cain series and I’m hoping to get back to it soon. I’ve just got a few Lake Cliff itches to scratch before I can jump into Seb, Jasper and Darcy’s world again but I can’t wait to go back!
Get Crave on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited: https://amzn.to/2oBbcJw