Hey guys, and happy new year!
Boy, I've been busy. Well, both busy and tired. That's what happens when I'm working late and I turn into a zombie, staring at a computer screen/phone screen without doing anything productive.
But big news!
The sequel to Nocturnal Blood, Nocturnal Farm comes out in exactly 25 days, on January 27th!
I'm extremely nervous since the formatting isn't quite ready (but will be in a couple of days!) but it'll definitely be ready before the release day.
I wanted to jumpstart the new year by allowing you guys to read the first chapter of Nocturnal Farm.
I'd have to warn you: The first chapter contains some spoilers from Nocturnal Blood, so if you haven't read the first book yet, you might be a little bit shocked. So I advice you to read the first book.
Now, without further ado:
Nocturnal Farm - chapter 1
My hands shake from holding the gun. Holding it brings back memories. The last time I held one, I shot a man in the thigh. I helped to kill him. It’s the same heaviness, the same stench of gunpowder in the air. There’s also the disgust at countless other people having touched this one with their dirty hands.
“You know you don’t have to do this,” Dad says.
I grip the handle tighter. “Yes, I do. I have to be prepared for anything.”
I hear a scream. My eyes dart around, but there are only my concerned father, with his hand stretched toward me, and my annoyed little brother, who has his arms crossed against the bitter cold. No one screamed. It was just a wraith from my haunting memories.
“You sound like one of those doomsday preppers,” Nathan says. “You know that, right? Are you gonna build a bunker in the woods?”
I shake my head and adjust my focus to the red-and-white circle fifteen feet away from me. They don’t know what I’ve been through. I have to be ready. Mom, Dad, and Nathan were safe because Sophie and I left Anchorage, but what if vampires come after more of my family? What if those nocturnal creatures ignore the pact? I can’t take that chance. I can’t tell my family what happened to me, but I can be prepared if all hell breaks loose.
My index finger is on the verge of cramping. I breathe in, then out. I squeeze the trigger. The gun fires, and my arms jerk from the force.
“You didn’t even hit the target,” Nathan says.
I frown—not because I missed, but because my hands are still trembling. I hand Dad the gun and pull a hand sanitizer out of my jacket. I smear a liberal amount on my freezing hands.
“I’m done with practice for today.”
The creases vanish from Dad’s forehead, and he sighs in relief. He’s never asked me why I go to the gun range even though I always see the question form at the tip of his tongue. Like me, he’s uncomfortable with verbal conflicts. If he sees the opportunity to avoid it, he’ll seize it.
“Well, even though it was a short practice, you did well.”
I smile, though I’m sure they both see it’s forced.
“All right, it’s my turn,” Nathan says. He holds out his hand for the gun, and there’s an eager glint in his wide eyes.
Dad chuckles. “You’re not old enough, Nate.” He goes for the duffel bag on the bench and digs through it. He returns and hands Nathan something smaller and lighter.
“A BB gun?” Nathan’s voice rises in irritation.
I turn away from the coming argument. Nathan is still a teenager, only seventeen. There’s still so much he has to experience. Handling real guns shouldn’t be it. I do hope, however, that he’ll never experience any of the horrific stuff I’ve been through.
The gun range, just a few miles from Anchorage, is quiet except for the crows on the electric pole and Dad’s tired justification for bringing the BB gun for my brother. The stillness is unnerving—it feels like someone is watching me. I look around but see only snow. No heads peeking out from the snowy hills. No blood painting the blank canvas red.
My paranoia has grown since spring, especially with all the disappearances. Granted, people aren’t disappearing here in Anchorage, but they are in Europe. It’s probably nothing, but my mind sometimes reminds me of it. It has nothing to do with me or my family, so I shake it off.
I cross my arms before my chest to warm up after standing still for so long. My breath comes out as smoke in the winter air. I glance at the target amidst the snowy surroundings. Those circles are sitting ducks in the white background, and I’m pissed off that I missed my shot. Especially since it’s my fifth time coming here.
Six months since it happened. Since I lost Sophie. And not a word from those two vampires who are supposed to guard me. I’m relieved though. I doubt Grigori, an Elder and Sophie’s former guardian—and now my reluctant guardian—would like what I’ve been up to. I changed my major to folklore, and I’ve been trying to find as much information as I can about vampires. Sophie told me a lot, but not everything like she’d promised. Her journal has helped, but I’m curious about how they’ve erased themselves from history. So far, I’ve found nothing. Like Sophie said, they’re cunning sons of bitches.
Despite the horrors I might find in the vampires’ darkest places, I’m determined to bring them into the light. I owe Sophie that much.
“Leia, we’re ready to leave,” Dad says.
I turn around; he’s already by the car. Nathan’s inside and pouting so much, his resemblance to a duck is uncanny.
“You all right?” Dad asks. He’s still on tenterhooks with me, like he expects me to have a mental breakdown any second.
“I’m fine, Dad.” I sigh. “Just wasn’t in the zone today.”
I get in and ignore Nathan’s mutterings. As Dad drives away, I watch the range disappear in the white void.
If I’m supposed to live with this knowledge of vampires, Sangues—humans that are aware of vampires and do anything to gain their favor—and ghouls, I need to guard myself better. I need to know how to protect myself and my family because, if my two vampire guardians won’t do anything, I’m the only one who can. I promised Sophie.
I pull the violet glass pendant out from under my shirt. It shines in my hand. I look at the disappearing range and tightly clutch the pendant.
Next time, I’ll do better.