Pre-Order and Excerpt from Quality Assured
Release day for Working Stiffs is just around the corner! Are you ready for tons of vampire goodness? There are thirteen wonderful short stories in this charity anthology supporting the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Amazon - preorder
Goodreads - add to your TBR list
BookBub - I have an account and hope you know more about it than I do
Rafflecopter - GIVEAWAY
Here's the beginning of my story, "Quality Assured."
Derek wished being a vampire resembled his character’s origin story in his first vampire roleplaying campaign. In the campaign, his character had become a wealthy vampire after eating a southern plantation owner. He’d freed the slaves and moved them to Chicago. There, he’d run a speakeasy during prohibition to add to his wealth. His name had been Whittaker, Whitmarsh, or Wellington, something starting with W and British. In the game kit, he was the money, and the other four players were his hired security.
Derek would do anything to trade places with that character. He’d been turned by accident, according to his sire. A young vampire had gotten a little too frisky and ripped out his throat in a nightclub bathroom. Derek had been too drunk to remember, even when he woke in an opulent bed in a strange mansion, one that reminded him of Whittaker/ Whitmarsh/ Wellington. His sire, George Black Wing, was a centuries-old Native American saved from the smallpox epidemic by an Incan princess fascinated with his lack of response to her charms.
When Derek met George, he was more irritated than fascinated with George’s lack of interest. Derek had always been attracted to men, but this man flipped all his lust switches, if a centuries-old vampire could still be called a man and not ascend to demigod of some sort. Instead of sating his desires, George laughed at him, trained him to control his feeding urges, and told him to get a job. George wasn’t mean about it, but he made it clear: Derek was not the type he usually turned. Vampires had to be good stewards of the earth, to protect humans against their own short-sightedness. George would have turned Greta Thunberg, if she’d wanted. Derek needed to prove his worth before George invited him along to rescue the planet, one undead climate activist at a time.
Derek was still a college student, so he didn’t have much real-life job experience. He’d applied through the VAMP agency at George’s request and got a position at a lifeline call center. The online training had been brutal, but working overnight would get him out of the house, at least. He needed to be far away from George’s mansion, where his unrequited feelings drove him damn near crazy.
There had to be something wrong with the call recording. Kellan played it back a second time. Then a third. He heard the customer, but not Derek Houston, the representative he was supposed to evaluate. It was almost as though someone had recorded white noise over those portions of the tape. Sometimes, he thought he heard a voice in the background, almost like Derek was at the caller’s house instead of on the recorded line.
Kellan watched the cars shoot past the first-floor windows, the sun glinting off windshields headed southbound on the one-way street. The bright afternoon sun didn’t quite make it to his cubicle wall, but he was fortunate to have a doorway facing the street. Drifting his eyes over the vehicles while he listened sometimes helped him discern something he’d missed before.
Not this time. After the third time hearing, “Yes, I’d love to tell your supervisor what a great job you’re doing!” at the end of the call, Kellan pulled the supervisor call on a whim. He was blown away. The customer recapped the call with a glowing review of Derek’s assistance, impossible for Kellan to surmise from the original call.
“Derek waited for the paramedics with me. He has a soothing voice. I was sure I’d broken a hip, but it was only a bad bruise, just like he said. I think he’s a miracle worker. Thanks, Derek!”
“What the hell?” Kellan said aloud to his dual computer monitors. None of his colleagues popped over the beige cubicle wall, so he reversed fifteen seconds to listen again. Derek had waited on the line with her, but there was no proof on the call recording. It didn’t make any sense.
This lovely image quote is from the next scene, where Kellan has to sit with Derek to evaluate one of his calls:
Working Stiffs is coming May 1st! Enjoy some great vampire stories for a good cause!