Stevie Woods:author of gay romantic fiction

January 30, 2014

New excerpt from First Reflection!

First_Reflection_200x300This is an excerpt from First Reflection – the prequel to On Reflection – that I’ve never shared before, hope you enjoy!

Excerpt:

He wanted to pray but couldn’t think of any prayers, and in truth, he never really believed in the Temple anyhow. Then the thought occurred that if there was truth in the legends of evil, perhaps good existed too. Though watching as the creature clutched Ettore to him and lapped the blood from the horrific wound in his neck, Andreas found it hard to believe anything could fight such evil. When the nightwalker finally released the now-dead Ettore to crumple at his feet, Andreas concluded it was too late for him to be having second thoughts.

The creature turned his attention to Andreas, the smile back on his handsome face. How could Andreas consider such an evil creature to be attractive? Lords of Divinity, he had blood dripping down his chin, and Andreas daren’t give name to what was coating his clothing.

He walked to stand directly before Andreas. “You are something special. I will enjoy so much being with you.”

Andreas’ skin crawled at the suggestion, but he could do nothing but stare at the nightwalker, whose smile widened as he grabbed Andreas around the waist and tossed him over his shoulder before dashing off through the park at a dizzying speed. Andreas felt himself lifted through the air, and he realized they were sailing over the wall surrounding the far side of the park, landing on a darkened road that Andreas didn’t recognize. It was difficult for Andreas to make out much of anything from his position hanging upside down over his captor’s back. The nightwalker continued across the road and then down a dark alley, his pace never slowing. A door slammed open, and abruptly they were inside.

From what little Andreas could see as they climbed the rickety staircase, they were inside a dilapidated building, what kind he couldn’t tell. At the top of the stairs, the creature turned down a corridor, entering the first door, and Andreas noted it was better cared for than the rest of the building.

There was a desk on one wall, a comfortable chair in the middle of the room with a small side table next to it, but the nightwalker strode past them, heading for the large bed in the corner. He tossed Andreas onto it, and Andreas was surprised to discover he could move. Immediately he attempted to jump to his feet, but a hand pressed on his chest.

This time the creature grinned as he said, “Oh no, my pet. I’ve not even begun with you yet, let alone finished.”

Andreas sank back onto the bed. Inside his head, he was desperately trying to make his body obey, to run as far and as fast as he could, but instead he calmly began to unbutton his clothing and remove it piece by piece. The watching nightwalker was also removing his attire.

When they were both naked, he said, “I knew I was right in my choice. You are perfect.”

***

To discover what happens next, go here

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September 5, 2013

ON REFLECTION – a new excerpt from my vampire novel!

Filed under: writing — Stevie Woods @ 3:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

OnReflection_200I wanted to find a new excerpt to post from my paranormal vampire novel, On Reflection, and I found one describing one Nicolo’s earliest memories – seemed ideal for a man who lived a longer than normal life:

A tall, thin, callow boy ran along the wooden planking of the docks, the hunk of bread he’d stolen clasped tightly in his fist. Heart beating in his chest, partly from fear and partly from the exertion, Nicolo darted between a stack of crates, cargo waiting to be loaded on one of the docked ships, only to be shocked when he ran into someone.

Yelling out, half-expecting a blow, Nicolo attempted to twist past the man, but a large hand had grabbed at his tattered clothing and hung on.

“What have we here?” the man queried, pulling Nicolo back against him, one strong arm holding the boy tight against his sturdy body.

“Let go!” Nicolo squirmed, but abruptly understood the man wasn’t going to let him loose. Afraid that the man would turn him over to the baker, who would at best beat him, at worst turn him over to the watch, Nicolo looked at up at the man holding him. “Please, please let me go. I mean no harm, I’m just hungry.” Nicolo used his large dark eyes as best as he could, letting his lip tremble a little, too, knowing it made him look helpless.

The man laughed heartily. “Oh, but you’re a smart rascal, too, aren’t you?” Still not letting him go, the man looked Nicolo over carefully, even turning him a little to push up his torn tunic and look at his back. “Avoided most of the bruises, I see. Smart and quick. The captain could make good use of you, I think,” he added thoughtfully.

Nicolo frowned, not understanding what the man was talking about, but afraid he might have run from the frying pan into the fire. “What do you want with me? Don’t hurt me, please. I won’t make any trouble.” Nicolo kept his voice low, not knowing why, but sensing he ought to be careful with this stranger.

“I’m not going to hurt you, boy. I’m offering you a chance to get off these streets, to do honest work. Sleep in a bed and have regular meals in return. You can earn a little payment, too, in time, when you can pull your own weight. Isn’t that better than thieving just to live, and risk ending up at the end of a rope or on the execution block for your pains?”

“Not my fault I have to steal,” Nicolo grumbled, not being taken in by the promised future. It was too much, too easy. “They threw me out when I got too big; they said I ate too much. I was only twelve. Is it my doing I’m big for my age, I ask you?”

“The foundling home?” There was sympathy in the stranger’s voice.

Nicolo looked up at the man again, searching his eyes, trying to decide what he really wanted. “Yes,” Nicolo answered. “They were always talking about how lucky I was to be looked after, how I was a fortunate child that the Divinity had saved. If I was so fortunate, why didn’t I have any parents? Why was I abandoned without even a name of my own? Found on Santa Nicholas Street, I was, so they call me Nicolo.” The memory still stung; it seemed to Nicolo that he was destined to be forever abandoned.

“Still, I’m pleased to meet you, Nicolo d’Volenzkya.” The man released Nicolo, holding his gaze as he continued, “My name is Phillipe Donato, and I am second mate on the clipper Oreole. Will you accept my offer; make a better way in this life?”

Nicolo looked at Phillipe, disbelief gnawing at him, even as hope grew in his heart. “You meant what you said? A place of my own to sleep, food to eat? For good, honest work?”

“Yes, I meant every word. Someone was kind to me once when I really needed it, and I swore to repay the favor one day.”

“And you—you don’t want—anything else from me? I…” Nicolo backed away a little. “Someone tried. I’m not that kind of…”

“No, Nicolo, I’m not that kind either,” Phillipe interrupted sharply. “You won’t be touched, I swear.” Phillipe actually smiled then. “Unless you earn the captain’s wrath, but that’s something we all risk. Come with me on board the ship. You will earn your keep, I assure you. The work is hard and you have much to learn, but one day you can proudly say that you are a sailor.”

“A sailor? I have dreamed of seeing other places. I saw pictures in a book once of far away lands. They are real? You have seen these places?” Nicolo asked excitedly.

Phillipe took hold of Nicolo’s arm, but gently, as he led the ragged boy out from among the crates and back onto the dock. Nicolo darted a look around, praying the baker was no longer looking for him.

“Oh, I’ve seen more places than you have ever heard of, boy,” Phillipe was saying. “The stories I could tell you.” He grinned then. “But Captain Costalla, he’s been to places you’ve never even dreamed of.”

Nicolo looked at the mate with fascination now. He’d heard all his life that Volenzkya was the center of the world, the capital city of a vast empire, but all he ever saw were the same dirty streets and the poor folk eking out a living in the shadow of the huge, grand buildings where people lived like lords. Places people like him couldn’t get near, let alone enter. The ‘world’ he heard talk of might just as well be across the wide blue sea that he could see from the top of the foundling home, for all the good it did him.

But still he could dream of something better, and he had long wished to escape the drudgery of his life for the adventure to be found on the large ships that swept in and out of the harbor day after day. It was one of the reasons he used the docks to hide out and make his base after he was thrown out of the foundling home. Hoping that, one day, he could leave on one of those ships and see the world beyond his tiny portion of it. Now, it looked as his long-held dream was about to become reality.

ON REFLECTION is available in eBook and Print from MLR Press – and all the other usual avenues:)

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March 10, 2013

First Reflection now available on Kindle!

First_Reflection_200x300Yep, if you wanted to buy First Reflection but were waiting for it to be available to read on your Amazon Kindle, it’s now for sale!

BLURB:
Andreas is a wealthy young man, scion of a noble family, but frustrated by his father’s demands for more acceptable behavior. Out with his friends for a night on the town he is shocked when they are attacked by a vampire. His friends are killed, but he is taken by the vampire to become his new plaything. Forced to kill to survive, all Andreas wants now is revenge on the creature who turned him. Meeting up with another vampire, Valente, Andreas finds salvation of a kind, but is still haunted by his desire for revenge.

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March 8, 2013

First Reflection, vampire novella, released today!

First_Reflection_200x300FIRST REFLECTION, the prequel to my paranormal/vampire novel, On Reflection, is released today by MLR Press. This novella introduces us to the young Andreas and tells how he was first turned into a vampire.

BLURB:

Andreas is a wealthy young man, scion of a noble family, but frustrated by his father’s demands for more acceptable behavior. Out with his friends for a night on the town he is shocked when they are attacked by a vampire. His friends are killed, but he is taken by the vampire to become his new plaything. Forced to kill to survive, all Andreas wants now is revenge on the creature who turned him. Meeting up with another vampire, Valente, Andreas finds salvation of a kind, but is still haunted by his desire for revenge.

EXCERPT:

The fresh air helped to gradually improve Constantin’s condition and though he was still far from sober he was more in control. He stood upright, pushed away from Andreas and Ettore, staggered for a couple of steps before straightening his back. He turned around to face the others, gave a small bow and a sweep of his arm. Andreas watched him carefully and soon decided he was capable of walking unaided though he would keep a close watch on him just in case. Constantin succumbed to the effects of alcohol sooner than either he or Ettore.

“It’s quicker if we go through the park,” Ettore said.

“It always looks spooky in there at night,” Constantin said.

“Oh come on, it’s fine if we stick to the path,” Andreas added. “Anyhow, didn’t know you were scared of all those old wives’ tales.”

Constantin pulled a face but turned into the gate with his friends. “Legends, not old wives’ tales and there’s always a smidgen of truth in legends.”

Andreas laughed. “You sound like my great aunt Sibelia. She would always mutter under her breath as we left the Temple after prayers. Said it was always wise to ask for help against the evil the Temple said didn’t exist. That never quite made sense to me, but she swore there was more that Divinity could protect one against if you bothered to ask.”

“Crazy old bat,” Ettore said.

“Maybe, but it does make one think,” Constantin said. “There are many things now that the Temple says don’t exist, yet once there were prayers of protection against those non-existent things.”

“What kind of things?” Ettore asked, now looking vaguely concerned as he glanced at their dark surroundings. There were very few torches in the park at night to illuminate the paths through the trees; some of the older ones were huge with branches spreading over half the park. An owl hooted and Ettore jerked as he swung around.

Andreas edged closer and said, “Nightwalkers who suck you dry of blood and eat your heart, bone men who steal your soul, spectral departed who won’t leave the world of the living, men who turn into beasts when the moon is full, women who—”

“For Divinity’s sake, stop!”

Andreas laughed. “Oh, you’re so gullible.”

A man suddenly stepped out from the darkness and Constantin came to a halt, his face a picture of shock. Andreas belatedly realized that in fact the man was walking on another path that merged with the one they were on and relaxed. Ettore laughed at Constantin’s over-reaction to the abrupt appearance of the stranger, a handsome looking man indeed, Andreas couldn’t help but notice. Tall, with black hair and dark eyes, dressed all in black too, which was probably why his skin looked so pale.

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February 2, 2013

First Reflection Cover Art & Blurb!

First_Reflection_200x300I was very pleased when I saw the cover art for my vampire novella, FIRST REFLECTION, to be released by MLR Press on 8th March 2013.

The story is a prequel to my paranormal novel, ON REFLECTION, and tells the story of how Andreas became the vampire adversary in the novel.

BLURB:

Andreas is a wealthy young man, scion of a noble family, but frustrated by his father’s demands for more acceptable behavior. Out with his friends for a night on the town, he is shocked when they are attacked by a nightwalker – a vampire. His friends are killed, but he is taken by the vampire to become his new plaything. After being changed and left for dead, Andreas is forced to kill to survive, and all he wants is revenge on the creature who turned him.

http://steviewoods.com

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January 19, 2013

Two new contracts signed!

MLRmanloveimageYep, just this last week I signed two contracts with MLR Press. One for a vampire story which will be released in March as part of their vampire month. The novella, First Reflection is a prequel to my vampire novel, On Reflection, and tells the story of how Andreas first became a vampire.

The second contract is for the historical Anthology, Lust In Time, not got a positive release date for this yet, will advise when I know more about that. My story is called 794 A.D. and is about two men who get called by their liege lord to help fight off the viking raid on Jarrow, in North East England.

http://steviewoods.com

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October 31, 2012

On Reflection – 25% excerpt from my vampire novel!

It’s Wednesday time for another 25% excerpt – it’s also Halloween! The perfect time I think for a peak into my vampire novel, ON REFLECTION – so here we are a quarter way into the story – enjoy!

Nico looked at Andreas, saw the sadness lingering in his eyes, and f he didn’t already believe how much Andreas loved him, he would have known it then. He wondered if loving someone that much was worth the pain it cost if the love was not returned. Perhaps he was better off never finding out.

Visibly shaking off his mood, Andreas sat up briskly. “I have it,” he said with a touch of excitement in his voice. “We will attend the Duke’s ball tomorrow.”

“How do you know he’ll be holding a ball tomorrow?” Nico queried, a smile lighting his face.

“Of course he will, or maybe the night after. Whenever.” Andreas shrugged. “He’ll hold a ball to celebrate the completion of the Temple. I doubt this Duke is any different from his predecessors. Any excuse for a celebration of his success, you know that. We’ll attend in our best finery and pick out the two most delicious looking men there, maybe even two each, and really have fun!”

Nico laughed. “You know how to plan for a good time, Andreas.”

“I do, don’t I?  This should be a wonderful welcome home gift to ourselves.” Andreas smiled.

***

The following evening, as Andreas had predicted, the Duke threw a large celebration ball, and everyone who was anyone in Volenzkya was invited. Nico and Andreas donned their finest raiment, Nico in dark blue teamed with cream and Andreas in black with dove grey. The two men wore the new style to perfection, their figures showing off the tightly fitting trews worn with matching vests over contrasting shirts. The design was perfect for a tall man with a good leg. Each man swung a long cloak over his shoulders, picked up his cane, and they moved out, marching in step. Nico laughed with delight, determined to enjoy the evening.

The ball spilled out into the extensive gardens surrounding the Duke’s palace. There were servants everywhere, milling among the numerous guests, plying them with food and drinks and generally being very accommodating. The scene was lit with thousands of tiny lamps, so the whole place looked as if the stars themselves had fallen to earth to illuminate the party.

The lights, however, were in sharp competition with the jewels worn by both the ladies and gentleman as they perambulated through the greenery. It was the perfect setting to celebrate the consecration of a Temple to the Divinity.

Music flowed from the huge ballroom, and the dancing had spilled out onto the large stone terrace that swept along one long side of the building. Men were spinning the ladies around, dresses of every hue of the rainbow adding to the colorful spectacle.

“Oh, this is wonderful,” Nico sighed. It had been some time since they had attended such a function, and even after all these years, Nico still found such events new and exciting. Andreas merely shrugged; he had seen it all before, too many times, and he was immune to such charms.

“Come, let’s watch the dancing,” Nico said, pulling on Andreas’ arm.

“No, dear boy, I have no desire to watch young ladies.” Andreas pulled free of Nico’s grip.

Nico laughed. “Andreas, you know better than that, it’s the young men I want to admire.”

“Still, I will find you in a little while. I want to listen to the Duke and his confidants, learn a little of what has been happening recently.”

Nico felt a little disappointed, but shrugged it off. “Very well, I’ll pick out the best for myself.” With a lilting laugh, he moved off into the crowd.

***

Nico stood leaning against the balustrade at the top of the steps from the lawn to the terrace. He watched as the couples danced by, but he wasn’t really watching individuals. He was just enjoying the overall picture of people having a good time, being happy. He felt a jolt of envy, which he didn’t really understand. He would be alive when all these folk were mere dust; what did they have that he should envy?

Shaking off his confusing thoughts, Nico looked more carefully at the crowd of humanity surrounding him, searching for that someone who would draw his attention, someone he could his share his body with, and take a little payment in blood. He was proud, and more than a little grateful, that in his eighty years as a nightwalker he had never taken a life. He had always given pleasure in return for the feeding.

This night, it seemed perhaps he was spoilt for choice. There were so many handsome young men that he hardly knew where to start. It was then he heard a voice nearby, a voice he found most attractive; low and slightly husky, and delightfully amused. Nico turned to view the man to whom the voice belonged, to find he was staring into a pair of bright green eyes.

“Ah, sorry, sir,” the stranger said, giving a slight bow in Nico’s direction. “I was so busy talking that I did not see you there.”

The man’s eyes were twinkling, and Nico thought perhaps the man was laughing at him.

“I chose a poor place to linger,” Nico admitted. He stretched out a hand, “Nico Volenz at your service.” Nico had shortened his surname a few years after he had been turned, a response to too many people querying his background. It seemed a little less obvious.

The stranger with the startling green eyes gripped his hand firmly. “Paolo Tuenard. It is a pleasure, sir.” Paolo moved toward Nico, ignoring his friends, not bothering to introduce them. As if at a silent signal, they disappeared into the crowd.

“I’ve not seen you around before,” Paolo commented.

“No, I’ve been away from the city for some time; I only returned yesterday.”

“Just in time for the celebrations.” Paolo smiled, looking a little hesitant for the first time.

“Would you care to join me for a drink?” Nico smiled in return, knowing just how attractive he appeared when he smiled that certain way, when he angled his body just so. He had long since perfected his seduction routine, and he moved closer to the young man as he spoke, almost but not quite touching him. He could smell the beginning of arousal and he knew this man would be amenable. His smile, his pose, and his gaze were all he used to hold the man. He had other devices he could turn to, but this young man seemed interested enough that he had no need to use artifice. Nico much preferred the simple approach.

Paolo licked his lips absently and replied, his voice huskier than ever, “Certainly.”

Walking side by side, so close that their hands brushed now and then, they moved steadily through the crowd, studiously not looking at each other. Nico could feel the heat radiating from Paolo, could smell his sweat, his very maleness, his rising arousal. Oh, yes, Nico must have this one, he was just perfect. Ripe for the taking.

***

After spending at least two hours in Paolo’s company, Nico was captivated with the young man, and apparently the feeling was mutual. Paolo seemed to have an opinion on just about everything, but he was also interested in his companion’s point of view. Rather than seeming like an opinionated bore, it just showed his intelligence and interest in the world around him. He was eager and stimulating, open to everything life had to offer. So it was no surprise that he was fascinated to learn of Nico’s travels. Paolo gave the impression that he loved to soak up knowledge like the proverbial sponge, and he clearly enjoyed listening to Nico’s experiences in other realms.

“You have been to some amazing places, Nico,” Paolo said breathlessly, staring raptly at Nico. “Yet, you don’t look old enough to have had time to visit all those wonderful places.”

“I’m somewhat older than I look,” Nico said, gently smiling.

Paolo smiled back, dipping his head. “Your life sounds so exciting. I have never been anywhere. I’d love to meet different people living different kinds of lives.” He looked up then, holding Nico’s gaze. “You must have seen some very beautiful women in your travels,” Paolo commented diffidently.

Nico shrugged. “I suppose, but then women have never been a particular interest of mine.”

“No?” Paolo queried, eyes sparkling.

“No, I have always found men much more interesting.” Nico moved closer to Paolo as he spoke, letting his gaze slowly travel over Paolo’s form, the young man blushing a little under the obvious attention. “Are you particularly interested in women?” Nico whispered close to Paolo’s ear.

Paolo sucked his breath in, leaning back fractionally to look into Nico’s eyes, and Nico was heartened by what he saw. Paolo was a little flushed, but he held the look and his eyes said the words that his lips did not.

“Can we go somewhere a little more private?”

“If you don’t have to stay, I know the perfect place,” Paolo told him.

Nico grinned. “Stay? No, I only came in the hope I might find someone… interesting.”

<end excerpt>

If you want to read the whole story, which is available in both ebook and print, go here

http://steviewoods.com

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May 29, 2011

ON REFLECTION for sale at ARe Books!

Filed under: writing — Stevie Woods @ 11:56 am
Tags: , , ,
On Reflection

 

On Reflection

By: Stevie Woods | Other books by Stevie Woods
Published By: MLR Press, LLC
ISBN # 9781608203307
Word Count: 60000
Heat Index    

Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.prc), Epub

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Click here for the print version

About the book

Nic Volenz is a nightwalker, an abomination in the eyes of the Temple who must drink blood to survive. It was never his choice to be such a creature, and now after two hundred years of painful existence, he wants only to end it all. He plans to return home, where it all began, and say goodbye to the few good memories he has left before greeting the sun.

His mind full of memories, some good, some bad, Nic retraces the steps his life took in the city of Volenzkya, reinforcing his desire to end it all — until he meets Maxim, a young man whose passion for life, and Nic, rekindles Nic’s need for a connection with all he thought he had lost.

 

An excerpt from the book

Abruptly, he stood up, threw a few coins on the table, and stalked out of the tavern.

What the hell was he doing? It was all so pointless. He was just marking time; there was no reason for any of this. He stopped in the middle of the path, silently admitting to himself just how sterile his existence was. He had no hopes, no dreams, no goals. What was it all for? He answered his own question: Nothing. It was all for nothing.

He lifted his head and looked at the sky above, dark and foreboding with storm clouds gathering. He smiled grimly. Well, if he wanted confirmation…

He made the decision on that dark street and felt the pressure melt away. He knew what he had to do, what he needed to do. Go back to where it all began so very long ago, before he became the worldly Nic Volenz; to when he was the poor foundling Nicolo d’Volenzkya, named for the street and city where he had been abandoned. It would be spring now in Volenzkya, and he needed to see home, to feel its familiarity, its warmth, one last time before he bid a final farewell to his existence. It was probably maudlin, but he didn’t care. Nic had been struggling with himself over this for months, years, even; another few weeks or so wouldn’t matter.

Swiftly changing direction, he headed for the docks. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of the night; there was always a watch on the ships, and he could find out which vessel was heading for Volenzkya. It was only a four-day journey by sea to the capital city, and he could comfortably stay in his cabin for that short period of time without arousing suspicion, claiming to be a poor sailor.

He was back at the house where he was staying an hour before dawn, having arranged passage on a ship leaving the next evening. Nic had taken the precaution of feeding on his way back from the docks; he didn’t wish to risk needing to feed on board ship. He hadn’t had an attendant for the last few months and he soon packed his own bag. Traveling light was a habit of his now.

Standing by the window, he watched the sun slowly lift above the horizon and knew he had made the right choice. He would go home, say goodbye to the places that meant something to him, and then let everything go. He was almost surprised to find that he wasn’t afraid; he felt at peace for the first time in one hundred and eighty years.

Chapter One

Volenzkya

As he looked up at the soaring towers of the huge Temple, Nic couldn’t help but smile. An enduring testament to the past glory of the city, they called it. If the building was enduring, what did that make him? He remembered the Duke laying the first stone amidst the prayers of the priests and priestesses and the cheers of the crowds. So much was different, and yet everything was the same. The smile faded when he thought perhaps only he had changed; changed from the young man who was desperate for experience, desperate to know everything that was knowable. Oh, he had learned, he had learned far too much, and how he had counted the cost.

Shaking his head to get rid of the troublesome thoughts, Nic quickened his pace and strode purposefully through the increasingly narrow streets, feeling as if he was marching back in time. If only he could put the clock back, if only he could go back to those days he had spent in this very city with Paolo. He should have died all those years ago with Paolo, instead of continuing to exist as the unclean thing he was.

Almost a hundred years he had existed before he met Paolo; “lived,” he called it back then, before he came to understand that he really was undead. People like Paolo; they were truly alive, because one had to be alive to be able to die. Nic couldn’t die; he had passed that long ago. All a nightwalker could do was cease to exist. For well over another hundred years after Paolo had died he had continued to exist, never again finding another to love the way he had with Paolo.

For a long time he had hoped he would again find someone who could look at him with compassion and understanding, but eventually even that slender hope had died. All he had now were memories, and they were no longer enough to sustain him.

As soon as the sun had dipped below the horizon, Nic had ventured out; heading for the city center, but it wasn’t long before his feet led him to the docks again. He’d not had the opportunity to properly study his surroundings when his ship had dropped anchor in the bay, because there was no dock space free, meaning the passengers had to be rowed ashore. By that time the sun was almost up, and he needed to get under cover quickly. He took a room at the nearest inn, as rough as it was. He had no interest in what the place was like as long as it provided him shelter for the short time he had left.

Dusk was falling as Nic stood on the dock overlooking the vast harbor, even larger now than the last time he had seen it. Of course, that had been over a hundred years ago, so what else could he expect?

When he looked out over the sea, however, he saw a different view. He saw the harbor as he remembered it, though not from roughly a hundred years in the past, but from two hundred years ago, when he had been a raw youth of thirteen summers trying to escape with his bounty.

* * *

A tall, thin, callow boy ran along the wooden planking of the docks, the hunk of bread he’d stolen clasped tightly in his fist. Heart beating in his chest, partly from fear and partly from the exertion, Nicolo darted between a stack of crates, cargo waiting to be loaded on one of the docked ships, only to be shocked when he ran into someone.

Yelling out, half-expecting a blow, Nicolo attempted to twist past the man, but a large hand had grabbed at his tattered clothing and hung on.

“What have we here?” the man queried, pulling Nicolo back against him, one strong arm holding the boy tight against his sturdy body.

“Let go!” Nicolo squirmed, but abruptly understood the man wasn’t going to let him loose. Afraid that the man would turn him over to the baker, who would at best beat him, at worst turn him over to the watch, Nicolo looked at up at the man holding him. “Please, please let me go. I mean no harm, I’m just hungry.” Nicolo used his large dark eyes as best as he could, letting his lip tremble a little, too, knowing it made him look helpless.

The man laughed heartily. “Oh, but you’re a smart rascal, too, aren’t you?” Still not letting him go, the man looked Nicolo over carefully, even turning him a little to push up his torn tunic and look at his back. “Avoided most of the bruises, I see. Smart and quick. The captain could make good use of you, I think,” he added thoughtfully.

Nicolo frowned, not understanding what the man was talking about, but afraid he might have run from the frying pan into the fire. “What do you want with me? Don’t hurt me, please. I won’t make any trouble.” Nicolo kept his voice low, not knowing why, but sensing he ought to be careful with this stranger.

“I’m not going to hurt you, boy. I’m offering you a chance to get off these streets, to do honest work. Sleep in a bed and have regular meals in return. You can earn a little payment, too, in time, when you can pull your own weight. Isn’t that better than thieving just to live, and risk ending up at the end of a rope or on the execution block for your pains?”

“Not my fault I have to steal,” Nicolo grumbled, not being taken in by the promised future. It was too much, too easy. “They threw me out when I got too big; they said I ate too much. I was only twelve. Is it my doing I’m big for my age, I ask you?”

“The foundling home?” There was sympathy in the stranger’s voice.

Nicolo looked up at the man again, searching his eyes, trying to decide what he really wanted. “Yes,” Nicolo answered. “They were always talking about how lucky I was to be looked after, how I was a fortunate child that the Divinity had saved. If I was so fortunate, why didn’t I have any parents? Why was I abandoned without even a name of my own? Found on Santa Nicholas Street, I was, so they call me Nicolo.” The memory still stung; it seemed to Nicolo that he was destined to be forever abandoned.

“Still, I’m pleased to meet you, Nicolo d’Volenzkya.” The man released Nicolo, holding his gaze as he continued, “My name is Phillipe Donato, and I am second mate on the clipper Oreole. Will you accept my offer; make a better way in this life?”

Nicolo looked at Phillipe, disbelief gnawing at him, even as hope grew in his heart. “You meant what you said? A place of my own to sleep, food to eat? For good, honest work?”

“Yes, I meant every word. Someone was kind to me once when I really needed it, and I swore to repay the favor one day.”

“And you-you don’t want-anything else from me? I…” Nicolo backed away a little. “Someone tried. I’m not that kind of…”

“No, Nicolo, I’m not that kind either,” Phillipe interrupted sharply. “You won’t be touched, I swear.” Phillipe actually smiled then. “Unless you earn the captain’s wrath, but that’s something we all risk. Come with me on board the ship. You will earn your keep, I assure you. The work is hard and you have much to learn, but one day you can proudly say that you are a sailor.”

“A sailor? I have dreamed of seeing other places. I saw pictures in a book once of far away lands. They are real? You have seen these places?” Nicolo asked excitedly.

Phillipe took hold of Nicolo’s arm, but gently, as he led the ragged boy out from among the crates and back onto the dock. Nicolo darted a look around, praying the baker was no longer looking for him.

“Oh, I’ve seen more places than you have ever heard of, boy,” Phillipe was saying. “The stories I could tell you.” He grinned then. “But Captain Costalla, he’s been to places you’ve never even dreamed of.”

Nicolo looked at the mate with fascination now. He’d heard all his life that Volenzkya was the center of the world, the capital city of a vast empire, but all he ever saw were the same dirty streets and the poor folk eking out a living in the shadow of the huge, grand buildings where people lived like lords. Places people like him couldn’t get near, let alone enter. The ‘world’ he heard talk of might just as well be across the wide blue sea that he could see from the top of the foundling home, for all the good it did him.

But still he could dream of something better, and he had long wished to escape the drudgery of his life for the adventure to be found on the large ships that swept in and out of the harbor day after day. It was one of the reasons he used the docks to hide out and make his base after he was thrown out of the foundling home. Hoping that, one day, he could leave on one of those ships and see the world beyond his tiny portion of it. Now, it looked as his long-held dream was about to become reality.

May 17, 2011

ON REFLECTION released by MLR Press!

Filed under: writing — Stevie Woods @ 6:42 am
Tags: , ,

I am pleased to announce that the revised version of my historical paranormal novel, On Reflection, has been released by MLR Press. It will be available in both eBook and Print though at the moment only the eBook version is available. The print version should be out in a couple of weeks.

BLURB:   Nic Volenz is a nightwalker, an abomination in the eyes of the Temple who must drink blood to survive. It was never his choice to be such a creature, and now after two hundred years of painful existence, he wants only to end it all. He plans to return home, where it all began, and say goodbye to the few good memories he has left before greeting the sun.

His mind full of memories, some good, some bad, Nic retraces the steps his life took in the city of Volenzkya, reinforcing his desire to end it all — until he meets Maxim, a young man whose passion for life, and Nic, rekindles Nic’s need for a connection with all he thought he had lost.

Available from MLR Press: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=SW_ONREF

Stevie

http://steviewoods.com

March 23, 2011

New cover for vampire book, On Reflection

Filed under: writing — Stevie Woods @ 4:21 pm
Tags: , ,

Here is the lovely new cover that has been created for my vampire novel, On Reflection. A revised version is to be released by MLR Press, probably sometime during May.

BLURB:   Nic Volenz is a nightwalker, an abomination in the eyes of the Temple who must drink blood to survive. It was never his choice to be such a creature, and now after two hundred years of painful existence, he wants only to end it all. He plans to return home, where it all began, and say goodbye to the few good memories he has left before greeting the sun.

His mind full of memories, some good, some bad, Nic retraces the steps his life took in the city of Volenzkya, reinforcing his desire to end it all — until he meets Maxim, a young man whose passion for life, and Nic, rekindles Nic’s need for a connection with all he thought he had lost.

I’ll post information about the release date when I know more.

Stevie

http://steviewoods.com

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