I try not to post twice in one day, but I was so excited to finally give you a preview of “Bone Digger,” Book #1 in the Bone Digger novella trilogy. I hope you enjoy it!
As nightfall approached, a thin layer of fog descended over the silent cemetery. A lone man heaved dirt onto a casket six feet into the ground. As the dirt masked the mahogany box containing some wealthy man he had never heard of, he began to think. Wonder what happened to this poor fella’. Wonder if they left any coins in his pocket.
He stabbed the shovel into the ground next to the grave and lifted his black hat. His dark-brown hair and pale face were drenched with sweat. Underneath the dirt and grime was a face that was once young and handsome. A face that brought more women than he knew what to do with. But that was gone now; tainted by a life-changing past.
He wiped the sweat from his brow with a dirt-covered hand and pulled the shovel out of the ground, ready to continue burying the deceased, when a branch snapped behind him. The man turned around to see an elegantly-dressed woman approaching. She wore a long blue dress with white lace trimming around the neck and wrists. A thin golden chain with a small onyx stone attached glimmered in the rising pale moonlight. “A woman such as you shouldn’t be wandering around the cemetery at night,” the man said.
The woman scoffed. “And how would you know that? You have no idea who I am.” Her voice was powerful and commanding. She stared at the man with unyielding green eyes.
“All I’m saying is this place tends to house some unkind folk. Folk who might like to do a lady like you some harm.”
“I’m quite capable of handling myself.” She held out her hands, palm up, and a ball of red energy formed over her left hand. She casually tossed the ball of glowing energy between her hands, and then closed them, dismissing the energy.
The left side of the man’s mouth flexed up into a half-smile. “A vampire, eh? Alright. What are you doing out here?”
“I’ve come to visit my husband’s grave. That is, if it’s alright with you,” she said sarcastically.
The man stabbed the shovel back into the dirt and leaned on it. “What’s your name, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I don’t believe that is any of your concern,” the woman snapped. Her eyelids narrowed and she took a step to bypass the grave digger.
“Now just hold on a minute,” the man said. “I’ll bet I can tell you where your husband’s grave is just by your name.”
“Trust me, I don’t need your help finding my husband’s grave.”
The man looked at her for a moment. “Come on,” he pressed with a smile. “What harm can it do?”
The vampire sighed. “Very well. My name is Arabella Mollone. You may refer to me as Bell.”
“Pleased to meet you,” the man said politely. “My name is Jacob “Bone Digger” Tiernan. Most people call me Bone.”
“Charmed, though I don’t recall asking your name.” She paused. “Well, lead the way then,” she snapped.
Bone smiled and turned on his heels. He led Bell through the haphazardly placed grave markers.
“So, why do they call you Bone Digger if you bury the dead?” Bell asked.
Bone stopped and turned his head. “Because when I’m not burying the newly deceased, I’m digging up their bones.”
“Interesting,” Bell said. She continued following Bone through the cemetery, observing each grave marker they passed.
They arrived at a large headstone which was a statue of a soldier mounted on a stallion. The stallion was reared back, and the rider held a long sabre skyward.
“Here he is,” Bone said. He crossed his arms over his chest. “So you’re the wife of William “Valor” Mollone.”
“You say that as if you’re surprised. What, a soldier can’t marry a vampire?”
Bone chuckled. “That’s not what I’m saying at all. It’s just… Well, Valor here was known for slaying entire vampire clans. That’s how he got his name.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” she said playfully.
“Didn’t he know?”
“Not at first,” Bell answered. “Eventually he found out. Found me feeding on some poor young man. He didn’t take to it too well either.”
“I’m not surprised.”
Bell shrugged. “He soon got over it. Started taking me with him to the clans he killed, actually.”
“You approved of him killing vampires?”
“Certainly. You see, I don’t belong to a clan. I abandoned them long ago.”
“How does one abandon a clan? Isn’t there some sort of heritage mark?”
“Most, yes. There are some nomadic vampires—unmarked, if you will—out there who love to turn random people. That’s how I came to be.”
“Very interesting,” Bone said. “How did your husband die?”
Bell put a hand on the base of the grave marker and looked up at the rider that represented her husband.
“I was directing him to clans that I didn’t particularly care for. I have my own land. Land under my vampiric control. I have feeding places and magical training areas where I take those I turn for training.”
“Sounds like a clan to me.”
Bell shrugged again. “A nomadic clan, perhaps. I don’t care for the standard clan hierarchy. In a sense, I’m the leader of the nomadic vampires in this area. I have few that I can trust to lead in my absence. I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with standard governmental clan proceedings.”
Bone looked at her, confused.
“Ah, yes, back to my husband. I had control over what clans he would remove for me. Those who infringed on my territory, mainly. I was assisting him in defeating a new Krea’tol den that had formed just outside my home city. One of the toughest and eldest vampire breeds out there. Well, as I’m sure you know, vampiric magic is fueled by blood. We were engaged in an epic battle, and my husband suffered a nasty gash across his chest. I had been using my magic for and the sight of blood, well, drove me to frenzy.”
“You fed on your own husband?” Bone asked precariously.
“He was going to die anyway. It was either that or we both die.” She smiled. “Are you not afraid of me?” she asked curiously.
Bone smiled. “Not at all.”
“Very interesting. It’s hard to come by someone not afraid of a vampire, especially one with as much territory as I have.”
“After what I’ve experienced, I don’t fear much. Plus, I’m always prepared.” He reached back and pulled a sawn-off bolt-action rifle from a holster on his back. The last six inches of the underside of the barrel had a razor-sharp axe blade attached to it that gleamed in the bright moonlight.
Bell raised an eyebrow and looked at Bone’s unique rifle. “Very interesting,” she said. “What experience do you refer to?”
“It’s quite a long story,” Bone answered. He skillfully swung his rifle through the air, producing a loud swoosh, and then returned it to the holster on his back. “A story of Demons, and Alessia’s Jewel.”
Bell’s eyes lit up. “Alessia’s Jewel, you say? Very interesting. That is the rarest of jewels. Capable of turning anyone into an incredibly powerful demon.”
“Indeed. If only I had it. I came quite close once.”
“It sounds like a very interesting story. I’d like to hear it.”
“Are you sure? I thought you came to see your husband’s grave.”
“I have plenty of time,” Bell answered. “I certainly don’t need to sleep, and he’s not going anywhere.”
Bone smiled. “Very well.”