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Browse through sections of “By Virtue Fall,” the first song in the “Shadowdance” action/ urban fantasy series. The link at the end of the excerpt will show you where to get a copy of the full book.


Adriana vs. Assassins

“Leave and postpone your destruction,” Adriana said in her native French, knowing that despite the various nationalities of the Daughters before her, they knew her language. “Stay and you die here and now, your blood to mix with that of the bitch who spawned you.”

These five Daughters were all no older than twenty-five when they were Turned; Adriana had trained with them all, knew them all. They were not privy to Cytheria’s manipulations and should not have to answer for them.

However, Adriana would not let them stop her from thrusting her nodachi’s blade through Cytheria’s atrophied heart. What was left of it, anyway, after she had broken it in anger the night she learned of Cytheria’s duplicity.

Three of the Daughters moved down the stairs as gracefully as a trio of ballerinas. The katana swords in their hands belayed all thoughts of beauty, replacing them with the will for violence.

The center Daughter, a fair-haired European girl not much taller than Adriana, swung her sword from high to low, probably hoping to catch Adriana’s head and end things quickly. The other two, both from Yukio’s Japan, came in from the sides.

Adriana parried the blow with her nodachi and spun toward her attacker, forcing the attacking girl into the path of the Daughter coming on her right. The other girl failed to pull her attack and slashed through her fellow sister’s arm. The European’s katana fell from her hands and clattered on the ground.

Unfortunately, Adriana’s maneuver left her open for an attack from the Asian Daughter formerly on her left. Despite a deft spin from Adriana, the Daughter slashed her across the side, drawing blood.

Adriana returned the blow with one of her own, thrusting forward with her right hand, ramming her nodachi through the girl’s forehead. Blood spurt from the wound, trailed from her mouth. The Daughter slid from Adriana’s sword and to the ground.

The fourth Daughter, a Spanish girl, moved to flank Adriana. Before Adriana could react, the European girl grappled her from behind, restraining her right arm and squeezing her throat. The throat hold did no good to a creature who didn’t breathe, but it helped immobilize Adriana while the Spanish girl advanced with her sword ready to slash Adriana’s face.

Her nodachi contained, Adriana opted instead to hook her leg between the European girl’s legs and yank them out from under her. As the European fell, Adriana spun. The Spanish girl’s katana sliced into the European girl as both she and Adriana tumbled to the ground as one.

To her credit, the Spaniard was an expert swordswoman, evidenced by the European girl’s head rolling away from her body.

Adriana disengaged from the dead vampire, rolling further down the stairs.
The fifth Daughter, whom Adriana guessed from somewhere on the African continent, stabbed her sword down on Adriana, catching her in her thigh and stopping her escape. Adriana rolled onto her back, kicking her uninjured leg at the Daughter. Adriana caught the girl in the stomach, breaking her grip on her sword and sending her up a few steps. The girl stumbled, but retained her footing.

Adriana kicked the katana in her leg at its handguard. The weapon went up into the air, freeing her. The Asian and the Spaniard descended the stairs, their swords at the ready. Adriana vaulted to her feet just as the Asian’s sword swung for her head, the Spanish Daughter going for the already wounded thigh.

Reaching up, Adriana caught the katana she had kicked, using it to parry the Asian girl’s blade. In the same motion, Adriana brought up her wounded leg, catching the Spaniard’s blade on the bottom of her boot and kicking it away. Adriana then used her wounded leg to kick the Spaniard in the face.

Seizing the moment, the Asian kicked Adriana’s good leg, sweeping it out from under her. Adriana fell to her back, but quickly somersaulted from that position. Swings from the Asian’s and the African’s blades met empty air.

Adriana took up a kata stance at the bottom of the stairs. The remaining three Daughters regrouped, forming a unified front against her.

“You could at least make this interesting,” Cytheria said in a tone relaying her boredom.

That was all the encouragement Adriana needed.

The three Daughters charged Adriana. When they were nearly upon her, Adriana leapt into the air, vaulting over the Daughters. She landed behind them, but stumbled to one knee due to her wounded leg. The Daughters stopped, turned on Adriana.

The Spaniard was met with Adriana’s thrown nodachi lodging itself in her chest.

Now weaponless, Adriana ran up the stairs and scooped up the European’s fallen katana. She turned and swung the blade, guessing one of the other Daughters would be upon her.
She guessed correctly, slashing the Asian daughter across her face. The girl spun away, falling to the ground at Adriana’s feet. Adriana spun the katana, thrusting downward and through the Asian’s throat.

The African Daughter flew through the air at Adriana, a foot aimed at the vampire’s head. Adriana ducked to one side. The girl flew past, landing just behind Adriana. She was quick to bring about her sword to parry the African’s attack and then deliver a blow of her own aimed at the African’s legs, cutting them both at the thighs.
The African Daughter stumbled to her knees.

Hearing footsteps behind her, Adriana fell to one knee and thrust her katana behind her. It came up and into the Spaniard’s torso. The Spaniard’s blade hung in the air above Adriana in what would have a been a killing blow to her atrophied heart. Adriana rolled to one side, taking her katana with her.

From a squatting position, Adriana quickly licked the blood from the katana. Before her she saw the Asian on her hands and knees, blood pouring from the wound in her throat. As Adriana watched, the blood flow slowed; the girl used her vampire power to heal.

Adriana couldn’t watch further as the bleeding Spaniard continued her assault with another thrust of her sword aimed at Adriana’s head. Adriana parried the blow with her katana, then pulled the girl down to her level with her hand. The Spaniard crashed to her knees in front of Adriana.

“You could have prevented this, Litia,” Adriana said.

“And allow your betrayal to go unanswered?” Litia spat back.

The vampires’ eyes locked.

Litia smiled.

“You never were any good at forcing your will, Adriana,” she said.

Litia tried to break Adriana’s hold, but couldn’t. She looked angrily at Adriana, and found the vampire smiling.

“And you could never break my holds,” Adriana said.

A thin line of blood oozed from Litia’s nose. Soon more blood trailed from her eyes.

“Unlike you,” Adriana said, “My abilities improved since we last sparred.”

###

Continue reading in “By Virtue Fall” – available now!

Adriana vs. Assassins

“Leave and postpone your destruction,” Adriana said in her native French, knowing that despite the various nationalities of the Daughters before her, they knew her language. “Stay and you die here and now, your blood to mix with that of the bitch who spawned you.”

These five Daughters were all no older than twenty-five when they were Turned; Adriana had trained with them all, knew them all. They were not privy to Cytheria’s manipulations and should not have to answer for them.

However, Adriana would not let them stop her from thrusting her nodachi’s blade through Cytheria’s atrophied heart. What was left of it, anyway, after she had broken it in anger the night she learned of Cytheria’s duplicity.

Three of the Daughters moved down the stairs as gracefully as a trio of ballerinas. The katana swords in their hands belayed all thoughts of beauty, replacing them with the will for violence.

The center Daughter, a fair-haired European girl not much taller than Adriana, swung her sword from high to low, probably hoping to catch Adriana’s head and end things quickly. The other two, both from Yukio’s Japan, came in from the sides.

Adriana parried the blow with her nodachi and spun toward her attacker, forcing the attacking girl into the path of the Daughter coming on her right. The other girl failed to pull her attack and slashed through her fellow sister’s arm. The European’s katana fell from her hands and clattered on the ground.

Unfortunately, Adriana’s maneuver left her open for an attack from the Asian Daughter formerly on her left. Despite a deft spin from Adriana, the Daughter slashed her across the side, drawing blood.

Adriana returned the blow with one of her own, thrusting forward with her right hand, ramming her nodachi through the girl’s forehead. Blood spurt from the wound, trailed from her mouth. The Daughter slid from Adriana’s sword and to the ground.

The fourth Daughter, a Spanish girl, moved to flank Adriana. Before Adriana could react, the European girl grappled her from behind, restraining her right arm and squeezing her throat. The throat hold did no good to a creature who didn’t breathe, but it helped immobilize Adriana while the Spanish girl advanced with her sword ready to slash Adriana’s face.

Her nodachi contained, Adriana opted instead to hook her leg between the European girl’s legs and yank them out from under her. As the European fell, Adriana spun. The Spanish girl’s katana sliced into the European girl as both she and Adriana tumbled to the ground as one.

To her credit, the Spaniard was an expert swordswoman, evidenced by the European girl’s head rolling away from her body.

Adriana disengaged from the dead vampire, rolling further down the stairs.
The fifth Daughter, whom Adriana guessed from somewhere on the African continent, stabbed her sword down on Adriana, catching her in her thigh and stopping her escape. Adriana rolled onto her back, kicking her uninjured leg at the Daughter. Adriana caught the girl in the stomach, breaking her grip on her sword and sending her up a few steps. The girl stumbled, but retained her footing.

Adriana kicked the katana in her leg at its handguard. The weapon went up into the air, freeing her. The Asian and the Spaniard descended the stairs, their swords at the ready. Adriana vaulted to her feet just as the Asian’s sword swung for her head, the Spanish Daughter going for the already wounded thigh.

Reaching up, Adriana caught the katana she had kicked, using it to parry the Asian girl’s blade. In the same motion, Adriana brought up her wounded leg, catching the Spaniard’s blade on the bottom of her boot and kicking it away. Adriana then used her wounded leg to kick the Spaniard in the face.

Seizing the moment, the Asian kicked Adriana’s good leg, sweeping it out from under her. Adriana fell to her back, but quickly somersaulted from that position. Swings from the Asian’s and the African’s blades met empty air.

Adriana took up a kata stance at the bottom of the stairs. The remaining three Daughters regrouped, forming a unified front against her.

“You could at least make this interesting,” Cytheria said in a tone relaying her boredom.

That was all the encouragement Adriana needed.

The three Daughters charged Adriana. When they were nearly upon her, Adriana leapt into the air, vaulting over the Daughters. She landed behind them, but stumbled to one knee due to her wounded leg. The Daughters stopped, turned on Adriana.

The Spaniard was met with Adriana’s thrown nodachi lodging itself in her chest.

Now weaponless, Adriana ran up the stairs and scooped up the European’s fallen katana. She turned and swung the blade, guessing one of the other Daughters would be upon her.
She guessed correctly, slashing the Asian daughter across her face. The girl spun away, falling to the ground at Adriana’s feet. Adriana spun the katana, thrusting downward and through the Asian’s throat.

The African Daughter flew through the air at Adriana, a foot aimed at the vampire’s head. Adriana ducked to one side. The girl flew past, landing just behind Adriana. She was quick to bring about her sword to parry the African’s attack and then deliver a blow of her own aimed at the African’s legs, cutting them both at the thighs.
The African Daughter stumbled to her knees.

Hearing footsteps behind her, Adriana fell to one knee and thrust her katana behind her. It came up and into the Spaniard’s torso. The Spaniard’s blade hung in the air above Adriana in what would have a been a killing blow to her atrophied heart. Adriana rolled to one side, taking her katana with her.

From a squatting position, Adriana quickly licked the blood from the katana. Before her she saw the Asian on her hands and knees, blood pouring from the wound in her throat. As Adriana watched, the blood flow slowed; the girl used her vampire power to heal.

Adriana couldn’t watch further as the bleeding Spaniard continued her assault with another thrust of her sword aimed at Adriana’s head. Adriana parried the blow with her katana, then pulled the girl down to her level with her hand. The Spaniard crashed to her knees in front of Adriana.

“You could have prevented this, Litia,” Adriana said.

“And allow your betrayal to go unanswered?” Litia spat back.

The vampires’ eyes locked.

Litia smiled.

“You never were any good at forcing your will, Adriana,” she said.

Litia tried to break Adriana’s hold, but couldn’t. She looked angrily at Adriana, and found the vampire smiling.

“And you could never break my holds,” Adriana said.

A thin line of blood oozed from Litia’s nose. Soon more blood trailed from her eyes.

“Unlike you,” Adriana said, “My abilities improved since we last sparred.”

###

Continue reading in “By Virtue Fall” – available now!

Hollywood Bad Boy

Dwyer Strathan stood in his lavishly ornate bathroom, staring at the reflection of his naked body in the floor-to-ceiling mirror. The floor’s imported Irish marble, so different from the black stone of his native Kilkenny, was a perfect complement to the crystal chandelier and sparkling lead-paned windows.

As with the gilded room, he spared no expense when it came to his appearance. His personal trainer kept his body fat down and his muscles chiseled without the bulk of over-exercising.

Moreover, a schedule of regular spa treatments resulted in a healthy, glowing complexion. The best stylist in Los Angeles kept his hair in a perfect, dark coif. Though fashionistas insisted that the style and length bordered on unkempt, it matched his constant five o’clock shadow.

Both his physique and hair enhanced Strathan’s devil-may-care persona, which only hinted at the darkness flowing through his veins.

His eyes cinched the deal. They conveyed the active mind behind them, always thinking about the next move while also living in the moment — particularly when the moment involved women. When those eyes focused on a specific woman, any reservations she may have against Strathan’s desires quickly fell away.

Strathan smiled at a joke only he knew.

His eyes were the only physical things about him that were real.

The digital strains of a Valentina Lorena pop song broke through Strathan’s moment of narcissistic reflection. He immediately recognized the melody as coming from his cell phone, an ode to his latest bedroom sexcapade.

Strathan grabbed an overly expensive, hand woven Egyptian cotton towel from its ivory hook. Leaving the bathroom, he entered the spacious bedroom.

His phone lay on the corner of his oak dresser. He picked it up and pressed the green “answer call” button on the phone’s touch screen, followed by the speakerphone indicator. He tossed the phone back on the dresser and toweled off.

“Speak,” Strathan said with a tone more of annoyance than command.

“Are you ready for your emancipation?” The caller’s voice was that of a man who’d smoked too many cigarettes in his past and was smoking another right now. Strathan recognized the voice; it belonged to his angel of the moment, a mercenary with a surprising offer — the location of several Vyntari shards.

Strathan also detected a hint of anxiety he’d never heard in his previous dealings with the man. He attributed the slip to nerves. It wasn’t every day one made a deal with a devil.

In that field, he possessed a bit of experience.

Strathan’s deal had cast him as the reigning Hollywood star in this new millennium. As such, Strathan wanted for nothing. Actually, that statement was not entirely true. One thing still eluded him.

He wanted out of the Shadowdance.

“I don’t like cock teases,” Strathan replied, his Irish lilt seeping into his voice. “This had better be a countdown to a very happy ending.”

“Tonight’ll be your money shot.”

Strathan paused his activity and slowly tilted his head to one side in astonishment, a move he had picked up watching classic Robert De Niro movies. “That was quick.”

“That’s how she works, when she gets a mood on.”

Strathan resumed drying. “That a warning?”

“Just saying the usual stuff. My life’s on the line, blah blah blah.”

“You’ll get your money and your life, Rutger,” Strathan assured. “Though if all this ammunition you’ve given me turns out to be a bunch of blanks…”

“Her focus is gonna be on the Daughters and, by association, her sister. Not some petty snatch and grab for you. That ammunition is about the only thing that’ll keep you and me alive.”

“And whoever you’re fronting for.”

Rutger had no response.

Strathan turned to the dresser and hit the red “end” button on his phone’s touch screen. Tossing his towel back to the bathroom floor, he turned to his walk in closet, which could have doubled as a spare bedroom.

“So what do ya wear to greet a legend?”

###

Continue reading in “By Virtue Fall” – available now!

Knights of Vyntari

Adriana jerked her front and rear brakes, bringing her motorcycle to a halt half a block away from the woman. She wore a white cloak that covered her body. A hood of the same color adorned her head. Light radiated from underneath her cloak, giving it a translucent appearance.

Despite the distance, Adriana could see white, ethereal flames shining from the interloper’s eyes. The light obscured the rest of her face.

Now possessing Adriana’s undivided attention, the woman continued.

“My name is Gabriella Doran. I am a Knight of Vyntari. I am here to end your reign of evil.”

The demon within Adriana emoted fear. Its decision to flee instead of attack unnerved her. For the demon to fear this girl, she must be powerful.

This is but one woman, supernatural or no, Adriana countered. She revved her engine and spun her motorcycle, aiming the headlight back at the woman.

Gabriella threw open her cloak, revealing a white costume that fitted her from neck to toe without obscuring her femininity. The move also revealed the source of Gabriella’s light. Flames like those emitted from her eyes covered the woman’s body.

Feeling the pull of the demon’s trepidation, Adriana looked skyward. Light from the coming sun was turning the color of the clouds to a warm orange.

Perhaps it’s best the demon get its wish, she thought.

In a spray of loose dirt and asphalt, Adriana whipped her motorcycle about and sped down the street in the opposite direction of Gabriella and her flames. It would take her a bit longer to get to her haven this way, but she’d rather test the known threat of the rising sun than the unknown threat of the newcomer.

Adriana heard the horn of a van a split second before she saw it, allowing her just enough time to brake and twist the bike to one side. A less experienced rider would have wiped out completely. Adriana slammed against the driver’s side of the van but retained an upright position.

The van now blocked her retreat.

A Caucasian man in his late-twenties with a smug grin and dark sunglasses stuck his head out the open driver’s side window.

“Sorry ‘bout that, sweetie,” he said. “I’ve been told I tend to come on a little strong with the ladies.” He motioned back toward Gabriella. “Best pay attention now. This is my favorite part.”

Adriana followed the driver’s gaze.

Gabriella looked skyward as she extended both arms to her sides. “May the One Goddess grant me the power to defeat this abomination!”

A tempest rose from nowhere, Gabriella its epicenter. Her cloak and hood flapped violently in the supernatural winds. The flames engulfing the woman burned steadily, unaffected by the tempest.

Gabriella moved her hands directly in front of her. The ethereal flames pulled toward that spot and transformed into a flat object just barely a foot in length, but growing. When the transforming flames reached a length of three feet, an ornate pommel and hilt emerged on one end. The other end curved to a deadly point.

The object floated in the air inches above Gabriella’s palms. She took the hilt in her right hand. The ethereal flames once embracing Gabriella now danced across the ancient, Roman-styled sword in her hand.

The tempest died as quickly as it had formed. Gabriella looked to Adriana. “Demonspawn! Your judgment awaits!”

Adriana could only stare in wonder.

“Better not keep her waiting,” the driver said. “She’ll only get angry. And though I think she’s damned sexy when she’s angry, you wouldn’t like her so much.” The driver paused to reflect. “Unless…”

Adriana revved her engine, drowning out the rest of the driver’s innuendo. She turned her motorcycle to face Gabriella. Despite the demon within protesting, Adriana twisted the throttle and raced toward the woman and her flaming sword.

###

Continue reading in “By Virtue Fall” – available now!

A Winter Reunion

Stepping from the taxi into Berlin’s Bebelplatz district, Makeda pondered the irony of the scene before her. In the early 1930s, Nazis had burned books here. Now students of the area’s Humboldt University used books to acquire knowledge.

The weather was warm for a late afternoon during Berlin’s winter, yet it didn’t encourage people to forego their winter attire. Walking through the crowd at a Christmas bazaar, Makeda listened to snippets of conversations.

There were no words of demons, gods, or impending doom, only the seemingly ordinary, everyday concerns that comprised the Uninitiated world.

A couple holding hands, their conversation about holiday plans together, captured Makeda’s attention. To be lost in the world of another, one who understood your goals and your dreams — she had long since abandoned the pull of those desires.

By continuing her solitary, self-imposed mission, Makeda protected those moments of love for others. The Uninitiated would never know her sacrifice. Some of the Initiated would do all in their power to stop her.

She wished she could blame her melancholy on a simple need to rest. After last night’s debacle, no one would begrudge her such an opportunity. Gabriella had healed her physical wounds, but her injured pride would take far longer.

The true cause of her melancholy was the identity of the person she must meet. That person reminded Makeda of all she had sacrificed as a Knight of Vyntari. Yet, as a Knight, Makeda knew she had a mission to complete. The well-being of people she would never know, people like that couple in the bazaar, depended on her success.

Makeda pushed her thoughts aside. Self-pity was a waste of time, time she did not have. Fighting the melancholy in her heart, she hurried through the crowd and entered a café.

Students and businesspeople savored relaxing, fragrant hot cups of liquid refreshment in an atmosphere similar to that of the bazaar. Makeda paid special attention to the employees of the café.

Not seeing her target among them, she moved toward a door marked ‘employees only.’ She used the depth of the line at the register to obfuscate her approach. A burst of supernatural speed got her beyond the door without rousing any suspicion from the patrons.

Makeda found herself in the stock room amid boxes of assorted teas, bags of roasted coffee beans, linens, and other café necessities, all stacked efficiently on multiple shelves. She looked around the corner in search of a door or hallway that would lead to the office.

In an instant, Makeda found herself shoved face first into the wood of the stockroom door. A firm hand on the back of her neck held her in place. Another hand twisted Makeda’s right arm up and away from her Ogoun dagger, which she had tucked in the thigh holster beneath her long winter coat.

“Just last week,” her male attacker began, “an Algerian boy bled to death after going through one of the university’s plate glass windows.”

Makeda’s oppressor spoke Agazyan, the language of the African tribe to which she belonged. She tried to respond, but the man reminded the Knight of her inferior position by twisting her arm further. There were a myriad of ways to escape the hold, but Makeda decided instead to hear what her tribesman had to say.

“Eleven neo-Nazi thugs had chased the student. He saw the window and the subsequent three-story fall as his only means of escape. With that kind of element around, you will forgive me for being suspicious and violent toward interlopers in my establishment.”

The man spun Makeda around, slamming her back against the door so he could look her in the eye. His strong hands pinned her shoulders to the door. “Please tell me you’ve come to say goodbye, Makeda Arsi.”

###

Continue reading in “By Virtue Fall” – available now!

What Readers are saying about "By Virtue Fall"

The Book Diaries

The Book Diaries

"This author has a wonderful imagination and I like the way he mixed historical fiction into his modern day setting making his writing style unique for this genre."

Chris Schiffer, Amazon Reviewer

"The action flows quickly and engagingly making for a real page turner."

Chris Schiffer, Amazon Reviewer
Kris Blankenship, former editor University of Tampa

Kris Blankenship, former editor University of Tampa "Minaret" newspaper

"Love the story. You're on my list of great reads waiting for the next in the series. Who needs romance?? I'd rather read a great story. ["By Virtue Fall"] reads like an action movie."

Nick Perakes, Entertainment Production Manager

"So, I finally got to read 'By Virtue Fall' while on vacation. All I can say is when will [the sequel] 'For Her Sins' be released? It's not nice to leave readers hanging on crying out for more!!!"

Nick Perakes, Entertainment Production Manager

Where to Buy "By Virtue Fall"

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Paperback

$11.99

Nook ebook

Nook ebook

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