I should backtrack a bit. Hi. My name is, um… Leah. Yeah. And I write. A bit. Back in 2011, I had been chugging away on a lovely but noncontroversial novel. The story of my heart. I felt very passionate about it. Still do, actually. But November was approaching, and I had decided to try my hand at NaNoWriMo.
On November 1st, a sweet and introspective vampire named VOX rang a bell in my brain. He dropped his baggage onto the neat and orderly floor of my mind and all hell broke loose. I was dragged kicking and screaming into his world – winding through the labyrinthine subway tunnels under New York City and tubing the River Styx via the Staten Island ferryboat. And I became totally enamored and utterly immersed.
We time-tripped through Manhattan in the 1820s, 1990s, and 2012. And somehow were are going to end up in Lisbon circa 1755 for a while. He introduced me to three other equally fascinating vampires along the way, as well as his girlfriend and the rest of his fabulous rock band. And the elusive she, her that he couldn’t put his finger on or get his mind off. But I was expecting (most) of them to traipse through. No, the most surprising and fascinating guest to show up at the party was Chloe. As VOX’s oldest and dearest friend in both his mortal and immortal lives, she was the dark horse. As a Phlebotomist, she’s his Nightingale in shining scrubs. But as a self-mutilator, Chloe needed a bit of saving herself. I fell in love with their relationship when VOX stated “I removed all of the sharp objects from her apartment…except for myself.”
So I’d been living and breathing vampire and co. for the month, much to the chagrin of the other tenants subletting space in my subconscious. Those characters staged a coup, raging “Hey, we’re not getting any younger here!” And they were right. I needed to get back to my mortals. VOX, obviously, had all the time in the world.
December had arrived. I had “won” the challenge by meeting the 50K goal, but VOX’s story wasn’t finished. I set the NaNo novel on the back burner, and got back to my first novel. Finished it by January. Landed a literary agent by February. That novel went out into Submission Land, and I began a new project.
While VOX patiently waited.
November was rolling back around. I was still waiting for what people refer to as THE CALL. I’d had a lot of “close calls”, glowing words from editors about my writing, but nothing was sending them over that hump to take on a newbie writer. The self-doubt and discouragement that often follows a writer like a black cloud was looming, just waiting to piss down rain on my parade. I began to contemplate trying NaNoWriMo once again, to get my mojo back. But what to write about? My author friends gave me their authorly advice: finish your quasi-companion to your book out on submission, so if the editors come calling, asking “Got anything else?” you’ll be golden.
But I missed VOX.
On November 1st, the doorbell in my brain rang once more. I think I was in the middle of doing the breakfast dishes. And there he was. Waiting at the door with a winning smile and a dozen roses. Blood red, of course. He thrust the lush bouquet into my rubber-gloved hands.
“Happy Anniversary,” he said, much more cheekily that you’d think a vampire was capable of. “I’ve missed you, Writer Lady.”
I blushed like a schoolgirl. It was nice to be remembered, to be fussed over. VOX was the nicest guy I knew without a pulse. Still, I reprimanded him. “You shouldn’t be here, I’ve got way too much going on.”
He propped his battered Doc Martens up on my kitchen table and calmly laced his fingers together. Here is the church, here is the steeple.
“You need to write me.” It was more of a whisper than a hiss, despite those fangs. And slightly seductive. Open the doors…
…and bite all the people, the nursery rhyme morphed in my head. I blinked and his lips were at my throat. One rubber glove slipped to the floor.
“You know you want to.”
“I do,” I sighed. “But my agent…”
“I know, I know.” He bent to fetch my errant glove. “I dilute your brand.”
“Please wait for me,” I begged. I didn’t him to leave. But if he had to go, I wanted to flee with him. Leave behind the breakfast dishes and join some Witness Protection Program for genre-jumping writers. Change my name. Live a new life. No more rubber gloves.
He sweetly kissed my cheek, the way a snowflake might for a second before it dissolves to icy nothingness. “You know I’m not going anywhere without you, J-”
“Please. Call me Leah.”
He grinned that toothy grin, reserved just for me. “Leah it is.”