The Imperial Vampires Series
By Catherine Winters
Even vampires have bogeymen.
Geneviève Lacroix wasn't really made to be a leader. Perhaps that's why she chose to form a council instead of an empire; she wouldn't have to bear the burden of responsibility alone. While the Council of the Undead was a success, her inability to face challenges head-on would affect vampires all over the world.
When Coventry Payne informed Geneviève of her intent to betray her sire, Grant Black, Gené did nothing. When Coventry succeeded, Gené ignored her own laws and Coventry went unpunished. When Coventry showed up asking for her own House, Gené gave her New York. When Coventry began weaving myths of Grant's excessive violence and ruthlessness to keep fledglings in line, Gené remained silent. When Geneviève feared Coventry would make a play for the Paris Council House, she gutted it instead of fortifying it.
As Coventry continued to grow her power and influence, Grant lay bound in a box, alone in the dark, starved of blood, slowly going mad. Only Coventry hadn't counted on the ever-increasing population of humans, the "shrinking" of the world, the eventuality that someone would stumble upon his prison and release him.
One hundred and fifty years has seen that eventuality come to pass, and now he will have his revenge. Coventry will get the bogeyman she created — although the monster she claimed he was is nothing compared to the monster he's become.
This book is a standalone within the universe of The Imperial Vampires Series
The couple at table twenty-seven were not unusual for a Thursday dinner service. He was more handsome than most, and she more annoyed, but their clothes were expensively made and perfectly tailored, their shoes shiny and fashionable. She was perhaps too short for him; they looked a bit mismatched, but then, the gentleman was so tall that it was probably unavoidable. She was beautiful, though cold, refusing to smile even as her companion tried to charm everyone in reach. If they noticed the shaky hands and determined lack of eye contact from their waitress, they hadn't mentioned it; if they'd noticed the series of wait staff who had subsequently tended to them, they likewise had refrained from commenting. They were, in truth, the perfect table: neither of them ate, but both drank, and were pleasant and uncomplaining. The gentleman paid the tab, and tipped extravagantly – enough so that the shaky waitress didn't mind sharing, and even grudgingly admitted that perhaps she'd been wrong in her original estimation of his character ("Creepy.").
The couple left the restaurant, not touching each other, not even looking at each other. They were a mismatched set indeed: he was more than a foot taller than she. He towered over her, loomed, used all his great bulk to intimidate, but she would have none of that. She opened her own doors, assuming he was following, got behind the wheel of an obscenely expensive sedan, and pulled into traffic without looking.
"Is the car bugged?" He wished not to be overheard. As did she, when it came to that – the restaurant had been merely a convenient rendezvous, not a place for conversation.
"Of course not, it's mine."
"You'll forgive me if I don't have the greatest confidence in your – What is he, anyway? Is he even there anymore?"
"Not so often as to care what I do with my personal time." They spoke English with similar accents: softened consonants, narrow vowels, a superficially British sound with something more exotic underneath. It was the language they had in common, and the one in which they did the most business. "You didn't drag me to Budapest to discuss Vlad."
"True enough. I need your help."
She laughed. "It wasn't enough that I rolled back the stone from your tomb?"
"You did that for yourself."
"Did I? I can't remember what you've done for me since."
"I've been a convenient villain, haven't I? A tale told to fledglings so they fall in line."
"You could have been that lying in the sarcophagus."
"Yes, yes. I'm a terrible burden on your conscience. One has to wonder why you bothered to free me if it was going to plunge you into this ridiculous guilt."
"One does. I do. Daily."
"But I've stayed out of your way, out of Europe, like I promised, haven't I?"
"I fear that's going to come to an end."
"I deserve vengeance."
She bit her lower lip, worrying it with her teeth, drawing a tiny bead of blood that filled the car with a sweet-rotten scent, like berries gone slightly bad. A human wouldn't have noticed, but his nostrils flared and he turned to stare at her.
"I don't know those laws," she said, and he could hear every ounce of relief.
"It's not the law that gives me the right to kill them."
"Then you don't have that right."
"They locked me in a box for a century and a half."
"Didn't you deserve it?"
"You thought I didn't."
She shook her head, taking a sharp right turn off the main road. They'd left the city completely behind, and he thought he knew where they might end up, but allowed her to determine their course. "I…don't know if that's true."
"Then I am the villain to all of us, is that it? I'm the bogeyman, the big bad vampire?"
"We all have our roles to play," she whispered, without looking at him.
Hey, all! *waves* I'm Catherine Winters, here to promote my newest novel, A Murder Of Vampires. It's part of my Imperial Vampires universe, and a prequel to the Josephine Trilogy. I hope you'll give it a try – it's a great place to step into the series!
I'll be honest, I struggled with this guest post for a while. I just couldn't decide what y'all might want to read about. Writing? Reading? My characters? Why I love Star Trek so fucking much? (Probably not that last one. But feel free to message me if you're interested. I could talk about Star Trek for days.)
Finally, someone suggested that I should just let you all get to know me. And I figure there's no better way to do that than to see my Buzzfeed quiz results. I mean, they're clearly the most accurate personality assessments on the interwebs, right? Right. So let's get started!
I'm 40, based on my McDonald's order. But also 21, based on my shoe preferences. I'll let you guys sort it out.
I'm 100% pug, which I think is pretty damn impressive. I mean, how many pugs do you know who've published five novels? But I'm also somehow 67% cheese, which doesn't seem likely, mathematically. Though I did only get a D on a basic math quiz, so maybe don't take my word for it?
I'm 64% keen, which I think must be a British quiz, because it means, like, smart? And since I got 8/10 on the "Can you guess the animal from its French name" quiz, I'm going with smart. At least with words.
According to a visual test, I think I should live in London, but should actually live in Sydney. Denver, where I actually do live, was not an option, which is straight-up bullshit, yo. Denver is the place to be, as so clearly evidenced by all the out-of-state license plates I've been seeing lately. I'm also never going to get married, which will be news to Mr. Winters, who thinks we walked the aisle at least a decade ago. (Fun trick if I'm 21, eh?) And our fat, grumpy, orange tabby is apparently most like a black panther. I'll believe it when I see it.
I am not a die-hard Disney fan, though to be fair, the quiz was about the parks, mostly, and not the actual stories. I know a lot of useless facts, but not a lot of them are about theme parks. Sorry, Charlie. As for which famous redhead will play me in the movie of my life? Julianne Moore. I was hoping for Tess Holliday – she's much more my style – but who am I to argue with the Buzzfeed gods?
So. There you go. I hope you've got a pretty good idea of who I am, now, based on the world's most accurate metric: A 21-40-year-old unmarried married pug, who is kind of smart, doesn't know jack about Disney, looks like Julianne Moore, is more than half cheese, and should live with her black panther in London or perhaps Sydney.
Sounds about right. ;)
About the Author:
Catherine Winters writes urban fantasy, women's fiction, and literary fiction. She is an undefeated four-time Chopped champion and the principal mezzo-soprano for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver. When she's not writing or singing, she enjoys teaching French to cats. At least one of these things is actually true.
5 copies of A Murder of Vampires, print or ebook (to be decided by the winners). Open internationally.