Blood song, p.1
Blood Song, p.1Lynda Hilburn
Copyright 2014 Lynda Hilburn
Cover design by Kim Killion
Digital formatting by A Thirsty Mind Book Design
All rights reserved. No part of this book, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews, may be reproduced in any form by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, business establishments, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The scanning, uploading, and distributing of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic and print editions, and do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
Table of Contents
Excerpt: Blood Therapy
Excerpt: The Vampire Shrink
Meet Lynda Hilburn
Boulder Daily Times
September 9, 2013
More Bodies Found in Boulder Canyon Near Silver Hill
Another cache of mutilated bodies was discovered by hikers today, buried in a shallow grave at the bottom of Cline Ravine, near the location of two previous sites. Specific details of the murders are being withheld from the public in order to assist in finding the killer or killers. A reliable source in the Sheriff’s Department tells The Times they have information only the perpetrator will know. As in the other cases, the bodies were found by visitors to the area. According to witness Dan Ogden, “We were walking back from our campsite, and wouldn’t have found the remains, except my buddy Jake tripped over a rock and slid down the side of the mountain. When we went to get him, we saw arms sticking out from the dirt. Lots of arms. At least ten dead people. It was gross, dude.” All possible resources have been mobilized to help police find the responsible parties. The victims have yet to be identified. No further information was available by press deadline. Check online for the latest updates.
“Awesome sound circle, Grace,” a dreadlocked woman said. “I’m so glad my friend talked me into coming. I’ve never heard anyone do what you can do.”
“Yeah.” A man wearing a kilt stretched his upper torso and sighed. “It was like your voice actually flowed through my body and gave me an inner massage. I was so relaxed I could barely get out of the chair when we were finished. Where’d you learn to sing like that?”
Grace smiled, locked the door to her studio, and then turned to the group of new attendees lingering on the sidewalk in front of the building. “Thanks. I don’t ever remember not being able to sing. It came naturally, like breathing. Even the healing aspects appeared without any help from me.”
And without any invitation. Lucky me.
“That really was an amazing experience,” said a tall man, dressed in a long, velvet cape and top hat. “My back hurt before we started, but now I feel great. I’d never heard of sound healing until I moved to Colorado. I looked you up online. You’re pretty famous. Why aren’t you living somewhere like New York or L.A., where you can make a bigger name for yourself?”
That’s the last thing I want...
“I have lived in both those cities,” Grace said, “and I made a lot of great musical contacts. But those places are too wild and crazy for me. I prefer small, quirky locations like Boulder, where I can keep a low profile and,” she laughed, “stay sane. I don’t really want to be on a national stage anymore. It’s exhausting.” And risky.
“Is it true you can heal people with your voice by long distance, without even being near them?” a short, blond woman asked. “How does that work?”
They all stared, eyes wide.
“Yes, it’s true.” She grinned. Participants were always so curious about this aspect of sound healing. Even though she answered the same questions over and over again, she didn’t mind. She was glad people were interested. She liked sharing her passion. “I use my voice to heal over distances, but I don’t pretend to understand how or why it works. People have lots of different theories, mostly based on the idea that time and space are illusions. Some think it’s magic, but it feels pretty normal to me. As a matter of fact, I’m giving a lecture about sound healing at the university in a few weeks. If you want to attend, I can email you information.”
“Oh, yes! Please.” The woman clapped her hands with enthusiasm. The others echoed her.
They tightened their half-circle, as if they sensed her eagerness to leave.
“We’re heading over to grab a drink at the pub down the street,” Top Hat pointed. “Would you like to join us? It would be so cool to hang out with you. You could tell us some of your famous musician stories. And,” he shrugged, “maybe you shouldn’t walk home alone. Even in a small town like Boulder, women can’t be too careful. We can escort you back to your place afterward.” They all began speaking at once, trying to persuade her.
She looked into their sincere faces. It was the same every time. Everyone got so energized after participating in the sound circle that they tried to stretch the evening out as long as possible. She, on the other hand, yearned for peace, quiet and a glass of wine in her living room. After a session, solitude was crucial in order to recharge. Walking home through the quiet, tree-lined streets at the end of the evening had become a private pleasure.
A true introvert, she selfishly guarded her alone time. Of course, sometimes she envied her extroverted friends’ active social lives, but not enough to actually step out of her protective bubble. She definitely knew better than to do that.
“Thanks for the offer, but I’ve been going non-stop since early this morning. I’m ready to kick off my shoes and crawl into bed.” Purposefully, she rummaged through her shoulder bag and pulled out a small aerosol canister. “And there’s no reason to worry about me.” She raised the container. “I’ve got my trusty pepper spray. I’m armed and dangerous. My house is only a few blocks up the hill, and in all the time I’ve lived here, nobody’s ever bothered me.”
She caught herself before saying she’d never even encountered a mountain lion, though they were native to the area. It wouldn’t be wise to give her companions any more ideas about why she might need company—whether she wanted it or not. Nothing scary had ever happened to her during her walks in the foothills, fanged predators or otherwise. Unfortunately, nothing exciting, either.
They continued their appeals for a few more seconds as she waved and started up the street before the group could foil her escape. “Have a good time at the pub. I’ll see you at the next sound circle.” She appreciated all her clients and circle members, but it had been a long week and it wasn’t over yet.
After a couple of minutes—certain that none of them had followed her—she slowed her pace, took a few deep breaths and let herself unwind. Retreating into nature was her favorite part of the day. The lingering tension in her shoulders began to ease.
The sidewalk rose in a gentle incline as she strolled, enjoying the fresh air and savoring the silence. When she reached a familiar dead end, the well-worn path to her neighborhood veered off into the foothills. She paused for a moment to take in the view, which never failed to dazzle her. Soaking in the ambiance, she gazed up in wonder. The full moon illuminated the pe
“What a beautiful spot,” she said aloud, as she continued on. “Beats the hell out of the crowded streets of New York and graffiti-covered buildings in L.A.” She’d talked to herself since childhood and had long ago given up worrying about any mental health implications of the behavior. “And this is the most beautiful hiding place I’ve found so far.”
The late summer air held a subtle hint of fall, and she fantasized about the Autumn Equinox sound ritual she’d be helping with again this year. As usual, the organizers had invited sound healers from all over the world to participate. They’d asked her to take a more visible leadership position, but she’d made excuses, saying she preferred to work in the background. No reason to borrow trouble.
Thinking about trouble triggered a memory of the handsome Brazilian musician she’d met at the Summer Solstice celebration in Rio several weeks earlier. Heat shimmered through her body.
It was impossible not to smile at the vision.
He’d attended one of her sound healing demonstrations, and had waited to speak to her afterward to discuss the car accident that injured his hand. His doctors gave up on him, saying his recovery hadn’t progressed as expected and they were out of options. Silvio feared his guitar playing would never be the same again. While they chatted, he smiled at her with those amazing, full lips—displaying wicked dimples and beautiful white teeth—and raised his hand up in the air, flexing his fingers. He said her singing had taken away the pain and stiffness when nothing else had.
His gratitude gave her the same uncomfortable feeling she always got when people thanked her. She’d never made peace with accepting praise for something she wasn’t in charge of. Besides, she couldn’t take credit for the positive things without owning the negative, and she was beyond tired of thinking about the dark side of her abilities. Her voice often felt like an unwanted obligation she hadn’t signed up for, at least not consciously. Friends believed her talents came from a past life, which made her laugh. If that were true, she couldn’t imagine what awful thing she’d done in her past life to cause her double-edged sword in the present.
She’d gladly trade her unique pipes for a normal existence. Whatever that was.
She crossed a bridge over a fast-moving creek and trailed her hand along the wooden railing. Listening to the water soothed her, and her mind wandered back to the handsome Silvio. He had been a feast for the eyes. Curly, dark hair skimmed well-toned shoulders appealingly displayed in a sleeveless T-shirt. His expressive, sensual eyes matched the color of the Mediterranean Sea, and she’d longed to dive in.
He’d done his best to charm her with his delicious accent and sweet invitation. “Please,” he said, “you must allow me to take you to dinner, to repay you in some small way for your gift.” His enticing aroma had caressed her nostrils and teased her libido.
She’d wanted to say yes—to spend the rest of the night with the gorgeous musician—but when she opened her mouth to speak, nothing came out. Her desire warred with fear. Now thirty, she had much better control of her voice than she’d had earlier in her life, and she was almost certain she wouldn’t hurt anyone by accident ever again. But past experience taught her to be cautious. To hold back. She’d seen what happened when her emotions spiked and her hormones kicked in, and vowed never to put herself—or anyone else—in harm’s way.
But what if I can’t ever have sex again? What kind of life would that be?
Her cheeks warmed as she recalled the lame excuse she offered to avoid spending time alone with Silvio. “I’m sorry,” she’d said. “I have to prepare for my workshop tomorrow. I haven’t typed up my notes yet.” Haven’t typed up my notes yet? I don’t use notes. I might as well have used the ‘I have to wash my hair tonight’ cliché!
A mischievous smile curved his lips. “I could help you.” He waited, eyebrow raised.
She almost fanned herself. Ooh, Baby. You certainly could. More than you know.
“No. Really, I wish I could, but I can’t. Maybe some other time?” Sure. Anytime you’d like to have your brains blast out of your ears, or the contents of your stomach suddenly evacuate in both directions. Sounds like fun to me.
He’d seemed truly disappointed, but accepted her refusal graciously, with an elegant nod and another heart-stopping smile. It wasn’t as if she could tell him the truth. Not that he’d believe her, anyway.
Few people knew her dark secret: her voice was a blessing and a curse. Even fewer understood what it was like to fear oneself as she did.
Lost in the memory of Silvio and the missed opportunity with him, she tried to dislodge the familiar melancholy, which curled through her mind like psychic fog. She knew better than to ruminate about what she couldn’t have. But, hell. Sometimes reality sucked big time.
Despite her lifelong fantasies, no white knight would be charging to her rescue.
She sighed, thinking that if an unsuspecting champion rode up behind her and startled her, she’d likely scream and explode his head or something. Not exactly the fairy tale ending she’d dreamed of as a child. She’d learned early that her life was stranger than fiction. “It’s hard not to be pissed off!”
Why the hell did she send Silvio an invitation to the Equinox ritual? Was she trying to sabotage herself and create another disaster? He hadn’t replied, but what if he showed up? What would she do then? She’d made a mess of things years ago, the last time she tried to tempt the fates and play with fire.
A rustling sound a few feet away snapped her attention from her fretting. On guard, she froze and raised the pepper spray, scanned the bushes and trees, and listened. Her heart pounded against her ribs, and her mouth went dry. Adrenaline shot through her system.
That’s what she got for being cavalier about mountain lions. Only idiots daydreamed and talked to themselves while navigating through cougar territory. Simply because she’d never come across one of the beasts, didn’t mean they weren’t here. Her hands trembled so badly she almost lost her grip on the canister. Weak knees threatened to fold. She’d heard the deadly cats stalked their prey. Was one watching her now? Her mind spun as she tried to remember what the recent article in the local newspaper said about the lethal animals: try to look big and never run. Run? Even though her brain demanded action, she didn’t think her rubbery legs could manage.
Heart hammering, she waited in the thick silence with her finger poised over the canister, muscles tight. Her gaze darted from side to side, senses on full alert. The seconds passed like hours. Finally—when nothing happened—she let out a shuddered breath, relieved her imagination had probably exaggerated the sound of a deer or a raccoon.
Whether her voice could cause destruction on command remained a mystery, since all her previous experiences had been unplanned, but she didn’t want to find out.
Sighing, she’d just relaxed her shoulders and taken a couple of shaky steps up the path, when something burst out of the bushes. Something large.
She pivoted toward the movement, screamed and pressed the spray button, sending a shower of hot cayenne pepper into the eyes of a husky male who’d lunged at her, hands clutching, mouth gaping to reveal long, bloody fangs. He shrieked as the irritant coated his eyes and face, but still managed to tackle her, slamming her body down onto the dirt path. Her canister bounced against the ground and rolled away.
The man—or whatever he was—had outrageous strength. He pressed against her like a concrete slab, easily holding her down, while madly swiping at his eyes with his free hand. The treacherous, long, razor teeth she’d glimpsed as he’d leapt at her were poised over her neck, dripping saliva and blood. The slimy, wet substance oozed down her shirt as she choked on the hideous stench of his breath.
His long dark hair hung filthy and stringy, his skin deathly pale, his clothing
She kicked and flailed, pushing against his powerful shoulder, struggling to dislodge the creature. Her arms ached from the useless pounding. Her throat went raw from screaming, which didn’t seem to slow the demon. What the hell? Now that she wanted to use her voice as a weapon—to unleash her vocal arsenal—it didn’t work. He seemed immune. After all the years of worrying about accidentally harming someone, now her voice betrayed her.
The beast’s body weighed so heavy against her chest, she feared her ribs would snap any second. Her heart thundered in her ears as if about to implode from terror. He’d kept up a growling rumble, punctuated by yelps and groans, as he frantically worked to wipe his face and clear his eyes.
Struggling for air, she gasped, all the fight gone out of her limbs. Paralyzed.
The tips of his pointed fangs broke through the skin of her neck, sending a wave of sharp pain shooting down her body. No! This is it! This is how my life ends. It was all for nothing! Fury, sadness and hopelessness crashed over her. She raged against the feelings, trying not to give in, but her body wouldn’t cooperate. It was over. And as soon as she accepted the end, a feeling of peace swept through her, leaving behind a strange stillness. She braced for the expected horror, the gut-wrenching torment she was sure would come.
Then suddenly the monster was gone. His weight no longer pressed on her chest. She could breathe. Startled, she blinked her eyes, realizing she must have closed them in her panic.
Am I dead?
For a moment she felt certain she’d been killed, that the thing had torn out her throat or crushed her heart. She hadn’t seen a white light or a tunnel, or any of the near-death symbols always present in books and movies. There were no idyllic scenes, no relatives arriving to guide her to greener pastures. No sage wisdom. And, it was strange that her body still hurt, which she hadn’t expected to experience after death. Who knew there would be physical sensations after leaving the body? But she had to be dead. There was simply no other possible explanation.
Because she’d gazed up into the perfect face of an angel.
And then nothing.
Blood Song by Lynda Hilburn / Romance & Love have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on18 votes