2019 Summer Reading: My Old Favorites

Since I’m on vacation…and it is summer I’m going to repost my popular summer reading list. This was first posted in 2012. I left off so many but this IS a great list. Enjoy your summer and I’ll be back with new postings in a few days. ~ Juliette.

summerreading

I am always reading a book- usually fiction and on the average of 2-5 books a month. That said, in the summer I savor my books during trips, on the back deck while the sun goes down or at night with the porch light on. There is always a book in my purse or in my car. I am never without a book.

Here is my list – The Official Vampire Maman Summer Reading List.

Note: This is a list for grown ups or very mature teens.

I have read every book on this list – more than once.

These are my favorite books to read and enjoy. I hope you enjoy too. I have a long list of books I haven’t read yet but hope to get this summer. That will be a different blog posting.

Sources:

  • Your local library
  • Your local used bookstore
  • Your local new book store
  • Amazon.com and Barnsandnoble.com
  • Ebay.com
  • Literaryguild.com
  • Or look it up on google.com
  • Or BEG your friends and family to loan their copies to you.

Boys Life by Robert R. McCammon

“Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson — a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake — and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever.”

OK enough of the book review stuff – this book is laugh out loud, pee your pants FUNNY and touching and just about the most perfect book I’ve ever read (and I read a lot of books)

The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R. McCammon

One of the most wonderful and amazing books I’ve ever read. It is about a Russian werewolf, living in England who hunts Nazi’s during WW2. It is in my top 5 favorite books of all time. The characters are true to life and believable. On the eve of D-Day, a British secret agent with unique powers goes behind Nazi lines Michael Gallatin is a British spy with a peculiar talent: the ability to transform himself into a wolf. Although his work in North Africa helped the Allies win the continent in the early days of World War II, he quit the service when a German spy shot his lover in her bed. Now, three years later, the army asks him to end his retirement and parachute into occupied Paris. A mysterious German plan called the Iron Fist threatens the D-Day invasion, and the Nazi in charge is the spy who betrayed Michael’s lover. The werewolf goes to France for king and country, hoping for a chance at bloody vengeance.

The Garden of Beasts – A Novel of Berlin 1936 by Jeffery Deaver

If this book doesn’t move you then your heart and brain are made of stone. This is one of those rare gems, a book by Jeffery Deaver that most readers don’t know exist.

“Paul Schumann, a German American living in New York City in 1936, is a mobster hitman known as much for his brilliant tactics as for taking only “righteous” assignments. But then Paul gets caught. And the arresting officer offers him a stark choice: prison or covert government service. Paul is asked to pose as a journalist covering the summer Olympics taking place in Berlin. He’s to hunt down and kill Reinhard Ernst — the ruthless architect of Hitler’s clandestine rearmament. If successful, Paul will be pardoned and given the financial means to go legit; if he refuses the job, his fate will be Sing Sing and the electric chair.

Paul travels to Germany, takes a room in a boardinghouse near the Tiergarten — the huge park in central Berlin but also, literally, the Garden of Beasts — and begins his hunt. In classic Deaver fashion, the next forty-eight hours are a feverish cat-and-mouse chase, as Paul stalks Ernst through Berlin while a dogged Berlin police officer and the entire Third Reich apparatus search frantically for the American.

Garden of Beasts is packed with fascinating period detail and features a cast of perfectly realized locals, Olympic athletes and senior Nazi officials — some real, some fictional. With hairpin plot twists, the reigning “master of ticking-bomb suspense” (People) plumbs the nerve-jangling paranoia of prewar Berlin and steers the story to a breathtaking and wholly unpredictable ending.”

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

Nobody can tell a story like Tess Gerritsen. Of course the descriptions don’t do it justice. The switch between the past and present and relationships of the characters make it a truly wonderful summer escape.

Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil–human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .

Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local “resurrectionists”–those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect.

To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim. Joined by a sardonic, keenly intelligent young man named Oliver Wendell Holmes, Norris and Rose comb the city–from its grim cemeteries and autopsy suites to its glittering mansions and centers of Brahmin power–on the trail of a maniacal fiend who lurks where least expected . . . and who waits for his next lethal opportunity.

With unflagging suspense and pitch-perfect period detail, The Bone Garden deftly interweaves the thrilling narratives of its nineteenth- and twenty-first century protagonists, tracing the dark mystery at its heart across time and place to a finale as ingeniously conceived as it is shocking. Bold, bloody, and brilliant, this is Tess Gerritsen’s finest achievement to date.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Forget shades of gray, black, white or whatever. This is the book to read for hot summer erotic weirdness. And this is extremely well written.

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for “a reliable wife.” She responded, saying that she was “a simple, honest woman.” She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.

Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.

We Took to The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich (1942)

I can’t count how many copies of this book I’ve found and used book stores and given to friends. I love this book.

In her early thirties, Louise Dickinson Rich took to the woods of Maine with her husband. They found their livelihood and raised a family in the remote backcountry settlement of Middle Dam, in the Rangeley area. Rich made time after morning chores to write about their lives. We Took to the Woods is an adventure story, written with humor, but it also portrays a cherished dream awakened into full life. First published 1942.

 

A Walk in the Woods – Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book I enjoyed more – or laughed more or learned more by reading it. A MUST read for everyone.

Bill Bryson, whose previous travelogues The Lost Continent, Neither Here Nor There, and Notes from a Small Island have garnered the author quite a following, now returns to his native United States after more than two decades of living abroad. In order to rediscover America by, as he puts it, “going out into an America that most people scarcely know is there,” he set out to walk, in the company of Stephen Katz, his college roommate and sometime nemesis, the length of the Appalachian Trail. His account of that adventure is at once hilarious, inspiring, and even educational.

Shadow of the Moon M. M. Kaye

The ultimate in historic romance and exotic adventure. Born in India and orphaned at an early age, Winter is brought up in England but is always longing for the land of her birth. The opportunity to return home to India presents itself when she is betrothed at a tender age to the debauched Conway Barton, the grasping Commissioner of Lunjore, who is many years her senior. Captain Randall, who is sent by the Commissioner to escort his betrothed to India, is loathe to do so, knowing the Commissioner to be no fit husband for a seventeen year old girl, Moreover, Captain Randall is keenly sensitive to the potentially dangerous feelings of unrest that seem to be sweeping India, as its native population begins to chafe under the insensitive rule of its colonial masters.

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (1970)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crystal_Cave

The story of Merlin of the Arthurian legend. This is followed by The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment. Well written and magical the story brings Merlin to life in a way no other book has done. I read this so many times my paperback copy fell apart.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King (2000)

My favorite Stephen King novel.

On a six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland quickly tires of the constant bickering between her older brother, Pete, and her recently divorced mother. But when she wanders off by herself, and then tries to catch up by attempting a shortcut, she becomes lost in a wilderness maze full of peril and terror.

Charm School by Neilson DeMille (1999)

Charm School is a chilling cold war classic. On a dark road deep inside Russia, a young American tourist picks up a most unusual passenger a U.S. POW on the run with an incredible secret to reveal to an unsuspecting world.

I love the work of Neilson DeMille. He is one of my top 5 favorites. The last book was a little lame but everything previous to that is sheer brilliance. Charm School and Gold Coast are both must read classics of American books.

 

Foul Matter by Martha Grimes

This book is so much fun and so brilliant you’ll never forget it. The audio version is a must listen and perfect if you have a long road trip.

From Publishers Weekly: Red pencils draw real blood in this delightful publishing world crime spoof by Grimes, expert storyteller and bestselling author of the Richard Jury mysteries (The Man with a Load of Mischief, etc.). When Paul Giverney, a hot suspense novelist, seeks a new publisher, he decides on the house of Mackensie-Haack under the condition that they dump their highly respected and award-winning author, Ned Isaly. Ruthless president Bobby Mackensie will stop at nothing to sign Giverney, even though breaking Isaly’s contract is a legal impossibility. His solution? Sign another contract-this one with two hit men, who are hired to knock off Isaly. What Mackensie doesn’t know is that Candy and Karl are killers with scruples and a keen interest in literature.

Testament by John Grisham

This is the first book that ever made me cry.

Troy Phelan, an eccentric elderly billionaire, commits suicide minutes after leaving his vast fortune to an illegitimate daughter, Rachel Lane, instead of his six children by three marriages. His reason is revulsion over years of fighting with, and embarrassment from, his family, as well as their greed — much of which was due to his neglect of his children and multiple affairs (both personal and business).

His lawyers are now tasked with protecting Troy’s wishes as well as finding the heiress. Nate O’Riley, a high-powered litigation lawyer and now recovering alcoholic, is sent to Brazil, where Rachel is believed to be living as a missionary.

While Nate is trying to find Rachel, Troy’s family does everything in their power to contest the new will.

The Last Juror by John Grisham

This is the second book that ever made me cry.

The story is set in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi from 1970 to 1979. Clanton is also the venue for John Grisham’s first novel A Time To Kill which was published in 1989. Some of the characters appear in both novels with the same occupation and characteristics. Although A Time to Kill was published 15 years before The Last Juror, it took place in 1985 (on the first page of Chapter 3, it notes the date as Wednesday, May 15), which is a year after Grisham formed the idea for A Time to Kill, his first novel, and began writing it. Therefore the characters who appear in both novels, such as Lucien Wilbanks and Harry Rex Vonner, have matured in A Time to Kill. Harry Rex Vonner also appears in the novel The Summons, published in 2002, as an adviser of the protagonist Ray Atlee.

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I love these books. My copies are ancient and falling apart. A must read about friendship and learning more about one’s true self.

Screw the movies – read the books – nuff said.

 

The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (2006)

This books makes you feel like you’re traveling back into time. The first encounter with this book was the wonderful audio version. I couldn’t stop listening! I’ve since read it too. I love this book. It is soooo Victorian!

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1887)

I love this book because it has such wonderful character development. If you’re going to read ONE vampire book – this is the one to read. Written as diary entries and letters it is a quick and fun read. Of course it is FICTION. Remember folks – it is FICTION.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)

It was good when it first came out and still will capture your attention until the very end.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moonstone

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (2009)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sweetness_at_the_Bottom_of_the_Pie

Another laugh out loud book that will make you wish your were an 11 year old girl with the love of chemistry and poisons!

  

My Favorite Series (look them up)

  • Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport by John Sanford
  • In Death series featuring Eve Dallas by J. D. Robb

Read both from the start – as the characters grow and age and mature into something akin to the book equivalent of a fine red wine. Once you get hooked on these…well, you’ll be hooked and you’ll thank me.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

S

Short Story Sunday: Baker Beach

Baker Beach

Max heard the Nessun dorma ringtone and groaned. It was his brother Andy. It was an emergency. He could sense it.

He picked up and listened.

“Max, thank God you’re there. I’m by Baker Beach. Some asshole redneck in a truck sideswiped me. The car is totaled. Can you get out here? Right now.”

Max untangled himself from the woman next to him and sat up. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine. Like I said, the car is totaled.”

“Call AAA. I’ll call Uber and get you a ride home.”

“You don’t understand man. I have someone locked in the trunk and he is pissed off.”

———-

Andy watched at the back end of his car became even more mangled by the violent pounding from the occupant he’d locked in the trunk. The noise was even worse.

“Stop it NOW,” he yelled, “or I’ll drain every drop of blood from your body, stuff your pathetic putrid smelling carcass and sell it to the highest bidder.”

Than banging and howling stopped right at the moment Max drove up.

He got out of the car. A woman got out of the passenger side. Like Max, she was dressed in black from head to toe.

“Mehitabel, you look beautiful. What are you doing with my brother?”

She smiled and kissed Andy on the cheek. “Glad you’re not hurt. Who do you have in the trunk?”

Max went over to Andy’s car and kicked the bumper. The mangled trunk lid popped open.

“Holy fuck,” Max swore under his breath.

Mehitabel put her hand over her nose and mouth to keep out the stench. “Andy, this isn’t good.”

“I know, this is bad,” said Andy. “But it isn’t every day you find a Sasquatch.”

——————-

After the car was towed and the sun started to come up, the three Vampires stopped at their favorite diner for breakfast. They’d all had their fill of blood the night before but coffee and eggs sounded good right then.

“Is this the fourth or fifth car you’ve totaled this year?” Max took a sip of coffee and shook his head at his brother.

“Second this year,” said Andy. “Hey, it wasn’t my fault.”

Mehitabel looked at the brothers. “So do you think he’ll be alright?”

“The Sasquatch? I don’t know. As long as he stays out of the city I think he’ll be fine,” said Max.

“This is San Francisco. Nobody would notice him,” said Andy.

Max smiled and put his hand on Mehitabel’s knee.

“You guys should get married. I’m serious,” said Andy.

Mehitabel almost spit out her coffee. Max took his hand off of her knee, then thought better of his action and put his hand back on her knee and gave a small squeeze. The waitress came by and poured more coffee.

I guess the moral of this story is that as long as you are always there for each other, don’t ask too many questions, and keep love in your hearts life will be good.

_____________

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Face Your Demons

“I’ve faced my own demons, something I’d rather not think too much about, but I’ve never had to face someone else’s demons.” Lola as she peered into the dark room at the glowing yellow eyes. “Are you looking for Max?”

“You’re young,” said the owner of the yellow eyes. “What do you know about demons?”

“Oh please,” said Lola. “I’m six hundred and seventy five years old. I’ve been around the block with your kind more than once. Max is my great great great great grandson.”

Lola could now see the Demon spreading it’s leathery wings, and standing. It was a female, with the long legs of a runway model, and the body of a 1950’s pin-up model. “You must be a new demon. Max has had his share of demons when it comes to women but I thought he’d more or less shrugged most of you off. You’re definitely not a Fallen are you, you know fallen angel. They’re the worst. So full of themselves, especially the females. No, I take that back, the males are total assholes, almost as much as they were when they were angels, only in a different sort of way. What did you say your name was?”

The demon said nothing.

“Max isn’t here right now. I know you were expecting him but..” Lola put her hands on her hips. “This is my house and you’re not welcome here. Not now. Not ever.”

“You’re pretty. He favors you in his looks,” said the demon.

Lola, usually one for compliments didn’t smile. Despite her age she looked around twenty-five or twenty-six. Today her long brown hair hung down her back in a loose pony tail. She was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt with pockets full of sand and shells. She’d just come back from a walk on the beach. She’d looked forward to a glass of wine and a book, not a demon.

“Why do you wish to haunt Max? Your kind has already tried to kill him. He has scars that will take years to go away, even for a Vampire, because of demons. You can’t take his soul. What do you want?” And with that question Lola flipped on the light switch.

Standing in the back of the room was the demon, her skin an odd shimmery gray, her eyes yellow, her hair a copper color. She wore a dress that could have been leather, of god only know what. If it wasn’t for the pointed teeth and yellow snake eyes she might have been considered quite attractive. Lola could smell a bit of sulphur in the air. She’d have to burn some nice candles as soon as she got rid of the demon.

The demon sat down on the edge of the bench by the grand piano. “I am not here to do harm to Max. I love him.”

“Oh no you don’t. I should have known this. Until lately Max has been a disaster when it comes to women. But now, he is with someone he loves, truly loves and knows. Max is with her tonight.” Lola gave the demon the mom look. “If you try to contact him or bother his woman I swear I will kill you with my own hands.”

“You can’t kill me,” said the demon.

“I’ll make you wish you were dead.”

The demon looked at Lola and a black oily tear fell from her left eye. Then one fell from the right eye.

“Listen,” said Lola, sitting on the edge of a large red wingback chair. “Max isn’t the one for you. Sure he is good looking and has that bad boy charm, but don’t get carried away with that. A long time ago I was married to someone who was the most attractive, charming, powerful, and fascinating Vampire ever. Guess what? I’m not married to him anymore. I fell for the packaging but as soon as I got him unwrapped down to his core I found out he was totally wrong for me. That was five hundred years ago, but I will never ever forget the lessons I learned from that. The main lesson was not to let demons keep reminding me of him and my early feelings.”

The demon looked angry and her eyes turned red. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“My dear, you’re not listening. Find yourself a nice demon. Even a fallen angel if you need to, but somebody you have more in common with. Find someone who gave his soul to Satan but will give his heart to you. Max can’t give his soul away, and he’ll only give his heart to another Vampire. I know my boy. That is just the way he is. It would never work.”

“You do not know that to be true,” said the demon.

“Oh but I do know it to be true. You’re young, I can tell. What maybe from the 20th Century? I’ve been around for a while. I’ve seen this kind of shit before. You’re only hurting yourself. On the other hand if you’re into getting off from pain, suffering and that kind of  stuff Max definitely isn’t your guy. The last thing he needs is a drama queen.”

“May I stay for a bit?” Asked the demon, as she rested her clawed hand on the keys of the piano.

“No,” said Lola.

The demon stood, raised her wings, and flew out of the French doors into the night.

Lola wiped off the piano bench and keys. Then she poured a glass of wine, and found a new book to start. She found something Max had given her called Red Darkling. 

But before she sat down she took out her phone and texted Max.

You need to control your demons. Seriously Max. Grandmama Lola is not amused by visits from dreamy eyed leathery winged members of your fan club. 

Then she curled up on the couch, and listened to the distant waves of the ocean, the sounds of frogs, as she sipped her wine, and cracked open her book. A night without demons was a wonderful thing.

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Shelter

Constantine never cared what anyone thought, until now. Now he wanted everyone to think good things. That was odd considering he was a Vampire.

Life was easy when in almost any setting one was always the best dressed, the best looking, the most charming, and the most knowledgable on almost any subject. It also didn’t hurt to be a four hundred year old Vampire, but that was besides the point. Constantine had always been the most at almost everything.

On Thursday night he’d walked home after having drinks with friends, and of course drinking from friends. A few blocks from his home he’d stopped. Normally he wouldn’t have but the burst of cold air, the flashing lights, and police tape made him curious. It was really the blast of cold air that had made him stop. Someone had died. A few ghosts from a hundred years back had stopped to look as well. They met Constantine’s gaze and just shook their heads.

He took a step towards the ghosts. “What happened?”

“Murder,” they whispered, then they vanished into the dark night. Then he heard a woman’s voice whisper, my babies, my babies.

The following day he found out that a woman was murdered by her boyfriend. Restraining orders obviously were of no use. She had no children, no family, and not many friends. She’d worked as a paralegal and walked to work. Everyone liked her. She was a always cheerful but was sort of a loner. Her name was Keera. She was thirty-six. The man who killed her had gone back to his own home and killed himself.

My babies, my babies.

Saturday afternoon brought hail. It also brought a flat tire. It was more than just a flat. The entire tire rod had busted.  Constantine stayed in his car (of course he was waring an expensive suit and forgot his umbrella) and waited for a tow truck. His friend Robert said he could be there in an ninety minutes. Then he looked up and saw he’d broken down right in front of the city animal shelter. He could wait there. After the car had been towed he ran to the the shelter entrance.

The last time he’d had a pet of his own was in the 19th century. Apollo was a white and brown speckled English Spaniel. He’d missed the dog, a goofy faithful friend. Sometimes even Vampires needed some one goofy in their life even if that friend was a dog. Since then he hadn’t had time for a dog. There was too much fur, too much time, too much everything with a dog.

As he waited for Robert, Constantine looked at all of the dogs, happy to see him, all saying take me home through their barks and yips.

At the back of one the enclosures curled up together in a dark ball of fur were two dogs. At first he’d thought there was only one massive brown and tan dog they were so close together. They didn’t jump up. They didn’t bark. The larger dog, a German Shepard lifted it’s dark head and looked at Constantine with dark almost human eyes. Next the other dog, a Black Lab, with a spot of white on it’s chest, looked up, then hid it’s head again in it’s companion’s fur.

My babies, my babies.

“These dogs came in a few days ago. Their owner died. No family. Nobody wanted them. We’re asking that they stay together but it’s hard to place two adult dogs together,” said a shelter volunteer, a small middle aged woman with a kind face. “The Shepard is six. Her name is Jewel. The Lab, Cole, is only two. They’re inseparable.”

“I’d like to meet them,” said Constantine. He noticed the woman eye his suit. “I’m not worried about the fur.”

As the volunteer opened the door of the cage the dogs stood. They both came up and wagged their tails. The German Shepard peed on his shoe, not as an aggression, but in joy and excitement. Cole the Lab rolled over so his belly could be rubbed.

He looked up and saw a ghost. A woman with brown hair, and large brown eyes set in a round face. “My babies,” she said as she faded out of his sight.

“They belonged to the murdered woman,” said Constantine.

“Yes. It was so tragic.”

“How long will they be here before, they’re… put down.”

“Two weeks.”

“I’ll take them.”

“Both of them?”

“Both of them.”

An hour later Robert was laughing and telling Constantine how crazy he was. “Two grown dogs. Whatever you do don’t give them human blood.”

“They’ll have dog food. Won’t you?” Constantine said looking into the back seat where the two dogs sat close together. Jewel turned her head from right to left as she listened.

Robert stopped at the large pet supply story where they picked up dog beds, leashes, toys, and lots of dog food.

Later, on Saturday night, Constantine sat on the couch and read. Jewel put her head on his feet. Cole jumped up on the couch and curled next to Constantine.

“Do you miss your mom? I promised her I’d take good care of you,” he said to the dogs.

Jewel looked up at him and turned her head, then she jumped up on the couch on the other side of Constantine and put her head in his lap. Cole wagged his tail and licked Constantine’s hand.

His friend would say he was crazy. The last thing he needed was two large grown dogs. But maybe that was exactly what he needed.

The wind blew outside and the rain pounded the windows.

Thank you.

The wind whispered to him. Thank you.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: The Changeling (Happy Mother’s Day)

 

The Changeling

I’ll always remember what my preschool teacher said at lunch and snack times. “You get what you get and you don’tthrow a fit.” My parents lived by that. I’m surprised they didn’tboth tattoo it on theirforeheads.

Sometimes parents will notice their lovely happy babies will suddenly seem to change. Well they have changed. Your baby has been replaced by a crying, unhappy, grouchy, nasty, Goblin Changeling. Congratulations.

Sometimes the horrible Changelings are left to die on the doorsteps of churches, or locked in attics. Usually the real babies are brought back to their loving parents. Fairies and others help out. More often than not ransoms are paid. A mother might pay with her beauty. A father might pay with his strength. It could be anything depending on the mood of theGoblins.

In my case the Goblins dropped me into the home of someone who seemed oblivious to mynastiness. They actually kept me.

I spend my entire childhood treating my parents like crap and tormenting my little brother Trevor. My brother hated me, but he should have loved me. Without me Trevor would have been one of those sensitive pantywaist boys who allows people walk all over him. I made him tough. I made him stand up for himself. He should have thanked me forit.

I have no idea why my parents put up with me. The only reason I wasn’t expelled from every school I attended isbecause I always made straight A’s. Sure I caused a lot of tears but I kept the schoolyard in line. My minions kept close while Idoled out punishments fitting crimes of weakness. As for lies… I was the number one princess of lies, and adults never knew what was goingon.They believedme.

Sure there were more times I could count that I had my mom in tears, but hey, that is what you get for accepting a Goblin Changeling. She could have dumped me in foster care or sent me off to some farm of a distant relative. People suggested boarding schools, drugs and shock treatments. She just toldthem that they could never understand how I was different andunique in ways that nobody could ever understand.

At one time my parents sent me to counseling. I told Dr. Cray everything she wanted to hear. The good doctor said I was a well-adjusted and brilliant child. She said I was mature for my age hence others not understanding me. Boy did I have it pulled over her eyes.

Anyway, Trevor and I grew up and went out on our own. I met a few other Changelings and even married one.

We’re one of those successful power couples. He’s the CEO of a billion dollar tech company. I’m an attorney, the biggest asshole out there, and proud of it. Beauty and brains plus no morals what so ever. Justice for all.

As soon as I found out my future husband Blake was an over the top arrogant, self-centered SOB I fell in love with him. He loved me back as only a Goblin Changeling can love another Goblin Changeling.

I remember a day when a woman approached me. This should have been one of those turning points where I changed my heart and became a good person. I recognized her because I’d gone to school with her.

She said, “You were a bully. A mean horrible bully. You ruined lives.”

I just smiled and told her, “You should have learned from your bad experience. Instead you made the choice to be a loser.”

I’m like that. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I don’t care if they said I mean to my parents and twice as horrible to my brother. Tell me something I don’t know.

So on Mother’s Day I showed up at my parents with my husband. The hubby joined my dad in the back at the grill. Trevor and his wife Emily were in the kitchen with my mom. I put the vase of yellow roses I’d brought for my mom down on breakfast nook table and gave my mother a rarekiss.

Trevor glared at me. Emily looked uncomfortable.

“I have good news Katie,” said my mom. “Trevor and Emily are going to have a baby.”

“How about that Trevor, you aren’t dickless after all. Well congratulations.”

“Why did you have to say that Katie? Why are you so horrible all the time?” Asked the lovely Emily.

“I’m just like that Em. Well dear family, I also have news. I’m pregnant too,” I said.

Trevor got right into my face. “You always have to try to upstage me Katie. I don’t care if you are having a baby. Your child will NEVER be allowed to be with mine. NEVER.”

I laughed out loud, a cold bitter laugh. “You know baby brother, if it wasn’t for me you’d never be with Emily. Why do you think all of those other bitch girlfriends of yours dumped you before you ended up with Em? I was looking out for you asshole. I was also the reason you have your dream job. So screw you Trevor. I hope your kid is uglyand stupid.”

My mom should have looked shocked, then again she was used to me saying horrible things to my brother Trevor. I was pissed and went into the living room. Mom followed.

She put her hand on my arm, then took it off as I tensed up. “Are you happy about your baby Katie?”

“Sure. It will be fun.” Then I looked into her blue eyes and suddenly I wanted to cry. I mean, like, my eyes started to sting and water up. “You’re amazing mom. Why in the world did you keep me?”

“My own baby had passed on. My little angel had never been right. She didn’t last more than a week. The Goblinshad scheduled a drop off not knowing there was no baby for them to take home. They just left you. Even Goblins don’t want their Changelings. What was your dad and I supposed to do?”

“Oh Mom, you knew?”

“Always.”

“So why’d you put up with me all these years?”

“Remember that horrible cat Billy we used to have?”

I remembered Billy. He was worse than I was. He’d hiss at everyone. He’d growl when you’d feed him. No act of kindness was rewarded. Billy was nuts. Damn, he was the Devil’s own cat.

My mom continued. “We kept Billy because if we’d given him up he would have died. Nobody else would have understood. He would have been put down. It was the same with you.”

“I loved that cat,” I told my mom.

“I know you did Katie,” said mymom.

She put her arm around my shoulder. “Let’s go back to the others Katie. Do me a favor sweetie. Try to be nice to Trevor. Just for today.”

“Sure. I love you mom.”

“Love you too Katie. More than you’ll ever know.”

I kissed her cheek. “When I’m a mom I want to be just like you.”

A hint of tears glistened in my mother’s eyes. That made me happy in a weird sort of uncomfortable way.

We joined the rest of the family around the grill, all smiles and making nice. All the while I was thinking of ways to torture my brother and get even on the rest of the universe.

Life is good. Well, at least it is for me.

 

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Shrine

Shrine

I remembered how Katrina Olson yelled out at Craig’s funeral, “I hope the Devil enjoyed his barbecue.”

Jeanee Kinley, Craig’s fiancé, started to howl like a cat in a car, tears pouring down her pretty face, as her nose grew redder and redder.

At that point a couple of big guys, maybe fraternity brothers, hauled Katrina out of the church.

I sat looking straight ahead at the casket, all covered with white flowers. I thought about Craig and the time we’d spent together. Part of me wanted to tell perfect Miss Jeanee Kinley that her Craig had never been faithful to her. I wanted to tell her about all of the women Craig had considered his conquests, even after they’d become engaged.

That was forty years ago. We were in our early twenties, ready to face the world with our hopes and dreams.

The casket was closed due to the unpleasant way Craig had died. He’d burned to death. His body was found in the passenger seat of his 1981 Corvette. A lighter was in one hand, a cigarette in another, the door was open, and a charred gas can was next to the driver’s side door. He’d gone up in flames but nobody knew how or why. The back of his skull had been cracked with a blunt object but not enough to kill him. There were also scratch marks on his shoulders. Since he was sitting against the seat his back was spared from the flames that engulfed the front side of his body and most of the car. His handsome face and lush chestnut brown hair had been completely burned off.

I can’t imagine a more horrible way to die.

On the floor driver side floor of the car a delicate silver chain with a tiny bird pendant was found. It had been broken, as if torn off of it’s wearer. Nobody knew who it had belonged to. Jeanee said it wasn’t hers. She’d been in Los Angeles with her mom at some spa. Craig had died in Northern California near the UC Davis campus.

That is where we’d all gone to college.

I thought about Craig and my college days as I drove along the backroads through tomato fields and almond orchards.

My bag was packed with everything needed to our get together. I brought the charcoal and beer. Fresh made brownies were in a bag, still warm from my oven.

When I arrived at the abandoned farm buildings off the side of the road I saw I wasn’t the first one there. Karen, Katrina, and Lydia had also shown up. Greta pulled up in her orange truck right behind me. Several other women waited around a fire this cool summer evening.

Nine women ranging in age from fifty eight to sixty four stood around the fire, building a shrine for Craig. Our friends Dan and Rick were there too, now with white hair, and no hair respectively.

Barbecue sauce, rib rub, garlic bread, lighter fluid, baked beans, and beer surrounded the fire. This was going to be good.

We all talked and caught up as we did every year at this time. We’d done well, despite our misspent youth. We’d grown up to be a college professor, an attorney, a retired Navy officer, a librarian, a museum curator, a high school principal, an antiques dealer, a furniture builder, and other professions that would have baffled us when we where in college.

Dan mentioned how Craig had just finished his first year of law school. Some of the women talked about their experiences with Craig. We all opened drinks, poured shots and glasses of wine and prepared for a toast.

Karen placed a photo of Craig on a holder, kind of on a long stick. Dan placed a model of a 81 Corvette down by the fire.

We lifted our glasses and bottles to a toast. “To Craig, law student, roommate, fellow student, and rapist.”

Then I lit the photograph on fire and we drank, and then had dinner. The Devil’s Barbecue and a fitting shrine for Craig.

I remember that night as I stood bloodied and torn as he laughed in my face just before he lit his cigarette.

My wrists burned from the twist ties he’d put on me so I couldn’t get away from him. Later that night I’d hit him in the head with a lamp, then in a panic agreed to drive him to the hospital. I poured gasoline all over the car and threatened to light a match so he wouldn’t attack and rape me again. Then out in the middle of the farmland I pulled over. I don’t know why, but I stopped. I’d walk home rather than get help for him. He could drive himself to the hospital. He got out of the car and lit a cigarette. I told him to stop. I told him to STOP. I told him to put his lighter away. I begged him. He laughed again and called me a whore as blood ran down my leg and I watched him burst into flames.

I never told anyone it was me. Not a soul.

I looked into the fire fingering my necklace; a small silver bird on a delicate chain, a replacement for the one I’d lost. The yearly shrine to Craig burned bright in the summer night as we all looked on knowing justice was served.

“I love you all,” I said as I looked into the faces of Craig’s victims and their friends.

“We love you too,” said Katrina. Then we did a big group hug. It was nice. Super nice.

Then we grilled some pork ribs, ate our salads and my brownies, and caught up. Most of us talked about our kids, our dogs, and just all sorts of good things about our lives.

Life is good. Yes, it is.

~ end

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman