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Brothers of Darkness

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Blurb

The prequel to the Amaranthine series tells the story of Patrick and Michael, how they got tangled into Claudius' web, and their valiant fight to escape.

When Patrick's missing brother returns, he brings a world of darkness. Turned into a vampire against his will, Michael is the coven's whipping boy. When Patrick tries to help, he's claimed as a slave who spends his weekends preparing victims, scooping ashes, and falling prey to the vampires' twisted desires.

There's only so much hell he can take. When vampires from a warring coven offer sanctuary in exchange for cooperation, Patrick agrees. What he thought would be a few months drags into a long smear of nightmares and, though he fights for hope and freedom, the cost of victory may be more than he bargained for.

Brothers of Darkness is created by Joleene Naylor, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

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Chapter 1: Prelude Michael, Part 1
Michael sat on the couch in his mother's trailer, watching TV. He wished she'd hurry up and get home from work. He needed another beer, but he was finally comfortable and he didn't want to move. As if heaven sent, she banged through the door, dropping shoes and her purse. Before he could even ask her about the beverage, she shoved a piece of paper into his hand. "Call them." He muted the TV and glanced disinterestedly at the phone number. "Who is it?" "It's about a job, Mikey. You've been out for two months and all you do is lie on the couch and watch TV. Pat's more productive than you, and that's saying something. I told you the only way you're staying here is if you work." "What kinda work is it?" "Yard work." Yard work? What did his mom think he was? "I don't know s**t about yard work and I'm too smart for that crap, anyway. I'm not some manual laborer." "No, you're so clever, aren't you? So clever that you landed yourself in jail! For God's sake, where else are you going to get a job with two drug convictions?" She tossed a cell phone onto his chest. "Call." There was no point in arguing when she was in one of her moods not for him anyway. His brother Patrick could have sweet talked her, but hell, he could sweet talk a harpy if he put his mind to it. "Fine, whatever. I'm callin', I'm callin'." He dialed the number and waited. The rings peeled off, one, two, three, four, five "Hello?" The man's accent made Michael think of Mr. Belvedere from the old TV show. "The Durand residence. How may I help you?" "Um, yeah. My mom told me to call about the lawn job or whatever." There was a pause, then, "Are you enquiring for the sake of employment?" "Yeah, sure." Mr. Belvedere drew an audible breath through his nose. "Name please?" "Michael Mullens." "Mr. Mullens, please come to the manor tonight after dark. The master will wish to speak with you." He gave a handful of directions, then bid Michael a crisp goodbye. "Well?" At his mother's question, Michael snapped the phone closed and tossed it back to her. "I have to see 'the master' tonight." He tried to add the right snooty inflection, but failed. "Sounds like a pain in the ass." *** Michael found the 'manor' easy enough it was the only set of iron gates in the county. He drove through them, his eyes wide. The house was huge. Made of stone, it was decorated at seemingly random intervals with angels and gargoyles, like something from a horror flick. Bright light shone from its many windows in yellow patches. Michael wasn't sure where to park, so he pulled the Geo off to the side. On his way to the front porch, he paused at a large carved fountain ringed with cherubs. On closer inspection, what looked like innocent angels actually had bat wings and fangs. "Man this place is whack!" The huge front door was made of polished wood and frosted glass. Music and laughter leaked through it and he wondered if they were having a party. When he knocked, the door was opened by a tall thin man in a suit. "Yes?" The accent and attitude were the same as the man on the phone. "Um, I was supposed to come about the yard job?" "Of course." The butler Michael was sure that's what he was looked down his nose. "This way please." He led Michael into a grand entrance hall. A set of sweeping staircases filled one wall and glittering chandeliers hung from the ceiling. At the far end, between the staircases, a set of French doors opened onto a room full of people. Michael caught a glimpse of glittering jewelry and swishing skirts before the butler led him away. He followed the man down a long hallway to a small white office. "Wait here," the butler ordered, then shut the door and disappeared. Michael moved uncertainly to a green velvet chair and sat down in front of the desk. His eyes roamed the room; a suit of armor stood in one corner. Jeweled medieval weapons hung on the walls and glinted from glass fronted display cabinets. Above the desk hung an old portrait of a mustached man, and a well-polished silver sword. The butler came back, followed by a young sneering guy who might have been seventeen. His blond hair was pulled back and he was dressed in a ruffled shirt and vest, like someone from the PBS shows Michael's mom watched. They must be having some kind of costume party. The young man moved behind the desk and glared at Michael, as if he expected him to do something. Though Michael couldn't explain why, the hair stood up on the back of his neck, and the heavy silence felt oppressive. He broke it with a murmured, "Hello?" The young man scowled, but instead of commenting he gestured to the butler. The servant quickly took his place next to the desk. "The master would like to welcome you." The master? f**k, he's just a kid! Must be f*****g nice to get born into all of this! The butler explained the job. It was basic grounds keeping; mowing, hedge trimming, cleaning out the creepy fountain. Basically, he only needed to worry about the front and side lawns. The extensive gardens in the back of the property were under the domain of the gardener. When the explanation was finished, Michael asked, "How much does it pay?" "Two hundred dollars a week." For two hundred dollars, Michael wanted to say no, but he thought of his mom. She was right. Where the hell else was he gonna get a job with no references and no questions asked? There were no contracts to sign, only the instructions to be back the next morning. The master gave him a cold glare that sent a chill down his spine. At the first chance, Michael stood and gave a quick, "Okay, thanks. I'll be here tomorrow." He made it to the door before an icy voice drawled, "There is one more thing." Michael turned around to find the blond kid staring at him. "Uh, what?" "We value our privacy. At no time are you to be in the house, unless you are invited in. Do you understand?" A thousand terrible threats glittered in his eyes. Michael managed to nod and, with a gesture, he was dismissed. He couldn't get out of there fast enough. *** The next morning, Michael's mom kicked him off the couch and out the door. The manor was only slightly friendlier in the sunlight. The fanged cherubs on the fountain leered at him as he parked the Geo and made his way to the door. The butler showed him to a shed where the tools were, including a brand new lawn mower. He gave him a set of basic instructions and waved toward the collection as if their actual functions were beneath him. Then he left. What the f**k did I get myself into? *** Michael was sweaty and out of sorts by the time he got home. His brother was on the porch, a beer in his hand. "Have fun at work?" "f**k you, Pat." Michael dropped next to him and groaned. "My back is killing me." Patrick snickered. "How'd the first day go?" "Like s**t. The f*****g butler is a prick. After I got done he walked around the yard pointing out everything I missed and said next time I should do a more 'thorough job'. I'll give him a thorough job, asshole." Patrick laughed. "You gonna quit?" Before he could answer, his mom leaned out the door and quipped, "No, he's not!" She leveled her gaze with Michael. "If you quit this job, then you can find somewhere else to live. And you" she jabbed Patrick in the back "if you encourage him you'll be out on your ass, too. It's time you both grow up and take responsibility for your lives." She went on and Patrick mimed a chattering mouth with his hand. Michael snorted and snagged his beer. They'd heard it all before. It's like some kind of periodic ritual.

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