Corcitura. Some call it hybrid, others half-blood, mongrel, beast. They are all names for the same thing: vampire—the created progeny of the half-wolf, half-vampire, barb-tongued Grecian Vrykolakas, and the suave but equally vicious Russian Upyr. Corcitura: this is what happens when a man is attacked by two vampires of differing species. He becomes an entirely new breed—ruthless, deadly, unstoppable…almost.
London, 1888: Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, best friends since childhood, have finally succeeded in convincing their parents to send them on a Grand Tour of the Continent. It will be the adventure of a lifetime for the two eighteen-year-old Englishmen, but almost from the moment they set foot on French soil, Eric senses a change in Stefan, a change that is intensified when they cross paths with the enigmatic Vladec Salei and his traveling companions: Leonora Bianchetti, a woman who fascinates Eric for reasons he does not understand, and the bewitching Augustin and Sorina Boroi—siblings, opera impresarios, and wielders of an alarming power that nearly drives Eric mad.
Unable to resist the pull of their new friends, Eric and Stefan walk into a trap that has been waiting to be sprung for more than five hundred years—and Stefan is the catalyst. Terrified by the transformation his friend is undergoing, Eric knows he must get Stefan away from Vladec Salei and Constantinos, the rabid, blood-crazed Vrykolakas, before Stefan is changed beyond recognition. But after witnessing a horrific scene in a shadowed courtyard in Eastern Europe, Eric’s worst fears are confirmed.
Six years removed from the terror he experienced at the hands of Salei and Constantinos, Eric finally believes he has escaped his past. But once marked, forever marked, as he painfully begins to understand. He has kept company with vampires, and now they have returned to claim him for their own.
Corcitura Excerpt: The Dwelling of Night
Taken from Corcitura, Chapter 8, A Tavern in Venice
” I looked at him warily, knowing it was just another trick, this cajoling of his, to get me to go on. I had no desire to spend another minute in this wretched place and was on the verge of making my feelings known, when I suddenly felt the urge to discover what it was that Stefan and the other patrons found so enticing about this mysterious fourth floor. Against all my better judgment, I gave in. The pull of this place, coupled with my inordinate curiosity, was becoming too strong to resist.
“Very well,” I agreed.
“Splendid! Come, the hour is growing late.”
I watched him dart up a few more steps before I began to trudge along behind.
As we passed the third landing, I noticed for the first time that Stefan was carrying a cane of some sort. Why he hadn’t used this to stop my attacker was beyond me, and the thought that he had had a weapon handy and had done nothing with it made anger well up inside me all over again.
I hurried after him, trying to catch a better glimpse, since the light was growing a trifle brighter at this stage. But when I finally saw it, I wished I hadn’t. My heart somersaulted in my chest. The top of the cane was made of gold and had been carved into the shape of a beast’s head.
A wyvern’s—exactly the same as the pendants the vampiresses had worn.
The only difference was that the gems that were set into the eye sockets were emeralds instead of rubies, yet they still sparkled with an unearthly intensity. I had never seen him with that cane before, but the sinking feeling in my stomach told me it had been a gift from his newest and dearest friend, for it had been personalized just for Stefan. The eyes were green like his, not red like Salei’s had been when he had revealed himself to me, if only for an instant. This wyvern was fiercer and more striking than the others. I wondered if it had been designed to symbolize Stefan’s transformation into a monster more powerful than even Vladec Salei.
“So it has begun…” I said, but the words faded away.
We had finally reached the fourth floor.
I thought I was standing on the threshold of a seraglio. Silk hangings of red and gold, crimson and brilliant ochre, met my eyes everywhere I looked. The room was nearly full to capacity, with people lounging about on overstuffed cushions or sitting at one of the few tables scattered around the chamber. As I looked up, I saw several gold chandeliers dangling from the frescoed ceiling. Each chandelier contained a single candle that guttered in a red Venetian blown-glass holder. The effect was striking yet eerie, since the lights cast a reddish pall over the room, making everyone appear to be bathed in blood.
I looked over at Stefan to see if he shared my concern, but he was smiling so broadly I thought his face would split.
“What did I tell you?” he said, taking my arm and guiding me over to an empty table at the farthest end of the room. “A birthday to remember!”
Stefan signaled to a waiter and ordered the man to bring us two glasses of the taverna’s finest wine. The man gave me a sidelong glance that made me feel decidedly unwelcome, then bustled off to the elaborate, mirrored bar at the other end of the room. There must have been over a hundred bottles of wine encased in the intricately wrought Venetian glass holders resting on the bars’ shelves. I had no desire to join Stefan in fraternizing with our neighbors at the next table—whom he seemed to be getting along famously with—so I decided to make a count of the bottles to keep my mind occupied until the drinks arrived.
I had counted twenty bottles before I noticed the gondolier sitting at the bar, glowering at me over the rim of his wine glass. My mood did not improve when I saw that he was advancing to our table, our drinks set atop a golden platter he was carrying.
He placed Stefan’s glass down first. After Stefan gave him a pointed look, he set the other glass before me.
“Grazie,” said Stefan, but the gondolier was already walking back to his post at the bar.
“I’m not drinking that,” I said, pushing the glass into the center of the table. “Why in the world would he be giving us our drinks?”
“A member of the brethren.”
“It’s a guild they have here,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “I remember reading about it before we arrived. Quite powerful, I’ve heard. Its members are not limited to a single profession.”
He was mocking me. I could see his mouth beginning to lift in a maddening smirk, a smile that was half sardonic and half secretive, as if the fate of the world depended on the answer to a riddle only he knew and would never share.
I looked away from him in disgust, my eyes lighting upon the goblet I had refused. In all the tumult, I had not paid attention to the contents of the glass. Now that I studied it, I realized that it was the most viscous looking drink I had ever seen in my life. It did not look anything like wine, but rather resembled a thick, red-black custard. I felt sick just staring at it. Stefan shouldn’t drink that. Who knew where it came from and what it even was. I reached for the glass, but stopped myself before my fingers could close around the stem. Something distracted me, something I hadn’t noticed until that moment.
Everyone else in the taverna was downing the same drink.
“At last,” Stefan said, eying the glass hungrily. “It has to be drunk in one fell swoop, so the locals say. Well, when in Rome, eh, old friend?” And before I could answer, he set the glass against his lips, tilted back his head, and the liquid was gone. After a minute, he let out a satisfied sigh and opened his eyes. “Not bad,” he said. “Not bad at all.”
Stefan signaled to the gondolier again. “Another two glasses of Sangue di Vita for me and my friend here,” he said in Venetian. By the time the gondolier turned away, Stefan had claimed my glass and drunk the wine in that goblet, too.
“Tell me, Eric,” he said, licking a droplet from the corner of his mouth. “Have you ever tasted blood?”
My mouth was so dry I could barely find the voice to answer him. “What an odd question…”
“But a valid one. Well, have you?”
“I’ve cut my lip before, so yes, I suppose I have tasted blood, but…”
“Not your own, you foolish boy.” He let out a short, derisive laugh and leaned in so that he was only a few inches from my face. “I mean the blood of another.”
“Good God, Stefan, of course not!”
I jerked away from him in horror. There was such genuine disappointment in his voice when he said this that I believed he had finally gone insane.
“Stefan, this is madness,” I said, my voice cracking in spite of my resolve to remain calm, “listen to yourself. What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that there are things in this world you cannot understand. Things you don’t even want to imagine.”
“And why should I be concerned about any of this?”
The gondolier returned with two more glasses of the wine. Stefan inclined his head in thanks, took the goblet between his fingers, and looked me dead in the eyes. “Because, my dear Eric, I have tasted the secret knowledge. I know how much to say and when to pull back. I know what to see and not see. And now that I have become whole again, I can never go back. All these things he has given me. Better than my supposed mother and father ever could. For that, I owe him my life and allegiance.”
“Stefan, this is nonsense!” I cried. My voice echoed off the walls of the suddenly silent room. Apparently, my outburst had made our table the center of attention. Dozens of bloodshot eyes were now leering at us. And all of those eyes looked…unnatural. It was something about them, the way they were illumined in the darkness, as if they possessed a light all their own. Of course, it could have been the sheen that occurs when one has had too much to drink, but I doubted that was the reason.
I had seen the same glassy look in the eyes of the gondolier when he had attacked me. ”
About the Author & Links:
I have been an author since the age of fourteen and write Young/New Adult historical romance, suspense, supernatural/paranormal thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, novellas—you name it, I write it! I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.
If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.