*This is a finished series*
A peasant in a 16th century Russian market.
A lawyer with a scheming wife.
A maiden forced into an arranged marriage.
A noble trapped in a life of duty.
A cowboy with a knack for train heists.
What do these people have in common? Each on is about to die, only to rise again. As vampires they will eventually unit against a common enemy, but for now they must first learn to survive their own transition.
This compilation of five short stories can be read at any point in the “Series That Just Plain Sucks.”
Targeted Age Group:: 15 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My husband and I were sitting on the porch and he ask: What if Stephanie Meyer became a vampire and realized she knew nothing about being a vampire. As I progressed through the trilogy, some readers expressed interest in knowing how the other characters got turned into vampires.
This series of short stories covering how five characters got turned into vampires.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are a mixture of friends from real life and creations of my demented imagination.
Mikhail Bartrey blinked the sleep from his eyes, slowing taking in his surroundings. It took him a minute to remember why he was sleeping on the damp ground, rather than in his bedroom with his father’s snores drifting in from the one other bedroom in their tiny house. Slowly, he pushed himself up into a sitting position. By the dim gray light of the early morning, Mikhail could see his loaded wagon and cart horse, diligently protected by his faithful dog. The animal lifted its head and let its tongue loll out of its mouth in a toothy, canine grin. Mikhail felt his lips pull up into a smile as he forced himself onto his feet.
Another long day of travel should see him to Pskov, the nearest city to his father’s small farm. His laden cart was piled high with burlap bags filled with crops: barley, rye, and apples—both dried and fresh. In the back portion of the cart, behind the strapped down bags, lounged a fat pig, her tits large and numerous from having just weened her latest passel of piglets. Tethered to the back of the cart waited a young heifer. Overall, his cargo would bring a large pile of coins at the market in Pskov, but the cost to the farm’s production would be great.
I need the money though, Mikhail thought as he folded up his blanket and tossed it over the back of the cart. He would forgo his breakfast today in exchange for an early start. It would take him too long to coax life back into the banked embers, much less boil the oats.
The sooner he could get to Pskov and sell his goods the sooner he could buy the ring. Then she would be his for good! All they waited on was the ring, and his father had been generous enough considering he was willing to part with a young heifer and a grown pig to allow his son to marry. Mikhail swore to himself that he wouldn’t complain about any ration cutting that took place this winter. He would have a wife, and that was all that mattered.
The village thought they were chyort fools for marrying so young, but Mikhail and his father knew better, as did Nina and her parents. Both families realized that Mikhail and Nina would eventually wed, whether it was now at seventeen and fifteen, or if it was after Mikhail reached his majority. Nina’s parents also realized that Mikhail’s father would not last that long. It was a wonder he had lived this long with the lung disease. Four more years would be a miracle. But if Mikhail married, he would be able to inherit his father’s farm, despite his lack of years.
Mikhail hugged the thought of Nina’s pretty face to his frozen body as he harnessed the horse. His mind ran to her soft curves and long skirts. He pondered what was hidden under the folds of her skirt and felt a blush warm his chilled face. Mikhail wondered if he would need to ask his father about the wedding night, but decided to worry about that later.
There wouldn’t be a wedding night if he didn’t get to Pskov and sell their merchandise.
Mikhail began to lead the horse, letting his dog race ahead a few lengths. The hyper animal knew when to turn and race back to its slower companions without needing Mikhail to call it back, leaving Mikhail plenty of time to think.
Over the last month, as his father had negotiated with Nina’s parents, Mikhail had been sick with worry. If they didn’t let him marry Nina early he would lose the farm on his father’s death, meaning he would never be able to marry Nina. He would be an outcast in his own village, seeking work on some other man’s farm, and Nina would marry someone else. Mikhail felt the old worry build in his chest as he pushed his curly brown hair out of his eyes.
He needed a haircut.
Until Nina’s parents had given him their blessing, he had feared the worst would happen. He wasn’t concerned about his own future of living without his family’s farm, but feared for Nina. If they weren’t able to wed, she would have to marry someone she didn’t love, didn’t trust. It was her future that kept him up at nights. She was such a gentle spirit. He knew being married to a high-handed man would crush her.
And the other man in line for her hand was high-handed if nothing else.
Anatoliy might be the richest farmer in their village, but he was a bully. Nina despised him. She had told Mikhail so just a few short weeks ago. Finally, in a fit of desperation, Nina had gone to her parents and begged them to let her marry Mikhail.
The curly haired lad smiled to himself.
It was her begging that had tipped the scales. Though her parents, like any parents, wanted her to have the brightest future she could, they would not force her to marry a man she hated. They would allow her to have a say in the decision.
Mikhail’s smile grew. He wanted to be parents like them when the time came.
Such pleasant thoughts helped Mikhail continue the long walk on to Pskov. Late that evening he stumbled into the large town. It was almost a city.
The streets were still filled with merchants, wives, and less savory women. Briefly, Mikhail wondered if it would be worth the coin to practice on one of those women… just to be prepared for the coming wedding night. He had barely finished the thought before rejecting it. He would rather save himself for his bride than waste himself on a whore.
Mikhail lowered his eyes and continued on to the market. Even with the sun set, the large square was teaming with activity.
What must it be like to live in this place? he wondered as his eyes jumped from one sight to another. And to think, Kiev is even bigger.
Mikhail felt the old longing to see the wide world emerge, but he forced it back down. Seeing the world wouldn’t protect Nina, nor would it give his father the satisfaction of knowing the family farm had passed on to another Bartrey.
It didn’t take Mikhail long to purchase a booth in the market place, and even less time to sell off the hog. If the rest of his goods sold as quickly, he would be on his way home the day after tomorrow.
It was never to happen.
The next day went smoothly, and by the time the sun set, he had sold off all his wares. Mikhail pocketed the money and made his way to the jeweler. Though there were plenty of fancy bands, he knew he couldn’t afford to use up all the money he had just made. Some of it had to go to the supplies he needed to fix the crumbling stone wall that surrounded the kitchen garden and replace a few of the pots and pans that were near the point of leaking. He couldn’t expect his new bride to cook his meals in leaking pans. Besides, some coin should be set aside for the coming winter.
Mikhail looked over what the elderly man had ready for purchase and chose a simple band without ornamentation. He felt a wave of guilt as he pocketed the little leather pouch. Nina deserved better. Anatoliy could have bought her one of the bands with three different metals all wrapping around each other.
But Anatoliy wouldn’t love her, a voice in his head reminded him.
Mikhail didn’t think he loved her now, but he knew he would in time. Whatever he felt for Nina was as deep as their friendship was long. They had grown up getting into trouble together and annoying their mothers. Mikhail didn’t have a memory that didn’t include Nina. They had been attached at the hip since she had learned to walk.
Whatever the emotion was that made his heart beat quicker, it was more than Anatoliy felt. Anatoliy wanted a prize to place on his mantle, a servant to cook for him, and a brood mare to provide a family for him. Nina, being the most beautiful girl in the village and one of the best cooks, could do all that for Anatoliy.
Mikhail grinned to himself as his fingers wrapped around the leather pouch in his pocket.
Nina could do all that for Anatoliy, but she wouldn’t. She would do it for Mikhail, and not because her parents forced her to, but because she wanted to. She wanted Mikhail, and that thought made him want her more.
His smile vanished as he bumped into a body, sending the person sprawling on the ground.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, reaching out to help the lad up from the ground.
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