Saturday, September 13, 2008

Excerpt: Acacia 2: Blindsided by L Shannon

Acacia II: Blindsided
by L. Shannoncover art by Bryan Keller
ISBN (13): 978-1-59596-952-1
Genre(s): Futuristic, Paranormal
Theme(s): Vampires, Gay and Lesbian
Series: Acacia
Length: Novella

Within the refuge of the moon Acacia, vampires have established peace and built a thriving empire based on control and logic. But emotion rules their hearts and lust defies logic through the long cool nights.
Dr. Blake, a high ranking member of Acacia’s Medical Division, is shocked to find blood donations to the vampire moon colony have been contaminated with an antigen that could wipe out their entire race. Who would contaminate the blood, with what and why? The answer may cost him his life -- and his one chance at true happiness.

Acacia II: Blindsided

L. Shannon

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2008 L. Shannon

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

“You don’t want to go in there, Med Blake, not yet.”
Blake paused beside his human slave, Dash. “Explain to me why I don’t wish to enter my own examination room.”
A flush spread up Dash’s thick tanned neck. The slave’s embarrassment was tempting to all of Blake’s baser instincts. Despite the pressing duties, Blake vividly imagined drawing in close enough to that flushed skin, close enough to smell the sweet blood and feel the heated flesh.
He jerked his mind away from the possibility he’d been denying for years. He should be processing the new arrivals from Rahla, not daydreaming about his best assistant. “Well?”
“Agent Aeron and his new consort are inside. They are… intimately occupied.”
“Indeed. Well, perhaps we can give them a few more minutes.” Blake turned away from his exam room and instead led the way to his office, tucked between his two private exam rooms. He might as well check over the files while he waited.
Dash, following in his wake, hesitated at the doorway. “Master?”
Hiding his grin at Dash’s discomfort, Blake flipped on the low grade lights and picked up the top file on his desk. “Relax, Dash. Observation is a most useful tool for any med specialist.” The large window in front of the room faced into exam room one, where the subjects of his files were demonstrating their healthy conditions.
Agent Aeron was performing quite vigorously considering his recent injuries. But oddly it was not the physical elements that drew his attention. Instead, it was the connection that the couple seemed to share. Blake glanced at the file. The couple had just met on Aeron’s last mission, and yet they appeared to be completely attuned to one another. Even while her thigh slid upward over his own, Agent Aeron’s hand caught her knee, tightening the leverage there. What at first seemed to be the simple act of copulation on closer inspection was more like a dance. “They are quite beautiful, are they not?”
Dash cleared his throat. “Perhaps they should have some privacy.”
Continuing to watch the couple together was not medically relevant. Why had he become caught up in the moment? He should remain objective, yet even his body was reacting to the desire to experience such an interaction. Which was ridiculous. There was no one in his life he felt that connected to, so it was a fool’s wish. Dash was right to redirect their attention. “You are far wiser than your young years.”
“No so young, Med Blake.”
He looked back at Dash, surprised to see his slave was right. The years had passed in a blur. Dash was no longer a boy, but had grown into a fully mature man. He’d seen the changes before, but never thought of Dash as anything more than the orphaned boy he’d claimed as a servant for his household. “Still young.” At least compared to his own three hundred and twelve years.
“What about the other one?” Dash looked toward the long window on the opposite wall.
“Doctor Kaven.” The man had never worked medicine among the vampires so he chose to keep his human title even though he was no longer one of them. “Come, we can see to him while our other patients are occupied.”
He returned to the hallway, but paused before entering the second exam room. “Dash, please retrieve blood for the doctor. I believe his most pressing condition will be malnourishment, which we can begin treating immediately.” Trusting Dash to do as he was asked, he continued into the room.
Dr. Kaven stood in the opposite corner. He might be attempting to appear relaxed, but his emaciated body was tight, bordering on animalistic, radiating paranoid fear.
Blake made no attempt to approach. Their kind, especially the young ones like Kaven, had little restraint when cornered. His patient had been starved, beaten and tortured. He wasn’t going to be the trusting sort.
Blake sat beside the exam table, more than eight feet from the patient. “Dr. Kaven, I’m very glad to have you back on Acacia.” He looked down at his file, giving the doctor time to relax. “In case no one has explained, you will be staying here at the import and arrival facility under my care until you feel well enough to return to an independent residence.”
“Can I leave now?”
“Yes, of course you may. But I was hoping you would be willing to stay here for the next full night at least. I’d like to be certain you are well, but if you’d prefer future exams to be done in your quarters, that can be arranged.”
Kaven gathered himself enough to step away from the wall. “My daughter came with me. Can I see her?”
“Yes, but she is with Agent Aeron at the moment. Perhaps while we wait we can do something to make you look more presentable to her. She must have been terribly worried by your current condition.” The door opened and Dash stepped into the room carrying a translucent blue silicone insulated cooler. The blood sacks were visible through the sides.
But Kaven’s gaze was locked on Dash, not the bags of blood. The hunger bursting forth on the patient’s face was almost painful in intensity.
Much as Kaven might want “fresh from the source” blood, he wouldn’t have enough restraint yet to feed without killing. “Thank you, Dash. You can wait in my office.”
As if the flare of Kaven’s nose wasn’t enough warning, the moment Dash turned his back, the vampire moved as if to pounce.
Blake’s instincts reacted before his mind had a chance to calculate all the factors. In less than a human heartbeat, he was between the patient and his slave. Fortunately, Dash had lived among the vampires all his life. The mistake of turning his back on an injured vamp was a rare one. And even now while safely outside the door, his heart rate only increased marginally, a sure sign of trust.
Kaven came to a sudden stop and then backed away. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“Of course not. It is natural that your body will try to replenish what it is lacking.” Blake kept his voice calm, but Kaven’s condition was alarming. He was on the verge of going feral and yet had too little control to seek appropriate measures to correct the problem. “My servant brought fresh high quality blood to help you recover all the faster. Please, help yourself.”
“No, I won’t,” Kaven said while backing away from the cooler.
The reaction was not what Blake had expected. He flipped open the file again, but found no answers there. “Dr. Kaven, you need to feed. The blood will help you recover your strength, body mass and self-control.”
“Not bagged. I… they did something to the blood.”
“What do you mean? Explain. Do you believe this blood is contaminated in some way?” Was this just paranoia from Kaven’s mistreatment? Or was it possible that whatever they’d done to the blood had been done to the imported blood as well?
“The Reapers and their damn scientists. They did something to the blood. It tasted fine, but it made us all ill. Killed the others. The first batch of tainted blood made me sick. That’s when I started refusing blood. The others… they kept testing the new batches on the others and they all died. Violently. Horribly.”
“All this blood has been through our testing facility, but what you say is serious. We can look at it now to be sure.” He lifted one bag and poured it into a specimen jar. “Come, you’re a doctor. You can help me with this.”
Setting up a second examination scope and slide, Blake motioned to the chair beside him. Whether the doctor wished to help or not was up to him, but he set to studying the slide at once. Time crawled, passing in silence, but he found nothing. “The blood appears normal, rich and healthy.”
Kaven had looked some for himself and then taken to pacing the exam room. “Nothing?”
“Did you find anything unusual?”
Kaven shook his head. “No, but I haven’t much experience with blood poisons or pathogens. At least not with anything unusual. I didn’t know what to look for.”
Blake faced Kaven and laid out the truth. “I understand your concerns completely, but you will not be allowed to feed directly from a human when you are in such dire need as you are. It will not happen. Your only option is bagged blood.”
Kaven nodded, but fear laced his expression.
“I’ll test the blood myself in the most conclusive way possible.” He lifted the specimen jar and downed the contents in a long swallow. “Now we will both know if there are any ill effects.”

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