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Sneak Peek at Kiss Dark 01/05/2024

Kiss Dark Art Base

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Sneak Peek at Kiss Dark 01/05/2024

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the festivities. For those who celebrate Three Kings Day, may you have a lovely day. I shall be in the dream.

I wanted to address a few changes I'm making to the blog. I somehow got away from dating the posts, but dates are coming back.

I'm also attempting to organize the blog posts better. Some of my readers come for the publishing shenanigans. Others want the Sneak Peeks, Character Spotlights, and Story Description Reveals. Still others just want the behind-the-scenes business or craft information.

So, I will title the posts according to the central piece about a story for reference and to avoid repetition. Then the post will divide into uniform parts for easier reading.

Kiss Dark Book Cover

The Sneak Peek


This is a work in progress,

subject to change any time.

Read at your Own Risk! 

All Rights Reserved.

©2024 Ophelia Kee

Chapter 1 Another Evening

Leland, Before midnight, September 29, 2016

Even the destitute and homeless preferred life over death. Leland knew the truth as he hunted for his next easy meal. It had taught him to identify those who were sick or fading and close to crossing the River Styx.

It might be a crime to cheat Death, but the Reaper never refused a soul because it arrived early. Santa Muerte escorted them across the veil just the same.

Only those without coins failed to cross into the underworld. It might be best to avoid the truly lost souls. But it was far too late for Leland Shade to hear the advice.

Even if he recognized the macabre specter of his existence, Leland preferred his miserable life over the nothingness Death would bring. He was no better than the homeless and the destitute in that regard.

At least for the last couple of hundred years, it was true. He occasionally questioned if it was still the case. Did he still cling to life?

As he prowled the late-night streets of Chicago, seeking enough blood to sustain his existence, he reflected upon how true his desire to live still was. Leland thought he wanted to live. He kept hunting night after night, didn’t he?

He preferred feeding on fading immortals. The lingering magic in their blood boosted his own abilities and kept the thirst at bay longer. Barring that, humans and large livestock were excellent sources of blood, even if they lacked the high he received from immortals.

Was the hunt a desire to live or simply the habit of a lengthy existence?

If he found an immortal desiring to cross over or perhaps involved in nefarious criminal enterprises, he could play the role of the dark knight and dispense a vigilante brand of mercy or justice. It might grant his immortal existence more meaning.

Leland smirked at the thought. Was he Batman? No, he was a vampire hunting for a meal, not a dark knight fighting criminals in the streets.

If he wasn’t the good guy in his own story, how the hell could he be the crusading knight in someone else’s? There was serious irony there.

He frowned as he turned down an alley on a seedier side of the city, continuing his search. The alley curved beyond an overflowing dumpster, and Leland carefully picked his way around the trash so he could see what lay beyond. At five feet eleven inches tall, he could see over the heads of most people, but the mountain of garbage atop the trash bin blocked even a taller man’s view.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be amusing if he was the villain in his own biography. There might be aspects of his life which were immutable, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t be a better man. He actively strove for that goal each night.

The dragon necromancer, known in the immortal realm as Blade, spoke those words to him when they crossed paths once, decades ago. The man walked a dark path as black, if not worse, than what Leland trod. His words still rang true. Leland could always choose to be a better man.

Perfect was an impossibility. Leland didn’t strive for it. Rather, seeking an improved version of the man he was each night was the worthy, if sometimes unattainable, goal. He couldn’t always be a better version of himself, but he wouldn’t throw in the towel because he backslid occasionally. No, he redoubled his efforts instead.

When he stepped past the overflowing dumpster, he realized the rest of the alley was nothing more than a turnaround for the garbage truck late in arriving. If it failed to arrive soon, the turnaround may be as full of refuse as the dumpster.

The homeless preferred alleys with two exit points, so they could run from the police or worse things in the dream. He scanned the space to be sure he wasn’t missing anything and turned to leave when he knew he wouldn’t feed from that avenue.

The two young vampires blocking his exit when he made his way past the dumpster once again interrupted his plans. Leland sighed. It wasn’t a fair fight, even if it was two against one. He knew he held the upper hand.

Dispatching them wouldn’t be easy, but in that instant, the irrefutable answer to the existential question concerning his will to live manifested itself in an ensorcelled sword. He wanted to live.

The blade landed in his palm with an audible smack as he reached for it in the dream. He bared his fangs and allowed his full vampire guise to display for the two young fools.

They may as well face Dracula himself for all the chances they had to be victorious against the living legend of Leland Mystic Shade. He didn’t practice the sword every evening merely as an exercise routine.

He almost laughed aloud at his internal, overly dramatic monologue as they advanced toward him. Living legends didn’t have to scrounge for meals, give one up to defend their lives, and slink home to sleep for healing on the regular. Living legends shouldn’t be targets for arbitrary execution to gain glory in some enclave Leland had never heard of.

He left off thinking and engaged in the fight. The dance of life and death once begun had only one resolution. The losers burned to ashes on the Chicago wind with the coming of the sun. Leland needed to decide if he would be a loser or remain victorious in his sad life.

His sword whirled through the evening air, meeting the blades of his adversaries. Fighting two at once took skill and usually meant he accepted minor wounds in a bid for victory. He was immortal. He could heal.

Leland chose not to back away. He learned his lesson the hard way.

Leaving his foes to make a report about his whereabouts or his recent hunts meant more adversaries. No reports and no returning vampires struck fear in his would-be opponents, and he remained free from harassment for longer periods of time.

The tradeoff for choosing not to move away from Chicago and reinvent himself manifested in fighting random glory seekers while hunting for a decent meal each evening. But Chicago was home, and Leland, like many immortals, preferred to stake a claim over his territory.

A little over an hour later, he limped into his shower to wash away the blood and grime from the fight. True to his determination to remain walking among the living, he’d won the battle of swords, but the victory was a hollow one, having ended the existence of two young vampires.

His short-lived remorse faded away as the brown and red soap suds swirled around the shower drain. He hadn’t asked to be their target. The two young vampires got what they came for.

The thirst rose fiercely, but the need for healing sleep and the coming of the dawn meant he would wait until the following evening. Leland only hoped he healed enough to hunt well. If not, the cattle ranch outside of DeKalb might still be safe. He hadn’t fed from the cows recently.

The thirst wouldn’t end him. But it made it difficult to think straight. It was more dangerous in some respects than consuming too much or drinking from other vampires and gaining no sustenance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from blood lust, the thirst was ever more present and far more likely to get him killed. It never led to good choices. Never.

Leland sighed as he shut off the water in the shower. It didn’t matter whether it led to good or bad choices. It was the way things were. He would hunt following tomorrow’s interview for a new personal assistant. It would have to do.

He might get the office back on the right track if things went well. A man could hope. Leland had aspirations for success. His realism tempered them.

He skipped the towel and his toothbrush. Who would notice besides the man in his mirror if he had morning breath? It wasn’t as if his teeth would rot away. Being immortal had some advantages.

He fell into bed, allowing sleep to overtake him. He needed to heal and face another evening...

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Kiss Dark. Did you want more? The first three chapters have published to the Mystic Dark Miniseries. They are free to read. Head over and continue reading.

Vampire Panther Book Cover

The Current Publishing Shenanigans

I'm still slogging through edits on Vampire Panther. The good news? It's at 95% complete. The tale in the Royal Council Miniseries has only a couple of chapters left to post. I had hoped to get it finished before my vacation ended, but that's okay. I'll have the ebook republished before MLK day.

Haunted Echoes e-books should be up for preorder. If you want to purchase it before it launches everywhere, it's available from now. It will launch on Google Books next so I can craft an audiobook, then paperbacks and other retailers are coming soon. As always, BookFunnel delivers for

Use the coupon 25% off Haunted Echoes Code: G7LW7BJA7W at checkout and get the blog reader discount from

Should you prefer to wait, it will roll out to your favorite retail platform near the end of the month. Don't forget, you can always request a copy from your library.

New chapters of Synner & Sainte are still posting every weekend to Apocalypse Denied.

New chapters of Kiss Dark will begin publishing to Mystic Dark every weekend as well.

Angry King will begin publishing to Royal Council on Jan 12 and will post new chapters every chance I get.

Quest for the Valkyries is wrapping up on Substack and will begin releasing to the Valkyrie Riders miniseries the weekend following the publishing of Angry King as an ebook.

Look for the ebook boxed set of Royal Council this summer!

Leaving a review is a gift

I best get back to writing before this post gets as long as the dream is wide. Thanks to all who support the dream. You make it far better than it could ever be without you. Until we chat again, allow me to leave you with the oft repeated plea: when you read please be kind and leave your reviews. They matter a great deal for social proof. Thank you all and as always, know you are always welcome to the dream...

Be Careful!

Happy reading,

Ophelia Kee

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