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December 2, 2011
Cassius: Blood Rights by Heather Anne Lambert
It’s Toronto’s night-time playground, and Cassius, a two thousand year-old vampire, is on the hunt for dinner. His meals of choice are murderers, sex offenders, child abductors, and anyone who really pisses him off. In this burgeoning metropolis of almost 6 million people, Cassius is sure to find enough variety to satisfy his deadly palate.
What he doesn’t count on is meeting Harmony, a beautiful female vampire who was turned against her will. When he takes her under his dark wing, Cassius finds himself embroiled in an all out war with Harmony’s maker, Sebastian—and in a struggle to protect his heart. Meanwhile, Cass’s meal-of-the-moment, the Valentine Killer, stays just beyond his reach.
From the steamy dissipation of downtown Toronto to the fiery hell of Hamilton’s steel refineries, a chase with high collateral damage ensues. Will Harmony survive? Will Cassius finally risk his heart for love? Will Vic the Valentine Killer’s rampage of death and terror ever be brought to an end?
Cassius: Blood Rights takes you on a dark and dangerous thrill ride that answers more questions than you dare to ask.
Cassius: Blood Rights
Heather Anne Lambert
I have not read any work by author Heather Anne Lambert and this is a great place to start!! Cassius: Blood Rights, which now I know is a series, which also means I hope to have the pleasure in reading and reviewing all to follow! This book showed amazing talent in keeping me, the reader, on the edge of my seat! Cassius is such a lovable character, you can't but fall in love with him! I got so engrossed in his life, I was trying to give him advice!!!
Cassius was such a lonely vampire, trying to love human women, and then turning them to be like he was only to find out it could not be done. After turning his beloveds, their vampire instincts took over and Cassius's heart was forever broken. So, he decided to wander the earth, killing only humans who harmed others and gave up on love. That was until he saw 'her'. Yes, Harmony walked into his life, and things would never be the same for the ancient, lonely vampire. She would bring love into his life but she would also bring an unwanted nemesis, Sebastian, into his otherwise repetitious life. Sebastian believes Harmony belongs to him and will do whatever it takes to make it so. But Cassius had other problems besides the domineering egomaniac vampire Sebastian and the fragile Harmony to contend with. Oh, if only that was 'all' he had to deal with! There's a thorn in his side that just won't go away and his name is Victor! And Victor is another whole new set or trouble! But I will leave that for you to find out for yourself. You will be like me and not know how Cassius is ever going to be really happy. Almost having total bliss at his fingertips, only to have it yanked away again in total defeat, dismay and heartache. Oh, and I almost forgot......there's Liz?
Author Heather Anne Lambert I find to be a brilliant author with a very vivid, wonderful imagination who has done a great service to the beloved vampire world we all love and cherish!! I do not say those words lightly because I do not take my favorite character, the 'Vampire' lightly.
I give Cassius: Blood Rights five stars *****
Nora Chipley Barteau
About the author Heather Anne Lambert
Heather Anne Lambert is a freelance writer of books, short stories, articles and copy for media and public relations. She is winner of the 2011 Canadian Federation of University Women writing competition. Her articles and short stories have been published in a number of hardcopy and online publications. Six of Heather Anne’s short stories are featured in the Aurora Writers Group anthologies, Aurora Storyalis II, and Aurora Storyalis III.
In collaborated with local artists, Heather Anne was instrumental in creating an environmental art book. All proceeds from Oak Ridges Moraine; Connecting with Nature went to environmental organizations to preserve green space in Ontario. Oak Ridges Moraine; Connecting with Nature was the winner of the 2009 Moraine Hero Award.
Creator of a new vampire memoir series, “Cassius – Memoirs of a Vampire, Heather Anne is currently writing the grisly sequel to Cassius: Blood Rights. Look for Cassius: Blood of Whitechapel in 2012 or visit www.cassiusvampire.com for upcoming Cassius news and events.
A treat from Cassius: Blood Rights
Except from Cassius: Blood Rights
Cass Meets Sebastian
We turned down a short side-street where I intended to pull a u-turn and go back to Bloor. I had just backed up and was preparing to turn when a man suddenly stood in front of the truck. He was tall and lean with long, black hair tied into a ponytail. His clothing was a very odd selection of 21st century made to capture an earlier era. They added sophistication to his unique style. His eyes fastened on mine. They were as coal-black as his hair, which made his pale skin even whiter. A wicked smiled curled the corners of his lips. He looked like a bully primed to take his frustration out on the first handy victim. He was obviously pissed. Harmony gasped.
‘Oh my God – it’s Sebastian! What is he doing here?’
Sebastian answered by grabbing the front of the truck and hoisting it in the air with one arm. Then he began shaking it, throwing Harmony and I around the cab like rag dolls. I grabbed the frame of the open window and pulled myself up and through it. The violent shaking continued as I flung myself out to the asphalt road, still warm under my shoes from the bright sun of the day.
I flashed to Sebastian and grabbed his wrist, squeezing until his hand began to shake. I am an old vampire – very old in the world of the undead – so any physical altercation with another vampire generally proves to be pretty easy pickings for me. Sebastian was strong, but no match for my physical power. Forcing his hand down, I guided the truck slowly to the road. Giving his wrist a final twist, I let go. Sebastian grabbed it with a grimace. Then he leaned in and roared loudly into my face. The force of the noise created a wind that plastered my blond curls back from my brow. I roared back and Sebastian found himself planted in the trunk of a tree across the street. I couldn’t help a smile of triumph – it just felt so good.
While Sebastian extricated himself from the bark of the tree, I checked the front suspension in the truck. It seemed to be okay. Then I turned to Sebastian, a snarl on my face. I waited to see what he would do next, but it appeared that the vampire was out of ideas. He bowed his head to me, acknowledging the strength and wisdom of an older vampire. At least he tried.
‘Sir, I don’t wish to trouble you, but the girl is mine. I changed her some months back and have been waiting for her to acknowledge that gift and come to me.’
I let something between a snarl and a smile touch my lips. Sebastian knew that if I decided to keep Harmony there wasn’t much he could do about it. Of course, there was the United Guild of Vampires to consider. We vampires are overwhelmingly hedonistic creatures that are far too involved in our own selfish pursuits to be terribly organized. However, a friend of mine – a vampire who was even more unique than me – had worked hard to ensure there was a governing structure for the vampire community. Laws were written and I could technically be called to appear before a Judicial Committee of the Guild if Sebastian decided to push things. But like I said – we’re generally monsters of the moment. Not much attention would be paid to this small matter. However, it was incredibly odd that Sebastian still waited for Harmony; that indicated considerable desire and capacity for focus on his part. I meant to staunch that immediately.
‘If you didn’t want trouble you should have kept your hands off of the truck, which happens to be mine. You probably did some front end damage. And the lady is not interested in having any contact with you, and certainly feels no need to thank you. You took something that did not belong to you and you are very lucky that I have been so lenient. I could have torn your head off! You’d best be on your way before I change my mind.’
Sebastian wasn’t keen on my advice and a snarl curled his lips back from sharp fangs, which grew and lengthened until they bit into the flesh of his lower lip.
‘I said that she is mine. I don’t wish trouble, but I also have no intention of leaving without the girl. I changed her, and under rule 37.1.9, subsection 2, of the Vampire Book of Law she now belongs to me – for at least five years. I have been most kind in giving her the freedom she required to adjust to her gift, but it was not required. Now, if you will sir, I want my property.’
Harmony was listening to the entire conversation from the cab of the truck and I noted how she fought the urge to help me. She sat bolt upright, impatient, and ready to jump out of the truck. However, I was definitely holding my own, and her ‘help’ may prove to be more of a problem. I prayed that she stayed put as I stood still, my jaw clenched tightly.
‘In my law book, no one owns another. Therefore, this woman belongs to no one and is free to go where she wants and do what she wants – none of which has anything to do with you. If you persist, I guarantee that you won’t care for the consequences. You are no match for me, so put away your fangs and leave. NOW!’
Sebastian hissed like a cat and circled me slowly. I sighed. He was apparently not bright enough to read the situation and do the smart thing. If I destroyed him, I may have to answer to the Guild. There would probably be little consequence, but I would prefer not to have to travel all the way to Britain to defend myself. However, I saw that there was going to be an altercation whether I wanted one or not. Sebastian’s judgment was clouded – if he was behaving rationally he would just walk away. As it was, I now had an unwanted fight and potential future complications to deal with. His eyes locked on mine. His voice was a hiss of malice.
‘I will take the girl with me tonight. I prefer to do it reasonably, but it will be done.’
I moved beyond the truck and into the dark street, facing my opponent, circling. I wished the fool would just leave, but that wasn’t likely to happen so I prepared to fight. Vampires are much closer to the pure instinct of animals than are humans, but still share certain characteristics, both behaviorally and chemically, that assists them in a fight or flight response. The chemicals that are released in stressful or emergency situations in the human brain are also released in the vampire brain, but the physical response is much more dramatic. Our superhuman strength and capacities for rapid, liquid movement make our physical altercations much more intense. I heard Harmony open the passenger side of the truck.
‘Stay in the truck Harmony – I’ve got this one.’
She hesitated, half way out of the truck, and I was about to shout to her to get inside when Sebastian struck. It was a hard and impossibly fast hit from the left, going for my throat. I blocked him and sent him hurtling through the branches of a tree one street over. A shower of leaves and branches fell, but before they hit the ground Sebastian had righted himself and leapt across the space in lighting speed, zeroing in on the posterior tibial artery at the back of my calf. His fangs got dangerously close to entering my flesh but I shook him off and grabbed him by the neck, bringing him within an inch of my face. My lips peeled back and my fangs gleamed in the moonlight. Something between a snarl and a growl grew loud on the quiet residential street. Some of the upper level lights in the surrounding houses were already lit due to the earlier noise. More joined them. There was no time to dally and enjoy the fight; people would be looking out their windows and calling the police soon.
My face began its own automatic transformation. My eyes grew large and the pupils a milky yellow. A long snout lengthened and flattened until my face resembled that of an enormous bat. Saliva dripped from long canine teeth and I opened my jaws to clamp them down on Sebastian’s bared carotid artery. He screamed, and the howl whipped down the dark street and through the trees.
I pulled back, looked into his face with interest. Then I spoke around the huge incisors that filled my mouth.
Despite his obvious distaste at the thought of being dinner, there was still a snarl in Sebastian’s upper lip. He eyed me with insouciance, fighting to control his words.
‘Because… it is an insult of the worst kind for you to drink from me. Yes, we are fighting over the girl, but to drink from me? You go too far. If you like, we will consider the girl a gift, from me to you – but do unhand me.’
I appeared to consider this option, and then disregarded it as I growled into his face.
‘People, human or vampire, are not possessions to own or give away, and Harmony’s certainly not yours!’
It is a tremendous insult for one vampire to drink from another – but I intended to send a very strong message to this young creature – don’t ever challenge me. I brought Sebastian’s open throat to my mouth. My razor sharp incisors slid through his tender throat as his screams filled the night air. Vampires hate being bitten by other vampires. It’s both invasive and dangerous, for we have the capacity to drain the blood completely and to kill.
The carotid artery offered a thick stream of blood, albeit tepid vampire blood. Sebastian must have fed very recently or his blood would have been ice cold. I drank deeply for a minute or so as Sebastian’s life played out before my eyes: his birth in Mississippi in 1793, the large but poor farming family he was born into; his decision to leave his birthplace for Louisiana when he was fifteen years old, and his rebirth as a vampire on a dark New Orleans night when magnolia blossoms scented the sultry air and life lay before him like a dream. He’d experienced success in New Orleans through a business partner – the same one who cornered him outside the St. Louis Cemetery. Initially greeting Sebastian as a friend, his partner soon held him fast against the fence in a vampire death lock, and drank. After putting up a courageous fight, Sebastian weakly accepted that certain death awaited him. But death was not allowed. The fiend cut his arm and dripped the blood into Sebastian’s mouth, forcing him to drink.
That night, in the hot, fecund Louisiana air, Sebastian was reborn – along with rage that could not be calmed. His maker intended for Sebastian to join him, not just in business but as a companion in his dark and lonely world. As soon as he could, Sebastian exacted his revenge by killing his maker. But the anger he felt when he awoke and discovered what he was still thrived within him like a heavy, salubrious poison – always burning, forever spurring him forward to exact punishment on an unjust world.
And Harmony? She reminded him of the young and beautiful woman he’d loved back then. They were planning a spring wedding and had put money aside to buy a home. He loved her deeply, and the separation that was forced as a result of his maker’s actions filled him with aching hunger. He had watched from afar as his sweet young fiancé waited for him, confused and hurt by his disappearance. He thought of going to her and telling her what had happened to him, but knew he would be unable to control himself around her. In a fit of bloodlust he would attack and kill her and he would never forgive himself for that. He finally wrote her a letter telling her that he loved her, but could no longer be with her. He instructed her to move on with her life, and watched as she did that a year later by marrying the man who had been his best friend. That was his last and only unselfish act as a vampire.
The wounds of this experience still festered within Sebastian, and his determination to have Harmony was his pathetic attempt to recapture what he once had. It was an act he had repeated many times; whenever he discovered a human female who reminded him of his long ago love. However, the love had been replaced by control and ownership – a hording of young female vampires. None could satisfy his desire to recapture his hopeful human life, but this compulsion drove him to repeat this pathetic pattern again and again. He was intensely unhappy, and had ruined many lives over the years.
Characteristically, I felt sympathy pull at me – it was apparently my curse. However, the way Sebastian went about trying to fulfill his longing for a satisfying partner was all wrong. He should have at least been truthful to Harmony about his intentions, allowing her to make the ultimate decision.
All of this in a blink of an eye. I pulled away and threw him to the ground about a half block north. Sebastian got up; his tangled black hair half out of the ponytail, his clothing dusty and torn. The self-satisfied smile was gone from his face. Rage contorted his handsome features as he backed up the street. He was almost at the end when he addressed me once more.
‘I will be back for her, vampire – and I won’t be alone.’
A wind began to blow, churning up the hot air, blowing Sebastian’s black hair around his head, whipping up leaves and papers in a tornado gale that circled him. Then, in a swirl of dusty wind and city street debris, he was gone.
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