In anticipation for the release of We Own the Night, book two in Kristen
Strassel’s Night Songs Collection, Night Moves, is available for only $0.99,
August 25 -31.
Series: Night Songs Collection #2
Category/Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: 3/26/14
We bonded in darkness, over darkness.
Melanie Vaughn’s job ruined everything. Her social life, nonexistent. Her relationship with her boyfriend, a hostile roommate situation. She resolves to fix everything one snowy afternoon, but instead comes home to discover her boyfriend is already exploring other options. Blonder, bustier options. Rage drives Melanie to do the unthinkable.
When Soul Divider was on the top of the world, so was Ryder Maddox. When the band faded into obscurity, Ryder’s luck plummeted with it. In a last ditch effort to rekindle the band’s heyday, Soul Divider teams up with powerful vampire clan leader, Talis de Rancourt. In return for her services, the band pays the ultimate price for never ending fame.
Now on the run, Melanie meets Ryder in a middle of nowhere hotel. She never expected her teenage rock star crush to be as lost and as in need of a companion as she is. Their connection is all consuming, even before they find they share another kinship: murder.
The newly turned vampires in Soul Divider still have a lot to learn. The police and public begin to connect the girls that go missing or die in sync with the band’s tour schedule. Back at home, clues are also adding up against Melanie as well. Between constant media coverage and unrelenting attention from the authorities, Melanie and Ryder find themselves in uncharted territory.
Either Ralph had a better opinion of Milwaukee than he did of Detroit, or he thought that Erin and I could hold our own. Or he just didn’t care what happened to us anymore after last night. Obviously we weren’t safe from attack on the buses. Whatever his reason was, Erin and I were free to go off on our own.
“Can you believe after all the time we spent chasing after the band together, we meet up with each other here?” Erin chattered nervously as we walked down the busy road away from the parking lot of The Raven night club. “Think they have Starbucks around here?”
“Um, probably not.” Many of the stores in this neighborhood hadn’t been open for business in a long time. We walked past a nail salon, a Columbian convenience store, and a pizza place.
“There’s a diner up ahead.”
“They’ve got coffee. Sold.”
The diner was strangely quiet for being so close to lunch time. We sat ourselves and waited a while for anyone to acknowledge us. Neither of us were ready to really talk yet. We spent the time waiting for a waitress to acknowledge us as we looked around at the dusty Americana cluttering the walls.
“Would you ladies like coffee?” The waitress finally surfaced, placing sticky menus down in front of us. Maybe she meant for us to sample previous customers’ meals before making a decision. I pulled hand sanitizer out of my bag and silently offered some to Erin.
“You have no idea.” Erin said, rubbing the gel together in her palms. “Keep it coming.”
“It’s going to be a minute. I need to brew a pot.” The waitress walked away without asking us if we wanted anything else. Erin and I were both at a loss.
“Shouldn’t a diner always have coffee? I mean, isn’t that the point of a diner?” Erin spoke rapidly. “Oh well, at least it will be fresh.”
I noticed she’d already placed her menu aside. Granted, it was gross, covered in jelly and syrup. I had my old standbys at places like these. Chances were I’d order Eggs Benedict or a cheeseburger. I didn’t know if I could resist diner fries. Yesterday’s salad didn’t quite cut it. But Erin always used to take forever to make a decision.
The waitress returned with our coffees. “Have you ladies decided?”
“Yes, I’ll have a cheeseburger. Cooked medium.”
“I’m all set.”
“Really?” I questioned Erin. The waitress couldn’t care less.
“Yeah. I have some protein bars back at the car.”
“You can’t live off of protein bars!”
“Don’t give me a hard time, Melanie. I mean, I’m the one who should be grilling you. It’s just food. Who cares?”
I sighed. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” I did have a lot of explaining to do. “So what do you want to know?”
“When I told you about Jamie, it wasn’t a surprise, was it?”
I shook my head.
Erin looked like she might get sick. She swirled her spoon around in her coffee cup vigorously. For such a protein bar aficionado, she certainly added a lot of sugar to her coffee.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” She whispered, eyes wide. I don’t know if she assumed I had anything to do with his death or not. And I wasn’t looking for clarification.
“I couldn’t. It was just too awful, too fresh.” I couldn’t look her in the eye. I just watched the whirlpool of caffeine following her spoon, concentrating on the motion so completely it made me dizzy.
“So what came first? That, or you being here?” Erin continued.
“Are you here with the band, or just here?”
“With the band.” I bit my lip and looked up at her. Finally her face lit up.
“Nice.” The Erin stamp of approval. “Which one? Adam? Josiah? Not Thomas, he’s too creepy for you.”
“No way!” Erin slapped the table, making the remaining coffee in her mug jump. We stopped for a moment when the waitress brought me my burger.
“Can I have some ketchup, please?” Why didn’t they just keep it on the table? Something about this place was off. I said a quick prayer to ward off Mad Cow Disease while I waited for condiments.
“Mel, you lusted after him all through high school! And he’s like, not even back on the market yet after the divorce.”
“You make him sound like a used car.”
“You know what I mean.” Erin piled up spent plastic creamer tubs like a pyramid. “Tell me how it happened!” Her question tapered off in a squeal.
I swallowed the rest of my french fry before answering her. “It just happened. We ran into each other and we’ve been together ever since.”
“Are you traveling alone? I mean, we could drive together.”
“I’ve been riding on the bus.”
“Oh.” Erin’s face darkened.
This was the perfect time to turn this interview around. “So what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to see Drake.” She leaned forward, speaking in a hushed tone and looking triumphant.
“Does he…know you’re here?” Something about her wording made me think she hadn’t made much progress from our fan girl days seven years before.
“Of course he does.” She looked insulted. Rightfully so, I guess. I mean, who would go to Milwaukee in the winter on a whim? “He’s just, you know. Busy. He can’t always have company. He’s got a business to run.”
Erin had drank the Drake Kool-Aid. “So I hear. How well do you know Drake?” Did she know what I knew?
She smiled. “Extremely well.”
“So then you know?”
She sighed. “That he’s never going to leave his wife. Yeah, Mel, I get it. He can’t. It would totally ruin his public image. And there are other reasons, too. But I know the real him, and I don’t care. I’ll take what I can get.”
I hadn’t expected that. “Everyone knows that. Have you noticed anything, weird about him, if you know what I mean?” It was still too surreal to just ask someone if they knew their lover was a vampire in the middle of a restaurant.
“Oh, that he’s a vampire? Of course.” Erin dismissed it like it was no more trivial than her not wanting anything for lunch.
“That doesn’t freak you out, even just a little bit?” I know I still hadn’t gotten over it, no matter how much I liked it when Ryder sunk his fangs into me.
“Um, excuse me.” A shy, skinny, middle aged man overwhelmed by a plaid wool jacket and a trucker hat approached the table. I felt confusion spread over my face as Erin looked up at him brightly. It was her attention he was after. “I just have to ask, are you Trixie Temptation?”
“Trixie Temptation?!” I mouthed at her as she nodded and smiled at her admirer.
“Oh wow, I love your work. You’re so beautiful.” The man gushed. Erin assumed her alter ego and nodded at him with a frozen smile. What the hell was going on? “Could I take a picture with you? My buddies will never believe I saw you.”
“Of course.” Erin rose as the man took out his camera. “What’s your name, sir?”
“It’s so nice to meet you. Maybe my girlfriend will take our picture for us?” She winked at me. Skinny Dwight ogled me, trying to figure out if he knew my ‘work’ as well.
I sighed, trying not to grimace. “Sure.” Erin put her arm around the man and I captured the moment.
Dwight kissed Erin’s hand. “Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Temptation.”
Then he was gone.
“What in the hell was that about? Trixie Temptation?” I practically shrieked.
“Shh!” Now it was Erin’s turn to look annoyed. “That’s my stage name.”
“I’m a traveling model,” Erin explained. “It’s how I support myself while I’m out on the road.”
“What kind of model?” Erin was just a little bit of a thing with a pink streak in her platinum blonde hair, a nose piercing and several tattoos. Pretty, definitely, but not in an America’s Next Top Model sort of way. “I do fetish shoots. Artistic Nudes. That sort of stuff,” she said casually. She had a way of brushing things off that anyone else would consider a bombshell.
“Porn?” This was just too much.
“Not porn. Nobody puts anything in me. I call the shots, and I know my limits. I probably make more money than you do at the bank. I didn’t expect you to judge me, Mel.”
Now I felt bad. “I’m not, but I don’t like to think of you selling your body just so you can support your Drake habit. I mean, that guy’s got more money than God, you’d think he wouldn’t want you doing that.”
“It was his idea,” Erin said, quietly, as she finished off her third cup of coffee. “And face it, Melanie, we’re all selling ourselves in some way.”
About Kristen Strassel
Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.