I shared an excerpt from CHOSEN in my last post, so I thought I’d follow up with an excerpt from the 2nd book in the Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy, SHUNNED. To give you a little background: Jael has left Nevada to pursue her destiny. In this excerpt, Jael has just arrived in Minnesota to live with her Amish grandparents. On her first night in the Amish community, Jael is getting a definite taste of the “plain and simple” lifestyle. Enjoy!
Jael got up and moved to the window, pulled back the heavy drapes and looked out into the farmyard. A small sliver of moon glowed in the night sky, not enough to see much of anything but just enough to outline structures and make them seem dark and foreboding. Outside her window the branches of a huge tree reached close, brushing the glass with skeletal fingers at the slightest gust of breeze. Scrape, scrape. She leaned close and her breath fogged a small spot on the window.
“I see you found your father’s room.”
Jael turned quickly. Her grandmother stood in the doorway with Bruno. She had hold of his collar as though she were actually in control of the giant wolfhound. Jael knew otherwise, but she wouldn’t dispel the notion or Bruno might not be allowed to stay inside where it was slightly warm.
She shrugged. “I wasn’t quite sure which was Dad’s and which was Seth’s. They look exactly the same to me. Most kid’s rooms reflect their personality and preferences. I guess they were more alike than I thought.”
“Oh no.” Grandma released Bruno’s collar and moved toward the bed. “Those boys were as different as night and day. See?” she said, carefully folding back the corner of the heavy quilt. “I made Jesse’s quilt with a sky blue underside because he was always outdoors hunting and fishing, playing and working in the sun. He loved physical activity.”
“And Seth?” Jael asked, hiding a smile. What would the world be like if everyone had to hide their true self on the underside of a quilt?
Grandma smoothed the blanket back and turned slowly, a faraway look in her eyes. “Seth was a bit of a rebel. He loved to read books or whatever he could get his hands on. I caught him once with a magazine. I couldn’t believe he would look at such things.”
Jael cringed inside. She didn’t want to know this. If her uncle was a perv she would never be able to look at him the same again.
“Computers and strange technology,” her grandmother said, shaking her head. “May the Lord forgive me; I hid this fascination of Seth’s from his dat. I suspected the boy even went to the library and used those machines to go on the Internet.” She whispered the word as though on a scale of evil it was somewhere between torturing small animals and full-blown serial killer.
“And what color is the underside of Seth’s quilt?” Jael asked, unable to disguise the laughter in her voice. “Red?”
Grandma’s brows drew down in a frown. “Of course not. Now you’re just being silly.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just that the Seth I know is pretty straight-laced. You make him sound like a juvenile delinquent. I can’t imagine him breaking rules right and left. Although he is somewhat of a computer nerd, that’s more of a boring thing in the real world.”
“The real world?” Her grandmother said and reached out to cup Jael’s chin in her hand. “You say that as though you don’t think our lives are real. Now that you are Amish, this is your real world.”
Jael looked down. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.”
Grandma dropped her hand and turned toward the door. “I understand. This is a big change for you. It will take time to adjust.”
“I s’pose.” She didn’t know if she could take much more change, but she was here now and soon Amish vampires would be crying out for mercy.
In the doorway, her grandmother paused and looked back, her hand on the knob ready to pull the door closed. “I’ll have your grandda carry up your suitcase.”
Floorboards creaked like the sound effects of a bad horror movie as her grandmother and Bruno left and went back downstairs. That dog’s loyalties were like shifting sand. Apparently, the one who fed him was his new best friend. Soon she heard the rumble of voices below. This house was not built for keeping secrets.
Jael lay back on the bed and closed her eyes. It had been a long day. Exhaustion clouded her mind and suddenly she was swimming in an emotional riptide. The faces of her parents and Seth, Bree and Shad, filled her mind. She was homesick, heartsick, and lonely. How was she supposed to live here with strangers in a backward religious community that thought the outward appearance reflected the true heart of someone…or something? She doubted whether the Bishop’s followers wore a scarlet V on their chest to proclaim their true proclivities. And if she were caught staking these awesome men of God she would surely find herself on the wrong end of a witch hunt.
She heard more creaking and then a thump as something heavy was dropped on the wood floor outside her door. She quickly swiped tears from her lashes and sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. When she opened the door her suitcase stood beside the wall, but her grandda was already creaking down the hallway to his room.
He turned and smiled. “Gute Nacht, little one. You’ll feel better in the mornin’,” he said, as though he knew she’d been crying.
She tugged the heavy bag inside and hefted it onto the bed. Inside, she found her comfy cutoff sweats and t-shirt that she liked to sleep in. The creaking of the floor once again heralded her grandmother’s return. There was a soft knock at the door and then the knob turned and Gram stuck her head in.
“I’m goin’ to bed now. Is there anything you need, Jael?”
Bruno pushed his way past Gram, making the door bang against the wall. He jumped up on the bed, and stuck his head in her suitcase to see what she was doing. Jael took hold of his collar and made him get off the bed. “You sleep on the floor, bud. There’s not enough room for you and me both up here.” She grinned at her Grandmother. “I’d really like a nice, hot shower before bed,” she said, before remembering the situation. “Sorry. I forgot. You don’t have a shower, do you?”
“We have a bathin’ tub.”
“I ‘vill start the water and get you a clean towel. Just come downstairs when you’re ready.” She creaked down the stairs again.
Jael put the clothes from her suitcase into the dresser drawers and hung a few things in the tiny closet, then grabbed the pink chenille robe she’d brought that had belonged to her mom and went in search of the bathroom.
She followed the clatter of pans and running water that echoed from the kitchen and found her grandmother pouring boiling water into a huge metal tub sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. On the table was a white towel and washcloth with a bar of soap and bottle of shampoo.
“What in the world?” she asked, as though it weren’t perfectly obvious that she was supposed to take a bath right here in the open like a new-born baby in all her glory. “I thought you said you had a bathtub…meaning a bathroom set aside for private bathing.”
“I never said that. I said I had a bathin’ tub.” She waved a hand as if she were a magician with a wand. “The water’s right warm.” Seeing the alarmed expression still lingering on Jael’s face, she pressed her lips together on a sigh. “Don’t worry. I’ll put up the curtain.”
She went out on the porch and retrieved an old dark green sheet and hung it across the kitchen on hooks set into the walls on either side. “There. When you’re done, just scoop out the water with the bucket and hang the tub in the back room on the hook above the wood box.”
Gram kissed her cheek and turned to go, a slight smile turning her lips up at the corners. Jael imagined she was probably laughing on the inside at the notion that her new granddaughter felt she was above washing in a metal tub in the middle of the kitchen. It would probably make a great story to share with the other Amish women when they all got together for those quilting bees that Bree mentioned.
She dipped a finger in the water. Just right. Well, there was no sense in wasting a perfectly good tub of water. It’s not as if she had a choice. She supposed her daily shower after gym class at school would suffice on weekdays but the rest of the time she would just have to live like the natives.
There probably wasn’t another living soul for miles and peeping Toms might be few and far between in the Amish community, but she pulled the curtain across the kitchen window anyway before stripping and climbing in the tub.
At first she tensed every time she heard the floorboards creak above her, but after a while she relaxed, eased down in the water until her head rested against the edge of the metal rim and closed her eyes. She stayed that way until the water became lukewarm and then she quickly washed her hair and climbed out. The stove was still keeping the kitchen warm and toasty but she knew it would take forever to dry her hair before going to bed. Not much good to own a blow dryer if you had no outlets to plug into.
By the time she’d emptied the tub, hung it back in the porch room, combed out her hair by the stove to keep from freezing, and carried her things up to her room, she was beginning to think taking a bath was a lot more work than it was worth. No wonder those pioneers only bathed once a month.
Bruno had stayed by her side the whole time in the kitchen, probably hoping for more German Pizza, but after she gave him another drink, he followed her back upstairs and lay down on the little braided rug beside her bed. She threw off her robe, but then thought better of it and pulled it back on before slipping under the covers and pulling them up to her chin. She could actually see her breath puff out in the frigid room.
She closed her eyes and was just getting warm again when she realized she’d left the kerosene lantern burning. “Awww, no way!” she mumbled. Bruno lifted his head and looked up at her. She thought about leaving it burning but decided her grandda wouldn’t be too happy. He seemed like a frugal sort of guy.
After lowering the wick so the flame died out, she jumped over Bruno and crawled once more under the blankets, shivering. She was almost ready to have the dog sleep on the bed, if only for added warmth, but she figured he’d just suffocate her.
Just as she was falling asleep, her toe began to ache. She drowsily stretched her foot thinking it must be a charley horse, but it didn’t go away. Instead it grew worse until her eyes shot open and she realized what was going on.
A vampire was near.
Creeeak, creeeak. Movement on the stairs below her room was slow and measured as though whoever approached was trying to be quiet. The sound stopped for a few seconds and then resumed. She waited with bated breath, consciously calming her heart. She didn’t want the vampire to sense that she had been alerted. Her first night in this place, and she was about to come face to face with a vamp… in her grandparent’s house. Not what she’d expected.
Slowly and carefully, she inched her arm out from under the blankets and reached for the book bag on the floor. She had told Shadow the truth about shipping her stakes and weapons by way of UPS, but out of a recently acquired survival instinct, she had also slipped one special stake into her book bag. To disguise it against being taken for a weapon by the TSA, she had painted it like one of those giant pencils you pick up in tourist traps. It was now a bright yellow #2 pencil with a pink eraser top. If this vamp got any closer he was going to die of lead poisoning.
The creaking stopped right outside her door. She pushed the blankets back and slipped her feet to the floor. Bruno raised his head and he stared at the door as well, the hairs on the back of his neck bristling up as he gave a low growl.
She shrugged out of the robe, stood beside Bruno and waited for the door to open. From the dim moonlight filtering in through the window she could see the knob turning ever so slowly. The floor beneath her bare feet was ice cold and a shiver traveled up her body leaving gooseflesh behind.
“What are you doing here so late, Abel?” Her grandmother’s whisper was about as quiet as a rusty hinge on a garden gate. The floor creaked from the other end of the hall as she approached whoever stood outside Jael’s room. “I thought you were going to try and get along with your step-father. You can’t keep this up. You two need to reconcile.”
A male voice whispered something back but Jael couldn’t make out what he said.
“My granddaughter’s in there. You’ll have to take Seth’s room this time.”
There were more creaking footsteps as her grandmother returned to her room and their mystery guest went into Seth’s room across the hall, then the soft thud of closed doors. Jael sat heavily on the side of the bed, still grasping the stake, the cold floor now taking a distant second to her current problem. How was she supposed to sleep with a vampire right across the hall?
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt of SHUNNED. You can purchase this book or any of my books at most online stores. Also available in paperbacks.
*Jael has a lot of changes coming in her life, the lack of running hot water being the least of them. If you were going Amish, what would you miss the most from the outside world?