Don't Write What You Know;
Write What You Care About -- Passionately!
- Belle Blukat
Dr. Bertram Hoel had ignored all the women he’d met until being introduced to Cira Landon at his first Science Fiction convention. Knowing he should ignore the attraction, he still takes the dangerous step to begin a relationship, aware that by doing so he is placing her life in peril.
Cira Landon wrote tales of vampire lovers unaware the handsome scientist she’d just met actually was one. Drawn to him, she finds her life threatened by an old enemy who would do anything to exact his revenge, including kidnapping her and selling her on the black market for rare blood types.
With no other options, Dr. Hoel is forced to appeal to the Elders for assistance, hoping rescue does not come too late for Cira and knowing if she is found, there is but one ancient tradition that may save her life.
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The Con Friday
Great. I stopped and turned my attention toward the main registration table littered with programs, various items for sale and a stack of lanyards, the faint smell of chlorine reaching my nose from the inside pool. One of the volunteers waved me over wearing the normal bright green ‘Staff’ T-shirt.
“Could you do us a favor and take our Science Guest of Honor here,” she nodded at the tall, and, I have to admit, good-looking middle-aged man, standing there with a lost expression on his red bearded face. “Up to where participants and guests check in?” Her round face gave me a hopeful look.
“Sure. I’m headed up there myself.” In fact, I was running a bit late, or felt like I was. It had been one of those days. I hoped I would make my first panel on time. Needed to check in first to make certain I knew which room it was being held in.
“Thanks!” She turned her attention to the next person in the already long line filled with folks wearing everything from jeans and T-shirts of their favorite shows or movies or fandom to those in beautifully handmade costumes.
“Dr. Bertram Hoel,” my charge introduced himself stepping away. He looked like the typical college professor wearing a brown tweed jacket and dress pants. The Scientist extended his hand.
“Cira Landon. I’m one of the local writers.” I took his hand, noting the odd chill.
“Pleasure to meet you.” He lifted my hand and lightly kissed it.
Okay, that’s great in romance in novels, but who in real life kisses a woman’s hand outside of actors at the Ren Faire? Secretly, I loved it and felt a bit of thrill at the touch of his lips.
“You as well,” I managed after staring into those amazing golden-brown eyes. Shaking my head, I reclaimed my hand and motioned. “This way.”
We walked across the hotel lobby. I’ve been here many times through the years. Granted, there had been changes. Today the white tile gleamed and the hotel employees in their smart blue uniforms and gold name badges smiled, checking in guests, despite the oddly dressed fans wandering about.
“I hear this is your first Science Fiction Convention.” Or so rumor said. I hoped what I’d heard proved correct and I hadn’t just made a fool of myself.
“I’ve had many invitations. This is the first I’ve accepted.” He had an odd accent. Not quite British, but close.
“Why is that?” I had to gather up my long blue skirt as we started up the dark brown marbled stairs to reach the second floor.
“I’m usually traveling. This is not my first visit to the Mile High City, although I will admit it has changed.”
Right. World renowned scientist in astronomy, biology and other fields according to his bio in the con program. He’d consulted with NASA and was friends with well-known international leaders in more countries than I would get the chance to visit in my lifetime. “You enjoy traveling?” I asked looking for a way to talk to Dr. Hoel.
“I did when I was younger.” Briefly he looked very tired. I noticed a few wrinkles around his eyes and streaks of gray scattered in his light reddish-brown hair. “I’m starting to enjoy the comforts of being home more.”
“I miss traveling.” Hadn’t been able to do much since my ex-husband Paul walked out on me a few years back. Thinking of him made me cringe. He’d be at the convention during the weekend and I had been trying to figure out how to avoid him. The man suffered from the delusion we were still friends. Personally, I wanted nothing to do with him. Not after the way he’d treated me while we were married.
“Why are you sad?”
“What?” I glanced at the scientist.
We’d reached the second floor. My fingers smoothed the satin fabric. I’d spent many hours working on my Victorian costume and wanted it to look good.
“You seemed sad.” His eyes searched my face. “I wondered why.”
“Nothing important.” There are times I hate being an empath. I could tell he felt concerned, yet underneath it I could sense he was a man used to holding and wielding power. And below that, an almost predatory nature that I found unnerving. “The line is here.” I pointed at the straggling group waiting to check in. I recognized my fellow authors, several local artists and the normal con folks who helped run panels or other events.
“Thank you.” He gave me a slight bow and waved his hand. “After you.”
I nodded graciously and took my place, checking my phone for the time, glad to see I shouldn’t have a problem making my panel before it started.
Dr. Hoel turned to visit with one of my long-time friends Dan Palma, an astronomer at a well-known observatory in Arizona as well as an up-and-coming Science Fiction writer. I had a panel with him on Saturday.
“Parties can start now, I have arrived!” echoed from across the cathedral ceiling.
Inwardly I groaned yet managed to offer the man who’d just arrived a smile and greeted him with a hug. “I heard you were coming Tom. Do you really have to make an entrance?” I teased him.
“Of course!” He grinned impishly at me. One of the most brilliant men I knew, and he rarely dressed up for anything. Today proved no exception. Ripped jeans and a T-shirt proclaiming his loyalty to a show we all loved, which had been cancelled by short sighted network executives. I’d bet they were still scratching their heads over why the program had a huge cult following.
I decided to make introductions. “Tom, meet Dr. Bertram Hoel. Dr. Hoel, Tom William Canyon. I believe you two are on some of the same panels.” I’d checked the schedule online earlier and had noted who was on what.
The two men shook hands. “Nice to meet you, Dr. Hoel,” Tom greeted, his quick friendly smile offered. Hard to believe he had gray at his temples making his short black curly hair stand out.
“Mr. Canyon was my father. Just call me Tom.”
“Tom,” Dr. Hoel agreed.
They lapsed into a conversation filled with scientific jargon and I knew I could ignore them. Finally reaching the small registration desk, I got my badge, program book and made a hasty exit to go downstairs. I knew I’d bump into friends on my way to my panel room. We normally greeted each other with hugs and quick catch-up conversations. Some folks I maybe saw once or twice a year.
As I reached the stairs, I glanced back and noticed Dr. Hoel’s eyes following me. A man hadn’t looked at me with interest for several years. It both thrilled me and made me very nervous.
~ * ~
Normally Bertram ignored women after he’d met them. Many had taken an interest in him for his influential position and the perception he had money. Truthfully, he did, yet he refused to live any way other than modestly when traveling. His tactic discouraged the opposite sex from chasing after him and he preferred it that way.
Granted he would enjoy a lovely neck now and again, his mouth watering at the thought of tasting their hot sweet blood. He’d have to be careful to when or who he hunted. No need to start rumors among those who probably read or even wrote vampire novels. His kind safely lived on the written page or in films. He had no wish to shatter the illusion.
He gave the green shirted volunteer a smile as he clipped his badge on his jacket pocket. With a nod he parted from Tom and decided to check out the hotel layout so he could make his panels on time.
On the upper level he found the rooms for the art show, the dealer’s room, main events space and a smattering of tables full of authors and artists selling their work. Several were setting up, smiling and chatting with each other.
The lower level contained more tables for groups, the panel rooms, and a couple where various movies, cartoons and TV shows would be shown during the weekend.
He wondered which room the lovely Cira Landon occupied. With a frown he chided himself on why it should possibly be important, yet their brief encounter had left an impression on him. Closing his eyes, he recalled her image. Tanned oval face with gray eyes touched with carefully concealed sadness. Long dark hair, whether brown or black he couldn’t be certain. Part of it had been braided back and secured with a sparkling barrette. He’d guess she was maybe in her forties, perhaps a bit older. The blue dress she wore complimented her figure and with a smile he speculated what it would be like to put his arms around her.
Thoughts like that could be dangerous and he shook himself, trying to force his mind away from the attractive woman who had drawn his attention. The best way to protect his nature—do not become involved too closely with anyone. Yes, he had a few select friends in Boston, the city he called home. Some were like him, others hired for their special talents and paid well to keep their silence or a hunter who owed him a favor.
His eyes drifted watching the attendees, some in jeans and T-shirts, others in carefully made costumes. In the center sat a big blue box and as he remembered, it served as the spaceship for a British program. While he kept himself familiar with popular culture, for the most part he didn’t indulge in the various fan driven activities.
His own interests lay in the arena of science itself and he’d spent his last two centuries attending various universities and collecting as many doctorates as possible. He’d lost count of how many he held and from where. Bertram loved learning and would continue pursuing it as if were a woman to be won.
When had been the last time he’d truly won a woman? He didn’t mean the casual hookups for the purpose of securing their blood. Rather the art of winning a woman’s heart for the purpose of romance and other pleasures. Pleasures he’d long denied himself. He could not recall the last time he’d bedded a woman.
Isaac, one of the few among their kind who had married and transformed his bride, being slightly older than Bertram, often told him not to ignore the desires he had. Not that he’d listened or even considered his maker’s suggestion until now.
Maybe the fates had brought Cira into his path to tempt him away from his education mistress. He certainly found his thoughts traveling down paths he had long ignored. Yet a relationship with a human had often proven a treacherous trail and he’d seen many taken down by hunters, who used lovely women as bait. Part of why the Elders had made peace with them over a century ago.
Bertram couldn’t afford to make the same mistake with Cira no matter how drawn to her he felt. Should Martelli, one with whom he’d once been friends before their falling out, discover he cared for a woman, her fate could be far worse.