Authors: Katie Salidas
Tags: #Fantasy, #Urban Fantasy
Immortalis Carpe Noctem
By Katie Salidas
Immortalis Carpe Noctem
Copyright © 2010 by Katie Salidas
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Cover Design by Stella Price
Editing by Sharazade
Interior Design by Katie Salidas
Published by Rising Sign Books, LLC.
4600 E. Sunset Rd. 279
Henderson, Nv 89014
For my daughter, Alyse.
You bring so much joy and happiness into my life.
I want you to know you can do anything you set your mind to. Mommy will always be there to back you up and give you the support you need to succeed.
* * * * *
I would not have completed this novel if it weren’t for the support of my loving family and friends.
Nick, thank you for being the most loving and supportive husband a woman could hope for. I don’t say it enough, but I am lucky to be with you. Thank you for beta reading and giving me honest feedback, even though you knew it might hurt my feelings. Thank you for enduring the late nights, the uncertainty, and for talking me down when I felt like giving up.
Crystal, thank you for all the support and kind words. Thanks for enduring multiple drafts of this novel and pointing out all the things that needed work. I hope you are happy with the character you inspired. You are truly my best friend.
Joe & Sue Provost, thank you for your support, not just for this book, but for the long years you have stood by me. I’m proud to have such wonderful parents.
To my many beta readers, thank you. All of your comments, criticisms, and compliments helped shape this novel. It would not be what it is today without your help.
And finally, to my daughter, Alyse. Thank you for being you. Watching you grow and experience the world provides so much inspiration.
* * * * *
I hated waiting!
I shot impatient glances at my phone, checking the time displayed in green LED. It was late and I was restless.
Sounds of clapping in the background signaled that another poetry reading had finished.
It was a busy night at Café Copioh; but then, just about every night here was busy.
Copioh drew in a unique crowd from the nearby college. It wasn’t one of those fancy frou-frou coffee houses. It had a bohemian feel: colorful, vibrant, and eclectic. Each wall had been painted in a different color: teal, maroon, sand, and sage. Reprints of various famous artworks lined the walls, including a large mural of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, in black light reflective paint. A plethora of flea market-style furnishings were strewn about haphazardly in the large space, completing the relaxed, homey feel.
Mike, the manager—a stereotypical beatnik-esque guy, complete with goatee and long pony-tail—set down a Styrofoam cup filled with a dark, chocolaty drink. “You adding this to your tab, Alyssa?”
I smiled. “Yeah. I’ll pay up on Friday, okay?”
He nodded and walked away.
I was a regular here. Mike knew this and usually let me slide until payday. I could be found here almost every night. And so could my friend, Fallon.
I shot another impatient glance at my phone and sighed.
“Ten p.m. C’mon Fallon, I don’t want to wait all night.”
A loud, shrill voice spoke over the café’s speaker system. I cringed, hearing the start of another dreary poem.
Someone was almost always on the makeshift stage. Reading poetry was the custom here. I sat back into the cushions of my favorite brown threadbare loveseat in the front window, far away from the stage, and tried unsuccessfully to ignore the babbling. I never did care for poetry. Most of it was nothing more than nonsensical emotional ramblings, with too much use of words like
dark, black, emptiness, and despair.
A hum of mumbling voices nearby tempted me to listen. Eavesdropping here was like having a front-row seat to a taping of my own personal soap opera. Tidbits of gossip about people I knew piqued my interest, momentarily stealing my focus.
The sudden jingle of my cell phone startled me. I jumped to answer it, almost knocking over my mocha. I didn’t need the caller ID to tell me who it was. Fallon was well over an hour late.
“Please tell me you are close. You would not believe the day I had. I need to vent,” I blurted out, forgetting the pleasantries of a proper greeting.
“Sorry, Alyssa, I’m not going to make it out tonight.”
Great, what else could go wrong today?
“What? No! Oh, c’mon, Fallon. Don’t leave me hanging. I need a friend today. I got fired….”
“Lyss, I don’t feel like going out tonight. I’m tired and it’s already late. Let’s just meet up tomorrow, okay?”
I huffed, not wanting to answer.
“Alyssa, I promise, tomorrow,” Fallon said in her most sympathetic voice.
“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” I didn’t bother hiding my disappointment.
“Sorry, Lyss, I’ll make it up to you. I promise. We’ll go out tomorrow. You can tell me all about work then, okay?”
“Fine. But next time, don’t leave me hanging here by myself for an hour before you decide to cancel on me.” I breathed a disappointed sigh and pressed the end button on the phone.
The perfect end to the perfect day. Might as well pack up and go home
. I gulped down my mocha, waved to the manager, and walked out the front door.
A hot summer breeze greeted me: a mixture of coffee, car exhaust, and the lingering tang of grease from a nearby taco shop.
I set off across the street to the University. My apartment was on the other side of campus. Just a quick ten-minute walk and I would be home.
Being a petite woman, I never did like walking home alone, especially at night, and tried to avoid it whenever possible. I’d heard too many horror stories about college girls like myself being raped or worse. This time, though, I had no choice. There was no friend to take me home, so I had to hoof it. Reaching into my bag, I pulled out a keychain of pepper spray.
Knives could be turned against you and do some serious damage. I knew pepper spray was a good enough deterrent without having the potential to be deadly. If someone managed to get it away and use it against me, the worst I could expect was stinging eyes, and that was better than a stab wound.
UNLV was quiet at this time of night. The regular classes had ended hours ago and the walk-ways were empty. My finger covered the trigger of the keychain as I took the pathway leading toward the theater and music halls.
Just walk fast and don’t talk to anybody. I took a deep breath, steeling my courage while attempting to calm my nerves. I hated walking home alone.
Sounds of distant chatter caught my attention. Echoes of raised voices reverberated off brick buildings. It sounded like a couple of men arguing somewhere ahead of me. Tightening my grip on the keychain, I quickened my pace.
Almost home, just keep going
Small lamps dotted the walkway, and floodlights hung from the corners of some of the buildings. Normally, there was plenty of light on the walkway, but tonight something felt different. Things seemed darker. A light on one of the buildings flickered. I noticed another building’s lights had completely burned out, leaving a portion of my path in darkness.
I gritted my teeth and fought against the weak voice of my intuition telling me to go back to the café.
The arguing voices faded into silence as I neared the theater. An eerie quiet sent a shiver dancing down my spine. I stopped and looked around, checking for any movement in the shadows. Intuition, no longer a weak voice in my head, screamed at me to run. Something wasn’t right.
Probably just some frat boys. Calm down, Alyssa, no reason to get scared.
Reasoning with myself didn’t help. My heartbeat sped as I continued down the path, pounding hard against the wall of my chest.
“Excuse me,” a male voice called out from behind me.
I stifled a gasp and my heart skipped a beat.
“Excuse me, miss. Hello. Can you help me?”
Against my better judgment, I turned toward the voice.
“Sorry to bother you. I’m new here and kind of lost. Could you tell me where the library is? I’m supposed to be meeting a friend there.”
The guy sounds friendly enough. Okay, just give a quick answer and leave
I squinted, trying to get a better look at the guy who had called out to me. A skinny, twenty-something guy passed out of the shadows into the light. A wide-mouthed smile covered his bony face. He didn’t seem all that intimidating. I felt a little silly for letting myself be spooked. He looked like an average college guy: short spiky hair, glasses, and a generic sarcastic saying on his t-shirt. For a second, I thought I recognized him from somewhere. Maybe he’d stopped into Copioh before.
I took my finger off the pepper spray trigger. “Sorry, I’m a little jumpy tonight. It’s no problem. Just go down that way.” I pointed in the direction of the library.
Something tapped me hard on the shoulder. I turned around, seeing a blur of knuckles just be-fore a fist slammed into my face.