Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (2 of 3)

Here's the synopsis for the book that would have been Garnet Lacey #7, which I'd called LADY IN DEAD:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense. As you'll see, each book builds on the last, which I thought was mighty clever. ;-) Also, I thought this one was going to be one of the funnier ones....

Ever since an incident when her Book of Shadows went missing and endangered her first vampire lover, Daniel Parrish, Garnet Lacey has been trying to practice a lot more caution in her Witchcraft. To that end, her day-walking vampire husband, Sebastian Von Traum, has been teaching her his precise, scientific art of alchemy.

Too bad she sucks at it.

Garnet, who harbors the immensely powerful dark goddess Lilith inside her body, isn’t used to not being instantly successful, particularly in an aspect of the occult arts. But when it comes to mixing potions and distilling herbal essences, she’s a disaster.

She’s blown up part of Sebastian’s sanctum sanctorum, broken countless beakers, and, worse, nearly poisoned the cats. When Garnet’s latest attempt starts a small fire that almost destroys the grimoire that contains the magic formula to Sebastian’s vampirism, he’s had it. His patience worn thin, Sebastian declares she’s the worst student in the history of alchemy.

Garnet knows he’s right. But she’s so angry (at herself, really,) that she has to stomp off for fear that Lilith will erupt and cause even worse damage. Lilith has been particularly on the surface lately, too, because Garnet secretly took a vow not to practice any magic at all until she could be careful enough to wield that kind of power responsibly. She hasn’t attended a coven meeting in months, and it’s starting to put pressure on Lilith, who needs the release that magic gives Her.

Garnet is standing firm, however. She took the oath because she wanted to be able to prove to Parrish that he was wrong about her. After the incident with the lost book, Parrish made it very clear that he considered her thoughtless and, in fact, dangerously careless. He hasn’t spoken to her since.

Now she’s afraid he might be right.

Dejected, she wanders around the farm for a while, but lately Teréza, Sebastian’s almost-dead/almost-wife who’s entirely crazy, has been acting even stranger than usual, ranting about The Mother and portents of doom. Whatever that means.

So, to escape the crazy that is home, Garnet heads to her usual safe haven -- Mercury Crossing, Madison, Wisconsin’s premier occult bookstore and herb emporium which she owns and manages. William, her co-worker and best guy friend, has finally found his niche. After having been abducted by faerie folk, he’s been teaching Irish shamanism as part of his duties at the store. But, even seeing William fails to cheer her up... after all, it was her fault that he was taken in the first place!

Strangely, it’s bad news that finally snaps Garnet out of her self-pitying mood. Her friend Izzy, who has started dating Parrish, comes into to Mercury Crossing completely freaked out. Seems that Parrish’s Blood Sire (actually, Blood “Mistress” in his case,) is in town and demands an audience. Having dated Parrish, Garnet knows how much Parrish fears this woman and also that he can not disobey any order she gives. Izzy fears that this other vampire-woman will take Parrish away for good, and she’s desperate for Garnet’s help in the matter.

Normally, this is where Garnet would randomly and thoughtlessly cast some kind of spell to try to keep Parrish and his Mistress apart. She’s determined not to use the easy way out this time, despite Izzy and William’s insistence that she just DO something NOW. Lilith doesn’t help either, as she’s ready to blow. There’s got to be another way, says Garnet. There must be something that she can do that will not only help Parrish in his predicament, but also prove once and for all that she can be trustworthy and prudent.

Garnet decides the first thing she needs is more information. Why is Parrish’s Mistress in town now? What does she want? Garnet doubts that the Vampire Queen would just answer the questions of a mortal, but maybe she’d have some respect for a thousand year-old vampire. And, Garnet just happens to know one of those!

Of course, Sebastian has no interest in helping Parrish one iota. They’ve been rivals for Garnet’s affection and, though he wouldn’t admit it, Sebastian is jealous of Parrish’s current relationship with his ex-almost-wife-now-zombie-slash-vampire, Téreza. Garnet is able to use that last bit to convince Sebastian, however. If Parrish disappears thanks to a Vampire Queen, someone will have to take care of Téreza, and that gets complicated awfully quickly if Sebastian gets involved.

Besides, Sebastian is a bit curious. Since he can travel about in the daylight, he hasn’t had much contact with the traditional vampire community. They decide that’s their in: as the eldest vampire in the Wisconsin area, Sebastian extends a dinner invitation to Parrish’s Vampire Queen.

She accepts, and the night comes for them to meet. Sebastian and Garnet have been preparing all day long, though they’re not entirely sure for what. Will she be expecting carrots or people to munch on? Does one address a vampire queen as Her Royal Majesty or Her Bloody Nightmare?

They decide the wisest course is to be expecting anything, so they have munchies in the form of veggies and ghouls (including Izzy and William, who refuse to be left out of the excitement, even if it means they might be someone’s snack.) Mátyás, Izzy’s ex and Sebastian’s half-vampire/dreamwalking son also insists on being part of the gala event, despite the awkwardness of seeing his old girlfriend with her new beau, Parrish.

The Queen finally arrives with Parrish as her consort. There are, as it turns out, many courtly rules of entertaining another vampire that Sebastian knows nothing about. Despite a rough start, the Queen warms to Sebastian (though she completely ignores Garnet and the other “mere humans.”) The Vampire Queen has heard of Sebastian by reputation and also because Parrish once promised her a copy of Sebastian’s secret elixir of immortality.

When Sebastian presses her as to why she’s come into “his” territory, the Queen tells him that she has two reasons. The first is to punish Parrish for his indiscretions. It seems he killed a LaCrosse Witch who briefly had control of him, (thanks to that missing Book of Shadows of Garnet’s again!) The murder was uncovered by local authorities and making the case go away took a lot of effort on the part of the Queen, who complains of having to cover for Parrish’s sloppy mistakes a lot in the past. Garnet bites her tongue, but gives Parrish a “ha, you’re not perfect either” glance.

The second reason is that Parrish has failed to reproduce. Everyone looks at Izzy, and William notes that it’s not from a lack of trying. Awkward silence follows that remark until the Queen explains that she gets her power from her progeny’s blood-children. Parrish has never made another vampire, and the time has come for him to do so. It is, in fact, a requirement for his forgiveness for his past. The Queen gives Parrish an ultimatum, make a vampire out of someone in forty-eight hours, or return with her to Europe as her slave.

Sebastian is confused -- didn’t Parrish turn/heal Téreza when she was caught in-between life and death?

As if on cue, Téreza shambles into the room and rushes to the Queen. Sebastian thinks it’s an attack and leaps to stop her, but the Queen embraces Téreza as her “child.”

Everyone is shocked, though Garnet remembers the strange things Téreza said about “the mother” coming. Sebastian is livid. Not only is he angry that his ex is under the thrall of someone associated with Parrish, but also that this vampire queen must have been sniffing around Madison for at least a year.

His fangs descend. The queen snarls back.

Lilith explodes everywhere.

The party is officially a disaster when the Queen is forced to flee in retreat, vowing vengeance on the house of Von Traum.

Parrish stays behind to help pick up the pieces. Garnet asks him why it is that he never made a vampire. He reminds her that his own transformation wasn’t by choice. It was an accident when he robbed a stage coach. He wouldn’t wish eternal twilight on anyone.

Meanwhile, several of the ghouls that Sebastian rounded up in case the Queen expected blood are desperately throwing themselves at Parrish, begging him to turn them into immortal bloodsuckers. Parrish and Izzy have a loud fight. Izzy thinks Parrish should just bite someone and be done with it; Parrish doesn’t want to be stuck with a stranger forever. A mumbling Téreza wanders around reminding everyone just how heavy that burden can be.

Despite having more information, things aren’t any better. In fact, Sebastian is convinced that it is worse. William notes that Garnet tried holding back, and the whole thing fubared. Izzy agrees that maybe it’s time for some old-fashioned, on-the-fly irresponsible magic, after all. Lilith murmurs that She’d be a whole lot calmer if some serious magic went down.

While everyone is distracted, Téreza is taken hostage by the Queen.

In the panic that ensues, the pressure on Garnet to break her oath is huge. But Garnet persists and says no way. She doesn’t want to make things worse.

The gang pursues Parrish’s Mistress. As they follow her trail throughout the Madison area, Garnet begins to realize that she has been irresponsible – though not the way she first thought. She admits to herself that her reasons for hanging on so tightly to her oath are less pure than she’d like. She’s scared. It’s been so long now since she’s done magic (and the focus has been so much about her screw ups), she’s too petrified to do anything.

When the gang finds themselves the victim of a frustrating wild goose chase, Garnet unveils her plan. They will do magic. Sebastian, Parrish, Mátyás and she cast a blood spell that enhances their ties to Téreza. The four of them, Garnet hopes, have more pull than one stranger, even if that stranger is the vampire who turned Téreza.

When they finally uncover the queen’s hideout, a big battle between vampires ensues. Parrish’s Mistress is able to use her powerful glamour over Parrish to turn him against Sebastian, Mátyás and Garnet. Just when it looks like all will be lost, Garnet’s spell kicks in. Téreza surprises everyone by betraying the Queen. Plunging a stake into her heart, Téreza “dusts” her maker. Parrish spends a few frantic moments expecting his own demise, but instead he’s suddenly infused with the mantle of power. As the eldest existing progeny of his queen, Parrish becomes the new “monarch” of his family line.

Unfortunately for Izzy, Parrish’s new responsibilities will take him away from Madison from time to time, but Parrish reminds her that vampires are ramblers by nature. It’s impossible to live in one place forever.

Meanwhile, Garnet’s confidence in her magic (and her ability to be responsible) is restored. She and Sebastian agree that he can keep his alchemy and his sanctum sanctorum to himself.


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