Why are male vampires so complicated? (Journal Entry #21)

Most likely, whoever wants me killed has targeted me because of something I saw or read at work. That’s the going theory right now. Kellis has made it her personal mission—no surprise—to find the one responsible.

I still can’t figure out what it is, but I’ve been trying.

Of course, everything is in chaos after what happened with the Taniss Four, as they are now being called.

Like they are fated creatures with magical powers who will change our entire way of existence, or something.

To me, they just look like young females who are terrified and hurting, held captive—and let’s be honest, that’s exactly what it is—by what to them are monsters in a world they do not, cannot, understand.

Theo should be ashamed of himself. There had to be another way for him to claim his mate. 

He was called into a meeting with the Jaxiskulus Equa shortly after introducing me to Mickey, his Taniss female. 

I stayed with her to keep her company. I couldn’t not. She reminds me a great deal of Julea. I know she’s plotting to escape him as soon as she can. I could feel it when I got close enough to her.

I wanted to whisper to her about the rear exit behind our offices that led to the parking garage. 

I didn’t. Interfering between Rajnis is a major crime, after all. I do not want a ten-year prison sentence!

Instead, I offered her something to drink and some of the cookies the bakery sends up to the offices every three days. She took a cookie and thanked me. She’s rather shy, but I could see the curiosity in her eyes. She’s as curious about me as I am her, this new little cousin of mine. 

I’m not exactly not shy, myself. 

Making small-talk is not something I will ever enjoy doing. What am I supposed to say to the granddaughter of the human who had probably killed my second-cousin thirty years ago? No one knew what had happened to him. 

He just disappeared into the Colorado countryside. All we know is that he was near Leo Taniss at the time. And Ambrea said she just felt it. She’s a reasonably gifted seer, my sister.


This poor young female is no doubt wondering where her sister is today. The other two females captured—no other word for it, Theo! no matter what you say to justify what you did, you old jerk!—were this one’s cousins. “H-have you seen the second courtyard yet?” 

The girl shook her head. “I don’t think so. I was out in the gardens yesterday, though.” 

A strange look went through her eyes. I knew what she was thinking. How did Theo think he was just going to keep her prisoner here in the resort? 

I could feel her pain and confusion. And her anger. She was very angry at her male right now.

Theo had no doubt underestimated his Mickey. “Th-then I’ll show you. It’s beautiful. Only those of the ruling families and a few servants are even allowed out there. It’s where the few statues of the goddess are kept.”

More skepticism went through the green eyes. “What is this goddess’s name?”

“Kennera. It means ‘bright sun’ and ‘bringer of life.’ There are a few other versions in our language.” I locked my office and put a note on the desk in large enough print for Theo to read, telling him where I was taking his female.

He had practically abandoned his Rajni to a stranger, after all. Did he just expect her to sit in the waiting room and wait for him all those hours until he was ready to deal with her again?

She wasn’t a bauble to be put on a shelf.

Mak was sitting in the hall outside my office, reading a textbook. He had taken up that position instead of inside my office yesterday after I’d told him what I thought about the need for petty vengeance against the innocent.

Apparently, he was either holding a grudge—or giving me my space. I haven’t figured out which yet.


Why do they have to be so complicated?

Invisible Jume. Please. (Journal Entry #20)

I’m still angry at Mak. And at Theo. The idea that innocent young females should pay for the sins of someone else—sins that occurred before they were even born—disgusts me.

I met Theo’s female today. Theo was escorting her around the hotel, giving her a tour. I suspected the young female with the strawberry-blond hair—a similar shade to Julea’s—and the bright-green eyes was just going along with Theo because she is afraid not to.

Giving him what he wants so that he doesn’t hurt her. 

Why wouldn’t that disgust a female to see? 

I’ve long thought females of our Kind have gotten a raw deal in a lot of ways. Yes, we are significantly smaller and weaker than the males; yes, we are far more susceptible to infections and blood loss and the cold. 

But we aren’t stupid. And we should have rights to our own future. No matter how Theo and the other lawmakers give lip service, saying we females have just as much power in our society as the males, I’m not so certain that I believe it. Not any longer.

I’ve seen too much to contradict that over the last fifty years.

Of course, most of the males in Dardanos that I come into contact with through my position with Theo are ancient.

Anachronistic, apparently.

Just because I’m a female doesn’t mean I automatically need a big strong warrior to protect me. At least, not all the time.

I’m almost seventy—not seventeen. My sisters and I have functioned just fine without a warrior to protect us for years now, after all. 

Our father was more farmer than fighter. He could fight, if needed, and I’ve seen him do that once when Lupoiux came too close to our farm when I was in my twenties and Ambrea was around my age. They wanted her. Well, they wanted her, Alaun, Kellis, me, and Riv. But they’d followed Ambrea home.

My father protected us. With help from some of our neighbors and our cousin Uruses. 

And, I have to admit, having a few warriors to help protect me when someone has hired Olietus Black to kill me isn’t something I’ll turn down.

But how long can that seriously last?

Mak and Jesix—the warrior who guards at night—can’t be assigned to follow me around forever. They are warriors. With important tasks. 

Far more important than watching every move I make.

I’m ready to go back to being invisible now.

Taniss Four. (Journal Entry #19)

I know that this is a private blog—and it will remain that way. Thank goodness. I think I need this space to vent, to get what I am feeling out there. Even if no one ever reads it but me. 

The hotel/resort/ruling hall—why do I never know how to refer to this place I’ve spent my days for the last fifty years?—is in a total uproar. Everyone is talking about what happened.

What Theo, and the dhar, and Aodhan, and Cormac Jareth have done.

They were supposed to go kill four innocent humans last night because the humans were the grandchildren of that monster Leo Taniss.

I know most in the city don’t know. But Leo Taniss is an evil human doctor who has done massive experimentations on our Kind over the last forty years. Aodhan and Cormac have just figured out who was responsible in the last three weeks or so. 

That’s what the arguments yesterday were about. The council of elders wanted the entire Taniss family—even the children, some of whom are only a few years older than Alleah!—slaughtered. 

I don’t think that is right at all. And I stand by my words yesterday. 

I wouldn’t want Alleah to have to pay for my sins. How is that ever right?

Anyway, apparently, they found four young females when they hunted last night. 

Instead of killing them, they brought them back here and somehow made them Dardaptoan. Thank goodness; I worried and feared for the females I saw in those photographs. I am glad they still live! No matter how angry it makes the council. 

Yes. I’m not crazy. They converted these females from human to Dardaptoan last night. 

Even more, they are their mates! It is hard to believe that four Rajnis of the highest royalty were found in one night. It almost screams of the Fates.

Maybe that’s who are at work here? 

Dahr Rydere has a mate. Finally; some feared he never would.

So do Cormac and Aodhan.

And Theo. 

I know this is true; I saw them with my own two eyes. I was taking my lunch break in the private garden, speaking with my cousin, the head gardener, Uruses, when two redheaded females with bright-green eyes passed me on my way back to my office. 

I almost stopped and told them where the secret exit to the garden was, but as it was the dahr’s business, I wasn’t going to be stupid. 

I didn’t want to go to jail for ten years for interfering between the Equa Rajnis

Even though I really, really wanted to help them. One of them, I think she’s the elder sister, was trying to shield the other one, even as they searched the garden. Protecting her sister, like I would my own sisters if someone yanked us from our life.

There was blood on them. They were terrified. 

The elder sister was around thirty, I think. Not that much older than my Julea. Bloodied and afraid because of something their grandfather had done. The younger sister is Julea’s age. Babes, both of them. 

I’m so angry with Theo and the others right now I could kill them!

How are these young females supposed to just be happy to have found mates they never knew existed in the first place? To be mated to what to them have to be monsters?

Theo and the others have destroyed their worlds.

And I heard the council arguing. None of them are too happy with how things have happened either.

I can’t wait to get home to talk to my sisters about what has happened. See what they think.

If they even know at all. But I’m sure the rumors will get around like wildfire. Nothing ever stays a secret around here for long…

AUTHOR’S NOTE FROM CJ: Jume references events that take place in Dardanos books 1-4. If you’ve not read them, check them out now!

Today was wrong. So, so wrong. (Journal Entry #18)

Something big is happening. Theo was in meetings all day yesterday after several hours in the great justice hall. It’s located in the wing of the resort on the first basement level. I have a small office nearby. Theo’s much larger office and conference room are to my left.

I was kept busy, fetching drinks and making copies of things. Background checks. 

Of a dozen or more people. Humans.

I’m not supposed to say what it is that I saw. But the photographs are stuck in my head. It’s a family. They are all human. With bright green eyes. 

I think some of them have been doing bad things. Theo has been exceptionally solemn lately. No laughing or joking. Aodhan Adrastos—yes, the Adrastos in charge of all security for the entire town and county—had Mak helping me make copies. We were both sworn to secrecy.

The Equa Council met. There was a lot of arguing. A lot.

I had to go help take notes for Theo. I hate being in the justice hall. There is always so much palpable emotion in there. 

Emotions so strong I can practically feel them. Drown in them. 

Today was horrible!

The head healer, Kindara, is vehemently opposed to what is going to happen. And since it mostly involved the crimes that were done to her, I think the council should have listened to her more.

Some of them are just self-righteous, stuck-up jerks at times. They think they are better than everyone else because they are royalty. Many of the ones I’ve met through the years are just asses. No one I’d be all that proud to be associated with, honestly.

Not that anyone would have wanted my opinion. I’m a tenth of some of their ages, after all. 

Still, what has been planned makes me angry and sad. I hurt for the family involved. If someone were to come and do that to some of my family…

It isn’t right. It just isn’t.

I told Theo that. That I couldn’t bear to be associated with anything so horrific. It grew in me, the knowledge that what was about to happen was wrong. Until I couldn’t stand it. I had to make a choice.

Today, I gave my two-week notice.

He can find someone else to work in my place.

I’ve worked for him for almost fifty years now. This is the worst thing I have ever seen my cousin do. 

Even though it will shake things up in my family for a little bit, I will tell what I’ve seen, learned. They will agree with me.

Sometimes, you have to stand up on principle. Harming innocent humans who are less than thirty years old can never be right. Humans are so defenseless compared with warriors of our Kind. We all know that.

It is why the ancient laws exist—laws Theo once vowed to uphold. For fifty years, I’ve admired him for doing just that. But this? 

How can anyone think this is right?

I have some savings kept back. It’ll help until I can find something elsewhere. 

Or I’ll start throwing more pots. They are starting to sell well enough. I made three hundred dollars last month. Just off of four pots. If I have time to throw more pots, shouldn’t that mean more money?

To top it off, Mak and I argued. He was in favor of what Theo and the others were planning to do tonight.

I can’t understand it. The females in those photos were younger than Julea.

Young enough to be my granddaughters, if you want to get technical about this. 

I just…can’t.

How can this ever be right?

Vampire Lovers. (Journal Entry #17)

He’s kissed me four more times in two weeks. Soft, sweet, very kind. I think he’s being gentle with me. Slow.

It’s rather frustrating. I have never felt this attracted to a male before. I’m trying not to be obnoxious about it. I mean, I know he’s not my mate. And I am not his.

He has one out there. And at his age, it’s probably not unlikely that he is past the point of affairs and is waiting for his female.

That’s not unusual, right? 


It could be that Mak is trying to distract me from what is going on. They can’t find Olietus Black anywhere. The little turd has disappeared. Some think he took off to the Texas tribe. It’s a coastal village. Apparently, he has brothers there. 

I overheard Mak and Kellis talking about them. They are just as horrible as Olietus.

I hope a shark eats him. That would fix things, right?

Ok, so time to be serious. 

No one knows where he is or why someone wants him to kill me. No one knows how long I’m going to have my warrior babysitters, either. 

I am beyond thrilled at having Mak around. He’s started sitting next to me in class, too. Everyone seems to think we’re together. At least, temporarily anyway. 

I’m not sure how long affairs are supposed to last. Alaun says, from her research, they tend to last a month or two before the longing for one’s mate takes over and dulls the relationship with your lover. 

Kellis, that rat, just hummed when I asked her. 

It can be seriously hard to get an answer out of that sister of mine. When I asked Ambrea she just smiled and told me an affair lasted as long as both wanted it to. She had a dreamy, soft smile on her face. 

One full of memories. Good ones. 

I impulsively asked her how many affairs she’d had. She’s almost 124 now, after all. I know she’s had at least one. 

Three. She’s had three. Her first was when she was all of twenty-five. Her last was five years ago. I’m still trying to figure out who it was with. All she does is stay home and take care of our family, our gardens, and raise Alleah. I’m not sure when or how she would have met a handsome warrior. 

Unless it was the Lycurgus Equa’s brother. He was sniffing around the neighbor’s place around five years ago. Looking for some stolen jewelry, I believe. 

He did spend a lot of time with Ambrea back then. She was supposedly helping him.

That’s probably who it was. Matthuin Lycurgus’s younger brother. I can’t remember his name right now. Or whatever happened to him. 

He used to come by Theo’s office frequently. He hasn’t in at least four years or so. I hope nothing bad has happened to him.

I’m going to have to ask Kellis if she knows.

She always seems to know what’s going on around here.

It is rather irritating at times. Especially since she won’t ever spill her secrets. Completely irritating.

Kiss the stars. (Journal Entry #16)

Dinner…at the resort…was absolutely lovely. I…they have live music in the ballroom on Friday nights. I danced in a handsome male’s arms for hours. It was the first time I have ever done that.

I still feel like I am dancing, like I am just floating across the handmade, hand-painted tiles wrapped up in his arms.

But that’s not the best part. 

We had just finished spinning around the floor for the third time when I looked up. And Maryin was there! Staring at me with anger, like she used to when we were teenagers together. Like she was envious of me! 

No one ever envies me. Especially over a male. 

“I think someone must be jealous,” Mak murmured in my ear. “Let’s give her something to boil over.”

Then he twirled me across the floor again—so well that people moved out of our way and started clapping. 

It ranks up there in the top-ten best nights of my life! 

(Ok, maybe it’s in the top five.)

We finished dancing after that. And our dinner was ready. 

We spent two more hours talking. I didn’t make it back home until well after the night guard had arrived. (I felt horrible until I realized that the Adrastos warrior was just fine—and enjoying having Riv’s attention on him, too.) 

Mak walked me to my door. Then he stopped me.

Right there beneath the big old tree that was older than I am, his arms went around me. He said something about enjoying the evening.

And then he kissed me!

He’s only the third male to ever kiss me.

This was…it’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling right now.

The best night of my life. So far. (Journal Entry #15)

Mak. He’s proving to be rather confusing.

I think he’s attracted to me as well. I’ve caught him watching me, with a pensive look on his face. He’s…interesting. I can’t think of any other way to describe him. We can talk about things, things I’ve never talked about with anyone. 

Being a part of a family of seven sisters, there are some things I just can’t say without messing up the balance of things, you know?

But Mak listens. 

Not that we have too much time to ourselves. The drive to work, which takes all of eighteen minutes. The drive to the college campus north of the city is another fifteen after work. It isn’t much time at all.

But when Theo is sequestered in his office, and there is no one around, I get to talk to Mak. At first, I was nervous, but after a few minutes…

Talking to him is so easy.

Tonight…we have four hours before the night guard arrives. Since we don’t have class on Fridays, Mak has asked me if I wanted to go to dinner after work. At the most exclusive restaurant in the resort!

I’ve never been there. It’s just too expensive for us regular working class Dardaptoans. 

Kellis has. She turned red when she admitted that she accompanied Kierce there one night after their shift had ended that afternoon.

I think something happened there afterward. 

Kierce has a suite in the ruling Adrastos wing. I bet Kellis spent a few days there—and her nights, too.

She did tell me I’ll need to wear my best dress, though. 

I’m trying not to be nervous.

I don’t want to do anything to embarrass him.

It’s good to be curious… (Journal Entry #14)

It’s Mak. Of course, with my luck, it would be him.

Mak is the warrior who has been assigned to protect me. I almost fainted—ok, not really, I mean, I am almost seventy years old, well past the age of fainting!—when he showed up at the door an hour before I was scheduled to go to work. There had been a warrior assigned to watch our house while we slept, but I didn’t see him. 

Mak was going to be with me all day and all through my classes before passing me off to the night guard each evening.

Kellis told me he volunteered. Actually asked to do it. Well, he demanded to do it, actually.

I’m not sure what I think about that. 

He’s easy to talk to. I’m starting to relax around him. 

Mostly, he just sits in the waiting area of Theo’s office and reads. He told me he’s taking classes right now as a gift to himself because he’s curious about things. 

Curious about things. 

I can relate to that. 

He’s some high-level guard with the warriors that patrol inside city limits. Humans call them a police force, so that’s what we do, too.

We all know it’s about hiding from the humans in plain sight, after all.

Intellectually, I can understand why. There are just so many humans everywhere.

If I had my way—and unlimited money and time and no real responsibilities—I’d do nothing but take classes and stay at the library. Just absorbing everything I can find. Or I’d spend my time at the wheel, throwing the most beautiful pots I possibly could. I’d only leave to attend dance classes twice a week. 

Instead, in my spare time around classes and work, I throw my pots. Eventually, I hope they will sell. The Woald name will help with that, I think.

Woalds have always been synonymous with plants, after all. Plants need pots. Everyone knows that.

Mak: Just too intense. (Journal Entry #13)

“That’s not true,” Mak said in his deep, rumbly voice that was as smooth as melted chocolate. I just looked at him, feeling like a total idiot. “I think you’re just a little shy.”

He had that right. “I…I’m not certain why someone would have a problem with me. I just go to work, and classes, then come home to help my family where I can. In my spare time, I throw pottery and work in the garden. Or go to dance class. I’m practically invisible.”

“People see you, Jume,” he said. He still held my left hand. The printout was in my right. His fingers were warm and strong—and comforting.

“Perhaps, it has something to do with what you do for Theo?” Kellis said, moving closer to me. She sent Mak a look—one that had him giving her a smirk in return. But he let go of my hand.

I am not so sure that I wanted him to.

“Maybe you saw something you weren’t supposed to?” Kierce asked. “Does anything come to mind?”

“I’m just the secretary. I make sure he has the appropriate files when he needs them. But other than the name on the tab, I don’t ever read the files. That’s for his law clerk to do.”

I’m a nonentity at work. That’s what I wanted to say. But I didn’t want Mak to look at me like that. Like I am invisible.

He wasn’t my Rajni of course. But he was the first male I can ever remember being this attracted to. In fifty years or so. If this was even a fraction of how a Rajni bond feels, then I am almost happy I don’t have a male of my own. 

It would just be far too intense. I’m not sure I can handle intense. Not really. I’m barely handling being invisible.

Then again, if this was the way it was with destined mates, maybe I am missing more than I could have ever realized?

Grief for my future threatened, but I have to stay focused. Someone is trying to kill me. I know that I am most likely fated to die young—but I am not ready for that to happen anytime soon.

Far from it. In my quietest, most private corners of my heart, I have dreams of being a famous potter someday. Like Alaun and her books, I want to create beauty that people love. I’m not ready to die just yet.

“Maybe. It’s hard to tell. Like I said, I’m just the secretary. Theo has been acting as his own law clerk since Mishja left to care for her babe. It’s just the two of us in the office now. And there’s not been anything more than petty thefts and fights on Theo’s schedule for weeks. They did have a secret meeting last night—Theo, the dhar, Cormac Jareth, and Aodhan Adrastos. I left before they were finished. But…they’ve done that before. I fetched them drinks and cookies and put the phone on hold. That’s it. There was nothing unusual about anything.”

“We’re going to keep looking,” Mak said. “In the meantime, you go nowhere without a warrior to protect you.”

“I’ll be staying with her,” Kellis said. “She’ll be well guarded.”

Kierce put one hand on Kellis’s shoulder. “That’s a good idea, but there will still be a warrior assigned to your sister. Until we figure this out.”

I tried not to wince at that. Why do the males of our Kind believe females are incapable of protecting ourselves?

I wanted to sigh at that. Of course, I understood. All anyone has to do is look at the two males in my home to understand. Me and Kellis combined don’t weigh what just one of these males does. Even if we added Alaun’s weight to the scale as well. 

They are both well-muscled and strong, close to four hundred pounds apiece.


Very, very dangerous.

And sometimes, males are criminal. Targeting females. Assaults on females still happen in our city. Every year, there are at least three that I can think of. 

Maybe a big warrior following me around for a few weeks won’t be such a bad idea after all.

Mak is in my living room. (Journal Entry #12)

I sat down. I didn’t feel like I had much choice. These warriors weren’t going away until I answered their questions. Everyone knew that. Kellis was in the room with me, and Alaun had come out of her office to watch from the kitchen.

Kellis brought me my tea, and I sipped it slowly. “What’s going to happen to him?”

Kierce and Mak looked at each other. Kierce was the only one who spoke. “He’ll be tried in a tribunal with one of the minor courts. Theo Sebastos and his brother Thadd, as well as the healer Kindara, will testify about what he did to you.”

“I don’t know why he came after me,” I whispered. The tea was helping. At least, the warmth of it was. “I’ve never done anything to him.”

Kellis perched on the arm of my chair, no doubt to protect me from the big, scary warriors. Kellis does hover worse than any mother hen I have ever seen. 

“That’s what we have questions about,” Mak said. “I know he’s been causing problems for you in history class.”

I felt heat hit my cheeks. I thought I’d kept that private, other than Olietus’s rude jokes and mocking laughter. “He has been obnoxious, yes.”

“Harassing you isn’t just being obnoxious,” Mak said. “I’ve watched him myself. Made certain he didn’t follow you out every day since. He watches you. Wants you. And he’s calculating about it. I’ve waited until you were out of the parking lot each day to make certain you were safe.”

My face had to be burning red now. I had had no idea. If Olietus hadn’t attacked me, would I have ever known? “Th-thank you.”

I would never be able to look him in the eye ever again. 

Just as I thought that, he knelt in front of my chair. Warm hands wrapped around mine.

He turned my left hand over and studied the bruises and scratches on my skin. I had fought back. Hard. 

It just hadn’t been enough. 

“This isn’t your fault,” Mak said, anger in his eyes as he looked at the marks. “He has a history. We have assault records going back on him for eight years. You didn’t make him do this.”

“No,” Kierce said. “This did.”

He handed me a photocopy of a blown-up cell phone screen. 

I read the text quickly. Then I read it again.

Kill Jume Woald. No matter what you have to do. Make it look like an accident or Lupoiux attack. $50K in it. Half up front.

“What does this mean? Who would pay him to kill me? I’m practically nobody.”