The Tiny Vampire From Outer Space That’s Bitey VII: Undead Salvation (Shadow Conn Tiny Vampire Book 7)
Marcus' clan is growing. The childer are hatching, and the homeless shelter is becoming profitable. In fact, it's so profitable that he's opening a women's shelter behind his homeless shelter so that he can start live food production, but Marcus' unfinished business on Umbra and Chivitas is starting to come back to haunt him, threatening the existence of his current family.
Available as an ebook, paperback, hardback and audiobook
Marcus woke before the sun set. He dressed in jeans and a black button shirt before walking outside with the Erector. He needed to get the wall around their property rebuilt.
He decided to start at the back wall and work his way around. Marcus finished half the wall and was standing at the front of the property when he heard running that could only be Shadow.
Marcus released the trigger and set it on the ground. He caught Shadow when she jumped on him. “Awake?”
“Been awake,” Shadow said.
“Are you fed?”
“Is that one of my t-shirts?” Marcus asked.
Shadow grinned. “It is.”
“Did you come out here to tell me about the sacs?” Marcus asked.
“The next one is hatching. Oliver and Alera are watching it,” Shadow said.
Marcus set her on her feet then picked up the Erector. “Let’s go see our next childe emerge.”
Shadow hopped in front of Marcus.
“Go on down. I’m going to put this in the cabin,” Marcus said.
Shadow walked down into the cellar and over to their third childe’s coffin.
“Is this a male or a female?” Alera asked.
“I’m not sure,” Shadow said. “I think this is one of the ones we didn’t know.”
Marcus stepped behind Shadow. “How’s it doing?”
“Got some good cracks, and I see movement,” Oliver said.
“There it goes.” Shadow watched as the vampire in the sac stretched out. She could see feet and hands.
Marcus pulled the big sac chunks off their new childe and tossed them to the dirt floor. “It’s female. That means the last one in that set is male.”
“And these were the four we announced to the instersteller space program?” Shadow asked.
“They are, but they know nothing of our other ten,” Marcus said.
“Did you want to feed her, Shadow?” Oliver held up the bloodbag.
Shadow looked at the bloodbag. “Uh… No. That’s okay.”
“She’s nervous.” Marcus took the bloodbag from Oliver. He stuck the straw in their new childe’s mouth and opened the valve. “That’s all there is to it. She’ll drink it.”
“She’s already eating,” Shadow said.
“They’re usually pretty hungry after they hatch,” Oliver said. “But no more than half a bag. This is just to get their stomachs full and processing blood.”
Marcus watched as their new little girl sucked the blood. When the bag was half empty, he closed the valve and pulled the straw out of her mouth.
“Step back,” Alera said.
“What’s that gurgling?” Shadow asked as she took a step back.
“Air,” Alera said. “Marcus, load the straw first.”
Shadow jumped and squeaked when she heard a big burp.
Marcus looked into the coffin. “She spit some of it back up.”
Alera grabbed a rag out of her back pocket and wiped the childe’s mouth. “She’s okay.”
“Does she need more?” Marcus asked.
“She was just getting rid of the air,” Alera said. “She’s full.”
Marcus closed the lid. “In six months, they’ll be fully grown.”
“How’s yours?” Shadow asked Oliver and Alera.
“We need to look,” Alera said.
They walked down to Oliver and Alera’s coffin.
Marcus opened it. “This one is hatching. I think you need the rest of this bag.”
Alera took the bag from Marcus. “This is the girl.”
“I’m glad you said something, Shadow,” Oliver said as the sac flexed and cracked. He removed a couple big pieces. “Yep. This is the girl.” Oliver opened the valve and loaded the straw before sticking it in the childe’s mouth.
Shadow watched. “Is she eating?”
“No,” Marcus said and frowned.
Oliver squeezed the bag. “Let’s see if that helps. Usually they latch on the minute it touches their tongue.”
“Still not eating,” Alera said.
“Is it too young to eat?” Shadow asked.
“They should be able to eat the minute they break out,” Oliver said.
Shadow picked up the childe’s hand. “Marcus.”
Marcus looked. The childe had three large fingers. “Is that hand slimy?”
“No, it’s dry,” Shadow said.
Marcus moved to the childe’s feet and looked. Two toes and they both ended in claws. “Alera, is this normal for your breed?”
Alera looked at the childe’s feet. “No.” She sighed. “It’s not.”
Oliver pulled the straw out of his childe’s mouth. He handed the bloodbag to Marcus and pulled the rest of the sac away from her body. It looked like she had all of her bones, but the concaveness of the stomach told him that none of the internal organs developed. “It’s no good.”
“The sac looked good,” Alera said as she stared at her childe.
“We have to stake it, Oliver,” Marcus said.
Oliver shook his head. “She’s already ashing.”
Shadow turned her head when she heard Alera run up the stairs.
“Go take care of Alera. We’ll clean this up,” Marcus said.
“This is awful,” Shadow said.
“It is.” Marcus handed the bloodbag to Shadow and grabbed a shovel from next to the wall. He scooped the ash out and carried it up the stairs where he tossed it on the ground. It took him three trips before he had all the ash removed from the coffin. “Dump that blood on their other sac.”
Shadow opened the valve and dumped the rest of the blood on Oliver and Alera’s second sac. “What causes that?”
“Nothing specific. Sometimes the deformities aren’t bad enough to notice until they hatch,” Marcus said. “But if I had to guess, it was lack of seed in the early nights.”
Shadow closed the lid. “Will any of ours do that?”
“It’s a possibility,” Marcus said. “Procreating like this is a lot harder than the books make it seem. They only grow and develop when you eat, or I give them seed.”
“Which one is better?” Shadow asked.
“My seed. It lasts longer, and it’s used to develop their bones and internal organs,” Marcus said.
“And they were fighting during this one,” Shadow said.
“I would say it was a lack of early feeding and seeding,” Marcus said. “Her first one took 75 years. That took a a few weeks, I think,” Marcus said.
“The true success rate of mated childer is less than fifty percent,” Marcus said. “And I knew that before we started.”
“What’s our success rate?” Shadow asked.
“About seventy percent,” Marcus said. “Although, you could argue that one of those failures wasn’t our fault.”
“So, we could lose four,” Shadow said.
“We could,” Marcus said. “Three or four.”
“Could I run out of sacs?” Shadow asked.
“I’ve never heard of that happening,” Marcus said. “But don’t think about this too hard. We’ll have all the childer we want.”
“I hope their next one is good.”
“So do I,” Marcus said. He led Shadow out of the cellar and closed the doors. “I’m going to get the Erector off the table and work on the wall. I want you to pack a bag. Quietly. We’ll spend tonight and tomorrow in the stone house to give them some privacy. You can get that expellation book off the table if you want. We can see what it says.”
Shadow walked into the cabin and upstairs. She could hear Alera sobbing in her and Oliver’s bedroom. She got to the top of the stairs and turned for her and Marcus’ bedroom when she heard the door open.
“Shadow,” Oliver said.
Shadow stopped and looked at Oliver. “Do you need something?”
“Could you get me an Umbra one?” Oliver asked.
Shadow ran down the stairs to the kitchen. She hit the Umbra one button and waited for it to appear. Then, she ran upstairs with the bottle. “Is she okay?”
Oliver stepped out in the hall. “She’s almost inconsolable.”
Shadow handed him the food. “Is there anything we can do?”
“No, but I have to stay with her tonight. I can’t leave her alone,” Oliver said quietly.
“Marcus is going to work on the wall. I’m going to pack a bag. He thought you might like the cabin to yourself tonight.”
“I do think we could use some quiet time. She didn’t say much about it, but she was looking forward to that childe,” Oliver said.
“We dumped the rest of that bag on your other sac. There were no cracks,” Shadow said.
“Thank you,” Oliver said. “We’ll come by the stone house tomorrow night once she feels better.”
“Are you okay?” Shadow asked.
“I’m doing better than Alera,” Oliver said.
“We’ll be on the property. Marcus wants to lay low for a few nights, but we can do that at the stone house,” Shadow said. “If you need something, let us know.”
“I’m sorry, Oliver.”
“I know you are,” Oliver said. “We’ll be okay. Just give us some time. If we need anything, I’ll let you know.”
Shadow watched as Oliver walked into the room and closed the door. She walked into her and Marcus’ room and packed a bag for him and a bag for herself. She stopped in the kitchen and grabbed six bloodbags and the advanced expellery book before walking out of the cabin.
She was halfway to the stone house when she realized she packed her sandals and shoes and forgot to put a pair on. Luckily, the ground wasn’t overly sharp. She was just going to be dirty.
Shadow walked into the stone house. She set the bags on the kitchen table while she put the bloodbags in the fridge. All the electricity appeared to still be on from the other night.
Once she was finished, she took the bags upstairs and put them in the largest room.
Shadow found Marcus on the other side of the property working on the wall with the Erector. She looked at the wall. It was fifteen feet high with two foot iron spikes. “Marcus.”
“Yes,” he said as he continued to rebuild the wall with the Erector.
“Is it lethal enough?”
“No,” Marcus said. “But it’ll do. How’s Alera?”
“Sad,” Shadow said. “I got her an Umbra one. Oliver said he has to stay with her tonight.”
“I expected that,” Marcus said. “She lost her first childe after a thousand year dry spell.”
“She has another, and she can expel more,” Shadow said.
“She knows that,” Marcus said as he stepped two feet to the right so he could build more wall. He paused and listened to the bond. Shadow was thinking something, but it wasn’t entirely clear. “Do you miss our first sac?”
“The one we didn’t know about?” Shadow asked.
“Yes,” Marcus said.
“I don’t think so,” Shadow said.
“That one scared you, didn’t it?” Marcus asked.
“What about the one we knew about?” Marcus asked.
“I’m still upset over that one too,” Marcus said.
“You are?” Shadow asked.
“I am, but we went on to expell more,” Marcus said. “Oliver and Alera will have more childer, but we need to give them time to heal. How long did it take us to heal?”
“A couple nights,” Shadow said then looked at the ground. “Until now.”
Marcus pulled her into his arms. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I wanted that one.”
Marcus sat with his back against the wall and pulled her into his lap. She was starting to shake. “I know you did. So did I.” He held her tightly as she sobbed. Marcus inwardly cursed. He thought she was over this. Hell, he thought he was over it. He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. “Just let it all out.” It was then that he felt Oliver.
[How’s Shadow?] Oliver asked in nearly inaudible mental tones.
[Reliving the death of our first sac,] Marcus said. [How’s Alera?]
[Not well. My apologies. I know you don’t like telepathy, but Shadow didn’t look good when she came up here to get your things,] Oliver said. [I didn’t want her to…]
[Be alone. I understand,] Marcus said. [I have her.]
[How are you holding up?] Oliver asked.
[Probably about the same as you,] Marcus said.
[That well...] Oliver said.
Marcus started to say something when he heard Shadow hic. [One second. She’s about to puke.] He hated it when Shadow was this upset. He lifted her and turned her just as she emptied her stomach onto the ground.
Marcus held her. “You’re okay.”
[Is she all right?] Oliver asked.
[She just made a big blood-puddle, but she’s all right.] Marcus said. [I think we may all need to take a couple nights and rest.]
[I think so. I told Shadow we’d come by the stone house tomorrow night.]
[That’s fine,] Marcus said as he continued to hold Shadow. [Alba said she did something to Shadow to help her with the grief. Could that have worn off?]
Oliver contemplated. [Shit. Yes. I know what that is. It’s not easy to explain, but seeing Alera’s childe ash could have undone it.]
[I need to treat this like…]
[Like you lost that childe tonight,] Oliver said. [I’m sorry, Marcus. I didn’t know she did that. I could have warned you. I can redo it, if you want.]
[I’m going to let her work through it. She needs to deal with it, because I don’t want to deal with this again,] Marcus said. [We can get together tomorrow night and figure out what we need to do next.]
[All right. I need to get back to giving Alera my full attention,] Oliver said.
Marcus held Shadow and stroked her hair. He was upset and pissed. He could understand Oliver not catching this. He would have had to have been looking for it. Marcus should have caught it. It had happened before he and Shadow had Bonded, but he hadn’t seen the blocks when they Bonded. Now, she was sobbing like they’d lost that childe tonight, and it’d been more than six months and sixteen childer ago.
It infuriated Marcus. If he ever saw Alba again, he’d stake her. Shadow being upset over that night reminded him of it, and Marcus wanted to move forward not backward. Still, he held her until she calmed then kissed the side of her face. “Are you okay?” He wiped her face off with his sleeve. Luckily, it was a dark colored shirt.
Shadow nodded then shook her head in confusion. “I don’t know what happened. I was fine.”
“Sometimes, it just sneaks back up on you,” Marcus said.
Shadow looked up at him. His eyes were red. “Were you?”
Marcus wiped his eyes. “Sometimes, it just sneaks up on you.” He hoped this was the last time they had to relive that night. It was something he couldn’t change. He couldn’t bring that childe back. He could give her more, and Marcus was working on that.
Shadow laid her head against his chest. “This is horrible.”
“It’ll get better,” Marcus said. “We’ll have our family, and Oliver and Alera will have theirs. This is just a little setback.”
“I hate that the next moon is so far away,” Shadow said.
Marcus blinked. That was the second thought that he hadn’t been able to pick up while she was grieving. She missed holding sacs. He kissed the top of her head. “We’re not behind in our clan growth. I think we’re actually ahead.”
“I know,” Shadow said.
Marcus looked up at the sky. It was not a full moon. It wasn’t even close. “As soon as I can, I’ll see what I can do about creating that recreation room.”
“Don’t say it.”
“You miss them too!”
Marcus groaned. She said it. “It’s not immediately on my list of things to do. It may still be a week or two.”
“You want to check for sacs?”
Marcus laughed. “You don’t have any.” He kissed her. “But we can certainly practice filling sacs later tonight. If you’re feeling up to it.”
“And we can read the book,” Shadow said.
“We can read the book,” Marcus said. He watched her. She seemed to be okay now. “Let me finish this wall. Make yourself comfortable in the house. I’ll be in as soon as I finish.”
Shadow turned to walk into the house.
She turned her head.
“I love you.” Marcus picked up the Erector and continued building the wall. “And eat. You don’t have anything in your stomach.”
Shadow smiled as she hopped back toward the stone house.
Marcus chuckled. He knew Shadow knew how he felt, but he also knew she didn’t expect him to say it. He was getting better about it, even though the word didn’t come close to how he actually felt. He still reveled in her reaction. Marcus knew she was upset that Alera and Oliver lost their childe. Shadow was developing empathy for her friends. It was not an attribute lauded by the interrogation team on Umbra. In fact, the fact that she didn’t have any empathy was probably why she was hired. What she had was a weak stomach, and it was not the same thing as empathy. Though, Marcus was helping her with the former. The latter. Well. He didn’t want her to have too much empathy. He’d seen vampires travel down that path. They’d get too deep and start feeling emotions for their food. Marcus didn’t want that for Shadow, but he did want her to care about the well-being of their friends.
Shadow hopped into the stone house. It was much nicer than the cabin. The décor was richer, more vibrant and more expensive. Although, it still didn’t have any advanced technology.
Shadow walked upstairs and washed her face and feet before putting their clothes away in the closets. She had no idea how long it would take for Marcus to finish the wall, but she knew he considered it extremely important for their safety. Shadow agreed. They now had evidence of vampire hunters. Finaled vampires on the property, and some of the humans they’d encountered were less than friendly.
Shadow walked into the den. [Is the computer online?]
[Did you eat?]
[Not yet,] Shadow said.
[Eat first,] Marcus said as he moved down the wall. [It’s online and safe to use. What did you need?]
[I don’t know. Just looking,] Shadow said as she walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bloodbag out of the fridge. She looked around for a microwave and found one. She tossed the bag in for twenty seconds.
[If you want more blankets type ‘bed and bath’ into the search engine.] Marcus spelled the English words for her. [I should be done in the next two hours.]
Shadow pulled the bag out of the microwave and poured in into a glass. She drained it on her way to the den. After sitting down at the computer, she searched ‘bed and bath’ on the Internet and found a store that sold blankets in extra-large. She chose three in black and red before she was interrupted by noise. [Did you start an engine?]
[I think that’s the vehicle we heard the other night,] Marcus said. [I’m checking it out.]
[It sounds close,] Shadow said.
[It is close.] Marcus jumped over the fifteen-foot wall and looked around. The vehicle was too close to the house, and Oliver’s mental hint to stay away hadn’t appeared to work. At least, not long-term. Marcus had had enough of it. [Shadow, I need you out here. I need to find out how this human is getting into the forest, so I need you to stop him.]
[On my way.] Shadow ran out of the stone house and listened. The vehicle was extremely close. She walked across the boundary and looked around.