“Early to Rise” – an excerpt from The Matriarch: Changeling

Janiss watched as Eric stretched his fingers around a thick double cheeseburger topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes smothered in A-1 sauce. She cringed at the thought of anything dripping onto his dark gray sport coat – it went well with his clean-cut, post-Navy look – but he seemed so happy about getting time to stop for dinner that she decided not to care.

ChangelingRightfaceebookcover2015“I’d tell you that looks disgusting, but it doesn’t,” Janiss said with amusement. “I almost wish I could take a bite.”

Eric bit off a huge chunk of the sandwich and swallowed most of it after a few quick chews. “I’m going to assume you’re talking about my burger.” Talking and eating while not showing your meal to anyone was an impressive social skill.

Janiss experienced a rare moment of normalcy sitting in a public eatery watching Eric chow down. It was almost a date – all except for him watching her like a hawk. It was his job, she reminded herself, seeing to her needs as well as to ensure that she behaved herself. Friend, protector, and sometimes more, his support never failed to amaze her, especially after she had blindly killed Daniel – Eric’s brother and her off-and-on boyfriend – two years earlier.

If she’d had any sense, she would have never gotten involved with him. Their shared love for Daniel was half of the common ground their relationship had been built upon; the other part was accepting what she had turned into – through no fault of her own.

Janiss was a vampire.

Looking around the Five Guys restaurant, the thought of sinking her teeth into something meaty made her jaw ache for the real thing. The tiled red and white checkered walls would wipe clean easily enough, wouldn’t they? Teens in the corner, couples sharing fries, and the take-out line waiting on their orders; she wasn’t picky, but she did wonder if everyone would taste like those crates of peanuts near the front counter.

ChangelingRightfaceebookcover2015She understood that it was her nature to think like that, but she also would never consciously act upon it. Regardless, Janiss caught Eric staring hard into her eyes as she turned her attention back to him.

“I’m fine,” she told him. “I was a little out of sorts getting up so early before sunset to do this, but I’m good.”