When you look at the cover of Vampires of the Scarlet Order, it may seem like a strange title to be featured at All Romance eBooks, or on the romance shelf of any brick-and-mortar or virtual bookstore. Despite that, romance is very much at the heart of this novel. One of the things about romance is that sometimes it involves making difficult choices. With that, allow me to present a bittersweet excerpt from Vampires of the Scarlet Order set right in my home of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Two years later, I was still working at the Long Dobé, much to my shame, when a group of cowboys came in. Among them was a tall, handsome man who reminded me of the creature who had turned me into a vampire back in Louisiana. Instead of immediately coming to ogle the ladies, the handsome cowboy with the droopy mustache went to the bar and bought a drink. He stood there, sipping contentedly, and chatted with the bartender. The cowboy’s voice caught me off guard. Instead of the West Texas drawl I’d grown used to, I recognized an accent straight out of Louisiana’s Cajun Country. I went up and said, “Hello.”
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am,” he said. “Name’s Pat Garrett.” He
lifted his glass in salute. “May I have the pleasure of your name?” I caught my breath at the question and felt tears well up in my eyes.
How long had it been since someone had asked my name without wanting something from me? I closed my eyes and answered softly, “Marcella DuBois.”
“Marcella DuBois,” he repeated gently, apparently recognizing my
accent as I’d recognized his, “a lovely lady from Louisiana. What brings you to this house of ill repute?”
I almost laughed outright. “You know, sir, I could ask you the very same question.”
“My friends brought me,” he answered easily. He lifted the glass and looked into it. “They told me I could get a decent mint julep here.”
I inclined my head. “That’s not why most people come here.”
Pat took a sip of his julep. “I’m not most people.”
“Now that, I believe.”
Pat placed a coin on the bar, buying me a drink. Juan, the old bartender, poured a small glass of watered-down whiskey. There was no need to waste the good stuff on me. I wouldn’t drink it anyway. Alcohol went straight to my head and I was useless for work the rest of the night.
“You still haven’t answered my question,” said Garrett as he leaned
back against the bar.
I picked up my glass and looked into it. “I killed a man,” I said softly. “I had to leave Louisiana. I’ve been moving west ever since.”
Pat gazed into my eyes with an intensity that made my icy, vampiric
heart melt. “Did he deserve it?”
I took a deep breath and thought about the parish priest. There had
been rumors that he molested young boys. Henry McCarthy’s young face haunted me just then. Was I much better than the priest? “Yes,” I said softly, fighting back tears. “He deserved it.”
“Good,” said Pat, surprising me. He put down his cold glass and took my free hand. I was so lonely. That tender, icy touch was enough to make me wish there was someone, anyone, to share my dark existence. I was tempted to make Pat a vampire that very night. “I don’t like the idea of killing, but it seems sometimes there’s no choice.” He squeezed my hand, then picked up his drink. “Me, I came west for some adventure. Haven’t killed anyone yet, but I’m sure I’ll have to one of these days.”
I sighed. Pat Garrett just seemed so nice, so trusting. How long had it been since I’d just talked to someone like this? Much as I’d have liked to make Pat a vampire, I realized that he wouldn’t last long as one. “Killing’s a terrible thing.” I lifted my glass. “Here’s to Pat Garrett. May you never know the pain of taking a human life.”
He nodded and lifted his own glass. “Here’s to Miss Marcella DuBois. May you find your way out of this house of ill repute.” He drank while I pretended to sip my drink.
“Why do you care about me?” I asked.
“There’s a strength about you, Miss DuBois,” he said. “You’re wasting away here. I think you’ll find there’s something better for you out in the world.”
When I first wrote the story “Pat, Marcella, and the Kid”, which became part of Vampires of the Scarlet Order, Marcella and I both wrestled with the idea of turning Pat into a vampire. However, I got to know Pat through The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid. Historians debate whether or not Pat Garrett actually wrote the book, but I knew Marcella well enough to know she wouldn’t turn the Pat revealed by that book into a vampire.
You can pick up a copy of Vampires of the Scarlet Order at the following sources: