by Betty Dravis

As you might know, we Dames take turns posting first chapters (and/or excerpts) from our books from time to time. Dame Maggie Bishop reminded me that it’s my turn to share something from my latest e-book Six-Pack of Blood. I’m honored to be joined by the talented, award-winning author Barbara Watkins as co-author of this book. I love her writing…

This book just hit the market when it ranked No. 1 for a very short period of time on U.S. Amazon Kindle/horror; No. 5 in Germany/occult, and if I recall correctly No. 53 in the UK/horror. Since then it has done even better: Last week it was No. 5 in U.S./horror; No. 2 in Germany/occult; No. 34 in the UK/horror. We are humbled and pleased.

We’re also delighted that our book has been awarded the coveted Best Paranormal/Horror by award-winning filmmaker Dimi Nakov of Zodiac Entertainment and the foreword was written by the acclaimed movie director/producer Armand Mastroianni (TV’s Dark Shadows and Friday the Thirteenth; movies Pandemic, The Celestine Prophecy and many, many more). Thanks, gentlemen, for your faith in us.

Now, without further fanfare, let me share an excerpt and an illustration from “The Collector,” the first story in our Six-Pack of Blood; it happens to be one of mine. I hope you are enticed by this offering that gives a peek into the “other side” of my funky (at times whimsical; at times malevolent) mind.🙂

As a young boy, The Collector had an innocent collection of items he’d crafted from Popsicle sticks. His current collection was far from innocent…

He had always been an odd child, but developed into a likable adult…a bit weird, but sexy and mysterious, as most Italian men are. His favorite food was Italian. His drink, California Red… His cigarette, Marlboro… His most revered singer was Luciano Pavarotti.

And he definitely favored large-busted women with red hair.

The Collector was a tit man!

~~~

His wife, Bianca, was small and dark with boobs as lumpy as cottage cheese, but he’d married her for her practical homemaking skills, her meekness and for child-bearing. (“Must marry Italian–keep those fine Sicilian lines going, y’know,” his father had insisted.) The Collector’s wife was simply a figurehead to give him a show of respectability, giving him children…

Yeah, Bianca’s Italian all right–from her frigid crotch to her crooked nose. And the kids are nothing but pawns–boys to cater to the Mob, girls to wed into The Family, The Collector mused bitterly.

Forty years later, he was still longing for “the love-of-his-life,” the beautiful, auburn-haired, Irish lass he’d been forced to give up to please the Mob. “Ah-hhh…” The Collector sighed as he thought of his lost Katie.

Then: But who the hell needed love? Everything he needed could be bought.

~~~

The Collector–legal name, Frank Joseph Fitelli–was generally in a good mood when he had a collection to make, but not that night. It was Friday and he was trying his usual method of priming himself by gorging on his favorite things, but it wasn’t working.

After rutting with his latest whore–dyed red hair, he’d noted contemptuously–he had paid her off and kicked her out. Then he sat at his desk in the custom-designed library of his luxurious Scarsdale mansion, nursing a crystal goblet of vintage rose flown in from his Uncle Sal’s California vineyard.

“O Sole Mio…” Pavarotti’s lush tenor burst forth with grandeur from the large speakers of a built-in CD system. The talented Italian’s voice brought back memories of The Collector’s mother who had always played Mario Lanza records–the volume sky-high–as she bustled about the kitchen of his childhood Jersey home.

A wry smile curved the man’s lips as he inhaled deeply of the harsh, calming tobacco of a “real man’s” cigarette. He’d switched from Camels to Marlboros years ago when Tom Selleck was The Marlboro Man, and fantasized they were the same macho breed of man.

Beneath the huge skylight that dominated the dome of his library, the man was locked in an inner struggle. There were no phones, no computers and no windows in this private room, but glancing up at the sky-light, The Collector saw that it was completely covered with snow––the worst blizzard of the year. Could he make it to Miami?

His thoughts about the weather were not idle thoughts; they figured heavily in his plans. He had a collection to make and it was different this time. The dastardly deed had to be done that night, and he planned to use his private plane. There could be no witnesses!

Procrastinating, his cold, cruel, brown eyes absently trailed gray wisps of cigarette smoke as they curled up to the skylight. He fancied this room to be a gigantic snow-dome–like the small ones he passionately collected–and he was the lone figure inside. In this room, surrounded by all his favorite things, nothing could touch him, he told himself.

The walls that flanked the man’s desk were floor-to-ceiling bookshelves–over twenty feet high–that contained books on every subject…impressive, but mostly unread. Behind the desk was a portrait painted in the stately parlor of his childhood home; it depicted him, at age twelve, with his mother and father. He gently ran a diamond-adorned, pudgy finger along his mother’s portrait, muttering, “I’m sorry, Madre mia,” then glanced at the surrounding smaller photographs. Most were of his father with other infamous Mafia chieftains–“Lucky” Luciano, Al “Scarface” Capone, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel–and several showed The Collector with his Godfather, Joseph “Fruitcake” Borelli.

The fourth wall, the one facing his desk, was dominated by an elegant green marble fireplace, and also held his priceless collection of snow-domes.

Setting aside the wine goblet, the man crossed to the cherished display, flicked on the custom lighting, captured his favorite dome with a well-manicured, shaky hand, and carried it to his desk. Placing the precious object reverently in the center of the blotter, he rocked it gently and watched the snow drift down to caress the pleasant scene: a lovely, red-haired mother and a dark, dashing father with four smiling children, two dark, robust boys and two dainty, copper-haired girls. The father was reading an article from the Wall Street Journal to the sons, while the mother was reading a fairytale to the attentive daughters.

That could’ve been me and Katie with our big, happy brood, he mused darkly.

The Collector played with the dome for several minutes, swiveling in his chair to watch the small family in the sanctity of their home, their private, pristine world. Then he leaned back to peer across the room at the lights reflecting off the rest of his collection. The chair tilted backward, squeaking noisily–infringing on the stirring music–as it took the full bulk of the man’s enormous weight.

The Collector prided himself on this beautiful collection, but jealously guarded his other one–the ghastly, secret one–hidden behind the others at the back of the intricately designed revolving shelves. Rising slowly, he crossed the room, replaced the family dome, then pushed a button to release his “real” collection–the one he was paid to collect.

As he lifted the first gory snow-dome, he heard loud pounding coming from the hallway.

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!

End of excerpt! Barbara and I hope you enjoyed it well enough to want to finish it and read the other five creepy stories in our collection. Here is the Amazon order link:

http://tinyurl.com/7ew24ql

And here is the link to my Amazon Central page where all my books are listed, along with a bio, book trailers, and more…

http://tinyurl.com/7ezca

Thanks for your time and happy reading.