The Community of Blood
There’s a Community of Blood that lurks in the shadows.
By the time you realize they've noticed you, it's already too late.
Sensible, level-headed Grace Kelly Cordero is on the cusp of twenty-five, and adulthood isn’t turning out to be all that great. Her boyfriend has dumped her, her beautiful best friend is a chaotic disaster, and Grace is careening headlong towards a quarter-life crisis.
Waking up in a stranger’s apartment with fangs and no heartbeat after a New Year’s Eve party gone wrong was not part of her five year plan.
What does it mean to keep living, when the life you thought you had is torn away forever?
Harold Laing has never minded being a vampire. For two hundred years, he’s welcomed the night, and relished the blood. But when a newly turned and traumatized Grace is thrust into his care, Harold will be forced to contend with the demons of a long-ago night he thought he’d put behind him.
Grace and Harold need each other more than either one of them wants to admit. But if the bloom of their growing attraction is going to survive the night, they’re going to have to decide who, and what, is worth surviving for.
Because the vampire who attacked Grace and left her a monster appears to have a brand-new target: Grace’s best friend, Becca.
With every passing sunrise, the nights are growing shorter, and Grace is running out of time. Lurking behind every potential ally and foe, The Community watches—and their intervention might lead to Grace’s doom.
Characteristics: Topknot bun. Looks anxious. Is anxious. Always. Really good at organizing messes, though.
Characteristics: Long dark hair, looks a bit haughty. She’s the beautiful chaotic disaster. Readers start off loving her, then they hate her, and then they fall right back in love.
Characteristics: Androgynous blonde (AKA pint-sized Lestat with even more trauma)
Characteristics: Regency haircut, too many pullover sweaters, Jack of all trades, really just an old man in a young man’s body (think shades of Captain America), but he can get it.
Afterward from This Crimson Debt:
The following content and spoiler warnings apply: A frank discussion of suicidality and self-harm. Contains spoilers for “This Crimson Debt”
On December 27th, 2020, my husband and I were driving back from North Carolina, after visiting his father for what we knew would be the last Christmas. Pancreatic cancer is unyielding and brutal and awful. At the same time, we were hoping against hope to find a way to visit my own father in Arizona, whose decades-long fight with leukemia had taken a sudden turn for the terminal. To say that the car ride that night was bleak would be an understatement, and I was in a dark, overwhelming place. I’ve fought the demons of self-harm and suicidal ideation for longer than I can remember, and I found myself, on that night, wondering if there was a point to staying alive in a world filled with so much inescapable pain.
Life has an endless array of ways to humble us, to peel away the layers of our hubris and ego and show us who we really are. One moment I was listening to an audiobook with my husband, who was driving. The next moment he was slumped over the steering column, unconscious, as the car barreled down the interstate at 70 miles an hour. It was a hell of a way to find out that he needed a pacemaker at thirty-nine years old—but we wouldn’t discover that until later, in the trauma bay. I’m telling you this now because I want you to know: he lived. We both lived.
You can’t pull the emergency brake at those speeds when a car is on cruise control, and my options were slim. I had seconds to process what was happening, to formulate a plan. Time slowed like bullets in the “Matrix” movies. I grabbed the steering wheel from the passenger seat, got the hazard lights on, navigated the car across three lanes of traffic without flipping over or hitting any other vehicles, and finally, along the shoulder of the highway, found what I knew to be our only chance of survival: a small copse of young trees that would, hopefully, slow down the car enough for us to survive the crash.
…We plowed through the saplings, skidded down an embankment, and careened to a stop into a cold swampy area off the side of the road, invisible to passing traffic; and I knew that my efforts were not yet over, if I wanted to live. My husband was moaning softly in the dark, and there was a lot of blood. I still did not know what had happened to him, but I knew that he needed help—fast. I could not wait and hope that our car would be discovered.
I was able to climb out of the busted passenger-side window, wade back across the swamp on that cold North Florida night, and crawl my way up the embankment we had skidded down. I counted my steps as I limped along the side of the road, trying to find help. I made it half a mile before a car stopped.
Later, at the hospital, the doctors and nurses discovered that my back was broken in three places. My sternum was broken. My dominant left hand was shattered. It was the height of the Covid surge and there weren’t enough beds in the hospital; I waited on a gurney in the hallway of the ER for 24 hours before I got a room, and was assigned a nursing team, and finally received adequate pain management. In those hours, I learned that agony has depths to it I had not yet begun to plumb.
And I learned this, too, about pain, in the weeks that followed, during the hellish fog of my recovery and grief, as my husband underwent emergency heart surgery and we both lost our fathers within days of each other: the ebb and flow of pain is part of being alive. In the claustrophobic darkness, when hurt and despair seemed to swell to contain the whole of my universe, I was reminded of a truth that’s saved me, more than once. When we are suffering, we want relief above all else:
Relief is a feeling. We have to be alive to feel it.
“This Crimson Debt” is a novel that was viscerally informed by pain, and grief, and loss. Grace’s struggle with suicidality, and Irene’s tragic demise, come from a place of darkness I have long been familiar with. My own suicidal ideation in the car on that December night was swept away by an emergency situation that reminded me, in an instant, that I absolutely wanted to live. But so many people, fighting those same demons, don’t get that moment of clarity.
If you, or someone you love, is stumbling through dark places, you are not alone. I was not alone on the side of the road after the crash, even though I thought I was: a passing driver, coming from the opposite direction of traffic, watched our car disappear into the undergrowth. He exited the interstate at the next off ramp, got back on the road, and drove along the shoulder, looking until he found us. I never got that man’s name. I don’t know who he was. But he saved our lives. I was not alone in the shadows, although it felt that way, at the time.
You are not alone. There are others, out there in the night, looking for you.
If you’re in the United States, you can access the National Suicide Hotline by simply dialing 988. I’ve called in to similar counseling hotlines before when I needed them. They can help you navigate past the acute stage of a crisis.
We are Community, those of us who fight this battle, and I am looking for you in the night. Your story isn’t over. Neither is Grace and Becca’s, or Calliope and Arailt’s.
“A Bloom of Rust,” book 2 in The Community of Blood series, will arrive late 2023 or early 2024.