Friday, February 8, 2013

MY BLUDDY VALENTINE from Delilah S. Dawson

Delilah S. Dawson authors the BLUD series, which takes place in Sang, a sort of Steampunk, parallel earth where most of the animals are vampires and where the leader of the carnival is Criminy Stain.  The first book in the series left me speechless. Read on for a special short story telling us about how Bludmen in Sang celebrate Valentine's Day. And, she's giving away a signed copy of WICKED AS THEY COME!



by Delilah S. Dawson

"Wake up, Letitia."
Tish rolled over and opened her eyes She gathered a breath to scream, but a red velvet glove sealed over her mouth. The shriek died when she realized that despite the arrow through Criminy's head, he was laughing madly.
“Happy Valentine's Day, love.”

He removed his hand and leaned in for a kiss, but she shoved him away.
“What the hell, Criminy? Why would you do that?” She sat up, willing her heart to stop pounding and fighting back memories of the worst five minutes of her life. “After what happened in Manchester, I can't believe you would think that's funny.”
Criminy cleared his throat and pulled the joke arrow out of his long, black hair.
“Of course it's funny. I lived.” She gave him her sternest look, and he stifled another laugh. “It's what we do, on St. Valentine's Day. Don't you celebrate it where you're from?”
The days and holidays tended to blur together, considering how often Tish traveled between Sang and Earth, dividing her time between her dying grandmother and the Bludman she'd come to love. Add in the sleep deprivation, and she was lucky she remembered her own name. Now curious, she looked around the wagon she and Criminy shared, but there was a decided lack of flowers, chocolates, and stuffed animals.
“Where I'm from, Valentine's Day is all about sweets and jewelry and romantic dinners.” She snatched the fake arrow from his hands. “The only arrows are on greeting cards, through drawings of hearts.”
“Good heavens. That sounds appallingly cloying.”
“That's a pretty good description for it. I take it you didn't buy me a stuffed bear, huh?”
“I could probably get at least a bludbear skin rug, if you're really keen.” He thought for a moment. “Or have Mr. Murdoch build you a clockwork bear, if that's the traditional way to express my love in your world. But you'll have to oil the damn thing yourself. I'm a very busy man.”
Tish sighed and fell back among the pillows.
“To tell you the truth, I always thought it was a pretty ridiculous holiday.”
He plucked the arrow from where she'd dropped it on the bed.

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.
“It's a little bit ridiculous here, too, but the story is a good one.” She sat up expectantly; she always loved his stories. “A long time ago, there was this fellow named Valentine who fell in love with Aztarte, back before they turned her into a saint. He followed her around like a puppy, wrote her love letters, sang songs underneath her window. It was all very romantic.”
“See? Same thing!”
Criminy chuckled and chucked her under the chin.
“Not exactly, pet. See, Aztarte didn't return or appreciate the lad's affection. Told him to bugger off and never come back. But he wouldn't. Said his love was ordained by fate and the stars and whatnot, swore he'd follow her for the rest of his life.”
Tish rolled her eyes. “Ah, Sang. Bet I can guess what happened.”
“The wicked little minx tied him to a tree and shot him full of arrows. He died. And the Pinkies made him a saint.”
“Well, he did say he'd follow her for the rest of his life; he just didn't know how short it would be.”
“Precisely, pet. Precisely. You're starting to think like a Bludman.”
At the word Bludman, Tish's eyes flicked to her hands. She knew that one day, after her grandmother had passed on, she would give in and let Criminy blud her. Until that day, she would enjoy the smooth, creamy skin and nice, flat fingernails of a human. After that, she'd have bird hands like his, with sharp white talons. Just thinking about it made her shudder.
“So y'all celebrate by wearing fake arrows and scaring the tar out of people?”
Criminy sat on the bed, pulling Tish into his arms and stroking her hair in a way both soporific and suggestive.
“Pinkies celebrate love and devotion. Bludmen celebrate how marvelous it is to be predators who can't be killed by a few spare arrows.”
Although she'd never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day, she was a little sorry to miss out on the pleasures of having a boyfriend on the national holiday that had been created to celebrate love.
“Oh. Well. Yay for martyrdom.”
“I may have gotten you a tiny present, though.”
Tish sat up expectantly. “I didn't get you anything.”
“Don't worry. You will.”
He held the fake arrow up, right in front of her eyes.
“You got me an arrow?”
When he shook it with an odd rattle, she finally noticed the gold ring hung around the arrow's shaft.
“Letitia Paisley Everett, will you marry me?”


April 30
April 2

Find Delilah:
Twitter: @DelilahSDawson
Blog : Delialh Paints

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