Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sucking in San Francisco by Jessica McBrayer Excerpt

Sucking In San Francisco (San Francisco Vampire Series) by Jessica McBrayer

Working at a Suicide Prevention Center in San Francisco, Lily Goodwill thinks she’s heard it all—then she gets a call from a man about to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Something about the caller, maybe his yummy British accent or Lily’s ability to understand his crushing ennui, makes her break all the rules and rush to meet him. After all, she is a vampire and if she can’t talk him down she can glamour him.

But things don’t go according to plan. Her caller glows with blue fire and turns out to be a vampire-hating Djinn. Suddenly, for the first time in centuries he’s found something intriguing. Is Lily really a vampire with a conscience and an obsessive-compulsive disorder, involving Handi-wipes and Lysol, or is she just another bloodsucker?

Add in another vampire, with a history of female lovers stretching over three centuries, who swears he’s reformed and declares his undying love for Lily. Stir in a mean pair of witches and a vicious warlock, who are staking vampires around the city and you have a recipe for riotous adventure of supernatural proportions.

Lily Goodwill is a quick thinking, smart-talking vampire who’s still figuring out how she feels about dining al fresco in the City by the Bay.



    “Suicide Prevention, this is Lilith, how can I help you?”
    “Hi. Is this where I call to get drugs for anxiety?” a slightly blurred voice asks.
    “No ma’am. This is the number you call if you’re having thoughts about harming yourself.”
    I try to keep my voice professional as I stare at my featureless grey carpeted cubicle and Formica desk.
    “Oh. Oh, I am. I really need the meds, you know, like Xanax? It’s free, right?”
    “No ma’am. We can’t help you with that. I can offer you free counseling. Would you like to talk to one of our counselors tomorrow?”
    “No, I just want the freaking drugs.”
    Well, so much for caller number one. I hate when we get callers like that. I can’t do anything for them. I know they have problems, just not ones I can help with. We have to keep a complete account of every phone call. I’d rather stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails than do the paper work. As I fill out my log I see my supervisor stalking me… great.
    “Lilith, oh Lily…”
    “Yes, Meredith?” I say, head down, rolling my eyes.
    “Did you fill out your insurance forms yet? You know that if you don’t you can’t get your medical.”
    “Ummm, I don’t need medical.” I really don’t need medical.
    “Lily, what is this on your desk?” Her voice rises. “You know we can’t have anything personal on our desks. You’re going to have to remove all this stuff.” She sniffs. Her short, chubby self, quivering with outrage.
    “It’s only cleaning supplies, Meredith, some handi-wipes and Lysol. I don’t see how this is personal.”
    “If you get cleaning supplies then Dan gets pictures of his kids. Remove them.”
I see Dan covertly slide his pictures off his desk out the corner of my eye. At least someone escapes the wrath of Meredith.
    She walks away.
    Just love her. With all my unbeating heart. I put my supplies in my bag for easy access. It will give me something to tweet about. She doesn’t follow me on Twitter so I can rant. If I didn’t love and feel so strongly about what I do, I’d use those cleaning supplies on her.
    The grey painted walls, a school locker grey, not a warm grey or a lovely taupe, do nothing for the beautiful Victorian building where I work. Almost like they try to make it as depressing as possible.
Being among the cubicles, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on my calls, even with my superior hearing, with all the other calls going on around me. But this is where I come three nights a week to do something that makes me feel good about myself.
    The lines are busy tonight. I finish my notes and my line blinks again.
    “Suicide Prevention, this is Lilith, how may I help you?”
    “Hello dear, it’s Mrs. Gunderson. How are you tonight?”
    “Hello, Mrs. Gunderson, I’m fine. How are you feeling? How is Sprinkles?”
    “Mr. Sprinkles and I are feeling rather blue. My son was supposed to come and visit today and he canceled at the last minute. He said he had something come up at work. I haven’t seen him in months. It’s always something with him. You’d think he’d want to see his mother.”
    “I’m sorry Mrs. Gunderson. That must have been very disappointing. How is Mr. Sprinkles taking it?” Mr. Sprinkles is code for Mrs. Gunderson. She describes his symptoms and I translate them into hers. She’s a long time caller, lonely and often needing to talk. I want to have a serious conversation with her delinquent son.
    “Well, Mr. Sprinkles isn’t eating and he is having a hard time sleeping. I’m worried about him.”
    “I am too, Mrs. Gunderson. Can you and Mr. Sprinkles come in and talk to one of our doctors?”
    “Oh, I don’t know about that…”
    “I think it would help Mr. Sprinkles sleep better and maybe start eating again. I’m so worried about him.”
    “You’re such a sweet girl. I’ll talk to them just for you.”
    I let my shoulders relax. Mrs. Gunderson has been calling for months now and she’s been slowly getting more and more depressed. It took a couple of calls to figure out that her cat, Mr. Sprinkles, was really a way for her to talk about herself. I quickly make an appointment for her, before she changes her mind. I make a note to the therapist that she’ll bring her cat and the reason why, along with a brief history of her calls.
    When I’m done, my light is blinking again. No rest for the wicked as they say.
    “Suicide Prevention, this is Lilith, how may I help you?”
    “Lilith, I’ve been trying to kill myself but nothing seems to work.” A lovely voice and his English accent makes me flash to all things British and my fan girl comes out. Although I’m supposed to be helping him, I get a tingle through my nerve endings as I listen to him talk. Wait a second, what did he say?
    “Excuse me?”
    “I’ve tried jumping in front of a BART train, jumping off a building, and electrocution.”
    “You what!?” Wait a second, I gotta be hearing him wrong.
    “Are you having trouble hearing me? I’m on the bridge. My reception is usually good but…”
    “No, no I hear you fine.” I’m just not understanding you.
    “Good, as I was saying…”
    “Wait!” I try to catch up with the conversation. “Why are you trying to kill yourself?”
    “I’m tired, Lilith. I’m just tired.” His voice is heavy with weariness.
    “Maybe you just need to rest? Some peace, not an ending.”
    “I’m weary of the predictability of this life. There’s nothing to hold me here. When you’ve seen as much as I have… it’s painful to see things repeated over and over again.”
    I wonder if he’s a vet? Some of our vets talk this way. I shift in my chair and lean into the desk. “Do you have anyone to share with?” I say. There’s a dull ache in my stomach. I know what he means, but I also know I would not be helping him to admit this.
    Night after night, no one to share my life with. I have friends but no life mate, only an eternity of endless, black nights with no fire. An occasional spark. Vampires don’t call help lines. I do have friends, though, and they carry me through.
    “No, there’s no one. No one at all,” he says.
    “Well, you can start with me, you have me. What’s your name?”
    “You can call me Aidan.”
    “Aidan, what’s got you so tired of life? Are you a veteran? Is it your job?”
    “I’m not a veteran of your wars and I’m between jobs right now and not actively seeking employment,” he says, dryly.
    I sense an opening. I tug my hair, a nervous habit, and go for it.
    “I’ve felt like you. The days running together, so I got a job. What type of work have you done?”
    “Slavery in its basest form.”
    “I hate my boss too, but it couldn’t have been that bad.”
    “Oh, I assure you, dear Lilith, it was shackles and chains all the way.”
    So much for my window of insight.
    “What about friends? Have you never had a friend who’s made a difference in your life?”
    “I’m a loner, Lilith. I like to observe humans, not befriend them.”
    I can empathize. Vampires tend to stick to their own kind. It’s not nice to play with your food.
    “Would you consider observing one of our counselors? It might be amusing.”
    He chuckles.
    “Lilith, I am in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge with the intent of jumping off. I thought I would call and get your opinion on whether this is a successful method of dying or not. I admit I have found our conversation enjoyable.”
    “But… but we’re suicide prevention! We don’t give advice on how to commit suicide!”
    “So far you have managed to delay me quite satisfactorily.” He sounds upbeat, yet something about his cool detachment convinces me he’s serious.
    His determination sends a shiver across my body. Did I mention he has an English accent?  Stop it Lily, what’s wrong with you? Maybe it’s because I can relate so well with him. Focus! I’m getting ready to beg which breaks all our rules.
    “What can I do to change your mind? What can I say, Aidan?”
    “Hmmm… Would you be willing to meet me on the bridge in half an hour to talk? No police officers – I’ll know – and I’ll be gone if you do,” he warns. “Just you, and I make no promises.”  
    I’m quiet for a moment. I run my hands through my hair as I think. There’s something about this guy. Am I a super mojo-wielding vampire or what? I know a few tricks. I’m not worried about my personal safety, but he’s definitely a mental case. Who keeps trying to kill themselves over and over again and then calls a hotline for advice on how to do it right? I don’t know. I may live to regret this. Well, live is relative. I use my hand sanitizer as I think it over quickly.
    I blow out a gust of air, which isn’t easy for someone who doesn’t need to breathe.
    “I’ll meet you in the middle of the bridge in half an hour. Wait for me in case my bus is late.”
    He barks a sharp laugh and hangs up.

Books in the San Francisco Vampires Series

Hell Hounds Are for Suckers (San Francisco Vampires Book 2)
Sucking Bites (San Francisco Vampires Book 3)

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