I really didn't care for Old War Stories that much, I'm sorry to say. Death Among Us was funny, witty, and a great read. The sequel was a bit of a let down I guess, but I still have faith in you. Can you give me some insight into your next book? Will we see more of Derrick doing his thing and not trying to be so serious this time?
All the best,
Caleb, no need to apologize for not liking the book. Everyone's got their taste and if it didn't read well to you, then that's on me, the author. Believe it or not, Old War Stories was always meant to be a bit more serious, just because of the way I wanted to set events up for Feast or Famine. Maybe I got a bit too carried away trying to turn it into a serious book and strayed from Derrick's personality.
I hope in Feast or Famine that I recaptured that magic. This is the book that sets up the last story in this series arc, so I wanted to put my best foot forward. Are there serious moments? Yes, of course, but hopefully it plays better with the overall theme of Derrick and his hijinks.
Well enough yacking - here's chapter 2 as promised (and I hope your faith in me in rewarded Caleb):
Chapter 2 - The Lost Brother
We were headed into the little town that wasn’t too far from our beach bungalow. According to Khloros, Veronica would be here in the morning, so we had no reason to stick around and wait. The night was a beautiful one for a ride down the dunes. The village lights broke up the darkness that spread across the sand.
Just outside of town, Astrid and I dismounted and tied Khloros up to a wooden post. Not that he needed it, but it would look odd for a horse just standing there of its own free will. “We won’t be long buddy.”
“Take your time. The night is peaceful and I am quite enjoying it.”
I gave him a pat on his head and we set off from the sand on to the stone path. It wasn’t the biggest place on Earth, but the people here were really relaxed and laid back. They lived off the ocean and whatever small amounts of farming they could do. Our first stop would be to the market to grab some food and some cervezas.
My girl knew exactly what I was thinking. “Not that I did before, but now I really can’t have any alcohol.”
“You’ve never dealt with a pregnant woman before, have you?”
That was a big fat no. What do they say about old dogs? “Does this mean I can’t have any either?”
We entered the market and she began inspecting the latest catch. “It would be nice for us to be united in everything.”
“Ahh hell that means you want me to be sober.”
She handed me a large fish with its head still attached. “No, it just means I want you to start thinking as a father and not a millennia old teenager.”
I hated this part of shopping, this shit really stank. “But you love me because I’m a millennia old teenager.”
She put down whatever weird fruit it was she usually got. “No, I love you because you have a good heart and generally mean well. Don’t you think you’ll be getting this same lecture tomorrow?”
“Ahh old Veronica won’t interfere in our business, at least I hope not.”
Giving me that ‘this is hopeless’ look, we kept going. Once we got enough for a few days, we went up to the front and paid the lady. Astrid took well to understand the Mexican money system and quickly became the bank for me. Petty stuff like coins and paper dollars mean little, I just know I have a lot of it.
As we exited, we ran into a familiar face. “Derrick, Astrid, it’s good to see the two of you again.”
“It’s good to see you too Renee.” The likable American lady moved down here a few weeks after we did. She was middle aged and still looked amazing. Her dark eyes for some reason hinted at knowing her, but I could never place it. No, I was quite sure we’d never met before. “And now it’s three of us.”
She squealed as soon as Astrid dropped that bomb. “You’re going to have a baby?”
“Yeah and it’s a miracle it hasn’t happened sooner. This one can’t stay out of my pants!”
My face turned red. “Astrid! Don’t fucking say that!”
“And don’t curse in front of people, it’s not polite!”
Renee, as always, found us highly amusing. “Listen, I curse with the best of ‘em and when I was your two’s age, I was fucking my way up and down the east coast.”
For some reason her words were dripping with honesty. I almost slipped and said depending on where; I might’ve been one of your sack mates. That would’ve made sense, as seeing as I couldn’t get rid of that feeling we’d met somewhere before. “Aren’t you the honest one?”
“I have nothing to be ashamed of. I enjoy sex and used it to my advantage. These days, it just doesn’t have the same appeal.”
Astrid punched me in the arm. “Don’t make her talk about her past. You’re certainly one who has no room to talk.”
That ladies and gentlemen is how you shut me up. I stood there holding the groceries for another five to six minutes while the two of them talked about baby related topics. Astrid eventually got annoyed with my foot tapping and the ‘huh’ sounds I started making. “Sorry Renee, I better get him back to the house before he goes all petulant brat on me.”
“I understand, men like him are a bit on the high maintenance side.” She gave me a sly wink and bid us good night.
“Oh Derrick, what am I going to do with you? We’re going to have a child, yet it appears I already have one to deal with.”
I helped her up on Khloros, who wanted to join in on this conversation. “What did he do this time?”
“The usual, break up any attempts to actually make friends, be annoying, et cetera.”
Khloros gave us his weird horse laugh. “You eventually get used to it. Mind you, it took me close to one thousand years to get to the point where I was not bothered.”
“Laugh it up you two chuckleheads. Without me, neither of you would be alive, so a little more respect should be given.”
And they did, all the way home. I grabbed the groceries and stormed into the house, pretending to be mad, but I couldn’t be. Both of those loveable goofs brought much needed entertainment and love to my life. As I was stocking up the fridge, Astrid stuck her head in. “You might want to come on outside.”
I scratched my head. “Why, is there something good waiting for me?”
“It depends on what you mean by good. And no it’s not my naked body.”
“Well shit, than I doubt this will be good.” I put the last of the fruit in and closed the door. Just for precaution sake, I grabbed Leviathan and put it in my shorts pocket. Call me untrusting, but when dealing with anything unpredictable, I’d rather have a weapon.
I opened the front door and walked out. Astrid was standing on the porch and just below her was the last person in the whole wide world I expected to see. “Famine…”
The rider was shorter than me and he was covered head to toe in black robes. A midnight black stallion was standing over beside Khloros. He dropped his head, revealing a very young face. He could very easily pass for my little brother. His voice rumbled, not matching his body at all. “Death, it took me some time to find you.”
“Part of not wanting to be found means going to incredible lengths to not be found.”
He gave me a slight smirk. “I do not mean that as a slight. Conquest said I would have to search all the back corners of this world to find you. He was not incorrect.”
Sighing, I sat down on one of our Adirondack chairs and motioned for him to do the same. As my made his way up, Astrid mumbled about him dragging sand on to her freshly swept porch. His robes were too big and he wasn’t really graceful on the shifting soil.
Looking at my brother sitting beside me, “So you’re not out here just to visit. You’ve never once come to see me since I left Eden you prick.”
“This world is not meant for our kind. I do not enjoy being here.”
Was he right? Maybe, but that still didn’t make him any less of an asshole for not coming to see me. “So what do I owe this midnight doorstop? Got some vacuum cleaners to sell me?”
The joke went right over his head. “I come bearing tidings of ill omens. Our time to go to Tartarus and deal with Abaddon is growing near.”
Obviously these guys had been in contact with that nut-job Dante. “Don’t tell me you guys are still messing with him? I’ve seen Abaddon and his Wild Hunt up close and it ain’t pretty.”
“Which means we will need you to lead the expedition into Tartarus, as you have experienced the hells there personally.”
This is what happens when you slay a few dire wolves, including their king; people want more out of you. “I hope you got an army the size of Texas to take in there with us. Abaddon will eat us all for breakfast and not break a sweat.”
Astrid had obviously heard enough of this. “I won’t have you throw your life away by confronting that monster!”
Famine addressed her politely. “We have no choice in this matter. The Horsemen are servants of the Almighty and with that goes certain responsibilities. Abaddon has been allowed to grow too much. Even the mighty Lucifer is afraid of him.”
When you scare the Devil himself, you’re one bad ass. “Exactly my point! If we are to do this, we need a plan and not just the four of us go willy-nilly into Tartarus and get our asses kicked.”
“Tomorrow Dante will be joining me here along with our other brothers. This is still in the planning phase, but we needed to know that you would uphold your position.”
I gave Astrid a very sad look. “This is one thing I can’t say no to. I’m a Horseman and when I’m called to duty, I have to answer the summons.”
“I know you do. Damnit, why do you have to be such a good man?”
Famine looked at her a little more closely. “It seems I am to be an uncle, is that not correct?”
I rolled my eyes at him. “Yeah you are. And if we survive this, I just might let my kid come see you every once in a while.”
He actually gave us a God’s honest smile. “My lady Astrid, I swear on my life that none shall take your child’s father from you.”
Her eyes were like ice. “I’m going to hold you to that.”