Kiss of Pride

Deadly Angels, Book One
Avon Books
May 2012 (04-24-12)
ISBN-10: 0062064614
ISBN-13: 978-0062064615

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Long ago in the icy North...

Out of the barren glaciers and snow-capped mountains, fjords emerged like shimmering snakes, and a god-like race was created.

Tall men with glorious features. Strength to survive the harsh climate. Wicked smiles to lure women to their frigid lairs. Superb lovemaking talents perfected over long winter nights. Brave fighting skills to defend their homeland.

These seafaring warriors came to be called Vikings.

And God was pleased. Some said these Men of the North were like angels on earth (which really annoyed some angels Up There).

For three hundred years, they reigned until God realized how arrogant and bloodthirsty they had become, not to mention their worshipping false gods, like Odin and Thor. Then, one Viking family displeased Him mightily. The Sigurdssons. Not only did Sigurd the Vicious participate in the infamous raid on Lindisfarne, a Saxon monastery, but his seven sons offended God by each committing one of the seven deadly sins in a most heinous manner.

Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Envy. Pride.

“I am deeply disappointed in the Vikings. I made them proud examples of a favored race.” Lightning bolts shot from God’s hands which he raised on high, and the clouds wept.

“Michael!” God called out, and immediately appeared the Archangel Michael, feathers flying as he rushed to His side.

Without words, Michael could see down below to what had so offended his Lord. “Tsk-tsk!” was the best he could come up with.

“Let it be known henceforth that the Viking race, male and female, will fade into extinction. Furthermore, for their wickedness, these seven sinners are condemned to hell for all eternity. Take care of it for Me.”

St. Michael, who was the patron of warriors everywhere, decided to intercede on their behalf, despite his having no liking for the full-of-themselves Norsemen. “I agree that these Sigurdsson men have gone too far, but maybe they would change if given a second chance. On the other hand...” Already, he was wishing he had bitten his angelic tongue.

Still, he reminded God that Sigurd was the seventh son of a seventh son and that Sigurd in turn begat sevens sons of his own. Ivak, Trond, Vikar, Harek, Sigurd, Cnut, and Mordr. Seven was a number of import in holy circles, sacred and magical.

“I am touched by your plea, Michael, but this family has to be punished. After all, I banished Adam from the Garden of Eden for a much lesser sin.”

Michael bowed his head, waiting for his orders.

After much thought, God proclaimed, “This I say unto you, the Viking race will dwindle off into non-existence, but not by death. No, they will blend into other cultures, losing their identity. Their pride is too great to stand alone. Hereafter, no one will worship Norse gods ever again.”

“As you say, Lord.” Michael paused before asking, "And the seven Sigurdsson sons?”

“These seven sinners must prove themselves seven fold. By sins they were judged, by grace they will be saved. For seven hundred years, they must roam the earth doing good works. If they fail, Satan may have them for his unholy domain.”

“Shall they be priests, or missionaries?”

“No, that would be too obvious. And too easy.”

And then Michael knew.

Satan had recently delegated his comrade-in-rebellion Jasper to unleash on the earth creatures of the most evil nature. Lucipires...Lucipire’s vampires. These vultures fed on human souls, no longer allowing free will to play itself out. Instead, they swooped in before a sinner had a chance to repent, thus ensuring a hellish eternity. Why couldn’t good vampires be created to save those prey to the dark legions before they did their unholy work?

God loved Michael’s idea. “You will head this enterprise. Viking Vampire Angels. Well, not really angels. More like angels-in-training.”

The archangel gasped with horror at his mistake. “Oh, not me, Lord. I have to help St. Peter repair the Pearly Gates. And Noah is building another ark. We have no room to put another ark. And those hippos! Phew!”

God frowned.

Michael sank to his knees and nodded his head in assent.

God’s frown was a frightful thing, like a lash to the soul. Besides, Michael was the one who had cast Lucifer, the fallen angel now known as Satan, from heaven. But then God’s expression softened. After all, Michael was one of his favorites. “Who better than you to lead these angelic vampire soldiers?” God asked softly.

Angelic? Vampires being angelic? Hah! And Vikings? Really, Vikings being angelic? Hah!

Michael rolled his eyes and wished he had kept his mouth shut.


Thy will be done...

Thus was born in the year 850 a band of Viking vampires, a mere two hundred or so years from the time when the Northmen would begin to disappear from the Earth. These vampires, known as the VIK, were different from any other vampires because they were made by God.

Some said they were fallen angels...the darkest of all God’s angels.

Others said they were God’s sign of hope for all mankind. Redemption.

The Sigurdsson brothers, who were thereafter referred to as The Seven, thought they were God’s joke on the world.

They were all right.



There’s Transylvania, and then there’s TRANSYLVANIA...

Vikar Sigurdsson hadn’t had sex in a hundred years, and he was not in the greatest of moods. The last time had resulted in two hundred years being added to his penance, and it hadn’t even been good sex.

Add to that hated celibacy the fact that he was on Seven Mountains in podunk Transylvania, Pennsylvania. He was presumably trying to turn a hundred and twenty-year-old crumbling castle, built by an obviously demented lumber baron, Joseph Waxmonsky, into a five-star hotel. Hotel Transylvania. Presumably being the key word. And, oh, by the way, in his spare time, he was expected to fight off Satan’s vampires.

Then the doorbell rang, loud enough to be heard in every corner of this seventy-five room monstrosity. That’s all he That, in addition to the twenty-seven various annoying, troublesome, needy members of his personal troop of vangels. Who ever heard of a needy Viking?

In the middle of the ringing, he yelled out, “Go away!” as if anyone could hear him about two dozen rooms away from the kitchen which he had been contemplating for the past half hour. It needed a major cleaning now that new appliances had been delivered and the floor retiled. Where should I start? he wondered, staring with dismay at the mess that surrounded him. Enough dirty dishes and pots and pans to feed a Viking army—Who knew twenty-eight people could eat so much? Greasy countertops...No one ever mentioned cutting boards to him afore. Groceries to be ordered—His list was now two feet long, and growing. He sighed. I can kill a dozen Saxons in the blink of an eye. I can guide a longship across the ocean. But command a kitchen? It’s demeaning, that’s what it is. Immediately, he chastised himself. Pride was e’er his downfall.


The fact that it was seven rings told him loud and clear that it was not one of the cuckoo bird wannabe vampires from the village, or one of the Lucipires, who would hardly knock, but one of the VIK, God’s vampires. Another brand of cuckoo bird, for the love of...well, God. Yep, almost immediately his brother Trond materialized before him.

“Your doorbell is loud enough to wake the dead,” Trond remarked.

“Good thing we’re dead.”

They looked at each other, burst out laughing, then drew each other into a bear hug worthy of six-foot-four Vikings.

“You’re early,” Vikar said when they drew apart. “The Reckoning isn’t for another month.” The Reckoning was the centennial meeting of all the VIK. Hundreds of them would be arriving, in addition to The Seven.

The high mucky-muck at the Reckoning would, of course, be their heavenly mentor, St. Michael the Archangel, whom they rudely referred to as Mike.

Mike just called them Viking, each and every one of them, and he did not say it like a compliment. Usually it was something like, “Viking, God is not pleased.”

Uh, I’m kinda aware of that fact since I’ve been sporting these fangs for more than a thousand years.

Or “Viking, I saw what you did on that yacht.”

That wasn’t me. I swear, it was Mordr.

Or “Viking, you are not here for a vacation.”

No shit!

And, by the runes, was Mike hard to please! At the last Reckoning in 1912 Vikar had another four hundred years smacked on to his “penance” for a few teeny tiny sins, including the bad sex. The angel jury of one had obviously not been of the same opinion on the “teeny tiny” evaluation.

His brother Harek, once a highly skilled battle strategist, now a computer geek, of all things, was teaching Mike how to organize a software spreadsheet for every blasted member of the VIK. Mike was inputting every single sin or grace each of them had committed. It was enough to give a Viking warrior hives. When Harek asked Vikar if he wanted to learn how to set up his own computer chart, Vikar told him what he could do with his mouse. Vikar did make use of Harek’s talents in ordering supplies for the castle, and clothing for the VIK members. It wasn’t that they couldn’t shop in stores themselves, but the less notice they garnered the better.

Mike might bring Gabe and Rafe with him this time. He hoped so; those two tended to act as a counterbalance to Mike’s testiness. That would be Gabriel and Rafael, in angel circles.

“You better feed,” he advised Trond now. “Your skin is getting transparent, almost like Saran wrap. I can see your veins.”

Back in the old days, like the Roman empire where Trond had spent the past twenty years, there were no SPF 1000 sunscreens or tanning products. Contrary to popular opinion, vampires could go out in sunlight, providing they’d blood-fed properly, except that their skin got whiter and whiter, eventually translucent, broadcasting to one and all, “Hey, look at me. I’m a vampire. Wanna get sucked?”

On the other hand, demon vampire skin got red when over-exposed to the sun. Really, really red.

Trond walked over to the commercial size fridge and took out three pint bottles of Fake-O, invented by their very own ceorl chemist, who worked with his brother Sigurd, a physician. Not as good as real blood, but it would do in a bind. Trond’s fangs slid out, and he punctured the thin plastic lids. He bowed his head and said grace in a low murmur. When he’d sucked the pints dry and wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, his skin tone was already changing. Not the good healthy color obtained by drinking real blood, but satisfactory. With a soft belch, he said, “I thought you might need some help. That’s why I came early.”

“Hmpfh! I hope you brought an army.”

“I did. Well, about fifty karls and ceorls. Half of them will be here this evening.” Like ancient Viking society, the VIK was organized below The Seven into: jarls, comparable to earls; karls, high but not necessarily of noble standing; ceorls, apprentices; and thralls. “Where are yours, by the way?”


“Hiding?” Trond folded his arms over his massive chest and leaned back against the stone wall.

“I have twenty-seven karls and ceorls here already. I might have snarled at them one or two or a hundred times. Rollo is afraid of bats, and, whoo-boy, do we have a hird of them here. Any idea what I should do with a truckload of guano? That’s bat shit, in case you didn’t know.”

“I know what guano is. Just because I’m a lazy does not make me a halfbrain.”

That was debatable, in Vikar’s opinion. Trond really was lazy—bigtime, as modern folks would say. He had been condemned for Sloth, which was one of the seven deadly sins. Vikar’s biggest sin had, of course, been pride.

Vikar continued his tirade. “Thrain fell off a shaky balcony.” Everyone knew that Thrain had to be the clumsiest Viking, or vampire, who ever lived...or died.

“Good thing he has a hard head.”

“Tell me about it. Then, there is Armod, the teenage ceorl from Iceland. He keeps scaring the clerk at Uni-Mart, deliberately. The youthling is fascinated with his new set of fangs and hasn’t got past the lisping stage yet.”

“A lisping rock star?” Trond laughed. “I heard about him. The kid is only sixteen years old, right?”

“In years, yes, but considering how many people he killed before being saved, well, he’s an old fellow. And now Armod fashions himself the new Michael Jackson. You ever seen a vampire moon walk? Not a pretty sight. I had to buy him an Ipod because he kept blasting out ’Thriller’ on that music box he carries everywhere.”

“Jacksson? Hmmm...that is a fine Viking name.”

Vikar rolled his eyes. “Trond! Michael Jackson was a pop music star. He was as far from a Norseman in appearance as a cat from a tiger.”

Trond’s chest shook with suppressed mirth. Then he punched Vikar in the arm. “I know who Michael Jackson was, lackwit.”

He shook his head at Trond’s mirth-making, oddly touched at this simple expression of closeness betwixt them. It was lonely living for all these years, isolated from the rest of but not really living. At least, they had each other.

He coughed to get his emotions under control. Time to change the subject. “And then Hoder is making pets of the rats in the dungeon. Yes, this place has a friggin’ dungeon. I’m thinking about locking myself in there for a decade or two.” He tried to continue frowning, but it was hard when Trond was laughing his arse off.

“Where were you assigned before this?” Trond asked him.

“Sodom and Gomorrah.” Vikar grimaced. Enough said! At least Vikar hadn’t been turned into a salt shaker. “I thought you were in Rome playing Spartacus with a bunch of lions.”

“I was, but Mike said I was killing too many lions. Too conspicuous. Besides, lion blood tastes like curdled piss.”

“You get all the good assignments, and you get to dress cool,” Vikar teased. Actually, Trond got jobs that required work, lots of demanding exercise that forced him off his lazy arse. “Lion fighting, that’s what I’d like to do,” Vikar said. What is it with my teasing? Have I suddenly developed a sense of humor after all these centuries? Or more likely my brain is melting. Sucking blood does that to a man, I warrant.

Trond did in fact look like a gladiator in his thigh-length, pleated leather tunic, with a wide leather belt, and cross-gartered sandals, exposing his big feet and bare, hairy legs. He might be lazy, but he was one good looking lazy man.

“Wait ’til you hear what my next assignment is. I’m gonna be a SEAL,” Trond revealed.

“Holy crap! Mike’s gonna turn you into an animal? That’s a first for us VIK. My luck he’ll turn me into a maggot.”

“Not an animal, lackwit. A Navy SEAL.”

“That’s just great. If I asked to be in the military, he’d probably plop me into the middle of Genghis Khan’s army with no weapon except for my teeth.”

Trond smiled.

Vikar wondered if Trond realized how much hard work was involved in SEAL training. Well, he would find out soon enough.

“Actually, I’ve got some news for you,” Vikar said. “We’re no longer going to be traveling through time on our assignments. We’re going to stay in this time period. While we’ll still work around the world, the headquarters is going to be here. Our heavenly bosses believe this modern world is as sinful and depraved as Sodom and Gomorrah ever were. So, we’ll concentrate all our on efforts in the twenty-first century.”

“My SEAL assignment makes sense then.” Trond tapped his closed lips with a forefinger thoughtfully, then asked, “How do you know all this?”

“Mike told me. Called me in for a special one-on-one last month.” He sighed deeply. “He’s given me until the Reckoning to have this pile of rocks at least minimally suitable to house all the VIK.”

Trond snorted his opinion. “For two hundred and sixty-seven VIK members? That was the number last count I heard.”

Vikar nodded.

“Is that even possible in four weeks?”

“It will have to be. You know the alternative.”

Trond cringed. “What did you do to piss Mike off?”

“I mocked his molting wings.”

“Oh, I remember now. Anyhow, you wouldn’t have wanted to be a gladiator. Lions stink, in case you didn’t know. Speaking of stink, what is that smell? Have you been eating hard boiled eggs again?”

Vikar flashed Trond a dirty look. ’Twould seem his brother’s brain must be melting, too. Either that or he was changing the subject to make him feel better. Fat chance! “Very funny! You know damn well what that smell is. Lucies.” Long ago, the vangels had invented that nickname for Lucpires. “I killed one of Satan’s pals who snuck in here last night.”

“And it still reeks?”

“Molly Maids were supposed to start working here today. Yeah, I know we’re supposed to avoid outside help, but...” He shrugged. “Anyhow, the two ladies who showed up took one look at my bloody broadsword over there on the counter and the pile of slime left behind on the floor and took off faster than a Saxon with an arrow in his arse.”

Any time one of Satan’s vampires was killed by the VIK, either with a bullet containing a tiny shard of wood representing slivers of the true cross or metal weapons “quenched” or hardened in the symbolic blood of Christ, they melted into a puddle of smelly sulfurous slime. Holy water was a great deterrent, too, but it only burned their skin off, didn’t kill them. And you did not want to see a skinless Lucipire. Eew!

“Aren’t you worried about them going to the police?”

“No. I told them we have a theatrical group rehearsing one of those mystery weekend skits for when the hotel opens.”

“And what happens when the hotel never opens?”

He shrugged. “By then, I hope they’ll have forgotten, or chalk it up to eccentric pretend-vampires up at the castle.”

“Still. Lucies in our private domain is nothing to disregard.” Trond drew his broadsword out of its scabbard and began prowling about the huge kitchen, sniffing at the windows and doorways. The presence of Lucipires in the area was serious business.

“It’s safe for now. This castle is a mess, but I’ve armed all the karls and ceorls. Even the thralls. We’ve secured the castle itself. As soon as Cnut arrives, we’ll have high-tech equipment out the ying-yang. Not only in and around the structure, but within a mile perimeter, all the way around. There are a hundred acres with the property to be patrolled.” His brother Cnut was a highly skilled security expert, when he was not being a soldier in William the Conqueror’s army or a Regency gentleman. He and his team of ceorls would get the job done within one day, at least for the immediate vicinity.

“Nice hair, by the by,” Trond remarked. “You better cut it before the Reckoning, though.”

Vikar did have good hair. Really good hair. Shoulder-length. Blond. Like silk, thanks to modern hair products. A source of pride that would be frowned upon by Mike.

“How about a tour of this dump?” Trond looped an arm over his shoulders. As they began to walk through the rooms where karls and ceorls were busy carrying out old furniture, carpets, and bath fixtures to a commercial dumpster parked out back, Trond asked, “By the way, Vikar, how many years do you have left?”

Hard to believe but their seven hundred years had been up more than five hundred years ago, but, being Vikings, none of them had been able to maintain a saintly life. As a result, years kept being added. At this rate, they would be vampires until the Apocalypse, and that wasn’t coming any century soon.

“Two hundred and seven, last count,” Vikar replied. “You?”

“One seventy-eight, but I’ve been bad this year. I expect the tally to go up. Big time.”

Vikar glanced at his brother with curiosity, but he didn’t ask, not wanting to be intrusive. But then, he had to make at least one inquiry. “Sex?”


Do not ask. It is a trap. But curiosity got the better of him. “What in blue blazes is near-sex?”

“Blue blazes?” Trond homed in on that one phrase, and laughed.

That did sound silly. “I’m trying not to swear so much.”

Trond laughed some more. Expletives...using God’s name in vain...were a problem they all fought. Hard to believe, but a good “What the fuck!” was not nearly so bad on the sin scale.

“Near-sex?” he repeated.

Trond explained, in detail.

Holy lutefisk! “And we’re permitted to do that?”

“I’ll soon find out.”

“Let me know, for fang’s sake! There may be hope for me yet.”


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