LvZ Presents – Midnight Melody by Kate Devlin

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Kate Devlin is joining the ranks of the publishing world with her debut novel, Midnight Melody. Make sure you keep an eye on this lovely lady!

SYNOPSIS:

Overriding the misgivings of her pregnant lover Gillian, Francesca braves the zombie-infested Texas hill country with Gillian at her side and a floorboard full of zombie-repelling spray canisters. Their goal: to spend a weekend with famed composer and director, Sidney Foster–who is also Gillian’s ex. Francesca, a lyric soprano, sees Sidney as her express ticket to the New York world of music. With, of course, her pianist Gillian. Although the notoriously manipulative Miss Foster might still see Gillian as an express ticket to the bedroom, Francesca is confident she can handle whatever comes.

But why did the master composer turn her isolated home into an absolute beacon for every hungry zombie around?

EXCERPT:

I drove out of Austin in the fading sunset translating the light to an ever-softer melody, with Gillian in the passenger seat beside me. Oscar, our new white and tan terrier mix, rested on the console between us. Until the zombie rising, Gillian and I had kept our relationship secret. But now, with half the world zombied or just dead, hiding our truth no longer seemed important.

Night fell all too fast. As we drove farther from civilization, my aged Kia did little to keep out the foreign symphony of sounds in that ominously darkening song. Locusts droned in harmony with my engine, accompanied by the crickets’ frantic descant. A wolf’s lonely cry rose, and another answered. In the city, we only had coyotes to worry about. The zombie packs and the feral dog packs harried each other more than either hunted people.

Gillian sat pretzel-legged, with a reading light reflecting off her metallic NASA suit onto the music score nestled in her lap. Her fingers played in the splintery triangles of light, using the score as a keyboard. Mental practice, she called it. Like most pianists, she put in eight to ten hours of practice a day. That schedule would be impossible for me; the voice tired more quickly than the hands.

On her model, I’d learned to touch the marks on paper while mentally passing from note to note, controlling my breath and posture, hearing the sound I needed to produce, training that mental singer in my head. Thanks to Gillian’s secret, I’d become Sidney Foster’s favorite soprano.

A working composer, Sidney divided her time between Austin and New York, both teaching and composing. Gillian and I belonged to her ensemble here in Austin: Troupe at the Edge of Sound. Every fall, we performed a one-act opera. This year’s would happen at Halloween. The odd scheduling cut deeply into rehearsal time, hence this impromptu weekend at Sidney’s remote mansion.

We slowed at a railroad crossing. I caught movement in the empty field out Gillian’s window. So did Oscar, who barked wildly. Ragged bodies hunched like screwing dogs over some unfortunate creature. The rank odor of rot instantly filled the car, and their discomforting huff-huffs of pleasure as they ate made me want to pull a two-wheeled turn and race back home.

“Oscar, hush,” Gillian said, never once looking up. “I can’t concentrate.”

“Zombies, six or seven of them, feeding already,” I told her.

She glanced up briefly. “But it isn’t full dark yet.”

She was right; the sky was still purple at the edge. Experts had warned this might happen, but to see it firsthand terrified me.

Gillian shuddered. “One stuck her hand through the glass of my practice room door last night. I called campus security and they came to get her. Drive faster, Francesca. I can’t die yet. I’m not done learning this opera. God, Sidney’s going to have my head.”

Every time Gillian said her name, I fought a twinge of jealousy. They’d been involved the year before I came to Texas, and compared to Sidney I looked like an ungainly cow. I had voice, but I had a singer’s body to go with it. More than once I’d caught Sidney staring at Gillian with a wistful hunger on her face, but thus far, Gillian didn’t seem to respond. I worried this weekend might change things.

Hoping to ease the tension, I teased her. “You need musical perfection before you die? Don’t kill me yet; I can’t play the Liszt B minor.”

“Don’t make fun. I haven’t touched my actual part in the score since September, and tomorrow, the whole ensemble might be there.”

Probably not
. Although none of the troupe members had refused to show up tomorrow, only the two of us had committed to come. I smoothed a comforting hand over her thigh, pressing wrinkles out of the scent-masking, heat-masking suit. “The worst Sidney can do is yell. She has to appreciate all the juggling we did.”

Tonight would be just the three of us, so we could work through my two arias. Sidney was less than pleased with my interpretation of the music thus far.

Hands moving over the score again, Gillian spoke softly. “You’re about to meet Sidney on her own turf. She’s on her best behavior at school. There’s a side to her—watch out!

I swerved to avoid the figure stumbling across the road. The ragtag woman lurched toward the car, but I’d already snatched my foot off the brake and jabbed the gas pedal.

Gillian turned to look behind us. “One of her breasts was flapping, did you see? This is why I hate being out at night. In case you wondered, I won’t be able to sleep a wink unless you’re in touching distance.”

“I wouldn’t sleep anywhere else.” Funny, I’d been worried that I’d be the one without a bed partner.

Gillian’s hand smoothed down my arm, raising goose bumps under the crinkly NASA suit. She added, “Thanks. I lean on you too much.”

Gillian wore her emotions wrapped around her like an antique shawl, fragile and delicate. Now that she was pregnant, as part of the Repopulate Earth project, she seemed even more vulnerable. In music, she found solace and peace, and pure, unadulterated feeling. But during our last few rehearsals, Sidney had reduced her to tears with little effort.

In retrospect, Sidney’s ill-hidden glee gave me a good clue as to what we were up against this weekend. It also made me wonder about my part in Repopulate Earth. Once Gillian’s child turned a year old, I was to take a turn—or not, depending on my career. I knew several excellent singers who’d lost their voices during pregnancy. And also depending on whether Gillian was then emotionally strong enough to handle my pregnant-lady hormone swings, assuming I’d have them.

I caught her hand and pressed it briefly to my cheek. “I’ll tell you when you lean too much. Okay?”

“Perfect. Now I’m going to try to work through the rest of this piece.”

My cue to shut the hell up.
Chances were good we’d see more zombies, so I concentrated on my driving. The closer we drew to the house, the tighter my nerves wound. For Gillian’s sake, I had to keep control of things.

Sidney—there was no one like her. She stood like a sorceress, molding the world by her will. How such a short, gamine woman wielded so much power, I still didn’t know.

Night closed in as we pulled into the long, narrow driveway. Sidney out here alone was relatively safe, so long as she didn’t use the oven or the clothes dryer or—heaven forbid—a heater. But three of us gathering in an old, unprotected house would radiate enough life signs to pose a greater risk. Zombies seemed to sense us through smell and as heat sources. If we all stayed tomorrow night, we’d draw them like moths to a flame.

Austin had been one of the hardest-hit cities in Texas. The papers blamed the city’s fatefully timed experiment allowing everyone free use of the public transportation system. Contact with any body fluid could transmit the disease. Infected sweat on a bus seat was more than adequate exposure.

I parked in front of the house. Come daylight, I’d move my little Kia wherever Sidney wanted it. For now, the goal was to get safely indoors. We both reached around to gather our things from the back, sounding like women rustling around in paper bags with the invaluable suits. The thin, silver material masked both scent and heat.

“Want your helmet?”

I hated the helmets. “No, Sidney should be waiting for us. We won’t be outside for long.”

“I’m carrying Oscar so nothing happens to him,” Gillian said.

“I know you love him, but he’ll only make you that much more vulnerable. Put him on the leash.”

Gillian gave a harsh sigh. “How many dogs have we lost? Four at last count, I believe.”

“Without them, we’d be the dead ones, sweetie, and they have a good life with us. Better than getting gassed at the pound.”

“Until they get eaten, sure. You can’t rationalize the torture these poor creatures endure at the end. I can still hear them ripping sweet, little Charlie apart.”

Me too.
I hid my flinch and sighed. “Okay, look. I don’t want to be here either, but we didn’t have a valid excuse not to show up. With thirty-six hours of intensive work, we might actually be able to perform this opera without looking like idiots.”

This was my chance, my big break. Being naked for my big aria should garner me some sort of attention. Even my zaftig body had its charms. In my fantasies, agents and critics rushed to the performance in droves.

“You won’t leave me alone with her,” she said, more a statement than a question. She tucked Oscar under her arm, protectively. So much for on the leash.

“Pinkie swear,” I promised.

“Then, let’s do this.”

About the Author:

Kate Devlin is a born and bred Texan who wouldn’t live anywhere else. She intended to have a music career, but fate instead led her to the wonderful world of writing. One cog in a large, blended, extended family, she shares a house with her husband, two dogs, a cat and various family members. Her addictions are coffee, her iPad, good pasta and Facebook. Her love of flowers is equaled by her love of gnomes.

Where to find Kate:

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LvZ Presents: Ginny’s Capture by Ellie Heller

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I’m so excited for Ellie as this is her debut novel for the Lesbian vs. Zombies series.

Enjoy!

BLURB

Two years ago, Deidra Montague royally screwed up with Guinevere. Now, Dee secretly works for the fae council, breaking up potential zombie swarms, while Ginny—a mortal—attends grad school, preparing for a career helping survivors of zombie attacks.

Even apart, Dee still watches over Ginny. How could she not, after learning that the woman she betrayed has been blessed as her mate?

Now, students from Ginny’s school are dropping out in alarming numbers and turning up infected with the zombie virus. When Dee finds out, she decides it’s time to extract her mate from the mounting peril. Only she arrives to find Ginny in the thick of things, trying to solve the problem herself. Just like old times.

With drugged-up zombies everywhere, casket sales on the rise, and saccharine bubblegum pop music constantly playing in the background, Dee decides it’s time to lay her heart on the line. Because she’s the only one who’s going to capture Ginny.

When you’re fae and your ordained mate is a former mortal lover, rescuing her from zombies is the easy part . . . .

CHAPTER ONE

Deidra silently ran up the concrete stairs in the rear of the library. Last time she’d been on a university campus, the story behind the zombie virus had just broken and anti-military sentiment ran high. After a hellish day fending off protestors and the media instead of recruiting for ROTC, she’d sworn up and down she’d not set foot on campus again. But that was before students at this school—Ginny’s school—began dropping out to become zombies, voluntarily. She’d had no choice but to go back on her word.

Her old army buddies would have ribbed her mercilessly. Good thing she now worked for the fae council instead.

Regardless of the ribbing, Dee would have come. Guinevere took her MSW courses here. She lived on campus, in one of the dorms, for who knows what reason. With the school a powder keg waiting to blow, naturally Ginny stood right in the middle.

Deidra couldn’t sit by and watch the explosion. She needed to get Ginny out of there.

Huey, a hulking Viking of a man with a Were’s leadership tattoos on his temples, waited on the landing. Four of his packmates flanked him.

“You want me to go ahead and secure the area?” he asked.

Deidra nodded. “Stay out of sight of our target. I’ll disable the floor’s sound system, then join you.”

Unlike some of the fae and fully turned zombies, she could survive the subsonic waves piped along with the music. She didn’t want the constant distraction, though, not tonight. In the service stairs, she quickly located the recently added wires and cut them. The students here were lucky the school could afford to rewire the building and install the special speakers. State schools did not fare so well.

The insistent buzz across her bones ceased.

Huey stuck his head out the door. “We’re set. Just a heads up: she has company.”

“Who?”

“Some leggy blonde who looks like the suburban idea of a rock whore.”

Crap, the description fit Lilah Dantowitz to a tee. Deidra needed to get Guinevere away from her before the shit hit the fan. Behind Huey, the sound of the women’s voices drifted.

“Make sure you detail someone to fix the wires when we leave,” she whispered, before heading into the maze of bookshelves.

She followed the chatter, halting the moment Guinevere’s voice became clear. The soft alto brought back too many memories. A shiver of desire raced through Deidra, leaving her flushed.

“I have a bunch of stuff I need to get done so I can spend tomorrow with you. Why don’t you text me the time? I promise I’ll be there,” Ginny said. “Besides, I see Brad on his way, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to want your attention for the rest of the night.”

What was Ginny getting into? Deidra took a deep breath, her heart racing. Then she took another. Faint but distinct, the fetid odor of a zombie permeated the air. She moved closer, to get a good view and a better scent.

The blonde bimbo sauntered away, tucked under the arm of a brute. The rotting-flesh smell emanated from one of them, and she’d bet that meant Lilah. She had to be close to fully turned to smell like death, but she didn’t look it, and none of the reports or videos had shown her acting like it.

Papa Dantowitz could afford drugs strong enough to keep his daughter “normal,” even at this stage.

In spite of all their surveillance of the Dantowitz crime family, she’d seen nothing to indicate one of the children was infected. Having a family member with the virus was an interesting development, especially if the family actually was recruiting students.

Guinevere shut her laptop, then slid the slim rectangle into her bag. Ready to leave? That wouldn’t do at all.

Deidra settled herself atop a desk out of Guinevere’s sightline and away from the rancid smell.
“Still hanging out with young’uns, I see.”

Guinevere froze in place. Then, slowly, she turned her face to Deidra. Those eyes, those impossibly cornflower blue eyes, gave her a thorough once over. “I’ve kept worse company.”

Deidra tried in vain to stop the blush heating her cheeks. Seeing Guinevere redden as well didn’t help her feel any less pricked by the jab. The Goddess had given her a hard task, to repair the breach between them. She bit her tongue to keep from saying anything, knowing Guinevere’s Southern charm would impel her to fill the silence.

But Deidra caved first. She heard herself say, “Ilona explained to me what you were doing.”

Shit, she hadn’t meant to blurt that out.

Guinevere closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “As I recall, I did too.”

“You certainly tried, but I wasn’t listening.” Stupid, stupid to bring this up now. Her group likely hung on every word.

Guinevere lifted her head and glared at Deidra. “And whose fault was that?”

“Mine.”

They held each other’s gaze, but Guinevere didn’t respond.

Deidra knew this wasn’t the time to explain herself. She looked away first. “I didn’t come here for that. Well, I did, but there are more pressing reasons.”

“Which are?”

“We have had a security breach, and your father’s unit has been targeted. Zombies are being used en masse to break into homes and kidnap families.”

With an oddly pensive look, Guinevere flipped her blond hair out of the way before sliding on her backpack. “How long do I have?”

“Give me a couple of days, and I’ll text you the time and location.” Deidra gave her a hard look.
“Don’t do anything foolish this weekend. Stay on campus until we can extract you.”

Guinevere raised her eyebrows. “Do I do foolish things?”

“All the damn time,” Deidra said, with an exasperated sigh. “Will you stay on campus?”

Guinevere nodded.

Deidra lifted her wrist to her face, still keeping an eye on Guinevere. Entirely for show, as the Weres could hear every word, she pressed a button on her large wristband. “Amazon Two, we’re out of here.”

“Congrats on the group,” Guinevere said.

Surprising. Oh, wait, she didn’t know what kind of group Deidra ran, just that she was giving orders.

“Thank you,” Deidra replied, and then, because she couldn’t help it. “This group’s okay, but I’ve had better.”

The surprise in Guinevere’s eyes counterbalanced the snort of a Were behind her. Good thing Guinevere couldn’t hear the muffled laugh. Time to go. Stepping back, Deidra ducked behind the nearest set of shelves and then hurried to the rear stairs. On the way, she pulled out her phone and typed in the text message that would carry the spy program for Ginny’s cell.

You’re looking great.” Definitely the truth. Two years of grad school had been good to Guinevere. No longer on the thin side of lean and with her glorious blonde hair down past her shoulders, Guinevere looked content. Unfortunately, her contentment was about to be shot. Deidra couldn’t keep her safe here anymore. She needed to get Ginny off campus.

Not to mention being without her mate led Dee to make poor decisions. Not safe for herself, much less for the men she now commanded.

“So that’s her,” Huey commented.

“Yep. Hands off,” Deidra said, flinching as they hit the stairs and the humming music resumed. “The tall, leggy one you can have.”

The Weres made various retching sounds. They’d smelled the decay caused by the zombie virus too. They staggered out the rear door of the building, holding their noses and throats and bellies.
Laughing, she shushed them, not wanting their group to draw attention in the frozen tundra of the parking lot.

Once everyone had settled in the van, with Huey at the wheel, one of the Weres grinned toothily at her. “Next time, boss, remember we like them when they don’t smell like maggot-food.”

“And we like them stacked.”

“Nah, more than a handful is a waste. Me, I like a nice, round ass.”

Traveling across town, Deidra listened to their increasingly ribald qualifications, wondering if she’d become one of the boys or if they were simply testing her limits. Finally, her phone vibrated, letting her know Guinevere’s recent messages had downloaded. She checked them over, carefully shielding the light to protect the Weres’ night vision.

“Guys.” Her sharp voice stilled the discussion on how to tell if a woman might give good head. “We need to go over and stake out Smithbrook Coffin Company.”

She looked over the group, their faces now serious; these days, caskets and zombies went hand in hand. “Looks like the Dantowitz kid and Ginny will be heading over there in the morning. I want to check it out before they arrive.”

A series of grunts acknowledged they understood.

“Food first?” one of the recruits asked, as they pulled into the Were-owned strip mall where they’d left their cars.

Goddess save her from young Weres and their grocery bills. “Food first. We’ll need to pick up extra munitions as well. Plan to meet back here at oh-two-hundred hours.”

Huey turned off the engine and cracked open a window. They all took a deep sniff of the freezing air from the early March night. No zombie stench—they were clear. The Weres exited the side doors en masse before scattering to their rides.

“You heading back with me? Ezzy would love to see you,” Huey offered.

Ah, she didn’t think so. Given the pheromones he shot off right now, he’d prefer to be alone with his wife. “No, thanks, I need to make a report and get some specialized weapons. Tell Ezzy I’ll catch up with her later.”

As soon as she closed the door, the van took off. She ran to her car and headed out too. She had just enough time to get to her private stash of weapons and back before they were to meet up again.

By then, hopefully, she’d have figured out how to convince Guinevere she was sorry and that they should be together. Forever. The Goddess clearly didn’t believe in easy paths.

CONGRATULATIONS ELLIE!!!

Where to find the Author

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