Julius and Livia – a couple more scenes

LOL. I wrote a Christmas scene that was just some doodling about what’s going on in the background at the start of Bite Back 6, and got a lot of positive reaction to it.  https://henwick.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/christmas-story/

So… here are another couple of scenes with Father Julius and Livia in New York. Remember, these aren’t main Bite Back characters and probably won’t appear in the main books, though I may sketch out a short story with them in posts like this. And no, it hasn’t distracted me from writing Bian’s Tale for long. I wrote these scenes on my ‘day off’.

Update on Angel Stakes audio… Julia thinks she’ll have the recording done this month. After checking and admin, I’m estimating that the audio will be available in February. I’ll do a specific post when I feel the schedule is clearer.

<< * * * >>

Brooklyn, waterfront.

Father Julius crosses the road, sidles around the iron gate with the flaking keep-out sign, and heads down toward the river, steps crunching on uneven gravel.

He wears soft boots which keep his feet warm, and are comfortable for walking. He doesn’t know how far he will have to walk today, beyond the five miles he has walked so far. By the same consideration, his coat is warm. It’s old-fashioned, his woollen coat; military, snug, double-breasted, with wide lapels. He has put his collar and hood up, even though he knows it completes the image and makes him look like the sinister assassin character out of the video game. The hood is necessary. It hides his thick, red hair, which is too recognizable. He doesn’t want to be stopped by any of his parishoners at the moment. Time is precious.

Is he too late? Where is she?

The red hair has always been a problem. He has it cut frequently to keep it from being unruly, and that makes the Bishop think he’s vain. Julius does not discourage it. Better the Bishop think of vanity than start to suspect what Father Julius really does in his own time.

Like keeping the hidden Athanate community of New York from spinning out of control.

A flurry of snow swirls out of the evening.

And behind it comes a young man. An Athanate.

He’s distressed, stumbling. He cringes at the sight of Julius.

But he’s not dead, merely ‘reprimanded’, and a load lifts from Julius’ shoulders.

Julius lets him go: alive he’s not a problem to them. Unless he makes another mistake, and then not all Julius’ pleas will save him.

He walks on quickly.

She’s there, down near the water. Her hands are thrust deep into her coat pockets and she’s looking at the river, lost in thought.

She doesn’t turn as he approaches, but in the same way he can sense her, she can sense him.

“You haven’t visited me for ages, Julius,” she says. “We speak only when there’s a problem.”

“We do. I’m sorry.” He doesn’t argue. They don’t have time to argue and besides, she’s right.

She spins, secure that the evening’s poor light will hide her uncanny speed and suddenly, she’s behind him, arms gripping his body, imprisoning him. She’s pulled his hood back and her lips are resting on his neck. When she wants, she moves in a blur, evidence of her elder Athanate abilities. She’d given him just enough time to gasp, no more.

“So visit me now,” she whispers.

It’s like falling, the rushing sensation in the pit of his stomach. But it’s not fear, or at least, it’s not just fear. It’s the same thing it’s always been, that shivery, rabbit-snake fascination. That heart-thrashing desire.

“Livia,” he says. His voice is thick and slow, and he has to swallow. “We don’t have time. A message has come. Altau wants to see us now.”

“Some things are more important than our new lord and master.” Her fangs are out. He can feel them graze his skin and he has to clench his teeth. She makes his whole body sing. She always has.

He takes her hands in his, raises them to his lips and kisses her cold fingers.

Taking a deep, calming breath, he speaks again: “We can’t keep him waiting.”

“We could run.”

“I can’t.”

She lets him go with an unhappy sigh, and they start to walk slowly back toward the light. They are close, shoulders almost touching.

He raises his hood again. The flushed skin of his face feels like a beacon in the darkness and he really can’t have his parishoners seeing him like this.

“You’ve come to take your disguise very seriously, Julius,” she says as he hides behind the hood. “So seriously, it’s become more important to you than…old friends.”

“It’s not, but it’s complicated,” he says,

She laughs.

Complicated? I disagree. Everything has become painfully simple. You do know, my little, black-frocked priest, there’s every possibility we won’t be allowed to walk away from this meeting with Altau?”

“If he wanted to hunt us down, he could.” Julius gestures, sweeping the argument away. He’s had this discussion with others, many times, over the last couple of weeks. “There’s nowhere to go, and no way to get there.”

“Yes, he could hunt us. But why bother to chase us all around the city or the country if he can get us to turn up at his door like good little sacrifices?”

“I really don’t think that’s what he wants.”

“Maybe. Bazhir wasn’t clear one way or the other. Anyway, I’ll amend what I said. There’s every possibility, I won’t be allowed to walk away.”

“I won’t leave without you, Livia.”

He hadn’t intended to say that. It sounds so trite. So melodramatic, so puffed up. He lowers his head to hide more blushing.

But Livia slips her hand into his and presses herself against his arm as they walk.

“Well then, that is the only reason I will go.”


Manhattan Island, office.

There are two others waiting in the lobby of the new headquarters building of Altau Holdings.

They’ve been there for some time, and Aaron Keensleigh makes no secret of his anger. The tall, powerful Were alpha probably couldn’t hide his emotions if he tried, and he doesn’t try. The Were don’t come down out of the Adirondacks much, and they don’t like the city. They also don’t like the Athanate. They certainly don’t like politics.

Julius is surprised the alpha is here at all.

The other person waiting is a complete contrast. Faith Hinton just loves the city. She only lives out on Long Island, you know, but the shops are so wonderful here in Manhattan, she simply cannot resist. Just look at all these…

Her hands press against her cheeks, framing her heart-shaped face, as if she is shocked by what she’s done.

She sits surrounded by branded shopping bags.

Julius has to bite his lip to stop the threatening laughter, entirely inappropriate in the circumstances. The Adept’s happy, babbling song of praise to Manhattan had to have been sheer torture for Keensleigh over the hours they’ve been waiting.

And he should not fall into the mistake of dismissing Hinton, as the Were probably has. That empty-headed facade is very practiced and expertly acted.

Both Keensleigh’s anger and Hinton’s exuberance simply bounce off Livia’s stone face. Since they crossed the river, Livia has not uttered a word.

And that, perhaps, is also practiced, he thinks.

House Altau does not leave them long, now they are assembled. Within a minute, one of Altau’s elite security is guiding them to an elevator.

To Julius’ immense surprise, the Altau leans in, enters the code for the penthouse into the elevator’s pad, and then steps back, leaving the four of them to ascend alone.

Even Hinton’s chatter stumbles as the doors open to reveal Skylur Altau himself, alone and casually dressed.

“Welcome,” he says, with an open handed gesture.

Livia tenses beside Julius. She does not like what she cannot predict, and in one move House Altau has demonstrated how unpredictable and confident he is. He is not scared of any of them, not even all four of them together, and he does not care if they know it.





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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n

12 responses to “Julius and Livia – a couple more scenes”

  1. Sarah L says :

    You’ve got me again! Glad that we are getting more of these, I’m very curious now about Julius! Would love to see a side story come off of it. And it’s very much setting the scene for how the rest of the world is anticipating the moves of House Altau. One of the things I love about your books is that that they encompass the whole world. The ripple effects of the supernatural community changing across the country and so forth, not just one powerful town/team conquering all. Thank you!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Sarah. 🙂
      I didn’t start these with any great goal in mind. I have a couple more scenes sketched out with some revelations about Julius and Livia, and a twist. What I haven’t got is a plot for a book, so these are likely to be just a sort of journal unless something occurs to me.

      While I was staying in Brooklyn with my daughter this autumn, I did have an idea for a book that didn’t fit with the greater Bite Back flow – it was all about the New York Athanate. I could put that together with Julius and Livia and create something of a plot with a connection to Bite Back. However, this is weekend planning and writing, so I can’t be sure if it’ll work, or how long it would take. My main attention remains on Bian’s Tale 1 and Bite Back 6.

      I have other, *completely* different sketches that I might throw in as well from time to time. Basically they are exercises that I do to keep the creative mind turning over and exploring different ways to convey and build a story. (Hence the Julius and Livia being 3rd person present tense, for example).

  2. Michael Orton says :

    I’m enjoying this little side trip. Please continue it as and when the inspiration strikes. However, I’d rather have quality than quantity so please don’t post any more until you are happy with the way it fits in your own world.

    There is no requirement for all your characters to meet any or all of the others, just that they obey the same world rules and live in the same time-line. Keep things consistent and all will be well.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Michael.

      Julius and Livia meet Skylur obviously, but as I commented to Sarah above, it’s likely that anything more I do on this will be focused on the New York paranormals.

      I had an idea that Amber would visit New York as a setting for one of the future Bite Back books, in which case Julius and Livia might be there as bit-part characters, but no promises.

      As you suggest, progress will be mainly dependent on inspiration.

  3. Justin says :

    Do whatever you need to to keep that creativity flowing😁. Also found a new series that you might like https://www.amazon.com/Imperium-Caulborn-1-Nicholas-Olivo/dp/1523901829/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1483984696&sr=8-11&keywords=Imperium.

  4. larry says :

    A general question, perhaps labeled under “insights”, would be — do you view the “universe” that you are creating and expanding as “Amber-centric”, “Athanate-centric”, or something else?

    Obviously the Bite Back novels are Amber-centric, and Bian’s Tale as well as the published short stories could also be thought of as Amber-centric because they have or will directly or indirectly effect her thoughts and actions.
    On the other hand, this story seems to fall into the Athanate-centric category — story content appears to effect Skylur’s North American Athanate, but may or may not even be mentioned within Bite Back episodes.

    (We) appear to have (at least) 4 major players — Athanate, Human, Were, and “magic”, though the magic component could branch off into the “spirit” contingent (existing in our reality and “someplace else”), and there could well be other player/domains not yet touched upon.
    Obviously Amber is the focal point of the mentioned “players”.

    I mention the “universe focus” because it’s relevant to stories that you include or omit. If “Amber-centric”, then anything that eventually impacts her is fair game. If “Athanate-centric”, then anything effecting the Athanate is fair game including perspectives from the other Athanate implementation methods around the world. Of course, you may actually be thinking a step back from either of those, perhaps some type of “spirit overlord” that is somehow manipulating and controlling the “players” towards a certain end…

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Yes, fascinating questions on the meta-story.

      Certainly, at the moment, there appears to be a division in users of magic between the new, modern, regulated Adepts on one side and the free-running shaman on the other. Bite Back 6 revolves a lot around this question, so I won’t explore that further at the moment. (Not *everything* is explained in BB6 🙂 ).

      Now, the spirit overlord manipulating players – no, at least not in any personified sense. There are players such as Skylur and the Emperor, and a couple of others, who are trying to control things, but do not have the ability to create someone like Amber and make sure she’s where she needs to be when they need to use her.

      Most of the stories so far have been Amber-centric. A short story will appear in an anthology (Vampires of the Caribbean) in March, which will be Athanate-centric, and I have another short story on the back boiler which is about shapeshifters and magic and doesn’t involve the Athanate at all. However, all these will obey the rules and history I have created so far, whether Amber or any Athanate turn up in them. Behind all of them will be the concept of Emergence, or at least hiding from humanity. I don’t know quite what ‘centric’ word best describes this yet!

      (If my readers insist on more about the Caribbean, I may, at some stage, link that story to Dr Upjohn in Winter’s Kiss, but currently have no plans to do so)

      I have stories on the back boiler which are *nothing* to do with Athanate or Emergence, Afro-centric steampunk for instance, and may put up tasters to these other works in a similar way to the Julius and Livia snippets.

  5. Richard says :

    I like these little snippets about random people and how they are affecting the atheanate world or how they are affected by it. No reason to make full stories unless you feel the need. These just make you world better.

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