Long ago in Japan, ninjas fought for honor and for pay. What most people don’t know is that nearly all the ninjas were turned to vampires so they could benefit from the increased strength and stamina, and the inability to die. This is the basis for my vampire novella Sensei.
In Isao Nakamura’s opinion, not being able to die isn’t always a benefit. Several hundred years after he was turned, Isao now lives in present-day Boston, where he teaches martial arts at the dojo he established. He has lived a solitary life for the most part; only one man has shared his life and bed for any length of time, and that ended abruptly when the man, Lucian, became angry at Isao’s refusal to turn him and went behind Isao’s back to another vampire to be turned. Lucian now works for the head of the local vampire clan, a group which is not pleased with Isao’s refusal to join them.
Since his experience with Lucian, Isao is wary of giving his heart to another human. But his adult student James is persistent and appealing. James is determined to win Isao’s heart, even if it puts him in danger.
Forming a relationship with James might result in James’s death. And Isao might be executed for revealing the vampires’ existence to a human. But when love happens, sometimes one has no choice but to take risks.
In 2012, Kris Jacen, executive editor of MLR Press and its imprints, was seeking stories about vampire warriors for a special call titled Hot Blood. I wasn’t planning to write a story for the call. I’ve always said I don’t write vampires. But then a reviewer on a Yahoo loop I belong to posted a picture of a ninja, and all of a sudden my brain started working. This is how many of my stories begin…
Most of my adult romances are set in and around Boston, and I didn’t want this one to be an exception. I also confess I didn’t want to do the extensive research I knew would be necessary to set my story in the past, particularly in ninja-era Japan. So while I chose to use a ninja as one of my heroes, I brought him into the present as a martial arts instructor in Boston.
The character Lucian was a complete surprise to me. I had envisioned a romance between Isao and James, but Lucian became my breakout character, and I discovered there was more between him and Isao than I realized. And there’s more than a little sexual tension between Lucian and James as well. Nothing occurs between them in this novella; that may mean a sequel in the future. Those tend to just happen sometimes.
Sensei was released March 1 of this year from MLR Press. You can find out more about me and my projects, both published and upcoming, on my website, by friending me on Facebook or by following me on Twitter, @KarennaColcroft.
Over five hundred years ago, Isao Nakamura became ninja. And vampire. Now teaching martial arts in 2012 Boston, Isao is falling for his adult student James, and it's clear James returns his interest. Conflict with the city's vampire clan might lead to James's death--or worse, his turning--if Isao cannot protect him.
Without knowing what had happened to Isao, James couldn’t sleep. He had tried. He was lying on the fold-out couch now, with the lights off, waiting to fall asleep. With only three hours until his alarm would wake him for work, he wouldn’t get much sleep even if he did drift off. He probably wouldn’t get any at all, since he’d been lying there wide awake since arriving home from the dojo.
He didn’t have Isao’s number. Only the number of the dojo’s phone, a landline. Unless Isao had returned to the dojo, he wouldn’t receive James’s call. And if James called the dojo and got no answer, he would worry even more.
“This is ridiculous.” He sat up and glared at the phone. “I can’t just lie here all fucking night. He isn’t going to call. He doesn’t have to. He’s a grown man, and he can take care of himself.”
The phone rang.
James almost dropped the thing and fumbled to answer before the caller hung up. He didn’t recognize the number on the display, but that didn’t matter. It was Isao. He just knew it. “Hello?”
Even from a single word, James recognized his Sensei’s voice. “Yes, it’s me. Isao?”
“Yes.” Isao paused. “You wanted to know I was all right. I am.”
“Come over,” James blurted without thinking.
He shouldn’t have been so blunt. He and Isao were barely friends. They certainly didn’t have the type of relationship that included visiting each other’s homes. Now that he knew Isao was all right, he should have slept, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to see Isao.
Hell, he just plain wanted Isao, and he had grown tired of pretending otherwise. He’d been jealous of the guy outside the dojo. Of whatever history the guy and Isao had.
James didn’t want history with Isao. He wanted a present with him. And there might not be a better time to try to make one.
“Come over,” he said again. He gave his address. “I want to see you.”
“Hearing my voice isn’t proof enough that I survived my encounter?” Isao sounded amused.
“Hearing your voice isn’t enough for tonight.”
He was pushing his luck. The sensei might well tell James to stop attending class and leave him the hell alone. But somehow he didn’t think that would happen. He hadn’t imagined Isao’s interest in him. The only question was whether Isao was willing to act on it.
“I’m nearby,” Isao said. “I thought you needed to sleep?”
“I can sleep any time.”
Isao paused. “You are determined. I’ll be there shortly.” He spoke in a completely neutral tone, giving James no clue to what he thought of the invitation.
Isao hung up. James set his phone down on the table beside the arm of the couch and stared at his door. He had no idea why he had just ordered Isao to his home. No idea what would happen once Isao arrived.
Isao would be there soon. That was the important thing.