Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Not quite fifty, recently widowed Martha Richards has just purchased the old sturdy house at the tip of Purgatory Point overlooking Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. She and her pastor husband often dreamed of retiring there on their summer canoe trips. Now, she welcomes the solitude and time to hone her jewelry making craft.
Forest Ranger Dan Ford, her reticent neighbor to the south, thinks the aloof newcomer has no clue what it takes to survive North Woods winters. Reluctantly, he volunteers to help her prepare the place for the inevitable blizzards.
Martha is shocked when local shop owner Natalie Bjorg says her jewelry exudes erotic passion. Natalie doesn’t stop there, but explains that as the new Mistress of Purgatory Point, Martha now holds the key to release its two ghosts: Ben and Stella have been trapped between worlds for nearly a century, waiting for an owner of their home to discover a love that matches their own and set them free.
One man, two women and two ghosts keep love’s fires burning through the deep chill of a North Woods winter—but which love will hold the key?
A gust of wind rattled the windows and Martha slid farther under the covers. If it could get this nippy in early September, how would she manage January?
She’d check the furnace filters in the morning. And she’d better make certain the wood yard held plenty of firewood to last the winter. She’d have to get advice about that. She had no idea how much would be enough.
Natalie might know. Daniel Ford would certainly know. She turned over again and fluffed her pillow back up. The nerve of him, to be watching her when she hadn’t even been aware of his presence!
She didn’t doubt he could wield an axe handily. She shivered. Maybe she should’ve done more research before buying the place. Perhaps she should look into getting one of those cute gas fire places.
She needed to stay warm in the winter, and she wasn’t about to flee back to civilization any time soon. It had taken all her gumption and most of her inheritance to buy Purgatory Point; she wasn’t about to give up because of a chill in the air.
That decided, she closed her eyes and welcomed the drifting sensations of dozing.
He’d have strong hands. She’d have soft hands. Dan’s fingers. Natalie’s fingers. As if from a distance, Martha recognized her own soft moans. Her loins ached. It was an old ache, yet a familiar ache.
Her nipples pebbled and strained against the flannel gown. Fingers brushed against her inner thigh. She squeezed her legs tightly together, trapping them.
Whose fingers? Hers? His? Natalie’s? She was dreaming. She knew she was. She had to be dreaming. She let herself sink farther into the darkness.
“That a girl,” came a soothing whisper penetrating her fuzzy brain. “You’re a passionate woman. Let it out. Cherish your passion. Let me help. Let me touch you.”
“Natalie?” Martha whispered, unable to awaken.
A soft chuckle answered. “Not this time. Maybe later if you allow yourself. Now let me help you.”
The pressure of fingertips on her thigh matched the pressure building behind her loins. Her brow furrowed as another set of fingers caressed her taut nipples still protected by flannel. “Oh,” she moaned. She tensed and then relaxed. The fingers on her thigh slid upward to where she burned the hottest.
Martha bit down on her lower lip as a finger seeking more heat found it. She gasped and lurched up and down, helping to seat the intruder in her sex. “This can’t be happening,” she moaned, widening her thighs.
“But it is. You’re not pretending it isn’t, are you?”
Martha hesitated. The finger stopped its exploring. She shook her head in response to the question and to her overwhelming desire. She wasn’t even certain what she wanted, but she wanted with her entire body.
A mouth settled over the flannel that covered a breast. “Good God,” Martha whimpered. She heard laughter and then the magic emanating from her vagina overtook her. The finger deep inside moved incessantly. Martha shook. She didn’t know which would explode first, her head or her loins.
“God help me!” she screamed as her need, fulfilled, overflowed.
Exhausted, Martha shook herself awake. Her dream had been as vivid as a nightmare, but she wouldn’t deceive herself labeling it as such. It had been too incredible for that. She hugged herself trying to quiet her still trembling flesh.
She’d orgasmed before, but...She threw an arm across her forehead. This one had been so explosive. So simple, and yet overwhelmingly complex. She shook her head. Since when had she become an analyst of orgasms?
Her nipples still tingled. Tentatively, she brushed a hand against a breast. Her eyes flew wide open and she started to a sitting position. The flannel covering her breast was sodden. She slid a hand between her legs. Wet. “Good grief,” she murmured to the night, “what is happening to me?”
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Joy Danser has believed in Santa since childhood—now Nick Polaris shows her Santa can deliver an adult package beyond her wildest dreams!
Always authentic, Assistant Mall Manager Joy Danser insists that her mall Santas must have real beards so children can believe. But even she is unprepared for the very real Santa who visits her bed invisibly this Christmas season. Is she dreaming, or has she gone mad? Joy consults Sophia Nardiz, manager of the Magical Gypsy shop at her mall. Sophia reads her palm and gives her a cryptic message: Joy is at a crossroads, and she must trust her intuition.
Owner of the Magical Gypsy chain and a true Gypsy himself, Nick Polaris is thrilled to play Joy’s Santa, in the mall and in her bed, but he knows it’s only a lark. For true love, he’ll need someone with Gypsy blood. Must he renounce the Scottish redhead he enjoys so much?
The opening scene is up at our website - here's a short excerpt when the two women first discover each other:
Sophia pushed back dark tresses of hair from her shoulder. She smiled as if she knew a secret. "And this visitor claimed to be Santa Claus?"
"That's right. I felt his beard and mustache." Joy shuddered.
"I'm sure you did. You look quite pleased with the memory."
"I must be crazy," Joy wailed. "You must think I'm nuts for sure."
"Don't say that, girl." Sophia cradled Joy's hand and Joy experienced an immediate calm spreading over her body. "What you describe is quite plausible." Sophia smiled thinly. "You have too many aches—pleasant aches—for this to be something only in your mind. It could be someone with pyschokinesis and telepathic powers. Rare, but not impossible. I have known persons with such powers."
"You don't think I'm crazy."
"Not at all. I believe you must be very special to have received such a gift."
"But you don't think it was Santa?"
"Does that matter? Someone thinks very highly of you to want to nurture your belief, maybe not in Santa only, but in a world beyond that which you typically know. In my culture, we'd say you were blessed."
"You received, and there was no expectation of return."
"Oh." Joy scowled. "I hope Santa—I hope he enjoyed me, too."
Chuckling, Sophia interjected, "I'm sure he did. Who wouldn't? May I look at your palm a moment?"
"Of course." Joy tried not to tense. This was part of what she'd hoped for when she'd decided to seek out Sophia, but she probably wouldn't have asked.
Sophia's features were blank. "You do seem to be at a crossroads."
"A crossroads," Joy squeaked. "What kind of crossroads?"
"I'm not positive. Love and career seem mixed up. Ah," Sophia smiled softly, "so your first love was a woman."
Joy blinked and then shrugged. "My roommate during my sophomore year of college gave me a vibrator for my birthday and then showed me how to use it. You're right. I was in love. Unfortunately, Mary Beth got pregnant four months later."
"There were others?"
"One." Joy's mouth went dry. She hadn't realized her knees had clamped tightly around one of Sophia's knees. She tried to unlock her grip and then gave up trying.
Sophia grinned at her openly. "It is good to love a woman now and then. I've often found if I only love a man or only love a woman, I'm out of balance. How about you?"
Monday, December 29, 2008
Home and Garden assistant manager Evie Strand has painstakingly embroidered a set of seven thongs as a gag gift for her best friend—only she brought the wrong box to the store Christmas party, and now Adam Grant from Automotive is holding them up for everyone to see: Kiss my..., Tight Fit—could things get any worse? Adam may seem like a total rake, but he can tell Evie’s deeply embarrassed and he resolves to make it up to her. Who knew where a simple dinner date would lead?
Sensual Ecata gave it a Five Star Review
"Side-splitting hilarity mixed with volcanically hot love scenes, what more could a woman want?"
Mortified, Evie Strand looked on in horror at the office Christmas party careening out of control. Her fellow employees stared at her in amazement. Some snickered. Some couldn’t remain silent.
“What a hoot,” Leslie whispered from the seat next to her. “You put old Adam in his place.”
Evie shook her head and swallowed hard, willing herself to be anywhere but in this room. Adam Grant’s dark eyes snapped, mocking her. Did he really think she’d given him that package on purpose? It was meant for Christie, her closest friend. That package wasn’t even supposed to come to the office party. Christie didn’t work for the store.
How could she be such an idiot? She’d wrapped so many Christmas presents late last night. It had never occurred to her that the two packages looked so similar on the outside.
To her dismay, she’d drawn Adam Grant’s name for the annual gift exchange. She hadn’t given it much thought once she’d decided to give him a tie.
Evie blinked as he rummaged through his gift. “No,” she muttered softly, when he held up a second thong. This one, like the last, had hand-stitched lettering.
She should know. She’d painstakingly hand-lettered seven thongs for Christie. They were supposed to be a joke. She doubted Christie would actually wear any of them, but they’d each gone out of their way during the past six seasons to surprise each other with something that was outlandishly sexy. She had to admit she might’ve gone over the top this year.
Adam held high the pink Tuesday thong. He could hardly read it aloud for breaking up with laughter. “Tuesday: Wish you were…?” The question mark below the lettering left little room for confusion about the intent—it would nestle comfortably over the wearer’s mound.
More hoots and hollers followed. The powder blue Monday thong had been more shocking, probably because it was the first one Adam had held up, or maybe because it said “Don’t Dribble” across the front.
Evie pushed her chair back from the long banquet table where she sat with her fellow Grafton Department Store employees. Leslie grabbed her wrist. “Don’t let him get the best of you. Mistakes happen. At least half the people here think you did this on purpose to get the rake’s goat. If you leave, they’ll know you screwed up.”
Evie gulped and nodded at her department manager. She drew in a deep breath. “All right.”
She glanced back at Adam in time to seem him holding up the yellow Wednesday thong: “Kiss My…” with a broken arrow pointing suggestively toward the backside.
Adam shook his head at her. She thought she might’ve caught a flicker of sympathy in his eyes. “Interesting thought,” he mused. “I didn’t know you cared. I think I’ll look at the rest of these later.”
Stay with us this week as we post more excerpts, Adriana guest blogs and we wind it up all up with one of our famous Interviews!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I have a release date! Halo In Her Pocket will be available from Cobblestone Press on January 23, 2009.
It's Winter Solstice and starting tomorrow the days start getting longer again! It's a day Alaskans look forward to with great relish each year. So, Solstice and a Release Date! What a great way to celebrate at this very dark time of year! My editor was great to work with and I adore my cover. Isn't it hot? I catch my son staring at it when he thinks I'm not looking and when he thinks I am, he pretends to be embarassed by it. LOL. Teenagers.
Don't forget FROZEN is now available in print, and if you buy it at Amazon , you get it on sale AND it's eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping.
Chinook Wine and Sink Her is getting some great comments lately. If you haven't read it yet, it's a great snuggle up with a cup of cocoa mid-winter read.
We're getting close to Christmas, I may have to write a short story... Jmo did! Keep an eye on the Lyrical Press Blog and you'll find out how to get your copy if you haven't already. Also check out Piper Denna's hot, Dear Santa, All I want is a Fireman Details are available at http://lyricalpress.blogspot.com/ there are more free reads to come!
Merry Christmas from The Morgans!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
It’s December and man is it hopping, at least in my neck of the woods. As with all good things about this Season, it is a time for giving. Before I get to all the giving, let me announce a couple things.
First off, if you didn’t know, Elfing Around is live! And already getting some nice reviews!
PNR Inklings had this to say.
Elfing Around is without a doubt one of the best Christmas romances I have read so far. I absolutely love the characters and their snarky sense of humor. I was in tears laughing at some of the stuff that was said. I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a little naughty this Christmas.
Thanks to Beth Senters and the PNR for the fantastic review. To check the whole thing out, just click on the link.
Now on to the fun stuff.
Contest! Contest! Contest!
Thought that’d get your attention.
Join me and a host of fantastic authors, as we bring you
Have Yourself a Paranormal Christmas! A contest that spans over 20 authors to bring you chances at prizes and some amazing reads. To get in the running for the contest just hop over to Dani Harper’s website for all the details.
How do I end this cavalcade of an information dump? A free read from me and Lyrical Press. That’s right, we’re bringing you A Wicked Christmas Carol! For those of you who remember How Wicked Can She Go?—soon to be republished with more story than you can shake a stick at—this book ties into the Wicked Series. If you wanted more
Okay, I think I’m info-ed out for now. Before I shuffle off, I want to wish everyone a happy and SAFE Holiday Season.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This is it! That most joyous night of the year is upon us. No, not Christmas Eve, but you’re getting close. Tonight is the one night a year all of Santa’s little helpers wait with bated breath, knowing come morning all their dreams will come true. Yes, it’s….
In less than 24 hours you the reading public will be allowed to enjoy a holiday usually reserved only for the Kringle staff. But how will I know the proper way to celebrate this new holiday? You may be asking yourself. Really, it’s quite simple. Thanks to Lyrical Press and
I know what I’d do if I were you, but then again I am the author.
Taste The Tinsel Tomorrow
Oh, Merciful Snowballs! I was going to jail. Sure, back in the car I knew where the cop was taking me, but faced with the iron bars and cinder block walls, it came crashing home. I was going to be the first elf in generations to have a criminal record. The last had been the first Kringle and he was a hero for going. Prostitution on the other hand was not the same as going thing as going to jail for giving away toys.
“It better not be another late night jaywalker.” A deep voice warned from down the hallway.
“Not this time.” He yelled back. “This time I got me an honest to goodness big city hoor.”
The sound of a chair being slid back echoed down the hall. It was followed by the heavy clump of footsteps. I looked up from my shame to see a mountain of a man bearing down on us. I gulped, at the sight of him.
When I say man, I mean M-A-N. I might be an elf, but I know a man when I see one. This one was definitely every inch of that. He looked to be six foot four inches, a giant compared to me. His tan shirt strained against his chest. I could see the well defined muscles underneath the shirt had molded themselves into the coarse fabric. I dipped my face to check out the rest of the package. Well, well, the muscles weren’t the only thing that strained against the fabric.
I had to bring my attention somewhere else or I was going to sweat myself to death. His face seemed like a safe place to start. Was I ever wrong? He had the bluest eyes that I had ever seen. Blue wasn’t right either. They were closer to violet from the way the fluorescent lights hit them. Whatever the case, they hypnotized me.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
That’s right for picking love over death these great readers have earned FREE STUFF!
Maithe, you’ve got a Mis-Staked Calendar and Car Window Decal heading your way.
Grayson, even though you were the one opposing vote, you’ve got Morgan O’s goodie bag coming to you. Be sure to send her your snail mail addy.
Maithe, we already know where you live!
We’d like to thank everyone for joining us for this fantastic adventure. Not to leave anyone out, we have a freebie for all those who entered and the rest of you who read along but got tongue tied about which way to go.
We’ve collected The Morgan Diaries, Vol. 1, into a handy book format with all sorts of extras. What extras you’re asking yourself? Well, how about a new opening chapter along with the deleted ending that most of you voted against? You get all those goodies and a directory of JMo’s and Morgan O’s books with author bios. This is better than a DVD. Although we’re pushing for this to be made into a movie, Lucas won’t return our calls. Won’t he be sorry to miss out!
So check the Files section of our Yahoo! Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheMorganDiariesChatters/
Email either Jmo or MorganO and request your PDF copy of The Morgan Diaries, Vol. 1. What could be simpler?
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The soft male voice in my ear roused me only slightly from my dreams. I didn’t want to open my eyes, not yet. In those dreams, Jean Baptiste, the man and pirate of my fantasies, held me close as we danced close to one another. Male comfort enveloped me, but the scent, while familiar, wasn’t quite what I’d expected. Refusing to give up my dreams I snuggled closer into the arms holding me. Even if they were dream arms, I wanted them more than the reality which was surely waiting.
“Morgan, you must wake.”
The voice was male, but whispered like that, I couldn’t identify exactly to whom it belonged. It was familiar and comfortable, that much was certain. Jean Baptiste? Or Mattias?
My lips were dry, my throat parched. I tried to moisten my lips with a swipe of my tongue and caught the remnants of a flavor, a mere smear… sweet and rich, like the finest old vine zinfandel… Had I drank too much? I clung to the dream of waltzing in the arms of a handsome man. From a distance I heard music, not the stringed strains of an eighteenth century waltz, but rather the cacophony that is New Orleans in full party mode.
A hand gripped my waist and, moaning, I felt my body move toward the body that belonged to the hand as consciousness crept into my brain.
“My lady, we must move from here,” the voice was a little louder and I tried to move away from it. I didn’t want to leave my dreams.
“As much as I hate to agree with the gnat, he’s right.” Jean Baptiste’s voice, this time I was sure. “You need rest and dawn isn’t far off.”
Dawn. Jean Baptiste and dawn. That did it. My eyes flew open and I found myself supported between two bodies. Jean Baptiste at my front, Mattias lending support to keep me from falling over backward into the gutter.
“My lady, whatever possessed you?” Mattias’ scolding voice sounded overly loud in my ear. A soft breeze rose off the river bringing with it all the scents in an overwhelming rush. It was as if my nose could smell a hundred times better than before. The sensation swamped me and my stomach roiled. Not all the aromas were pleasant.
“She needs to be inside,” Jean Baptiste said and I was lifted into a pair of strong arms. “Waking outside like this, it’s too much.”
I moaned in agreement. I felt hung over, I felt light as air, I felt… immense, powerful, and sick all at the same time, and I hadn’t even opened my eyes yet.
“Go ahead and get the house open. I’m right behind you, thrall.”
I heard the voices. I recognized the owners. Jean Baptiste held me, but he ordered Mattias around like a servant?
“What…?” I spoke my first word around a waking throat. I licked my lips again and in a rush, it all came back.
Not a dream.
One moment I’d been standing on the street watching Jean Baptiste fade into the shadows and then I’d reached for him. Grabbing the lapels of his coat, I’d thought to shake some sense into him, or at the very least, kiss him into submission. For God’s sake, why had he been demanding an answer tonight? If he were a vampire, I was still a reasonably young woman, we could have taken years to choose. Why force the issue tonight?
I’d opened my mouth to argue with him when Mattias had come running out of the night.
“Don’t let him do it, Morgan! Don’t let him! Fight!”
A weight fell against my back and I was thrown against Jean Baptiste. My open mouth had landed on his mouth, and by instinct, my teeth closed around his lower lip. The taste of blood touched my tongue and the dream state fell upon me. With the memory returning, I felt my teeth extending, a thirst for more consuming me.
I’d tasted blood and I wanted more. More of Jean Baptiste’s rich sweet blood. At just the thought, two sharp points poked my lip and I tasted my own blood.
So it was, the elusive thought.
I am now a vampire. And for some reason, I’m not furious over it, neither then, nor now. Mattias seems to be, but then, I could smell his love for me. How weird is that? His devotion to me. And yet, it’s the love and devotion I can smell coming from Jean Baptiste that moves me most of all.
My eyes fluttered open and I looked up to see him staring down at me as we paused beneath an arched arbor heavy with overgrown vines of honeysuckle and wisteria now dormant with the approach of winter.
“Awake now, my love?”
His rich voiced filled me as much as his rich blood had only minutes ago.
“Aye, my pirate, I’m truly awake.” I tugged his head down to me and kissed him, running my tongue over his lips, seeking another taste of his sweet blood.
“Soon, love, soon. Our servant just needs to lose his case of fumble fingers and get the door open.”
“Your assistant, the creature named Mattias.” Jean Baptiste mounted a step and swung me into a dark foyer. “Welcome home.”
“Your house?” I looked around and while it was dark, it was as if I’d been given a pair of night vision goggles. I didn’t have time to see much beyond stairs leading up, a living room off to the side, and stairs leading down, but what I did see looked elegant, though stuffed with antique furniture.
“Now our house. Our house with a servant.” The last was said with a growl of disgust.
“Hey, I didn’t choose to be your servant, Count Dracula. You conscripted me.” Mattias’ insolent mutter sounded comforting in its own way. My trusted assistant.
“Only because I knew she’d be upset if I killed you.” Jean Baptiste still carried me and we went down some steps. Not up. A coffin in the basement, was that my destination?
“And I’m only here because I want to be there when she chews your ass out for the layers of dust in this crypt. Morgan likes a clean house and this is nothing like one.”
“Boys,” I moaned. My head, while clearer than I could ever recall, was also pounding fiercely. Yes, the house was dusty and looked like an abandoned museum, but it wasn’t high on my priority list at the moment. Later. After a serious amount of sleep…and other things.
I had a quick glimpse of a large room we’d descended into before a door was opened and Jean Baptiste carried me into a smaller room. Like upstairs, it was crowded, but the items looked more modern. Was this man, this vampire, a pack rat?
“At least this room is clean,” Mattias muttered and a small flare of light appeared. Others followed and soon the scent of candles filled the air. Soft vanilla. A warm glow filled the room and Jean Baptiste gently laid me on a huge bed.
Four tree trunk sized, hand carved posters held up heavy black velvet drapes and the sheer decadence and richness surrounded me as I settled onto the soft comforter.
“Then since it bothers you so much, we’ll expect the house to be in spotless order by the time we wake at sunset.”
I stared at Jean Baptiste sitting on the edge of the bed. He was ordering Mattias to clean the house? Before I could say a word I sneezed. And sneezed again. Dust. I hate dust.
“Morgan-” Mattias was cut off by a snarl from Jean Baptiste.
“My lady,” Mattias started again and I turned my head to stare at him. “Why did you do it? Why didn’t you listen to me?” he whined, a looked of deep sadness filling his eyes.
“I love him, Mattias. But it was you who pushed me into his arms.” I turned my gaze back to Jean Baptiste and knew. A feeling of warmth filled my heart and I knew he was mine for all eternity. His dark eyes stared back at me and slowly a smile lifted the corners of his mouth. I saw a hint of his fangs and felt mine grow in response. His grin widened and he reached out to stroke one.
“I never imagined fangs could be so… cute.”
“Cute?” I certainly didn’t ever expect to hear that word from him.
He stroked my fang and I felt lust rise up and rush through me. The dress and corset were too tight, too binding. I reached for the ribbons tying the bodice but Jean Baptiste beat me to it. In the blink of an eye, the ribbons were undone and the dress lay open.
“Your fledgling fangs,” Jean Baptiste said. “They’re… cute. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any so cute before.”
I ran my tongue over my fangs and could only think of sinking them into his neck, his thigh, his wrist… anywhere I could. Wanting him, I sat up. “Help me out of these clothes.”
“Leave us,” Jean Baptiste said to Mattias without ever turning away from me. “Remember, dust free and spotless by sunset.”
“I’ll have to call in professionals to get it all done,” Mattias said with haughty indignity.
“Whatever. Just don’t let them in the basement. You’ll clean that on your own. It is our private domain and none save the three of us will ever pass into it. It will be rare even for you to venture down here.”
“Don’t scream if I move some items into a storage unit.” Mattias sniffed and turned away, closing the door behind him.
“What made you choose Mattias,” I asked as clothes, both his and mine began to fly off our bodies. I wanted him and I wanted him right then.
“He’s devoted to you. I’m not big on servants, but I thought you might appreciate him, at least through the honeymoon period while you’re adjusting.” Jean Baptiste shoved off the last of his clothes before advancing on me with a predatory gleam in his eye.
I was still trying to peel the stockings off when he pushed me back into the bedding. “Leave the stockings. I like them.”
The roguish glint in his eye thrilled me and I stretched out, arms over my head. “So why did we have to do this tonight?”
“Because,” he murmured as his glazed eyes took in my body stretched out before him. An entirely new face of hunger and desire was shown to me a moment before he lay down over me, his lips settling on mine. “I wanted you here or to not live at all. We could have waited a year or more, but after finding you, I didn’t want to wait.”
His lips molded to mine and his tongue stole into my mouth. I answered him, delirious with wanting him, wanting his taste. He teased me mercilessly, drawing out the foreplay as he demonstrated his superior strength over my fledgling powers. He didn’t need to bind me with chains or leather. He bound me with love and at the moment we joined, our mouths at each others’ necks, we drank and melded and whatever conception of loving I’d had before went up in flames.
I rose on flaming wings as he took me to heights I’d never imagined before. This was why I’d chosen him. Or I’m sure I would have chosen to bite him. Good thing I did, because I never would have known this. This ability to fly.
Actually, he’s promised to teach me to fly for real. Complete with my own little bat wings, when they grow strong enough, that is.
But for now, I like this kind of flying, this kind of melding. For he is my mate. The missing half to my soul.
And there you have it, Papa and Mama. I’m sad that I won’t ever meet you in… that place you’ve both gone to. That is denied me now, but as long as I have Jean Baptiste, I don’t much care. Though Mattias is right, there is much about this house that needs setting straight. I’ll continue to teach, for now, night classes. I’ll get Mattias through his doctorate and then I’ll retire, possibly to teach only one class a year. A night class of course.
Otherwise, Jean Baptiste tells me we’ll travel. All of a sudden he has a longing to retrace his life. We’ll write the book together, but it will be for us alone, mainly because, as both the men say, I’ll pester Jean Baptiste into oblivion otherwise. I must have my answers.
For example, just where is that pirate fortune and will I get to document it? For now, those questions will have to wait. Jean Baptiste is pulling me back into bed and I feel sleep stealing over me, a sure sign the sun is rising, or so he tells me. Judging by the gleam in his eyes, he wants to make love again. Not that I’m complaining.
All right already, Jean Baptiste, I’m com…
Friday, October 31, 2008
His eyes widened in disbelief. “What?”
“You gave me until midnight to make a decision. You’re going to answer my questions and when I’m darn good and ready I’ll let you know, but until midnight, I get thinking and talking time.” I released him, fisted my hands on my hips and he stared at me.
I must admit, part of me trembled in fear. Had he wanted to push the issue, he could have grabbed me and made me drink his blood. He could have turned me against my will. Granted, I would have then spent eternity chewing his ass for being a pompous alpha. I let him think I shivered with cold. Despite the heavy costume, my chest was uncovered and a breeze from the river was wafting up under my skirts where I had no panties to keep me warm in certain locations. So I was a bit chilled after all.
“All right,” he conceded. “Let’s stroll until we find a sheltered spot to sit and talk.” He shrugged out of his coat and draped it over my shoulders.
“Won’t you get cold?” I pulled the warm material tight around my shoulders. His scent wrapped around me and I felt the stirrings of lust.
“I don’t feel cold, nor heat. Those sensations ended when I died. It wasn’t until we touched for the first time, the numbness fled. For the first time in centuries untold, I once again felt human. Like a man.”
Jean Baptiste clasped his hands behind his back and tilted his head to indicate the direction of our walk. Down river toward Faubourg Marigny.
As we walked, we passed other lone couples and the occasional person of disreputable appearance. What vibes my companion sent out was sufficient to keep them all well away from us. With the necklace sparkling around my neck, keeping thieves at a distance made Jean Baptiste, for the moment, a desirable partner.
And yet… I shuddered again.
What atrocities had he committed over the years? I was realistic enough to set aside the romance of the age of pirates and I recalled his escapades prior to the reports of his death. He hadn’t been a kinder and gentler pirate in his day. Known for his cold blooded ruthlessness, I eased away from this man who knew death on many levels. Suddenly I was anxious to be away from the shadows. I wanted the milling crowds of Bourbon Street. Safety in numbers.
As we strolled, he answered many, though by no means all, of my questions. He had a house in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. One he’d had for nearly two hundred years. I wanted to see it but he wouldn’t tell me exactly where it was. I supposed I’d have to become a vampire to see it. I asked him what would happen to it if… He told me he had a servant who would burn it and the entire contents to the ground if he disintegrated at sunrise. I glanced to see if he were trying to play on my sympathies, but his face showed as little emotion as his voice. Pure fact.
Questions about his pirate days were answered with facts I already knew. But no hint of where his treasure was. If he left this world, the secret of it would go with him. What did he do for money? As he’d told me before, he occasionally traded antiques. After all, he was an expert in them. How many vampires lived in New Orleans and how often did he mix with them? A shrug answered me. Again, I supposed I’d have to be one to learn more about them. By the time we neared his neighborhood, I was ready to stake him for his lack of cooperation in the questions that haunted me most. I wanted details and he was keeping his secrets!
Frustrated though I was, I could understand his reluctance and refusal to impart certain details. I mean, I am a researcher who tends to write about my research. And he’d kept his secrets for a very, very long time. He was good at it. Just as history was good at holding on to certain secrets. No amount of badgering would move him. Instead he told me of his childhood in France and his escape to the sea. It wasn’t a pretty tale as we of modern times love to embellish the past with romance. It was about as far from romance as you could get. Betrayal, battles, harsh captains, harsher conditions and poverty had marked him deep and young, so very young. My heart ached for the child he’d been and the lessons he’d learned at the hands of men with no soft feelings.
As the crowds thickened around us, Jean Baptiste moved closer to me until his arm was about my waist, his hand on my hip well padded by numerous layers of cloth. Speaking softly, I asked him about the day to day existence of the modern vampire. How often did he need to feed? Did he really like it? What was it like being a fledgling in the eighteenth century, especially since he’d killed his dam? The pain of old memories clouded his eyes, but he answered and I felt his anguish. Something of my dismay must have shown on my face for he hastened to reassure me that I wouldn’t suffer in ignorance. He promised I’d never be alone without guidance…or love.
He loved me. I felt it. I knew it. So why would he want me to suffer as he did? But if I loved him, would eternity with him truly be suffering? My brain screamed at me to flee, but my heart whispered, stay. That lone word pushed away the doubt and pain. I did love him and could picture eternity in his arms.
Standing there, I just wasn’t certain I could pay the price.
“Morgan, it is nearly time.” He turned me around until I looked into his agonized eyes. “What will it be? Life eternal with the only man who will love you for all time, or shall I delve into your mind, wiping any trace of me from your mind? It will be as if I’d never walked into your life, never held you in my arms, or loved you will a passion you have never felt before. The decision is yours to make.”
He stepped away until the shadows nearly overtook him. Staring at him, I wished I had an answer, but all I had was a blank spot in my heart I knew would never heal if I lost him. Would forgetting him erase the ache burning in my heart?
The shouts of revelers counting down the seconds to midnight was but a soft roar, like the sound of the ocean as heard from a shell.
Oh, Mama, what should I do?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Friday, October 31
“Morgan, I love you.”
Jean Baptiste’s voice and words reverberated inside my head. Aside from my parents, no one had ever said those words to me in such earnest fervor.
I’d found love, and beneath the handsome exterior lay a monster ripped from the pages of fiction. Unable to speak, not knowing what I felt, I slumped against the railing of the pier. Behind me ships sounded their horns. Music from the many, many parties drifted and mixed with the soulful sound. Jazz, rock, trumpet, piano, clarinet… the sounds swirled around me, but none of them drown out the sound of two heartbeats perfectly matched in rhythm.
Yes, Mama, you and Papa both counseled me many times to find a moment of quiet and think things through when the world seemed at its most chaotic. So I stopped to think. Jean Baptiste stood stiffly before me, making no move to come closer but I could see a level of nervousness breaking his cool exterior. Despite that, I knew loving him would be more than just words.
Vampire lore began to rise to the surface. Tales of horror, mind control, sexual frenzy, blood-thirsty rampages… each one rose with a picture in my head. Each one more horrid than the previous and I shuddered against the terror.
I cleared my mind and more modern interpretations came to me. Less violent. More humane. Sensual. The new, kinder, gentler vampire of popular fiction. The Jean Baptiste I’d grown to know this past week. To my horror, I felt my body yearning for him. I craved the comfort of his arms. I needed to talk about this but there was no one, no one but him. I hadn’t seen Mattias all day, though it would be interesting to get his view point about now.
“Talk to me,” I said at last and his body relaxed only a tiny bit. “Have you bitten me?”
“Yes.” Like a man with nothing left to lose, he faced me squarely, without flinching.
My hand covered the side of my neck. “Does that mean I’m… like you?”
“Not unless you choose to be.”
I didn’t dare allow relief to set in. Since Vampire myth has many variations, I wasn’t sure, exactly, what he meant. “Explain.”
“You have the choice, Morgan. You can drink of my blood and spend eternity with me, or you can walk away and never see me again. You’ll live out your days as normally as anyone has a right to expect. You won’t remember any of this.”
“Never see you again?” What was the constriction that wrapped around my heart at the words that sounded so final? Live out my days without him? And yet, if I denied his words, that was exactly what would happen.
“If you choose to walk away,” he turned aside, letting his words drift away from me, “I shall stand here and await the sunrise.”
The bleak expression on his face touched something deep inside, something beyond the fear. “And that will…?”
“I will depart this plane, this dark existence.” How he said those words without flinching is something I may never know. Like a man facing the gallows, he spoke plainly with little emotion.
“And go where?” I’d seen Jean Baptiste stop and seemingly talk to an apparition and heard the word Hell, but little else. As a Christian I believe in the afterlife. But for vampires, is there one?
“Where I go will be of no concern to you. Believe me, my love, it will be a fate I richly deserve. My existence in this world will cease and I will bother you no more.”
Wait, I may be repulsed by the idea of vampires, but I didn’t want to let him go. There was so much I wanted to know. So many questions I had and, remembering what he’d said earlier, I only had until midnight? Since it didn’t seem like he wanted to rip my throat out, some of the terror left me to be replaced by curiosity. “So you’re saying you’d commit the vampire equivalent of suicide if I reject your offer of life eternal?”
Something deep flickered in his eyes, an emotion that couldn’t hide in the shadows. “It will be a life clothed in eternal darkness. You are my sunlight, Morgan. If you turn me away, there is no doubt in my mind I will never find the peace that only you bring me.”
“Isn’t that just a little melodramatic?” I’m ashamed to say I scoffed. I flinched when Jean Baptiste closed his eyes.
“No. After two hundred and forty seven years, I’m tired of living this way. Had I not met you, I could have continued on in my apathetic way, but you’ve shown me what joy can exist. But that joy is to be had only with you. I’ve waited long enough… lived with the horror and this blackness on my soul for way too long… I want it all or I want nothing. I want you,” he said, the depth of his emotion making his body tense, but he didn’t move toward me, “but I want you willing.”
“So you haven’t tried any mind control tricks on me? How do I know this for certain?”
His dark eyes flew open and his gaze locked with mine. “No, I’ve not bent your will to match mine. I think it should be obvious by the way I let you run, by the way I told you it was your choice. Had I used mind control on you, we’d be writhing in your bed, taking and giving life to each other. Had I used my powers to compel you, at this moment I’d be buried in your body, our fangs in each others’ necks.”
My hand flew to my neck and I shivered, the memory of our lovemaking exquisitely fresh in my mind. My body ached for him. I wanted him in me, I wanted my body wrapped around his, our hearts beating against each other. Loving and laughing, like I’d only experienced with him. My entire being reached out to him and only with great control did I keep my hands from grabbing his lapels and pulling him to me.
“Wait. Did you say two hundred and forty seven years?” Did this mean…?
“Yes. I am the pirate you’ve been seeking all these years.” His mouth twisted into a mockery of a smile that held a bitterness that tore at my heart.
“And you want me to let you die?” This was history, my thesis, living, breathing, standing in front of me! My heart pounded with a new excitement. At last! A true accounting of history, a chance to know, for real, just what life was really like, to get the answers to so many mysteries…
Jean Baptiste chuckled softly. “No, Morgan. If you join with me, you cannot write your paper and reveal to the world what happened to me, nor reveal where my pirate treasure is hidden.”
So he’d read my mind. Or I’m just that transparent. The scholar in me pouted. My pout must
have showed on my face for he stepped close and cupped my cheek, his thumb gentle as it brushed the corner of my mouth.
“The records have been destroyed for a reason. No vampire will allow the truth to be published. We like hiding in the shadows of legend. Right now we’re fashionable because of some clever writers, but in reality, if our existence were ever proven as fact, we’d be hunted like animals.”
To my almost chagrin, I felt feminine wiles rising and I tipped my head coquettishly. “So, I couldn’t use any of it?”
“Nothing of what I tell you, if I tell you, can be verified, therefore it is useless to you.” Jean Baptiste tipped his forehead to meet mine. “Besides, I’m not about to become your lab rat, history project or something to be studied. You’ve studied me enough and come damn closer to the truth than anyone else. I want you as my lover, not my keeper.”
Of their own volition, my hands touched the lapels of his coat. I’m still not sure if I meant to pull him close or push him away. The man was seriously in my space and I felt my libido stealing all the control I so desperately needed. I only had two more hours to decide my, our, future. Suddenly I felt the weight of the world upon my shoulders and it nearly knocked me to my knees. Except Carlo would have my head for ruining the dress by falling down on this filthy pier. And because of the corset, I’d need the help of a crane to get me upright again.
“So, if I choose to bite you and join you, what will become of me and my career?” The thought of leaving my position, giving up my life’s work was painful.
I loved my job. I loved teaching. I loved the feedback from my students, I loved breathing life into dull and dusty history. To lose all that would be agony. To finally know all of Jean Baptiste’s secrets – what had he been doing for the last quarter of millennia, what was life really like in New Orleans each past decade, who were the movers and shakers and what shady deals had they made in dark rooms, how had he survived the wars, what sides had he backed and why – would it be worth it? Could I keep it all to myself? I lived to share with the world the secrets of the past I uncovered. I had a devoted following of people who waited for each paper I researched and wrote. All that would disappear if I chose Jean Baptiste and eternity with him, or would it?
“Morgan, you’re killing me here,” he groaned. “My future—our future—rests in your hands. Chose to love me, or damn me with your denial. One way or the other, end the agony of the suspense.”
He was in agony? He’d sprung this on me, terrified and confused me, and he wanted me to make a snap decision? “Hey, you gave me until midnight.” As if I could sort out my turmoil that fast. I pushed him away just far enough to give him a good glare. “I’m thinking here.”
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Friday, 31 October
My heart sank, as Morgan dashed toward the door. Her face wrapped in fear, she wrestled with the doorknob. I could easily have rushed to her but her reaction kept me rooted in place. I had been a fool to hope she would blindly accept this. A part of me died in that instant. Seeing her flee, after feeling the love she held for me grow over the past few days, withered the parts of my heart that had begun to grow like spring crocuses pushing through last year’s moldy leaves.
Even as she slipped through to the street beyond, I could not move. Pain held me in place, the pain of knowing I was too monstrous to hold love in my hands. I have never been one given to emotional outbursts yet the sight of her leaving drove me to the brink of one. Standing there, I knew I could not let things stay as they were. The need to go to her was too strong. If for no other reason than to calm her down and explain that, in spite of what she might think, I would never harm her. I would rather die under the fires of the sun than go on knowing she didn’t love me.
Come morning that was exactly what I would do.
Willing my legs to move, I flew from the house. The revelry of Halloween had moved toward the French Quarter and the trick-or-treating children were being put to bed, leaving the street empty but for the drunks who always seemed to find the darkness of solitude a well honed lover. My eyes tore through the haze and saw Morgan as she rounded the far corner. Forgoing stealth, I raced after her. My stride cut the distance and I rounded the corner to find it likewise deserted. So many opportunities for her to disappear presented themselves. Any side street could hide her retreat. Taking one wrong turn could easily lead me further away from her.
Stopping in the middle of the avenue, I let my mind wander. Fragments of thoughts filtered through the heavy air but nothing that bespoke Morgan’s presence. The crying of a woman reached me but it was not her. Apparently melancholy had many lovers this night. I dropped my chin to my chest in frustration. The overwhelming stench of celebrating humanity clogged the air. I’d lost her.
I turned back the way I’d come, when the barest trace of her perfume floated to me. My head pivoted toward a street leading off to the left just ahead of me. Girding myself for failure, I took off. The street was more alley than road. The faint shuffle of hurried footsteps, along with the unmistakable sound of skirts swooshing in time to them, echoed from the opening at the other end of darkness. I’d found her.
Sure enough as I plowed through the shifting refuse calling the alley home, I saw her exiting into a crowd milling in the street beyond. Throwing caution to the wind, I allowed my speed to go past that of mortals. I exited soon after her but she had already delved into yet another patch of shadow. Refusing to give in to failure I bounded after the tell-tale billow of her dress as it slipped into the void.
“Morgan!” I called out as I broke through the throng unknowingly protecting her escape.
Her silence as she dashed away answered my plea. I thought I saw her head twist back for one fleeting second but that could have just been a case of hope blinding me to the reality she didn’t want me anymore. In spite of my self doubt, I followed. The confused rush left me little in the way of direction to my mad dash. My brain and body operated solely on instinct. If asked where I had been headed the answer would have stymied me. I was completely lost until the salty scent of the Gulf of Mexico reached me on a stray breeze.
The halo of lights from the docks blazed noon before me as I broke through the darkness of the city proper. In its center Morgan ran toward the only faithful lover I’d ever had until her. My steps quickened and the space between us shortened with each pump of my legs.
She was nearly in my grasp when the air solidified before me. I staggered back, as the air took shape. My worst nightmare appeared, shimmering like hellfire in the sweltering night. After too many lifetimes to mention, the demon who gave birth to the horror I had become rose to mock me in the shadows of my despair. The witch Diabolique had returned.
Her smoky voice made my dead flesh shiver. “Lover, did you really think I’d allow you to love another?”
I quieted the fear screaming through my brain. “Diabolique, what Hell saw fit to release you from its hold?”
“None but the one I rule, my love.” Her spirit moved through the air, settling in front of me.
“You have no hold over me, anymore. That ended the day I killed you,” I snarled.
Her laughter sang through the night. “Yet here I am to stop your heart from finding that for which it yearns.”
“Damn your black soul. You can’t harm me anymore. Go back to the abyss, where you belong!” I screamed.
“Oh, harming you is not my intention. I simply wished to see your agony when you kill the only person capable of saving your doomed soul. I wonder how her blood will taste as you drain the life from her.”
“You are wrong.” My hands itched to close around her throat once more. “I would never take her life. I will die first.”
A smile spread across her face. “Then that is opportune for me. When death takes you, it will be me waiting on the other side and what pleasures will we share with eternity as our playground.”
The horror of her words stunned me. In truth, I had not considered the reward waiting for me. Yet even an eternity in Diabolique’s clutches would not make me take Morgan’s life. The bitch could do her worst. This world belonged to the sun and its name was Morgan Beauchamp. I existed as a shadow, a passing nightmare to be forgotten and that was exactly what I planned.
I pushed through the spectral form, stopping once past her. “Go back to Hell, Diabolique. I’ll see you when I’m done.”
Without a second glance, I walked toward Morgan. A sudden chill let me know Diabolique was gone.
My attention turned to Morgan. She sat huddled against the rails of a pier that swam out into the river. I sensed the shock rolling off her. If I could alleviate the feeling from her bones, I would have done so gladly. Let her think me a monster, if it made this nightmare cleave from her soul. My steps were slow and measured but they quickly ate up the distance between us.
I stopped a few feet from her. The pain marking her ripped me to shreds. The best way to do this was to make a clean break. I would not have her hurt a moment longer because of me.
“Morgan, I never meant to frighten you, but the time has come for you to know…” Words failed me. Emotions long dormant swelled within me. All the things I wished suddenly seemed inadequate. The things I wished to speak could not be said with mere words. I clenched my hands and locked my knees. I only wanted to fall at her feet and let her end my torment.
“What did you want me to know? That you lied to me? That you’re a monster? Tell me, Jean or John, whoever the hell you really are. What was so important that you needed to tear out my heart? Tell me you bastard!” She broke into sobs that slurred her words. “Just tell me.”
I said the only words that I could.
“Morgan, I love you.”
And may the fates curse me for a fool, because I do, and not even death can stop me from loving her.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 31
As much as my appearance seemed to affect Jean Baptiste, his appearance nearly made me faint. So close was his resemblance to my pirate from the eighteenth century, I felt as if I were staring at an apparition come to life. Was it not said that the veil between this world and death was at its thinnest this night? Was this, in fact, the real Jean Baptiste answering the call of my obsession after all these years?
From black boots and breeches, white shirt and lacy cravat, and deep wine red coat, even the dashing wide-brimmed and feathered hat, the only indication of the modern man was the lack of a powdered wig. His black hair was pulled back and tied with a black satin ribbon. Polished and sophisticated, I’d never seen a better costume. My blood warmed and thrummed through my veins so strongly I raised a hand to my throat, feeling the pulse under the thumb that covered the love bite on my neck. I hadn’t had time for the makeup Carlo had suggested.
“Come in,” I gasped and gave my best rendition of a short curtsey. Jean Baptiste swept off his hat with a grand flourish and bowed deeply.
He straightened and stepped in, closing the door behind him. Candlelight flickered, adding an air of authenticity to the setting. He stepped close to me and cupped my nape, his gaze roving over me as if trying to memorize or remember something from the past. “You hair, down like this, is very much more pleasing than the hairstyles of the period.”
His fingers sifted through the curls that had defied my attempts to put it up. Instead, I’d tied pieces back with lengths of ribbon and Mardi Gras beads of clear crystals. Definitely a departure from authenticity. But now I was glad of it. If it earned his approval, nothing else mattered.
“Dinner is nearly ready,” I managed to say. The look in his eyes told me he didn’t hunger for anything so mundane as the roundsteak parmesan I had warming.
“I would have made reservations, but I wanted to be alone with you. Thank you for cooking for me.”
The kiss he placed on my lips guaranteed my willingness to cook for him in the future. I’d cook anything he wanted, as long as I knew we’d be together all night. I wondered what he liked for breakfast, but didn’t get the chance to ask.
Mesmerized by the look in his eyes, I found myself at the table with plates of food and glasses of wine before us. We held long conversations without saying a word. He fed me, we shared wine and sweet kisses until I felt my blood running hot and heavy. I wanted to tear up the ball tickets. I didn’t care. This night was for us and us alone. The need to mix with crowds was the one thing furthest from my mind.
“Dessert?” I asked at long last.
The sensual smile he gave me turned my knees to jelly and I doubted I could walk the three steps to the kitchen to exchange dinner plates for dessert of moist dutch chocolate cake with four layers, all frosted with deep dark chocolate of course. The best aphrodisiac in the world in my opinion. Clichéd I’m sure, but sometimes clichés exist for a reason, usually because they are the best way to do something.
Jean Baptiste followed me and as I reached for the coffee pot, he assembled the cups and saucers, one hand on my hip.
“Did you know I find a woman trussed up in stays to be incredibly sexy? Like unwrapping the best gift in the world.” His soft breath teased my bare neck and I felt it flow down my chest to where the corset finally started, just bare centimeters above my nipples. If I’d thought the red dress on Monday night had given me cleavage, this costume outclassed it by miles. “And once she’s unwrapped from the many layers of fine linen and lace, I then like to truss her up another way.” The whisper brushed my bare shoulder and his lips lightly kissed the spot before feathering up my neck.
I was powerless in his arms. I wanted what he promised.
“But first, we must talk.” He pulled away and picked up the coffee cups.
Cool air roused me from the erotic haze, but barely. Just enough for me to carry the plates of cake to the table. “What is there to discuss?”
“Morgan,” he took my hand, “there are things you don’t know about me. Things you must understand. I wish I could give you more time, yet I doubt even a week would be long enough to make lifelong choices, but this night is here and a year is too long. It must happen tonight.” His dark eyes seemed as if they were trying to send me a message, but I didn’t understand.
“What choices?” And why was Halloween crucial?
Jean Baptiste lifted a fork and fed me a bite of the richly decadent cake, watching each movement of my mouth, the way I chewed, swallowed, then licked my lips. His pupils dilated in the way I knew so well. He was captivated and it mattered not to me who seduced whom, as long as seduction was the game.
“I want you to be with me so much,” he paused as if considering his next words carefully, “but you must choose freely… by midnight. I’ll give you until then to think about this.”
Nodding my head, I tried to show my encouragement. “Okay. Midnight. I promise to think carefully about what you are going to tell me.” I couldn’t help smiling a little. He wanted to be with me. The very thought made my heart trip out an ecstatic tattoo.
“This is no laughing matter,” he snapped, his frown ferocious, and I had a glimpse into how Jean Baptiste from the eighteenth century must have dealt with unruly crew members aboard The Gilded Lady.
“Okay, I’m serious. I’m listening.” I tightened my grip on his hand.
Dark eyes shimmering with deep emotions locked with mine. “I’ve never known another woman like you. You’ve grown to become a part of me. I feel as if my blood is yours and your blood is mine.” His thumb rested over the veins lining my wrist. “Our hearts beat in tandem. Our minds think alike in so many ways. My soul is in your keeping and the only way I’ll get it back is if…”
“Yes?” I softly urged when he hesitated.
“If you join with me for eternity.”
Eternity. Such an odd word to use. Powerful. Final. Frightening in its promise.
“Eternity. Certainly. I’m drawn to you as well. I feel as if I’ve known you forever, as if we knew each other in a past life and have found each other again in this one,” I said.
“You may not be far off, but what I’m talking about does not involve a civil ceremony. Not even a religious one. I’m talking the blending of our souls, our essences, our very blood, to become one in a way no humans can ever experience.”
I must admit, his choice of words was beginning to concern me. Mattias’ warnings of vampires came back to me in answer to the word humans. But vampires don’t exist. They’re of myth and legend, like werewolves and faeries. I shook my head in confusion. “I get the whole soul mate thing. Honestly, I feel that way too, but you’re confusing me… I’m sure it’s Halloween, Mattias’ paranoia, New Orleans’ love of the paranormal, but I’m starting to wonder… I mean, I know unexplained things happen, but… according to legends, what you’re talking about sounds like…” Lord, I didn’t want to say the word and have him laugh at me. I gulped in a fortifying breath then spit it out. “Vampires.”
Not only did Jean Baptiste not laugh at me, his eyes stayed steady, the expression upon his beautiful face grave. My gaze shifted to his mouth, his beautiful talented mouth that knew how to draw out my deepest passions and there, I saw a tiny drop of blood, as if he’d bitten his lip. My hands grew icy, my heart began to pound and all I could think about was licking that drop of blood from his lower lip. I wanted to bite that lip and suck in the blood calling to me.
A loud sound from the street broke through the haze enfolding me and I jumped to my feet. Jean Baptiste released my fingers from his hand and I backed away as realization sank in.
Vampires are not of myth and legend.
Vampires are real.
Jean Baptiste is a vampire.
My hand flew to my neck to cover the site of his love bite. His mark, where he had bitten me.
I’d been bitten.
What did it mean? Was Mattias right? Did I have this taint now? Had I been turned? My thoughts raced through the last few days, my days sluggish, my nights productive, my pale face and sensitivity to light, sound and scent…
My hand grasped my throat, as if I could make myself breathe better. Surely my lack of oxygen wasn’t entirely due to the corset, but rather the tall man now standing beside my table. No. Not a man.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, 31 October
If I had still been human, the urge to sleep in would have been overwhelming. It had been ages since I drank so deeply from a single person as I had from Mattias. The sensation had made me lackadaisical, dare I say comatose even. Knowing I would see Morgan upon rising propelled me from my rest. I vaguely remembered something about a fancy dress ball later in the evening, but I needed to speak with Morgan first. The quiet dinner at her home would allow me the chance I needed to, as this generation says, spill my guts, though in my day spilling one’s guts involved a more mortal outcome. In this instance, perhaps the two were more closely related than I first thought.
We’d agreed to meet a little before six at her home. If I remembered correctly, the party would not begin until much later. Nine, I believed. Seeing to my toiletry and choosing something in fitting with the fancy dress event we were to attend, a remake of my best pirate captain dress suit brought back by a clever tailor whose mind I have become adapt at controlling, I formulated a plan where I would set her at ease and hopefully create the proper atmosphere for what I had to say. I in no way considered this to be an easy task. Before the night was done, my words would destroy her safe little world. Morgan would know the natural world was not as she had come to think of it. And neither was I.
Some trepidation dogged my heels as I made my way to her home. If I loved her, why was I planning to rip apart everything that made her human? Did my own selfish concerns matter more to me than Morgan’s happiness? Did it matter? My decision had been made. Whatever else happened this night, we would either be together for all eternity or our love would forever be doomed to the bounty of death.
Disregarding the sobering thought, I turned upon Morgan’s street. The crush of early evening traffic pressed me toward the storefronts and apartment buildings lining her roadway. Ahead I had a flash of recognition. Mattias’ huddled form in the crowd. His gaze was plastered on Morgan’s gatehouse apartment. Weaving in and out of the mass of people populating the sidewalk, I made no move to capture his attention. I wanted to take him unawares to discover the truth. Probing his mind would have revealed all, but I wanted the truth to fall from his lips.
By the time I made my presence known, Mattias had no chance to escape. Gripping the back of his shirt, I pulled him into the shadow cloaked alcove directly across from Morgan’s door. The man did not even try to lie. Voice quaking, he admitted stalking Morgan but not to harm her. His unrequited love for her seeped through the fractured barriers of his mind. Only that singular emotion could snap my control over him.
I did not wonder at his reasoning for being here. The evidence of truth damned him more than his thoughts ever could. The press of a stake curled back against Mattias’ wrist told the tale. Instead of fury, laughter kindled inside me. A mental push sent him sinking to the ground. I couldn’t bring myself to slay him. His strength of will provided an interesting foil for me but I would not brook another such action on his part. The next would mean his death. For now, unconsciousness held him so that my plans could proceed unimpaired. By the time he woke, it would be too late for him to save anyone, let alone himself.
Leaving him to the gutter he so richly deserved, I crossed the street. A flutter of nerves entered my stomach, twisting it into an uncomfortable knot. The closer my feet brought me to her door, the more the urge to flee swamped my brain. Forcing it down unto my subconscious, I stepped onto the tiny landing at her door. Before my hand reached for the ornamental knocker, the door flew open revealing a vision so glorious my eyes burned with the radiance.
“Come in, Jean Baptiste, my love.”
With those simple words my damnation and salvation were sealed.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, October 31
I’m keeping a hand journal today as the laptop is too heavy to carry with me, and in quiet moments, I want to record each thought, each step, each action. The day is heavy with anticipation and the wild abandon only New Orleans can provide on such a holiday is steadily building.
Not knowing what will come tonight, I just finished putting my house in order, so to speak. The apartment is clean, my notes organized, lesson plans are set for the rest of the semester, and even my bank accounts are balanced. Heavens to Betsy, I didn’t realize how much money I have. I’ve ignored the stock accounts for years and what you all left me has now grown to a respectable amount. I can retire and continue my research in my own way. In any case, have the planets aligned and no one told me? I can’t remember the last time I had such a nesting instinct clobber me over the head.
Lord, I even have dinner ready for when Jean Baptiste is scheduled to show at six.
Carlo came to my rescue yet again this week. In the back of his storeroom he has a truly exquisite wardrobe of period dresses. Remade with the same materials and painstaking detail from dresses he’d once found in an old trunk at his grandmother’s house. The treasure trove he’d found there still keeps him busy many nights, he told me as he dug through the racks squeezed into his back room littered with bolts of fabric, patterns, measuring tapes and all sorts of design paraphernalia. How he had time to create and run his boutique I have no idea.
“So, who is he? You’ve never come to me for a slut dress or a costume in the same week.” Carlo dug deep into the clothes carefully bagged against dust and insect damage. “Come to think of it, you’ve never come to me for either.” Was that censure I’d heard in his tone?
“I doubt you know him, but he is one hot pirate,” I told him, thinking of what my modern Jean Baptiste would look like if dressed like the real pirate.
“Try me.” Carlo’s voice came back to me muffled by the yards and yards of fabric. “I know everyone in this town, honey.”
“Jean Baptiste Morgane. Just like the pirate I’ve been researching all my life.” The rustling in the corner stopped and I looked toward Carlo who seemed frozen. Had the clothes finally come to life and possessed him, I thought with a giggle.
“Jean Baptiste Morgane who sometimes goes by the name John Morgan?” Carlo began to move again, this time backing into the room wrestling with a particularly bulky bundle.
Surprise made me stop and stare. “Yes. You know him?”
“I told you, honey,” Carlo looked back at me with half lowered lids, “I know everybody worth knowing in this town. Possibly even this state.” He hung up the heavy looking garment bag and began to carefully open it. “For example, this dress was coveted by the governor’s wife last Mardi Gras but I wouldn’t let her wear it. However, for you,” he glanced over his shoulder, his eyes taking in my form as a tailor would, “this dress is begging to be worn by you.”
The garment bag dropped away and all I could do was gasp. Constructed of deep rose damask, yards of ribbon, and spills of lace, the dress was living history. My hand flew to the necklace hidden by the neck of my sweater. The rubies would come to life with that dress.
“I styled it after a dress Madame Pompadour wore when she posed for François Boucher. You have the same creamy skin and the perfect curves for this gown. I even have the proper choker to hide that bite mark on your neck.” Carlo clucked his tongue and sadly shook his head. “Some men don’t know how to mark their woman. Is this the result of the red dress?” His soft hand cupped my neck and his thumb rubbed over the barely visible hickey over my jugular.
“Yes. That dress got me laid by the most delicious…”
“Jean Baptiste Morgane,” Carlo finished my sentence and pulled away while shaking his head. “No time for modesty, girlfriend. Strip down to the skin and we’ll get started. It will take at least forty minutes to get you into this rig. And I don’t have to tell you, if you get blood on this dress, I won’t be happy.” He gave me a long, meaningful stare then twitched aside the curtains and walked into the dressing area. “I’m just going to lock the door so we won’t be interrupted. Get those modern clothes out of the way.”
“All of them?” I couldn’t believe the squeak in my voice.
“Every stitch! We’re going for full authenticity. Pull on the chemise first.” His voice carried back to me as I hurried, hoping to get the chemise on before he returned. I’m not a prude, but parading around naked for anyone not a lover was a bit disconcerting. My back to the curtained doorway, I’d just pulled the very thin and transparent garment over me when I heard the swish of the curtain.
“Yes, your body is perfect for this gown,” Carlo said with approval. “I must have had you in mind when making it.” A long arm reached past me and I felt the heat of him behind me. “Corset next.”
He hadn’t been joking about the time to dress me, but in the end, it was worth every moment. Though the weight is unfamiliar, the entire ensemble fit like a well loved glove and I find it reasonably comfortable. I am also glad it is a cool night, for the layers are quite warm despite the lack of panties or even pantalets. Stockings anchored with garters and a touch of modern technology, a special glue, are all that cover my legs beneath the petticoats. It feels wicked and decadent.
“Nice necklace, by the way.” Carlo stood back and assessed the final piece of my costume, a finger thoughtfully tapping his lips. I had a feeling he knew something about the necklace, or about Jean Baptiste, but he wasn’t about to tell me. I hate those kinds of secrets. “A touch of makeup will hide your love bite since you don’t need the choker.”
“It was a gift. My birthday present.”
“From Jean Baptiste?” A finely shaped brow arched. “A very valuable gift.”
A strange shiver touched my heart then and my hand flew to the jewels circling my throat. Was it a mistake to wear them? Carlo, whom I’d known for a decade, eyed the stones in a way that made me feel vulnerable.
“I hope he’ll meet you here,” Carlo said and turned away to hang up my street clothes. “It would be foolish to walk the streets with that on your neck. You wouldn’t make it two blocks before getting mugged.”
“Get me a cab,” I said. “He’s coming for dinner at six.”
“You have about fifteen minutes to get home then.” Carlo reached for his phone. A quick conversation, half in French, and he hung up with a smile. “They’ll be out front in two minutes.”
True to his word, Carlo had me bundled into a cab with my street clothes in a bag. With only a minute to spare, I hitched up my skirts and dashed up the stairs to my apartment.
I’m sure it’s only fancy, or the Halloween atmosphere, but I could almost swear someone, or something, watched me from deep shadows. I don’t have time to worry about it. Jean Baptiste is coming and I just put dinner in the oven to warm, the candles are lit and everything is perfect. Tonight, something momentous is going to happen. I’m just not sure what.
He’s knocking now. Showtime!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I am happy to announce that I’ve found a new home. No,
So how does one celebrate the upcoming release of what is soon to be a holiday favorite? You Elf Around of course and get as naughty as you can before they jerk all your presents out from under the tree. To get y’all started, here’s an excerpt from Elfing Around. Go ahead read. Santa’s not watching. I checked.
Lyrical Press Inc
December 1, 2008
I’d seen enough cop shows to know when they said freeze you were supposed to get your hands up. The last thing I needed was to be shot to death by a
“Okay, missy. Keep ‘em where I can see them. No funny stuff, either. My gun’s got a hair trigger and I ain’t afraid to use it.” The cop yelled in a nasally southern drawl.
Dear Lord, it was
“Sir, I’m sure that this is all a big mistake. If you could tell me what I’ve done, maybe we could work this all out.” I leaned into the light, not above flashing a little cleavage if it got me away from this cop and back to my comfy little tent.
“Alright, you tuck them goodies back where they belong.” He snarled, but I could see him stooping forward to take a look. Pervs were the same all over.
Just because he might end being a pervert, didn’t necessarily mean he was going to be a push over. I needed to figure something out or the boss was going to blow his lid. I didn’t need him to come down here and bail me out of jail. Somehow, that didn’t sound like a good thing. Santa wasn’t big on felons in the work shop, besides he might just let me stew in my juices until after the big night.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
That’s right! Morgan O and J. Morgan are leaving up to you, the readers, to decide the fate of our lovers caught between romance and a fangy death. If you’ve been reading, it’s simple. If you haven’t, shame on you, but there’s time to catch up. And when you’ve caught up, vote to let love live, or vote to see death tear them apart.
On All Souls Day, November 1st, we’ll post the last entry in the diaries.
So what do you get, besides an amazing story? One lucky reader will be chosen at random to win a goodie bag from Morgan O (complete with garlic mints and a mini vampire sock monkey), and a 2009 Mis-Staked Calendar and a happy fangy face decal for your car window from Jmo. So get those ballets ready. Voting starts Monday and runs through Friday midnight. Leave a comment on the blog, we’ll add them up and pick the winner and announce the name Sunday the 2nd.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 30
This is my week for ups and downs, wildly swinging emotions that put my preteen years to shame. He loves me, he loves me not. I might as well pick daisies and shred them with the pitiful nursery rhyme for company. If Mattias has his way, he’ll lock me away while Dagmar and company lead the torch bearing masses down upon Jean Baptiste’s head.
It seems my enterprising assistant has unknown depths. A detective cousin in the NOPD, a sister in the county courthouse with access to all sorts of records, and a niece who practices voodoo. Specifically against vampires.
Discounting the last associate, since my baleful glare was enough to tell him my powers of imagination had been stretched quite enough, he locked the two of us in my office this afternoon and laid out reams of “evidence” against Jean Baptiste. And how did he begin his search for this information? By skulking outside my home all last night and then following Jean Baptiste. That alone was enough to raise the hairs on the back of his neck, he told me. Apparently Jean Baptiste has no need of cars or cabs to get around town. Apparently he should try out for the next Olympics as surely he’d do the marathon in fifteen minutes. Tops. Apparently he has super human speed.
When I asked what symbol Jean Baptiste wore upon his superhero cape, Mattias glared instead of grinning. That was when he laid out the paperwork.
Ah, paperwork. The blood of my lifework. The fuel to my fire. I think you get the drift. A little paperwork doesn’t intimidate me. No sir. I live for paperwork. I know how to skim it for pertinent details. Printed out on fresh clean paper with sharp toner, typed up in easy to read fonts, I was able to process the information with speed that surprised even me, as tired as I was.
What strange malaise has taken over me this week? I crave sleep all day only to find my energy growing with each dark hour. Even so, I was able to glean the important details of where Jean Baptiste sequesters himself all day. A small house in Faubourg Marigny. Rundown to the point of almost appearing abandoned. No business license under the name John Morgan. Not even one under the name of Jean Baptiste Morgane. But the house and property on which it sits was registered under that name. With no record of any previous owner. Surely there was some glitch. Probably a record or two was lost somewhere along the line. Hurricanes have ravaged the city long before Katrina. I’m sure there’s a clerical error there somewhere, merely lost in paper records that disintegrated before the age of computers.
Sensing my sarcasm, Mattias sometimes does his best to fight it, he proceeded with the police findings. While police had never been called to that address, over the years neighbors had reported strange sightings, odd noises that sounded like wounded animals inside, and generally believed the house to be haunted. And the sounds were always in the deepest part of night. On occasion, a dark shadow shaped somewhat like a man would emerge and disappear into more shadows, but never in living memory had a live person been seen coming and going. Odd, yes, but in this city, odd was more normal than elsewhere. Hermits abounded the world round and I doubt all of them have records at the local city hall.
Mattias tried other theories to convince me my new lover was a vampire. Somehow he made the leap and suggested that my Jean Baptiste was in fact, the undead, and very real, Jean Baptiste Morgane of history.
Undead. Oh how fiction has made that term so very common these days. I know Mattias is a great fan of vampire fiction. He’s passed me the works of Sherrilyn Kenyon – quite an entertaining and inventive author, I highly recommend her by the way – Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, even Mary Janice Davidson. I’ve read them all and found the more frivolous the better I like them. I’ve told him to keep the gory ones to himself. The fact that this evening as he fought to convince me I was on the verge of joining the undead – where does he get these ideas? I blame the media – tells me he believes in what he’s saying. And here I thought I’d taught him the difference between true history and fiction. What a failure of a teacher I must be.
Vampires. The stuff of nightmares used to frighten misbehaving children or to provide a thrill of horror for those who don’t have enough horror in their lives. Trust me, a dissertation committee provides enough horror to satisfy me for many lifetimes.
And of course, he used Jean Baptiste’s nighttime appearances, and non appearances such as night before last and tonight, as further proof. I yawned and that only launched him into the physical appearance of my newest boyfriend. Skin untouched by the sun, pale as moonshadow. As mine was beginning to appear over the course of only a couple days. I explained that lack of sleep had been known to make me pale. He wasn’t amused when I followed that statement with a long, sensuous stretch. I’m sure he had more to say, but I watched as he gulped, his eyes on my body the way they had been only last Friday when we’d danced. Silly boy.
I waved him off. Whatever odd perfume he was wearing was making me sneeze and my eyes water. When I asked him what it was, he pulled a large clove of garlic out of his pocket. Now I like garlic, but this was too much. It had the potency of a huge raw onion. My eyes watered and I went through half a box of tissue before I convinced him to toss it out. In his trash can, in the outer office. Why must I be surrounded by amateurs? In the end the only thing he convinced me to do was to go home and get some sleep.
When I reached home, I found my second wind. The sunset was lovely and I toasted it with a glass of red wine, then opened my laptop to read the pages of the journal I’d scanned and was pleased to discover I was adjusting to the handwriting and the twisted use of languages. Enlarging it on the computer helped immensely. I could almost read it as easily as you can read this journal. Or rather, if you were alive and could physically read this drivel. Why did you ever want me to keep a journal? Such and annoying habit I have now.
So here it is. Jean Baptiste’s journal preserved in pixels. I hope Mattias’ friend doesn’t take too long to complete the authentication process. In reading tonight, I’ve learned Jean Baptiste made it to his destination, a small village wiped off the map decades ago by a hurricane. This is where the horror sets in. He mentions a b… obviously something Diabolique did, but the word is obliterated. Her action angered him so greatly, he strangled her and tossed her body into the waves pounding the shore.
What could she have done? In the journal the reading becomes difficult, some of it erased by water damages. Smeared. Written by an unsteady hand. Tears falling on the page? Or damage from the storm? I can’t tell. I can feel his rage and pain on the page. Did his mistress feel betrayed and in turn attacked him with an even greater betrayal? At least he cared enough to return and tell her in person. Have the grace to let him go. But no, this woman was vindictive and treacherous, enough that Jean Baptiste felt the need to defend himself by killing her.
Despite the help of modern techniques, the reading is difficult and slow. I’m at the end of another sleepless night and I can hear the early Halloween celebrations winding down. Tomorrow the city will be in full costume, including me.
Jean Baptiste called and we have a date to meet here for dinner and then we’ll go out to one of the many balls. Which one he has tickets for, I don’t know, but I’ve decided to dress as Constance, as I imagine she’d look if she’d ever worn this ruby necklace. Had Jean Baptiste returned from his trip, I imagine he would have given her such a gift, so strong is the passion for her I feel coming from the pages of this diary. Strong enough to give me a twinge of jealousy, and how silly is that? Alas, there are no further entries. History tells us later that night, a hurricane hit the island and the Gilded Lady was lost with all hands on deck.
I look forward to tomorrow night. I can hardly wait for him to see me in my costume. I arranged it with Carlo the other night and he swears he has just the dress for me. I can only hope it stuns Jean Baptiste into speechless wonder when I plan to take advantage of him. Every single inch of him.