Friday, October 31, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Six

I don’t think Jean Baptiste expected that.

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

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Five

From the Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

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.

Stop. Think.

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

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Four

From the Personal Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

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

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Three

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

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.

My God!

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

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Two

From the Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

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

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part One

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Friday, October 31

Dearest Mama,

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

Jmo is Elfing Around

I am happy to announce that I’ve found a new home. No, Jenna hasn’t kicked me but thanks for worrying. Lyrical Press has just contracted my Holiday Comedy, Elfing Around, just in time for Christmas. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic family of authors, especially since I’ll be there with my favorite Blog Bud, Morgan O herself.

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 Barney Fife wannabe so I popped them suckers up like I was a one woman wave. He had that damn light blinding me, so it wasn’t like I could run away.

“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 Barney Fife. Maybe, if I tried to reason with him, he’d let me go. Last time I checked standing on a street corner wasn’t a crime.

“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

A History Mystery of a Contest!

Come be a part of history. The Saga of Jean Baptiste Morgane is drawing to a close on The Morgan Diaries. But, how will the saga end? Will Love triumph over adversity and live on forever? Or Will tragedy forever split the star crossed Morgan Beauchamp and the eternal pirate Jean Baptist apart? Well, that’s up to you.

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

A History Mystery: Day Seven / Part Two

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Thursday, October 30

Dearest Papa,

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.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Seven / Part One

From the Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

Thursday, 30 October

Anger burned through me, so deep I can barely contain it. In spite of my control, this Mattias continues to thwart me. Images of him hinting and downright coming out and telling Morgan of my nature filled my slumber. If I did not think she would become suspicious instead of incredulous, I would have slain the man as soon as I woke. Though the calling to do so consumes me, I will not give into it. In all good time, he will outlive his usefulness and then I will see to him.

Instead, I decided to sequester myself in for the evening, thereby hoping to avoid the gnawing need to see Morgan. Despite my resolve, my brain refused to focus. It constantly whirled with thoughts of her, the rainbow splash of her eyes as she laughs, the way she purses her lips when she is deep in thought. As foolish as it this may sound, my body still tingled from the passion we’d shared before I slipped away with the blush of dawn painting the indigo void of the dying night.

Never in my existence have I felt so completely lost.

No, that isn’t true. Perhaps for the first time I am found. Morgan defines me like no other ever could. Looking back now with a spark of hope in my heart, the reality that Constance had not been the love of my life came bearing down on me. She had been a means to escape the life I’d chosen for myself. Assuredly, her beauty had marked her as a prize among women, as had her demure nature. I can not deny the benefits of a union between us but I remembered no passion. At least nothing resembling the heat I feel when I am with Morgan.

That train of thought has me straining to fly for the door. Calming the beat of my heart seems an impossibility, but I will strive to do just that.

In light of my decision to stay away from Morgan tonight, I thumbed through the journal I’d retrieved from Mattias, damn his soul. Immersing myself in ancient history didn’t offer the balm I sought. Yet, revisiting my youth made me see the truth. Diablolique’s curse did not make me a monster. I had already been one. Centuries later I saw my humanity had been a sham. Constance had been a tool to turn my buccaneering ways toward loftier atrocities. Whatever delusions I had cultivated lo those long years ago have now been cleared from my eyes.

With that, I know what I have to do. Sacrificing my happiness to let Morgan live without this taint I bear is no longer an option. For she is my happiness. But, can I force this burden upon her? I know that to blindly thrust this upon her will only drive a wedge between us, but I fear revealing it will accomplish the same outcome. To live without her is unthinkable. I can see that now.

Yet, I can not let her run from me when she hears the truth. My self-preservation will not allow for her to reveal my secret to the world. The popular media craze over vampires has diminished the speculative nature of the world. They hunger for vampires to be real. All it will take is for a whisper to become common knowledge and I will be hunted. I refuse to exist that way. No, her choice will be life or death. Nothing else can be allowed.

Love may sway my dead heart but my thoughts know what my heart wants to deny. Without love, life holds no meaning. Even this half life I endure would be heaven compared to what awaits me should Morgan say no. Do I risk all by revealing myself too soon?

I remember, from what little mortality persists to plague me, that normal courtships proceed at a slow rate, even those of an arranged nature. My heart knows we are meant to be together for eternity but will Morgan’s human understanding acquiesce to the harsh truths I must speak?

The thought agonized me for the better part of the evening. Only the chime of midnight striking the ancient mantle clock broke the moroseness of my musings. I knew the matter would prove moot if I didn’t act soon. I could see Mattias’ mind spinning with betrayal. If I didn’t take care of him first, he would take the problem out of my hands, creating an even larger one.

Laying the journal upon my side table, I rose to confront this willful thrall. The night welcomed me with a smothering haze as I exited the door to trudge through the growing humidity that not even darkness could diminish. I ignored it and made my way toward the heart of the city. The endless parade of lovers, or those caught in the grip of lust, no longer held amusement for me. They simply enlarged the yearning I felt to be with Morgan. As I neared Mattias’ abode, I clung to the backstreets to avoid the sight of true love in bloom.

A block from the man’s building, a sudden thought struck me. I made my way to one of the few pay phones left in working order and placed a call to Morgan. She answered with a warmness I found comforting. After apologizing for the intruding so late at night, I fabricated a lie about yet another night of business keeping me tied up. She accepted it gracefully, saying she had been working late in any case. Inquiring as to whether or not she would be free the following night, I expressed a need to see her. A lightness entered her voice and she answered that she was indeed available. She said that she would rather not dine out but would instead fix us a quiet dinner at her place. I agreed whole heartedly to her idea and bid her good night.

With a lighter air about me, I hastened to Mattais’ door. A simple knock gained me access. The man appeared haggard. Dark circles ringed his eyes, giving the indication of lost of sleep. His groveling did little to take the edge off my rage. If anything it infuriated me further. He opened his mouth to spout more lies to questions I had yet to ask. I could stand it no more. The back of my hand sent him sprawling across the floor. The crack of bone let me know, it was a lesson he would not soon forget.

Mattias scrambled to get out of my reach. Faster than he could blink, I jerked him up by his collar and slammed him into the wall. He gasped for breath, my hand tightening around his throat. The scent of his fear intoxicated me. The need to feed overwhelmed what reason I managed to control. With a twist of my hand I bared his neck. The pulse of his fevered life called to me. My fangs dropped and with one swift motion I sank them into his jugular.

The flavor of his fear tasted as sweet as honey upon my tongue. The touch of my lips on his flesh ignited the rush of his mind into my own. I captured his thoughts easily. They were so muddied with his anxiety, I fought to block them from becoming my own. Then blessed silence reached out to me. In the folds of his psyche I commanded obedience. With his death imminent he gladly gave it to me. I released him from my kiss as the last of his resistance flowed away.

I left him then, a crumpled husk of a man, but alive. On the morrow he would be tired, but this memory would remind him that his life was not a gift from God, instead it was a whim of my choosing.

A slight rain, more mist than actual precipitation, greeted me as I strode onto the deserted street. The washing spray soothed the burning that twisted under my skin. I had fed too deep, too fast. I felt drunk on the man’s life force coursing through my veins. It gave me a sudden clarity usually only reserved for geniuses and fools. Tomorrow I will claim my love or find death’s embrace to lull me to sleep.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Interview: Jenna Petersen

The Morgan Diaries are going back in time. Well, we’re dressing up in funny clothes this week. No, not for fun but seeing MorganO cinched up in a bodice is a wonder to behold. Well, Jmo in those tights and frock coat might not be a wonder, but it does make one wish for a Digital Camera. Today at The Diaries, we’re all about celebrating our guest Jenna Petersen’s arrival to the offices. If you’re not familiar with her work, where the heck have you been?!

Whether you love your romance just plain Scandalous, or want know for a fact Seduction is Forever, or you need Lessons From a Courtesan, this is one author you need gracing your bookshelf and we’re so happy to have her with us today.

TMD: Jenna welcome to our offices. Please sit down and ignore Jmo’s codpiece. He thinks he’s Black Adder. Have some tea and crumpets while you get settled.

JP: I’m trying not to look at the codpiece. I may have to burn my eyes out to erase that image.

TMD: We’d love for you to tell our readers a little about your newest release.

JP: Sure! My latest release came out in July 2008 and it is Lessons From A Courtesan. In it my hero and heroine, Justin and Victoria Talbot, married and shared one fabulous wedding night, but then Justin deserted her (he was forced into the marriage). Flash forward 3 years and all the men of the ton are talking about the Best Courtesan in London, Ria. Imagine Justin’s surprise when he realizes she is his estranged wife. It’s probably the sexiest historical romance I’ve written, as Justin and Victoria happen to be a very physical couple as they try to work through all the betrayal in their past.

My next historical romance comes out in April 2009. It features a former underground fighter who makes a bargain with a fallen lady to teach him how to be a gentleman again when he unexpectedly inherits a title. I loved writing a bit of a twist on a My Fair Lady idea. Plus, it’s very sexy and the guy is a fighter. What more could you ask for? It’s called, Her Notorious Viscount (and you can pre-order at Amazon already).

TMD: Historical Romance has been the bread and butter of the industry for a long time. Do you find it hard to come up with original storylines with such the wealth of authors who came before you?

JP: Not at all! The wonderful thing about writing is that you can give five authors the same premise and they’ll come up with five very different stories. The characters and the circumstances end up making each story fresh. Plus an author’s voice keeps things different.

TMD: Your Lady Spies series is certainly at the top of the heap when it comes with Historical Romance. What inspired you to take James Bond historical?

JP: Thanks! I did love writing the Lady Spies. I pitched the series as Charlie’s Angels in Empire Waists. I really loved writing three women who from the outside might look like your typical Society ladies, but in reality were something very different. Plus, the three of them have such a strong bond of friendship, so that was a great theme to explore in each book, as well.

TMD: As a lot of authors do today you divide your efforts into two different personas. Jenna Petersen for historical romance and Jess Michaels for Erotica. Do you find a division in your readership between these two names or do your fans cross over to enjoy both genres?

JP: I think there is cross-over. My historical romances have always been quite hot, so many fans who like them are also drawn to my erotic historicals. And if you like my really steamy erotics, you’ll probably enjoy my regular historicals. Occasionally I’ll find a fan who just doesn’t like erotic, but they like my historicals. But for the most part I think many go from one to the other easily.

TMD: Both Historical and Erotica take a certain mindset to write. Which do you find easier to write? And more enjoyable to write?

JP: I don’t really separate the two into like or easier. I really love writing both and since I seem to be on an alternating schedule (erotic, historical, erotic, historical) with my due dates, that actually gives me a little break in between each one, which is very nice. But each type of story is something I have a great amount of passion about.

TMD: When you’re focusing on the Historical side of your split personality how do you set the mood to get into the book? Morgan tugs on her corset and we’re ignoring what Jmo is tugging on.

JMo: Hey, this codpiece itches! I can’t help it.

Morgan O: That’s what all men say. Try breathing with a vise around your torso and then you can bitch.

JP: I don’t listen to music or burn candles or anything like that. I actually need it to be pretty quiet to write (though I am getting better at that). I just put my behind in the chair, put my notes in front of me and go.

TMD: We’re not sure if you’re familiar with the way these interviews of ours go, but it’s time to test your meddle in the fires of insanity!

As a historical author if you were a damsel in your own book who would you rather be saved by a knight in shining armor or Colin Firth wearing nothing but Jmo’s codpiece? After it had been disinfected of course.

JP: Colin Firth. I’m not much into medieval. Mr. Darcy wins my heart every time. Though I’d say lose the codpiece. It’s not really fitting with the time period anyway.

TMD: We can’t forget all the HOT, HOT men on your covers. How do you get the most beautiful men for your books? Do you get a choice in the decision on cover model? Like take them for a test drive to see how to get their motors running, out on the highway? Looking for adventure?

JMo: Calm down Morgan. I think that corset has cut off all the blood flow north.

MorganO: No way, I’m still drooling over Tristan on the cover of From London with Love (looking at the book upside down) he’s just so… so… *sigh*

JP: The Avon Art Department is the one responsible for all those fabulous covers and I have been extremely blessed by everything I’ve gotten from them. With the Jenna books, I send them cover info about a year before the book comes out. Things like: hair color, eye color, pose I’d like to see, scene I’d like to see… and often I send them a picture if I have one of something I’d like to see. I’ve been very lucky that they’ve been open to that. The From London With Love cover was exactly what I wanted (and yes, Tristan is delish on that cover).

And the cover glory continues! I’ve just gotten a sneak peek at my April 2009 cover for Her Notorious Viscount and my cover for my May 2009 Jess book, Taboo. I can’t share yet, but I will say that they are my two best covers to date, I think! And that’s saying something!!

TMD: Before she starts licking Tristan off that cover again, thank you for joining us today Jenna. We’ve loved having you and can’t wait to sample more of your books, so feel free to leave any WiPs with us. We just love sneak peeks.

JP: Well, in 2009, I will have three releases:

A Red Hot Valentine’s Day: This novella collection contains my Jess Michaels erotic historical story called “By Valentine’s Day”, which is a friends turned to lovers/trapped in a snowstorm story.

Her Notorious Viscount: I’ve talked a bit about this one here, but my hero is a pugilist (a boxer) in the Underground. He inherits a title and enters into an agreement with my heroine to learn how to be a gentleman.

Taboo: A Jess Michaels full-length erotic romance. In this one my heroine is a seamstress who also designs erotic toys on the side. The hero is the man who thinks she threw him over years before. It’s got blackmail, revenge and lots of hot sex. LOL

TMD: Don’t forget to let our readers know where they can find you plastered all over the net like MorganO is plastered on that cover.

JP: You can find me at . If you are a writer, I have site for aspiring authors called The Passionate Pen, . And I have a very active MySpace, .

MorganO: Oh Tristan, take me, I’m yours!

Jmo: See what I mean. Now I’ve got to get the Jaws of Life to get her out of that corset before she passes out. Thanks for joining us this week!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Excerpt: Lessons from a Courtesan by Jenna Petersen

An almost imperceptible shiver worked its way through Victoria’s body. It was such a tiny movement, but it hit Justin in the gut like a sucker punch. Damn, but he wanted this woman. More than that, he wanted to make her crave him day and night. He wanted to be certain she left London with memories of him burned on her for life.

A cruel desire, when he had no intention of living as her husband in anything more than name only. That hadn’t changed. The obstacles that stood between them in the past still existed. He was even more uncertain of her motives than ever. Yet he still wanted her to surrender to him in every way.

He really was an unbearable bastard.

Victoria turned slightly and gazed up at him. Her lower lip was trembling, her eyes slightly glazed. “I didn’t think you kept mistresses, Justin. What will people say?”

He shrugged.

“That you are the most desirable woman in the Empire,” he said softly. “And I only take the best.”

Her gaze darted away. “You don’t think I’m the most desirable woman in Britain,” she said, her voice barely carrying even with the miniscule distance between them.

“Don’t I?”

She shook her head. “You never have.”

He tilted his head in surprise and examined her face carefully. She lifted her chin, daring him to refute her words, but behind her bravado and contempt, he sensed a long buried hurt. Though he doubted she would ever admit that to him.

He should have left it be. Let her think that he never wanted her for more than a few moments, but there was some part of him that couldn’t let that belief exist.

“You’re wrong,” he murmured as he slipped his fingers into her hair and cupped the back of her head. With a gentle tug, he forced her to look into his eyes. “You are so very, very wrong.
Available Now from:

Monday, October 13, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Six / Part Two

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Wednesday, October 29

Dearest Papa,

Well, it seems I have to eat my words from yesterday. I spent a second day struggling with my resentment, shame and sorrow, my body positively aching from lack of sleep and a need for satisfaction. After my last class, an early evening lecture for grad students, faithful Mattias at my side, my whole world turned on its axis once more. I looked up from my brief case trying to rub the itch from my neck and there, at the very back, easily overlooked because of the shadows, stood my own modern day pirate.

The rascal. He even had the nerve to wear a long black trench coat and hat. He raised his head and our gazes met. And just like that, my body came alive, my doubts fled, and depression vaporized. He was back and all he had to do was hold out his hand and, forgiveness in my heart, I ran to him. Mattias tried to hold me back, but I shook him off and found myself in the arms of my own Jean Baptiste, his whispered murmurs of apology music in my ears.

He’d had business, unexpected and unavoidable. He doesn’t carry a cell phone and wasn’t near a phone which wouldn’t have done him any good because he didn’t have my number. I promised to tattoo it on his palm if that would help and he laughed as he kissed me. A very tiny voice in the back of my mind still whispered wanting to know what kind of business. After all, we’d mostly discussed my work, my research, my life. I couldn’t for the life of me remember if he’d ever mentioned a vocation, a career or business. Who is he, really, my little voice asked.

My libido ignored all such sinister whispers. For all I knew, the man could be a burglar or a con man, the necklace his latest hot ticket in my keeping so as to be out of the visibility of authorities. The very valuable necklace. Yes, I did have it appraised. It seems my lover thinks quite highly of me. The jeweler offered me forty thousand dollars cash on the spot. Imagine his resale on that. Sixty thousand or, more likely, eighty. I had him check the clasp and he assured me the necklace would never fall off by mistake or chance. It took a knowing hand to work the mechanism. He also assured me the settings were solid and he dated the piece back at least two hundred years. A check of the police hot sheets didn’t turn up even a hint of it. He felt confident in assuring me my benefactor was most generous.

So. My very passionate lover is back. I’m still wearing his gift, and he has assured it was a gift with no strings attached. Not a payment for services, past, present or future. A gift from his heart.

I’ve done it again. I’ve skipped over events and have trotted off far ahead of myself.
While wrapped in Jean Baptiste’s arms at the back of the lecture hall, we were interrupted by Mattias standing at my shoulder and clearing his throat. The two men sized each other up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it live like that before, but I could very nearly smell the testosterone in the room.

Two men ready to lock horns over me. Talk about feminine satisfaction. It was almost laughable, but I had the sense they were very serious about ripping into each other. I stepped between them and made the introductions, using the name John Morgan as Jean Baptiste had asked me the other day. He found the explanations of the similarity of his name to the pirate to be awkward. Still, Mattias gave me a dubious glance. Like a stand-in brother, uncle or father, Mattias dug into Jean Baptiste with questions. What did he do for a living? Jean Baptiste answered that he dealt in antiquities. Might that explain where the necklace came from? Oh my. The very thought made my little heart beat out a rapid tattoo. His family? None. Associations? Impressive names of old families were spit out like a ticker tape. Jean Baptiste did an admirable job of holding back his temper. Indeed, at one point I thought I caught the hint of a chuckle, or was it a growl of frustration? Hard to tell. Jean Baptiste has one hell of a poker face.

At last I called an end to the grilling. I was starving and anxious to be alone with Jean Baptiste. His fingers had found the necklace under my clothing and stroked it, stroked me, stoked the banked coals of my want. I asked Mattias to take my briefcase back to my office and lock up. He had the journals already and had agreed to take them to his contacts in the morning.

I was disappointed when Jean Baptiste begged off, saying he had just a little more business this evening. Apparently I was a stop between appointments. I put on my brave face and shrugged. I had my own errands, I assured him. Groceries were high on my list as I craved red meat and the contents of my fridge held no appeal.

Caught up in day dreams, I barely remember shopping and driving, and therefore consider it a miracle I managed to pull my car into the garage an hour later. Jean Baptiste came to greet me in the garage. Too anxious to wait Jean Baptiste met me at the hood of my car, and with the warmth of the metal beneath my back, he stripped my jeans from my legs and came into me right there. I must admit making love on the hood of an economy car isn’t the stuff of MTV videos, but it didn’t matter one bit to us. As he thrust into me, I licked the hint of salt from his neck and left behind what I was sure would be a very visible love bite. I must not have chewed on him as hard as I thought for there was no visible mark when we finally made it upstairs to my bed.

Ah, what magic a man can work with the simple tools he is born with. Hands, lips, tongue… and other… parts I blush to mention to my own father. Yes, as natural as you and Mama tried to be about such things, I still don’t feel comfortable discussing it with you in intimate detail. Even with you in spirit form on the screen of my computer. I imagine, that if Jean Baptiste keeps a journal, I’m sure he does it the old fashioned way. Leather bound books of unlined pages, filled with neat script using fine ink. He has just that air of old world elegance about him. Even unclothed.

But all body parts aside, it is the heart of a man a woman feels when those parts come together. Without heart, the motions would be meaningless, just sweaty groping to diffuse a physical urge. And I felt his heart. My soul was touched and we made love. You can’t tell me men don’t feel the deeper difference. It isn’t just sex. Not with the right mate. There was a moment when I looked into his eyes and I saw everything inside him. Each emotion was bare and raw, laid out for me to see. I cupped his cheeks between my hands and let my heart show in my eyes. In just this way, we were connected far more deeply than his part A in my slot B. Soul to soul, I felt as if we each stared across all eternity and all we could see was each other. From the intensity of our union, our contact on all levels, I know it touched him deeply as well, for his entire body trembled. Mine trembled as well, and together we reached an altitude so high we both touched the very heavens.

A small eternity passed before we were able to rouse ourselves after that. Jean Baptiste collapsed on top of me, his lips soft and loving as he drowsily kissed whatever part of my head and neck he could reach in our languor. I held him, loving the weight of his body on mine. At length, afraid he was crushing me, he rolled to his back without breaking our connection, for it was still strong between us, and I rested upon him, his body my bed. I licked the spot where I could have sworn I’d bitten him and a shudder of pure delight rippled through his body and into mine. Only hunger, for real food, roused me from my comfortable spot.

Jean Baptiste swore he’d never need another morsel of food, though he did help empty the bags we’d carried up from the car. All he needed was to make love to me. A wonderful sentiment, but poor mortal that I am, I needed steak. Or at the very least, some of the rare roast beef slices I’d purchased.

Another night has passed and my lover has once again slipped from my bed, thinking me asleep. I was until I heard the snick of the door shutting. Where does my lover run off to before the sun rises? If I had any strength at all, I’d try to follow him. As daylight grows in my room, I realize I still don’t have a phone number, nor do I know where he lives. Am I a fool? Is my lover what he seems? Do I really care? As long as he isn’t married, a thief wanted for crimes I can only imagine, or a modern day rake seeking only to spend time in debauchery, I don’t much care what he does. I just want our time to continue without end. Perhaps I am a romantic who would do better to pen fiction rather than continue my crusade to make history come alive for my students. Lord knows I might have more impact on a wider audience. A debate for another day. I have only a few hours to rest before I must return to campus. Have to pay the bills somehow…

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Six / Part One

From the Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

Wednesday, 29 October

I have recovered the lost journal though it pains me to know the depths to which I sunk to retrieve it. My heart tries to convince me I have not betrayed Morgan by doing so, but my mind knows the truth and horror of what I have done. If only it was the sole infamy I perpetrated this dark night. My betrayal goes much deeper.

After hearing the turmoil in Morgan’s mind the night before, I knew I had to go to her and offer some explanation for my actions. Donning a trench coat and hat, I left my shadowy cave before the sun dipped below the Spanish moss strangled cypress trees. My flesh tingled with the heat of the burning orb, but my precautions prevented the harmful rays from directly touching me. My sluggishness impeded my journey but I had to see Morgan with all due haste.
Even though dusk had fallen by the time I reached the campus, students milled freely around the quad as I made my way toward Morgan’s last class of the day. Fearing the connection we shared might prove untrustworthy, I timed my visit so I could come near her before she left for the night. Approaching the classroom, I paused as a rush of students blocking my way. It seemed my plan had worked. As the crowd cleared I saw Morgan’s door standing open.

I hesitated at the door, seeing her conversing with someone near the podium. When they tilted their heads close together, a wave of anger filled me. The sight of another man so close to my woman drove me nearly insane. The slight pressure of my fangs tearing the flesh of my bottom lip shocked me back to my senses. In spite of what my heart thought, Morgan was not my woman. She belonged to no man. She was uniquely her own. That was the very quality that endeared her to me.

Fighting to hold onto my sanity, I moved into the lecture hall. My feet moved feebly toward them. I paused at the top of the stairs leading down to her. Morgan’s sparkling eyes caught sight of me and captured me briefly with their promise of love. My resolve faltered. The thought of losing her too great to bear, I would take this moment, no matter how delusional it might be, and take pleasure in her company. Let tomorrow come and damn me for a fool, but tonight I would be human.

First I had to deal with this interloper. Morgan greeted me with unrestrained longing. Her mad cap dash brought her into my arms, where I enfolded her with every bit of the passion consuming me. Breaking a kiss I had been sure would kick start my heart back to pumping, I caught a look from Morgan’s companion. The hate I saw in his eyes offered me little worry. I flashed him a knowing smile before releasing my hold on Morgan.

My conscience bridled at the concoction of lies that fell from my lips to explain my disappearance but it was for her own good. It helped matters little that she accepted them. The assistant she introduced as Mattias, on the other hand, did not. I am not one to bandy words with a fool, yet found myself doing just that. Only Morgan’s intervention stopped the situation from escalating any further.

Once free of the damnable man’s presence, I did my utmost to calm her fears. She offered the necklace back to me, but I refused. Explaining the present was not some trinket to purchase her affections, I told her the necklace was a gift of the heart and belonged where my heart already resided—with her. That seemed to assuage her fears concerning my intentions. I bade my goodbyes under the pretense of finishing up the business I’d told her had monopolized my time for the past day, promising to see her later that night if it reached a satisfactory conclusion. A gentle kiss ended our time together, though we both yearned for more.

In truth Mattias drew my attention. While Morgan and I said our farewells, the man slipped from the room. My journal sat tucked beneath his arm along with a collection of other manuscripts that held no interest for me. Hugging to the shadows, I followed him through the streets. He, oblivious to my presence, led me directly to his home. The entire time his mouth worked feverously spouting diatribes against my person. They were laughable, amusing me with their content. At least he had to good taste to love Morgan. Not that I’d allow him to live, or so I’d thought.

My luck held as we reached his merger abode. The small avenue sat cloaked in shadow, deserted for all intents and purposes. It took little effort to overtake him within the confines of the slender portico over his door. I admit no small enjoyment at the look upon his face, as I shoved him inside. Fear reeked from the man like strangled perfume. The scent of his death lurked beneath it. I tasted it. Wanted it.

I truthfully cannot state why I did not take his life there and then. Perhaps some small bit of humanity still resides within my cold body. If I looked deeper, I would honestly say Morgan stayed my hand. Through our connection, I felt her love for this man; not the burning passion she felt for me, but a kinship I was loath to take away from her. Nevertheless, I could not leave him free to tell of my monstrosity.

The act was distasteful to me, yet I did it all the same. I pulled him to me and drank deep, not enough to send him to whatever hells awaited him but just the amount to bind him to me. His brain fought to dissolve the control I exerted over him. I marveled at the strength he displayed. In the end, no mind could combat the mental dominance of a vampire. In the darkness, his eyes flew back to white and he was mine to do with what I will.

With the merest of suggestion, he placed the journal in my hand, along with some notes he’d worked up that day. I took them greedily, securing them in my overcoat. Mattias stared blankly into my face, awaiting my next command. I planted the idea of sleep into his mind, telling him that should Morgan inquire about his studies concerning the journal, the work was slow in coming. I was not sure she would believe his tale, but prayed their friendship would calm any fears she might have. I left him yawning as he made his way to bed.

Closing the door behind me, I knew I must see Morgan after returning the journal and Mattias’ papers to my home, where they still sit beside this journal. I find myself hesitant to open the tattered binding to replay my humanity. The pain is too great for me now. Instead I will secret them along with the other remnants of my past, I would as soon forget.

That done, the urgency to see Morgan overruled whatever reason I had left to me. Like a sparrow straight from the bowels of hell, I flew through the streets. Each second of the journey burned an eternity through my dark soul.

Reaching her doorway, I knew this night would only end with our bodies entwined. I ached for her beneath me, boring not her life into me but her love. Blood no longer sustains me. Only Morgan Beauchamp does. Tonight I took all I could and knew it would never be enough to sate the thirst I feel for her.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Interview: Diana Castilleja

Sorry, but we’re a little distracted today. The cable has gone out in the TMD offices and Jmo is stressing over missing True Blood this week. So, how do you get the cable man to make an emergency house call? You call on the author who has the cable man wrapped around her finger. That’s right Diana Castilleja is in the house.

Okay, cable man, fix our box while we chat with the lovely Diana.

TMD: Diana welcome to the Diaries and thanks for bringing tech support.

DC: Thanks for having me. Ignore the guy in the hot jeans and flashing smile. He’s mine, girls. *wink*

TMD: Could you tell our readers a little about The Eternal Kiss, your paranormal sizzler?

DC: Well, how much is a little? *BG* Diego’s story came to me as the NaNo for 2005. He actually had about five or six false starts as I tried to find the one that was “his”. I knew she was going to be a singer, and what her issues were going to be. I saw his story almost in its entirety before I even began writing it. When I started NaNo, I cleared the requisite 50K in nine days on him. He’s still one of my favorite characters.

TMD: As an author you’re all over the place, contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal. Is there anything you can’t write? Seriously, out of all the genres you write, which fits you the best as a creator?

DC: Anything I won’t write… I won’t go near horror. I can’t watch scary movies. I watched Pet Cemetery through my fingers! I think I was fourteen. *BG* You’ll laugh, but the Blair Witch Project freaked me out. No nightmares, thankfully, but I still catch myself seeing the ending in my mind every now and then and that was years ago! Yep, that was as deep as my scary bone ever got.

My worlds are romance, regardless of where they occur. I think paranormal is one of my strongest genres, with fantasy and contemporary-romantic/suspense in there too. I love vampires, and shifters and the unknown tantalization that comes from it.

TMD: Paranormal is so huge right now. How hard do you find it to bring a unique voice to the reading public in the crush of authors filling the shelves? What do your vamps in The Eternal Kiss have that make them different from other authors’ creations?

DC: *sings* La-la-la… *clears throat* Right. Not that kind of voice. Unfortunately, glutting the market happens with every hot topic that sells well. But what we see now, actually took some six to ten years to happen. So what will be the next big thing? I wish I knew. I think so long as authors are supplying an in-demand product, there will always be new voices, however challenging it is to make them different, on the shelves. The trick will be maintain their stories and their readership for the long haul.

As for what makes my books different. *blush* I’m not really sure. My vampires are drawn after more traditional forms (Ashley, Rice) but have to face a conundrum to achieve their inner peace plus live with humans as more than a food supply. Having humans as friends has never happened to Diego. Having someone love him hasn’t happened either. The subsequent books are actually becoming more challenging, because the original formula for Diego’s book will have to be adapted for each vampire that comes to the front.

TMD: In contrast, your contemporaries have an entirely different voice from your paranormal works. Do you feel readers willingly make the jump between genres if it means following their favorite author?

DC: In this, I honestly feel that people are going to read what they like. If they like the author, then that is even better. They’re more willing to try a different genre because of their trust in that author’s style or voice.

I do think I have a certain sassitude that comes out in my lighter works, like my fantasy. Emotion is always key in my stories. I want them to be real to the reader. That is very important to me.

TMD: There’s a lot of emphasis on writing cross genre in the industry. Do you feel your openness to different genres gives you an advantage in your writing?

DC: Sometimes. I most often cross fantasy with another genre. But I also worry it makes authors write something to sound like, write like, another voice, and I don’t always feel that the demand is necessary, or beneficial to the story.

TMD: You’re also cofounder of Sweeter Romantic Notions. Would you tell us a little about this unique author site and its sister blog?

DC: This was started as a brain child between myself and Dayna Hart. When I was first published, the majority of (if not all) loops and discussion taking place were for the hotter and erotic stories. My first book was reminiscent of Harlequin Romance line. There is no sex in it at all. So when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I created it.

SRN caters to the non-erotic, inspirational and all genre of romance fiction up to mainstream sensual writer and reader. Basically if you could find the heat or graphic-ness on the Wal-Mart shelf, then it was considered safe. We do group chats, loop chats and promotions that are handled by our lovely Promo Queen Adelle Laudan.

In the two years we’ve been going, SRN has drawn some great author attention and has made a strong and viable platform as a group for those who may feel overwhelmed or overlooked in the current online market. There is a sweeter reading market. We’re helping authors find the readers for that market.

TMD: You place some emphasis on Sweet in Sweeter Romantic Notions. Do you feel traditional romance is getting lost in the shuffle as Erotica grows in popularity?

DC: A lot of this is hung on promotion, pure and simple. Online writing requires online promotions. SRN gives the non-erotic writers that opportunity. Overall, yes it can be buried, but as more people are turning to online resources for their entertainment, I feel that all genres will eventually have an equal footing for those who are searching for a good book or a great author. Better reading software, handhelds, and ease of purchase and portability will make a big difference when it happens.

TMD: What are some of the benefits of an organization like SRN when it comes to promotion?

DC: Well, as I mentioned, we do group chats, where other authors are encouraged to hang out and support those who are in the spotlight at the moment. I’ve read many of the authors on the loop, and can say there’s some very talented writing happening there. When people are on hand who have the read the work being showcased, it really helps IMHO.

We also have a blog and a MySpace page. We do announcements to the group, and encourage everyone to use the loops for their hang out. Releases are done by announcement to the group.

TMD: As a Texan author how do you feel about the emergence of so many authors from Texas in the past years. J.R. Ward, Kimberly Raye, Karen McInerney and Julie Kenner just to name a few.

DC: I’m supposed to feel something? LOL J

Okay. Actually having new talent come from Texas doesn’t really bother me. Texas is a big state. I can share. *BG* *wink*

TMD: Time to bring on the insanity. Diana we here at the Diaries love to delve beneath the surface of authors and ask the hard hitting questions. If you were stuck on a deserted island and could bring only two things—don’t worry we have a list for you to pick from—what would they be?

Candy, rich creamy chocolate goodness. Coffee, the drink of the gods or a cowboy cable man vampire. Yes, run in fear, cable man. MorganO has a wicked set of chompers. Bite him. Bite him hard. I love it when they scurry away like that.

DC: Mmmm… Chocolate… and a strong cable guy to keep me company… I guess I’d have to take the cable dude… I mean, who’s going to kill spiders for me? *shudder* Can’t stand spiders. And if I couldn’t take him or the chocolate, I have a friend who will loan me some of her cabana boys.

TMD: Diana we’d like to thank you for joining us and bringing the hubby to fix the cable. Jmo becomes a big old bear when his TV goes out. Please let our readers know where to find you around the net and of course any juicy tidbits you have coming out we need to snap up.

DC: Let’s see… Places to find me Wal-Mart, Barton Creek Mall, J.C. Penney… Oh? Not that kind of finding? drats! *innocent looks*

Well, here’s the usual go to info:

and my email for those of you who wish to say hi… I don’t bite, even though I write about vampires. *wink*
Diana.Castilleja @