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A Scary Encounter on the Flight Home

As you know, I’ve been in the States visiting family the last three weeks. It’s been a happy time spent playing with the nieces and then later huckleberry picking and road-tripping with my sister. It’s been a restful, healing time away from the Guardian and the interview that, I’ll admit, had me pretty frazzled. The last thing I expected when I boarded the plane to Heathrow for the return flight was an encounter with Magda Gardener. Here’s what happened. 

 

“I know what you’re doing.” I’m instantly wide-awake. For a second I don’t remember where I’m at, but then the flight attendant brushes past me in the aisle and I can just make out the sonorous buzz of a snore coming from the man in the seat behind me. The too warm cabin suddenly feels like the arctic, and my arms prickle in a wave of goose bumps. I feel like my insides have turned to ice and the urge to run is cut off at the pass. I can’t run. I can’t even breathe. And just as panic sets in, the feeling passes and I’m breathing again, gasping like I’ve just run a marathon.

 

 

A warm finger nudges the hair away from my cheek. “Did you think I wouldn’t figure it out?” A breath of a whisper brushes my ear. I recognize the voice and I’m covered in goose bumps all over again.

 

Slowly I turn in my seat to find the empty space next to me filled with Magda Gardner, who’s smiling down at me as though we are just two girlfriends having a chat. “I know what you’re doing,” she repeats in a low even voice. “Though I doubt that you have any idea.”

 

“I figured you’d find out soon enough.” I try to sound like I don’t care, like it doesn’t matter to me one way or another that the woman knows I’m interviewing the demon who lives inside her vampire Scribe. Seriously, you can’t sound anything but bat shit crazy if you say something like that out loud in casual conversation.

 

“And you didn’t think it might be wise to at least give me the heads-up?” Her voice is still ridiculously conversational, bestie casual.

 

“I had no way of giving you the heads-up when I don’t even know how to get in touch with you.” Not that I really wanted that information. I’d prefer the woman forget all about me entirely, but Magda Gardener/AKA Medusa, never forgets anything … or anyone if she has a good use for them.

 

Without being asked, the flight attendant delivers her a whisky in a cut crystal glass. I assume Magda is back here with me because she’s slumming from first class. The attendant delivers me a flute of champagne. Magda Gardener is a lot of things, but she’s not cheap.

 

She thanks the woman, then dismisses her. Once she’s gone back to the first class cabin, Magda lifts her glass. “To lies and the nasty truths they uncover,” then she sips daintily.

 

I go through the motions of joining her in a drink. Enjoying what I’m sure is very expensive champagne is impossible under Magda Gardeners scrutiny. “I didn’t lie,” I say.

 

“Was it Susan who contacted you?” she asks, running a well-manicured nail around the rim of the glass.

 

“It’s not like he could contact me on his own.” I reply.

 

“You should have told her you wouldn’t do it unless I knew.”

 

“He didn’t want you to know. Any good journalist wouldn’t reveal her source.”

 

“You’re not a journalist,” she says, “and he’s not a source. He’s a demon, a monster, and you’re way out of your depth of experience no matter how good you are at what you do.”

 

“I didn’t say I was good.” I was neither smug nor arrogant about a situation that scared the crap out of me from the beginning. I would have gladly turned down the offer if I hadn’t feared the consequences of doing so.

 

“Believe me, there’s no question of your abilities or I wouldn’t have allowed you to write my story and the stories of my people. “But the issue is what contact with him will do to you. It’s already affecting you, whether you’ll admit it or not.”

 

“You owe him. All of you owe him.” The words slip out of my mouth before I could stop them.

 

To this she simply chuckles and sips at her whisky. “I rather think it’s the other way round. He owes us, and he knows it. He’s got a helluva lot to answer for, in case you’ve forgotten.” She waves a dismissive hand. “Of course he loves Susan and Michael, at least as much as a being like him can love anyone. And I dare say he’s very fond of Reese and Alonso too. He wants them to think better of him. His existence is easier if they do.” She waves a hand. “As for what he did in the fight against Richard Waters, he has no choice but to obey Susan’s commands. You wrote the story. You know this.”

 

I stare at my barely touched champagne. I know better than to look her in the face. “You think that’s all it is, he’s just obeying commands?”

 

She doesn’t answer immediately, and for a moment I wonder if perhaps she’s chosen not to, but then she sighs softly, pushes the ever-present Ray-bans up close against the bridge of her nose and says, “I don’t know. But he and I have a long and unpleasant relationship. Neither of us has any real reason to trust the other. But don’t you think a demon like him would take whatever pleasure he could get in whatever from it took, even if he is a prisoner?”

 

“You think I’m the entertainment.” A cold shiver ran down my spine at the thought I’d too often contemplated.

 

“I don’t think anything. But I do know that no matter how completely he’s incarcerated, he’s still dangerous.”

 

“So what exactly is it you want me to do,” I ask. “It’s not like I wanted this job, but then that’s never mattered much to any of you, what I want, has it?”

 

Her lips curl in a smile that’s nearly sentimental, as though in her mind’s eye, she’s fondly recalling all of our encounters to date. “No. It hasn’t.” She downs the rest of her whisky then turns to face me, and like it or not, I feel compelled to look at her, even with the chill creeping over my arms and throat. “As for exactly what I want you to do, first I want this conversation to stay between us. He doesn’t need to know we’ve spoken. Second, I want you to limit your time in his presence when you’re doing this silly interview. I’ve already talked to Talia and she’ll be monitoring you more closely.”

 

“No.” The word comes out lacking conviction and sounding almost like a plea. “I won’t keep our conversation from him. He knows you’ll find out eventually, and I don’t want to be the one caught keeping secrets from him. It seems to me that could be a whole lot more dangerous than being above board.”

 

To this Magda laughs out loud and the woman sitting across the aisle from me looks up from her magazine in irritation. “Choose very carefully which monster you refuse,” she says. “He fears me, and he’s a lot of things, but he’s not stupid.”

 

“The way I see it, my choices are pretty thin on the ground,” I replay.

 

“He would possess you, use you up and spit you out in a heartbeat if he thought he could get away with it,” she said. “Don’t believe for one moment that he doesn’t know exactly what effect he’s having on you. He knows how you crave his company, even as you fear it. He knows how he worms his way into your fantasies, even though you try to deny it. He knows that the longer he drags out the interview, the more danger you’re in. He knows all of this, K D, and he keeps inviting you back.”

 

“I won’t lie to him,” I say, not even trying to hide the trembling that seems to have taken control of me. “If you want me to stop the interview, then you have to put an end to it. Otherwise I’ve made a commitment. Up until now, I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to, in spite of the uncomfortable, and dangerous situation it’s often put me in. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, but I’m not about to make it worse by lying to him.”

 

The glasses slip down her nose, and I nearly dump champagne in my lap I’m shaking so hard. My heart feels like it’ll beat me to death in its mad hammering. I can just make out the flutter of golden eyelashes before she pushes the glasses back into place. “All right. But we’ll all be monitoring you closely, and if I feel it necessary to put an end to the interviews, I will, no matter what you, or he, want. Is that clear?”

 

“Perfectly.” My voice is little more than a whisper.

 

“Good. Now drink your champagne.” She watches until I swallow it back in a single gulp, wishing I’d had her whisky instead. “That’s a good girl, now get some sleep.”

 

It’s the announcement of the descent into Heathrow that wakes me. The champagne flute is gone and so is Magda Gardener. There’s absolutely no evidence that she’s even been there. I return my chair to the upright position and close the tray table thinking about the encounter. With all that’s been happening to me since I began the interview with the Guardian, I’m well aware that it could have easily all just been a dream. But I’m certain that it wasn’t.

 

Misfortune of Time, book #6 in The Druid’s Brooch Series (works as a stand-alone) by Christy Nicholas (@greendragon9) #histfic #ireland #medieval #romance #fantasy #faerie #abuse #irish #celt #time #magic

Misfortune of TimeBlurb:

— Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds —

In 11th century Ireland, Étaín must hide her pagan magic from her pious Christian priest husband, Airtre. She wants to escape his physical abuse, but she must stay to protect their grandson, Maelan. Over many lifetimes, she has learned how to endure her own pain, but Maelan is young and vulnerable.

When Airtre’s paranoia and jealousy spiral out of control, Étaín has no choice but to escape in the night with little more than the clothing on her back, leaving a trusted friend to protect Maelan.

This is not the first lifetime Étaín has fled, and she knows how to survive. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she must make decisions that may result in disaster for her, her grandson, and everyone she loves.

Buy Links

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D447G4Y

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/829120

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/misfortune-of-time/id1386356872?mt=11

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/misfortune-of-time

*****

Excerpt:

Étaín held Maelan’s hand and looked around. The abbot said their tutor would meet them here. One monk rose and shuffled toward them, his face hidden in a pale cowl. When approaching, he flipped the fabric back, revealing a young face with blond hair and high cheekbones. His tonsure looked freshly shaved from the shiny skin of his forehead. His solemn expression burst out with a cheery smile when he got close.

“You must be Maelan. I’m called Odhar. The abbot told me to meet my new student here, but I had no idea I’d have the pleasure of two, my lady…?”

Flustered, she stammered before she got control of her words. “No, no, I’m no student, Brother. I’m merely Maelan’s grandmother, Étaín. I’m escorting him into your charge, no more than that.”

“Ah, but I’d be delighted to teach two, and it offers many more opportunities than just one. Are you certain you wouldn’t like to stay for the lessons?”

Étaín truly wished to say yes, of course; she’d be thrilled to stay. She’d always been curious about the world, history, and the law, but as a woman, she’d never been granted the opportunity for formal schooling. She’d learned her letters only due to an indulgent, loving husband. Even if Airtre accepted Maelan’s schooling, he would never accept hers. The memory of his beating three winters ago made her flinch. Her life would be miserable if he ever discovered such a thing.

However, she had an idea. “Alas, I cannot, truly. Perhaps we can chat when I come to pick him up? Just for a little while.”

He took her hand in his with firm pressure. “I would be elated. Will you return at Sext? We can steal an hour before the lad must be off, certainly?”

It just might work. Maelan would be eager to escape to his sword practice, but she might slice a few minutes to discuss the lad’s education. Airtre would surely never argue against that.

Maelan looked apprehensively at his new tutor. “You look too young to teach. How old are you?”

Aghast, Étaín said, “Maelan! That’s not a polite statement, nor a proper question!”

Odhar laughed and patted Maelan’s shoulder. “Lad, I’ll never chastise you for a good question, and yours was indeed a good one. I have twenty-seven winters but have been studying in the monastery for twenty of those. Is that wise enough for you?”

A druid spent twenty winters in the oak groves, according to legend. Étaín held her breath, for fear Maelan would give another rude answer. Instead, her grandson acquitted himself admirably. “It sounds quite acceptable. I’m sure there’s much you can teach me.”

Odhar turned to her, a silly grin still on his face. “Never fear, good lady. I shall keep good care of your ward for the hours he’s in my care. Perhaps I might even teach him a few things. Now leave us to our lessons, and we shall see you again at Sext.”

*****

Author Bio and Links:

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, is an author, artist and accountant. After she failed to become an airline pilot, she quit her ceaseless pursuit of careers that begin with ‘A’, and decided to concentrate on her writing. Since she has Project Completion Disorder, she is one of the few authors she knows with NO unfinished novels.

Christy has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she’s a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were.

She wants to expose the incredible beauty in this world, hidden beneath the everyday grime of familiarity and habit, and share it with others. She uses characters out of time and places infused with magic and myth.

Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/greendragonauthor   

Homepage: http://www.greendragonartist.com  

Blog: http://www.greendragonartist.net

 

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

My Life is in My Dropbox!


I’m on holiday in the States visiting family by the time you’re reading this post, but as I did my best to set up my blog so that there would be continuity and so that you would all enjoy it, hopefully, I came across this post, which even so long after the fact still gives me a cold chill. If anything even more so now that such huge chunks of our existence are lived out on social media and in cyberspace, in a virtual world that exists only in pixels and soundbites.  In fact, the memory of the experience causes me to ask once more just who I am if I lose those virtual connections into which I’ve poured the last twelve years of my life?

 

Behold, a cautionary tale! Read and be Afraid!

 

That day almost two years ago, my life flashed before my eyes. It was the first time it had ever happened, and I hope like hell it’s the last. The first thing that struck me was that it was nothing like I’d thought it would be. There were no memories of my childhood, no memories of getting married or moving off on my own to Croatia gone. There were no memories of falling in love or of my favorite trips, nor the major milestones in my life vanished. Everything in my head was still as intact as it ever is. But the experience still gives me cold chills thinking about it. It was intimations of my worst nightmare. I never thought it would be like it was. Though now, looking back, I can’t imagine how I would have expected it to be otherwise.

 

Due to complications installing a new operating system on my computer, which I won’t go into, I ended up having every file in my Dropbox deleted. Now, before you tell me not to worry, there are ways to get it all back, let me just say that I know that. I knew that even as it was happening. BUT all of those ways of recovering data are only theories until you put them to the test, and then you have to be in a calm logical state of mind in order to be able to do that. I was neither calm nor logical as I prepared to continue with my WIP and opened a completely empty Dropbox. I back up everything – EVERYTHING in the whole universe, I back up! I’m fanatical about back ups. And where do I back it all up? On the f*cking Dropbox!!! AND NOWHERE ELSE!!!!! You see where I’m going with this? Panic sets in when the 135,000 word manuscript you’ve just completed disappears along with every picture you’ve ever taken, every word you’ve ever written of any sort. ANY sort, for the past ten years.

 

To give you a bit of perspective, I wrote The Initiation of Ms Holly in 2010. Since then I’ve written literally millions of words – some of them novels, some of them blog posts that I’m rather fond of, some of them short stories, poems, novellas, even the odd navel gaze. There are stories and story ideas that have never lived anywhere outside cyberspace, but I hope they will someday. There are pictures of holidays, of veg gardens we’ve planted, of long walks we’d taken on the Downs in every season at every time of day. Words! There are literally millions of words that I’ve written, and suddenly they were all gone!

Recovery happened, as the tiny part of me that wasn’t vacillating somewhere between total panic and growing despair, knew that it would and, at the end of the day, all was well. I’d lost nothing. I was even able to recover the efforts of that morning. The point is that the fear that I might have lost all my words was an eye-opening experience for me. It was a huge insight into how I define myself and how I judge the value of my life.

 

For good or for ill, I define myself by the words and the pictures in my Dropbox. That’s what it boils down to; that’s me stripped to the bare bones. And for a terrifying few minutes I was no one.

 

No one …

 

When I think about it now with all my words back safely where they belong, I can’t quite get my head around what I felt. There are words in the Bible meant to describe Christ. Most of you know that I came from a conservative Christian background about a hundred years ago, but these two passages transcend my faith or lack thereof and speak to the heart of the writer on a much deeper level than they might to anyone else.

 

For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Jon 1:14

 

Words are more than just a collections of sounds that allow us to communicate. Words
have power, like a sword, like a scalpel, to discern thoughts and intents. And words, in the hands of a writer become flesh and dwell among us. For a writer – certainly for me, they become my flesh, and they become the flesh of the characters with which I people my stories. They dwell in me as surely as if they were alive, and they do often discern the thoughts and intents of my heart, without me even realizing that’s what they’re doing. Words are my companions, my guides, my friends; words are the mirror through which I view myself. For my whole life it’s always felt like the more words I write, the more clear the reflection of self in that mirror becomes. Navel gazing much???

 

Even as I write this, I’m well aware of just how neurotic it sounds to define myself by my words, and a part of what happened in that short time without my words was an internal battle for points of reference, for other ways to define myself, which at that moment, I
couldn’t even imagine existed. The point is the value of words – my words – to me can’t be overstated. I live with them close and personal every day of my life, and most days I bring home a few more to live with me. Losing my words, even for just that short amount of time before logic could kick in, before I could regain enough equilibrium to know that wasn’t going to happen, was like losing myself. How can I define myself without my Dropbox full of words? Who am I without those points of reference? Of course it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, had I lost all my words, but I promise you as sure as I’m sitting here, it would have felt like it.

 

Lynne Shelby Launches The One That I Want

 

 

The One That I Want Blurb:

When Lucy Ashford lands a top job at a leading theatrical agency in London, work mixes with pleasure, as she literally falls into the arms of Hollywood heartthrob Daniel Miller.

Handsome, charming and irresistible, Daniel is just what unlucky-in-love Lucy needs, and she is quickly drawn into his glittering celebrity lifestyle. But can she tame the A-list bad boy or is she just one more girl in Daniel s long line of conquests?

And then there’s up-and-coming actor Owen Somers, fiercely talented but as yet uncast in a starring role. After she takes him onto the agency’s books, Owen and Lucy’s friendship slowly grows. If she looks closely, Lucy’s leading man might be right before her very eyes…

 

The One That I Want Excerpt:

This extract takes place early in the book after the theatrical agency’s Christmas party, when Daniel invites Lucy to continue the evening at a nightclub.

 

As I followed Daniel to one of the leather sofas, I was aware of faces turning towards us, the sudden absence of talk as we approached, and renewed chatter once we’d walked past. With so many eyes on me, I was relieved that I made it to the sofa without falling over my feet. Daniel sat next to me, leaving very little space between us. A waiter immediately materialised beside us and asked what we’d like to drink. Daniel promptly ordered champagne.

 

‘Did you notice everyone looking at you?’ I said to him when the waiter had gone.

Daniel shrugged. ‘Since Fallen Angel came out, I get recognised all the time.’

 

‘Having total strangers watching your every move must take some getting used to.’

 

‘I’m an actor,’ Daniel said. ‘Being the centre of attention kind of goes with the territory.’

 

I thought of the numerous articles about Daniel’s amorous exploits in Ireland that I’d read in the gossip columns. And the photos of him glued to his co-star’s face.

 

‘But you must find it irritating to be continuously stalked by the paparazzi,’ I said.

 

Daniel smiled. ‘I don’t mind them. I rather enjoy seeing photos of myself in the tabloids. It’s free publicity.’

 

The waiter returned with our champagne, poured two glasses, and left the bottle within easy reach in a bucket of ice.

 

When we were alone again, Daniel said, ‘I waited a long time to become famous. Now that I’ve had a taste of what it means to be a star, I want more. I want the Hollywood mansion and the Malibu beach house. I want the private jet and the yacht in the south of France. And if getting them means I have to pose for a few photographs outside a nightclub, I really don’t see it as a problem. But I’m glad there weren’t any paparazzi around tonight. It would’ve been hard to make you run a gauntlet of flashing cameras when we’re only on our first date.’

 

‘Is this a date?’ I said.

 

‘Well, there’s you, me, and a bottle of champagne,’ Daniel said. ‘I’d call that a date.’

 

I was on a date with film star Daniel Miller. The thought made me feel light-headed.

‘What would that actress you dated in Ireland think about you being here with me?’ I said.

 

Daniel looked taken aback. ‘She wouldn’t think anything. I was never in a relationship with her. DCOL.’

 

‘What?’

 

‘Doesn’t Count On Location.’

‘I see.’

 

About Lynne:

Lynne Shelby was the winner of our Accent Press/Woman magazine writing prize with her debut novel French Kissing.

She has worked in a variety of day jobs from stable girl to legal administrator. She also had a very enjoyable vicarious career as a stage mother, which has given her a love of the theatre that inspires a lot of  her writing.

She lives in North London with her tall, dark and handsome husband, her son, her two daughters and a lot of books.

 

Twitter: @LynneB1

Website: https://www.lynneshelby.com/

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

 

 

 

Interview with A Demon 8th Instalment

It would appear even the Guardian thinks I need a break from our interview. I have been ordered by him to take a rest before I continue with the interview. I hadn’t realised my exhaustion from the efforts of dreaming with him night after night, but that is a part of his power, to make one forget the consequences of too much time in his presence.

 

After sleeping sixteen hours worth of dreamless sleep under the watchful eyes of Talia and Susan, I woke to discover my bags packed and a plane ticket to the West Coast to spend time with my sister. I have been forbidden to enter the dream in which I can access the Guardian’s prison for two full weeks.

 

I’m writing this post from 37,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains, the write-up of my last visit with the Guardian before my enforced rest. It’s nearly midnight, and I’ll too be setting down in Oregon for some much needed R&R and distraction with my dear sister.

 

 

If you have missed any of the interview so far, you will find the links for previous instalments at the bottom of the post. 

 

Instalment 8: Meeting the Scribe

The pause, which I figured the Guardian meant to be dramatic, was an uncomfortable one. While he had just told me, in detail, his first intimate encounter with Annie, I wasn’t well acquainted with Annie. She was already out of the picture when I was called in to tell the tale. That made her story once removed from me, and even with that I found the intimacy nearly unbearable.

 

But Susan was different. I was much more closely connected to her story, and the thought of hearing such private matters made me want to call out to Talia to bring me back. With a start, I realized it wasn’t just hearing those details that frightened me, but for all practical purposes I had been feeling them too. Such was the Guardian’s gift. Throughout the entire interview, the reality of the tale he wove was far more virtual than I had until now realized. I wondered if he had planned it that way.

 

Considering her response to the Guardian’s sharing of his encounter with Annie, I couldn’t keep from wondering what Susan would do when he shared her story. And yet, she had told her own tale. She had told the lurid, the dark, the intimate details of a story too personal, one no one else need know, and she did it without flinching, something I could have never done.

 

It was only as the Guardian drew breath to speak that it occurred to me perhaps the pause had not been for dramatic effect at all but because what he was about to impart was far more personal and more difficult for him to share. But then perhaps I was anthropomorphizing. He was in no way human, as he kept reminding me. Still, I braced myself for impact as he began to speak.

 

“When I think of the coincidences, the synchronicity, as Carl Jung might have called it, that brought Susan and me together, I am still all astonishment.” He had returned to pacing the cliff edge. Though I could hear him easily enough, his voice had gone strangely distant. “That Susan was a writer, a scribe, meant only that she made her living with her imagination. That fact increased the likelihood of her being able to sense my presence, that I might find a way to draw her to me.

 

“It is essential at this point, K D, that you keep in mind I do not see humanity, flesh and blood, as you do. While most of the human world would look upon Annie as an astounding beauty, it would pay little attention to Susan — at least not before our vampire changed her. And in all fairness, Susan did little to draw that attention. Perhaps it was our similarities that drew me to her so deeply in the beginning. We both lived in our own private worlds and strove to avoid unwanted attention.”

 

He paused for a moment, as though he had not given this observation thought before. “I could sense her presence the instant she entered the front garden of Chapel House. Imagine the brightest light illuminating the darkness, imagine a black and white image suddenly not only brilliant with color, but alive, living and breathing and vibrating with potential for so much more. That is what I saw in Susan at our moment of contact.”

 

He chuckled softly and I could feel the warmth of a smile I couldn’t see. “Oh you would laugh, K D, if you had seen my response to that first encounter. Our essences had barely touched. I felt the tension move over her body with a little tremor, and then … then I fled like a frightened child, back to the crypt, back to the confines of my prison. There I remained waiting, for I knew Annie would bring her to me. You see, the crypt was Annie’s favorite place.”

 

“So I waited there, trembling, pacing, beside myself with anticipation. For, as you know, K D, my dear Susan is a proper Scribe. Her magic filled the entire space that was Chapel House and even that could not contain her. Oh, of course she knew nothing of this, nothing at all, and that realization filled me with both anticipation and fear.”

 

At this point, he turned swiftly to face me, as though he had forgotten his admonishment that I should not look at him. I quickly looked away, but not before the wave of raw, cold hunger washed over me. For an instant I felt as though I’d fallen through a hole in the world with no bottom in sight. And then I was drawn back to his voice, my eyes averted so that I could only view his feet in battered hiking boots, the kind that I knew Reese Chambers wore. “While you have not her magic, K D, you understand full well the power of words. Your Judeo-Christian mythology even states that for the act of creation to occur the power of the spoken word was necessary. Let there be light. And oh, how Susan was my light.”

 

He settled into the chair again, his fingers drumming on the leather of the arm as though he were thinking what to say next. And when he lingered long in the action, when I was just about to say something, anything to ease the tension, he exhaled long and slow. “You know that I deceived her. Strange that until that very moment, until Susan Innes walked into Chapel House, what I would do, what I had done for the whole of my existence had never seemed to be deception before. I knew nothing else. It was as much my nature as breathing in and breathing out is to you. And yet when I fled her that day, when I hid trembling in the crypt waiting for her, for the first time I questioned that nature.”

 

He raised a hand as though to negate what he had just said. “Please do not think that meeting Susan Innes suddenly made me more human. You see, K D, I shall never be human. I do not, I cannot think or be as you are. But I can draw parallels. I can, perhaps see things differently than I have seen them before. But this was not an epiphany, this was only my own understanding of the gravitas, the impact of what I would do. And from Susan Innes, I already knew, I would take far more than I had ever taken from anyone before her.” He sighed softly, sadly. “What I did not fully understand at the time was just how much she would take from me.”

 

“Then you didn’t know that there was a risk?” I asked.

 

“Of course I knew that Susan was dangerous, but that didn’t matter to me. It was a risk I was willing to take after my long incarceration. I gambled on the fact that she didn’t know she was dangerous. To be honest, I feared much more what our dear Magda Gardener would do if my plan came to fruition. But the arrogance in me also longed to gloat in my triumph over her once Susan had set me free, for I knew the Gorgon would want her as a part of her collection and would loathe that I had taken her for myself. None of that matters now, however. What’s done is done.”

 

He continued his story. “I waited for what seemed like an eternity to one who knows what an eternity feels like. And then I heard them on the stairs descending into the place that was my prison, which suddenly changed, became transparent, and then was transformed into the shape of the Scribe, the woman standing before me. Oh yes, K D, I saw her transformed to my freedom and my prison. I have often wondered if that first glorious view of her in the crypt was a premonition of what would be, and yet at the time all I felt was a sense of anticipation.

 

“But I swear to you I wasn’t ready for the presence of a true Scribe. The moment her feet left the final step of descent, the moment she stood wholly in the crypt, her own presence enveloped me as completely as my prison and, in an instant I was closer to her than I was to myself. I moved across the goose flesh climbing her arms at my touch. I reveled in the catch of her warm, humid breath as I took in the shape of her, the rising scent of both her terror and, blessed be all that is sacred, her lust. She knew I was there. She knew it as surely as her heart beating so rapidly, but the dear woman said nothing.

 

“Oh, the courage that must have taken for her to hold herself so, for her to keep our secret. She only urged Annie, poor oblivious Annie, to keep talking to keep sharing her plans, to keep discussing how she would make the crypt into a wine cellar with a bar. Anything to keep her talking just a little long, just a little more so that she might linger, so that I might take my beautiful Scribe into myself as she had done me. As my dear Susan played for time, I made love to her. Oh, it wasn’t the kind of love I wanted to make to her, the kind in which I lingered long and partook deeply, but it was a mutual exploring, a teasing. It was glorious foreplay and an intimation of what was to come. My touch and caress, her response and arousal, it was all an imparting of information, an understanding shared between two who knew beyond a doubt that they would become lovers. Those few precious shared minutes were giddy and edgy and filled with anticipation of what delights were to come when she returned later that night to free me.”

 

His sigh was like a soft fell breeze. The owl trilled again, and I held my breath. “I have not thought of that night since Susan was changed. I feared it would drive me insane for the longing of it.” He raised his hand as though he were shooing away an unwanted insect. “Not so much the longing for my freedom, but for the loss of that intimacy, the loss of that living flesh, of that beating heart that I would never know again.”

 

“You love her.” I knew the minute I said it that I had spoken out of turn. He didn’t answer for a long time and when he finally did, he sounded tired, and there was something else in his voice, a sense of melancholy, perhaps.

 

“I cannot love, K D. I have not that capacity.”

 

Strange that his words felt like a slap, and it was all I could do to keep from gasping at the impact.

 

There was another long silence in which I wavered between the need to apologize and the desire to make excuses for what seemed like a stupid question given what he had told me repeatedly about his lack of humanity. The Guardian sat quietly and studied his hands folded in his lap. This time when he spoke it was not to me. “Susan, darling, K D has been here too long. She is at risk if she lingers longer. Have the succubus bring her up from the Dream World so that she may rest for awhile.”

 

I woke up in the big bed. The room was dark and Talia was now in the winged back chair drinking wine and reading a novel. Susan sat on the bed beside me, my hand clenched in hers. Her eyes were wet. I wanted to say something to her. It seemed important that I did, but before I could form the words, I slept. This time there were no dreams.

 

 

 

Links to Previous instalments of the interview

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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