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

 

Passion, Journeys and Home

Some of this post is archived, some of it new because while I’m working on Interview With a Demon, dreams play a very crucial role in how I access the Guardian for my series of interviews. Come to think of it, dreams play a crucial role in all of my writing. Some of my novels have their birth in dreams, some stories, such as The Psychology of Dreams 101, are all about dreams and dream sequences. Few components of the human psyche have influenced writers over the centuries more than dreams. A Christmas Carol, Mid Summer Night’s Dream, in films, of course, The Wizard of Oz and Nightmare on Elm Street. And the list goes on and on.

 

We all have our own dreamscape and our own series of recurring dreams, and most people, whether they like to admit it or not, like to play around a bit with dream interpretation. It was an important enough part of the psyche that both Freud and Jung wrote extensively about dreams and their interpretations.

 

While it is not an exact science, here is K D’s neurotic writers’ version of dream interpretation, which turns out to be one helluva tool in writing a story.

 

I can divide those recurring dreams into three categories and that they all fit very nicely. For as long as I can remember I’ve had three types of dreams over and over again. They were never identical, but the themes were exactly the same, and I always wake up knowing when I’ve had one.

 

I have the ‘Old Crush/ Lover Returns’ dreams, I have the ‘stuck at the airport trying to board a plane I can’t find’ dreams. Those two types are frustrating, sometimes stressful and embarrassing, but the third kind can be really terrifying. The third kind are, ‘The House’ dreams. I’ll get back to that later.

 

It hit me the other day when I was walking to the local shops for a pint of milk that these three types of dreams are my efforts to resolve issues in the three major areas of my life; my passion, my life journey, and my own internal home, the space inside my head where KD, Grace, and Kathy all live. I realized as I bought my milk along with four bananas and some peaches, that these three categories of dreams seem pretty archetypal.

 

Passions

My passion is my writing. It’s the heart of me. Everyone who knows me knows this. But I would never say that I have an easy relationship with that passion. I’ve had dreams most of my life about an ex-lover or, more often, an ex-crush, someone who I really obsessed over and battled emotionally with at some point in my life. In my dreams that person returns to either ignore me, harass me or seduce me away from my commitments and my life. The emotions are high. I battle with trying to understand why I’m being rejected, or why I’m being treated poorly. I battle even more with the crushes and exes who show up to ‘take me away’ from all this, and I realize I no longer want to go with them. For some reason they just never seem to intrigue me as much as they used to. Passion is never what I expect. It’s often illusive, and always volatile. And yes, there are times when I discover that what I thought I wanted just doesn’t get me there anymore. Yup! That sums up my relationship with my writing in a nutshell.

 

Journeys

My journey dreams almost always take place in an airport, which makes perfect sense because I’ve been in more than my share. I’m quite familiar with delayed and cancelled flights, with having the gate changed at the last minute, with sitting on the runway in a time warp, with lost luggage and achingly long flights. I know the drill. The airport is never a destination. It’s the place in between. It’s the cross roads, no-man’s-land, the place you endure to get to where you want to be. The destination, the journey, the expectations, those are always foremost in my mind when I travel, but the airport can really fu*k that journey up.

 

It’s about the journey. It’s about the struggle to make that journey. Everyone’s on a journey from birth to death, and no one gets a smooth ride. Some parts of the ride are rougher than others, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do change well. The waiting is hard, the making connections is stressful, and the journey often takes a far different route than I ever anticipated. Until recently I’ve not been aware of these three divisions in my recurring dreams, but I wonder now if I have the journey dreams more often when it’s time to move on, when it’s time to find another place to be, but I’m afraid to make the move. I wish I’d kept track. In my dreams, I’ve waited in more airports than I have in real life, and that’s a bunch.

 

The Home

The third category of recurring dream, as I said, is by far the scariest, and that’s the House dream. Those dreams take three forms. The first is not so much scary as it is frustrating. In them I’m looking for my dream home, and every time I think I’ve found it, there’s some serious flaw that I can’t quite overcome – a swamp in the back garden – or even worse a swamp in the gigantic bathtub, the discovery that the house is the sight of a murder or some other tragedy, the discovery of a treasure trove of items that belonged to the people who lived there before, a house that’s been left like the owners have simply walked away.

 

The second type of Home dream is finding myself back in my old home town, quite often in my old high school realising that I don’t even know what classes I’m in and that no one cares that I’m an adult now, way past school days with all kinds of worldly experience. They still insist on treating me like a high school kid who hasn’t done her homework … in months.

 

The third type of dream I like to call the forbidden room dream. Those terrify me every time, and I often wake up crying out, drenched in sweat and struggling to breathe. Those dreams always involve me having lived in a big, usually very old house, for a long time, but within that house, there is one room I never go into. No one goes into it because it’s locked and off limits, and yet every second I’m in the house, I’m aware that the room and what’s inside it. The thing is, I’m never really sure why I fear that room so much. Is there a ghost? An evil spirit? A long dead body? Is there a demon, a crazy person? I never know. And when I do go into the room, which of course I always must, I am so frightened I can’t breathe, and yet I never actually see what’s frightening me.

 

OK, before you run away thinking I’m a total nutcase, just let me say that I’ve done enough dream analysis to know that the house is me, whether I’m looking for my dream house or thrown back into high school or whether I am terrified of some room that’s a part of me. The house is always me and all my dreams unrealized, all my issues, resolved and unresolved. Everyone has ‘rooms’ they’d rather not revisit. And though those rooms are places of terror in the dream world, they’re often places of true treasure when I’m willing to confront them in the waking world.

 

In Story

Now, where is all this leading? Well as I thought about the connections of these recurring dreams, it hit me that these are all life themes. These are major archetypes in everyone’s life, which means, for a writer, they become major themes for every story.

 

The passion, the journey, the home – all archetypes, all major building blocks in the Lego of K D’s ‘Create-Your-Own-Story’ pack. The passion can be a lover, an adventure, a personal challenge answered, revenge for a wrong done, the search for the Undiscovered Country. The journey is what it takes to realize that passion, whether it’s through the
Amazon Rain Forest or down to the corner market, whether it’s a novel written or a aria sung. And the home is everything that our characters are, all they fear, all they hope to become. It’s their neuroses, their flaws, and their joys and their hopes. Put those three together and the story possibilities are endless.

 

The dreams are never comfortable, never easy, and that’s one more reason why they’re so valuable for story. The places of powerful fiction are the places that frighten us, the places that make us uncomfortable, the obstacles in our path, the delays in the journey or the unexpected detours. Story is made up of the rough patches, and the rooms inside us that we’d choose not to visit if we could keep from it. There’s no ignoring those uncomfortable parts of us, no making them go away. But bring the ‘dreams’ into the waking world and transform them into story, and let the fun begin!

 

Sex and Ritual

from the archives

Those of you who follow my blog and read my books know that I’m fascinated by the
connection between sex and spirituality. I’m not a mystic. I’m a bit of a skeptic these days, but I’d be the first to say that there’s definitely something spiritual, something magical about sex, and not the least of it is the ritual involved.

 

I’ve always loved ritual. I made rituals up when I was a child. Later, I was involved in everything from conservative Christianity to practicing in a Wiccan coven — drawn in by the ritual. I spent three years training to be a spiritual director. I did it for the ritual. Contemplative prayer, meditating upon passages of scripture, the use of movement, dance, chant, are all tools of ritual. During my time spent in the Wiccan coven, the year itself was lived out in ritual — full moon, new moon, the changing of the seasons, the celebration of spring and harvest. During that time my husband and I even underwent the ritual of hand fasting in the stone circle at Avebury.

 

Ritual is a set of actions performed mainly for their symbolic value. But that’s only the beginning. The real power of ritual is that it’s the gateway to something beyond itself, it’s the gateway to a deeper understanding of what it represents.

 

That ritual infuses my erotica is not surprising. Sex is steeped in ritual, and often the rituals we practice before sex are strikingly similar to religious rituals. We often wear special clothing for the occasion, just as priests and acolytes do. We may share a romantic dinner together before hand, with special foods, just as the priest serves the Eucharist. Flowers and gifts may be offered. And all this we do in hopes of experiencing and celebrating le petit mort, the sexual version of death and resurrection.

 

When life was a lot more tenuous than it is now, fucking the world into existence was an act of high magic, sympathetic magic. One hoped that by having sex in a field or a cave or possibly a stone circle, the birds and the bees would see what was happening, and take a hint. Pollination would take place in the plant kingdom, plants would grow. Procreation would take place in the animal kingdom, animals would give birth. There would be food to eat, and the next generation would be guaranteed. Our ancestors got it — that there was something in the act, something in the lust driving the mating rituals of all living creatures that brought about new life. New life was in itself magic.

 

Today sex is more about recreation than procreation. The urgency is no longer there, nor is the belief that our efforts will encourage the cattle in farmer Jones’s field to breed. The urgency may be gone, but the ritual is still there. Strangely and wonderfully, so is the magic, albeit a different kind of magic.

 

 

The beauty of sex as ritual is that we don’t have to be members of a religious group; we don’t have to undergo years of training to practice the rituals of sex. Whether it’s BDSM, kink, vanilla or masturbation, sex contains the built-in default rituals of all humanity, just like it does for our animal cousins. Yes, I get that it’s biology. But when cranes dance and grebes do synchronised swimming and apes groom each other, it certainly seems like more is happening than just the old in and out.

 

Giving and receiving pleasure is the ultimate ritual of human connection, even if it’s
just some much-needed connecting with ourselves. There are as many versions of the ritual as there are people to practice it. No organized religion can offer a ritual that is more personal nor more universally compelling. Perhaps that’s why so much effort  has been made through the centuries to regulate it, to control it, to limit it.

 

Back in the dawn of humanity when sex was both ritual and religion, our ancestors got it right. Though the science wasn’t yet available to back up that intuitive connection, that visceral urgency of fucking the world into existence, even back then, our ancestors already knew that the ultimate ritual, the ultimate magic takes place in the arms another.

 

 

 

 

The Redemption of the Shrew Launches with a Tour and Giveaway

The Redemption of the Shrew

Scandalous Kisses Book 4

By Barbara Monajem

 

Barbara has some wonderful prizes to giveaway during the tour. Please be sure to enter with the Rafflecopter below. There is an opportunity every day to enter for your chance to win one of the fabulous prizes. So join us for a fun blog tour journey and be sure to enter every day for your chance to win. You may find all the blog tour locations here.

 

 

 

 

About The Redemption of the Shrew:

Nothing is more painful than rejection—particularly when completely naked!

 

Gloriana Warren doesn’t want to wait for marriage. Beneath her shrewish exterior is a kindhearted woman who uses her fortune for good. It doesn’t matter that the man she’s set her sights on claims impoverishment. She’s in love and determined to marry him. But her attempt at a moonlight seduction ends in disaster.

 

French marquis Philippe de Bellechasse has had it up to his gorgeous dark eyes with being pursued by lusty ladies. His escape to England from the violence of the French Revolution took a toll on his finances as well. Gloriana may be gloriously naked, but he’s just not ready to submit to her seduction.

 

But when a precious family artifact is stolen, Philippe must convince Gloriana he’s not the guilty party. He’ll steal it back for her, but on his terms. Gloriana, believing he despises her, has plans of her own. Working at odds is dangerous, but working together can be more so. Is Philippe willing to risk his heart again for a deliciously tempting shrew?

 

Amazon Buy Link

 

 

 

The Redemption of the Shrew Excerpt:

 

A clandestine meeting, particularly where nakedness is involved, is best arranged for a moonless night.

Or so Gloriana Warren told herself, for her mother would never have uttered such a scandalous dictum. Unfortunately, it was tonight or never. Tomorrow, the man she had sworn to love forever would leave Lancashire and return to London—without her. They wouldn’t be able to marry for years because of his stupid scruples about money.

Men and their tedious pride! She and the Marquis de Bellechasse loved one another. They shared the same lofty ideals. She had a substantial dowry. Marrying now made sense. Not only that, her mother would die happy.

So Gloriana was taking matters into her own hands. She had planned the upcoming encounter in glorious detail—every word, every gesture. As she emerged from the summerhouse to greet him, he would stand and stare at her, transfixed by her beauty.

“Darling Philippe,” she would say, reaching for him, offering herself without reserve. “Love is eternal. It cannot, must not be denied!”

“Ah, ma belle,” he would respond, his hand on his heart, his voice throbbing with desire. “I adore you. What a fool I was to think we could wait for years. Even another minute is too long. Tonight, I shall make you mine!”

She would fling herself into his waiting arms, swept away on the tide of his passion.

She wasn’t sure exactly how it would go after that, apart from plenty of kissing, but judging by her previous experience of Philippe’s kisses, it would be the most thrilling experience of her life.

She sneaked out the French doors, arms full of blankets, and glanced back up at Garrison House. Not a glimmer of candlelight showed in the windows. She hurried through the rose garden and skirted the lawn, keeping to the bushes and out of the moonlight. In the secret room under the summerhouse, she and her darling Philippe would be safe. Tomorrow they would announce their engagement to Mama. They would send for a special license and be married within a week.

Ten minutes later, she had set up a makeshift bed under the summerhouse and removed all her clothes. Shivering more from excitement than from the chilly night air, she waited for Philippe to arrive.

Tonight would be the most perfect night of her life.

~~~

The Marquis de Bellechasse left his horse in a convenient copse and made his careful way forward, pausing at the edge of the trees. Garrison House was reassuringly dark, but moonlight reflected off the ripples on the lake. The summerhouse gleamed white on its little knoll, exposed on all sides. He paused, listening. No sound disturbed the darkness except a nightjar complaining from a nearby oak. He hoped and prayed no one else was up and about tonight. He couldn’t afford to get caught with Gloriana Warren, but nor could he bring himself to ignore her passionate plea to see him once more before they parted.

He loved her—to the point of folly, judging by his current behavior. He had already said farewell, and yet here he was, trespassing on her brother’s estate at midnight to say it again. He dreaded her inevitable tears.

The door to the summerhouse stood wide open, which meant Gloriana was here already. Fine. Best to get it over with now. He took a deep breath and set out across the lawn.

He had almost reached the doorway when she came into view, rising from out of nowhere, her face pale, her hair loose around her bare shoulders. He halted, staring, his heart thundering. She continued to rise, her breasts round and luscious in the light of the moon. His eyes slid helplessly down the curve of her hips to the darker patch at the apex of her thighs . . .

Mordieu. He shook his head and began to back away. “No, chérie. We must not do this.”

She set her feet on the floor—she must have emerged from a trapdoor—and beckoned with those sweet arms, smiled with those lush lips. “Philippe, my darling, please come to me. I love you so much.”

“No, ma belle, I cannot.”

“But love—” She faltered, then continued toward him, arms wide. “Love is eternal. It must not be denied.”

Sacrebleu, she was declaiming like a shoddy actress on the stage. The thought revolted him. Surely his idealistic Gloriana could not cheapen herself so. Anguished, he put up his hands to fend her off. “It is not possible, Gloriana. Not yet. It would not be right.”

She hurried forward, her breasts jiggling enticingly. “Truly, we mustn’t delay. My mother may not have long to live, and seeing me married well is her dearest wish.”

He didn’t care in the least about old Lady Garrison, who was the worst sort of snob. He shook his head. “No. To wait is best.”

“Philippe, I cannot wait. I need you now.” She reached for him, her nakedness inches away.

He gritted his teeth and took another step backwards. His imbecile cock was reacting to her, but he had long ago gained control over its demands. “I am sorry, but I must go.” He turned away.

She wailed, a sharp, keening sound, and immediately a shout came from nearby. Her brother? No, he was in London. A gamekeeper?

Whoever the man might be, he was lurking here on purpose. So much for love, Philippe thought. Gloriana was just another lust-crazed woman trying to trap him into marriage. He turned and ran. Pursued by shouts and then shots, he reached his horse and galloped away.

 

 

 

 

About Barbara:

Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa).

 

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks. Asparagus pudding proved to be pretty horrible, and she is too fumble-fingered to make socks. Now she just sticks with writing books. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

 

 

 

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Find Me: Instalment 10 of Concerto

 

Sometimes things are just too good to be true, and with the storm raging outside and the heat of sex, music and passion raging in, it’s not easy to know where reality begins and dream ends. Crossing that boundary is always a shocker and never what you expected.

(You’ll find links to the rest of Concerto at the end of this instalment)

Concerto: Chapter 10 Find Me

I woke in the dimly lit room watching rain drops slowly drip down a curved tube. For a long time I just watched, fascinated by how clear the droplets were and how slowly, how evenly they drip, drip, dripped. “Still raining.” My throat felt like I’d been swallowing gravel. “Maybe Mrs. McLaren won’t be able to come get me. Maybe I’ll be stranded here with you for a while longer.” my tongue felt too big for my mouth, as I slurred over the words. My body ached all over – no doubt from all the lovemaking. It was only when my pianist made no reply that I tried to roll over in the bed and realized I was attached to the drip, drip, drip. There was an IV bag connected to the long tube that led to the vein in the top of my hand. My pianist wasn’t there. I wasn’t there, at least not in the cottage on Skye where I should have been. A nurse rose up from a chair next to the railing on the side of my bed.

 

Startled into an unpleasant wakefulness, I forced my way up onto one elbow. The needle in my hand pinched, and my joints ached with a vengeance. “Where am I? What’s going on?” The effort was a mistake. The tympani pounding in my head was outdone only by the toxic burst of colors in front of my eyes. I all but fell back into the bed with a groan.

 

“Easy now, just lie back and breathe deeply. That’s it. You’ve had a nasty knock to your head,” the nurse said reaching for my arm to take my pulse and my blood pressure, where the cuff had been left on my bicep.

 

“Where am I?” I asked again, trying to take in my surroundings without moving too much. I was still too muzzy in the head to decide if I should panic, or if maybe I was dreaming. Surely that was it. I had to be dreaming. “Where is he,” I ventured, holding my breath for a second listening for the piano.

 

“Who?” The nurse said without looking up from her efforts.

 

“There was a man with me.” I didn’t know what else to say. I still didn’t know his name, and I regretted it more than ever at that moment. “Is this a … hospital?”

 

The nurse, Claire, her nametag said, “Gartnavel,” she replied with a nod. I must have moaned or maybe gasped, because she looked up at me. “Glasgow?” Then she slid her glasses off and tucked them in her pocket, studying me through dark, liquid eyes until I would have squirmed if moving hadn’t been so unpleasant. “How much do remember,” she asked at last.

 

“What do you mean by that, how much do I remember? I was in bed with my … lover in his cottage. I fell asleep there last night. The landlady was supposed to pick me up later today and take me back to Portree.”

 

“Mrs. McLaren?”

 

“That’s right. I was staying at one of her cottages for the long weekend.”

 

Just then a woman in tailored navy trousers and jacket stepped into the room carefully shutting the door. Her short gray hair and no nonsense attitude made me think of Judi Dench in a James Bond movie. She offered me a smile that made me think it didn’t come easily, and then glanced at my chart. “Welcome back. I’m Ms. Jackson, your consultant.”

 

“My consultant?” It was suddenly a struggle to breathe. A knot tightened in my stomach as I tried once again to sit up. “Why the hell do I need a consultant? Where’s the pianist? Where is he? He was with me, and …” The world spun sickeningly around me and I eased myself back on the pillow, fearing I would throw up. I clenched my eyes shut, fighting back nausea with quick shallow breaths through my
nose. From somewhere far off someone was speaking to me, telling me to relax and breathe deeply. But I was no longer listening. I was lost in the music watching my pianist playing through the rain-pocked glass of the French doors on his cottage. Around me the storm raged and the rain came in sheets. I felt neither. I only watched and listened, but as I reached for the door to let myself in, the world went black.

 

When I woke it was dark outside and a different nurse sat by my bed. I felt like my head was full of cotton wool and everything seemed far away. I swear I could hear the drip drip of the IV and feel each drop going into my vein. I pretend I was still asleep. Maybe I was asleep. I couldn’t be sure I wasn’t dreaming, not when everything was so strange and out of focus. I only wanted to be back in the cottage curled up with my pianist. I wanted him kiss me awake and nibble my earlobe and then take me again in that lazy early-morning way that lovers do, who are new, who are still discovering each other, still unable to get enough of each other. And then I was once again standing outside the French doors listening to my pianist. This time I didn’t try to go in. I was too afraid if I did, I’d find myself back in the sterile room in Glasgow with the nurse hovering over me. Surely I must still be lying in the big bed next to my pianist, sated from so much lovemaking. No doubt, I was dreaming horrible dreams about leaving him, when I would have much rather stayed. I made myself a promise that as soon as he woke me up in some delicious way, I wouldn’t rest until he gave me his name. I needed to know his name. But, he didn’t know mine either, did he? How could two strangers have become so intimate?

 

I don’t know how long I listened. I didn’t get wet, I didn’t get cold, I barely heard the storm rattling the windows and howling around the cottage as he played on and on. I let his music wash over me in waves, carrying me to a safe place where nothing could touch me but the melody. It was the same melody he’d been playing the first time I heard him, and it held me in thrall just as it had then. With the edge of my nightshirt, I wiped the steam from my breath off the glass, and the music stopped. He turned to me and came to the door. My relief was short lived though, when he only placed a hand on the glass and said softly. “Find me.”

 

If you’ve missed an episode of Concerto, here are the links.

 

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

Concerto Part 4: Writing and Waiting

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in a Storm

Concerto Part 6: Remember How it Feels

Concerto Part 7: Unsettled

Concerto Part 8: Into the Storm

Concerto Part 9: Me, But Somebody Else

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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