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An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington: Final Entry

This is the final journal entry of my unusual visit with Alonso Darlington. Two weeks I told you that I’ve been thinking a lot about Alonso Darlington recently as he waltzes back into the Medusa stories, never being far off the written page anyway. I never imagined when I wrote the story of how he and Reese Chambers became lovers that he would figure into so much more than a simple M/M romance novella. As it turned out, Alonso and Reese’s tale was only the beginning.

 

Before I understood who he really was, who he worked for and where his tale would lead me, I was invited for a strange visit to his home in the remote part of the Lakeland fells, where he warned me to hold on to my hat. The ride was about to get wild.

 

 

 

 

3rd Entry

 

The room was as silent as a tomb after Talia left. God, I didn’t want to think of that analogy, but there it was, popping up in my head, and me alone with the vampire I thought I’d created, but wasn’t at all sure I could trust. Ha! Me being Alonso’s maker! The humour was almost, but not quiet lost on me.

 

I could feel his gaze rather than see it. But then Alonso’s gaze was nearly as physical as his touch. When it moved over me, I felt as though every part of me had not only been touched, but completely left naked and exposed. I kept my eyes focused on my hands folded in my lap as though I were offering up a white-knuckled prayer. Maybe I was. I honestly don’t know.  I do know that I was scared witless. I had absolutely no clue what was going on or what was the significance of the conversation that had passed between Talia and Alonso. I was still struggling to get my head round what had happened and the fact that something so brutal could have been arousing as well as terrifying.

 

After what seemed like ages, Alonso released a heavy breath and came around the desk. He leaned back on it looking down at me where I sat, still avoiding his gaze. ‘Are you a fan of mythology?’

 

His question startled me, and I looked up. ‘Yes, why?’

 

In a move so fast I missed it until I felt the electricity of his touch shoot down my spine, he knelt in front of me and took my face in his hands so that I couldn’t look away.  ‘You often write … stories that involve mythology, witches, demons, things that can’t be easily explained.’

 

I struggled to catch my breath enough to reply. ‘I write all sorts of things. I have an active imagination, like you said.’

 

He made a sound at the back of his throat that was enough like a growl to make the hair on my neck rise. ‘Your active imagination conjures a lot of very dangerous people.’

 

My laugh sounded high pitched and thin, bouncing off the stone walls. ‘You make me sound like a witch or something.’

 

He didn’t smile. ‘Not a witch. Not exactly.’

 

I couldn’t hold back a shiver, but I caught myself quickly. ‘I write fiction. That’s all.’

 

He said nothing, only studied me until I closed my eyes to get away from his intense gaze. It was the warmth of his lips on mine that caused me to start, his electric touch playing over me like ripples on a pond. The room suddenly seemed tight, airless. I tried to get away from him, but he held me tight. ‘Perhaps she’llallow you to believe that, but I doubt it.’

 

 

Before I could either panic or throw myself into his arms and offer up my neck, he stood and moved back behind the desk. ‘You’re free to go, K D. Talia will take you back to your room, and you have free run of the house for now.’ He gave a huff of a laugh. ‘There isn’t much you’ve not already seen, I suppose.’

 

He was right. It was an intuitive experience, finding my way around High View Manor. And it was uncanny that I should know the place so well, that it was the place I had created in my imagination for a story I’d written, and yet my creation was stone and wood all around me. I wandered the grounds when I felt claustrophobic inside the stone walls designed to keep a vampire safe from the northern sun – anemic in the winter and tireless in the summer. I wandered the grounds wrapped in the heavy jacket, which I found returned and hanging next to the wardrobe in my room, as if by magic.

 

I felt as though I’d fallen off the edge of the earth and ‘here be monsters.’ This was the Lake District! I loved the Lake District. My heart felt like it was home the first time I came here. But Lakeland is also a place full of magic and mystery. That the creations of my imagination should take shape in the reality of the waking world made me feel wrong-footed and not quite at home in my own skin. It was unsettling enough to see the world I had created in my head solid and stable all around me, but it was much more so to feel threatened by the flesh and blood people that until now I thought to be only characters in my imagination.

 

The sun was setting and I had just returned from a wander in Alonso’s garden, shivering from the cold wind that had gotten up some time in the afternoon, and had just been joined by gravy-thick mist. I heard voices in the day room, heard the mention of my name, and stopped short to listen.

 

‘If Talia didn’t put the story of our relationship in Ms Grace’s head then who the hell did?’ I recognized Reese’s voice and stepped closer on tiptoes.

 

‘It’s better that you don’t know,’ came Alonso’s reply. ‘Our cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. That means sheshould have no further interest in us.’ Then he added as an afterthought. ‘Though I honestly don’t know why she would want our story shared in the first place. I’ve kept my distance from her, respected her boundaries, kept her secrets – what few I know of them. I’m no threat to her.’

 

‘You’re recently returned to Lakeland,’ Talia said. ‘Granted High View and the surrounding fells is all your land, and you keep a low profile, but you’re here, and she’ll want to know exactly why you’re here and what your plans are.’

 

‘If she’s told my story to the writer, then she already knows my motives and that I’m no threat to her.’

 

No threat to who? Who the hell was he talking about? I felt like little ant feet were crawling up my spine. Christ! If there were someone out there who Alonso feared, someone whose attention he wanted to avoid, what the hell would they want with me? I was scared enough of him. Whoever shewas, I was pretty damned sure I wanted nothing do to with her. I was so lost in my thoughts that I nearly missed Alonso’s next statement with all its implications.

 

‘Anyone else who she brings to Ms Grace’s attention, well that’s not our problem, is it? And the less we know the better.’

 

Anyone she brings to my attention? They thought this she, whoever she was, had made me write Alonso’s story? I was beginning to get seriously creeped out.

 

‘She was in Vegas last spring, our dear Ms Grace. You know that, right?’ It was Talia’s voice I heard now, and I inched still closer to the open door holding my breath. ‘More jet-lagged than usual from what I understand. I wasn’t so concerned when she was there the year before. But last spring, Mr. Graves had … company.’

 

‘It’s not our concern, Talia.’ Alonso’s voice was tight and irritable. ‘Mr. Graves has nothing to do with us, and if the woman writes his story, if that’s why she was so jet lagged, then better Graves than us. And he can certainly take care of himself.’

 

‘That’s easy for you to say.’ Talia’s voice, though low and controlled, made gooseflesh prickle up my arm. ‘But Ms Grace is here in the Lakes often, and you’re not the only one who has secrets, Alonso.’

 

‘What do you want me to do, Talia? Hmm?’ If she’s chosen Ms Grace to write the stories then there’s nothing any of us can do about it, and though Mr Graves might be angry, he won’t take her on, not directly anyway. There’s too much between them.’

 

‘Who’s she? Who the hell are you talking about?’ Reese asked, his voice raised in exasperation.

 

Alonso’s reply was curt, sharp edged with warning. ‘We’ll discuss this later, after our guest leaves.’

 

Talia spoke over a loud clearing of her throat. ‘And just how long do you plan to keep our guest listening at the door, Alonso?’

 

Before I could turn to flee, Alonso was at my side and with speed matched only by grace, he slid an arm around me and guided me into the day room where I was suddenly the center of attention.

 

‘I’m sorry. I was just coming in and I heard my name and … well what you were saying was …’

 

‘Frightening?’ Talia came to my side and smoothed the wind-blown hair away from my face, and the feather touch of her fingers sent the feeling of champagne bubbles bursting all over my body. ‘You have good reason to be frightened, scribe.’  Before I could step away from her, she pulled me into her arms and kissed me.

 

From somewhere a long way off I could hear Alonso and Reese, voices raised in alarm, but after that everything happened so quickly, I can only guess at events. They came to me like scenes lit by a strobe light, fast, frantic, and disjointed. There was a woman. I can’t recall how she looked, and yet I know if I ever see her, I’ll know instantly who she is. She was achingly beautiful and yet something about that beauty terrified me. I tried to run from her, through an overgrown garden, dark and wild and more alive than it should have been. And there were stones, all around me stones some sculpted, some grotesque, some worn away until I couldn’t tell if they were ever more than just the rock on the fells.

 

Then someone carrying a flaming torch walked inside me like I were the garden, ignoring all the places that I chose to share with the world and seeking out the darkness in me, the shame in me, the places I never visited myself, let alone invited company in for a look. I cried out, I screamed, I tried to chase the torch bearer away, but the more I tried, the more my darkness was illuminated.

 

And then I was falling down underground, at first into the ruins of a slate quarry, and then there were bright lights above me, but I walked in caves, through endless tunnels and caverns, and I walked among the dead, all the while knowing that the bright lights were above me and that above me people celebrated, people danced and drank and partied. Yet they were oblivious to the dead just below them, the dead I walked among as I followed the torchbearer through the darkness. I followed until we came to the edge of an abyss, and there, the torchbearer turned to me and spoke against my ear. ‘Write it. Write what I tell you.’  Then with the flat of her hand in the middle of my back, she gave a gentle push, and I fell over the edge.

 

I woke with a start, gasping for breath. I’m embarrassed to say that I might have actually been screaming. It was Reese who held me, and soothed me back into the waking world.

 

‘Goddamn it, Talia!’ Alonso was saying. ‘Why the hell did you do that?’

 

I was lying flat out on the leather sofa with Reese kneeling at my side. But Talia was kneeling next to him.

 

As I fought to sit up, Talia glided across the floor to Alonso, took his face in her hands and kissed him hard. He gasped as though she had gut-punched him, grabbed at her as though to keep from falling and then stopped trying as his legs gave and he dropped onto the love seat across from me where he sat breathing like he’d just ran a marathon.

 

Talia pulled herself up to her full height, squared her shoulders and spoke in a quiet voice. ‘Now you know. Now we all know. And there’s nothing we can do about it.’ Then she turned and walked out of the room.

 

‘Do about what? What did she just do? What did she see?’ Reese sounded as though he wasn’t all that far from the panic I felt in knowing that whatever had happened inside me, Talia had just conveyed to Alonso, and I was pretty sure they both understood it a helluva lot better than I did.

 

If Alonso wasn’t already dead, I’d have said he looked like death warmed over, and his gaze was locked on me as though I’d just sprouted horns and a tail. Then he pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket still holding me in a cast-iron gaze. ‘Stephen, see that Ms Grace’s clothes are packed and the car is brought around for her. She’ll be leaving immediately. Oh, and see that the jet is prepped to fly her to Heathrow.’

 

It was full dark when Alonso walked me to the waiting SUV. Up until that time no one had spoken to me, though I had been well-fed, which was good because after whatever had happened to me in the day room, I was ravenous. The driver got out to take my bag and Alonso took my hands in his.

 

‘It isn’t over, K D.’ Before I could ask, he raised his hand to stop me. ‘I wish that I could tell you more, wish that I could help you, but I can’t. I know little more than to tell you that you need to be careful, and you need to be prepared because mine won’t be the last story you’ll be compelled to write.’ He shrugged. ‘I’m overstepping my boundaries by even telling you that, but perhaps she’llforgive me. Perhaps not. Still you should be warned. You should be ready for what’ll be asked of you. At least as ready as it’s possible to be. I am sorry, K D. Truly I am.’ He kissed me on the cheek, then nodded to the driver.

 

Under the circumstances I would have never thought it possible, but I slept most of the way home, dreaming of things too disturbing and too erotic for me to share outright with you. Most of them involving Alonso and Talia, but during those dreams, I always knew that shewas watching. There were moments when I could almost figure out who she was, but then like most dreams, what I struggled to hold on to vanished into mist before I woke up.

 

I arrived home feeling groggy and raw. In spite of my fears, in spite on that prickly feeling that someone was always just behind me just out of my field of vision, I fell into my own bed without even undressing and slept a deep, dream-filled sleep, often feeling as though Alonso or Talia, sometimes both, were there in the bed with me, and always she watched just beyond the edge of my consciousness. I woke half-convinced that I’d dreamed the whole experience, but for the still-packed bag sitting on the floor in the hall. Even then, I thought perhaps I could have packed it in my sleep. Denial is a powerful thing. It was only after I’d gotten out of the shower and was drying myself that I noticed two tiny puncture wounds above my left breast. But even that I tried to justify as some sort of skin irritation or maybe an insect bite.

 

As I unpacked, I discovered the series of email exchanges on my iPhone, the iPhone that had been kept from me the whole time I was at High View, between myself and my husband. I had not written any of them, but they were conversational, so typically my own voice that my husband would have just assumed that the visit to High View was nothing out of the ordinary, though surely whoever had written them knew I’d tell him the whole tale when he returned home. But then again, when I did tell him, it wouldn’t make any difference, would it?

 

In the days that followed, I developed no aversion to sunlight, no desire to drink blood, no powerful urge to return to Alonso. Neither did Talia visit my dreams again. In the days that followed, I constantly questioned myself, tested myself, trying to discover exactly what it was about me that had changed. Something had, and yet I still can’t put my finger on what it was or why or how, but something is different.

 

Alonso’s parting conversation keeps coming back to me, and I wonder just what I aught to be prepared for, and who the hell sheis. I keep trying to make sense out of whatever it was that happened between Talia and me, whatever it was that happened in my head, or in my imagination, or wherever it was. There’s no sense to be made of it, not really. But what I do feel is a sense of heightened expectation, as though something important, something that I need to do or know, is about to happen.  But then again, perhaps it is nothing more than my overactive imagination exerting itself a little more than usual.

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington

Last week I told you that I’ve been thinking a lot about Alonso Darlington recently as he waltzes back into the Medusa stories, never being far off the written page anyway. I never imagined when I wrote the story of how he and Reese Chambers became lovers that he would figure into so much more than a simple M/M romance novella. As it turned out, Alonso and Reese’s tale was only the beginning.

 

Before I understood who he really was, who he worked for and where his tale would lead me, I was invited for a strange visit to his home in the remote part of the Lakeland fells, where he warned me to hold on to my hat. The ride was about to get wild. Enjoy the second entry in my encounter with Alonso Darlington.

 

 

2nd Entry

 

I remember only one time in my life when I woke up with no memory of what had happened to me, and that was in the recovery room following a major surgery. This time, I woke battling a heavy duvet and found myself in a … tent? It was winter. Why would I possibly be in a tent? By then I’d regained enough of my wits that I realized I was in a bed, a heavy antique bed with velvet curtains pulled around it to shut out the light, and the tight little space around me smelled of strange spices laced with a musky outdoorsy scent I couldn’t quite place. A peek outside the curtain revealed sharply-angled sunlight falling anemically across stone floors and Turkish carpets. The heavy wardrobe and bureau in the room matched the dark wood of the bed. I appeared to be alone.

 

It was then that the memories flooded back to me, and my heart battered my ribs as I grabbed for my throat, cursing in spastic breathless whispers. With trembling fingers, I examined the place where Alonso Darlington’s lips had been, where his tongue had been, but there were no bite marks I could feel. Christ! Surely he wouldn’t bite me. Why the hell would he bite me? The Alonso Darlington I knew – well the one I’d written about at least – would not have brought me to his own home and bit me against my will. But then until last night, I thought Darlington nothing but a character I’d dreamed up for a story.

 

I stumbled from the bed, caught my foot in the duvet and fell on my arse. A frantic look around showed an open door through which I could see the dark blue tiles of a bathroom. When I couldn’t find my clothes, I wrapped myself in the duvet and stumbled to the sink. A close inspection in the mirror showed no evidence of bite marks. Then I remembered that the neck wasn’t the only place that Alonso bite people. I dropped the duvet, then twisting and turning like a contortionist, I checked every part of me I could see in the mirror. Then I plopped down on the edge of the claw foot tub to check my legs and groin.

 

‘Don’t worry, K D, he didn’t bite you.’

 

I yelped and nearly upended myself in the tub as I looked up to find Talia standing in the door dressed in a red cashmere sweater and black jeans. I quickly grabbed for the duvet to cover myself.

 

She shook her head and offered me a wicked smile. ‘If he had bitten you, he’d have wanted you to know in detail exactly what it felt like.’ She leaned closer and the smile became dangerous. ‘He’d have wanted you to enjoy the experience completely.’

 

She looked me up and down. ‘Me, I wouldn’t have cared if you’d known what I was doing to you, but just for your peace of mind,’ she leaned closer still, and once again I nearly fell into the tub trying to avoid her touch, ‘I was otherwise occupied last night.’

 

I stood up clutching the duvet tightly around me. ‘Then what happened?’ I managed to sound almost calm. ‘Because I don’t remember anything after he …’

 

Her lips quirked into something that wasn’t a smile exactly, and I felt a chill snake down my spine. ‘You’ll have to ask Alonso.’ She nodded back to the room. ‘Cook has made breakfast,’ she chuckled, ‘though you’ve slept half the day away. You’ll find your bag has been unpacked and your clothes hung in the wardrobe. I’ll take you to Alonso when you’re ready. In the meantime make yourself at home.’ She turned and left.

 

I ate like a starving woman, like someone who had been … kept up all night. But surely I would have remembered if that had been the case.  After a quick shower, I discovered that my make-up bag and toiletries were on the dressing table near the big window but my shoulder bag and my mobile were nowhere to be found. That left me with an uneasy feeling. Though Raymond had known I was coming to Cumbria, he would be worried if he didn’t hear from me.

 

Once dressed, I was surprised to find the door to the room not locked. I thought about making a run for it, but one look out the window at the frozen landscape with the heavy cloudbank rolling in over the fells, and the fact that I also couldn’t find the heavy coat from last night made me reconsider.  On top of that, I was reminded again that I had no idea where I was, nor had I recognized the route by which I’d arrived last night. I thought I’d recognized the hulking shape of Scafell Pike from the window, but even that was lost behind the cloudbank. I was completely turned around.

 

There was no time for a Plan B. Talia shoved open the door without a knock, inspected me with a gaze that made my knees weak, then she smiled. ‘Come on. Alonso’s waiting for you.’ What choice did I have? I followed her into an unadorned stone corridor that smelled dusty and muddy with the scent of heavy renovations in progress rather than the scent of age. She led me down a steep stone staircase claustrophobic in its tight twists and turns, and treacherous in its smoothly warm steps. The deeper the stairs descended, the closer the walls became. I’m not fond of tight places, and by the time the space opened out into a pleasant well-renovated sub-basement, I was having a bit of trouble breathing.

 

‘It’s several hours till dusk,’ Talia said, noticing my distress. ‘That being the case, this is where you’ll have to meet Alonso.’ She offered a throaty giggle. ‘You were right in your written accounts, hon, no coffins, not for Alonso at least.’ Without preamble, she opened a heavy wooden door that screeched against the stone floor, stepped back and nodded me in. I stumbled and nearly ran into Reese who was leaving in a hurry. He didn’t seem pleased.

 

He grabbed me by the shoulders to keep me from stumbling. ‘I’m very sorry about this, Ms Grace,’ he offered Alonso a hard glare, ‘but he’s a pigheaded prick at times.’ Then he glared at Talia and shoved his way past. I could hear the clumping of his heavy boots receding as he ascended the stairs. Then I turned to see Alonso fighting back a smile.

 

‘I’m afraid Reese is right, K D,’ he said, giving me the same once-over Talia had only minutes before. ‘I am a pigheaded prick at times, and until I get to the bottom of how you uncovered even my existence let alone such a … vivid view into my private life, I shall continue to be so.’ He nodded to a wingback leather chairs in front of the huge desk behind which he now sat. I settled reluctantly, more than happy for the comforting expanse of the desk between us.

 

For a long moment, he studied me without speaking, then he leaned over his desk and offered a genuine smile. ‘Did you sleep well, K D?’

 

Strangely enough I realized I had slept very well, or at least I certainly felt very well rested. Before I could answer, he shot Talia a quick glance and continued. ‘Did you have … pleasant dreams.’

 

The skin on my arms rippled with gooseflesh. I shivered in spite the warmth of the room, which looked more like the library of a wealthy English manor house than a room in the sub basement of a crumbling ruin. ‘I don’t remember dreaming at all,’ I said, glancing over my shoulder as Talia came forward and settled into the chair next to mine.

 

Alonso made no response, and neither did Talia, but I could feel all eyes on me. I forced myself to sit perfectly still as though I wasn’t bothered by the gaze of two alpha predators who could, and might have already, done anything they wanted to me, who now were staring at me like I was lunch. Of course I couldn’t do anything about my galloping heart nor my sweaty palms.

 

At last Alonso heaved a sigh, and I found myself wondering if vampires breathed. I’d read conflicting stories, and in all honesty, I couldn’t remember if the Alonso in my account breathed or not. Christ, if I’d had any idea I’d be meeting him in person I’d have paid more attention. My thoughts were quickly refocused completely on his person when I realized he had somehow, in a heartbeat, come from behind the desk to lean over me, and I definitely felt his breath on my face, warm and sort of spicy, a scent that brought with it intimations of wild remote places. I froze. It wasn’t like I could have done anything else. He mantled me as though he were a bird of prey and I was a fresh kill.

 

‘You’re telling the truth,’ he said, smoothing my hair behind my ears and cupping my face so I had no choice but to meet his gaze, an act which in and of itself felt like falling off a cliff on the high fells. ‘You honestly believe the story you’ve written about Reese and me is just that, just a work of fiction.’

 

I fought for breath. ‘I would never violate anyone by putting their private life into my stories. Ever.’ There was no keeping my voice steady. In truth, there was no keeping my body steady. I was shaking like a leaf.

 

‘No. Of course you wouldn’t,’ he said, his thumb gently raking across my bottom lip, which did nothing to ease my breathing. His dark eyes flashed over to Talia. ‘Which brings us back to the question at hand. How could you have possibly known the truth of what you wrote?’

 

Talia only shrugged and held his gaze. ‘Interrogate me if you want. I told you it wasn’t me. If I’d visited her bed and shared with her, I’d have taken a great deal of pleasure in sharing it with you, Alonso.’

 

What happened next I still can’t believe, and it’s not easy for me to write about. I’m used to writing sex and violence in fiction because I’m always safely removed from those acts that evolve in my imagination. But this … this was an encounter in which I found myself the accidental voyeur, way more up close and personal than I ever hope to be again.

 

In a heartbeat, Alonso pulled Talia up from her chair. I heard her breath catch, heard the bones in her neck pop in the violence of his efforts. Then with a single tug of his fist, he ripped open the front of her sweater and shoved it aside. I think I might have yelped. Not that anyone noticed. Talia gasped, but in that gasp I heard no surprise. She was naked beneath the torn cashmere, and in less than a heartbeat, Alonso pulled her into a back-breaking embrace, cupped her right breast and … brought his mouth down onto the swell of it high above her heavy nipple.

 

One of them, maybe both of them growled, and as he jerked her closer, I could see the garnet welling up of her blood just before his tongue slid over it, just before his mouth closed around it in a sound that was not unlike a lover’s passionate kiss. And then, I swear, the color of her eyes changed just before she closed them and fisted one well-manicured hand into his hair effectively holding him to her in an act no less intimate and no less violent than his own. Her other hand snaked around his waist and burrowed beneath his tailored black shirt and up his spine.

 

His response to her touch on his bare flesh was a quick, but violent convulsing of muscles until I feared he’d break bones. Then he groaned and shivered. I remember wondering at that moment if her touch had made him orgasm. I remember thinking I should look away, that I should leave them to whatever strange disturbing intimacy this was, but I couldn’t look away. I knew at that moment that to do so was physically impossibly. Then, to my horror, I felt as though I were the third party in the joining. No, that’s not really a good explanation. I felt as though I wasn’t there at all. I felt as though one second I was Talia being bled by Alonso’s powerful predatory kiss, being nursed upon by his warm lips; and the next I was Alonso being touched, in far deeper places than his bare flesh, being taken over by the succubus. And when I was sure I would pass out from that strange sense of terror and arousal that I couldn’t quite imagine existing in the same instant, Alonso pulled away, stumbled backward against his desk, his eyes still locked on the succubus,  and Talia fell back into the chair with a little sigh.

 

Wiping his mouth and bracing himself on the edge of the desk, he moved back to his own chair. Talia sat straight and square shouldered next to me catching her breath. She made no effort to cover herself and I could see the bite marks bruised blue and bright red above her nipple. ‘Are you satisfied now?’ she asked, sounding as though she’d just been out fell running.

 

He scrubbed a hand over his face, then looked from her to me and back again. ‘If not you, then who, Talia? How the hell did she know?’

‘Don’t be daft, Alonso. You know how. You just don’t want to admit it.’ Then she stood and exited the room with way more dignity that someone who had had her shirt ripped off by a vampire should have been able to manage. It was only with the door screaking closed across the stone floor that I suddenly remembered, I was alone with Alonso Darlington.

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alonso Darlington recently as he waltzes back into the
Medusa stories, never being far off the written page anyway. I never imagined when I wrote the story of how he and Reese Chambers became lovers that he would figure into so much more than a simple M/M romance novella. As it turned out, Alonso and Reese’s tale was only the beginning.

 

Before I understood who he really was, who he worked for and where his tale would lead me, I was invited for a strange visit to his home in the remote part of the Lakeland fells, where he warned me to hold on to my hat. The ride was about to get wild. That being said, I decided that under the circumstances it was time to share that encounter with you again.

 

 

 

1st Entry

 

I’ve debated long and hard about posting the details of my encounter with Alonso Darlington. But ultimately the need to share, the need to bring details of this encounter to light, has overcame my fear that readers might think I’m a nutcase and the even bigger fear of what Alonso’s response to my sharing might be.

 

When I wrote the strange erotic tale of Alonso Darlington and Reese Chambers as a story to be published in the Brit Boys: On Boys Book Bundle, I had no idea what a rabbit hole it would send me down. It was just an interesting sexy story, made more so by the location and the fact that Alonso Darlington was … is a vampire.

 

This being the case, Imagine my surprise when I received an invitation from High View Manor to meet Alonso Darlington in person. I thought I had perhaps spent too much time in my own imagination. I even considered seeing my doctor. But when the first class plane ticket arrived to Manchester, I went. I maybe shouldn’t have, but since I had written Alonso’s story, it seemed that I should meet the man in person.

 

I arrived in Manchester with the sun setting in the West. The rabbit hole feel of my first encounter with the man became even more vivid when I was picked up at the airport in a black Land Rover with darkly tinted windows kitted out to compete with any limo I’d ever seen. The driver handed me a heavy winter parka and helped me into the back seat, where I found a basket containing freshly baked bread, cheese, meat, fruit, wine and bottled water. I drank the water, but was way too nervous to eat anything, and I certainly wasn’t going to meet Alonso Darlington tipsy from alcohol.

 

I couldn’t help but feel intimations of Anne Rice as the woman I know only as Talia led me through the renovated areas of High View manor house and out into the Cumbrian chill, down to the night garden Reese Chambers has been landscaping for Darlington. I knew better than to offer Talia a handshake. The woman’s a succubus and she’s a close friend to Darlington – his familiar, I believe is the term. I don’t’ know much about her, and frankly I was nervous enough without losing my wit or my virtue to a sexy succubus. Even her gaze felt way too intimate. The sooner I could get away from her, the better.

 

She led me as far as the stone steps descending into the garden, then nodded to where Alonso Darlington sat on the slate bench with his back to me. She offered me a smile that looked like she might be as likely to consider me dinner as Alonso might, then she left. For a second I stood taking in the sky awash with stars and the dark outlines of the fells all around, giving myself a chance to stop trembling. It didn’t help. It was a rare, clear night, and there was no wind, for which I was thankful because it was still damn cold that high in the Cumbrian fells. I was extremely glad for the coat the driver had given me and a bit amazed that it fit so well. I have broad shoulders, and getting a winter coat to fit is always an ordeal. With the heavy Northface jacket pulled tightly around me, I took a deep breath and descended the steps, just as Darlington stood and turned to greet me.

 

How can I explain the first time I saw him face to face? How is it possible that I wanted to freeze to the spot like the stone statuary around me, while at the same time, I wanted to rush down the steps, allow him to embrace me, and offer him my neck. How could anyone ever look at the man and think him ordinary? How could Reese Chambers have possibly resisted Alonso Darlington? I don’t remember the rest of the descent into the garden. The next thing I remembered was Darlington extending his hand to me.

 

‘Ms Grace, it’s a pleasure. Welcome to High View.’ His hand was large, and I took  it without question, feeling a little shiver at the unexpected warmth of his skin, wondering if he had fed recently, if that was the cause for the warmth that shouldn’t be there in the Cumbrian chill. That should have been a relief, but instead it served as a reminder that I was in the presence of an alpha predator, and while he loved Reese and Talia was his occasional lover, I might very well be nothing more than the midnight snack.

 

Of course he sensed my nerves. I mean really, I couldn’t hide them no matter how badly I wanted to. He leaned close to me and smiled wickedly. ‘Don’t worry. I won’t bite, unless of course you want me too.’

 

God, it’s embarrassing to say, but I might have given just the slightest bit of a yelp as I pulled my hand away, a bit quicker than I intended. Not a wise thing to do with a predator, I knew. But then I wasn’t at my best at that moment.

 

‘Thank you,’ I croaked. ‘I’ll keep that in mind.’ Then I blurted out. ‘Why did you invite me, Mr Darlington? I know you don’t take many visitors, especially not … like me.’

 

His laughter runs up my spine like the feel of soft fur on bare flesh. He nodded me to sit, then sat down next to me on the bench.  ‘Like you, Ms Grace? You mean a writer of erotic fiction? A blogger? A dreamer? A woman who lives most of her life in her head making up stories?’ He laughed again, and I shivered, but not from cold. ‘A woman who has a very … imaginative fantasy life?’

 

Before I could respond, he moved closer to me so quickly and with so little effort that, though I knew he’d done it, I didn’t know how. I only knew that it was definitely not a movement an ordinary person might make. Strangely, I was torn between scooting away, or scooting closer. ‘May I call you K D?’ he asked. ‘Certainly I would expect to be on a first name basis with anyone who knows me as well as you think you do.’ It was a damn good thing I was sitting because I was certain my knees wouldn’t have supported me if I weren’t. He continued. ‘I would say you’re probably even more of a recluse than I am, and I do apologise for the inconvenience of my invitation. I hope that the journey wasn’t too loathsome for you.’ He bowed his head to me slightly and I had the surprising urge to reach out and run my fingers over his silky dark hair. The predator image flooded my mind again and I did scoot back, just a little, and my heart sped up more than a little. Alonso’s knowing smile reminded me that he could hear the heart beating in my chest, he could sense the movement of my blood in my veins. I shiver thinking of everything about me that he might be able to sense, and then I forced my attention back to what he was saying. ‘Really, K D, why shouldn’t I be anxious to see you?’ His eyes were suddenly obsidian bright, and colder than the night air around us.  ‘After all, you’ve already told everyone who I am. What I am.’

 

Landscapesis a fictional story,’ I managed, unable to keep the trembling of my body from manifesting in my voice. ‘Mr Darlington, I –’

 

‘Alonso,’ he corrected me with a smile that was so friendly and inviting that I might have thought him just being hospitable if the circumstances had been different. ‘It’s Alonso. After all, we keep no secrets here, Do we, K D?’

 

‘I didn’t know you were real,’ I continued as quickly as I could, afraid I’d lose my courage, afraid I might actually do something stupid like try to run. ‘Believe me, everything I wrote, everything I published, it came from my head, from my imagination, from nowhere else. I would never –’

 

He leaned forward and shoved the hair away from my neck so quickly that I had no time to do more than gasp. My heart was beating way too fast and I could smell the terror rising in a cold damp sweat against my skin. He was going to take me. Right then and there, and no one would know the difference. My husband had been away in South Africa when Alonso’s invitation had come, and though I had emailed him, he had no more idea than I’d had as to where High View actually was, and he wasn’t due home for another ten days. I had told no one else because who the hell would believe me?

 

‘You wrote the story, K D,’ he whispered against my ear. ‘Surely you know I have ways of putting ideas in your head, thoughts,’ his mouth brushed my earlobe and gooseflesh rose along my nape, ‘fantasies.’

 

By that point in our encounter, things had become a bit vague. To my embarrassment, I confess it could have been fear. ‘Talia?’ I managed in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a frightened child. ‘Did you send her to me?’ I could feel panic rising. Surely not. Surely if he had, I would have remembered something.

 

He only chuckled softly, and stroked the tender spot behind my ear with the thick of his thumb. ‘Now why would I have done that, K D?’ I felt his warm lips against my throat, and I’m embarrassed to say that there was suddenly another feeling coexisting with the terror and the panic. ‘I’m not going to hurt you. But we do need to talk. We do need to come to an understanding, and I will keep you here until we do.’ And Christ! He actually ran his tongue up along that hammering pulse point where the blood runs so close to the surface, and I remember looking up and thinking I’d never seen such a beautiful sky.

 

 

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

 

Interview with a Demon Part 1

Part 1 (my notes on an unauthorized interview with the Guardian)

 

As a scribe, albeit a low-level one, I’ve had some pretty harrowing experiences with my characters, many of which have straddled that dark line between what’s real and what comes from my imagination. I’ve been invited to a vampire’s home where I was soundly threatened and warned away from the story I was writing – a story too personal for his liking, a story I was forced to write anyway. I’ve met Magda Gardener/AKA Medusa on the Manhattan Bridge, where she all but hijacked me into her consortium. I’ve even walked in the storm tunnels of Vegas with Hades and Cerberus/ AKA Jon and Gus. I was pretty jet lagged at the time though. I’m still not sure that wasn’t just a dream.

 

While I’m not a Scribe in the true sense that Susan Innes is, Magda seems to think that as far as simply recording the stories she wants told, I’ll do. That means I’m often put into, shall we say, unusual situations. While vampires are terrifying, and somehow Medusa, in her Magda guise can be convincingly safe, if she wants to be … as long as you don’t look too closely, the interview I’m about to share with you is completely unsanctioned. Not a chance it’ll stay beneath Magda’s radar, and yet, when I was asked by the interviewee to tell his story, how could I refuse? In fact, I’m not sure refusing was an option. I don’t mind saying that interviewing Hannibal Lector through the bars of his prison would have made me less anxious. You see Susan Innes has approached me to interview the demon now imprisoned inside her body. Since she is both his prison and only one of two people to survive a full possession by him, neither of them felt she could possibly write his story objectively.

 

Susan meets me at the door of the penthouse apartment in Tribeca, which she shares with Michael, who is a fallen angel, or retired, as he prefers to call himself. He’s the only other person to survive possession by the demon. It’s night, and the lights of Manhattan are like jewels flung out beyond ceiling to floor windows of an open planned living space big enough to pass as a small ballroom.

 

Susan is a vampire, but that’s not why she asked me to come to her at night. Because of her demon prisoner, she could have easily met me in broad daylight on the Manhattan Bridge or in Central Park. But this interview will involve a bit of dream magic. The demon I’ll be interviewing, known as the Guardian, has insisted that it be him I speak to without using Susan as the intermediary. That means I have to approach him through dreams.

 

You’re probably wondering how I could possibly sleep in the presence of a scary-ass demon and a vampire. With the help of a succubus, of course. In the guest bedroom where the interview will take place, Talia Zephora looks up at me and smiles. She sits in a wing backed chair flipping through the pages of Cosmoand sipping red wine. “We meet again, KD.” She doesn’t offer me her hand, which is just as well. I know exactly what I would feel if she did, and I’ll experience enough of her magic very shortly anyway. “You manage to get mixed up with some rough characters, don’t you?”

 

I just smile stupidly. There’s no good answer to that one. “How’s Alonso?” I ask. She works for him.

 

“He’s got his hands full now that Reese has joined the growing ranks of the undead.” She offers a low throaty laugh. “Though he’s so cute when he’s hungry. Reese, not Alonso. Alonso is never cute.” She lifts her glass to me. “Want some. It’s a good one.”

 

“No thanks,” I manage, hoping no one will notice the little tremor in my voice that I can’t seem to get rid of in spite of all the fail safes I’ve been assured are in place.

 

She nods. “Just as well. You won’t need it to make you feel good, I promise.”

 

The fight or flight response kicks in, and I take a step back and reach for the door handle involuntarily. She laughs out loud. “Just kidding. I’m just here to get you inside,” she nods to Susan and shrugs, “Wherever the hell inside is. I suppose it’ll be up to you to find his cell. After that, well then you’re on your own.”

 

Susan flips Talia the finger and the succubus blows her a kiss for her efforts. “It’ll be okay, KD.” Susan says nodding to the bed. “All he wants is a chance to tell his story. He figures you know him better than anyone … at least you think you do.”

 

I can’t help wondering if that last little bit is Susan speaking or the demon.

 

I kick out of my shoes and lay down on the enormous brass bed. Ideal for handcuffs and rope, a thought I wish I hadn’t just had. I’ve worn a soft pair of track bottoms and a tank top, something comfortable but not too intimate. This is an interview, I remind myself. That’s all. Susan pulls a blanket up over and tucks me in. Her gaze moves to the pounding of my pulse in my neck and she pats my shoulder. “Just relax. It’ll be all right.”

 

It’s damn near impossible to relax as Talia crawls under the blanket next to me, still fully dressed, so we are keeping it all business-like. Then she takes me into her arms and pulls me close, and I realize it doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. I’m completely at her mercy, that is until I meet the Guardian, then a succubus might well seem like a waltz in the park. Even as her kiss pulls me under, I can’t help remembering what the Guardian has done to others, what he’s capable of doing to me. Promises of safety suddenly seem ridiculous, and just when I’m about to reconsider, throw off the blanket and make a run for it, I fall fast and deeply asleep.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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