Monday, October 31, 2011

Review of Pulse of Heroes by A. Jacob Sweeny




Pulse Of Heroes (The Pulse #1)

Pulse of Heroes by A. Jacob Sweeny
Paperback509 pages Kindle Edition by Thalamus Press

*This book was given to me for review. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed are mine.  A Part of  Romancing Your Dark Side Book Tour.*
The Blurb:
A suspenseful, passionate, paranormal romance that sweeps through the emotions of first love and heartache as it traverses centuries and continents.
Michelle used to feel like she was behind in everything, especially school and relationships. Her great aunt from the old country says she is like a bland meal, "no salt or pepper". But in junior year, everything changes. Her father takes a position on the Town Council, a popular boy in school becomes interested in her, and most importantly, the Hekademos Learning Center, a private school for 'troubled' students, moves into her quiet neighborhood amidst the protests of the entire town.
After seeing the School Regent out with a group of young guys just before Christmas, Michelle is convinced that there is something odd about them. Her curiosity gets the better of her and she embarks upon a mission to figure out what is really going on. After an embarrassing fall over the school wall, Michelle meets Elliot and her ordinary ‘bland’ life changes its course forever.
Elliot is no ordinary human. In fact, no one at the Hekademos Learning Center is. Beautiful and fierce, they have survived throughout the millennia by weaving in and out of human events. Through them, Michelle learns that history and myths from around the world are dotted with references to their kind. Michelle falls madly in love with the ever-striking and mysterious Elliot and, as much as he tries to fight it, he develops strong feelings for her as well. Although Elliot carries numerous painful memories from his many pasts, he disregards his own better judgment and the advice of his friends, and finds himself falling for Michelle‘s offbeat personality. Their feelings grow in intensity, but when History catches up with them, the difference between their life paths threatens to destroy any future that they might have had together.
Michelle learns that there are infinite shades of gray between black and white, and has to deal with the bundle of contradictory emotions called love. After some unexpected twists during a family trip to Europe, she has to trust her intuition in order to face the danger and uncertainty of being drawn into Elliot’s wondrous world. Ultimately, it is up to Michelle to make the split-second, life-altering decision that will either tear them apart forever, or give them another chance.

My Review:
I really enjoyed reading this book. The pace is slow so you will want to make time to read this. The author builds the story with a lot of day to day things.  Normally I get impatient with that but this time it worked for me. I really got to know Michelle and how she thinks, feels and reacts. This is knowledge of her is important to the story so, if you are like me and get impatient, hang in there.  I appreciated the way the author kept me on the edge of knowing Elliot. At first I was put off by it but then I realized she was putting me in Michelle's place. I knew what Michelle knew. I felt what Michelle felt. It really made this an easy book to fall into and forget where you really are. 
Another huge plus for me was the addition of all the history. I love history. I love reading about the Gods and Goddesses. This book is rich in it. A Jacob Sweeny made it engrossing to read. Ancient history can be hard for some people to be interested in but I really think even those people would love reading this book. 
I found this to be a well written, tender, suspenseful paranormal romance that slowly builds, leaving you breathless and wanting more. I found it to be an extremely moving book. One of my all time favorite books is Mists of Avalon and I truly never thought I would read another book I would hold beside that one. Pulse of Heroes just won a place next to it in my heart.  This is quite a feat as I first read Mists of Avalon over 20 years ago and it has held its lonely space for that entire time. I highly recommend Pulse of Heroes to you.  It truly blew me away.

An angry note here:  while visiting the author's site I learned that copies of Pulse of Heroes were pirated. That is so uncool! A. Jacob put her heart and soul into writing one of the best books I have read and to have it passed around like that is beyond words. Please buy the book. Don't steal. Pirating only looks good on Johnny Depp and I seriously doubt he is stealing books!

Here is the cover for Pulse of Heroes Book 2 which is available on the author's site. As she only uses pay pal, (which I refuse to use after a bad experience with them), I am hoping it makes it out to wider markets soon. 

Of Blood and Pulse (#2 'The Pulse' series)

A Jacob Sweeny's amazing website is here: http://www.pulseofheroes.com




Comments always appreciated!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review of Whatnots&Doodads by Stacey Kennedy


Whatnots & Doodads by Stacey Kennedy
ebook47 pages
 Liquid Silver Books

*This book was given to me for review. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed are mine.  A Part of Dark Side Book Tours.*

For Bryanna, a witch from the Asheville Coven, magic is on the fritz. Shunned by her coven and her boyfriend Layton for her unruly magic, she seeks a new life for herself. It just so happens, fate steps in and brings her to Strange Hollow--a place where being different is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
When Bryanna arrives in Strange Hollow, Zeke, a demon gone good, is burning with Hell’s fire over her. Not only has she set his world ablaze, but he’s found one soul he can save. He’s determined to free her from the insecurities that have damaged her soul.
Together they experience lava-hot passion as they weave their way through a tornado of emotions. But when Layton returns for her, will Zeke’s attempts to break the unworthy cage woven around her be enough to keep her in Strange Hollow forever?

Wow! What a read! Lava-hot passion does not do it justice. Stacey Kennedy, (this is my first story of hers I have read), knows how to write erotica. I had to smoke 2 cigarettes when I was done with the first major erotic passage.
This is a novella so it is a quick read. However it packs a lot in. The story is well written. I was captivated by it. The romance, while being done in a quick amount of time, built slowly then exploded. I loved it! Bryanna was in a very fragile state and I really liked how Stacey gave voice to Zeke's thoughts in that regard. She chose to not let Bryanna be taken too easily. I also welcomed the message that Stacey gave of acceptance. Bryanna was very relatable for me. She has low self esteem when she arrives in Strange Hollow due to her lack of witchy abilities. Layton preferred her that way, I believe. Zeke, however, wanted to see her get her confidence back. I loved that. The message that you are of value, even if not all others see it that way, is very strong. Another thing I appreciated was, unlike most stories that do not explain why a creature, (such as a demon), is acting strangely unlike their kind, Stacey explains why that is in Strange Hollow. I found that refreshing. The characters were well thought out and very likable. I would love to see more of Strange Hollow and the various characters who reside there. While the story was fulfilling on its own I was curious for more. I am hoping that Stacey gives thought to making a series of novellas from Strange Hollow.
I thought this was a very enjoyable, fun, passionate read. Excellent for a chilly fall night. Definitely for adults though.

Stacey has a website: http://www.staceykennedy.com/





And is part of Paranormal Romantics: http://paranormalromantics.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html

Books by  Stacey Kennedy include:
The Willow (The Magical Sword, #1) The Wicked (The Magical Sword, #2) The Devil's Kiss (The Magical Sword #3) First and Last (The Magical Sword, #4) 

Stolen Dreams (The Lingering Spirit, #1) An Everlasting Bite (The Blue Bloods, #1)Silent Howl (The Blue Bloods, #2) A Warrior's Witch (An Otherworld Romance)  
Comments Always Welcome!

Halloween Fun with Suzan Battah and Birthday Wishes!

TRICK OR TREAT ZOMPACOLYPSE HOP


DATING- Scary or Not?


Well, being new to blogging I hope I’m going to do a good job for your guys. I was born on the 30th of October, so I wonder - does that make me scary to men? I’m not all too familiar with Halloween being Australian but isn’t the 30th of October known as the Night of Death, or something? Or maybe men aren’t scared of me, it’s all just a conspiracy to annoy single ladies with bad dates by the government. I’m going with the government theory.

Being the obvious lover of romance novels and of course I most certainly adore men, no knocking here at all. I’ve just become super picky when it comes to going out on dates. Rules I prefer to adhere to from now on and hope all single ladies have some limitations:

·         The man must be well dressed, neat and tidy or at least be able to move in that direction without too much guidance.
·         Must have proper hygiene, no stinky men for me and if they wear a really nice cologne, I’m a sucker for good smelling men. mmmm, mmmm!
·         Must love loud and boistrous ethnic family and communicate with said loud and boistrous ethnic family - I’m happy to accommodate all types of family without prejudice as Jane Austen lovingly made clear with Elizabeth and Darcy.
·         Must not care that I love to write romance and won’t be able to stop writing romance and deal with it.
·         Oh and I really want to feel the WOW before I go on the date.

These are only basic rules, there is a whole heap of other rules I have but I won’t bore you with the list of what my ideal man could be. I’ve decided to come out of my dry spell of not dating and try dating again.

Hopefully this leads me onto the road of love. After all I’m very romantic, adore gorgeous passionate men and have been watching Farmer Wants a Wife too much.

Am I being too picky, are my standards too high?

Do I seriously need to tell a date to smell nice, hell no! He should know that already. Should I be seriously PO’d when a date steals my carpark and tells me about it later, hell yes! Should I laugh when I go meet someone online and go on a date to find out that he thinks I look a whole lot better in real life, I was definitely flattered, and it happened twice with two different dates, shame it didn’t work out. But I couldn’t go on in this life without knowing that I’m apparently more of a stunner in real life than in my pictures online.

So for this Halloween Year 2011, I Suzan Battah have decided to give dating another try. Good company, lots of romance, fun conversation and all of my guidelines aren’t being met? Hmmmm, it must be trick or treat. I’m after a treat... anyone else need one? Those last chocolates in the box too tempting to resist.



Happy Birthday Suzan! I wish you much love, happiness and success in the coming year!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review of The Hybrids of 2050 by Ami Blackwelder

The Hybrids of 2050: Belle Magnolia (Volume 4)

The Hybrids of 2050 by Ami Blackwelder
Shifter Evolutions  #4
Dystopian Shifter Romance 
Paperback290 pages
Published March 7th 2011 by CreateSpace 



Good Reads:
Alaska 2050 Hybrids caught between two worlds. Shifters on the verge of extinction. Humans divided on either side. Summary: Love and betrayal continue. Set in Alaska 2050, Melissa Marn and Bruce Wilder continue their work for the SCM under the hard, maddening General Raul. With military life now a cat and mouse game between Melissa and the General, the hybrids and the SCM, will she still have room for Bruce in her life? Will she ever see her twins again? After betrayal strikes the General for a second time, is Melissa safe? Since the annihilation of the shifters, only two elders remain in Anchorage, and an uncertain future awaits the hybrids. Will Diamond overcome her heartache and loss and find a family with Unseen? When a human joins the team, will he prove to be trustworthy? Will Melissa aid the hybrids in their survival or will she deliver the ultimate betrayal? With underlining themes of how prejudice breaks human connections and animal/wildlife conservation, this novel which has received rave reviews will leave the reader flipping through the page.

Me:
In this book we are introduced to the hybrid offspring of the Shifters and to new characters from Russia, including Uri a human. We learn more of Melissa's feelings toward the twins she bore with a shifter. Her relationship is still on with Bruce but both remain working in the lab even with torn loyalty. General Raul is more powerful and is more closely resembling Hitler,(or perhaps Hitler crossed with  Dr Mengele), with his experimentation on the Shifters. 

Ami Blackwelder has written an enthralling continuation to the Shifter Evolutions Series. This is the fourth book in the series and the second I have read. Ami recommends you start with the third and fourth books then decide to go back to the beginning or continue forward. The story continues to be well written and tightly woven. Your heart will be pounding through out this book. The characters are once again strongly written with more clues dropped at what motivates some of them.  I am becoming more intrigued with General Raul, (though I still do not like him). Ami does an awesome job weaving together the books in this series. The flow is flawless so far. The hard part for me comes next. I am left now with the agonizing choice of the beginning, (where my curiosity of General Raul will be sated), or following the story to the end. I do so badly want to know what is next. Hard decision time. I am not certain which way I will go. I weigh in about equal in curiosity of Gen Raul and the need to know what happens. Oh Ami, you are sadistic! I think I will be surprised as everyone else as to which way I go. To make matters worse, the first book of the new series, The Mers, is out on October 31st!!!. Kindle/Nook price will be  .99 cents. 

Ami's Books are a part of the Halloween Fun Giveaway. So if you want to read them, free, please enter today. Time is running out! To enter The Halloween Fun Giveaway Click This Highlight or go to the Giveaway Tab at the top. 

For the review of: The Shifters of 2040 


Be sure to check out all the giveaways on her blog. She has some awesome ones going on now!



Comments always welcome!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Fun with Stephany Simmons Part 2


Stephany Simmons Halloween Fun With Lian and Figg

Voodoo Dues (Lian and Figg #1)

Voodoo Dues Companion (Lian and Figg #1.5) 



PART 2 
How do we get back?” I tried to keep my voice steady, to not have a complete freak-out on Lian who was the only person who might be able to get us back.
“We have to be smart.” Lian said, “Everything here is about balance. We were sent here magically, we can get out that way.”
Lian’s theory was great, in theory. “The problem being that neither of us can do any kind of magic.” I grumbled.
“A minor technicality on this side of the veil.”
On the other side of what might have generously been called a road, a pinpoint of white light appeared and continued to grow into an oval about my size. Lian pushed me behind him, ready to confront whatever might be coming through. A figure fell onto the gravel emitting a string of swear words that would have made a sailor blush.
“The worst thing about being a ghost,” Boyd stood and brushed off his vertical striped bell bottoms, “is that you have to wear the same fucking outfit for eternity.” He raised his pant leg, revealing a pair of serious platform boots. “These were not made for a goddamn gravel road.”
“Look at the bright side,” I said, “You could have been wearing Bowie makeup when you died.”
“I was the night before,” Boyd said, “it was fabulous.”
“Ok then.”
“Right,” he said, “Carl is losing his shit over there, he sent me to find you even though I told him it’s not like I can do anything to get you back. Does he listen? Noooo!” Boyd huffed. “So, I have to run around creepy ass Ireland trying to find you.”
“Did you see anything when you were looking for us?” Lian chimed in. “Any houses, structures of any kind?”
Boyd seemed to ponder the question for a couple of heartbeats. “Nothing you’d want to visit,” He said, “just a couple of hanged bodies over there.” He pointed to his right.
In the soft glow Boyd was still emitting, Lian’s expression changed. “Two hanged bodies on a gallows?” He asked.
“Yep.”
“That’s it.” Lian said, dragging me by the hand into the pitch black. “If we can beat Nera there, we can get the sword.”
After only a few yards of using Boyd’s soft glow as a lamp in front of us, Lian gave up and boosted Boyd onto his back. With our ghostly friend leading the way in his platform shoes, we’d never make it to the gallows in time.
Along the way, Lian did his best to prepare me for what was coming. “The story says that demons and spirits tormented whoever tried to complete the challenge.”
“What exactly is the challenge?”
“To tie a twig around the ankle of one of the dead men.”
“Huh. Sounds easy enough.”
Those were the famous last words of the night. As soon as we left the gravel road, following Boyd’s direction, a figure with a lantern appeared, blocking our path; a small, elderly man with a dramatically bowed spine, leaning on a gnarled, wooden walking stick.
“Is that a Leprechaun?” I asked.
Lian rolled his eyes. “He looks harmless, but be careful.”
“This path is death.” The old man hissed, his vocal cords obviously as crusty as he was. “Turn back.”
Lian thanked the small man for his warning and we pushed on through the field of waist-high grass. With the gallows in sight, and no one but the old man bothering us, I felt myself start to relax, the tension falling away. We could be on our side of the veil before long. Suddenly, I felt like I was walking through goo. My movement, becoming slowed as Lian and Boyd trudged ahead.
“Sleep.” A familiar voice hissed in my head. “Sleep young one.”
“Lian!” I yelled, feeling hands close around both of my ankles. I was sinking into the earth as if I were standing in quicksand.
Lian dumped Boyd off of his back and ran to me, dragging me out of the earth. He pushed me aside and backhanded the little old man from the beginning of the path. I hadn’t even seen him standing beside me.
“Come on.” Lian took my hand and we ran toward the gallows that seemed farther away than it had been a few seconds before.  The little man screamed behind us and a wall of glowing white spirits popped up between us and our target. Like a supernatural game of red rover, Lian and I burst through the line and made it just as another man was approaching the corpses.
“Nera, stop!”
Miraculously, the man stopped, a woven chain of braided twigs dangling from his hand. Lian didn’t bother saying another word, he punched the man, knocking him off balance. Snatching the twig binding, he climbed up onto the gallows, and quickly tied it around the ankle of one of the dead men.
As soon as it was done, we were alone. The man Lian called Nera, the Leprechaun and all the ghosts including Boyd vanished.
“Water.” A harsh voice startled me. I was coming from the gallows. The man whose ankle Lian had tied the twig around was pleading, milky eyes wide open, staring at nothing. “Please, I need water.”
“Ignore him.” Lian said. It’s a trick.
“Ailill!” He yelled into the inky blackness. “Your challenge is complete!”
A large, bearded man with a simple, silver crown on his head walked out of the blackness. He held out a sword. Lian bowed his head and snatched the prize out of the man’s meaty hands.
“Move.” Lian whispered.
He didn’t have to tell me twice. I kicked off my shoes and ran toward the only place that made sense, the side of the road where we’d crossed over. I hoped the feet that were gaining on me belonged to Lian and not one of the beasties we’d encountered, but I didn’t look back.
“Here.” Lian’s voice stopped me. “This is pretty close.” He raised the sword over his head and sliced the air. It cut the scenery like it was a paper backdrop, letting through a blinding light.  Lian and I stepped through. He was right, the spot he opened wasn’t exactly right, it was better.
We were on stage with the druids who were still chanting. The crowd seemed to be in nearly the same state of undress as they’d been when we were sucked through the veil. We hadn’t been gone long.
Lian poked the lead vocalist in the back with the sword, getting his attention. “It’s over.” He said.
The guy turned around, breaking the concentration of the rest of the band. As soon as they stopped chanting, the semi-opaque spirits were gone and the crowd seemed to come back to their senses.
“Better luck next year, ay.” The singer smiled and winked at Lian, then poofed into a bird and was gone.

Stephany has a Good Reads Author Page

 Stephany also does Web Designs and Author Services. If you are interested her page is Pasty Hen.
Her Web Designs are for business, personal and BLOGS! Author Services include Book Covers, Word Press Themes and  Document Conversions. So check it out! 

Comments Welcome!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or Treat Hop

Paranormal Wastelands

Happy Halloween Everyone!!
Welcome to my blog stop along the Zompacolypse 2011 Hop!

All the blogs are listed below the Rafflecopter Entry for my stop. To enter - Just be a GFC Follower. Then hop on over to the next blog. Oh but before you go look around and see if you see the candy bucket. That's right. There is a candy bucket on several of the stops so be on the lookout for these special "bonus" treats! Also all this past month I have had short stories and Halloween post from guest writers. So when you have some time stop in and check those out.  Lots of treats from some awesome writers and you can see what books they wrote on the guest post. 

I will be giving away an EBook copy of Zombies Ain't Funny - The Anthology  to 3 lucky winners. 

Zombies Ain't Funny - The Anthology 

Zombies Ain't Funny! These sixteen stories from talented writers scattered across the earth prove otherwise. Zombie Humor as evidenced by several different viewpoints, styles, and twisted imaginations.

And to 1 lucky winner a copy of my favorite zombie book, The Undead Situation by Eloise J Knapp:

The Undead Situation

Good Reads:
When people started dying and coming back to life, it wasn’t difficult to start throwing terms like “apocalypse,” and “end of the world,” around. When authorities noticed said walking corpses’ affinity for eating the flesh of the living…well, it was easy to define them as “zombies.” Self-proclaimed sociopath Cyrus V. Sinclair isn’t surprised by the dead rising and roaming the Earth. In fact, he doesn’t mind the idea of staying in his Seattle apartment until the end of days—that is, until meeting up with other survivors’ cramps his style and forces him to reevaluate his outlook on life.

This will be a separate giveaway from my Halloween Fun Giveaway so be sure to check back and enter even if you have entered Halloween Fun. Halloween Fun will have several winners also and the prizes include both print and EBooks.






Halloween Fun with S. Wayne Roberts

One Night a Year…
S. Wayne Roberts


            One night a year...
            One night a year in most towns in most parts of the world there comes a holiday. No, I don't mean the one where a jolly old fat man squeezes down your chimney, breaking and entering, just to leave you gifts, and of course for the cookies that his wife likely won't allow in the North Pole due to Santa's diabetes. I don't mean Thanks-gluttony, which is where we gather around the table with folks we likely like less than we'd like and stuff ourselves with food in which is itself stuffed with stuff, nor do I mean any of their other holidays which falls on nights other than the one night a year I speak of here. I mean Halloween.
            Time travel with me, if you will. Now it's not too far, so you can pack lightly. Maybe a change of undies, as we're discussing a night of Ghosties and Ghoulies, but nothing too formal, minimal toiletries and not likely much of the over night necessity.
            The time was the mid-90s, the place, Maryland. I was a young know-it-all slasher film and ghost story fanatic whose entire world revolved around whatever happened to be holding my attention at any giving time, but in all fairness I was a prepubescent young man back then.
I spent most of my childhood on a patch of land owned by a local construction plant that sat back in the woods. A quaint little home offered up much like an apartment in an apartment complex for a maintenance worker. It was nice; always well kept and a fantastic place for a kid to grow. Granted there was nobody around to be seen aside from the occasional workers down the road, but up on our little hill, the world might as well have not existed at all. I was free to imagine worlds of my own and embrace the land.
One of my finer moments seems to have been a thick work glove that I fashioned dull plastic knives to with tape as to chase my older sister, much as the villain from one of my childhood favorites would do. I was harmless of course, but marked at an early age by a subculture that I didn’t entirely understand.
Halloween day was typically the same every year; I’d dress up in whatever kid friendly school version of a monster that I could manage and wear it to school. The teachers would parade us around for those whose parents would come to see and then it was back to the classroom for mindless activities and sugary snacks: a holiday party, they called it. School was never something I wanted to do, but Halloween was one of the few days I wanted to go as to get a sort of head start on the holiday festivities.
Clearly there was no place near my house to go door to door for candy, but we’d load up into the car and head out to one of the rich neighborhoods nearby, in which I’d get to work. Door to door, mindless greeting after mindless greeting, I collected my bounty. Looking back I imagine that I didn’t put in too much work, as there was always candy bought for the house, as if someone would come by for the candy anyway. The point is, one way or another I was going to be thoroughly intoxicated on candy.
It was all just a means to an end, as the real point of Halloween had little to do with costumes and much, much more to do with sitting in the floor with my mountain of candy and watching my horror marathon. The entire month of October was usually a treat in itself, but on that specific night, it was as if no other genre existed.
Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom night, Child’s play, Candy man, Cats eye, the people under the Stairs, House, and the countless films to the like, not to mention the TV shows like Tales from the Crypt. My favorite of all time was A Nightmare on Elm Street, the one that Wes Craven directed. Some films were funny and some scared me to my core (Candy man used to freak me out with his bees), but they all held my attention and attracted me for their ability to insight raw emotion like nothing else. Rather you cheered for the dumb blonde or the killer, or if you were like me and changed your mind a dozen times over, you always felt something. You felt involved and if the mood was just right you’d get that chill up your spine that somehow altered every shadow in the room (It got very, very dark in those woods), and just around the corner… wait for it, wait for it…
*SCREAM*
You totally jumped.
Fast forward now with me to adulthood, if it is right to refer to me as such. I make my living writing horror fiction, some that makes me laugh and some that scares me to my core (Not that I’ll likely ever surpass what Candy man did to me), but most of all, I’m a complete and total horror fanatic, or “Nerd”, if you will. I still dress up every now and then, my waist line is in itself a confession of my partaking in the sweets, and most of all, I still watch and when the mood is just right, between you and me, I still jump.
I’ve not been back to that old house since I was a young teen, but the memories of the seclusion and the childhood it spawned will live within me forever.


            S. Wayne Roberts—Steve—resides in the Baltimore area of his beloved Maryland, with his supportive family, where he enjoys taking life by the Bay one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Fun with Marlon Pierre-Antoine

Halloween Fun Giveaway Entry Form


CHRISTINE PARKER'S JOURNAL
by Marlon Pierre-Antoine

October 2nd, 1932

7:05AM
            It would be wrong to say that I had the dream again last night. Better to say that it came for me.
            Just outside the Ormond Plantation house's porch where I stood the old oak tree seemed to stretch on to eternity. It wasn't the oak I saw in my waking hours, a degraded husk whose bare branches bore only the spindly gray webs of moss, no, this tree was lush with golden brown wood and a top rich with the verdant green array of springtime bloom.
            In the dead of night that my dream manifested in, the tree was all that I could see: it was my world. A man stood strapped to the bark, body as black as evening, bare chest pressed against the tree trunk as lines of rope coiled around his back, legs and neck stretched and distorted his athletic form.
            The loud whip-crack of leather tore through the air. A crowd stood around the bound man, obscured by darkness, laughing and howling with every lash that made contact with skin and muscle and sinew.
            Just before the final whip came, the bound man turned his head to me, and through his yellowed, bloodshot eyes I saw something: not despair, not agony but...happiness.
            Despite the distance between us and the soft tone he used, I heard his words as clearly as a lover's tender whisper in my ear. “J'arrive, mon cheri. J'arrive pour toi.”


6:44PM
            I went to the doctor today – it took all the strength I had not to correct him when he called me “Miss” instead of “Mrs.”
            But it would've been foolish to say anything. After all, he was right. I haven't been married for years.
            Thus far in my sojourn in Louisiana I have come to the conclusion that Southerners believe in two things above all else: hokey and powerful medications of questionable legality. My doctor encapsulated both of these sacraments when he advised me once again to keep a diary, in order to calm my nerves and keep better hold of my emotions, and prescribed me a large bottle of coughing tussin just in case the first idea didn't mend my insomnia and bad dreams. I told him that I was resolutely opposed to keeping a diary, but, being a modern woman, I had undertaken a journal. He laughed and told me to carry on. I tried not to take the misogyny too personally.
            Later in the day, dinner in the broad, empty dining room was lonely as usual. For all its elegant trappings and candle arrays meant to convey the impression of warmth, my surroundings were so desolate that every clank, every stirring of the spoon in my bowl assaulted my ears with the unholy racket of a fireworks display. When one of the house servants passed by, head tucked low in submission, I invited her to sit with me.
            “Fleur, isn't it?” I asked the young Negro girl, about my age if not younger, and she nodded nervously. With her soft features and delicate manner, to me she really did appear as a flower.
            “The gumbo is delectable,” I said when it became clear that Fleur was too afraid to carry the conversation, “you must give my compliments to the chef.”
            The girl looked up at me and smiled sheepishly. “Merci, Miss Parker.”
            I was in disbelief for a moment. All the kitchen staff were full-timers. Didn't a girl of her age belong in school? I decided not to question it.
            “You speak French, Fleur?”
            She laughed, candid for just a moment before class and habit reasserted themselves. “It's Louisiana, Miss Parker.”
            So I asked her to translate for me, writing the words the bound man taunted me with in my dreams on a napkin scrap. When Fleur saw them, her eyes broadened, and suddenly her skin looked more pale than mine.
            “This is an old house, Miss Parker. Too old. Too many stories floating around between these walls. Don't believe...don't believe anything you don't see for yourself, okay?”
            She left after that, leaving me to finish my meal in silence.

October 6th, 1932

5:23PM
            Fleur was right: Ormond Plantation held many stories within its concrete stones and sugar cane fields.
            I spent days gathering all the rumors and old wives' tales I could about the place I now called my home: an old slave curse invoked after a failed uprising, tales of phantasmal figures walking through walls, the sound of gunshots in the night leading the plantation's occupants outside to find a bullet-riddled man hanging from the oak tree only to disappear before they could run out to attend to him, owners throughout the house's history summoned out to meet a letter-carrier and never to be seen or heard from again. I already knew the stories; they were the reason I was able to move here for mere pennies on the dollar, the reason why I moved to the Louisiana swamps rather than to a life of Parisian luxury that would deplete the coffers of my divorce settlement before the end of my thirtieth birthday. But I didn't believe any of it; I couldn't. I was never one to indulge in superstition, requiring neither the hand of God to guide me to do good nor the convenience of the Devil to blame when I did bad.
            So many stories, so many legends...
            Back home, in New York, they told stories about me, too. 'Red Christine', the fool who wrote checks to radicals and Communists who wanted nothing more than to take her wealth, and that of all the city's elite and cultured, away.
            I made it a principle to take every rumor I heard with a grain of salt.


October 7th, 1932

2:19AM
            I write these lines with a shaking hand and a heart that threatens to burst forth from my body and forsake me to flee for its own existence.
            The dream came again-was it really still all it could be called? A dream? When it felt so real, so vivid, when I experienced such truth in it?
            This time, the bound man and I were as one. This time, each lash that tore into his body tore into mine as well, the stings and burns singing like wasps' stings on my very flesh. I awoke to find my white silk gown tarnished...no, I cannot write this, I cannot admit it even to myself...
            I awoke to find my gown tarnished in crimson and my backside rife with the long, thin gashes of a slave driver's vengeful whip.
            Dreams fade, no matter what their intensity. So I must make note of this detail, before it becomes lost to me.
            The bound man spoke again when our eyes connected. This time, I understood him perfectly.
            “I'm here, Christine. I'm here for you.”

October 21st, 1932

5:11AM
            Weeks passed without incident, and I thought it was all over, that perhaps I had merely imagined the entire ordeal, my psyche warped by stress and tussin and an ear open to too many folk tales.
            Those were foolish thoughts.
            Moments ago I was disturbed from my sleep, but not by the nightmare. As my conscious mind overtook the unconscious and I was carried from the world of rest to the world of the living, I sensed a presence in my chamber with me. My eyes opened, vision still hazy but clear enough to see the form kneeling at my bedside, umbrous and indistinct, a black silhouette seeming to look right into me even with a face made out of nothingness.
            And I could almost-could I have been dreaming still?-I could almost feel it touching me.

October 23rd, 1932

9:50PM
            I dismissed all of my staff after one of the gardeners was found hanging by his ankles on the oak tree. He was still alive, thankfully-but could I promise him safety next time? Could I promise any of them safety?
            So I carried about the house alone, cooking my own meals, drawing my own baths, answering my own telephone.
            Alone, but kept in company still.
            Eventually I saw it again, and I put all sense and instincts of self-preservation aside to seek out the answers I needed.
            I saw him from the second floor hallway, a man made of emptiness standing by the front door, a man of shade and mist in pure defiance of the luminous lamp fixtures arranged above him. I made a dash for the stairs and he faded out the door, but I pursued him still, a chase through the lawn and the old sugar cane field that set my somber mind to the utmost alertness and made my blood pulse and soar with the energy of an animal in mid-hunt.
            But who was the hunter: the shadow, or I?
            I chased him to the decrepit shack that was once, so many lifetimes ago, used as housing for Ormond Plantation's rather involuntary staff, re-purposed now to serve as a shelter for the winter wardrobe I found rather superfluous under the southern bayou Sun.
            Entering the shack, I found that the shadow had taken form.
            The bound man. Tall and proud and real, with a tight, muscular chest born to me peppered with scars and high-set cheekbones carrying the pride of African valor. He wiped a veil of sweat from his brow with his forearm, and stared at me with almond eyes that held untold volumes within them.
            “Christine,” he said, with a voice too ephemeral to belong to this plane and too powerful to be  an illusion, “I've come for you.”
            “I know,” I told him. “To kill me.”
            The bound man shook his head. “This house holds so many stories, but you can't believe them all. I killed the others because their hatred would have killed them anyway. But do you hate too, Christine? Or are some of the stories they tell of you true?”
            “Some of them,” I admitted, and then the bound man drew closer to me.

October 24th, 1932

12:02AM
            It's midnight, and it's time for me to leave.
            I ask anyone who may stumble across this journal not to mourn for me. After all, since when has joy been an occasion for mourning? I have at last found someone real, someone to look past the rumor and see what lies inside. Someone to understand.
            I would also ask that no would-be detective try to unearth the name of my beloved. Yes, he had names, once upon a time, but both were taken from him-one by the trader who robbed him of his life in a faraway land and one by the lash that robbed him of life in the mortal coil. In fact, I would ask you not to remember my name, either. My name is unimportant now, now that I'm going to live on in the wind and the oak tree and in the hearts of all those who burn with love or hate.
            The bound man stoops forward now, stroking my collarbone with hands calloused from decades of labor and yet softer than any touch I have ever known before.
            It's midnight, and it's time for me to leave.

Wandering Stars  Helena's Empire


Twitter name is  @mpierreantoine

Marlon's website is at: http://www.marlonpierre-antoine.com/

Comments Welcome!

Review: Starboard Secrets

Starboard Secrets by Hope Callaghan My rating: 5 of 5 stars I really had fun with this book. I thought i...