The Horror and the Hotness – Hellsong by Alexandra Christian

hellsong_msrI always thought horror romance was what I put my poor boyfriend through in college but turns out, no, it’s much, much better.  Check out Hellsong, the brand new horror romance from Alexandra Christian, just out in e-book from Ellora’s Cave.

Theo is a child of the storm, found wandering after the hurricane that devastated New Orleans, with no memory of her past. She’s made a quiet, contented existence for herself. But all that changes when two very different but equally compelling men come into her life.

Dantalion and Saraqael both want her body, and her soul. But there’s a much greater prize at stake. If she chooses right, she’ll find Heaven in the arms of an angel. If she chooses wrong, all Hell will be let loose on Earth.

A Romantica® horror erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave 

I’ve loved this one since I read the first draft in manuscript.  I bought a copy for my Kindle last night and decided to just skim through it to see if anything had changed, got completely hooked, and ended up going to sleep well after midnight.  (And having the most interesting dreams . . . )

Buy yours here:

Ellora’s Cave:  http://www.ellorascave.com/hellsong.html#

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Hellsong-Alexandra-Christian-ebook/dp/B00J2XAC2C/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395160055&sr=1-3&keywords=Hellsong

Happy reading, kittens!

When Lucy Did Frankenstein

frankenstein_210211-374Earlier today, I was looking through my archives to see if I had story suitable to submit to a friend’s new magazine project (I don’t, but I might write one), and I found my digital copy of one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.  It’s a short and extremely horrific erotica take on the Frankenstein myth written in tribute to a series of Bride of Frankenstein paintings done by Isabel Samaras.  I haven’t posted here on the blog-ness in a while, so I thought I’d share it with y’all.  Be warned; it is very much NOT suitable for non-adults or the squeamish.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

The Bride

My darling sister,

            I have little hope that you could believe the strange particulars of my tale even if I could tell it to you sitting at your side.  In truth, I can hardly believe it myself.  But I beg you, do not listen when others will tell you I am dead, that my precious Charles is dead and I have succumbed to despair.  Those who would tell you such a lie are only protecting themselves, and in truth,  I cannot blame them.  But neither can I bear to think that you will grieve for me.  Know by these lines that I live.  I have found the every happiness you wished me not so long ago when you kissed me on my wedding day.  My Charles is here beside me, and my heart is full of joy.

                                                            Yours ever loving,

                                                                        Elizabeth

 

Elizabeth leapt down from the coffin maker’s wagon almost before the horses stopped.  “The hospital!” she demanded, grabbing the first British soldier she saw standing upright.  “Where is the hospital?”

The young man just stared at her as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes.  “I don’t . . . who are you?”

She slapped him across the cheek.  “Listen.”  She took hold of his bearded chin and focused her eyes on his.  “I am the wife of Captain Charles Dumont of His Majesty’s Royal Marines.  He has written he was wounded.  He has asked me to come quickly.”  Her grip tightened.  “Where is the damned hospital?”

“There.”  He pointed across the ruined field to a half-demolished gatehouse.  “In the cellar – use the outside steps.”

“Thank you.”  She heaved the heavy carpetbag full of Charles’ notebooks in both arms like a baby and broke into a run.

The stone stairs were sticky with blood, and the charnel-house stench rising from the open doorway was appalling, but she didn’t hesitate.  “Ho, Miss!” the guard at the door called as she pushed past him.  “You can’t go in there!”

“Stop me, and I’ll kill you where you stand,” she muttered without slowing down.  A skinny young fellow in bloodied shirtsleeves and a bloody apron over his uniform trousers was coming toward her up the narrow aisle between the stretchers, carrying a tray with a brown bottle of laudanum, a small glass, and a crystal pitcher of water.  “Come with me,” she ordered.  “I may have need of you.”  Without pausing to see if he obeyed, she hurried along the line, looking down into each sweating, pain-twisted face.  “Charles!” she called out, fighting back tears.  “Darling, where are you?”  The officers and foot soldiers were all mixed in together, and some were obviously already dead, but she refused to panic.  She had come at once in the clothes on her back with nothing more than the notebooks; she must surely have arrived in time.

“Elizabeth!”  Alistair Gray was hurrying toward her through a narrow doorway to one side, wiping his bloody hands on a towel.  “In Christ’s name, why are you here?”

“Where is he?” she demanded, her legs going weak with relief.  “He sent for me – I came as quickly as I could.”  The look on his face made her blood run cold; she tried to shut it out.  “Where is Charles?”

“Dear Elizabeth.”  He tried to take the carpetbag from her arms, but she refused to loosen her grip, clutching it more tightly to her breast.  “He should not have sent for you.  You should not have come.”

“He is my husband; of course I should have come.”  She looked up into his eyes, clenching her jaw to keep from screaming.  “For the last time, Alistair, where is he?”

“Darling, Charles is dead.”  Her legs gave way for a moment, making her stagger, and Alistair caught her by the arms.  “Help me,” he ordered the young man carrying the laudanum.  “We must get her out of here—“

“No.”  She straightened up, wriggling free.  “Take me to him.  I don’t believe you.”

“Elizabeth, for pity—“

“He is not dead.”

“My love, I promise you, he is—“

“Take me to him!”

The fury in her tone made his face turn whiter underneath its freckles.  “Very well.”  He took her gently by the elbow, and this time she allowed it.  “Come.”

The dead were being stored like firewood in a gardening shed, the bodies of foot soldiers stacked along one wall.  Two officers had been laid head to foot on a low, marble-topped counter along the other wall below a row of windows.  One of these was Charles.  She let out a small, strangled sound, and the carpetbag fell from her arms.

“Elizabeth,” Alistair said, trying to take hold of her, but she pushed him away, moving forward.

“My darling . . .”  She touched his face, the skin as hard and smooth as stone.  “My darling, I have come.”  Half-blind with tears, she ran her hands over his body, pushing back the tatters of his clothes.  His head, arms, and torso were mostly intact, but one leg was little more than butchered meat and bone, and the flesh was swollen and torn over one hip, a sickening wound that smelled like blood and shit.

“He was in terrible pain,” Alistair said from behind her.  “The intestines were torn, Elizabeth.  I know you would have wanted to speak with him one last time, but truly, his death was a mercy.”

“He is still warm.”  She lifted a dead hand to her face, kissing the palm and curving the fingers to cup her cheek.  “His flesh is still pliable.”

“He has not been gone for long.”  She shivered, swallowing a sob, and he put a hot, dirty hand on her shoulder.  “Let me take you away from here.  The troops will be pulling out soon – Nappie is nipping at our heels.”

“Was his heart damaged at all?”  She caressed her husband’s face, tracing the curve of his jaw as she gazed down on his closed eyes, the dark brown lashes stark against his blue-white cheek.  The eyes beneath those lids were blue.  She imagined the moment when the life went out of them, when her darling one had ceased to live inside this shell she loved.  “And his brain?”

“His heart no doubt sustained a certain strain as he lay dying, yes.”  He knew what she was getting at; she could hear the horror in his voice.  “With the brain, it would be impossible to say what damage might have occurred.”

“But all of the tissue is present,” she persisted.  Letting go of Charles’ hand, she moved along the counter to examine the other dead officer.  This one had lost the top half of his head, but the rest of his body seemed virtually untouched.  She unbuttoned his trousers and pushed them down over his hips, making the young medic who was still attending them cry out in horror.  “Their frames are of comparable size,” she said with barely a tremble.  “Presumably the organs would be compatible as well.”

“Elizabeth, be quiet,” Alistair ordered.  “Think what you are saying—“

“I’ve brought the notebooks.”  She bent down and opened the carpetbag, pulling out the one on top and holding it out to him.  “He asked me to bring them.  Alistair, he knew.”

“You’re mad,” he insisted.  “Mad with grief—“

“Your experiments in London were successful—“
“Successful?” he demanded, aghast.  “The subjects went insane with violent rage the moment they awakened—“

“The subjects were dogs,” she pointed out.  “They had no true consciousness, no soul—“

“His soul is gone!” he shouted.

“No,” she said, tears spilling down her cheeks.  She was still crouched on the floor beside the carpetbag; now she reached out and took hold of his trouser leg, on her knees.  “His soul is waiting for me.  He will return.  He could not leave me.”  He was looking down at her, terror and tenderness mingled on his face in equal measure.  “He sent for me, Alistair.  He told me to come.”

“To say good-bye.”  He fell to his knees as well.  “Elizabeth, your heart is broken now, but it will mend.  You will love again—“

“No.”  She laid her palm against his cheek.  “If you love me, you must help me now.”  She stood up and went to the medic, still watching them as if he thought he must be dreaming, his tray still before him.  She poured a healthy measure of laudanum into the glass and topped it off with water.  “Go and prepare a surgery,” she told him.  “Dr. Gray must operate.”

“No,” Alistair said, shaking his head.  “You cannot ask me to do this.  I will not.”

“You will.”  She handed him the drug.  “I will help you.”  He drank deeply, and she smiled.  “We will bring him back.”

ššššššššššššššš

            Making ready was much easier than she had dared to hope.  The British troops had indeed moved out within the hour and left the dead and wounded behind with only Alistair and the one skinny medic to attend them.  There was no one to see them carry Charles and the other officer’s corpse into the roofless dining room that would serve as a laboratory, no one to ask questions as they assembled the equipment listed so carefully in Charles’ notebook, no one but Elizabeth to know how much of the opiate Alistair needed before he was ready to begin.

With Elizabeth standing on one side of the long dining table to mind the instruments and the medic ready at the other to do the heavy lifting, Alistair removed Charles’ ruined leg at the hip, dismantling the joint with a watchmaker’s careful precision.  “The skeleton can be saved here,” he said calmly, as if he were back in London addressing his students at the RoyalAcademy.  “But the flesh and organs must be replaced.”

“Sweet Jesus,” the medic groaned, closing his eyes.

“Steady on, lad,” Elizabeth ordered, refusing to acknowledge the tremor in her own voice.  “We’ve only just begun.”

Three hours later, the anatomical assembly was complete.  The medic lit lamps and tall torches against the gathering darkness, and Alistair mixed himself another drink, laudanum in brandy now instead of water.  “You’ve done beautifully,” Elizabeth said, standing by the body that now lay on the table intact, her precious Charles with the leg and cock of a stranger.  The medic had already discarded the leftover bits into one of the mass graves left open by the infantry when they marched away.

“I have done abomination,” Alistair said, his words slurred from the drug.

“Nonsense.”  She caressed her husband’s cheek for a moment before she turned back to his dearest friend, determined to go on.  “How do we charge the cells?”

Alistair looked as if he wanted to argue, but he smiled instead.  His flesh was as pale and drawn as the man on the table’s, his eyes rimmed in red, and his smile was like the grotesque grin of a skull.  “Not yet, my love,”  he said, raising his glass to her.  “First we must bind him down.”

The electrical apparatus was a clumsy, inelegant thing, a cage of greasy metal fittings and crystal tubes enclosing Charles on every side connected to an inner web of delicate copper wires that wrapped around his body like a shroud.  Back in London, she had wept to see such a thing constructed over the corpse of a dead dog, had bitten her own fist to the bone to keep from sobbing when Charles and Alistair had switched it on.  But now her eyes were dry.  “Have we made it properly?” she said, studying the beautifully-drawn schematic in the notebook.

“What does it matter?” Alistair said with a bitter laugh.  The mad light she had always feared in him had come into his eyes.  “How can we hurt him now?”

“Just what is it we mean to do, Doctor?” the medic asked.  “What is this contraption?”

“Oh come now, Sergeant, surely you’ve guessed,” Alistair said, draining his glass.    “We mean to make new life.”  He took Elizabeth’s hand and kissed it.  “Are we not gods, after all?”

Elizabeth caught his hand as he would let her go.  “Promise me you’ve built it just the way you and Charles did in London,” she said, her nails digging into his flesh.

“Oh yes.”  He drew her closer, close enough to smell the brandy on his breath.  “It is exactly the same.  When the sergeant engages those cells, the current will surround him completely and penetrate his flesh, just as it did to those poor creatures we tortured in London.  Every nerve will be charged with electricity at once, a fire in his blood, inside the marrow of his bones, a pain to raise the dead.  Remember how they howled, Elizabeth?”  Her lower lip trembled, and tears spilled from her eyes, but she refused to look away.  “Is this what you want?”

“Yes.”  Her voice was steady in spite of her tears.  “I will not let him go.”

“Selfish, stupid child.”  His grip was painful on her wrist, and he bent closer as if he meant to kiss her mouth.  She closed her eyes and turned her face away.  “The sin be on your head.”  He let her go.  “Not mine.”

She opened her eyes to find that he had turned away, and she whispered, “Of course.”

“Engage the cells,” he ordered the medic.  The young man obeyed, though his face was white as death with fear.  A high-pitched whine rose from the apparatus, and the vapor in the crystal tubes began to glow.  “Guard the door,” Alistair said, shouting over the din as the metal cage began to shake.  “For God’s sake, don’t let it escape.”  The medic scrambled for his rifle and stationed himself at the door, his bayonet pointed at the corpse.

Elizabeth barely noticed.  The spider’s web of copper had begun to spark and crackle, the body snared inside of it to twitch.  As she crept closer, she could see the veins along the inside of her husband’s arms deepen in color and begin to pulse with life.  “It’s happening.”  His fists clenched, a voluntary movement, graceful and controlled.  “It’s all right, darling,” she promised.  “I’m here.”  His eyes popped open, and his gaze met hers.  “You’re alive.”  She was laughing and crying at once, horrified by the pain she could see in his eyes but weak with relief.  “You will be all right.”

“Don’t touch him!”  Alistair caught hold of her arm, moving closer as well.  “The current would kill you.”  The sparks were reflected in the surgeon’s eyes, his expression a mixture of horror and fascination.

The body began to jerk on the table like a puppet shaken by the strings, but the apparatus was losing power, its whine losing pitch, its glow beginning to fade.  “No!” Elizabeth said, rushing to the cells, but she didn’t know what to do.  “Alistair, fix it – don’t let it stop!”

“The cells will only hold so much charge,” he answered, coming after her.  “A man is not a dog—“

As to dispute him, Charles threw back his head and howled, the muscles in his neck contorted with the strain.  His head thrashed back and forth against the table, his lips drawn back over his teeth.  The medic screamed like a woman as the creature lunged against the restraints, one powerful arm coming free.

“Turn it off!” Elizabeth cried.

“Elizabeth!” Alistair shouted, appalled, as the creature groped for her, breaking through the cage of glass and metal.  The surgeon dove for the controls, ripping at the wires, his hands burning as he grabbed the still-glowing copper.  “Sergeant, for God’s sake, help her!”

“My lady, come back!” the medic said, rushing forward.  He tried to grab hold of her with one hand as he aimed his rifle with the other, but she dodged him, pushing him away.  In the same moment, the creature on the table broke free.  He flung the cage that surrounded him away in a shower of sparks and breaking glass, howling and snarling like a wolf at bay.  Elizabeth screamed as he caught hold of the medic and shook him like a rag doll, the rifle firing wild as he dropped it on the floor.

“Charles, no!” she screamed again as he wrapped a hand around the medic’s throat and squeezed, snapping his neck like a reed.

“Elizabeth, get back!” Alistair ordered, drawing his pistol.

“No!”  She moved to grab for him, but the creature was faster.  Raising a heavy section of the apparatus that had saved him in both hands, he turned on the man who had been his dearest friend and broke the metal framework over his head.  Alistair staggered, the pistol falling from his grasp.  “Charles!” Elizabeth cried, but she could not seem to move; her legs had turned to water.  The creature raised the last broken pipe he still held and hit Alistair again, a sideswipe to his skull that sent him crashing to the floor.

“Charles.”  He turned to her, panting, his face still drawn with pain.  His dark brown hair was wet with sweat and falling in his eyes, and his head was lowered, his shoulders hunched – an animal at bay.  “You’re safe.”  Trembling, she made herself move closer.  “The worst is over, darling.”  He still held the broken pipe, now wet with Alistair’s blood.  “You have come back to me.”  He looked confused, a child lost in the dark, and she smiled, tears spilling down her cheeks.  “It will be all right.”  Moving slowly, she reached for the twisted web of copper still wrapped around his waist.  “No one will hurt you any more.”  He drew in a sharp breath as she touched him, his fist tightening around the pipe, but he didn’t move to fight her as she unwrapped the web and dropped it at their feet.  “I love you so much.”  She laid her palms against his chest, and he flinched, a tremor racing through him.  “I love you.”  She pressed her open mouth to his skin, the hard plane of muscle just over his heart.  She could feel his heart beating, stronger and stronger, feel his flesh warming under her hands, and she moved closer, curling against him, making a sound between a laugh and a sob.  He was alive.

He dropped the pipe and scooped her off her feet.  Making a sound that was almost like words, he kissed her, his mouth rough and clumsy on hers, his tongue pushing inside, and she tasted him, meat and metal, not revolting but different, not the taste she knew but somehow like it.  He carried her across the room and shoved her back against the broken plaster wall, and she felt a sharp stab of pain in her side.  “Elizabeth.”  His voice was thick and slurred, barely intelligible, barely human.  But it was her Charles’ voice, speaking her name.

“Yes.”  She caressed his cheek, framing his face in her hands.  “Your own Elizabeth.”  She kissed his mouth, drawing his lower lip between her teeth.  She was bleeding from her side, hot and wet, but she barely noticed, barely felt the pain.  He lowered his face to her shoulder, sniffing her flesh like a dog as he ripped at her clothes, baring her breasts.  Hunched over her, he wrapped his arms around her, one powerful forearm under her behind to lift her up, his mouth coming down on her breast, suckling like a child.  “Yes,” she repeated, faint with sudden, fiery want.  His touch was as rough as his kisses, and she gasped as his hand found her cunt.  He groaned low in his throat, and she felt his cock against her hip, hard and strange.  She trailed her fingertips along his side, across his stomach, and finally down over his hip, trembling with fear and fascination as she traced the seam where he had been remade.  He grabbed her wrist so hard she cried out, but she didn’t try to pull away.  He looked down at her, awareness dawning in his deep blue eyes.  He kissed her mouth again, more tenderly, more sure.  She wrapped her hand around his cock and guided him inside her.

He drew his breath in sharply, closing his eyes, and his arms tightened around her.  She braced her hands against his shoulders as he drove upward, pushing her up the wall, then wrapped her legs around his hips.  His bare skin felt hot against hers, as hot as ever in his life, and though the cock inside of her felt strange, his rhythm was familiar, a long, slow build that carried her passion with his.  She watched his face and nearly cried, the way his brow was knit in concentration was so much the way she remembered.  She pressed her cheek to his, her arms around his neck.  “My love . . .”  He quickened his pace, shifting her closer, his hips ground to hers, and the sharp thrill of her climax broke inside her.  She cried out, and he groaned, driving her harder against the wall, and she felt him come as well, the wet burst cooler than life and vaguely shocking, making her shiver.  She lay her head down on his shoulder, clinging tight, and he cradled her close for a long, sweet moment.  A sob escaped her as she pressed her face to his throat, her arms wrapped tightly around him.  Still holding her against him, he sank to the floor, and she curled close in his lap.

“Elizabeth . . .”  His voice was still strange but more tender.  He cradled her jaw in his palm, turning her face up to his.  He smiled down on her, haunted but alive.  “Thank you.”

“My sweet darling,” she said, laughing with relief.  Her face pressed to his chest, she felt his arms enfold her.  She knew they were safe.

“Elizabeth.”  Alistair was coming toward them, his head and neck and collar soaked with blood, his pistol aimed before him.  “Get out of the way.”

“Alistair, no,” she said, trying to struggle to her feet.  He was coming closer, stepping over the dead medic.  “Please, stop.”  Charles stood up, lifting her easily.  “Wait, both of you,” she protested as he set her to one side.

“It is a monster,” Alistair was saying, his eyes bright as if with fever.  “It must be destroyed.”  The pistol was shaking in his hand.  Charles snarled at him, taking a step forward.

“No!” she screamed, throwing herself between them.  The pistol shot ripped through her, a bolt of lightening through her chest.  She fell forward, clutching at Charles, an icy cold spreading inside of her, hot blood pouring from her breast.

“Dear God,” she heard Alistair say from behind her, a dull thud as the pistol hit the floor.  “Forgive me . . . .”  Then everything went black.

ššššššššššššššš

            When she opened her eyes, a man was bending over her – a demon.  Fire was consuming her; she was in hell.  She screamed, struggling in bonds that held her down, desperate to escape.  Searing, stabbing pain raced down her limbs, making them jerk without her will, and she whipped her head from side to side, gnashing her teeth in fury.  How dare they? she screamed inside her head, but the words would not come; she could not make them form inside her mouth.  As quickly as the thought was born, it died, lost inside a wild, animal rage.

“Peace, love,” the beautiful demon was saying, words that just barely had meaning.  Just outside the range of her vision as she fought, she could hear another creature sobbing, begging for . . . . something . . . . what did this mean, forgive me?   The fire was fading, the pain becoming less, but her confusion was growing.  The man bending over her was unfastening her bonds, and she began to cry.  “Come back to me.”  He kissed her, lifting her up in his arms, kissed her eyelids and her cheeks, and suddenly she knew him.

“Charles.”  Her voice was barely more than a rasp, but he heard her.

“Yes,” he said, smiling.  She looked down at her chest and saw a long, jagged line of black stitches.  He touched her chin and turned her face to his.  “And you are Elizabeth.”

The end

 ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

tender hooksThis story originally appeared in Isabel’s coffee table book about her work, On Tender Hooks.  It’s currently out of print, but copies are available from used booksellers all over the Interweb, and I HIGHLY recommend it.  If you can get your greedy paws on one, grab it – and the same goes for any paintings, prints, tee-shirts, or anything else with her gorgeous art on it; she really is amazing.

The image at the top is of Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris in the 2011 National Theater production of Nick Dear’s play version of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle.  How awesome does that look, y’all?

Intelligence Needs a Little More

intelligenceY’all kittens know I love me some Josh Holloway.  Any time I start ranting and raving about how the finale of Lost was a piece of thrown-together crap that made the entire series an unforgivable waste of my time, my bestie knows to just show me this:

And I’ll shut up and go get a tissue.

So last night, it was pretty well assured that I was going to watch the premiere of Intelligence.  Even the hubs was on board, sort of – his exact words were, “hell, why not? I hate NCIS: Los Angeles.”

My point is, our expectations weren’t all that high.  And as it turns out, we got pretty much what we expected.

Intelligence is the kind of show where the best Secret Service agent in the POTUS’ security detail is a skinny female twentysomething with a juvenile record for manslaughter of an abuser and bouncin’ and behavin’ hair that looks fresh out of hot rollers even in a makeshift prison cell.  Where a top secret government intelligence agency implants their most rare, dangerous, and valuable techno asset in the brain of a cocky, wisecrackin’ agent with killer abs and dimples, a maybe-dead wife obsession, and the ever-popular “serious problem with authority.”  (And oh yeah, they only make one of those fiendish chip thingies, then throw away the blueprints and fire the scientist who created it – wha-what?) Where the top dog in intelligence for both of the two most powerful countries in the world is a terrifyingly chic woman of a certain age with icy delivery and a wardrobe to die for.

None of which bothers me all that much–I like a show that knows what show it is, and this one seems to know.  It’s not gritty and realistic, and it doesn’t pretend to be.  It’s slick and pretty and entirely un-challenging, and that can be really fun, particularly on a weeknight. All the actors are good as well as attractive; they play it all straight but not too heavy, which works well.  (Marg Helgenberger does a particularly nice job knowing just when to warm up her ice queen in charge.)  The leads have the beginnings of some serviceable chemistry, and there were a couple of good character-based story moments.

But here’s the problem.  For every snappy line of dialogue in last night’s premiere, you had five that thudded to earth like a cinder block dropped off a house.  They did a fairly good job of explaining/justifying the nonsensical concept of a guy with a chip in his brain that seems to give him intuitive access to that machine over at Person of Interest and allow him to use his subconscious to conflate (conflate is the word you were looking for, writers, in that labored monologue you gave Holloway to explain this) that into a recreation of the crime scene kinda like that thing the sketch artist does with the unreal 3-D imaging on Bones.  But then they didn’t do much with it – the one big clue he got from this power made no freakin’ sense.  And the plot of the entire episode was so predictable, it went past being comic into being sad.  My husband performed his psychic prediction of the episode’s last shot down to eyelid movement for me about  halfway through as a joke; when it actually happened exactly that way, we didn’t just laugh, we groaned.

Next week, this moves to Monday nights at 10, and unless it gets a whole lot better really fast, that’s going to be a problem.  For us, we already have one hour on Monday night booked for Sleepy Hollow, my other new disappointing TV lover, and Hubs kind of likes Almost Human.  So Intelligence would have to be really good to keep us from flipping off broadcast TV at 10 – and based on last night, it isn’t.  For the rest of the TV-watching country, Mondays at 10 means opposite Blacklist, a bona fide hit drama/thriller that from all reports has everything Intelligence doesn’t, including . . . well, you know.  Plus James Spader.  Who’s blond and has dimples of his own.  Maybe not such great abs.

So as of right now, I’m giving it one more week.  Maybe they can get him to swim naked in the ocean or something . . . .

 

A nifty holiday gift from Purple Sword Publications

purple sword samplerPrefer to taste before you buy?  Purple Sword Publications knows you do, you naughty minx, and they’ve put out a sampler o’ sexy reads just for you.  Excerpts from all their best paranormal and fantasy erotica and romance from 2013, all in a pretty purple package, all for free.  (Including a few hot bites from my own Purple Sword book, Strange as Angels (https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-strangeasangels-1297349-340.html)

Get your (free -did I mention it’s totally FREE?) sampler here:

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-purpleswordsampler2013-1374862-166.html

Repost: The Teacher

_thumb_green+ribbon-0I originally posted this very short story December 16th of last year.  Teachers and students of Sandy Hook, we still remember you.

The Teacher

The gunshots were loud, close, coming closer.  Later some of her friends who lived would be saying it had all happened so fast.  But she knew she wouldn’t be with them.

The lights were out, and the door was ajar, so from the hallway the classroom would look empty.  The children were huddled in a ring around her at the back of the room on the Story Carpet.  “Quiet,” she had whispered to them, forcing herself to sound calm, to even smile a little.  “We have to be perfectly quiet.”  They were trying so hard to obey, holding hands with one another, two of them holding her hands.

Please God, she prayed inside her head.  My babies . . . please, God, please please please please please please please . . . .

She felt hands folded over her hands.  She opened her eyes and found him crouched on the Story Carpet with them, an angel.  He was beautiful, and he was smiling, but his eyes were sad.  His wings, translucent in the dim light from the windows, spread and curved around their circle, holding the children as his hands held hers.

I was sent to be with you.  She heard his voice inside her head, and in an instant, she felt calmer.  You don’t have to talk; I can hear you.

She was still terrified.  More gunshots rang out, coming from next door.  Can you save them? she asked inside her head though she already knew the answer.  Can you take them away from here?  A tear slid down the angel’s cheek, confirming what she knew.  She thought for a moment about her husband and her family and her best friend and all the ones she loved so much, and for that moment, she thought she would shatter.  But the angel held her hands and looked into her eyes, and after that one moment, she could stand it.

Can the children see you? she asked.

They can feel me, he answered.  She knew it was true.  She could feel some of the tension going out of them, some of their fear melting away.  The ones holding her hands inside the angel’s hands looked almost dreamy, sleepy-eyed and smiling.  But they don’t need to see me, the angel said.  They see you.

A moment later, the door slammed open–screaming, a terrible  noise.  She had just enough time to stand and turn, arms outspread, to think, no, you can’t have them, you bastard!  And all the time the angel was behind her, hands on her shoulders, holding her tight.  A single, terrible moment of pain ripping through her, screams of the children . . . .

Then she was walking in an open field, green and lush, gentle sunshine all around, a playground from a fairy tale.  The children were running around her like running out to recess, laughing, shouting, perfect in their joy.  She looked to one side and saw the teacher from next door.  She was holding hands with one of her students, a boy who had been in a wheelchair, barely able to speak.  Now he was walking beside her, tall and strong.  And everyone was smiling.

The angel was walking beside her.  “What will happen to them now?” she asked him right out loud, all thought of fear forgotten.

“They’ll decide.”  Peple were coming toward them, calling out greetings.  The children knew them; they were running toward them, arms outstretched, being scooped up and hugged close.  “Some of them might stay here, but most of them will probably choose to go back and start over.  They were all so young.”

“Miss, look!”  A little boy from her class had stopped and was dancing in front of her, pointing.  “It’s my pawpaw!”  An old man dressed in camoflage with a bright orange hat on his head was coming toward them.  Suddenly the little boy was dressed just the same, and he ran to his grandfather’s arms.

“What about you, Teacher?” the angel asked.  A woman had appeared on the crest of the hill just ahead of her, and her heart skipped a beat with joy.  “Will you go back?”

“I don’t know.”  She had an idea that beyond these hills, this place was even more beautiful, not a place of clouds and golden harps but of peace and laughter and love.  But the place she’d left behind had been beautiful, too, with so much love her heart ached remembering it.

She turrned to the angel.  “If I go back, will I remember this?”

“No,” he said, smiling.  All of the sadness was gone from his eyes.  Here, he had no wings she could see.  He looked just like everybody else.  “You’ll start fresh, a w hole new life.”  He took her hand.  “But I will remember you.”

the end

WIP: Chapter 1 of Vamp

I’ve gotten to that point in writing  my new vampire novel where I could really use a nudge.  Anybody want to peek at Chapter 1?

Chapter 1

Rosalie left work at midnight.  Rain was blowing in gusts down the sidewalk.  Within a block, her umbrella was broken, and her flimsy excuse for a raincoat was useless.  By the time she ducked down the steps into the subway tunnel, she was soaked and shivering all over.  You can’t get sick, she told herself, hurrying through the deserted station toward her train from Manhattan to the Bronx.  If you get sick, Gladys will kill you.

For a few heady moments, she thought her luck had changed.  Her train wasn’t in yet, but the platform was deserted. But just as she heard the train approaching, there he was, the Masher, reeling out from behind a column like a killer gorilla in a nickelodeon short.  “Evening, girly,” he said, tipping his hat and giving her the leer she saw in her nightmares.  “Nice weather, ain’t it?”

“Hello.”  She had learned months ago that refusing to speak to him just made it worse, less than a week after she’d started this rotten job.  The train stopped, and she stepped aboard, catching hold of one of the handles just inside the door.  The car was empty, but he caught the handle just behind her, giggling like a schoolgirl.  Sitting down made it worse, too.  One night he had gotten her cornered; she had ridden all the way to the Bronx with his fat, smelly bulk pressed against her.  She thought about the dry fountain pen tucked in her purse.  One night I’ll have to do it, she thought.  One night I’ll have to stab him to get away, and it better be in the eye because the arm won’t even slow him down.

Just as the train was pulling out of the station, a second man came in from the next car.  No one could have been less like the Masher.  He was young and handsome with dark wavy hair and an impeccable black tuxedo.  His tie was undone and his overcoat and vest were both open as if he’d just come from someplace wonderful.  He was carrying a folded black umbrella like it was a dancer’s cane and a folded newspaper under his arm.  He was as graceful as a danger, too, moving down the rocking subway car with barely a sway.  He smiled and nodded to Rosalie in a gentlemanly way, and she saw he had perfectly even white teeth with slightly pointed canines, a touch of the cruel male animal behind a mouth as sensuous as any woman’s.  He sat down in a seat opposite her and the Masher, set down his umbrella, opened his paper, and began to read.

“Say, girly, tell me again,” the Masher said.  “What are you doing out so late, anyway?”

“I have a job as a telephone operator,” she said, turning away from both men to stare out the window dim, streaming light of the tunnel.  “I work at night.”

“Now that’s a shame.”  He swayed closer with the motion of the train, and she smelled his beer-rancid breath.  “That is a goddamned shame.  Pretty girl like you working nights.  What is that husband of yours thinking, anyhow?”

“I . . .”  For the hundredth time, she had to stop herself from telling him she didn’t have a husband.  Lies came hard to her.  “I’d rather not discuss it.”

“Oh, you’d rather not?” he said, mocking her inflection.  “You’d rather not?  You get that smart mouth with your boyfriend, girly?”  They were approaching a tunnel with no lights, and she began to tremble with more than the cold.  She had hoped the presence of the other man in the car might keep him in line a bit, but it seemed to have made him bolder and angrier, as if he enjoyed having an audience.  “Maybe he ought to smak you around and teach you better manners.”  The pitch black darkness was almost on them.  She turned and saw him wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Excuse me.”  With no warning, the man from across the car was suddenly beside them.  His pale face and white teeth almost glowed in the sudden gloom.  Both the Masher and Rosalie gasped, and Rosalie staggered, letting go of the handle.  The stranger caught her easily, one arm around her waist for barely a moment as he lowered her into a seat.  The car emerged into gloomy light again, and she saw he was smiling.  “Are you all right?” he asked her.  He had beautiful brown eyes.

“She’s fine,” the Masher blustered.  “What’s the matter with you?”

A look of disgust came over the stranger’s face.  “Don’t speak,” he said, turning to the Masher.  “Don’t look at her.”  He was backing the fat man away from her, back toward the door at the end of the car.  “Don’t breathe your foul stink on her or look at her or even think about her.”  Their gazes were locked, and even though the Masher was just as tall as the stranger and outweighed him by half as much again, he looked deathly sick with fear.  “You think she doesn’et know what you think about  her, pig?”  She couldn’t see the stranger’s face any more, just his back.  The Masher’s piggy little eyes had gone flat, and his mouth worked like a baby’s working up to a scream.  “You think I don’t know?”  He thumped the Masher in the chest, and he fell back with a shriek.

“I’m sorry,” he said, almost weeping.  “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t look at her ever again.” The Masher was nodding.  “Don’t think about her.”  The stranger had stopped moving, but the Masher continued to back away, stumbling, tripping over his own feet.  “If your filthy little brain dares to touch her again, your piggy little heart will explode.”

The Masher shot one final desperate look at Rosalie, then screamed, clutching his chest.  Rosalie reached into her purse as the Masher turned and staggered through the door out of the car.  She could hear him still screaming as he passed out of sight.

Her hands were shaking so badly she could barely take hold of the fountain pen.  Then the stranger turned around . . . and looked like the same perfectly pleasant young man who had first come into the car.  “Are you all right?” he asked her again.

“Yes.”  The train was slowing, pulling into her station.  “Yes, I’m fine.”

“Very good.”  With a nod, he retrieved his newspaper and his umbrella.  “I don’t think he’ll be giving you any more trouble.”

“No.”  She could see nothing about him that the Masher should have found so frightening.  When he’d been threatening him, there had been something terrible about his voice that had frightened her, too.  But now, facing his smile, she couldn’t remember why.  “Thank you.”

“Not at all.”  He tucked his newspaper under his arm as the train pulled to a stop.  “Will you be all right now?” She thought she detected a slight Irish lilt in his smart Park Avenue accent.  “May I walk you home?”

“No, thank you.  I’m sure I’ll be fine.”  She thought about taking him home to Gladys’ kitchen and didn’t know if she should laugh or cry.  “I have to stop off at the drugstore.”

“If you’re sure.”  He put a hand on the subway door to hold it open as she passed.  “Good night.”

She smiled, ducking her head.  “Good  night.”

———————————————————————————–

            Mike watched the pretty girl hurry toward the stairs to the street.  Poor kitten . . . how did the sweet ones like her ever manage to survive long enough to lose their looks?  He watched until her shapely little calves in their ugly brown stockings disappeared up the stairs.

He took the dirty handkerchief he’d stolen from the brute out of his pocket and sniffed it.  A cloying little whiff of verbena under the general stench.  Betcha he lived with his ma.  With a last rueful look at the stairs where the girl had disappeared, he stepped back onto the train.

The brute had made it through three cars before he had collapsed.  He was lolled back in a corner seat, his collar undone, an open silver flask clutched in his fist.  “Hiya, Piggy,” Mike said.  “Got a match?”

The mortal’s eyes snapped open.  “No.”  His face contorted with terror as he tried to scramble to his feet.  “You let me go.  I ain’t thought about that little bitch, not once!”

Mike smiled, letting his fangs extend to full.  “Little bitch?”

“I’m sorry!  Jesus Christ, I didn’t mean it!”  He was like a turtle trapped on its back, arms and legs flailing in vain.

“Don’t blaspheme to me, you worthless sack of filth.”  He grabbeed the brute by his lapels and yanked him to his feet.  “You meant to rape that innocent girl.”

“No—“

“If she’d fought you, you might even have killed her.”

“I wouldn’t!”

“Don’t lie to me!”  He had seen into this creature’s piggy little mind as soon as he’d stepped onto the subway train, seen his plans writhing like maggots in his head.  “But it’s going to be okay, Walter,” he said, picking the name from the creature’s thoughts.  “I’m going to save you from yourself.”  He clamped his fangs on the brute’s thick neck like biting down into an apple.  His brain was rotten, but his blood was sweet, and the vampire took every drop.

End of Chapter 1

AHS: Ready for the end game . . . .

FX_AHS_ImageGallery_0000_03Last night I was laid low with a migraine and didn’t live tweet American Horror Story: Coven, though I was watching and shrieking right along with everybody else.  So I’m thinking maybe now, as we go into the long dry spell that is the holiday break, might be a good time to stop and take stock of where we are in more than 140 characters.

Regular readers of the blogness might recall that I started off the season after the premiere saying that I loved this new story of the New Orleans witches and the voodoo queens who loathe them even though it punched nearly every button on my hate list for horror.  Poisonous poontang, crazy church ladies, rape rape and more rape, and anal atrocity when all else fails to shock – those tropes are all still there in almost every episode, and I don’t like’em any better now than I did in October.  But the good still outweighs the bad, and even if it didn’t, I couldn’t give up this story without finding out how it comes out to save my sanity.

So, the bad:

  • When Queenie begged the Minotaur to “love” her in the garden shed and ended up with even lower self esteem and obvious internal injuries.  They almost lost me with that one.  Queenie deserved better as a character, and though she did a fantastic job of playing the scene without flinching, Gabourey Sidibe deserves better as an actress.   In a recent episode when Queenie slaughtered a would-be rapist, I saw what they did there, contrasting the old Queenie with the new.  But it still felt clumsy, cruel and unnecessary.
  • All those damned crazy mamas.  What. The. Fuck, Y’all?  Did Mare Winningham lose a bet?   And unless she’s going to rise up with something brilliant in the final act, the Patti Lupone character is a waste of space put in for no better reason than to make mean fun of Christian fundamentalism in all its repressed, Lysol-wielding glory.  All I can say is bleah.
  • The way nobody on the voodoo side of New Orleans has any personality except Marie Laveau.  Over at Miss Robichaux’s Academy, even the portraits hanging on the walls have an intricate backstory.  At Marie Laveau’s, people just come in to get their hair done and get shot.
  • The pacing on the witch hunter plot.  While the writers may have known about Hank’s family history and the big bad Delphi Trust from the beginning, it felt like this was a great big daemon ex machina brought in last night to push everything to a crisis for the final act, a brilliant notion that occurred to somebody over their Thanksgiving turkey.  I like it; it works; it just seems like too big a plot point to have been a secret until this point in the story.  But I’m willing to be talked out of this one; this may just have been a slow reveal on Hank.

But enough nitpicking; on to the Very, Very Good:

  • Kathy Bates, Kathy Bates, and ever more Kathy Bates.  No other actress could have played the character arc of The Education and Dismemberment of Delphine LaLaurie and made it not only make sense but be genuinely moving.  We know she’s a monster, the worst on display here, and yet we’re rooting for her; we want her to get better; we want Queenie to save her soul.  Last night watching her disembodied head weep to hear Odetta sing about freedom should have been Grand Guignol comedy, but it wasn’t.  Intercut with the horrific images of Hank’s massacre in the hair salon, it made me cry.  And that’s the thing about this whole story, the thing that makes it better than the first season.  It’s not just cool and edgy and scary and shocking – it’s human and heartfelt, too.
  • Every little thing about Fiona.  Speaking of touching scenes, nothing has gotten to me more all season than Fiona helping the grieving mother in the hospital resurrect her stillborn daughter.  I love her twisted love for Cordelia; I love her desperate love for herself; I love the way she loves the Axe Man and the way he loves her back.  This part was obviously written purely as a love letter to Jessica Lange, and she’s proving she’s worth every word.
  • The weird-ass love triangle between Zoe, Kyle (better known at our house as Frankenwiener), and Madison.  It tickles me to see these two teen-age girls, one outwardly shy and inwardly certain, the other just the opposite, create their own version of Prince Charming and share him like a toy.  Extra points for the way Fiona has taken him up as a pet.
  • Every moment between Queenie and Delphine.
  • Every shot of Angela Bassett’s exquisitely beautiful face which somehow manages to be stony and expressive at the same time.
  • Myrtle, the most specific and cuckoo version of the classic crone figure I’ve ever heard tell of.
  • All the incredible visual details and layers of gorgeous horror, from Madison’s outfits to the sight of Myrtle burning at the stake – this is what gothic should always look like.  For once, a piece of art lives up to its title sequence.

So now we wait until January 8.  Truth be told, I don’t really care who the new Supreme is; I just want to know what happens next.

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