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Chapter 3 of the Succubus story

Hello Everyone, I hope the New Year passed nicely for you. I have finally finished chapter 3 of the succubus story (sigh) and am delighted to offer it to you now. Remember, I have only lightly edited it. I appreciate any comment or suggestions you may have.

In this chapter, the succubus makes her first real kill. Who will it be, and how will they meet their end? In case you were wondering, or have not followed along until now, the story is about a succubus who has haunted a family for 350 years. The heir of that family, Kyle, has taken a job as a manager at a university in Richmond, where another manager, Hannah, has fallen in love with him. In his duties, he has also won the affection of a student worker, Rebecca. The only problem is, however, that the succubus does not like competition. So, who will perish in this chapter? Read on to find out.

 

Chapter 3       

            That evening, only a solitary lamp was lit in Hannah’s apartment. She had returned home frustrated, jaded and vengeful, and with many thoughts viciously circling in her mind, the illumination of her abode was farthest from her thoughts. A shower seemed appropriate, and she subjected her body to the jets of hot water.

            Hannah’s apartment was comfortable and newly renovated, it having previously been an old tobacco warehouse on the east side of town. Large, old glass windows stared down at the steady passing of the James River, while brick walls, many of which were decorated with paintings and a few photos, encircled the space she called her own. Hannah had a trendy mindset when it came to interior decorating, and utilized European designs and feng shui techniques in a collaborative effort at making her palace both artful and beneficial to her daily life.

            The water turned off, and Hannah, her mind far from the reaction of her body to the cold air, drifted like the steam from the shower. Really? I mean, really? ‘You’ll do well to stay away from me?’ What the hell is he doing? Listen, if you don’t like me, say so. Your little ass won’t hurt this big girl’s feelings. ‘Stay away?’ He has to be joking. But what the hell is his problem? God, why must men be so difficult?

            Giving the tiles an angry slap, she slid open the door and dried off. A silk robe covered her as she flopped on her sofa and stared at the empty fireplace. Hannah had wanted a gas fireplace, but in the rush to complete the building before the opening date, the crews hastily left the area open. She refused to burn trees for purely aesthetic reasons, and so was left with a gaping wound in her apartment.

            Thoughts as wild as the emotions which created them rummaged through her. Hannah could not shake the conversation with Kyle, nor could she bring herself to be at peace with it. There was still something missing, something she could not figure out. Was he Gay, was he taken? Or, was he simply not interested in her? She could not tell. All her years mastering the art of man-hunting abandoned her, as before this young huntress was a situation she had never encountered. Lame excuses had befallen her before, but nothing compared to the near hysteria presented today. It was as if he were….afraid.

            “Why, why?” she asked aloud. The room, silent as the grave, only echoed her words coldly. “And why am I so hung up on this?” she asked herself angrily. Defeat never came easily to Hannah, and no one could accept it worse than her. She saw this as a challenge, a pseudo-defeat, and it tortured her. Then, rising from her couch suddenly, Hannah moved toward the kitchen. Perhaps her mind needed a little help, a little gumption to face the situation. She pulled out a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

            Hannah’s kitchen, a stainless steel apparatus with a gleam and shine worthy of Thomas Keller, was her escape from the world. Although a caterer by trade, Hannah was a chef by heart, and her most taxing days found her in the kitchen, preparing Spanish Paella or Italian chicken in a red wine sauce. It was relaxing for her to take various items and make a single item, a meal. But now, despite the comfort afforded by her surroundings, all she could do was sip the citrusy white and gaze into space, her eyebrows knit.

            Maybe he’s crazy. That would seem the only possible explanation for his behavior. Or maybe… Hannah thought, the wine resting on her lips. She smiled, and her eyes brightened, like a bulb had been turned on in her mind. Grabbing her cell, bottle and glass, she returned to the couch and dialed a number.

            “Hello, love,” came the voice across the phone.

            “Steve, I think I have it figured out,” Hannah began.

            “Oh, hello Hannah. I’m doing fine; thanks for asking. And yes, my day was wonderful.”

            “Smartass, just listen.”

            “Okay. What?” Steve’s voice was both empathetic and sarcastic. His relationship with Hannah had always been good and cozy, especially once she learned he was homosexual and stopped hitting on him (although she occasionally made remarks and invitations).

            “Alright, the episode with Kyle today-“

            “You mean the one you would not stop harping about earlier?”

            “Shitface, yes. Now listen!”

            “I do love you, Hannah, you know that, right?” and Steve laughed.

            “And I would love you more if you would let me finish. Anyway, he totally…declined my invitation for a meeting.”

            “You mean rejected, don’t you?”

            “Dammit, Steve. Well, yes; you know what I mean! Anyway, what did he say? He said ‘You will do well to stay away from me,’ right? You know what I think; I believe it’s a game to him, and he wants to be pursued. He read me better than I thought. It’s a game, Steve, and now I’m up for the challenge.” Her last line was more triumphant and exhilarating. Sipping her wine and pulling her legs under herself, she reclined and embraced what seemed to be a momentary victory.

            “You think so? Honestly, Han, I just think he’s not interested. Oh, and he’s not gay; just sayin’”

            “Steve?” Her voice ringing with a tense question in it.

            “What?”

            “Never mind. No, I’m telling you, he wants a game of cat and mouse.”

            “I don’t know. Maybe just give him time.”

            “Steve. Really? Have you known me to be patient? Honestly, sweetie.”

            Hannah laughed, knowing she had pinned the situation to the wall. Stretching out her legs before her on the couch, she admired her tanned skin, thinking, he won’t be able to resist me. If it’s a game he wants, then I will be more than happy to oblige his desire. She laughed again.

            “What’s so funny?”

            “Nothing.”

            “You think you have this thing pinned, don’t you.” It was a given that Steve, more than anyone else, knew the workings of Hannah, sometimes more than even she. Had he not been gay, they would have made a wonderful couple. Steve had the unique ability to read her like an open book, though most of the time it was like reading an erotic novel. On the other end of the line, Hannah knew Steve was shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

            They both moved onto work discussions and some light bantering arose from the couch where Hannah had planted herself. She was busy ranting about some of the workers to notice the subtleties around her. Lost was perhaps the best way to describe Hannah and her conversation, as near her, the solitary lamp flickered. It was a new bulb, a halogen bulb; it should not flicker.

            Hannah’s voice grew heated when the conversation turned to a botched event. Irritated tones rose and fell like the track of a wild rollercoaster. She was venting when suddenly, the light went out.

            “Shit.” Hannah said.

            “What?” Steve asked.

            “The light went out. Damn, that was a new bulb.”

            “Take it back, then.” Steve then listened as his friend fumbled around in the darkness, trying to find the nearest switch. A curse, a swear and a single ‘ouch,’ then Steve heard she had light once more.

            “Got it back on?” he asked.

            “Yes, but-“ and she stopped abruptly.

            “But what? Hannah?” There was only silence over the phone.

            “Steve, the cord is unplugged.” She had knelt beside the table and found that the electrical cord had been removed from the floor socket. Cord still in hand, she looked dumbfounded at the lamp.

            “Well, that explains why the lamp went out.” He said, smirking to himself.

            “Steve, I haven’t been anywhere near this lamp tonight, except to turn it on.” Hannah slowly put the head back in the socket and the lamp, by electrical command, sprang to life.

            “Okay, you have a ghost.” Steve burst out with his boyish laugh. There was then a splashing sound heard over the phone, and it caught Hannah’s attention. Pulling the phone away momentarily, she looked at it, half expecting the sound to reveal itself through the apparatus.

            “What the hell was that noise? Are you flooding over there?” She asked, mildly amused with her comment.

            “No, love. I’m in the tub. Have been the whole time.” That certainly caught Hannah quickly and raised her level of arousal.

            “Bathtub, you say? Hmmm, maybe I should stop by.” Her words to any other man would have been like seductive little droplets running down the neck. To Steve, however, it was more of the same.

            “I’m good, love, but thanks.”

            Playfully now, Hannah continued. “Are you sure? Don’t want you to be lonely. And besides, who is going to wash your back.” Her soft laughter rang in his ear.

            “I’m sure. And I’m getting off the phone now before I prune.”

            “Bathtubs are always fun. You sure?”

            “I’m hanging up now. Goodbye, love.”

            She smiled as she tossed the phone onto the couch. Shaking her head, she thought Oh, Steve, if only you weren’t gay. I would be all over you. Now, instead of sitting in the tub with you, I have to find creative and unique ways to win Kyle. Fate is cruel, but I am up to this challenge. Some girls were meant to walk a race, while others were meant to run it. And I can be fast, when I want to be.

            Looking once more at the lamp, she shrugged and returned to the kitchen to prepare a light dinner.

 

            Across the maze of downtown Richmond, with its old city streets and dimly lit walkways, Kyle sat in his apartment, doing very much the same thing Hannah had just done; he was pondering deeply, but it was not for romantic purposes. Kyle was in a chair beside the window, his view much different than Hannah’s but still pretty. He looked down into the old fan district of the city, a place where stately mansions are buttressed against one another, and where bricked streets are gallantly protected by the stone faces of Lee, Jackson and Stuart.

            Do not think Kyle Creighton took as his residence a smart and stylish mansion; the house he inhabited was on a little side street, just off Monument, and must smaller than any his family had ever constructed, purchased or inherited. Much of the family money was squandered in bizarre and often frivolous manners, leaving the current Creighton’s with little to show for a 350 year habitation in the new world.

            Kyle’s apartment was the upper story of an old house, one of those town homes constructed probably when shells were falling on Richmond. The landlady was polite and stayed much to herself, so long as the rent was paid in full and on time. His quarters were spacious and comfortable, and afforded him ample room to indulge his fancy for art collecting. Kyle had no budget for late Renaissance Dutch works, but he could manage more recent canvases from the impressionists, and had a rather natural proclivity for old Florida Highwaymen works. Aside from the paintings, the room was a model of his life: neat, organized and filled with antiques. Kyle haunted the local shops of any town in which he inhabited, always searching for a nightstand, pitcher or mirror that might fulfill some gulf in his life. Now, his collection mimicked a museum, with him its curator.

            In his chair, Kyle sat alone with his thoughts, the wings of the chair hiding his face from the outside world. There were trees lining the lane, but occasionally the lights from passing cars would shine up near his windows, remind him that people lived very normal and fearless lives. Nothing close could be said about his existence.

            Burying his face in his hands, Kyle allowed all the stories, the legends and old family tales, to come over him. There were stories of mystery and intrigue; gruesome deaths and lost hope. For those old ones in the city, the name Creighton was more synonymous with oddity and strangeness than with grandeur and magnificence. It was a shame, but not without good reason.

            Kyle was a logical person, a man of philosophy and reason. He had heard all the stories in his youth and had seen some of the deaths himself, but found that embracing the stories was difficult. It took several deaths, or as the family titled them, killings, for him to finally come to terms with the issue. Reason, he learned, had bearing in the world save for here, for his issue. There was para-normality at work, and all his reasoning could not help him to comprehend what was going on.

            The room appeared cluttered, if one had no appreciation for the value of the objects existing alongside one another. Kyle propped his feet on a nineteenth century ottoman and allowed his hands to fall beside. His life was lonely; he was a man without any companionship. Grief, born out of isolation, became his only consort, and for a partner it took agony. Together, the two shaped his life not according to the will of the fates, but to their own miserable doings. But one prompted them, controlling them to her own will. It was she who ruled all.

            Another day, Kyle began to think, and nothing changes. He was referring to the incident before, and as much as Hannah would have loved to been called to mind now, Kyle instead thought of the shadow. I saw it; it moved freely, and was not a mirage. I saw it, I know I did. I could be mistaken, but it was too real to be anything else, too real to not be what I thought it was. Oh, God. Am I next? Has it come for me? God, why?

            Kyle opened his eyes and looked around the room. All the pieces of furniture, the paintings, the old tapestry which hung beside his 18th century boudoir, all these things were his life, all trophies of his own design. Like all the others, in an instant, it could all be gone, vanishing before him like the snuffing out of his own life. Too many times he frequented the funeral halls; too many times his shadow darkened the tombs of his loved ones. Now, with the appearance, his card had been drawn by a fickle hand of destiny.

            In frustration, Kyle stood, or nearly leapt from his chair and began to pace around the room. He made a circuit of the space by navigating around the many and varied objects. When angered or annoyed, Kyle often found himself pacing or walking, if space allowed, great distances as a means of letting off the excess pressure within him. All the days’ thoughts fluttered hauntingly before him, like chilly snowflakes in a graveyard.

            “No, it just can’t be,” he began aloud. There was no penchant in Kyle to speak aloud to himself, but on this occasion he had little choice in the matter. “It just can’t. I refuse to believe. No tales of the unknown will frighten me. I have read the reports and seen things myself; all were accidents, some bizarre, yes, but all easily accountable.”

            What Kyle referred to was the cloud of death which hung over his family’s crest for the past 300 hundred plus years. Anyone researching the issue would merely chalk up the experiences to poor health, ill luck and ancient methods of living. What Kyle failed to mention, however, were the deaths not so easily categorized: mutilations, beheadings, slit throats, and so forth. Mystery surrounded the family crest, a mystery no
one of the family ever fully understood.

            Kyle paced along the row of windows looking into the treetops. He stopped to look out at a jogger who went steadily past; it was then that he felt it. A presence was in the room with him. Kyle had no supernatural abilities, and could not access those restricted parts of the human brain; what he had, however, were memories of his first encounter. Now, that same feeling came upon him again.

            Turning his head away from the window, he surveyed the room slowly. He momentarily cursed the abundance in the room, believing a less cluttered space would afford less security for any intruder. Nothing unordinary showed itself to his eyes. All the same works of art hung in their respective places; the rocker still sat beside the hearth; his sofa still looked as uncomfortable as the day he purchased it. Nothing unordinary, but something was still there, something.

            Kyle spent much of his life looking over his shoulder, watching and waiting for the family legacy to appear. As a boy it frightened him. As a man, he still had upon his back the scars of the years of paranormal oppression. Those were scars he would probably carry with him forever, or however long his life endured.

            In another room, in the back of the house, a presence did move. Kyle was right to feel something, as there was indeed a shadow creeping through the master bedroom. On the nightstand, his smart phone sat charging. It turned on.

            The phone log was opened up, and on the screen was listed the last name and number to call Kyle’s phone. It was Rebecca’s.

            The phone shut down and went back to charging, while a darkness moved softly out of the room. It passed like a mist through the hall and into the living room, where Kyle had retaken his seat. His hands again pressed against his face, as if he were a little child hiding from a nightmare. Feeling that sensation, he looked up, but could see nothing. The mist had already passed, and he was alone once more.

 

            Richmond could be an exciting town, if one knew where to look for activities. It was a college town, hosting two major university and a host of seminaries. Being a host for such schools, there was an abundance of “vice-oriented” locations where one could party and have a great time, provided what went on behind closed doors stayed there.

            Rebecca had taken a night off to spend with her friends in partying and club-hopping. The night was young and they had just started to hit the area around the old Mainstreet Station. Above, the dark shades of the night sky settled neatly on the myriad of railroad tracks and the interstate. The group strolled along, passing Bottom’s Up, and moving from the parking area to the first club.

            Streetlights lit their path as the moved along, each louder than one another. If joy were measured in decibels, then this group was at the pinnacle of excitement. They joked with one another and laughed at their jokes while the passing headlights illuminated their march. Rebecca was mixed among them, her taller and more slender frame flanked on either side by shorter but equally vibrant girls. Behind them by a few steps, the boys followed, as if each had a leash held by a lady up front.

            “Oh, my God, Rebecca, I can’t believe you passed Hartman’s exam. I mean, did you sleep with him?” And all the girls giggled. Rebecca threw back her head in laughter.

            “I am not telling,” she said tauntingly. “It’s our, oh, I mean ‘my’ little secret.” They squealed delightfully, all the girls cackling together in unison. It was a lie, however, as Rebecca’s heart belonged to another, and she would never breach the sacredness of love for mere personal gain. A joke was fun, and a laugh delightful. But it was not the truth.

            “So, Miss Opportunistic, what’s with this guy you always speak about? Was he in on your little academic advancement?” More girlish glee.

            Rebecca smiled at the thought of Kyle, but rolled her eyes to the latter statement. His memory always comforted her. It had only been a mere few weeks that she worked with him, and had gotten to know him, but already she knew she wanted to embrace him as her soul mate.  

            “And who would that be?” she asked.

            A brunette, her mini skirt fluffing up as she spun around to face Rebecca and walk backwards, said “Really? You know who!” And she pointed her finger at her, believing it would assist in jogging Rebecca’s memory.

            “Kyle,” taunted another aloud. They all burst into laughter.

            “What about him?” Rebecca asked casually. She knew they all shared her infatuation with the manager, but regarded him as seized property by Rebecca. But who faulted a girl for her dreams?

            “Oh, Jesus! Tell us about it all?” Came the response nearly in unison.

            “Com’on. Are you sleeping with him yet? Oh, he’s sooo cute. God, I could just eat him up, or he me!” Said the brunette in an explosion of passion. Estrogen was rampant in that group as each of the girls gushed privately and publicly over the property of Rebecca. There were coos and smirks, poking and giggles, like this group of girls had suddenly regressed to early childhood. They were playful, but meant little harm. It was all in the sport of the evening, and Rebecca was their target.

            “Bec, really? You normally can’t shut up about him. All the time, it’s ‘omg, did you see his ass in those slacks today,’ or ‘if only he were my shower mate.’ Honestly, girl, open up. And that’s probably what he said.” The brunette was brazen and bold and knew the buttons to push to get Rebecca talking.

            “Girls, girls,” began Rebecca, her words sounding as careless and drifty as a breeze. They let out a loud sigh, one which she was certain to extend, then continued. “It’s just, you know how it is.”

            “You’re not gonna tell us, are you? You little shit you!” Shouted another girl, laughing as she joking hit Rebecca with her hand bag. In this vein they continued down the sidewalk, with Rebecca thwarting all their attempts at her innermost secret.

            The nightclub was from outward appearances a run-down, dilapidated structure whose only source of amusement was housing the rats and giving rest to the pigeons. Small sprigs of grass grew up through the sidewalk. One man, dressed in a bulging leather coat, stood beside the door. It must have been exceptionally bright outside at half past nine at night, because shades covered his eyes. Perhaps the blaring neon sign overhead sunk its rays into his orbs too harshly. He was bald, either out of genetics of self-will; but either way, his head seemed to mirror the burgeoning Buddha belly covered by his Armani shirt.

            After a brief interrogation and a display of licenses –which were actually legitimate – the girls and guys made their way through the narrow doorway and through a small, dark tunnel. With the absence of light, the pounding, rhythmic noise acted as guide.

            Flashing lights, hot bodies, and the strong scent of alcohol filled the atmosphere as the group amalgamated with the moving mass of dancers. From the outside, the place seemed in disrepair, but only a cursory glance around the interior would reveal otherwise. In the very center of the large, expansive room was the heart of the institution, the dance floor. It was the most crowded of all places, acting like a black hole which sucked all the revelers into its grip. One had to descend a multitude of platforms before reaching it, thus giving the room a tiered effect. On these tiers were tables, booths, the bar (closer to the top), and a variety of dark corners where god-only-knows-what occurred. The inability of many of the partiers to keep their beverages in their glasses gave the floor a sticky feeling.

            The group first found their libation at the bar, then the girls took immediately to the dance floor, each grabbing a man from their own group, or finding another on the floor. Rebecca took to a stellar looking companion and ground her body against his, all the while wishing it were her manager.

            It was a party atmosphere indeed, with bodies moving in rhythm to the music. For an hour, the little group moved between a table, the bar and the floor, each step increasing the level of intoxication. Slithering like serpents, the ladies moved in and amongst the crowd, carrying drinks and relishing in the adrenaline of the atmosphere. There was a power emanating from each living form, emanating at a rate uncanny to normal and sober minds. Each woman fed off the energy, and gave back to the universe that which it took.

            Rebecca had been socializing with many a boy when the thought of her first love came to mind. She felt a yearning for him in this place, imagine his hands around her hips in place of the greasy fellow who now occupied her vision. Slipping away from him and leaving him in dismay, she wandered off the floor and located her purse at the table.

            “What ya’ doin?’” asked one of the guys.

            “What?” The music was loud enough to penetrate the graves of the dead.

            “What-Are-You-Doing,” he enunciated with some sarcasm seasoning his speech.

            “Mind your business,” she said with a smile, and turned her back. In her hands was her cell, and she was actively scrolling through her list of contacts. Why Kyle did not possess a number on her speed dial was not clear, even to Rebecca, but she quickly found her manager’s number and called it, again. Before leaving for the night, she made a desperate attempt to gain his company in person. She then tried calling. He did not answer. Now, she was going to try again, the will power with which she placed the call hiding the desperation and longing in her voice.

            The phone rang, and rang, and rang. There was no answer, and after a minute Kyle’s message floated into her ear. Rebecca left a brief message of welcome and invitation, then hung up and threw the phone back into her purse. She tried. Maybe he’ll get the message soon, she thought. Walking away, she did not notice her phone’s illumination. It came up with his number, as if it were ringing, but the call did not go through; instead, it went immediately to silent, then terminated quickly, the screen going dark as death.

            Rebecca returned to the floor and chose another companion to seductively entertain. The movements of her body mimicked what she wanted to do with Kyle. As she twisted and contorted against her dance partner, she imagined his physique pressing against her. Losing herself in the moment, and her partner, she danced and swayed, the minutes passing quickly like the light beams overhead.

            Rebecca, exhilarated and thirsty, vacated the floor and returned to her booth. Some of her friends were present, and certainly intoxicated. The drinks Rebecca consumed had little effect on her, as she spent most of her time on the floor. She was talking with them and laughing loudly when she happened to turn toward the back to the club. There, she saw Kyle.

Rebecca’s eyes brightened as he scanned the floor, no doubt looking for her slender frame. Without saying a word – she wanted no intrusions from the group – she threw her drink on the table and made her way through the maze of booths to where he was standing.

            The darkness settling in the corners of the club, when mingled with the hideous rays which shot red, purple and green across the arena, created a surreal glow which cascaded over Kyle’s person. Rebecca watched him sway gently with the beat of the thumping music. She was quickly approaching him when he turned and spotted her. A sly smile, both gentle and enticing, greeted her. Giving him her best and most cheerful expression, she acknowledged him only among the hordes of nameless people.

            Through the flashing lights, she saw him, and glancing away only momentarily, he evaded her and vanished into a dark hallway. Her eyes, piercing the darkness, strained to see him where he went, but the bleakness of the hall only obscured his path. Where is he going? And why? She thought as she finally came up to where he had been standing. Perhaps… and with a grin, she moved into the darkness.

            “Kyle?” she called out to him. “Where are you taking me,” her words playful and tantalizing.

            “Love, come closer,” she heard, his voice echoing softly on her ears, with its tone like the wafting scent of ­­­ lavender blooming amidst the dark veil of night.

            He called me ‘love.’ Oh, god, how my heart is fluttering. I will find you, Kyle, and when I do…” Her thoughts raced wildly through her swooning head as she followed the trail left by his summons. She repeated the phrase over and over as she passed into a dimly lit corridor with multiple doors. As she rounded a corner, she saw a couple making out, their bodies intertwining in a twisted vortex of ecstasy. Disgusted, Rebecca cautiously moved around them and saw, in the distance, Kyle, his faced still smiling at her. He was perhaps twenty feet in front of her, his hand poised to open a door.

            “Kyle,” she called out, “where ya’ going?” He did not respond to her, but left his silence as another marker for his female tracker.

            Kyle disappeared behind the door, but left it ajar so as to reveal himself climbing a small staircase. Rebecca, quickening her pace, rushed forward in an effort to catch him. Somehow, Kyle managed to elude her once again and vanished on the stairs. The little case was vacant, though she heard his ascending steps thudding above her.

            “Rebecca, climb up to me. You got to see this,” came the words from the lips Rebecca so desired to kiss.

            “Kyle, where are you taking me,” replied Rebecca, who was by now more puzzled than anything else. The hallway is vacant; hell, why not fondle me here. Didn’t stop that couple. Why do we need to climb up these stairs? Rebecca, girl, I hate to admit it, but this is a little odd. And how the hell does he move so damned fast? She stopped and looked up; above her, Kyle was leaning over the railing, looking down at her from two flights up.  

            “Not tired, are we?” Kyle asked.

            “Tired? I don’t think so, love.” She put special emphasis on the last word, hoping it would express to him a hidden sentiment of her heart.

            “Then, come on up.” A sly smirk crossed Kyle’s face as he pulled back into the shadows. Rebecca watched as the darkness gathered at the top of the stairs and filled that vacancy left by Kyle. With a steady, though somewhat uncertain step, she began her ascent. As quickly as her heels would allow, she climbed to the upper level and surfaced in what seemed to be a storage area.

            Silence hung like a funeral shroud over the area, and the stillness was so thick it could be felt weighing on one’s shoulders. Rebecca looked around anxiously, not knowing if he had moved on or if Kyle was waiting to scare her. He’s playful, she thought, and started scanning the darkened room with the aide of the marquis lights from outside.

            “Oh, I do wonder where Kyle is,” she began playfully, hoping she was acting in accordance with his game. “I suppose he must have moved on.” There was a pause, and she listened intently. A board creaked behind her, and she spun quickly in an attempt to catch him. Nothing greeted her as she turned around.

            Rebecca stared at a packed corner of large, cardboard boxes and other paraphernalia. A few bar stools and a dusty table were all the corner cared to have in its confines. She sigh and was about to face the opposite direction when she suddenly felt a body press against her back. She froze.

            Hands gripped her arms tightly, though tenderly, and a face pressed against the side of her face, sweet words whispering into the darkness. “Don’t be afraid,” the voice whispered in a tone only the darkness would understand. Rebecca recognized the soft cords of Kyle’s voice, a voice she longed to have utter her name in passion.

            Without turning, or allowing herself to be turned, she pressed back into his grip. “So, now that you have captured me, I suppose I am your prisoner,” Rebecca said, her words as devilish as she could make them to be.

            “You’ve always been mine,” Kyle returned. At this, Rebecca swooned while his hands began to explore her body. A soft kiss planted itself on her cheek, just below her ear. Rebecca allowed a soft sigh to escape her.

            “Now, follow me.” Rebecca felt his grip loosen as he took one hand and started to pull her through the room. Their shadows merged with the surrounding gloom and slid across the dark floor hidden beneath the glow of the outside lights.

            “Where are you taking me?” Rebecca asked.

            “You’ll see.”

            At the far end of the room, a solid metal door greeted them and marked the end of their journey through the maze of scattered debris in the old room. The door was locked, but with a twist of the knob, Kyle opened it with little effort. Turning in front of the open door to face Rebecca, Kyle pushed his face toward hers and allowed his cheek to brush her own. Shivers ran up her spine. She reached out to touch his face, but he pulled away before her hand could caress his flesh.

            “The best is just beyond this door.” With that, Kyle pushed it completely open and stepped through. He still held her hand and Rebecca watched as her arm slowly oozed into the darkness. Soon, he was pulled through and found herself in the shadow of the room, and staring at a night sky nearly polluted by the city lights.

            “Welcome to the night, love.” Kyle had been quiet and soft spoken through the coarse of their time inside, but Rebecca noticed that once he was free of the confines of the building, a certain animation overtook him. Excitement rang in his voice as he welcomed her to the flat roof of the building.

            Rebecca looked around and began to move past him, taking in the roof and the city landscape rising above them. Lights, many from office buildings, and especially the old Mainstreet rail station, glistened brightly, replacing the stars which should have been visible overhead. Rebecca moved around a little, then turned and found Kyle leaning against the side, his eyes cast on the elevated rail tracks near the building.

            The roof appeared as any other industrial roof would look, save for its close proximity to the rail station. What does he have planned now? Rebecca thought as she surveyed the area. Is there a blanket up here for us, or maybe a bottle of wine? This is going to be so romantic. I knew he was the type. Oohhh, just look at him over there. She was looking at him, her mind running wild with scenarios for lovemaking under the night sky.

            “So, tell me, you come up here a lot?” Rebecca asked as she slowly strolled up to him.

            “Only when I have business.” Kyle’s face was icy and graven, as if a grim determination replaced any soft feature he had.

            “Business? Is that what I am now?” She traced a finger along his cheek and down his throat, playing with the button on his shirt. She was trying to read him, but a barrier stronger and deeper than any she could imagine existed between them now.

            Kyle caught her questioning look and smiled quickly, then, taking her by the hand, spun her around and, raising one hand in a flourish, presented the rail station to her. “It is grand, is it not?” He asked.

            “It is beautiful,” she said, her mind not really knowing what was going on. Just then, Kyle rushed past her and leapt up onto a short ladder which connected with a catwalk.

            “Let’s take a closer look!” and Kyle began to move out on the walk and away from the building. The walk stretched out into the open, bridging the gap between the roof and the furthest suspended rail track. Built around the same time as the station, the original designers and workers needed a way to maintain this furthest track, and so devised a short structural system to access the rails. Kyle, now sauntering along its metal base, came very near the track before turning around and finding Rebecca hesitant and reluctant to follow.

            “What’s the matter?” he called out to her.

            “I don’t think we should be out there, Kyle. I mean, it might be dangerous, and it’s probably private property.” She had her arms folded around her, as if her words of rejection were chilling her more than she wanted. God, what the hell is this? He’s just…different.

            Kyle approached her slowly, his steps casually taking him back across the bridge. He held the railings and, leaning forward so as to bring his face close to hers, spoke soothingly to her, his lips finally brushing against her cheek. All uneasiness vanished as she inhaled his scent, a collection of lavender and lilies, something she had not noticed earlier.

            “Well,” she began, smiling shyly, “I suppose a little danger never hurt anyone.” With that, she stepped up in front of him and onto the platform.

            The metal groaned lightly as she added her weight to the bridge. Kyle had already began his crossing, and slowly, Rebecca pushed herself out further, leaving the relative security of the roof, and entrusting herself entirely to the safety of Kyle. Below, the street came into view, with a stray cat streaking from shadow to shadow. A breeze blew softly over her as she continued to scale the gap. Her hands gripped tightly the railings, and her heels made for a stressful passage, but she managed to reach the other side, and Kyle.

            “See, how bad was that?” he asked, dryly. Behind them were the tracks, long metal snake-like structures stretching out in either direction, one heading north, and the other crossing the James.

            “Wow, we certainly are high here.” She glanced at the tracks and the massive structure keeping the rail above the ground. They were encaged by the metal railings, but a small gate gave entrance to the tracks next to them. With a flick of his wrist, Kyle unsnapped the gate, and it swung open lazily.

            “Now, for our next adventure,” he said. At these works, Rebecca felt her stomach tighten. The exhilaration lasted through the crossing of the bridge, but now it faded at the prospect of stepping onto the tracks. She had had enough of this ‘adventure’ and wanted to get back to the roof. Certain situations are more intriguing with the addition of the element of danger; this situation, however, had certainly run its course and Rebecca wanted only to get back downstairs and throw back a drink.

            “I don’t think so, Kyle. I’m sorry, but I’m heading back. This is just too much.” Turning, Rebecca reestablished her grip on the handrails and began moving away. There were petitions from Kyle, but she paid them no attention. Her mind was set, and she was leaving. She accomplished two more steps when she felt Kyle’s arms encircling her waist.   

            “Okay, love, just give me a moment, and I shall reward you.”

            Love intoxicates, and feeling him so close to her again swayed her mind. Rebecca did not turn around, but allowed his body to press against hers for a little longer while she playfully thought it through out loud, weighing her options verbally.

            “So, will you come back with me? What if I meet your demand for a kiss? Will that be reward enough?” Rebecca was silent a moment, then turn and faced Kyle.

            “Okay, deal. You can pay up the remainder later.” And she winked at him.

            “Then, after you, love.” Said Kyle, and Rebecca tantalizing slid past him, making sure her body rubbed his where it mattered. Kyle watched her move past and start for the end. Narrowing his eyes, Kyle examined her carefully as her slender form moved farther and farther away. He watched as she turned and smiled at him while reminding him of his promise. He continued to watch as she moved the swinging gate to the side and stepped onto the tracks.

            Rebecca felt the subtle triumph over her nerves as she landed on one of the cross beams. She held her head high, not out of success, but of fear of the height and the lack of support railings the track offered. Her eyes twinkled as she marveled at the building, the old rail station, towering above her, and the myriad of highways lanes above it. She was alone on the tracks, her little form standing amidst such openness.

            In the distance, north of the station, a bright light illuminated the tracks. It rumbled on with speed, as Petersburg, and not Richmond, was its destination. The tracks shook as it approached, and Rebecca, still staring, turned to see her own figure enveloped in the light. Panic struck deep into her mind and heart as she let loose a shriek. Turning to leap back on the bridge, she found only the large gap, and nothing more.

            Another scream roared consecutively as she stared at the empty space where the bridge had just been. The fear took her mind and she could do little save scream, her mind giving up finding explanations. Frantically, she turned wildly, hoping to find a place to move to, but found only a height of three stories, or more, and no where else to go. Her breathing was heavy and tears ran down her cheeks. She turned back to the roof, and saw, perched upon the ledge, a shadow which seemingly fluttered by its own volition. It had shape and design, and looked like a person, though in the moment uncertainty was the only thing certain. It stood there, waiting, and watching.

            Rebecca looked up once more, and the light of the train blinded her. One scream, drowned out by the horn, and the train overtook her. What was left of her body fell off the tracks and splattered against the hard and cold cement below.

            Across town, Kyle was startled awake. He looked around and found himself in his bedroom chair, still attired in his work clothes, and facing his nightstand. The light on his phone indicated a message, and he checked it, finding the missed calls from Rebecca.

            When he called her back, the phone went right to voicemail.

 

Chapter 4

           

 

 

 

The Year in Review

It’s the last day of the year, and what better time to reflect than today. A year ago, we began to really press ahead with this little publishing endeavor, and I must say that we have made a lot of headway in 365 days. It has had ups and down, enjoyable triumphs and detestable set-backs. I have seen some awesome projects come to fruition while watching wonderful and brilliant artists create amazing shots and e-covers. The year 2012 was certainly the year of the indie initiative for me.

It started with the uploading of The Witch House in May. That was our first attempt at e-publishing, and I am proud to say it has come off very well. I began my collaboration with photographer Joseph Sheehan and e cover designer Aaron Voelbel, both of whom worked magic on the cover. It was exciting to watch the project come together. There were meetings to frequent (usually over pizza), and edits to review. This effort also introduced us to photographer/model Lizzie Stiles, who gave us the alluring eyes on the cover of the work. When we finally had the cover set, and Melissa had the document formatted, we submitted it to Smashwords and Amazon, and off it went. It was exciting, to say the least. And here, we have the finished product:

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  We gained experience and knowledge with The Witch House, and now it was time to pursue the publication of the flagship work, Bleodsian, my first novella. I worked over two years writing and editing the story, and now it needed only a cover and formatting, and would be ready. I was nervous getting it prepared, as it was such a large project, and both Melissa and I had many hours in the task. For the photo, I asked my cousin, Holly Henry, to create something unique for the cover. She worked for several weeks, and after many pints of “blood,” had the shot ready. When I saw it, I was so amazed. Giving the photo to Aaron, he poured his talents into the project and made a most remarkable cover. In July, Bleodsian was uploaded and went on sale. Our ship was launched.

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Mommy’s Gone Crazy and Gothic Angel came in quick succession in September, with each bringing a new chapter to our effort. For Mommy, we did our first on-site photo shoot with our first model, our location being an older home on campus near where I work. It was fun, and we all had a good time with the shots. The model, Amber Houston, did a good job. Gothic Angel was a collaboration with photographer Lizzie Stiles, where she solely created the photo for the cover.  I had to coax her into shooting in a cemetery, and once she did, the shots came out well. Both of these works were short stories, the former being an introduction to a larger work of mine, the Alexandretta storyline, and the latter being my first attempt at a paranormal romance. Both came out well, and I am pleased with their respective successes on line.

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As to technology, things have exploded for me on Twitter, where I jumped from six followers to almost 700! On facebook, I developed a fan page, which has done well, and have joined various groups. I am on tumblr, blogger, wordpress, facebook and twitter, and have an email address for my fan page. An essential tool which also fell in my lap this year was my Asus tablet, which I consider an important and necessary item. It has aided me greatly with this whole affair. I have gained many writing friends, and have beta read several books for other authors.  It has been a busy and exciting time, as far as technology goes.

I cannot close this now without certain thanks to all the people who made this endeavor what it has become: Holly, Joe and Lizzie, for their photographic genius, and Aaron, for his ability to see through to the final product. Each of these people have had the uncanny ability to capture the essence of each project and turn it into a work of art. Thank you, all of you.

Mostly, I would be lost without my Melissa, whose tireless work in editing and formatting, cover critiquing, as well as “sound boarding” has aided in so many ways. Every writer needs a Melissa behind them, and I am grateful for mine.

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One cannot reflect on the past and not also look to the future. There is much promise ahead, as I am currently writing a novel about a succubus, and we are in the final stages of getting my first short story compilation ready for formatting. Both of these will need covers, so expect more magnificent pictures in the future. I am also gearing up for a new thrust, if you will. I will be soliciting literary agents in the coming year, and seeking professional publication. Wish me luck.

It is an amazing time, and I am grateful to all of you for your support and kindness. I hope you all have enjoyed the ride as much as I have. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us as I chase my dream.

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My wish is for a happy new year for all of you. Thanks for reading.

A Review of Peyton Heart’s A Collection of Hearts

I had the honor to review Poet Peyton Heart’s debut collection of works, and though no major poet myself, I really enjoyed the book. I found the poems to range from cheerful, hopeful and light, to morose and realistic. Present in every work was an energy and realism that could come only from life experiences. Heart includes a lot of herself in each work, something that adds to the emotional power of the collection overall.

When I first picked up her collection, I regarded it as a simple “love me, love me not” type of construction for love-struck fools. Forgive my candor, but I am a horror writer, and thus one with no proclivity for happiness and joy. What I found, however, was a compilation of poems that expressed the harsh realities of the emotional experience, and lightness of romanticism, as found in the bliss of union. Needless to say, I was surprised.

Heart’s poems seem to fall into two brackets; love, and despair (I especially liked the latter; see note above).  Of the love category, each poem expressed sentiments ranging from youthful happiness to matured bliss. Heart writes about her life experiences, which forms a very realistic corps around each poem. I found there to be a lot of energy in some of her works. She speaks with evocative power, relating her own experiences and forcing to mind some personal memories of the reader. I found myself reflecting on many of her poems, my own mind wandering down loves old pathway.

Of the despair category, I found some darker places to hide. If part of Heart’s collection is light, then certainly the other half is dark. Here, Heart expressed the hidden sentiments of the tortured heart. Raw emotions, feelings of betrayal and desperation are all present in the works. Such works like “Loves Uncertainty” ring powerfully with lines like: “I was happy in a world of joy and laughter, Then overnight- my heart was taken prisoner.”  Some of the works have a sudden change, as expressed here, while others are built around the reactionary emotions, with the reader left to see what has happened, and not what is happening. I related more  to these darker forms of poetry, as in them she captured what I consider to be one of the essential elements of gothic literature: the agony of despair. A few even have characteristic traits of the old gothic works. I was delighted to read these.

Heart has a simple vocabulary, but the stanzas are constructed so as to place emphasis on certain words, and thus force to the surface certain emotions. I was challenged on many occasions to face painful memories from my past. Sometimes, the words of her poems struck very dangerous cords; that is, however, the power of her work. It will make you face and feel your own memories.

There are only a few suggestions which can be offered to Heart in the form of a critique. First, I think she should learn and experiment with different styles of poetry, so as to use them as tools in her future projects. The collection seemed to follow the same vein. Try some rhyming, some narrative, and what other styles may be available. Second, I believe her work would benefit from an exploration outside the realm of love. Although replete with power itself, there are many avenues for emotional experience. Love it but one of many.

Peyton Heart drafted a good first edition compilation with her A Collection of Hearts. It is provocative, a work which will seemingly bless and haunt you. Take it and read it, but remember, when you have finished, Heart’s book will be your own memories. 

A Review of Charity Parkerson’s The-Adonis

I have read some pretty steamy books here lately, so I am beginning to think I am an expert in erotic literature. Okay, that is totally not true, but what I can say is that I have recently read an awesome little work called The-Adonis, a short story by famed author Charity Parkerson. It is filled with tension, grief and love, with just the right dose of naughtiness. Here, let me explain. The story begins with a the female lead, Thea, packing as her husband watches. What is learned quickly is that she is leaving him and moving away, mainly to a place where he cannot follow. A friend stands by, watching everything unfolding. Owen, Thea’s husband, has had an affair and now Thea is leaving him. There is grief and sadness, but also anger. Parkerson does a brilliant job of painting the scenes with emotions. The story jumps a head five years to follow Rob, a security guard who has elected to take on a job for a special masquerade hosted by Grecian Fantasies. The trick: everyone is naked, including Rob! Here Rob has a few entertaining moments with a new friend, and soon sees Theadonis, the owner and orchestrator of Grecian Fantasies. She sits amidst the crowd, her own flesh exposed to the world, watching all that goes on around her. Rob immediately falls in love, and knows he must meet this mysterious woman. None dare touch her; will he be so lucky? I will not spoil the story for anyone. Parkerson creates a devilish little tale with her characters interacting in some awesome ways. Thea is an amazing woman with a history that can only help to build her up. She is strong, but also gentle in a manner which makes her appealing. Rob is rough and gruff, but also has a playfulness to him that anyone would find amusing. I especially love his interaction with Weston. That was classic. Parkerson made two characters who were both living and moving through their respective histories. When she made them, she made two people with regrets and pains, and all this comes out easily in her brilliant approach in storytelling. The way the story unfolds is in a flip-flop manner. Parkerson first tells the past, then illustrates the present, then moves back to the past. It may sound jolting, but in reality it adds great depth to the tale, and is intelligent in design. You learn pieces of the history, then see how that history is shaping the present. For a short work, the manner adds much to the overall story. Parkerson’s writing style is clever and playful, but to-the-point and polished. There is nothing amateur or juvenile about her erotic work. She approaches the sexual scenes with beauty and grace, and yes, much playfulness. The sex scenes are certainly erotic, but not overly done. She weaves pristine sensual power with sheer lust in a masterful way. There is poetic agility and sexual rhetoric structure wedded nicely in each scene. Both the plot and pacing were solid and moved nicely. Overall, Charity Parkerson shows herself to be a master of the field with her latest work, The-Adonis. As a true testament to her ability, I will certainly both recommend her work and will purchase others from her. Her stories are tasteful and intelligent, but naughty. Charity Parkerson’s The-Adonis is a sure hit. Find The-Adonis Here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Adonis-ebook/dp/B00AD9J414/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354028699&sr=8-1&keywords=the-adonis+by+charity+parkerson

Chapter 2 of My Succubus Story

Hello everyone. I have here the second chapter of my succubus story. I’m preparing to complete the third chapter and thought I would get this one up for you all. The second chapter is the introduction to the main characters, Hannah and Kyle. Here, you get to meet the sassy Hannah and quiet but gorgeous Kyle. And you just might get a glimpse of the succubus herself. I won’t spoil it for you. Happy reading and let me a comment letting know what you think.

 

Chapter 2

Richmond, Virginia. 3 Months Later

            The kitchen was alive with activity, as chefs, sous-chefs, cooks, bakers and prep-chefs all prepared the afternoon meal for the university’s student body. Lunch was always the busiest meal for Richmond’s University, with hundreds of students crowding the halls of the dining hall to select their fare.

            Cooks were chatting while prepping, and supervisors, managers and the like were moving among the organized crowds, inspecting and pushing along the progress. Kitchens are like living, breathing entities; they move with the ebb and flow of the moment, all the while preparing for the future and cleaning up the past.

            Aside the coffee shop prep area, two prep-chefs were chatting with the banquet manager for the catering department. The manager, a young and attractive girl in her late twenties, stood leaning against a warmer, casually watching the two workers put together sandwiches. Hannah Blair was slender, with long, dark hair pulled neatly back in an elegant ponytail, with a smart business suit of a tan hue sliding seductively over her curves. The blouse was loose enough to be professional, but tight enough to be fun. She captured all the beauty of her Jewish descent, with the strength and grace of her mother and cleverness of her father adding to an already dominant personality, one which yielded to no restraints. She held a clipboard in her folded arms.

            “It has been and exceptionally slow semester so far,” Hannah said.

            “You know, I was thinkin’ the same. Shop’s been real easy on the food these past few weeks.”

            “Yes, it has,” Replied the other.

            “Maybe it has to do with the contract; you know, with them renewing it or not. Maybe they’s given up on us!” And they all chuckled heartily. The atmosphere was indeed jovial, given the fact the food service provider contract was up for renewal, and the school was accepting bids. Hannah Smiled at the two ladies and allowed her eyes to drift toward the back of the kitchen, by the managerial offices and entrance.

            Hannah was about to pull away from the conversation when two of her employees rushed past pushing a cart of food items. She glanced over it hastily and quickly looked at her clipboard.

            “Guys, twenty minutes. I want that set up and ready to go ASAP.” They nodded in acquiescence and moved on. A speed rack rolled past her, pushed by an oversized dish room attendant who seldom said any apologies and rarely watched where he was moving. Hannah dodged it smartly, and moved closer to the two previous girls.

            “He never watches where he is going,” said the first woman as she piled roast beef on a bun.

            “That one nearly knocked me over yesterday. Came right ‘round the corner without so much as a warnin.’”

            “I know,” returned Hannah. “Man drives like he means it, that’s for sure. Maybe he just got his license?” And again, the three ladies laughed.

            The catering supervisor came past the prep area where Hannah was standing, tie flapping as he gracefully glided through the maze of speed racks, carts and the elongated kitchen work table that occupied a prominent space in front of the ovens.

            “Everything okay, Steve?” she asked him. His face was flushed, as if he had just completed a long sprint, but he handled himself with control.

            “Yeah, just getting the crew moving. I have Kilroy and Sam going over to Rachel Hall – you probably saw them – and we have set-ups going on in Chaudoin, Carson and at the LBC. Shanker is cleaning up Sage right now. He told me he forgot the tray of brownies. That is the second damned time.”

            “Again!” Hannah exclaimed.

            “Yes, again. I’m sorry. I try to check everything off before they leave, but sometimes it’s so busy.”

            “No, you’re fine. Did the client catch it?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “I’ll have to call her, then, and apologize. Oh, the joy.” And she smiled. Hannah and Steve got along really well. He was one of four supervisors, and certainly her best. The others were good to mediocre, with Steve and another being under her, and the other two being under a second banquet manager. She liked Steve a lot, and even considered ‘seeing’ him; that was until Steve came out of the closet. She was pissed, but forgave him quickly.

            Steve smiled and proceeded through the kitchen, yelling something above the machinery for the crew to hear. Hannah check off an item on her clipboard and returned to chatting with the ladies. They conversed for a few moments more about light-hearted subjects, until they saw a new face standing opposite the office doors.

            “Who is that?” asked one of the ladies. She was referring to the young man standing by the time clock, small black leather portfolio in hand, and tech back slung over his shoulder. There were many attractive young men working in the front and back of the house, men like the aspiring chefs who clad their arms in novelty tattoos, or the catering department, which focused on college-age servers; none, however, could match this young man. He was tall, though not lanky, with a strong chest, dark hair and hazel eyes. Two day’s worth of beard dotted his face, and his crisp garments – neatly pressed, no doubt- hugged him nicely. Wearing black slacks, modern fit, of course, with a gray shirt and deep royal blue tie, the man was a sight to behold. Even standing idle, he had about him a commanding presence, as if he had arrived to conquer the whole industry of the university. His face looked proud, and the lines accenting his noble chin spoke of ennobled ancestry. There was something, however, deep in his eyes that hinted at a contrary idea; behind the strong façade, one could not help but catch a glimpse of pain, or deep rooted agony. Hannah caught it, and smiled.

            “Ooohhh, he is yummy,” the other lady cooed.

            “Do you think he’s here for a job, Hannah?”

            “I can tell you right now who that is. He’s -”

            “Who is he?” they both interrupted hastily.

            “Let me finish, ladies. He’s the new banquet manager. And I get to work with him.” She snickered at them both and gave a cocky smile.

            “Oh, that’s not fair. That’s just not fair,” said one while mockingly pushing her aside.

            “I want a job in catering now. Just look at those pants and the way they hug his as-”

            “Ladies,” started Hannah, the manager in her speaking now, “If you all will excuse me, I am going to meet this new manager.” She smiled at them, gave a girlish shrug of her shoulders, and moved past them, with not a light saunter in her step.

            “Ooohh Oohh, that girl is lucky! That’s all I’m sayin’.”

            Hannah reached the man as one of the other managers was exiting the office to speak with him. Hannah waited her turn, as the conversation which engaged the new guy was of business purposes. He noticed her and smiled. Again, a flash of pain resonated from his hazel orbs. And again, Hannah caught it, though she realized now how much more profound the sentiment was.

            Hannah waited patiently until the manager acknowledged her, and she stepped forward and extended her hand.

            “You must be Kyle Creighton. I’m Hannah Blair, the other banquet manager.” His smile was captivating, and his face etched by the steadiest hands of the greatest artisans. She smiled seductively; she couldn’t help it.

            “Yes, I am. And Ms. Blair was your name?” He spoke not as a rough and tough man of the world, but as a tender and innocent young man of privilege. She swooned immediately as his last syllables softly caressed her earlobes.

            “Formalities, love? I think not. Hannah will suffice. So, tell me, how did you find your way down here?” What she wanted to ask was what time he would be over for dinner, and if he would be spending the night.

            “Excuse me. Hannah, show Kyle up to the catering kitchen. James will want to meet him.” The other manager, an older woman who seemed to linger too long in Kyle’s presence, interrupted Hannah, then left for the front of the house. Hannah smiled at her, and brazenly took Kyle by the arm.

            “Now, Kyle, love, the catering kitchen is adjacent to the entertaining space on the second floor. Our offices are located there, as is our supply and storage room. The stairs are located just over here. Before we go up, I’ll introduce you to our culinary staff.”

            Hannah proceeded to take him section by section, introducing him to the chefs, sous-chef, the bakers, cold kitchen prep chefs, supervisors, and the utilities crew. She looked for any opportunity to gently guide him, by the arm, around a corner, and when the opportunity presented itself, she allowed him to walk first. It had something to do with his pants.

            ‘This one is too cute, she thought to herself. The old ladies were right, he is yummy. I’m not certain if he is a main course or dessert.’ At this, she snickered, and Kyle turned around.

            “Did I miss something?”

            “No, Kyle. Just thought of something…entertaining. Anyway, here are the stairs to the upper level. Now, after you.” I’m going to like this, she thought as they made their way to the offices.

            The upper level of the kitchen was virtually the same as the lower level, save for the abundance of quietness which usually hung around the halls. The kitchen had two entrances at either end, one opening into a large entertaining space. The other opened just opposite of the office space, a little bit of privacy for the managers, but still close enough to maintain order in the kitchen.

            Kyle was shown around the kitchen, the halls and introduced to the director and his new office space. What was considered office space was indeed space; the room was large, with two desks facing one another. Each of the desks had small bookcases behind it, with filing cabinets flanking them. Hannah’s was easily detectable, as it was the one covered with files, papers and some random pictures. The other desk was cleared. A smaller office in the rear of the room had the inscription of ‘Catering Director’ next to the entrance. The area was comfortable and posh, though exhibiting signs of datedness. The room smelled of lavender, a scent Kyle did not expect for an office located so close to a kitchen.

There was chatting and lightheartedness among those inside, as the day was slow and few events occupied their time. Steve wandered in and joined the conversation, only to be called away on his personal cell ten minutes later.

            The director, Hannah, and Steve, (when he was there), all made Kyle feel at ease. There was camaraderie between them, a sense of being a part of something magnificent. They were a team, Kyle thought, a good and awesome team.

            James, one of the other supervisors, strolled in leisurely and leaned against the empty desk. There had been talking all week of the new manager coming on staff, so everyone automatically associated the new face with the vacant position.

            “James,” started the director, “this is Kyle Creighton. He’s our new banquet manager.” James, another younger man with a sense of fashion which paled when compared to Steve’s, was shorter and stockier, but at least carried himself well. Glasses adorned his face, and his hair style was too old for his age.

            “Hey, nice to meet you.”

            “Likewise, James.”

            “James, here, will be working with you as one of your two supervisors. So, boss him around a little. It feels good.” Hannah laughed as she playfully pushed the tree-trunk of a man. 

            He rolled his eyes. “Thanks,” he managed as he folded his arms across his chest.

            “Don’t be mad little Jamesy.” And Hannah pinched his cheeks with both hand, making his face resemble a pissed-off bearded dragon. Everyone laughed.

            “Hannah adds a good deal of professionalism to our group,” said the director, his sarcastic tone resonating well with the audience. “She is certainly the most, umm, enthusiastic of the group.” He looked up at the grinning young lady and smiled.

            “So she seems,” Kyle replied.

            “Hey, if it weren’t for me, you all would be as dusty and worn as these damned chairs they give us.”

            “But the chair has a function -“ James tried to start, but an accurately launched glare from Hannah silenced him. Kyle realized then that there were two sides to this beauty: a playful side, and a business side which reared its head when she pleased. He had been watching her the whole time, and, though he wouldn’t admit it to himself, he was curious about this girl. Kyle smiled to himself, and then it faded, like the last rays of the sun across the hillside. A sadness, mingled with an intense fear and hatred, suddenly came upon him. Uneasiness, churning wildly in his stomach, swelled and rolled in his body until he felt as if his stomach would lurch. It was then, in the deep shadows of the end of the hall, he swore he saw something move.

            The group was still joking and talking, though Kyle mentally excused himself. His eyes were locked on the distant darkness just outside the office door, where a certain shade seemed to move freely of its surroundings. Closing his eyes, then reopening them, he tried to dissuade his opinion, though to no avail. It couldn’t be; or could it?

            Kyle had grown up with stories, legends by now, and though he feared them, he embraced them. It was not mere fancy which caused him to believe so ardently, but proven fact, dispelled disbelieve, which made him force the stories into his mind for safe keeping. Shadows, the stories told, dark shadows which move without a maker. Yes, shadows…

            “Kyle, hun, you alright?” asked Hannah, her voice light and playful. He started, his eyes racing back to the group.

            “Yeah. Just staring off.” Kyle looked at the people, though his only thought was the long hall behind them.

            “Well, I’m going to work on this damned banquet. The numbers keep changing, and this is the third menu we’ve created. They keep changing their minds. I tell you, I will be happy when this one is finished.” And with that, the director seemingly excused all back to their labors.

            While they were exiting, James came up to Kyle with a question on his mind. Kyle’s name had plagued him since her heard it; Creighton, it sounded familiar. While being pestered by Hannah, he suddenly remembered it and now wanted to inquire about its relation to the old house outside of town.

            “Hey Kyle, quick question for you. Your name’s Creighton; any relation to the plantation home our route 18?” Kyle smiled. Growing up in and around Richmond caused him to get that question a lot.

            “Yeah, actually. The house is our property, our ‘ancestral home,’ as my grandfather would call it. Been in the family for centuries.” This question arose frequently, especially given the two deaths there only three months ago.

            “And those two people?” Here we go, thought Kyle. It was the same response, only spoken through different lips, time and time again.

            “A tragedy.”

            “Heard it was murder.” Alright, Kyle mused to himself, James is showing himself to be a jerk.

            “And how is that, James?” There was a subtle tone change in Kyle voice, as if the pent up frustrations of the past months were now about to explode.

            “Seemed like a strange case. Doors locked; no sign of burglary. One lady dead with a heart attack; one man with a snapped neck. Maybe it had to do with that tell-all book they were writing. Was it some sort of tell-all expose about the family history. I had thought the family would not like such a book, but hey, I’m no detective or anything.”

            “No, you are not, James. What you are is a supervisor who is treading finely on the line of insubordination.” Hannah’s sharp retort stopped him abruptly.

            “What? Insubordination? How? I’m just discussing the case. I read all about it for weeks –“

            “James, hush! Now, get your ass downstairs and find your crew. They left for lunch forty minutes ago. If they are not back here in three , I will hold you responsible.” James, snubbed by her superiority and ferocity, walked away briskly.

            Hannah looked at James as he left, then turned toward Kyle again. There, she caught it again, the sadness present in his eyes. It intrigued her and captivated her curiosity. Like blood in the water, she was drawn to his exterior display of interior emotions. Sadness, pain; did he suffer these continually, and would he if she were in his life? Hannah smiled seductively.

            “Sorry about that,” she began. “He’s been obsessed with that thing since it happened. Couldn’t get him to shut up the first week. Pay no attention to him. He has a million theories about a million topics.” Her voice was soothing to Kyle, a melody on a warm summer eve.

            “No worries. I’m used to it. The McBrides were friends of ours, and they had permission to enter the house. I miss them. And they were writing a book about my family’s,” and here he stopped, as if a silent vow resonated with his memory.

            “Your family’s what?” Hannah asked.

            “Nothing. Just old family business.” A woman knows many things, and any woman could have understood there were secrets hiding under the chiseled chin and neatly groomed hair of this man. Hannah’s mind registered the notion, but allowed it to slip for now.

            “That house is old, isn’t it? I think I heard it was one of the old plantation homes from two hundred years ago.”

            “It is,” replied Kyle. “And it’s much older than two hundred years. The original structure, which now sits inside the walls of the existing structure, dates to the late sixteen hundreds. Yeah, my family has been here that long.”

            “That’s amazing. And the name is still the same?”

            “A lot of males to pass along that old name. It’s been Creighton Hall since its inception. Now, the same is plastered on road maps, sightseeing tour brochures and in tour guides. It’s right up there with Berkley and Shirley plantations, and certainly on the register of historic places. Are you familiar with that area?”

            Hannah smiled and shook her head no. She had him talking; that was good. Now, if she could just keep him going long enough, and maneuver it in such a manner, she could learn if there was any competition for his affections.

            “The house and property used to sit on a large parcel of land, massive even. It is along the same route 18, like Berkley and Shirley, those houses being neighbors to Creighton Hall. Anyway, it’s one of the oldest plantations in the region.”

            Hannah was silently taking in the sweet cords of his voice as the rambled on about his home. She could not recite anything he had just said, but the mental massage she received from his speech calmed her, even excited her.

            “I’m sorry. I’m going on and on about that old place. As you can tell, I am proud of the estate. Don’t know if you caught that or not?” He said in a joking manner.

            “Oh, no. Totally missed that, Kyle.” She smiled at him, hoping her seductive façade would prompt a date.

            “Yep. Figured you missed it. Anyway, I guess we should get to work.”

            “Here, let me finish showing you around.” And taking Kyle by the arm, she led him into the hall. It was still dark, with various shades of gray created by the obstructed windows. Hannah began leading him into those darker shades when he stopped abruptly.

            “What?”

            “What’s down this way?”

            “This leads to our storeroom, where our linens and supplies are kept.”

            “Why are there no lights on?” he asked, looking at the ceiling with a grimace which could nearly frighten the lights into functioning again.

            “Facilities is working on the electrical in this section of the building. It should be on momentarily.”

            “Well,” Kyle began, his eyes now focused on the darkness gathering in the distance, “we’ll see it later. I mean, I don’t want one of us to trip, since the lights are out.”

            “It’s okay. With the windows there is amble light to see.”

            Kyle hesitated, then turned and broke with her arm and started for the office again. Hannah watched him, puzzled and curious as to the sudden change.

            “I should get settled in my desk now. Which one did you say was mine?”

            “It’s this one, here” she said softly, and moving past him, took her own chair and reclined in it, her eyes watching him as he nervously fumbled with the drawers. What was going on in his mind, she wondered. What is he guarding?

            Kyle, sitting at his desk, had a perfect view down the hall. There, the darkness moved angelically, seductively. If all were silent, he knew his name would be whispered.

 

            For the first few days, Kyle became acquainted with the operation of the facility and the campus. He learned his way around the many buildings, was taught the ordering and scheduling system, and came to know all of his crew members. Unlike his previous job, where temp labor was the norm, this account utilized student labor on an “on-call” basis. Kyle had three regulars: James (heaven help Kyle), Abby and Rebecca. The latter two were students and employees both, who fixed their schedules so as to be readily available for work.

            Abby was cute, with a sweet personality and an attractive face, though exceptionally quite and difficult to converse with. Rebecca was entirely different; outgoing and fun, she was slender, tall and had the grace of a ballerina. Long strands of auburn hair fell around her tanned shoulders and shaded a noble, if not Aphroditean appearance. Crystalline eyes looked out onto the world with hope and love. When the gods created Rebecca, they seemingly poured all their beauty into her form. She was more of a delicate being, though she handled herself rather well, considering the stress of the work. Rebecca met Kyle on a Tuesday, and by Friday, she was in love.

            In soft spoken whispers would Rebecca speak with Kyle. She would linger around him, subtly flattering him while trying to win a smile from his face. Kyle, far wiser than the young junior, knew of her affections and reasoned correctly that she loved him. It made him smile dryly, though he dared not ever move towards her feelings; he knew better. God help her if the stories were true.

            Hannah, meanwhile, watched all this from afar, her own vantage point not so far removed from the feelings Rebecca felt. At first, it amused her and she thought it a silly little game. After a few days, and the relentless campaign of Rebecca’s, Hannah was no longer entertained. She still had to retain a professional and managerial air, but she wanted the girl away from her man. A few soft approaches on Hannah’s part had either been missed by Kyle, or ignored. She could not tell which. With the new attraction, however, she had to pick up her pace.

            The office was quiet as Hannah worked on an event menu. Kyle was humming a tune to himself, while the door to the director’s office was closed. It was a customary, casual day with only a few lunch setups and an early evening reception. Hannah was watching Kyle as he finagled something on his computer. What was it about this man that so captivated Hannah? She questioned herself repeatedly. Was it that he was a lost prize? Was he the one that constantly ‘gets away,’ or that he was uncatchable? Did she actually yearn for his rejection? She was puzzled more over him than any other man she was ever interested in. To her, it was the greatest mystery. All she knew, however, was that she wanted him, and badly.

            Kyle was completely oblivious to Hannah’s stare. She had forgotten her work momentarily and was engulfed in his image. The way he stared, with those eyes gleaming, simply drove her wild. At times, when he wasn’t preoccupied with some inner thought, that same thought which always haunted him, he had about him a boyish charm which made him appear youthful and innocent. She liked that.

            “So Kyle,” she began, “what are your plans for the evening?” It was a straight shot, indeed. She had tired many times before, but he always managed to elude her. Now, she was going for the jugular.

            “Plans,” he said absentmindedly, “nothing much.”

            “Oh? Well, take me out for a drink tonight.” The trap was sprung; he was caught.

            “Drink?” Now Hannah had his full attention. Did he find Hannah attractive? The answer was undoubtedly yes, very much so, but he had to have restraint and reserve. It was the only safe means, safe for both of them.

            “You know, I would love to, but I’ve got some errands to run after work. Maybe next time.” And he buried his face in his screen again. Hannah, meanwhile, stood from her desk and slowly made her way to the door, a frown growing on her face. If it was a game he wanted, it was a game he was going to get. The rules, however, were made by her.

            “Okay. Next time. But when next time comes, you’re mine.” She smiled seductively at him as she exited. He smiled back. When she had left, his face fell into his hands. His stomach, twisted by the many months of sleepless nights, and days long with torment, shook violently, making him feel as if he were going to vomit. Why is life so cursed for me, he wondered. Why, of all the families to ever haunt the earth, why did mine receive such a curse upon it? And damned the curse,’ he continued. What if it isn’t real? What proof do I really have? Why can’t I be happy?

            Kyle stared at the entrance, his eyes absorbing the presence Hannah left behind. He sighed, then looked back at his computer. The screen had gone black from inactivity. When he looked at it, something moved briskly behind him. He saw it; it was quick and disappeared in an instant.

            Spinning around wildly, he faced only the wall a few feet from him. Kyle stood quickly and hit his desk. What the hell was that, he thought. He searched the office for anyone, but knew that if anyone were behind him, he would have seen them enter first.

            The room itself was the picture of tranquility, as only the air conditioning hummed lightly. Small blades of light sliced through the half shuttered windows, casting shadows over the linoleum flooring. Kyle was alone, one man standing against all the noise silence can bring to bear.

            Taking one step, then another, Kyle slowly moved away from his desk and began searching the far corners. He was not so much looking for people, as he knew none were present, as he was searching for something. Every shape or shadow caught his attention. He knew the stories; he understood how it moved. With all the lore locked away in his cavernous recollection, Kyle felt formidable. His eyes, peering around the office, missed little to nothing as he took the room in.

            Several moments passed with nothing happening. After the silence sat on his shoulders long enough, Kyle began to feel foolish. Shaking his head, he took a step in the direction of his desk. He had traveled nearly across the room.

            Kyle reached his desk and stopped to look at a file on top. It was for the homecoming brunch, an event he was not so eager to do. He had just picked up the folder when a pile of papers rushed off his desk and scattered across the floor. The movement was quick, like a forceful swipe sent the papers to their fall. Kyle froze, and the hair on his neck stood on end.

            What the hell was that? he nervously asked himself. No wind moved in so forceful a manner as to propel the papers. He had hit no papers and unbalanced no stacks. Kyle only lifted one folder, and yet nearly the surface of his desk was exposed now.

            For several long minutes he stared at the rubbish on the floor, thinking whether to pick it up or leave it as evidence. Few would believe him; that much he knew. No evidence in the world would assuage anyone’s disbelief. He, and a few select relatives, were heirs to this curse, heirs alone.

            As he bent to pick up the papers, a breeze wafted over him. It felt soft, and carried on it a most sweet scent. In its trail it left his own name lingering in his ear. That was too much for Kyle, and, leaving the mess, he stormed out the door. He had gotten nearly to the entrance when from around the corner Hannah appeared.

            At first sight she knew he was troubled. Anyone could have seen as much by the sweat droplets on his forehead and the crazed look in his eyes. Tension marked his facial features. She was startled, but regained herself quickly as Kyle passed her. 

            Trying to make a joke, she turned and said “Looks like you could use that drink now.” That was when Kyle erupted, his body in the gap left by the open door.

            “No. Listen, just leave me alone with the drink. Shit’s happening and I don’t need any drink right now, or tomorrow, or whenever. Please, just leave me alone. I need distance from…everyone. You’ll be smart to keep clear of me. I’m sorry, but please, just leave me alone.” And with that, he disappeared behind the closing door.

            The door closed in Hannah’s face.

The Most Awesome Post Ever

This is my totally awesome update. Why is it totally awesome? Well, I titled it that so people would actually read it. It’s a ploy; I’m sorry. You were tricked, your mind falling right into my trap. I will try to make this as awesome as I can, provided you are still reading. A lot has been going on since my last post. I am reading from a wonderful poet, and will be sharing her links, so you guys can read, too. I am also participating in a blog tour, where I will be reviewing and sharing an author’s new book. It’s awesome, trust me.

First, the poet is Peyton Heart, and if her name doesn’t catch your attention, the realistic and heart-felt nature of her work will. I have read nearly every poem in her Collection of Hearts, and although I have no familiarity with poetry, her style and unabashed forwardness with feelings is powerful and gripping, as is some of her imagery. She bares her feelings when she constructs her first work and in reading it, you will feel your heart tugged. There is joy of union, bliss in love, agony at separation and dismay in disloyalty. Based on life experiences, the book unfolds her life before us all, her words oscillating between happiness and sadness.

Check out her works at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/peyton-heart/a-collection-of-hearts/paperback/product-20504135.html;jsessionid=FFE1FD3F0B7B844F206F67805F49A6BA?mid=social_facebook_pubsharefb
Her facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/ClasssyLove?ref=hl

Now, onto the blog tour. I will be sharing my blog with author Charity Parkerson and her book, The Adonis. I will reveal her work in a blog devoted to a review. This is my first opportunity to participate in such a tour. I have read about them and seen them many times, but never have I had the opportunity to actually march along with fellow bloggers in the parade. It is exciting, and I am overjoyed to help promote Charity’s book. We have come to know one another through the various social mediums, and she has done much to extend my readership. Tis only fair I return the favor.

You can expect more developed and in-depth reviews of both Peyton’s and Charity’s works. I want to take time to digest Peyton’s poems and move through some of my favorites, line by line. That is how her works should be taken: syllable by syllable. Once I have everything ready, I will render a review of Charity’s story as well. Look for those soon.

Finally, I have the second chapter of the Succubus Project completed, and will be editing it (lightly) and posting it here for all of you to read. I welcome any comments from you. The second chapter is still moving the plot along. No one dies yet, but by chapter three, heads will roll. You see, the succubus is very jealous of her man, wants him all to herself. Anyone who gets in the way will be…removed….as quickly as possible. Just wait.

That is all for now. As always, I appreciate your reading this.

A Tough Time Writing

Okay, I will cut to the chase: writing the first, and successive pages  of my succubus  project has been difficult. Why, you ask? Aren’t you a writer, and this stuff should come easily to you? Well, yes, it should, but writing in the third person is something I have not done in many years, and something now that is slightly tripping me up. The first chapter of the project is on line now (you can see it in my previous blog), and the following pages (Ch. 2) will be up soon. The story is in the third person, and I admit I am not used to writing in that fashion.

If you have any familiarity with my works, you will know that almost all of my writings are in the first person, and often involve deep reflective nuances. As the storyteller, I dive deep into the psyche of my own mind, neglecting any other elements. I explore only my inner workings; perhaps I am exploring my own mind and not that of the character. That might be a story in itself. That is how I write, and so, when I decided to change things up a little and go with a new approach, I found it hard. I have spent so much of my writing career focusing on my first person approach, that now I find it nearly sinful to actually enter a second or third character’s head. I know I have the freedom to do so, and the ability to maneuver around a bit from person to person, but I still default to only one point of view.

I never thought there would be an issue until I got into the second chapter and realized how much the story seemed to be lagging. At times I found the ms to be reading like a stage script: “first, he went here. Then he stopped, and looked around….” and so on and so forth. I caught myself and started putting thoughts in people’s heads. I tried to revamp the writing a little. I will have to edit it heavily when the time comes. I just never thought it would be such a challenge for me.

Other than that, the story is coming along rather well. I have a good length behind me now, and plenty to do before I am finished. If you have not read the first chapter yet, check it out. It is the post prior to this one. And leave a comment; I always appreciate the comments.

I am off for now. Wish me luck!

The First Chapter of My Latest Novel

Greetings Everyone. I have something new I am going to try here. As I write my latest novel, I am going to publish chapters of it here for you amusement. I am eager for you to read this story, and welcome any feedback you may render. Keep in mind this text has only been roughly edited. I edit the ms fully when it is complete, always thrice, and with great detail. So, what you will see here is indeed a WIP, or work in progress. I hope you enjoy it. And now, without any more fanfare, here is the First Chapter of my Novel.

Chapter 1

The rain on the roof top echoed throughout the Creighton House. It fell violently like a torrent, and with purpose, as if by a deluge it meant to pound the old relic into obscurity. The darkness, bleak as the caverns of the earth, could do little to soften the onslaught; it merely sat by, watching and waiting for the final death stroke to fall.

Inside, the dry atmosphere, sheltered from the recent downpour, witnessed another storm. A thud, then a panicked scream and loud footsteps were heard pounding away at the upper level. Ages halls heard life for the first time in decades, life that was scurrying around in a frantic manner, racing against the gathering strength of the storm and the building darkness.

A man fumbled with a door latch, and once it was ajar, he thrust himself through the entrance and into the hallway. Behind him was the old master bedroom, and on the floor, a dark mass hidden behind the shades of night which fell on the unlit room. The man moved awkwardly, as if age had disabled his graceful gait; but move he did, and through the hall he raced madly, an occasional eye glancing over his shoulder and toward the room he just vacated.

He was about to reach the staircase when he lunged forward, his foot catching on some object on the floor. The man fell forward and tumbled onto the creaky boards, his scream echoing in the ancestral halls.

Behind him, the hinges of the bedroom door slowly squeaked as the door swung lifelessly. The man, though he carried a flashlight with him, dared not turn it on. The darkness, although concealing, was to him a layer of protection, as such is a blanket to a small child.

Reaching quickly for the banister, he managed to pull himself up to his knees just as something emerged from the room. The rain was deafening but he swore he could hear its footfalls as the emerging darkness took shape. Screaming, he pulled himself up and started down the stairs. He knocked down a portrait, missed his footing and started to topple forward. The man tried to retain his balance, but his speed, and the fear which propelled him sent him falling forward. Arms reached out to both banisters, but that was not enough to salvage his descent. The man fell, his old frame rolling down the wooden steps to the first landing.

The house yields to the pounding storm, and the groaning of the boards falls gently upon the ears of the man. He opened his eyes and was thankful his visibility was limited, as he knew everything would be blurry. Sharp pains suddenly rushed through his body. There was stiffness and aching, and one leg was bent under another. His head, also, felt moist; was it perspiration, or were small droplets of blood gathering on the landing around his head?

A shaky hand feels for the liquid, but a movement above him catches his attention, and he remembers his quest for the door. His energy is roused, and he slowly but deliberately pulls his beaten body up. One leg is still strong; the other is of no use.

He manages to gain a somewhat standing position, partially from the assistance of the banister, but when he looks up the stairs, his eyes grow wild with fear again. The man has lost much time – precious time – and now he will be slower than before. A subtle groan and he starts to slide toward the end of the landing. Haste governs him, but his rate of speed pleases him little, and coupled with the pain, only adds to his mental and physical misery.

The first step is reached, but it is only with difficulty. The man’s leg has to be dragged along, and now the problem presents itself as to his descending the final stretch. He throws a glance up the stairs, screams when something moves above him, and decides to plunge ahead. Gripping the handrail, he forces his body to move forward and onto the step.

The darkness still covers him, but now he can feel something behind him, that old sixth sense penetrating his mind once more and alerting him of a presence. He landed roughly on the step and managed to maintain his position. The door was insight; it stood only yards from him now. Outside would be his car and his escape.

Still gripping the banister like a lifeline, he moves to the second step. Blood, or what he only guesses is blood, trickles into his eye. There is little time to wipe it away, and doing so would mean he would lose his grip. But his vision is so obscured that he is forced to act, and so he hastily raises a hand to his face. The liquid dampens his fingers as he smears it on the side of his face, wiping clear his eye. His other arm is shaking but he stills holds tight to the handrail. Only a few more steps and he will be safe. Only a few more…

There is something behind him. His perception may have been bruised but he still recognized the presence and felt its energy move around him. He stopped. Only his breathing dared to make a noise on the stairs. Slowly, he turned his head. If death were coming, he would at least face it.

The darkness was thick, but something darker, some presence deeper in the unearthly shades of night, stood there behind him. All of his fear surmounted his mind, washing away his strength, his courage and even his desire for escape. He could not think; he could not act. It was like he was paralyzed upon those stairs, his body now controlled by the fickle whims of the Fates. He shivered as a slender branch of the darkness rested upon his shoulder, then screamed as his body was tossed forward into the unceasing and endless cavern of space. He tumbled and rolled, as he did previously though more violently, until his body landed on the floor.

The floor upon which he landed was the oldest section of flooring in the house, its planks having been laid in the late sixteen hundreds. Now, his battered body stained the ancient wood with his blood.

He awoke with a shock, and quickly surveyed the area around him. All seemed quiet. The pain he first gained with his initial fall only increased, and a severe dizziness plagued him. The whole house spun wildly and he became overwhelmed with the intensity of his agony. Steps fell softly behind him, steps which awakened him to his situation once again.

The man knew he had to move, and quickly. Both legs were not working properly, but he still had the use of his arms, and with them he began to pull himself to the door. He was frantic and scared and very much moved in that manner, with his elbows propping up his body and dragging him along.

His progress was slow, but he still managed to gain the hall table before a noise caught his attention. One board yielded to pressure and gave out a cry. He heard it and stopped. One step, then another brought something to his side. His face turned upward and he peered into his fate. The door was an arm’s reach away. The handle was visible, and if he moved quickly enough, he could open the door. It was not much of a plan, given the proximity of the shadow, but it was better than no plan at all.

There was definite shape to the shadow now, and before his eyes, he thought he saw the hem of a dress brushing the floor. It gathered and bunched near him, as if the shadow were kneeling.

With his last reserve of strength, he thrust his body upward and grabbed the handle. As he fell, the doorknob turned and he was able to partially pull the door open. A gush of chilled air rushed into the foyer, and the strong wind forced the door into the house. The air was welcomed as a sign of freedom, and with renewed strength he pushed his body through the opening.

He was desperately clawing at the stone steps, hoping to pull himself entirely through, when a sudden force sucked him back into the house. Only a solitary scream was cut short by the forceful slamming of the front door.

 

Why Every Writer Should Use An Outline

Greetings Everyone. Well, we passed the election season. I am pleased with the outcome, but more pleased with the exhibition of democracy once again. Half of the country is not happy with the final result, but there is no protesting, no violence and no hostile confrontations. We have shown ourselves to be people of character once more. Also, please keep our friends up north (the North East of the United States) in your thoughts and prayers, as they are bracing against another storm, heavy snowfalls and clean up.

Well, onto the writing part. It’s been a busy time here, with the editing of the compilation and the preparation for writing my next novel. I worked today on the short story compilation, An Oval Portrait, and now I am looking over my outline for the coming work, the succubus project. I have 3/4s of the story laid out, and now I am ready to work. For me, there is a lot of benefit to this outlining system, as I do not need to think page by page what is going to happen next .I honestly think every writer should outline their  works before they begin. For me, it’s simply a must. In this blog I’m going to share why every writer should outline.

First, the writer will have the complete story before them. Imagine driving a great distance and only receiving the directions in five mile spurts? I doubt that would be fun. When a writer outlines, they have their entire roadmap in front of them all the time. Like I said earlier, I have 3/4s of mine finished, and will complete it soon. I like being able to see the whole project in one glance. It helps one to think and visualize what needs to be done.

Second, with the project outlined, the writer can work their way through any mishaps before actually writing it out. I noticed when I created my outline, that I needed some friends for the characters, and a few additional scenes to act as filler and give depth. Had I not had my outline to work with, I would have had to return to those “gaps” and fill them in after the writing was completed. I was glad I realized it before I started the project.

Third, I can “come and go” with my project anytime I want and I seldom forget my train of thought, since the bulk of it is already written out in the outline form. For so long, I would wrestle with a stopping point, or have to fight to remember where I was venturing with a certain scene. Now, those pains are all but gone. I can start, stop and start again without wasting time remembering what I desired to do with the chapter.

Fourth, using an outline will keep the writer focused and roped in on the subject, instead of running down rabbit holes. Too many times I have read stories that have felt cumbersome and elongated by unnecessary scenes that did nothing to advance the plot. An outline will keep the writer narrowed in on the subject matter. Can one still wander around in a field of literary lilies? Yes, but with an outline, it will happen less often.

Using an outline is perhaps the best and smartest thing an author can do with their story. Some may not use it, preferring to “fly by the seat of their pants,” and that is okay, although I do not recommend it. Use an outline and keep your story in-line. Your works will improve and your readers will love you for it.

The Oval Portrait

Time for another post! This time, I am sharing with you some very exciting news. You may have seen some of my posts regarding my short story compilation. Well, it’s no lie; there is a short story compilation in the works, and it shall bear the appellation of An Oval Portrait. If you know your literature, you will recognize the title as one which belongs to a work of Poe’s. It is my favorite story, and what I believe is a fitting title for my collection. Like the painter in the story, I have put so much of myself into this collection, that I nearly feel like I am passing into the compilation now. The painter, when he finished his oval portrait of his bride, exclaimed that it was indeed life. I can look at this work now and nearly exclaim the same. I am very excited about this project and very proud.

I wanted to compile my works for so long, and finally the time has come. The stories cover a time-period in my writing from 2006 – early 2012. I have placed them in chronological order, so one can follow the major themes and developments in my writing. I even found it amazing to compare my earlier writings to
the one just completed; the changes have been interesting. Maybe I have become a stronger writer; maybe I have grown darker? Either way, there will certainly be a progression present. You can decide for yourself what you find.

Each story will be accompanied by a brief introduction. I will focus on some of the themes found in the work and share with you some interesting bits of information about each short story. I think that would make for more interesting and insightful reading instead of boring, text-bookish openings. Among the openings, you will see how some of the stories originally got their start, like the work, Perpetually Seven, which came from a sickness I had while touring Beijing, China. You will also learn about another story that was originally written for a ballet company. I desire for the introductions to be fun and informative, not systematic and dull.

So, as you can see, I have a great deal of enthusiasm for this collection. It will take me a few more days to fully edit it and prepare it for the readership. I am considering a few ideas for the cover, but have not settled on anything as of yet. I will share the cover images with you once we have them nailed down.

Well, that is all for now. Thanks for reading.