Thursday, October 1, 2015

Random Paranormal Tales Part 1

Murderous Requiem by Jamie Fessenden
Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant.

Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.

Westford Hall by Lisa Worrall
Westford Hall lies back from the quad, quiet and empty. A dark reminder of the horrific murder of six members of the Tri Delta brotherhood thirty years ago, and the subject of Ethan's thesis.
Ethan Reece is in his second year of Professor Allen's paranormal psychology class, and is hoping to be the first to establish documented proof that Westford Hall is haunted. 

Hiring the university's best photography student to help with the investigation, Ethan is disappointed when he has to be replaced after an accident. Which is how he finds himself saddled with the university's best stoner instead. 

Daniel Cartwright comes from money. He won't deny it. Why should he? More than aware of the reputation he has on campus, he ambles through life with the help of his parents. At least that's what everyone thinks. When his friend breaks his leg and volunteers him to assist the biggest nerd on campus with his spooky investigation, Dan is not exactly ecstatic.

Thrown together by fate; to their surprise the two young men find they are drawn together by mutual attraction, but that's not the only surprise awaiting them in Westford Hall. Coming face to face with an actual ghost, they uncover a story of murder, deceit and despair that leaves them facing a danger they were not prepared for.

A great little mystery blended with romance, ghosts, and comedic bickering than you usually expect. for the genre  Not everyone enjoys instant connections but as long as it fits the story and the characters I find it very enjoyable and that's what we have with Ethan and Dan.  Sure they argue but you know that the heated words and attitude they share is powered by something much more.  Throw in murder and ghosts and you have a great little novella to add to your paranormal library.


Call of the Night Singers by Ari McKay
When Garland Heatherford is named heir to his uncle’s vast fortune, he isn’t pleased by the honor, and with good reason. The last five heirs all met with most untimely deaths. – four of them from drowning. Although loathe to accept his inheritance, Garland nevertheless travels to the “cursed” town of Bath, North Carolina, to meet his aged uncle, hoping to avoid the fate of his predecessors. But Garland has something in his favor the other heirs didn’t: his lover, Geoffrey Wainwright.

The sight of the decaying hulk of Heatherford House dismays both men, yet they have little choice but to enter a world where a miasma of horror lies beneath a veneer of breeding, and madness and death seem to lurk in every corner. Ruling over all is the presence of sinister Roderick Heatherford, who has managed to outlive five young, healthy heirs despite his allegedly poor health. When an unexpected illness strikes Garland and he begins to sleepwalk, lured from bed by singing only he can hear, Geoffrey resolves to protect Garland from every danger – even if it costs him his own life.

Call of the Night Singers had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  A great addition to anyone's paranormal library under horror.  Now when I say "horror" most people tend to think of the slasher films that have become popular in Hollywood since the '80s, although to me this is so much better than that because it reminds me more of the classics of the genre where blood, gore, and fear are implied with emotions.  Your insides will be all balled up waiting to see if Garland and Geoffrey make it out alive.


His Gift by Clare London
Steven Macklin wakes up in a ditch one morning in foul, wet weather with no idea where he is or how he came to be there. Seriously injured, he struggles across bleak heathland to find shelter. The only house he finds is weather-beaten and deserted, although he's too sensible a guy to fall for the cliche of a haunted mansion.

Isn't he?

When he collapses and is taken in by the handsome Eliot, Steven finds himself in a very disturbing situation -- and in the bed of this strange, possessive man.

A Demon Inside by Rick R Reed
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter's terror. 

Murder in Requiem by Jamie Fessenden
I KNEW his voice. Even after eight years, it was familiar and ordinary, as if he were just calling to see if I wanted him to pick up something on the way home. I knew it was Bowyn, though he’d said nothing more than “Hey, it’s me.”

That’s how he always began a phone conversation. At least, with me.

“Who is this?”

“Come on, Jeremy. Don’t play games.”

I sighed and dropped the pretense. “All right, Bowyn. What can I do for you?”

“I need to see you. It’s important.”

I was embarrassed by the fact that I’d become instantly erect at the thought of seeing him again and thanked God he wasn’t there to see the tent in my bathrobe. It had been almost a decade, but the mere sound of that soft, smooth voice was enough to make me horny as hell. I wanted him. I wanted him as badly as I had every day we’d been together.

But the memory of Seth quenched my desire as though someone had tossed a bucket of ice water on my crotch. Bowyn had made his choice.

“I don’t think that would be a good—”

“Seth has acquired a document,” he rushed ahead, trying to stop me from hanging up. “One that you’ll want to see.”

The mention of that name further cemented my resolve. “I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the time.”

“An original manuscript by Ficino,” Bowyn went on as if I hadn’t spoken. “And it includes a mass written in four-part harmony.”

Marsilio Ficino was a fifteenth-century philosopher and doctor responsible for translating the complete works of Plato from Greek into Latin and well-known for his own writings on philosophy and magic, including works on the healing properties of music. I’d done my master’s thesis on Ficino. Bowyn had helped me organize my notes and critiqued several of my drafts.

“It’s a fake, Bowyn. Ficino wrote about music and he composed some pieces for the lyre, but he never wrote anything as complex as a polyphonic mass.”

“We can’t know for certain that it was written by him—not yet—but it does date to the late fifteenth century,” Bowyn explained patiently. “Seth has someone in Greece working on a translation of the libretto, but he needs someone with your expertise to transcribe the Renaissance musical notation into modern notation.”

“Greece?” I asked.

“The libretto is in ancient Greek.”

It wasn’t impossible. Ficino had known ancient Greek, of course. But most of his work had been written in an archaic Italian dialect, and the text of a mass—the libretto—would generally be in Latin.

“Maureen?” Our friend Maureen had helped us with ancient Greek translations when we were in college.

“No. We couldn’t track her down. But we found a professor at the University of Crete who was willing to do it.”

I grabbed a mug from the kitchen cupboard, filled it with water, and set it in the microwave. It was more for something to do, to stop my hands from shaking, than a desperate need for tea.

“Ficino was a skilled musician and singer,” I protested. “But a polyphonic mass…?”

“That’s why we need you, Jeremy. You’re the only one Seth trusts for this.”

“Why me?”

“Because you’re one of the Brethren.”

I slammed the box of tea I’d taken from the cupboard down on the counter, my temper flaring. “I am not one of the goddamned Brethren!”

Bowyn laughed gently. The bastard had always found it cute when I lost my temper.

“Damn it, Bowyn! How many years do I have to put between me and that place before Seth will acknowledge that I’m gone?”

“You know how he is,” he responded soothingly. “He considers you family, no matter what.”

I bit back an angry response. He was right. Seth was incapable of processing the idea that anyone could ever leave him. At a fundamental level, he was convinced that everyone adored him. Once I had adored him….

That I was capable of doing the transcription, I had no doubt. Earlier in the week, I’d been in London, where I’d been transcribing Renaissance musical pieces at the British Museum for a planned article on performance variations. It was a demanding task—the notation was very different from modern musical notation, and damage to a manuscript often rendered sections difficult or impossible to read. Educated guesses had to be made to fill in the gaps. But I had years of experience and I was good at it.

It’s impossible to describe to someone who isn’t as fanatical about Renaissance music as I am just how my pulse started racing at the idea of working with an untranslated, untouched original document by Marsilio Ficino. Perhaps not as mind-blowing as it would be for a Christian scholar to get his hands on something written by one of the apostles… but pretty close. Bowyn knew me and knew I would never be able to resist bait like that.

But I’d closed the door on my life at the Temple, and I had no desire to reopen it. I made one last attempt to at least keep myself safely rooted in Durham, rather than make the trip up north. “Look, Bowyn, if Seth really wants me to work on this, have him e-mail me high-resolution photos—”

“You’re taking the semester off to work on a paper,” Bowyn chided. “The receptionist in the music department told me that.”

“Vivian needs to stop giving information to strangers on the phone.”

“We only need you for a week, Jeremy. Maybe two. You’ll know better than me once you’ve had a look at it. I’ll be at your place tomorrow afternoon to pick you up.”

Then he hung up while I was still trying to think of a response. The bastard knew he’d won. I’d never been able to deny him anything.

Except once.

Chapter One
THE next morning, I tried to work on the paper I’d been researching, but it was a lost cause. The thought of Bowyn showing up on my doorstep in a few hours had my stomach in knots. All the hell we’d gone through eight years earlier—all the arguments, all the failed attempts to get him to understand why I couldn’t go on the way things were—kept flooding back to me.

That and an odd dread that once we saw each other, I’d see how much he’d changed. Perhaps he’d let himself go; cut off that beautiful long blond hair I’d loved running my fingers though, or lost it to a receding hairline. What if I just didn’t find him attractive anymore? I hadn’t realized until this moment that part of me had been harboring a faint hope that we could someday reconcile, even after all this time. What if seeing Bowyn proved that it was finally and absolutely over?

It was late October, which could get pretty cold in southern New Hampshire, but today was warm. So I took one of the best books I had on musical settings of the Catholic mass in the early Italian Renaissance out to the front porch and sat there nursing a cup of strong Irish tea while I read. The fresh air and the vivid oranges, reds, and yellows of maples and oaks along Riverside Drive calmed me.

The car that came down the street shortly after two o’clock must have belonged to Seth, unless Bowyn had changed completely from the man I’d known. It was some kind of sports car—I couldn’t tell one from another—sleek and low to the ground, with the convertible top down. Not red, like the clichéd midlife crisis vehicle, but gun-metal gray.

Bowyn was behind the wheel, and I could tell, even before he’d pulled into the driveway and eased his lanky body out of the car, that he hadn’t changed at all. Not physically, anyway.

Even at thirty-five, he was still naturally athletic, dressed in torn jeans and a plain T-shirt that was stretched taut by well-defined stomach and chest muscles that I knew had never seen a gym. His beautiful, sensuous face was framed by long, straight blond hair that hung nearly to his waist and didn’t have a trace of gray that I could see. He was running around barefoot, as though he were still a rebellious college student.

“You’re supposed to wear shoes when you’re driving,” I said, standing as he pulled off his shades to reveal amazing, clear blue eyes.

Bowyn laughed, sauntering up the walkway. “Are you going to give me a detention, Professor?”

“We don’t give detentions in college.”

“Then how about a spanking?”

I groaned. How I was going to survive a week or more in his company, I couldn’t imagine. The mere sight of him made me want to ravish him, right there on the porch, in front of all my neighbors. There had been a time when I might have done it. But Seth had come between us and he was still there.

It wasn’t exactly that Bowyn had left me for Seth. We’d both been Seth’s lovers at one point. When I left, I’d expected Bowyn to come with me—after all, we’d been a couple long before Seth took over our lives. But he chose to stay with the Temple—and with Seth.

“You look good,” Bowyn said more seriously, climbing the few wooden steps that separated us and reaching out to trace his fingers lightly along my upper arm. Against my will, I shivered at his touch.

I’d never had the body he had, but apart from a little graying at the temples, I supposed he was right about me not having changed much either. Still thin. Still the same short, dark-brown hair and argyle sweaters. Bowyn used to tease me about looking like a professor long before I’d actually become one.

I stepped back from him—just a bit, but enough for him to get the message. What that message was, exactly, even I wasn’t sure. It certainly wasn’t “not interested.” Perhaps it was “slow down.” I still needed to wrap my head around what was happening.

He dropped his hand.

“I guess we can go now,” I said.

I’d packed a bag, so I stepped inside to get it, leaving Bowyn to wait on the porch. I knew full well that I’d be staying at the Temple. There was no way Seth would let me stay at a local hotel. I wasn’t his slave, of course, but there were some things it just wasn’t worth fighting over. Besides, the Temple was far enough off the beaten path that staying in a hotel would be impractical.

“Did you make arrangements for someone to feed your cats?” Bowyn asked as we climbed into the convertible.

“What on earth made you think I owned cats?”

“A dog, then?”

“No. No pets.”

Bowyn shifted the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway. “Your boyfriend’s allergic to animals?”

I rolled my head in his direction to give him a sour look. “Subtle.”

“You like that?” he asked, flashing me the cheeky grin I’d always found so adorable. “I thought it up on the ride down.”

“No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”

Bowyn laughed. “Well, that’s good. Because you’ll be rooming with me while you’re at the Temple.”

That figured. But even though it wasn’t a surprise, it still ticked me off.

“And fucking you, I presume?”

“I certainly hope so.”

While I was mulling over a response to that one, Bowyn threw the car in first gear and we shot out of the comfortable suburban cul-de-sac I lived in, heading north toward the White Mountains… and the Temple.

The Temple was a large plot of land Seth had purchased about twenty years ago, just northwest of Berlin, New Hampshire. The grounds contained a large old Victorian… well, we might as well call it a manor house. A wealthy mill owner had built it sometime in the eighteen hundreds and it reflected the opulence of the period. The place was enormous. In addition to housing Seth and his “family”—something that was a bit difficult to define—it now served as living quarters for most of the Order. There was also a chapel on the grounds, along with a stable converted to a garage, and a number of other outbuildings.

“Are you still with Seth?” I asked as we flew up Route 16 to Conway and then continued north toward Berlin. It was a bit blunt, but if he was planning on me sharing his room—and his bed—for the next several days, we needed to get a few things clear.

Obviously, Bowyn still lived with Seth. But he knew what I meant. He laughed and shook his head. “Not much. He has a new boy toy now. Rafe. Seth picked him up in Munich last year.”

“Munich… Germany?”

“He’s what a less kind person might call ‘Eurotrash’,” Bowyn replied good-naturedly. “Bumming around Europe, burning through what’s left of his inheritance—his parents have both passed away. Seth was there for the manuscript auction where he bought the Ficino and somehow they hooked up. You’ll meet him. You can probably fuck him, if you play your cards right.”

But I was still back at “not much.” That was a long way from “not at all.” Likewise, the fact that Bowyn wanted to have sex with me probably meant very little, other than he still found me attractive. That was good to know, but clearly he was still caught up in the sexual excesses of the Temple that had been part of my reason for leaving.

I should point out that I don’t actually disapprove of the casual sex that goes on at the Temple. I’d participated in it when I was there and I’d enjoyed it. It was just that I’d wanted more—some kind of… stability… permanence. Bowyn hadn’t. And that was what had finally hurt enough to drive me away.

Bowyn glanced at me briefly and gave me a gentle, sympathetic smile before returning his attention to the road. “Hey if you really don’t want to stay with me, you don’t have to.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“We don’t have to have sex. Of course. I just figured we were both adult enough to share a bed without too much drama. And there really aren’t any spare rooms available at the moment. But I’m sure Marianne would be happy to share her room, if you don’t mind sleeping on a cot.”

I ignored that last suggestion. “You know perfectly well that we will end up having sex.”

“Well,” he replied, a grin lighting up his handsome face, “I was hoping. Is that so bad?”

Was it? A lot of people might think so. But we were on our way back to the Temple, where casually jumping into bed with whoever happened to be willing was the norm. I was the odd duck there. I always had been.

Something stopped me from insisting on another room, even if it meant sharing with Marianne or somebody else—a longing for what we’d once had, perhaps, combined with the most intense feeling of desire I’d experienced since my exodus eight years ago. I wanted Bowyn, badly.

Just a scant hour or two earlier, I’d been dreading seeing him. Now that we were sitting mere inches away from each other, with him looking exactly as he had when I’d left him, I realized my desire for Bowyn hadn’t dissipated. Not at all. Nor had my feelings for him. For eight years, I’d managed to convince myself that it was over and done with. Choices had been made—by both of us—and there was no going back. But the moment I’d laid eyes on him, all those years had melted away and all my convictions seemed to have crumbled. I’d thought I could keep him at arm’s length during my stay, but now I realized I’d been foolish to think so.

So, yes, I would sleep in his room. And I would have wonderful, heart-breaking sex with the man I now knew I’d never stopped loving. Then I would leave, miserable and broken. It seemed inevitable. I just prayed the Ficino manuscript would be worth the hell I was going to go through for it.

Westford Hall by Lisa Worrall
The building stood in the far north corner of the campus like a dark specter. The moonlight bounced off the dirty glass of the windows, the half-closed shutters giving them the appearance of heavy-lidded eyes staring down on the quad. 

For thirty years it had stood empty and unloved. The accounts of the night the members of Tri-Delta lost their lives had grown as murky as the windows themselves. Truth had become distorted, embellished and changed beyond all recognition with each telling. So much so, that no one could recall what really happened in the dark. Nor that it was their own vicious, cruel prank which resulted in their deaths. Somewhere along the way that fact had been forgotten in the extolling of their virtues and the outpouring of grief from students and faculty alike. Only the long dead Tri-Delta frat boys knew the true story, but they weren’t talking. 

Were they?

An unseen figure stood at the dirt-streaked glass, staring down at the two young men approaching the neglected pile that had once been Westford Hall. He could see the electrical equipment they carried and the heavy bags they toted across their chests in true college style. They were bickering, that much was clear from his vantage point, but he couldn’t hear what was said. Sighing, he watched them mount the first steps and then disappear under the porch awning as they entered the house. He’d seen it all before. Seen versions of them before, eager to be the first to claim they had proof the empty house on campus was haunted. That the spirits of those brutally murdered that night still walked the hallowed halls, unable to rest until justice had been served.

He shook his head as he thought of their stupidity. True… Westford Hall was haunted, but not by a team of frat boys plotting their revenge. They’d all moved on… gone into the light… crossed over, whatever the hell you wanted to call it. Only he couldn’t let go. Wouldn’t let go. He sighed heavily. Not that that was strictly true either. He wasn’t alone. He could feel him. He’d never shown himself, not once in thirty years… but he knew he was there. Watching, hiding with his guilt and shame wrapped around him as tightly as the shroud he was buried in. 

Turning from the window, he listened to the noise the two intruders were making, his lips twitching as ‘loud enough to wake the dead’ skittered across his mind. He gathered all his energy and concentrated his efforts in anticipation of making a connection, hoping this time he would be heard.

Call of the Night Singer by Ari McKay
As night drew in, the weather turned worse, with thunder and lightning combining with the rain and wind. Since there was no way of knowing if O’Brien had a key to the room, I wasn’t certain if locking the door was adequate to keep him out if he decided to seek entry. I am not certain why I felt O’Brien was a threat, but some instinct warned me that O’Brien didn’t have Garland’s best interests at heart—or mine either, for that matter. Therefore when we were ready to retire, I placed a chair before the door. It might not stop O’Brien if he was truly determined, but it would at least slow him down and alert us there was mischief afoot.

Sleep was elusive for me, although Garland seemed to sink into slumber with relative ease. I lay for quite some time with my arm around his waist, staring at the window and watching the flares of lightning as they highlighted the waving branches of trees against the glass. I dozed from time to time, but I kept jerking awake, pulled back by sounds that set my nerves on edge. 

I must have succumbed to fatigue at last, for I was startled to wakefulness by some instinct that had me sitting bolt upright in the bed, my heart pounding. I was immediately aware that Garland was not in the bed with me, and it took me a moment of frantic scanning before I saw him standing before the door and trying to open it, thwarted by the chair. I sprang from the bed.

“Do you need the bathroom?” I asked softly, reaching out to touch Garland’s shoulder.

But Garland showed no signs of responsiveness; he did not even glance in my direction but continued to stare vacantly at the door and rattle the knob uselessly. I wondered if this was somnambulism, which I had read about but never before seen. Garland had never done such a thing before to my knowledge, and I was uncertain what could have triggered this event. 

I wracked my brain, trying to recall what I had read, which had been little more than speculation and old wives tales. I remembered there was something about not waking a sleepwalker, lest something unfortunate happen, yet were it not for the chair in front of the door, Garland might have already left the room and met some horrible fate. 

What vision in his mind’s eye had compelled him to leave the room? I wished to know, but I was not going to move the chair and allow him to follow the fancies of his unconscious mind into mischief. I had to find some way to wake him gently or coax his thoughts in another direction.

“Garland, you shouldn’t be wasting your strength on this. It’s cold and you’ll take a chill if you go about in bare feet. Come back to bed, and I’ll warm you. You may sleep as late as you wish. I won’t wake you early, I promise.”

But my words fell upon deaf ears. Garland stared at the door for a moment longer, and then he began to hum a strange and haunting tune that chilled my soul. Grasping the knob with both hands, he began to shake and tug on it with all his strength, his determination to escape seeming to double. 

Alarmed, I stepped forward, intending to take him by the shoulders, but I hesitated at the last moment, the half-remembered cautionary tales about sleepwalkers staying my hand. Yet if I could not force him away from the door, I’d have to coax him, and so I set out to do so.

“Where did you hear that song?” I asked, raising my voice, hoping to get his attention. “I can’t say I care for it much. It is far too melancholy. Do you remember the Chopin piece the pianist was playing when we met? I recall it well, and it has become one of my favorites because it reminds me of you, love.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I verbalized whatever came into my head, hoping that something—anything—would pull Garland’s attention from the door. I told him how much I cared for him, how much I was looking forward to Greece, to returning home, to going anywhere that wasn’t Heatherford House. Garland had always claimed to love my voice, and so I began to quote poetry to him: the sonnets of Shakespeare, the works of Byron, of Shelley, of the Greek masters. I do not know how long I stood there, talking to him, my mouth going dry with urgency to distract Garland from his attempts to leave the room.

At last, Garland let his hand fall away from the knob, and his humming faded into silence. He turned slightly as if following the sound of my hoarse voice. 

There are no words to describe my relief when Garland finally gave up his attempt to leave. Still speaking, I reached out and gently, so very gently, took him by the hand. “Let us go back to bed, love. You are still unwell. You need to sleep to get back your strength so we may leave this place.”

He was quiescent now, allowing me to lead him back to bed and bundle him beneath the covers. I did not sleep, even when I had Garland held tightly in my arms so he would not try to rise again. It was not until Garland’s body finally relaxed against me and his breathing came in the slow, steady rhythm of slumber that I finally allowed myself to draw in a breath and prepare to sleep once more.

Yet oblivion eluded me. My mind kept dwelling on Garland’s uncharacteristic nocturnal perambulation as I tried to fathom a cause for it, and the tune he had been humming lodged itself in my brain, playing again and again without ceasing. The notes followed no pattern or scale in my experience, but conveyed a sense of both melancholy and menace, and I found myself greatly disturbed by them, and even more by the mystery of where Garland could have possibly heard them in the first place.

His Gift by Clare London
He came back, in the middle of the night.

I’d obviously settled well enough into that luxurious bed, because I awoke suddenly from the depths of dreamless sleep, cushioned on a mattress that was thicker than any I’d ever slept on before. I was aware of Eliot, standing at the side of the bed and watching me. The lamps were all extinguished and he was a different shade of shadow in the dark room, backlit by a sliver of moonlight from a rare opening between the curtains. His eyes shone in the gloom, a dark, brittle gleam.

“What are you doing in my room?” I gasped. Stupid thing to say, when there were so many other things crowding my disoriented mind.

“It’s my room as well,” he replied, his voice sounding disembodied in the darkness, only the silhouette of his body in clear sight, only the white teeth of his smile glinting. “You’re my gift, so I keep you in my room.”

What? Had he been sleeping here as well? Underneath the sheets, I stretched out a hand, wondering if I could feel the evidence of another body beside me—and the mattress was warm. I realised that I was nude; I could feel the cool linen sheets clinging softly against my skin. All of it.

Oh shit, what was going on here? I felt thick-headed, as if I’d been drugged, but as far as I could remember I’d taken nothing but water since I arrived. For the first time, I wondered if this place was as unfamiliar to me as I’d originally thought. Had I been on my way here, in the first place? It would explain how Eliot seemed to know me, to expect me ... although I had no recollection of him. And what was this thing with the bedroom? My skin crawled with a mixture of astonishment and excitement. He undressed you. Undressed you, and lay beside you in this huge bed ...

I need some bloody answers, I thought, with a flash of spirit that I dragged up from somewhere in my bemused brain. I need to know where the hell I am, who this guy is, what he wants with me, what he’s done with my clothes ...

Eliot smiled again. I felt the heat of his gaze on me, and somewhere along the way I lost the will to ask any of my questions. It was like he knew exactly what I’d been thinking, knew exactly how I was feeling. I felt stripped bare of far more than my ruined shirt.

“You don’t need clothes,” he said softly, confirming my suspicions. “You’re rested now.”

“What the hell’s happening?” I moaned, my hands tightening on the edge of the sheet. I struggled to find the energy to get up.

He leaned forward and his face came into focus, the eyes as fascinating as before, his skin dappled with the shadows. Stretching out a hand to my face, he sighed, the soft pads of his fingertips pressing my lips, hushing me. “I want you. I asked for you, and you arrived. Someone beautiful, I said -- someone I can love. Just for me. Someone like you. Someone I can touch ...” His eyes glistened, as if with tears. “And now you’re rested and ready for me.”

He climbed onto the bed beside me, the mattress dipping beneath his weight.

I saw he was naked as well.

A Demon Inside
Stoketon, Wisconsin, 1845
THE WOMAN is alone in the woods, now more than ever. Above her the boughs of naked winter branches clatter together with the force of the wind. They remind her of people whispering as she passes. In the air is the promise of snow by morning, and the dark sky is cloaked with gray clouds. She peers upward, searching for the moon. But it, like so many others, has deserted her this cold night.

She kneels and sets the baby in her arms upon the hard, frozen earth. She looks down at his face, ghostly white in the pitch blackness, and a single tear drips from her eye, splashing the little face, cold and pale as polished marble. Angrily she wipes at her eye with the back of her arm, cloaked in black wool. There have been enough tears and sorrows. Enough cursing them for their neglect and fear. They could have saved him. She will not succumb any more.

Now it’s time for revenge.

She looks up once more and at last locates the moon, a sliver of pewter glowing dully before a cloud rolls over it, obscuring it once more. Bending, she lifts the child and raises him to the moon, as if in offering. She whispers words in an ancient tongue and keeps the child aloft until her arms grow weak. She sets him back down, looks one final time into his eyes, green now turned milky. One last time she strokes the chubby cheeks and runs her finger over the parted lips, which will never draw breath again.

She picks up the shovel lying next to the baby and begins to dig. Her work, damn it, is punctuated by sobs. She digs tirelessly, the shovel breaking into the hard, icy earth with precision and a force of will that is almost beyond human. At the end of her labor, there is a small trench, about three feet long and deeper than that—its sides come up to the woman’s waist. She climbs out of it, picks up her child, and gently lowers him into the grave.

“Punish them for what they’ve done to us both.”

She begins whispering furiously once more, ancient words, ancient curses. She reaches to her right, and her hand wraps around a small vial. She uncorks it and sprinkles the dark liquid on top of the child. It is black, wine-colored when the moon reveals its hue.

She wipes her hands on her coat. “Avenge us, my son.” She picks up the shovel again and begins the hard work of refilling the hole. It’s easier once she can no longer see her boy. By the end of her toil, she is drenched in sweat, no longer cold, even though the first flakes of a winter storm have begun to fall and the sky has begun to lighten in the east.

She stoops to cover the little grave with pine needles and leaves, then stands and wipes her hands on her billowing black coat. In the forest a wolf howls. She hurries away from the grave, passing a sign as she goes.

Anton Beaumont, Owner

Author Bios:
Jamie Fessenden
Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school's literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn't until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several screenplays and directed a few of them as micro-budget independent films. He then began writing novels and published his first novella in 2010. 

After nine years together, Jamie and Erich have married and purchased a house together in the wilds of Raymond, New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them on a nightly basis. Jamie recently left his "day job" as a tech support analyst to be a full-time writer.

Lisa Worrall
Thank you for reading and taking the time to review and/or rate. It's jaw-dropping to me that you would do either. I feel a bit like Sally Field in her famous Oscar speech "You like me - you actually like me"

I live in a small seaside town just outside London, on the South Coast of England that boasts the longest pier in the world; where I am ordered around by two precocious children and a dog who thinks she's the boss of me.

I've been writing seriously for three years now and love giving voice to the characters warring to be heard in my head, and am currently petitioning for more hours in the day, because I never seem to have enough of them.

I like nothing more than bringing together two people in interesting and sometimes bizarre ways, and hope that the readers enjoy the characters' journey as much as they and I do.

Ari McKay
Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who collaborate on original m/m fiction. They began writing together in 2004 and finished their first original full length novel in 2011. Recently, they’ve begun collaborating on designing and creating costumes to wear and compete in at Sci Fi conventions, and they share a love of yarn and cake.

Arionrhod is an avid costumer, knitter, and all-around craft fiend, as well as a professional systems engineer. Mother of two human children and two dachshunds who think they are human, she is a voracious reader with wildly eclectic tastes, devouring romance novels, military science fiction, horror stories and Shakespeare with equal glee. She is currently preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

Clare London
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

Rick R Reed
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). His novel, Raining Men, won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary General Fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, "a writer that doesn't disappoint." Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever "at work on another novel."

Jamie Fessenden

Lisa Worrall

Ari McKay

Clare London

Rick R Reed

Murderous Requiem

Westford Hall

Call of the Night Singers

His Gift

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out :). I never tire of looking at that cover... :)