Caption - by Victoria Blake 12-27-14

image by Elizabeth Gad
"Such a beautiful image - I can feel her sorrow.

"This was their place, where they would sit cradled by soft moss talking about their future; now it is her place to feel him. She comes here when she can stand the desolation in her heart no more. He knows when she is here and speaks to her; it is the only comfort she feels now he is gone."

~Victoria Blake

31derful Words

Have you dreamed of seeing your words in print?
Lyle Dagnen scholarship fund

2015 can see that dream realized when you resolve to start the New Year by participating in the 31derful Words challenge hosted by la Vie Sirene magazine & E. Gads Hill Press.

Inspired by the out-of-this-world, wonderful NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) program, 31derful Words challenges all lovers of words to put them down... and get them published.

Here's how it works:
  • Write a total of thirty-one thousand words in the month of January, 2015
  • Words may be scattered across a number of categories (see below)
  • All who have written 31,000 words by day's end January 31, 2015 will be invited to enter their names in a drawing for the prize of a self-published work sold through Amazon -- one name per category, please.  This activity is made possible by E. Gads Hill Press and the Lyle Dagnen scholarship fund.  (We  may or may not set up a crowdfund site for it.)
  • If your name is not selected for complimentary self-publishing, we can still help you self-publish on Amazon for a very, very nominal fee.
  • All participants will be encouraged to join our Facebook event page where we will share our progress throughout the month

  • Fiction: short stories, children's book, a novella, part of a novel
  • Non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Article for la Vie Sirene magazine
  • Film Script
  • Stage play

Questions?  Feel free to harass us at

Fall 2014 Submissions

Friends, we're now open to Fall submissions of your stories, poems and all manner of whatnot. Whether you're new to writing or a seasoned pro in the mood to write something short & sweet, let us share your cherished words.

Caption - 23 May 2014

by Lyle Dagnen

The rain kept the leaves from making a sound as the little girl came to the stature and fell on her knees to pray.

She whispered, "Please help Daddy and Mama come to find me."

As tears slipped between her closed eyelids, a boy saw the little girl at the statue.

He lifted her in his arms, holding her close to his chest. He did not know who she was but he took her to shelter and wrapped her in the best blanket he could find.

The Angel & the Devil

by EJ Sankey

Jade was throwing things across her room in a bratty rage. “I want my shoes. Where did my shoes go? They would look so good with this dress I’m wearing.”

Daisy scrambled around the room to help her find them. “I could have sworn I saw them over here, Miss,” she said, praying she would find them so she could have some peace and quiet.

“Yeah, well your lazy housekeeping skills suck. You should know where all my stuff is. That is your job!” she screamed in a childish manner.

Daisy smiled, and let out a sigh of relief when she saw the shoes sticking out of a clothes pile.  “Oh! Here they are, Miss Jade, right here in the back of your closet.” Daisy ran to give them to her.

Without any inkling of a thank you even nearing her lips, Jade snatched them out of Daisy's hand. She held them up to her face. She caressed the shoes as if they were cute, cuddly kittens. “Oh! Here you are my pretty little shoes. I thought I lost you forever.” She glared at Daisy. “Don't ever let that happen again!”

“No, Miss, never, I promise,” Daisy said, looking at the ground.

Jade put on her shoes, and huffed out of the room.

Daisy watched her as she exited. “That girl needs discipline in her life. She’s out of control,” she muttered to herself. She turned toward the messy room, and tried to make some order out of it.

Jade pulled up to the club in a taxi. She got out and paid the cab driver. She then turned and walked into the club like she owned it. All eyes were on her.

She threw her hands up in the air yelling as loud as she could. “Hey everyone, I am here. Let's get this party started!” Jade did her best diva runway strut into the room. “To all the divas in the house, keep your men in check. You don't want to lose them to me!” she said pointing to herself. The fearlessness rolled off her as she said it.

She had silky, soft, straight, copper-blonde hair. Her features were heavenly. Her curves were small yet supple. She brushed up against every man as she headed out to the dance floor.

She smelled like ambrosia. The men couldn't keep their eyes off her. Twenty-two years old, and she’d already had over a half dozen boyfriends. Because of her non-disciplined, extremely bratty attitude, she ran every one of them off. She took pride in that. She knew she could get a new guy at the drop of a dime. Her looks were too hard to resist. She began to dance seductively, inviting any man to approach her.

A well-dressed, distinguished looking gentleman took her up on the invitation, and slid up behind her. She raised her hands above her head and wiggled her body into his.

“May I buy you a drink?” he whispered loudly into her ear loud enough so she could hear him over the music.

She reached back and massaged his outer thighs with her hands. They were rock hard. She liked a man that took pride in his looks.

“I thought you would never ask,” she said turning towards him and looking in his eyes.

He smiled and danced her over to the bar where he ordered her a drink.

She brought out her mirror and looked at herself. “Perfection.” She smoothed her hair down.

“You are a vision of beauty,” he said, handing her the drink he ordered her.

She took it and seductively sipped it through the straw.

“I haven't seen you here before,” she said between sips.

“I am new in town. I just moved here from L.A.”

“Oh, L.A.” Her eyes glittered with visions of money dancing in her head. “What did you do in L.A.?”

“Please call me Cameron. Yes, L.A. I work for a modeling agency.”

Jade put her drink down in disbelief. It was her night, her very own night to be discovered. She sprang into action, trying not to sell herself short. “A modeling agency – I know I have the right features for you,” she said as she did a little twirl for him. “See? Perfection.”

He smiled. “Oh, you are easy on the eyes. Your banging body would look wickedly amazing on the cover.” He sized her up with his eyes.

“YAY!” She squealed, clapping her hands. “When do we start?”

He slyly leaned into her. “Well, first, we have to get you back to my place. Second, we have to take some pictures of you and see how you look on camera.”

Jade gasped in delight. “Oh, that's easy,” she said, holding up her phone. “See? I look good. See all my selfies that I took? I. Look. Hot!”

“No, no,” he said smoothly pushing her hand down. “I have to get you in front of a special camera, one that will give me better idea as to how you will show up on a magazine page.”

Jade lowered her eyes and thought for a moment. “Oh, okay. What kind of camera is that?”

Cameron chuckled a bit. “It’s a camera that I have hooked up to my computer. It is specifically formatted. I can take your picture and it will show me what you will look like in different backgrounds.”

Jade could hardly contain herself. She jumped up and down. “What are we waiting for?” she asked with anticipation in her eyes. “Let's go right now.”

He clapped his hands together in a prayer-like manner and bowed a bit. “My car is out back. Let's go.”

She put her drink down and headed over to the door with him. Like a gentleman, he held it open. “Thank you,” she said, graciously walking through it. She stopped and looked at him for further instructions.

He caught on to her gesture rather quickly. He pointed to the back of the lot. “My car is that black one over there.” He said pointing to an SUV.

She smiled and enthusiastically walked over to it. Just as she got to the car, she turned towards Cameron so he could open the door for her. Instead, as she turned, she saw him coming at her, with his fist in some brass knuckles. He punched her in the face. She didn't go down as easily as he thought she would. She felt a little woozy. He raised his fist again to hit her. She closed her eyes and waited for the blow. Before he could hit her again, Cameron was slammed into a brick wall that was close to his car. Jade waited for that blow, but it never came. She opened her eyes. It was kind of blurry. She felt her legs go out from underneath her. Just before she hit the ground, a pair of strong, warm arms embraced her.

“I've got you,” said a strong, masculine voice.

She succumbed to the blow, and blacked out.

She came to and shot up. “Ouch!” she said holding her head. She took a moment to let the pain subside, while she closed her eyes. When she re-opened them, she looked around. She was in her room. Her French doors were wide open, letting the warm breeze blow the sheer curtains in. The lights were dim. Breathing hard, she tried to make sense of it all. She thought to herself, I know what just happened. I should be in the trunk of the car. Why am I not? Who saved me? She picked up a mirror and looked at her face. It should have been black and blue. It should have been swollen. How long was I out? My face is not as bad I imagined it to be. She put the mirror down, and picked up her phone. Two thirty in the morning, the next day. It is only hours after the incident, what is going on? If I’m not in the trunk of the car then…..“I should be in the hospital right now. I should have half my face caved in,” she whispered to herself. She got up and headed out of her French doors and stepped onto the veranda. She looked over the city. As she was standing there, a huge shadow passed over her.

A couple of days passed. She stayed in. It was all a mystery to her. She lay in her bed staring up at the ceiling. “Who was the one that saved me? Why didn’t black out when I got punched in the face? That was a hard blow. Most importantly, why am I not still reeling from the pain?” she said quietly to herself. Little did she know that there was a pair of eyes watching her this whole time. “This is crazy. I’m a social girl. I need to get out,” she told herself, shaking off the incident.

She put on a light coat, and headed out the door. The sun was setting. The air was warm. She did not know where she was going, she just kept walking. She hit the corner of her street. She looked up. She saw that she was on the busy street not too far from her house. She looked down it. There was small diner she went to for pancakes in the morning sometimes. A smile graced her face as she headed toward the familiar-looking establishment. It was almost a home away from home to her. Just as she stepped onto the diner’s parking lot, a car spun out in front of her. She stopped in shock it was Cameron, the man from the night the club.

He jumped out of the car and lunged at her. “No one interrupts me like that.”

She jumped back. “Who are you?” She screamed.

“Your worst fucking nightmare, that's who.” He went to go punch her again, but was stopped dead in his tracks. He looked at her. “What the hell?” was all he could get out, before he was lifted off the ground and dropped on top of the diner’s roof.

Jade stood her ground, her copper blonde hair in disarray. A man walked up to her, cool and calm, lighting a cigarette.

“We have to stop meeting like this.”

Jade looked at the man. For the first time in her life she was intimidated. He had slick black hair, piercing green eyes, and an athletic build. He wore a black leather jacket, plaid shirt, torn jeans, and biker boots.

“I know you,” she said, hugging herself. “You don't have the best reputation around here.”

“Oh is that so?” He said leaning, up against a car with smoke coming out of his nose. “What have you heard?”

She looked down at the ground. He walked up to her, gently lifted her head, and looked into her eyes. She looked away. “Well, you know, just that you hurt people, and stuff.”

“And stuff.” He repeated.

“What do you mean, ‘We have to stop meeting like this’?” she asked changing the subject.

He smiled. “Well, wasn't that you, at the club, not willing to get into the car with that guy, up there?” he said looking up at the guy running around the roof, looking for a way to get down.

She smiled. It was almost comical to her.

“Well, you know rumors. I know all about them,” she quietly said.

He smirked. “Well, all I can say is that I have heard things about you, and they aren’t pretty.”

“Oh yeah, like what?” she blurted out.

“It doesn't matter, rumors, right?” he asked with a question mark look on his face.

For the first time in her life she was speechless. “I think I’m just going to go home. Its been a long week.”

He watched her as she walked off. He then he turned his attention to the guy up on the roof.

Jade sat at her vanity mirror. Nothing made any sense. Her eyes widened. Oh my gosh, I didn't even ask him his name. Here he saved my life, made sure I was okay, and I couldn't even get his name. What kind of person am I? And on top of it all, I accused him of being something he's not.

For the first time in her life, she saw how selfish she was. Have I always been like this? Have I always been this ungrateful brat? And what rumors are going around about me? she thought to herself while looking at the ground. She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. She slipped on one of her sleeveless silk nightgowns, and climbed up on her bed. She pressed her face into the cool pillow, and closed her eyes.

Jade sat in the back of the coffee house, holding a hot cup of coffee. She never felt so humble.        
Suddenly a familiar pair of green eyes sat down next to her.

“Devlin.” he said, sipping black coffee.

“What?” she asked in a whisper.

“You're Jade, right?”

She just sat there looking at him.

“You know what, sorry to bother you,” he said as he got up to walk away.

“Thank you,” she said quickly.

He looked at her and sat back down. “What?”

She cleared her throat. “I said, ‘thank you.’”

He draped his arm over the back of the booth. “Well, that is better than 'I know who you are, and it's not good.'”

She blushed. “Sorry about that. It's just...” she trailed off for a moment.

“Just what?” he asked curiously.

She shook her head, and sipped her coffee. “I can't place you at the moment. I thought I knew who you were. And yes, it's Jade. How did you know?”

He tossed something her way. “You dropped your wallet.”

She blinked her eyes. “Oh, thank God. I thought that Cameron, or whoever he is, had it.” She picked it up and looked through it. “Thank you.”

He nodded his head. “You're welcome. By the way, I know a little more about you than you think.”

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “ answer me this. Do you know why my face didn't cave in, or swell up, after I was punched?”

He looked around the room. “I’ll call you later. Right now I have something I have to do.”

“Um, okay, sure,” she said with a puzzled look on her face.

Later that night, Jade sat in a chair on her veranda. Her phone rang. She looked at it and didn't recognize the number. “Hello?”

“So, I think you had a question for me earlier?”


“Yeah, who else do you think this was?”

“I don't know, I didn't know this was your number.”

He smiled. “Sorry, I am not too good at this.”

“What, having a conversation?”

“You're a cocky one, aren’t you?”

His voice seemed to be getting closer, coming from someplace other than the phone. “Maybe, what's it to you?”

She pulled the phone down from her ear, and listened. “Well, you know, I thought one would only get like that once they got to know someone.” She shook her head. “It feels like I have known you forever.”

“It seems like that doesn't it?” he said climbing up over her veranda wall.

Jade sat there looking at him.

“How did you know I was here?”

“Lucky guess,” he said, gazing at her.

She narrowed her eyes. “You're not going to hurt me, are you?”

“I've known where you lived for over a week. Don't you think I would have done something by now if I had wanted to?” he retorted. He pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. She took a deep breath. He smelled so good. She liked the way he moved, so confident, so salacious. She couldn't keep her eyes off of him. Her body tingled in his presence. She never felt like this before.

“Yeah, I guess,” she answered in a whispering voice.

He pulled the chair closer to her and looked into her eyes. “So, I think you were asking me how you didn't swell up after that guy punched you in your face?”

She nodded her head. “Yes.”

He rubbed his chin. “You're not going to like this answer. Actually, you’re not going to believe me when I tell you.”

“Well, after that punch, yeah, I think I might. It wasn't just any old punch. It was meant to almost, if not certainly, kill me. I didn't really feel a thing, nor did I swell up. What is even more impressive is that I still have my skull intact.”

Devlin stood up, leaned against the wall of the veranda, and lit up a cigarette. “Okay, fine. In a nutshell, you’re an angel.”

She looked at him. “Wait, what?”

He took a long, calm drag. “You know that story of how your mother died after giving birth to you.”


“Well, that didn't exactly happen. She went back to heaven. It was punishment for....well, you know...getting with your father, a mortal.”

Disbelief rushed over her body. “What?”


She heard her name being called. She snapped out of her daze and looked back at her room.

“Hold on, Daisy. I’ll be there in a moment.”

She looked back at the wall of her veranda. Devlin was gone. She got up and looked over the wall. He wasn't anywhere to be seen.

Daisy stepped outside onto the veranda where Jade was sitting.  “Jade, there you are. Your father is on the phone. He said he tried calling you on your cell, but it was busy.”

Jade looked at her phone. “Battery must be dead. I'll go charge it.”

“Yes, don't worry about that. I will do it for you. Go talk to your father. He’s worried,” Daisy said, shooing Jade toward the house phone.

“Thank you, Daisy,” she said as she rushed off to the phone. “Hi, Daddy.”

Devlin looked up at the veranda and snuffed his cigarette.

“There is more to it than just that...” he said, walking away.

Jade tossed and turned. The answer she got earlier only filled her with more questions. It was driving her nuts that she had seen him before, but could not place him.

“That face, I know his face.”

Then suddenly, like a brick falling from the sky, it hit her. She shot up off of her pillow.

“He is the Jersey Devil. Devlin! That is how I know him,” she said in excitement.

Suddenly everything went black, and silent.

Jade opened her eyes. Everything was blurry. She tried to move, but couldn’t. She was tied down to something.

“What the hell?” she yelled out. She looked around. She didn't recognize where she was.

“Oh good, you're awake.”

She looked over in the direction of the voice. “It's you!”

“Like I said before, no one interrupts me.”

“What do you want from me?” she asked, irritated now.

Before Cameron could answer her, she gasped in terror at what she saw. Right there in front of her were skulls.  Real ones, and human. They were stacked in a pyramid form. Lit candles were dripping blood red wax all over them. There were walls lined with rib bones. Backbones with the pelvis still attached to them hung from the ceiling.

“I guess I don't have to explain myself anymore.” Cameron walked over to her, cleaning a knife. “I do love your features. I did work for a modeling agency. I wanted to know what to look for. What were the best structures to bring to my basement of beauty here,” he said showing it off.

Basement of beauty? she mouthed to herself.

Ever since she learned she was an angel, she wondered what could or could not happen to her. Would her mother come and help her? Would her divine body repel anything bad that could happen to her? She was kind of excited to see what would happen next.

He walked over to her and outlined her cheek with his finger. “Look at the definition of those cheek bones, so beautiful. Look at that rib cage, it is just so perfect.” He gloated. He sniffed her. His eyes lit up. “Even better girl, you know what a rare find you are!” He almost jumped for joy at his find.

“What?” She asked with a curled lip of disgust.

He was so giddy, he could hardly contain himself. “You are a virgin!”

“Oh, yeah, that,” she said in a boring tone. “None of my boyfriend’s ever really appealed to me. I always thought they were pretentious, sticks-up-their-butt, old fuddy duddies. In other words, men like you.”

He pulled back from her. “But you seemed so interested in me when we were on the dance floor. You hurt my feelings now.”

She sighed. “Yeah, I can't resist men in suits. It's my weakness.”

“I'll show you pretentious, stick-up-the-butt, old fuddy duddy,” he growled picking up the knife. “I usually like to at least numb my victims up first before I start cutting away at them. Key word -usually-, but you, you hurt my feelings.” He lifted the knife up to her forehead, and outlined her face with it.

She tried to wriggle out of her restraints. “How long have you been doing this?” she asked, trying to distract him.

Enjoying their game, he indulged her. He brought the knife to his lips. “You know, I don't remember anymore. I do know I started back in the early '80s.” He smiled a sinister smile, and looked at her. “Oh, you never forget your first kill though. So awkward, so messy, and with so many screams. It was such a rush. I think I was 15 years old at the time.”

“Were you now?” A man’s voice came from the other side of the room.

Cameron whirled around to see who it was. “You came to the wrong city. Jersey does not want you here.”

It was Devlin. He looked at Jade. “Seriously, again?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “What can I say? I live for danger.”

His sparkling eyes smiled at her. She knew she was safe.

Annoyed with Devlin, Cameron came charging at him with the knife. Devlin held out his hand, palm out. He smashed Cameron's nose up into his own brain.

He looked at Jade. “I hate those long, drawn-out fight scenes. This way, it is done and done.”

She nodded her head and smiled. “Yeah, I hear you on that.”

Devlin looked at her all tied up. He blushed a little. A crooked smile appeared on his face.

She widened her eyes as a huge smile spread across her face. “Hey!”

He let out a laugh. “Okay, okay. I’ll untie you.”

He walked over to her and cut her loose. “Come on. Let’s get you home.”

He laid her in her bed.

She could not resist his smell. “Stay with me,” she said looking into his eyes.

He slid in bed next to her. “As long as you want me too.” He wrapped his arms around her.

“Tell me a story,” she said breathing in his scent.

He nuzzled her ear. “Okay,” he said getting comfortable. “Here is one that I have wanted to tell you. I’ve been watching you forever. You are Jade Rose Stone. You were born on August 3, 1992. Your father is a mortal. Your mother is an angel from up above. You are vivacious and fun. Your laugh is infectious. You are as beautiful inside as you are outside.”

Before he could finish she kissed him. He tenderly kissed her back.

She kept close to his mouth, as she told him his story. “You are the Devil. The Jersey Devil to be exact. You are nothing like what I read about you. What I witnessed today showed me what a pure soul you are.”

He slipped her shirt off and kissed her collar bone. She didn’t stop him. He pulled down her bra. She breathed hard. She unbuttoned his flannel shirt, revealing his muscular body. She ran her fingers against his chest. He lifted her chin, and tenderly kissed her. She pulled off his shirt and unbuckled his pants.

She stopped for a moment. “Tell me another story.”

He outlined her body with his finger. “Your mom was sent down here three years before you were born. Your father met your mother one day, when she was being attacked by a demon. He helped her. She wasn't too happy about it at first, but your dad eventually won her heart over. She never told him what she was. Not until just before you were born.”

Jade cleared her throat. “Why was she sent here in the first place?”

“Back in the '80s there was a huge demon outbreak. There was a lot of devil worshiping going on. Not all the demons were caught; some still roam the earth today. Take Cameron, for instance.”

He slid her panties off and massaged her in between her thighs. She moaned.

“After you were born, Heaven took your mother back. That is the ultimate sin, procreating with a mortal. Heaven left you behind because you are only half angel. Your father has been taking care of you ever since.”

Jade was hesitant to ask the question she was about to ask. He just saved her life. She played with her fingers, as it bashfully slipped out of her mouth. “Aren’t you considered to be ‘a demon’?”

He took a deep breath, and leaned back on the pillow. “My mother was mortal, so I was born with a soul. Me being the thirteenth child in my mother’s eyes, I might as well have been the devil himself. So in a fit of rage one day, she cursed me while I was still in her womb. She wished me to actually be the devil. Someone heard her wish, and granted it. I did not kill my mother on that stormy night back in 1735, like the legend says I did. It was my father. He had reached his tipping point. I was one too many kids in his eyes. He went on a drunken rage that night. Not only did he kill my mother, but he killed the midwife and some of my brothers and sisters as well. He tried to kill me, but because of the curse, he couldn’t. Over the years I evolved into what you see before you. I’m here to protect the innocent and weak. It all depends on who you talk to about me. Some will tell you I’m here to protect, while others are terrified of me. Those are the ones I am protecting the weak and innocent from.”

She pulled him closer to her. Her hands rested on his hips. Taking her time, she pulled his pants down, and then off.

He slipped in between her legs. He looked into her eyes. “Are you okay?”

She nodded her head yes, and pulled him closer into her. They rolled around the bed in the throes of passion. It felt so beautiful. There were a couple of times where she would open her eyes, and see that they were floating in the air. Later that night Devlin held her close to him, and caressed her hair.

“I’ve loved you since the day I laid my eyes on you. I remember one time you were getting into a limo. You were with your third boyfriend. I knew he wasn’t right for you. He would never be as amazing as you are.” He breathed her scent in.

“You know how they say it takes only a second to know the one you are supposed to be with? I took one look at you and I knew. I have never felt like that about anyone before. I would wait till the end of time for you.”

She smiled and returned his embrace. “I just met you, but there is this feeling deep down inside of me. I love your scent. I love your ways. I love the way you move. Your looks are so intimidating. I don't think I ever want to let you go.”

He kissed her ear, then her cheek, and he rested his head just above hers.



“Is this crazy?”

He smiled. “No. This is how some of the best love stories I have ever known started out.”

She smiled as she allowed that answer to envelop her being. She fell asleep listening to his beating heart.

The Storyteller, parts 11-end

by Lyle Dagnen
Click here for parts 1-5
Click here for parts 6-10

Part 11

“I can't believe I'm saying this to you, but go put some clothes on.” He was rubbing her back. “I think maybe we should talk.”

She smiled at him with a longing look in her blue eyes.

He knew what she was thinking, “Yes, you blow my mind standing there so near naked. I can't think straight.” He closed his eyes and rested his chin on the top of her head. “Go now, before I do something that's gonna haunt both of us.” His hand was resting on her butt; he gave her a pat as she walked away.

He couldn't quite believe that he had just lightly spanked her very enticing bottom. He rolled his eyes, picking up the lyrics of the song. Singing slowly with it, he watched the ocean, it was lovely and blue today, just like the dark blue of her eyes. There was gold in them, right at the center and almost white flecks that made her eyes seem to change colors. He tried to keep thinking about those eyes that seemed to look into his center and assess him. He did not want his mind to move to the idea that she was dropping that soft robe and changing into clothes. Damn! Now he'd thought about it, his body was reacting. He closed his eyes and allowed his head to fall back, making it look like he was contemplating the ceiling, the tenting in his pants would be a give-away of what was really on his mind.

He thanked the fickle gods of chance that Mitzi came running down the beach. She had been out on her morning run; he needed to check to see if she was wet. She liked the shower outside that he used to rinse the salt water from her coat when she had been dancing though the edge of the waves. He called her, turned on the water, rinsed her, then stepped back so she could shake off without covering him with water. “You saved me again, girl.” He took the towel that dried on the rail of the deck, getting her dry enough to come into the house. “You know she likes you, don't you?” He put their faces together, rubbing her perked-up ears. Mitzi seemed to know he was at Leigh's house. Smart dog, he spent a lot of time there. In the afternoons, she would read to him what she had written or hand him what she called a hard copy, to let him read something she had written.
This was his first unfurnished home. He had intended to just order some furniture, but he had met her the first day. He had known that she was the one; he wanted to please her. He just hadn't figured out how to get her to pick out what she wanted without making her think he was some kind of obsessive nut case. He was obsessive about her. He'd never been obsessive about a woman in his life. Sure he liked them, he'd even had a relationship or two. He was thirty years old, but he'd never felt that any of them were the one he wanted to spend his life with and he certainly hadn't cared whether they liked the furnishings in his house. He had wanted to take his camera on day one and begin to collect photographs of her just doing all the things she did all day. He didn't want the images for show; he wanted them to be his, for his eyes to make a record of her in his life. He had taken a great many shots already. She was going to think he was a stalker. He had to talk to her today, get things organized and worked out between them.

Part 12

“Jack,” she called as she slid the glass door open. “Well, hello girl,” she crooned to the dog. “Are you ready for a drink of water and some kibble?  Does Jack know you have your own dining area and rug in the kitchen?”

Jack smiled because he did know that Mitzi had made herself very much at home with Leigh. It was such a joke that he was jealous of his dog.

She looked up at Jack and smiled at him. “I've got clothes on now. You want something to drink while we talk?” She was dropping ice cubes into cups, being sure that his soft drink was just the way he liked it.

“Come over here to the couch,” he pointed with a tilt of his head.

She followed, sitting cross-legged so she could face him.  The song “Til We're Not Strangers Anymore” was playing. He chose not to waste time.

“I'm tired of being a stranger.” His voice was so soft; his eyes drew her to him.
“We aren't strangers,” she protested, trying to understand what he was saying to her. She knew that he was very special, that he was someone she could love. She did not want to say or do anything to ruin the closeness that they had established. She had never shared any of her stories with another person the way she had with Jack.
He set his drink on the coffee table, taking hers and placing it beside his. “Yeah, we are,” he whispered reaching to hold her face. “We just kissed for the first time today; I've wanted to do that for two weeks. We still sleep in separate bedrooms; I've wanted you in my bed since the first moment I saw you.” He waited to see what her reaction would be to his statement. “You have no idea how much I want you.”
“I don't know what I'm supposed to say to you. Two days before you showed up, I was in a very brief, very passionate relationship with someone who is in my mind. Are you real or are you just an imagined dream meant to drive me even crazier than I am most days? I touch you; I can feel the power you put in me just being near me. But are you real?” She knew that his reaction to what she was saying would determine how their relationship developed. She needed him to believe her, to answer her question.

Part 13

Jack took in a deep breath. She had told him about Jason and he had waited for her to settle her heart about him. “Touch me.” He took her hand and placed it over his heart. “Do you feel that? It's me and I'm real.”

Her hand moved over his chest and down his abs, her hand stopped its downward path.

“When you touch me, it's like I come to life.” He reached for her, pulling her over across his chest, his hands pushing her hair back from her face. “The fates saved you, Jason was here to show you how much you can be loved. I believe he was here so you would be ready for me. You were made for me. I knew it the moment I saw you walking up the beach when I ran out to get Mitzi. I wanted you right then, in my house with me, in my bed with me, with me every morning when I open my eyes, every night when I lay down to sleep. I want to feel you beneath me, on top of me, me inside you. I don't want to scare you away, but I can't go on much longer acting like we're just neighbors and nothing more.”

He held her head still with his hands, covering her lips with his, his tongue touching her lips so that she would open to his taking of her mouth, his arms pulling her close and holding her like she might fly away. “Don't tell me this is too soon, we've been looking for each other forever.” He kissed her again. “When I hold you, when you are so close to me, I start thinking about forever, babies and family things. Things that have never entered my mind before.”
“Jack.” She whispered his name against his lips, mostly, just because she liked the sound of his name in her mouth. ”I do not know quite what to say or do. I thought maybe you'd think I was just the crazy neighbor lady who really likes your dog.” She laughed a little bit, “I'm not accustomed to any man paying any attention to me. I had become so alone that I was going to just walk into the sea and not come back. That's when he saved me; he hauled me back to the beach and just let me cry. He was only here for two days, sometimes I think it was all just a dream but then you popped out the door. You remind me so of him. I don't want you to think that you are just a replacement.” She tried to pull away but he held on.
“If it was a dream, it was a good one. The thought of a life without you just blows me away.” He was kissing her between words. “I need you.” His voice was soft, his hands warm. She knew, at that moment, that she loved him. When she looked into his golden brown eyes she knew that he saw the love in her eyes. He smiled; he devoured her with his mouth. His arms held her so close that she could hardly move; she did not want to move away. Here in his arms was the place she wanted to be for the rest of her life.
“I don't think we're strangers anymore,” she whispered against his lips. “Surely this can't be too fast when we are meant to be in this place with each other.”

Part 14 

“Let me love you.” His hand moved up under her sweatshirt, caressing her skin with his warm, big hands.

She nodded, folding into him, breathing the same air that he breathed.  Words were no longer necessary between them.  They wanted the same thing, to be a part of the other one.  The dance of ridding each other of the barriers of clothing was magical, the revealing of bodies ready for love was fast as they tumbled into bed.

Her hands moved over his beautiful golden body.  He was like steel covered in satin to her hands.  She could feel him, hard against her stomach; she reached between their bodies to hold him in her hands.  She was his guide to enter her, to fill her with that  part of him that would connect them for a journey to the stars.  This was making love, he was cherishing her, she was returning the passion that he gave to her.  This was what she had written about thinking that she would never know the feeling, thinking it was something only written about by poets.

She found herself saying his name over and over as he took her to heaven's edge, dropping them together into a powerful climax.  He called her name.  As they lay together, trying to return to reality, feeling their hearts beat and their breath returning to normal, he spoke softly to her, “My god, Leigh, I never felt anything like that before.”

“Jack, I think that I can agree with you.  I want to do that again.”

He laughed softly.

“I've got a demanding woman, have I?”  He was still inside her.  He started to move, realizing that he was ready to go again.  “I hope you meant that, because I'm taking you with me again.”  There was joy in his soul; she gave him power, she gave him back the love he gave her.  “I love you, Leigh.”

They lost track of the times they exploded into one another.  The sound of her saying she loved him did not ever grow dull to him.; the words became new each time.  They finally slept; wrapped and tangled with each other, the most contented feeling they had ever had, they slept.

Part 15

The summer months drifted away; each day was theirs.  She was amazed that he had so few things in his side of the house.  She smiled at his confession that he had intended to buy stuff, but after he met her he wanted her to like what he had.  He wanted them to share a place, he wanted a home with her in it.  He even admitted that he was thinking about babies with her.

“I want all the things that I thought that I would never want.  I want a home, I want to call you wife, I want to hear my children call you Mom.”  He reached in his pocket and handed her a tiny red velvet box.  “Will you marry me, Leigh?”

“Of course, I'll marry you,” she said, holding the box in her hands.

“Here, get the ring out and I'll put it on your finger.”  It was a ruby set with diamonds around it. “Now, how soon can I get you to stand in front of a preacher with me?”

“School starts and I have to go back to my day job in a week, you know that.  I've signed a contract for a year.  We can get married on a weekend and put off a honeymoon.  We can wait until fall break around Thanksgiving for that.”

They decided that they just wanted to get married but then they both had families and they did want their families to know about their engagement.

“Cocooned here with each other, it's going to be like breaking the magic to go out to the rest of the world.”

He held her close to him. “It's time,” he said. “We are going to make this a part of the real world.”

When two people decide to begin their own family unit it amounts to having two extended families blend together.  It was an interesting journey to meet his family then to meet hers.  He was amused at the way her middle school students began to celebrate the fact that Miss Stevenson had a boyfriend and that she was getting married.  As he was presenting the photographs at galleries that sold his work, she became recognized as Jack's intended wife.  She was often surprised to see herself in the semi-erotic pictures that he took.  It was never her face on, but they both knew it was her -- he was very careful with what he shared.  The series of photographs was very popular and he sold every one that he chose to share.  He never revealed the name of his model; although, he was asked.

Fall break found them in separate parts of the church that had been a part of Jack's family for generations.  He had taken pictures of her in her dress, her veil, he was holding her, hands resting on the place where his child was growing safe deep inside her.  He had the pictures on easels in the narthex of the church with silk calalilies framing them.  The music “When You Say You Love Me” led the people attending the wedding inside the church.

She was handed over to him by her father.  He thanked her parents for the most precious gift he had ever been given.  He led her into the sanctuary where they made the traditional wedding promises.  Never had those ancient words meant so much.  They were a new melody, a song to sing to each other.  The rings were blessed, their hands wrapped making the vows a sacrament. They shared communion with their family and friends.  The reception was a celebration.  He took her back to their cottage on the beach.  They were in the process of buying a house, but this would be the place that they had decided to keep.  It would be the place they went to share special times and celebrations.

As the moon reflected on the calm black Atlantic, he wrapped her in his arms from behind.  Holding up their hands to look at their rings, rubies and diamonds twinkling on the bands in the moonlight, his right hand caressed the slight baby bump.  “I wish that I could have had a picture of your face when I made my promises to you.”

“Some things we'll just have to remember.”  She leaned back into his arms.  “I love you, Jack.  Whatever brought you to me, I am eternally grateful.”

“Leigh, you are all I ever dreamed of having.  I love you. I love the baby we are making together.  Maybe we will hear from publishers and you can spend the rest of your life writing those beautiful stories that sing their way out of your head.”  He dropped his head to kiss her neck. “Come, Wife.  I want to take you to bed.”  He clicked on the music the they both loved and danced to bed.  “You were made just for me,” he whispered.

The fates were pleased, the world  was right.


The Storyteller - parts 6-10

by Lyle Dagnen
Click here for parts 1-5

Part 6
They passed the early morning hours sleeping. The darkness of the room created a safe cocoon. The early afternoon brought her to wakefulness. He was still with her. She listened to him breathing, his hands were holding her close to him. She reached to touch the silky hair on his chest, lightly tracing her fingers though its softness. He was so beautiful, that was the word for it. He wasn't just handsome; he was beautiful. She wondered how long she would be permitted to have him with her. He had told her that he could not stay long, that the fates would not allow him to be with her.  She thought it was unfair that he would be taken from her.
“Don't think about it,” his voice rumbled. The sound was like silk.  “Just be with me while I am here. I am your muse. I was made just for you.  I'll always be right here.” He touched the side of her head. “I've always been there — that's how you know me, that's how I know what you are thinking.” His lips rested against her temple, “Now come here, I'm going to make love to you again.”

She ached to feel him touch her, to hold her, to press his mouth against hers. He soothed that ache, several times before he took her to the shower where they bathed one another.

He stood behind her, holding her against his chest as she prepared breakfast for them. It was two o'clock in the afternoon, but it was the first meal of the day. Sitting on the deck drinking coffee, they watched the ocean and listened to the gulls calling as they dove for food.

“I'll never be able to write a love scene again without thinking of you,” she smiled. “Now I have so many words in my brain that I just may spend too much time talking about it when I write.”

He reached to hold her hand with strong, long fingers. He knew the time was slipping away. He wanted to make sure that she would remember him when he had to go back and just be part of the way she thought about her writing. He had asked to be allowed to save her, it was for a limited time and he hated the fact that he would leave her.
They wrote the afternoon away. As the sky darkened and the moon rose again, he pulled her away from the story to the bedroom. He devoured her with his body, marking her, leaving her so that she would know that he had been deep inside her. He knew that he would be gone when the sun rose.  He made love to her until it was almost dawn, then tucking her beside him he told her to sleep. He kissed her as if it would be the last time, it was. When she woke late in the day, the place beside her was empty. Jason was gone.  She did not need to call him. She knew he would not answer. Her heart wanted to break but it didn't, he was with her, but it did not stop the crystal tears from falling. She heard him in her head, he was there again; he was her muse after all.

Part 7

The house where she lived was a duplex, a large one, but a duplex just the same. Two days later, she returned from a walk down the beach to find that the house beside her was open, music coming from the inside of the house. The decks were side by side.  As she walked up the steps, her new neighbor came bouncing out the glass doors chasing a German Shepherd.

“Mitzi! Sit!”

The dog seemed to laugh and ignored the command of her master.

She looked into the laughing face of a man who looked just like Jason. It took her breath away, her eyes filled with tears.

“Oh, hey!” He was laughing at the dog. “You must be Leigh. The realtor said that was your name. I'm Jackson, but everybody calls me Jack.” He held out his large beautiful hand to shake. His fingers curled around her hand and it was as if they had both been struck by lightning. His gaze softened as he took her in, she was busy trying to remember to breathe.
“Hello, Jack.” She smiled at the beautiful dog. “Hello Mitzi, welcome to the beach.”

He was still holding her hand, caressing the top of her hand with his thumb. Jack turned her hand loose reluctantly. He knew in those few moments that she was the one he had been looking for his whole life. His father had told him it would be like this. He had said, “Son, you'll look up one day and she'll just walk into your line of sight, and you'll know that it's her. Your problem is going to be convincing her.” That's exactly what had happened to him. She was just standing there on her side of the deck, the breeze lifting her hair, the sun kissing her skin with its golden light. She smiled back at him, he couldn't figure out why she had tears in her eyes. He wanted to stop those tears, he wanted to hold her against his heart and comfort her.
“Is everything all right?” The sound of summer thunder in his voice stirred every fiber of her being.
“You just remind me of someone very dear to me.” Her voice cracked when she spoke, she was fighting the tears. She knew that Jack was not Jason, but he spoke to her heart just like Jason had. She could feel him in her head, purring as she imagined that Jack would be special. She had written about love at first sight in a light romantic way. Now, here he stood and she knew she would love him.

Part 8

She felt a yearning deep inside her; it was Jack that caused the yearning.  “Would you like to share dinner tonight? I've got some steaks, I can put potatoes in to bake and I can throw a salad together.” She brushed away the tears. The offer was spontaneous and surprised her as much as it did Jack.
“Sure, I've got some wine chilling and I have some brownies that my mother sent with me to tide me over until my next chocolate attack.” He laughed softly.  “I so hope you can't go a day without chocolate.”
“My favorite food group.” She laughed back at him.

He wanted to protect her, to take care of her, to see that she had everything that she needed.  He wanted her to be his and only his.  He walked down his steps and up onto her side of the deck.
“My side of the house is a mess, everything is still in boxes mostly.” He gestured to his part of the duplex. Mitzi started up the steps; he turned to stop her. He loved his dog but he wasn't going to push her on Leigh.
“No, let her come on in. We're going to be neighbors, she needs to become accustomed to my place.”

Mitzi's tail was wagging with joy. She liked this lady that Jack was talking to. Leigh went to the kitchen to prepare the potatoes. Jack found her writing on the computer screen; drawn to it as if it had called him, he began to read. When she looked up he was reading, intently.
“This is beautiful.” He touched the screen with his fingers. “It's like music, only it's words.” She smiled at the compliment. “Is this your only story, or do you have more?”
“I have a great muse, he talks to me about the stories I write.”

He could sense a sadness in her voice.
“Your muse is a man. Do I need to be jealous of him?” His question made her come closer to him. “Should I be like the sultan, and have you tell me stories each night?”
“No, he's in my head, but he was made just for me.” He reached to touch her face. “I have a good many stories and poems. I'll be glad to share with you.”
“I'm glad he's in your head. I don't think I could stand to share you with another man.” They looked at one another, once again lost in the feelings that were building between them. Neither had spoken the words yet, but they would come. The fates were not so cruel; they were each made for the other one. They would find their way.

Part 9
Several weeks later he was awake watching the ocean and the sunrise.  He became aware of movement on the beach; he realized it was her. The morning wind was blowing her hair, her dress swirled around her; she looked like some wild thing come from the sea. She was walking toward the surf. He found it hard to breathe. Without prior thought or plan he opened the door, walking toward her. His physical need to touch her had increased as days had turned to weeks; he watched her take off her suit cover and walk into the ocean's waves. There was way more skin there than swimsuit. She walked out on a sand bar and caught one of the waves, body surfing all the way to the shore. As she stood to go back, he put his arms around her and walked back out to the breakers with her. They rode waves to the shore until they were breathless; no words exchanged until she dropped to the sand to catch her breath.

“Good morning,” she smiled between deep breaths.
“Good morning.” Mitzi was playing at the water's edge, barking at the calling gulls that had just come to life. He leaned in to kiss her, watching to see if she pulled back. She didn't. He brushed her lips with his. His arms pulled her across his chest, their sea-wet bodies sliding together. He deepened the kiss, tasting the salt on her lips, his tongue tasting the sweetness of her mouth. “I've been waiting to do this since the first day I found you.” He whispered between kisses. He could feel the way her body reacted to him. “You make me get all possessive and I want to say crazy things to you.”
“Like what?” She ran her finger over his mouth.
“I want to tell you not to wear this bathing suit out in public anymore.  Woman, you almost have no clothes on, this should be for my eyes only.”

She found the beach towel she had brought with her and offered him a part of it to dry the water from his beautiful golden skin.
“It's actually not so public out here, the beach is private, only for the houses along the way here.” She was trying to explain about the houses along the beach, but his fingers traced down her side. She was finally in his arms, a breath away; he did not want to let her go.

Part 10
“Please, tell me this isn't too fast. I've tried really hard to be patient and give you time.” He rested his forehead against hers.
“It feels like this is where I need to be. Why do you think I needed to have time? ” She moved her hands into his hair.
“It seemed that you were longing for someone that you had lost. I did not want to intrude, I wanted to give you time to heal.” He looped the towel around her and pulled her close.
“You want to come to my house and have breakfast?” She smiled up at him. “I'll tell you about it. I'm okay.”
“I want to be in your house. I'm not sure that it's just breakfast that I want.” He walked toward the house, pulling her up beside him. He picked up her beach wrap dropping it around her. Tucking her close to his side, he called for Mitzi as they strolled back to the beach house. “I need a shower. I'm going to go change out of these wet clothes.”
“I need to rinse the salt off of me as well. Come on over when you finish, I'll prepare breakfast when I get out of the shower.”

She enjoyed the way it felt to be close to him with his arm holding her secure beside him.
When she got out of the shower she could hear “Do you want to make a memory” floating though the early morning air. She was wrapped in a terry cloth robe, with a towel soaking up the water from her hair. She found him at the window; coming up behind him she slipped her arms around him.

“You smell so good.” She was breathing him in, listening to the beautiful words of the song.

He turned to face her; his mind almost came to a dead stop. He knew that under that robe was pure, naked Leigh. His hands itched to pull the robe away and move over her. She smelled like flowers, her skin still warm from the shower.

(to be continued...)

Patience - part 3

by Victoria Blake
Click here for part 1
Click here for part 2

She heard her cell phone beep from the other end of the house and glanced at the time. Her hubby was on a fishing trip at the beach with a friend. She had planned on driving up in his truck and overnighting with them before returning home the next day. He had packed the truck up for her before he had left several days earlier, and she had taken a nap to recharge before making the trip. She had a serious drive ahead of her and wanted to have her wits well and truly about her.

She sat upright in bed, throwing an arm out to steady herself as nausea consumed her. She had been feeling this way for a couple of months, but hadn’t said anything to her hubby – she needed to be sure. She knew he was aware, but had avoided a conversation about it; not an easy thing to do these days. He didn’t miss a thing.

Nausea past, she quickly changed, checked all the windows and walked through to the kitchen for her phone. She checked her phone and replied that she would see him in a couple of hours. Putting her phone into her bag, she picked up the picture that she had placed on the kitchen counter the day before. She couldn’t quite believe it, but there it was in all its glory. She traced the tiny outline with her forefinger, her vision misting as she placed it carefully inside the pages of her diary and tucked it into her overnight bag. Lastly keys in hand, she set the alarm and closed the door quietly behind her.

Hitting the highway, her iPod serenading her, she headed west to the coast. An hour later, she reached the forest turn off and stopped to change the hubs over so she could complete the rest of the journey up the beach. She sent him a quick text to let him know where she was, knowing he would start making his way down the beach to meet her.

Ahead in the haze she saw another vehicle approaching and recognised her husband perched in the passenger seat, a broad smile spreading across his face. They pulled to a stop beside her and he hopped out, opening her driver’s door and lifting her down into his arms. She looped her arms around his neck, pressing herself against him.

"Missed you, hon," he said as he nuzzled his several day-old whiskers against her neck.

She took a deep breath and said, "We missed you too, hon."

She felt him stiffen momentarily before holding her at arm’s length before him.

Raising an eyebrow he repeated, "We?"

"Yes, we missed you," she replied, beaming from ear to ear as she placed one of his large hands over her belly.

He looked down to his hand, moving the other to the small of her back, pressing his fingertips into the curve of her bottom, pulling her closer.

"Are you okay? Are you sure?" he asked hesitantly.

She had anticipated he would be anxious and worried. She cradled his jaw between her hands, her eyes sparkling and radiating joy as she said, "I am more than okay and yes, I am absolutely certain."

"And baby? Have you seen the Doc?"

"Baby is more than okay – Doc says so and is happy. Baby is sixteen weeks and in the right place, I needed to be sure first."

He took his hand from her tummy and reached for hers from his jaw. He covered her small hand completely with his own and held it to his chest, their forearms entwined. He kissed her deeply then and she felt herself melting into him, both focused only on reclaiming and reassuring one another.

"We just needed patience."

Patience - part 2

by Victoria Blake 
Click here for part 1

They arrived at the hospital and found a park. She took several deep breaths as he came to her side and opened the door for her, holding her by the waist as he lifted her down from the cab of his rugged truck.

They had come today to collect their baby’s remains, unable to bear the thought of the hospital disposing of him, horrified that was even an option and both looked the other way as they passed the ominous smoke stack - steadily billowing grey matter.

He was mindful that she still wasn’t one hundred percent, and although this day was necessary, they had both been dreading it and he worried about her ability to cope. She was doing well and he didn’t want her slipping under again, but knew this was important to her – to them both. They had to say goodbye.

They wanted to take him to a local spot they both loved; somewhere they both felt a great deal of peace and harmony.

As they arrived at the ward that had been the epicentre of their very own disaster, they were greeted by a familiar nurse, who ushered them into a private room. They had been working with a hospital grief counsellor; she had been preparing them for this day. The door opened and she walked in, the ornately carved Kauri urn reverently nestled in her hands.

He saw his wife take several deep breaths, and could hear her beginning to struggle as she took hold of it and cradled it against her chest.

"Take as long as you need my dear…just sit until you are ready," the counsellor said. She had been in this situation more times than she cared to remember, and no two parents grieved in quite the same way and she knew there was no right or wrong way to deal with the grief. People had to find a way to navigate as best they could.

She knew he was coping marginally better than she was, he had said privately to her that they simply couldn’t both fall apart. That he had to provide a soft place for her as she was incapable of all but falling.

He watched as his wife wiped away her tears, shaking her head ever so slightly as she reached out for him. He saw her set her jaw in the determined way that he loved so much and knew she was steeling herself for what was to come.

"I’m ready, hon."

Together they left the room, returning to their truck. They headed west, to a rugged beach they had been coming to since they were carefree teenagers. They were going to a place that was only accessible at low tide, via a four wheel drive vehicle. Mother Nature ruled everything here; from the churning Tasman Sea to the exquisite shifting black sands underfoot. It was, and is, a desolate place, one that contradicts completely with an abundance of life.

He stopped the truck behind a dune and again helped her down. A second vehicle pulled in behind them containing a friend from the local Iwi. He had given them permission to bury their son here. Together the men dug a small, deep hole and she lovingly placed the tiny urn into it. She watched as her husband began filling in their son’s grave, and turned as she heard a chant emanating from the dunes.

Behind her, an elder had joined them; she stood regally in the wind, tendrils of her long, silver hair trailing behind her. Draped around her shoulders was the most magnificent traditional cloak, handcrafted from brilliant blue and white feathers that seemed as though they were dancing in the wind.
The edges were alive, flapping around her ankles as her bare feet stood firm and proud in the ancient, scorching, black sands. She was softly keening and could have been standing on this beach for centuries, so unchanged was her traditional dress and the respect she commanded.

She began to perform a Karakia, holding her hands up to the heavens as she spoke, softly, yet loud enough to be heard above the howling winds. She couldn’t understand the language the old woman used, but knew the ritual chant well enough to know that she was invoking spiritual guidance and protection. A prayer for their child.

The ferocious winds carried the old woman’s voice out to sea and seemed to pick up a little of her grief with each verse. She felt a renewed sense of peace, something she hadn’t experienced since that fateful day in the stairwell.

She wiped away the tears she had not been aware of and bowed her head in thanks as the old woman approached her. She extended her darkly tanned, work-hardened hands towards the young mother’s, clasping them with surprising softness against her chest.

She then leaned in until their noses and foreheads were touching – a traditional greeting, believed to be the breath of life, a sharing of souls.

The two women remained as they were, the younger of the two closing her eyes as she felt calmness descending as clearly as she could feel the winds all around her.

The old woman said in a whisper, "He will come back to you, of this I am certain. He wasn’t ready to be here…nor were you ready to receive him. When the time is right for you both, he will be back."

Without a further word, she disappeared back through the dunes, taking the winds with her as an eerie silence filled the beach.

(to be continued)

Patience - part 1

by Victoria Blake

The room was dark.

The kind of surreal darkness that seems to seep into your pores, reaching deep into your soul. Outside, not even the moonlight had been able to penetrate as she had laid silently, her eyes glazed over staring blankly at the wallpaper as her mind churned, unable to lose herself in sleep.

By morning, the room felt more like a tomb to her than the beautiful place that it actually was. The pillow under her cheek was now completely saturated with tears that had flowed – quietly and continuously through the night as she struggled with her grief.

The sedative bottle on the bedside cabinet whispered her name; she knew she could slip into sweet oblivion if she just opened it - that it would only take a small handful to make the pain stop.

Could she leave him too? She didn’t think so.

She had felt her husband get up and leave the room, the empty cold seeping across the linen towards her, cocooning in its frigidity. She became vaguely aware of noises drifting into the room from other parts of the house, she knew her husband was out there and had been doing his best – but he, like everyone else, seemed completely incapable of reaching her, such were the depths of this dark place she had landed in.

She blamed herself, if only she had taken more care on the stairs, if only she had gone slower, if only……what if….why??

He was grieving too, but outwardly seemed more together – she just couldn’t relate. It felt as though he wasn’t affected, she knew that just wasn’t so, but his ability to simply carry on so effortlessly while she fell apart, so utterly and completely, was compounding hers.

She felt like she had to grieve for both of them and she could not imagine ever leaving this room again – nor did she particularly want to.

In the space of fourteen days, they had lost so much hope; their dreams had been shattered. The baby they had longed for, taken from them in a swift motion. She had fallen down a set of stairs at work and the bleeding had started just a small handful of hours later.

Doctors had confirmed what she knew to be true, but had been dreading hearing.

"The heartbeat has gone, I’m afraid you have lost your baby."

She didn’t hear anything after that, the alarm that had been building inside since the first spots of blood was now clanging so loudly in her head that it drowned everything else.

All she could hear were those eleven words. They played in her ears over and over until she thought she had gone quite mad.

"This is nature’s way, hon. The Doc said it would have happened whether you fell or not." Her hubby had tried so hard to placate her, and logic told her this was right, but she didn’t believe it. Instead she held herself absolutely responsible.

Several weeks later she was still bleeding badly, physically, and even more emotionally; a decision was made to surgically remove her baby rather than to let nature take its own course. She had been discharged from the hospital several days before, the consensus being the sooner she got back to her life the better.

Her surgeon told her she was lucky – their baby had been in her tube and was about to rupture, a certain death for her, he said.

Funny, she didn’t feel at all lucky.

He had coupled that news with an apology – he had damaged her during the surgery and didn’t think she would ever conceive or carry to term again. She had been too groggy to process that at the time, but she now fully comprehended just what he had meant.

For someone who had wanted nothing more out of life than to be a mother, she was absolutely devastated, bereft at the thought. She couldn’t stand the look of pity in people’s eyes, couldn’t face talking about it and was hiding from them all.

But she was powerless to hide from her own grief. It descended over her in great surges, the voice in her head telling her she was a failure over and over. Extreme moments of anger came and went; anger at the thought of those who fell pregnant without a second thought, and absolute despair at the thought that she wouldn’t ever be one of them.

On the fourth day post-op, her hubby walked into the bedroom and threw back the curtains.

"C’mon, my love, you can’t hide here forever. Come and have a cup of tea outside with me." She reluctantly allowed him to pull her upright, and sat numbly as he tenderly dressed her. He gathered her into his weathered, strong arms and supported her as she ambled slowly, painfully to the bench seat outside in the gleaming sunshine.

Her delicate, pale hands trembled as she lifted the cup to her lips and took a small sip of the sweet nectar it contained, barely tasting it before returning it back to the table.

He pulled her close and she nestled her cheek against his shoulder, his presence combined with the sunshine both finally able to crack the dark cloak she wore.

"You are enough you know," he said quietly.

"For what?" she replied, struggling to grasp his meaning.

"For are enough for me," he said as he kissed the top of her head. "You always were."

Her breath hitched in her throat and her vision blurred as she dissolved in his arms. He said nothing more and held her tightly as she sobbed, his own tears mixing with hers. He was so overwhelmed that she had been saved, he felt his own breath hitch at the thought that he might have lost both of them, and although he was privately angry her surgeon had altered their future so permanently, he was so eternally grateful that he still had a future with her, that she hadn’t been taken too.

She – so completely consumed with her grief – was at this point blissfully unaware that she nearly didn’t make it too; sedation had been the measure of so many days for her since then.

Neither moved, and all around them the world carried on, people went to work, dogs barked, black backed gulls swooped and called out to each other; life carried on – a life completely oblivious to their enormous grief.

(to be continued...)

At the Hotel

by EJ Sankey

The phone rang waking Judith from her trance.  “Hello, McKinny Incorporated, this is Judith, how may I help you?”   It was a customer calling in an order. She started typing away on her computer taking down the information.  “Will that be all for you today?” There was a pause.  “Wonderful, thank you for calling McKinny Incorporated for all your office supplies. Have a wonderful day.”  She hated the sound of the cheery voice she used to greet customers.   

She hung up the phone and looked around the office.  She felt the walls close in around her, it was suffocating.  Day in and day out, the same job, taking orders, nine to five.   She looked at the clock, “Four thirty, almost time to leave this prison.   I can go home and take a bath and relax with a glass of wine,” she said quietly to herself.
Closing her eyes, she leaned back and imagined it.  The warmth of the water, the bubbles tickling her nose, the buzz the wine was going to give her.  It was so vivid, she could smell the scented candles that were going to surround the tub. She was so ensconced in her own vision of paradise. She wasn't really paying any attention to the rest of the world around her. That is when she was abruptly brought back to reality.  

“Judith, Judith? Hey are you with me?” She heard that voice accompanied by the snap of a finger.  Judith was jolted out of her trance, looking toward the voice.  It was her co-worker Keeley.  “Hey, you okay?” Keeley asked with a concerned look.

Judith smiled snapping back to reality. “Yeah, I'm fine.  Just thinking of something, that's all.”

“Oh, who is he? Do I know him, is he cute?” Keeley teased.

“No, nothing like that. Just personal things.” Judith tried to avoid a discussion of her delicious daydream.

“Oh,” Keeley said in disappointment.  “Well, a whole bunch of us are headed over to the restaurant that is just inside the hotel down the street.  Would you like to join us?”

Judith sat there for a second and thought about it; she nodded her head, “That actually sounds good, what time?”

“About five thirty,” her friend chirped.  

Judith rubbed her face,  “I'll be there, who is coming?”
“Just some of the other girls, and now you,” Keeley said, smiling at her friend.

“Cool, I'll meet you there.” Judith's dream of the relaxing bath was placed in the back or her mind.

“Okay, that sounds good,” Keeley said walking away.

Judith got up to go to the bathroom.  She splashed cold water on her face, and adjusted her hair and makeup.   She was making sure everything looked clean and tidy, before she returned to her desk to close up for the night.  

She walked along the street looking at all the windows filled with wonderful things to buy.  She was killing some time before meeting up with everyone.  When she got to the restaurant, all her friends were just being seated and she followed.  To break the ice for being late she quickly blurted something out. “Hey guys, I was just thinking about taking a vacation. I've just needed some me time lately.”  Judith looked around the circle at her friends.                                                                              

They all looked at her. “Is everything thing okay, sweetie?” Keeley voiced the question for the group.
Judith waived her hand and took a sip of water. “Yeah, everything is fine.  I was just thinking about taking a vacation that's all.”

“Oh, where?”  Michelle asked, enthused.

“I am not sure yet. I was thinking of either Costa Rica  or Maui or some place tropical like that,” Judith sighed. 

“Nice, I went to the Canary Islands last year, they were beautiful,” Jane chimed in.

“Oh, now, there is a place that is on my mental list of upcoming vacations,” Judith said with a forced smile on her face.

They all laughed. “Three cheers for upcoming vacations,” Michelle said, holding up her glass.

“Yes, hear, hear!” Judith said, holding up her glass and joining in on the toast.  Secretly, she was bored, she wanted to get out of this city, she wanted to move to somewhere more exciting.  She slowly retreated from the other ladies at the table.  She just sat back and watched them.  They didn't notice, they all became engrossed in their own conversations and lives.  Sitting back, Judith slipped into her own world.  Sipping her glass of water, waiting on the waitress to take their drink order, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye.  She looked over to the other side of the room. There was a man standing there at the bar with a drink in his hand, staring at her.

She smiled a little, and looked bashfully away.  The man walked toward her, he looked at her like she was the only woman in the room.  He reached for her, he took her by the hand and gracefully twirled her out of her chair so she was facing him.  Nothing was said, she just stared into his eyes.   She'd never felt so safe in her life.  He didn't take his eyes off of her as they moved toward the elevators.  They got in and headed up to the pent house.  Silence.

The room was beautiful, there was a waterfall in the corner of the room that flowed into a small pond with fish.  The balcony over looked the river.   A bar snaked through the living room.  The floors were marble covered with plush rugs.  The lighting was perfect, there was slow music in the background, the sweet smell of flowers filled the room.  She turned to look at him, “Who are you?”

Smiling he took off his coat hanging it on the back of a bar stool.  “I am who ever you want me to be,”  his voice was a rumble that called to her.

“What am I doing here, why am I here?” Judith's eyes were locked with his.

He walked over to her and put his finger on her lips ever so gently,  “Shhhh, this evening is all about you.  All I want is for you to enjoy it.”  

She felt her face get hot, no one ever told her that.  He softly kissed her parted lips.  He looked her in the eyes showing her a place behind the bar. “The door is right there, there is a panic button on the wall.”  He watched her reaction to the information, “Besides, if I really wanted to harm you, don't you think I would have done this a little differently? Your friends saw me, they watched me as I swept you away.  They watched as we exited the room, they saw what I look like.”   

She took a deep breath and thought about it for a moment, then she looked at him, the look on her face showed her acceptance.  He took his hand and cupped her face, she leaned into his hand, letting herself go.  His hand moved down her arm to the small of her back, he pulled her close.  She inhaled his scent, memorizing the way he smelled.  He smelled like a man should, of wind, moonlight, and power.  She pressed her hands against the muscles in his back, he aroused her senses. 

He  released the buttons on her shirt.  Slipping his hands inside, he pushed the shirt open and stepped away to look at her.   Her knees felt weak.  He effortlessly walked her back toward the bedroom.  She looked around, there were roses and baby's breath everywhere, candles burned emitting soft light.   He sat on the bed's silk sheets,  beckoning her to come to him.  “Come here, I have something for you.” 

Once again the sound of his voice called to her.  She walked over to him letting her blouse slip to the floor.  She stood in front of him biting her lower lip.  As she relaxed, he pulled her onto his lap, she straddled his knees.   He felt her warmth as he reached under her skirt and traced the edges of  her panties with his fingers.  

Closing  her eyes, she dropped her head back, she enjoyed the teasing of his warm fingers on her silky smooth skin.  He slowly pulled out his hand away, pressing himself against her making her moan a bit.  She could feel his excitement, a bulge swelling behind the zipper of his pants.  He placed her on the bed and stood there.  She looked at him, unfastening his belt buckle, she kissed the bulge in his pants while slowly unfastening them with her teeth.  She wanted to get at the prize that was behind his zipper.  She was almost there, she could feel that special part of him pulsating against her skin.  He pushed against her, he grabbed her hands and held them.  He let out a growl of pleasure, and looked at her.  She longed to touch him, she was so close,  she could smell the pheromones calling to her. She closed her eyes and breathed hard. Whispering in a pleasurable tone she pleaded with him. “Oh don't tease me. Give it to me, I want it.”

He let her go, falling on her, he pushed her toward the headboard.  Then he looked into her eyes, “If you don't want this, please, please, let me know. Say no, and I will stop.”  He handcuffed one of her hands to the headboard and looked at her for acceptance.  She smiled and nodded.  Then he took her other hand and cuffed it to the other side of the headboard.  He looked at his watch.  “Just in time,” he whispered in her ear while nibbling it.

“Just in time for what?” she huffed back.  

There was a knock at the door.

He stood, leaving her fastened to the bed. “I have a treat for you.”  

She lay back on the pillows and didn't take her eyes off of him as he walked out the room.  She heard him open the door, then the sound of two male voices. Then she heard him say, “Thank  you.”  The door closed, she heard the sound of wheels being pushed across the floor.  He came back into the room with a room service cart, there was a  covered silver tray.  “Are you ready for your surprise?”

She curled her legs beside her and licked her lips, “Bring it,” she whispered the challenge.  

He uncovered the items on the tray and showed them to her.  Her eyes widened at what she saw, there on the gleaming silver tray was a mountain of goodies.  Champagne, chocolate, a fluffy mound of whipped cream, strawberries and ice cream.

He picked up the bowl of strawberries and crawled onto the bed.  He picked the plumpest, ripest one tracing her lips with it, then he hovered over the middle of her mouth.  She opened her mouth and tried to bite the luscious berry.  He pulled it away ever so slightly.  She bit into thin air.  

“Uh uh uh, not yet.  It's not ready,” he teased her frustrated pout.  Dipping the strawberry in the whipped cream, he brought it back to her. “Now try it,” his voice was tantalizing.  

She opened her mouth, let her tongue do the tasting, it was so sweet and heavenly, she bit down and let the juice drip down her chin onto her chest.  He began to kiss and suck the juice from her chin and neck.  

He could feel her pressing up against his chest.  He took off his shirt, he was beautiful.  His muscles rippled in the muted light.  Picking up the whipped cream placing it next to them, he then kissed her neck.  He removed her bra exposing her breasts.   He covered her nipples with cool whipped cream.   He teased her erect nipples with his mouth then drew her into his mouth making her thrust her head back with a moan of pleasure.  The bra dropped from his fingers onto the floor beside the bed.  She was naked before him, his eyes spoke his pleasure.  She squirmed in anticipation. 

“How do you know what I want?” she whispered, trying to catch her breath.

“That is my secret,” he said standing up.  He removed  his pants.  She could she the outline of his manhood pressing though his fitting underwear.  He was large and pulsing with expectancy.  He chose one of the chocolates, “This is for me.  Where would you like me to put it?”

“Un-cuff me and I will do it for you,” she whimpered.

“Oh, darling,” his voice was lyrical, “that's daring, but no, not yet.”

“Okay then, put it on the tip of your hardened cock, I want to lick the chocolate off.”  Her eyes blazed with passion.  

Slowly, he followed her instructions, he looked at her, watching her reaction while he followed her instructions.

“Now, come over here, I want to taste you,” her voice was a whisper.  

He moved to her, softly touching her lips.  She slowly opened her mouth letting that hardened part of him slide in her expectant mouth.  She closed her lips around the tip sucking chocolate into her mouth.  He pulled out of her mouth. 

“I wasn't done,” she complained.

“Neither am I; I have a whole night of fun planed for us,” he smiled.    

Intrigued, she stopped talking, she wanted to know more; she didn't want to talk about it, she wanted to experience it.  Returning to the cart, he poured a glass of champagne.  As he did that, she noticed something about the hand-cuffs.  She realized that they weren't any ordinary hand-cuffs.  This just became one of the best games ever.  He brought over the glass and gave her a sip.  She smiled a wicked smile and slipped out of the hand-cuffs rolling him over getting on top of him.  

“I see you figured it out,” he was smiling, beginning to lick the spilled champagne from her body.

“Yes,  I did,” she said taking off her skirt. 

Putting his hand behind his head, he taunted her,“Do your worst, I was a bad boy, I deserve it.”  

He watched as she raised her hands above her head and arched her back.  Grabbing her by the waist, he lifted her as he sat up and placed her on his lap, her legs straddling him.   He looked in her eyes and kissed her, she returned the kiss.  Placing her on her back, he removed their underwear, flesh on flesh, hearts beating together, hands caressing each other.  He looked deep in her eyes as he slowly entered her, she wrapped her arms around him, accepting the feel of him filling her.

Later, as she lay in the jacuzzi filled with rose petals and bath milk.  He joined her, washing her back as she leaned forward enjoying it.  He washed her breasts.  She took the sponge and started washing his legs following them back to his hips.  

“Do you like that?” she asked seductively.

“Yes, please, don't stop,” he groaned.  

Reviving his member, she enjoyed pleasuring him, she pressed up against him.  He massaged her breasts then moved slowly to her center of passion.  Moving her onto his lap, her back against his chest, he entered her again, taking her to the height of passion and fulfillment. 

All night long they played and tantalized each other.  The whipped cream cream was all over the walls, the chocolate stained the sheets, champagne made the floor sticky, the ice cream was gone.  He lay with  her, holding her in his arms, enjoying her body against his. 

“Rosecrans,” she spoke his name softly, kissing his hand.

“Yes Judith?” the thunder of his voice was soft against her ear.

“I love you. After thirty years of marriage, three kids, and two moves, you still know how to make a girl feel young.”  She snuggled closer to him.  

He tightened his embrace holding her a little bit closer.  “You are still the prettiest girl I know.  I still get butterflies in my stomach when I see you.  I love you, too, you will always be my heart.”  He nibbled at her ear, kissing her neck.

Happy tears filled her eyes, she didn't know how she ever got so lucky.