Tuesday, October 27, 2009

KZ's Halloweenies & Whorrors, 3

A "Joyfully Recommended" read from Joyfully Reviewed, recipient of 5 Angels from Fallen Angel Reviews, and a 2008 EPPIE finalist, the paranormal erotic romance Cemetery Dancer has done fairly well.

My beloved Jackson Spey, still in possession of the long braid that hung nearly to his butt, plays a significant role in this novel. Heroine and hero, Sophia and Sonny, later make appearances in InDescent, as does Fog Cliff Cemetery, the setting for the excerpt following the blurb.

* * * * *

Find a man’s headstone and dance on his grave.

Be he prince, commoner, monk, or knave;

Be he soldier or hero or coward forlorn,

Shed all your clothing and dance until dawn.

Medium and former nun Sophia Alanca has a big problem that’s soon to get much bigger. Since leaving the cloister, she’s been desperate to find an outlet for years’ worth of unsatisfied sexual passion. Sophie is not only lacking in savvy about the dating scene, she’s far too cautious to hook up with strangers. Unfortunately, her frustrated desire attracts a brutish "hybrid" entity—one who can move between the astral and earthly planes. And he wishes to possess her.

Sophie’s spirit guide offers a solution in the form of a cryptic verse. Until Sophie can find a man who fully meets her needs, she can achieve sexual gratification and thus ward off her attacker by doing the pagan Cemetery Dance. As added protection, the spirit guide instructs Sophie to seek out the help of a quirky but powerful wizard…who also happens to be drop-dead hot.

But biker-wizard Jackson Spey is not the only one who comes to Sophie’s aid. Harrison Brock—a graduate student in anthropology and amateur ghost hunter—is watching her when she does the sensual Cemetery Dance. And little does she realize he can either damn her through his jealousy and skepticism . . . or save her through his love.

* * * * *

Sophie had to concentrate on her movements as the tunnel abruptly narrowed and its height diminished. Sinking to a sit, she scooted along using her heels, which she dug into the ground, and her hands, which she eased along the walls, to propel herself forward. Its surfaces disturbed, the tunnel gave up a rich, damp, organic smell that was almost overpowering. Ahead of her, Sophie could hear the slithering and scraping sounds that marked Angelina’s progress.

They were swaddled in utter blackness.

“This is enough to make anybody claustrophobic,” Sophie said, glad that Sonny didn’t have to suffer through the experience.

Angelina didn’t answer.

“Don’t you think so?”

No answer.

“Angelina, can you hear me?”

The scraping stopped, briefly, but still no answer came.

Sophie tensed. “Angelina?” She raised her voice. “Jackson?”

And then somebody was grabbing her ankles, pulling her forward and down, down and to the left, the slope becoming even more slippery and mucky beneath her, the smell even more fetid. Just as Sophie was about to scream, a cold, hard hand clamped over her nose and mouth. An icy gust of breath pushed against her face. She tried desperately to bite at the suffocating hand but her teeth didn’t connect with anything substantial.

Just as Sophie began to lose consciousness, the tunnel blazed with blinding light. Its walls and floors shook. A deep rumbling, like a distant avalanche, sounded all around her. Words, she thought dimly, those are words, as the pressure on her ankles and face suddenly eased.

Sophie’s eyes fluttered open. Spey was standing over her, his arms raised, his loose hair floating in slow motion around his head. When Sophie saw this—and saw Angelina, who stood behind him—she realized they were in a space with higher ceilings and a source of light and something very, very weird was happening.

Angelina knelt beside her and stroked her forehead.

Jackson?” Sophie whispered.

He was the source of light. Jackson Spey was glowing.

The glow faded as Sophie’s realization dawned. Then he, too, knelt beside her, his long hair grazing the side of her face.

Sophie heard a raspy click. A spot of flame appeared, then flared and got brighter. Jackson’s and Angelina’s faces reemerged from the darkness.

“I had enough foresight to bring a lighter and a candle,” Angelina said, her voice so kind it instantly warmed Sophie.

She sat up. Jackson had pulled back his hair and was securing it into a ponytail with some kind of binding—a rubber band, maybe.

“What happened?” Sophie asked, still dazed.

“It seems that as soon as you entered the cliff,” Angelina said, “your course was intentionally diverted. Jackson came to your rescue.”

“But I could hear you, just ahead of me!”

Angelina shook her head. “No. That wasn’t me. I don’t think it took me but ten seconds to find Jackson in this chamber. Something or someone was leading you away from us.”

“I’m sorry, Sophie,” Jackson said. “I should have either kept you with me or not let you come in at all.”

“But you cast a circle around me. How could it be broken?”

“It was improvised and temporary, meant to protect you when you laid hands on the mausoleum. A circle is like a battery, Sophie. It can be drained of its energy. And the ones that are less well-made are drained that much faster.” Jackson glanced at Angelina. “Now I know what Newman’s job is. Now I know exactly what being a Watcher means.”

Sophie looked back and forth between them. “And?”

Jackson tucked a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “In part, it means watching for intruders. When they enter the cliff, if they do it at the wrong time, they’re scared away. Kids, usually. Kids who come here on Halloween or on a dare, kids who come here to drink or smoke pot or make out. It’s pretty easy for a weak dick like Newman to send them running.”

“But what do you mean, ‘if they do it at the wrong time’?”

“The cliff is a vortex, a portal,” Angelina said. “Mortals are persona non grata when a strong spirit wants to enter our world through it.”

“I see,” Sophie said. She was quite familiar with such things. “So, this is one of those ‘wrong times’, and I was an easy mark because I wasn’t close enough to you, Jackson, to be protected. Newman singled me out to scare me away.”

“Um, that’s not it,” Spey said. Like a doctor who doesn’t want to give his patient bad news and somehow feels responsible for that news, he seemed edgy and hesitant. “The entity that misled you and then handled you wasn’t Newman. It was Bruno Desjardins. Newman only alerted him.”

Sophie felt short of breath and slightly nauseous. “So the other part of being a Watcher—”

“—is likely the most important part,” Jackson said somberly.

“And it entails watching for what?” Sophie’s eyes skittered nervously between him and Angelina. “Or whom?” she added on a thin breath. But she already knew the answer.

“For you,” Spey said.

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