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What inspired a story of magic and survival?
Our first day of spring.
By this date next year, Sorcha Alden’s story will out there.
That’s a scary thought—relaxing my control-freak grip enough to set this story free.
I know the time has come, to let go, to look forward, to share the magic of the Equinox Gala…
When the doors swung open, hundreds of candles adorned the walls like burning gemstones. Raimond grasped Sorcha’s hand and raised it to eye level. Stretching out at full arm’s length he presented her in the center of the dazzling ballroom. They turned in a circle, acknowledging the guests around the dance floor and many more ringing the upstairs gallery.
“May I have the honor of your first dance, Lady Sorcha?”
“Yes Duke, but the honor is all mine.”
“And the music?”
“The waltz, please.”
“The waltz it is.” Raimond turned toward the orchestra director. “S’il vous plait…”
“Quit stalling in there!” Steven pounded on the bathroom door while Rayna, Julia, and Penny paced the floor. When Sorcha emerged in her slip, she was pushed into a chair in front of her dressing mirror. More maids scampered through the door and went to work painting her nails and setting her hair in curlers.
Lily babbled as she applied false eyelashes, strand by strand. “I recommend the dark lip stain—less smudging.”
Penny spritzed sample perfume on linen strips.
Steven grabbed his nose and sneezed three times. “You know not to spray that near me.”
“The spicy jasmine, please.” Sorcha patted Steven’s back.
“It’s just allergies. That slip is beautiful enough to be the dress itself.”
“Your allergies are in your tiny mind.” Julia snorted.
“Oh, shut up.” Steven held a handkerchief over his face and collapsed in a coughing fit.
“Ok, stop,” Sorcha said, “I want a short break and Steven could use some air. You all need to get dressed, too.”
Julia stormed out.
The rest of Sorcha’s attendants hesitated until she gave each a sincere hug. “You’ve made me feel like a movie star. Steven, how in the world do you have allergies?”
“Never mind.” He dabbed the corners of his eyes with a sleeve. “I’ll see you downstairs.”
“Can someone send for Raimond? I need to have a word with him.” Digging in her nightstand, she found a smashed pack of cloves. Glad I don’t have allergies. Sorcha straightened the least damaged cigarette and lit it in the doorway of the balcony.
“I’ve been summoned?” The duke appeared out of the shadows, dressed in tuxedo pants and unbuttoned shirt, missing his tie and shoes.
“That’s a dashing look—you should attend the party as you are,” Sorcha said, “I especially like the slicked-back hair.” Sultry and dangerous.
“Touché.” Raimond scanned her outfit. “Is that underwear or your gown?”
“Ha-ha. There’s an important question I need answered. I want to know the procedure to change a human into a vampire.”
He shook his head and his finger in unison. “Way too soon.”
“I’m serious—I need to know.”
“Do you require my assistance?” The prince appeared on the balcony, like a phantom in a silk robe…
Can you feel it…the dawn of spring?
If you just got buried by Blizzard #Stella, you probably can’t see past mountains of snow.
But the snow is melting and the Spring Equinox is just days away.
Time for the story of a beautiful girl in her sapphire gown, waltzing into vampire royalty.
As soon as she drags herself out of the bathtub…
The evening of the party kicked off before sunset, the equivalent of early morning for a house full of vampires. Sorcha’s eyes fluttered open and settled on bustling around the armoire.
“Whoa, is that my dress?” She threw the blankets off and flipped on the chandelier. The blue fabric leapt to life in the soft glow. Her fingers caressed the subtle tone-on-tone pattern. Steven outdid himself. A silver slip lay on the nearby chair; its boning and fluffy layers would give the skirt perfect fullness.
“Breakfast is served!” Steven and Lily barged in, carrying coffee and chalices of blood. “You have to eat early today—you’ll need your strength for tonight. Hurry up. Hair and makeup take time.”
Sorcha fiddled with her food, spun her glass and left everything but her coffee on the tray before retreating to a tub full of bubbles.
“Quit stalling in there!” Steven pounded on the bathroom door…
In the muggy air of a cavern under the Old U.S. Mint, Sorcha’s long curls puffed with freedom as if held up by a devilish breeze.
“Let’s get started.” Ivori rubbed her palms together. Her eyes flashed orange as she mumbled peculiar lyrics in a foreign tongue. Smokeless fire erupted in a circle of rocks.
“What, exactly, are we summoning here?” Lock asked.
“Not what. Who,” Ivori answered, “All of us are searching for someone. Picture that person in your mind.”
Draven groaned and let blond wisps cover his face. “My Gwyenvere.”
Sorcha slipped back to a night in Nepal, the eve of a tragedy.
Lock flashed his brilliant violet eyes, but remained silent.
“I know it’s painful.” Ivori played an invisible piano with one hand while pouring the contents of a sachet in a perfect circle with the other. “No need to speak names aloud.”
“Is that—” Draven choked and held his nose. “Bone?”
“Teeth, actually.” Ivori emptied a vial of black syrup in the center of the circle. “From a shark who is still very much alive.”
“What a comfort.” Lock followed Ivori’s pointing finger to a metal box. “May I help?”
“Just with the latch.” She watched him spin the mechanism until the lid sprung open. A twisted, rusty arrow lay next to a perfectly polished dagger and a sapphire candle.
Sorcha rolled her eyes.
“Oh, it gets weirder even before I cut you…and myself.” Ivori deflected angry stares. “First, everyone needs to clear their minds and envision the moment when you were strongest.”
“My apologies—no.” Draven bolted up. “This sounds preposterous.”
“I want to hear her plan.” Sorcha yanked him back down. “We’ve had no luck doing this on our own.”
Ivori dipped the blue candle’s wick in the fire and set it on the altar. “If you can evoke your soul at its most powerful—the instant when you embodied the best of all your dreams—that force can summon anyone across all realms of the universe. I think.”
“You think?” Sorcha threw her hands in the air.
“So,” Lock said, “I just picture that occasion in my head?”
“Project the vision in front of you, like a personal widescreen. Once you’ve got it, raise your hand.” Ivori looked from face to face and waved the candle over the puddle of syrup, directing the liquid outward into the circle of bone. The mixture ignited flames that crawled until the ring was complete. Ivori looked up to see three raised hands.
“All ready.” Draven faked a smile.
“Perfect.” Ivori grabbed the dagger and raced around the fire pit. “This next part goes pretty quick. Don’t do anything until I tell you to, but keep concentrating.”
Draven and Lock each hissed when she sliced their palms. Sorcha didn’t flinch when Ivori cut both her hands at once.
“Now.” Ivori ran back behind the fire. “Men, squeeze a few drops into this circle.”
The moment Draven and Lock’s blood mingled, they were knocked back onto the benches.
Ivori sliced her own flesh over the flames and snapped her eyes to Sorcha. “Your turn.”
When Sorcha’s blood touched the ring, the ground began to quake.
“Men, be ready to join hands with her when this metal pierces wood.” Ivori raised the twisted arrow over her head and drove it toward the altar. “Now!”
The three slammed their hands together and the jolt started with the men. The blood of two ancient dynasties filled the air with black and gold sparks.
Sorcha looked to the weapon in Ivori’s hand and then into the girl’s inky black eyes. A low growl escaped her lips. Force leapt from her chest, rippled the air and plunged into the earth under their feet.
Each vampire’s perfect vision swirled overhead until their solid bodies flickered and finally distorted.
Draven’s shift solidified first. His modern suit became a classic, midnight tuxedo. His fingers gripped an open box. A ruby ring glittered in the velvet center.
Lock’s appearance dissolved next. Instead of the black t-shirt and jeans he arrived in, he now wore his full military uniform. Royal insignia lined his shoulders and medals covered his chest.
Sorcha dropped her gaze and changed last. Her eyes blazed with blue fire and her long hair became a chin-length, bob. Her porcelain skin melted away, replaced by the snarling face of a tiger.
Ivori flung her arms out and threw back her head to a cacophony of drunken notes. “By the power of a lone trumpeter’s call, the roar of a warrior’s charge, and the murmurs of saints and phantoms that bow to our sovereign—I summon all the lost souls home!”
Read Part 1..
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The painting in the photo is by artist, Dorothy Collier. You can find her work at http://www.dorothycollier.com .
This was my favorite find on a recent New Orleans adventure…now beautifully framed and hanging on my wall.
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