All my families love Christmas.

As a little girl from New York, I remember a tree so tall it rivaled the Manhattan skyscrapers. My mother decorated every inch of our little apartment and the aroma of her cooking wafted through the windows and lured crowds from blocks away.

Of course, coven life was different but Christmas was remarkably the same. Peace, love and hospitality that bridged species and set ancient vendettas to rest for one sparkling night.

Duke Banitierres’ mission for the season was to surround himself with as much family as possible, and mend the broken pieces of their unconventional souls in the warmth of his home.

 The first weeks of December were filled with shopping in New Orleans but holiday central was at the plantation, sixty miles up the Mississippi River. Every room had its own tree, trimmed in a unique theme. For a week of nights we exchanged gifts, in the grand parlor, swamped in the glorious mess of wrapping paper, ribbons and bows.

On Christmas Eve, all roads led to Normandie Hall. One candle in the window, turned into a candle in every window.

Family and friends from around the globe, some who never attended a party or ceremony all year, always found their way through the arches of the white mansion. String quartets, brass bands and piano artisans took turns serenading a celebration that didn’t end until the sun came up.

Now, our Highland Christmas is traditional and austere. Bonfires and bagpipes on the lonely moor, a simple tree with white lights and a twinkling star; the beacon that has welcomed generations home for centuries.

Joyeux Noel

Walk With Phantoms


Can you walk by without stopping?

This humble door is an escape portal.

Resist the temptation for another look?

Silence and serenity are illusions.

Fight that impulse to sneak down the corridor?

Once your footfalls echo in the hallway, you’re hooked. Everyone receives a different gift from the courtyard. Snippets of clandestine conversation, pulsating dancers in hazy darkness, or the giggle of a bride on her wedding night. Flashes of history glimpsed through the fountain’s eyes. Remnants of passion sentenced to mingle forever in a purgatory of brick…until a brave mind happens by.

You’re fed what your soul secretly craves.

Feel the pull. Take the chance.

 Walk with phantoms.

Rip It Up



I want it gone.

That bar room map, the daggers, chess pieces and smudged crayon crosses.

My soul weeps for my city-divided, carved up and ruined. This war needs to end-no matter what. I’ll bite my tongue, cut my hair and even sleep with the enemy to restore order to New Orleans.

A long shot-maybe.

When it’s all over, bells of freedom will toll in the tower of St. Louis, isolated blocks will blend back into the Old Vieux Carre and the soul of our great city will sing with rebirth. Sparkling rockets will glisten on the river as criminals and their ceremonial weapons dissolve in the mist.

Against the odds-definitely.

But, we’re the good guys. My ten year-old daughter told me so.

To my family in their days of innocence and starry eyed laughter, the gentle spirit of a Doctor who dedicated his career to those in need, the honor of my Father who defended Great Britain with his life, and my Mother who made me the woman I am today…I vow to fill you all with pride.

Now, whatever I do with my fiancée on the polished star of that antique table-I’ll close the curtains first.

There’s a child in the house.

One-eyed ghost



imageIt’s one o’clock-did you see it? Every light in the French Quarter dimmed and flickered. The annual hour of limbo-sixty minutes that don’t exist.

Sixty blessed minutes to mingle

Tonight’s that night…when the fragile wall splinters. The streets flood with tragically damaged, hopelessly fractured and eternally lost souls who never find peace-not even in death.

Sixty fleeting minutes to roam.

Master vampires extend their hands, packs of wolves open their hearts, ancient covens lay down their magic and have a nightcap with a one-eyed ghost.


Unexpected Perks

I’m a New York girl…at least I was.

I fluff my curls into the Gulf breeze and flop back on the rickety dock to stare into the inky sky.

Fog wraps the channel buoy but her bells toll clear and strong, unlocking a flood of memories.

Remember when The Inverness set sail for the far side of the world? Eight clueless nurses on their adventure of a lifetime.

So clear in my mind, it feels like yesterday.



“Could this mattress be any thinner?” I slapped the fabric and tried the fluff the lump that passed for a pillow. “I can feel the springs–each and every rusty one.”

I’m a bundle of nerves. I know the emergency drills are necessary but the thought of sinking is terrifying. Thank you Titanic.

“Angela, what did you do with that Panama Canal book?” I rolled over and poked the girl in the next bunk.

“Ow!” Angela sat up and smacked her head on the bunk above her. “I’m fine. I have plenty of cushion for my skull, in case anyone cares.” She smoothed her flame red hair and massaged her scalp. “Here it is.”

“I don’t think I can sleep. Charmaine can’t either.”

“Oh Sorcha, can’t we rest?” Charmaine moaned.

“No. We’re going up on deck and Angela is going to read us a story.” I don’t want to miss anything.”

Gathered at the rail of the Inverness we learned of the hardships, disease and loss of life endured during the building of the waterway.

“Ugh, I hate bugs.” Charmaine rubbed her arms and looked straight down the side of the ship. “So, why do we have to go up and down in these compartments?”

“We’re in the mountains, or something. I don’t get it either.” Elizabeth tossed up her hands. “They could have made these turns a little wider, though.”

Ivori stomped away. “You’re all idiots.”



   So long ago…so much has happened since.

Excuse me, Miss?”

I bolted up, rubbing my eyes. “Can I help you?”

“We’re on vacation–from Chicago.”

“Yes, how lovely.”  Didn’t you see I was busy?

“Why aren’t the bugs biting you? They’re eating us alive.”

“Oh…hmmm,” Mosquito carcasses lay around me in piles, the needles on their noses bent like crazy straws. “I must taste terrible.”

 An unexpected perk…for this New Orleans girl.








Confident that security around the compound was impenetrable, the Prince and the Duke conducted an impromptu summit. Still dressed in their tuxedos, the men approached each other across the deserted dance floor, neither anxious to be the first to speak.

The Duke broke the standoff, offering mismatched glasses in one hand and a full bottle of rare, blood whiskey in the other.
“There’s been ugliness between us recently, but I thank you for stepping in to save my subject. I was much too far away to intervene. She would have been dead long before I broke through the crowd. I’m not sure any of us could have changed her either–she’s so accustomed to blood that she may have developed resistance.”

“Well, regardless of our past, there’s no way I would let the miserable little troll kill her,” the Prince answered. “without such a judgmental audience, I would have erased the entire problem.”

“There have been run-ins before.”

“I recall something about a girl fight and a broken arm. In any case, she won’t be a bother for a good, long while.”

“Banished to Europe, I assume?”

“Paris specifically.”

The Duke grimaced as he slammed his third whiskey. “Ah, Paris–my hell on earth. Don’t worry, I won’t be tempted to visit.”


A sparkling jewel on the hill. Scores of windows, draped in velvet and gold, tiny portals to the magic within.  Glowing warmth, welcome and refuge to all.

The white fortress–that’s how it was, as I remember it.

This is how it is–the haunted ruin, as I see it.

Darkness and gloom stretch for miles. Acres of fields and garden overgrown. Mother Nature and the bayou, once again victorious.

I brush away dust and mud to reveal what remains of our grand foyer. A lonely tribute  to the the golden age of a Duke and his court.

Countless footsteps, the dizzying waltz, the bold brass band and the tragedy of fire and spilled blood. The old tiles wear history well–still defiant and gleaming after all these years.

Handcrafted in marble and gilded in gold. One simple letter.