Sometimes, I forget how it happened…the rush of being swept away by characters that didn’t exist until the moment they stepped out of the smoke and took the stage.
Three years ago this month, in a January darkened by the aftermath of a different storm, the first story was born.
It was intense, exhausting, addictive, and I’ve discovered…incredibly elusive. The newest cast members have a mind of their own.
While I wait, my mind wanders…to stained glass windows and dangling shutters that framed strange faces…along alleys lined with crooked doorways, when haunting footsteps echoed next to mine. Back to the shadowy labyrinth where I met the monsters…
A doomed commander, blessed with the heart of a savior,
A blood slave, hiding her exotic appetite,
A perfect prince, arrogant and viciously flawed,
A trained healer, born to be a killer,
A legendary warrior, incapable of simple trust,
A second son, unwilling to be held hostage,
A brilliant politician, searching for courage to love,
A city behind walls, glittering and moody, ravaged and reborn,
And a fledgling nurse with the soul of an angel, carrying a spirit fierce enough to make them all family.
La nuit sans fin…
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.
In the dead of night, on the year’s longest night.
Decades ago I saw this castle for the first time, spires soaring into the jeweled winter sky.
On this night, when drums of darkness triumph over the sun, our coven is still celebrating Nightside Mass around the corner.
A decadent party for them…pure torture for me.
A festive crowd, with a dismal vacancy.
My footsteps on these checkered tiles should be the miracle of a lifetime.
Forbidden spells have been cast.
Instead it’s my desperate cry for help.
Obscene ransoms paid.
My fingers squeeze the offerings jammed in my pockets.
Hallowed doors click shut.
No turning back now.
Stone cherubs flash impossible smiles and flags flutter in dead-still air.
Candles spark to pale, blue life as I pass.
No thunder claps.
Flames flare to a sapphire burn when I kneel in front of the altar.
No bolts of lightning. Yet.
In my left hand, a crimson rose. In my right, a string of flawless diamonds.
Black wisps of smoke flash across stained glass.
I offer my prayer, to anyone willing to listen.
Silence, broken only by rustling in empty pews.
The love of my life is missing.
The eternal, binding ceremony is mere weeks away.
Gone, in search of answers to ancient puzzles.
In the dead of night, on this sacred night,
I beg you, my ancestors…help me bring him home.