Sunday, 23 October 2011

Nine Ladies Dancing

So, it's Sunday, the sun is shining and I'm feeling good. Unfortunately, that now means that I have a consuming urge to burst into a rendition of Katrina and the Waves. This can't be allowed to continue, so in order that I might defy the sunshine and the cheesiness, let me share a short story with you all.

'Nine Ladies Dancing' is one of the story in an anthology that I'm planning to release on December 1st, tentatively entitled 'Have Yourself a Gruesome Little Christmas'. Twelve Days of Christmas become, in my world, Twelve Days of Terror. Number nine was great fun to research and write, and here's the first draft in its entirety.

Nine Ladies Dancing
2nd January

Christian unfastens the cap with a shaking hand, moistening his lips in anticipation as the green liquid swishing inside the bottle seems to glow in the light of the fire.

No matter what he does, nothing seems to have worked of late.

The images it his head that once would haunt him with a comforting regularity are no longer there, and there is nothing he can do to inspire them to return.

For an artist, it is the very worst of tortures.

Christian can bear it no longer. He has pored over piles upon piles of books to find out what artists like himself do when inspiration fails, and he finds one overriding theme.


Through the ages, it has been well-chronicled. Did Samuel Taylor Coleridge not write ‘Kubla Khan’ after an opium inspired dream? Even William Shakespeare is thought to have used cocaine and other hallucinogenic drugs of the age. It is no different in the world of artists. Christian’s two great heroes, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Vincent van Gogh relied heavily upon drugs to calm and soothe their artistic swings of temperament and inspire their works.

It is from Vincent himself that Christian has taken his influence for tonight’s drug of choice.


Not only did Vincent van Gogh draw great inspiration from absinthe, but numerous other artistes are well-known for their fondness of it; Pablo Picasso, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Verlaine and Ernest Hemingway, to name but a few. It is the perfect choice.

The scents of the fennel and anise drift free of the now uncapped bottle, mingling with the subtle undertones of 
wormwood and teasing at his nose as he breathes in deeply, rolling his head from side to side.

For this first foray, Christian has elected for the traditional method. Though the Bohemian way of preparing the absinthe with fire appeals far more to him, it would burn off much of the alcohol, thus tempering its effect upon him; the opposite to that which he desires. It is the intoxication, after all, that will hopefully lift the depressing fugue that clouds the creative corner of his mind.

Crouching down in front of the fireplace, Christian inhales once more before pouring a generous measure of the absinthe into the glass. Mesmerised, he stares as the liquid swirls around the glass, the verdant hues dancing before his eyes.

Shaking his head to rid himself of the illusion – for a moment, he almost imagined that the liquid was alive, a foolish notion born of fatigue, no doubt! – Christian balances the silver spoon on top of the glass. The slotted, ornate spoon was purchased specifically for this occasion and sits perfectly, waiting to receive the lump of sugar that he places atop it.

Next, he lifts a glass of ice-cold water. The condensation on the glass makes it difficult to hold, and it almost slips through his trembling fingers. Christian stills his hand, though, and slowly pours the water in a steady stream over the sugar cube.

Setting the water to the side, he sits back to silently observe the change in the liquid. Alone, it almost seems enough to inspire a return to the heights of his creativity; the louche clouds the substance as gentle aromas began to rise up that had before been overpowered by the heady anise. Juniper, dittany and wormwood all writhe their way to the surface, and Christian sighs in satisfaction as he lifts the spoon and lays it down upon the wooden floorboards.

It is time.

Holding his breath, he raises the glass of cloudy liquid to his lips and gently pours it into his mouth, allowing the tastes to dance and grow upon his tongue before permitting it to slip down his throat.

It is like nothing he has ever tasted before, and it is wonderful! Cool and refreshing as a result of the iced water mixed into it, it is a tantalisingly mingling of separate tastes that combine into an effortless balance of herbs and floral notes.

Brief images of Alpine meadows and open skies dart through his mind, and Christian releases the breath he was still holding, giddy with relief. Already, it is working!

Greedy for more, he swallows the remainder of the drink without bothering to savour the distinct taste this time before hastily preparing another; and another, and another.

By the time that he drains the fourth glass, Christian has fallen prey to the strangest of sensations. He has been 
drunk before, many times, but never like this; though he feels disorientated, clumsy, there is a startling clarity and lucidity to his mind that thrills him.

A thin trail of the cool liquid dribbles down from his mouth and onto his bare chest. Running his tongue around his lips to try to capture and milk every last drop of the precious absinthe, Christian stumbles to his feet. 
Shivering, for the heat of the crackling flames is no longer enough to warm his naked body, he staggers towards the doorway to retrieve his clothes.

Unsteady on his feet, though, his blurred vision and unwilling limbs conspire against him. Thinking that he is walking through the doorway, instead he walks directly into the wooden doorframe. His head cracks against it and as he rebounds, his mind begins to spin.

Groaning loudly, for he yearns to sketch out at least half a dozen of the images that are playing in his head, Christian tries to fight against the mist of darkness that is descending upon him, but it is no use.

The taste of anise upon his tongue the last thing that he remembers, he slumps to the floor and submits to the unconsciousness that claims him.

Christian grunts as he stretches out, momentarily surprised to find himself on the floor before the sharp pain in his head recalls to him the events that led to this point. The taste of the absinthe lingers upon his lips and tongue, and it is still dark outside; he cannot have been unconscious for very long.

Rubbing his head with his hands, he opens his eyes to find that the fire has burnt out. He pushes himself onto his hands and knees to crawl towards it, but a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye wrenches his attention away completely.

Propping himself up to sit against the wall, he blinks rapidly to clear his vision and then opens his eyes again, expecting what he has seen to no longer be there. It is no trick or mirage, though, for there they are again, dancing an elated quickstep in the air around him.

Damn, they were all but impossible to count when they darted around so! Squinting, he finally succeeded. Ten – no, nine. Nine fairies.


The word leaps unbidden to his mind, but instinctively he knows that it is the right one.

Eyes wide with astonishment, Christian reached out his hands, palms up, and mutely urges them towards him. Obediently, one of them lands lightly upon his skin, a flirtatious smile illuminating her face as he slowly brings his hand up towards his face to study her closer.

Oh, but she is glorious! Barely six inches tall, but perfection nonetheless. Christian could never have dreamed of such beauty. Her skin is the amber hue of the autumn leaves, and an iridescent hue of green snakes its way down the side of her face and across the top of her tiny, curvaceous breasts. Delicate, translucent wings erupt from each of her shoulders, her lips are the crimson of the reddest of roses, and her hair – such wonder in her hair!

Christian cannot resist the compulsion to stretch out one finger to tenderly stroke her hair as he marvels upon it. Wild and untamed, it shimmers in the moonlight that floods in through the open window. One moment it is the colour of moss, and in the next he could swear that it is a rich, luscious chestnut. Then she turns her head to the side, and it is the distinctive shade of chlorophyll that colours the absinthe.

Miniscule blossoms and blooms wind their way through the tousled mass of curls, and Christian plucks one free to hold it up between his fingers before delivering a reverential kiss to its satin petals. Returning it to the fairy’s hair, he brings her closer and gazes into her eyes, eyes that are the precise shade of the bark that covers the trees.

“So beautiful!” His sigh speaks of awe and of wonder, and it clearly delights the little fairy. Clapping her hands together, she sinks down into the curve of his palm, tucking her legs underneath her and smoothing down the silken folds of her flowing gown.

“Do you like the absinthe, Christian?” Her sisters flutter around him, twirling and prancing through the air as his head moves from side to side in an entranced attempt to follow their movements.

“Oh, yes!”

“And has it worked for you, Christian?” The fairy wraps her arms around his thumb, pressing herself lovingly up against it and batting her barely distinguishable eyelashes. “Can you draw inspiration from the delightful sensations it has awoken in you – can you draw inspiration from us?”

A phrase he read in his painstaking research resurfaces, bringing with it a flash of comprehension. “La Fée Verte!”

“Oui!” The fairies all beam delightedly at him, the soft glow that wraps around their bodies burning more brightly than ever. La Fée Verte – the green fairy – is the myth that will be forever associated with absinthe. Christian read of her many a time, but never did he think that she was anything more than a fanciful tale whispered of by the romantic Bohemians, perpetuated by nothing more than intoxication and wistfulness.
Now, though, the evidence of her existence sits in the palm of his hand as she and her spellbinding sisters sigh and smile up at him.

Shaking his head in stunned disbelief, Christian relaxes back against the wall and brings the green fairy to his lips, planting the gentlest of kisses on top of her head before lifting her up to look directly into her eyes. “You will bring me the inspiration that I crave?”

“Christian, we have already brought it to you; the very moment that the first drop of our glorious vessel passed your lips! Did you not feel it, my love, burning in your very soul as you sipped of the absinthe?”

“Yes!” he agrees breathlessly, remembering the vivid images of meadows and skies that flashed through his mind. “That was you, ma Fée Verte?”

“And my sisters, oui. The absinthe you drank was so potent, my love, and you drank so much of it that we were all able to come to you! Do you think that you could unleash your talent once more now, Christian?”

Of that, there could be no doubt, and Christian knows exactly what it is that she wishes to paint now above all else. The fairies that have brought the dam in his mind crashing down deserve the honour of being captured on paper; and he is certain, now, that he can do so perfectly.

How to best do them justice, though? His brow furrows in thought as the fairies giggle and cavort in front of him.

“Greens!” he mumbles out loud. These glorious fairies must have a backdrop of greens in their portrait, it is only right – but it is the depth of winter! Where can he find anything green to gaze upon and paint?

“The stream,” comes a gentle whisper. Another of the fairies has settled upon his shoulder, stroking his face lovingly and nestling against his skin. “The stream, Christian, and the pine trees.”

“To the stream?” he echoes, running his hands through his hair as his heart races, a burst of adrenalin pounding through his veins as he rises unsteadily to his feet.


“To the stream!”

“Go, Christian, now!”

“You might forget it – hurry, Christian, hurry!”

Their sweet voices echo in his mind, their urge for haste driving him out of the door in ignorance to the biting cold and his state of undress. Pausing only to snatch up his sketch book and pencils, Christian dashes out of the door and down through the garden in search of the bubbling stream that winds its way along the rear of his cottage garden.

The fairies fly alongside him, tumbling in the air, buffeted by the bitter wind. They do not seem to mind, though; instead, they throw their arms out and prance on the currents, throwing their heads back and allowing their hair to flow out behind them.

Christian is utterly enchanted, caught up in their spell and the startling lucidity of his intoxication. Leaping up off the frozen ground, he punches the air in glee before throwing himself down at the edge of the stream and flicking frantically through his sketchbook to find a blank page.

The fairies swarm around his face, kissing the skin that is covered in stubble before retreating to rest amongst the branches of the evergreen trees that line the bank of the stream. Desperate to capture their image before this brilliant flush of creativity he feels burning inside him fades away, Christian begins to sketch out the wondrous scene in front of him.

An outline will do for now; it is enough to secure the image in his mind. Colours will come later. For now, Christian simply devotes himself to capturing as much of the intricate details of the fairies’ beauty as he can; the way that the iridescent green tint to their faces shimmers in the moonlight, and the exact tilt of their lips as they smile at him.

Hours pass, but he neither notices nor cares, for all that matters is the fairies and how he must create the perfect representation of them on the page. From an artistic point of view, Christian has always adored the feminine form. It is a thing of beauty, with its intricate dips and curves, and such softness!

Each one is a miracle, of that he is convinced, and the fairies’ beauty is not diminished in any way by their lack of size; indeed, to him, the precise opposite is true. In Christian’s eyes, their minute stature only enhances their beauty.

Finally, he is satisfied with the picture that stares back at him from the page, convinced that it truthfully reflects the wonder of the image before him. Seeing him lay down his pencils, the fairies rise from the branches of the tree and fly towards him once more, their arms outstretched lovingly as they attach themselves to him.

“Christian, it is wonderful!” they coo in unison, their eyes sparkling with delight.

Their adoration thrills him, and he gathers them close to his bare chest. “Stay with me?” he begs, desperate to never lose these models of such exquisite beauty and wonderful inspiration.

“Until the end, Christian, until the very end,” la Fée Verte assures him, her eyes glinting strangely in the moonlight. “And now, my love, dance with us?”


“Dance, Christian, please!” she repeats.

“Oh, please, Christian!”

“Dance with us!”

“Christian, you must!”

How can he refuse so many pleading beauties, tiny as they are? Nodding eagerly, Christian follows them blindly as they break free of his hold and dart towards the stream hovering over the water as he jumps into it.
Oblivious to the cold and the rocks underneath his feet, he throws himself into the dance with the greatest of enthusiasm, laughing out loud as the fairies twirl around him, their delicate touch brushing against his bare skin as they stretch out towards him before dashing back and forth, up and down.

It must seem so strange to an onlooker; the naked man spinning and leaping through the air before splashing back down into the near-freezing water of the stream, entirely alone in the darkness. Exalted as images whirl through his mind, filling him with inspired bursts of creativity that he can barely contain, Christian leaps ever higher, ignorant to the dangers that stalk ever closer.

The water rushes around his feet, and his inebriation finally proves too taxing for his body to defy any longer. As he lands from his latest jump, his feet slip on one of the rocks and he crashes backwards, smashing his 
head on the rock.

Christian’s green fairies slip through his grasp as he flails uselessly, finding nothing to cling onto as he sinks down beneath the water, again unable to fight against the unconsciousness that is so determined to claim him.
He knows the consequences; he knows that if he loses the fight his life is forfeit, but what can he do? La Fée Verte darts into his field of vision one more time as his head momentarily breaks through the frothing surface, but now her face is grim and impassive.

Shaking her beautiful head, she clicks her fingers. She and her sisters turn their back on him and fly away.
Their desertion is the last straw. With a low, pained howl, his eyes roll back in his head and Christian allows the water to consume him.

The sight of the green fairies swooping upon his most brilliant work, lifting it into the air and soaring away is the very last image that Christian’s eyes ever behold.

Kate x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Satan's Toybox: Demonic Dolls is out now

The eBook version of Satan's Toybox: Demonic Dolls was released over the weekend. It has been an utter joy from start to finish working with Angelic Knight Press, and I am more than honoured to be held up amongst such fine company - the other authors who have contributed to the anthology include Tim Marquitz, Jason McKinney, Yvonne Bishop and many other spectacularly talented horror writers. And, quite frankly, Blaze McRob's poem to start the anthology is worth the purchase price alone.

My story is 'Lullaby' - a twisted tale of a family heirloom that holds many dark secrets. Have you ever wondered what lies behind the blank, glassy stare of those porcelain dolls so beloved by elderly women? I dared to dive into just that idea, and 'Lullaby' was what emerged from the recesses of my mind.

“It’s a secret, Mummy,” Grace hugged the doll possessively as she pulled her mother out of the bedroom. “Don’t worry; Matilda Dolly and me are going to make everything right. Come on, Mummy, let’s go.”

Grace had eyes for nothing but the doll as her mother mutely drove the short distance to her grandmother’s house. Drawing courage from the weight of the doll in her arms, she unbuckled her seatbelt and leapt out of the car before her mother had even turned off the engine.

Skipping up the rambling path, she stretched up to lift the heavy brass knocker. The twisted and contorted face of the gargoyle had always filled her with fear before, but now it did not disturb her in the slightest as it fell back with a loud thud against the wood of the door.

“Hello, Nanny!” Grace said as the door swung open and her grandmother’s gnarled and ancient body loomed into view.

The old woman scowled down at the small child, her piggy little eyes narrowing greedily as her gaze swept across the porcelain doll that Grace was clinging to. “Your mother gave you the doll, then?” she snapped by way of greeting.

“Of course I did, Mother!” Grace’s mother came to stand behind her daughter, laying one hand on Grace’s shoulder and choking back a sob. “What choice did I have?”

“I like the doll, Nanny!” Grace piped up.

“Oh, you do, girl, do you?” the old woman barked approvingly. “Not as much of a fool as your pathetic mother, then!”

“Matilda Dolly and me are going to be best friends, Nanny,” Grace smiled up at her grandmother without a trace of fear for the first time ever.

The old woman’s eyes narrowed yet further, but she jerked her head as she tore Grace from her mother’s grasp, pulling her into the house and along the dark hallway... 

You can get yourself a copy through Amazon, Amazon UK and Smashwords, and the print version is due for imminent release. Any book reviewers who would be interested in reading and reviewing, please contact me on here or via Twitter for details of how to get a free copy.

Kate x

Monday, 10 October 2011

Tuesday Tales - The Belfry

This path has not been walked for many hundreds of years, and for good reason.

She knows what awaits her in the belfry, but unlike those who were entrusted to guard it before her, Camilla can resist the call no longer.

Compelled, her hand closes around the frost encrusted brass handle. The door swings open at her command, and Camilla recoils from the putrid smell of damp and decay that instantly assaults her. She cannot turn back, even though she gags on a rising tide of bile as she resolutely sets foot on the uneven cobbles at the base of the winding steps.

Simply placing one foot in front of another has never been so difficult before.  Shadows dance around her, drawing her further into the loving embrace of the darkness with every step that she takes. Crimson streaks of blood from centuries past adorn the cobwebbed walls; barely visible through the deepening gloom, but the metallic, cloying scent that hangs heavy in the air is unmistakable.

Her blood sings with the thrill of anticipation as she climbs higher, working her way up the spiralling steps until she can do so no longer.

Her path is barred by a trapdoor overhead. Camilla knows what is now just moments away, and her hands shake as she stretches them up to lift the rotting wood that stands between her and her destiny.

Weak sunshine breaks through the planks of wood as they crumble beneath her touch, illuminating what is above her. Digging her fingers into the floorboards over her head, Camilla prays grimly that they will not give way as she vaults through the gap that she has exposed and lands in a feline manner safely upon the floor of the enclosed belfry.

It is there.

Just as she had read, the vast, awe-inspiring bell hangs proudly from the ceiling beams. Dirt lays thick upon it, for it has not been rung in over six hundred years. The thin rays of sunlight that penetrate the grime smeared across the pane of glass above the bell reflect against the clouds of dust that rise up into the air, disturbed by Camilla’s intrusion into their sanctity.

Without even a moment of hesitation, she reaches for the woven, knotted rope attached to the mechanism of the bell. For half a dozen centuries it has waited, and time has taken its toll upon it. The rope disintegrates beneath her firm grasp.

Camilla unleashes a low howl of frustration, but she will not be defied; the calling is too strong. There is nothing for it – the ceiling beams now offer the only access to the bell that must be rang.

A shivering stab of yearning spreads through her veins as she climbs gracefully onto the bench that had been pushed up against the stone wall, tenses, then leaps as high as she can, catching hold of the ceiling beam above her.

Her grip is sure, and she swings from one beam to the next until, finally, her slender legs dangle in front of the bell. Gathering momentum, Camilla rocks back and forth, holding her breath as she makes contact with the cold, smooth metal.

Her unclad feet push it forwards, but it barely moves before settling back into its position without ringing as it must. Gathering all her strength, she swings again, and again, and again – and then, success!

With a loud, ominous clang, the clapper crashes against the body of the bell, reverberating through the stones of the belfry and the wooden beams.

Camilla cries out as the peal of the bell shakes the wood and tears it free of her grasp. She tumbles through the air, towards the open trapdoor beneath her – is this how it must end, before she even sees the living proof of her triumph?

No. A pair of hands snatch her out of the air, arresting her fall and dragging her into their owner’s body.

She twists her head up to gaze upon him in awe. Oh, but he is everything she dreamed he would be! The raging heat of his body sears her skin, but Camilla cares not – he is here.

“My lord!” Her whisper is hushed, reverent, and a satisfied smile curves back his scarlet lips.

“My most faithful servant. I am pleased.”

The demon’s curt words of praise inflame her just as surely as a lover’s embrace. Camilla presses herself up against him and gazes into his eyes; eyes that are as black as the depths of midnight, save for the flicker of amber flames smouldering in the very back of them. Entranced, she shivers with delight as he winds his hand through her hair.

“Camilla, will you do one more favour for me?” His voice is low, compelling and irresistible.

She nods eagerly. “Oh, anything!”

His smile widens. “I have seen and experienced the full spectrum of humanity’s sins, my Camilla, but there is one that I glory in and thrive upon above all else. It gives me sustenance, and that, Camilla, is what I now need above all else.”

Her breath quickens as she prepares to give herself to him entirely, sighing with pleasure as he pulls back her head back and stares at her parted lips. Camilla closes her eyes.

They will never open again.

In one fluid, rapid motion, the demon twists her neck and snaps it cleanly from the spine.

Inhaling deeply, he rises to his feet and drinks in the life force that flees from Camilla’s body as his high, triumphant laughter echoes around the cavernous belfry.

Brushing down the dust from his body, he lets Camilla’s broken body fall forgotten to the floor as he stalks down the stone steps, gaining strength with every step that he takes.

The power of the bell that once imprisoned him has been broken by its peals. He is unleashed once more; and now, none can ever stop him again. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Ada Lovelace Day

Despite my obvious leaning towards the arts and my passion for literature, I've always felt a strong pull towards the sciences as well. I studied physics at A-level, and of all the subjects I took, it is that still intrigues me now above all else. Perhaps that's due to the spectacular and enthusiastic teachers that I was very fortunate to have, but for whatever reason, my interest in the topic is one that still persists now.

Because of that, I've decided to turn my literary blog over to the dark side today to mark Ada Lovelace Day. Ada is a woman who has always fascinated me; until last year I lived in the village in which her father, Lord Byron, is buried. George Gordon Byron is one of my greatest inspirations, and as such, I spent much of my free time whilst living in Nottinghamshire researching his life. When I first read about his daughter, Ada, my interest was immediately piqued.

Like the father she did not know, Ada fought against the conventions of her time. Born in the midst of the glorious and debauched Regency era in England, her mother raised her to be the very opposite of her father, fearful that she might inherit Lord Byron's infamous and volatile poetic temperament that led to him being described as 'mad, bad and dangerous to know'. Instilling in her daughter a love for science, logic and mathematics from a young age, Annabella Millbanke provided her child with the early tools to become renowned as 'the Enchantress of Numbers' and, perhaps, the very first computer programmer.

It was a tragedy that Ada's life was cut short by cancer at the age of thirty six, and painful to imagine how much more she could have achieved had she been able to live a longer life.

Still, though, what she managed was spectacular, throwing off the confines that had historically been applied to women and unknowingly becoming an inspiration for generations of women to come.

Working alongside the famous Charles Babbage, she translated Luigi Menabrea's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine - the forerunner for the modern computer - and in doing so, created an article three times longer than the original that many recognise as containing the world's first computer program.

Ada was buried alongside her father at the very beautiful Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham. I spent many hours there paying silent homage to the both of them, and, with Newstead Abbey, it is one of the things I miss most since leaving Nottingham

Ada Lovelace Day is all about recognising the women who have been influential in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering and technology; areas which are, of course, traditionally dominated by men. The woman who has most inspired me is not someone that any of you will know, but she is the most important woman in my life - my aunt and my godmother, Audrey.

Through Audrey, I've learnt to revel in my love of learning and push myself further each day. Qualifying as a nurse in the 1970's, my aunt has constantly fought to keep learning and advance herself. Her knowledge of medicine is spectacular, and she has deservedly won herself many advancements and much recognition in her field. She makes me incredibly proud to be her niece, and now that I have a daughter myself, I only hope that my daughter will come to love her aunt as much as I do.

Perhaps, one day, my daughter will make the decision to work in the sciences. Without sounding like an overly proud mamma, she's one smart cookie, and if she has even half of the determination of her great-aunt, she'll go far and achieve whatever she sets her mind to - just like Ada Lovelace.

So, this one goes out to all the women out there, both today and through the ages, who have devoted themselves to scientific advancement and furthering our understanding of the world around us. This romantic and temperamental author salutes you.

Kate x

Monday, 3 October 2011

Teaser for 'Kiss Of An Angel'

Guys, girls and ghouls, it's finally October! You know what that means - Halloween is coming, and with it the launch of my new novella, 'Kiss Of An Angel'. True to both the season and my nature, it's a paranormal erotica, and this time I've ventured into the world of polyamory. I'm getting hot and steamy again just thinking about it!

There's a little teaser below, and I'll be guesting on Amelia James's (@TrashyWriter) blog at the end of the month with another excerpt to titillate you all. For now, though, enjoy!


Shannon hesitated for a moment, but she felt an irresistible pull towards the dark and forbidding house. Of their own accord, her feet were moving down the path, and as if in a dream, she lifted the heavy brass knocker and let it fall back against the door.

She held her breath as she waited for it to be opened from within. After what seemed an interminable wait, it opened by the smallest of margins. “Trick or treat?” Shannon’s voice trembled, and a wave of heat flooded her body despite the wind that was whipping around her.

“Trick or treat?” The voice that echoed her words was low, deep, and undoubtedly masculine. It rippled through her like an intimate caress. “My lovely, surely a beautiful young woman like you is old enough to play a more adult game than trick or treat!”

“Oh, not me, the child –“ Shannon began, a burning flush inflaming her pale face with his words. She trailed off abruptly when she looked down and realised that Emily was no longer next to her.

The door finally opened to its full extent as she fell silent, revealing the speaker to her gaze as his eyes raked slowly over every dip and curve of Shannon’s body. A low tremor somewhere in her core caused her to moisten her lips nervously, for she found herself wholly unable to look away from him.

He was beautiful. To simply call him handsome would not do him justice; Max was handsome, but this man was something else entirely. His dark, lustrous hair fell forwards as he tilted his head towards her, and the dim light of the grand, sweeping hallway behind him seemed to form a halo of light around his muscular, barefooted body.

Most entrancing of all, though, were the soulful grey eyes that were fixed so intently upon her. Shannon had never before had occasion to regard a shade of grey as anything but dull and uninspiring, but those were the very last words she would use to describe the stranger’s eyes. They burned with what seemed to be the memories of a thousand lifetimes, an age of pain and passion smouldering in their depths.

Shannon’s lips parted in uncertainty as she stared up at him. Her heart was beating wildly out of time, and she had never felt more alive than she did in this moment when the passion in this frightening stranger’s eyes seemed to promise her so much.

Finally, just when she thought that she could bear the forbidding and pregnant silence no longer, he spoke again. “A child? Oh, I see no child – the most beautiful woman it has ever been my blessing to see stands before me, of that there is no doubt, but a child?” His sensuously full lips curved back into a predatory smile as he spoke, and he leaned casually against the doorframe.

“There – there was a child with me,” she said wildly, not knowing why it was that her legs were shaking so badly that she feared they would be unable to support her weight much longer. “She must have run back to the others; she didn’t want to come here, you see.”

“Well, a child’s instincts are very often correct,” he said gravely, a spark of amusement now dancing in his grey eyes. “And what do your instincts tell you, my lovely?”

A shiver ran down the full length of her spine as he reached out to take her hand, entwining his long fingers through his own and gently stroking the back of her hand. “My instincts are telling me to run, to run and never look back." 


Roll on October 31st! Whilst I've got your attention, do swing by the Goat Franchise's new website and subscribe to stay up to date with what I'm up to, along with all the latest news from Jake Bannerman. We're going to be opening up to submissions in the New Year, so keep your eyes peeled...

Kate x