Genre: Psychological Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Gothic Novel
Publisher: Insubordinate Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Next morning, I splashed water from a pewter pitcher. The kitchen, on a sunken floor, with a chimney that whisked the smoke at an angle, had a modernized small window reinforced with iron bars and thick glass that opened to let out smoke in emergencies. The only window that wasn’t along the top of the castle.
I prodded around to find the keys. Leaving would be noisy, even if I were strong enough to lift the portcullis. But sometimes he left it up. I was unused to requesting permission to leave. The cupboards built into stone walls had ancient, sturdy locks on them. That must have been where rare spices lived. If I found Dune’s keys to get to the keys and figured out the secret way to use them. Oh, bother.
There, at the kitchen window, inches from my eyes, Colin’s face!
Suede jacket soaked, his sandy hair darkened, flattened against his head, his smooth skin almost translucent in the clustered lightning flashes. I gasped and knocked over a goblet.
Dune called out, “Is everything all right?”
“Just being clumsy me.”
“Did the thunder startle you?”
A storm was blowing over us, the wind hurling the dark clouds along, rain pelting everything, including the unfortunate man.
“Yes. Sorry, just bustling in here.”
Was Colin hungry? Did his wound need tending?
Has he confused me with Miriam because of delusion from hunger? I liked the hungry look in a man, making his cheekbones angular, his abdomen concave, his waist narrow. I gawked as he mouthed something. I feigned overlooking him, that the lighting created a glare on the windows. I continued moving without disrupting my stride, peripheral vision heightened. I warmed when he lay hand over heart and then opened it toward me.
Was Miriam making noises in the corridors? Was she in the room with me?
That’s what he’s seeing! Miriam’s ghost! Haunting me! I spun. I called out her name. “Miriam, give a sign.”
Meanwhile, Colin scratched on the pane.
I scurried around and put tape, gauze, and peroxide in a bag. I put in matches, too, in case he needed to start a fire for warmth, cooking, or sterilization. I threw the bag, missing some feisty shrubbery that would have obscured it from his view. Would he find it? I closed the window and moved away.
I hoped Dune wouldn’t find it or realize it was missing. I’d never get the chance to help Colin again. Colin tapped against the glass, but I didn’t look. It seemed he might have died from infection if he didn’t have some way to treat it. But, now what?
I lifted my chin going about my breakfast preparations, to present to him my most fetching profile, lengthening my neck, and upturning my lips. Two men I found enticing: one inside the fortress, one outside thick stone walls. The electricity could shatter the glass into a million pieces.
I skinned a hare. I put it over the fire to cook with older gorse leaves and a side of fresh gorse salad. Not my typical breakfast. The cooking smell was better than I’d expected. Was I tormenting Colin, cooking while he watched, starving out there?
When Dune came in to eat, Colin ducked down and ran off into the darkness. I moved in front of the window. The windows had numerical symbols I recognized from Luke’s books. I was code breaking.
I jumped, startled by bright light. A loud snap, followed by thunder. “That struck close!” A tree had cracked, falling, hitting other trees, parts of it breaking off. I ran to the window to see if it had landed on Colin. Couldn’t tell.
Greek Mythology: To the ancient Greeks, the September equinox marks the return of the goddess Persephone to the darkness of the underworld, where she is reunited with her husband Hades. People have celebrated the fall equinox for centuries. In the Northern Hemisphere, the September equinox coincides with the fall harvest, and many ancient harvest celebrations take place on or around the fall equinox.
By our best guesses, Halloween may be older than Christianity. In those days, it was a Celtic pagan festival called “Samhain,” a time when the barriers between the land of the living and the dead blurred.
Little is recorded of how Samhain was celebrated, and so we’ve had to gather what we know from legends and secondhand accounts. The details paint the picture of some dark and unnerving rituals and of something very different from the holiday we celebrate today.
On Samhain, it was believed that the doors holding in the world of the dead would open. Dead loved ones would wander out into the world of the living, often trying to make their way back to their homes.
In some places, they took pity on the dead. They would leave food outside the door to feed the passing ghosts or even leave their doors open and prepare a place for the dead to rest.
Not all the dead were so peaceful, though. One Irish legend says that, when the portal to the dead opened, a creature called Aileen would emerge from the otherworld and burn the town of Tara to ground every Samhain. In some place, in fear of these spirits, the people would spend Samhain with their doors locked shut, afraid to step outside.
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About Tantra Bensko