It's been a while since I've participated in a Romantic Friday Writers challenge. This one was:
We’re looking for chilling stories of ghosts and haunted locations – and maybe even love from beyond the grave.
A romantic element is essential, but we’re looking for stories with a thrilling edge of fear to add to the romantic tension building between our Hero/Heroine.
I chose to highlight a section from my work in progress, Possessing Karma. In this story, Karma (going by Kay) has recently moved in to a refurbished town home in
New Orleans’ French
Quarter. She and Philippe, her neighbor, have both lost time while together
with only flashes of memory implying they were sexually involved. Karma thinks
she’s going crazy. Philippe suspects something paranormal.
In this scene, Philippe has just come home to secure everything against a coming tropical storm. This 979 word selection is from chapter seven..
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
He stopped, before her door. “Kay? I heard you come up earlier. Just wanted to know if you needed help with the shutters.”
Waiting, he laid his forehead against the plaster wall. He listened, anticipating the creak of her stairs, the metallic click of her lock… nothing.
“Huh,” he muttered to himself and knocked again. Still no response.
“Okay, then.” He turned the key in his own door and went inside. It was almost as muggy as outdoors.
Stooping low he untied his work boots and left them on the mat by the door. He wasn’t a neat freak, but didn’t want to risk tracking debris from the workshop over the polished wood. Someday he hoped he’d just think of them as functional floors instead of works of art. He unclasped the buckles on his overalls and stepped out them. He hooked one foot under them and kicked them in the general vicinity of the laundry hamper in the closet off the kitchen.
The wind rattled the windows again, howling around the building in harmony with a roll of thunder. In his socks and boxers, he stepped into the rain pelting the second floor balcony outside his living room and closed the shutters over the windows. After securing the bars in place, he closed himself back inside, pulling the bright green shutters closed behind him then locked the French doors.
So much for needing a shower. He stripped off his soaked socks and padded upstairs, checking that he didn’t leave puddles in his wake. Uncaring if anyone saw him in his shorts in the storm, he stepped out onto the third floor balcony outside his bedroom. Nope, he wouldn’t need a shower after this. The stinging assualted him, the drops almost angry in their wind driven strength, each drop a shock of cold in the trapped heat radiating from the city.
Barefoot and soaked, Philippe turned his back to the storm and focused on his task at hand. Two out of three French door shutters secured, he turned to watch the storm. The sting of the rain nothing against the chaos of the sky, of the haze blurred rooftops spread before him. Shielding his eyes against the wind, he leaned over the figured iron balustrade to look around the tall wood fencing separating his balcony from Kay’s.
She stood there, driving rain plastering her long hair to her neck and shoulders. For someone naked and soaking on her balcony in the face of lightning, she looked relaxed – her hands in soft repose, laying gently on the ironwork. He wanted to sculpt her.
Was she crazy?
“What are you doing?” He shouted over the next rumble of thunder.
She simply turned her head, looking at him, her eyes an eerie silver glimmer in against the rich cocoa of her skin.
“Secure your shutters and get inside!”
Her lips curved into a smile, as if she were amused by him. She did not respond, but turned to face him. Placing one hand on her breast, she gasped and closed her eyes. He watched, spellbound, as her fingers traced tiny swirls in the water drops, never quite touching her nipple.
He pushed his wet hair from his face, watching the water stream down her naked body. A rivulet started at her shoulders, flowing in sleek plains down her breasts, to join in the center and stream down her abdomen. She was glorious, one with the storm. Yes, he had to sculpt her – but first he had to get her inside.
“Don’t you want to touch me?” Her soft voice carried over the storm.
“Kay, get inside.”
She looked different somehow. Maybe it was just a trick of the light, but her skin seemed darker. And, of course, she was naked. He’d seen her partially nude before, but made a point not to stare. Right now, there was no way around it.
“I knew you would come for me.”
“Kay, are you nuts? This isn't just rain – the wind can carry debris, there will be lightning.”
She seemed to have no issue with her vulnerable state. If anything, she welcomed him.
“You need me. I’m under your skin, a sickness in you.” Her voice echoed in his mind, clear and soft in spite of the steady drum of the rain.
His skin tingled, a shiver running down his spine. Philippe gasped at the jolt of sensation, of the soft caress of the rain, the almost painful pleasure of the pressure of the wind against his finger tips, tickling his scalp. Stepping back he looked at his own hands, sure he was in dream.
His arms reached toward the divider, straining with an uncoordinated heaviness. With a crash, the boards splintered, flying around him. He felt himself wince at the stinging pain above his brow. Lifting one hand to his forehead, he laughed when it came back slick with blood. He gulped greedy breaths at the joy of sensation, marveling at his living body. The way the muscles of his abdomen contracted with each breath, the taste of soot that coated each raindrop, it was magnificent.
Barefoot on the tile, he took one heavy step, then another until she was an arm’s breadth away.
“I knew you would come for me. You have no choice – not any longer.”
“I crave you always.” He reached for her just as lightning split the sky. In that single burst of light, she seemed to glow, outlined by a reflection of herself.
Philippe fought against her pull, against his own body’s response. What was he doing here? It wasn’t safe. Instead he heard his own voice say, “Does that please you? Does the surety of my desire make you feel powerful?”
She smiled, smug and sensual. God, how he wanted her – he always did, always would.
The back of his fingers grazed along her cheek, her jaw. Her responsive shiver sent a dusting of goose bumps all over her skin.
“This body pleases me.”
This is a collage of inspiring images for my project. Karma is a religious studies professor, Philippe is a chainsaw sculptor.