Alli had gone to a party one night, had great sex with a rich man who practiced a pagan religion—then was tossed aside. She knows there’s more to her life than that one night on Halloween, so when she receives a priceless antique from a nameless source right before Christmas, it has to be from him. She’ll show him—she’ll travel to his home in Ireland, throw the gift back in his face and refuse any offer he makes. She’ll show him. Unless…unless he reaches for her, unless he holds her, unless he kisses her.
Alli was standing, frozen, looking at the vehicles moving past, expecting to see a large grey limo, but all she saw were cabs and delivery trucks. Alli, whose nickname stood for Ashling Hedra, was confused. Nothing was right in her life anymore, not since the Halloween Trading Party mess—a party that was part of everyone’s life who worked for the large company that owned the building. She stood in front looking at the large OC on the brass plate at the side on the door.
Alli was still frozen, not even aware that Beth was hailing a cab and gently getting her into the seat. She was thinking of the large man that approached her that day and gave her a message that changed her life, as much as what had happened at the party had changed her. She was actually standing in her own living room before the loud voice of Beth finally penetrated her fog.
“What the hell is all of this?” Beth’s voice was loud and full of disbelief as she rotated in the room, looking at all the paper pasted to everything, walls, windows, even the sides of the TV.
“Research—come in the kitchen and I’ll explain.” Alli led the way, pulling a couple of bottles of water.
They settled down opposite each other at the small kitchen table and Alli took a deep breath. “Well, it all started with Halloween. Let me show you something.”
Alli stood up and pulled up her shirt above her bra, and even pulled her bra up a little from the bottom of her left breast.
“Wow.” Beth let out her breath with the word. “That is amazing, but primitive and unusual.”
Alli couldn’t see the entire tattoo as it was tucked in under her left breast, but she had it memorized—she’d looked at it often in the mirror. It was in dark ink, almost black. It was a circle around a star, but it wasn’t that simple. It seemed to be rendered to look like twisted rough branches with sharp briars sticking out as the pieces intertwined within and around in the circle. It reminded her of the circles of branches people hung on their doors with decorations attached to the dried vines. The same rough vine like material was rendered into the star in the middle, with each point touching the circle, leaving very little skin to show through the entire tat.
It seemed to be about five inches across, and it wrapped up under the bottom of her left breast and down over the ribs on that side. The place where it had been applied left it hidden easily by most of her clothes. She wasn’t the type to wear bikini tops, so there wouldn’t be many who’d see this insignia on her body. She pulled her clothes back into place and sat down, clinging to the damp bottle of water as if it would help hold her to some reality.
“It was applied to me at the party.”
Beth looked at her, wide eyed and with so many questions showing on her face that she didn’t even speak, which was a good thing.
“No, I didn’t ask for it. No, I didn’t get drunk and go to a tattoo parlor. I got caught up in some type of weird rite where I ended up both drugged and the centerpiece. Wait, let me get the card.”
Alli went into the living room and off one wall, from among the many papers and notes, she pulled the card that had been handed to her on the sidewalk the following day after the celebration. Sitting back down, she laid the card down and pointed.
“See, Halloween and the word Samhain. Well, I’ve been researching Samhain.” Again she was in the living room, pulling sheets of pages printed from web sites—Wikipedia and many others—all referring to Samhain. “I didn’t go to a Halloween party, I went to a Samhain celebration. An ancient Celtic festival that pagans participate in, even today.”
Now she was running back and forth, grabbing printouts and pushing them into Beth’s hands, laying them on the table as others fell to the floor.