How could a quiet, reticent woman, raised by the nuns, but who resisted their teachings of the Devil and God, end up as the centerpiece of a Pagan celebration? Why, when the horned man with the beautiful Celtic tattoos covering half of his naked body, drew her in a way that no other man had ever touched her. Not only her body, but her mind as he invaded her dreams before Oct. 31.
So she was caught up, against her will, in a strange Halloween custom of trading parties with fellow workers until she ended up on that final night, at that special party.
The next couple of weeks, before the end of October, were hectic for everyone in the clutch of desks where Alli worked. Auditing was done in November, so everything had to be complete and off their workstations by the end of the month. The only thing she was grateful about was that the office was too busy for any chatter about the party.
Unfortunately, she found her nights were a different matter. She began to have dreams that interfered with her sleep. It started as she drifted asleep, she first saw the grinning face of a carved pumpkin, then more Jack O’ Lanterns leading a path to a ballroom. She saw her reflection in the many mirrors that lined the walls and she smiled. She was dressed in a simple domino mask and an early 1800s party dress, satin with layers of petticoats and rosettes that caught up the satin in swirls. She walked around the many other participants in their masks, the men in black tails and white ties and the women in beautiful full gowns, some talking and some sipping drinks brought to them by masked waiters.
She accepted a drink, even though alcohol was something she usually avoided, and walked towards a mirrored wall, happy just to watch the beautiful masked people in the room. Then a tall man approached her.
“I am pleased that you waited for me, Ashling.” His voice was deep, resonating against her.
She looked up, confused. “I beg your pardon?”
“It would have been dangerous for you to choose another. I do not take jealousy well.” He was moving in close to her.
She stepped back from him. Unlike the others, he was dressed all in black, the black tailed coat, over a black satin vest, over a black silk shirt, sporting a full black cravat at the throat with some type of black glittering pin holding it in place.
As he came close she grew aware that he was an unusually large man. He towered over her and his wide shoulders seemed to block out the room. He reached out to lay a hand on her shoulder. She was surprised that he didn’t have on the white gloves that all the rest of the gentlemen wore. His eyes seemed to glow as he looked down at her. She noticed no more details as she was trapped within those luminescent features surrounded by long black lashes.
She jerked away from his touch and, looking down, saw a dirty handprint on her shoulder and dress. “Get away,” she snapped. “Look what you’ve done.”
“Oh, there will be so much more on you and in you, before you and I are done, Bandia.” He reached for her again. She turned and screamed and ran into a mirror—
—and woke up sweating in her own bedroom.