Dariel's World

Hi. I'm Dariel Raye, an interracial/multi-cultural paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and psy/suspense author, and every day of this journey is a learning experience. I'm also a counselor, musician, and animal lover. My stories are about all-conquering love and romance, and I enjoy hosting other authors as well. Enter a world where werewolves, vampires, multi-shifters, vamp-like Nephilim, Vodouin Fey, and all things paranormal capture our hearts...

You might also like to visit my website.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Interview with an Avid Reader: Linda Terrutty

Join me in welcoming Linda Terrutty for an interview! Linda's been a member of my newsletter list for over a year, and she's an avid reader. This is just the first in a series of reader interviews I'll be conducting. Enjoy!




Interview with Linda Terrutty

1. How old were you when you started reading for enjoyment? What kinds of books did you start reading? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading most, now?  
I was about 11 or 12 when I started reading books not required by school. I mostly read romance novels – Harlequins to be exact (I used to sneak my mom’s and actually got in trouble for bringing one to school). I’m still a huge fan of romance novels, but across all genres from historical, suspense, and paranormal. As long as there is romance in the book, I’d probably read it regardless if it is deemed horror, sci-fi, dystopian, erotica, or same gender romances. 

2. What 3 things would you like other readers and writers to know about you? 
First, if I had to pick something I could not live without and that I spend most of free time doing, it is reading. Second, I always wanted to be a writer, but unfortunately, realized I just did not have the knack for it. My creativity is limited which is why I try my hardest not to judge too harshly any book that I read. If it were easy, wouldn’t we all be doing it? And third, I can be fickle. This means that on any given day, I can be in the mood for paranormal books and ONLY paranormal books, and on others, I may just want to lose myself in a good old-fashioned, sweetly written historical romance. Books that some may find boring, I adore. 

3. What are some things you look for in a good book? 
Ok, so I’m not a true grammar Nazi, but will admit that if there are enough errors (missing words, misspelled words, sentences that do not make sense, etc.) of them, that will definitely drop my rating on a book. The other thing is that it has to have a decent plot. I read a book one time that just rambled. It felt repetitive and as if the author was just trying to stretch the book out to a length that was more in line with a novella vs. a short serial. But, there is a fine line. I don’t just read the book, I actually picture it in my head as I read so if it isn’t clear or overly descriptive, I lose that picture and the book loses my interest. Luckily, I’ve only not finished a book twice. 
What separates a good book from a great book in your opinion? 
In my opinion, what makes a book great is if I lose myself in it. Given the context, I either laughed, or cried, or found myself holding my breath while I turned those pages as fast as I could to see what the characters would do next. And it has to be a book that has held me captive throughout, and not just part way through the book. I know this is difficult; to create a story that will appeal to everyone equally and have seen reviews that are completely opposite of mine for those books that I have loved.     

4. When and where do you do most of your reading? 
I read mostly at home while in bed at night, but will read anywhere that I have to sit and wait so a book goes with me whenever I leave the house. 
No exceptions. What’s your favorite reading device? 
My kindle is my favorite reading device. If I pick up an actual book, it is because I borrowed it from my library or a friend.

5. What are some things that make you pick up an indie author’s book(s)? 
There are several things and in the order that are most important! 1) The synopsis has to be interesting and as I said, if there is romance included, then I’ll pick it up. However, to be completely honest, given the number of books available, the price has to be right too. 2) If it is an author I have not read before, I will usually try a book that has been recommended by someone I know who has read it even if the synopsis did not grab my attention. 3) If the book is written by an author who is new to me and not recommended by someone I know, I’ll try the book at $1.99 or less if the reviews in Goodreads are at least favorable. I expect that opinions will vary for a lot of books, so as along as the average is 3 stars or more, I’m willing to try it. 4) If I win the book or it is gifted or loaned to me, then I’ll definitely try the book.

6. Do you ever review books and post the reviews? 
I haven’t always reviewed books or posted those reviews, but once Goodreads became available and authors asked for reviews, I’ve made it my personal goal to always post an honest review even if I did not like a book. And it is rare for me to not see something good in every book. 

7. What are some of your favorite online and social media hangouts? 
I don’t spend a lot of time on line, but if I do manage to get on line, I go on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter….in that order exactly, which means I’m on FB more than GR or Twitter.


8. Are there any indie author blogs that you read regularly? Honestly, I read the newsletters that are emailed to me. If something catches my eye that indicates more is on their blog, then I’ll go there to read it. This means I don’t really go out to any author’s blog on a regular basis. If so, what brings you back each time?




Friday, November 28, 2014

Dariel's Flasher Friday Stop: "Trappings"



Happy Friday! Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday :-) Here's my 100 words using the beautiful pic above as inspiration. My friends have done their own flashes using the same pic, so please check those out too when you finish here. As always, you won't be disappointed.


Trappings

I closed my eyes, wishing it all away when he caught me.

Jason always made me feel so desirable, beautiful, safe…until now.

I feared he’d kill um…I don’t know his name, but he’d barely touched me. The fury on Jason’s face sent him skittering from the apartment, forgotten.

My body combusted when our eyes met. 

Stormy green eyes skittered across my nakedness as he shoved my clothes at me, his fist a mass of raised blood vessels. “Get dressed, and wait for me,” he ordered.

Twenty minutes later, china rattles in my trembling hands. My entire body sizzles, anticipating Jason’s return. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Man Candy: You're Welcome


Hugh Jackman - It's the personality. Really!

Happy Thanksgiving! This year has been a struggle with so much to be thankful for, thought I'd send a little joy your way. Enjoy! All pictures can be found on Pinterest.


Adam Rodriguez - Yummy
Alright! Who tore the man's shirt off?
Aldus Hodge. Such a sexy smile!
Hawtie at your door.

Daniel Sunjata - dimples and all

What are we gonna do with that collar, Christian Bale? Hmm?

A puppy. Just when I thought Ian Somerhalder couldn't get any sexier!

Jason Scott Lee

Hey, Jude Law! Sexy eyes, rockin' bod, come hither look...

Morris Chestnut. Most definitely one of the most beautiful men in the world, and classy to boot.

Liv from "Scandal," I can't understand your indecision! 

Personally, I'd have made those shorts a little shorter.

  Shemar Moore - need I say more?              

Stop it already! Which one is ripping the shirts off my men?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable" Plus Over 7k Words




Same cover, same blurb, just more story! I listened to the reviews, and thankfully, what I heard over and over again was that "Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable" was too short. For some reason, my "new edition" alerts haven't been going out, so I'm announcing it here. The fourth edition of "Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable" is live with 7,000 added words and another plot twist. 

If you've read the three books in this series that are available now, you already know that each subsequent story not only introduces a new hero and heroine, but continues the story of the heroes and heroines from previous books as well. Now that I've added over 7,000 words to book one, you can learn even more about the characters. 

Dark Sentinels – Book One: Sable by Dariel Raye

Sable, a sentinel wolf shifter, is captured and locked in his wolf form until Akila, a veterinarian, tries to tame him and unleashes a 6'5" baby blue-eyed surprise.

Dr. Akila Marshall is a veterinarian with a calling – save as many stray animals as possible. The only child of wealthy, yet distant parents, she’s convinced that love is not for her. Until…


Sable’s search for his twin sister leads him to Akila. Born into a rare species of wolf shifters whose main purpose is protecting others, he has always been forced to fend for himself, but Akila’s loving, protective nature draws him – and not a moment too soon. Together, they must learn to trust each other enough to overcome a new, deadly enemy.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sweet Christmas Read: "A Romance For Christmas" by Kayelle Allen




About the Book
A Romance for Christmas
By Kayelle Allen
A cop at the door on Christmas Eve brings an unexpected gift.
A sweet holiday romance showcasing love, loss, and the spirit of giving.
It's Christmas Eve, and the end of a year in which everything Dara loves has been lost. Everything but her little girl and a fierce determination to survive. When a cop brings Christmas to her door, he brings another gift she never expected to get.

Giveaway

Peek inside the book for background on the story, the reason for the names, excerpts, buy links, and more: http://is.gd/rom4cmaspeek

Buy Links
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/1wpYfL2
CreateSpace http://is.gd/gazeza

About the Author
Kayelle Allen is a multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.


Excerpt
Dara was gaining strength daily, and would finish therapy the first week of January and return to work. Disability paid for the basics - lights, phone, water, trash collection, and she'd never bought anything on credit, refusing to dig herself into a hole she'd never escape once it got started.

She went to the closet and pulled down a box with a ball, crayons, paper, and three books. A friend had brought over a few things as well. This wasn't the grand Christmas Dara had wanted for her daughter, but all the other valuables had been sold. There was nothing left but her wedding ring.
She didn't wear it. Removing it had been part of saying good-bye to Jack.
They said it would help, and it had. Sort of. But not much.

Dara sank into one of the kitchen chairs and put her face in her hands.
Sometime later, when the doorbell rang, she grabbed a paper towel and dried her eyes. The clock over the stove said nine o'clock. Who would be calling at this hour on Christmas Eve? She stuffed the wet towel in her robe pocket on the way to the door.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dariel's Flasher Friday Stop: "One Last Game"



Source

Happy Friday! Here's my 100 words on the inspirational pic above. Click here to read my friends' posts :-)

One Last Game

Cupid hung his head. Every grain of salt chewed at his bare ass, the intermittent water’s calm fleeting at best, but he couldn’t move.

Silky raven strands and soulful brown eyes burned to memory stabbed him, Tara’s image, unbearably beautiful.

They said God’s will was not his – only God’s law within reach, but how could he not reach for love, taunted by the gift interminably?

One last game.

Naked, hungry, stranded by the sea, his wings, perfect for quick take-offs and short landings hung useless at his back. 

He sensed Tara’s approach, but what could he do for her now?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Missing Nano Update 2: "Dai's Dark Valentine"




This is the Valentine's Day story. Paranormal, and ever since my Dad told me about the Spanish Moors as a child, I've always wanted to feature some in my stories. This will be the first. The heroine is  descended from Spanish Moors, and her ancestors migrated to France during the constant wars and changes of leadership throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. This one also has elements of Fey magic and time bending. Hope you enjoy!

Dai’s Dark Valentine
Three-hundred years is a long time, but left to its own devices, what began as the vendetta of one man can grow to encompass even more formidable hatred.

Daitre Salons is a beautiful but naïve heiress whose true heritage has been kept secret even from her. Now, her abilities are emerging and her father’s enemies want her dead, but what bothers her most is that her new husband “in name only” insists on treating her like a child.

Joban Beaucoup, professional guard to the Salons family, and dark fey, has chosen to leave the quaint yet suffocating French town of his orphan-birth and venture to the Americas, but he needs one thing he cannot concoct, despite his magical abilities – a wife.

When Joban agrees to marry Daitre and take her to the Americas with him, he carries her three-thousand miles away, then whisks her three-hundred years into the future to assure her safety, but while Daitre struggles to adjust to this strange new world, manage her newfound powers, and figure out her feelings toward Joban, Joban learns that even here, their enemies have followed them, now more deadly than ever.



Excerpt
He nodded as he entered, speaking to both of them, then pulled his chair a distance from her before sitting. She did her best to ignore him.

Papa, ce qui se passe?

She couldn’t miss the impatience in her father’s voice as he reminded her again. “English, please. I have paid the best instructors for years. Your English is impeccable, and your safety depends upon you using it. Understood?”

“Yes, Papa. What is happening?” She glanced at Monsieur Beaucoup again.

“Monsieur Beaucoup and I have discussed this agreement at length, and he has already contracted to marry you and take you to the Americas with him.”

“Wha…? What? Papa, I could never submit to this…this…rude…beast!”

Monsieur Beaucoup glared at her. “Dream on, puss. Nobody said anything about you submitting to anything but a marriage in name only. I’m not that desperate.”

“Stop calling me that!” she snapped.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fiona Quinn is Visiting - Things to Consider Before Co-authoring a Book




I met Fiona on Twitter through her article about weaponry for writers (well, not personal weapons, but you know what I mean - info about weapons so our stories are more authentic.) Today, she's visiting with an article about co-authoring books and a few things to consider. Remember, we love comments ;-) 

Is That Even Possible? by Fiona Quinn

When it comes to heartbreak and nefarious villains, I prefer to live those adventures vicariously through a book. But there are some things that I think are more fun experienced in real life. 

Recently, my adventurous spirit lead me into a very interesting literary experiment.  I met English ex-pat John Dolan on Twitter, of all places. He had doffed his Henry Higgins cap to explain to me the retweet concept when I was meandering around the Twittersphere as a newbie. 

Our personalities clicked, and we decided in short order to write a novel together via the Internet.
I thought I might lay out some of the barrels we needed to leap in order to help you make decisions should you ever find yourself wanting to co-author a work. If you are a reader you might appreciate the behind scenes foibles

Timing
I thought the hardest part of this experiment would be time. John and I had our personal constraints as well as the timing issues of a 9 hours difference between EST where I live and Dubai time where he was living. But that was the least of the issues. Technology issues were our #1 headache.

Trusting
If either of us threw up our hands before we were done, then months of work would be down the drain. Make sure you have an exit strategy should one of you need to stop.

Picking a language
John speaks English-English, and I speak American-English. Word choices, phrases, even spelling can become confusing, even if you are from different regions within a single country. Here’s a real-life exchange between John and I that actually made it into our book:

John:  "Dagenham Dave" was a 'wide boy' in an Ian Dury song. 

Fiona: OK I think this is fine but have no idea what a 'wide boy' could mean besides someone who enjoys too many pastries.   

John:  Continues Fiona's education in matters British: A 'wide boy' is someone who is an insincere person, a con-man, a snake-oil salesman, someone obsessed with making 'loads of money'. OK, Elisa? Yours, Henry Higgins. 

Fiona - Thank you, professor. Can I take the marbles out of my mouth now?

Writing Style 
I am a writer who has the characters and plotline basics in her head, and then lets the story unfold organically. John is a plotter extraordinaire.  He kept sending me spreadsheets. To be honest, the first time I opened one, I broke out in hives. He had to coax me, like a wounded animal, into opening any others.

Specialties
Combining fortes produced what we think is a really interesting and unique work. I have a background in psychology, weapons, CSI, and fighting. John is a Shakespearean actor, musician, poet, who works with laws and numbers. We each wrote our strong points and did tutorials for the other. Once I even “killed” one of my adult children over Skype with a black magic marker. John needed to understand how the move worked and how the victim would fall.

A Meeting of the Minds
Because we discussed plot holes, characters, settings and all of the issues that make writers have to dump whole scenes, when we actually sat down to write, our first draft was pretty clean. We did do some rearranging and tweaking, but for the most part, we had already ironed the wrinkles out of the major issues.



Co-authoring Chaos Is Come Again with John Dolan was a fabulous experience. I had the most fun. I laughed so hard when we were working together that my sides hurt. If you would like to read the outcome of our experiment for yourself, here’s a LINK


Chaos Is Come Again is a psychological suspense, a mystery, and a love story, packed with irreverent humour, and viewed through the lens of obsession. You’ve probably never read anything like it.

Fiona Quinn runs ThrillWriting helping writers write it right. Stop on by she might just have the research already done for you. 
Fiona's Thrillwriting Blogsite

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dariel's Friday Flasher Stop: "No More Waiting"


Happy Friday!! In 100 words, my friends and I will offer our take on the pic above. Take a look at theirs when you're done here. You won't be disappointed :-)


No More Waiting

I prayed he’d stay the night.

Warm brown eyes gazed, sincere. “How can you ask, Helena? How many times must I risk everything for you?”

In sleep I felt hands caressing me - my neck, spine, the sensitive globes of my behind, between my legs, only to vanish when the sun pierced the moon.

“Close the curtains.”

His deep voice resonates from my core, and I turn to see Edgar’s shadow.

Shielded from daylight, his bare chest presses against my back.

“Only three p.m.? No longer clandestine?”

“Shh. You called, I came. Time matters not.”

He punctures my carotid. I’ll never wait again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

20 Perfect Snacks for Writers







One of the toughest challenges for most of us is finding the best way to eat healthy – not just for weight loss, but for feeling our best and living productive lives. If you’re like me, a good snack can be a handy partner while you’re writing and editing.

Too often, I hear people talking about diets that say things like “no snacking between meals.” What? What world do these people live in? In our busy lives, snacks are essential. Really. So, here’s a list of snacks to help get anybody over the hump, satisfy cravings for sweet, salty, and savory, and the best part, they’re mostly healthy. Most are old favorites, and you might find a new twist to liven-up a staple or two. Only two recipes in the list, I think ;-)

*Note: Avoiding gluten? Choose gluten-free dairy, crepes, and tortillas, and of course choose alternatives to wheat flour products. Safest way is to read the labels and check-out this article. Almond milk is a good alternative to dairy, but get the unsweetened kind

1. Apple slices and *cheese (I like mozzarella and cheddar)

2. Apple slices and peanut butter (there’s a reduced fat PB, but check to see what’s used to replace the fat. Sometimes you come out better without the other additives)

3. Grilled chicken strips with *ranch, honey mustard, or red pepper vinaigrette

4. Turkey and spinach meatballs – Ok, so a bit of a recipe here, but easy peasy. Here goes: Ground turkey, Bad Byron’s Butt Rub (I know. It’s a southern thang. You can use salt and pepper to taste instead, but believe me, Butt Rub is worth trying ;-), chopped onions, minced garlic, frozen spinach, and eggs [just enough to hold it all together]. Dust with oil of choice. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray with Pam or add small amount of oil of choice, and Broil on heavy-duty cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil) All ingredients to taste.

5. Gluten-free wheat crackers and Laughing Cow cheese

6. Gluten-free pita chips and tuna (you can use tuna salad with boiled eggs, chopped onions and mayo, or just aluminum packed tuna without the extras)

7. Salmon and light cream cheese spread with chopped purple onions and flat bread (Pink salmon also comes in aluminum packs you don’t have to drain) Smoked paprika adds a nice zing!

8. Strawberry *crepes with fresh strawberries, light cream cheese, and yogurt. Worldmarket has some delicious pre-made crepes, but if you don’t have one of those locally, some grocery stores have them in the frozen section near desserts.

9. *Graham crackers and grapes. Yogurt or Cool whip go well with this one, too.

10.Banana pudding bites - Nilla wafers, banana slices, vanilla pudding, and cool whip (chop bananas and mix last 3 ingredients together to avoid making a mess)

11.Fruit and yogurt smoothies (variety is the spice of life) – If you need to sweeten it, try raw unrefined sugar. You can also use Truvia, Sweet Leaf, or Splenda instead of refined sugar. Honey’s also fine, but you might not need any sweeter at all.

12.Chicken quesadillas with chunky salsa – I like the soft corn tortillas you get near dairy. Add grilled (or fajita) chicken, cheese and chunky salsa. Wrap it in a paper towel and nuke it.

13.Make your own Snack mix – (*whole grain cereal, pretzels, popcorn, nuts, raisins, cranberries)

14.Fruit Jello and *graham crackers

15.Fat-free yogurt and fruit with toasted *whole-grain waffles

16.Hummus and turkey pita pockets – good cold or hot (my fave hummus is roasted garlic) It’s easy to find gluten-free pita pockets right next to the gluten-filled kind J

17.Baked cinnamon apples with raisins and real butter (yep, use the real stuff – tastes much better)

18.Blackberry crepes with cream cheese (trick here is to buy ready-made crepes)

19.Oatmeal/squash bread (okay. Second recipe, but it’s easy too)
1 cup each oats & butternut squash
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups skim milk
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup applesauce

20.Fruit yogurt with *bran cereal or something like Kashi, All Fiber (Raisin Bran is good, too, but higher in refined sugar)

Go forth, and snack well ;-)


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Missing #Nano Update 1: "Dark Sentinels Book Three: Parrish"





Hi, Everybody :-) This week's update is for "Dark Sentinels Book Three: Parrish." Includes the blurb, a short excerpt (sneak peek) and my working cover. True to form, Parrish, the man candy, is on the cover with his wolf-form sticking with him, but I did include a pic of his heroine, Dana. Hope you enjoy!


Parrish Blurb – DS3
In dire need of a respite, Dana takes leave from the stage and flees to a remote area to commission the designs of a famous, yet reclusive architect few have ever seen, but their meeting ignites events so powerful, neither of their lives will ever be the same.

Dana Rainwater is a classically trained pop and gospel star, composer, and musician suffering from stress-induced fatigue. Constant travel, public appearances, demands from everyone around her, and lack of privacy have left her hollow, empty. 

Wolf sentinel shifter Vadrian Parrish was born to a high calling, but his increasingly disturbing visions render him nearly inaccessible to others, unable to fulfill his purpose. Caverns of murdered wolves plague his sleep, their howls and cries ever present, constant reminders of his failure, until he hears her music… Dana Rainwater.




"Dark Sentinels Book Three: Parrish" Excerpt 1

“Yeah, yeah, so you were right for once.” She smiled, but couldn’t bring herself to stop gazing through the binoculars. She’d never imagined a building could be so awe-inspiring, as if it lived and breathed.

“For once? Is that all I get credit for? Princess, I am always right.” He shook his head. “You and those binoculars. If it’s not those it’s that telescope. Breathtaking, right?”

She smiled. “My God! Breathtaking is an understatement. It’s alive, as if it lives and breathes with the natural environment. How does he do this?” 

Adabi had been her trusted pilot since her troubled childhood. The life of a child prodigy was not all it was cracked up to be, and he’d always had a smile and kind words to offer when she needed a lift. Homeschool sheltered her through fifth grade, but middle school had been hell. The girls who hated her, and that was most of them, gave mean girls and bullying new names. They were the reason she’d started taking karate classes.

“So tell me about him. The architect, I mean.” The structure below blended seamlessly into the natural growth surrounding it, and even from this distance, Dana felt an instant connection to its designer. 

“We should be landing in less than five minutes and we can go inside."

Adabi continued to speak over the engine's hum. "As for the creator of this aerial vision, his name is Vadrian Parrish, and he’s become famous for structures that blend into the environment, just like the one you’re so taken with right now. Critics say all of his work is so beautiful, you’d think nature herself created it, but everything I read about him says he is eccentric and reclusive. In fact, when I scheduled this appointment, I was told not to expect to meet him today. ”

Dana sighed. If Vadrian Parrish was anything like the building she found her gaze riveted to, she couldn’t wait to meet him, reclusive or not.

Working word count: 4,273




Friday, November 7, 2014

Dariel's Friday Flasher Stop: "UN-BE-LIEVABLE"

Source: Pinterest


Happy Friday! Got something  very unusual for you today, coming from me, anyway: a sweet romance. I know, right? Must be the successful surgery's got me feeling all warm and fuzzy. So, in 100 words this is my take on the pic above. My friends are doing the same thing, same pic, different stories of course, so be sure to take a look at theirs when you're done here. We LOVE comments!


She sleeps...

Minnie always wanted kids. 

My heart stops just thinking about the first time our eyes met. So beautiful, the real deal. Had to make her my wife.

Her light guided me off the streets into a good career.

Needed one to take care of our four kids. She wanted those kids more than she ever wanted me. 

She’d wait ‘til I got all worked-up and just when there was no turning back I’d cover up, but she’d peel it right back off and give me that smile.

Dropped the last one off at college yesterday.

She caresses my face. Her smile heats our aquatic getaway. “Mick, this is un-be-lievable.”

Un-be-lievable, indeed.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Last": Free Post-Halloween short story




With the Halloween decorations put away, many of us are on to Thanksgiving. So that means my mind is on food and family right now, but I wanted to share this with you anyway. This is a little something I wrote for a Halloween short story competition hosted by one of my Tribemates. Didn't win, but there were lots of entries and it was fun to participate. Oh, all participants used the pic above for inspiration. Hope you enjoy :-)


Last
“Book me a flight to New Orleans, Mary – any available class. I’m off to the airport, so call me there with confirmation. I’ll be away for a few days, um…family emergency.”

Chantal grabbed her navy Kors bag from the desk security drawer and rushed from her law office. The family attorney’s call announcing the death of her mother and sisters shook the illusion that she could outrun her destiny. 

She stared ahead, shifting from foot to foot, the fifteen-floor elevator ride like awaiting surgery results in the emergency room. She quickly mapped out a plan. Call Tommy, take off stockings and heels… One, one-thousand, two, one-thousand, three…

Starting her BMW,  she spoke into her IPhone, surprised to get Tommy’s voicemail, then floored the accelerator, deciding at the last minute to run by her apartment in case he was there. 

Seven minutes later, she stepped into her apartment and flew upstairs, a soft moan her only warning before she reached her bedroom.

Chantal sighed, slowed her breathing, and grasped her gris gris, the charcoal doll marked with a red “X” worn at her neck since childhood. 

Shock covered Tommy’s face, his woman’s mouth agape in terror, hair tousled as she attempted to cover her breasts with Chantal’s gold-satin sheet…One, one-thousand, two… the last images Chantal saw before her personal bayou tsunami rose, guardian spirits demolishing everything in her path on command.

Chantal stepped away from the carnage she’d wrought, expressionless, vaguely aware that she felt no remorse. Eventually someone would find the bloody, broken bodies of her cheating lover and his whore, but no one knew she’d been there to exact justice. Mary would confirm that she’d gone straight to the airport. 

Four and a half hours later, Chantal stood in front of the two-story dilapidated Creole. The white wooden house had been in her family for centuries, and now she alone remained. Ten year old images resurfaced, heavy fog illuminating ominous figures in the dark as she ran, desperate to reach the ferry. 

Despite Chantal’s efforts to escape, her mother, Madame Beauvais to residents of the small southern bayou town named for her family, never let go. 

Chantal crept up the front steps, rundown boards crying out, threatening to give-way rather than support her slight weight, then stepped inside the house, memories razing her brain, the light sounds of squeaking, scurrying rats a welcome anchor to the present.

She stood in the open doorway, closed her eyes, and covered her ears…waiting…waiting…until the familiar barrage of voices emerged, remnants of her mother’s…customers. 

Something hairy brushed her bare leg as it ran across her feet, prompting Chantal to open her eyes. She stomped her foot to scatter the rats, the curious creatures apparently emboldened by darkness, then something cold enveloped her. 

“Ten years well spent, ma fille.”

“Merci, Maman.”

Chantal exhaled and settled into Madame Beauvais’s rocking chair on the winding front porch. Chirping crickets, croaking frogs, fluttering ravens, and the raw scent of earth and water - the bayou - welcomed her…home. 

Read the winning entries here

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