Fiction Vixen is pleased to welcome author Lisa Kessler today.
I hope your holidays were bright and full of love and chocolate.
I usually take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off of work to enjoy the holiday afterglow. New gifts to play with, movies to watch, books to read, and gift cards to spend, you really need a few days to digest it all, right?
And there’s a swell to the season too. We run around like crazy in the weeks leading up to a single celebration, and once it’s over, can we just unplug the lights and walk away?
I know I can’t.
We leave our tree and our lights up until the weekend after New Year’s. It’s too sad to just say goodbye right after the gift exchanges. The season means so much more than gifts. It’s a time to forgive and love and smile and laugh.
And to relax! LOL
I thought I’d bring a long a little excerpt from my first novel, Night Walker, to share… Hope you enjoy it!
Calisto has been waiting over 200 years for his one love to live again. Their paths finally cross on the night of Dia de los Muertos as Calisto is leaving his offering of flowers in memory of his lost love.
According to her friends, Dia de los Muertos was the perfect night for ghost hunting. Lori and Edie always enjoyed ghost stories when they were kids, and their fondness grew until they considered themselves amateur paranormal investigators. What better place to find them than in the oldest building in San Diego on the one night a year reserved for the dead?
Kate didn’t share their zeal for spirits, but she had no problem waiting for them to have their fun. She was happy to have a few minutes to herself anyway.
The candlelight glimmered around her, the flickering flames left to burn out sometime before morning. The warm glow made for eerie light, casting long shadows of the weeping crosses over the garden. It was exquisite and melancholy in the same moment.
She caught a sudden chill. The longer she lingered, the more her sadness mutated into unease. The back of her neck prickled. Kate crossed her arms and walked toward the sanctuary doors. She suddenly felt exposed and alone.
Before she reached the doors, Lori and Edie came up the path at the other end of the courtyard, snapping pictures as they walked, until Lori disappeared from view.
When Edie saw Kate approach, she grinned. “Oh, you should see some of the great shots we got tonight. We had lots of orbs in a couple of pictures of the bell tower. There might be even more when we can look at them on a larger screen.”
“You’ll have to show me once you get them on the computer.” Kate glanced around the courtyard. “Where’d Lori go?”
Edie turned around. “She was right behind… “
“Edie… Kate.” Lori’s voice, a loud and insistent whisper, emanated from the shadows.
Kate flinched when she heard her name. She had no idea why she was so jumpy tonight. They tracked down Lori and found her kneeling by one of the crosses. She beckoned them closer.
Edie rushed over with an eager grin, camera at the ready. “Wow. Look at this.” She squatted beside Lori. The cross was smaller than most of the others, weather-beaten and canted. There was a single letter in the center, a T, and a single candle burned beside a bundle of large white blossoms.
“Who do you think left those?” Lori whispered.
Kate shrugged. None of the other crosses had fresh offerings. “Probably the priests, right?”
“I don’t know.” Lori glanced at the other crosses. “Maybe this person’s relatives still visit every year.”
“Can you imagine?” Edie whispered. “Being remembered like that? I hope someone’s still bringing me flowers after I’ve been dead
a couple hundred years.”
Kate thought about correcting them, telling them these crosses were memorials to the Native Americans. But she didn’t. Something about the cross held her rapt. The conversation around her faded away as Kate moved in closer to the fragrant blossoms.
She’d never seen flowers like these with huge, beautiful blooms of white, silky petals and a center like pure sunshine. And the scent. It was the primrose-like perfume that made her reach out to touch them, entranced by their spell.
Had she seen these flowers before?
“Kate? Are you okay?”
Kate looked up at Lori, her brow furrowed and mouth pinched in concern. “I’m fine,” she said, yanking her hand away from the flowers. “Just a little tired, I guess.”
“We’re almost done. We need a couple more pictures around the front by the steps,” Edie said.
“All right.” Kate straightened, still unable to pull her attention away from the cross and its bouquet. “I’ll wait for you here, okay?”
Lori continued to frown, but Edie said, “No problem. We’ll be right back.”
Kate watched them wander off before kneeling closer to the cross. Unable to stop herself, she traced her finger along the T in the center.
Behind her, someone cleared his throat. Kate jerked her hand away and shot to her feet. When she turned around she found a tall, dark-haired man staring at her.
Her cheeks flushed with heat. She hoped he hadn’t witnessed her touching the relic. She waited for some kind of admonishment, but he didn’t say anything.
Not with words.
Something in his dark eyes captured her. His gaze wandered over her face like a tender caress, and strangely, instead of screaming for Lori and Edie, she caught herself imagining his touch on her skin.
“I hope I did not frighten you,” he said.
His deep voice resonated through the empty courtyard, and the intimate tone weakened her knees. The hint of a Spanish accent didn’t hurt, either. Nervous laughter escaped her before she could contain it.
Her face warmed all over again. “Just a little startled. I didn’t see anyone else out here.”
He stepped closer without encroaching on her personal space, his eyes locked with hers from beneath thick lashes. “Forgive me.”
She swallowed hard and prayed she wasn’t blushing. “No problem.” She looked away before she embarrassed herself even further, focusing on the cross. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
“Si.” He nodded slowly. “Yes, it is.” His barely there smile made her think he wasn’t referring to the flowers or the cross. “I am Calisto. Calisto Terana.”
Expectation hung as heavy as the scent of eucalyptus, as if he waited to hear something more than just her name.
“I’m Kate.” Instead of offering to shake his hand, she tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“The honor is mine, Kate… ” His accent colored the vowel in her name. It had never sounded more beautiful. She reminded herself to breathe.
When he hesitated for a moment waiting for her to speak, she realized she hadn’t shared her last name as he had. She flipped through a rapid pro and con mental checklist, and decided it couldn’t hurt. Maybe they would meet again.
“Bradley,” she said.
A sexy smile curved at the corners of his lips. “I hope this will not be our last meeting.”
She glanced around the shadowed courtyard, feeling vulnerable, and almost gave in to her first instinct—to run. But she remembered her promise to herself. Be strong. Take action. She lifted her chin and
said, “I guess you never know.”
With a smile that said he had every intention of seeing her again, he tipped his head. “Buenos noches, Kate Bradley.”
Her heart raced and her palms sweated when she realized he meant to leave. No man made her palms sweat. Ever.
His gaze held hers for a moment, full of unspoken promises she didn’t understand. Without another word, he walked away.
Thanks for having me on the Fiction Vixen blog today!
So what are you reading while you relax in the holiday afterglow? I’d love to hear…
Night Walker – Available now!
Across the Veil – Available now!
Night Walker Blurb –
He gave up his soul for a second chance to love her…
Two and a half centuries ago, Calisto Terana lost everything when a zealous priest murdered the woman he loved. Now, desperate for another chance to love her, he wants redemption for the mistake that cost her life.
She’s haunted by dreams of her own death…
After catching her fiance with another woman, Kate Bradley returns to San Diego to clear her head. The last thing she needs is romance, but after meeting Calisto she’s drawn to him in ways she doesn’t understand.
They’ve waited in the shadows for centuries…
Calisto has no doubt Kate is the reincarnation of his lost love, but the Fraternidad Del Fuego Santo has a new watcher with dark ambitions of his own. As old enemies reemerge and a new threat arises, the betrayal that enslaved Calisto to the night might destroy the only woman he’s ever loved again.