Sample Saturday: “In The Eye of The Storm”

Eye Of The Storm Cover_revisedHello, everyone.  Today’s sample is from the award-winning third book in my Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series, In The Eye of The Storm.  The narrator here is one of my favorite characters, Gilbert Rochambeau.  Enjoy!

I was more than a servant to both of them. Erik talked to me of his life in Persia, Russia and other far-off places. It was from him that I developed a previously dormant interest in art and literature. That Erik enjoined me to escort Claire to museums only fueled me further. I studied the sculptures, sketches and paintings closely so that I might understand color, proportion and light.

As I said, I was also Claire’s majordomo. This position allowed me to spend time in her company whenever Erik was unavailable. He still grew distressed in public at times, so these opportunities were many. I would dress with particular care whenever we went out; I would never forget how Claire’s eyes glowed the first time she saw me properly dressed, barbered and shaven. Erik’s elegant appearance was my inspiration, but Claire’s approval was my guiding light. I disliked admitting this to myself, but it was the truth nevertheless. I would not shame her by escorting her in anything less than the best-dressed state. Perhaps, I thought, some other woman might look upon me with similar admiration.

Erik was as vain as any dandy; I learned a great deal from his particularity. My razor was stropped so sharp that it could split a hair, just the same way that I maintained Erik’s. He taught me how to tie my cravat in perfect folds and insisted that I be fashionably attired. He made sure that all three of us were perfectly turned out; so far as Erik was concerned, we were a reflection on him.

My warm little suite off the kitchen, chosen so that I need not negotiate the stairs several times a day, was an oasis. I would often wake to hear Claire in the kitchen making a pot of chocolate or toasting bread for breakfast. Our household was not shy of one another; she was usually in her wrapper with her hair loose. I often hurried to dress so that I might greet her. She would smile, wish me good morning, and share whatever she prepared. Sometimes she would touch my arm; the gentle caress was like fire to my love-starved skin.

The mornings when her lips were swollen and her throat red from Erik’s kisses and love bites were the times that I envied him most. I often had to retire hastily to my room so that Claire would not see the physical response my body made to my imaginings; it was bad enough that such longings haunted me in the nighttime. I dreamed of making love to her far more often than I liked to admit. I ached for her in ways that I had never before imagined.

I am somewhat ashamed to confess that I occasionally slaked that longing in the brothels on Place Pigalle. Sometimes, I would even close my eyes and pretend that it was Claire in my arms instead of Mimi or Lulu. I doubt that the girls in those houses cared one way or another, so long as I left the right number of francs on the bedside table


Sample Saturday: Bayou Fire … with Bonus Photograph

Elvis Presley’s Pantera.  Photo by Sharon E. Cathcart

Amos was leaning on a sleek black car outside of Louis Armstrong Park when Diana finished her tour and reading. She couldn’t help appreciating his good looks as she walked over to meet him. He wore a classic tan raincoat over his shirt and jeans, and managed to look both casual and dressy at the same time.

M&M frt Verson 1“I’ve never seen a car like this,” she said by way of greeting. “What is it?” She mentally compared its low-slung, sporty lines to her sensible Toyota sedan back in Seattle. Her own car came up wanting by quite a long chalk.

“It’s a Detomaso Pantera; this black beauty was my gift to myself after I passed the bar exam. My oldest brother gave me a Matchbox Pantera when I was a little kid, and I always told people I’d have a real one someday. And I’m here to tell you that it is about the most temperamental machine I’ve ever come across. I’m always fixing some damn thing in that engine. Hop in,” he said, holding the passenger door open for her. “We’ll get down someplace special for lunch. I want you to meet Miss Leah.”

As you know, I spent most of the past week in Memphis, Tenn.  One of the places I visited was Graceland, along with the newly-opened Elvis Presley’s Memphis complex.  The latter includes 20,000 feet of museum space and really must be seen to be appreciated.

One of the items that was just put on display last week, for the first time ever, was Elvis’ Pantera (I didn’t even know he’d owned one).  As testament to the temperamental nature of the car, Elvis’ automobile has a bullet hole (not visible in my photo) in it from where he shot the engine block.

If you read Bayou Fire and wondered what Amos’ car looked like, now you know!


Sample Saturday: “The Rock Star in the Mirror (Or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life)”

Hi, everyone.  Sample Saturday is a little different this week.  My awesome audiobook narrator, Matt Haynes, made this video snippet from the work he did for me.  It was both Matt’s and my first venture into audiobook territory, and he brought the tale to life perfectly.  David Bowie fans are sure to love what Matt calls a “quirky gem.”

If you like what you hear, visit this link to get your copy (eBook or audio).


Sample Saturday: Bayou Fire

M&M frt Verson 1My thoughts and prayers are with those on the Gulf Coast, as they deal with the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  It is in their honor that I share today’s sample from Bayou Fire.

Diana came to the café on Saturday afternoon in a taxi; walking through the Quarter with an overnight bag felt like a recipe for exhaustion before the journey ever began. She was surprised to see the line by the back door. Amos, Miss Julie, and Felix, the cook, were handing out sack lunches and paper cups of iced tea. Diana pitched in to help, not even waiting to be asked. After the last bag was handed out, Amos explained.

“There are still people here in New Orleans who lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. Some folks never made their way back here after evacuating, but many who did manage to get home came back to nothing. There were another couple of bad floods since then. One of these times I’ll take you driving through the lower Ninth Ward. There are places where there’s still no electricity or phone, and where whole blocks that used to have houses are empty. Since we only open for breakfast and lunch, I decided that we’d hand out food to those in need on Saturday afternoons. No questions asked. Someone from the homeless shelter picks things up after we close during the week, too. Food shouldn’t go to waste when people are hungry.”

Sample Saturday: “In The Eye of The Beholder”

25908261On this day, 155 years ago, Joseph Carey Merrick was born.  It is in his honor that I share this excerpt from my debut novel, In The Eye of The Beholder.  At the end, I’ve added a video of the late David Bowie playing Merrick in a Broadway production of The Elephant Man.  Enjoy!

At London Hospital, in Whitechapel, Dr. Treves deposited me at what I presumed was his surgery office door.

“I’m wanted in the operating theatre, Madame LeMaître. Please make yourself at home,” he said. He bowed to me and left me alone.

I let myself into the suite, but saw no one. From a back room came a muffled “I shall be with you in a moment. Please have a seat.”

“Thank you, I shall,” I responded.

“Oh, my goodness. A lady caller? I wish I had known. I would have rung for tea.” From out of the back room came the man to whom the muffled voice belonged. The reason for his tone was immediately obvious: his mouth and head were grossly malformed, as was one side of his body. However, the hand he extended to me was as beautiful and graceful as a woman’s.

“Madame, please allow me to introduce myself. I am Joseph Merrick. Sir Frederick isn’t here just now. May I have the sisters bring you tea?”

I wracked my brain, for Merrick’s name was familiar to me. I finally remembered reading an article in the London Times about him: the press called him “the Elephant Man.”

I took the hand extended to me and sketched a brief curtsy.

“Thank you, Monsieur Merrick. Tea would be lovely. I am Madame Claire LeMaître.”

I took the proffered chair and continued. “Monsieur Merrick, Doctor Treves asked me to wait for him here. I believe that he wanted me to visit a patient.”

“Perhaps it was I whom he wished you to see? Sir Frederick had said he would try to arrange callers for me. I am rather lonely here. And please, could you call me Joseph?”

“But of course. And I am Claire. So, you are Doctor Treves’ patient?”

“Yes, and his friend. Sir Frederick rescued me from a traveling circus and I have lived here at London Hospital since then; he is trying to learn about my disease.”

I understood then how the doctor thought I could help. Erik’s face was not even a patch on poor Joseph’s case, to be sure. I was unafraid of what many people found freakish and frightening. How many women would take tea with Joseph Merrick?