Originally Released by Dark Roast Press August 2008
A successful young artist, Ryan Esson lost everything in the blink of an eye, including his ability to create. Courtesy of an anonymous benefactor, he’s given an opportunity to reclaim something he thought lost forever when he receives a mysterious invitation to a weekend artist’s retreat at an antebellum sugar plantation.
Built on a secluded string of islands off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Le Jardin de la Lumière is a place of intrigue, a haunting legend, and one beautiful stranger, who will mesmerize Ryan.
In a stranger’s eyes, will he find the strength to open his mind and his heart again?
Excerpt from “Le Jardin de la Lumière”
Eric had left his rooms long after all the denizens of the island had laid their bodies to rest in the gentle embrace of Hypnos. Silently he’d made his way past the gardens and into the forest following a faint trail up through the thickets of brush and vines into the sloping hills. Eventually the brush cleared away to reveal a semi-circle of sparse grasses that offered a glimpse of the still waters of the gulf. It was there that he’d knelt, facing the waters that stretched out black as her cloak was said to be. He reached out with his mind and called to her in their native tongue, an ancient language that no human had ever spoken.
The moment she appeared, Eric knew, for the still night air stirred, a chill gliding up his spine to leave gooseflesh in its wake. “Mother of the Night,” he murmured, fear preventing him from lifting his head, his eyes shut tight.
“You called, Eros son of Iris?” Nyx’s voice was distant, a hollow echo of the darkness she ruled.
“Yes,” he whispered, body trembling.
The air stirred, lifting the loose curls of his hair as she stepped closer, the grass whispering in her wake. “You fear me.” It was a statement rather than a question that she uttered as the wind caressed his skin. “I am surprised then that you came. She told me that you would, but I doubted her words.”
Deep cold penetrated his skin and muscles as he cleared his throat. “Who told you I would come?”
Nyx chuckled. “Her name matters not, son of Iris. She informed me that you wished to speak to me. She told me you required the aid of my son Hypnos and his brothers the Oneiroi. You wish to invade the dreams of a mortal.”
He could hear the whisper of her silken cloak so close that the fear grew inside him, the taste of bile on his tongue, but still he held steadfast. When she finally spoke, her tone held a hint of admiration for his courage. “Look upon me, child of Olympus; fear not what you see.”
As he lifted his head, Eric’s eyes fluttered open to look upon Nyx in all her mysterious beauty and dark glory. She was a giantess towering above him, skin a blue-tinged paleness that reminded him of snow in moonlight, and her eyes were bottomless shadows from which flecks of starlight gleamed. Around her nude body, in ebony waves her cloak swirled and shimmered with the prismatic light of distant galaxies. Luxurious hair the identical color of her swirling garment caught the moonlight and reflected it back like the blue-black sheen of a raven’s wing. Her smile, though, was inviting, a serene expression softening her face, as she held out one colorless hand. “Come, Eros,” she encouraged, “walk with me and my children.”
He rose to his feet, hand captured in her icy fingers. As he steadied his body, he heard the flutter of wings and from the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of three figures, winter pale with enormous wings the color of Nyx’s cloak. His heart thundered deep in his chest in fear and awe, for few had seen the Oneiroi outside their dreams and lived to speak of it.
“Why do you hide your glory with the glamour of humanity? You are among your kindred,” Nyx whispered against the shell of his ear.
With a faint nod of his head, he closed his eyes and his human form began to shimmer, vanishing as if it were heat rising from the desert floor to leave behind his true form. When his eyes opened once more, they were an eerie violet, the eyes of an immortal God, not a man, “As you wish, Nyx.” His wings unfurled from his back, a rainbow of color that caused Nyx to laugh with childish delight. In her world, there was naught but grays, blues, and black with a hint of white
“Now come, let us speak of love sought within the dark embrace of my sons.”
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