Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you all have had a wonderful week. My daughter graduated from HS – the ceremony was online so it was a bit different. You never realize how used to using the fast forward on your TV remote you have become until you sit listening to the names of 600 students read aloud while staring at your laptop! My daughter is at the beginning of the alphabet so it was a long wait for the finale.
While my daughter is Gen Z, today at the park we were surrounded by Brood X! Brood X is the name for the 17 year cicadas that have come out of the ground now. Not only were they swarming in the bushes and trees, they were crawling through the grass, and there were holes everywhere in the ground from where they had emerged. Many just flew in pointless circles through the air hitting cars, trees, and anyone walking. The noise was amazing (and scary). There were a lot of happy birds swooping down and grabbing a meal.
Enough stalling on my part. As promised, this week I am posting part of Chapter 1 of my book, Baraqiel and Jocelyne. Here we go.
Chapter One: The Lightning Strikes
Baraqiel watched, amused, as Jocelyne took another client into her parlor. Society women were willing to pay a great amount to discover their destiny; who would they wed, how many children, would they be coming into money any time soon? For this they paid Jocelyne handsomely and, to ensure their patronage, she delivered the messages they wished to hear.
Jocelyne did not have psychic abilities but rather a gift for remembering gossip overheard at the market and the ability to interpret body language. Playing it safe, she also paid a small boy for a little spying outside to gather details regarding her clientele.
Her long, dark, hair fell across her face as she leaned forward to see the vision within her large crystal ball. Although the client only saw the reflection of the red jacquard print of the tablecloth in the crystal ball, the woman had no doubt that Jocelyne was seeing exactly what she was describing
“Yes, yes, Mademoiselle, you will be meeting him soon, this man who will make you his wife. He is a businessman of good repute, from a good family, not shy, but reticent when it comes to dealing with the fairer sex. That is the reason for his having remained a bachelor. Have faith my friend, for you shall meet him before the next full moon.”
Without losing a beat Jocelyne added
“The vision is fading, I’m afraid that is all the spirits will reveal today. But no matter, ma chèrie, you have things to do – a pretty new outfit to buy for the ball? Perhaps some indulgences such as a brooch or necklace to offset your bosom? After all, a woman must use all her blessings, n’est ce pas?”
Baraqiel found himself laughing out loud. Of course, neither Jocelyne nor her client could hear him, for he was one of the Grigori. Yes, he was a fallen angel, but was he not also one of the Chiefs of Tens? Mortals could see and hear him when he chose. For all these thousands of years he had chosen not to reveal himself. He’d had relationships with women in the past if for no other reason than he was bored. After the deluge, Samyaza, their leader, had forbidden them to pursue the mortal women and for Baraqiel that had not been a sacrifice.
However, this Jocelyne creature might change that. Her beauty was alluring- but he’d seen other beauties throughout the ages. This attraction was more – it was her sense of humor, her ability to pull off this sham of a business so convincingly, and she was smart. She never said too much, nor did she reveal anything about her life to the townsfolk.
Jocelyne called to Esme, her maid. They’d lived together so long that Esme was more like a sister at this point. Twenty-four years old, Jocelyne had been living on her own for the past 7. Forced by her father at 16 to marry a man, forty-five years her senior, she had no illusions of romance. Not only did she find him ugly in both his appearance and behavior, he also took her away from her little sister whom she’d adored. She’d fought the marriage every step of the way but the money this suitor was offering won her father over. Luckily for Jocelyne her husband had suffered a heart attack shortly after their wedding day. Having no desire to end her widowhood and shackle herself to another man, she remained single, earning her own money. Esme was the only other person she’d allowed into her private life.
“Esme, call for Alexander, I need him to check on a few things for me. Tell him I shall pay him well for this”.
“Ah oui, I shall summon him right away. What are you going to do?”
Jocelyne turned and said “Today I think I shall do the shopping for us. I need to get out of this house – I could use some sunshine. Perhaps I shall make something special for our dinner.”
“You’re cooking? You really must be bored. Let me go get the boy” Esme said as she turned and left the room.
She wasn’t sure she heard it at first but then the whisper came again…
“You don’t need the boy. I can help you. Let me help you, Jocelyne.”
She jumped to her feet and spun around. No one was in the room with her. Walking to the windows she looked behind the long drapes, but no one was there. She didn’t know what to think. Was she going insane? Had her dalliances with the crystal ball summoned the devil? How did this person, or thing, know her name?? That was the most disconcerting part of it all.
“Jocelyne, let me help you. Do not be afraid, I mean you no harm.”
This time the whisper came from just a few feet away.
Her voice sounded much more confident than she felt. Inside she wanted to collapse. She hoped that nothing would happen but still she held her breath as she waited for a response.
Slowly, yet at the same time instantaneously, a shimmering appeared across the table from her. As her eyes adjusted, she realized it was a man, a beautiful man. Stunningly handsome with black hair and blue eyes, his cinnamon-colored skin seemed to glow from the inside making him appear almost translucent. She felt her knees begin to buckle and she sank into the chair she used for her readings. Hoping he wasn’t aware of how scared she was, she tried to play it cool. She also hoped that he could not see how attracted to him she felt. It was almost physical, this desire to go to him.
“Who are you? And how do you know my name?” She asked the questions without blinking, staring straight at his beautiful face, watching as his full lips broadened into a smile.
“Jocelyne, I know your name because I have been watching you. As for myself, my name is Baraqiel.”
“What are you?” She asked the question, worried it might seem rude, yet reminding herself he had just materialized in front of her, so he was most definitely not human.
“I am called many things. Grigori, Watcher, a Chief of Ten, fallen angel…but no, I am not a demon or some other type of monster. I know you are worrying about that now” he answered. His voice was calming and yet sensual at the same time. She loved the way he had said her name. He had a slight accent, but she could not place it. He walked to the chair at the other end of the table.
“May I?” he asked. She wondered why he’d asked her permission, for after all, he did not seek her permission to enter her mind and house.
“Yes, yes please, sit. I’m sorry, you startled me”. Why was she apologizing? He was the one who had arrived without an invitation. And why was she inviting him to sit down? This wasn’t what you were supposed to do when a man just appears out of thin air in your home. Then again, who would know the proper etiquette for this situation? His royal blue robe fluttered slightly as he settled into the chair at the other end. For several moments they just regarded each other. Jocelyne felt her face begin to flush and looked down. Her attraction to him was almost palpable.
“Is this part of being a Watcher – this attraction to you? Do you make women desire you?” The words had flown from her mouth before she’d had time to think.
Raising an eyebrow, he looked at her with a devilish grin “Do I make women desire me? No, I’m sorry, if you are attracted to me, but that is coming from you, not from me. I merely said that I could help you out, I did not come here to seduce you.”
Mortified, her face turned crimson, and she felt the heat rising from her neck and up her face. Struggling to hide her embarrassment and to give the impression of nonchalance, she wracked her brain for the proper retort. Finding none, she sat in silence looking at him. Baraqiel merely looked at her with an amused, questioning look- not seeming to be in a hurry to go anywhere.