Update On Kindle Vella

For a little update on what’s happening at Kindle Vella, I posted my last episode of Dumaine Street this past Thursday, January 26. As many endings often are, this was bittersweet. Dumaine Street is a paranormal romance novel I began several years ago. I was so taken by the neighborhoods off of Bayou St. John, particularly the Faubourg St. John area of New Orleans, that I was inspired to write this story with this lovely area as a setting. Dumaine Street, at its heart, is a romance. At its core, it is the tale of two somewhat damaged but extraordinary people who find a way not only to help each other but fall in love in the process. To date, it’s the second and longest Kindle Vella story I’ve ever written. I should begin working on getting it ready for publication as a novel next month. But if you’re not interested in waiting, it will remain posted on Kindle Vella.

In addition, presently, I have two other ongoing Kindle Vella stories. One is my newest, The Alchemist’s Bride, and the other is my werewolf tale, The Story of Enid. I should be posting a new episode for that one sometime this weekend. I also have two other completed stories at Kindle Vella. One is The Lady in the Blue Dress, published recently as a paperback and on Kindle. The other is a long short story, The Most Unlikely of Places, which is a time travel tale.

So, if you want to check out Kindle Vella, type in Evelyn Klebert to find my tales. Also, as always, the first three episodes of any Vella are free to read.

Dumaine Street – Closing in on the Finish

I’ve made so much progress on my Kindle Vella story, Dumaine Street, today. I am two to three episodes away from completing it. To date it’s my longest Kindle Vella story. If you like paranormal romance, make sure to drop by Kindle Vella and check out Dumaine Street. Amazon will give you 200 free tokens if you’re just signing up, and of course, the first three episodes are free to read. Hope you drop by.

Voices in her head, catastrophic emotions, hallucinations, Rebecca Wells is more than convinced that she is losing her mind. And as a last-ditch effort, she contacts a self-professed counselor who seems convinced that he can help. Gabriel Sutton has abandoned the world of medicine to navigate a realm filled with psychic phenomena. Diagnosing Becca with extreme empathic abilities, he struggles to help her stabilize her gifts while trying desperately not to fall in love with his patient.

The Alchemist’s Bride – New Kindle Vella

Recently, I launched a brand new Kindle Vella. In addition to my ongoing stories, Dumaine Street, which has just reached its 33rd episode, and The Story of Enid, which has reached its 17th, I am introducing The Alchemist’s Bride. This tale is a bit of a departure for me, a paranormal romance taking place entirely in 1888 New Orleans. If you want something different and on the gothic side to read this holiday season, check out The Alchemist’s Bride. The first three episodes are always free to read at Kindle Vella.

Emmeline Lescale might as well be an orphan. Her mother is dead, and her father wants nothing to do with her. She has been raised by an aunt in Vacherie, LA and virtually treated as an unpaid servant. But suddenly, her neglectful father insists she come live with him. New Orleans in the 1880’s is no place for a proper young lady, especially when her father is embroiled with a mysterious young doctor whose interests venture deeply and dangerously into the world of the supernatural.

The Lady in the Blue Dress – Just Released

I am very excited to announce the publication of The Lady in the Blue Dress!

Take a little time this holiday season and unravel the mysteries of The Lady in the Blue Dress. Just released at Amazon, Cornerstone Book Publishers, and most online book publishers, as well as Kindle, settle in and travel along the twists and turns of this unpredictable paranormal romance.

When she was a child, Mika Devalieur was introduced to her grandmother’s most precious possession — a priceless and mysterious painting that she simply called The Lady in the Blue Dress. Upon Adele St. Clair’s death, the painting is left in the care of her granddaughter with only one stipulation. Mika must hand over the family heirloom to a total stranger. Mika Devalieur desperately wants to deny her beloved grandmother’s last request, but she can’t. Torn between her Gran’s last wishes and her desire to hold onto the Lady, she ultimately journeys to rural Virginia, where an enigmatic man shows her that this painting is only the beginning.

What quickly becomes clear is that James Clairmont knows much more about her and the Lady than he is letting on. He begins to slowly unravel a powerful supernatural connection that spans three generations of her family. Mika finds herself desperate to uncover the entire truth before she falls in love with a man filled with so many secrets — secrets about him, about her, and most especially about The Lady in the Blue Dress. (First published on Kindle Vella, episodes 1-23.)

The Armstrong

Well, I’m wrapping up Halloween week here at evelynklebert.com with a short story entitled “The Armstrong.” It’s a tale of two people taking an extraordinary leap of faith to find each other. And given the chaotic state of the world right now, I thought it was important to close this Halloween celebration on an upbeat note of possibility. After all, what extraordinary things could flourish if we could embrace change and perhaps take that elusive leap of faith? I wish you all well and hope you enjoy “The Armstrong.”

The Armstrong

It was an old hotel. That was something that could be felt, its history, on her very skin.

She would have preferred something new, walls that hadn’t been around for so many years. Of course, the lobby was impressive with its chandeliers, effigies on the ceiling, vast spaces trimmed with mahogany accents.

But she would have preferred something new, not so vast, not so impressive.

Once she got upstairs, the halls were more narrow, skinny even, filled with rooms facing each other, past the elevator, and at one end, a painting slapped on the wall, an old plantation. Not much thought, someone just thought it looked pretty.

She moved quickly, swiping her room key, then slamming the hotel door behind her. Throwing her shoulder bag down onto the king-sized bed, she checked her watch. It was late, eight-thirty.

She didn’t know why she was here, why she’d come. This was pointless. All of it, but she couldn’t stop. She had no idea how to begin to stop.

After having been dropped off by a handsome cab, the lobby was full when he checked in. It was well into the evening, but there were all manner of individuals milling about The Armstrong — evidently serving as a center of social activity as well as a hotel. A valet had offered to carry his trunk and greatcoat, but he declined. As he took the lift to the third floor, he focused. It was necessary to achieve great concentration.

Fortunately, the narrow hallway to his room was deserted, unlike the downstairs. It could be any place, anywhere, and more than that, any time. He held the key that he’d been given tightly in his hand. And then he closed his eyes just before he put it in the door.

He allowed himself to be pulled, pulled by the life force he sensed. After all, time is an ephemeral construction. What is real power is energy, the magnetism of energy. He allowed himself to be drawn in, and then he opened the door.

“Lydia,” her eyes fluttered open.

Surely, she’d been dreaming. Then the fatigue swept over her, and her eyes drifted closed again. “Lydia, focus.”

Someone was talking to her, but she was asleep. Wasn’t she?

“It’s an in-between state of awareness. Not sleep, not awake. That is how I am able to contact you.”

“I—I don’t understand.”

“Just listen, my name is Charles Del Couer. I’m a doctor of sorts. And I’ve been looking for you for some time.”

That’s how it had begun, slowly, insidiously. These were contacts that she could attribute to imaginations, indulgences, then later even mental illness.

At times, they’d talk at length in that in-between state. “You’re not ill. You’re gifted. There is a vast difference.”

“What is it you want?”

“I want us to meet.”

“Meet? How? When?”

He seemed somewhat befuddled by her questions. He could see her, and she could see him in that in-between state, often just across the room from her, but the trouble was that he seemed so insubstantial, passing in and out of vision as though he was made of mist at times, a fluttering photo on a blanket of vacillating haze.

Befuddled, yes. “How? Might be a bit easier than the When.

“The When?”

“Yes, Lydia.” He called her Lydia. Her name was Lilly Page, but Charles insisted on calling her Lydia. He claimed to have known her as such.

“I don’t understand.”

“We need to meet in a particular place, a place where there is a link.”

“What sort of link?”

“It has to do with the When of things.”

She was sitting in the corner of the room, of the shadowed room, waiting quietly when the door began to open. She should have been scared, should have been terrified at what was happening. But she had slipped into the mindset, the altered state that he’d taught her. The one he had drilled in fact, nearly over an entire year, a few evenings a week, then in the last few months every day, every day striving to achieve a sort of mesmeric trance that he taught her.

And she sat quietly as the door swung open. He stepped into the room, not a mist, not part of an imagination, not a dream manifestation. But real, in the flesh. Silently, he closed the door behind him, turning a lock she did not recognize. He placed his oversized black suitcase on the ornate rug covering a wooden floor and draped his long coat over a golden crushed velvet wing-backed chair. She breathed in sharply, somewhat shakily shifting her state. Lilly had become cognizant that her surroundings had shifted around her.

He stared at her from across the room. Blond hair, dark eyes, and dressed — her breath caught in her throat — dressed in a suit “from another time,” he finished. She straightened up in a chair she no longer recognized. He had completed her thought. “It’s a side effect,” he murmured. “From all the intensive alignment we’ve been working at.”

“Alignment?” she murmured.

“Yes, to make this possible. As I said, the When of things was always going to be more problematic. But we’ve overcome that.”

She was coming to herself now, out of the trance. The room had grown. In fact, they were in a sort of sitting room, and beyond an archway was another room. It was a suite, whereas she’d been in a single room. And the décor was more elegant, like the hotel — mahogany furniture, velveteen, and tapestry chairs, paintings of soft country-side scenes, placed on the walls as though someone had given it thought, not just haphazardly hung them.

“I don’t understand—”

“The place is a mix of your time in 2019 and mine in 1904.”

He had moved closer to her and was standing in front of her. “It doesn’t seem like a mix. It seems to be wholly in your court.”

“There are subtle differences,” he murmured, though his eyes seemed purely transfixed on her. “Can I take your hand, Lydia?” he said rather abruptly.

“Lilly, my name is Lilly.”

“I’m sorry,” he held out his hand for her as though she’d agreed. But she did allow it, allowed him to take her hand, and he rather firmly pulled her to her feet and then into a warm, intense embrace. “I don’t know if I believed it was possible to really reach you.”

It was the writings that he began to find first, in odd places, tucked away in books, in his desk, and on the pages of his own personal journal.

The penmanship was odd, not flowing, and well composed as most writing he’d encountered. But rough, and not in script at all, but rather some blockish-looking print.

It’s odd. I’ve been having these headaches more often lately. The doctor can’t find anything in particular wrong with me, just stress, she said.

He’d found the writing on an unfamiliar stationery stuffed in a book on Animal Magnetism that he was reading by Franz Mesmer.

She even did a CT scan, but nothing. Stress — the convenient diagnosis when they have no idea what is wrong with you. It’s frustrating, and I didn’t even bother to tell her about the dreams. After all, they are just dreams.

The paper was thin, filled with lines, and the ink was an odd color, a forest green shade. He had no idea where it had come from, perhaps just the shop where he’d purchased the book. But such a strange note.

And then he found another.

I’m starting a dream journal. Not sure why except I’m desperate to get things sorted out somehow.

He found this one on the same sort of paper stuffed in a nightstand by his bed. It was quite impossible unless the housekeeper or a maid had left it there. He would question them thoroughly as the hour was quite late when he’d discovered it.

Last night I dreamed I was walking through an unfamiliar house, a large place old-fashioned with a great staircase just past the entrance. As I ascended to the second floor, I put my hand on the rail, a heavy dark wood. I turned the corner past the stairs, and there was a long hallway filled with doors. Then someone was beside me, but I couldn’t turn to look. It was like a paralysis, but he whispered in my ear, a deep voice. “Which door will you choose, Lydia, or will you go back to whence you came?”

It shook him, the name Lydia. It was an odd sensation, not a word that was precisely in his memory but in his other memory, sense memory he’d read about in a book on magnetism. This was a deeper sort of holistic phenomenon attributed to the spiritual plane. 

He sunk down onto the mattress of his queen-sized bed. The scrap of paper he held in his hand was fluttering. And given his usually methodical nature, it was a bit shocking. But his hand was shaking, not just that he was trembling, trembling all over. He schooled himself to breathe deeply, calmly, but it was next to impossible. His eyes again scanned over the curious script. It felt familiar, something he should know or would know.

Of course, he would check with his housekeeper, Mrs. Farrow, and the two maids, Cecily and Lucy. He didn’t really need two. He was a widower, but Lucy was Mrs. Farrow’s daughter, and she had asked for her employment, a sort of favor to help her find her way. There was still that possibility that it was one of them. He folded the paper over, putting it on the nightstand. The name Lydia, he knew it but from where?

Her head spun with dizziness. “Try to anchor yourself,” he whispered in her ear. She did. She focused on the reality she was experiencing now, in her mind accepting that this new place was now her plane of existence.

He continued to hold her, gently rubbing her back in a soothing manner. She didn’t know if it was helping or distracting, but she liked it, allowing herself to relax in his embrace. “I cannot tell you how pleased I am to meet you finally,” he murmured. And she felt it, through his touch, the emotions she felt in his thoughts seeping through the embrace. “You’re so sensitive.”

“I—” she began, having no idea where to begin.

“You must tell your mind that this is real.”

She felt her knees begin to buckle as the reality of her exhaustion swept over her. She felt him sweep his hands under her knees and scoop her up just before she collapsed. “I can’t—” she whispered as she lost consciousness.

When had all this started? She couldn’t remember, probably with the journal. It was supposed to be a dream journal but turned into something else, something she would scribble thoughts and feelings in at odd times during the day. She’d taken a semester off from work. She taught English Literature at a local university, but the inexplicable medical issues had made things too complicated. Kindly, they’d given her time to sort things out, though she was several months in and felt no closer to anything being settled.

One day though, a chilly day late in September, she’d opened her journal to find the curious writing just below her entry.

It was a fine penmanship and strange ink, completely different from her thick green ballpoint pen.

To Whoever May Receive This,

Please take note this is an experiment on my part, an indulgence if you will. The headaches you are experiencing may be connected to a hyperconnectic experience. Do not assume that they are traditionally physiological in the sense that most may experience.

She remembered staring at the page in total confusion. Lilly Page lived alone in a townhouse in New Orleans. No one else had access to this journal. Of course, the panic had surged up inside her. Maybe she was losing her mind. Maybe this was some sort of multiple personality disorder. The possibilities that she concocted were quite horrifying. So, she did the only thing she could think of, she answered.

Please tell me, who is this. You are frightening me.

Two days later, there was an answer in the same formal antiquated script.

Forgive me. My name is Charles Del Couer. I’m a doctor.

How are you doing this?

I found your journal in my bureau some days ago. I believe I am supposed to help you.

It’s difficult to know what to believe and what not to believe once events step out of your ordinary parameter of thinking. Lilly left the journal alone for about a week. She considered all sorts of things, primarily among them all that she was having some sort of a break from reality — schizophrenia, multiple personalities, a brain tumor. But no, they’d done a CT scan. That wasn’t a possibility.

She thought to throw the journal out into the trash. But she couldn’t bring herself to. The headaches continued, and she was becoming desperate.

Look, I can’t deal with much right now. I’m in too much pain. If this is some kind of trick or worse, or if it’s just me having some sort of breakdown, then have a little mercy and —

She stopped writing. What else could she say?

She closed the journal, put it on her little white desk in the corner of her bedroom, and pushed it away for a few moments.

Then tentatively, she slid the old-fashioned looking leather-bound book she’d purchased from Barnes and Noble back towards her. Taking a breath, she flipped it back open to the ribbon-marked page that she’d just written on. Just under her writing was a new entry, scribed in that exquisite penmanship.

Extraordinary,

It began.

So, I believe it falls upon me to convince you that I am not a delusion elicited from the depths of psychosomatic illness. Very well, as I said, my name is Charles Del Couer. I am a practicing physician at the Hotel Dieu, French Hospital, Charity Hospital, and Mercy Hospital. I am a member of The Society of Magnetism in New Orleans. I live in a house along the Esplanade Avenue near The Bayou St. John. I am a widower.

Her eyes blinked. Some of those hospitals he listed she wasn’t even aware had ever existed, and the Society of Magnetism. What exactly was that? So how could she create something that she had no knowledge of?

Her head had begun again to pound unmercifully. So, she wrote with a shaky hand.

I’m not trying to insult you. I just have to be sure. It’s been difficult. She closed her eyes and let the pen drift from her hand, trying to mentally will the pain to subside.

“Breathe deeply.”

She could hear the sound in her ears, a voice murmuring in her mind. She began to take long, measured breaths, in and out.

“Try to focus on allowing the pain to subside. Let it drift away slowly with every breath.”

Again, she focused. With every breath in, she concentrated, and with every breath out she relaxed, allowing the pain to slowly drain away from her temples and forehead. And it was helping, she could feel it. The pain was still dull but a ghost of the intensity that it had been.

“Good, now try to lie down on your bed and rest for a bit. I will continue to focus energy to you.”

She didn’t reply. She simply groggily did as she was directed to do. She didn’t mentally put it together at that moment who was speaking to her and leading her. She was just grateful for the help. She drifted effortlessly into sleep, moving into quiet, until she dreamed of a great house near the water and a man speaking softly to her.

Dreams became a link between them. Perhaps from the first time when she’d read what Charles had written in her journal and then when he’d directed her, helped her, and perhaps mesmerized her into a deep sleep as was his way.

In this dream, she was still in her room, in the bed but now it was layered with a different room — one she didn’t recognize. She sat in the bed and saw the enormous mahogany rolltop desk against the wall and the man sitting in a straight wooden chair next to it.

He was there, but insubstantial as was his room, quite different from the usual space she inhabited.

“What is this?” she meant to speak but felt it as something else emanating from a place that wasn’t exactly sound.

“You should be resting Lydia, not forcing a connection at this juncture.”

“What does that mean? Forcing a connection?”

His clothes, suit rather, was antiquated, but his tie hung loosely untied at the collar of his white shirt. “We, you, and I clearly will be communicating. Somehow we’ve bridged the space that traditionally separates us.”

“Space?” she murmured.

“Yes, space is the only adequate description of what separates us. Time is an artificial construct.” Her eyes were examining him. He wasn’t old, older than her but not by much. His hair was a dark blond shade, and he had a well-kept beard and mustache.”

“You’re Charles,” she murmured.

He eyed her oddly, with curiosity, she felt, because she was feeling so many things. “Yes, yes, I am. You should rest.”

“My name isn’t Lydia,” she said, while she felt the fatigue take her over again.

“I know,” was the last thing she heard him say.

She slowly opened her eyes but wasn’t sure where she’d be when she opened them. She felt the pressure of his hand atop hers. Flesh upon flesh, not that insubstantial contact that she’d come to expect between them.

“Lydia,” he murmured, softly brushing her hair away from her forehead.

“Charles,” she whispered. “Where are we? Still in between?”

He nodded, “Seems so,” squeezing her hand. “How are you feeling?”

She glanced around the room, again seeing the ornate vintage furnishings but noting now tapestry-type wallpaper that she did not remember before. “It’s changing,” she whispered.

Again, he squeezed her hand. His eyes were blue with amber flecks. She’d never been so close to him to see that before. They were actually together. It worked.

“Yes, it has,” he said softly, looking at her with quite a degree of tenderness. He’d read her mind, heard her thoughts as he’d done before. And she remembered now how along the way she’d completely fallen in love with him.

“I don’t understand how this is possible.”

He’d led her through a guided meditation, initially writing her the instructions in her journal. After guiding her with his voice in her mind a few times, he then communicated with thought transference once she was deep in the meditation.

“Is this like hypnosis?”

“Not exactly, it travels well beyond simple mesmerism. We have genuinely connected on an astral plane.”

And it was dazzling, talking to him as though he were right next to her and sometimes seeing impressions of him in his home, but not concrete, more translucent.

She was sleeping soundly, and he knew he dare not disturb her, no matter how tempted he was. He paced the room, noting that it did indeed seem to be slipping away from her timeline and more into his. He wasn’t sure why exactly, only that things seemed unstable.

“The headaches, my love, are they worse after our sessions?”

He didn’t know when it had started, when he’d started referring to her as my love. It just seemed to have popped up organically, and she didn’t stop him. It was easy, easy to slip into. She seemed so vulnerable and accessible in some way though insubstantial, like some sort of a dream.

“No, they’re actually better after I spend time with you. They crop up when I’m doing other things, going to work, doing things in the outside world here.”  He was extremely focused on her as she spoke, having glimpses into her life, flashes of her moving through her life. And then deeper, slipping deeper into the physiology of what was happening.

He could see her, see her body in two spaces. There was tremendous stress on her energy systems. In her modern era, Lilly’s aura was becoming chaotic, bleeding energy to stabilize itself.

He questioned if he’d caused this, if their contact resulted in this divided stress.

“Can’t you rest, my love?” he’d asked.

“It’s difficult. I’m always tired, bothered, even when I sleep.”

“Sleeping isn’t always rest, you know,” he murmured. “Some believe it’s traveling to other realities.”

“Realities?”

“Yes, this life, this awareness we experience in waking hours is only a small part of actual living.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Give it time Lydia,” so odd how that name kept slipping out. “Then you will understand.”

Of course, she fell in love with him. Why would she agree to attempt such a thing, such an unthinkable meeting, attempting what rationality told her was impossible? But what was really rational and what was not?

She opened her eyes to look around the room. On the bedside table was a platter of fruit and cheese and a bottle of wine next to it.

She sat up shakily in the unfamiliar bed as it wasn’t the one that had been there once she’d checked into the hotel. “Are we celebrating?” she murmured.

He was across the room, back to her, staring out a window whose heavy brocade drapes he’d pushed back with his hand. He turned around quickly in response to her inquiry. “How are you feeling?”

She smiled, “I’ve no clue yet. Dizzy, I guess.”

“I thought you’d want to eat something.”

He sat beside her on the bed, taking her pulse without asking, then lightly feeling her forehead. “Will I live?” she asked lightly.

He squeezed her hand, and she felt that draw to him. She’d always felt it before, but not concrete, not like this with his skin next to hers. “You better. I’ve put a lot of effort into this.”

She nodded, “What now, though?” She wasn’t sure she wanted an answer. If they succeeded, they hadn’t really discussed it. And now that they had what was on the other side of this moment was the question.

“Why don’t you eat something? Then we can sort things out.”

She reached for a strawberry holding it in her hand for a moment, and a curious thought crossed her mind. She felt a bit like Persephone, eating the pomegranate seeds in the Underworld. Once she took a bit, would she be unable to go back? Would she be forever linked to where he was? She looked at him oddly, wondering, feeling as though he indeed did know the answer. She didn’t really hesitate. She didn’t regret anything. She simply took a bite. 

Copyright © 2022 by Evelyn Klebert

“The Armstrong” first appeared in a collection of short stories entitled Appointment with the Unknown: The Hotel Stories.

In “Too Many Pens,” an artist finds a very routine stay at a hotel slowly transforming into a place of romance and mystery. “Slipping” is the story of a young woman finding herself threatened by unexpected interdimensional attacks. Two unique travelers find love and themselves trapped in a French Quarter hotel during an unexpected tropical tempest in “The Storm.” In, “The Armstrong,” two people from different eras try to bridge the gap of time itself in an old historic hotel. “Variables” tells the story of a dimension traveler battling to rescue a man from a devastating fate. And “Hotels in the Time of Covid,” explores a relationship between a news reporter and her spirit guide.

Follow the unpredictable lure of the supernatural in this collection of Hotel Stories.

Halloween Month – The Broken Window

It’s that spooky season again and Halloween Month here at evelynklebert.com. Every week I’ll be posting a creepy/paranormal short story. My first story features my favorite werewolf Ethan Garraint as well as some of his more unusual friends. I hope you enjoy, “The Broken Window.”

The Broken Window

“I’m not sure, not at all sure what the problem is.”

“Is it the glass?”

“Doesn’t seem to be. It’s made of the same glass as all the other windows along the wall.”

“Perhaps the sizing of the glass is off.”

“I don’t know. That seems to be a bit unlikely. After all, this is the third time.”

“Are you serious? The third time?”

“Yes Ma’am, last Thursday, Tuesday, and then today.”

Moira frowned. It was Saturday evening at the East Bank Regional Public Library, and she was staring at a two-story tall wall of plate glass windows — in particular, one pane whose glass was not shattered but oddly cracked from the center out.

“You want me to put up the yellow tape?”

She shrugged with distraction. “I suppose. I’ll call someone to fix it, but it’s the weekend. They probably won’t do anything until Monday.” She continued to stare for a moment, oddly transfixed for some inexplicable reason. After all, it was just a window. It didn’t mean anything.

Moira was a part-time librarian at the library, at least for the present. Her plans were uncertain, her life in flux. She didn’t intend to make a career here, just fill a gap or a chasm as she often looked at it. She’d actually only been working here a month, and the window problem. Well, the night watchman had indicated it had started about two weeks ago. She tapped her pen on the wooden counter in front of her, just two weeks.

“Working late tonight Moira?”

She glanced up from the computer terminal where she’d been constructing an inventory form. “Yes, until nine. How about you?”

Sally Clark stared at her with that wild animated look that she always seemed to possess. “No, no, I’m out of here at six. Wish you were coming. My boyfriend has a friend—”

Her voice droned on in Moira’s ears, but she had tuned her out. Sally was, well, predictable. She was closing in on forty, and although Moira was only several years her junior, she looked on in trepidation with anyone Sally could set her up with. Sally was a lovely woman, but Moira was sure their taste in men might not even rub elbows in this universe.

She snapped a book closed, looking up at Sally, whose hair had been dyed an odd reddish-blonde color when Moira wasn’t paying attention. But it seemed as if she’d concluded her ramble. “You have a great evening.”

“Maybe some other time,” Sally tacked on enthusiastically. She was actually a nice lady, and Moira should be nicer. But, well, she wasn’t. So instead of responding, she just smiled, waiting patiently for her co-worker to exit.

It was Saturday evening, but the staff tonight in the whole two-story structure of the East Bank library would be there tonight; however, only four, as opposed to the usual six, were closing.

The desk in reference where she stood had a clear view of that problematic cracked window. It was odd, disturbing, and alerted her to something deep within her skin that perhaps told her it was time to move on, although she’d only been here a mere month.

She sighed deeply from somewhere at her core, glancing down at her hands that were spread out on the wooden counter. And there, right on the ring finger was a tell-tale white mark indicating where a band had once been, a band that was now missing.

Instinctively she balled her left hand up in a fist almost protectively.

She ran her hand through her short brown hair. It was a sensible haircut that she’d gotten just before she came to work here. After all, if Moira Archer wanted to be a librarian, she needed to look the part. But she missed her hair, her long auburn-colored hair that she’d dyed a shade of dark brown. It was best not to stand out. Nervously, she strummed her fingers again on the counter, staring at the broken window, broken strangely, almost as if it imploded internally from pressure but pressure from an odd point.

She breathed in deeply. It was unfortunate because she’d hoped to stay longer. It was unfortunate but unavoidable. Tonight, after work, she would go home to her small apartment on West Napoleon Avenue, pack up her car and leave. She would leave behind the furniture that she’d just bought and decorated with, leave behind the friends, although just a handful that she’d just begun to make, leave behind everything, and start over somewhere else. She thought perhaps of the mountains, maybe driving up into the Ozarks. There it would be more difficult. There were so many varying energies that would block things. But then again, that was why she’d come to New Orleans with the same thought, perhaps if she’d settled deeper in the city.

But she shook these second guesses out of her mind. The broken window could be a coincidence, but she was not in a position to gamble.

She tried to focus on the screen in front of her. It was just after six. She just needed to get through the next three hours, although she was not beyond walking out. That indeed was a possibility.

Again she stared at the computer screen in front of her, mind cluttered, unable to concentrate. It wasn’t as if it mattered if she worked much tonight. She’d already decided she was leaving. And the fatality of that understanding left her with a heavy heart. She liked her little apartment with its light wicker furniture and the pretty floral pictures she’d hung on its walls. It felt like life.

She shook her head and headed to a shelving cart by the side of the desk. This she could do right now. It required little brain power.

The long aisles of the library were narrow and smelled musty to him — but then again, his sense of smell was of the acutest kind, a blessing and a curse. Of course, he thought with little humor; this seemed to be the theme of his life.

Ethan wore a long trench coat of which he was of half a mind to divest himself. After all, he had spent enough time over the centuries in Southern Louisiana to be aware of its humid climate. It was only two days until Halloween, late October, and still summer as far as this area of North America was concerned. But he was on a delicate mission, and so as his indulgent nature demanded, he had wanted to dress the part.

Then on the other hand, he was also suffocating, so in expediency, Ethan pulled off the trench coat and flipped it over his arm shaking out his longish blonde hair. He checked his watch — eight o clock. Well, that gave him about an hour to exercise his diplomatic powers. Lucky for him, there would be no full moon this Hallow’s Eve. A full moon on that particular night or in the days leading up to it could be particularly, well in his case, unraveling.

He took in a deep whiff of the musty air around him, trying to focus beyond the well-worn stench of book covers that had been untouched for far too long.

No, it was beyond the human occupants of this building where he focused, well beyond.

A slight smile crossed his lips. Yes, he had marked her.

Moira was trying to relax, but her skin prickled. For some time, the mindless shelving of books had placed her into a sort of thoughtless reverie. But that had seemed to pass now. Something had changed. Only four were on duty tonight, but they could close up without her if she feigned illness. She moved the cart of books she’d been pushing around all evening around the corner of a bookshelf, then stopped.

Several sections of books away down at the other end of the long stretch was a man, a tall blondish man dressed in black with a coat draped over his arm.

She didn’t know who he was, but she could clearly see what he was — a werewolf standing right in the middle of the East Bank Regional Library.

Moira took a deep breath and braced herself. After all, they were in a public place, and the last she’d checked, the moon was at a very slim crescent. So all she had to do was play dumb — be the reclusive little librarian that she had chosen to be.

She glanced at the stranger, a brief acknowledging smile, then turned to her task of shelving books, focusing intently. Perhaps his presence here had nothing to do with her; maybe it was one of those odd random coincidences that the universe seemed intent on perpetrating on ordinary folk.

Another deep breath to stabilize her, yes indeed, that was what she had chosen to be, ordinary folk — just like Sally, or dour Tom at the front desk, or combative Jessica Renard up in Special Collections. Yes, indeed extraordinary in their unique ordinariness.

She grasped the three hardback Nora Robert’s novels from the cart and placed them on the shelf. Then she froze, on the spot still facing forward. But she could feel it all over her back, as tangible as if he’d directly placed his hands there. Of course, he hadn’t. He was just standing there quietly, now behind her.

With little choice, she slowly turned to face him. He looked to be in his thirties, bearded with a mustache, longish blonde hair grazing the top of the black turtleneck he wore. And his eyes, which she was close enough to see, were an eerie blue-gray color staring at her as though he hadn’t a care in the world.

And everything, still everything about him screamed wolf to her.

“Can I help you with something?” she asked softly.

It was odd what hit her most acutely in the next moment. A touch of compassion seemed to reach his eyes — something she found most unexpected. “I think perhaps maybe I can help you, Moira Archer, is it?”

It was a strange moment filled with some duality. Indeed there was the disappointment that her hopes had been crushed. Oddly enough, and there was no denying her existence had always been filled to the brim with oddities, she also felt a measure of relief.

Although she’d pegged him as a werewolf, she was also sensing no malice, no threat — quite unexpected.

Ethan felt oddly frustrated as a lingering thought floated through his mind. “Why were all the good ones taken?”

There was a coffee shop or a small coffee bar with accompanying tables situated in the library’s foyer. He and the woman who was calling herself Moira Archer sat there. She sipped a hot mug of peppermint tea and he, a hot coffee mocha, something that called itself coffee but tasted a bit more like hot chocolate. But given that he’d nurtured his sweet tooth through the many centuries of his existence, it suited him well.

A brief interlude having a sweet and spending time with an intriguing woman didn’t seem like a bad deal for an old lycanthrope like himself.

“So,” he smiled engagingly, “how do you like the city?”

She slowly placed her hot, in fact still steaming cup of tea on the table and stared at him with eyes that were large and dark, but for some odd reason, reminded him of some strange violet tone. Of course, that couldn’t be so — what human had violet-colored eyes? And then he stopped himself. Yes, what human indeed?

“My break isn’t that long, Mr.— I’m sorry, what did you say your name was again?”

“Ethan Garraint.”

She nodded slowly. “And may I assume that you were sent here by—” she paused, so he obligingly filled in. After all, there wasn’t time to be coy. In fact, there didn’t seem to be time for much of anything.

“Well, actually, an old friend — your husband.”

Her face showed no surprise, in fact, not much emotion of any kind. But then again, for a woman like this, it was most predictable that her husband would attempt to get her back.

“I am not wholly unacquainted with my husband’s acquaintances, but I don’t recall—.”

“We go way back,” he replied, taking a quick sip of the cocoa/coffee concoction. “Actually, early Renaissance, in Italy, we first crossed paths.”

“I see,” she pronounced a bit definitively. “I’ll get to the point, Mr.—”

“Ethan,” he interrupted. He had to get this on a friendlier plateau, or it would be a wasted effort before he even began.

“Ethan, you can tell my husband that I am not —”

“Yes, yes, that you are not coming back.”

Now she looked at him a bit oddly. Finally, he’d said something that had elicited a reaction. “Yes, isn’t that why you are here?”

“Well, Moira, not exactly, he is concerned about you. You see, it seems your absence has created a bit of, well, imbalance.” He sighed deeply, trying to find the appropriate avenue to navigate around the truth.

Her brow wrinkled slightly, but it did nothing to mar her delicate loveliness. He was not at all at a loss to explain his friend’s fascination, dare he say, obsession with the woman before him.

“What do you mean imbalance?”

He leaned in a bit closer to her. “Moira, haven’t you felt ever since you’d left that you were being followed?”

A slight downturn of her finely shaped lips, “Well, yes but I thought that was just him, well, trying to get me to come home. After all, he sent you.”

“Yes, but he sent me to warn you. He hasn’t been trying to get you back, just protect you.”

There was a hesitation, clearly a moment to soak in unconsidered information. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Ethan,” she almost rasped out in what he unmistakably pegged as mild panic.

“Think Moira, the window. They’re coming for you — the minions breaking in from their dimension to disrupt the order of things.”

Again she stared at him with violet-colored eyes. Perhaps they were violet, and with indulgence, he thought perhaps he was the only one who could see that.

She leaned back a bit in her chair, contemplating, he thought, sipping her tea. “What are you trying to say that to restore the natural order of things I have to return?”

He shrugged a bit. Who was he to get in the middle of another’s marital discord? He’d tried it himself once so long ago and found not only was it impractical for a werewolf, but he wasn’t exactly the best marital material. “I don’t know if it’s that simple, Moira. It has more to do with discord, ill-feelings. If you both could come to an understanding, it might stabilize things.”

And then the unexpected happened. Her wide violet-colored eyes seemed to tear up as she shook her head. “You don’t understand, Ethan. I am a free spirit — a creature of the light.”

He smiled a bit sadly. She tugged at his heart, and he truly wished he could tell her what she wanted to hear. But as it was, “I do understand Moira. But I also understand that each of our lives comes with burdens. Burdens we must learn to carry.”

She stared at him a moment, so long that he wondered if she’d understood what he’d said. And then she stood up, “It was good of you to come, Mr. Garraint. I will certainly consider what you have told me.” And then she walked away, and he took one more sip of his coffee before he gathered his things and left.

As Ethan exited the library doors, a chill hit him that he had not expected. It seemed that when he arrived, it would be a balmy autumn night which was not so unusual for this part of the country. But something in the air had changed; something that he had an instinctual feeling had nothing whatsoever to do with the weather.

Slowly he descended the granite steps, never letting his eyes leave the shadows which seemed to be unnaturally gathering in the parking lot. Once he reached level ground, he waited patiently for what exactly he had no idea. But something, every inch of his skin, told him something was on its way.

Then finally, as if in direct answer to his anticipation, a figure stepped out of the darkness — a tall, lean man dressed rather immaculately in a grey suit with shoulder-length black hair.

He breathed a sigh of relief that would be tangible to no one but himself. It wasn’t exactly that the new arrival was devoid of danger — just not particularly dangerous to him. After all, he was simply a bit player in this particular drama.

Being in no particular hurry, Ethan Garraint waited patiently for the man to approach, who, when doing so, paused just in front of him with a very slight smile crossing a particularly distinguished face.

“You might have given it a bit more time,” Ethan directed toward this very old acquaintance, although in reality, the man physically didn’t look a day over forty.

“There isn’t time,” he responded with a sereneness that Ethan always recalled seemed to be present in his manner.

Even in the very pale lamplight of the library steps, he could see the very dark blue eyes that he remembered his old friend possessing. It was the most animated aspect of his persona, those eyes that seemed to stretch deeply into infinity if you were foolish enough to gaze too deeply within.

“Well, that’s a pity Nathaniel. She is confused and could use more time.”

He nodded slowly, staring beyond him towards the library’s front doors. “There is no choice. Even now, the others are planning their strike. If they succeed —” then he stopped.

Ethan instinctively reached out and patted his friend’s shoulder, instantly recognizing the chill he’d sensed in the air earlier. Of course, it had emanated from this ancient and powerful being. “Then let’s make sure they don’t.”

The deep blue eyes focused on him again. He felt compelled, even drawn to a place where his particular immortality had prevented him from ever finding — that place beyond in another sort of eternity that undeniably a part of him craved.

“Did you pave the way?”

He hesitated. Had he indeed done all he could have? Hard to say, not knowing what the outcome might be. “I did my best Nathaniel. The rest is up to you.” Then he stepped away from him, donning the trench coat he’d been carrying across his arm, and headed toward the shadows before him. However, he paused for just an instant and called over his shoulder.

“Nathaniel, I have no evidence of this, but I feel it. I believe she still loves you.”

And then he continued to walk away, not particularly interested in waiting for a response because the dominant emotion he felt at the moment was envy.

Moira Archer’s head began to swim. It was just thirty minutes until closing and then — and then. There was the rub. What would she do? Where would she go?

So much she had deliberately blocked from her mind so she could do what she wanted. Her legs felt like lead as she walked, was compelled to go there — just take one more look to see if what Ethan Garraint had told her could possibly be true.

She moved beyond the information desk to right in front of the tall wall of glass where the fracture had occurred.

Her eyes slowly drifted into another state of seeing. Now it became more apparent. It was a glowing light, gathering, not outside, not inside but within the cracks of the panes — glowing like some strange insects, fireflies perhaps, but those which gave off a ruddy, irritated-looking, reddish-pink glow.

“You have the gift of sight, Mneme,” her mother had told her. “And the gift of healing, and merging the light with the darkness. So many gifts my child. Your life is one filled with destiny. You are the bridge.” So young she’d been told this, so young she’d been given away in an arranged marriage so long ago. It had been frightening and then uncanny. It wasn’t as if she were unhappy, just puzzled, curious as to what she did not have.

Her eyes were drawn back to the window. She could feel them near her skin, buzzing angrily, hungry, ravenous, in fact. She could feel them gathering strength, pushing against the cracks in the glass, determined to spread the opening further and further.

“Until they gain entrance to this world.” The voice came from behind her and sent an instinctive shiver up her spine.

“To what end?” she murmured without looking back, although she felt him move beside her.

And then she began to feel that instinctual draw toward him — the one she had felt on her wedding day. She’d been so filled with terror learning she would be the bride of the master of death, but then she’d seen him, and all the fear had melted away. And there had been the magnetic pull that had been so nearly impossible to overcome.

“They feel the balance has been disrupted. It is their chance to enter and feed on humanity.”

“Feed?” she whispered.

“In all kinds of ways. Energy to begin, then life itself, so there is no peace, no transition.”

“I thought that was your domain.”

She felt him sigh. He was weary. She could feel it within her as it had always been with the two of them. “That’s not really fair, is it my dear? I do not take life. I am simply there to ensure transition once it is time.”

She turned slowly to Nathaniel, feeling tears slipping down her cheeks. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to hurt you.”

“This goes beyond you and me,” he stated softly. “But you could have come to me if you were so unhappy.”

Her heart hurt like a tangible stab. How she’d missed him; how she had fought so hard not to acknowledge it. “I needed to be here, to remember living. To remember who I was. If I’d come to you.”

“If,” he repeated.

“I would not have had the strength to leave.”

Slowly he nodded in understanding, she thought; his dark eyes filled with so many layers of emotions that she could easily allow herself to drown in them. “And did you? Did you find what you sought, my beloved?”

“Maybe, I think I’m still looking. I don’t know, but it seems it’s over.”

And then he smiled softly. “All that is needed is the balance between us, death and memory. The balance must be restored. The discord must end.”

“I don’t understand,” she said in confusion.

“If you wish to stay for a while, you can. If you only return sometimes and, of course, allow me to visit you.”

She looked at him with surprise, a compromise quite unexpected. “You mean something like six months of the year?”

His dark eyes sparkled. “Something like that if you agree to take me back as your husband.”

She smiled, noting that the ugly fireflies at the broken window had begun to thin bit.”

“I’ve missed you, my love,” she whispered.

She felt Nathaniel softly take her hand in his. “We have much to talk of,” he said as she gazed at her husband, feeling her heart begin to lighten.

“Yes, that is true.”

Copyright © 2022 by Evelyn Klebert

If you’d like to spend more time with Ethan Garraint, check out his stand alone novel.

The Broken Vow

The Broken Vow: Vol. I The Clandestine Exploits of a Werewolf

In the heart of every man there is a history. In the heart of every monster there is a story. In this first installment of “The Clandestine Exploits of a Werewolf,” Ethan Garraint is on a vendetta that begins in the heart of the Pyrenees with the fall of Montségur and leads him to the streets of New Orleans nearly five hundred years later. But the person he chases isn’t really a man anymore and Ethan has been a werewolf for almost a millennium. With the aid of a gifted seer, he is on a blood hunt that will culminate in a journey that crosses the line between heaven and earth and ends somewhere in between.

Also check out the sequel to The Broken Vow, The Story of Enid at Kindle Vella.

The Story of Enid

When one realizes that a long-lost soulmate has been reincarnated, it poses some complications. When you have been a werewolf for nearly a millennium, the complications explode exponentially. Ethan Garraint understands that he should stay far away from Erin Holt, but she is in his city, New Orleans, and possibly in danger. And the truth is, he doesn’t want to stay away. He only wants to remind her of the lifetime they lived long ago, when they were more than lovers, when they became legend.

The Final Arc

What do a malevolent ghost, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the ruins of a historic antebellum house have to do with the fate of empathic psychic Rebecca Wells and her mentor and love Gabriel Sutton? Find out in the final arc of Dumaine Street.

Drop by Kindle Vella, the first three episodes are free!

Dumaine Street

Voices in her head, catastrophic emotions, hallucinations, Rebecca Wells is more than convinced that she is losing her mind. And as a last-ditch effort, she contacts a self-professed counselor who seems convinced that he can help. Gabriel Sutton has abandoned the world of medicine to navigate a realm filled with psychic phenomena. Diagnosing Becca with extreme empathic abilities, he struggles to help her stabilize her gifts while trying desperately not to fall in love with his patient.

The Most Unlikely of Places – A New Kindle Vella

During 2021 and 2022, and more particularly the Covid lockdown, I started writing a somewhat light-hearted tale, as I really needed to lift my spirits, about a psychic/time-traveler who took a somewhat unorthodox approach in escaping the stress of the pandemic. Recently, I decided to turn this story into a Kindle Vella. I hope you’ll check it out, and as always the first three episodes are free to read.

The Most Unlikely of Places

The Covid 19 lockdown is profoundly disturbing for everyone, but for Cecilia Jamison, it’s unbearable. Being a highly sensitive psychic, she can’t escape the emotions of others. Locked in her tiny apartment, she is going quite crazy. So, she does what she must to escape, even temporarily. She time travels to an obscure Puritan village in the past. And once there, she falls under the spell of the enigmatic Reverend Bradshaw, someone who might actually have more in common with her than she thinks.

The Lady in the Blue Dress – Update

I’ve begun work on the book and eBook versions of The Lady in the Blue Dress. It’s exciting seeing this work move from Kindle Vella into a regular book format. For anyone interested in reading the book now, it is posted in its entirety on Kindle Vella but should be released in the traditional book and eBook format sometime this summer.

The Lady in the Blue Dress

Mika Devalieur desperately wants to deny her beloved grandmother’s last wish, but she can’t. Reluctantly, she travels from New Orleans to rural Virginia to deliver a priceless Pre-Raphaelite painting into the hands of James Clairmont, someone she’s never laid eyes on before. But something isn’t right, and James Clairmont knows much more about her family and the painting than he is letting on. There are so many secrets about him, about her, and most especially, The Lady in the Blue Dress.

A New Chapter – The Story of Enid

Some years back a good friend of mine and I had a pact that every Halloween we would write each other a Halloween story. After a few years of this, I wrote one entitled “Wolves” which was the story of a sort of vigilante who was on the hunt for a diabolical werewolf that had killed her parents. Well, it turned out the werewolf in question wasn’t so diabolical but rather an enigmatic European fellow who at present was a carpenter who built his own furniture. A few years down the road, this particular character, Ethan Garraint, made another appearance as a supporting player in a Halloween story that I called “The Broken Window.” At this point, I was beginning to get the feeling that my werewolf needed a solo outing. So, I decided to write The Broken Vow: Vol. I of the Clandestine Exploits of a Werewolf. This story took Ethan Garraint, or rather Etienne at that time, through a very tumultuous period of his life when he lived with the Cathars at Montségur in Southern France, and hundreds of years later was in New Orleans tracking down a mysterious entity who had largely been responsible for their massacre. Within the novel, I explored some mystical concepts as Etienne was essentially mentored spiritually by the Cathar people. I always knew that I would write a sequel to this book and that the tone of this new one would change a bit. It would have to be a love story. So, as I’m finding Kindle Vella to be a very productive conduit these days, I decided to put The Story of Enid on Kindle Vella where it can function as either a stand-alone tale or a sequel. Once I complete it on Vella, I will be publishing it as a regular book and eBook. So, if you are in the mood for a werewolf tale that is just a bit unusual, I hope you’ll drop by Kindle Vella and check out The Story of Enid: The Clandestine Exploits of a Werewolf. (The first three episodes are free to read)

Take Care,

Evelyn Klebert

When one realizes that a long-lost soulmate has been reincarnated, it poses some complications. When you have been a werewolf fThe Story of Enidor nearly a millennium, the complications explode exponentially. Ethan Garraint understands that he should stay far away from Erin Holt, but she is in his city, New Orleans, and possibly in danger. And the truth is, he doesn’t want to stay away. He only wants to remind her of the lifetime they lived long ago, when they were more than lovers, when they became legend.