By Carol Burnside
By the time my day to blog rolls around, there will undoubtedly be some here who will have already mentioned they dream books into existence. Not literally, a paper book – LOL – but at least the essence of one. I’m one of those lucky people.
That was exactly how Phantoms & Fantasies came to me. I dreamt of a teenage girl of about 17 in a spook house, having fun with her friends. Suddenly she’s yanked into a dark passageway and falls, her screams merely absorbed into the shrieks of delightedly scared patrons. A needle prick sent her into a dreamlike state, her lethargic limbs making it all too easy for a hideously masked man to rape her. To make it worse, this girl was exposed to the malevolent and twisted mind of the man above her through a psychic link.
I awoke at 2:00 a.m., staring into the darkness, my heart thudding from the remembered horror. A few seconds later I exited the bedroom as quietly as possible and rushed to my office to jot down the details. Even as I wrote them down, I recognized my dream was backstory. This was the reason Zeenie, now in her mid-20’s had never had a serious relationship, let alone dated regularly. But she was ready now. I found her perfect partner in Turk Fontaine.
So began the stories I write about Crainesians, a humanoid race of people interwoven into an alternate reality Earth. They can read thoughts, communicate telepathically, dream-share and send video-like visions. The following passage is from Phantoms & Fantasies at a point where Trick-or-Treaters have triggered memories for Zeenie, but this time Turk was there.
Telepathic communication is in single quotes and italics.
The chicken had burned to black ash on the grill, and still Turk sat on the couch holding her, wrapped in an afghan, rocking back and forth as if Zeenie were a child.
The images she’d been helpless to block bled through to him, and he still reeled from the impact, the terror he’d felt washing over him in waves. And the awful bone-chilling cold. He’d experienced that too. It was the clarity of everything within his own mind that caught him unaware–the clear mind-connection of his life mate. He’d continued sending mental messages of reassurance and safety until she relaxed and burrowed closer into his embrace, her breathing deep and even. While he hated the cause for it, he’d delighted in the wonder of having her in his arms at last. Reveled in the fact that she’d found comfort there, and he’d thought about what could be.
Shifting Zeenie into a more upright position, he tried to ease away so he could turn off the grill. Her eyelids fluttered, closed, then shot open again, her gaze alarmed.
“It’s okay. You’re safe.” Turk brushed back a cinnamon lock sliding over her brow, pressed his lips to the spot in a brief caress and partially lowered his shielding. Her hands remained fisted in his shirt, her gaze following the movement. For a moment she remained motionless, her confusion coming through. What happened? Why is Turk holding me?
‘You were scared and cold. Do you remember answering my door, handing out candy?’
Her eyes widened, and she nodded.
‘Are the memories always that painful?’
She squeezed her lids shut and shook her head, wavy curls swirling about her shoulders. ‘I can usually shut them out.’
He telegraphed his relief to her, or hoped so. Nothing had bounced back–yet. He’d hate to think that she lived with that memory haunting her every day.
Close proximity, awareness, and pheromones combined into a kind of energy that seemed to fill the air around them. Zeenie’s gaze zeroed in on his lips, and his pulse kicked into overdrive. Ever mindful he needed to control his desire, Turk increased the slight pressure of his hands at her back. Zeenie eased forward millimeter by excruciating millimeter, her lips parting slightly. Unable to help himself, he leaned in the last inch and took what was being offered so sweetly. He sank into her soft warmth, her mouth fitting against his own with startling perfection.
Using a fair amount of his willpower, Turk managed to keep from crushing her lips in a bruising kiss that would have telegraphed how much he desired her. But when she drew back hesitantly, he pursued, desperately wanting to prolong this taste of her. He flicked his tongue against her bottom lip and took advantage of her surprise when she opened for him. The result, a spine-tingling, bone-melting all out green light to his libido was his reward.
Thank goodness for dreams! I fell in love with these characters. Phantoms & Fantasies was e-published in 2006 (by a now-defunct company) under the pseudonym I use for erotic romance, Annie Rayburn. The reviewer in the Passionate Ink newsletter of Jan, ’06 had this to say:
Phantoms & Fantasies is a well written, touching Sci-Fi romance. Annie Rayburn takes on a controversial subject and, through the course of the story, shows Zeenie’s healing process. I was somewhat skeptical that in so few pages Ms. Rayburn could adequately deal with the heroine’s history and her new relationship, but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Not only is Zeenie’s history dealt with, but because Turk is such an honorable man and because he loves Zeenie so much, he’s instrumental in helping her meet and conquer the phantoms of her past. Watching these two strong, special people find love together was thoroughly enjoyable and brought tears to my eyes more than once.
I hope to someday find another home for this story.