Librarian Jayne Shepard has always lived vicariously through her beloved books, especially Regency-era literature. So when her friends offer the chance to stay in Villa Diodati, where Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and John Polidori's The Vampyre were inspired, Jayne seizes the chance.
She expects to absorb the haunting atmosphere of the historic manor located on the shore of Lake Geneva. What she doesn't expect is an encounter with an enchanting stranger who calls himself Lord Byron--who awakens Jayne to a sensual and sexual ecstasy she's never before known.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Lucid by Debra Glass
Jayne took the glass from Angie, deposited the cube into the already-opalescent absinthe and stirred it with the spoon. She passed the glass to Bette. "Try it."
"You try it." Bette pushed it back.
"Oh hell, I'll try it," Angie said, and snatched it out of Jayne's hand. She eyed each member of the group before lifting the glass to her lips and taking a sip.
The others looked on with curiosity as Angie's head involuntarily shook. Her face contorted.
"That bad?" Jayne laughed.
"It's pretty damn bad," Angie rasped, and then smacked her lips. "Sticks with you too."
Carla took the glass from Angie and took a tiny sip. "Oh jeez! That's awful!"
She passed it to Bette, who stared at it with dread.
"Shoot it," Jayne said.
Bette's dark eyebrows shot up. "You shoot it!"
"Jayne won't do it," Carla teased. "She's too chickenshit to do anything like shoot liquor."
"Yeah," Angie added. "I bet you've never done a shot in your life."
"A shot?" Bette interjected. "She won't even go out with that Edward Warren who's asked her three times already."
Jayne parted her lips to speak but the sad truth was, she hadn't ever done a shot and she had not taken Edward up on his offer, even though she wanted to. Well, she would show her friends tonight. "Let me show you how it's done," she said, taking the glass from Bette.
Courage surged and Jayne turned up the glass, downing half its contents. Warmth spread through her throat and chest. A line of perspiration beaded between her shoulder blades and trickled downward. Although the aftertaste was decidedly bitter, the sensation from the absinthe was toe-curlingly...wonderful.
She blinked and stared at the absinthe. "Not bad."
Angie gave voice to a hearty laugh. "You might know the librarian in the bunch would like it."
Bette reached for the glass but Jayne drew it back. "Louche your own. This one's mine."
After the others gave up on the foul taste of the absinthe and switched to wine, they began to discuss Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Jayne settled against the pillows and sipped her absinthe, relishing the warmth and heaviness filling her body. Oddly, she thought, her mind stayed lucid, which she assumed accounted for the name of the particular brand.
As the storm raged, Jayne's thoughts swept from the book discussion to the past, and in her mind's eye, she imagined Mary Shelley with her long, wild dark hair, her hands animated as she told the tale of the ill-fated Dr. Frankenstein and his pitiable monster. Of course, lounging nearby would have been her soon-to-be husband, the angelic-looking Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as the handsome doctor John Polidori and the enigmatic scoundrel Lord George Gordon Byron.
Jayne felt her lips pull into a smile. She had always had a sort of literary crush on Lord Byron. She Walks in Beauty was one of Jayne's favorite poems and she wondered what sort of infatuation inspired a man to write such haunted words in tribute to a woman.
She turned up the glass and finished the last drop of absinthe. While the others talked on, Jayne put her glass aside and closed her eyes, intending only to rest for a moment. The combination of jetlag and a shot of absinthe was lethal, and it wasn't long before her mind, filled with images of a long-ago night, succumbed to sleep.
* * * * *
A sharp crack of thunder shook the very foundation of the villa. Startled, Jayne's eyes snapped open. She sat, blinking, trying to remember where she was. Fire crackled in the hearth. An empty absinthe reservoir sat on the floor next to her hand and she was still clad in her Regency-style dress.
She could hardly believe the others hadn't awakened her and urged her to go to bed, but then, she could have been sleeping like the dead since she was suffering from jetlag.
She wet her lips, tasting the odd peppermint and licorice taste of the absinthe. "No hallucinations," she said, a little disappointed the spirit hadn't lived up to its infamous reputation.
Yawning, she stood, smoothed her dress and made her way toward the stairs. Without the benefit of electricity or the fire, the hallway was completely dark and, in unfamiliar surroundings, Jayne hoped she could find her way back through the sprawling villa to her room.
A tremor tickled her spine and she quickly looked over her shoulder. She swallowed thickly, feeling as if someone were with her. What if the old villa was haunted? But that was silly. Ghosts were fictional beings, figments of the imagination.
She turned to make her way up the stairs--and ran headlong into the hard wall of a very male chest.