Read The Rousing: A Celtic in the Blood Novella Online
Authors: Jess Raven,Paula Black
2014 Paula Black and Jess Raven
All rights reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the authors except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
The Rousing is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents other than those in the public domain are the products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Celtic in the Blood novella
When unwelcome stranger Jack Pembroke arrives in Darcy McShane’s rural coastal village, the last thing she anticipates is falling for him, but a deadly storm, a night of unrestrained passion and the rousing of an ancient Irish myth conspire to change her life irrevocably.
From the authors of The Becoming Trilogy, The Rousing is an adult romance novella, set on the wild coast of Southern Ireland. The story blends mystery and eroticism with a paranormal twist on an ancient Celtic vampire legend said to have inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Due to graphic scenes of sex and violence, The Rousing is recommended to an 18+ readership.
“Eyes right, Darcy.”
Liam nudged my elbow. I looked up from the clouds in my glass of Guinness and followed his pointed look to the blonde who’d just walked into our local bar.
A blonde walked into a bar. Sounded like a bad joke, right? Except nobody was laughing. A draft of cold air and expensive perfume billowed in the new arrival’s wake. The door swung shut behind her and the ambient noise petered out as all eyes settled on the strange creature invading our Thursday night routine.
She wore sunglasses, blood-red lips and vertiginous heels. With a waist like a wasp corseted in striped black satin and Veronica Lake hair, she fit into our rural village pub scene like a whore walking in a nunnery.
That was the word that came to mind.
“Jesus,” Liam breathed. “Would you look what the cat dragged in.” Along with every man in the place, he was openly gawking, transfixed by the sashay of those tightly-encased ass-cheeks as she sex-walked her way to the bar, seemingly oblivious to the attention she drew.
“Lady Gaga comes to Crooke?” I asked under my breath. “Or did I miss the posters for the dominatrix convention?” Maybe Paddy, the flat-cap wearing owner, had decided to spice up the entertainment with a little burlesque show. It’d sure make a change from the usual fiddle and penny-whistle trad music. “This should give the old-timers something to gossip about at Sunday Mass,” I laughed.
Ignoring me, Liam slid off the red-leather banquette, drawn toward the exotic stranger like his dick was some kind of divining rod. I couldn’t blame my brother. Our little village in the South-East of Ireland didn’t see a lot of action. Had it been a smoking hot guy, perhaps I’d have been the same, jostling with the competition to buy the newcomer a drink.
I sat up straighter and drained my glass, feeling inadequate, in spite of myself. Jeans and a sweater were perfectly acceptable pub attire for a weeknight, and it wasn’t as though there were any men here worth trying to impress. Any guy worth getting in a lather over had upped and emigrated years ago. Well, one guy in particular, but I refused to get drawn down that dark alley of loathing and regret.
Feeling like the plain bridesmaid at a wedding, I looked enviously towards the exit. Trouble was, I had to rely on Liam for a ride home, and he was otherwise occupied. I stood, began making my way through the crowd to get a refill, only to find myself detoured, mashed into a corner by a big flabby body in a blue Argyl
“Grab your coat, love, you pulled.” He leered drunkenly, smelling vaguely of sheep-dip and stale body odour. Beer breath hot on my neck, he pinged my bra strap and his slobbery tongue was probing my ear before I had a chance to push him off.
“That your idea of foreplay, John-Joe?” I demanded, shoving him away, repulsed by the lingering sensation of wetness in my ear. “Go home and try that out on your wife.” Feeling contaminated, I ducked into the ladies’ toilet before things got way out of hand.
A good ten minutes later I was still sat there, locked in the cubicle. Anything to escape the reality of my life out there in the bar. At twenty-seven years old, were these really my prospects? Nights out drinking with my twin brother as chaperone, staring at the same old faces? A disgusting affair with some married farmer whose idea of seduction was to tongue-rape your ear, followed by a fumble in your knickers and a knee-trembler up against the wall outside
The same wall the drunks liked to piss against.
I shuddered. That couldn’t be my life.
Outside, I heard the restroom door open, admitting the sounds from the bar, along with a click of heels on tile and a waft of distinctive perfume. Then it closed again, deadening the noise, but that scent lingered. The vamp.
I sensed her on the other side of the cubicle and for some stupid reason, was afraid to breathe. I waited, stock-still, just listening. I could tell she was at the bank of sinks by the clink of buttons or nails against the ceramic. Grooming herself, I imagined, re-applying lipstick, whatever it was these high-maintenance type girls did in bathrooms for interminable hours. I visualised myself stepping out of the cubicle, forced to stare at my own reflection alongside hers as I washed my hands, and the seconds ticked by with me hoping she’d just leave.
You’re being ridiculous, Darcy. Can’t hide in a toilet for the rest of your adult life.
I flipped the lock across, swung open the cubicle door and immediately caught the woman’s reflection in the mirror.
I got just the briefest glimpse of her eyes when her gaze jerked up to mine in shock, and they didn’t look right. There was no pupil, no iris to speak of, all-white with just a burst of black veins across the surface.
What the …?
Her reflexes were lightning fast. The shades were back in place before I could even be sure I’d seen what I thought I had.
She turned to me, twitching her full mouth into a forced smile. “I thought I was alone,” she said, moving uncomfortably closer, making the toilets seem too small to fit us both.
“Sorry, I was just leaving,” I said apologetically, heat flooding my face as I tried not to cringe back into the cubicle.
I felt the urge to run, but her back was to the door, impeding my exit. There was no place to go that didn’t involve physically tackling her aside or actually spending the rest of my life sat on a toilet seat.
“Oh,” she said huskily, in an accent that was hard to place, “how pretty you are, such beautiful skin. The blood in your cheeks.
I was so much like you once.”
She touched her manicured nails to my jaw and I visibly flinched, my skin recoiling from the cool tap.
“Don’t be afraid of me,” she said. Her smile widened and panic flared in my chest.
“Was that man out there bothering you?”
“Pardon?” I stammered.
“Darcy! You in there?” We both startled towards the sound as Liam’s head appeared around the door.
I could have kissed him, brother or not.
“Been looking everywhere for you, sis. Thought you left without me.”
I sagged with relief as my bathroom companion went back to teasing her hair in the mirror, as though nothing at all had passed between us.
“What is it you ladies do in here that takes forever?” Liam asked, oblivious to the strange tension he’d broken up.
The blonde pressed her lips together suggestively and grinned at him through the mirror. He dug his hands into his jeans’ pockets and grinned back, like some lovesick puppy.
“We really should go now,” I said.
"Leaving so soon?" The other woman pouted, her dismay clearly directed at my brother.
“Yeah, we have to work tomorrow,” I said, hustling Liam out of the ladies room and back into the bar.
He failed to hide his disappointment.
“Please,” I wheedled, “I can’t handle any more of John-Joe’s groping tonight.”
Liam’s brows knitted together and his body tensed with aggression. “You want me to set that fecker straight? I’ll fix it so he never touches you again, sis.”
“That’s sweet of you Liam, really, but we’re not in the playground anymore. Your sister’s a grown-up who can handle herself. Right now, I just want to go home.” The last thing I needed in this village was a reputation as a home-wrecker, and John-Joe’s wife was actually a nice person, as was John-Joe, when he wasn’t drinking.
I steered Liam out front where his Ford was parked. I half-expected to see a sleek sports car to match the killer heels and corsetry, but there was only the usual collection of muddy trucks and hatchbacks, and I could have told you who drove each one.
“Strange woman. Where'd she come from?” I asked.
“She said she was looking for the Regency hotel, but her GPS led her down a wrong turn.”
“Weird,” I said, scanning further down the road for any sign of a car and finding none.
“Was she planning on leaving tonight?” I asked.
“Hope not,” Liam said, popping the locks on the Ford. “I got her number.” He waved a beer-mat scrawled with digits.
"Probably fake,” I laughed. “Anyway, I think she might have some kind of eye condition,” I said, sliding into the passenger seat.
Had to be. How else could I explain what I’d seen in that mirror?
"Huh," Liam said, belting up and starting the engine, "maybe she’s an albino. It’d explain the shades."
"Yeah." Still no sign of any car though, and she wasn't exactly dressed for a hike. "An albino, for sure," I said doubtfully.
Liam smiled over at me. "There are things I might like to hold against a woman like that, sis, but that ain't one of them." He laughed, driving us off into the night.