Thursday, October 02, 2008

A thinking woman's read

The sequel to ~In Trysts~


REVIEWS

In Flames

1 - "Fast paced and edgy tension highlights this passionate
thriller. In Flames is a roller
coaster ride of secrets and ghosts and sizzling sensuality. The plot line is
solid and kept this reader guessing to the dramatic end. Marco and Sophia are
likable individuals that I felt an affinity with from the opening. Melody
Knight is an author whose back list I look forward to reading."



Lettetia Elasser



Affaire de Coeur July/August 2008



2 - "Her combustibility and the secrets of her past form the basis for this intriguing mystery." Literary Nymphs http://literarynymphsreviewsonly.blogspot.com/2008/07/in-flames.html


EXCERPTS


Sophie opened the door, then stood, reluctant to enter. There was a smell, a scent in the air…


Cigarette smoke, fresh and pungent.


It might just as well have been sulfur and brimstone. Wherever Damian lingered…it was hot.


There was a small pile of ash on the floor, but no cigarette. She spotted a new mark on her dressing table—a charred circle.


Sophie lifted the silk skirting, and touched the hole with her fingertip.


A perfect circle.


Like a ring. At the end, when he feared losing her, he’d talked marriage. A lifetime of beatings and bliss.


She'd left him instead. Left him and moved on.


Damian had moved on, too—to the Hereafter.


A little defiantly, Sophie lifted her head. This room had meant so much to her. It had been her sanctuary, at a time when she had no longer needed saving. It had been proof of her resolve and good fortune—the sign that she no longer had to hide, that she was now self-sufficient and self-contained.


No longer.


Because this haven was no longer hers. If she’d needed a sign of usurped ownership, it was there in the burns marring her dresser, the holes in her clothes. Someone—or something—else owned it now.


With a shudder, she grabbed her purse, then dashed out and slammed the door behind her.



AND



She’d gone down maybe a dozen stairs, following always that acrid smoke smell, her keen sense of smell guiding her. She wound through a maze of tunnels and intersections, Ys, in the dark, arms flailing, trusting to stink and instinct—and all the while dreading what she would find at the end of it.


She had been right to dread. The incinerate glow leached out into the darkness, staining the corridor red and orange. She knew, when she felt the heat emanating from within, that she’d reached Hell.


It was hot and holed and cavernous, and inhabited by maybe a dozen robed figures. The wall lengths were broken by alcoves; flattened bottoms with rounded arches above. A New World solution to Old World catacombs. The roof was a giant rock chute, and the smoke churned, eddied and swirled upwards and out.


The center was an inferno—a stone altar alternately orange, yellow, blue, red, black. Flames licked it, dancing like the wood-coal which fed it. Dying wood which glowed with that peculiar animacy of searing orange and bred in the efforts of sweating men in motion. Their robes flapped and their hoods slipped, as they fought to sustain illusion in the face of toil. Crackle, snap, branches flung and logs thudding against the base. The searing heat made the scene wobble in waves of molten air, and already heated tempers flared to incandescence at the pyre's demands for fuel.


Sophie stood there blankly, wobbling on her feet, blood leaking down her legs. She looked from the altar to the arched crevices around the walls. The dancing orange light picked up the dull dark brown of carbonized bone.


Carbonizing bone.


She was seen…of course. By Damian and not-Damian. They were both there, but only one was hers. The other one, she decided later in her nightmares, had been present only to show her there was more than one demon in Hell.


Damian and not-Damian had hit her, kicked her, pounded her, again and again.


Smoke, fire, flames, corpses.


And the demons danced on.



AND



Sophie lost him in the smoke and steam. She screamed, choked on soot and swallowed water—then it was all gagging, paddling, churning her way through the wash. The surge was relentless, all troughs and waves, floating wood and falling stone. She was slammed against the wall and felt her shoulder give. Sophie shrieked and fought for air. “Marco!


He had her. Marco grabbed her, and clung. She held onto him weakly, and opened her eyes to find he was smiling.


A death’s head grin. It was Gerald Beaumont.


Sophie!” he cried, clawing at her head, her shoulders, climbing her like a bobbing tree. She was going under, down, when Marco snatched her out of Gerald’s grasp and flung him aside.


But Marco’s hold on her was tenuous, and Beaumont’s frantic antics cost him. Scratch, tear, rip, fling, but in the wildly swirling muddle, of dirt and bone, ash and wood, filthy foam and churning backwash, Sophie was jarred loose from Marco’s grasp once more, out of his reach. He heard her choked off “Marc-!” as she vanished beneath the rising waters.



AUTHOR WEBSITES: N. D. Hansen-Hill Melody Knight


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