Anyone that follows me on Twitter or Facebook knows that I was quiet last week.  I'm about half finished with my paranormal erotica novella Taking Persephone and I'm really working hard (no pun intended) to get it finished.  To help pass the time, I thought I'd give you a sneak peek of the first chapter.  I'd love some feedback, but please be kind as it is still a work in progress.

I tell you my story not because I seek your sympathy or your understanding, but so that I might come to understand why I was chosen and why my life took the path that it did.

            The details of my birth and childhood do not matter.  Those trivial specifics had nothing to do with him.

            It is enough that I was born and that my birth sent my mother on a downward spiral away from reality.  Was it the fear of raising me all alone?  She never spoke of my father, not really, just a few insane ramblings that never made any sense.

            “There is magic in your blood Persephone,” she told me again and again, using my full name so that I would know that she was serious. She stroked my dark hair back from my face, “One day you’ll see.”

            I looked into her green eyes that were the same shade as mine and wanted to believe her. Did she know it from the beginning? Could she somehow sense that I was a witch from the day that I was born? Was it those same peculiar gifts that drew him to me?

            For as long as I can remember, I was unlike everyone else. It was more than just the crazy mother that set me apart, it was something else, a feeling that I always had, that made me different.

            I never told my mother about this feeling, but it seemed she understood. When I was the only child not invited to play or sleepover, she would go out of her way to spend time with me so that I wouldn’t feel as lonely. She was so protective of me that I doubted she would have let me go even if I was invited.

            “Don’t be upset Sephey,” she said when I would cry about a slight from the other children. “You’re much safer here with me anyway.”

            Safer from what? There were times that I was afraid that she was trying to protect me from myself. Could it be that she thought I might hurt myself or something? Was it possible that I was just as crazy as she was?

            By the time that I was ten years old, my mother’s protectiveness began to border on paranoia. She became distrustful of everyone and everything, pulling me out of school and refusing to even let me outside in the yard by myself.

            That was the year I made the flowers bloom and it was also the first time that I saw him.

            I was in the garden, a tiny patch of dirt in our yard that backed up to a tiny thicket of wood that separated our property from the train tracks on the other side, pulling the dead grass and weeds from the overgrown flower beds just like I had seen my mother do in the past.

            The day was warm, but it still had the crisp newness of early spring and the dirt was still cool under my fingers.

            Beside me, in their little individual packets, were the seeds I picked out for the beds that year. In my opinion, they were the very best from the garden nursery where my mother worked. I had selected daisies, coreopsis, and coneflowers. Even though it was still a bit too early in the season to sow them, boredom overtook me and drove me outside under my mother’s watchful gaze.

            Outside I felt alive. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a single friend other than my mother. I could get lost in the way the sun glittered in the leaves or the crystal-fine beauty of a spider web. Outside I could just be me and not worry if anyone thought it strange or unusual.

            I scratched at the dirt with my bare hands, enjoying the intimacy with the earth. Tearing into the first packet of seeds, I poured them into my hand.

            And then it happened.

            As I looked down at the seeds in my hand, they began to shake and tremor. Then, a random few sprouted milky hair-like shoots followed by another and another. Within seconds, the shoots became actual stems with leaves and tiny flower buds.

            Was I really seeing this? Could this really be happening?

            There was no time to question it. A frigid wind blew in from nowhere and the mound of vegetation in my hand shriveled up and died. A foggy mist spread out over the yard, quick and threatening.

            I stood and brushed the dirt from my hands, ready to give up on the crazy afternoon, but at that exact moment I felt someone watching me from the shadows of the trees.

            At first I saw nothing, but then as I focused more clearly I could just make out a pale figure there in the darkness. It took me a few seconds to realize it was a man there leaning against a tree. I couldn’t make out his hair or clothing, nothing but his very white skin and glowing black eyes.

            I knew I should run away, that I should call for my mother or run inside and lock the door, but I couldn’t make myself move. Those black eyes held me there, watching me without ever uttering a word.

            The garden became still and quiet. The sound of my own breathing filled the silence and echoed in my ears. My skin tingled at the danger of having this stranger so close.

            Who was this man and why was he here?

            I began to tremble, realizing how very vulnerable I was there at the rear of the yard where the ground sloped so that no one could see me, not even my mother inside our house. He could kill me then and there and it would take the police hours to find the body.

            Without a word, he reached one pale hand out to me even though there was too much distance between us to actually touch. Still, I didn’t run.

            He stood there, hand outstretched, but silent. I was afraid, but I could bring myself to turn away. I couldn’t even make him out clearly, but there was part of me that was almost tempted to go to him just to see what would happen.

            I was just about to step forward when my mother rushed up behind me, grabbed me about the waist, and pushed me behind her. Her eyes were wide with fear and her entire body shook.

            “Get the hell away from her you son of a bitch!” She hissed as we back away, “I won’t let you have her so go back to the pit of hell that you came from!”

            She pulled me away as I craned my neck to see around her, watching the pale figure that still stood there with his hand outstretched. A crow took flight from a branch overhead with a mournful cry. I looked away for just a split second, but when I turned back he was gone.

            My mother pulled me into the house and locked the door behind us. She pulled the blinds on the windows and refused to send me to school. Days later we packed up our things and moved to West Virginia. We spent the next few years moving from one small town to the other, fleeing that day in the garden and that man that seemed to strike terror in my mother.

            I never really understood her reaction to that man, but deep inside I knew that it was more than just maternal concern that caused her to install two dead bolt locks to doors of out new homes. It was obvious that she was afraid of something with cold black eyes and silvery pale skin.

            “I promise I’ll keep you safe,” my mother said. “I’ll make sure he never finds you.”

            She kept her promise. I grew up and never saw the pale black-eyed man again. Even though I was safe, I never became any more “normal”.

            I entered high school under the same cloud of obscurity as previous years. I moved through the halls invisible to most and only noticed now and then to bear the brunt of a prank as punishment for being an outsider.

            Part of me was convinced that I was destined to live my life as an outcast and the few boys that dared to have anything to do with me did little to dissuade that fear.

            Maybe it was because of my mother’s overprotectiveness, but I was miserably shy around boys. Chris, the only boy that ever asked me out for a second date, was a bit more understanding than most, but even he lost patience with me.

            “I just don’t get it,” he said one night when I pushed him away after he touched my breast. “What am I doing wrong?”

            I shrank to the far corner of the car, embarrassed and ashamed that I didn’t seem able to respond the way a normal girl should.

            “I’m sorry,” I whispered as I fought back the hot tears.

            He shook his head and started the car, “You’re acting like some scared little girl.”

            I could feel the tears falling down my cheeks and was helpless to stop them. I wiped them away again and again, “I said I was sorry.”

            “Just tell me,” he said as he drove me home. “Are you frigid or what?”

            That was the last time Chris asked me out on a date, and the next day at school he wouldn’t even look at me when we passed in the hall. He, and every other boy, seemed content to go back to ignoring me.

            The spring of my senior year, I turned eighteen. Somehow I was able to convince my mother not to move us again until I graduated. I worried that with my approaching graduation, I would lose the slight finger hold on normalcy I had and join my mother in the fall into madness.

While my classmates were pondering prom and what colleges they should apply to, I took to taking the longer route home from school just so I could have a few moments alone to ponder my future. Along the way, on the back side of the wooded park, stood a meadow that in the summer months was used for games of tag, but in the early spring remain uncut and empty. I loved to go there, stretch out on the ground, and hide from the world in the tall grasses.

I lay there looking up at the clouds in the bright sky and perhaps I dozed off because then there was a dark cloud covering the sun and I was sitting up. A thick foggy mist covered the meadow and a chill came over the air.

He was there…I could feel it…

I don’t know what made me so very certain of that fact, but I knew without a doubt that the pale black-eyed stranger was there watching me.

How many times in the years since that day in the garden had I thought of him? How many nights had I awoke in a sweaty fever from a dream where we actually touched? Did my insides ever fail to quiver at the very thought of him?

I held my breath and listened, trying to discover where he was hiding. There was no sound in the meadow anymore, even the birds were silent. I was beginning to feel foolish and was just about to give up, when there was a faint rustle of movement in the trees to my left.

Slowly I turned until I was on my knees and facing a clump of birch trees. At first I didn’t see him as his pale skin almost disappeared next to the white bark of the trees, but then he stepped forward and I could see that it was indeed the same man from years ago.

He was breathtaking to look at, tall and lean, moving with a fluid grace.  His face was almost white, but handsome with bird-like black eyes.  His clothes gave the impression of being black, covering him from his neck to his wrists and then down to his black shoes, but I didn’t notice any of the details, just that he as a whole was an image of black and white.

I exhaled slowly, relieved that it was in fact him and not some crazed serial killer. My relief was short-lived though as I realized that although I recognized him, I didn’t know what his real intentions were either.

“Who are you?” I demanded as I struggled to get up.

In the blink of an eye he was standing in front of me. He reached his long pale hands down and pulled me to my feet.

“Does it matter?” He asked in a velvety voice without releasing his hold on me.

Flashes from my dreams went through my head, heating my cheeks and making me hot and wet between my thighs. Was this too just a dream? Would he kiss me and then I’d wake up alone and safe in my bed?

“What do you want with me?” I asked in an embarrassed whisper, not taking my eyes off of his full pouty lips.

His hand came up to cover my nose and mouth, too late I opened my mouth to scream. We were spinning then, turning faster and faster until the world went black.

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