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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday Romantic Challenge_UP,UP, & AWAY_NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE

This Friday, Denise and Francine, have challenged us to do a romantic entry on the theme : UP, UP, AND AWAY :

My 400 word entry is from the sequel to CREOLE KNIGHTS, NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE.

My best friend, Sandra, loves books like THE BOURNE IDENTITY and THE DA VINCI CODE, so I made the middle of NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE be a meld of both books.

Samuel McCord kneels by the murdered body of a young prostitute and promises her spirit that he will find those responsible.

Fulfilling that promise takes him around the world :
Amsterdam, Jerusalem, and finally to the secret catacombs beneath the Vatican.

Each face he meets is but a mask, hiding deceit and death. McCord has discovered the Pope is but a puppet. But who is pulling the strings?

With the loss of his beloved wife, Sam is looking for a good death that takes out two monsters : himself and the master puppeteer.

He opens the door to the Pope's bedchambers to ask the man himself :

The bedchambers were everything a Renaissance concubine’s should be. But I was breaking into the bedroom of the current Pope.

The almost dressed woman sprawled lazily on the ornate bed. Her satin dress should have had a case of the bends, it dipped so low in the front.

It was slit clear to her slender waist. A lot of shapely leg showed. The flesh of her breasts was white velvet. Her eyes were blue diamonds. Her long hair a hot sunset.

“Please close the door,” she murmured.

“Bartolomeo Veneziano didn’t do you justice, Miss Borgia.”

“What a flatterer you are, Samuel. And do call me Lucrezia.”

She patted on the red velvet spread beside her. “Sit.”

Her voice was husky with desire. Tough. Since Meilori left me, I was a dry well. I walked to her bed and sat.

Lucrezia had insane eyes. They said she was a law onto herself, and she recognized no code but her own hungers. She studied me.

“Want to see my teeth?,” I asked.

She bubbled the laugh of a psychopath, “Oh, you already have justified the cost of poor Stanley’s life.”

“Was that his name?”

She laughed again. “My second real laugh in untold years."

I doubted that. She probably laughed at the pleas of each victim.

"My, you are a bargain. You didn’t know his name, nor the magnitude of the organization you were fighting?”


Her lips twisted Cheshire style. “You didn’t have a clue?”

“Seldom do.”

Lucrezia's smile became full Cheshire. “So you killed a sociopath and took on a worldwide empire -- all for the sake of a raped whore?”

She sneered. “Raping a whore. Is that even a crime?”

“It is to me. She was fifteen years old.”

“She was dead while she lived.”

“She was human. Seeing as how I’m not any more, that means a lot to me.”

“What exactly are you?”

“A monster.”

Her fingers softly stroked the back of my gloved right hand. “You call yourself a monster?”

“Yes. And I’ll suffer the fate of all monsters.”

“Which is?”

“To die alone, unloved, and unmourned.”

Her face flinched as if I had hurt her somehow.

She shook her living waterfall of hair.

“Have you not pieced it together yet? I have studied you ever since you clashed with the Alumbrados in 1847. I have engineered all of this just to meet you.”

She eased closer. “We two are alone as no other on this earth.”

Lucrezia wet her parted lips. “We could share that aloneness.”

(Come sit down with me at Meilori's and hear Over the Rhine singing "Sharpest Blade.")


  1. Interesting. So, the Up, Up is the rising level of tension?

    Its late/early. Why am I not in bed.

    Eloquent, as usual Roland.


  2. Beautiful words and a gripping setting as usual - lovely, Roland.

  3. Hello Roland.
    I'm quite partial to The Bourne Identity myself.

    Smiling... This has definitely got to be the underworld...what with the Pope's picturesque bedchambers & Lucrezia...she sure is something! I almost want to scream at Sam "Don't do it, get away from her, she'll eat you up!"

    I liked the accompanying video...the girl can definitely sing.

  4. Well I think I'll take a look at the whole story at some point soon. I'm intrigued to discover the whole tale.

  5. Hi

    More Harlot's lair than Pope's chamber, and so Sam McCord to be entering yet another seeming mad world of "Sam through the looking glass!" I'm as intrigued by his escapades as that of the master puppeteer yanking his strings! Nice one. ;)


  6. The dialogue is very good, I love "Want to see my teeth?"

    She shouldn't have a velvet dress AND velvet breasts, especially within two paragraphs. Pick one.

    The laughing got annoying. The first two work, but when you get to "she fought a laugh" I'm bored, and not believing that she hasn't laughed in years or ages. By the fourth, I'm ready to scream. I know you're looking for action or something to add a beat or pause to the dialogue rather than "she said," but please, find something else.

    "Living waterfall of sunset hair" - pick one metaphor, please.

    I really like that she's engineered this, but am not sure why he is so passive in this scene. He's traveled around the world, he's broken into the Pope's bedroom, which takes some moxie, and he notes this creature's beauty, but there's no indication he is fighting a sexual attraction or mesmerized in any way. He's just passively answering her questions. Does he have an agenda? Is he thinking, I'll let her keep talking, and play along, maybe she'll let spill the information I'm looking for? Please, show us what's going on with him internally.

  7. Though there may be a bit much laughter, that's easy to fix. The scene was scorching hot and the tension pulled me along.

  8. Beverly :
    Thanks for the critique. Lucrezia is so insane the Cheshire Cat looks like Buddha compared to her. I edited the scene to fit the 400 word limit.

    In the novel it is revealed that she is passive so as to study McCord in preparation to have him kill her. She has engineered Sam into her life to commit suicide to escape a life she can no longer stand.

    Sam has an agenda : to see if she is the master puppeteer or if there is another pulling her strings -- which he strongly suspects. You can only fit so much into 400 words.

    Yes, the laughter was annoying -- on purpose. The Joker was not a sedate fellow or pleasant dinner company. He annoyed the hell out of Batman with that laugh over the death of innocents. As with Sam and Lucrezia.

    And Lucrezia wanted one last burst of passion before she spurred Sam into killing her as only he can -- due to his own curse.

    There is a joke Freud told :
    Masochist : Hurt me. Hurt me.
    Sadist : No. No.

    The end of this scene (not given) is a bit like that.

    Heather :
    Sorry about that laughter getting to you like it did Sam. I'm glad you liked most of it.

    Francine :
    Sam's life (as with Victor's) is indeed a fall through the rabbit hole.

    Donna :'
    The UP is indeed the tension. And the AWAY is the far shores of the Vatican.

    Andy :
    Isn't OVER THE RHINE great?

    AndyMac :
    Try FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE and CREOLE KNIGHTS which leads into this one.

    Thank you, Margo :
    Your praise means a lot.

  9. Great excerpt Roland. I expected the Pope behind the Pope's door. How delightful to find Lucrezia instead. I'm wondering what she is. Intriguing.

    I hope you have air conditioning now.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  10. Beverly :
    Thank you for the insightful comments. I used some of them to make my entry a stronger piece of prose. But just like a man, I ignored some. LOL.

    Nancy :
    Thanks for the kind words. Alas, my air conditioner, heater, plumbing, refrigerator, and sinks have all decided to break at the same time. Sigh. I will sleep on the floor of a vacant apartment with cool air until I can squeeze time to move in spurts to a new apartment in the complex. Sigh.

    Lucrezia found the elixir of immortality by accident as she tried an exotic poison on a rival, whose living severed head she keeps in a shrine to mock her former enemy.

    Poor Sam makes some insane enemies!

  11. This was so beautifully written, Roland. I love the mood and tension!
    Great job!

  12. Great tension, Roland. You certainly know how to paint a scene, get your characters into the reader's head. Totally loved this. BTW, I thought the laughing accentuated the setting.

    You know, of course, to ignore Beverly. She's a troll.

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