Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Love That Crosses the Boundaries of Time

Delighting In Your Company was released by Rebel Ink on April 17, 2012. The title is taken from a song, Greensleeves, attributed to Henry VIII, but the story takes place much later, in two time periods, the present and the early eighteen hundreds. Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance with time travel.

The idea for this story had its origins many years ago. I was building a house on the small Dutch island of St. Eustatius, in the Caribbean. I had no electricity and no running water. I had to dip water for cooking and bathing by bucket from an outdoor cistern. I was, as the locals put it, “Out in de bush.”

A friend who lived some distance up the hill from me, a local black woman named Mrs. Belle, asked me if I wasn’t afraid at night, staying way out in the country by myself. Since the crime rate on this tiny piece of paradise was zero, I asked her what I should be afraid of. “The jumbies,” she answered. I didn’t know the meaning of the word. “The jumbies,” she repeated, “The dead who walk.”

I was to hear that word many times in succeeding years. Belief in the occult is alive and well in the Caribbean. I heard stories about the mysterious crack in the steeple of the Methodist Church, about the woman who was buried standing up in the Anglican cemetery, and about the ghost who walks White Wall Road. I heard these legends not once, but many times and from many people.

I heard also about the practice of Obeah, an ancient religion based on a belief in black magic, brought from Africa to the Caribbean by the slaves. Although people speak about it in hushed tones and infrequently, its practices have definitely survived into the twenty-first century in the Caribbean.

When I decided to write a book placed on my beloved island, these stories all came flooding back to me. So I made my hero, Jonathan, the ghost of an eighteenth century planter who was mysteriously murdered, and has walked White Wall Road ever since.  My heroine, Amalie, is a twenty-first century descendant of Jonathan’s betrothed, who has the misfortune of falling in love with a jumbie.

In the following scene, Amalie has recently arrived on the island, and her cousin, Josephina, is showing her through the local Historical Society Museum.

Josephina hesitated. “There’s one further thing I want you to see. It’s why I brought you here this morning.”
Puzzled, Amalie followed her into a drawing room furnished in eighteenth century style with a camelback sofa and wing chairs. Portraits lined the walls.
“Our past Administrators and their wives,” Josephina commented as she walked across the room and looked up at one particular picture.
Amalie followed her gaze and gasped. She was looking at a portrait of herself.
“Amalie Ansett Benstone.”
Amalie studied the image. The woman’s clothing was different, and that other Amalie’s ash blond hair was arranged formally in the long soft curls popular in that day rather than in the simple casual style today’s Amalie preferred. But the portrait could have been her own. 
The woman in the picture appeared to be younger than Amalie by nine or ten years. She was perhaps eighteen. There was a softness about her face. It was gentle and sweet where Amalie’s own features were a bit sharper, more defined. That was probably due to the fact that she was older.  However, there was one marked difference. Amalie Ansett Benstone’s eyes were brown like hers, but they held no life. They were eyes that saw nothing.
“What happened to her? Why are her eyes so dead?”
“I’ll tell you her story when we get back to the house. But first, perhaps you should look at the portrait of her husband, Charles Benstone. He was Island Administrator at the time.”
Amalie looked at the picture beside her ancestor’s. An involuntary shudder passed through her. It wasn’t that Charles Benstone was unattractive. He was, in fact, extraordinarily handsome. High cheekbones accented an angular face. He was broad shouldered and powerful looking.  His long black curly hair was carefully coiffed. However his mouth was shaped into a sardonic smile and his expression was arrogant, almost cruel. Looking at him, Amalie shivered again. How could a mere oil painting, and not very good one at that, make her feel such revulsion?

Buy Blair's books today by clicking on the covers below  which allows you to select the vendor of your choice.

The Memory of RosesDelighting In Your Company

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Blair McDowell