Friday 14 February 2014

Welcome to the Bloody Valentine Blog Hop

Greetings to all, and welcome to the second Bloody Valentine Blog Hop. 
A place where the red roses have died and the chocolates are poisoned.
So down with love, and on with the fun!

I have a variety of dark treats for you on this stop of the hop, plus as part of the celebration I'm holding a contest to win some books and some artwork.  And don't forget to check out the other hoppers when you're done here. There's a list at the bottom of this post. Just scroll way down to find it.

First up on the menu is a devilish assignation. This story features my character, the demon Balthazar, from Killers and Demons (and the upcoming sequel, Killers and Demons II: The Return). Here he's visiting an old romantic acquaintance:

Wicked Intentions

His thin hand lifted the wine to his lips and he sipped, savouring the flavour. A delicious vintage, a perfect complement to the company. Balthazar smiled at his companion, the attractive creature calling herself Mrs. Crocker.
“A lovely red, my dear.”
“A French vintage.” She returned his smile.
The pair sat in chairs facing each other, perched on the velvet upholstery of Mrs. Crocker’s parlour. The crystal decanter rested on the table between them, and a cozy fire crackled in the hearth.
“It’s been a long time, Balthazar. Not since that mess in Ireland. I’m looking forward to rekindling our acquaintance. The last time was quite… rigorous.” She laughed softly and licked her plump lips. “It was also quite memorable.”
“Yes, it was that.” An odd note of sentimentality crept into his voice, “I always had a weakness for you, Hala.” He stopped smiling and set down his half-empty wine glass.
“However, renewing our familiarity is not why I sought you out this evening.” He stood. “You know, I believe I may actually regret this. That will be a first for me.”
He could see the fear forming in her eyes; the grip on her glass tightened and she shivered.
“What’s going on, Balthazar?”
“He knows, our mutual employer knows. About your transgressions. And he sent me here to punish you.”
He snapped his fingers, and in a breath, demon fire engulfed her.
With horrific screams she burned, her body shuddering, flailing, sizzling, but for once Balthazar took no pleasure in a death. He simply watched stone-faced, until she became nothing more than ash scattered over the unsinged blue velvet of her chair and the parlour floor. Her wine glass fell, cracking, and left a red stain on the carpet.
With a sigh, Balthazar took his leave.

For the second course a small bite of a marriage ending in tragedy:


Sally Benson prepared herself to die. She stretched out on the bottom of the lifeboat and closed her eyes. The water lapped against the side of the boat, the air passed over her with the faint scent of salt and fish. And in the distance, she heard the sound of a motor.

Two months later, she finally felt comfortable at home; a remarkable recovery from her ordeal everyone told her. Her rescue from the bobbing waves of the ocean by the Coast Guard had become a media sensation. She was heralded a hero, the lone survivor of the sinking of the yacht, and given deepest condolences on the tragic death of her husband.
Through her tears, Sally put on a good show with a brave smile. She answered the questions of the Coast Guard and the police, giving them the answers they wanted to hear, relieved when they ruled the sinking an accident.
Sally just wanted the truth to stay buried, submerged on the bottom of the ocean with her cheating, murderous rat of a husband. She didn't want anyone to know how her husband rigged the boat to sink, how he tried to kill her, tried to make her death look like an accident. She escaped though, even if the life raft she chose had a busted motor. Her bad luck she picked the wrong one.
And she needed one more truth to stay hidden. The truth she beat him at his own game of murder. The truth that a poisoned glass of champagne trumped a sabotaged boat.

And to finish, we end with some poetry:

Bittersweet Symphony

this taste on my tongue
as your fine chocolates
melt in my mouth.
I hear the strains of music,
something romantic,
a gift from you.
I breathe in the scent
of the soft, red roses
you gave me yesterday;
“My Valentine,” you said.
But, that was yesterday
when I believed,
when I lived the lie,
before this morning.
Before I watched you
kiss her.

Now I wait for you
with my bittersweet love
and my gun.

Black Rose

You gave me a rose
black as night, to match your heart
and I am alone

Here's the Contest:

Enter by the rafflecopter entry widget below for a chance to win a prize pack of four of my Smashwords ebooks, Fairy Tale Fusion, Reflections of PoetryKillers and Demons and Gothic Cavalcade, plus some of my Bloody Valentine digital artwork, including the Black Rose poem seen above. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's a list of participating bloggers and what the hop's all about.


Kyra Lennon said...

Thanks for hosting this hop! I particularly loved your poem!

Lorelei Bell said...

Joining in with all the fun, I think I did this last year too.
Happy Bloody Valentines Day!

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks, Kyra. Glad you're enjoying the hop.

A. F. Stewart said...

And Happy Bloody Valentine's to you too, Lorelei.

CA Verstraete said...

Ah yes, nothing like love gone bad... heh-heh, great stories! Sharing some #zombie love! GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks for stopping by Christine. Loved your post.

Anonymous said...

Lovely poems, and I love the stories. Balthazar gives me the creeps. Ha-ha! Nicely done! And thank you for hosting this blog hop. This is such fun!

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks Caroline. Balthazar is a creepy guy, that's why he's so much fun to write.

Courtney said...

The black rose--wow! Reminds me of someone I used to know.

L.G. Keltner said...

This blog hop is amazing!I loved Wicked Intentions for the atmosphere, and I enjoyed Balthazar's reaction to her death. I could have easily read much, much more of this.

Recovery was also amazing. I love the her husband's murderous intentions were turned around on him. That's always satisfying.

The poem also rocked. It painted a wonderful picture of a love gone wrong, and the last three lines were my favorite.

L.G. Keltner said...

Oh, and the black rose is perfect. I love the image and the words. Somehow this didn't make it into my last comment, but I had to return to say that.

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks, Courtney.

A. F. Stewart said...

Glad you enjoyed everything L. G.
Balthazar has a few more stories coming up, the next one slated for Killers and Demons II, which hopefully will be out this fall. I'm also working on a short steampunk adventure (set in Hell) for him, and his pirate adventure.

DarcNina said...

I have to say I'm torn, I loved the lushness of the death conveyed in 'Wicked Intentions'; was refreshed by the modern and boldly stated kill or be killed, or maybe just 'everyone wants the kill' nature of 'Recovery'; but was fully drawn in (which I'm usually not by most poetry) by 'Bittersweet Symphony'. I suppose I'll have to appreciate each for it's own merits. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing your work, and also for organizing this hop! ;)

A. F. Stewart said...

Glad you enjoyed, both the post and the hop.

DarcNina said...

Hi Anita! I made it to all 24 blogs listed here. Were there any latecomers that I missed? The features were terrific! Thanks for organizing and hosting the hop. :)

A. F. Stewart said...

Nope, you didn't miss a blog. Just 24 signups, and a great bunch they were.

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