Sinners Opera

Posted by Nightingale | 1:53 PM | 3 comments »

An excerpt: What do you think the narrator is? Just curious.

Chapter 1 – Sangreal
Charleston, South Carolina, May 29th

"Dear Lord," a woman called to heaven, "Such a young man. So near death. What could have happened to you?"

My body was one long ache, a hot core throbbing in my chest. Wet and shivering cold, I craved sleep. A heartbeat underscored the velvety texture and slow cadence of her voice, the pauses for breath filled by the hiss of rain. I drifted on the ebb and flow of pain until someone shook me gently.

Sirens wailed to a crash of thunder. Somewhere, someone was in trouble.

Reluctantly, I opened my eyes, blinking to focus as indistinct shapes materialized out of fog. Rainbow angels battled demons in a stained glass window. Marble statues leered at me from the shadows. An ornate crucifix threw its shadow on the ebony saint bent over me. Her countenance was round and full, no sharp angles, a broad nose and plump lips. The glistening black eyes studying me brimmed with pity.

"You’re awake.” A smile trembled on her lips. "Thank you, Jesus."

She seemed to be in close communication with the man on the cross. My upper body rested on her lap, my legs stretched out on a cold floor. Lush breasts cradled my head. I was tempted to turn my face into the warm softness but that might get a man slapped. Her red blouse smelled of baking bread, the tiny pearl buttons mesmerizing.

"I do declare you had me worried you been so still like.” Her thick dialect called to me from the past but I didn't know if it was yesterday or years ago.

I don’t know who I am. Frowning, I tried to remember, but she gave a tentative smile. I started to smile back at her but the scent of fear distracted me. My clothes reeked of fear.
Yet in the same instant, another fragrance—dusky red and delicious—sent a wonderful shiver through me. The rich aroma of her blood appealed to me on a level I didn’t understand. The sensation was raw hunger mingled with passion, yet more, much more. Beyond the blood-scent, the musk of old wood and incense, the perfume of religion, summoned a vision of a blonde boy in black velvet and white lace kneeling at an altar. As I grasped at memory, like a wave retreating from the shore, something important slipped away from me.

The woman gazed down at me with such compassion, I wanted to touch her, tell her how very much...I ached to kiss her, but when I tried to lift my hand nothing happened. Terrified, I glanced at my hands. The bleached fingers curled into dead claws. The hands once considered magic and beautiful were horrible.

Panic drew my knees toward my chest. "Oh God, my hands can't be paralyzed."

The blow of that realization was physical, knocking the breath from me. If I'd been struck blind even deaf, I could still play but if my hands were paralyzed—I was lost. Music was my most beloved mistress. My piano alone stood between madness and me. Caressing her ivory breast had warmed the endless lonely nights.

My companion shook her head, refusing to meet my wild-eyed gaze. “Shush now, you going to be all right. Mother Superior’s gone to call for help.”

“Mother Superior? A nun? You’re not a nun.” My voice rose sharp, angry. “And don't lie to me. I’m not bloody well all right.”

“I come help the sisters out. I might be one some day.” She pouted her full lips.

Why didn’t she shut up? Didn’t she see the tears scalding my eyes? No one, since I'd been that boy in velvets and lace, had seen me cry. Swallowing convulsively, I closed my eyes tight against the shameful tears. Her pity mortified me. The other feelings she excited, I simply couldn't deal with now. She gave me a gentle shake, and I remembered to breathe but refused to open my eyes. I couldn’t bear the sight or the scent of her.

Like an internal map, an anatomical image of flesh, muscles and veins spread across my eyelids. Hours, days, years might have passed but it was probably only a moment or two. Tingling needled my numb arms, swept into my fingertips, relaxing the ugly claws. Breath held, afraid to hope, I willed my right hand to rise, felt the sensation of movement and opened my eyes. The hand lifted, hovered, flopped on my stomach. Dried blood crusted a jagged hole in my coat. Fresh blood warmed the center of the wound.

Ah, another shade of the dusky red fragrance. My blood possessed a wild bouquet, almost feral, and completely different from the woman's blood.


  1. Beth Trissel // October 30, 2007 at 6:55 PM  

    Lovely, Linda. Beautifully written as usual. I'd say the narrator is an injured man of indeterminable age, as in he's a vampire and who the heck knows how old they are?

  2. Nightingale // October 31, 2007 at 11:06 AM  

    Guessed Right! He is a vampire born in 1637, a Cavalier, now a concert pianist. This is Morgan. Thanks, Beth!

  3. Toni V.S. // November 5, 2007 at 9:58 PM  

    Since I've been privy to reading Sinner's Opera, I was already aware of the narrator's identity. Morgan is witty, sarcastic, and determined--and ve-e-er-ry sexy! Hope we get to see all of this story!