Dare to Read

November 12, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 3

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 9:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

He took back the contract and setting his hands, palms up, on the table in a gesture of surrender, stared at me.

“I’m Becquer,” he said. “Gustavo. Adolfo. Becquer.”

He pronounced the name slowly his eyes straight on mine and I knew he wasn’t lying. Yet the truth was unacceptable.

“You may remember me from your Spanish classes,” he continued. “‘Literatura’ it was called then, if I’m not mistaken.”

“That is impossible.”

I stood abruptly sending my chair crashing to the floor. I remembered Becquer, all right. He was the Spanish poet whose poems of unrequited love I memorized when I was 13, as every other Spanish girl has done, before and after me, the first time a clueless boy breaks her heart. Yes. I remembered Becquer. But Becquer …

“Becquer is dead, ” I said aloud. “He died long ago.”

He nodded, a smile playing on his lips as if pleased that I remembered him. “In 1870 to be exact. Only, I didn’t really die. I just stopped being human.”

“And what are you now? A monster?”

He winced as if the word had offended him. “I’m not a monster. For a monster is, by definition, a fictional creature, and I, as you may notice, am quite real. And if you meant it metaphorically I reassure you I’m not evil. The change gives us powers, but doesn’t alter our true nature. I’m still who I was. No angel, no demon, but both at once.”

He had moved to my side as he spoke and lifted my chair.

I took a step back. “Don’t touch me.”

He bowed to me, in an old fashioned way that didn’t seem out of place. “As you wish,” he said. “But with your permission, I’ll get you a drink now, so we can discuss this further.”

He skirted the tables and the people sitting, eerily still, around them and reached the counter where a barista stood, a cup on her frozen hands.

I considered running away, but dismissed the idea. It seemed unwise as he would find me, I had no doubt, and bring me back. Besides I wanted answers. I sat down.

Soon he came back balancing a cup of coffee he set in front of me.

“Thank you. ”

He nodded. “I meant to bring you something stronger, ” he said. “But, after twenty years in the States, I still forget they don’t serve alcohol in the cafes here.”

“Twenty years? Two more than me.”

“I know,” he said, reminding me of the fact that he had googled me and thus knew more about me that I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that I had probably given him my card at the conference and so, he had my address. Not a reassuring thought.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

“I want to represent your work as I told you before. You may not believe me but it is the truth. I never lie.”

I laughed. “Becquer. The ‘Becquer’ wants my writing. If you’re really him, why don’t you write your own stories?”

“Because I can’t.” There was anger in his voice, at my challenging him probably, and something else something like pain or was it frustration?

“Since I became an immortal,” he said slowly, “I can’t feel anymore. I don’t feel pain, nor joy, nor fear, nor sorrow. Without feelings, without passion the creativity is gone. That is why I cannot write, and I miss it. I miss it terribly. I miss the fury and the chaos, the agony and the ecstasy of the artistic creation.”

“When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke ’round me, I am in darkness—I am nothing.”

“Virginia Woolf,” he finished my quote. “My thoughts exactly. That is why I need you. You and others like you who have the gift, so I can be witness to their creation and, through them, through their words, feel the flame that now eludes me.”

“And that is all?”

“That is all, I promise.”

“Why did you stop time then? Because you did it, right? You can change it back?”

He laughed, amused, it seemed, at the panic I couldn’t conceal from my voice as the thought struck me that this was to be forever, that we were to be the only ones alive in a frozen world.

“Yes, I did this, and I will bring them back to life after you give me your answer.”

“But I don’t understand. Why did you do it?”

“Because of her.” She pointed again at the woman by the door. “I was afraid of your reaction were you to learn from Beatriz that I am—immortal.”

“Why would she want to tell me?”

“To break your trust in me.” He shrugged. “She is jealous of you because she thinks I want you to take her place.”

“As your secretary?”

He nodded.

“Didn’t you tell her—”

“I did. Yet she is here. But enough about her. Would you sign for me?”

“You won’t regret it,” he added as I said nothing. “If you sign, you will never have to worry about the business part of writing. You will be free to write full time while I deal with the editors and publishers. I used to be terrible at convincing people to look at my stories when I was human, but I am surprisingly good now.”

He flashed at me his winning smile and I found myself smiling back. Was he really that clueless or was he just playing me? For, considering his exotic beauty and the fact that most people in the industry were women, I didn’t find his success surprising at all. And his offer was most tempting. Like his human self, I also lacked the social skills needed to sell my work. Yet…

“You’re scared of me.”

“I…”

Becquer smiled. “It’s only normal. No need to apologize. To fear the unknown is a survival skill we all posses. But what if I promise you no one will get hurt? Would you sign then?”

“Then it’s done,” he said when I didn’t argue, “for you have my word.”

He moved aside the second cup of coffee I haven’t touched and set the contract once more in front of me.

“Should I sign with blood?”

He smiled a crooked smile. “That would be lovely,” he said, a glint of red in his dark eyes.

I winced.

“But it is not necessary,” he rushed on, and passed me a pen, a beautiful carved pen, I swear wasn’t there when I asked.

Our fingers brushed as I took it. His were not cold as I’d imagined, but pleasantly warm, a human touch.

“I told you I am not a monster,” he said holding my eyes, and with a flourish of his wrist signed his name right beside mine.

To be continued . . .

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

November 5, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 2

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 12:01 pm
Tags: , ,

Welcome to the first chapter of my paranormal mystery novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the teaser last week, please check below.

Enjoy!

   Garlic for Breakfast

by
Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban


Becquer called Sunday morning.

I was arguing with my daughter, at the time, because she wanted to go to a Halloween party, and I had said no. It was not only because the party started late that I opposed her going, but also because the outfit she planned to wear would have been too small had she been five, and she was fifteen. Caught in the middle of my impassioned speech to support my refusal, I picked up the receiver and barked a sharp hello.

A voice, deep and beguiling, answered mine. “Carla,” he said. “This is Becquer.”

At the memory of the dark eyes bearing on mine his name had evoked, my heart went into overdrive.

“We met last Sunday,” he explained after I returned his greeting, “at the Eastern College Writers Conference.”

As if I could forget. He had been the only agent to ask me for a full manuscript that day. The only male, too, in a sea of female agents, a fact that would have made him memorable even if he hadn’t had the impossible good looks of a pagan god. He was older than most agents at the conference, mid thirties was my guess, and, unlike all the others, he knew who I was.

“I read Two Moon Princess,” he had told me as we sat at one of the tables in the cafeteria that doubled as conference room. His voice, loud enough to be heard over the noise of other attendees furiously pitching their stories, was warm, creating a comforting intimacy between us. An intimacy his words had only enhanced.

He was the fifth agent to whom I had delivered my pitch that morning. Or maybe he was the sixth. I had lost count of how many had told me already, with a canned smile glued on their faces, that my project was not a good fit for their list. As for someone reading my published work, that was a first. Ever.

“You did?” I mumbled, trying to remember whether I had sent a resume with my application.

“I ran a search on you,” he said answering my unspoken question. “I’m interested in Spanish history,” he added. Nothing personal, his words implied.

“Your accent—”

“Still there after all these years.” He interrupted me as if to discourage further inquiry, then continued. “Tell me about you new novel. Did the boy kill the queen?”

“It’s a love story,” I told him, reluctant to give away the ending.

Becquer smiled, showing a perfect row of sharp teeth between his sensuous lips. “Marvelous,” he said. “I love love stories, especially when they have a tragic ending.”

****

“I finished your manuscript.” Becquer’s voice came through the phone, bringing me back to the present, “and would like to meet with you to discuss it. If it is all right.”

“Yes, of course,” I said trying and failing to sound nonchalant. “When?” I grabbed a pen and faced the calendar on the kitchen wall to mark the date.

“The Starbucks on State and Main in fifteen minutes?”

“Fifteen minutes? You mean, you’re here in Doylestown?”

“Exactly.”

I would have asked for more time but I could hear Madison screaming her head off up in her room, complaining to a friend probably about her impossible mother, and half my mind was busy blocking her, which meant I didn’t have a lot of brains left to think. So I agreed, only to panic as soon as I hung up. What was I thinking? I would never make it on time.

But I did. It took me a minute to run upstairs, give Madison an ultimatum—either she could go to the party in another costume or wear that one at home—and rush in and out of my room.

****

Becquer was sitting by one of the windows, a cup of coffee in front of him. He got up as I approached and, with a movement of his hand, invited me to the chair across from him, then asked me what I would like to drink.

“An espresso would be nice,” I said, taken aback by his old fashioned manners. When was the last time someone, male or female, had offered to get my order? Yes, I knew gentlemanly manners are a sign of male dominance, and I had endured enough of the drawbacks of a misogynic society as a child to be certain I didn’t want to live in one. But the way Becquer asked was not condescending, more like offering a courtesy to an equal. If he wanted to impress me, he succeeded. Somehow I thought he wasn’t trying.

He came back sooner than I expected and set the espresso in front of me: a small cup on a saucer, the European way. I thanked him, for the coffee and for the fact that he had brought me a real cup. How did he know, I wondered, that I missed the Spanish cafés and the coffee served like this, in white porcelain cups? Maybe he missed them too and he had guessed.

How strange the little things I remembered from my old life, the one I gave up when I followed my ex-husband to the States. I shook my head to get rid of the memories, and sipped my coffee. Becquer stared at me.

“I loved your story,” he said, when I put the cup down.

I waited, out of habit, for the ‘unfortunately it doesn’t fit my current list’ I was certain would follow, but it didn’t come.

“I hope you don’t have an agent yet for I would like to represent you,” he said instead.

“You want to represent me?”

“Yes, of course. You didn’t think I came all the way here to apologize for not taking you as a client, did you?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“I trust you have checked my credentials by now and know I’ve run my agency for ten years and been pretty successful placing my clients.”

He laughed when I blushed for he had guessed right.

“So?” he insisted.

I knew I had a speech prepared for this occasion stored somewhere in my brain. But when I searched my mind I couldn’t find it. I nodded. “Yes, I would like you to be my agent.”

“Good,” Becquer said and reached for the briefcase resting on the windowsill. He had beautiful hands, I noticed, wide and strong, an artist’s hands. Long ago, when I was young, I had looked at hands as a way to judge a possible suitor. Becquer’s would have passed the test big time. Not that it mattered anymore. I was not thinking of a suitor now. Haven’t since I’d married. Not even after the divorce. When you marry the devil you don’t want to try again.

“Are you all right?”

I blushed furiously under his dark stare and nodded.

Becquer pushed a paper towards me. “I took the liberty of bringing the contract with me,” he said. “Care to sign?”

“Now?”

“After you’ve read it, of course.”

An alarm went off in my head. Every piece of advice I had ever heard telling me to be cautious, to read the small print. But when I looked down and saw the contract, I flinched in surprise. It was handwritten, with the flowery calligraphy they don’t teach in schools anymore. A style that would have been outdated even in my time. Yet it was easy to read: the text was short and straightforward, the conditions better than the ones on a standard contract. No fine print to ponder.

I looked up. “It seems reasonable,” I said, then stopped, suddenly aware of the total silence around us. Everyone, I realized with a start, was frozen in place, as if they were actors in a movie I had paused by mistake.

“What happened?”

“Beatriz,” Becquer said and pointed at the door where a woman in a smart suit stood facing us, “my personal secretary. She found me.”

I looked from the woman back to him, and then again around us, taking in the impossible stillness of the place.

“Who are you?” I whispered.”

To be continued …

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

October 30, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 1

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 8:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Below is the first installment of my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.

Enjoy!

by

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

I let him in.

How could I not when he was carrying my brother, either dead or unconscious, in his arms?

My brother and I were not exactly best friends at the moment. He was a pain, to put it nicely, and the way he had been behaving lately, I would not have been surprised to know he had OD. In fact that is what I thought when I opened the door and saw the man standing in the dark. The man as pale as dawn and so devilishly handsome I couldn’t stop my heart from beating faster, even though I knew he was too old for me. Way too old, for he looked even older than Nico who, at eighteen, had three years over me.

“Your brother needs my help,” the man said, his voice deep and commanding. “You must let me in.”

My first impulse was to obey, but something was odd in the way the man stood holding my six foot brother as if he were, like the scarecrows Mother had spread over the lawn, made out of straw.

“What happened?” I asked instead, reluctant to comply.

“He got hurt,” the man said. I shivered under his stare and took a step back. His eyes were not black as I had first thought, but red, or had they just changed color? Either way they were contact lenses, I reassured myself. How could it be otherwise even if it wasn’t Halloween?

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” the man insisted. He was dressed in black, black pants and a black jacket closed almost to his neck. No Halloween costume, my mind registered while he continued. “Your mother is coming, Madison. But it would be better if you let me in. Now.”

“You know my mother?” A stupid question for he had just said so and he knew my name. But my mind seemed to have gone trick or treating and left me alone with the strange man in a no costume and the red eyes.

“We’ve met.”

He sounded annoyed, angry even, and the thought occurred to me that he could have pushed his way in already if he had meant me harm. He was obviously stronger than me–strong enough to carry my brother–yet he had not. He had stayed outside the door that, even open, he had respected as a barrier between us. A barrier he wouldn’t cross unless I’d invite him in. At the end, it was his politeness, his restrain to force his entrance that won me over.

“Come in.”

“Thank you,” the man said as if he meant it.

I felt the rip in the air when he entered and moved aside to lead him into the living room. But the man brushed past me and climbed upstairs heading straight to Nico’s room. Maybe he could read minds and got the outlay of the house from mine. Or maybe it was the scent. It didn’t take a hound to smell my brother’s room. I followed them.

From the door, I saw the man had already set my brother over the rumpled comforter that half covered his bed.

“Leave,” the man said without turning.

But I didn’t move. Nico’s face was white, even whiter that the man’s had been. And his eyes were shut. Was he dead? Before I gathered the courage to ask, the man unzipped his jacket and, in a sudden movement, touched his own neck with his hand. As I watched a line of blood formed over his skin. He sat on the bed then, and, lifting my brother, held his face to his wound.

I screamed and ran to him. I didn’t see him moving but he must have because his left hand pushed me back. Nico’s eyes, opened wide, his dilated pupils staring blindly at me the last thing I remembered before the world went blank.

To be continued …

Check next Friday for a new installment of Garlic for Breakfast, a novel delivered to you bite by bite here at Carmenferreiroesteban’s Weblog and at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/search/label/Carmen%20Ferreiro.

April 4, 2010

Muse and Reverie by Charles de Lint

Filed under: Books, Reviews — carmenferreiroesteban @ 9:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

To read my review of Muse and Reverie by Charles de Lint please go to:

http://www.myshelf.com/scifi_fantasy/10/museandreverie.htm

September 21, 2009

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Filed under: Books, Reviews — carmenferreiroesteban @ 11:55 am
Tags: , ,

Love and hate, fear and courage have no meaning for Nick. Chased by sorcerers and their slaved demons all his life, he has grown so used to being in the run, until found and then fighting and moving again, he has no time to indulge in such useless thing as feelings. Only his brother Alan can keep him grounded in reality, forcing him to attend school and lecturing him in the meaning of love and friendship.

Alan, three years older than Nick, has taken care of him and of their half-crazed mother since the day 7 years ago when a sorcerer killed their father. But now the sorcerers are gathering in mass to attack them and, this time, Alan may not be able to protect him.

A smart plot and a flawed, yet awkwardly compelling main character make this fast paced book a fascinating read.

I loved the relationship between the brothers and the young boy’s struggle to understand the world he finds so puzzling.

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