This gives you some of the flavors in the novel. —JS

Even in her disturbed state, Allison understood that the woman might be nothing more than the product of her fevered mind. A dark figure in flowing robes, seated with a child in Her lap, a vision suspended in a gauzy pale blue cloud in the living room.

But if this vision was a mere dream, why was Allison compelled to get up from the bed where she’d collapsed, and stand staring at it while her head reeled? She felt the thick, plush carpet beneath her feet. She saw the French doors to the courtyard through the transparent cloud. She inhaled the intense, heavy scent of dozens of vibrant pink roses in tall, wide, cut crystal vases on the tables. This was most definitely her hotel suite, real to all of her senses.

Was the dark figure a ghost? Or was this regal apparition the reflection of some strange pattern of light in the night? Her throne, the crown on Her head, the child on Her lap with a raised right hand, an orb gently cradled in the babe’s left. Perhaps all of it was some magnificent but explicable confluence of the City of Light.

When she danced, Allison’s body moved in union with an incredibly sensual spirit. Tonight, in her tight red dress, she was a primal force of fire. JJ was delighted to be dancing apart, so he could watch her revel in her own spontaneous world. Her movements flowed in loose, graceful rhythms. Most men didn’t have the energy or the rhythm to keep pace with her. Though JJ had the look of a conservative man, his free-spirited side showed up in his dancing, especially with Allison. The band broke into the Rolling Stone’s She Was Hot. Allison moved in close to the fast, hard-driving beat, eye-to-eye, breast-to-chest, hip-to-hip, and thigh-to-thigh with JJ. She danced so tight, he could feel the muscles in her body moving. “She was quick. She knew her way around. She was hot hot hot,” the band’s singer wailed. Gladly, JJ let her lead. Confident with her alluring, passionate autonomy.

Tight Velvets had germinated a few years back, when she and Cookie were on one of their
jet-set junkets. In Palm Beach celebrating Allison’s birthday, they’d decided to catch the cusp of the season in St.-Tropez. They’d booked a suite for two weeks at Hotel Byblos, the legendary resort in the heart of town where they would be close to the action of the bon‑chic‑bon‑genre.

On the morning they arrived, Allison had wandered into one of the shops just off the harbor. The unusual richness of a deep burgundy crushed velvet fabric caught her eye. It looked like a drapery remnant from an old Paris apartment. She bought the fabric, took it to a tailor down the street and explained what she wanted. A pair of very simple, very tight pants. No pockets or waistband. A narrow front zipper placket with a small concealed hook and eye at the waist to assure a smooth, very slim fit. Straight legs that broke just over the back of her shoes.

The next day when she picked up the finished pants, her vision was a simply sensational reality. Plush to the eye, and to the touch. Everyone had wanted to know where she’d found these fabulous pants. Of course, she’d said she couldn’t remember. But the more people asked, the more it got her thinking. Now, she produced both the pants and an equally simple skirt design. Each year she introduced two new colors in her trademark ultra-luxurious, crushed satin velvet. This year Apricot Blush and Purple Blue Vermillion would debut.

Allison watched L’Ange Bleu unhook the garters from her black silk stocking, and then slowly roll the stocking down an outstretched leg. She kicked off the shoe and threw the stocking at the drooling grand Richard who, fortunately, remained très petit.

L’Ange Bleu’s body writhed for the moron on the bed. Allison’s psyche watched from across the room, with a peculiar, edgy satisfaction in L’Ange Bleu’s power. Her control. There was an undeniable thrill and excitement, watching her network with another person’s neurosis.

And there was that song, Honeysuckle Rose. Suddenly, unbidden, the melody sent a shock of sadness flooding through Allison. Her memory of listening to this same tune at the Tropic Zone on the first night she and JJ had made love.

Allison felt her tears begin to flow, and it startled her to see them shining too in L’Ange Bleu’s eyes.

L’Ange Bleu was not glamour.
L’Ange Bleu embodied the moral equivalent of jumping off a cliff.

Then they’d turned a corner and headed back to the club. Both felt a subtle shift in their own direction, that neither spoke of. It simply happened. A mutual, rising, silent desire to be in each other’s arms.

That night lasted three and a half days. Reason was betrayed to a tempest of appetites. Sensuality ruled, tempered only by imagination. Rapturously uninhibited. Out-of-body experiences abounded as they commingled with the atoms of the universe in their never-never-land of blissful delirium. They had blasted far beyond the physical plane. Surely, this was the spiritual, sensual, sexuality the ancient Chinese Taoists wrote about. Their passions grew deeper and more intense with each exploration.

Their lovemaking throughout these days and all of this morning had been a transcendence neither could have named before they’d actually experienced it. It was a deepening of the ecstasy they’d shared with each other their first night together. An ineffable joy in physical union that came not from their bodies, but from an eternal source.

And as the evening wore on they did celebrate. Katherine admiring Allison’s ring, JJ explaining how he’d designed it, Hunt wondering where they were planning on having the wedding and asking intimate questions about the timing and the guest list, details neither JJ nor Allison had yet to think about.

Only Allison was quiet.
“Alli, come on, join the party,” Hunt scolded her, laughing.
“Naturellement,” Allison replied. “Après tout, c’est ma fête.”

Of course. After all, it is my party, was meant to be bright, the sentiment breezy. But Allison stopped cold after she realized she’d spoken in French.

The others were equally taken aback. They had never heard Allison speak in French, and with such a hard-edged tone of voice.

Allison was settled on the patio at her villa, drinking Cristal, wearing the colorful batik print bikini Soizy had picked out for her. Her plan was to remain safely buzzed. Her biggest effort was to enjoy the sweeping views across the flowered countryside, until she felt more comfortable about letting people know where she was. And that wouldn’t be until she could bring herself to retrieve those letters from Wolfgang, from where she’d stashed them under the mattress of her canopied bed, reread them and look at the photograph he’d enclosed. And for her to confront the horror they contained head-on.

And that, she mused, could be a while. She took another three swirls of champagne to purge these thoughts from her mind.

With the high fever, Allison was having very strange dreams, but they were strangely pleasant. Most were of indescribably beautiful abstract colors and forms, some of surrealistic forests, all accompanied by unusual ethereal, other-worldly, angelic sounding harps.

Even in her delirium, Allison knew she had seen the hologram-like image of the dark woman flickering in the center of the living room. She remembered speaking to the woman that first high-fevered night. But she had not been strong enough to approach Her again. However, just knowing this mysterious entity had returned was a comfort. The sick room seemed a bit lighter, as if blessed by Her presence. Allison quickly grew accustomed to seeing Her, now closer, floating at the edge of her bedroom.

The Divine Dark One cuddled Allison’s head to Her breast, to hear Her heart beat. It was the same slow, steady rhythm Allison had heard in her own heart that first night when the Divine Dark One had appeared in her hotel suite. Allison felt the Mother rocking her in Her arms, holding her close to feel and listen to the sure, steady beat of Her heart. Allison’s heart began to beat in the same rhythm. It was eternal, and divine.

Notre-Dame whispered, “The heart is the center of the divine, the cave in which the divine lives. You are now in perfect rhythm. Your heartbeat is harmonized with the heartbeat of the Creator, and all of creation.”

Allison’s spirit gently pulsed with Her heartbeat, secure in the Mother’s embrace. “My dearest one, know that you are never alone. Whenever you need me, I am there. In a tree, a stone, a stream, the forest, the mountains, the oceans, a blade of grass, a rose in bloom, the moon in all her phases. I am always with you.”

When you believe in miracles—Miracles Happen.
And remember—God does not work in the logical.


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