Green Flash is more romantic than some of my other stories, but there are strong elements of the supernatural woven through it too.
The novella tells the story of a young woman named Claire on a pleasure trip with her lover Ian to the annual bacchanal that is Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida. Fantasy Fest is a celebration of sexuality, among other things, renowned for colorful public displays of flesh and eroticism.
But Claire really isn’t that kind of girl and Ian’s plans for body painting and threesomes are unlikely to happen. Claire works at a historical cemetery and she is more interested in the historic burial grounds at Key West than in sharing Ian with another woman. In the cemetery, she finds new friends, Dwight and Ashton, who seem to walk the line between the revelry of life and the mystery that lies beyond it.
The book’s title comes from an atmospheric phenomenon that is sometimes observed at sunset, and can sometimes be seen from Key West, when the sky turns briefly green as the sun slips below the horizon to create an eerily majestic demarcation between day and night.
In this excerpt, Claire has fled from the party into the sanctuary of the old necropolis to a grave marked by a statue of St. Teresa, where she meets Dwight, the companion of her other new acquaintance, Ashton.
Claire reached out to touch the base of the statue, her fingers caressing the marble. She thought about what he had said. “The dead need all the help they can get.” She stood, facing the statue and looked over her shoulder at him. His eyes glowed ocean blue in the fading light. “It’s not like they can fight back.”
Dwight chuckled. “I wouldn’t say that. Don’t you believe in ghosts?”
“I’m a sexton. It’s part of our job description to believe in ghosts. Alone in a cemetery, I think everyone does.”
He smiled. “You don’t get scared?”
Claire shook her head. “No, not really. I think ghosts are the dream images of those who have gone on to the next adventure. People who can’t let go of the past.”
Smooth as silk, confident as summer, his arms slid around her waist, the heat of his body pressing against her back, his iron strength not hostile or intimidating, but honest and true. His body formed so naturally to hers for a dizzying moment Claire wondered how she’d survived so long without this.
His lips touched the curve of her ear, the sensation a tremor that drifted toward her center. He exerted just a touch of pressure, an ounce of persuasion. His words floated through her ears into her blood. “Look,” he said, and with a trail of fingers down her arm and away from it, he positioned and pointed west. “Watch as the sun falls. Watch Teresa,” he murmured. The masculine musk of him filled her, churned long forgotten impulses. The hard bulge between his legs should have shocked, should have frightened her, but only wonder and an open, natural lust bloomed inside her.
The western horizon blazed with colors-the intense oranges and reds of the falling sun beyond the capture of any art, the line of deep purple clouds that hovered over an unseen sea blazing along the edges with white-hot sunset fire. She held her breath, her eyes locked on the brilliance beyond the headstones and monuments. Claire saw Saint Teresa’s sublime face bathed in the dying sunlight. Slowly, as if by a languid pour of magic, light danced around the statue, glimmering and winking gold and silver, ruby red and citrine. Claire pressed Dwight’s arm against her stomach, amazed, enchanted and somewhere deep within her, knowing. She felt Dwight’s smile, and as the glamour died with the fallen sun, she heard the voice she expected, that she wanted with all her heart, Ashton’s voice.
“They say the marble holds small particles that make the light dance, but I think it is magic, fire from the souls that are freed into the night.” Somehow, he had appeared before her, though she had not seen or heard him approach…