If you arrived here to read about Ashley’s new erotic vampire romance “Carnal Lust” that released today at Total-E-Bound, click here.
If you arrived for my free short story, keep reading. Or why not check out both?
This story was written by Ashley Ladd and may not be reproduced without Ashley’s written permission.
Pepper Collins dug her toes into the moonlit dappled sand and luxuriated in the feel of cool waves lapping over her feet. She stared at the horizon, a blur of midnight blues fading into the jade green of the ocean.
No clouds, no city lights hampered the brilliance of the moonlight sparkling on the rippling waves. No city sounds spoiled nature’s symphony of waves crashing against shore. Only the occasional seagull’s caw interrupted the lulling sound of the ocean.
She hugged herself as she stared into that gap where sky and sea faded into eternity. Everything was perfect. Or it would be if Sean was here.
Tears pricked the backs of her eyes and angrily, she swiped at them with the back of her hand.
Screams gurgled in her throat and she wanted to yell and flail her hands at fate. She wanted her Sean back.
A year ago tonight he’d drowned in these deceptively calm waters. His body had washed ashore at right about this point. The flowers she’d strewn across these sands at his memorial had long ago blown away but not her memories. Not her love. It was as vivid as the last time she’d lain in his arms basking in his kisses.
She closed her eyes and remembered his beloved face, could almost feel his touch on her bare arms. The dreams they’d shared had begun and ended on this stretch of beach. And it was here that she felt closest to him. That she could still feel him reaching out to her.
Suddenly, the wind whipped up and the waves sucked harder at her feet. Wet spray splashed her face and moistened her tongue when she sighed. “Time to leave.”
She knew the bitter truth was that it was time to leave Sean behind, to get on with her life, not merely seek shelter for the night. But she wasn’t ready to let go.
The wind swirled around her and she could swear she heard him calling her name.
She put a hand to her cheek and cradled her face, pretending it was Sean who caressed her. She whispered back, “I wish you were. I wish it with all my heart.”
Her heart twisted and threatened to crash to her feet. Her knees wobbled, then she sank to the sand and pummeled the ground with her fists. She glared at Heaven. “Why’d you have to take him? We weren’t finished! It wasn’t his time.” Sobs strangled her. Her tears mixed with the waves, tried to swallow her. She was all alone. She had nobody left. “It wasn’t his time.”
The waves grew stronger. They raised high in the air above her. She told herself to run to safety, but her limbs were sluggish and the water engulfed her.
“Wake up, darlin’,” Sean whispered against her lips.
She gulped and tried to lift her heavy lids, but they were too heavy. She struggled against the heaviness weighing them down.
His voice sounded distant, frayed, as if at the edges of a dream.
Had all this been a dream? God, she hoped so.
She fought the grip of her sleep, fought to snap out of the netherworld that imprisoned her in its grip.
Shivers racked her body and her teeth chattered. Goosebumps rose on her arms. She was wet. And sand grated against her back. She coughed and water spurted from her lips.
Then strong, warm arms picked her up and she was cradled against a hard masculine chest. Scents of seaweed, salt and male muskiness wafted around her and she curled her arms around the man’s neck. Finally she forced her eyes to open.
She sucked in her breath and stopped breathing. Her eyes grew so wide her cheeks ached. “Sean! You died…”
Sean smiled down at her. “Funny. I feel very much alive.”
Pepper squinted through the harsh morning sunlight to see him clearly. His eyes were still the vivid aqua of his beloved ocean. His smile still dazzled. His shoulders were strong and broad.
Then a car flew above them. And another. They had wings!
She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, then peeked again. They were floating above the water.
She gulped. “What’s going on? Is this heaven? Did I die? Am I dreaming?”
Sean tilted his head and regarded her with concern. “You’re very much alive and we’re in the Confederation of States.”
She shook her head. “You mean the United States? Florida?”
“No. South Virginia.”
Confederation clanged through her mind. Did he mean “Confederacy? You mean the South won?”
What in hell was going on?
He slashed a kiss across her lips. “In this dimension, yes.”
She tightened her grip around his neck. “This dimension? What do you mean? How can we fly?”
Sean carried her to their beach house and perched on the rail. He kept her in his arms and wrapped his legs around her as he so often had.
A thousand thoughts collided in her mind. Nothing made sense. She ran her hands over him, making sure he was solid, that he was warm and breathing. “You are Sean Watson, aren’t you? But how can you be? Sean died a year ago.”
The man nodded and gazed deeply into her eyes. He caught her hands and hypnotically rubbed his thumb across her knuckles. “Yes. I’m your Sean. I didn’t die. My counterpart from this world switched places with me. After he died, I couldn’t get back.”
Everything sounded fantastical. When a flying car landed in the water and sped away on the waves, she gaped. “How’d we get here?”
Sean looked into the distance then shook his head. “I don’t understand it, but the people in this dimension can travel through time and space. Sometimes the portal between worlds opens and we can cross over. There must be one that opens at that point. I’ve come here every night for the past year, hoping it would open, that it would let me return to our world. Instead, it brought you here. To me.”
She didn’t know if she’d ever understand this. She didn’t know if she should care. She had no one to leave behind.
She stared so long at the ocean, Sean nudged her. “What are you thinking about? You don’t believe me. You don’t love me anymore.”
Love swelled in her heart and giddiness flowed through her. She hugged him and beamed up at him. “You’re not getting away that easily, mister. I love you with all my heart and now that I’ve found you I’m not going to let you go.”
He plundered her with kisses. Then his hot breath coasted along her bare back as he murmured against her ear, “I hope I’m not dreaming.”
She chuckled. “Then we’re both dreaming so we’re okay. But if you’re right, we’d better get far away from this beach before one of us gets sucked back to the other world…”
Crave more Monday Minute Fiction?
Visit Brynn Paulin here.
Read more of Ashley’s free short stories here.
If you like Ashley’s stories, be sure to check out her new erotic vampire romance, “Carnal Lust” that released today at Total-E-Bound. Click here to find out more about “Carnal Lust”.
Recent posts you might like to read:
Author Interview: Wendi Zwaduk
Author Interview: Frances Pauli
Author Interview: Marcia James
Author Interview: Elaine Hopper
Weathering A Bad Review
What Do You Want in a Romance Hero & What Do You Want in a Real Life Husband?
Rejection: Where Do You Go Next?
Cliche or Coincidence?
Incognito: free short story
You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Wendi Zwaduk are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)