Monday, October 14, 2013

All Hallows Eve by Layla Hunter @LaylaHunter @KMNbooks #flashfictionbash #Free @SecretCravings

The CONTEST HAS ENDED. Cara Marsi IS THE WINNER OF A $5 GIFT CARD TO SECRET CRAVINGS PUBLISHING! CONGRATS!
 
KAREN: Layla Hunter pens tales for Secret Craving Publishing. Her romances feature characters with deep emotional connections, and will give the readers long hours of enjoyment. In her flash fiction story, All Hallows Eve, a wish may bring joy or death. Given a chance, what would you wish for?
 
****Giveaway: An Ebook copy of Whisper Sweet Nothings AND a $5 gift card to Secret Cravings Publishing. Read on to find out how you may add these awesome gifts to your goody bag! 

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter daily for extra chances to win one of the Grand Prizes!

All Hallows Eve by Layla Hunter

"Okay, so there was this one time at band camp…"
She laughed out loud, shaking her head. "Fine, we can stop," she acquiesced to his petulant demand to stop at the antique shop. It wasn't that she didn't like antiques because she did. What she didn't like was the location. The old church stood amidst a graveyard, surrounded by rusted iron fencing. The only saving grace was the glorious stained glass windows on each side.
"What's so bad about this place?"
She raised a brow. "You have to ask? It's creepy Sully."
"Come on. It's cool. It's almost Halloween and you like all that ghost hunting stuff. This is right up your alley."
Reluctantly she got out of the car and followed him to the entrance.
The ornately carved door creaked loudly as he pushed it open and she cringed inwardly. Even the damned door was a cliché.
"Spooky." He gave her a mischievous grin over his shoulder and she couldn't help but smile.
Once inside, the smell of all things old assaulted her senses and the clutter left her feeling claustrophobic.
"Look at this! Looks like an old electric chair…the one's they'd use in an insane asylum." He started to sit down.
"Do not sit down in that chair!" The booming voice reverberated off the thick stone walls and echoed off the ceiling. She whirled around, half expecting to see a giant stomping forth.
Instead, an old man of tiny stature came from around a large armoire, his gaze narrowed in Sully's direction.
"Sorry," he apologized with a sheepish grin.
"Can't take him anywhere," she interjected, giving the old man a wink. He wasn't amused.
"Maybe we should be going," she suggested, grateful for the perfect excuse to get the hell out of there.
"I couldn't help but notice you appreciate old glass my dear. Come…follow me…I have something I want to show you."
The old man had appeared out of nowhere and now he expected her to follow him. Not wanting to be rude, she did so reluctantly.
From an old cabinet he carefully removed a ragged wooden box. "Come closer."
She hesitated a moment but Sully nudged her forward.
With gnarled hands he picked up a bundle wrapped in tattered cloth, placing it onto the counter where he proceeded to unwrap his perceived treasure with tentative care.
A startled gasp escaped her lips when he revealed the unusual ceramic bottle within. "I…I didn't expect something so beautiful," she confessed. "What is it?" she asked, curious about the origin.
"That's for you to decide. Is it simply a bottle? Is it a vessel that holds all your hopes and dreams? Is it a doorway to the unknown?"
She raised a brow. "Really? That's rather cryptic," she countered, sensing he had an unusually dry sense of humor.
He chuckled. "Sometimes a bottle is just a bottle."
She smiled. "Well, thank you but I'm sure it's over my budget."
"It's not for sale."
"Then why did you show it to me?"
"Is it something you'd be interested in?"
"At this point, it doesn't matter since it's not for sale."
"Just because there is no price does not mean it's not available."
She looked at Sully who just gave her a shrug. She was on her own.
"I'll bite. What do you want for it?"
"What are you willing to give?"
"For the love of…" Her voice trailed off. "Are you looking for something in trade?" she guessed.
"Perhaps."
The old bottle was stunning and she'd love to have it. The color was intoxicating and she couldn't resist looking at it, watching the way the light danced within the glaze.
"I'll trade my watch for the bottle?"
The moment the words left her lips, his visage changed and a self-satisfied smile crossed his face.
"A timepiece for the bottle. We have a deal."

*****

Later that night, once she'd had a chance to shower and change, she took the old box and sat down at the table.
As the old man had done, she unwrapped it carefully, once again amazed by its subtle beauty.
Wondering what was inside, she carefully loosened the stopper. A rush a cool air took her by surprise and she looked up expecting to see she'd left a window open.
"Weird," she mumbled, trying to pry the stopper from the bottle. No matter which way she turned or twisted, she couldn't get it loose. Taking it to the kitchen, she ran the neck under warm water, hoping to loosen whatever it was that was holding it tight but still, it wouldn't budge.
"That's it," she grumbled. As she walked back to the table, the wet bottle slipped from her hands and she nearly dropped it but jarring it seemed to loosen the stopper and it popped open. A thunderous rush of air burst forth, knocking her back against the wall and when the fog cleared, before her stood a large man dressed in vintage clothing, maybe from the 1900's. His hair was as dark as his eyes and his honey-colored skin glistened with perspiration.
"What the hell," she whispered, sliding along the wall towards the front door.
The angry looking man watched her with dark eyes before his gaze shot to the door. With lightning speed he blocked her escape, lowering his head and staring at the bottle in her hands.
She screamed for help, hoping one of her nosy neighbors might hear her.
"Stop screeching like a bird, girl!" He bellowed, coming closer.
"Stay the hell away from me," she warned, moving back towards the kitchen. She needed a knife; no, many knives.
"You dare to give me a command!" he snapped, his voice booming, the unearthly sound painful.
Instinctively she went to cover her ears, dropping the bottle in the process. It hit the floor and shattered, dozens of shards raining across the wood floor.
A dangerous silence ensued and she stood frozen, her bare feet in jeopardy from the jagged pieces scattered around her.
"What have you done you foolish girl!" he screamed, his voice heavy with fury and anguish.
This is a dream, she thought to herself. That's it. She fell asleep at the table again and…
He stalked towards her and she stepped back, a razor sharp piece of ceramic embedding itself in the bottom of her foot. A cry of pain escaped her lips and he leapt, scooping her up and putting her up on the counter.
"I did not mean for you to come to any harm," he stated, his voice gentler. He took a step back.
"Who the hell are you? What the hell are you?" she asked as she attempted to pull the sliver from the bottom of her foot. Tears rolled down her cheeks as blood dripped onto the floor.
He seemed surprised. "I am Jinn."
"You're name is Jinn?"
"No, I am Jinn. What your people call a …genie. You opened the bottle and released me."
She laughed out loud. "Riiight. You're a genie." The man was a lunatic. But if he didn't come from the bottle, where the hell did he come from?
"Jinn," he corrected.
"You expect me to believe that a man your size came from inside that tiny bottle?" she questioned, realizing he looked familiar.
"That would be ridiculous."
"Exactly."
"The bottle is merely a portal…a door to my world…or my prison, as it would be."
"I see. You look like the actor, Oded Fehr."
"I am not an Oded. I am Jinn."
"Whatever you are, you need to leave." She should be terrified but she wasn't. Years of studying all things paranormal kept her mind open even if this wasn't a dream.
He shook his head. "No. You released me. I am to deliver three wishes and then return to the bottle…" His gaze dropped to the remnants on the floor.
"To the bottle I broke?"
"Yes."
"So let's say I believe this is real and make three wishes. What then? Are you free or something now that there is no bottle?" she asked hopefully, deciding if this was a dream, it was going to have a happy ending.
She saw the answer in the depths of his eyes. He shook his head. "There is a curse."
"Of course there is." She sighed. "What happens to you then?"
"I cease to be as I am in one week of your time."
She sucked in a breath. "What? Are you saying I've inadvertently destroyed you?"
"My life was forfeit a long time ago. You have merely brought about the inevitable. You must still make three wishes within three days time or you forfeit them and I will still die."
"Are you crazy? No. I will not make any wishes knowing you will die. Who could do that?" she ranted. "How could I live with myself?"
He watched her closely, his intense perusal unnerving her.
"You would be surprised. I have seen much ugliness in the hearts of mortals over the centuries."
"I don't doubt you have, but I can't do this."
"You must."
"And what? Wish for money? Happiness? Wish for my health back?"
His head tilted and he stepped forward. "Are you ill?"
Swallowing hard, she nodded.
"Then wish for your health back."
If she could only have one wish, it would be for her health back but under the circumstances, she couldn't do it, could she? "What happens if I make one wish?"
"My fate is the same whether you make one or three. It matters not since I can no longer return to the bottle."
"Why would you want to return to the bottle? It's a prison of sorts, right?"
"I did not want to return but I must. It is a punishment well deserved for my sins. I am released once every hundred years. If I do not return, I die."
"So you either suffer for an eternity at the hands of mortals or you die in a week. I don't know which is worse."
He actually smiled and she couldn't help but return it with one of her own. "How long have you been doing this?"
"Many centuries."
"What if I wish for the bottle to be as it was?"
He stilled. "If you do so, you forfeit all wishes."
All she'd wished for during endless, sleepless nights was to have her health back. Here was her chance but in doing so, she was condemning this man to die.
"I understand but if you knew me, you'd know I couldn't live with myself knowing you died on my behalf. Is there any other way?"
"None that I am aware of. This is a first."
Shaking her head, she sighed. Leave it to her to screw up a centuries old curse. "What if I fix the bottle? Put it back together piece by piece. Could that work?"
"I do not know. You have no potter in your employ. How is such a feat possible?"
"Glue, my friend. Still, I'd have to make that first wish to see if it worked and if it didn't, you'd lose your chance to return. It's not worth the risk."
He was quiet for a long time. "I have always felt the binds of the bottle but now, I do not. I suspect I'd feel them again if you were successful."
"Then let's try. We have three days for the wish making part of this curse, right? If I can't repair it, I'll wish for it to be as it was before time runs out."
His gaze searched hers. "Are you certain?"
"Yes. Come on. I'll wrap up my foot and you can start collecting the pieces. By the way, what is your name?"
"I don't remember. My time in the Thousand Years of Darkness has left my memories scattered."
"Do I want to know what this Thousand Years is?"
"No."
Oddly, her heart ached for this stranger. Had she not been so open-minded, interested in all things on this realm and beyond, she might be freaking out.
"For now, I'll call you Jinn. I am-."
"Little Bird," he cut her off and she smiled.
An hour later, she was hard at work at the dining room table. Glue and tweezers in hand, she started to work.
While she worked, he sat next to her, telling her glorious tales of the exotic lands he'd come from and the places he'd visited throughout the centuries but he sounded lonely; a prisoner with no family; no joy; no love.
To her surprise, he asked her about her life, her loves, her dreams. Never before had she shared so much with another person and it didn't surprise her it would take someone from another plane to get her to open up.
With time at a premium, she didn't dare sleep much, but when she caught a few hours here and there, she always awoke to him watching her.
Turned out he loved the shower, was terrified of the microwave, and fascinated by the television. The sound of his laugher stirred her deeply and she knew she'd never forget those moments with him. After a short trip outside to buy food and clothes for him, she also discovered he loved blue jeans, hated the car, and couldn't eat enough ice cream.
Wishing she had more time with him was a dangerous thought kept to herself. Several times she'd almost made the mistake of wishing for something but caught herself just in time.
The task before her was tedious and her back ached, neck burned and fingers cramped. He surprised her by rubbing her sore muscles and at first, she'd shied away but he was too persistent to resist. Finally, she let her guard down and welcomed his touch.
If she only had three days with him, she was going to savor the moments she could.
On the morning of the third day, she carefully placed one of the last pieces, ensuring a tight, seamless fit. The intricate jigsaw puzzle of sorts had been challenging but she'd done it; only one piece was missing.
"Little bird, come to me," he summoned while standing at the window.
"We're running out of time. Help me find the last piece. We need to tear this place apart and—"
"You did your best and…I must tell you something. Even if you were to find the last piece, it will not work."
"What? But you said…"
"My words were not the truth."
She took a step back. "You lied to me? Why?"
"Please understand. I have endured centuries of selfish, careless, cruel mortals and I found it difficult to believe you were different."
Ouch. She remained silent.
"I am tired little bird. I confess a part of my soul, and what is left of my heart, wanted to know if you were true before I died."
"And in three days you've determined I am? Damn you! You don't know me!"
He turned to her, anguish masking his handsome face. "You are wrong. I have seen your heart," he began, walking towards her. "And it is true," he added, placing his hand upon her chest.
"But you'll only have a week and..." She stifled a sob.
"And it will be the best week of my long and lonely life. I cannot think of a better way to spend it then with a woman so pure of heart and soul as yourself."
"There's still time. It might work-"
He silenced her with a kiss that took her breath away. Melting into his arms, she let go of her fears and insecurities and in the ensuing hours, they made love to each other throughout the afternoon.
Waking first, she slipped from his warm embrace and pulled on her robe. As she did, she caught sight of something glistening in the pocket of the jeans she'd bought for him.
The final piece.
Feeling as if she'd been punched in the stomach, she snatched the shard and stalked to the table. Why would he hide it if repairing the bottle wouldn't work? He'd lied again.
How dare he? He couldn't know the weight of the guilt she would carry for the rest of her days. Why would he choose to stay and die? Forfeit his life for hers?
At the table, she placed the final piece in its place and a rush of air lifted the hair about her face.
At the same time, he jumped from the bed, letting loose a deep cry.
"Little bird! What have you done? No! No…" Raking his fingers through his hair, he stared in dismay at the bottle.
"Why did you hide the last piece? If you knew my heart as you claimed, you'd know it would ache with guilt for the rest of my life!" she snapped, angry more because of the deeper truth of his sacrifice. "You had no right to make that decision for me! Now get dressed."
"I did not believe this could work but if it had, I did not want to risk leaving you. You are selfless and beautiful and more deserving of wishes than any other mortal I've encountered. I decided yesterday that I wouldn't take away your chance to wish for your life. I wanted to stay. I would rather truly live, and love, one week with you then suffer an eternity knowing what I left behind."
"If you truly wished to stay, I would have made that wish for you."
"No, you would not have. You would have wanted me to live."
"I wish for you to stay," she said defiantly.
A rush of air swept through the room and he rushed towards her. "You cannot wish for me to stay. It is not allowed. You have wasted a wish and now…I must leave you," he declared with sorrow.
"I'm sorry. I…I wish for your curse to end!" She nearly screamed for the powers that be to hear her. Another rush of air swept through the room. She was angry and hurt and already her heart ached. What had she done?
"Little bird, no…no. Please stop. Please…you cannot wish for that either." Wrapping her in his strong arms, he pulled her to him, hugging her tight. "Please…I beg you…use your last wish for you."
"I can't," she cried, clinging to him with desperation.
"I love you little bird. Please…for me. Wish for a long and happy life."
"It would be a lie. I love you and I won't ever be happy without you."
"Yes, you will. Please…time is running out."
"Kiss me one last time," she begged and he obliged, kissing her with a passion so fierce her knees went weak.
Through her tears, with her lips against his, she made her last and final wish. "I wish…I wish for a long and happy life."
Another rush of air swept through the room and she waited for him to disappear, knowing when he did, she'd die inside.
Seconds passed, then minutes, and neither of them moved.
"What happened?" she whispered, glancing up at him.
"You did it little bird. You broke the curse." The eerily silent room resounded with his laughter, and he picked her up, twirling her around.
Grinning through her tears, she wrapped her arms around his neck. "But how?"
"By making a wish with your true heart…a heart that loves me…it could not be denied."

The End

ABOUT Whisper Sweet Nothings:

Sarah Cole never expected to find herself divorced and nearly broke at the age of thirty-four, no less working part-time as a phone sex operator for Whisper Sweet Nothings.  

Solely responsible for the care of her grandmother, she's willing to do whatever she needs to care for the woman who raised her, even if it means foregoing her dream to sing.

News of his impending deployment turns Lt. Samuel Meade's world upside down, and he finds himself alone to face the unknown when unexpectedly abandoned by his girlfriend.  

Eager to help him shake the blues, friends set him up with Whisper Sweet Nothings for a little fun before deployment. Not wanting to seem ungrateful or endure the merciless ribbing of his buddies, he goes ahead with the call, expecting the worst.

Instead, he finds Sherry (aka Sarah Cole), a kindred soul as seemingly lost as he is.

Neither could have imagined the instant bond forged that night, the foundation for a friendship that would span nearly a year. Sharing heartfelt letters with a woman he's never met, Sam finds himself falling for her.

Scarred in more ways than one during his deployment, Sam returns stateside suffering from PTSD and a painful leg injury. Convincing himself that he is as broken as his dream of pursuing her, he gives himself over to despair. 

Unbeknownst to them, with the help of a friend, they find themselves face to face, embarking on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance and a once in a lifetime love.
PURCHASE A COPY OF WHISPER SWEET NOTHINGS AT SECRET CRAVINGS PUBLISHING 


****Giveaway: Win an Ebook copy of Whisper Sweet Nothings AND a $5 gift card to Secret Cravings Publishing! All you need to do is leave a comment or answer the question: If you were granted 3 wishes, what would you wish for? Also don't forget to leave your email so Layla can contact you if you should win! Good Luck! 


 About the Author:



Layla Hunter's love of romance began at age of eleven when her 'Nanns' slipped her a few True Romance comic books, along with her first romance, and it was love at first sight. Before long, she was writing her own stories and has been doing so for over three decades. Along with contemporary erotic romance, she enjoys writing paranormal and fantasy.
A New Jersey native, she resides in an 1890 Folk Victorian that she and her husband are slowly returning to its former beauty. They share this century-old home with their daughter and a bevy of delightfully comical cats. Oh, and let’s not forget the ‘ghost mice’ … unseen to the human eye, her cats dutifully chase these invisible intruders throughout the house at three o’clock in the morning.

She's published several erotic shorts in an online magazine, Every Night Erotica, as well as a short story, Dark Desire, which was included in XOXO Publishing’s Halloween Anthology, Vol. 1, released October, 2010. She joined the Secret Cravings Publishing family with her first novella, Skin Deep, on February 9, 2011.

Romance and a deep emotional connection between her characters are integral to her writing, as is giving readers a chance to escape into her character’s world for a little while, where they can be assured of a HEA. She loves hearing from her readers and fellow writers alike!

You can find the Author at: http://www.laylahunter.com
Twitter:@ LaylaHunter
Facebook

20 comments:

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Great story, Layla! I do so love a happy ending. :)

Thanks so much for joining us for the Halloween Flash Fiction Bash! It's been lots of fun, hasn't it? :)

If I had three wishes... I don't know what I'd wish for. I guess I better think about it. You never know when you might have to make that decision. lol

Rosemary Gemmell said... Best Blogger Tips

What a great story, Layla - I'm so pleased they stayed together at the end! Three wishes are very difficult: off the top of my head I'd wish for a happy, healthy life for my family, continued writing success and a contented life.

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

@Karen - Thank you so much for having me today! I had so much fun writing this story, too. By the way, you did a BEAUTIFUL job on the blog too -- looks amazing.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Layla,

I'm so glad you had fun writing the story! I've had a lot of fun reading them all!

Thanks for the compliment about the blog. :)

Cathy said... Best Blogger Tips

Layla,

I enjoyed the story. Good ending!

cnickol at verizon dot net

Shadow said... Best Blogger Tips

This sounds awesome!! I love the excerpt! I want to read more! Feel free to post the next chapter. lol :D Thank you for sharing! :)
shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

Katrina Gillian said... Best Blogger Tips

Layla,

I liked the story! I wondered how it would all work out. :)

katrinagillian at yahoo dot com

Jean MP said... Best Blogger Tips

A great story, loved the ending.
Three wishes would be health, happiness and peace for my family.
skpetal at hotmail dot com

bn100 said... Best Blogger Tips

That was nice.
Travel around the world, food, more wishes

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Gerald Costlow said... Best Blogger Tips

Great ending! Love it.

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

A sincere thank you for all who stopped by and left comments! I am so glad you liked the story!

Theresa Ryder said... Best Blogger Tips

I love this heroine. I'm very glad she got her happily ever after. I always worry about that Monkey Paw scenario with wishes, so it's hard for me to think of any without thinking of all the awful ways they might come true. Maybe I should wish for a pure heart like Little Bird's! :-D

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you Theresa! And I understand about the 'be careful what you wish for' scenario! Thanks for stopping by!

Cara Marsi said... Best Blogger Tips

This is a beautiful love story. Thank you.

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

@Cara Marsi

Thank you Cara! Hearing that means so much to me! Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I Love Story.It is AWESOME!!!
Let me think and get back to you on the wishes.Be careful what you wish for...lol
Thanks again for the story.

dlynnpen at yahoo dot com

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

@Anonymous

Thank you for stopping by!

Emily said... Best Blogger Tips

Awesome story, loved the ending!

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

@Emily

Thank you so much for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed it!

Layla Hunter said... Best Blogger Tips

And the winner, chosen by random, is ... Cara Marsi! You didn't leave your e-mail but I'll ask Karen's help to find you!

Thanks to ALL who stopped by!