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Monday, 14 July 2014

Andre by D.J. Manly

From the moment he sees a photograph of Dalton Manor, a 17th-Century estate located in the picturesque English countryside, Joel Howard knows he must stay there while on vacation, in spite of the lack of nightly distraction to be had in London’s gay village. After arriving in England with his friend Shelley, Joel immediately arranges to visit the grand estate, and during a tour, he sets eyes on the portrait of the handsome Patrice Dumont and his lovely young bride, Rosalie, the owners of the manor three hundred years ago.

Joel cannot explain the emotion he feels as he stares at the portrait, or his particular obsession with an ash tree he views on the property later that night. He also can’t explain why the ancient estate seems to talk to him, literally, or why the ghostly voice coming from inside the walls keeps calling him by the name of Andre.

As the moments tick by, Joel comes ever closer to the edge of danger and soon learns the answers to his questions...in every horrifying detail...

Genres: Gay/Dark Fantasy/Vampire
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (23k words) 

Read a short excerpt...

...“This place is incredible, isn’t it?”

“Beautiful,” she said. “Good move telling them I was your sister so we could have a double room. The rooms are really expensive.”

I smiled. The price wasn’t a problem but Shelly said she didn’t want to stay in a room alone because these old places could be “spooky.”

“You are my sister except for the blood thing.”

She jumped on the bed and gave me a kiss.

I laughed and pushed her off. “Don’t get all mushy now.”

“Can’t believe how old this place is, seventeenth century. Wow.”

When I’d surfed the Internet for possible places to stay in London, the minute I saw a picture of this place, I fell in love with it. Something about the old Dalton Manor called to me.

Shelly had been shocked when I showed her the pictures and suggested we stay there. We had five days in Britain, and she’d been sure I’d want to stay in London and frequent the gay bars in Soho.

“What are you going to do there?” Shelly had asked. “It’s on the outskirts of London. There are no gay bars there. What about your promise, to visit a gay bar in every European city before you die?”

I shrugged. “I can still go into London one night when we’re there.”

“So,” Shelly was saying now, “what do we know about the place?”

“I know it was built by a Lord Dalton,” I said, reclining on the bed and getting comfortable. “He was apparently a favorite in the court of Queen Elizabeth. It was passed down in the family, and finally Lord Chance Dalton, a prominent figure in the court of Charles the Second, gave this place to his only daughter as a wedding present.”

“Oh look,” Shelly said, skimming the brochure we’d been given when we checked in. “It says Rosalie Dalton married Patrice Dumont, who was rumored to be the illegitimate son of the King of France.”

“Louis the Fourteenth,” I murmured. “That’s interesting. Patrice Dumont. It’s a nice name.” My eyes were closing with that name on my lips. “Patrice,” I whispered. I had a case of some wicked jet lag all of a sudden and it was dragging me into sleep.

The last thing I heard was Shelly saying something about going downstairs for coffee, and then I drifted off. The smell of roses was suddenly heavy in the air, although I didn’t remember there being any roses in the room. I inhaled deeply and the perfume drew me down the paneled hallways with the flagstone floors to a large room with exposed oak beams and a roaring fireplace.

I saw a man in the room. His back was turned to me. He was tall and broad shouldered, his jet-black hair tied back at the nape of his neck. I almost said hello but something was off. He was there, yet…he wasn’t. He looked like he’d stepped out of another time.

The man turned and smiled at me and I caught my breath. Beautiful. He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. His soulful dark eyes looked right at me, or were looking right through me? It had to be a dream. The way he was dressed was really unusual. A long, brocade coat pulled tight at the waist flaring out over his hips, and black pants tied just under the knees and met by white stockings. His shoes were black with square heels and decorated with fancy buckles. They were a weird shape, surely designed by some New York designer. Sanderson or Aquazzura?

No. The guy had to be an actor the manager had hired to create period ambience at the hotel. I was about to ask the man if he were a tour guide, but the image faded away right in front of me.

I shook myself and blinked several times. I looked around. What a strange dream...

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