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About the author:
I now live on a small ranch near my sprawling clan in Colorado, with a burly husband, two elfish sons and an ever-changing menagerie of dogs, birds, cats, goats, hamsters, and assorted other small beasts.
What inspired you to write your book?
I love the idea of lucid dreaming, and was struck by the thought, “What if you had crazy hot sex with someone in a dream, and they turned up in your waking life?” What would you do? Would it be awkward? So I took that thought and combined it with my love of Scandinavian and Norse folklore, and created a mystery within a dream!
Here is a short sample from the book:
Where We Find Our Heroine At Work
“You look terrible,” Anders told her. “No one would date you the way you look now.”
“I don’t recall ever saying I was looking for someone to date.” Rebecca removed her glasses. A phantom fingerprint on the right lens was making it impossible to see out of, but she didn’t need to have perfect vision to roll her eyes. Anders was the sort of person that most people hated. He excelled at practically everything and had that Bradley Cooper blonde god look about him that could make an insecure person feel even worse about themself. Four years ago she would have felt completely inadequate around him, but now…nothing. Nothing fazed her anymore.
“Everyone is looking for someone to date,” he said, inserting a French Roast pod into the Keurig machine. “Or at the very least someone to have sex with.”
She handed him her carafe of filtered water. “Well, I’m not.”
“Liar.” He poured the water into the machine, closed the top, and hit the button before turning around and leaning against the edge of her desk. She watched him loosen his tie. He had something more to say, she could tell. Those ties. He had a hundred of them. Another thing she’d noticed about Anders was that he always dressed like a politician, no matter where he went. It was especially noticeable in an office environment, where the term “business casual” took on a whole new meaning. The entire office, aside from herself, Anders, and their boss Jim, dressed like they were going hiking after work.
Then again, it was Maine. They probably were.
“Seriously though, Becky, you look like you haven’t slept since the year two thousand. What gives?”
No matter how many times she told him to call her Rebecca, he kept using Becky. She reached over him for her stress ball and began to squeeze. Sharing hadn’t been her strong suit in a while. “I haven’t been sleeping that well, lately,” she said. “It’s nothing new. I’ll just pick up a bottle of Nyquil on the way home.”
“Nyquil?” He shuddered, then reached for his iPhone and began to text something, and then sat it down again. “I just sent you a link to a YouTube video. When you’re in bed tonight, put in your earbuds and watch it. Guaranteed to knock you out.”
“That boring, huh?” Her phone beeped, and she reached for it with her free hand.
“Not at all. I have insomnia myself, and I use it when I can’t get to sleep. It’s a sleep hypnosis video.”
“Sleep hypnosis?” She shook her head. “Nope. Not for me.” His look told her what he thought of that. “Anders, I’m telling you it wouldn’t work on me. I’m just not susceptible to that type of thing.”
“It works,” he said. He looked around a bit to see if anyone was listening to their conversation and then leaned in. “Listen, I had some…personal issues awhile back and it got so bad that I was eating Temazepan like they came out of a Pez dispenser and I still couldn’t sleep. Just…trust me, that video will work.”
Rebecca looked down at her phone and said nothing.
The clock read 2:22. Only a little over a half hour until three. After that there would only be three and a half hours until it was time to get up and go to work. Panic began to set in. Three was the magic number. If she couldn’t fall asleep before then, she wouldn’t fall asleep at all.
“Dammit,” Rebecca said, sitting up in bed. She glanced over at the phone on her bedside table. Snatching it angrily off the table, she began to fumble in her drawer for her earbuds. She would try it just this once. It probably wouldn’t work, but at least she could check one more thing off the list and feel good that she tried. She put the earbuds in and clicked on the link to the video.
It began with an image of a lake beneath a large full moon with birds flying above it. The sound of moving water and birdcalls in the distance began to grow louder as native flutes played in the background.
“Hello friends,” a soft male voice began. “It’s time to take a journey into sleep…”
“Uh huh,” she said and let the air out of her lungs. It wouldn’t work. Nothing worked.
“Lay back now, get comfortable…close your tired eyes… take a deep breath, and hold it…and… just let it all go and when you are ready…take another deep breath…and as you do…lift your shoulders up…and as you breathe out…let them slump down and relax… Imagine what it would be like if your arms and legs had become so heavy…that you just could not move them…that they felt as if they were made of lead…”
Rebecca was about to tell herself again that it would never work when the man beside her in the green and purple suit asked for her ticket.
He was a short, round man in an outfit that looked like he’d stolen it off the Joker from Batman. His face was plump with a curving handlebar mustache above his bow shaped lips. He wore delicate wire-framed glasses, which he adjusted before reaching over and tugging the ticket from her hand.
“Your ticket,” he said in a clipped voice. He held the tiny piece of paper in the air and waved it in her face before dispatching it into a slot marked Tickets in the booth beside him. The man grinned, revealing a golden incisor, and then gestured toward the gates in front of her.
Rebecca stepped forward, frowning. Something wasn’t right. A second ago she was…she was…
“The video.” She turned back to the man at the gate, and smiled. “It worked! I’m asleep!”
“You’re asleep,” he agreed.
“This is a dream!”
“If you say so,” the man said. “Now step inside. You’re missing all the fun.” He gently spun her around and pushed her forward through the gate.
Rebecca looked all around as she stepped through. It looked like she was entering some sort of fair or carnival or…or…steampunk convention? She stopped in the midway just to stare at the people walking past her. Everyone was dressed like it was the turn of the twentieth century, or maybe some vision of the future.
Her brain usually picked unpleasant places or times for her dreams. High school prom or college on a stressful exam day—or worse, she had a dream about the accident. Rebecca shook her head. Tonight her brain had decided to give her a reprieve from all that. She was at a fair. A happy place. She should enjoy it.
Tents of all colors stood on either side of her, and the booths inside were selling popcorn, funnel cakes, and ice cream. Men on stilts walked through the crowd. To her right, a man encouraged people to step up and use a large hammer to test their strength, while to her left a man in a red and white striped jacket sold balloons. Straight ahead, a carousel piped out a rhythmic organ waltz. She even saw a giant Ferris Wheel in the distance.
“Tomorrow,” she murmured, “I’m going to tell Anders all about this.”
She wanted to try some of the rides, the games, and the food, but she didn’t have any money. When a man on a unicycle peddled by with a tray of candied apples, she smiled and shook her head. “Sorry, I didn’t bring any cash to bed with me.”
The man laughed, and handed her an apple anyway. “This is your fantasy—they don’t cost a thing. Have a bite.”
She looked at the bright red candied apple in her hand, the tiny chopped nuts clinging to the surface. There was something familiar yet strange about it.
“Take a bite,” he said. His eyes were as green and bright as key limes. “It won’t stick to your teeth.”
“Okay,” she said, and bit into it. The candy coating wasn’t thick or hard like candied apples she’d had before. It was just another layer of crisp sweetness that aroused the tongue.
“How do you like it?” The man was practically beaming.
“It’s delicious,” she said, wiping the juice from her chin.
“No calories, either.”
“Because it’s my dream.”
“Your fantasy,” he corrected. “Now, the show is starting soon. You’d better head in.”
“Yeah, what kind of show?”
“See for yourself. It’s in that tent just ahead. Biggest one here, you can’t miss it.” He leaned over to hand her an embroidered handkerchief. “Your skirt has juice on it.”
Rebecca looked down, and there was in fact a large quarter-sized spot on her skirt. She looked back up at the young man. “I’m wearing a skirt.”
“Yes, dear.” He smiled, and she could see that he also had a gold tooth, just like the man collecting tickets. Perhaps it was even the same man. “The show is that way. It’s starting soon.”
“You already said that,” she told him, and then walked past him toward to the large wavy mirror to her left. It was a distortion mirror like the ones used in fun houses, but she could still make out her appearance. She was wearing a long blue skirt and a crisp white blouse. Her hair was once more its natural color, and was pulled back from her face in a loose bun. On her head sat a gorgeous hat with a wide brim, decorated with a plump bow.
An attractive redhead had come up beside her with a popcorn cart. She wore the most gorgeous satin gown that Rebecca had ever seen. The color was a shiny iridescent purple that contrasted beautifully with the bright orange of her hair. As she looked her over, she gasped at the woman’s tightly cinched waist. Rebecca was surprised she could breathe like that.
“Popcorn?” the woman repeated.
“No, thank you,” Rebecca said, holding up her apple.
Rebecca shook her head. “You know I’ve never had a dream before where I could taste food or see color.”
The women gave her a bored look that made Rebecca think she’d heard it all before. “The show is that way,” she said. “It fills up quickly, so I would hurry, if I were you. Everyone wants to see the show.”
“Okay,” Rebecca said, “now this is starting to get weird. Why is everyone pushing this show? What is it?”
“It’s what everyone comes for,” the woman said. “It’s sort of a freak show.”
“Oh that doesn’t seem like something I would be into. I don’t think making fun of people is right—” She stopped as she felt a soft hand on her forearm. The redhead looked at her with the same lime green eyes of the man on the unicycle.
“It’s not that type of freak show.” She licked her lips, and leaned in until Rebecca could feel the girl’s breath on her neck. It sent shivers down her spine. “Trust me, you want to see the show.” The girl was now giving her a coy, almost seductive look, and Rebecca had the strangest urge to kiss those full, pink lips. It was a dream after all, she told herself. Kissing girls in dreams was fine. She realized a moment later that she had spoken aloud, and blushed.
“Just fine,” the woman agreed. “It’s your fantasy.”
“Why do you all keep saying that word?”
The woman shook her head. “Come on.” She took Rebecca’s hand and began tugging her along.
“Just answer me. It’s my dream. You should answer me.”
She could see the back of the woman’s head and the intricate red braid that held her hair in place. It was almost not like a dream at all. If it weren’t for how strange everything was she wouldn’t even have thought she was in a dream. The color of the sky was a distinct New England gray. The sprigs of grass that popped up along the worn path of the fair grounds were a spring green. Everything seemed normal. Only it wasn’t.
“There you go,” the woman said, pushing Rebecca toward the edge of the crowd. “I’ll be around when you come back.”
“Come back from where?” The crowd began moving forward, sucking her toward the tent. There were too many people between them, and soon Rebecca couldn’t see the woman at all.
“It’s a good show,” someone said. An unremarkable man, moving alongside her as the crowd pulled them forward.
“So I’ve heard,” she mumbled. “Several times.” As she passed beneath the red and white striped awning, she noticed a woman who looked suspiciously like Madonna from her old Frozen video. “Dreams are so weird.”
“What’s that?” The gentleman was now loosening his tie.
Rebecca sighed. Fantasy. Right. “Nothing. It’s a good show.”
“Yes,” he said. “Yes, indeed.”
She rolled her eyes and turned away. She caught sight of a man so handsome that of course it could only be a dream or an HBO series. He had perfect bone structure, large doe eyes, and chocolate brown hair that hung in loose floppy curls around his face. He had a thick, silky-looking beard and a well-proportioned physique that made her all warm inside—how could it be anything but a dream? Then again, it was her dream. She might as well look some more.
“It’s a good show,” she said to him with a wink. If she was going to have a lucid dream, she was definitely going to talk to the hot guy.
“I’ve seen it before,” he said. “I haven’t seen you here before though.”
She had to laugh at the dialogue she was having with herself. He was a figment of her subconscious mind telling her he hadn’t seen her before in her own dream. “Amazing,” she said, taking a bite of her apple. It was all a dream, she told herself. A very realistic dream, but still a dream.
If she repeated that five more times her nervousness might go away.
“Sorry,” the man said, shaking his head. He looked surprised, curious, and maybe a little skeptical. “You haven’t been here before, right? I’m not wrong about that.”
“Excuse me?” she asked, confused. He sounded…like a normal person.
He started to say something more but was interrupted by the barker who had just taken the stage. The costume the man had on looked like Aladdin’s when he was pretending to be rich, only with a lot more gold lamé. He was saying something about Arabian Nights and sensual pleasures, but Rebecca could have cared less. She wanted to pause the dream so she could to talk to the man with the big brown eyes again, and tried to wish the other people away. But they just refused to go. And then the music started, and drew her attention back to the stage.
It was familiar. She knew she had heard it somewhere before. It was also hypnotizing.
The woman who took the stage was the same Madonna impersonator Rebecca had seen on the way in. Her long black gown was cinched just as tightly as the redhead’s had been, but more of her bosom was exposed, bulging over the low neckline. Two men approached her from either side and stood tall and still as she began to sway to the sinuous music, her hands moving in serpentine patterns. The sight was so mesmerizing that Rebecca momentarily forgot about the handsome man to her left. The woman continued this snake dance for another minute, before the men on either side of her grabbed the sleeves of her gown in unison and ripped them off, exposing her pale arms highlighted by the stage lighting.
Rebecca watched them toss the sleeves to the side, and then grab the woman’s wrists and pull, locking her in place. She stood in a crucifixion pose while two more men came from behind the curtain and stepped forward. The men holding her arms began to pull her back and forth between them to the rhythm of the music. Rebecca wasn’t certain if they were going to begin a dance routine or something… darker.
Back and forth, back and forth…Four more beats, and then two new men ripped her skirt away to reveal her legs. Rebecca inhaled sharply. This was no ordinary “show.” Pale bands of skin glistened between the woman’s charcoal stockings and black panties. She stood on her tiptoes, and allowed her body to be rocked back and forth between the two men holding her arms, while the other two knelt at her feet.
“It’s a burlesque show,” Rebecca whispered.
“More than that,” said the hot guy. He was standing close enough that their shoulders brushed every now and then. She looked over at him and could see the excited dilation of his pupils.
What kind of dream is this?
Onstage, suspension equipment of some kind was being lowered from the top of the tent. The kneeling men each grabbed a side of the woman’s panties. Rebecca could feel her body moisten and her breath become tight as they pulled the panties slowly to the ground, exposing a thin line of black pubic hair. Next, the bodice of the dress was ripped away, leaving only the tight black corset cinching her waist and pushing up her large breasts. She could not look over at the man now. No, not now.
The music’s rhythm changed slightly, and two drums began to pound a tattoo. Rebecca watched on in silence as the woman’s body, arms and legs were locked into leather straps. The suspension equipment raised her body off the floor, and swung her to the rhythm of the music as though on a magical swing, facing down. Rebecca’s own body seemed to move with the woman’s, and soon she felt herself swaying to the music too.
The music stopped with a last, sudden drumbeat, and a tall man emerged from the curtains behind her. He was shirtless, and his long black hair fell below his shoulders in oiled waves. The exotic, almost-feminine features of his face were enhanced by kohl and lipstick.
The music began again, this time a snake charmer’s tune of long, twisting notes. The man moved behind the woman, and began to untie the satin belt at his waist. Rebecca could feel the tightness in her chest as she leaned forward, hungry for what was about to happen.
His tan hands stroked the porcelain skin of the woman’s thighs and then he paused as his assistants rocked her body in its harness out towards the crowd, showing her hanging breasts and legs spread wide. They allowed her to swing back down again, lining up her open sex with his large penis. He grabbed her hips and plunged into her. Both their eyes rolled up in ecstasy. As he pulled at her thighs, pushing deeper into her, Rebecca heard a soft gasp escape her own lips.
This shouldn’t turn her on. It shouldn’t, and she knew it, but it didn’t stop the wetness that was spreading into her panties. As the first assistant undid his belt, Rebecca felt the man next to her move his hand until it brushed against her own. She closed her eyes for just a second, a tiny second, as his finger slowly moved down her inner wrist. Another flush of wetness. This time a heat came with it, something she hadn’t felt in years. She opened her eyes and watched as the four assistants each took a turn employing the woman’s mouth, open and eager. Licking and sucking, she was enjoying the moment as she was taken by the magician from behind and by the assistants from the front.
With each of the magician’s thrusts, Rebecca felt the man beside her pressing against her wrist, then running his finger up and down along her pressure point, building with the movements of the woman and men in climactic crescendo, until finally his hand melted into hers and the magician roared his own release—
The roar became words all too quickly, and Rebecca opened her eyes to see a weight loss video playing on the phone beside her head. She had forgotten to change the settings on YouTube, and the next video started up immediately when her hypnosis video was over. She glanced at the clock at her beside table, her mind still blurry and unfocused.
The clock read 3:01.