“LeBon,” Maman Brigitte called from the bedroom. “What is taking so long? Get out here!”
Her voice, deep and booming with its Caribbean accent, sent chills through his body. He feared her. And there was no way to escape.
He opened the bathroom door and emerged, wearing nothing but a towel. Maman Brigitte lay across her enormous feather bed, her gown of black velvet, lace and human bone pulled up and bunched up around her belly, revealing her long, chocolate-brown legs and black panties.
Brigitte sat up and brushed the bleached-blonde locks from her eyes. She pointed to a pair of black leather pants at the foot of the bed. “Drop the towel,”she commanded. “Put those on.” He obeyed, painfully aware the death-goddess was studying his every move.
“What’s the matter, LeBon?” she asked as he crouched down to kiss the top of her foot. “Do you not enjoy being my slave? Raven thought you would really enjoy this, since you loved the slave trade so much in life.”
“That was so long ago,” he said. Every morning when he awoke, he cursed Raven Templin and wished he had never laid a hand on Raven’s friend Badu. Badu, it turned out, was a priestess of the goddess Yemaya. Yemaya, in another form, was none other than Maman Brigitte herself. He would spend eternity doing whatever Brigitte/Yemaya wished.
|Creative Commons image by Africaarianna|
“LeBon, be a dear and see who’s at the door,” Brigitte moaned.
Relieved, he opened the door. He looked down and saw the raised paw of a large, silver-gray wolf with a white belly. The creature looked at him with curious yellow-green eyes.
“It’s a wolf,” LeBon said.
Maman Brigitte came nearer. “Theodora! Well, this is a surprise. Don’t be a stranger, dear. Come in.”
The wolf took a few steps back and turned its furry head. A moment later it turned back to the doorway with a basket between its jaws. Maman Brigitte took the offering, peering inside to find a green glass bottle stuffed with habanero peppers floating in dark rum.
“Theodora, you didn’t have to. But I’m glad you did.” Brigitte offered the bottle to LeBon, who gratefully took a long drink. The potent mixture of hot peppers and rum burned his throat, but momentarily took him away from his surroundings. What was left in the bottle he returned to Brigitte, who finished it. She belched as the wolf stood on its hind legs and transformed into a woman.
“Well, bitch,” Brigitte said, “what brings you to my humble abode today?”
“Humble?” Theodora said as she looked around the room. “Your house is covered in gold.” Like Brigitte, she had a Caribbean accent.
“I was being polite,” Brigitte said. She gave LeBon a hard slap to the back of the head. “What brings you here today, my friend?”
“The Underworld brings me here today, in fact,” Theodora said. “I’ve heard rumblings, strange mutterings having to do with the Queen.”
Brigitte shook her head. “I don’t know what kind of crowd you’ve been hanging out with, to have heard something like that. But you’ve hit upon a truth. Persephone hasn’t been at all happy lately. But you know the rules. As gatekeeper of the Underworld, I’m not supposed to let any mortals down there. ”
Theodora frowned. “But Persephone and I have been friends since high school. I know a good way to cheer her up, if you’ll let me. Come on now, Maman Brigitte. There are always exceptions to the rule, aren’t there?”
“I can think of one or two,” Brigitte said. “I suppose I can allow it. But only this once, and only if you make a promise to me. Give me your hand.”
Brigitte reached for Theodora’s hand, cupping her visitor’s honey-brown hand inside her own. She drew a dagger from her boot and cut a deep line into Theodora’s palm, which began to bleed and dribble down her wrist into the marble floor. She made a similar slit in her own hand. The women pressed their palms together in a blood oath.
“What have I sworn to, my goddess?” Theodora asked.
“After you’ve passed back to the world of the living, you will be given one day to return to my dwelling with a larger offering. No mere bottle of rum and peppers this time. I want a feast, like the ones my followers used to leave in the graveyards for me in the olden days.” She pressed a black handkerchief into Theodora’s hand to stop the bleeding. “I want you to bring your drum. Play for me, and sing me some of my old-time praises.”
“You’ll have your feast, goddess, I assure you.”
“Good,” Brigitte said. "Now let’s get you through that gate.”
The women went through Brigitte’s mansion and out the French doors into the garden. Among the birds of paradise and palm trees stood the stone gate that marked the entrance into the Underworld.
Brigitte uttered the words only she knew, and the gate swung open. A cold breeze blew in from the other side.
Theodora got down on her hands and knees to resume her wolf form. She walked on four legs into the eerie world of the dead, her front paw stinging from the cut. She reached the river of blood first.
Had she been human, the ferryman would have asked her for fare to cross. Since she appeared as an animal, however, the ferryman took no notice of her. She jumped with a great splash into the red river, inhaling its musky, meaty perfume. When she reached the far shore, she shook herself, then sat for a moment to lick the blood from her silvery coat. She walked on, past the fields of unearthly colorless flowers, until she came to the palace of Hecate, Goddess of Death, where Persephone dwelled as Queen of the Dead for six months of every year. She jumped right into the palace through an open window and headed for the tower where Persephone stayed with her lover, the vampire Jack Damuzi.
Theodora climbed the winding stone stairs to the tower, resuming her human shape as she climbed. She lifted the brass knocker and knocked on the heavy wooden door. Two minutes later, the door swung open. Jack stood there, looking unusually pale even for a vampire, his red-brown eyes streaked with bloody tears.
“I heard the terrible news,” Theodora said sympathetically. “May I see Seph?”
“Persephone,” Jack called softly into his quarters. “You have a visitor.”
Jack opened the door wide, and Theodora could see Persephone lying face-down with her head on her pillow, sobbing. She looked up to see Theodora, but did not stop crying. Theodora sat beside her and stroked Persephone’s hair to comfort her. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
Jack sniffed the air. “You’ve been in the river of blood, haven’t you?” He moved in closer to Theodora, picking up her hand. “ And you’ve cut yourself, too. Very recently. I can smell how the blood is clotting. It smells old and stale at the surface, but the fresh blood underneath is tempting.
Just now I sensed that your heart started beating faster. Am I making you nervous, Theodora? I’m sorry. I get overwhelmed when I smell living blood. Seph, darling, would it bother you terribly if I took one tiny nibble of Theodora’s neck?”
“Yes,” Persephone sobbed.
“This is precisely the problem,” Jack explained sadly. “First Persephone came down here, and she’s not dead. Against my better judgement, I fed off of her. But although there is no blood in the world as delicious as that of a young goddess, Persephone only aroused my appetite for the blood of the living without bedding it back down. I tried to satiate myself. I practically sucked Persephone dry, the poor thing. That was when Hecate made the fateful decision to send me out into the world of the living for three months.”
Theodora nodded. “I heard through the grapevine you were going to be born.”
“Yes,” Jack said. “In three days’ time, when the Winter Solstice comes around, a mortal shall give birth to me. Hecate chose a virgin, appeared to her in a dream and made her pregnant. Next Hecate will perform an ancient ritual that will kill me here in the Underworld, so that I may be born as that child.” Here Persephone gave a loud sob. “In three months’ time I will grow from an infant into the man that you see before you now. At the Vernal Equinox, Persephone will return to the world of the living, and we shall be reunited.”
“You see, dear?” Theodora said sweetly. “There’s hope. You’ll see Jack again. In three months, you’ll get to be reunited with your true love. It sounds wonderful. Can’t you look forward to the reunion?”
Persephone raised her head off the pillow. “I guess I never thought about it like that,” she said, wiping tears and mascara from her eyes. She gave Theodora a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you. Will you stay with us until . . . after?”
“Of course,” Theodora said. “That is, if it’s all right with Jack.”
“Fine with me,” shrugged Jack. “It would be even finer if you let me have just a little bite . . .”
“No,” Theodora and Persephone said in unison.
|Hecate with dog. Public domain within the United States|
Like A God's Kiss: Erotic Mythological Tales