Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Some of my best friends...

Are furry! Because I don't talk about them enough, I thought it was time. After losing Lord Greystoke, I realized I need to show my family off a little more.

WOLFDANCER has the prettiest green eyes and when he first opened them, he saw me. This little man is lucky. Found him 17 years ago baying at the moon, eyes not open, no fur, bug infested, and he fit in the palm of my hand. Vet said he wouldn't make it through the night. Welll, the cat with the prettiest green eyes in the world got another lease on life and has had a wonderful 17 years in my car. Wolf is so loving and he really believes he's a person who is just very hairy.

My JEWELEYE. I call her Jewely. Turned up pregnant on my porch in October 2007. She was approximately 6 months old according to the vet and she had a hideous black casing over her left eye which, after surgery, proved to be caused by a BB shot in her eye. If ever I found the son of a bitch who did that - I'd shoot them in the eye. Feel like that's only fair, To keep it comparable, I'd use a 22 caliber pistol. A second surgery was performed to remove eye ball as it kept getting infected and she's been mine ever since. She's loving but she can be a snot when she wants to. Pics don't show it but her fur is tortoise--beautiful black, red, tan mottling.
The new big guy in the house, NIGHTSHADE. Badass. Full of piss and vinegar. He chases a big white shepherd every time the owner lets him out. His tail grows 10 times bigger, he spits, and literally, goes after the damn dog! I've seen him launch from the neighbors picnic bench toward this dog and I hold my breath--for the dog's safety!! He can be loving, and he can be a real animal. This cat's soul imagines it is in a panther's body!

Last, but by far not the least, SQUIRREL. She's as much of a spitfire as her mother was and she was one of the feistiest cats I'd ever come across in my life! Her mom got hit by a car shortly after having her and tiny and full of might, she found her way to my back door weeks later, starving, puny as hell and pregnant. She lost her two kits right after birth as she was only about 5-6 months old and had no idea what to do. Yeah, I took her in and I've never regretted a single moment of it. She is full of love, always perky and happy.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Fan Girl Moment

I adore, positively adore, Mariska Hargitay, @mariska, both as an actress and a person.

She always seems so together. Her portrayal of Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU, is spot on
week after week after week get where I'm going.

She's had ups, downs, and comes out on the right side every time. Each of those times, I watch her grow, change to be what her role calls for. Detective, lieutenant, or WOMAN.

Yeah, the right side of law, including when she beat the hell out of her rapist, Billy, in, I think season 15. Did I want her to kill him? Yes. But I'm glad she didn't. She's better than that. Sure wish Fin, Belzer, or one of the others would have accidentally shot his ass or something. I feel her acting in this episode was phenomenal! Of course, I saw the rerun a few weeks or so back. I still moved to the edge of my seat while watching. The show's star gets that reaction from me because she played the hell out of that week's part--and most other episodes I've been fortunate to view.

Actor, Peter Hermann, (a hottie in his own right @peterhermann) nabbed a jewel when he caught her because this woman, in my eyes, is a gem! See wife/husband together in a Youtube clip from L and O SVU:  regarding her adoption of baby Noah. Never saw her and Stabler as more than partners but, damn, these two, as police officer and lawyer--they could have worked as occupations were just far enough apart to understand and sympathize with each other during trying times.

HINT, HINT, NBC. Olivia is overdue a lasting and loving relationship.

I watch this when original episodes air on NBC and I've probably watched every episode 3-4 times on Ion TV or USA Network. I don't have a photographic memory so each time I see her in episodes it reminds me why I continue to follow Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

This all leads up to saying Mariska Hargitay is up for 44th People's Choice Award for Drama TV Star - not female in a drama but DRAMA TV STAR! Damn if it shouldn't be hers when I look at others in the category. Not saying they are not good at their craft, but in my humble (or not so humble) opinion, she is great. My fingers are crossed. It's the only award show I still watch.

2018 E! People's Choice Awards will air November 11, 2018, 9pm, on E! Network. Link below leads to page showing other nominees for awards.

Who do you hope wins an award in their category?
Hmm, is there a prize for someone responding?

FYI: I think Ice T @finallevel is underrated!

Growl and roar - it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Devil's Wife...

Is meddlesome at the worst of times and they often remain at odds. One thing brings them together - their triplets - Sly, Slick, and Wicked. To see what Josette gets up to, read the series!

Sly - Hellacious book 1
Slick - Hellacious book 2
Firstborn - Hellacious book 3

They're all together in a box set at Changeling Press (THE BEST DEAL) also at: Amazon   B&N   Kobo   ITunes


Born of Hell, will he destroy the pure heart he desires?

Sly Sathariel possesses his father’s genes, and on Earth he creates all sorts of havoc for humans, though he never takes a life. His father, Satan, reserves that power, yet not even he could keep Sly from the arms of the pure and spiritual woman representing the Tree of Life. She entangles him in her roots, pulling Sly in a direction his hellacious soul dare not follow. 

Waverly Malkuth has a premonition no human should be privy to -- she witnessed her own death. It’s tearing her apart, filling her with anger and thoughts of vengeance that go against the grain of everything she knows. Giving in to the malevolence growing in her heart carries her into the arms of a man who can only hurry her journey down the deadly path she follows.

Momma had a sense of humor. Said she named us after three of Daddy’s better traits -- Sly, Slick, and Wicked. She called us hellacious sons of bitches and Sathariel was the demonic surname she tagged us with in his honor. We were the sons of Lucifer himself, and since mother had been human, we were permitted above, as were other unimportant demons who wreaked havoc on Earth and its inhabitants. It was in our blood to take absolute advantage of every glorious moment, even though a blast furnace of heat followed us everywhere. Still, nothing rivaled the fires of Hell. And unbeknownst to humans, cold was just as bad because Hell froze over each time some asshole muttered the fateful words, “’till Hell freezes over.” Never lasted long but it would be so fucking cold a demon’s nuts could crack. 
Guess God had a sense of humor too.


Slick Sathariel is Satan’s third born, the youngest triplet. He keeps the peace and makes everyone happy but himself. Not anymore. Slick can’t tell the woman he desires his family may be responsible for her lover’s disappearance, or that he’s the devil’s son. But when he sets out to capture her for himself, his family’s prying just might cause Slick to lose the one thing on Earth he truly wants.

Marcia Carter spent an hour in a handsome stranger’s arms and she’s regretted it every day since. She had been in the process of extricating herself from an unhappy affair when jealousy made her ex attempt rekindling their long-dead relationship. Now she’s available, and the blue-eyed devil is pursuing her, but Marci is not about to share her millions, or her body, with another poor bastard. Yet getting him out of her mind won’t be easy. Maybe one more time, one night…

“Jealousy is an ugly monster, my sons.”
Slick jerked around, surprised as hell his mother had crept up on them.
“I do not creep, Slick.”
“Oil and water didn’t mix again, huh?” Wick peered at their mother, Josette. “How do you deal with loving the devil?” Satan was not an easy man to live with. Hearing a burst of laughter, Wick twisted back to the women. “Looky, looky, Slick.”
Slick watched the new arrival take off her sweatshirt, then carefully fold and lay it beside the pile of clothing and wraps already strewn about. He’d joined his brother at the park because Wick wanted to keep his eye on the nurse he’d had the run-in with at the club, but Slick never expected her to show up.
“I can’t watch this,” he groaned.
The woman from the club, the one whose legs he had spent a glorious hour between in an SUV, the one he desperately wanted… Yet he’d given her boyfriend the key to her heart… and her pussy. Damn it. Last thing he needed was to watch her bend, stretch, and sweat. Her scent already reached his nostrils. Any more and his dick could double as a flagpole. “What. An. Ass.”
His brother laughed. “And it’s free now.”
“What! When?”
“Easy, man. I was going to tell you.” Slick wondered, only briefly, why his older brother glanced at their mother. “You wished he was gone, right?” Wick shrugged. “Maybe he’s dead. Do you really give a shit?”
Slick glared at his older brother. “Yeah, like when Hell froze over you would tell me. Bastard, what did you do?” The sand shifted beneath his feet, grew icy-cold, causing him to levitate a few inches. “Fuck me.” Uttering the words “Hell froze over” would keep his father’s walls glacier-thick with ice for a few hours.
Genuine laughter bubbled from his mother’s lips, evidence she liked what her baby boy had done. “I’m borrowing your brother, and please, don’t irritate your father, Slick. I left him rather happy.”


Wicked Sathariel, the eldest son of Satan, has finally met his match, and at the oddest of times, she turns up in his head. Accustomed to having his father and siblings rummage through his mind, he can’t handle his woman seeing his hellacious thoughts. And when it becomes clear she’s heaven bound -- all hell breaks loose!

Lori Thornton’s psychic ability is new, and never one to control her temper or her mouth, she often finds herself in bizarre predicaments. One such event is meeting Satan’s firstborn and calling him a pretty boy. When his eyes fill with hellfire and he releases horns, talons, and the long, leathery, forked tail that swings treacherously toward her, Lori knows her life is about to spin deliciously out of control.

“For crying out loud. You did it. Why, why did you let her see into my mind?” Sometimes tenderness and love dripped from the fingertips of his father, especially when he dealt with his sons. This was one of those times. He touched Wick’s cheek with his hand and love poured into him, but the most horrific thing he could imagine quickly followed. The vision overwhelmed Wicked, took him to his knees. “Hell, no… no!” His pain expanded, entered every part of his body, and instantly his brothers were at his side.
Sly spoke first. “Easy, man, easy, we’re here.”
Slick helped him to his feet. “I’m sorry, Wick, so sorry.”
They had witnessed the vision also. He stood and glared at his father. “It won’t happen. I won’t let it.”
Satan opened the gates of Hell and walked inside the door. Pivoting, he gazed at Wicked with red tears staining his cheeks. “It will happen.”
“Fuck you.”
“Wicked!” Josette stood behind him and put her arms around his waist. “He’s your father.”
Glaring at the doors as they slowly shut, he cried, “He’s the goddamn devil, nothing more.”
Walls trembled throughout the bowels of Hell, the gates flew back open, and Satan in all his hellacious glory tramped back into the room. Horns glistened, talons appeared longer than usual, and the long, leathery tail whipped high and low scoring the walls with gouges. “You didn’t think being mine meant sweetness and light, did you, Wicked?” Satan snatched Wicked from Josette’s grip and the talons tore into his flesh. “Did you?”
Wick lost all control. His horns sprouted, followed quickly by talons as pointy and deadly as Lucifer’s. A thick, spiked tail waved around the room, sending his brothers and Josette scurrying into the far corner. Fire flicked from his mouth when he spoke. “Release me. I’ll show you evil.”
Satan laughed, an eerie sound, which gave Wicked pause after he was dropped and his hooves hit the floor. “I made the right choice when I chose you.”
“I could have told you that, Pops.” Sarcasm laced every word.
“What do you think you’re going to do?”
“I’m not going to let you hurt her.”
His father chuckled. “I’m not going to hurt her.”
Wick breathed a sigh of relief.
“Don’t you ever come against me again. And in my house?” Satan opened his mouth and a blast furnace of flames licked at Wicked, causing him to back up. “You are much stronger than your brothers, but I can still burn your ass behind the gates of Hell forever.” He wrapped his tail around Wicked and flung him to the floor. “Do. You. Understand?”
Wicked refused to give an inch until his brothers drew near and he feared for their safety. “Stop, I’m okay.”
Stepping back through the heavy, impenetrable doors, his father smiled. “Wicked, you are firstborn, you are mine, and you will kill her, not I.” Sadness rested in his eyes as he glared at him. “This is what it’s like to reign in Hell, my son. Get used to it.” He looked up. “She belongs to Heaven.”

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Friday, October 12, 2018

Shifting Around

They shift day or night--big cats, little cats, dogs, wolves, even hawks... All creatures that walk on two legs too!
* * * * *

Immortal Redeemers

Amazon      Changeling Press

FREE READ: VORACIOUS   Encounters - look under: date 11/27/13

Keeping the secrets of the Immortal Redeemers tests the strength of their love and commitment.

Unforgivable: Nola Lester needs to get back to her roots, but tending a wounded hunter whose controlling and charismatic personality triggers strange desires threatens Nola's plans. Rand Mitchell is searching for clues to explain the mystery of who he is. Instead, Rand finds himself ensnared by a sharp-tongued spitfire more than willing to provide a diversion. Neither of them knows what a deadly creature she holds in the palm of her hand.

Unredeemable: Chance leaves pain and death in his wake until he finds Brooke, an Immortal Redeemer. Chance won't rest until he captures Brooke and steals her heart. But when Brooke discovers he's released his mantle to another and sought peace in death, she vows it will be a cold day in hell before he touches her again.

Unhinged: Kelsea Arden's battle to keep animals safe has become a passion. One of a handful of humans privy to the secrets of Immortal Redeemers, she finally hoped to make a difference, but the untimely arrival of Shade Santone, a powerful immortal seeking the Covenant, is about to test Kel's loyalty. The Redeemer gives Kelsea a new purpose -- capturing and keeping the raptor forever.

Excerpt - UNHINGED
“Dad, Champ keeps jumping around. I think he has to go.”
The father turned to his son. “I told you, kick the shit out of him if he doesn’t mind you.”
The woman he waited for picked that moment to walk through the door, just in time to hear the dog yelp when the man punched it in the head. Shade slowly slid his chair back, but not before she weaved through the tables and stood toe-to-toe with the man.
“Jake, if you hit that dog one more time, I’m taking him from you.” Anger colored her cheeks, made her more beautiful than Shade remembered. She shook snow from long brown hair and pierced the huge man with a deadly brown stare. “I’m not telling you again.”
Shade bided his time. Sniffing the air, he detected the unmistaken sweet aroma that moments ago made him smile. He briefly wondered why the woman visited the Redeemers each morning, or was it possible she stayed there? Highly unlikely so many Immortals in such a small territory would require helpers. Shade, sometimes known as the Shadow by a handful who lived to tell the tales of him appearing out of nowhere and taking down small armies, had been the human’s personal shadow for three days and he’d followed her to the café each morning. Today, he’d come early and awaited her arrival. The man, his kid, and the unfortunate dog, just made meeting her a lot easier.
A pin dropping would have made a loud noise as every eye peered in their direction.
“What the fuck you gonna do, bitch? That’s my dog.”
Aww, hell.
The behemoth of a man drew his oversized foot back, prepared to strike the animal -- but never got the chance.
Shade didn’t have to leave his seat to reach the man’s raised foot with his hand. He snatched the big bastard’s leg from under him and he crashed to the floor face first. The youngster gawked in disbelief at his old man eating dirt.
“That’s no way to talk to a lady.” Shade stood and helped the man up before he totally gathered his senses and became even more confrontational. “You and sonny boy should run along.” Grabbing a fistful of material, he yanked the man close. The tips of their noses brushed, and leaning toward the man’s ear, he whispered, “I’m not as nice as she is and if I ever see you harm that dog again, I’ll rip your fucking nuts off and shove them down your throat.” He dusted dirt from the man’s shirt. “Understand?”
“I’ll get you for this.”
“Sure you will.” He glared at the man and allowed his eyes to change enough to spook anyone with common sense. Having a little bit of sense, the bastard took a step back. “I’ll be around.” Shade detested men like him and wondered if he abused the boy. “Maybe I’ll look you up later, how’s that?” Turning quickly, the bastard headed for the door, and his son fell in line behind him tugging the dog. “Easy on the leash, young man, shorten the strap and let him walk beside you.” The kid followed his advice, but it wouldn’t be long before he learned his daddy’s way. Brute force.
Twisting back to the table, he heard applause. The man had probably bullied everyone here at some point. Shade shrugged. “I wonder sometimes why dogs are called animals instead of us.” The woman remained in the same spot gazing at him. When she smiled, the café lit up as if the sun shone. “Only empty seat in the place, join me.”
“I’d love to.” She removed her fleece-lined coat and hung it over the back of the chair. “I’ll be right back.”
Shade moved his chair to face the counter. Sitting down, he noted a few people started to don their outerwear and leave, no doubt to gossip about the morning’s excitement. A table emptied beside him, allowing room to stretch his long legs as he watched the woman weave toward the register. The top of her head hit him chest-high. Standing five feet five at the most, she was curvaceous as hell with an ass made for fucking. He decided to spare an extra night before heading back west.
She returned with two steaming cups, and handed him an espresso.
“How’d you know?”
“I asked the young lady at the register.”
Shade dug into his memory for the last time someone did anything so simple for him. He gave up. Yeah, one extra night wouldn’t make a difference in his timetable. “Thanks.”
“Thank you.” She took a sip from her cup and glanced around the café. “You shocked everyone confronting Big Jake.”
“Doesn’t happen often I take it?”
“Jake’s a mean bastard and he meant what he said.”
“So did I.” Shade stared at the woman across from him. “You’re not shocked.”
Her head tilted and she peered at him for a few seconds before a smile curled her lips. “Nothing an Immortal Redeemer does shocks me anymore.”
“Well, goddamn, I’m shocked.” He didn’t bother to mask his gold eyes when he picked up his cup and drank the black liquid. “You smell me?” His dick twitched. She knows what I am! Shade planned to use her to help locate and retrieve the Covenant, but now that might not be as easy as he thought since she knew what he was.
“Uh-huh.” She took another swallow of coffee. “You probably smell them on me.”
“Uh-huh.” He missed casual conversation with the usual women he chose to fuck. Damn if it didn’t make him hard.
“You’re here for a reason?”
He put his cup down, reached over and took her hand. “I think I found a reason to stay a little longer.” A perfect nose sat between high cheekbones and over lips painted red, lips he wanted to lean into and taste. She was breathtaking. Her laughter tinkled through the air, made him feel happy for no reason at all. “You’re not afraid?”
“Should I be?”
Shit raced through his mind. How far away were the male immortals he scented, how much time did he have? Hundreds of years fucking made sex something Shade did lately only to release pressure or break the monotony of his day-to-day life. He only selected those who discerned his scent. There were women all around the world, lots of them, but lately he picked them up in his club, screwed in his office without much conversation, and sent them on their way. Usually with a handful of money. Nightshade had not felt this alive in years, and it might take more than a night or two to get the woman across from him into his bed and out of his mind.
“I’m Kelsea Arden, the local vet.”
“Nightshade Santone.” He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed the palm. “At your service.” Christ, he felt like standing, and bowing.
In another time, he would have.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Two alpha shifters together in one book!

Can’t Touch This

Rich alpha wolf shifter Castle Briggs can have any woman he wants by crooking his finger. Until he meets a human named Harlow Hardison. She’s had it with rich, overconfident jerks trying to own her. She wants a no-strings-attached good time with a man unafraid of her darker urges. Castle’s happy to dominate her but he wants more than a kinky fling.

He’s going to have to do a lot more than crook his finger to get past Harlow’s fears and make her his.
* * * * * 
Enhanced edition includes bonus short story

Fia’s Wolf

Hatch Grisom didn’t want to be an alpha, but finding himself thrust into that role, he relishes power that comes along with it. Taking reins from Fia Knight’s father wasn’t hard but getting Fia in hand was another thing altogether.

Fia waited for Hatch to prove himself but after watching him almost die, she had second thoughts about life with him.

For more LOOK INSIDE at Amazon:

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Friday, October 5, 2018


Box Set

Walk with one sexy vampire…

Through four short stories - Now in a Box Set! - Changeling Press; Amazon; B&N; Kobo

Nolan is created in Heaven - THIRSTY
He rains havoc on earth when he finds - A THIRST TO DIE FOR
Journeys back to Hell to battle his - BANE OF EXISTENCE
He goes home with A VAMPIRE'S THIRST to one angel who will never let him go!

Once Nolan gave all souls moderation in everything. He was good at his job, and he called heaven home -- until he fucked the wrong seraphim! Now he's a vampire slayer serving the devil, keeping an eye on Omen's, and babysitting Lucifer's son. Not a job he expected to hold for damn near eight hundred years.

Temperance, moderation… ideas Nolan used to control in the universe. Neither of those things meant shit to him anymore.
Standing between the devil and death stripped away every remnant of balance imbued in Nolan upon his creation. Shit, if he hadn’t been buried between the thighs of some fucking seraphim whose name escaped him even now, he’d have provided the temperance needed to still the hand of Saint Peter’s murderers, and he’d be languishing his days above, instead of here on earth, in the devil’s playground.
Would God’s world have changed in any way if the Saint had lived? It had been the year twelve hundred and fifty two when the bastard died for fuck’s sake!
Nolan had stopped caring. He just wanted to go home.
His mind leaped to the last time he’d visited with Satan, the last time he’d looked upon the portrait of the archangel who had banished him and placed him at the right hand of the devil.
Gabriel wasn’t pissed off Saint Peter had died. He was mad as hell Nolan’s cock had been buried somewhere other than his ass.
Thunder rippled overhead, shaking the walls until pictures crashed to the floor. Glasses shattered to smithereens, sending deadly shards into the air surrounding Nolan.
“Now there’s a fucking omen.” Peris appeared in front of Nolan and clapped his hands, bringing everything to a grinding halt. “What in the devil’s name were you thinking about for this shit to happen?”
Club Omen’s was frequented by otherworldly creatures. Werewolves, gargoyles, ghosts, and demons, they all cavorted in the bar nightly. Only damn brave humans sat much longer than it took to finish their beer or cocktail and get the hell out. Dark energy ran rampant in the club, leaving normal people with a nice dose of fear.
“Why didn’t you let him finish?” Peris owned Omen’s, and his daddy was Satan. Nolan had had enough of Peris, wolves, gargoyles, every goddamn bit of it. He snatched a cold beer out of thin air, turned the bottle up and emptied it. “Trust me, he can’t hurt anyone but me here, and unless he calls me home, there’s not a whole lot more he can do but leave a few scratches.”
“Hell’s sake, which angel up there has it out for you that badly? Sure isn’t from my side of the family.”
Nolan cocked his head sideways. “What family do you have up there, jackass?”
“Don’t get pissy with me.” Peris swept his arms around the room, sending shit back to its proper place. “Damn glad no customers were here to see this angelic display of godliness.” He grunted. “Might give them the wrong idea of who’s bad and who’s good.”
Air whistled through Nolan’s lips. “Don’t you have someplace to be? Maybe wagging your dick in Moni’s pussy or something?” He glared at Peris. “I enjoy my own company just fine.”
“Oh, right, your own company, my ass. You’re f’ing around with someone up there, and damn if I want them tearing my shit apart. If Daddy… “
That was as far as Peris got. Nolan flashed up, snatched him by the neck, lifted him a foot off the floor and squeezed just enough to make his eyes bulge. “Fuck Satan.”
The floor shifted sideways, and Nolan dropped Peris, who skidded across the floor on his ass, slamming into the bar. Using his powers, Nolan lifted himself into the air. Still didn’t save him. Satan’s spiked, forked-tail slashed through a flaming gash in the floor, wrapped around Nolan’s waist, and drug him straight to hell.
Fuck me.
Lucifer glared at him, eyes red and full of fire. “I think maybe you’ve lost your goddamn mind.”
Nolan smiled at the devil from his sprawled position on the floor. “You could be right.”

Growl and roar-it’s okay to let the beast out. - jhalisteele 

Monday, October 1, 2018

It's Here!


Amazon Paperback:

A soul hangs in the balance!

The only one of his kind, Deacon recalls thousands of years existing yet he has no memory of why. He can’t profess to living in seclusion because he greedily pursues pleasure in arms of so many men, he never lacks companionship. All those arms, lips, and asses, none feed his true desire. Deacon yearns for someone to make in his own image by introducing them to a hunger so vile, they will detest him forever.

Father Merck Hallowell stands at a crossroad of conscience and faith. His convictions, no longer satisfying, leave him searching for reasons to persevere. Befriending a handsome but strange parishioner opens a doorway Merck longs to enter and explore. Discovering Deacon’s secret, he realizes not only his life hangs in balance—so does his soul!


Sensing Merck’s turmoil, understanding it, Deacon didn’t press for their meeting. Two days had passed and each of them Deacon waited in the same pew more than aware he was not coming. Not because he plundered his mind. Deacon hadn’t. He sensed it in his bones.
Ahh, the affect this holy man had on him.
Had it been anyone else, Deacon would have hunted them down, extinguished his desire immediately.
Today, as sun began to set, he felt Merck enter the sacristy and heard water run briefly. Standing, Deacon walked to the confessional and slipped behind the curtain. Shortly, the door beside him opened and closed quietly. He began with, “Father, I have…”
Abruptly cutting Deacon off, he asked, “Must we talk religion tonight?” A sigh signaled Merck’s weariness. “Seven hundred and thirty years?”
“Give or take quite a few hundred. That’s when I last confessed. Right around the time I became aware Catholicism resonated with me for whatever reason.” Silence wore on. “Father?”
“Call me Merck.”
“Does that ease your conscience?”
“No.” Deacon heard clothing rustle. “Why Deacon?”
“It’s… I may have been one of the first. Anno Domini, what year precisely I don’t recall, although, Stephen had been stoned to death and martyred. I opened my eyes in a meadow strewn with red lilies, and…and I…was.”
“I see.”
“What do you see, Merck?” Again, the swish of material. “Are you removing your robe?”
“My cassock.”
“I’m okay with that.”
Merck grunted. “And if you were not?”
“I’d ask you to put it back on. Merck?”
“Were you concerned for me in the alley?”
“As I would be for anyone.” He paused. “I don’t use this confessional much anymore. Most parishioners are satisfied with face to face.”
“Are you saying you’d prefer we do this somewhere else or that you wish our sessions to be face to face?”
“Somewhere else but I like not seeing you.”
“You must know considering you ransacked my mind.”
“I’ve not taken that liberty since you asked me not to.”
“But you could?”
“At any time, yes.”
“I see.”
Deacon stretched his legs out which left expensively shod feet visible beneath the curtain. “I promised to listen to you.”
“I have nothing to say.”
“Tell me when you began feeling disdain for your religion.”
“You tore that from my mental path.” Fingers laced through the ornate screen separating them. “I don’t know God anymore.” Deacon observed knuckles whiten as they tightened around wood. “I’m not sure I ever did.”
“Yet you went through with the Rite of Ordination?”
“I wanted to make a difference.”
“Have you?”
“Not nearly half what I set out to accomplish.”
“Perhaps there is another way.” Deacon recognized confusion once again. Stronger this time and, Jesus, he didn’t want to care. Needing to stem his feelings, he asked, “Why don’t you want to see my face?”
Merck’s fingers unwrapped from the screen. Feet scrapped as he stood, and Deacon heard the door open and close. Not sticking to his vow, he entered Merck’s mind; he shoved past visions of parishioners, words on paper for Sunday’s Mass. He moved to thoughts marauding along his mental path of leaving Deacon alone in the confessional.
More than anything in the world—Merck wanted to walk away and not look back.
When Merck snatched the curtain aside, so riveted on the priest’s unrest and the fact that he might care, Deacon was caught totally off guard. Let this go, damn it. “Why can’t you look at me?” A cacophony of doubt blared in Deacon’s soul. Let. Him. Go!
“Because I want you. I can’t keep you from my mind… Not your reading it but, Lord, all I think about is you.” Merck’s head bowed dejectedly.
Deacon spread his legs, tugged him into the room and used fingers to nudge his chin up. “Look at me.”
Anguish darkened brown eyes to almost black. “Why me? Why?”
“Because.” He reached behind Merck’s neck, pulled his head down, and whispered, “I need you.” And you’re close enough to the edge to have answers or at least search for them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lips touched, tentative, sweeter than the first time. Tongues skimmed and glided in each other’s mouth acknowledging they belonged exactly where they were—together. Where did his start and Deacon’s stop? When he felt fingers touch his thigh, feather up, up until coolness seeped into Merck’s groin, he moaned. The echo in the small room should have been enough to stop him but he doubted anything or anyone could perform that feat.
What he thought impossible occurred within seconds at the sound of a nun’s voice. “Father Hallowell?”
“No, no.” He pulled away. “Deacon!”
“Shh. Breathe, Merck, she won’t see me.”
“I’m here. I thought I heard something drop to the floor during the last confession.”
“I didn’t know you used this confessional anymore.”
“Occasionally. It affords privacy some relish. How can I help you?” He turned his head toward her as he continued to pat the cushion pretending to search. Fear of being caught lessened his erection but it was the lie Merck detested more.
“The hospital called. The man you’d been asking about is awake.”
“Thank goodness.” Merck felt something cold pressed into his palm. Straightening, he looked at what Deacon gave him. A silver tie pin shaped like a rose. A rather large intense blue gem filled about an inch in the center. “I found it.” Tiny thorns poked at his hand.
The nun exclaimed, “It looks awfully expensive.”
“I’ll contact whom I believe it belongs to. Meanwhile, I’ll be at St. Pats.”
“Hope all is well, Father.”
“Thank you, sister.”
Merck twisted back to the seat. Gone. He retrieved his cassock and left. Reaching the entryway, he hesitated. “Damn you,” he grated through clenched teeth. “I know you’re here.”
He popped into view. “Perceptive.”
“You’ve got to stop…”
Fingers touched Merck’s lips, held them closed. “You’ve goddamned me once and damned me twice. It may eventually take root if you continue uttering such foulness.”
“You have got to be kidding me considering your filthy mouth?” The door pushed open and Deacon faded to nothingness again.
“Father Hallowell.” She peered around. “I thought I heard you speaking with someone.”
“My self, Mrs. Clark. I’m on my way to St. Pats. Should you require anything, Sister Elaine is inside.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine, Father. I’m lighting a candle for my sister who’s ill. In fact, she’s at St. Pats. If you could stop in I’m sure she’d appreciate it.”
“I’ll make sure to see her.”
Once on the sidewalk, Deacon burst into view. “You are quite the clothes horse.” He wore another high-priced suit with shoes that certainly didn’t look made for walking. Merck smiled envisioning a model not half as good looking wearing the suit down a catwalk. Smile evaporated when he realized money spent on Deacon’s ensemble could probably feed those in his small, rundown shelter for a month. Merck quickened steps toward the hospital hoping his brisk strides were hard to keep up with.
“What will you possibly say to the man who will surely return to being a blight on the neighborhood?”
“Have you always been cynical?”
“In the beginning, I don’t think so. However, those were simpler times. Now, among modern men and women, yes.”
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to live as long as you have.”
“And to think it’s never ending.”
“It’s called being immortal, Father.”
“Merck.” Deacon glanced sideways. “I believe you enjoy hearing your name roll off my tongue as much as I adore saying it.”
God, forgive me, I do. Overwhelmed, Merck slowed his steps. “How does it feel to bite a person?”
“You never bit anyone in the schoolyard?”
“You know what I mean.” What suddenly infuriated him? The cost of a fancy outfit or Deacon’s glibness regarding… Everything? “When your teeth sink into someone’s vein and you suck their life away.” From where Merck stood, Deacon had more than enough money if the tie pin was an indicator. His clothes. Fingernails manicured and hair styled. He halted and pulled the pin from his breast pocket.
“That’s mighty graphic, Merck.” Deacon’s head leaned. “Trivial things you are thinking I own or have access to I can fabricate with a blink of my eyes. I do prefer buying my clothing. It’s good for someone’s economy.” Mouth curved sardonically. “The pin, it’s real and it’s a rare, expensive blue diamond mounted in platinum.”
“Do you take their memories?” Merck had stopped his feet but couldn’t curb his words. “Do you care that you hurt or kill them?”
Eyes flared red. “What do you really want to know?”
“Why it’s easy for you. I want to know why you don’t seem to care about anything or anyone but yourself.”
“Why is my caring important to you? If I did, would it save my soul?”
Fisting the tie pin, Merck used such force placing it in Deacon’s hand, a tiny thorn drew blood. “That piece of jewelry could be a down payment on the building I’ve been after the archdiocese to purchase. I’d have additional room to shelter and feed people.”
“Keep it then. Have you considered buying the building yourself?” Licking his palm, he dealt with the pinprick and Merck winced until Deacon said, “It doesn’t hurt.
You want to donate to the church; help God’s children?” Maniacal laughter jarred Merck and when he fathomed it was his, he shuddered. Unfortunately, that didn’t curtail his derision of Deacon. “Easy come, easy go when living life or taking lives. Right?”
“Is that what you believe?” Deacon grabbed his arm and pulled him into an abandoned doorway. “You think I live some romanticized version of Count Dracula where I happily skip through life biting people and living off stolen riches?” He shoved Merck against the door. “Yes, I have billions and I earned every penny in one way or another.” He smashed lips against Merck’s, kissed him hard and long while his palm sought out and rubbed over his shaft. Finished, he tightened his grip on Merck’s swelling penis. “Your anger stems from this, Father. You’ve got a hard on and you don’t know what the fuck to do about it.”
“You… You bastard.” He struggled from Deacon’s grasp.
“That wasn’t so hard to say now, was it?” Placing the pin back in Merck’s breast pocket, he patted it. “You’ll earn this.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not a liar. You’ll keep your word.”
“I refuse to continue this charade in church.”
“Pick any venue. I don’t care.”
“If I don’t?”
“The man you’re going to visit?” Deacon stepped from the hidden doorway and glared at Merck. “He’ll be dead before you reach the motherfucking lobby.” He spun and walked away.

Life is complicated, it’s loud, death arrives silently. – J. Hali Steele (from Twice the Burn)