A great part of the fun of writing Chalice is taking license to write her dream sequences. Going back to book #1, Chalice has always had vivid nightmares that often time tie back to the case she’s working or something that’s going on in her life. Here’s a chapter from Ransom Beach that’s really out there. I’ll shoot you some more with my next few posts.
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM FOR ME
The cathedral doors opened. Three hundred heads snapped in my direction like Disney Animatronic robots. Ma’s eyes burned into me, imploring me to take the first step. I could feel her urging me—could read the words on her lips. “Do it, Stephanie. For God’s sake, just do it!” I could see the wheels turning in her head—she was already changing diapers and knitting booties—God, she can be scary. Here we go: Stephanie Chalice about to walk down the aisle. Can you believe this?
I scanned the well wishers before me—warm smiles all around. All the women were saying, “She’s so beautiful.” The men were happy that I was sporting a little cleavage.
My bridesmaids were dabbing at tears—probably crying about having to shell out five hundred a piece for the dresses they were wearing. I’m not the type to spend other people’s money, but what the hell—it was, after all, my wedding, and I wasn’t going to have the bridesmaids wearing chiffon muumuus from the Jaclyn Smith Collection at K-Mart.
The best man leered at the maid of honor. She was looking fine in her Donna Karan strapless. She leered back. Do you believe that little slut? She’s engaged to my cousin, Anthony.
What am I doing here anyway? My betrothed’s eyes beamed at me from the wedding altar, sparkling with anticipation. Oh, yeah, now I remember—him. Gus Lido looked amazing in his topcoat and tails. I wondered if anything that spectacular looking could last. The odds were against it—two New York City cops taking their vows at the dawn of the twenty-first century. What were the chances?
I took that big first step; one year from my first anniversary, two years from maternity clothes, three years from Prozac, four years from my first extramarital affair, and five years from legal separation. Jesus Christ, get me the hell out of here!
“Stephanie.” I heard a voice calling from behind me, a compelling, throaty baritone.
Batman stepped up alongside me, his cape bristling behind him—I stopped dead in my tracks and took his arm. My mouth dropped. “Caped Crusader, what in the name of all that’s holy are you doing here?” His dark eyes called out to me from behind the mask. I was close enough to notice that the areas around his eyes were blackened. “Say, are you wearing mascara?”
“Face paint, actually. The stuff football players smear under their eyes to cut down on glare,” he replied.
“Oh, I see. That’s ever so much more butch.” I’d never been this close to a real, live superhero before. I took the opportunity to give him a thorough once over: the broad shoulders, the flowing cape, the chiseled body armor—wow, nice codpiece.
“You don’t have to go through with this, Stephanie. You’ve got your whole life in front of you and the Joker’s returned to plague Gotham City. I could really use your help.”
I glanced back at Gus. The presence of a brooding superhero didn’t seem to affect him one iota. “It’d break Gus’ heart.”
“Gus is a big boy, he’ll get over it,” Batman whispered. “We can fight crime together, just the two of us.”
“Gus means the world to me.”
“Does he have any really cool gadgets? How about a Bat Signal?”
“No, but…what about the Boy Wonder?”
Batman shrugged. “He’ll deal. He can still live at stately Wayne Manor—not too shabby for a kid whose family traveled with the circus. Are you completely sure you’re ready to devote the rest of your life to one man?”
Admittedly, Batman wasn’t half wrong. Gus and I had only been dating six months. True, it had been an incredible six months, but there was definitely an argument to be made for greater familiarity. “When can I see the Bat Cave?”
He scooped me up in his arms. “How about now?”
Wow, this is one take-charge guy.
I felt the warmth of his face next to mine. His incredible strength pervaded my entire body. His Kevlar-covered muscles rippled—at least they appeared to. His dark eyes gleamed. God only knew what this twisted creature had on his mind. Do you think he goes commando under the body armor? Would there be a three-way with him and Robin? “I’m not sure about this, Batman. I’m really in love with Gus.”
Batman pointed to the skylight in the cathedral’s ceiling. He had one of those grappling hook gadget thingies in his hand. “You’ll have to make up your mind, Stephanie. The Batmobile’s parked in a tow-away zone.”
I looked up toward the skylight, my eyes twinkling like an awestruck teenage girl’s. “Are we going up there?” Batman nodded. He was so masterful and self-assured. “Promise you’ll never ask me to clean Wayne manor. I hate cleaning and the mansion is so damn big.”
“No cleaning,” he assured me. “Alfred would never allow it.”
I turned to Gus and closed my eyes. I heard his soft voice calling to me. It started off in the distance and then drew closer.
“Stephanie. Stephanie.” My eyelids felt so heavy. I opened them slowly. Lido was next to me in bed. “You were dreaming again.”
“Oh,” I said with a sleepy face and a hint of disappointment, which I hoped he wouldn’t pick up on. Lido’s gorgeous and I love him deeply, but you have to admit that I was in the middle of one hell of a lusty fantasy. Better he shouldn’t suspect, don’t you think? Anyway, I pretended to be really groggy. “Let me go back to sleep.”
“You alright?” Lido asked with concern.
“I’m fine.” More than fine actually. I felt warm and tingly all over.
“You were moaning like a virgin during a Zulu mating ritual.”
Now that made sense. “Oh?” There was no covering up that one. I shrugged and tried to look innocent, but Lido wasn’t buying it.
“What were you dreaming about?” he asked pointedly.
I sat up. Lido did the same. He was naked from the waist up. The gym was paying off big dividends—his chest and abs were sliced and diced—just the way I like my meals prepared. “Oh, nothing,” I said. How do you tell your man that you just pictured him on the wedding altar and fled in the arms of another man? Do you think he’d understand? I mean it was only a dream and it was Batman for Christ’s sake.
“You might want to talk with Dr. Twain if your dreams persist.”
I love Gus. He’s so good, so wonderful—so thoroughly naïve. “Ricky’s psychiatrist?” I grimaced. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary.” One raucous nightmare does not psychoanalysis make. Ricky’s my older brother. The poor thing needs a lot of help—more on that later. And Dr. Twain, he too is the stuff a woman’s fantasies are made of—much, much more to come on that one.
Gus smiled warmly and pressed his forehead against mine. “What in the world goes on in there?” he said, referring to my dreams, intensely vivid dreams he knew I had every night—dreams I was very private about.
“You know I’m a loon. I’ll think about Twain.” I always do. I stroked Lido’s cheek. He had that three in the morning stubble going—there’s nothing quite like it to stoke old Stephanie’s fire. “Come here, you.” The touch of his lips chased the bat from my belfry. He rolled over on top of me. My hands began to search and explore. Gus did a little probing of his own.
Gus pushed away unexpectedly.
“Hey,” I protested, “what was that for?”
“You gonna talk or not?”
My God, he looked completely serious. I tried pulling him back down, but my leverage was poor. “Come on,” I moaned. “You’re such a cop—can’t you interrogate me later?”
“How about if I don’t give you any?”
Now that’s a twist. I mean I like a man with chutzpah, but there are certain things that are just not done. Personally, I draw the line at withholding sex. “I promise I’ll tell you the whole story the minute we’re finished.” Can you imagine a man saying no, anyway? I mean please.
“I’m going to hold you to that,” Lido said emphatically.
I grabbed Lido’s hand and placed it on my breast. That got a rise out of him, a measurable one. I could see the wall of resistance come tumbling down. He smiled and began kissing my neck. “Oh yeah,” I moaned softly. That’s it, Bruce—I mean Gus. That’s purr-fect. Good, now I had him just where I wanted him. Lido’s the Heinz Ketchup of lovers—he’s slow good. I’d have plenty of time to make up something to tell him, which shouldn’t be hard for someone, to whom fantasies were no stranger.
I closed my eyes and surrendered to my lover, hoping that Alfred and Dick Grayson were long asleep and that all was quiet in Wayne manor.
I’ve learned to adore my dreams. It’s like going to the movies every night. I feel sorry for those people who can’t remember their nocturnal adventures. For me, it’s an endless stream of entertainment. At the same time, however, I knew that there had always been a strong correlation between my dreaming and crime—the more vivid the dreams, the closer I was to another extraordinary case. The last time I had an episode of this magnitude I discovered my deepest, darkest family secret and took on a mass murdering psychopath. Based on the dramatic quality of this evening’s adventure, my next case was going to be a doozie.
Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.