Ever wonder what it feels like to be haunted? I hadn’t…until this past Fall.
I’d expected to find plaques like the one on St. Peter’s church in memory of former slave and Haitian philanthropist, Pierre Toussaint or actual edifices like Fraunces’ Tavern, owned by Samuel Fraunces, a West Indian of French and African ancestry. Instead, I arrived time and time again at a corner with no marker or an address that no longer existed. So I tried to imagine the boys and girls who learned at the African Free School or the free blacks who owned farms situated north of the African Burial Ground as far as 34th Street. I felt their spirits accompany me as I moved from site to site.
I worked as a secretary in a law firm on lower Broadway. I walked these streets to and from work or window-shopped or ate on my lunch breaks, unaware of all this history. How easy it is for one’s story to be lost or erased, not always intentionally or maliciously, but simply because life goes on.
My self-guided tour took me from contemplating the centuries-old histories of Africans and African Americans to wondering about other people and their histories. Where were their plaques, their walking tours? The Gustave Haye Museum of the American Indian is now a Smithsonian museum relocated in 1994 to the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House near Bowling Green. Beautiful as its new location is, I was glad I took my Sunday school class to visit the collection in its original home on 155th Street and Broadway. I hope one day to visit The Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street and learn about the lives of European immigrants who came to New York in hopes of a better life.
I ended my day by taking the 2 train from Wall Street to Court Street in Brooklyn and sitting on the Promenade where a wreath hangs memorializing the September 11 Broken Sky event. Two beams of light displayed against a night sky to symbolize where the Twin Towers once stood and to honor the lives lost that day.
As I sat staring at Manhattan across the East River, a line from the musical Hamilton came to me: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? That line haunted me then. It haunts me still. What haunts you?
One Breath Away
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
“It’s a really hot night.” He turned his hand palm up in a silent plea. “Perhaps you’d find a waltz more cooling.” He eased his fingers into her clenched hands. “May I beg the honor of this dance?”
“Yes, Miss Hamilton.” He tilted his head, slanting his smile to the right. “Beg.”
“You don’t strike me as the begging type, Mr. Thurman.”
“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” He tongue-swiped his full lips as if he’d just tasted something he wanted to taste again. “I know when it’s time to beg.”
She pursed her lips into a frown, fought back the urge to grovel and won. Barely.
The fingers around hers, clean and huge and strangely slender, hadn’t moved, hadn’t trembled. Their stillness aroused her. His stillness aroused her. Her lips quivered. She inhaled deeply against the surrender summoned by that tiny tremor.
Resist the devil and he will flee.
Silently she called upon the truth in this scripture for rescue.
The devil waited. She stared at the hand on hers, helpless against the appeal, the allure of temptation.
She swallowed hard, opened her mouth to say no, but her tongue refused to cooperate. She huffed out a breath and shook her head. “I—I can’t. I don’t know how to waltz.”
“Well, you’re in luck.” His lips bowed in a smile, full, broad, and hypnotizing. “I’m an excellent teacher and I bet you’re a fast learner.” He gave her fingers a squeeze. “Shall we?”
He really wanted to dance with her. She blinked, speechless. A warning voice protested.
Her heart countered.
She firmed her lips, heaved a sigh then accepted his invitation. Felicity’s sputtered shock and Widow Hawthorne’s happy cackle accompanied them to the middle of the dance floor.
He placed his fingertips respectfully but firmly above the rise of her buttocks and held her in place against him. A tickle invaded the wool of her skirt where the tip of his middle finger rested at the head of her crack. Pleasure tripped up her spine and trickled between her thighs. But, from the recesses of remembered experience, a voice of caution persisted.
He wants something, Mary. Beware.
About the Author
A native New Yorker, Michal Scott is the pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Using the writings of the love mystics of Begijn for inspiration, Michal Scott writes Christian erotica and Christian erotic romance (i.e. erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc), hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, her readers and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. As an African American, she writes stories to give insight into the African American experience in the US. She has been writing romance seriously since joining Romance Writers of America in 2003 and had her first novel published in 2008. She writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance as Anna M. Taylor. You can connect with Anna on Twitter @mscottauthor1 and learn more about her and her writing at her various websites: www.michalscott.webs.com, www.annamtaylorwebs.com and www.annataylor2678.webs.com.