Take a sneak peak into my debut novel Awakening…

Embrace   

                                  Part I

                     Rockport Maine: Present day

                                  Chapter 1

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My footsteps pounded against the wet sand, ragged breath pulling at my lungs, my heart a violent pulse in my ears. Every muscle within me screamed to stop, but I kept going, pushing myself beyond my threshold. The cool mist from the ocean slapped against my face as I ran along the beach, the crash of the waves drowning out my tumbling thoughts until there was nothing left but blissful, empty silence. As always, my legs eventually betrayed me, buckling under the burden of my exhaustion, and forcing me to a halt.

 I clasped my hands against my knees, gasping for air as the wind pulled at the loose strands of my hair, tossing them wildly about. I gazed out into the reckless, turbulent water as the tall figure of a man in a suit approached from the shoreline. His choice of attire was rather peculiar, like a misplaced apparition among the jagged landscape of rock and water. The wind whipped against his dark hair as he came closer, walking at a brisk pace with a look of deep contemplation etched upon his face. He greeted me with a nod as he passed, his eyes flickering over me for a brief moment. The unexpected intensity of his gaze caused my skin to prickle abruptly with heat before he continued down the long stretch of empty beach; the fog curling around him like a shroud.

My eyes followed the outline of him until he faded from view, and I was once again the centerpiece of my solitude, alone on the beach. The breeze chilled my damp skin, and I wrapped my arms around myself, staring out into the water as if the depths held the answers to the unyielding weight of all my reflections.

With shaky legs, I turned and trudged through the sand, making my way across the parking lot and toward the quiet of downtown. The crash of the waves in the distance soothed me. I loved these moments, the encapsulated hush of early mornings before the bustle of the day descended upon the streets. The seclusion filled me with a deep sense of serenity that pulled at the threads of my restlessness.

Arriving at my office, I slipped my key into the lock. November had found its way in, creeping through the cracks of the windows. It was chilly and dim as the morning sun struggled to pierce through the fog outside, bathing the room in a muted tone of gray. I flicked on the heat and retreated to the bathroom where I turned on the utility shower, shedding my sweat-soaked clothing upon the floor. The warmth of the water cascaded down the length of my body in rivulets, washing away the residue of another night riddled with unsettled sleep, tangled in dreams that slithered their way beneath my sheets, uninvited and full of questions.

After changing into a fresh pair of clothes from a bag I kept in the back of the storeroom, I nestled my feet next to the old baseboard heater beside my desk, it’s comforting rhythm ticking like a metronome below me. Drying off my hair with a towel, I ran a comb through the long, tangled strands, enjoying the stillness which filtered through the unadorned white walls and sat with me like a familiar friend.

I leaned back in my chair, looking out at the quaint shops that lined the sidewalks across the street, optimistically displaying various trinkets and beach souvenirs within their front windows in the hope of luring in meandering tourists. It was the unpretentious air and welcoming sincerity of the locals which had been what first drew me to this small town years ago as I fled from the stifling cacophony of the city. The quiet here stilled the persistent racing of my heart, while the expansive horizon spoke to me of potential and new beginnings, as if the endless churning waves could wash away the ties that bound me to my past.

My musings were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the door opening, and the familiar, pale blue uniform of our local mailman came into my peripheral view. 

“Good morning, Jezebel.” His chipper tone filled with an enthusiasm I struggled to reciprocate.

I looked up at him with a wane smile. “Hi, Jonathan.”

 Shuffling slowly through his stack of envelopes, he placed a small pile on my desk. His eager gaze fell on me, appearing to search for an opening to conversation. “So, do you have any plans for this weekend?” He flashed me a wide grin. With his deep brown eyes and sun-kissed hair, he was nice to look at, and I knew he was used to attention from women; all my employees fawned over him. I figured he viewed my reserve as some sort of challenge.

 I shook my head. “Nope, no plans. I’m just looking forward to some quiet.”

 Jonathan had been persistently dancing around me for years, dropping hints with casual invites out to lunch and drinks after work. But the idea of going out on a date with him and his impatient excitement, saturated with forced witty banter and vague innuendos, filled me with exhaustion.

A harsh ring pierced my thoughts. Jonathan’s eyes flickered over me while I sifted through the papers that littered my desk, throwing him a polite but dismissive wave goodbye as I found my phone.

“Jezebel’s cleaning. How may I help you?”  

Jonathan nodded, a twinge of rejection hovering in his gaze before he softly closed the door behind him.

After a long pause, a deep male voice filled the receiver. “Is this Jezebel?”

“Yes, this is she. How may I help you?” I tapped my pen impatiently against the faded grain of the desk, the week’s shift sheet spread out before me as I glanced out the side window. The view of the New England coastline engulfed in early morning mist always had a way of helping me find my center.

“I am seeking a house cleaning service.”

“And what type of cleaning are you looking for?”

“I am not entirely sure.”

Something about the rich, formal tone of his voice drew me in, his words tinted with the hint of an accent that sounded faintly Italian.

“Okay, that’s fine. If you’d like, I can swing by your place to appraise the scope of work needed and then draw up a price bid for you. I happen to be free this afternoon. Does twelve-thirty work?”

“That sounds good. My house is the one upon the bluff. You will not be able to miss it. I look forward to meeting you, Jezebel.” There was a sudden click, then the line went dead.

I stared at the phone in my hand for a moment. The old colonial house, which sat perched atop the bluff overlooking the ocean, had been boarded up and unoccupied for the last hundred years, if not more. According to the local lore, nobody knew who owned it, but every decade or so, workers would arrive and meticulously restore the house. I had always found it beautiful, filled with silence and rich secrets as if it were some beacon keeping sentinel over the water. My mind brimmed with curiosity at the prospect of finally getting a chance to see inside the place.

                                                                     ********

 That afternoon, I drove past the sleepy storefronts of the main street to the outer edge of town, past the docks, and toward the jetty where the sea caressed the cliffs. The slate gray sky framed the stormy ocean as icy fog snaked its way along the rocks jutting sharply out of the water. I flipped on the classical station, the deep mournful tone of the cello which always seemed to fill me with an undefined longing, spilled from my speakers, matching the mood of the sky.

 I turned from the main road onto a narrow, winding driveway. As I pulled up to the house, I saw a man looking out toward the watery horizon from his perch upon the balcony. With his hands tucked into the pockets of what appeared to be an expensive suit, his eyes lay fixed on the water as the wind swept through his dark hair. My pulse quickened with a rush of surprise as I realized this was the person that I had seen on the beach during my morning run.

 The strong breeze pulled at my clothes as I stepped from the car, pushing the unruly strands of my hair away from the grasp of the wind. As I approached the front door, the man turned in my direction, his eyes locking with mine from above.

 I shot a friendly wave up at him, calling above the roar of the surf. “Hi, I’m Jezebel.”

After nodding in greeting, he disappeared from my line of sight. A moment later, the door swung open, and he stood before me. “August. It is a pleasure to meet you.” His firm handshake engulfed my fingers in his warmth, and a small current passed through me as our skin touched. It was a feeling unfamiliar and a bit jarring, causing an indistinct stirring within me. His eyes were a deep blue gray, reminiscent of the ocean, a startling contrast against his dark features and faint olive complexion.

“Welcome, Jezebel. Please come in.”

I followed him into the house, my eyes glancing over the tall windows covered in heavy burgundy drapes which framed the walls of the interior.

“Let me give you some light.” He stepped past me and drew the curtains open. The room flooded with a pale overcast glare.

“You know, I think I saw you out on the beach this morning,” I said as I threaded my fingers through the tangled curls of my hair.

August turned from the window. “Yes. You were running.”

“I was.”

He regarded me with a look of curiosity. “Do you always run like that?”

I furrowed my brow at him. “Like what?”

A small smiled slipped past his lips. “Like someone is chasing you.”

I chuckled awkwardly and shrugged. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

 I stepped closer to the window, taking in the expansive view that stretched before me like an endless sea of deep blue. “This place is so beautiful. I’ve never understood why it’s been empty for so long. Did you just buy it?”

“No.”

“Oh. Renting, then?”

“Something akin to that.” As he spoke, he glanced out the window, seeming to be lost momentarily in thought.

The long pause that ensued made it clear he was not going to offer any more information. I tentatively retrieved my notepad from my purse, my eyes flickering in his direction. “So, I’m just going to do a little assessment of the house, if that’s okay with you?”

August nodded, watching me in silence as I took in the surrounding room, the directness of his gaze rattling my composure. The house had the familiar damp and musky smell from years of the ocean’s spray, which battered the foundation and seeped in through the cracks. The windows held an opaque film of salt that I knew from experience no amount of cleaning would remove.

Thick canvas cloth covered the furniture, antique paintings framed in embossed gold designs lined the walls, and a grand piano stood in the far corner. Intrigued, I stepped closer to one of the oil renditions, a Rembrandt that depicted the tragic story of Lucretia. I was familiar with the woman who sat with a gold cord held in one hand and a dagger in the other, a faint line of blood running down the middle of her dress, her life slowly draining away. The visceral expression of sorrow and betrayal portrayed within the depths of her eyes had always haunted me; it was as if she was staring into my soul, pleading for redemption.

“I take it you recognize one of those pieces?”

 I turned to find August close enough that I could detect the faint but rich aroma of earth and pine on him, reminding me of the forest. He regarded me with an intensity that made my heart race, unaccustomed to the potency in which he looked at me, a warmth rose to my cheeks.

 “I do. Was the previous owner a collector?”

“Perhaps he was.” A hint of secrecy played in his voice, sparking my interest as he turned and strode toward the dining room. “Please come with me. I will show you the rest of the house.”

 I followed him into the warmth of the kitchen. A beckoning aroma of spices drifted through the air and my eyes glanced down to a pot that sat simmering on the stove.

“Minestra di ceci,” August said as he leaned against the doorway, watching me. “It is an Italian dish consisting of chickpeas.”

“Well, it smells delicious.”

He nodded with a faint smile and then motioned for me to follow him up a flight of stairs. We came to a large room lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. A sliding glass door led onto the balcony where he had been standing when I arrived.

In the corner of the expansive master bedroom stood an old wooden desk. Papers lay askew and stacked in precarious piles on the worn mahogany wood. A sizable, ornate four-poster bed, draped in a lush, silk-like fabric of muted brown tones, imposed itself against the far wall. If I were to lie down upon it, the view would surround me.

August stood quietly by the window. His rugged masculine beauty, tinged with something sensual and vaguely ethereal, presented a striking combination that I found captivating.

He glanced over at me with an expression of faint amusement, as if he had stumbled into my thoughts for a moment, causing my entire body to course abruptly with heat. I cleared my throat nervously, and with my notepad in hand, I slipped back into the comfort of my professional business persona. Scanning the room, I calculated formulas of space and cost on the white-lined paper, all the while trying to ignore his lingering gaze.

 “So, it looks to me like you will need a move-in restoration, followed by weekly upkeep? Depending on your living arrangements, of course.”

“If you insist. You are the professional.”

I turned to him. Although the light streaming in behind him illuminated his silhouette and gently obscured his face, I could detect the slight hint of a smile.

“All right, then. I will make out a work order and have one of my cleaners come out as early as next week. What day works best for you?”

 “If you do not mind, I would prefer it if you were the one to come every week.”

His request was a bit odd, and I struggled with my response. Why did he want me in particular?

“Well, I generally manage the administrative details these days.”

“I will gladly pay double.”

 I ran my fingers along his mahogany desk, picking up a thick line of dust. I took a moment to study an antique vase of leaded crystal, which held an array of fountain pens, each tip etched in gold.

The years I spent being shuffled around from one foster home to another during my youth were lonely and painful, but they had given me keen instincts. I had grown to trust my senses, the acute feelings that enabled me to gauge a person’s intentions. It was these same instincts that had kept me safe on more than one occasion. This man radiated complexity. But underneath his slightly brusque exterior, I could detect a gentleness there, and I felt no risk with him, only a deep, probing intrigue.

Aware that my business could use the extra money, I considered his proposal. Each year the flood of vacationers served as the lifeblood of our tiny company. But once they retreated to the city at the end of the season, leaving a hush to settle over the town, winter closed in with its icy grip and customers slowed to a crawl.

“Well, I suppose I can make some accommodations.”

“Good, I will walk you out,” he said as he slipped past me and headed silently back down the stairs.

The chill of the wind mixed with salty mist struck my face as August walked me to my car. Dark clouds hovered ominously above the angry sea, obscuring the horizon in gray.

“Looks like a storm is coming.”

He simply nodded in reply, his expression unreadable as he watched me fumble around in my purse, looking for my keys. I glanced up at him, flustered by the potency of his eyes, which made me feel as if I were a butterfly pinned beneath cloth. It filled me with a conflicting mixture of reluctance and curiosity.

“Can I ask you something? Why is it you want me specifically for this job?”

My pulse quickened as August leaned in close, almost as if he were about to whisper a secret into my ear, the strands of his dark hair touching my face like a soft caress. I shivered against the eager wind and took a small step back, alarmed by the sudden proximity of him.

 “If you must know, I feel very drawn to you. You have a receptive mind, and I know that you can be trusted.”

The tenderness that hovered in his eyes coupled with his candid words seized my breath for a moment; it was unexpected and a bit eccentric, causing my voice to waver in reply. “And how would you know that?”

August’s gaze held mine as if he were peering into my soul, stripping away at the residue, and leaving nothing behind but the exposed marrow. No man had ever looked at me this way before. It was overwhelming, but at the same time, deeply entrancing.

“Just a feeling I have.” His words were like a slow and silky caress. “Will next Monday evening around six work for you?”

 I tucked away a strand of hair that had blown into my face, caught off guard by his request. “Oh, I’m sorry, but any time after five is outside business hours, I’m afraid.”

“Well, then I suppose five it will have to be then.” A small smile stretched across his face, his gaze warm and open as he leaned past me and opened the car door. “It was very nice meeting you, Jezebel.

There was something in the way he said my name, a soft undercurrent of such concentrated intimacy it caused a flutter inside me.

 “You, too,” I said as I slipped into the driver’s seat, surprised to find my limbs shaky. August stood there and watched me while I started the engine, the wind dancing wildly against his clothes. I took a deep breath, putting the car into reverse, filled with an undefined sensation that coiled around me like electricity. When I looked back out the window, he had retreated from view.

https://www.jenniferleighpezzano.com/

Love Is The Ultimate Letting Go

LITERARY TITAN

Jennifer Leigh Pezzano
Jennifer Leigh Pezzano Author Interview

Awakening follows a woman with a tragic past who meets someone who expands her heart and soul and opens a new world to her. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Well, I have always been fascination by the vampire archetype, but was never fully satisfied with how they were portrayed. I wanted to explore another avenue of possibility with this story, to pull in more elements of spirituality, sexuality, and healing because I believe that these things are all so intrinsically connected to one another. The character of August, and of him “being of sacred blood” in my book, in a way represents the aspects of wholeness held within us. We all have the profound ability to tap into a deeper way of living. To discover something richer and more meaningful in our lives. But we have to let go first… and…

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Reveries and the adventures in self publishing: Take 1

If you find yourself reading this, I apologize in advance. I have no words of wisdom, or tips for this time consuming endeavor, which often finds me hunched over the computer for hours with little to show for it. All I have are my words, thrown to the wind in the hopes that they will flutter past glancing eyes.

I am only a poet, possessed with the need to evoke images from the cacophony of sound in my mind. To seek refuge in the crisp white blankness of a page and make my own tracks upon the landscape. And in all honesty, self marketing makes me cringe. Exposing myself to the general crowd of social media platforms is a daunting task and one I struggle with daily. The introvert in me is not comfortable right now.

So why did I decide to go on this journey one might ask? The answer is simple, I gave birth to a novel, and I did not want to hand it over to someone else. It is my baby, and one I will raise with the same intuitive parental philosophy I’ve adopted with my own child. And no matter what it grows up to be, I will love it fervently.

So this goes out to all you writers and poets, dancers and artists- that bring such vibrant color to this world we live in. Keep on shining, and whether your light is bright enough for others to find, or a steady spark that keeps you company in the darkness, it is beautiful, unique and all yours. A gift that no one can truly monetize.

https://www.jenniferleighpezzano.com/

Ink and Skin……….. (A collection)

Woman's back

DESERT

Among the sage brush and red sand

The sound of our feet upon the rocks

You led me to a teepee made of wood

The red tail hawk

Was circling

From above

As you slipped your hand inside me

The dust danced between the beams

Sunlight fell upon our skin

As we shed our clothes in the desert

Fumbling

Unsure

Hungry

The smell of dirt and sweat

My sex unfurling

For the first time

You were a silent road

Moonlight tapping against a window

And you took me

Like a secret

I whispered

All the way home

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

COFFEE

You would pour my coffee

Wild curls

And manic smiles

Buzzing

Against my skin

As I watched you

Behind the curtain of my pen

You were alive with a palette of color

Aching

Restless

Coiled

like a tiger in a cage

And you slipped over me

Like the satin kimono

when your lips found mine

One hot summer night

And I fell into you

So deep

I could no longer swim

You held me

Shaking

And wet

My body leaving a trail

For you to follow

Fingers lost in your hair

Sheets tangled up in desire

The patterns upon the ceiling

I would come to know so well

This story

I achingly etched

upon your skin

While you slept

In silence

and desperation

You were coffee

that stained my fingers

A narrow hallway full of stairs

A full moon against a dark sky

Music and laughter

in a room

full of ghosts

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FAST CAR

I rush to skip over you

Like a crack in cement

Fractured

And ugly

But I came to you

A broken doll

Stuffing spilling out

And you laid beside me

With a needle

And thread

You were constant movement

A puppet jerked upon a string

rough hands

And laughing eyes

A fast car

Running on adrenaline

But you were safe

I knew I couldn’t fall

I couldn’t bleed

So I floated beside you

watched

As my skin

puckered and pruned

Inert

And silent

Waiting

While my bags

Gathered dust

In the closet

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MEDICINE

You were the sound of wind

And Guitar string’s

The smell of bark

And pine needles

And I drove to you

My heart

Like a drum

In the dark

Through winding dirt roads

Until your hands found me

Tracing poetry

Upon my skin

Dark eyes

Traveling the length

Of my spine

Cracking open

My cocoon

You were silence

And sage smoke

A colt in a meadow

That longed for the mountains

And I traded you

Music

For medicine

While our fire

Slowly Burned

To ashes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GARDEN

You tended the gardens

Outside my window

Your body dancing

with the sun

While the serpentine water

whispered

her flirtatious song

And when you finally came to me

With dirt beneath your fingers

And my name upon your lips

Like an incantation

I slowly peeled my layers for you

Leaving them

by the river

You were salt and hummus

Dark earth against green

A burning flame

In a locked cabin

I longed to enter

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WRITER

I invoked you

From a dream

Awakening me

In the night

Molded you

Out of paper

And pen

And you came

Stiff fingers

And hidden ink

Dark secrets

Sleeping

In a room above the trees

We spoke in words

Not yet formed upon our lips

And when the field gave way to us

As we pressed our bodies against bone

I uncurled you

Like string

While You planted a seed

That spoke

of life

And death

Blood and tissue

You were a hurricane

Sitting with demons

Tapping at your back

And I hid

in your center

Until autumn

Curled her leaves

And fell

Around us

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FRITZ

You were a warm summer night

Grass in a backyard

That playfully

Tickled my skin

You were the soft promise

Of spun sugar

And when you cooked for me

In the dim light of a strangers kitchen

I traced the flower

Upon your wall

And slipped into clean white sheets

My hands curled in yours

You were a summers harvest

The promise

Of a warm winter

Your breath

Blowing against

The strings

Of your guitar

As you lulled me to sleep

With songs

And I dreamed of the ocean

Salty spray on your skin

You were soft fruit

In my belly

And you wanted

To take me away

But the sky found you first

And never

returned

Your song

Now you live

Forever

Tucked

inside

My bones

Ageless

And beautiful

A purple iris

Enclosed

In glass

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HERMIT

You were sarcasm and candor

A delightful dive into neglect

And I came to you

The hermit in his hut

Coiling my fingers

Through your vines

Whispering your name

Against the tall grass

That shimmered against the hills

cigarette smoke

And deep grey eyes

A shell

I longed to crack open

It was a long climb

Up to you

When darkness fell

And you invited me in

Hesitation

And eager hands

As if I were a drug

Soliciting

Your self-control

But no matter how hard

I pounded on your door

Only a window

Would open

And my desire

Could not fit inside.

 

birth

benfield_original_renaissance_36-5x25.5

Love was born from you

I was 16

And wide eyed

I memorized every trace of your skin

Every detail and curve

in the ink of your tattoos

So that you

Where tattooed upon my mind

I was hungry

And aching

and i found no shame

In my need

To jump

Without a parachute

Scream into the void

As the wind rushed against me

How I loved you

It was such messy poetry

So unedited

But so alive

Then you disappeared from me

And I carried your broken wings

For years

hidden in a box

Until you appeared once more

And I suddenly tried you on again

But you had grown so small

Or perhaps I too big

You no longer fit against me

You no longer filled me

So I buried you

Deep in the ground

And finally wept

For it was never you I had loved

It was that girl

beautiful

Trembling

And naked

Before the fire of life.

 

This year

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This year lays stretched out before me
A bare trembling bird
Caught in a cage
my body in revolt
Black ink spilled upon paper
No longer will the lines follow my pen
They dip and waver before me
No longer will my steps follow the path
They tumble and trip against gravity
This weight of my body
Longs to release itself
My mind fanning the embers
Desperatly trying to resurect itself
this year
I no longer want to define myself
From my own limitations
I no longer want to fight
To grapple and cling
To who I once was
This is who I am now
Life has sent me a message
I must listen
Surrender
Breath
And love this complicated skin I am in
For there is beauty
in the struggle
There is strength
In the letting go

Giving Thanks

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Thank you for my daughter’s laughter
she reminds me there is joy to be found everywhere
thank you for arms that embrace
life’s yearning to connect
thank you for dreams
the ones we follow
and the ones we dance with
Thank you for music
the kind that cracks you open
then puts you back together again
thank you for the ink of our memories
so that we may write
our own beauty
thank you for the sky
a window wide open
calling you in
thank you for the ocean
its vastness humbling
waves that whisper
let go… let go…
thank you for the wind
that partners with the trees
for a soulful ballet
thank you for the rain
washing away the dust
and tampering our fires
thank you for springs vibrant bloom
a canopy of magic and renewal
thank you for summers swell
thick sweet honey humming with heat
thank you for autumns release
unfurling itself against a palette of color
thank you for winters deep sleep
and the stillness of snow
thank you for all the darkness
the despair
the fear
and the losses
for without them
all of this
would not be
so achingly
beautiful