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Bayou Justice by Ali Spooner

Chapter 1
 
 
Sasha crept out of her comfortable bed to pull the drapes in the master bedroom that were preventing the early morning sunlight from streaming in. Sasha had spent the previous night tossing and turning as she relived the past thirty years of her life without Milly. The memories of their life together haunted her sleep. They had survived so many tragedies together it felt ironic to her that the blood they needed to survive was the catalyst for Milly’s death when she drank blood tainted with the AIDs virus. Sasha’s dreams frequently ended with the memory of setting the ashes of Milly free in the soft breeze as she scattered them on the grounds of the home she loved. Sasha walked to the bathroom to splash cold water on her face to wash away her tears then wearily crawled back into her bed, hoping for a few more hours of slumber before she would have to rise in preparation for her arriving guests.
 
 
For the past eighty-five years, Sasha Thibodaux had owned Sugarland Plantation, a working sugar cane farm that she leased out to local farmers. Besides this income, the history of Sugarland as a haunted plantation had added to her wealth. The bed-and-breakfast business had prospered and there was a long waiting list for reservations, many of which were returning patrons year after year. Sasha seldom traveled far from Sugarland, and when she did, she felt her heart longing for the comfort and seclusion of her home.
 
After Milly’s death Sasha spent time learning more about the specters that lingered at Sugarland. Lizette was a seven-year-old child who had succumbed to the same flu pandemic in 1919 that had taken Sasha’s mother. Visitors frequently reported sightings of Lizette skipping through the halls or playing the baby grand in the plantation’s ample parlor. Several times as Sasha played the piano, she sensed Lizette’s presence in the room and would at times catch a glimpse of the child dancing through the room to the music she was playing.
 
Luscious was a slave who had gone into the bayou to retrieve catfish from a trotline for the master’s dinner. When he reached into the water, an alligator attacked him, severing his left arm from his body. Luscious was able to make his way back to the plantation, but died several days later from the loss of blood and infection. Over the years, and especially during the full moon, visitors spotted Luscious walking down the path toward the bayou, or roaming through the cane fields. 
 
Finally, yet importantly, was Joshua. Joshua, a beautiful young slave, was hanged from the old oak out front when the landowner caught him in a compromising position with his daughter. Joshua was only sixteen when he died for his indiscretion. Visitors had seen Joshua, sitting under the oak where he died, weeping for his lost love. Of all the ghosts, Sasha felt closest to Joshua, as she understood the pain from the loss of a loved one.
Sasha felt at home with these specters, however, at times, she longed for companionship. The loss of Milly kept her secluded from the outside world. She doubted she could survive losing another lover if she would search for someone to share her life. Instead, Sasha preferred to dream of Milly and the love they had shared. 
 
 
Sasha detested the fact that she still had to feed on humans from time to time to continue her existence. The Network, a specialized laboratory in Atlanta, was working to create a liquid serum to replace the need for vampires to feed on humans to maintain their existence. However, the progress on perfecting the serum was painfully slow. Sasha and Milly had started with the serum years before, but it was not enough to prevent the need for feeding completely. Maybe if the serum had been further developed at the time, it would have prevented Milly from being infected. Instead, she suffered the horrible disease that took her from Sasha. 
 
The Network’s efforts were gallant, but the hunger still burned deep within Sasha. The synthetic blood the Network had developed could not satisfy the lust for human blood that made her nights unbearably restless. Sasha would battle the hunger until she could no longer tolerate the pain. She would then surrender and set out to hunt the bayou, to feast on a lone poacher, knowing the carnivorous denizens of the swamp were more than willing to dispose of the corpse to prevent detection.
 
 
Sasha lay in bed contemplating a night of hunting when Marie came to the door, gently tapping. “Sasha, you awake?” she quietly asked her.
 
“Yes, Marie, what is it?” 
 
Marie and her husband James, while not blessed with Sasha’s immortality, received an excessively slow aging process and had served her well for many years. They were the second generation to reside at Sugarland and Sasha was thankful for their years of service. James’s parents, James senior and Martha, had served Sasha for many long years and were finally enjoying the remainder of their lives in retirement in Shreveport. 
Marie slowly entered the room and found Sasha lying on the bed. 
 
“I wanted to let you know that James is going to drive me to town to purchase supplies before he leaves for the airport to pick up the guests. Is there anything I can get you before we leave?”
 
“No, thank you, Marie,” Sasha said. “I am going to laze around a while this morning and then I will prepare for our guests as well.”
 
“Very well then, Sasha, we will be back shortly.” Marie left the room and closed the door behind her.
 
Sasha lay back on her bed and mentally reviewed the guest list. Four sorority sisters from Tulane were meeting at Sugarland for a long weekend reunion. The four women had not visited one another for several years and were excited about catching up with each other. 
 
Lisa Thomas had been in regular contact with her as the organizer of the trip. A schoolteacher from Jackson, Lisa had arranged to sample some of the nightlife in nearby New Orleans while sharing the secluded resort with her college mates. She was successful in persuading Kara Stewart, a criminal attorney from Atlanta, to leave the rush of her busy practice behind. She enticed Susan Schultz, a successful realtor in Asheville, who was looking forward to the slower pace of the bayou, to join them in New Orleans. Cindy Search, the lone married woman of the four, welcomed the change from the doldrums associated with life as the wife of a prominent banker in Charleston.
 
Their host had made plans for the women to have a private ghost tour in New Orleans on Friday, after a day of shopping at The River Walk. Marie would be busy cooking her fabulous creations while James would provide transportation for the women during the weekend. Sasha would join her guests for drinks before the evening meal, but for the most part Marie and James would attend to their needs.
 
 
Unable to sleep, Sasha decided to shower and dress for a ride around the property. As she dressed, she smiled at the misconception that modern vampires could not cast an appearance in a mirror. She gazed into the mirror, her deep lavender eyes framed by shoulder-length black hair, which, surprisingly, was lacking gray hairs for a person of one hundred and fifteen. Pleased with the reflection smiling back at her, she stepped out into a bright sunny day.
 
She walked to the stables and saddled up Thunder, her favorite mount. Sugarland encompassed over five hundred acres and she took pleasure in riding over the property. Sasha eased Thunder into a gentle trot, and rode past one of the sugar cane fields. Workers hacked at the stalks with sharp cane knives as they harvested the crop. Sasha waved to the foreman, who was angrily barking out orders to the migrant workers working the fields. She detested the way he treated the workers, but was unable to control how he addressed his workers.
The man cautiously raised his hand to wave back as the hairs on the back of his neck snapped to attention. A shiver passed through his body as her eyes fixed him with a cloaked stare. The foreman watched until she and Thunder were no longer in sight and again began shouting at the workers cutting the cane.
 
The harvesting of the cane had always been a painful time for Sasha. In the next few weeks, the harvest would be complete and Sasha would celebrate another anniversary of her lover’s death. “I still love you so,” she said, her voice filled with sadness.
 
 
Sasha and Thunder cantered around the property. They were returning to the stable when she saw James arriving with the carload of guests. Leading Thunder to the stables to allow him to cool, she watched as James ushered the women into the house and then returned to unload their luggage. She removed Thunder’s tack and brushed him down then walked up to the house as James removed the last of the bags from the trunk of the car. Taking one of the suitcases from James, she walked with him into the house. 
 
“I think you are really going to enjoy this group of guests, Sasha,” James said with a devilish grin.
 
“Oh really, James, why is that?” Sasha asked.
 
“You will see for yourself shortly,” he said.
 
Sasha looked at him quizzically, wondering about the smirk that was playing around on his face, but followed him into the house, curious to get an answer to her question.
 
 
She set the bag she was carrying on the floor in the foyer and stepped into the parlor where the women were seated sipping cool drinks while they waited to settle in their rooms. Removing her sunglasses as she walked in and said, “Good afternoon and welcome to Sugarland. My name is Sasha and my staff, James, Marie and I, will do everything possible to meet your needs this weekend.” Along with her welcoming words, she added a brilliant smile. 
Sasha noted one of the women studying the painting of Milly hanging above the fireplace mantel. When the woman turned around, she felt her knees go weak and she understood why her guest was so interested in the portrait. The woman’s likeness to Milly was uncanny, so much so that she could easily pass as a descendant of her former lover.
 
The women introduced themselves, which allowed Sasha a moment to regain her composure. When introduced, Sasha moved forward to shake hands with the woman, affixing her lavender eyes on her and heard the beating of Kara Stewart’s heart jump noticeably. A slight blush graced Kara’s face as Sasha held her hand for a moment longer than necessary. Sasha’s eyes took in the beauty of the woman standing before her. Kara’s sparkling blue eyes framed by her light brown hair, which fell to her shoulders, reminded her so much of Milly. Sasha’s eyes drifted lower, marveling at the petite features of Kara’s body. She could feel the blood racing through Kara’s veins as she smiled. 
 
“Marie will have fresh crawfish and cocktails prepared at five if you would like to settle into your rooms and freshen up from your travels. Dinner will be served at six and then you can make yourself at home and relax for the evening,” she added.
 
“That sounds like a great plan.” Lisa stood and joined the other women.
 
Sasha watched as Marie escorted the four women down the hall and took an opportunity to dip into Kara’s thoughts. 
 
I will definitely be visiting you later, Sasha projected into Kara’s mind.
 
Kara turned to look back at Sasha, grinned broadly, and then rushed to catch her friends. Sasha enjoyed sending her mischievous thoughts into unsuspecting subjects, and watching as they responded to her suggestions. The young woman had stirred something deep in Sasha and for the first time in ages, Sasha felt her heart racing at the sight of another woman.
 
 
Sasha walked into her room and quickly stripped off her riding clothes and boots before starting the shower. She slipped under the tepid water and slowly caressed her body with fragrant soap, eliminating the evidence of her afternoon ride in the humid bayou. Her fingers softly brushed across her hardened nipples as she closed her eyes and imagined Kara’s hands roaming her needy body. It had been much too long since Sasha had had the pleasure of a lover, and she looked forward to seducing the young, alluring lawyer.
 
Kara’s physical features reminded Sasha so much of Milly that her heart sank with melancholy memories of the great love she had lost nearly thirty years ago. Sasha’s heart still ached for the love that she thought would last for eternity. 
 
Sasha remembered the conversation she and Milly had shared just before her death. There will be a woman in your future, my love, that will return the love and passion you have to offer. That left Sasha curious to know whether Kara could be the one Milly had seen in her future.
 
Sasha shook off the melancholy feeling and, after dressing, sprayed rich-smelling cologne along her neckline and across her wrists. She walked to the parlor, her body thrumming with excitement to see Kara again, and joined her guests for cocktails. 
 
 
Once in the parlor Sasha sat comfortably in an oversized chair across from Kara where she could easily capture her gaze with quietly seductive glances. Marie poured a glass of red wine and handed it to Sasha before disappearing into the kitchen to finish preparing the crawfish.
 
Once everyone had settled, Sasha began to spin a tale about Sugarland’s history. “Sugarland is approximately three hundred years old and, as you can imagine, it was a plantation served by slaves. The owner, however, was a gentle slave master and treated his servants with a gentility not normally seen in most southern plantations. It wasn’t until after his death that the first violence occurred at Sugarland, when his son found his daughter in a rather intimate situation with a young slave named Joshua.” Sasha smiled inwardly when she saw the intent looks on her guests’ faces. “Her father was so enraged that he had the young man hanged and shipped his daughter off to finishing school,” Sasha continued. “The landowner, just as many of his era, felt it was entirely proper for him to take pleasure from the many female slaves, but he would not tolerate this behavior from his daughter.”
 
Sasha paused in her story when Marie returned to serve the crawfish cocktails. 
 
“After the emancipation, the plantation was passed down from father to son for several generations until I purchased the property, and here we are today. Sugar cane is still the primary crop and the lease for the land allows me the opportunity to use the house as an exclusive resort. I am sure Lisa shared with you that Sugarland has a reputation for being haunted.” Motioning toward Lisa, she said, “Keep your eyes and ears open during your stay.” Sasha pointed upward. “The full moon occurs tomorrow night which will be a prime time for a possible haunting.”
 
Lisa asked several questions regarding the three known ghosts of Sugarland. Sasha answered them professionally, glancing at Kara several times to gauge her response to the sordid history. Sasha smiled when she noted the pulse jumping along Kara’s neck and the beating of her heart pounded loudly in Sasha’s ears.
 
Marie entered the room, announced that dinner was ready, and led the four women into the dining room. Sasha excused herself and walked down to the stables to care for Thunder and the other horses housed there. 
 
After feeding them, she stopped at Thunder’s stall. His ears pricked forward, listening as she lovingly stroked his forehead. “We will go out again soon,” she promised, slipping an extra-large block of hay in the bin before closing the door to his stall. She knew James would have devotedly tended to the horses, but she enjoyed the task of taking care of her powerful creatures.
 
 
Sasha sat on the porch in a well-worn rocking chair, watching the sun slip below the horizon while the night creatures came to life. Fireflies danced across the front yard to the music created by the crickets. Deep in the bayou, Sasha could hear the bellow of a bull alligator as he sought a mate. The slight creak of the door as it opened interrupted the concert of the night. Sasha intuitively knew that Kara was about to join her on the porch.
 
“Mind if I join you?” 
 
“Of course not.” Sasha motioned her toward a rocking chair.
 
Kara pulled a cigarette out of a pack in her pocket and lit it, offering one to Sasha. 
 
“Thanks.” Sasha took the offered gift and breathed deeply of the cool menthol.
 
“I had forgotten how peaceful it can be in the bayou.” Kara slowly rocked back and forth. “Much different from Atlanta,” she said as a quick smile crossed her face.
 
“I hope you will take full advantage of your time here to relax and take every pleasure Sugarland has to offer.” Sasha locked eyes with Kara.
 
“I would very much like that.” Kara’s eyes widened with delight. “I noticed you riding a fabulous stallion as we drove up. Is there any chance of getting a horseback tour while I am here?”
 
“I am sure that can be arranged,” Sasha responded. “I do believe Lisa has plans for a riverboat cruise for Saturday morning, but if you prefer you may remain behind and we will go for a ride.” Sasha let out a soft chuckle.
 
“That would be delightful.” 
 
Sasha was about to make another comment but was interrupted when the door opened and Lisa poked her head out. “There you are. We thought you had disappeared on us.”
 
“Just enjoying a smoke and the sounds of the night with our hostess,” Kara replied. 
 
“We thought we might play some cards in the parlor and do some catching up before heading off to bed. Will you join us?” Lisa asked. 
 
“Thanks again for the smoke.” Sasha watched as Kara stood to join her friends. 
 
“You are welcome.” Kara smiled before she disappeared into the house. 
 
 
Sasha finished the cigarette then walked into the kitchen to find Marie preparing for the next day’s meals. She could hear the chatter and soft laughter of her guests as she watched Marie move gracefully around the kitchen. 
 
“Can you believe how much Miss Stewart looks like Milly?” Marie asked. 
 
“I was completely taken aback when she turned around while she stood by the portrait.” Sasha sighed. “It was as if for a moment Milly had returned, young and full of life as ever,” she said with just a hint of sadness in her voice. 
 
“She appears to be a very sweet young woman too.” Marie had a coy expression on her face.
 
Sasha gave a short laugh. “You are a marvel of a woman, Marie.” Sasha softly touched the woman’s shoulder before walking out of the kitchen and into the parlor.
 
 
Sasha sat before the baby grand and let her fingers brush across the keys as her mind became lost in a cloud of Brahms and Beethoven. She was playing each delicate piece from memory. Playing music relaxed Sasha, and the concentration was taking her mind off the fire in her stomach, intensified by the appearance of the beautiful Kara.
 
After Milly’s death, Sasha had played less and less. Playing the baby grand in the parlor brought back memories of their youth in Europe and their life together at Sugarland. Sasha frequently felt a connection with Milly when she played—her fingers stroking the keys lightly remembering the softness of Milly’s skin. 
 
She was deep in memory. Her eyes closed, watching Milly dance in front of her. She smiled as she watched her lover.
 
With her mind focused on the music and her memories, an hour passed quickly and Sasha opened her eyes to see Kara standing in the doorway watching her. Sasha fixed her eyes on Kara. “Join me.”
 
“You play so beautifully.” Kara sat in a chair across from Sasha.
 
 Sasha found herself reluctant to break away from gazing into the woman’s enchanting eyes. “Thank you.” Sasha released Kara’s eyes, permitting her to watch how sensually her fingertips brushed across the piano keys. 
 
I could be stroking your breasts like this. Sasha planted the thought in Kara’s mind. 
 
She watched as Kara’s nipples grew hard under the soft fabric of her blouse and a flush rose to her cheeks.
 
“Do you play?” 
 
“Yes, but not nearly as well as you.”
 
“Join me.” Sasha again beckoned, pointing to the bench beside her. Kara slid beside her, their thighs touching.
 
Sasha placed her hand lightly on Kara’s thigh as she began to play.
 
“It has been a long time and I am afraid I am a trifle rusty.” 
 
Sasha stroked Kara’s thigh and leaned in close to Kara’s ear. “Relax, you are doing just fine.”
 
Kara softly sighed as she breathed in the rich cologne Sasha wore then closed her eyes to concentrate on the piece she was playing. 
 
Sasha noted the heartbeat pulsing in Kara’s neck and brazenly allowed her tongue to trail up the length of her jugular until her lips came to rest atop the pulse. Kara’s body shivered and a soft moan escaped her lips.
 
Sasha softly kissed Kara’s neck and listened quietly as Kara finished the piece she was playing.
 
Kara’s fingers played the final note and she turned toward Sasha.
 
“Beautiful. You should play more often.” Sasha looked into the deep blue of Kara’s eyes.
 
“I know.” Kara shrugged. “The music is very relaxing and gives me much pleasure.”
 
“Maybe you will play again before you leave,” Sasha suggested, “but for now I recommend you retire as Lisa has a big day planned for you tomorrow.” Sasha stood and led Kara to her room. “I hope you have sweet dreams tonight.” Sasha could feel Kara’s eyes watching her as she walked down the hall toward the stairway and her room.
 
 
Sasha started up her computer and busied herself updating the business accounts while she listened to the sounds of the guests sleeping in the house. Shortly after midnight, she walked outside, picking up another of the cigarettes from the pack Kara had left on the porch. She had forgotten how much she enjoyed smoking and marveled at the taste as she listened to the sounds of the bayou. Crickets chirped in song, and deep in the darkened forest animals called to their mates or sounded alarms at the presence of a predator in the area. Clouds passed quickly in front of an almost full moon. She sighed then returned inside the house in search of sleep.
 
As she passed each of the rooms, she could hear the soft heartbeats and slow breathing of their sleeping occupants. A strange sound caught her ear as she neared Cindy’s room and she quickly recognized the sound as the rapid heartbeat of a baby.
 
Smiling, Sasha walked on and stood in front of Kara’s room. She silently passed through the closed door and looked down onto the bed where Kara slept. A soft, full breast was uncovered and a bare thigh exposed as well, revealing that Kara slept naked on the cool sheets. Sasha watched as Kara’s hand moved in her sleep to cover her breast. She slipped into Kara’s dream.
 
Kara’s dream was as vivid to Sasha as if it were reality. She observed her hands and mouth covering Kara’s body, arousing the sleeping beauty with soft touches and nibbles. Kara’s hands moved on her breasts with the exact motions Sasha was using in her dream and Sasha watched as she arched her back, begging for a firmer touch. She could hear the soft moans escaping Kara’s lips and she resisted the temptation to give herself pleasure as she eavesdropped on Kara’s dream. 
 
Instead, she quietly turned away and retired to her room for dreams of her own.
 
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