Mystic Nights

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Befriending the Devil


The man’s words from next door kept replaying over and over in my mind as I made my way through the house the next morning. What did he mean that I need to try to keep both feet in this world? None of it made sense, from the mysterious letters to my crazy dreaming last night.

Only one thing kept bugging me, though: My necklace. The last person who had it was that Sebastian guy I met on the street yesterday and ended up running into at Bayou Briar’s again. There was no way he was following me, right?

I had this urgent need to find the necklace and lock it up, but I have no idea how to contact this guy. I have no idea if he even lives in the city. I just prayed that he still had it or I might freak out.

After finishing my coffee, brushing my hair, and tugging on my shoes, I headed towards the front door. But before I could open it, I peeked out the side window to see if the creepy neighbor was sitting out on his porch, waiting to stare me down the second I stepped outside.

He wasn’t there.

Good. I whipped the door open, locked it behind me, and headed down the now-familiar concrete steps towards the sidewalk.

I figured Bayou Briar would know exactly where to find this guy. Hey, I might even get lucky and my necklace will be with her. You wouldn’t think he’d take it home with him, would you? Yet, I had taken that woman’s stone necklace home with me, unknowingly, so my guess is that Bayou Briar won’t have it. Speaking of that woman’s stone necklace, I was going to return it to the shop this morning but when I tried to look for it this morning it was nowhere to be found. It was as if the air just swallowed it up. There weren’t many places in my tiny house that it could be so I had no idea where it had gone. I hope she doesn’t come looking for it anytime soon. And I’m silently praying that Sebastian left my necklace at the shop.

I can only hope.

With one foot in front of the other, I headed back towards the French Quarter and The Mystic. I can’t explain it, but it felt like someone was watching my every move.

When I looked over my shoulder, thinking I might see the creepy neighbor back on his porch with a cigar in his mouth, I saw nothing. There was nothing out of the norm on my street, so I just kept walking.

Bourbon Street was buzzing this morning with tourists and street performers. Was it a holiday I didn’t know about? Why is today much busier than the others?

Ignoring the bubbly crowd and smiling faces, I headed through the cobblestone street and towards the familiar alley that would take me down to The Mystic. And instead of looking at the crowds of people, my eyes kept going up to New Orleans’ famous ornamental wrought iron with matching balconies overlooking the street. I often wondered what it would have been like to live in this city at the turn of the century and how these still grand buildings would have been perceived even back then.

As I continued towards the alley, I noticed several people staring at me. What? Did I have something on my face?

I subconsciously touched my face, holding my head down as I continued on. I have no idea what they’re all looking at but I didn’t like all these eyes on me.


I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of a man’s voice right behind me.

When I spun, I came face to face with Sebastian. The guy I was looking for. Was it fate that I found him now? Did he know I was looking for him? That would be silly to assume. This is purely a coincidence in my favor.

“Hi,” I replied shyly, still wondering if there was something on my face. “I was looking for you.”

He raised an amused brow as the corners of his lips turned up into a small smile.

“You were?”

I rolled my eyes, knowing what he meant by that.

“Not like that. You have something that belongs to me and I want it back.” I squared my shoulders, staring right up into his light brown eyes.

“I do? Tell me what you think I have and I might be able to produce it for you.” He grinned, clearly trying to mess with me.

Who did this guy think he was? This was not the time for flirting and it was very much unwelcome. He might be one of the most attractive men I’d ever laid eyes on, but he was so not my type.

Did I even have a type?

I’d never been with anyone before, so how did I even know if I had a type? Perhaps this mysterious and dark handsome stranger was my type.

I shook my head, pulling me back to the now.

“Listen, Sebastian, we aren’t friends and your little game here is extremely annoying. You have my necklace and I’d like it back.”

He reached into his pocket with the same grin still plastered on his face. When he pulled his hand back out, my necklace dangled between his fingers, swinging back and forth.

“Are you looking for this?”

I lunged forward to grab it but he held it just out of my reach, laughing lightly at my mishap.

“Nuh-uh-uh. Not so fast.” He shoved the necklace back in his pocket before staring down at me with stone eyes. “Have dinner with me tonight and I’ll give it back to you.”

“You’re bribing me to have dinner with you with my own property? What kind of monster are you?” His arrogance was annoying me to no end. If he didn’t give me back what I came for, I might scream in rage right here in the middle of the street, not caring who was near.

He lightly chuckled, amusement filling his features. “Oh, I’m a magnificent monster and once you get to know me, you’ll come to find yourself liking it. And me.” He leaned forward, his breath brushing against my ear. “Have dinner with me, Emersyn. If after that you want nothing to do with me, I’ll return your necklace and leave you alone for good.”

I swallowed, hating that he was so close to me and hating even more how it was making me feel. He wasn’t supposed to make me feel these kinds of things. Whatever they were.

“Fine. Dinner. After that I want you to leave me alone.” It was a lie, of course, but he didn’t need to know that. I was drawn to him in more ways than I wanted to admit. Whatever he was making me feel was dangerous. I could feel it deep in my soul, but I couldn’t stay away. No matter how much I knew I should.

A wicked grin widened his lips as he winked down at me.

“Great. I’ll pick you up at six.”

Pick me up? Was he taking me out of the city? How does he even know where I live?

He laughed. “I might have followed you here today. Only by chance, of course. You happen to live a few streets closer to downtown than I do. I didn’t realize I passed by your house every day.” His smile faded then when he looked over my shoulder. “Six o’clock, Emersyn. Wear something nice.” He spun on his heel and disappeared in the crowd of people passing by.

Damn it, he’s gone and he still has my necklace! If only we spoke for a moment longer, I might have been able to convince him to give me my necklace. However, I knew that wasn’t going to happen, no matter how much I wanted it to.

I looked over my shoulder, wondering what he had seen to make him look so spooked before he disappeared, but nothing out of the ordinary was there.

As six o’clock approached, an anxious feeling gripped my chest. I had no idea what Sebastian’s intentions were for inviting me to have dinner with him tonight. I was not experienced in the dating scene and it’s clear that I was in way over my head here.

The only time I ever remember going out with a guy was back in my junior year of high school. Brad desperately wanted to go to prom that year but because I didn’t have a date and he did, he scoured the school hoping to find me one.

And he did.

It was one of the worst nights of my life. The guy was a total creep. How Brad even managed to talk him into taking me to prom is beside me. The memory left a foul taste in my mouth as I shoved it from my mind.

When I pulled my phone from my back pocket, seeing that it was two minutes until six, I walked to the front door and peeked out. There was no movement out front and I wondered if he was even coming at all. He didn’t seem like that type of guy to be late for something he had arranged. That, or he’s just very punctual, making me wait until precisely six o’clock.


My phone began ringing, right in my hand, nearly scaring me half to death as I looked down at the screen and saw my mom’s face lighting it up. Guilt squeezed my chest at the realization that I hadn’t called them since I arrived in New Orleans. No doubt, she’d be angry with me for my lack of communication, but maybe not. After all, we did speak once already. She can’t be that upset, right?

“Mom, hi!” I beamed into the phone, hoping to throw her off.

“Emersyn June. You’re in big trouble for not calling your mother. Don’t you know I’ve been worried sick about you?”

What I found strange was that she was scolding me for not calling her, but she had only called me once. Did I bring that up to her? Or, leave it alone? I suppose I didn’t want to poke the angry bear just yet.

“I’m sorry, Mom. It’s been crazy here. I’m doing fine.”

She sighed into the phone, sounding frustrated. “Well, I’m glad to hear that, Emersyn, but next time you need to call your mother.”

I bit my bottom lip, trying to stop the laugh that wanted to burst free. “Yes, Mother.”

“Are you mocking me?” She sounded terse, yet her tone was humorous.

After clearing my throat, I replied, “Sorry, Mom.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Now, tell me all about what you’ve been up to! Your dad and I plan on coming out for a visit soon. You said the last time we spoke that you wouldn’t be bothered by our visit,” she added with conviction.

The doorbell rang, causing the panic in my chest to nearly overflow, my hands shaking. I almost completely forgot that Sebastian and I had dinner arrangements.

When I looked at the clock on the stove, I was surprised to find it read exactly six o’clock. Punctual as ever, I thought to myself.

Forgetting that my mom was on the phone, I opened the front door, finding Sebastian standing there with a grin on his face. Damn, he looks really nice. He even combed his hair and pulled it back into a small man-bun in the back of his head. This allowed me to get a full view of his perfect face and sharp jawline. My eyes scanned over his attire and I was pleased to see that he attempted to dress up. His black jeans didn’t have any tears or fade marks on them and his shirt was half tucked in. It was almost cute how hard he was trying to look nice.

“Emersyn June. Answer your mother.”

Oh shit!

“Mom, I’m sorry. I just had some company ring the doorbell. Can I call you later?”

“Company? You’ve made friends already? Oh, Emmy, that’s great!” She bellowed into the phone, sounding far more excited than she needed to be.

“Mom,” I groaned into the phone. She was always worried that I never had any girl friends growing up and only spent time with Brad. “I’ll call you later.”

Sebastian was watching me with curious eyes, never pulling his gaze from mine.

“Oh! Is it a boy?! Are you going on a date, Emmy?”

“Goodbye, Mom!” I hung up before she could say anything more. My cheeks were already twenty shades redder and Sebastian hadn’t even heard what she had said. At least I prayed he didn’t. Good grief, Mom.

“Sorry about that,” I stated, looking anywhere but at him.

“No worries. Moms can be like that,” he chuckled out. “Are you ready?”

“Where are you taking me?” I blurted out, throwing my manners right out the window.

With a wink, he answered, “It’s a surprise I think you’ll enjoy.”

A surprise? I hate surprises. However, Sebastian didn’t know that about me quite yet. Only Brad did.


I wonder what he’d think of this Sebastian guy and how he’d feel knowing I was going to dinner with him.

Sebastian’s chuckle pulled me from my thoughts. “I think you’ll enjoy this surprise, even though you clearly don’t like them.”

Was it that obvious? Did my face give me away again? I really need to work on my expressions because he could honestly read me like an open book. I don’t like feeling this vulnerable around this mysterious guy. Or, maybe he’s just a really good people-reader?

“Come on, the car’s out front.” He held the door open for me, a small flirty grin spread across his face.

I swallowed, letting my feet carry me out of my house and down the steps towards the very car sitting right in front of my sidewalk. It wasn’t the type of car I pictured a long-haired, hippie-type guy to drive, but here I go judging a book by its cover again.

“What do you think?” He asked, holding the passenger door open for me.

“It’s different,” I answered, not sure what he wanted me to say.

I don’t know the exact make and model of the truck, but it looked like a turn of the century kind of vehicle. Maybe a model T? I have no idea. I just knew that it was really old and actually pretty beautiful. There wasn’t a dent or ounce of rust on it at all. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he just purchased it off the lot, straight from the factory.

“It’s been in my family for years. I only take her out on special occasions.”

Special occasions? This is just dinner. What the hell does he think is going to happen tonight?!

“She’s beautiful,” I finally answered, stepping up into the old truck. It lightly rocked as I stepped up, noting how tiny the interior was. Knowing what era this truck came from, it always amused me to think about how women, in their big gowns, even fit in these trucks without drowning their driver with the fabric of their dresses. It must have been incredibly uncomfortable.

As Sebastian got in and began driving, I noticed he was heading away from the city. An uncomfortable chill ran over my arms and now I really wondered where he was taking me.

“Seriously, where are you taking me? I hate surprises more than you’ll ever understand. Please just tell me.”

He chuckled from the driver’s seat. “Fine, I’ll tell you. I found the plantation that has been in my family since they built it. I thought it had been lost to the elements of nature but it turns out that she’s still standing. I purchased her a few days ago and wanted to show you. We’ll be having dinner there.”

An old plantation? How can we possibly have dinner in an old abandoned plantation? I was so confused by everything this man said and did.

“Will you give me my necklace then?” I needed to know, not able to think of anything else at the moment. After all, this dinner was only happening because of said necklace.

“Emersyn, do you really have that little faith in me?” He laughed, shaking his head. “I promised you that I’d give it to you, did I not?”

I nodded, not saying a thing. He better live up to his word.

“It’s just a little farther. I promise, though, that you won’t be thinking about that costume jewelry necklace by the end of the evening.”

I doubted it. He has no idea what that necklace means to me or the history behind it and I didn’t plan on telling him either. There wasn’t anything he could show me that would pull my attention away from my treasure.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” I finally replied, staring out the window at the passing foliage. As we left the city, the trees and brush lining the highways became thicker and too deep to see farther than ten feet in. Most of the trees were covered in Spanish Moss, giving them almost a creepy vibe. And when Sebastian turned off the main highway and down several back roads, the trees became even thicker with Spanish Moss. Besides being creepy, it was actually pretty beautiful. I had grown up in the south but the signature delicacies of the land never ceased to amaze me.

“We’re almost there,” Sebastian said, breaking my thoughts.

He turned off onto a deserted looking road that led back through the forest. It was clear that the road hadn’t been used in years. The growth of weeds and small bushes attempted to swallow up the path but the Model T made it through without a problem.

The ride was bumpy and a bit uncomfortable as I held on to the door while still looking around. The road wasn’t ending anytime soon and it looked like it had no real destination. Wherever this house was, it wasn’t visible from the main road. Talk about complete privacy.

Thoughts of Sebastian taking me out here to murder me came flooding into my mind and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It was at this moment that I realized I scarcely knew this guy and I couldn’t say for certain that he didn’t plan on murdering me.

Way to go, Em. Way to use your brain. Nobody even knows where I am or who I’m with so if he did plan on killing me, my body wouldn’t be found for years, if ever at all.

Sebastian’s laughter pulled me back to the present as I stared over at him in terror.

“I imagine you’re a bit nervous. I promise I’m not bringing you out here to kill you.” He winked at me. “Besides, do you see a shovel in the back? If I were going to kill you, I’d have to hide the body, wouldn’t I?”

Good Lord.

I swallowed back the fear crawling up my throat. I didn’t know which was more strange: That he knew what I was thinking, or that he talked about hiding my dead body.

“How do you always know what I’m thinking?” Of the two subjects just discussed in my head, that was the question that came out. Apparently, him knowing my thoughts were much more important than my life.

He shrugged, still driving along the open path between the woods. That was the only way to know where the driveway was. If the path wasn’t open like this, there was no way you’d be able to find it.

“I’m really good at reading people’s expressions and body language. You were clutching the door handle and looking over at me like I was a serial killer. Not to mention we’re heading into the wilderness on a deserted driveway. I would be thinking the same thing. If it makes you feel any better, we won’t be alone tonight.”

It actually did make me feel better. They’d be strangers too, but surely Sebastian wouldn’t commit a heinous crime with witnesses, right? Or, maybe the people joining us tonight will be in on it.

Okay, I need to chill out. He hasn’t done or said anything to make me feel endangered. There is no reason to believe he’s going to kill me.

Finally, when I looked ahead, the path opened to a huge field. Several moss-covered trees were scattered among the field, but the vegetation was sparse compared to the woods we just traveled in.

It was then that I saw a giant stone building coming into view. The home was still several hundred feet ahead, but it was so grand there was no missing it.

Once my eyes were torn from the magnificent home, I noticed several small wooden shacks lining the driveway. Some were within feet of the driveway, while others were set back closer to the moss-covered trees. They were very small and I wondered why someone would need so many work sheds. Then it hit me.

These were slave homes.

My heart began hammering in my chest. History books and documentaries have told me how awful life was for the slaves of the south and my heart ached for them now. Knowing they had to live in these wood sheds nearly broke my heart. And knowing Sebastian’s family owned slaves made me even warier of him.

As we passed by the slave quarters, I couldn’t help but stare at them. Most of them were in such bad need of repair that they were almost falling off the bricks holding them off the ground. None of them had glass windows and only a few had front doors, hanging from their hinges. What interested me the most was the fact that most of the small houses we passed by looked as though they hadn’t been touched since those times. Artifacts and items still littered the tiny porches and cluttered out from the front doors. I’d love to take a walk to them, peeking into the past.

My eyes continued to digest the sights in front of me when I saw movement next to one of the tiny houses. The sun was well behind the treeline by now, casting a grey shadow across the property. It was very difficult to see exactly what I was looking at, but there was no doubt in my mind that I was seeing a man standing just behind one of the houses, peeking out from around the corner of it. He was a black man, wearing tattered pants that stopped just below his knees. No shoes could be seen and his shirt looked as though it were two sizes too big for him and clearly moth-eaten.

“Who is that?” I asked, pointing towards the man next to the house.

“Where?” Sebastian looked towards my pointing finger but it was clear that he wasn’t seeing what I was seeing.

“He’s right there, standing near the corner of the house.” I turned to look at Sebastian again, making sure he was looking in the same direction I was pointing.

However, when I turned back towards the tiny house, the man was no longer standing there.

“Hey, where’d he go?”

Sebastian laughed, picking up the speed just a bit, letting the slave quarters disappear in the darkness behind us.

“You must have seen a ghost,” he stated matter of factly.

“A ghost?” I snickered, shaking my head. “Don’t tell me you believe in them like my friend Brad.” I had never seen or heard a ghost before, so to me, they didn’t exist. Much like the rest of the weird stuff happening around me, right?

“Oh, I believe in them alright. You can’t throw a rock into the air in Louisiana without hitting one.” He stopped the truck right at the front steps of the giant plantation and it was then that I got the full view of her beauty, ignoring the subject of ghosts for the moment.

The home was at least two stories tall with four enormous pillars supporting the main roof and the two-level verandah. Off to the left, a two-level castle tower protruded from the exterior, looking straight towards the slave quarters. I couldn’t help but wonder if it were some kind of guard tower, watching over their property.

The entire home was built out of large grey marble stones, giving it a luxury and domineering feeling at the same time. The windows were all shattered out and old curtains blew in the faint breeze. I couldn’t help the overwhelming feeling of eyes watching me. There was clearly nobody physically in the windows, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t someone standing there. I may pretend like ghosts don’t exist, but I knew better. I just didn’t want others to think I was crazy so I played like I didn’t believe in them.

But, looking at this old plantation home that had clearly seen better days made me wonder who was still here. There’s no way the place was ghost-free. You could feel the presence of souls as soon as the tree line opened up to reveal the enormous plantation.

“What do you think?’ Sebastian asked, pulling me from my trance.

“It’s gorgeous. You said this was your family plantation? What happened to her?” I continued to stare in awe at the magnificent structure in front of me. I had always been intrigued by plantation homes, almost feeling a sense of home when I saw them in person. It wasn’t a feeling I could explain other than just that. It felt like I had lived in one at one time or another, but I knew that wasn’t true. My parents raised me in the same exact home since I was born and it definitely wasn’t a plantation, even if the builders of the neighborhood desperately tried to copy the architecture, failing miserably.

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” Sebastian replied, stepping right up next to me, looking in awe at the plantation himself. “I knew my family played a hand in the cotton production of the south and owned a plantation but it wasn’t until a month ago that I figured out exactly which home that was. When I found the exact property and found that the deed was still in the family name, I jumped at coming forward. Once they determined that I was in fact the living heir of the property, they had no hesitation handing me the keys.” He laughed, nodding his head towards the front door. “Well, if there was a front door to put keys into.”

I lightly laughed, knowing what he meant.

“This is really cool, Sebastian. I’d love to take a walk around the property sometime.”

He nodded, placing his hand on the small of my back. “I’d love that. But for now, let’s head inside and eat dinner. I know the house looks like hell, but I promise I put some effort into making this evening amazing.”

I allowed him to lead me up the marble steps leading towards the front door.

Inside the plantation was a sight to be seen. Even though it had clearly been abandoned for years, the grandeur of the home was in plain view. The main level was just like I’d expect a plantation to look like. A huge sprawling open staircase greeted my eyes the second we stepped inside as an old, nearly falling, chandelier hung overhead. I’ll bet it was stunning in its glory days, casting sparkles on the walls and floors from its crystals.

The floors were in desperate need of repair and cleaning, but it was sturdy enough for us to walk over them; however, one look at the grand staircase and I knew it wouldn’t be safe to go up them. Many of the steps were missing while others were sagging in the middle. It was a bit upsetting because I really wanted to see the second floor, hoping to step out onto the verandah to see how far the eye could peer over the property.

Light chatter from off in the distance broke me from my thoughts as Sebastian continued to guide me towards the back of the house.

We passed several closed doors, stepping over debris and ended up in what I assume was the kitchen. There weren’t any signs of a modern kitchen; I just assumed this particular room was used as one. It would make sense, being in the back of the house and all.

It was then that I saw the glow of candlelight coming from somewhere outside, guiding us in the darkness.

“Mr. Sebastian. I’m glad to see you made it safely. Dinner is just about ready, sir.”

The man who greeted us on the back porch almost looked frightened by Sebastian and I’s presence. But, why would he be afraid?

“Thank you, Sylvester,” Sebastian noted before turning towards me. “Shall we sit down?” He turned me towards the side of the porch where a wrought iron table and two matching chairs were set up. A skinny glass cup sat in the middle of the table, a small bunch of flowers in it. Two old wax candles sat next to the glass cup, lighting up the small table. It was actually kind of romantic, but I hoped this wasn’t what Sebastian was trying to accomplish. I was strictly here to get my necklace back.

I took the seat Sebastian held out for me before he took his own right across from me. I kept my eyes down, too shy to look up at him when the man named Sylvester came over, filling our glasses with what looked like wine, his hands shaking.

Was he shaking because he was chilled? Although, that was unlikely. It was nearing eighty-five degrees today and in the south that meant it was also humid as hell. He was clearly an elderly man, perhaps he’s shaking because of arthritis. I felt bad for the man almost immediately, wondering why Sebastian allowed this poor old man to come out to this abandoned house to serve us.

Before I could say as much, Sylvester set a plate of food in front of us. On the plate were grilled chicken, veggies, and a small salad. The aroma reached my nose and my mouth began to water. It smelled delicious.

“This smells wonderful, Sylvester. Did you make this all yourself?” I asked, looking up at him, but noticed he wasn’t looking back at me. His eyes were glued to the floor as he slowly nodded.

“Yes, Sylvester cooked this,” Sebastian answered for him, before adding, “He’s a fantastic cook. That will be all for now, Sylvester.”

I watched as Sylvester kept his eyes down but nodded at Sebastian before slowly backing away, disappearing into the abandoned house.

Strange, I thought to myself.

“So, Emersyn. Tell me about yourself.” Sebastian sipped from his wine, eyeing me over the fancy glassware.

I shrugged, picking up a piece of broccoli with my fork before placing it into my mouth. I was never good at talking about myself and didn’t plan on starting now in such a strange setting.

My eyes pulled away from Sebastian as I took in the sight around us. The back part of the property was gorgeous. Huge oaks with Spanish Moss dotted the lawn here and there throughout the yard. A well house could be seen next to one of the old oaks, a few hundred feet from where we sat. As my eyes searched through the beautiful trees, I saw something hanging from one of the big branches, but in this light, I couldn’t see exactly what it was.

“There isn’t much to say,” I finally answered Sebastian, looking back at him. “What about you?” I waved my hand around to indicate the plantation. “You obviously have quite a story to tell.”

Chuckling, he stared at me, not saying a word as he bit into his chicken. We sat in silence for several minutes before he finally spoke again.

“I’m still learning my own history. Perhaps you can assist me some time. I heard the local library is a good place to start.” He sipped his wine again, eyeing me intently. “So, this necklace you love so much… Where did you get it? It looks like a family heirloom.”

Finally, he was getting to the subject of my necklace.

“It’s not a family heirloom, although that would be pretty great. No, I found it sitting in a glass case at an antique store in Baton Rouge. My mom wouldn’t buy it for me right away, but I begged her for weeks. Eventually, she went back to the shop and got it for me. I don’t know why, but I just love it. It’s very classy, no?” I cocked an eyebrow at him, hoping he’d just give me my damn necklace already.

“It’s very classy.” He continued to stare at me for a long moment before he leaned back, reached into his pocket, and revealed my necklace. It was dangling from his fingers the same way it had earlier today on Bourbon Street. I wanted to lunge across the table and rip it from his grip, but I didn’t want to break it either.

“If you like it so much you can keep it.”

He burst out laughing, shaking his head. “It’s not really my style.” He turned the necklace towards him, looking deeply into the stone. “It’s very beautiful and would look much better back around your neck.”

My heart began pounding uncontrollably in my chest, excited nerves consuming me. He’s going to give me back my necklace after all!!

After staring at it a moment longer, he finally stood up from his chair and slowly walked towards me. Each step he took caused my heart rate to race that much more. I’m not even entirely sure why I’m so excited at the moment. It’s just a necklace.

It might be, but something told me it was much more important than I could ever imagine.

Sebastian stepped up behind me, pulling my hair slowly away from my neck as the back of his fingers lightly cascaded across my sensitive flesh. Goosebumps rose along my neck and down my spine.

“So gorgeous,” he whispered out before placing the necklace around my neck.

A sense of wholeness consumed my senses the moment he clasped it securely at the back of my neck. And for the first time all night, I felt complete trust towards a man I hardly knew. This one small action of returning my beloved necklace made me trust a stranger. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing just yet, but only time would tell.

My hand came up and touched the face of the necklace, a feeling of calmness sweeping through me as I looked back out towards the yard sprawling behind the plantation.

Although it was difficult to see in the darkness, I could see several figures standing here and there, all frozen to their spots as they stared in our direction.

Gone was the calmness I just felt, replaced by pure anxiety and fear. Sebastian had said we wouldn’t be alone tonight, but I never expected an entourage of strangers watching us from the darkness, the Spanish Moss blowing in the wind that blocked my view from their faces.

Something wasn’t right here and I suddenly had this enormous urge to leave.
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