The Hollow Curse
by
Stephen B. Pearl


A paranormal-romance, erotica (romantica) novel


Rated NC17 - Adult content - explicit sexuality.


Published by and available from
Club Lighthouse Publishing


ISBN-13: 978-1897532539.


Location: historic and present day UK, USA and Canada - York, England; Colorado Territories, USA; southern Ontario, Canada.


The Hollow Curse book cover - paranormal romance erotica

The Hollow Curse Chapter 1 The Hollow Curse Chapter 2 The Hollow Curse Chapter 3 Reviews


Chapter 2
It Might Have Been


     Ben stood in the mist-shrouded graveyard. A single bedraggled tree overhung the grave in front of him. Reaching down he cleaned away the weeds, replacing them with carnations. He wiped clean the headstone with his handkerchief. His fingers traced the writing in the stone as if they were touching a lover's face. Andrea O'Mally, born 1940, died 1985. She blazed like the sun.


     "Every year, like clockwork, Benjamin," spoke a voice with a Harvard accent.


     "Hello, Philip." Ben stood brushing dirt from the knees of his pants then turned to face the newcomer.


     Phillip was a robust man who appeared to be somewhere in his seventies, with a round, ruddy face. He wore a tweed suit and an old, school tie. "Carnations. They were her favourite."


     "I know. How have you been?" Ben's voice sounded strained.


     "Well. Had a bit of pneumonia in January, but it's better now. And you?"


     "Well enough."


     "How are... Oh, what did you call them? Your 'holy terrors'. Is your niece still in school?"


     "Just graduated. Bachelor of Arts, she's managed to get in with an advertising firm."


     "Good. Good. And the lad. The one that wasn't academic?"


     "Scott. He joined the police force. It suits him. He has a need to play the hero."


     "And your apprentice?" Philip scrutinized Ben like a specimen in a bottle.


     "Alysia." Ben smiled and a softness entered his features that spoke volumes to any with eyes to see. "She's starting her Masters. Her studies in the art are going well. She has so much potential. She needs balance to tap it though. I keep hoping a good man, with a knowledge of the art, will enter her life, but so far no one suitable has appeared."


     "That lad you spoke of last year?"


     "Herb, nice lad, natural medium, but it scared him. He didn't have a love of the art. He only learned enough to shut himself down. Alysia stepped away from the relationship."


     "And what about you, Ben. What is new in your life?" A quiet smile touched Philip's lips.


     "What is new in my life? I'm still counseling at the high school, slowly getting my doctoral presentation together. And of course playing father figure for Nicole and her friends, when they need it. Though that is less often now."


     "Sounds rather empty."


     "It isn't. I have a family."


     "She always wanted you to have one."


     "I know. That was one of the reasons she left me." Ben stared at the ground.


     "Ben, go home. There is nothing but cold stone and dirt here."


     "I can't just forget her."


     "Did I say you should? She was my sister; I loved her too. Ben, my dear, old friend, listen to me. When Nicholas died it was like Andrea stopped living. She went through the motions, but she was dead inside. Then you appeared. I may have been less than kind to you when she first introduced us. All I could see was the age difference. Then I saw her come alive and realized how little that mattered."


      Ben sighed. "I remember. I had just started my Masters. Old Professor Wills decided he needed to familiarize me with the research materials, so he got me a job in the library. She was so striking. I must have seemed a right dolt when I first met her. I could hardly say a word." He nervously scrubbed at the dirt on his hands with a handkerchief.


     Philip smiled. "She was use to having that effect on men. Though, I admit, she was flattered that it hit a youngster like yourself with such force. For her part, she said you were 'a finely-cut, young man'."


     "Finely cut, that was Andrea. Those were the best two years of my life."


     Philip looked grave. "If they really were, Ben, you have betrayed her."


     "What?"


     "Do you remember when she left you? What she said?"


     "She told me I was a young man with my life to live. She could never give me children, and I should seek out a new love who could share my whole life, not just part of it. She wanted me to find joy and love." Ben's voice cracked and tears tickled down his cheeks.


     "And have you."


     "I... I love Nicole and the rest as if they were my children. I came close once, but... Let us just say fate is cruel." Ben smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of his jacket.


     "That is not what she meant and you know it." Phillip perched himself on the gravestone.


     "Phillip you!" Ben looked horrified.


     "She isn't here, Ben. Hasn't been for a long time. The car accident that killed her--"


     "Never would have happened if it wasn't for me. She had just ended it with me. If only I'd begged her to stay, forced her to listen. I loved her. I didn't care about her age. She was more alive than any woman half her age. More alive than any woman I've__"


     "Think before you finish that statement. Is it a lie? Hasn't there been another with that same spark? I've heard it in your voice every year since you moved to Canada. Seen it in your eyes when you spoke her name."


     "It's impossible. I'm old enough to be her father!"


     Phillip shook his head sadly. "As Andrea could have been your mother. Was she right to end it with you? Was it what was best for either of you? And as to children, that is a place where biology is unfair to the sexes."


     "No. She was mistaken! I didn't care about having children, or what might or might not happen in twenty years. I loved her. I hadn't planned on loving her. I would never have pursued an older woman. It just happened." Ben stared at the ground.


     "And there in lies the difference. All the things you tell yourself about how pathetic an older man perusing a young woman is don't apply, because, like with Andrea, you haven't pursued. You encountered. That is a rare gift for the universe to give anyone. Don't be a fool with it!"


     "Phillip, why tell me all this now?" Ben scrutinized his friend with eyes that brimmed with unshed tears.


     "Because, old boy, there is nothing here but cold stone and dirt. It's time you layed your ghosts to rest. It wasn't your fault she was in that car that evening. You've carried it with you too long. Say your goodbyes, Ben. I do not expect to see you here again." Philip walked off, disappearing into the mist. Ben looked at the grass. Not a blade was bent where Phillip had stood.


     "What?" He followed in the direction the older man had walked, stumbling into a headstone before he saw it. He paused to read it.


     "Phillip Montgomery, beloved husband and father, born March 30, 1938, died January 2, 2007.


     Ben gasped, then mastering the shock stood silently for a long minute. "Goodbye, Phillip." He bowed his head in prayer before striding into the mist, leaving the small cemetery for what he knew would be the last time.