Last Friday I introduced you to The Unmasking, one of my first novels and soon to be a brand-new ebook. Here’s another installment to enjoy and to enhance your own Carnival spirit in these weeks before Mardi Gras.
Banners of green, gold and purple, the official New Orleans Mardi Gras colors, hung from balconies and doorways, and shop windows were decorated with balloons and clowns, beads and doubloons. There were masks displayed, too—rubber masks from Taiwan, ceramic masks of clowns and masks on sticks to be held up as temporary disguises. Occasionally there were handmade masks, and Bethany proudly showed Justin a display window with masks she had made and sold the year before.
“I love this time of year,” she said, her happiness reflected in her voice. “The rest of the world has no idea what it is missing.”
“You almost convince me that I could learn to like carnival,” Justin answered, settling her in the crook of his arm on a bench overlooking the Mississippi River. They had drifted to the Moonwalk across from Jackson Square and were sitting peacefully watching the lights glimmering across from them on the west bank of the river.
“I can’t believe it. Don’t tell me you’re one of those native New Orleanians who would fly to Timbuktu every year on Twelfth Night and return on Ash Wednesday if they could.”
“I moved to Chicago, didn’t I?”
“Mmm— You need carnival, Justin. It’s just what the doctor ordered.” She was only half joking. The freedom to let go and celebrate with few inhibitions was foreign to Justin’s nature, even though it was an integral part of the culture he had grown up in. Somehow she knew that if he could learn to be less careful, his life would be happier.
“Analysis from the beautiful, mask maker?”
“Before I can make the masks, I have to understand what goes on underneath them. I’m just presenting you with valuable insight.” She turned her head toward him, to discover that he was looking at her. Their faces were inches apart, then Justin’s kiss was hungry. Her hands tangled in his black hair, and she fingered the silky strands as the kiss deepened.
Finally he pulled away just far enough to ask, “And what do you need?”
Bethany may create masks, but she and Justin, the man she loves, also wear them. The title says it all. The story is about removing masks to reveal the real people underneath. I had great fun all those years playing with the theme. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. The Unmasking, an ebook with a brand-new cover, will most likely be at online bookstores in February. Stay tuned for an announcement.