Bloodfrost by Deidre Dalton is Book #1 in the Bloodline Trilogy.


Noel Gatsby's dreams take her away from the misery of her pain-wracked, disease-riddled body. The dreams become real when she awakens one morning to find herself completely cured. However, she soon learns her miraculous recovery comes at a price.

From Chapter Four


ALVIN CARTER HAD RESIDED on Wren Street his entire life. The West Roxbury neighborhood contained an assortment of 18th-century row houses transformed into apartment buildings, many of which were well past their prime with sagging foundations, creaky floors and steps, thinly-warped window panes and dank basements.

The younger of two boys, Alvin was raised by his white mother and a frequently absent black father. It was only later he learned his parents never married. By the time he entered his teens, Alvin's father had left the scene permanently. Shortly thereafter, his older brother Tomas died of a drug overdose, leaving Alvin and his mother alone. He went on to become a taxicab driver, spending most of his adult life living with his mother in the same flat. He enjoyed an all-too brief marriage in his youth, his wife leaving him for another man barely two years into the union.

After Alvin's mother died some years ago, he was surprised to learn she had taken out a modest insurance policy with him as the sole beneficiary. It wasn't a fortune by any means, but it was enough for Alvin to purchase the family flat outright - rather than paying rent every month - and to live comfortably for the rest of his life. He retired early, spending his days reading science fiction books - specifically titles by Ray Bradbury and Stephen Donaldson - and keeping an eye on the neighborhood. He was content, never striving for anything more.

Every morning, Alvin watched people from his stoop as they passed by. Even after he suffered and recovered from a sudden heart attack six months ago, he made the effort to take the air and observe his neighbors.

He always noticed when something - or someone - was different. He knew when the mailman dyed his silver hair to blond, when city workers replaced orbs in streetlamps, when his elderly neighbor Mrs. Sims bought a new walker or changed the curtains in her living room, when door-to-door salesmen prowled the pavement, or when the convenience store up the street updated their window advertising.

So Alvin was bound to notice the marked differences in Noel Gatsby and Pim Grady, especially Noel. He didn't know the pair personally, but he observed Noel walking sans her cane the first day she emerged without it. She even looked younger, the ugly grimace of pain seemingly erased from her features overnight.

Alvin saw Noel and Pim coming his way mid-morning as he sat on his stoop. He fully expected them to keep walking by, but instead they stopped at the bottom of the stairs. He smiled affably, waving his hand slightly. "Good morning," he said, looking at them briefly. Then he turned his head, assuming they would go on their way.

"Good morning, Mr. Carter," Noel replied quietly. "Can we have a moment of your time?"

Alvin returned his gaze to her, surprised. He found his voice. "Please, call me Alvin. What can I do for you?"

Pim stared at the old man, hesitating slightly. "We'd like to talk to you privately, if you don't mind."

Alvin gestured to the stoop. "Ain't this private enough? No one can hear us." He furrowed his brow, regarding Pim sternly. "What's this all about, anyway? If you've got complaints about someone living in my building, you'll have to contact the super. I might own my apartment, but I sure as hell don't own the building."

Noel shook her head, appearing dismayed. "No, it's nothing like that. We haven't come to lodge a complaint, Alvin. We just need to talk to you." She paused, meeting his quizzical eyes. "It's rather sensitive, however, and we'd rather no one else overhears what we have to say."

"Here's as good a place as any," he said stubbornly, although he was slightly alarmed by her words. "It's too damned cold for open windows, so no one in my building will overhear us. If someone walks by, just quit talking until they pass on."

Pim grew visibly impatient. He shoved his hands in his trouser pockets in a hasty gesture, glancing toward Noel. "We'd like to know if you've had any strange dreams lately."

"Dreams?" Alvin echoed. "What do you mean?"

"We know you had a heart attack some months back," Noel interjected quickly. "You appeared to recover somewhat, but your movements were noticeably slower. Now you seem to be fit as a fiddle - as Pim so elegantly phrased it - without any apparent side effects. Your full recovery seems to follow in the same vein as ours." She lowered her voice. "Surely you've noticed that Pim and I seem fitter these days, just like yourself?"

Alvin shrugged, although a cold fear suddenly invaded his body. "I'm not sure I know what you're talking about. What does my health - or yours, for that matter - have to do with my dreams?"

"That's what we're trying to find out," Pim spoke in a serious tone.

The old man appeared mystified. "I still don't understand. What do dreams have to do with recovering from my heart attack? I took my doc's advice, frankly. Got some exercise and started eating better." He glanced at them. "Sure, I noticed the two of you seem better these days. I'm happy for you, actually. You must be doing something right, and maybe your own doctors performed a few miracles of their own."

Pim nudged Noel slightly. "If he had a dream about being cured, he sure as hell doesn't remember it," he spoke to her through thought.

Noel ignored him. "You don't recall having dreams in which you were cured?"

Alvin curled his lip, annoyed with her persistence. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

She was instantly apologetic. "Sorry to bother you, Mr. Carter . . . Alvin. I'm so glad you're feeling better these days."

He nodded curtly. "Same to you." He turned his head again, hoping the gesture would signal his dismissal of them.

Pim grabbed Noel's hand, leading her away from the old man's stoop. They continued along the sidewalk, toward the Wren Street Coffee Clack. Pim waited until they were several feet away from Alvin before he spoke. "That was a waste of time," he said ruefully. "I think we scared the poor fellow near the end."

"If he had a dream, he doesn't remember it because he didn't wake-up during the healing process." She turned her head to look at him. "We can't be the only two people in the world who've been healed by Shoji and Hoshi."

"I agree," he replied. "But we can't very well go around asking everyone we see, now can we? We'll be sent off to the booby hatch in no time."

Noel sighed. "You're right."

"Let's just enjoy ourselves, shall we?" Pim asked, more sharply than he intended.

She glanced at him again. "Are you mad at me?"

He returned her gaze. "No."

"Are you sure?"

He nodded without looking at her.

Noel was immediately contrite. She could sense Pim's distress, his desire to please her and yet the need to enjoy his newfound health as well. She knew, without asking him, that he feared it would disappear despite Shoji and Hoshi's assurances to the contrary.

She smiled softly. "Let's get some coffee and just enjoy the day, shall we?"

Pim stopped on the sidewalk, staring at her in surprise. "Do you mean it?"

"With all my heart."

He looked relieved, a broad grin brightening his features. "Thank you," he whispered. He took her hand as they resumed walking, his step definitely lighter.

Noel felt great comfort in his hand, the pleasant warmth radiating along her arm. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, his eyes meeting hers sideways as they walked.

ALVIN CARTER WATCHED AS Noel and Pim walked away. In all the years he'd sat on his stoop, he had never exchanged more than ten words with either of them. Pim was the friendlier of the two, waving and yelling "Hello" every time he happened to walk by. In the past, Noel barely nodded to him in recognition while she struggled along the sidewalk with her cane.

But today was different. There was now a lightness of being surrounding both Noel and Pim, something they obviously felt the need to share with him. Their vague questions about dreams and cures unnerved Alvin to say the least, as if they were trying to take him to the fringes of the unknown or better-left unknown. He had no desire to probe the reasons behind his somewhat miraculous recovery from a heart attack, chalking it down to good medical care and his own resilience – nothing more, nothing less.

He had no clear memory of having a dream in which his recovery was accelerated, but a nagging sense of déjà vu came over him when Noel asked him questions about his health and the possibility of related dreams. It was familiar, yet still somehow foreign, to him. However, he did not want to press his luck by questioning his good health.

That decided, Alvin rose from the stoop. He'd seen enough of the neighborhood – and his neighbors – for one morning. The urge to spend the remainder of the day lost in his books - thereby transporting himself to a world other than his own if only for a brief time – was suddenly very appealing to him.

And deep in his bones, he knew it would be safer.



BLOODFROST ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"Bloodfrost" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Bloodfrost" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.