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 Nine


NOEL AND PIM APPLIED for their marriage license the first week of January, and then patiently bided their time during the three-day waiting period. Madge went full-steam ahead with wedding preparations, also coaxing Judge Minot to do the honors.

There was no time - or money - for proper wedding attire or fancy rings, so Noel and Pim made do with clothes off-the-rack from Filene's Bargain Basement on Washington Street. Noel found a floor-length ivory-chiffon dress for just under $100, with long sleeves, spaghetti straps, Basque-style waist and a zipper-back. She couldn't afford new dresses for her mother and Madge, so the two women got together and paid for their own simple ensembles - a white blouse and gray skirt for Madge, and a one-piece faux satin pink dress for June.

Noel and Pim met with Judge Edward Minot before the wedding, which was scheduled for January 11th. Madge took the couple to Judge Minot's home in Beacon Hill one Saturday morning, which was an area of Boston that Noel was not overly familiar with. Located north of Boston Common, Beacon Hill was one of the most elite neighborhoods in the city. The judge's house on Louisburg Square was flanked by pink-bricked townhomes and fronted with a cobblestone sidewalk.

"Why did Judge Minot agree to perform our wedding ceremony?" Noel asked Madge as they parked. "He doesn't know us from Tom, Dick or Harry."

"He knows me quite well. And I've talked about you."

"Why?" Noel was bewildered.

"Because I think the world of you, Noel. You deserve to be happy and you deserve the best, as far as I'm concerned. I wish I could give you Buckingham Palace for your wedding, but my foyer will have to do." She laughed. "Judge Minot might come off as a bit stern and cranky, but he is the salt of the earth with a salty sense of humor to match."

"But why does he want to meet us before the ceremony?" Noel persisted.

"To make sure all the paperwork is in order," Madge replied quickly. "Plus, he likes to have a brief chat with couples before they get married, sort of like a priest counseling the romantically inclined members of his flock. I also wanted you to have a look inside his house. It's quite amazing, and something I hope to aspire to someday."

Noel heard Pim's thoughts as he sat next to her in the back seat of Madge's Taurus. Even in silence, his tone suggested he was slightly reproving. "Noel, please. Madge is going out of her way to make our wedding special. Don't give her the third degree. So what if she wants us to meet the judge? Go with the flow and put a smile on your face!"

Noel glanced at him sideways. "Are we a bit tetchy this morning?" she thought sharply.

Pim didn't respond. Instead, he reached over and squeezed her hand with affection.

Madge was right about one thing. The inside of Judge Minot's house was amazing. A uniformed housekeeper opened the double-glassed doors, ushering them into a grand entryway. The ceiling was high and airy, with an amber globe chandelier adorning the top. The walls were done in light cream and dark brown accents, the floor a shiny mixture of sienna and blond woods forming uniform stripes. While not overly ostentatious, the home was old-world elegant and bespoke of meticulous care.

"Hi Dolores," Madge greeted the housekeeper by name. "The judge is expecting us." She turned to Pim and Noel. "These are my friends Noel Gatsby and Pim Grady. They are the lucky couple Judge Minot has agreed to marry in a few days time."

Slightly plump with dark-and-gray pageboy hair, Dolores smiled at Madge. "Good to see you, Miss Tilley," she said, nodding politely toward Noel and Pim. "Judge Minot is waiting for you in the den. Please follow me."

They walked down a short corridor to the left of the entryway, the floors just as shiny and well-tended. Judge Minot's den was as elegant as the foyer, but with a marked masculine appeal. Where outside the room was light and airy, the den was rich with dark paneling, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, a tan-colored leather sofa, a tall cabinet with a television set, a green-felt covered poker table in one corner, and a large antique desk. A crackling fire burned in the grate, which was surrounded by a massive carved mantle and topped with a seascape portrait. The painting was an impressive rendition of Boston Harbor at sunset as seen in the eyes of artist Fitz Hugh Lane, the foggy waters teeming with old clipper ships.

A small, older man emerged from behind the desk, which almost seemed to swallow him whole until he came forward. Despite his diminutive size, the man's stern countenance was emphasized by deep frown lines on either side of his mouth and spider web crinkles on his forehead. White, thinning hair was carefully slicked back to the nape of his neck, where it met evenly with the whiteness of his dress-shirt collar. His watery blue eyes gazed at them through thick, bi-focal spectacles, which were rimmed with a silver frame.

He held out his hand, a thin patchwork of blue veins and wrinkles, gripping Madge's fingers in a form of greeting. "Lovely to see you again so soon, Madge," his voice came deep and rumbling, another characteristic that belied his size. "Please introduce me to your friends."

Noel found herself staring at the old man, unable to help herself. Despite his size, watery eyes and obvious maturity, he exuded a glow of good health. Rather than pale and waxy as was typical of someone his age, his skin - while wrinkled - was slightly tan. He appeared well-rested and refreshed.

"This is Noel Gatsby and Pim Grady," Madge was saying. "Noel is my secretary, and Pim works as an engineer for Nordic Petroleum. Noel and Pim, this is Judge Edward Minot, my dear friend and frequent boss in the courtroom. He sits on the bench for Boston Municipal Court, where he hears many of the family law cases I represent."

"We're honored to meet you," Pim said affably, shaking hands with the judge.

Judge Minot's eyes went to Noel, who was still staring at him with barely veiled curiosity if not surprise. Although Madge or Pim couldn't hear his thoughts eking through the air, Noel could. She never expected to be able to read anyone else but Pim, so the words trickling from the old man kept her transfixed.

"You…can…hear me?" he was stunned. The quick thoughts sped between the judge's mind to hers, but the signal was rather weak. It was as if they were being transmitted from an echo chamber or from a great distance away.

"Yes, I can hear you. How is that?"

"Assuming…you've met…Shoji," was his disjointed but hasty reply.

Noel's mouth gaped open slightly, her eyes narrowing as she regarded him.

"Noel?" Madge said, touching her arm. "Is something wrong?"

Noel recovered herself instantly. She flashed a smile at Madge. "No, not at all." Over Madge's shoulder, she saw Pim's face and puzzled stare aimed in her direction. Noel turned to face the old man again, extending her hand. "Thank you for inviting us into your beautiful home, Judge Minot."

He nodded graciously. "Madge speaks highly of both you and Mr. Grady. It's my pleasure to assist you with your marriage plans."

Madge laughed. "That's my cue to skedaddle," she explained with humor. "Judge Minot prefers to speak with couples privately before he marries them."

"Miriam is waiting for you in the kitchen with tea," the old man told Madge with a smile. He looked at Noel. "You'll meet my wife later, of course."

After Madge left the den, closing the door behind her, Noel and Pim took seats in two comfortable leather chairs facing Judge Minot's large desk. He resumed his place behind the desk, which had an imposing backdrop window overlooking Louisburg Square.

"It's not a requirement that you speak to me before I perform your marriage ceremony," the judge began, keeping his watery blue eyes on Noel. "To be honest, I don't marry many people anymore. I usually do it just for friends and family." He smiled thinly. "Since Madge is a dear friend, I'm glad to be of service. I like to get to know couples before I read the vows, which is a personal preference more than anything else. Marriage is an important step, never to be taken lightly - even for those past the youthful stage of life."

"This will be a second marriage for both of us," Pim offered. "I was divorced a long time ago in England, while Noel's first husband passed away last year."

"Before which we were separated for a long period," Noel added quickly.

"And neither of us has any children," Pim continued.

"How long have you known each another?" Judge Minot asked thoughtfully.

"Years," Pim replied frankly. "We've lived in the same apartment building for about a decade." He glanced at Noel, his eyes warm. "We were just acquaintances for a very long time, but it has developed into much more than that."

As Pim talked, Noel focused on the judge. She blocked Pim from reading her mind, putting her thoughts in a protected recess of her brain where she could control output and receiving. The ability still stymied her, unable to fathom how she was capable of such a unique yet powerful talent. The skill seemed to be growing stronger rather than weakening, as Shoji told her it might.

"What happened to you?" Noel directed her thoughts to the judge. "If you know about Shoji, then you must have awakened during your healing process. What was your particular brand of suffering?"

Judge Minot shifted his gaze to Pim, as if listening to the handsome Englishman speak with great interest. However, his thoughts went to Noel. "Had…inoperable…brain tumor…two years ago. Almost died. When I came to after seizure, no trace of….tumor remained. Doctor flabbergasted. I recall seeing Shoji in a dream…could read certain people's minds afterward. Can't read minds like…used to. My…ability is slowly eroding…but health still fine…"

His thoughts came to her faintly, some of the words lost or muffled in transmission. It reminded Noel of being on a cell phone and having the connection fade in and out. "Are we crazy or is this really happening?" Noel mused silently.

"Really happening, not crazy…does Pim know?"

"He can only read my mind, and me his. Now I can read yours, too."

"Need to talk more about this….later…when no one else…around…"

Noel spoke aloud. "After Pim and I are married, we're going to share his apartment with my mother. Hopefully, in time, we'll be able to buy a small house together."

"Yes," Pim joined her. "The future looks bright, indeed."

"I've joined dozens of couples in marriage over the years," Judge Minot admitted. "Granted, it's not the reason I'm a judge nor is it an official part of my duties with the Municipal Court. I preside over family law cases every day, some which end in unspeakable tragedy while others have happy endings. I think my desire to see couples off to a good start stems from that. Having a short chat with me is not a prerequisite to getting married, of course, but in my own way I like to make sure two people are compatible before I perform their wedding ceremony. I guess I've learned to trust my instincts about people after witnessing so much drama in my courtroom."

"And what's your verdict about me and Noel?" Pim asked expectantly.

The judge smiled broadly. "There's no question about it, Mr. Grady. The two of you are like two peas in a pod. I sense a great deal of love and respect between you, and something much deeper. Soul mates, if you will. Call me a crazy old man, but the connection you have with Noel seems to go as deep as your soul."

Pim exhaled quietly, as if relieved that Judge Minot approved of them. "Thank you. We knew that before we came here, naturally, but it's reassuring that you can see it, too."

Before Noel could add her own comment, Madge and an elderly woman came into the den. "Enough serious talk," the woman said. "It's time for a nice cup of tea, Edward, and I'm sure your guests are ready for some refreshment by now."

Madge laughed. "The boss lady has spoken, Judge Minot."

He grinned. "Yes, it's a little-known secret that my wife rules the roost at home. I'm a mere puppet in the domestic scheme of things."

Miriam Minot was as small and compact as her husband, with short, wavy white hair and light brown eyes. She wore a long-sleeved pink dress which fell to just below her knees, the waist cinched with a gray belt. She was tiny, almost doll-like, but with a force of personality that seemed to fill the air around her. She was easy to like.

Noel and Pim enjoyed a leisurely tea with Madge and their hosts, seated in front of the fireplace in the judge's den. Miriam provided tiny cucumber sandwiches – with the crusts cut off, no less – and round shortbread cookies with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

When it was time to leave, Noel felt as if she had known Judge Minot and Miriam forever. Despite his stern appearance, the judge was a kind old soul deep in his heart, and his wife was simply charming. On the way home, Madge told Noel and Pim that the couple had never been able to have children of their own. "So they get involved in charities that have to do with kids, especially the Children's Hospital and Horizons for Homeless Children. They donate a lot of their time and money to worthwhile causes."

"Just another reason to like them," Pim said from the back seat. He glanced to Noel, who sat quietly next to him. "I felt an immediate kinship with Judge Minot, although I'm not sure why. He comes off a bit severe at first, as you told us he would, but underneath all that he's a kind, decent man. Tell me, Madge, what's he like when he's presiding in court? Does he scare the hell out of defendants and attorneys alike?"

Madge chuckled. "Judge Minot has the reputation of being no-nonsense, but he's fair in all cases. Every time I've come before him, he based his decisions on the facts without prejudice. He's quite a remarkable man, and I dread the day he retires. I know you might find this hard to believe, but he turned eighty-three last October."

"Is he planning to retire?" Pim wanted to know.

"He mentions it now and then, but has no concrete plans to step down. There's no need for him to do so, really. He's as sharp as a tack."

After Madge dropped them off on Wren Street, Noel and Pim went to his apartment on the first floor. They were almost finished with rearranging the small flat to accommodate June after the wedding, turning the small storage room into a bedroom for her. They had already painted the walls, waxed the floor and scrubbed the tiny window, which overlooked the alleyway between their apartment building and the next row house. They continued tinkering with the room after they returned from Judge Minot's home, intent on hanging a set of beige-colored blinds over the window.

Pim stood on a small stepstool, using a screwdriver to secure the hanging mounts. Without looking at Noel, he said: "Okay - out with it. You were blocking me while we were with the judge. What's going on?"

Noel was sheepish. "You caught that, huh?"

"Of course I caught it. You might be able to block me, Noel, but you can't hide the fact that you're doing it in the first place. Ditto for me."

Noel sighed. "I don't know if the judge will mind me telling you, but here it goes. Judge Minot had an inoperable brain tumor a few years ago, and he almost died."

"How did you know that?"

"He told me. Or rather, he told me in his thoughts . . ."

Pim stood down from the stepstool, screwdriver still in hand. "You can read his mind?" he asked, stunned. "How did that happen?"

"He had a seizure in the hospital related to his brain tumor," she explained. "When he came to, he recalled seeing Shoji in a dream. It was then his doctor discovered that all traces of the brain tumor had disappeared. Then Judge Minot realized he could read certain people's minds."

"Who? What people?"

"He didn't have a chance to tell me," Noel replied. "But there is something different about his mind-reading abilities. They are - how shall I say it? - fading away. I could hear his words, but it was like they were coming from a great distance, and sometimes they were filled with static. Is that what's going to happen to us? After a few years we'll no longer be able to read each other's thoughts?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," Pim replied. "But if all goes according to what Shoji and Hoshi told us, extra-sensory abilities which are side effects of the healing process do go away in time. I suppose that's what we can expect, too." He shook his head. "It's a small world, isn't it? We're told coming awake during the cure is a rare thing, yet here are three of us in the space of two months."

"Four," Noel corrected him.


"Don't forget Alvin Carter," she said. "I know you don't fully agree with me, but I think something happened to him he's not telling us about. Or it happened and he doesn't remember."

"The jury is still out on that one."

Noel shrugged. "Time will tell, but mark my words."

Pim climbed the stepstool again, returning to his task. "Who do you suppose the judge can read, aside from you?"

"That's a story for another day," she responded in a practical tone. "There's not much time between now and our wedding, so further chitchat with the judge will have to wait." Noel laughed. "Wouldn't it be something if he could read people's minds in court? He'd know from the get-go who was guilty and who was innocent, wouldn't he?"

"There's something not entirely moral about that scenario."

"If he gets to the truth, what difference does it make?"

Rather than answer her, Pim hung the blinds. "There. How does that look?"

"It's lovely, Pim. Thank you."

"I just want June to be comfortable while we're stuck here," he said. "Hopefully, it won't be for much longer."

Noel looped her arm through his. "Speaking of my mother, maybe we should go and check on her. When we left, she and Alvin were deep into a game of Hearts. You don't think they're still at it, do you?"

Pim chuckled. "Or maybe they've fallen into bed . . ."

She pinched his arm. "Really, Pim."

"You're never too old for a romp in the hay," he teased her. "No one - not even your sainted mother and old man Carter - are as staid and proper as they would like us to believe."

"Do you know something that I don't?"

"No. I just know men." He grinned. "I could be on my deathbed and I'd still want to throw you down and have my way with you."

"Thanks for the warning," she said dryly, but with a smile. "Be that as it may, shall we go upstairs and check on them anyway?"

"Lead the way, love."



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.