Authors: Sahara Kelly
SK Private Label Publications
Cover art copyright 2013
P and N Graphics, LLC
(Originally released as "Alana's Magic Lamp" in 2001, this edition has been revised and re-edited for digital reading devices.)
This book remains one of my all-time favorite stories. It was my first successful release and spawned many more books in the course of the last decade plus of writing. However there will always be something special about this particular tale and the characters involved. They stayed with me, almost living on my shoulders as I wrote. It was unique and a joy. And it made me realize that I had indeed found my bliss. Happily that state of affairs has never changed, despite the roller-coaster ride that masquerades as a writing career these days. Bliss on, folks. Bliss on.
"I've been telling you that for years."
"No, no…I'm not talking about men, here, look at this—they look like dicks."
Janet Beatty pointed at an article on a table in the far corner of the room and grabbed her friend's arm.
"Janet, give me a break here. You're always talking about men and this is the first table with some decent jewelry I've found all afternoon."
Alana West sighed as she eased her arm away from Janet's fingers. Her other hand held her tumble of hair away from her face as she gazed critically over the display on the white cloth. This was a pretty good estate sale, all things considered, the coffee was strong and the cookies were fresh. The owners had obviously contacted a lot of their friends because there was more selection here than could be offered by a single seller.
Alana knew whereof she spoke—it was her job to analyze and authenticate small
with a special attention to seventeenth and eighteenth century jewelry. She was still hoping for an undiscovered treasure—a special miniature perhaps or the perfect cameo which would bolster the reputation of her small store and lead to bigger and more profitable assignments.
Looking up she realized her friend was watching her impatiently.
"Just because you're Miss I'm-Not-Distracted-by-Sex, there is no need to act all snotty with me. I bought you your first vibrator, remember?"
"Jeez, Jan, keep your voice down—I'd rather not announce things like that to the whole room, if you don't mind." She frowned at her best friend since high school who was giving her the "yeah, right" look.
"Not everything is about sex, Janet—I happen to be really enjoying this sale. There's some great stuff here..."
"None of which is a good substitute for a warm body."
Alana sighed. They'd had this discussion on numerous occasions, in various stages of sobriety, and the conclusion was pretty much the same. Janet loved men and sex, large quantities of each, and Alana had yet to find a guy who could bring her that mind-blowing orgasm that magazines (and Janet) continually told her she was supposed to be having. She'd cancelled her subscription to the magazines and given up on men, but she couldn't quite bring herself to shut Janet up.
"Seriously, Al, I'm not at all fixated here—you have to come and see this thing..." and she tugged Alana's arm again impatiently.
"Oh, okay. I don't see anything that really catches the eye here anyway. I can always come back." And with good grace, she gave in to the urging and followed Janet towards a darkened corner of the room.
The sunlight hadn't made it to this table, so it was quite amazing that Janet had even noticed the unusual artifact sitting off to one side. A man was standing next to the table, using a soft cloth to rub a brass candlestick to a deep rich glow. He was clearly the owner or the seller at least, of the articles on show.
He turned as the two women approached and a gentle smile crossed his lips. Alana felt mesmerized for a second as his unusually dark eyes met hers. A chill danced over her skin and the hairs on the back of her neck tingled.
"Good afternoon, Mademoiselles." He bowed his head elegantly. "Are you looking for anything in particular?"
A slight accent, which Alana couldn't place, seemed in keeping with his slightly exotic appearance. There were silver streaks threading through the long dark hair, neatly tied back for this occasion. His moustache and goatee were speckled with gray, but his suit was expensively cut, impeccably pressed, and his slender hands knew how to cradle valuable artifacts. He could have been thirty, or a very young fifty – he had that ageless quality about him. His skin was smooth enough, however, to put him closer to the first age, but his eyes...they held the secrets of eternity. A gallery owner perhaps, wondered Alana, feeling an odd excitement low in her belly.
"We were interested in
..." blurted out Janet, pointing at the item which stood by itself in an empty area.
"We were? Good God," breathed Alana, seeing for the first time what had gotten Janet so hot and bothered.
It looked to be made of wood—some rich polished mahogany-type wood—and was about ten inches tall. Wider at the bottom than the top, the vessel or whatever it was had a plug in the neck that might well have been a leather-covered cork. There were some small decorations around its upper contours, which Alana believed could be pure gold—even from this distance there was a certain patina that gave it away. But the eye-catching handles were what gave this piece its distinctive appearance.
As Janet had so accurately noted, they looked like dicks. On either side, two thick handles curved gently from the body to the top—they were ridged and carved to look just like the real thing—right down to the base where a full sac lay in an amazingly life-like fashion against the bottom of the vessel and the table. The effect was so real that Alana felt an almost irresistible urge to run her hands down from neck to base and back up again.
Blushing, she backed away slightly.
"Ah yes..." said the man. "You have noticed one of my more interesting pieces…" He reached over and picked up the vessel, carefully cradling it in his hands. "It is made of the finest woods, and is from the estate of Dr. Maurice Willis, a renowned collector of unusual pieces from the Middle East."
Alana couldn't take her eyes off it as he turned and rotated it to show her the skill of the craftsman.
"What is it?" she croaked, finding her voice oddly rough.
"It is a pleasure vessel."
"Oooh—that sounds like my kind of antique," laughed Janet reaching out. Surprisingly, the man held it away from Janet's fingers.
"If you will permit—I would prefer that this be handled only by those who are serious in its purchase. I believe that you, young lady, are such a one?" His midnight gaze rested on Alana.
She nodded uncomfortably, fingers itching to hold the piece.
"You are? Well, this is a first," muttered Janet, puzzled at Alana's absent gaze.
"This vessel, and others like it, was used to hold the oil of the Blue Lotus—much prized in ancient times. It is said that the oil could be used to produce stimulation, arousal and ecstasy—it was used extensively..."
"... By the ancient Egyptians. Yes, I know. It was rumored that Tutankhamen's tomb held Blue Lotus petals which is why historians revised their first opinion that it was only a decorative flower..." Alana held out her hands slowly, answering the lure of this strange vessel—
Hold me, touch me.
Raising an eyebrow at Alana's evident knowledge of the subject, he nodded.
"Quite right, Mademoiselle. You are most well-read on the antiquities, yes?" Keeping her eyes on the bottle, Alana absently brushed off his compliment.
"The discovery of the lotus in the tomb led to a revival of Egyptian jewelry in the 1930's. I have to know about things like that—it's my job. Oh please, may I hold it?"
He placed it carefully into Alana's hands and stepped back. Janet asked him a question about another piece, but Alana couldn't concentrate on anything besides the feel of the artifact in her hands. It pulsed—as if it was a living, breathing thing. The wood was warm and velvety to her touch, and as she gave in to temptation and ran the tip of her index finger up one of the handles to its very tip, she could swear she heard a deep sigh of pleasure.
"I'll take it." She surprised herself with the emphatic statement. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. She was supposed to inquire about provenance, negotiate a price, perhaps go away and come back again—she knew all the rules and was breaking every one of them. She just had to have it. It was hers.
At that moment, when the words left her lips, she could have sworn that the handles twitched.
"So what'll it be, pizza? Chinese? Or are you up for Italian?"
Alana carefully steered her Jeep out onto the highway and headed for home. "Actually, Jan, I think I'm gonna pass this time..." She flicked a quick glance in the rear view mirror, telling herself that she was being a good driver and monitoring the road behind her, when what she really wanted to do was make sure the carefully packed box was still safe behind her back seat.
"You feeling okay?" asked Janet, a worried frown crossing her face. "You've been awfully quiet since you bought the dickpot. Of course, if I'd just spent twelve hundred bucks like it was nothing, I'd probably be a bit sick too." She shook her head.
"It's just a little headache—all those musty tablecloths we went through were probably covered in dust. But Jan, trust me on this. I got a bargain on that vessel. If it is really Middle Eastern, then I'd put it at somewhere around four to five thousand years old, which is unheard of for an artifact like that. So show a little respect and don't call it a dickpot, will you?"
Janet frowned again. "I didn't think wood could last that long unless it was fossilized?"
"It's certainly very unusual to find something that old, that's for sure, although there were some in tomb finds. I'm going on what I remember about decorative techniques and symbols, and some of those around the top of the vessel are unique to Middle Egypt. They were copied in the Regency era during the big run on all things Egyptian, that's how I know about them."
"So how do you know this isn't a Regency copy?"
"I don't—not until I examine it more closely, but—don't laugh at me—have you ever had a really,
strong feeling about something as soon as you touched it?" She glanced quickly over at Janet to see if she appreciated the seriousness of the question. "Because I got one when I picked that up—it was like it was meant to be mine. It felt...I don't know...
in my hands."
"Oh it's happened with a couple of guys." Janet grinned. "But I'm gonna take your word for it when it comes to this stuff. And besides, we've known each other for years. In all that time, you've never done a damn thing I'd call spontaneous." She shrugged. "I'll accept you know what you're doing." She glanced at her friend. "I hope."
Alana drove on autopilot. Her mind was still on that magical moment when the vessel had moved within her grasp. The handles had jumped slightly, and she could have sworn that for a split second she felt one of them throb beneath her fingers.
She knew she wasn't given to fanciful notions, nor was she on any type of medication, but these were feelings she'd never had before. She was looking forward to getting back to the safety of her own apartment, where she could examine them, and the vessel, in the peace and security of her own surroundings. She couldn't wait to drop Janet off and get home—alone.
The door slammed with a comforting thud behind her, and Alana heaved a sigh of relief as she locked it and tossed her jacket and purse on the hallstand. Carrying her treasure carefully, she eased it onto the kitchen table and pulled the shredded straw packaging away.
It gleamed in the late day sunlight as she raised it out from its nest. Holding it carefully to the light, she turned it this way and that, being careful not to touch the handles. She looked for maker's marks, insignia, strange designs, in fact any indication as to who might have made it or where it came from.
There was nothing. Nothing but a wonderful, exquisitely carved, smooth and inviting piece of art. Perhaps there would be something on one or two of her favorite antique websites—she should certainly spend some time researching it.
It was still a gorgeous piece, no matter what the origin, so Alana wandered around her apartment looking for the right spot to put it. She checked the dining area, but it was quite formal and simple—something like this needed a better display. The living room was chock-full of books, a DVD and CD library, and her puzzle collection. Ignoring a little voice that sounded a lot like Janet saying "Look at this—the room of a perennial virgin." she wandered on down the hall to her bedroom. Just as she stepped inside, a wave of dizziness swept over her and she reached out for the footboard to her sleigh bed. Catching sight of herself in the long wall mirror, she realized she held the vessel so that both handles were pressed to her breasts—breasts that were now tingling and throbbing. She jerked the vessel away and stared at it. If she didn't know better, she'd say she just got a shock from it.