10 Days of Halloween with Lee Roberts (again)

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Let’s welcome back Lee Roberts! If you remember, he was just here on Friday, but he’s sharing another book with us, Trouble Rising, and it has characters from his Elvis Blue book in it! (I hope you emailed him to get your free copy of Elvis Blue!) Check out this excerpt of Trouble Rising!

trouble rising

***

Chapter 36

Elvis and Monk walked slowly along the thick stone walls of the basement, both of them engrossed in studying their instruments. Elvis paused at one point, and then moved on again with a sigh of frustration. It was difficult to tell in the semi-darkness, but Monk’s face wore the same dismal expression. He turned and looked at his partner on the other side of the room.

“What is going on here, Elvis? We were getting readings all over the place last week, and they seemed to be growing, like something really big was going to happen. But now it looks like everything is getting quiet again. It’s like all the energy is draining out of here, kind of fading away or something.”

“I know what you mean. I’m seeing the same thing.”

“So what’s going on? You think all of the new construction is shredding the electromagnetic fields or reducing them somehow? It’s like the energy that was here before is evaporating.”

“Who knows, man? That could be it. Or maybe it could be something simpler.”

“Like what?”

“Like maybe whatever paranormal thing was going on is over now or going away. Maybe the spirits are going dormant or moving on to somewhere else.”

“But we didn’t do anything. All we did was record stuff. We haven’t even made contact with any entities or done anything to eliminate them.”

Elvis shrugged.

“Maybe whatever was provoking them is gone now for some other reason. There are still a few more hot spots down here, especially back in that far corner of the basement. We should probably go check that area again.”

Suddenly, they froze in their tracks as several loud pops erupted from the casino above them. Elvis and Monk looked at each other. As they turned toward the stairs and listened, now they could hear the roaring wave of noises spreading upstairs. They heard people yelling and screaming, running in various directions away from something in widespread panic.

“There’s some heavy stuff going on up there, man,” Monk whispered. “What do you think it is?”

“Sounded like gun shots to me.”

“Gun shots? Do you think somebody is trying to rob the casino?”

Elvis shrugged. “Who knows? Do you want to go up there and find out?”

“Not me,” said Monk. “That’s where the hired help comes in. I’m calling Maria.”

He pulled out his walkie-talkie and keyed the mike.

“Maria? This is Monk and Elvis. You guys still in the van?”

A brief pause, and then two seconds later a garbled reply came back.

“We’re all still here, Monk. You want us to come down and relieve you guys on the investigation? Send in another team?”

Monk shook his head, but of course Maria could not see that over the radio. He keyed the button to respond.

“Just tell us what is going on up there. We’re hearing all kinds of loud noises from the casino. Elvis says he thought there were gun shots.”

“Gun shots? Dios mio! Let me look outside. We can’t see much sitting here in the van, you know. I’ll be right back.”

Elvis and Monk stared at each other. A minute later, Maria was back.

“Hey! It looks like there was some kind of big fight right outside the casino doors. Mr. Crockett is standing out there with some other people. And there are a whole bunch of security guys running around with pistols in their hands. We didn’t see what happened, but it looks pretty serious from here.”

“Okay. Tell Isaac and Derek to go in the casino and check it out. Me and Elvis are coming up there.”

“Roger that.”

Elvis and Monk grabbed their gear and started for the wide staircase leading up to the casino level. The boys were almost halfway up the steps when they saw Simon Cruz coming down in a rush dragging Candi by her hair. They flattened themselves against the wall to get out of the way. Cruz brushed past them with hardly a glance and continued on to the basement.

“That was something you don’t see every day,” said Elvis.

Monk keyed the walkie-talkie again.

“Maria? We have an update on the situation.”

“Too late, Isaac and Derek are already on their way inside.”

“Then you need to handle this yourself. Find Crockett or someone who looks like they are in charge and tell them we just saw Simon Cruz going down the basement stairs. And it looked like he was holding Candi Rios hostage.”

“Oh crap! I mean, roger that.”

Maria dropped her headphones and quickly jumped out of the van. Her body wasn’t really built for speed, but she ran as fast as she could toward the knot of people gathered near the front door. One of the guards turned and pointed his gun at her.

“Wait! Wait! I’m one of the good guys!” she yelled.

Rico stepped forward and intercepted her.

“You need to stay back out of the way, so you don’t get hurt. There are some bad people running around here.”

“But I need to tell Mr. Crockett something!”

“You can tell me, sweetheart. I’ll make sure that he gets the message.”

Maria looked at Rico, her eyes wide with fear.

“Tell him that Simon Cruz is in the basement, and he’s got Candi with him.”

Rico’s heart skipped a beat.

“Okay, then you wait here next to these guys with the guns. You’ll be safe here. I’ll take care of that problem myself.”

He spun around and ran for the front door. Candi was in trouble, and he was determined to rescue her, with or without a gun. Rico didn’t care if Cruz shot him a couple of times as long as he could get Candi away from him first. Then he would kill Simon with his bare hands.

But Simon had other plans.

Cruz had passed Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera coming through the bar. They would be hard on his heels. But he thought he could lose them down in the huge maze of partially finished construction. Maybe he could hide for a while or find some way to slip out a side door unseen. There was always a chance.

He pulled Candi along by her long hair as they twisted and weaved through the giant maze of material and debris. He could feel his heartbeat pounding in his chest. He needed to stop for a minute and think.

They moved deeper into the blackness of the catacombs, way back into the far corner of the subterranean level. Candi was getting really tired of Simon pulling her hair. She was already mad as a hornet and itching for a fight. She finally decided that she had had enough of this bullshit.

With a grunt of effort, Candi turned and yanked her long hair free. Simon looked at his empty hand in surprise, as if it had somehow betrayed him. He hesitated for a second and then lunged toward her again. She lashed out with both hands, punching and cursing in his face.

But Cruz ignored her. He managed to get his hands around Candi’s neck and began to tighten his grip, slowly cutting off her air and strangling her. She started to gasp for every breath, fighting for each molecule of precious oxygen. Simon was bigger and stronger, and she could not overcome that disadvantage.

The light began to fade from Candi’s eyes as life ebbed out of her body. Her few attempts to stop him now were too feeble to make any difference. It looked like this was the end.

Slowly, she reached up and touched the little necklace of yellow and aquamarine stones around her neck. Candi whispered a silent prayer and prepared herself to accept what was soon to come.

Suddenly, Simon screamed and jumped back like he had just been electrocuted. He stared at his open palms in disbelief. Candi collapsed on the floor in a heap, panting weakly, barely conscious.

A dark, swirling mist began to form in the air, taking shape out of the darkness. The cloud of mist surrounded Cruz and then seemed to come together in a big, massive shape. A huge black bear materialized right in front of Simon and reared up on its hind legs, spreading two giant paws that gleamed with long, razor-sharp claws.

Simon screamed again and snatched up the gun he had dropped. He began firing wildly at the image, terrified by what he saw. He continued to yell obscenities and move farther back into the corner until all the bullets were gone. Cruz staggered into the wall and then slid down to the ground, the gun now clicking on empty chambers.

Rico heard the shots and ran down the dark hallway hoping desperately for some miracle. He rounded the last corner and saw Candi lying on the floor. Instantly, he was at her side, checking her pulse. It was still there, but very faint.

He scooped Candi up in his arms and ran back toward the stairway, leaving Cruz sitting in the corner staring vacantly into space.

“Hang on,” he whispered. “Please hang on, babe. I’m going to get you out of here. Everything’s going to be all right.”

Rico hurried up the stairs carrying Candi’s limp body cradled in his arms. There were two men at the top of the stairs, and they stepped out of the way to let him pass by. Rico moved on. Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera glanced at each other and then descended slowly into the basement to find Simon Cruz.

About Trouble Rising:

New passions awaken old evils, and the construction of a modern hotel and casino on old tribal land has stirred up the restless spirit of a massacred Indian maiden. Candi Rios is a magnet for trouble and sensitivity to the supernatural compels her to seek out the answers to the perplexing mysteries that plague the new venture. As a smart young accountant, Candi struggles to sort out the complexities of the business while caught up in the emotional turmoil of the unseen forces at work. With Rico and her quirky friends, she investigates the strange deaths and disappearances in the area, uncovering evidence of money laundering, embezzlement, and murder. Others cross her path and make things difficult, including a psychotic personnel manager, Colombian drug dealers, Elvis Blue and the ghost hunters, and even Godzilla. Candi must figure it all out in order to put an end to the madness and avoid becoming the next victim.

Purchase your copy of Trouble Rising.

 

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10 Days of Halloween- The Road to Morning, a Short Story by Emerald Barnes

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Well, it’s finally my turn to share with you guys! I wrote the short story I’m going to share with you guys when I was in college, about nine years ago. I’ve edited it since because it really needed work!

Anyway, here is The Road to Morning. Enjoy!

The Road to Morning

 

A heavy fog has settled after the evening rain, and I can barely see ten feet in front of me. The shadows of trees loom in the darkness, taunting me. I try to keep my mind off of the perfect horror movie setting that surrounds me. Even the man in the moon refuses to show his face on this night.

I have a difficult time keeping my car on the road, the wet gravel hard to drive on. Going down the back road is a mistake, but I want to get home fast, back to my fiancé.  It has been a long day at school with night classes.

I come upon a car parked on the side of the road. I can’t tell what is wrong it, but I figure that someone’s car broke down. The fog is concealing the truth, but from what I can tell, no one is in or around it, so I continue home.

I slam on my brakes as something runs in front of my car, causing it to fishtail on the gravel. I barely miss hitting this thing. My body is shaking, and I can hardly breathe. With shaking hands, I turn my hazard lights on on the off chance that someone comes up behind me while I take a moment to compose myself before continuing home.

The longer I sit there, the more uneasy I grow, but I can’t explain the feeling. I lock the doors, but the normally comforting click of the locks doesn’t make me feel any better.

I search my surroundings to make sure that no one or no thing is watching me. It doesn’t do any good because the deep fog and the walls of trees conceal anything from eyesight.

I try to convince myself that what ran in front me had to have been a deer or some other wild animal, but I know that isn’t the case. It was on two legs, not four. And it was so pale that in my headlights, it looked green. Green. That isn’t even possible! Surely it was just my imagination. But I know it isn’t. I had seen it.

I can no longer be a sitting duck. I’m terrified, and I just want to get back home to my fiancé, John. At first, I’m afraid my vehicle died, leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere or some other clichéd horror movie moment has occurred. Luckily, I was just being paranoid, and this isn’t the case.

Even though I’m in a hurry, I’m not going to risk wrecking out here, so I drive carefully. Despite my eyes being on the road, my mind is nowhere near thinking about the road ahead of me. I’m more afraid of what I’ve seen. I continue to try and convince myself that what ran in front of me had to be some sort of animal. It just had to be, but I can’t force myself to believe it. What I saw resembled neither a deer nor any other animal that I’d ever seen. It is hunched over, so that means it is on two legs. There has to be an explanation for what I saw, but I can’t think of one that comforts me.

I survey the land around me, wondering whether or not it’s following alongside my car. Is it dangerous? Will it kill me? My breathing becomes ragged, my chest tightens, and I’m nauseous at the thought. I can’t die. Not this way.

I accelerate my speed despite the iffy road conditions. I just know that monster is dangerous, and that I’m not safe. Something is watching me, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to die. I have my whole life ahead of me. I’m about to get married and graduate college.

Tears fill my eyes, and I blink them away. I can’t lose focus, and my focus is home.

I’m only five miles away from a more populated area. If I can get there, I’ll be safe, and for a moment, I have a sense of hope.

Something else runs out in front of me, and once again, I slam on my brakes. This time it’s a human. A woman. I barely miss hitting her. My heart rate accelerates, but I can see that something horrible has happened. She’s covered in scratches and blood.

“Help me!” she yells. “You have to help me! It killed my husband, and now it’s after me!”

She runs to the car and beats on it. I unlock the door, and she gets in. She locks the doors again, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know this lady. For all I know, she’s the one who killed her husband, but something tells me that’s not the case, that she’s telling the truth.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I don’t know. This thing attacked my husband as he was fixing the flat tire.”

That explains the car.

“What did it look like?” I ask, needing answers. I want to know if what I saw is real.

“Just drive,” she says. “We’ve got to get out of here. It’s coming!”

I don’t wait. I drive. The woman is in tears, on the verge of hysteria as her body convulses with sobs. I’d be the same way if I lost John and, by the looks of it, barely escaped alive.

The sobs come faster and harder, and my heart breaks for her. The poor woman has just lost someone important to her.

I push it out of my mind. I have to keep my mind clear. I need to be able to focus. Once my judgment is clouded, I can die. I’d seen enough horror films to know that. I have to focus on getting out alive. In situations like this, it’s best to look out for number one.

The woman did a pretty good job of keeping herself alive. I feel a little guilty by wanting to look out for myself, but could I risk my life for the sake of someone I didn’t even know? The only answer I can come up with is no. It isn’t worth it.

“Faster!” the woman yells.

My heart almost leaps out of my chest, and my foot slips off of the gas pedal.

“Not slower. Faster! It’s here!”

“What’s here?”

“Just go!”

The tires slide all over the place as I speed toward safety. I can just see us wrecking and dying, so I slow the car down a bit.

“What’re you doing?”

“Slowing down!”

“Don’t!’

“Do you want us to die?”

“Of course not!”

“Then shut up and let me drive. My car isn’t handling this road well.”

The woman quietens. The tires are swerving on the loose gravel, and I’m secretly cussing my fiancé for not having these stupid tires changed. With every curve, which are many, my car almost fishtails if I’m driving fast. It is imperative that I slow down, but I know that I have to get us out of here.

“Please drive faster. It’s following us,” she pleads.

I can’t see anything, but frankly, I don’t want to. I know that it’s following alongside the car because I can see the bushes on the side of the road moving like someone or something is running through them. I move my eyes back to the road, focusing on getting us to civilization.

It’s time to get a bit reckless.

My dreams of getting home in one piece come crashing down when the monster slams into my car. Both of us yell. This thing is now standing on the hood of the vehicle, and I hit the brakes, praying it flies off, but it holds on, sharp, toothy, menacing smile shows just how much it’s enjoying this game of cat-and-mouse.

My windshield shatters, and the woman in the passenger seat somehow composes herself enough to fight back, beating it with one my textbooks.  The monster takes each blow as if it’s not feeling a thing. Its pale skin glows from the headlights reflecting off of it, and its red, beady eyes stare straight into our souls.

It makes its way into my car, and I put it in park, unbuckle, and run.

I’ve never run as fast I am running now. The woman is still fighting the monster, and everything I know and understand is telling me to save myself, but I can’t leave her to die.

“What’re you doing?” she yells when she seems me coming back for her. “Get out of here!”

“I’m not leaving you behind!”

I grab a large branch lying on the side of the road. With all the force I can muster, I hit in in the back of the head, and it turns its horrible gaze on me. It stands over six feet tall when it’s not hunched, and it has pale, smooth skin. It resembles a human, but it isn’t. I don’t know what it is. Chills run down my spine, and I hit it again in the face, a blood-curdling screech coming from it. Birds take off in flight. Them, too, screeching eerily. I take it as a bad omen, but the thing stumbles back. Apparently I catch it off-guard.

“Run!” I yell to the woman, and she does.

I hit it in the knees, hoping to knock it down. Nothing happens. Again, I hit it with all the force that I have and continue to beat it, just praying it goes down.

Tired of the beating, it lunges at me, grabbing me by the throat before I fully comprehend what’s happening. Its four-fingers grasp my throat tight, cutting off the oxygen and any way for me to cry for help.

I kick and swing at it, but nothing is affecting it. It’s laughing at my sad attempt at a struggle. At least that’s the way it seems to me. I’m not sure that this thing can laugh or feel any emotion. More than anything, though, I have the sudden urge to kill it. I try and try to get free but…nothing.

Everything around me fades, but I see the woman has turned around and is coming back. My eyes begin to close, and the world around me becomes darker.

Whack. The woman hits the monster in the back, and it lets go of me. Air rushes into my lungs, and I eagerly gasp, trying to fill my lungs as quickly as I can. The woman beats the monster with the branch I dropped. She’s taking out all of her frustration and anger on it. I’m not going to stop her either. It has to die, but nothing is working. It just stands there, allowing her to hit it.

“What is it doing?” I yell.

“I don’t know!”

I have no idea what to do, and neither does the woman. She stops hitting it, and it lunges at her. She screams, and I run to the car.

I have to do something to save her, but I don’t know what. If I can distract it somehow while still in the car, I can hopefully get us both out alive. I rev my engine, and it looks in my direction. The woman crawls away, and I honk the horn, still distracting it. I drive closer to her, and she jumps in through the open door. She shuts it and yells, “Go!”

I don’t wait. I punch it. Dirt and gravel fly as I speed away. I drive straight in to it; its body causing my car to bounce. I don’t look behind me. I hope I killed it or at least maimed it. I’m just not certain that this thing won’t die without help from divine powers.

I try to get us off the road as soon as possible. I never want to see a back road again.

“Thanks,” the woman says with a shaking voice.

I glance at her; she’s bloody and bruised. Her hair is a mess, but we’re alive. That’s all that matters.

“For what?”

“Saving my life.”

“Well, you saved mine. Call us even.”

She fell quiet a moment before asking, “What’s your name?”

“Chelsea.”

“Chelsea what?”

“Morgan.”

“I’m Marion Booker.”

“Do you have a daughter?”

“Yes. Rachel. Do you know her?”

“I work with a Rachel Booker at the convenience store at…”

“The end of Oak Drive?”

“That’s the one.”

“That’s my Rachel. She’s mentioned you a couple of times.”

I feel bad for them. Rachel has just lost her father, Marion her husband.  I’m not sure how I can face Rachel at work later, knowing exactly what happened. But at least her mother is alive.

Marion is crying, but I have to know. My curiosity has the best of me.

“Why were you and your husband on this road?”

“We were on our way home from celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary. It was a shortcut.”

A loud thud comes from the trunk, and we scream. The monster’s menacing smile reflected back at me in the rear view mirror. A shiver runs down my spine. The fiend is only out to kill, and it won’t stop until we’re dead.

It starts to bust out my back windshield.

“What are we going to do?” I ask frantically.

Marion jumps out of the moving vehicle before I know what is happening. I stop the car, but the monster heads toward her—and fast. I don’t know what to do.

I put the car in park and try to find something to use as a weapon. I have to save Marion. I’m terrified. I can barely control my weeping and shaking. What am I gonna do?!

The monster stops and stares at her. She knows what’s coming. I can see it in her slack body. She’s given up.

“Get outta here!” Marion yells.

“I’m not going to let you die!”

“Go! Both of us aren’t going to make it out alive.”

I can’t leave her. Marion saved my life earlier. I’m not just going to leave her here to die by the hand of this monster.

“Go!” she yells again.

I don’t know what to do, but the monster is at her before I can think of anything. The thing is already killing her, and Marion doesn’t even fight back. I have no other choice but to jump in the car and drive. Marion, a woman I don’t even know, saves my life. I speed off, hoping and praying that it won’t follow me, and I can’t stop thinking that I am the cause of Rachel being an orphan.

Lights in the distance give me hope. I’m nearing civilization, but behind me, the sad truth of this night will forever haunt me.

The road to morning isn’t something I’ll ever forget.

 

 

10 Days of Halloween with Lee Roberts

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We’re on day five of our 10 Days of Halloween event, and today, we’re welcoming author Lee Roberts! He’s sharing an excerpt of his YA book, Elvis Blue! Be sure to read through to the end. There just might, there definitely will be, a giveaway at the end!

Elvis Blue

***

Elvis enjoyed a relaxing Sunday dinner with his family, the first one he could remember. It had been years since all of the Blue family had sat around the table together talking and eating and chatting about things. It was nice. He was hoping it was the start of a new routine.

His mother and father had shared a few knowing glances and off-hand smiles. It was obvious they had reconnected again. Everyone could feel the new sense of love and support that had been missing for a long time. Even Sherlock showed a boundless energy and enthusiasm that revealed itself in typical puppy antics. Everyone in the Blue family seemed happy for a change.

The early afternoon meal finally came to an end and they each went their separate ways. Gary and Giselle cleaned up the kitchen together and flirted with each other. Elvis could hear them talking and laughing like teenagers even after he left the room. He could hear C.J. in her bedroom listening to music and dancing by herself. It was a wonderful new beginning for all of them.

Elvis took Sherlock into the living room for a while. They surfed the television channels but didn’t find anything interesting to watch. He laid on the sofa and wondered what Maria was doing. He decided to go and find out.

Elvis went out the back door and dashed over to the old van – his old van now. Sherlock trotted along behind and hopped up into the passenger seat beside him. He put the keys into the ignition and cranked it up. The engine was a bit reluctant to start, but it sounded like music to his ears when it finally did turn over.

The rain was still coming down so Elvis switched on the windshield wipers and eased carefully into the road. He drove the short distance to the Palmero house, and he pulled in the driveway. Maria must have been looking out the window and saw him arrive. She came running out of the house and squeezed into the passenger seat with Sherlock. The puppy licked her face and plopped contentedly onto her lap.

“Hey there,” Elvis said cheerfully.

“Hey yourself,” Maria replied. “Are you going someplace in particular or just out joyriding in your new van?”

“No place in particular, just riding around.”

“Cool! Let’s go then.”

They glanced at the house and saw Maria’s father peering through window. He didn’t look happy. Maria smiled and waved at him.

“Quick! Get moving before my father comes out here and stops us.”

Elvis shifted into reverse and backed out of the driveway. Then he turned around and started down the road. They glanced back and saw Maria’s father come out onto the front porch. He watched them drive away.

“So where are we going?” she asked.

Elvis shrugged. “I don’t know. You got any ideas?”

They both thought about it for a minute.

“How about the Simmons place?” Maria suggested.

Elvis looked surprised. “The Simmons place? Right now?”

“Sure, why not? It’s still daylight outside, and we don’t have anything else to do.”

“Yeah, but your father told us to stay away from there.”

“He was talking to the whole group. It’s only the two of us today, so it’s not the same thing. We won’t tell the others. Let’s just stop by for a few minutes.”

“Well . . . okay.” Elvis was not going to refuse. He would take her anywhere she wanted to go. He would have taken Maria to the moon if she had asked.

They drove there in less than twenty minutes. Elvis guided the van down the ruts of the old driveway and then slowly around to the back of the house. Even though it was late afternoon, the gloomy weather and dreary atmosphere made the house seem dark and depressing. He started having second thoughts.

“Are you sure that you want to go inside?” Elvis asked.

“Yeah, we might as well go in and look around a little,” said Maria. “Do you have any equipment with you?”

Elvis glanced in the back of the van and nodded.

“Yep, I had already loaded most of it in case we went out with the other guys this week. I hadn’t planned on coming here again so soon though.”

Maria climbed out of the front seat and began scrounging around in the back of the truck. She came up with a couple of things.

“Let’s take some flashlights and a recorder. Maybe we’ll hear something.”

“How about the video camera, too? As long as we’re going in, we may as well set it up to film while we’re walking around.”

“Okay.”

They grabbed the equipment and carried it to the back door. Sherlock trotted at their heels. The pane of glass that Derek had broken had still not been replaced, so Elvis reached in and unlocked the door. They tromped through the kitchen and made their way slowly to the big central room in the middle of the house. The hardwood floor was now surprisingly clean and swept. It was apparent that someone else had been there recently and tidied up the place.

“Look,” Maria observed. “No footprints.”

Elvis shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe a building inspector or appraiser? I guess somebody is interested in this place. Maybe they finally found the owners, or they are going to sell it.”

Maria helped Elvis set up the video camera in one corner of the room and get it rolling. Then they switched on the digital recorder and started wandering around. A few minutes of that yielded nothing. The little puppy explored, sniffing all of the unfamiliar scents, but he quickly got bored as well. Elvis nodded toward the cellar door.

“You want to go downstairs for a while?”

“Sure.”

Maria followed him down to the basement, moving slowly and cautiously down the rickety wooden stairs. Sherlock sat at the top of the steps and refused to come down. They reached the bottom and panned their flashlights around. Several holes were dug in the dirt floor, but they couldn’t remember which ones had been there before.

Despite the summer heat outside and the humidity of the rain storm, the air in the basement remained cool and dank.  Elvis checked the recorder again to make sure it was working. Then he placed his flashlight on the ground, switched it off, and backed away a few steps. He glanced over at Maria.

“If anyone is here with us, we’re sorry to disturb you and mean you no harm. We only want to communicate with you and help you if we can. Please switch on the light to let us know you are here.”

After a few seconds, the flashlight came on. Maria gasped and grabbed Elvis by the arm. He could feel her trembling with excitement. He tried to stay calm.

“Thank you. Can you switch it off again?”

The flashlight on the ground went dark. Elvis could feel Maria’s body pressing up closer against him, but he tried to focus on the task at hand.

“We would like to know who we are talking to. If you can speak or make some kind of sound, maybe we can capture it on this recorder.”

Elvis placed the electronic device on the ground next to the flashlight. They both waited a few minutes but didn’t hear anything.

“Are you Josiah Simmons or a member of his family?” said Elvis. “If you are, please switch on the light again.”

Nothing happened.

“Are you one of the people who died here?” Maria asked timidly.

The flashlight came on.

“Oh my goodness!” Maria exclaimed. She turned and darted up the steps. Elvis scooped up the flashlight and recorder and scrambled up the stairs behind her. Sherlock started barking and running around in small circles. They stopped in the big central room again to catch their breath.

Maria hugged Elvis and buried her face in his chest. He put his arms around her and held her close. Standing in the middle of the room didn’t feel safe, so Elvis guided them over to one side and put his back up against the wall. The large staircase leading upstairs was immediately behind him, so he could see the entire room from there.

“It’s okay,” he whispered. “Don’t be scared. I won’t let anything hurt you. I’m right here. It’s nothing but electrical energy.”

She relaxed a little. “That was spooky. Did you hear anything?”

“No, but we might have caught something on the recorder.”

Elvis pushed a couple of buttons to replay the last few minutes. Both of them listened closely. They could just barely hear a faint whisper.

“What do you think it says?” Maria whispered.

“I don’t know. It’s not very clear. Under the stars maybe? Something like that?”

She nodded. “That’s what I hear, too. Under the stars. I wonder what it means.”

He shrugged. “Who knows?”

Maria looked into his eyes and time seemed to stand still for a moment. Elvis had one arm still wrapped around her. He could feel her chest pressed tightly against his. She inched a little closer and leaned forward to kiss him.

Elvis wasn’t sure if it was adrenaline or hormones, but some kind of hot chemical reaction seemed to take place deep inside them both. Maria pushed forward even harder, slamming her body into his and pressing their lips together. He held her tighter and then let himself fall back hard against the wall.

Suddenly there was a sound of splintering wood and the wall cracked open behind him. They both tumbled through the narrow opening and onto the dirty floor of a hidden closet. A cloud of dust swirled all around them making them cough and rub their eyes. When the swirling dust finally cleared, they found themselves sitting on top of some old wooden planks.

“Wow, that was weird,” Elvis remarked. “I think we broke something.”

“On you or the house?” asked Maria, brushing off her jeans.

“The house,” he said. “I’m fine. Looks like we found an old closet. You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

They both looked around. Maria found one of the flashlights and shined it around the tiny space. It appeared to be a small storage room built right under the stairs.

“I wonder why we never noticed this before?” she asked.

“It was probably a hidden door or sealed shut,” said Elvis. “We only found it by accident. We may be the first ones in here for forty years.”

She shined her flashlight down on the floor.

“What are these planks? There are big gaps between them, and they’re all loose. I can feel air coming up from underneath.”

They scooted over to one side and Elvis began lifting the boards up and moving them over. Maria shined the light down into the opening beneath.

“It looks like a tunnel!” she said excitedly. “Let’s see where it goes!”

About Elvis Blue:

Elvis Blue just turned sixteen and struggles with the challenges of becoming a man. In the small town of Hillsborough, North Carolina, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for young kids who come from the wrong side of the tracks. He is also dealing with the unfamiliar emotions that go with finding his first love in neighborhood girl Maria. Together with his best friend Monk and loyal puppy Sherlock, Elvis decides to embark on a ghost-hunting adventure to find his fame and fortune.

Purchase your copy of Elvis Blue today!

The first 10 people to email Author Lee Roberts will receive a FREE PDF of Elvis Blue! Email him today!

About Lee Roberts:

616EiJzjXzLI was born and raised in the southern United States, but I have traveled to many other places in the world. I find the different people and cultures fascinating. My education and work experience began with accounting and finance. But as with everything else, it has gradually evolved more and more to computers and information technology. Our lives today are centered on talking with each other through the flows of bits and bytes.

More than twenty years ago, I started writing stories to capture all of the interesting thoughts and impressions lurking in my imagination. These stories became an important part of my life and I decided to share this by creating fictitious people and places in my mind. These people could say and do anything that I had ever seen or thought about. They are all very real to me with their own unique personalities, motivations, and quirks. They live in my head every day, and through the magic of books, I can share all of it with you.

Today, I am the luckiest man on the planet. I am married to a beautiful lady from Colombia and I’m the proud father of some wonderful children. I love animals, mysteries, and salsa music. Life is a very precious thing. Take time to ride a Harley, smoke a pipe, eat a taco, cuddle with a cat, or drink a cup of tea. Enjoy every moment of it with me.

Check out Lee’s website and Amazon Author page!

10 Days of Halloween with J.L. Salter

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Fellow Clean Reads Author, J.L. Salter, is joining the blog today! I recently found out that Mr. Salter lived in Mississippi at some point, so that practically makes us neighbors! Let’s give a warm welcome to Mr. Salter as he shares an scary excerpt from his book The Ghostess & Mister Muir.

Honestly, I may have to grab this book because listen to this tagline!

No self-respecting Southern girl takes second place to a spook.

Y’all! How perfect is that? Here’s the excerpt. Oh, and stay tuned for a giveaway at the end of the post!

***

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Chapter One

“Aren’t you the new teacher who lives in the spooky old downtown hotel?” asked the female voice behind Levi Muir. Lurching into the flimsy cart against the faculty lounge wall almost caused him to spill his freshly poured coffee.

Turning, Muir realized the speaker was his attractive young colleague with lovely tanned legs. “I’ll be at the Whitecliff Apartments. Don’t know anything about a hotel.”

She moved closer and extended her sun-bronzed hand. “I’m Lucy Tierney, science department. Starting my sixth year.”

Nice to know there were some five year survivors at Magnolia High. “Levi Muir, English department. Rookie.”

“I know, Levi. We can all spot a newbie. Have you been assigned a mentor yet?”

“Uh, don’t think so. Don’t recall it coming up.” His eyebrows lifted. “Are you…?”

“Oh, heavens no. Not me. I won’t serve as a mentor until my seventh year, at the earliest.” Then she lowered her voice. “So what do you think of your apartment in the legendary old Majestic Hotel?”

It was the final day of orientation and professional development training; Monday would be D-Day… when the students began classes. “Haven’t really stayed there yet, Miss Tierney. Tonight’s my first night.”

“Lucy. You’ve been here every day this whole week. Where have you been staying?”

“An aunt lives in Magnolia. My apartment wasn’t ready yet. In fact, all I got was a nickel tour from a shrimpy manager who kept looking over his shoulder.”

Lucy nodded like she knew the man. Her nicely-toned arm tensed as she reached for an empty cup, but she frowned and put it back down. “The coffee’s awful here.”

Already noted.

“Have you seen those old hotel furnishings?”

“Didn’t really notice, except to be sure I had a bed and a chair.”

“What about table and stove for cooking your meals? Plus couch and extra chair… for all your visitors?” Her warm smile suggested she’d be willing to be among them.

And attractive company she’d be. “Don’t really cook, at least not worth mentioning. And not expecting many visitors, since I really don’t know anybody here except Aunt Martha.”

“Well, now you know me.” Lucy’s lovely smile hinted that she probably expected a particular reply, but Levi couldn’t guess what, so he just eyed the half-full cup in his hand.

“Not a big talker, are you?”

“Guess not.” It sounded terse. “Sorry. Must be the rookie jitters.”

Lucy nodded thoughtfully. “So tonight is your first night in the old Majestic…”

“The Whitecliff Apartments.”

“Well, everybody here knows it as the old hotel, so you might as well get used to it.” Her tone was lighter than the words she’d selected. “And you probably already know that everybody says it’s…”

Swooshing suddenly into the lounge, Principal Gull interrupted as she jostled directly between them. “Now hush, Miss Tierney. We don’t want to scare away any more of our first year teachers.” Mrs. Gull squinted as though she were adjusting to contact lenses. “It’s difficult enough to recruit good people to small towns like ours, so don’t run them off before classes even start.”

Lucy appeared mildly embarrassed. “I thought he already knew.”

“Knew what?” Muir faced the principal again.

Mrs. Gull took an elbow of each and steered both teachers out of the lounge. “All in good time. For now, let’s head into the cafeteria for final briefings and to review our battle plans for Monday.”

Lucy said no more but took a seat next to Muir at an otherwise empty table.

Over the next ten minutes, he paid considerably less attention to the briefings than to his intriguing tablemate. Though Muir and a few other rookies had received orientation on Monday and Tuesday, the veterans didn’t appear until Wednesday for the professional development training aimed at all instructors. He’d immediately noticed Lucy and had observed her frequently… without actually communicating. Leaning closely, he whispered, “What was Gull talking about?”

No immediate reply. But after a new speaker took the microphone, Lucy tapped his thigh, sending electricity all over his body. Only her business card, however. On the back was a hastily scribbled note, “Tell you later.

The principal was staring when Muir raised his head and he felt like a kid caught passing notes in study hall. Which was pretty much the situation.

As the session finally ended, Muir tried to catch up to Lucy — already exiting the cafeteria — but was called back by the principal’s authoritative voice. “Mr. Muir, could I see you for a moment, please?”

“Of course, Mrs. Gull.” He watched for a clue whether this would be some sort of reproach or merely a final word.

Gull’s expression offered no hint, but it seemed she mulled over her words before speaking. “I wouldn’t be worried about whatever Miss Tierney told you concerning the hotel.”

“She hasn’t told me anything.” Yet.

Gull continued anyway. “Seasoned Alabama buildings develop reputations and in an older small town like Magnolia, legends die hard, especially…” She made a show of checking her watch. “Well, anyway, like I say, don’t fret over what you hear.”

“Okay, Mrs. Gull, I won’t.” He nodded deferentially. “Thanks.”

The principal seemed satisfied they’d held their little chat, although Muir still had no clue what they’d been talking about. So far, all he knew was the structure was old, had once been a hotel, and presently featured offices on first floor and apartments on second. Plus, whenever people mentioned the place, they usually had an odd expression and lowered their voices.

About The Ghostess and Mister Muir:

Though he doesn’t even believe in spirits, it takes only one haunting for Levi Muir to become entranced with the beautiful ghostess.

A young veteran recovering from a wrecked relationship, Muir moves to Magnolia for his first year teaching high school English and resides in the renovated old hotel, which everyone knows is haunted.

Despite his skepticism, Muir senses a presence, then smells a unique perfume. Later, he locates an old portrait of beautiful Danielle Gregg, who lived in that suite a century ago, but experienced a tragic death.

His lovely new colleague, Lucy – science teacher and dedicated Spirit-Chaser – tries to convince Muir that the supernatural is real… and not to be taken lightly. Though Muir has been attracted to Lucy since the first day he spotted her, something begins to jam his thoughts whenever she enters his mind.

Intrigued by the beauty and sensuality of the mysterious woman in the portrait, Muir tries to learn more about the ghostess and her untimely demise. Though still skeptical of ghosts and hauntings, Muir can’t shake the feeling there could be more to Danielle’s mysterious 1914 death than the locals believe.

The more Muir encounters the lovely ghostess, the stronger his desire for even more contact! But Lucy’s willing to fight for Levi’s heart, because no self-respecting Southern girl takes second place to a spook.

Purchase your copy of The Ghostess and Mister Muir on Amazon.

Be sure to leave a comment below telling us if you believe in ghosts in order to win a Kindle copy of The Ghostess and Mister Muir!

About J.L. Salter:

6B2B0212 (2)Romantic comedy and romantic suspense are among sixteen fiction titles released through three royalty publishers. A new title is expected soon.

Also co-author of two non-fiction monographs plus signed entries in other books. I’ve also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards. As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos.

decorated veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I also worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship. I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six.

Stay up to date with J.L. Salter:

Amazon author page:

http://tinyurl.com/AuthorJeff

Facebook author page:

10 Days of Halloween with L. Sydney Fisher

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Today, I’m thrilled to share with you an excerpt from a lovely lady I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago at a reading for a fundraiser for a local library. She writes an array of fiction, some based on real events like the book she’s featuring today: The Devil’s Board. Let’s all give a warm welcome to L. Sydney Fisher. *cheers*

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***

A note from Sydney…

While doing research for The Devil’s Board, I was contacted by two different individuals who did not know each other and who did not attend Riverside at the same time.  Both of these individuals told me about personal experiences they had while a student at Riverside.  To my amazement, one of the individuals revealed that they once lived in the very same dorm room where Amber Simmons used the Ouija board in 1987.  This person disclosed that they had experienced inexplicable mood swings and depression while living in the room, but they had no knowledge of what had transpired there four years before.  And both of the people who contacted me told me that they once paid a visit to Sister Elizabeth Williams, pleading for help.

To this day, students still play the mysterious board game in the campus dorms at Riverside College, and the legendary horror story of Ryan Banks lives on.

Sleep with the lights on,

Sydney

***

A PREVIEW

OUIJA~A board game used to contact the spirit world.  Developed for commercial distribution in 1891.  Named by Charles Kennard, founder of Kennard Novelty Company.  While Mr. Kennard was playing the game, a spirit spelled out the word “Ouija”.  It is an ancient Egyptian word that means “good luck”.

Chapter One

Rachel Thomas swept her long, tousled brown bangs out of her eyes.  She steadied her hands on the steering column as she raced away from the haunted house where she had grown up.  Plagued by the spirits of an unknown entity that had dwelled in her home for more than ten years, she had managed to accept her paranormal existence in a world where most people had never heard of such things.  Or maybe they just didn’t tell anybody about their experiences.  Maybe there were many more people just like her who were afraid to talk about real life hauntings.  But this was a time of new beginnings, the beginning of the rest of her life when the hopes and dreams of the past could become the realities of the future.  If she could put the hauntings to rest, she could concentrate on what was before her.  In just two weeks, she would be starting classes as a freshman at Riverside Community College.

Riverside was a small town college nestled near a centuries old river where Indigenous people once lived and played.  Riverboats filled its waters, and the Spanish explorer, Hernando De Soto once crossed its shores.  The river had a history that seemed to stretch as far as its 200 mile long waters, but it was a history of prosperity, tragedy, and death that still lived on in legendary ghost tales.

Rachel drove her silver 1983 Buick Regal into the front parking lot that faced her future home.  Kendall Hall was one of eight dormitories for housing students.  Although Rachel had been unable to secure her first choice of living arrangements in the college’s most updated facilities, she was excited and anticipating the arrival of her new suite mate whom she had never met.

She turned the ignition off, pushed the door open with her foot, and got out of the car.  She stretched her hands above her head and stood still for a moment as she surveyed the empty parking lot and vacant grounds surrounding her.  She thought about the first day of classes and how congested the campus would become. Year after year, the college’s Fall enrollment had grown.  With more than 3,500 students attending college at Riverside, the odds of finding an empty space close to classrooms would be next to impossible.

Rachel sighed and quickly turned her thoughts back to the car crammed full of clothes and personal décor taken from her room back home.  Moving in would take a couple of hours.  She slammed the car door shut and turned to look at the building’s second floor windows.  She contemplated the number of trips it would take to haul several loads of her personal belongings up the stairs.  And although the housing department had already guaranteed that the room would be ready to move in, she hesitated to unload anything before checking it out.

Rachel walked toward the glass front entrance and opened the door.  The stone gray building smelled like pine sol as she entered an empty foyer with two closet-like doors to the left and an apartment to the right that served as a residence for the Dorm Parent who oversaw the needs and security of the dormitory’s students.

Rachel slowly walked straight ahead to the stairwell entrance that led to the second floor.  The air near the stairwell was stuffy and hot causing her to cough, and the smell of fresh paint stung her nose.  The building was eerily silent, and it reminded her of the late nights at the nursing home when she had gone to her mother’s workplace after the old people had gone to bed.

She stepped forward onto the bottom steps and began to climb the stairs.  First the bottom steps and then a turn to climb the last stairwell to the top.  She stopped at the last step and pulled another door open that led to the second floor hallway.  The steel door was heavy and creaked loudly as she opened it.  The bottom of the doorplate slid across the floor, creating a long and creepy noise that echoed down an empty hall.

For a minute, Rachel felt an unease that she had often known before, but for reasons she couldn’t explain.  She glanced into the hallway before her and stepped forward letting her fingers slowly release the door as it closed shut, its spring mechanisms creating the sound of metal on metal.

Rachel stood still, her body rigid but fully aware of her surroundings.  Her bare arms were covered in goosebumps as she tried to rub them away, but just then a loud bang echoed from the right end of the hall.  She jerked around and faced the source of the noise only to observe an empty space.  Her eyes were wide as she stared down the dimly lit hall now filled with an eeriness that she couldn’t dismiss.  It never failed.  If there was an otherworldly spirit present wherever she went, it always seemed to find her.

Her breath seemed to hang in her throat, and she had to remind herself to breathe.  She took a long, deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment. She then turned back around, brushed off her fears as best as she could and walked straight toward the left end of the hall where her dorm room was located.

She stopped in front of the door and reached for the silver doorknob.  She twisted it to the left and pushed the door open, eager to get inside and settle in.  The room was painted a blinding white with white mini-blinds, two dull, steel gray bunk beds, and a white tile floor.  Inside the double closet was a small chest of drawers also painted white.  And against the inside wall and facing the hallway was a built-in desk with shelves.  Painted white.

Rachel let out a sigh.  The place felt like a hospital room or worse a morgue minus the cold air.  She walked over to the window beside the two bunkbeds and noticed that it was locked tight.  She fidgeted with the locks, snapping them back and forth.  She then inspected the bathroom that she would be sharing with her suitemates and found that it included a half tub/shower combination and one toilet.  Four girls with one bathroom.  That should be interesting.

Rachel’s eyes roamed the room again as she considered what it would take to liven up the place.  Color, décor, girl stuff.  As she became swept away with the thought of college life and living in a dorm with her closest friends, she forgot about her unease just minutes before.  And although her dorm room offered anything but a cozy feeling, she relished in the idea of college living.

She surveyed the room, deciding which bunkbed would be hers.  Which side of the room would be hers for decorating?  Closet space and desk space?  She was silently considering it all when the abrupt sound of a door slamming shut brought her back to the present.

“Hello.”  The raspy and friendly voice of Josie Norton echoed in the empty room, bouncing off the white cinder block walls.  She stood just inside the door that Rachel had left standing open.

Rachel whirled around and faced her new roommate who stared back at her with a bright, toothy smile and crystal blue eyes.  Her messy, dark brown hair was hanging partially out of the ponytail she had fastened earlier that morning, and her extra-large AC/DC t-shirt hung loosely over a pair of faded blue gym shorts.

Rachel smiled with a slightly startled look and responded.  “Hi, you must be Josie!”  She offered a handshake.

Josie accepted Rachel’s hand with a firm and gregarious grip after sitting her guitar case down on the floor.

“Are you getting settled in early too?  I’ve got a car full of stuff from home.”  Rachel asked with a light-hearted tone.

Josie let out a boisterous, nasal laugh and nodded.  “Yeah, I’ve got a couple of trips to make to get it all here.  Oh, this is the closet space, huh?”  She pointed to the two closets, each containing a small chest and barely enough room to hang a week’s worth of clothes and a couple of coats.

“Yes, that’s it.  I can take the one on the right if that’s okay.”  Rachel did not hesitate to designate ownership of personal space since she had to get started unloading her car.

“Oh, yeah, that works for me.  Are you a heavy sleeper?  How do you like the room temperature?  I sleep like a bear and love a cool room.”  Josie asked wanting to get to know her roommate’s compatibility.

Rachel smiled.  “We’ll get along beautifully.  I’m a light sleeper, but the cooler, the better for me.”  Rachel shoved her hands in her Calvin Klein size 5 pants pockets.

Josie gave Rachel a thumbs up.  “Cool.  I’m gonna go grab a few things.”

Rachel nodded.  “Okay, I guess I should get started too.”  She started for the door and stopped as Josie paused in the doorway.

“Hey–  You ever played Ouija?”  Josie asked.

Her eyes had a mischievous twinkle, but Rachel didn’t respond with a lighthearted demur.  Instead, her face turned pale.  She felt as if the blood had just drained out of her body as her legs became weak.  A strange silence lingered as she stared into the eyes of Josie Norton.  Pale blue eyes that now seemed to flicker with a curiosity destined for danger.  Then without warning, the same dreadful unease that slapped Rachel Thomas in the face as she entered the upstairs hall returned.  And a premonition materialized before her, seizing her in a vision of horror.

Purchase your copy of The Devil’s Board today.

Stay in touch with L. Sydney Fisher on her website.

10 Days of Halloween with Kathleen Gemmell

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Welcome to day two of 10 Days of Halloween! Today we have a talented woman and good friend of mine on the blog! Please give a warm welcome to Kathleen Gemmell!

Kathleen is sharing a psychological short fiction piece with us, You are My Sunshine.

*Previously published on Women Making Waves*

 

***

“Lisa, I met a guy on an online dating service. We’ve been chatting, and he asked me out! I’m really excited!”

“You know how I feel about that, Kathy. Be careful. Where is he taking you?”

“That new Italian place on Echo Lane. What should I wear?”

“A little black dress, of course! You can’t go wrong with that.”

Kathy had just turned thirty-eight and had never had a serious relationship. Being a scholar with three master’s degrees had been a turn-off to some guys. Kathy realized that her studies were a great way to escape facing her fears. She had been kidnapped at age seven and only recently had begun counseling.

“I was with my mom at the grocery store,” Kathy explained to the therapist. “A man was hiding in the back seat of our unlocked car and put a gun to mom’s head. He told her to drive and gave her directions that led to an isolated field. He, he…raped her in front of me, telling me that I was next.

“Two hunters were in the adjoining woods and heard my mom’s screams. They ran toward us, guns pointed, and he jumped in the car and took off before the hunters reached us.

“Mom and I were taken to the hospital and then interviewed by the police. He was caught several hours later and eventually convicted of kidnapping and battery. He committed suicide in jail. His name was Vincent Lockleer.

“Mom was never the same. She had severe flashbacks constantly as one of her PTSD symptoms. She saw a psychiatrist and was medicated, to no avail. She lives in a home with other sufferers, and I was raised by my dad.”

Mark could not believe that he was feeling so tense. He’d dated throughout his forty years but had never seemed to find the match that he dreamed of. Kathy’s profile picture was certainly attractive and their online chats had led to phone calls. She was bright, educated, and a bit shy – all qualities that he looked for in a woman.

Franco’s was crowded that Saturday evening. Mark arrived first, confirmed their reservation, and sat at the bar with his eyes on the door. Ten minutes later, he recognized Kathy, and after a brief, “Hello”, they were escorted to their table near the fire place.

“I have to admit that I’m pretty nervous,” Mark stated. “Meeting in person is different from our calls, and I want to appear charming,” he said with a smile.

“I’m an absolute wreck,” Kathy said quietly. “I also want to seem like a confident and worldly woman.”

“Well, why don’t we agree to try and relax and enjoy each others company?” Mark laughed.

Dinner was delightful, and after a glass of wine, both Kathy and Mark found themselves chatting freely and comfortably.

“May I see you again?” Mark asked as he opened Kathy’s car door for her. “I really had a wonderful evening.”

“Lisa! I’m in love. I truly think I am! Love at first sight!”

“Whoa, lady! Take a breath – it went well I’ll assume?”

“He’s a doll in every way, Lisa. We talked about things that interest us both, and he’s a gentleman, and he’s handsome, and he’s funny, and he’s…”

“Slow down, girlfriend! Do you even know his last name?”

“Lisa, he has a last name, of course. Tomorrow, we’re going to the lake to picnic. I can’t believe this is happening! I feel elated!”

They met in the parking lot, and Kathy told Mark that she had brought a Frisbee.

“I’m not bad, if I can say so,” she giggled.

“Well, we will just have to see about that,” Mark replied as he carried the basket full of goodies toward a shady tree. “I’ve been known to throw a mean disc a time or two.”

Mark began to whistle as they strolled along. “You’re sweet, Mark,” Kathy said. “My father used to sing that to me.”

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” Mark sang.

The afternoon passed. They nibbled and talked. They laughed and flirted. Both Kathy and Mark felt they had found their other half.

“By the way, Mark. What is your last name? We only used an initial online.”

“My full name is Markus Vincent Lockleer.”

 

{A work of fiction}

 

Stay up to date with Kathleen on her Facebook page!

About the Author:

kathleen gemmell

Kathleen Gemmell pens for an array of publications. Kathleen is also a storyteller, an animal welfare proponent, a psychology student, and a connoisseur of fine pizza.

10 Days of Halloween With Emily-Jane Hills Orford

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Welcome to 10 Days of Halloween! For ten days, we’ll have seven authors sharing their books and spooky stories, and I’ll be sharing some fun Knight’s Academy stuff (and maybe a scary story or two) on the other days!

For day one, we have author Emily-Jane Hills Orford sharing an excerpt of her middle grade fantasy novel, Mrs. Murray’s Ghost: A Piccadilly Street Story Book 1.

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***

Intro:

There is a street called Piccadilly in London, England. In fact, there is a place, an intersection, known as Piccadilly Circus. But it is questionable as to whether or not there are any major intersections along the famous Piccadilly Street that have residential houses of some distinction on all four corners, and there is definitely no
intersection of Piccadilly Street and Waterloo Street. When I last visited London,
England, I was disappointed to note that there wasn’t even a Waterloo Street, just a Waterloo Road, and that was on the other side of the river from Piccadilly Street. So, the intersection of Piccadilly Street and Waterloo Street could only occur in the other London, the one in which Mary grew up. Indeed, the number of her childhood home, had it existed in London, England, could only exist in the middle of the intersection of Piccadilly Street and Regent Street.

There are other cities in the world that bear the auspicious name of London. But only the one in Canada has an intersection of Piccadilly Street and Waterloo Street with an old Victorian mansion on each of the four corners. One, in particular, is a grand Queen Anne style, early twentieth-century building complete with a tower room, a bay window, stained glass windows, mosaic tiled floors and much more. A family moved in to take up residence in 1967. Mary’s family. It was also at this house
that others took up residence many years earlier and never left. One died and left her restless spirit to roam the halls and torment those who chose to reside in the house. The other two were little sprites known as Brownies. They lived inside the walls and watched over the house that they also called home.

You see, the Brownies had a mission, something that was going to involve one of the new residents of this old house: a twelve-year-old girl by the name of Mary. This is, in fact, Mary’s story, or, at least, the beginning of her story. For
there is much more to Mary’s story than this little tale.

Excerpt:

“Did you leave any lights on downstairs?” he asked as he seated himself at the table once again.

“No,” Mom answered. “I turned everything off.”

“She did,” Mary added. “I made sure.”

“The lights were all on in the kitchen,” Dad said. “Some of the cupboard doors were wide open. I closed them.” At that, the banging doors started up again.

“I guess it’s official,” David announced. “We have a ghost.” He made his move and passed ‘Go’. Holding out his hand to the banker (who was always Dad to ensure some modicum of fairness in the game), he demanded, “Two hundred dollars, please.

“Sounds to me like the ghost is
checking us out,” Dad said, handing over the Monopoly money. “It’s not hurting
anyone, so let it be.”

“Spoooooky!” David howled, laughing.

Mary didn’t laugh. She wasn’t sure
why they thought it was funny, but if no one else was afraid, maybe ghosts
weren’t scary.

About the Book:

Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever. As well as being a fun read for young readers, the story gives an historical perspective to childhood, as it dates to the 1960s. It also deals with some very current issues, specifically bullying.

Get your copy of Mrs. Murray’s Ghost today.

Add it to Goodreads.

Keep up to date with Emily-Jane Hills Orford at http://emilyjanebooks.ca

About the Author:

Emily-FrontPage

Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.