Tag Archives: Ann Gimpel

Psyche’s Promise..

12 Dec

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: Ann Gimpel.

Psyche's Promise by Ann Gimpel

The Transformation Series is about finding out who we truly are when the chips are down. About what is real and what is illusory. About what matters and what doesn’t. It’s easy to show our best side when everything is going well. How about when the world is disintegrating around us? What happens then? 

In this final book of the Transformation Series, Lara and Trevor’s relationship undergoes stresses that threaten to annihilate them. Constantly hungry, besieged by dark forces, they need every resource they’ve developed as a couple to keep from ripping each other apart. With Lillian and Raven— two ancient Celtic Sidhe— off fighting their own war against Goblin hordes, Lara has only herself and her half-baked magic standing between survival and certain death for herself, her love and their child. 

The remote location that was supposed to solve all Lara and Trevor’s problems has done anything but. Though she works diligently, Lara’s crash course in magic proves woefully inadequate. When Trevor is captured by demons, Lara curses her decision to leave Seattle. “If only I’d known,” she cries, convinced she can’t go back. Or can she?



Gradoxst slipped away from the festivities. His Goblin commanders were so drunk they could barely stand; they’d never notice his absence. Once he’d put some distance between himself and the revelry, he allowed his lips to draw back in a sneer. He needed his Goblin cohorts, at least right now. But their coarse ways disgusted him. They reeked of dead meat. And the dirtier they were, the better they liked it.

He knew better than to let them know how he truly felt about them. Gradoxst wasn’t under any illusions. The Goblins would turn on him in a trice if they could see into his mind. A muted laugh bubbled past his lips. Not much danger on that front. Mind reading was a Sidhe skill. As far as he knew, he was the only Sidhe who’d embraced darkness in millennia.

As he walked toward the castle in the Dreaming, Gradoxst remembered the day long ago when the gods had picked Raven over him. Even now, thousands of years later, anger ate at his guts like acid at the thought. To be sure, he’d waited his turn, but the gods had passed him over many times. Finally, sick of waiting for the recognition he knew he deserved, Gradoxst had taken matters in hand. The gods weren’t the only ones who could augment his power.

He passed under an impressive stone archway that curved at least fifteen feet above his head. The castle was made of flat gray stones so cunningly arranged it was hard to see where one block ended and the next began. A sense of pride in Sidhe workmanship filled him, but he pushed it aside. Gradoxst knew he needed to hurry. The stones would recognize his Sidhe blood and allow him entrance. But they’d sense soon enough he’d parlayed with demons. By then he needed to be well-ensconced in the lowest level of the castle for his plan to succeed. He grinned, pleased with himself. To be sure, he and the Goblins were gradually wresting the Dreaming from the Sidhe. If he was successful, today would hasten things dramatically.

Gradoxst trotted down curving stone staircases ever deeper into the earth. His mage light bobbed along beside him, adding a crimson tinge to things. A shudder ran through the rock. He knew he’d been discovered and broke into a run, sucking air like a bellows. He cursed his ancient bones. Every step made something ache.

What he wouldn’t give to be young again. Truly young, before he’d traded sidestepping the aging process to enhance his magic. He still remembered the lascivious grin on the demon lord’s face as he’d asked if Gradoxst was quite sure he was willing to relinquish the appearance of youth. The second he’d nodded, his body had felt as if it were on fire. When he’d staggered to a mirror, he’d been shocked to see a seamed face and rheumy eyes staring back at him.

He breathed a calming spell as he ran, aiming it at the rocks. They were always slow to react. He might still make it in time—but only if he gave it everything he had.

Pushing open a heavy door, he raced into a subterranean chamber and immediately placed his hands on two adjacent walls. The incantation he’d readied spilled out almost before his hands were in the proper juxtaposition. He sent his will into the stones, along with a curse that would separate the full-blooded Sidhe fighting him from the roots of their power. He had to be careful to maintain his own link, so he concentrated on the Sidhe he’d met in battle over the past month. One by one, he clipped the strands.

The stones began to tremble. A high, wild sound filled the air. It took a second before Gradoxst realized he was laughing. “Yesssss,” he muttered. “It’s working. Once I have control of the castle, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the Dreaming belongs to me.” He hadn’t quite figured out how he’d manage to send the Goblins packing after he no longer needed them. But he was certain he’d think of something. Furthermore, he thought it likely the stones themselves would undo his handiwork. He just hoped they couldn’t work fast enough to sabotage his plans.

“You do not belong here!” echoed through the chamber.

“You’re absolutely correct,” Gradoxst answered the sentient rocks. “And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it now.”

Chapter One

Lara McInnis sat at an old-fashioned foot treadle sewing machine, working her way through a stack of ripped and worn clothing. As she pulled another pair of Trevor’s work pants from under the presser foot, she shook her head, shoving a few long strands of coppery hair out of her eyes with an absentminded gesture. “I don’t see why it’s so hard to keep things decent out here,” she muttered, pulling thread through the built-in cutter behind the needle holder. Sitting straighter, she rotated her shoulder blades. As soon as she moved, Gunter, a seven-month-old German Shepherd, rose from where he’d been lying in a corner of the room and came to her, shoving his nose against her leg. His rough outer coat was still a touch damp from an earlier romp outdoors.

“You’re right,” she announced to the dog. “I have been sitting here for way too long. Bet you’d like to go outside and stretch those legs.” The dog whined, tossed his head and trotted to the door, looking over his shoulder as if to say, aren’t you coming? He shook himself from stem to stern, black fur flying. Lara eyed the dust bunnies in the corners of the room and started to laugh. Cleaning was a pretty low priority when you had to hunt down your food before you could cook it—with no friendly neighborhood store to bail you out.

It hadn’t seemed safe to venture as far as Skykomish, let alone a larger city, to replenish their supplies. Her thoughts turned to the riots and food shortages that had driven them out of Seattle and she shivered. Oh stop that. I’m safe enough here.

She wondered what time it was. She’d stopped glancing at her wrist for the watch that wasn’t there a couple of months before. Getting to her feet, she strode briskly to the window, craning her neck to see if she could determine the juxtaposition of the sun in the sky. Oh my, it can’t be that late, she thought to herself, realizing she’d been sitting at the sewing machine for hours. It was closing on late afternoon.

A sudden chill ran through her. Maybe she’d imagined it, but it felt like someone had just walked over her grave. Lara shook her head to clear the uneasiness. Her pregnancy made her hypersensitive. That was probably it.

“Come on.” She clucked to Gunter as she clattered down the stairs of the rustic, turn-of-the-century lodge that had become her home four months before. Pushing the front door open so the dog could go outside, she scanned the empty yard. Trevor and Brad had left that morning to go hunting. She didn’t understand why they’d not yet returned.

“Brrrrr . . .” She shivered, pulling the door shut. Lara wasn’t worried about the dog. He never ranged far from home. As she paced through the one large room that comprised the bottom floor of the house to the kitchen end of things—passing assorted soft furniture and overflowing bookshelves along the way—she was more-than-a-little worried about her men folk, though.

She’d joined her life to Trevor’s well over twenty years before. Brad, however, was a much newer addition to their household. He’d become part of their family after she’d helped rescue his daughter from Goblins that had kidnapped her. Her usual sadness whenever she thought about Adriana surfaced and Lara offered a silent prayer to the goddess for the lovely, blonde seventeen-year-old buried behind their barn.

Brad had been a cop. A detective actually. She and Trevor first met him when he’d apprehended the violent husband of one of her patients intent on murdering her; he’d been a part of their lives—in one way or another—ever since.

Lara lifted the lid on the cast iron soup pot she’d begun tossing ingredients into hours before. A fetching smell rose to greet her. Snapping up a spoon, she first stirred, then tasted, the bean and canned vegetable mélange, flavored with the last of a chicken they’d killed two days before. “Not bad,” she murmured, wishing again for more salt. They’d run out of that last week.

Paws scratched at the back door and she went to let Gunter in. He ran to her and shook himself, water droplets going every which way. “Okay, okay,” she laughed. “I get that it’s still raining out there.” February. Or is it March by now? Has it done anything but rain this entire winter?

She shrugged a wool cloak over her shoulders, pushed her long braids under its hood and looked at the dog, eyebrows raised. “Do you want to come?” she asked. “I have to milk the goats and look for eggs.” She’d just walked out onto the wide porch that wrapped all around the house, dog prancing before her, when she felt something curious. Laying a hand on her gently swelling stomach, she stopped, heart filling with wonder as she willed the sensation to return. Yes, there it was again. Like the gentlest of fish tails, brushing against her insides. Sudden tears pricked behind her lids, threatening to overflow.

“Elizabeth,” she breathed. “You really are in there.” And then she felt foolish. Lara knew she was old to be having a child, and a first child at that. But joy at the life quickening within her brimmed over and she hummed a tuneless song as she picked up the milking pail and trudged across the muddy yard to the barn. Her boots squished in the ever-present muck. It had rained so much—and snowed when it wasn’t raining—nothing ever had a chance to dry out. She shook back her hood and bent to the first goat; the little animal stared accusingly at her out of its rectangular eyes.

“I know I’m late,” she told it. “The way today has gone, you’re lucky I got here at all.” But the goat just made goat noises and Lara stopped talking to it. Eggs in the basket and milk in the pail, she started back for the house, noticing light was fading from the day. The gray sky was getting darker. Her thoughts turned to Trevor and Brad again.

Where the hell are they? she asked herself, pouring half the milk into a bowl to sour and splitting the rest between two bottles. As she worked, she thought about Trevor with his blonde good looks and his devastating past. She’d been a psychologist before fate had plunked her down at this remote farm. And he’d been a flight attendant. They’d had a pretty posh life. Especially compared with the way things were now.





Psyche’s Search..

11 Dec

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: Ann Gimpel.

Psyche's Search by Ann Gimpel

Born with the sight, Lara McInnis is ambivalent about her paranormal ability. Oh it’s useful enough some of the time with her psychotherapy patients. But mostly it’s an embarrassment and an inconvenience—especially when her visions drag her to other worlds. Or into Goblin dens. In spite of escalating violence, incipient food shortages and frequent power blackouts, Lara is still far too attached to the comfortable life she shares with her boyfriend, Trevor, a flight attendant who lost his job when aviation fuel got so expensive—and so scarce—his airline went out of business. Forced to seek assistance to hone her unusual abilities in Psyche’s Prophecy, Book I of this series, Lara is still quite the neophyte in terms of either summoning or bending her magic to do much of anything. 

Reluctantly roped into channeling her unpredictable psychic talents to help a detective who saved her from a psychopathic killer, Lara soon finds herself stranded in the murky underbelly of a world inhabited by demons. The Sidhe offer hope, but they are so high-handed Lara stubbornly resists their suggestions. Riots, death on all sides, a mysterious accident and one particular demon targeting her, push Lara to make some hard decisions. When all seems lost, the Dreaming, nestled in the heart of Celtic magic, calls out to her. Heeding its summons brings sorrow, while opening the gates to a new life.


Chapter One

Doctor Lara McInnis began the day clinging to a slender island of solace. Hours later, waves of patients, errands and phone calls had pounded against that island till it was nothing but a rubble heap. Rubbing wearily at her eyes, Lara finally gave up and closed them. For a moment or two she thought she might get away with it, but then an image of Arabel, her longtime receptionist, lying in a pool of her own blood rose out of some subterranean reservoir. The grizzly scene was so real, Lara’s stomach clenched. And then, like an unwelcome tape loop, it played again. And again. Opening her eyes didn’t help one whit. Arabel was just as bloody and just as dead.

Lara collapsed into the chair generally reserved for her patients. Outside her western window a scarlet sunset streaked the Seattle skyline, adding its bloody motif to the one already playing in her head. Disgusted with herself, she got to her feet and began pacing the length of her spacious office, burning a track in the Oriental rug. She knew she should be boxing up client files, but couldn’t force herself back to a task she was ambivalent about—at least not until she could get her emotions under better control.
The doorknob rattled. It startled her, and Lara’s heart jumped into overdrive. In her current state, the familiar sound was like a reproach. “How could I not have locked it with everything that’s going on?” she muttered as she rushed into the outer office. Arabel’s desk, another Oriental rug and ornate Victorian furniture with floral upholstery flashed past the edges of her vision, but she was focused on the door as she watched the knob slowly turning.

This is ridiculous, she told herself. It’s probably a pharmaceutical salesman thinking I’m a psychiatrist.

Or that demon that’s been dogging you, a darker inner voice insinuated.

Since the only other option was throwing herself out a second-story window and hoping for the best, Lara crossed the few feet to the door and yanked it open. A decidedly overweight woman jerked her hand away from the doorknob and eyed Lara balefully out of rheumy, blue eyes. Pale brown hair, going gray, was gathered into an untidy bun, and fat rolls bulged over too-tight jeans and under an inadequate T-shirt.

“Missus Stone.” Lara tried to smile as she coaxed her heart back to a normal rhythm.

“Hmmmmph, surprised you remember me.”

“Of course I do.” Lara stepped aside, gesturing for the woman to enter. The last thing she wanted was another patient visit, but it would verge on the unethical—never mind the rude—to ask Myra Stone to go away without at least finding out what she wanted.

Lara waited while Myra stalked past her, looked inside the inner office and circled back to stand in front of Lara, hands on her hips. “Guess she’s not here,” Myra snapped as she sat down in one of the reception chairs.

“If you’re looking for Caren, no; she’s not,” Lara agreed, mystified. “Is your stepdaughter missing?”

The woman grunted. She still had an expression on her face that could curdle milk, but she knotted her fingers together and said, “How about if you sit down, and you and me can have a little talk?”

“Okay.” Lara kept her voice as neutral as she could, pulled the office door shut—taking care to lock it this time—and rolled Arabel’s chair out. Her butt had barely grazed the seat cushion when the woman started talking.

“I don’t think spending time here is helping Caren. Nope, not at all,” Myra complained in an unpleasant, nasal twang. “I never know where she is. She’s still taking what doesn’t belong to her; and that father of hers, well he’s not any help at all. So it’s just me.” Accusatory eyes drilled into Lara. “All my real kids turned out fine. This one, she’s just a bad seed.” Rooting around in a battered handbag, Myra pulled out a cigarette. “Do you mind?”

“Uh, yes; I’d prefer you didn’t smoke,” Lara managed, struck by the gall of the woman and offended to hear her belittle her stepdaughter so blatantly. Caren had said Myra hated her, but Lara had assumed it was just teenaged hyperbole.

Myra stuffed the cigarette into her T-shirt pocket and pushed her bulk upright. “Not much reason for me to stay,” she muttered. “Really thought she’d be here. You’re the only one she ever says anything good about.”

If she felt like one of your real kids, maybe she’d say good things about you—or feel safe enough to love you . . . Discouraged by the woman’s callousness—after all, Caren had been through hell in her sixteen years—Lara stood, too. Trying for a positive spin, she said, “You must be concerned, or you wouldn’t have come looking for Caren. Would you like to make an appointment, Missus Stone? I already told you on the phone I’m closing my practice, but I’d be glad to find a time slot for you in the next couple of weeks. We could talk about some of the challenges of step-parenting and how hard it is for abused children to learn to trust—”

“Nah.” Myra waved her to silence. “Hell, my uncle did me and I didn’t turn out like her. I didn’t cut school or steal stuff. Or carve on myself.” Shuffling over to the door, she pulled it open and stalked out into the hall, the tiny chink in her armor replaced by a brittle, defensive anger.

“Well, think about it,” Lara persisted, addressing the woman’s back as Myra headed for a stairwell. Drawing the door shut behind her, she retreated to her office, thinking that Myra could do with a smattering of psychotherapy herself. Yeah, like about ten years worth. Crimson from the sunset bled through stained-glass windows, casting her familiar furniture in an eerie light. Lara wrapped her arms around herself, seeking the warmth of her own body for comfort.

That poor child . . . From abusive kin to a stepmother who doesn’t want her. Sorrow for Caren replaced the Arabel tape loop as color faded from the room. Lara decided it was an improvement, all in all, and she kicked a box over a few inches so she could open the lower drawer of her filing cabinet. Pushing her long red hair back over her shoulders, she proceeded to dump banded files into the banker’s box without any particular regard for order.

The outer door of her office rattled again. This time, though, it was a key sound.


“In here, Trev,” she called back, straightening to greet her longtime boyfriend.

Trevor, his usually buoyant mood notably subdued, held out his arms. “‘Lo, Lara. Sorry I’m a bit late but . . . well, never mind; it will keep.” He scanned the room with his intensely blue eyes, taking in her half-finished packing job. “How much more . . .” he began tentatively as he put his arms round her for a hug.

Shooting him a look laced with pain, she shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m doing this as fast as I can in between seeing patients who want a last session or two. Thank god Arabel started calling all of them before . . .”

His arms tightened around her. “Doesn’t matter, love. It’ll be done eventually.” Blonde curls brushing against her face, he kneaded her shoulders with both hands. “Bloody hell, you’re wound up tighter than a spring.” The familiar clipped tones of his British accent washed over her like a balm.

“Feels heavenly,” she breathed. “I didn’t realize how . . .” Her voice trailed off. 

“Well, maybe I did, but I’ve been forcing myself not to pay attention.” She pulled away, sinking onto the floral couch spanning part of one wall. Exhaustion dragged at her as she dropped her head into her hands, rocking slightly.

Pushing a couple of boxes out of the way, Trevor joined her. “I miss Arabel, too, you know.” There was a catch in his voice that he tried to clear away. “Any of those ready to take home?” he asked, pointing at the half dozen boxes littering the floor.

“Yeah, those three.” She jabbed her index finger at a corner of the room. “They’re records from patients I haven’t seen in at least a couple of years.”

“What are you going to do with the others?” His voice was gentle, but he placed a finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. “What are you saving them for?”

“Guess I can’t very well keep any of them,” she muttered. “It’s not like we’re even going to be here after a little while.”

“No,” he agreed solemnly. “It’s not. And we’re not.”

Pursing her lips into a thin line, she found her feet. “Okay, then,” she snapped, angry with the universe that seemed to be stealing her life away. Pulling open file drawers, she grabbed a few charts and dumped them onto her desk. “I need these since I’m not quite done with these people, but all the rest can go.”

Nodding, Trevor joined her in front of the twin horizontal files, and together they began to move twenty years worth of Lara’s psychology practice into the waiting cartons. “You’ll need more boxes,” he noted after a few minutes. “Lots more.”

“Thought we could fill these, dump them at home, and then I’d just bring the empties back tomorrow and begin all over.”

“Ah, brilliant. Of course; that’s the obvious thing to do.” Grunting, he shouldered a box and headed for the door. “I’ll be back directly for another.”

“Right behind you,” she said, picking up a box. “I do feel better when I’m doing something other than wallowing in my own misery.”

“That’s my girl,” he shot back over his shoulder.

The minute Trevor opened the door of his old Mercedes convertible, Gunter, their eleven-week-old German Shepherd lunged out of the car, making a beeline for Lara. The little black puppy yipped, whined and launched himself at her, pulling at her wool skirt with his claws. “There, there, little man,” she cooed, putting her box down so she could unhook his feet from the fabric of her skirt. “Yes, yes; I’ve missed you, too.”

As she fondled the puppy, she glanced at Trevor. Dressed in faded blue jeans, a green chambray shirt and a tan corduroy blazer, his tall, lanky frame exuded its usual casual elegance. “How’d your day go?” she asked.

“Not bad,” he replied, shoving his box of files into the car’s small trunk and reaching for the one she’d set on the sidewalk. “We’ll have to put the rest in your car, love. No more room in here.” He slammed the car’s boot. “I started really taking stock of what’s in our house . . . and making lists. Went down to the waterfront, too.” His lips curved wryly. “Didn’t find much in the way of antique farm equipment, but I did get some leads. Bloke at the flea market looked at me as if I were daft.”

She flashed him a weak smile. “Well, dear, I suppose it’s not every day they get customers hunting for scythes, or whatever it was you asked for.”

“Let’s get those other boxes down here. Then we can walk the pup before we go home.”

Lara inclined her head and turned to go back into her building. Lucky for us the electricity’s not on the fritz. It’s almost dark out here. Power outages had been hit-and-miss. More often than not, she’d had to use a flashlight to find her way out of her building. Back in the office, she continued throwing files willy-nilly into the boxes she’d bought earlier that day. An orderly part of her rebelled when she looked at the files, no longer alphabetized, lying on their sides like beached whales. “It doesn’t matter,” she muttered fiercely. “All we’re going to do is burn them.”

She remembered something Raven had told her. Your thought patterns are still trapped in your old life. That is what has brought modern civilization to the brink of extinction: an intransigent unwillingness to change anything.

As she thought about Raven, a vision of the tall, broad-shouldered Sidhe with his flowing black hair filled her mind; and the amulet Lillian had given her, nestled between her breasts on its golden chain, thrummed approvingly. Lara grasped the moonstone through the fabric of her teal silk blouse, enjoying its warmth. Raven and Lillian: two ancient creatures, somehow alive and well in the early years of the twenty-first century. Doesn’t matter why or how, I’m just glad they’re here, helping us.

Trevor strode back into her inner office. “Got another box ready?” he asked, looking confused. “I know you told me earlier, but I don’t remember.”

“Uh-huh.” She crooked a finger off to the side. “That one. I’ll just finish this one and cart it out. Then there’ll only be two more to fill and we can head home.”





Psyche’s Prophecy…

10 Dec

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Ann Gimpel.

Psyche's Prophecy by Ann Gimpel

What if your psychotherapist could really see into your soul? Picture all those secrets lying hidden, perhaps squirming a bit, just out of view. Would you invite your analyst to take a peek behind that gossamer curtain? Read your aura? Scry your future…?

Classically trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Doctor Lara McInnis has a special gift that helps her with her patients. Born with “the sight” she can read auras, while flirting with a somewhat elusive ability to foretell the future. Lara becomes alarmed when several of her patients—and a student or two—tell her about the same cataclysmic dream. 

When she reaches out to the Institute for answers, Lara’s paranormal ability sounds a sharp warning and she runs up hard against a dead end. Her search for assistance leads her to a Sidhe, and ancient Celtic rituals blaze their way into her life.  Complicating the picture are: a deranged patient who’s been hell-bent on destroying Lara ever since she tried to help his abused wife; a boyfriend with a long-buried secret and a society that’s crumbling to dust, as shortages of everything from electricity to food escalate.


 Lara McInnis fidgeted in the ginger-colored overstuffed chair taking up most of one corner of her cozy psychotherapy office. Schooling her face to neutrality, she tried to gin up some energy to support her quarreling clients. Bethany Beauchamp wasn’t saying all that much, though; and her husband was cataloging her faults, clicking them off one by one on his fat fingers. Wonder why they really wanted to come here? Lara asked herself, searching for an opportunity to intervene. Aha, there it was.
     “Mister Beauchamp,” she murmured, voice pitched purposefully low so he’d have to stop talking in order to hear her.
     “Yes, what?” He sounded irritated, voice scratchy from too many cigarettes. “You interrupted me.”
     “Yes, I know. But I was interested in what you were saying and I didn’t quite catch that last part before I, um, interrupted. Might you be so kind as to repeat it for me?” Oh-oh. Watch the sarcasm.
     Ken Beauchamp straightened self-importantly in his chair, carefully slicking back a couple of mouse-brown hairs that had fallen out of place in his too-careful comb over. Uncrossing short, chubby legs encased in expensive suiting, he turned so he could look right at her with close-set blue eyes. Broken blood vessels along the sides of his nose suggested a far-too-intimate relationship with alcoholic beverages.
     “We pay you quite well. The least you could do is be attentive,” he complained, an unpleasant whiny note in his voice.
      She nodded, offering a silent invitation to speak to her rather than to his wife who looked exhausted. Bethany’s eight-month pregnancy dragged at her tall, slender frame and dark smudges under her hazel eyes detracted from her showgirl beauty. Light auburn hair fell in limp curls to her shoulders. Though only in her early thirties, today she looked ten years older.
     After an imperceptible pause Ken took the bait and, rather than repeating his last statement as requested, he started in on Lara. “Well, Doctor, you’ve been late for our appointments twice out of the ten we’ve scheduled. None of the things you’ve suggested work and our marriage isn’t any better than it was the day we walked in here.” He sat back in his chair, a smug smile on his florid face.
     “Which things have you tried?” It was difficult to keep her features pleasant. She was coming to detest Ken Beauchamp and suspected his wife felt much the same. Stealing a glance at her other patient, Lara noticed Bethany seemed to be trying not to cry. Reaching over, Lara handed her the box of Kleenex she always kept next to her chair. “Mister Beauchamp?” she urged. “What things have you tried? I need to know so I can work with you to figure out what might be more effective.” Or, so I can find an excuse to refer you to another therapist.
     Ken’s face reddened even more. “I’m sure we’ve tried some of them,” he said defensively. Shifting his bulky body around in his chair, he shot his uncomfortable wife an intimidating look. “Beth, the good doctor here is asking what we’ve tried.”
     Withering under her husband’s knife-like stare, Bethany burst into tears, choking on the word, “N-nothing,” as she buried her face in her hands. Outside of her soft sobbing, the corner office, morning sun streaming through leaded-glass window panes, was absolutely silent.
     Lara leaned forward, her dark luminous eyes moving from Ken to Bethany. “It’s like I told both of you when you first came here, I can’t fix your marriage. Only you can do that. But, for there to be any improvement, you have to be willing to listen to one another. We’re nearly at the end of today’s hour, but frankly there’s not much reason for you to spend your money coming here week after week just so I can listen to you argue and try to referee. Go home and have an honest discussion this morning while everything’s still fresh. Figure out if you really want to continue seeing me. If the answer is yes, call me and come on back next week. If the answer is no, well . . .” She let her last words hang in the air, realizing she was hoping to never have to see Mister Beauchamp again.
     “Uh, here.” Ken rustled around in an inner jacket pocket coming up with a well-creased piece of paper. “Sign this.”
     Taking the paper from him, she flipped it open. Damn the man. He’d been court-ordered to attend marriage counseling and he hadn’t told her. In fact, neither of them had. Fuming, she hastily checked the box verifying attendance at ten sessions, signed the document and handed it back to him. “You should have told me, Mister Beauchamp. We might have done things a bit differently.” We sure would have, since I never accept court-referred clients. He just looked at her as he snatched up the paper, a feral smile adding a malevolent note to his already-unattractive face.
     “Thank you, Doctor McInnis.” Bethany’s voice was still clotted with tears as she planted her feet beneath her ample belly, then struggled to her feet. Standing, Lara held out her hand and Bethany latched onto it like a lifeline. The two women looked down at Ken who hadn’t made the slightest effort to leave his chair. He was chewing on his lower lip, his face the color of a boiled lobster.
     Acting on impulse, Lara let go of Bethany’s hand and gestured to her. “I’ll just walk your wife down to the ladies’ room, Mister Beauchamp, so she can put some cold water on her face. She’ll meet you at the car.”
     Pulling the office door open, she exchanged a meaningful glance with her receptionist. “Arabel, could you please see Mister Beauchamp out?”
     Without waiting for a reply, she took Bethany’s elbow, pushing her out into the hallway. As soon as they were safely out of the office, Lara turned to Bethany. “He hurts you, doesn’t he?” Her voice was the barest of whispers as she remembered the little she’d been able to drag out of Ken about his obscenely violent childhood.
     A single tear leaked from one of Bethany’s eyes as she mumbled, “I, uh, can’t, um, shouldn’t . . .” They had reached the bathroom and were both inside the tiny enclosure. Lara waited, regarding her patient intently with well-honed inner senses. But Bethany maintained an edgy silence, the ragged, darkened edges of her aura radiating a gloomy melancholy. Probing with her psychic side, Lara suddenly knew much of what the woman was unwilling to divulge. And then—as was often the case when she used her gift—she wished she’d left well enough alone.
     Reaching into a pocket of her plaid wool skirt, Lara pulled out a pen and one of her cards, scribbling a number on the back. “If things get bad, make an excuse, any excuse. Tell him you’re going out for a walk. Bring your cell phone and call this number. They help women like you.”
     Bethany’s hand snaked out and she took the card; then a frantic look washed over her. “But what if he finds the number?” she whimpered.
     “It doesn’t matter. They won’t talk to him.” Lara laid a hand on Bethany’s arm. “You probably need to get down to your car. Maybe you could come in and talk to me by yourself.”
     “He’d never let me.” Dull voice matching her dead eyes, Bethany let herself out into the corridor and began walking, with the awkward gait of the very-pregnant, towards the stairs.
     Back in her office, Lara stopped at Arabel’s desk. “Who else do I have today?”
     Hooking her thumb out the door, Arabel asked, “What’s up with them? The mister, he seemed pretty put out. For a minute there I didn’t think I was gonna git him out of the office.”
     “You know I can’t discuss patients with you, dear. Or, at least we have to pretend we don’t talk about them.” Lara smiled fondly at the elderly Black woman who had been her sole office help for over twenty years. Arabel was dressed in her usual white blouse, navy gabardine skirt and black flats. An ancient maroon sweater hung over the back of her secretarial chair. Hair in a modified mostly-gray afro, she had a piquant sense of humor and a quick temper that was sparking from her nearly-black eyes.
     “Hmmmmph . . .” Arabel bristled, mouth twisted into a frown. “You know I got nobody I’d be tellin’ anything to. Never have.”
     “Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Lara held out a conciliatory hand. “Truce?”
     Arabel cocked her head to one side, the corners of her mouth twitching as she reached up to shake hands. “Truce. Never could stay mad at you. Not for long, anyways.” Turning back to the computer, she brought up the day’s schedule on the monitor. “David Roth cancelled, so you’re free till one thirty. Then you got folk packed in here till close to eight.”





Author of the Week: Ann Gimpel

9 Dec

Congratulations to GSP Author of the Week: Ann Gimpel.

Anne Gimpel, Author of the Tramsformation Series

Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent, who practices in a very isolated area high in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of magazines, webzines and anthologies. She has published three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search and Psyche’s Promise. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

Please watch this space during the week for further information about her GSP releases.