Tag Archives: witches

Jason Spells It Out….

30 Oct

On the eve of Halloween, GSP Halloween Promo welcomes back Violetta Antcliff.

Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.

We are featuring her latest release, Jason Spells it Out, in time for Halloween. Congratulations Violetta and we wish you loads of sales.

Jason finds himself in troubles of the worst kind when he meets up again with the evil hobgoblin Shrug. How can he stop the Wizard’s book of magic from falling into Shrug’s hands? Magenta, a witch whose broomstick he’d once rescued, is under his spell, thinking she is in love with him. Jason knows without his help she’ll be fooled into telling him where the book of magic is. He has to act, and fast; can a love potion be the answer to his problems? Or will it just add to them?

Excerpt:
Jason was restless; he couldn’t get to sleep—something bad was going to happen and he sensed it. The house was not only quiet, it was unnaturally quiet; no sound of snoring coming from his sisters room or creaking of the cot, from the nursery where little Emily Louise slept.

Jason tossed back the duvet and glanced round the room—it was bathed in beams of moonlight that danced high on the walls and cast shadows in the dark recesses. He got out of bed, padded over to the window, opened it and looked out. At first he saw nothing unusual, nothing different; then from the corner of his eye he noticed a movement. The hairs on his arms quivered as if under attack from static electricity, his heart began to pound erratically and he felt weak at the knees. For a fraction of a second, Jason thought he was going to pass out, but when the wave of dizziness slowly passed, he knew he was going to be all right.

In a daze, he returned to his bed, clambered in and pulled the duvet over his head; he couldn’t believe what he had just caught a glimpse of and wanted to shut it out. He tried to convince himself he was really asleep and just having a bad dream, but he knew he wasn’t, knew the goose-pimples were real and the fearful apparition he’d seen wasn’t a figment of his imagination.

Nerves stretched to breaking point, Jason trembled uncontrollably; he could taste the fear and broke out in a cold sweat. Someone, or something, was in the house, in the bedroom—his bedroom—and he could hear it breathing.

“I know you’re only pretending to be asleep. Aren’t you pleased to see me?” Whoever it was cackled mischievously as if deriving pleasure from his plight.

Jason refused to open his eyes and plugged his ears with his fingers.

“I’ve not come on my own. I’ve brought somebody with me; I told him all about you and what you did.”

Jason screwed his eyes up even tighter and pushed his fingers deeper in his ears. Finally however, curiosity got the better of him and with eyes narrowed, he peered out from behind the duvet.

A woman stood at the foot of his bed, and if Jason hadn’t been so frightened he would have yelled for his dad to come and chase her away. He knew without being told she was a witch because she fit every description he’d ever read about them in books: hook nose, warts; red-rimmed eyes that stared without blinking and a mouth no more than a gash in a white face. Hair blacker than deepest midnight streamed out from beneath a conical shaped hat.

“What . . . what . . . what do you want?” His words came out in short gasps, he was so frightened.

“I told you when you retrieved my favourite broomstick from the clutches of that evil hobgoblin, I wouldn’t forget, didn’t I?” The witch perched herself on the foot of the bed and sat, arms folded, staring at him.

“Did you?” Jason inched away; he still vividly remembered everything about the broomstick and the ride he and Wayne had taken on it. Remembered how it had been whisked away soon as ever they’d landed, but he didn’t recall any witch saying anything; he hadn’t even seen one.

“I said what do you want with me?” Jason demanded bravely.

“It’s reward-time for services rendered for you and your friend . . . where is he, by the way?”

“You mean Wayne? He’s at home in bed where he should be.” Jason wasn’t feeling so frightened now; his nerves had settled, the goose-pimples had disappeared, and his hair was no longer standing on end. And although he felt more in control, he still kept his voice low as he didn’t want his dad to hear and come investigating.

“Shall we go and get him?”

“I said he’s in bed, and I expect fast asleep, as I should be. So you can bog off and don’t forget to close the window on your way out.”

The woman threw her head back and cackled so loud Jason leapt out of bed and rushed over to close the bedroom door. “Shut up, will you?” he mouthed. “Do you want to wake everybody up?”

“Nobody else can hear me but you,” she assured him. “And I am going nowhere without you, so you’d better get used to the idea and get dressed.”

The way the woman’s eyes narrowed, Jason could tell she meant it. He scrambled into his jeans, pulled a T-shirt over his head and pushed his feet into his trainers. “I thought you said you’d brought somebody with you,” he said.

“I have,” replied the witch, “my friend, Bertie Crowsbreath. He’s a warlock, and he’s outside looking after the broomsticks. I’ll call him.”

Eyes closed, head cocked to one side, she muttered something unintelligible under her breath. Less than a split second later there was a whooshing blast, and a broomstick with a man cloaked in black sitting astride it whizzed in through the open window and skidded clumsily to the carpeted floor. The newcomer got to his feet, shook himself, and stood looking around.

“Where have you left my broomstick?” the witch asked, finger wagging.

“Don’t worry, my dear.I’ve parked it on the roof next to the chimney stack. It’s quite safe. I can assure you.”

The man turned his attention to Jason. “And you must be the boy Magenta has told me sooo much about,” he said in a spray of spittle.

“Who’s Magenta?” Jason wondered if they’d gotten the wrong address, he didn’t know anybody called Magenta.

“That’s me,” simpered the witch with a flutter of eyelashes.

“Is it true you have a baby sister?” The warlock rubbed his hands together and licked his lips. “How old is she?” he asked in a lowered voice.

“Ten months. Why?” Jason wondered why the man was interested in his little sister.

“No special reason, dear boy. It’s just that children are so scrumptious at that tender age.”

Apart from his strange appearance, Jason didn’t like the man, didn’t trust him and wanted him to go and take the freaky witch with him. But he sensed they wouldn’t leave unless he went with them.

“I’m dressed,” he said, “but I can’t go anywhere until I’ve scribbled a note for my mum and dad.” Jason was playing for time, hoping to come up with some plausible excuse for not going with them.

He looked for something to write on; a school jotter he been doing his homework in was on the bedside table, so he picked it up and tore a page out. “This’ll do,” he murmured. “Now all I need is a pencil.”

“What for? You’ll be back long before you’re missed. Now stop wasting time and climb up on the broomstick behind Bertie.” Magenta’s mouth twitched at the corner, revealing crooked yellow teeth.

Jason shook his head. He wasn’t ready to go anywhere.

“Come on, stop dithering. Jump on the broomstick behind Bertie. You know there’s nothing to be afraid of, you’ve done it before, and I’ll be right behind you on mine.” The witch put two fingers in her mouth and gave a long, low mournful whistle. Fork lightning streaked across the sky and through the open window Jason caught sight of the second broomstick dipping and diving, countless coloured sparks trailing in its wake.

Seconds later the three of them, on broomsticks that seemed to have grown in size, were swooping and diving over gardens and rooftops as they headed toward Canal Cottages.
Her book is available here : http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Spells-Adventures-Foster-ebook/dp/B009WW8EXM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351614299&sr=8-1&keywords=jason+spells+it+out

Entity’s Promise…….

26 Oct

It’s Friday! This means our ebook give away competition. Our last in the GSP Halloween Promo. Be sure to enter. As usual, further down is a question and the answer will be found in the excerpt below.
Thank you to Shiloh Darke for donating this weekend’s ebook.

Shiloh grew up in an average, mid-sized town in West Texas. As a child, she had a very hard time learning to read. Not only did it seem to her to be a waste of time; it was also hard for her to focus on the words. And let’s just admit it . . . it was so much more fun to daydream of romantic adventures. As a kid, she was full of them! In fact, she could often spin a better story from the pictures in her storybooks than the authors themselves did.
When she was twelve years old, still reading at a second grade level, her mother fought her illiteracy by giving Shiloh her very first Harlequin romance. It took her a month to read the story, but reading it did the trick and flipped the switch for her. By the end of her fifth grade year, she was reading at a seventh grade level and anxious for the next book she could get.
 Soon, Shiloh was reading any and every romantic book (translate that term as mostly romance novels) she could get her hands on. At the age of fifteen, she discovered Bram Stoker, whose work inspired the beginnings of her own written storytelling. She wanted to tell stories of love that surpassed time and broke through the barriers of life and death, but with touches of adventure and paranormal suspense as well.
 She began writing short stories and poetry, all haunting tales of love between mortal and immortal souls. At eighteen, she started mapping out her ideas for The Order of Eternals. The result of her meticulous plotting and planning is a staggering list of novels her readers can anticipate with gusto, two of which are currently available in eBook format.
 She lives with her own soul mate and her two children, along with their very own zoo (cats and dogs and elephants no wait! Scratch the elephants . . . but her daughter does have a python. Did we mention she also loves animals, in addition to reading and writing?). She enjoys reading everything from thrillers to mystery and paranormal romance to Gothic novels, as well as writing her own.
The book we are giving away is Entity’s Promise.

Two reporters, Rosalie and Kendra, have been sent by their magazine to investigate a reportedly haunted mansion near the border of Louisiana in the swamps of East Texas. They arrive skeptical, but excited, at the opportunity. Almost immediately, they realize there is more to the old place than meets the eye.

QUESTION: Outside which town is Kensington Cross located? Please send your answers to annehpetzer@gmail.com. The competition closes Sunday evening Central European time and winners notified Monday evening Central European time.

The two specters sat on the roof of the old house, watching the road. It was a lazy day with a gentle breeze blowing, and both souls enjoyed watching it rustle the leaves in the trees. The scene was relaxing.
    Connor turned to Gavin. “You are sure the ladies are comin’ today?”
    Without even glancing in the other ghost’s direction, Gavin nodded. “Ya, today is the day they should be arrivin’. I heard the old man make the reservation myself.”
    The other spirit looked back toward the road. “Do ya think it’ll be  them?”
    That brought Gavin’s head up. “I do no’ know if the other one is meant for you. But I heard the voice of the one who made the reservation. I felt her soul callin’ ta mine. She is meant for me.”
    Connor opened his mouth to ask yet another question, but stopped when Gavin held up his hand, then pointed toward the road. The women were coming.
 
ARRIVAL
 
    Kensington Cross stood in glorious splendor against the backdrop of the swamp. Located outside of the town of Jefferson, near the edge of the Louisiana border, it stood proud amongst the pines of the forest. The two women pulled into the small but empty parking lot with expressions of open-mouthed awe at the sight before them. It reminded them of an old Southern plantation mansion, even though it was surrounded on all four sides with forest.
    Sharing a happy look and a giggle of excitement, they grabbed their luggage and headed in to the old home to check in and get started. As excited as they were, this trip was not for fun. It was research. Kensington Cross was supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Texas. The story would fit into the Texas history magazine perfectly for the next issue.
Rosalie had brought her trusty camera with the night vision on it in hopes of catching something on film, while Kendra was looking forward to finding the motivation to write one of the best stories she could come up with while they were here. Of course, she was also hoping to  indulge her whim to begin her first novel. They were here for a week; longer if they found anything.
    After they checked in, the elderly innkeeper led the two women through the deserted inn, speaking animatedly about the history of the place. “Kensington Cross was built in the early eighteenth century. Originally, it was owned by an ancestor of mine. He built it for his betrothed as a wedding gift. During the civil war, it was a refuge to many a soldier, as well as slaves who needed aid.” He gave the women a hesitant glance. “Of course, neither one knew about the other. They had to be very careful back then. It wouldn’t have served to have our home taken from us for playing both sides. Soldiers were housed here. Runaway slaves were given sanctuary in the basement.”
    He sighed and ran his fingers through his silver hair before changing the subject. “My family redesigned it when I was just a child to serve as a bed and breakfast before the second World War.”
    Kendra found herself fascinated with his story. Unable to stop herself, she asked, “Did anyone in your family keep any records?” She hesitated before adding, “A journal, perhaps?”
    He watched her closely for a few moments before giving her a wink. “If we had such things, I can assure you, we would only be sharing them with the most trustworthy individuals . . .” he raised an eyebrow and pressed a finger to his lips before adding, “If one or two such journals made their way into your possession, I’m sure I would have no idea how.”
    Rosalie smirked, biting her lip. “I’m sure we would be very discreet with anything we found.”
    “Our home has had its share of ups and downs over the years. There were a few times when we  were afraid we would lose it.” As he led them up the spiraling staircase, he gestured around at the paintings that spanned the generations more than two centuries of. “However, as you can see, we have stood the test of time.”
    The two women, Rosalie, and Kendra, both followed his gestures with their eyes. “I can see the place has been kept up beautifully.” Rosalie offered with a friendly smile.
    The gentleman inclined his head in gracious acceptance of her praise, taking in her dancing green eyes and long auburn hair. “Of course, the establishment is almost an empty shell during this part of the year,” he explained with a smile. “You ladies will have the whole place to yourselves. Aside from us, that is.” He sighed after a moment, adding under his breath, “And the ghosts.”
    “Ghosts?” Kendra repeated in question. “How many? Do you know?”
     The kindly elder just answered, “Oh, we have many ghosts here. If they be wanting you to know of their existence . . . you can bet, they’ll be dropping in to say hello.” His eyes sparkled as he offered the brunette a mischievous smile.
    Kendra and Rosalie exchanged a look but held their silence as the innkeeper handed them each a key. This is your floor. Your rooms are right across the hall from each other.” He pointed to the room between them, “This bathroom is shared between you. If you lock this outer door, it can be accessed from your rooms and you won’t have to worry about strangers surprising you.”
    Thanking him, Rosalie and Kendra shared a smile. When Rosalie turned and went into her room, Kendra looked down the hall, feeling a strange sense of being watched. Brushing the feeling off, she opened the door and entered into her room as well.   

The Blood that Flows….

25 Oct

Today we welcome Stephanie Van Orman to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Stephanie Van Orman often writes under the online alias Sapphirefly. Stephanie has written ten online novels since 2001. You may remember her from such online novels as ‘Vampire Kiss’, ‘Mark of the Dragon’, ‘Rose Red: Model 85001’, and ‘Whenever You Want’. ‘The Blood that Flows’ is her sixteenth completed project.

We are featuring The Blood that Flows in this post.

I just wanted to root through Marshall’s files. That was my only reason for getting a job in a Private Investigator’s office. If I didn’t figure out what was happening to my sister soon . . . No. That was a lie. I knew what was happening to London. She was looking for a human and when she found one that suited her tastes, she was going to drink the poor sucker’s blood. If things went bad, he’d drink hers and then I’d have another mess to clean up. The last mess was her previous boyfriend. Yeah, I killed him, but you should have seen what he was about to do to her. I’m lucky that hasn’t come back to bite me, because vampire revenge is uglier than sin.
Excerpt:

Chapter One
Not Just a Bubblegum Girl

“A vampire goes through four phases in its development. One of you two must be able to tell me about them,” Detective Marshall said gruffly. He looked from Dudley to me, like he was expecting one of us to raise our hand.

Neither one of us moved. Why should we? This wasn’t bloody school. We were sitting on mismatched chairs in his cramped office, which smelled of tobacco and old French fries. A pile of paper appeared on the verge of sliding onto the floor from the top of Marshall’s filing cabinet, and I suspected a wad of gum ground into the carpet was stuck to my shoe.

Marshall just enjoyed talking like this. A former police chief in some distant city before he’d resigned and moved here to lay down the law about vampires—which would have worked, except the Chief of Police here was a closet blood sucker. With Marshall’s passion for slaying vampires, it was impossible for him to keep a job working with police who sympathized with the undead. So, about ten years before he’d started working as a detective for the masses of humans who hadn’t quite gotten the memo. This was a vampire city.

Me? Yeah, I got the memo. I got it when I was fifteen. Did I know the different phases a vampire went through? Well, I knew some of them, but remained unclear on what happened after a certain point. One thing I knew for sure—vampires were not invincible. As for the rest, I’d come here hunting for the gory details of their lifespan, since things in my life had taken a distinct turn for the worst. I couldn’t let Marshall know that. He wouldn’t trust me if he thought I was a newbie, so I returned his gaze patiently and acted bored, but willing to let him play teacher all day.

I didn’t know Dudley’s story. He looked like he was in his late twenties with dark eyebrows and a rough five o’clock shadow. His expression read like a tombstone. The message was simple—dead men don’t talk, and neither do I. Too bad really, since he looked like a movie star from black and white film noir.

Marshall waited for several long moments before he grunted, “Get out. You’re both worthless.”

Unfortunately, both Dudley and I were in Marshall’s office for a job interview. Dudley was applying to be Marshall’s partner; I, to be his receptionist. Dudley was a private detective already. And me—as I said before, my aspirations were fewer. I just wanted to root around Marshall’s files and get as much information on vamps as I could before I got canned.

I cleared my throat, directed my gaze pointedly at Dudley and said, “Sorry, I rather hoped this would be a private interview.”

“I don’t have time for private interviews,” Marshall said crossly.

I ground my teeth together. I didn’t want to have to do this, but it was better to act like a fool than to let a vampire hunter masquerading as a private detective in on my true stance. Dumb girl routine number four coming right up. “I’m not interested in vamps,” I said, twirling a lock of my hair. I wouldn’t be able to use that routine after I turned twenty-four, so I had to get good use out of it while I could. “I’d rather answer your phone, sort your messages and keep your files straight than get involved with crap that could kill me. I thought you just stalked married women who strayed from the path.”

Marshall gave me a weird look, and then opened a jar on his desk and offered me a piece of round pink bubblegum. Probably the same stuff that had been stomped into the carpet.

I shook my head and said, “No thanks. I’m trying to cut back.”

He smiled. He liked me. No problem. I was in.

“Okay, so girlie here is too smart to get involved with vamps. What about you, Boy?”

Dudley shook his head coolly and recited in a disinterested tone, “A vampire goes through four cycles. First, they are a human who has been tagged by a vampire to be their mate. If the human is unwilling, it will die.”

“And if the human is willing?”

“Then they will end up sharing massive quantities of their own blood with the vampire as well as drinking the vampire’s blood. A human won’t make the transformation into a vampire unless they consume at least ten liters of vampire blood over a two-month period. During this time, both parties experience a drug-like euphoria where they believe that they can’t possibly live without the other. Even ancient vampires can fall into this hole. Many of them can’t bear to kill their lover, even though they know what will inevitably happen next. Once this first phase is complete, the human is a new vampire and even if it is unreasonable, both the new vampire and the old one are filled with suspicion and anger toward each other. The old vampire liked the human and is disgusted by them once they change, so much so that they will murder them if they have the chance. The new one thinks the old one is jealous of their newfound power and beauty. I’m sure there are plenty of different emotions experienced, but in the end—one of them will kill the other. I’ve never heard of a case where one of them didn’t die. Then there’s the third phase, where the vampire who survived is basically not a nuisance to anybody. They don’t kill in the third phase.”

All of this, I knew. It was beyond this that I hit unfamiliar territory. What happened in the fourth phase?

Dudley looked indifferent, but he continued. “In the final stage, they want to mate, but vampires don’t exactly mate. They either make a new vampire out of a human and die, or they repeat the process of falling in love over and over again without giving up their legacy. That path turns them into killing machines and causes no end of trouble. I’m sure you’ve seen it.”

Marshall shook his head carefully. Then he looked at me and said, “Be careful who you date.”

The book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Blood-That-Flows-ebook/dp/B005R3T5NS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351178512&sr=8-1&keywords=the+blood+that+flows

Awareness….

24 Oct

Today we welcome Rowan Shannigan to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Rowan Shannigan has always harbored a deep fascination for the paranormal. She believes in Ghosts! She believes Angels watch over us. She knows Demons stalk us and she really wishes Elves were around to be yummy and heroic when we need them for inspiration!

Rowan lives in Texas with her son and her very own Soul Mate. Her house is filled to the brim with love and laughter, not to mention a few ghosts here and there. Oh, and more than just a few cats! You can’t forget the cats!

Awareness is Rowan’s first Young Adult novel, with two more books planned out for this, the Awakening Awareness series. She also writes Romance for adults under the pen name of Shiloh Darke.

The book that we are featuring today is Awareness.

Waking in the hospital after a car accident nearly claims her life is a serious jolt to Rebecca, a sixteen-year-old with a promising future. Learning she had been there for over a week is pretty nerve-wracking as well. But that isn’t what really bothers her. No, what is really bothering her is her newfound ability to see shadows no one else around her can see, and to hear voices no one else can hear. Then, the ghost of a little boy materializes in the middle of her room, walks right up to her and starts talking. TO HER! In front of her mother, no less.

Now she has to re-learn everything she once believed to be true about the world she lives in, and what is real in that world is becoming a pretty daunting task to face. Because ghosts she can see and hear are not the only ones popping out of the woodwork; let’s just say . . . Elves and Angels, demons and Faeries, oh my! And would someone please just answer this one question: What’s a girl supposed to do for a good night’s sleep?

Excerpt:

One—Voices

Voices . . . the first thing I remembered hearing when I woke up in the hospital that morning. I was confused and disoriented. My mother sat perched near me with a worried expression on her face, but all I could do was take everything in.

I was lying in a bed with tubes connected to me. Shadows danced along the pristine walls, but had no apparent point of origin. Who did the shadows belong to?

Voices; hundreds of voices whispered all around me, but I saw no physical body for any of them. My heart sped up as I looked around, trying to make sense of it all. Surely I was going crazy. I had no other explanation for it, though.

My inner musings were interrupted when the doctor entered and greeted me with a smile. “Well, look at you! All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”

I glanced from the doctor to my mother and back again. “What’s going on?” I asked in a voice that was hoarse from disuse. “Why am I here?”

Mother leaned forward and took my hand. “Baby, you were in a car accident. You’ve been unconscious for six days.” Tears welled in her eyes. “I’ve been so worried.”

Swallowing the lump that had formed in my throat, I whispered. “Is everyone else okay?”

Squeezing my hand, Mom nodded. “You were the only one who had to be admitted. Everyone else went home that first day.”

“Thank God,” I responded, closing my eyes. When I opened them, a woman was standing just to the left of my mother, looking down at me with a curious expression.

Then, just as fast as she had appeared, she vanished. I blinked and reached up to rub my eyes, trying to clear them of the days of crusty sleep that had built up in the corners. Surely I was seeing things. How bad were my injuries? Did I have a concussion?

“So, what’s wrong with me? When do I get to go home?” I asked quietly.

The doctor smiled. “Well, I’m keeping you for a little longer, just to make sure your head injury is truly on the mend. But I think we can probably let you go home in time for the weekend.”

When he spoke, a shadow raced past him, drawing my attention as it stopped just as abruptly and turned toward me. As I watched, it moved closer and a face took shape.

The boy looked me over intently before offering me a lopsided grin. “Don’t tell him you see me, or they’ll transfer you to the State Hospital, just as sure as I’m floating around.”

He glanced over toward my mom and the doctor, adding, “They’re watching. You need to tell them your head’s hurting and ask them to turn down the lights.” Glancing back at me, he clicked his tongue. “Trust me. Do it now!”

Without even thinking, I turned and covered my eyes with my hands. “I’m sorry. The lights hurt my eyes. Can we turn them off?”

The doctor nodded. “Of course; you have a couple of hours until lunch. Why don’t you try to get some more sleep?” Turning to my mother, he smiled. “She seems to be in the clear now. I’ll be back to check on her later.”

She offered him tears of gratitude, and I watched, feeling pretty overwhelmed. I wondered silently how close I had actually been to dying.

“Oh, you were close,” the boy said. “They’ve been in and out of here for days.”

I looked back at the boy, who had now materialized completely to stand beside me. He couldn’t have been any older than twelve, but he seemed very with it. Glancing over, I saw my mother was standing at the door, talking to the doctor still, so I could respond without worry of being overheard.

Looking back at the boy, I asked quietly, “They? Who are they?”

He looked from me to my mother, then back at me. “Okay, two rules. One: you don’t talk to me. I can hear your thoughts. You don’t want just anyone seeing you talking to things they can’t see. They’ll think you’re crazy.” He smiled. “And second: don’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to hear the answers for.”

He chuckled. “I’ll come back tonight after your mom goes home. It’ll be easier for you to understand me and not freak her out by talking to imaginary friends she probably can’t believe in.” He smiled and reached to touch my arm, but stopped, holding his hand just inches from my skin.

Fascinated, I watched as the hair on my arm directly below his hand stood straight up. A chill ran through me, making me shiver. I could feel him. But I knew he had no physical body.

He stepped back. “Just don’t freak out at what you see today. The things you see here in the daylight won’t hurt you. I’ll explain when I come back tonight.”

With those few wise words, he vanished, exactly like the woman who’d been standing beside Mom earlier had. To say I was shaken would have been an understatement. This went beyond anything I’d ever imagined possible.

“Well, baby girl, it looks like you’ll be going home soon,” Mom said as she moved back to take the seat beside my bed. “That’s wonderful.”

I turned to smile at her. “Yeah,” I answered. “That’s good.” And it was. I just wasn’t sure this other thing was good. But how could I tell her about that? I mean, I was seeing ghosts. Wasn’t I? How was that even possible?

Or maybe I had just hit my head so hard this was all still a hallucination and I only thought I was awake! Yeah. That sounded like the better option. It was a heck of a lot easier to believe than the version of ghosts, disembodied voices, and shadows dancing all over the walls. I mean, move over, space cadet . . . Psycho in ward three!

Okay, so ghosts were real. All right, I could buy that. I mean, it was actually pretty cool . . . on a really weird, spooky, don’t-tell-anyone kind of way. But they didn’t need to talk to me. I mean, no way was I going to continue seeing them. I could refuse. Couldn’t I?

I was soon to learn just how impossible it would be to ignore the spirits that float around us every single day of our lives. I was also about to learn the plans I had been making for my life were no longer an option.

Two—Ghosts and Angels

Later that night, my mother kissed me goodbye and promised to be back early in the morning. I had to clasp my hands together to keep from grabbing her and begging her not to leave me. I didn’t want to be alone. But I was too old to act like a baby.

It was just all too crazy. I wasn’t prepared to handle it with people all around me during the daylight. How the hell was I supposed to handle it at night with no one—no one alive, that is—here?

Biting my tongue, I waved goodbye as she walked out the door. Then, I counted. One-one-thousand, two-one thousand, three . . . nothing. Maybe I had only been hallucinating. Nope, I had quit counting too soon.

“Hi there! Miss me?” His voice almost made me jump completely out of the bed.

Gasping, I turned to look at the boy I had seen earlier, now perched precariously at the foot of the mattress. “Don’t do that!” I growled. “You scared my heart half out of my chest!”

He tilted his head, considering my words and looking at the vicinity around my heart. “Still looks like it’s beating in place to me.”

I fought the urge to throw my pillow at him. Instead, I tried the calm, I-don’t-believe-in-you approach. “You are figment of my imagination. I am going to sleep now and you . . .” I grumbled, pointing at him, “. . . are going to go invade someone else’s nightmares.”

He actually looked insulted. “Hey!” he pointed back, “I’m here to give you a quick lesson. You had better be nice, because I’m not going to help you at all if you’re gonna act like that!”

I groaned, shaking my head. “You are not real! I hit my head and I am just hallucinating!” I pointed, wagging my finger at him. “I don’t need a lesson. I need to get some sleep so tomorrow they’ll decide they can let me go home.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re younger than me anyway. What could you possibly teach me?
Her book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Awareness-Rowan-Shannigan/dp/1619500450/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1351096943&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=awareness+rowan+shinnagan

Eternal Moon….

23 Oct

Today we welcome Shiloh Darke to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Shiloh grew up in an average, mid-sized town in West Texas. As a child, she had a very hard time learning to read. Not only did it seem to her to be a waste of time; it was also hard for her to focus on the words. And let’s just admit it . . . it was so much more fun to daydream of romantic adventures. As a kid, she was full of them! In fact, she could often spin a better story from the pictures in her storybooks than the authors themselves did.
    When she was twelve years old, still reading at a second grade level, her mother fought her illiteracy by giving Shiloh her very first Harlequin romance. It took her a month to read the story, but reading it did the trick and flipped the switch for her. By the end of her fifth grade year, she was reading at a seventh grade level and anxious for the next book she could get.
    Soon, Shiloh was reading any and every romantic book (translate that term as mostly romance novels) she could get her hands on. At the age of fifteen, she discovered Bram Stoker, whose work inspired the beginnings of her own written storytelling. She wanted to tell stories of love that surpassed time and broke through the barriers of life and death, but with touches of adventure and paranormal suspense as well.
    She began writing short stories and poetry, all haunting tales of love between mortal and immortal souls. At eighteen, she started mapping out her ideas for The Order of Eternals. The result of her meticulous plotting and planning is a staggering list of novels her readers can anticipate with gusto, two of which are currently available in eBook format.
    She lives with her own soul mate and her two children, along with their very own zoo (cats and dogs and elephants no wait! Scratch the elephants . . . but her daughter does have a python. Did we mention she also loves animals, in addition to reading and writing?). She enjoys reading everything from thrillers to mystery and paranormal romance to Gothic novels, as well as writing her own.

Her book that we are highlighting is Eternal Moon.

Darmetheus has been alive for a very long time. A Werewolf Eternal, he’s seen it all. Or so he thinks. But when he takes what he thinks is going to be a vacation from the daily hassle of fighting EVIL, he winds up in the fight of his life.

Lilith is a sassy, beautiful brunette with a secret talent. A talent that makes her a walking target. She’s more than eye candy to these immortal villains and they’re willing to kill in order to possess her.
But this enemy is no stranger to him and he is torn. The rebel in him wants to just walk away and leave Lilith to her fate. The hero in him won’t let him. Or is that his heart? 

Excerpt:
”  No. I don’t think they’re targeting me,”  she lied. ”  I just think that these guys are taking girls that are psychically talented.”  She shrugged before continuing, ”  I can easily hide my gift. It isn’t very noticeable. I just wouldn’t want to lead anyone to you if there were any of them watching me. You know?”  Penny scoffed on the other end. ”  I don’t do my talent openly!”
    Lilith chuckled softly at that, ”  Yeah, but you don’t not do it in the privacy of your own home, either.”  she sighed. ”  I’m just not willing to take the risk, okay?”
    Penny groaned. ”  Okay, all right. But listen, you have to promise me that you will get your ass out here if matters get worse. Okay? There is safety in numbers. Got it?”
    Just as Lilith opened her mouth to answer, she saw a wolf run into the safety of her yard. That wasn’t not possible! Surely one of those damn things hadn’t found a way through the magical barrier she’d worked so hard to put into place.
    Flipping the light switch in the kitchen off, she stood in the darkness weighing her options. A clearing throat on the other end of the phone line reminded her that her friend was still there.
    ”  Penny, I promise, okay? Now let me let you go before we run up the phone bill so much we can’t talk again this month! I love you, bye!”  As she hung up the phone, she watched the wolf shift into human form before her eyes. When he made for the front door of her cottage, she cursed, running into the hall. Grabbing her shotgun, she prepared herself for whatever was about to take place.
 ****
    Soon he reached what he’d been seeking, an old abandoned cottage. Enough human scents lingered around the old house that maybe it would throw that thing off of his trail. Glancing around, he looked for some sign of the beast. When he found he was indeed alone, he let go of his hold on the wolf’s form and became a man.
    Moving quickly, he stepped into the cottage he’d known would be here, thankful he’d not forgotten the way. When he closed the door, he heard a shocked intake of breath. He pivoted toward the sound and found a dark-haired woman with startling blue eyes and a rifle aimed at his head. ”  So, tell me,”  she spoke slowly. ”  Did a thief steal your clothes, or did you shed them to become one of those things outside?”
    Darmetheus faced her with wide eyes. Raising his hands in a gesture of surrender, he spoke softly. ”  You are safe, okay? I am not one of those things.”
    The girl gave an exasperated laugh with a roll of her eyes. ”  Yeah . . . and I’m Santa Claus’ cousin.”
    Darmetheus couldn’t stop himself. ”  Merry Christmas,”  he said in a low voice. His eyes never left hers. He could take the gun from her in mere seconds, but that would only alarm her more. So instead, he stood stock still and tried to reason with her. ”  Come on, think about it. I was riding my bike through town. Those things jumped me and I ran.”
    The girl stepped out of the shadows and closer to him, giving him a better view of her stunning looks. She was short. No more than five-foot, two with long black hair and eyes that looked like a clear sky in winter. ”  Really? Then where are your clothes?”
    He would have been completely mesmerized by her looks if he hadn’t found himself staring down the barrel of her shotgun. Yeah, idiot! Lie your way out of that one! Darmetheus winced at the thought. “I took them off. A piece here, a piece there, trying to scatter my scent.”
    Indecision seemed to cloud her crystal blue eyes for a moment before she lowered the gun slightly. ”  You swear to me, you aren’t one of those things?”
    He nodded. ”  Yes. I swear. I was just passing through. I would have gone a different way if I’d known there were rabid dogs out and about.”
    Shivering at the thought, she whispered, ”  Those things aren’t dogs. They aren’t even wolves.” Lowering her shotgun, she moved to the closet and pulled out a large t-shirt, and a pair of sweats. ”  This might fit you, I guess.”
    He caught the clothes she tossed at him and looked at the bright pink t-shirt with disdain. ”  Do you have anything a little less . . . feminine?”
    Snickering, she rolled her eyes for the second time since they’d met. ”  Not that would fit you, I don’t.”  She said, looking his masculine frame over. ”  You’re huge!”  She sat the gun down in the corner and moved to lock the door. ”  I’m Lilith. My father bought this cottage when I was little. I moved in when all the crazy things started happening in town.”
    Darmetheus quirked an eyebrow at her. ”  But, why wouldn’t you just stay in town? Isn’t it safer there?”  Lilith shook her head. ”  No. Those things aren’t intimidated by locked doors, or silver . . . or much of anything else, for that matter. They’ll come right into your home and steal you from your bed. The only people that don’t seem to be too bothered are the ones who don’t live in town.”
    He frowned. ”  Well, that’s weird.”    

This book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Moon-Shiloh-Darke/dp/0982325169/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351004570&sr=8-1&keywords=eternal+moon+shiloh+darke

The Dragon Within and another free give away….

19 Oct

Welcome to Jeanne Guzman to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Born and raised in Maryland, Jeanne Guzman got to Texas as fast as she could. Mother of 4, Mimi to 8, and Keeper of the Zoo, Jeanne and her husband/best friend enjoy life to its fullest. When they’re not traveling around Texas in their motor coach, you can find Jeanne sitting in her home office typing away at her computer.

Jeanne is the author of our this week’s give away in our weekend competition. Book in question is The Dragon Within.

Angelica Crossley is trapped in a never-ending nightmare where she’s forced to relive two very important moments in her life: her parents’ deaths and her own kidnapping. Angelica’s only hope to rejoin the real world is Preston of the Anshar Dragons.

Stepping through the Flames of Prophesy, Preston enters Angelica’s nightmare to rescue her from her torment. In the process, he discovers the true reason for her forced slumber. He was meant to bear witness to the evil responsible for her captivity: a dragon from his past . . . a dragon he thought long dead . . . his father.

As Angelica recovers, Preston leaves her side, thinking the only way to give her peace of mind is to hunt down his father and send him into the flames.

To win a free copy of this e-book please read the excerpt bellow to find the answer to this question: Which dragons are Preston part of? Please email your answer to annehpetzer@gmail.com before Sunday evening and winners will be notified by email Monday evening Central European time. Through doubts and mistrust, Angelica and Preston must mend the breach between them, solidify their bond, and learn to embrace the Dragon Within.

Excerpt.

Chapter 1

Preston of the Anshar Dragons leaned against the doorjamb to his office, his complexion pale in the dim light of the moon. They were preparing for battle, that meant no lights. It was just as well. Angelica was exhausted from the six hour drive from her childhood home in Whispering Hills, just south of the Red River, to Austin and the home she and her sister made for themselves.

“We should be safe enough here. The Hunters have been called in and your grandfather’s sent a group of Guards to help just in case Goron shows up.” Preston pushed away and reached for the doorknob. “Try and get some sleep. I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

“You need the rest too, Preston.” Angelica didn’t want him to leave. She’d nearly lost him a week before, and now that she’d learned that they were destined to be mated, she didn’t want to be separated from him again.

“I’ll get some sleep when Johnny comes to relieve me. Tuck the kid in and close your eyes for a while. There’s no telling how long this peace will last. Take advantage of the quiet.” He closed the door between them. The barrier more than the two inches of pressboard. Preston was closing himself off as well.

After everything they’d shared—everything she’d learned of her past—and he still didn’t want her, preferring to stand outside the door rather than lay beside her. Angelica turned her back on the obvious rejection and stared blindly out of the row of windows that took up one wall of the office. The night sky formed a backdrop to the lights of downtown Austin; the laughter coming from the street a discordant soundtrack to the drama unfolding with every passing minute. Angelica closed her eyes and tried to see the dragon separated from her by a single wall. She needed to be near him, to feel the safety of his arms wrapped around her, but the distance he’d placed between them was too great.

Frustrated, Angelica collapsed on the couch in Preston’s office, wishing it was him lying beside her instead of the Waarheid child.

No, that wasn’t fair. Genevieve wasn’t responsible for the issues between Angelica and her mate. That lay on her own head. Why had she been so hard on him when he’d first revealed his true form?

“Do you think they’ll find him?” Genevieve climbed into Angelica’s lap and laid her head over Angelica’s heart.
The him was Genevieve’s brother, Baltizar. He’d gone missing and Angelica’s sister Kimball and her husband had gone to search for him. “Don’t worry about your brother, Vievie. Kimball will find him.” Angelica had to believe that. Baltizar was basically the only family Genevieve had left. Her father was dead, her mother lay in the hospital in the Mawlan underground, and her grandfather was out to kill everyone.

Baltizar better be alive. He’d gone off in search of his grandfather, Goron, two days ago and hadn’t reported in. The elder dragon was the very same who’d murdered Angelica’s parents over eighteen years before and she wouldn’t put it past the dragon to kill his own grandson.

“Let’s try and get some sleep. I’m sure that by the time we wake up, your brother will back and all this worrying will have been for nothing.” Angelica stretched out on the couch, her arms tightening protectively around the child left in her care. She wouldn’t have thought it possible, but her eyes closed and she was quickly running through her dreams.

As it had been with all her nightmares, the beginning appeared as a beautiful day beside the pond behind her family home. The sun reflected off the water that gently lapped along the shoreline. The sound soothing, calling her to step away from her cares and lie down in the tall, soft grass.

Angelica watched as a raven took flight, its wings lifting it higher as it neared the tree line separating the pond from the playground. It was a sign to follow, but Angelica was reluctant, knowing what she would find on the other side. Still, she moved forward, her body floating easily across the well traveled path leading to the schoolhouse she and her sister attended so long ago.

Like a scene out of Little House On The Prairie, the single room building stood alone with its wooden doors wide open. The one room structure housed the twenty-plus children comfortably, each with their own miniature desk and chair. It was a happy place, filled with laughter and learning, but there were some lessons Angelica wished she’d never learned.

A copper bell perched to one side of the door, ready to ring in the start of another day. Little did Angelica know at the time, that this particular day would be her last time to hear the metallic clanging.

The Skua-Sparrow who called the town of Whispering Hills home, had done their best to give the façade a cheery appearance, planting flowers, trees, and bushes along its sides. Brilliant sunlight kissed the petals of the roses climbing the front of the schoolhouse, their warm perfume exploded in the air, sickening in their sweetness.

Angelica followed the movement of a lone honey bee as it skipped from one bud to the other, collecting pollen, then buzzed along on its never-ending journey through life. A child squealed, terrified by the miniature winged creature that happened to pass by, then laughter filled the air as other children teased.

The setting was too beautiful to be a nightmare, and yet that’s exactly what it was.

She watched, absorbed, and waited. Angelica was dreaming; knew the images surrounding her were memories. Dragons, not the creatures from legend, but human in form save for the wings on their backs, the ridged spines on their backs, their cat-like eyes, and their ability to breathe fire. Skua-Sparrows, not the carefree birds that could adapt to any situation, but a cross-breed of human and dragon cultivated eons ago, stronger than humans, yet not as strong as the dragons. It was the Skua-Sparrow’s job to tend the land and livestock above ground while the dragons lived safely below. It was also their job to mask the existence of the Mawlan, the collective of dragon races that lived underground in cities all over the world.

Her memory had been erased eighteen years before, but with the re-introduction of the Mawlan world into her life, Angelica could now remember her teachings from so long ago. Teachings of what her purpose in life would be and those whom she was meant to protect. The Mawlan collective.

Angelica was neither dragon nor Skua-Sparrow, and yet she was both. Her mother was a dragon. The blood of the Anshar ran through Angelica’s veins, as did the blood of her father, a Skua-Sparrow.

She remembered her mother telling the story of how she’d met and fallen in love with the head of the Langhier Skua-Sparrows. When her father, Valwood, had traveled from their homeland in Southern Chile, Ivelise had begged to go with him. Their plan was to stay only a few months while her father, the leader of the Anshar clan, conversed with the council of elders. Ivelise had insisted that she collaborate with the head of the Skua-Sparrow, to learn his technique for raising superior cattle. Their personalities clashed at first. They fought from their very first meeting. Not because Ivelise didn’t agree with Thomas’ way of managing the land, but because he’d stolen her heart. Thomas had fought as well, to prove to Ivelise they belonged together. It was a union doomed from the beginning, but neither cared once they gave into their love for each other.

It was that love that created Angelica and her sister. They were known as Transcendents. Born from the union of two worlds. Her parents love had broken the rules set forth by the Waarheid. They believed in keeping the dragon blood pure, and that any offspring produced by such a union were considered abominations. It was a rule the Mawlan collective had abolished when petitioned by the Anshar, who claimed the mixing of blood only made for a stronger union. The Waarheid, however, refused to abide by the ruling, and it was for that reason Angelica’s parents were killed.

Actually, they’d been killed because Angelica’s mother believed in protecting the innocent. And in protecting the innocent, Ivelise had ended the life of a Voltura. The Voltura had been the wife of the Waarheid chieftain. Goron had avenged his wife, a life for a life, but hadn’t been satisfied. For years Angelica and Kimball were hidden, kept safe from Goron and those who served him. He’d wanted their lives as well and wouldn’t stop until they too were ash.

With a tear for what was lost, Angelica stepped to the edge of her nightmare, knowing where the day would end, but like the automatic response one has when driving past a car wreck, she couldn’t turn away.

She saw herself as a child pacing the outer perimeter of the playground. Her child-self paid attention not to her sister Kimball who’d been gearing up for the fight of her life, but the Langhier Hunters and Anshar Guards who milled around the schoolyard. Something was off. Angelica felt the tension in the air, knew her child-self had felt it as well. Even at the age of eight and three quarters, she’d recognized something was seriously wrong.

She remembered seeing the Hunters before, walking through the Whispering Hill compound, but never all thirteen at once. The Anshar Guards patrolled the area, but never side by side with the Hunters. Her uncle Magnus had been the leader of the Langhier Hunters, had in fact spent many nights visiting in her home. But no, Magnus wasn’t her uncle after all, only a demented dragon who’d turned on her family in the end.

Knowing what was about to happen, Angelica moved closer to her child-self, as if she could protect who she’d been from seeing the past unfold. Her two entities meshed, and Angelica was once again the little girl.

Her chest constricted with the presence of so many dragons. She wasn’t afraid of the Guards and Hunters themselves, only what their increased numbers represented. Danger was near, and Angelica tried to ignore the flutter of fear in her stomach. She concentrated on her sister—on the competition about to occur. On Kimball’s ascension taking place later that evening.

Today was Kimball’s birthday, she was no longer a child. Up until the age of ten, male or female, dragon or Skua-Sparrow, children were known as hatchlings. On the night of their tenth birthday, they ascended to what those in the dragon community called a fledgling. The dragons developed the ability to produce flames, the Skua-Sparrows developed their strength, both began training for their futures. Kimball was ready to begin her life as a protector. Following in their father’s footsteps had been Kimball’s dream for as long as she could remember, a dream shared by Angelica.

The ceremony where a child becomes a young adult had always been a joyous occasion, something everyone looked forward to. The entire compound would attend. There would be laughter, games of skill, music, and then Kimball’s hair would be cut to her shoulders, and she’d be presented with the cuirass of the trainee—a child no longer.

Angelica had helped her mother hand-embroider the turquoise Skua-Sparrow emblem on the front of Kimball’s cuirass. The wings stretched from the body of the sparrow to rest on each shoulder, continued on the straps that criss-crossed down the back, then wrapped around the waist to connect with the tail of the bird. Angelica couldn’t wait to see her sister’s face when she tried it on, and couldn’t wait for the day she too would receive her first cuirass.

Still, she couldn’t rid herself of the feeling of being watched.

She scanned the perimeter of the playground, past the single room schoolhouse, and into the trees separating Whispering Hills from the outside world. It was there. Evil. Lurking in the surrounding woods. The elders watched, not the playground, nor the schoolhouse, but the sky and the surrounding woods. Each held identical expressions of alertness on their faces.

Dmitri of the Langhier had positioned himself close to the schoolhouse door. His light blue eyes glowed as he seemed to focus completely on Kimball. He was tall for only being sixteen, an inch or two more than the Anshar Guard by his side.

Preston of the Anshar. Now there was a dragon that made Angelica’s heart pound in fear. He was always watching her, his golden eyes burned a warning every time she looked his way. Yes, she feared him, but she also felt safe whenever he was near.

Even as he stood shoulder to shoulder with the Langhier, watching with identical smirks on their faces, she still felt safe—a little annoyed they looked down their noses at Kimball’s display of skill—but safe.

Preston and Dmitri thought only in terms of war, but it took real skill to do what Kimball was about to do. Angelica glared once more at the bored look on Preston’s face, stepped from the shadows, head held high, and ignored the dragon while she approached her sister.

“Concentrate, Kimball. Concentrate.” Angelica reached up and began massaging the muscles in her sister’s shoulders. “The elders are watching. Win this one, and you’ll prove your worth to the clan.”

“I’m well aware they watch. They’re always watching, Angel. I’m not afraid of them,” Kimball announced without taking her eyes off her opponent. “Step back, Angelica. It’s time to show these people who owns this playground.”

Angelica glanced over her shoulder to see the smirk still resting on Preston’s face. She didn’t like the way Dmitri looked at Kimball, as if she were beneath him. She didn’t like the way his eyes stayed on her sister as if he were waiting for her to fail. She didn’t like the way he elbowed Preston, drawing his attention from the test of skill to focus on Angelica once again.
The Dragon Within is available at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Dragon-Within-Jeanne-Guzman/dp/1619501147/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1350668599&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=the+dragon+within+jeanne+guzman

Freedom………..

17 Oct

Today we welcome Julian Adorney to the GSP Halloween Promo. What Julian says about himself.

 I’ve been a writer since third grade, when my teacher made my class write a fantasy story apiece. I was hooked. Since then, most of my life has revolved around my writing: I’ve written short stories, taken writing workshops, and I’m an English major from University of Colorado at Boulder. When not writing, I enjoy hiking and getting together with friends.

My other fiction can be read at Untreed Reads Publishing (‘Deals’) Shadowcast Audio Anthology (‘Souls & Snowboarding’), and Cynic Online Mag (‘Murder’).

Featuring today his title Freedom.

When Brian fell in love with the sorceress Gloria, he thought she was the perfect girl. But when she risks his life without a second thought, he realizes that she’s something else entirely. Her violent possessiveness and Machiavellian control of his life make him wonder who–or what–he’s in love with. All Brian wants is freedom. Is he strong enough to break free before Gloria steals that possibility forever?

Excerpt:
  Blood pumped from his chest, seeping over the spearshaft still pinning him to the ground.
     Brian groaned. Pain lanced through his body. His broken ribs turned every breath into an ordeal, spasming as his expanding lungs pushed them against his chainmail.
     His lifeblood drained away, bringing numbness. The pain dulled.
     He still couldn’t believe it all ended here, bleeding his life away on some nameless field. He had never considered the possibility of his death before.
     He thought of all the things his twenty-five years hadn’t let him accomplish. The books he yearned to write—his imagination overflowed with ideas. The adventures across Qa’mar—climbs up her icy mountains, descents in her deep tunnels—he had hoped for.
     Those thoughts flashed past and were gone. The only thought that stayed was of her.
     Corpses littered the rocky battlefield. Black blood oozed from green-skinned orcs like tar. Drakes lay on their sides, scaly bodies rent. His hand still grasped his sword, and he smiled at the memory of the battle. Monsters swarming him while he used his blade to fight for his life.
     The outcome hadn’t been what he had hoped for, but damn it had been a good fight!
     If he hadn’t rushed into the midst of that clutch of drakes, he might not be dying right now. He shrugged ruefully.
     His thoughts returned to her. To Gloria, the girl who so obsessed him that even in battle he had to wrench his thoughts away. Part sweet maiden, part sorceress who used the Power to blast their enemies into cinder. He sighed, imagining her beautiful face, her green eyes.
     The familiar feelings flooded him, sweeping aside his pain like a waterfall sweeps aside a matchstick. The desire for her. The desperation to be with her, as though he was dying and her presence alone could save him.
     He groaned as blackness seeped into his vision. Unconsciousness loomed and his eyes closed. When they opened again, she was there.
     She stared down at him, pretty features anxious. Her emerald dress brought out the green of her eyes. Curly red hair framed her pale face.
     “Oh, Brian! You’re hurt!” She fell to the grass and touched his chest, tears glistened in her eyes.
     His body tingled at her touch, but he barely noticed. Blackness seeped into the velvet twilight sky as he felt himself slipping into unconsciousness.
     He knew if he let it take him, he would never wake up.
     “Oh, Brian!” He heard her words from a long way away. “Don’t die, my love! You can’t leave me!”
     An image formed in his mind of her face. If he died, then he would never see her again—never again hold her or kiss her or feel her whisper in his ear.
     No, he thought. His desire for her pulled him back from the brink. Gloria’s image sharpened. The feel of the grass beneath him, the stickiness of the blood drying on his ribs, returned.
     Thoughts came faster and he opened his eyes.
     “Oh thank the gods!” she sighed. “You came back.”
     He grinned. “You know me. I could never die and leave behind such a beautiful girl.”
     It was more truth than boast, he realized. His brow furrowed at the ease of his return. He had heard that it was a struggle to come back from near-death, but this . . . it was effortless. He couldn’t leave her; even death had no claim on him where she was concerned.
     He could feel her using the Power to heal his body. His mangled nerve-endings repaired themselves. His wounds healed and blood evaporated from his tanned skin. He lifted his head and caught her gaze.
     She bent over him, hair falling over his face.
     “By the way,” she whispered in his ear, “I’ll kill the bastards who did this.”
     She pulled him to his feet and he kissed her. He drank in her scent, relishing the feel of her lips against his.
     Then she pulled away, jerking her head toward a trail through the trees surrounding the battle-ground. He nodded, and they started walking.
     “I found the people who planned this,” she said, a few minutes later. A breeze swished through the trees, ruffling Brian’s blond hair.
     He looked at her. “Is that where you were today?”
     She nodded. “They’re the same force we’ve been hunting for the past year. I tracked them to the Caves of Rasha, fifty miles north of here.” She smiled. “You killed most of them today, my brave knight. Now all that’s left is to hunt the rest down and slaughter them.” There was a dark gleam in her eyes.
     He shook his head, worried. “Gloria, what’s this about?”
     “They killed him, Brian! I will have my vengeance.”
     His eyes widened. “Gods, love, I know what they did. But you’re talking about an entire clan! Women, children . . .”
     She shook her head. “They deserve it.” Her voice was low and eager. “I saw their leader today, Ra’jaa. I recognized him. He’s the brute who killed my brother.”
     His brow furrowed. “Wait. An old man’s not going to be on the front lines of his camp. How did you see him?”
     “I told you, most of their army was gone. It was an easy matter to slip in and—”
     “And you knew going in that their army would be gone?” His voice came out rougher than he intended. A branch slapped his face, but he kept his eyes on her.
     “Yes, of course I did.”
     “You knew they were hunting me?”
     Her eyes widened. “I’m sorry! I didn’t know there would be so many!”
     “Gods Gloria, I almost died today! That damn force almost ripped me to pieces! And you knew!” He stopped and glared at her. “You couldn’t have stood by me?”
     He spun away as she reminded him that she had left three days ago to hunt Raj’aa. He listened past her veiled statements to the truth: she had known Raj’aa was watching them. She had known he would never send his army out to hunt them both; he would have stayed holed up in the caves, too entrenched for even them to defeat.
     She had abandoned him in order to lure Raj’aa’s force out of their defenses. He had almost died.
     Resentment boiled within him, and he forced himself not to look at her. He knew if he saw her face, her wide eyes, her freckled nose, his anger would melt away. He didn’t want it to.
     Resolutely, he stared at a misshapen tree to their left. It soared into the forest canopy, its thick trunk dappled with sunlight and shade. Bulbous knots protruded like warts.
     He knew she loved him. But still . . . sometimes it felt like she was just using him. Like he was her favorite trinket, to be loved while it lasted but sacrificed if need be.
     Why she would sacrifice him when he knew she was in love with him, he had no idea. He shrugged. Sometimes love didn’t make sense.
     “If you’re having misgivings, love, tell me.”
     He shook his head, forcing his feelings down. Arguing wouldn’t do him any good.
     “Good.” She leaned in, brushing her lips against his ear. “Just help me kill Raj’aa. I promise, I’ll make it worth your while.

Julian’s book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-ebook/dp/B004UGNDWM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350490843&sr=8-1&keywords=freedom+julian+adorney

The Haunted Spring….

10 Oct

Today we welcome Anthony Diesso on our GSP Halloween Promo.

About Anthony. “I currently live in Northern California with my wife and two children (they’re growing so fast – my kids, I mean: my wife is maintaining her usual size, and I’ve leveled off, too). The Haunted Spring not only reflects my interest in ghosts (which are constantly hiding my car keys), but also in the experiences of an NICU ward, in which my wife and I spent three months after the birth of our first child.”

His new release The Haunted Spring is our featured book for this post.

ay Bennett, a comfortably maladjusted man in his early 20’s, finds Anna LaMonica knocking on his apartment door, looking for someone else. Seeing more of each other, however, they quickly fall in love. After overcoming an extended separation, as well as hostile family and friends, they marry and begin a new life together.

But Anna’s sudden death during childbirth leaves Jay to watch over their infant, born premature and requiring an extensive hospital stay. Grief-stricken, helpless, and alone, he is tormented by apparitions of his lost wife, recalling their love and ruined hopes. These apparitions, at times horrifying, at others pathetic, yet others darkly alluring, threaten to crack loose his grip on reality. Attempting to overcome such frightening occurrences, he struggles to piece together his life, to pull some sanity and hope out of the world around him, and to become a good father to his newborn son.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Knock, knock, knock.

From inside, in comfortable shadows, I just stared at my apartment door.

Knock, knock.

And jogged out of a late afternoon stupor, I put a mailed catalogue aside, hastily aligned a bowl of mushed bran-flakes upon the armrest, and stood up from the sofa. Its springs creaked abruptly with relief as I called out, “Who is it?”

There was a woman’s muffled voice. “I’m very sorry. I was looking for apartment seventeen.”

Pausing a moment without considering anything, I then turned the latch, pulled the knob, and found her waiting. She had auburn hair, which as she backed up from the opening door, was glazed with sudden sunlight, and her eyes, a soft, rich hazel, chilled me instantly. We waited for me to say something, ‘til, helping things along, she stepped forward under the eaves again and into the shadows before me. She wore a dark skirt and a smoky-colored blouse, and her lips curved slightly with embarrassment. I wondered if she could see the bowl of cereal from the door; I also wondered if it was about to tip. And almost looking back, I hastily put it out of my mind, trying to think of nothing as I waited politely.

“The numbers go from sixteen to eighteen,” she said in a more intimate voice, slightly tilting her head to one side, keeping her hands behind her back.

I grinned, nodded like a bobble-head, my own hands gesturing with theatrical intensity, my lips grown a bit stiff. “Yes, it’s on the way, other side of the building. Sharon McClean. I don’t know why they numbered it the way they did. Here, let me show you.”

“Oh, I’d appreciate that. Thank you very much.”
The day narrowed my eyes, along with a surface spangle on the swimming pool; and a reflected light cast wobbly shapes across the walk. I wasn’t much interested in any of that, but it was an excuse to avert my glance, and I fixed eyes on it while speaking, noticing peripherally her slow, legato steps. “So you’re a friend of Sharon’s?”

“Yes, we knew each other in Arizona before she moved out here.”

“Mmm. Where in Arizona?”

“From Flagstaff. I’ve come down for a couple of weeks.”

The walk began to warm my brain up. “Ah, I’ve been there once. A college, mountain town, with lots of forests, all shadowed green and pine. It smelled nice.”

“Some parts better than others, yes. Why were you there?”

“I was looking for my dog.”

“Really? What was it doing in Flagstaff?”

“I don’t know. He could have gone anywhere, so I decided to try Flagstaff. I crossed it off the list.”

She laughed with a pleasant familiarity, and I met her glance, if only briefly.

“Well, here it is.”

A woman waved from the window of apartment 17, a faded shape behind the sun-glare off of tinted glass. Having grabbed our attention, she disappeared into the dark behind the reflected white. Latches worked, the screen-door creaked, and before that nasty slam they make, she had gotten in several sentences.

“Finally! Anna, I thought you were lost. Are you all right? How was the traffic, was it bad? How was the drive?” Smack! “Did you get lost?”

“Yes, no, good, no.” The woman laughed while embracing her friend.

“I was ready to drive out to look for you myself. California has wonderful freeways, but like everything else here, there’s too much to choose from.”

“No, I followed your instructions. They were good. Your neighbor was nice enough to show me to your apartment.”

Sharon was a pleasant enough woman of about 24, rather short, and blonde, with black-rimmed glasses. Like a lapdog, she seemed to have a full-sized nervous system pressed into a smaller frame, and if you didn’t know her, you would think she was looking for someone to report some sort of disaster to. I moved into the complex after her, and she showed me where the mail drop was, the laundry room, the rear parking lot, the pool, all the things the apartment manager shows you in that first grand tour. We were amiable enough, but hardly close, and she probably couldn’t consider me a friend when I was already a neighbor.

But with her visitor, she seemed to view me in a fresh light, or at least to present me in a role I wasn’t expecting: “Jay, that’s nice of you. You’re the protector of travelers, like St. Christopher in cargo pants. I don’t think I even told you she was coming. Anna, this is Jay Bennett. Jay, this Anna LaMonica.”

We smiled awkwardly, as if we had just laid eyes on each other, and whatever corner table nuance our former looks and words conveyed was now entirely lost within a banquet hall exaggeration.

“Jay, would you help Anna with her bags?”

Her friend grinned, shrugged her shoulders. “I only have one bag in the trunk and it’s on wheels, with a handle.”

“Fine. While Jay is helping you to get it out of the trunk, I’ll set out the glasses.”
We nodded to each other, and I walked a step ahead of her, guiding her toward the parking lot.

Returning from the car, the two of us entered the small front yard space, and sat at a round glass table with impressions on it, like fingerprints, that made the two sets of knees and shins and shoes seem as if under ice. Sharon emerged from the apartment with a bottle, and seeing only part of the label, I noticed, in curling, vine-like script, the name of some sort of leaf. She poured the rosé into each of the scarlet-tinted glasses, then sat and watched. I pinched the stem, lifted it, declared, “Well, salute.”

“Salute,” murmured Anna.

“May the road rise up and smack you in the face,” Sharon piped in. “That’s an old drinking toast. At least that’s what my father said.”

I tasted the wine. It was light and sweet, with a slight carbonation that pestered my tongue. It was refreshingly cold for a late, summer afternoon, and would have been just the thing for an alcoholic’s tea-party.

“Anna, I’m glad you’re here. And Jay—thank you for helping with the bags.”

“No, not at all. Thank you.” I lifted my glass again and nodded.

The walk lamps clicked on, producing frail, golden auras. The dusky mood and, of course, the wine, stirred shadowy but pleasant thoughts in me, at least: a number of peculiar and buried recollections, like odors not inhaled for many years. When the conversation drifted toward our childhoods, I mused, “Oh, the things that I believed when I was small: that coins shook in the sunlit trees, and boughs were crooked spider legs. I’d peek out from the window and see those dangling things, and plead with Ma to sweep them from the tree. She’d take a broom, go outside, then come back in to say that everything was fine.”

I stopped talking, conscious that I might be drifting in my conversion, amusing only to myself. I glanced at Anna tenuously: her face was lowered in reflection, its expression cast upward from the table toward me, a lit veil of fixed eyes and slightly parted lips. She traced her finger in the moist imprint left by the base of the wine-glass, and spoke almost in a whisper, “My parents had a small statue of the Virgin, and at night, by the dim candlelight, she would move her eyes or change expression. I told my parents, and they smiled and said it was a miraculous sign.”

“At least they didn’t have to take a broom to it,” Sharon laughed.

“Have you outgrown it?” I asked Anna, after smiling at Sharon’s quip. Given the opportunity, I lingered over her delicate, oval face, her supple, curved lips, her brightly dark and almond eyes; her look turned upward from her finger, gliding as if on ice, to me.

“Mostly,” she replied. “Have you?”

Anthony’s book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunted-Spring-ebook/dp/B009FDY9C8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1348931074&sr=8-6&keywords=diesso

WEBSITE: anthonydeaso.webs.com
BLOG: http://www.anthonydiesso.blogspot.com/
TWITTER: https:twitter.com/AnthonyDiesso
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/anthony.diesso

The Eyes Have It….

9 Oct

Today we are featuring, with pleasure, Denise Bartlett. Welcome Denise.

Denise Bartlett began writing short stories when she was nine. Pen and paper gave way to word processors and typing, printing, reading and perfecting. A dreamer, she has always searched for deeper meaning and more vivid experiences in her everyday life. From hypnosis, training with mystics and spiritual people of many walks to tax preparation and gardening, her interests vary widely. The thread that runs through her life is imagination. Denise has written a variety of poetry, short stories and novelettes, as well as columns and articles on gardening and income taxes.

Her GSP Halloween Promo book entry is The Eyes Have it.

Liza Casey called in to report a double homicide today. Sheriff Bobby Knowles had a high-school crush on Liza’s mother, Elizabeth, who disappeared without a trace, years ago when Liza was young. Liza’s life has been a maelstrom of tragedies, and this seems to be yet another one. But what is behind the latest report? Liza says it’s the green-eyed monster.
Excerpt:
Peace officer. Hah. Sheriff Bobby Knowles poured single malt whiskey neat into the same small Support Your Local Sheriff tumbler his father had always used. His father, Robert Knowles, Sr., had been the sheriff of Lane County, Texas, for years before retiring and backing his oldest son’s election to the spot. Easing into his recliner, Bobby pulled the remote out of the western-design saddlebags his wife had made for the old stuffed chair several years before. When he clicked the button, the pre-programmed CD player dutifully started through a stack of 20 George Strait and instrumental country music disks.
His back hurt, the worn out muscles sent spasms up his spine and he knew exactly where the pain originated. The desk chair at work was hurting his back these days, but that was his own fault. During his trip to the U. S. Law Expo in Washington, D. C. last month, paid for by the fair politicos of Lane County, he’d opted for the latest in technology-three new laptop computers equipped with satellite uplink and GPS-with absolutely no money left for new office chairs. Maybe he’d just have to set aside the money from the meager supply funds and get one. Yeah, right.
Sometimes he wondered why he had gone into law enforcement. As he mused, he smiled to himself. His mother had always said he had gone into peace-keeping. “It’s a worthy field, Bobby. Your father has kept the peace here for years.” He’d thought-there is no peace, Mom-but had kept that thought to himself. He knew it was the only way she could justify allowing another of her loved ones to wear a badge and carry a gun. But he had not been able to keep the peace.
Being a peace officer had not been enough to keep cancer from ravaging Jill’s body, either. They’d been married only five years when she died. They had no children; he alone remained. He still lived in his parents’ rambling old two-story, built somewhere around the turn of the century.
Shortly after his dad’s retirement, a car accident way off in Minnesota had taken both his parents from him. Peace. He could not believe how much he ached from the times peace had been replaced by tumult in his life.
Jill. He’d met her his freshman year over spring break in Galveston. She’d been a fresh, vibrant sociable fireball of a girl. Her blond hair was straight and her blue eyes bright-and he’d loved that little birthmark at the base of her throat that seemed to tremble when she was excited. She’d often been excited-at football games, at parties, out late at night at beach parties and alone with him in his car. Those were the days. . . .
Fun and youth and laughter. Going to Padre Island to look for shells, feed the sea gulls and watch the sun set on the dunes. Why did he feel so old and alone today? What was with him?
How he missed her. Jill. He sat staring at the brown liquid in his glass, moving it slightly to watch the waves swirl against the insides. He sipped again, letting the fiery liquid burn his throat as he slid deeper into reverie.
Before Jill, there had only been one other love interest, a local girl, Elizabeth Casey. He had a huge crush on her, but he never knew if it was reciprocated. Sitting there in his lonely house, forty years heavy on his frame, he recalled those high school days. He remembered very well the long afternoons spent daydreaming that someday she would be his wife. Unfortunately, there was a significant block of his unexpressed ardor from the beginning.
Liz Casey, one of the most beautiful young women in the county, had the most domineering father Bobby had ever met-maybe the most domineering man Bobby had ever known. How many times had the teenage Bobby driven to the end of the driveway leading to the lonely cliff-top home of the Caseys and turned back after sitting, staring, wishing for an hour or more? Bobby knew the number was not low. The young Bobby Knowles had never ventured anywhere close to the old mansion.
To make things worse, the man Liz had married as the result of an arranged betrothal was not any kinder than her father to the way of thinking of the citizens of this fair town, Bobby among them. Straight out of high school, she was swept off to someplace off in the Eastern USA to be courted and married. The town had been abuzz with the news that Elizabeth had married one of her father’s old friends. Scandalous talk-rumors really, gossip shared quietly over the side fence for fear of repercussions-sizzled through the town’s grapevine. Elizabeth’s father was not young when his daughter was born. Her mother had died in childbirth when her daughter was only ten years old. A housekeeper, Abigail Carlson, cared for the girl and her father, as old Naomi Carlson, her mother, had tended the Caseys before her.
Many believed hers was an unhappy marriage, for Elizabeth rarely came into town in the months after she and her husband returned to her childhood home. However, they had seen her blossom with the birth of her own daughter. For a short time, she had come out of her shell and spent time in town, showing off her child and adorning her in lovely dresses made by the local seamstresses.
Then, fifteen years ago, when her daughter was only six years old, tragedy had struck. Much to Bobby’s horror, at midmorning of a windy, overcast fall day he was summoned to the cliff-side mansion. The girl’s nanny was crying, almost incoherent in her worry. She haltingly reported that Elizabeth had disappeared. As they arrived, his men had spread across the land, working in a grid from the spot where they found her horse. An avid horsewoman, she always went for a morning run to exercise the restive Arabian mare, Katie.
Her beloved bay mare grazed on a long line. The animal was still saddled, its bridle hanging from the pommel of the saddle, a rope attached to her halter, keeping her close for the rider who never returned.
According to Mrs. Carlson, Liz sometimes came here, to the highest point of land overlooking the sea, to sketch scenes of nature-she’d always had a natural ability. They found a sketch pad with a riding jacket folded beside it, but not Liz. Teams of Search and Rescue dogs and their owners, familiar with the rocky coastline, were called in at noon. The afternoon wore on. When darkness approached, a sense of desperation settled in until one of the men shouted. Then it was a deep sadness which intensified in the hearts of the searchers when they saw him pointing down toward the turbulent, rocky waters.
Throughout the long day, Little Liza had refused to stay at the house, following the movement of the sheriff, as the others circled around him, watching from her seat on a big flat-topped rock. She was wrapped in a blanket the police had given her, but she would not give in to the exhaustion Bobby knew she felt.
It appeared the rocks on the side of the cliff bore some blood, but the rain and the waves washed it away before anyone could crawl down to gather it for testing. What had caught the eye of the man was a flash of color-one of the bonnets Elizabeth always wore clung below them, against the stark gray cliff side. Its bright red ribbons fluttered sadly from a crevice. Perhaps it had flown there on a breeze as she fell-or jumped-to her death. A storm raged through the night and the evidence, what there was of it, had washed away.
They spent a week searching for her, hoping against hope that the young mother would be found alive. After no additional evidence surfaced, Elizabeth Casey Skews was declared dead from accidental drowning. The conclusion the police and townspeople had drawn was that Elizabeth had slipped and fallen to her death. Wilton Skews and his daughter Liza continued living in the big manor house with only old Mrs. Carlson helping out as housekeeper. The nanny had been dismissed.
Wilton remarried three years later. And only three months after the wedding, the now nine year old Liza had come home from school to discover Wilton’s wife and two stepdaughters brutally murdered where they had picnicked atop the cliff overlooking the ocean. Although Lisa discovered the grisly triple homicide, she didn’t witness it. The murders were still unresolved. Bobby still wondered about it-had it been a random event? The women’s jewelry had been taken, but the house had not been broken into.
For more about Denise and where to get her books please follow the links.
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Denise.html#EyesExc
http://www.silvervalkyre.com
Denise@silvervalkyre.com/.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Eyes-Have-It-ebook/dp/B00433TAPQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349754518&sr=8-1&keywords=the+eyes+have+it+denise+bartlett

The Anvil Ghosts and ……a chance to win a free copy.

6 Oct

Today I have yet another Gypsy Shadow author. I would like to introduce you to Violetta Antcliff.
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Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.
Congratulations to Violetta for being in the 2011 Preditors and Editors top ten Short Story Category for Magic and Mayhem.

Violetta has very kindly offered a free e-copy of her book, The Anvil Ghosts, to the winner of a promo competition this weekend. This is how it works. Below is a question about the book. The answer lies in excerpt. All you as the reader has to do, is read the excerpt to find the answer and then email it off to annehpetzer@gmail.com. On Monday evening the winner will be announced. 🙂

What are the names of Anne Scrimshaw’s children?

The Anvil Ghosts.

When Anne Scrimshaw makes the decision to move her dysfunctional family from the city to a rundown cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, she has no idea what she is taking on. With two broken relationships behind her, a troubled teenage daughter and a six-year-old son who craves affection, the last thing she needs is a cottage with a history. Although Anne doesn’t believe in ghosts, her daughter does and forms a friendship with a ghost called Tom and Silver Blick, a phantom horse she runs away on in the middle of the night.

Excerpt:
The cottage was run-down, drafty and in need of repair; guttering needed replacing, doors rehung, as they didn’t fit properly, and there was no central heating.

Regardless of all the faults, the Estate Agent could tell the woman was interested, and he was desperate to get rid of the property, for it had been on his books for far too long.

“The cottage is worth twice what it’s going for; the owners want a quick sale,” he said, smiling down at the woman benignly. “If you want my advice, snap it up while you’ve got the chance. Look on it as an investment.”

Anne wasn’t looking for an investment, she was looking for something in her price range as far away from Nottingham as she could get. “Would the owners consider dropping another thousand off the price, as it needs so much done to it?” she asked.

The man rubbed his chin as if considering the idea, then shook his head. “Can’t see them agreeing to another thousand—five hundred maybe. I’ll tell you what: you take another look round and I’ll phone and see what they have to say.”

Mobile in hand, he walked round to the far side of his car out of earshot.

Anne didn’t want to take another look around; she’d seen all she wanted to. Anvil Cottage was just what she’d been looking for, but she couldn’t let the man know this; it was the reason she’d been finding fault with every little thing since they’d arrived. She’d pointed out it was a long walk to the village, grumbled about the lack of entertainment in the area, questioned the frequency of the bus service. Gone out of her way to nit-pick, making believe she wasn’t really interested in the property

“Susan! Martin! Come on, we’ve got a bus to catch.” Anne’s tone was sharp, impatient. She hadn’t seen either of her children since they’d arrived and she wondered what mischief they’d been getting up to.

“Susan, Martin, I’m warning you—if we miss the bus you’ll both be in for it.”

A boy no more than six years of age appeared from inside the cottage. Hands thrust in pockets, he ambled over to where his mother was standing and stared up at her. “Don’t like this place, there’s nowt to do ‘ere,” he growled.

Anne ignored him; she had too much on her mind, enough problems of her own to contend with. What her son liked or disliked didn’t come into the equation.

Patience wearing thin, she looked at her watch and yelled again, this time angrily, “Susan, where the bloody hell are you?”

A head belonging to a teenage girl poked over the bottom half of a stable door. “What you yelling for?” she returned hotly. “You knew where I was.”

Anne bit her tongue, determined to keep her temper. Her daughter was the reason she wanted to get away from Nottingham; the reason she’d split from her partner, Martin’s dad.

“Now you’ve seen it, what do you think?” she said, waving her arm around taking in the cottage and out buildings.

“Hate it,” the girl said, “and if you think I’m going to come and live in a dump like this you can just think again. I’ll go and live with my dad and Marlene, if they’ll have me,” she added under her breath.

“Just been on to the owners.” The man sauntered over to where Anne was standing, all smiles.

“And?” she said.

“They have agreed to five hundred off the asking price.”

Anne hesitated. five hundred off the price was less than she’d hoped.”I’ll think about it,” she said, brow furrowed.

Anvil Cottage was the type of property she’d been searching for and she’d considered herself lucky to have found it, but she still wondered if she was doing the right thing dragging the children away from a bustling city to live in the quiet of the countryside.

She was a woman on her own with two broken relationships behind her and two children to look after. Martin, with his dark hair and brown eyes, took after his father. He was a serious child, doing well at school. The girl spent more time playing truant than attending classes; fair skinned, blue eyed and blonde, she was the exact opposite of her brother.

“If you’re worried about missing the bus.” The man tousled the boy’s hair and got his hand pushed away for his trouble. “I’ll be only too pleased to give you a lift into Darlington. You can catch a later train, or a bus from there.”

“I said I’d consider it, I’ll be in touch when I’ve had more time to think about it.” Anne could see the man was weakening. She was no fool; she’d guessed he wanted rid of the property. “If the owners had been prepared to drop it a thousand, well . . . who knows?” she shrugged her shoulders.

“A thousand less it is, then.” the estate agent came back without a moment’s hesitation, and stuck his hand out to shake on it. “You strike a hard bargain, Mrs. Scrimshaw,” he said, ushering her toward the car. “Hop in and I’ll take you back to the office, and we’ll sort out the details.”

The only ones not happy with this turn of events were the children. Sullen-faced, they clambered in the car and sat tight-lipped, arms folded, on the back seats.

To learn about Violetta’s books please visit her page:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Violetta.html#AnvilExc