AND THE WINNER IS……… SANDY BRUNY! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Send me a message and I’ll get your prize to you Wednesday. 🙂
I super appreciate everyone who joined in the Blog Hop fun this year!
Welcome to this years’ spook-a-licious Snarkology Halloween blog hop running from October 26-31 with lots of prizes to be won from participating authors! Just click to follow this Linky to find all the participating blogs and fun. Be sure to join our Grand Prize Drawing for a chance to win one of FOUR grand prizes! Read to the bottom for my special giveaway right here on the Ranch. 😀
Dust covered everything and her nose itched with the musty scent of age. Silence, eerie, but for the creaking shift of the wood and foundation. Winter-bare branches of the oak trees scratched against grimy windows from somewhere outside, echoing through the abandoned mansion. Elise Crane’s underactive imagination went into sudden overdrive and envisioned a witch’s needle sharp claws screeching against the cold glass. Coming for her. The intruder.
This was a stupid idea. She knew haunted houses were a figment of imagination derived from situations just like this. Spooky house. According to stories she’d heard during interviews with townsfolk before she got to the house, no one entered Bramm House uninvited. Apparently, no one lived to share their story if they did. Not even other Bramms. Look what happened to the latest Bramm to perish. So young, so dead, while walking around in this very house two years ago.
Elise craned her neck, swiveled and double-stepped to regain lost balance the awkward spin caused, then aimed her light to gawk at the upper level. It was open from the ground floor view with nothing but spindly rails as protection to anyone on the other side. What had the news story said? He’d fallen, Brandon Bramm had…from up there…
One rumor suggested he might have been pushed to his death. Had he? By whom? Everyone thought the house was haunted by the many Bramms who’d died there. Others believed those restless spirits resented the living and forced all away who dared enter.
“Well, I don’t even believe in you—ghosts. I’m not afraid.” Creeped out a little, maybe. Okay, a lot. She added an audible “hrumph” as punctuation to the bravely murmured declaration. “The only reason I’m here is because my twittle-brained boss is hell bent on a “real” ghost story to publish for Halloween.” Air quotes emphasized her non-belief of apparitions, paranormal, supernatural, or any other name slapped on them. She guessed that was why Rick had chosen her for this assignment. Insurance of a story with a no nonsense approach to add credibility. And possibly for Elise’s degree in psychological disorders, also deemed by her boss as devious mind digging. He probably expected her to do a session on one of the ghosts reportedly living here. Her lungs resisted the hard dusty breath, she coughed and sighed. She desperately needed a new job.
A cold breeze crept over her left arm—only—as if in challenge, and she flicked the tiny flashlight around. Nothing. Of course. Just the stale, chill air of the mausoleum-like building that she’d disturbed.
A sharp crack sounded from behind her. In the next instant she felt her blood cease to flow, or maybe her brain was just stalling in her fear. Whirling around the opposite direction, the light wobbling in her shaky hand, she fought for breath. It was more difficult to explain the tall door swinging open stiffly across the foyer. An invitation to enter? Or some…one—thing—coming out?
A dark leg stepped through the opening, and a masculine hand wrapped on the jamb. Elise backed a step and screamed…before all went dark.
Mason Deen scrubbed his hand through already unruly hair and stared at the young woman he’d laid on the dusty-sheet covered sofa. Who was she? More importantly, what was the tiny blonde doing inside Bramm House? She was brave going in alone, if rumors were true, and she was alone. A quick search of the area had assured him of that, no footprints beside hers and his on the dusty floor.
Rome wouldn’t be happy when he learned the location had been contaminated. Damn it.
A soft moan carried in the still room, lit only by the halogen lamps he’d set up in the library, which would be base during PRU’s investigation during the next forty-eight hours. According to Paul Bramm, current and sole owner, it was the only room that had very little, if any, activity.
Go figure. Even ghosts didn’t want to hang out in a dreary book room. Mason returned to the couch to check on the new complication lying in the sepia shadows behind the lights. What was he supposed to do about her?
Mason was still unsure why Paul had allowed the team go into his family home at last. He’d said he wanted to sell the old place to the city to turn into a museum and be done with it. But just when they’d almost given up gaining entry, he’d said yes. Rome had been trying for a year to get inside, with no luck. Until now, on the verge of its eminent sale to a city who’d already said there would be no “ghost hunts” once it sold. Their fear being that it would make a mockery of their town’s history, instead of embracing the paranormal explosion most towns would jump at.
Pulling the covered wing-back chair near the sofa, Mason sat, elbows propped on knees and studied the woman. He chuckled softly. She’d fainted. He must have really scared her to pass out like that. Served her right for illegally trespassing. Ah well, he supposed he should try to wake her and get her out of location ASAP, then see what damage she might have done before Rome and the team arrived in, he flicked a glance at his watch, an hour. Damn it all, he hadn’t even gotten things set up yet and time was running low.
He touched her shoulder. “Hey, Sleeping Beauty, wakey-wakey.” Nothing but a shrug from her. “Come on, now, it’s time to get up and out of here.”
A small hand flung to her head and she groaned. He knew she hadn’t hit hard since he’d leaped the distance between them and caught her just as she slumped to the wood floor. The hand dragged restlessly over her face as her eyes opened and met his. Coal black. Her eyes looked black as a demon’s in the dim room, relieved only by the whites as her gaze grew huge. Then she was sitting up. Not really sitting, he corrected, but on all fours scooching along the couch seat like a crayfish.
“Wh-what are you?”
What was—? “What do you think I am? I’m Mason Deen, equipment technician for PRU. Who are you?” He bit his cheek until he tasted blood, his belly ached with barely contained laughter.
“What are you doing here? I was told nobody is allowed here.” Her accusatory tone raised his hackles.
“Exactly, so how did you get in?” Tit for tat.
Ah. He stood to go open the door and glanced around the exterior wall with a flashlight and nodded in understanding before taking his seat once more. “You found the broken window and snuck in. Now I know the how, why don’t you tell me the who?”
Elise nibbled her lip until it hurt. He had already revealed himself, turnabout was only fair. “Elise Crane, journalist for Unnatural E’zine. I’m here for a story. What is RUP?” She crawled forward, still at a safe distance, and faced Mason.
“P.R.U, Paranormal Research Unit. We have permission to be here. Do you?”
His tone said he knew she didn’t, so no sense lying when she was no good at it anyway. “Not so much, um… No.”
“Right.” He’d heard of journalists who did whatever it took to get their story. Sorry, sister, not this time. “You have to go before Rome gets here or he’ll toss you out on that cute ass.”
He considered her butt cute? Well, well. She could use that little crumb. “I’m not leaving. I can’t or…I’ll lose my job.” Not that she wanted it, but she did need it, no matter how crummy Rick treated her.
“You can’t stay. This is an investigation site for the next two days. But, after we’re done you can come back and—”
Two days? “I have to be home in two days with a story for the ’zine, or I’m out of a job.” Then his previous words struck her. “Wait…you’re part of a paranormal group. Maybe we can help each other. Look, you investigate, what, ghosts? I need a “real” ghost story for our Halloween issue to make my boss happy. What if you do your thing, I’ll stay out of your way and get my story?”
Her train of thought shifted fast enough to cause whiplash, but Mason seemed to go on high alert just as quickly. “I don’t think so. Rome doesn’t allow any interference on his sites, and you are definitely a distraction.” One Mason clearly didn’t want either.
“‘Unnatural’ has a mega-reach with thousands of readers. I’ll spotlight your team in my story, you get widespread publicity and I get to keep my job at the end of the day.”
He dragged air into his lungs and puffed out his already-impressive chest and began to shake his head slowly.
“It’s a win-win. You can’t say no.” Or she hoped he couldn’t.
With a final shake, he stood and turned as if to leave but, instead, tugged a cell phone from a noticeably tight back pocket and punched buttons. He walked across the room to speak softly for several minutes, then his taut shoulders visibly gave, as if he’d lost a battle. Mason disconnected the call and returned stare at her.
“Rome’ll speak to you when he gets here. No promises, other than he’ll tell Paul you’re with us if he asks so you don’t get in trouble for trespassing. That does not mean you get to stay. Only that he’ll talk to you.” Mason swung away and began unpacking electronics as she watched from a distance, itching to ask questions.
Two hours into the investigation, in which very little had happened, her obvious curiosity finally won out. Elise peered over Mason’s shoulder as he studied the monitors in front of him and Kevin, the secondary tech and team historian.
“So…do you really believe in ghosts? Spirits? Apparitions, whatever you call them?”
Her body heat warmed his shoulder and her sweet scent surrounded him. He stiffened his resolve, then shot a glance at her and shrugged. “If you’ve seen the things I have, you learn to have an open mind about a lot of things.”
“What, you’ve seen ghosts? Really?”
“Really.” Not necessarily since he’d joined PRU, but definitely when he was younger. Yes, he’d seen things. Those combined experiences were the reason he was here now. “Hear that, Kev?” Mason leaned close and stared into the screen then lifted a walkie-talkie to his face. “Rome, I’m hearing sounds near you.”
The voice crackled back and Elise sat beside Mason to listen and take notes in a small pad she seemed to carry everywhere. She studied the images on the screen and no doubt heard what sounded like someone approaching the area where his boss stood.
“Someone else is there. Maybe they heard the noise,” Elise whispered, pressing closer against his arm.
“Footsteps. Is Jule there? Maybe she heard it.”
The image in the monitor walked to the doorway. “I’m alone.”
“I just heard what sounded like someone walking close to your room.” He glanced at Elise and Kevin, both nodded. “Elise and Kev heard it too.”
“Ohmygurdohmygurd— Oh. My. Gurdle!”
When Elise whispered the phrase in an odd voice Mason jerked his gaze to her. She pointed above the monitors at the closed door directly in front of them. “Wha-what is that? Is that some kind of trick?”
Mason followed the direction she was pointing. Just that quick the air he breathed became paste. The room grew narrow and out of proportion, and very cold. A light mist grew before their eyes, quickly gaining opacity and form.
His feet wouldn’t obey the command to get out, or to go anywhere. Something he couldn’t begin to name creeped up his spine and he had a sudden mental image of a hundred tiny teeth about to snack on his back bone. Too many damn alien movies as a kid. His eyes ached and he struggled to breathe, as if the air in the room had thickened to sludge. He couldn’t speak.
But he had to.
He huffed air in and keyed the walkie, then spoke slow and low for all to hear. “Lady and gents, we have one…in here…with us.”
At that precise moment all electronics lost power.
Total darkness and silence ensued…
Chances Are– You’re never alone…
What are the chances of finding love on another plane? Go on a spirit walk with Romeo and Juliet.
It’s not your mother’s ghost story.
And remember to hop in for more fun at www.thesnarkology.com/snarkology-halloween-hop-oct-26-31st/ and enter: http://goo.gl/forms/e1BlpY69bj for a chance to win:
(1) $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
Winners to be drawn Nov. 1.
Did you enjoy this sneak peek into the prequel for my Chances Are duet (in progress)? Let me know in comments! I’m gifting a $5 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter, to be chosen and contacted** November 1. Since I’ll be traveling the 3-4th I’ll announce/award the winner on the 5th. All you have to do to enter is, sometime during the hop (Oct. 26-31), tell me what you think happens next to sassy nay-sayer, Elise Crane. Do you think she will become a believer, or will her logical mind win?
And for fun; do you think Elise and Mason would make a good couple, or should each get their own story (btw- Mason is a sexy Irishman!)?
Be sure to leave your email in a comment so I can contact the winner, or check back** to see if you’ve won.
Also available from:
Love, like life, is not without risk.
Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps.
Now Connor, a patient’s owner, is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…whom he believes no woman is good enough for. Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter. He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again.
Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv–and himself–enough to play the possibilities?
Happy Halloween! Thank you for stopping by to read my contribution in the Snarkology Halloween Blog Hop 2015! Many thanks to Melissa Snark for putting this Hop together. Remember to leave your email and a comment for a chance to win this week!