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Teaser Tuesday: In the Moonlight – Barret Foss

I’m getting to this rather late as our internet was out most of the morning. It seems to be staying connected for now, so I’m hoping to get this done without it going out again. Today I have the end of Chapter 11 from In the Moonlight. I’m still working on the read through(and this is actually the last chapter I’ve read from at this point). In this chapter, we meet a new character. I’ll leave it up to you what you think of him.

He straightened and turned around, and I felt a quick burst of heat. He was extremely attractive. Tall, but he filled out the suit he wore quite well. His light blond hair was brushed away from his face. I wondered how much gel it took to keep it all in place. And those brown eyes took up a little too much of his face, but that just made it better. He wasn’t perfect. My mouth went a little dry, but I forced myself to keep my head up, my eyes right on his.
“You’re Ms. Yasmin Reisner? The niece Adriane Reisner left this house to?”
He seemed surprised by that. He’d probably expected someone who’d looked as sophisticated as Aunt Adriane. Instead of me with my dark hair, some of it matted against my cheek. And I knew it would be snarled if I didn’t get it washed and brushed out soon.
“That’s right,” I told him. “I still do not know who you are, though.”
“Barret Foss,” he said, holding his hand out to her. “I told your butler that.”
I almost snorted at that. Aunt Adriane had never employed a butler. Most of the time she just answered the door for herself if Bailey wasn’t right there. But, I decided not to dissuade him of the notion for some reason. “A name does not tell me much, though. Like what you want of me.”
“I would think that would be obvious, Ms. Reisner.”
Even though I knew it wasn’t what he meant, I had to fight back a blush of my own. Thankfully, my darker skin helped hide that reaction. A lot more than it did Nola’s. Thinking about her sent a little zing through me. I wondered where she was right now. Maybe after I got rid of this guy, I could go find her. See what had happened the night before.
“I’m here about the house,” he said and brought my attention right back to him.
“What about it?” I asked, my voice low. “My great-aunt left it to me in her will. Not my father. So, if he’s sent you to-”
He held his hands up. “Nothing of the kind, Ms. Reisner. I don’t even know your father.”
“Right,” I said, not believing him. “Sure you don’t.”
“Truly,” he said. “I know a few things about him, but I’ve never met the man myself.”
Of course. Everyone knew a few things about my father. None that he was an asshole, cheated on his wife, and treated his only daughter like she had less worth than one of his vehicles he traded out at least once a year.
No, I wasn’t bitter at all when it came to my father.
“You really don’t know him?” I asked.
“No,” he said, still smiling at me. “You’ll still speak with me, won’t you?”
“If he didn’t send you up here, I’m more likely to talk to you. What do you want to know about the house?”
“Oh, I already know a lot about this house. What I want is to buy it from you.”

Teaser Tuesday: In the Moonlight – “Brody”

I’m just getting ready to start my read through of In the Moonlight this week(have it sent to my kindle, but we ended up having a busy day yesterday, so didn’t actually get started yet). So, I decided to share another snippet from In the Moonlight. In this scene, Nola’s brother, Brody, has just called her.

“What is it, Bro?”
“You know I hate it when you call me that, No.”
He put just enough emphasis on the nickname for me to know he used it simply to irritate me. But, I didn’t get as upset over the shortened name as he did. And I was just doing what Teagen had taught me an older sister was supposed to. “What did you want? It’s kind of late to call and chat.” Not that my little brother had ever liked to chat. “I figured by now you’d have a bunch of friends to hang out with after work.”
Silence hung over the line for a long moment, and that worried me. He might not like to chat, but if he called, it meant he had something to say. “I’ve been sitting in the hospital with Mom most of the day. Had to call off of work.”
He’d called off on a job he’d been working for less than a week. That couldn’t have gone over well. “Why didn’t you call me? I would have come up.”
“Mom didn’t want me to. She said Adriane’s niece was supposed to be showing up today. Did she make it?”
“Yeah. What’s wrong, Brody? It can’t just be another flare. That wouldn’t have you spending all day with her. Or calling me.”
More silence, which was really starting to freak me out. “It’s getting worse, Nola. This new doctor said if they don’t find the right drug to counteract how her body’s attacking itself, she might not have much longer.”
My stomach cramped so hard, I thought I was going to throw up. This had just started as some achy joints and a poor immune system. But, it had gotten worse each year. She’d been on so many drugs, she probably could have started her own pharmacy. “Do you need me to come up there?” I asked him. “I can leave right now and—”
“No,” he said quickly. “Mom didn’t really even want me to call you. But, I…Teagen said she’d help us, but she doesn’t know. She hasn’t been there for the last several years when it was getting really bad. I’m not sure what to do, and she turned down the new drug he wanted to try.”
My throat closed up at that. If she refused the medication that kept her body functioning even on a minimal level, she’d die. I couldn’t let myself think about that. “She has to, Brody. We can’t…”
“I know, Nola. But, it’s experimental and her insurance won’t cover it. And you know how good our coverage is.”
Which had made me thankful Adriane had made sure we all kept it even if we left. Mom couldn’t have survived without it. I’m pretty sure Adriane had understood that. And how proud Mom was, so she wouldn’t want to take handouts.
“So, you need me to send more money,” I said, realizing the real reason behind the phone call. “What about Teagen? She said she’d help.”
“She also has rent to pay and ‘a lifestyle’ to keep up.”
I could almost see him make air quotes around those words. And it made me want to strangle my older sister. “I’ll talk to her, Brody. And I’ll put a check in the mail in the morning.” No matter how frustrated I was with my oldest sister, I wouldn’t let it interfere with mom’s health. “Did the doctor give any alternate options?”
“Only to continue what we’ve been doing, even though it doesn’t seem to be doing much good. The drugs that are destroying her immune system are about the only thing keeping her body from destroying itself.”
Because it couldn’t fight back against what it saw as an invader, even though it was only her own organs and cells. I rubbed a hand over my eyes. “All right. I’ll get that check in the mail in the morning. And I’ll try to come up to see you when I can. I have a day off coming up soon. If I can talk Ya-Miss Reisner into letting me off, I’ll be up sooner.” My face flushed again at almost using her first name.
“Is she still as hot as she used to be?”
I clenched my teeth then forced myself to relax my jaw. “Good night, Brody.”
I didn’t hang up fast enough to miss his laugh, though. Damn little brothers.

Teaser Tuesday: In the Moonlight – “Your Responsibility”

Okay, so I’m back with another teaser from In the Moonlight after all. I’ve been adding some new scenes into this the past week. Once I get done with those and see if any chapters need rearranged, I’ll set it aside I think until July, then do a read through and more revisions before getting ready to send it to my CP. But, for now, here’s a little teaser:

“Are you sure you aren’t going to need the car?” I asked Mrs. Thomas once more. She assured me it would be fine, but I didn’t want her to be stranded here.
“Yes, Nola, just go. You can get the groceries while you’re in town. I made out a list. Just grab it before you go.”
She brushed a loose wisp of hair away from my face. “I wish you didn’t have to worry about this,” she told me. “You should get to be a twenty-year-old girl. Not have to try to take care of everyone.”
“I’m still a twenty-year-old no matter what else I do. And if I don’t take care of it, who will? Teagen? Yeah, I don’t ever see that happening.”
“You know that isn’t what I meant. And it shouldn’t have to be your responsibility.”
“Yeah, well, Dad shouldn’t have died in that accident. Mom shouldn’t have gotten sick or waited so long to figure out what was wrong. Ms. Adriane shouldn’t have died. There’s a lot of shouldn’ts, but it doesn’t change what is.”
Mrs. Thomas gave me a quick hug. “I know, darling. I know. I didn’t mean to upset you. Go on. Do what’s needed then come on back home. It will be fine.”
It wouldn’t be. We both knew that. Mom was dying. The drugs I was sending money for would only help delay that. For how long, we weren’t even sure. But, I’d do what I could. It was more than Teagen even attempted. She still hadn’t returned my phone call.

Teaser Tuesday: In the Moonlight –

This will probably be the last teaser I share from In the Moonlight, at least for a little while. I’m currently typing up the last chapter and then I just have the epilogue left. So, I should be done with that this week, maybe even before the end of the month. For today, I have a bit from what I’ve been typing up this morning. Warning: There are spoilers in here, so if you don’t want to know who the bad guy is or what the end might look like, you may not want to read on(and of course, this is still a very rough draft, so things may change).

Nola squeezed my hand then once against stepped in front of m. What was she doing? She was not going to sacrifice herself for me. Not like Charlotte had done for Josephine. I hadn’t realized that’s what had happened until the thought went through my head. Almost like it had been put there.
I was not going to let that happen. Not to her. Not when things finally seemed to be going okay. I didn’t know how this could be happening. “You need to go,” I told him as I stepped up beside her again. From the corner of my eye, I could see her mouth turn up. Yeah, I thought we were on the same page. We’d do this as partners. That’s how we’d do everything from now on. I turned my attention back on Foss. “You aren’t welcome here. If you don’t turn around and walk right back out of here, I’ll call the police to see that you’re taken out.”
His sneer turned to more of a smirk. “They’ll never get here in time. And then this place will finally belong to my family. Like it should have all those years ago. If Josephine would have married my great-great-great grandfather like she was supposed to. He would have done it even after she’d betrayed him with that servant girl. All he needed was for her to produce an heir. Instead she tried to run off before he could accomplish that.”
“From what I’ve gathered, her managing to sleep with him would have been the accomplishment.”
That was the wrong this to say with a possibly deranged man with a gun standing in front of me. And I knew it as soon as his face hardened. He started to lift the gun. “You’re as bad as she was. You can’t just give me what I want, can you? This house should be mine! If she hadn’t betrayed him, it would have. My great-great grandfather would have been the heir to both families’ fortunes and her brother wouldn’t have felt forced to take on that whore and pass her son off as the heir. This should all be mine.” He took a step closer. “Even your father agrees with me.”
Those words were worse than the sight of the gun. I stumbled back a step. “He did send you here,” I finally managed to say. “I knew you were lying.”
“I didn’t lie,” he insisted. “Not that first time. But, when I realized there was strain there, I figured I could use it to my advantage. He’s willing to sign the house over to me. All I have to do is get you to go home where you belong.”
I laughed. Again, probably not the best thing to do in the face of a deranged man with a gun. Nola whispered my name, I could hear her fear in her voice. I had to find a way to get us out of this mess, or we might find both our bodies at the bottom of the stairs.
“You know, I said, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible, “You won’t get away with it like your ancestor did. We have things like DNA and ballistics that they didn’t have back in that time. You won’t have this house, because you’ll be sitting in a prison cell the rest of you life for double murder.”
The sneer had come back, and even my words didn’t make it leave his face. “Not when they think it’s a murder-suicide.”
“That’s never going to happen.”

Teaser Tuesday: In the Moonlight – Journal

I’m back with another teaser from In the Moonlight. I’m hoping to have this all transcribed into Scrivener by the end of this week. Unless I get something back from CP/betas  before then. In that case, this will be set aside until those are done. But, for today, Yasmin and Nola have found a journal from one of Yasmin’s ancestors and are reading through it, trying to solve what happened in the house a long time ago(like 150 years or so). This is from Nola’s POV.

I looked over at Yasmin, and she had a slight smile on her face. She was probably thinking the same thing I was. These were likely our ancestors. And we couldn’t tell yet, but I at least was thinking Charlotte had been more than just a housemaid to Josephine.
She’d gone back to describing something that had happened at the party, and I tuned it out. Josephine had a rambling way of writing, jumping from one thing to another then going back to something relating to the first. It made it easy to tune a lot of it out.
Then, Yasmin nudged me. “You’ll like this part,” she said.
“Are they still at the party?” I asked dryly. “I think I’ve heard plenty enough details about that.”
Yasmin laughed and kissed the side of my head. “No worries. They’ve arrived home now, and the young housemaid greeted them along with the butler.”
I straightened a little at that. “Charlotte?”
She nodded. “Our Josephine managed to escape her father and made it to her room. Now, she’s remembering when the lovely maid first came to work for the family.”
My breath caught. “Is that really how she put it?”
Yasmin grinned and pressed her lips to mine this time. “Pretty much.”
I laughed and settled deeper into the chair, pulling her against me. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be so comfortable sitting with her like this. And still, I didn’t know how I’d react if someone walked in on us, that might still take some time. But, I wasn’t going to give this up yet.
“Keep reading,” I told her. I liked the sound of her voice as she read, the way it changed when Josephine talked about each different person, as if she was acting out a story.
I never understood why Father always had us meet the new servants he brought in. I will admit I often find myself ashamed of my attitude toward them now. They were always just there. Until Father introduced Charlotte and her mother and sisters to us. I had not even made it to my sixteenth birthday yet, though it was coming. Mother was talking about me making my debut, and I did not have any strong feelings about it, though I knew my friends looked forward to theirs.
“They still did that?” I asked. “Debuts and coming out for their season, or whatever it was called.”
“Coming out seems appropriate,” Yasmin said, smirking at me.
“Shut up,” I said, embarrassed a snort came out with my laugh. “You’re terrible.”
She shifted so she could press her lips to mine. I moaned at the feel of her soft lips on mine, and her tongue slicked into my mouth. I wrapped one arm around her, holding her against me. She shifted her mouth, placing kisses along my jaw then down my throat.
I was panting, my hips rocking up when she finally pulled back. “Still think I’m terrible?” she asked.
I let out a rough laugh. “Yes. Get back here.”
“I thought you wanted to know what else Josephine had to say about the pretty maid.”
I did. But, she had me all worked up now. “Later.”

Teaser Tuesday: In the Moonlight

I was going to share some of Flames of Renewal, but I still haven’t gotten it back from my critique partner yet. Hopefully soon. In the meantime, I’m transcribing In the Moonlight from OneNote(on my Surface tablet) to Scrivener(on my laptop). So, I’ll share a bit from that for now.

“Did I interrupt something?” Yasmin asked, sticking her head through the doorway.
I tossed my phone on the bed and dropped my gaze to the floor. “Just my sister. She’s-”
“Still as much a bitch as she used to be?”
My gaze jerked up to her face, and she winced. “Sorry. That wasn’t very nice of me to say. She’s your sister. And I just assumed you were talking about Teagen. Your little sister I’m sure is a very sweet girl.”
She had Ciara pegged there. And Teagen, too. “It’s the truth,” I said. “About both of them. I just didn’t expect you to voice it.” I figured her and Teagen had gotten along. They at least had swimming in common. “Did you need something, Ms. Resiner? I didn’t think I’d see you until dinner.”
“Oh, knock it off,” Yasmin said, taking a step into my room. “I thought we were bonding over our dislike of your older sister. Then, you go back to that formal crap. I don’t care if you hate me, too, but at least call me Yasmin.”
I drew in a deep breath, but even that was a mistake. Her scent was intoxicating. I didn’t know what it was. I’d cleaned her room and bathroom earlier that morning. There hadn’t been any signs of perfumes or anything like that. It was just her.
“I’m sorry,” I said, my voice sharper than I intended. “What did you want,”—God, this was a mistake— “Yasmin?”
“Smartass,” she murmured, but she was smiling. I almost couldn’t resist smiling back.
I did. But just barely.

Writing Wednesday: Between the Spaces

It’s been one of those weeks where I’m glad I can be flexible with my schedule. Monday morning after the kids were on the bus and my husband got home from a night of plowing we went out to get groceries. And I got a new computer mouse since mine just suddenly quit working a few days earlier. It would still scroll, but the cursor would barely move when I slid the mouse around. After getting groceries, we were going to stop at a diner here in town and get some breakfast. Turns out they’re closed on Mondays. So, we ended up stopping at McDonald’s instead. Not nearly as good as the diner’s French toast and home fries I was looking forward to.

Yesterday we decided to finally move our old bed into the girl’s room. We had to tear her old bed apart and bring it out first. Still need to move some stuff around in there, but her bed is all made up. That took a couple hours, and I ended up doing my editing and plotting after lunch instead of before. But I’m still making progress.

Not exactly one-liner Wednesday, but this works for Just Jot It Day 11. And now on to the rest of the post:

Today is Wednesday, which means it’s WiPPet time. Woohoo!! I’m getting to this early in the day, even though I should be focusing on writing. But, haha, I’m not so good with the focusing thing. And despite bouncing between my words and reading blog posts/starting this one, I’ve written 1200 words on In the Moonlight so far. I should be able to get a little more before I take the kids down to the bus then start on Defending the Heart’s words. So, for today you get a snippet from In the Moonlight. I’m finally nearing the end of this. It’s gone so far off the outline, I might as well have pantsed the whole thing. But, it’s finally coming together. For now, I have 11 paragraphs(simple math today, just today’s date) from chapter 28(I’m currently writing 29). Nola and Yasmin are reading Nola’s ancestor’s journal trying to solve the mystery of the house’s ghost. Nola’s mother just recently told her their two families have been twisted together for generations, and they’re seeing how similar these two were to them.

“I wonder if they communicated that way. Left each other secret notes, that kind of thing.”

Yasmin turned her head and smiled at me. “You are a romantic. I should have known.”

I felt heat flush through my skin and ducked my head. I hated the way blushing made me look, but it wasn’t really something I could control. I think I hated that even more.

She just laughed and kissed my cheek before returning to the journal. “Now this is interesting,” she said after a couple minutes. I hadn’t been paying attention to the words on the pages, watching her instead. I loved the way her eyes glinted as she read. This really interested her, and I thought it would even if not for the ghost.

“What?” I asked.

“They met at night. A lot of nights. Damn, I might be in love,” she said, her own face turning a little darker. “She might not have had a good grasp on spelling and grammar, but that girl was imaginative. And detailed.”

I barely held back a laugh and forced my lower lip out. “Does this mean I have to compete against a dead girl.”

She turned to look at me then laughed and nipped at my lower lip. “No pouting, Nola. I only said I might be in love. And is it any wonder, she is your ancestor.”

I couldn’t hold back the laugh at that. I’d never known anyone who could make me laugh so easily. Especially when I should be too sad to laugh. Mom wouldn’t have wanted that, though. Yasmin’s arm squeezed around me, as if she understood my thoughts.

“Let’s see what else she has to say.”

Yasmin started flipping through the diary, scanning through the pages. She’d read a few lines that caught her attention, even read out loud about one of her encounters with Josephine. And she was right. My ancestor did have a hand with detail.

I was hoping to have the first draft done by the end of this week. That might not happen, but it should be close.

And as for my progress so far this week:

  • Write: Shooting for a target of 10000 words this week – 3721 words so far this week. May not quite reach the target. We’ll see. I didn’t work on any of the secondary projects on Monday but managed just over 1000 on Crash and Burn yesterday.
  • Edit: Stained Blood – work through Story Toolkit & outline new scenes – slow progress on this so far this week.
  • Plot: Loving the Devil – work through Story Toolkit – again, slow progress. I might set this one aside for now. It just doesn’t seem to be coming together. May switch to a different standalone project or just keep slowly picking away at this one. Not sure yet.
  • Plot: Playing with Fire – work through Story Toolkit & continue exploring characters with Just Jot It prompts – slow progress on the Toolkit, but it’s going better than the others. And I have 2 more shorts with these characters
  • Side Projects – add 1500 words – 845/1500 words. Finished this week’s goal on Midas’ Daughter and more than halfway there on Dance with the Devil
  • Listen: Midnight Sacrifice(Melinda Leigh) & Lady Midnight(Cassandra Clare) – I finished Midnight Sacrifice(enjoyed) and started Lady Midnight yesterday.
  • Read: Finish Island of Glass(Nora Roberts), Harbor Lights(Sherryl Woods), Wild Irish Box set:books 2-4[I’ve already read book 1](Mari Carr), Of Fire and Stars(Audrey Coulthurst), Need Me(Tessa Bailey), Nothing Like Paris(Amy Jo Cousins), All Summer Long(Susan Mallery), & Love, Exes, and Ohs(Violet Duke) – I finished Island of Glass on Sunday(loved it) and Harbor Lights last night(liked), and started book 2 in the Wild Irish set. I’m going to finish that one then read Of Fire and Stars then go back to the box set and so on.
  • Knitting: Finish Craigiecatt Hat – still making progress on this.
  • Crochet: Giraffe Hat – not until I finish the other project
  • A to Z challenge: Plots posts L-Z – nothing on this yet

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Novel”

This week’s Stream of Consciousness prompt from the wonderful Linda G Hill is “novel”. This shouldn’t be too hard for a writer to talk about, right? I thought about working it into some fiction, but maybe I’ll do something different. It is National Novel Writing Month, after all. And, yes, I’m participating. I always have since I started back in 2010. I had a 3 year old and 2 month old at the time, didn’t even hear about it until a few days into the month. And I’d hardly been writing anything at that time. I think I felt I couldn’t be a Mom and a writer at the same time. Which, looking back, is a little ridiculous. I actually think I’m a better mom now that I’ve taken writing back(seriously, it’s not pretty when I don’t write for a while). Anyway, that first year I totally failed. I just jumped on a vague idea I had. Since then I’ve always plotted out my ideas.

This year I’m actually working on 5 different projects. Yeah, it’s cheating I suppose, but this seems to be how I work best. When I try to focus on only one at a time, all the other ideas suddenly think its their turn. So instead I’m writing 500 words a day on each. By the end of the month, this should get me at least 55,000 words, since I don’t work on the weekends unless I have to do some catching up. Anyway, this year’s projects are:

Defending the Heart

This is book 3 in my BC Security series. I actually first wrote book 1 for NaNo ’11. Then, I re-plotted and completely rewrote it. I always knew book 3 would be Piers’ story. Then, in book 1 Xavier popped up. I hadn’t been expecting him, or the fact that he and Piers had history and very possibly a future.

Crash and Burn

This is a novella in my Flames series. That series revolves around a fire department. The female main character is a paramedic who works with the department, and the male main character is a previous character’s older brother. This takes place at the same time as Closing Time(which I recently finished), and I wonder if it will ignore my decree of it being a novella as much as that one did.

Not Meant to Be

This is a series I actually started about probably 14 years ago now. The first book was written then at least. I completely rewrote it in 2012 and published it in 2014. I’m getting ready to release book 2 next month. This is book 6, but Toby has popped up in almost every single novel so far(except book 2 I think). It’s about time he got his happy ending 🙂

Stay a Little Longer

This is book 5 in my Kurztown series. I started this as a standalone set in a small town. It was just going to be a simple contemporary romance. A challenge for me because those tend to turn more into romantic suspense for me. I never thought it would be a series. And then Brian says he wants to tell the story of how he and Ashley got together(book 1 was told in 2 timelines, and they got together between those times), then sweet, soft-spoken, scarred Doren said he had a story to tell too, and look at that, now I have a series. Terrall was actually the antagonist in that one(there is bad history between him and Doren). I didn’t think he’d ever get a story, that I wouldn’t want to try to redeem someone who had taken a life by driving drunk. But…Redeem may not even be the right word for what will happen, but he is trying to makes amends. And something he said in Doren’s story will come back to bite him 😉

In the Moonlight

I feel like I’ve been working on this one forever(according to my spreadsheet, I started it at the beginning of May). It’s the only one of these that isn’t part of a series. This actually started as a flash fiction piece several years ago. It’s not even close to what that was, except there’s still a ghost involved. I’m really loving these girls, though.

So, that’s what I’m working on right now.

Story a Day: Day 30 – Three

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to somehow incorporate the rule of three into the story. I was just going to go with Yasmin looking at the three different books. Then, I saw a three sentence paragraph pattern forming. So, I decided to see if I could continue that through the rest of the story. And I did. This should be able to fit into the In the Moonlight WiP after the current scene I’m working on.

I couldn’t sleep. Every time I closed my eye, Nola was right there. Leading me through the house, showing me the little oasis Aunt Adriane had made, watching me.

I wasn’t sure she believed how casually I appeared to take that. If only she’d known what was really going through my head and how hard it was to keep up that appearance. If only she’d joined me in the bed.

Not likely. I snorted a little at myself as I threw off the sheets and swung my legs out of the bed. By all appearances, she was a good girl; something I’d never succeeded at being.

I tugged on a robe over my thin tank and shorts before leaving the room. I headed down the hallway to the stairs, running my hand down the railing as I went down. A shiver passed over me, but I told myself it was only from the memory of the ghost story Nola had told me.

Had a woman really died on these steps? I planned to find out. As long as I could find the right books in Aunt Adriane’s library.

My library now. I had to keep reminding myself of that. She’s left the house and everything in it to me.

I’d still rather have her here. Maybe I could have gotten her to tell me the real story, as long as she knew it. And really, I just missed her.

I closed the door to the library before switching on the light and drawing in a deep breath. I’d spent one summer helping Aunt Adriane catalogue all the books here. It had been one of the best summers of my life.

It didn’t take me long to find the section I wanted. One book on the history of the house, another on our family’s history, and a third on local ghost stories. I carried them all over to the couch I’d helped Aunt Adriane pick out my last full summer here when I’d just graduated from high school.

I stretched out on the couch and opened the book on our family history. We’d lived in this house as long as it had been standing here; more than two hundred years. If the ghost had at one time been the daughter of an owner, she should be in here.

I started with the generation before Aunt Adriane and my grandpa. It had to have been before her time for there to be so many different versions of the story. Probably quite a ways back even from there, but I needed a place to start.

Nola said the only common thread was that it was a young woman, so I ignored all the entries about the men in the family. And the women who had lived past the age of thirty. I kept flipping through the pages until one finally caught my attention.

She’d been born about a hundred years before Aunt Adriane and had died just short of her twentieth birthday. There wasn’t much more information beside that in this book, it gave birth, death, and the location of both. But, it gave me the jumping off point I needed.

I opened the book on the history of the house and found the corresponding time period. There was a photo of the family who had lived here during that time, but very little was said about the daughter. Only the sons and their service in the Union Army during the Civil War was recorded.

Not even one word about her death. I found that a little odd. She’d been young to die, even for the times.

I reached for the third book, maybe there were other stories of hauntings that would coincide with what Nola had told me. But, stopped at the creaking of the door and held my breath. Did the ghost haunt the library?

I shook my head and set the book aside. I probably hadn’t latched the door, that was all. I was letting my imagination get away from me, like Dad was always accusing me of.

I’d check it then go back and see what I could find in that final book. But, when I turned the corner of the shelves, I saw the door was still closed. Now, that didn’t make sense; I knew I heard it open.

I shook my head and started back toward the couch. Maybe I was tired enough to sleep now if I was imagining stuff like that. I’d just have to set the books aside for now.

But, when I reached the couch again, I almost screamed. A figure stood right next to it, looking down at what I’d been reading. It wasn’t until she turned to me, I realized just how far my imagination had run.

“Nola,” I said on an expelled breath. “You scared me, I thought I was the only one still awake. What are you doing in here?”

“Couldn’t sleep and saw the light on in here. I thought maybe Bailey had forgotten to turn it off. He reads in here before bed usually.”

“No, it was just me.” I looked away and picked up the books, not even able to look her in the eyes. “I think I’ll be able to sleep now, though.”

“What were you reading?” She followed me back to the shelves. I put the genealogy and history books back then headed back for  the couch.

“Trying to find the identity of our ghost. You put the idea in my head, and I couldn’t get it out. Found a possibility, but there’s not much information on her.”

Nola laughed, and I loved the sound of it, even if I shouldn’t. “Do you actually believe the house is haunted? It’s just an old story.”

“That could have some basis in fact. Doesn’t mean she’s haunting the place. I just want the truth behind it.”

We walked toward the door, and I shut the light off before stepping out into the hallway. “What about you? Why couldn’t you sleep?”

She hesitated, but for a moment, I thought she’d actually tell me. Then, she shook her head. “It’s nothing.”

I didn’t really think that was true, but it’s not like I could force her to tell me. We weren’t even friends. She’d worked for my great-aunt and now, I guess, she did for me.

I wanted it to be more than that, but I rarely seemed to get what I really wanted. I doubted this would be any different. I thought she’d made that pretty clear.

But, I paused at the bottom of the stairs, not wanting to leave her yet. “Can I do anything else for you?” Her hand was awfully close to mine as she asked the question.

There was a lot she could do for me, but nothing I would ask from her. “No,” I told her. “I’m just going to go up to bed.”

“I’ll see you in the morning then, Ms. Reisner.” She turned away,  but I reached out and put a hand on her arm. She stopped and waited for me to say something.

“It’s Yasmin,” I reminded her. “I told you to just call me Yasmin.” I didn’t need the formality.

“Yasmin then,” she said, and her smile nearly knocked my legs out from under me. “I’ll see you in the morning. I hope you have a more restful night.”

I watched her walk away and highly doubted that would happen. But, I might get some good dreams out of it. And I’d still call that a win.

Story a Day: Day 27 – Immensity of It

Today’s prompt was to write to our natural length. Even to work on an up-coming scene in a work in progress if we already have a novel going. Well, I have 6 going. And, to be honest, this is pretty much what I’ve doing most of the month. A lot of my stories I’ve been able to fit into those WiPs. I actually wrote the first paragraph of this last week, but that was all I’d written of this scene, so I decided to include it. I’m really enjoying writing these girls.

I followed Nola through the yard. Nothing I’d seen in the house had really changed. Granted, she hadn’t taken me on much of a tour. Either time she’d started to. The first time she’d been pissy with me, and I still didn’t know why. The second time she’d started telling me that story that wasn’t really a story. There was no beginning, middle, or end. No plot. And only one character that no one even seemed to be sure about. But, she’d made me want to know more. I’d just have to figure out where to look first.

The grounds were different, though. Of course, I hadn’t spent as much time out here during the summer months I spent at this house. Most of my time had been split between the library and the pool. I hoped Aunt Adriane hadn’t gotten rid of that when I stopped spending so much time here. I turned to Nola to ask her the question. But, maybe she’d seen the look in my eyes, because she grinned at me.

“Don’t worry. Ms. Adriane would never do away with the pool.” The grin dimmed slightly. “She wouldn’t do away with anything she knew you loved. I don’t think you realize how much she loved you.

I did. Though sometimes the immensity  of it was more than I could grasp. But, all I said was, “I’ll have to check it out later.”

She said something low, but she was already turning and heading away, so I couldn’t catch what it was. Instead, I hurried to catch up to her. The ground weren’t too expansive. It wasn’t a tiny yard by any means, but we could easily walk it without growing tired. Most of it was open, and I wondered for a moment how long it took to keep up with yard. Then, she was leading me to what appeared to be a small pond, surrounded by flowers of all kinds and with a wooden swing on one side of it.

It had to be manmade because it hadn’t been there the last time I’d explored the years. Which, granted, had been a few years. I’d kept busy with taking summer courses and working a part time job so I didn’t have to take as much money from Dad for school. Plus, it really pissed him off that I’d work such a menial job instead of taking a position with his company. That made it worth it.

And none of those flowers grew here naturally. “What is this place?”

“Ms. Adriane had it put in almost two years ago. When she first started to get sick, but before we knew just what it was.”

Guilt sliced through me at that. Aunt Adriane had told me she wasn’t feeling well two summers ago, but she assured me she was fine. And I believed her. Even this past summer, she brushed off how bad it was getting. If I would have listened better, maybe I would have seen through that. But, I’d been too wrapped up in my own life.

Maybe I wasn’t any better than my parents. That was a discomforting thought.

“Who takes care of all this? Bailey can’t do it himself. The yard itself has to take hours every week. And these plants would need special care.”

Her teeth came out to scrape over her bottom lip, and just that one action had my pulse pounding a little harder. I wanted to step up to her and soothe that abused tissue. With my own tongue and lips. Heat coursed through me at the image that flickered through my head. Damn it. I needed to stop thinking like that. She’d made it pretty obvious that she didn’t feel much more than disdain for me.

She finally released her lip, but her hand came up to rest at her throat. What? Was it her love, and he’d left? That thought discomforted me, too, but for very different reasons. I didn’t crush on straight girls. That would be kind of silly and pointless. But, I knew, maybe better than most, that just because she’d been with a guy didn’t mean she was straight.

“My little brother helped Bailey with a lot of the stuff,” she said. Okay, so, I’d been way off track with my thoughts. “He left with the rest of them, though.” Something else flickered through her eyes, then. Something that looked painful. I decided not to press.

“Did Aunt Adriane come out here a lot?”

Nola nodded and led me closer to the pond. “She found it peaceful out here and said it helped restore her strength. Then, she got too weak over the winter, and even when the weather cleared, she couldn’t make it out here.”

My throat burned at the thought of Aunt Adriane being so weak. I’d always thought she was the strongest woman I knew. She’d always been there when I needed her. But, when she’d needed me, I wasn’t anywhere around. “I’m going back inside,” I said, turning sharply away from the pond and Nola. “I’m more tired from my trip than I initially thought.”

“Do you need anything brought to your room?”

I shook my head as I hurried away. “No, nothing. Just some rest.” And some privacy to mourn everything I’d lost.

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