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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 – 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.

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.

Story a Day: Day 11 – Welcome Home

Today’s prompt for Story a Day is setting. And I’m using one of my new WiPs, In the Moonlight, for this one. And the house is based on the one I grew up in until I was about seven, with some changes.

I pulled up to the house and just sat in the car for a moment, taking all of it in. I’d spent just about every summer. I should know every crook and canny it without a problem. But, I hadn’t been here much the last few years. I’d been too focused finishing college as soon as I could. I was planning to visit Aunt Adriane after graduation, spending a few weeks with her. But, now she was gone.

And the house was mine.

I shook my head at that and stepped out of the car. It had been a week since I’d found out she’d left the house to me, but I still couldn’t of it like that. This would always be Aunt Adriane’s house. I ran my hand over the rounded top of one of the posts of the gate letting me in from the sidewalk to the yard. I could have driven around the back and parked on the grounds. Aunt Adriane had the old barn on the edge of the property turned into a garage several years ago.

And I would pull my car around eventually. But, for now, it was fine just where it was. As I moved through the gate, everything felt like it had gone silent. That wasn’t completely true, though, I guess. Plenty of birds were singing, and I saw a couple flying between trees along the fence. But, Aunt Adriane had employed more than a dozen people right up until her death. But, she’d released them all from their contracts to her in her will, even paying them what they would have earned through the end of the year, unless they chose to stay.

That one had really pissed Dad off. Especially since she hadn’t left him a penny.

Now, I only saw two people waiting on the front porch. I wondered if there were more inside. Or was this it? I thought about what Dad had said when I was packing my things. That this house couldn’t be run without all the employees. A maid and the old groundskeeper. Were they really all who had stayed? I really didn’t want Dad to be right.

I’d hoped to walk around the grounds before I headed into the house. But, with them waiting for me, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I headed for the stairs, running my hand over the lion’s head carved into the post next to the stairs. I’d always loved these decorations, the attention to detail. Aunt Adriane had never found when they’d been added to the house. Maybe I’d be able to do that this summer before I decided what I was going to do.

I glanced up as I approached the porch. The roof came to a peak there and again even higher. The second floor had what I’d always thought of as turrets. One on each side of the house. And a widow’s walk on top of the third floor. I’d never been allowed all the way up there. The door to the third floor had always been locked.

The old man smiled at me. “Welcome home, Ms. Reisner.”

The words had warmth spreading through my chest. Every year when I’d stepped out of the car my parents sent me in, he’d been there to greet me with those same words. And that’s just what it had always felt like; home. Certainly more like home than my parents’ house ever had.

“It’s good to be back here, Mr. Bailey,” I told him.

I thought I heard a soft snort at that and turned to look at the girl–no, woman now- standing beside him. But, there was no sign of the derision I’d thought I heard in the sound. She was still as cute as she’d been every summer I’d been here, though there was no smile on her face today. I was pretty sure she didn’t want me to be here.

“I’ll go get your things out of your car and have it brought around,” Bailey said. “Ms. McCarthy can show you around the house.”

Nola. I remembered her name was Nola. She turned from me then and went to the front door, pulling it open. The hinges creaked and sent a little shiver down my spine. It had always been like that when first walking into the house. But, once inside, it always felt more welcoming. The scent of something sweet met me as we started through the foyer.

“Did Ms. Thomas stay as well?”

That brought Nola to a halt in front of me, and I nearly fell into her. I caught myself, but it was close. I was almost close enough to make out the subtle scent she wore. Then, she was walking again, and it was gone. “Yes, she stayed,” Nola finally said as she led me past the stairs. “She figured you’d need someone to cook for you.”

There was that derision again. So, she really didn’t like me. I didn’t know why. I didn’t think I’d ever treated her badly. Unlike my dad, Aunt Adriane had always insisted her employees deserved respect, whereas Dad didn’t seem to think much about them at all. But, I definitely sided with Aunt Adriane’s view.

“You don’t have to show me around,” I told her. “I remember my way around this place and how to get to my room. If you have better things to do, I can get there myself.”

Color flushed up the back of her neck, and I nearly cursed at myself. I hadn’t meant to embarrass her. I just thought I could avoid any more torture for both of us.

“I don’t,” she said softly. “If you’re tired from your drive, I can take you up there.”

I’d like her to…No, I really shouldn’t be thinking like that. “You’re just acting like you want to be as far from me as possible. I’m giving you that option. I’ll see myself up to my room.”

She looked like she might say something, but I turned and started back for the stairwell. It would be better this way. She was technically my employee. And I didn’t even know if I’d be keeping the house at the end of the summer.

There was no point in getting attached.

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