Archive for October, 2015

Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Paige Tyler

Posted October 29, 2015 By Jennifer

2015CMCHalloweenFlashFiction

Paige Tyler‘s story today comes with it’s own intro!! Thanks, Paige 🙂

Here’s a fun little story featuring werewolf/SWAT office Eric Becker, the hero of my upcoming release in the Special Wolf Alpha Team (SWAT) Series, IN THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (December 1, 2015) along with some of his fellow cops/pack mates.

Happy Reading!

 

the_wolves_of_chabriere_by_oberon7up-d2s618t

the_wolves_of_chabriere_by_oberon7up-d2s618t

 

Becker’s Halloween Story
Special Werewolf Alpha Team (SWAT)
© Paige Tyler

 

 

Are you really sure you should be drinking that?” Becker asked as the huge grey wolf on the bank of the stream lapped up some water. “I mean, a cow could have peed in there or something. This is Texas, after all.”

Gage Dixon—all two-hundred-and-fifty fur-covered pounds of him—looked up at Becker with an expression that suggested he’d be wise to keep his opinion on the quality of the local water supply to himself.

Becker held up his hands. “Okay, just saying.”

Gage ignored him and went back to drinking. When the commander—and alpha of alphas—of the Dallas SWAT team finally finished, he lifted his head and walked back over to the grassy area under the trees where the rest of the pack was gathered. He stopped in front of the team’s sniper-slash-medic Alex Trevino and gave a quiet chuff, as if saying okay your turn.

Alex shook his head. “Nah. I’m good. I had something to drink a little while ago.”

Gage growled, showing teeth long enough to make a Great White piss their pants—if Great Whites wore pants. Gage obviously hadn’t been implying that Alex should take a sip from the stream. Their boss wanted Alex to try to shift into a wolf.

“Give it a shot,” Landry Cooper, the team’s explosive’s expert, said from his place off to the side. “Just relax and let it happen. Shifting into your wolf form is as easy as riding a bike.”

Becker heard several of the guys chuckle. He couldn’t help but join them. If getting a human body to shift itself completely into wolf form was that easy, the ability wouldn’t be limited to only eight of the SWAT team’s seventeen members. And of those eight, only three Gage, Cooper, and Brooks—could do it with any speed and reliability.

In reality, turning into a wolf was damn tough. Becker had been working on it for nearly two years since joining the SWAT team and he wasn’t even close. While he could get the fangs and claws, that was about it. Even though Alex had been a werewolf longer than Becker, he wasn’t really any better at it.

That’s why Gage had brought as many of the Pack out here to the LBJ National Grasslands northwest of Dallas as he could. He wanted them to practice shifting without having to worry about the phone ringing or going on a SWAT mission. Now they just had to worry about some hiker wandering up on them and freaking out at the sight of a nearly a dozen muscular men standing around naked while an enormous wolf glowered at them.

Fortunately, it was highly unlikely that anyone could ever sneak up on a pack of werewolves. He and the other guys would sniff them out before they got within a quarter mile of the clearing in the woods.

“I’ll go through a shift again real slow so you can get a feel for what I’m doing,” Brooks said. “Then you try, okay?”

Alex nodded, making room as the team’s largest alpha stepped forward and dropped to his hand and knees in the grass. Senior Corporal Jayden Brooks had been a football player back in college long before he’d become a werewolf and it showed. The guy was frigging huge!

“It’s a lot like when you learned to control your eyes, fangs, and claws. It’s all about visualization and relaxation,” Brooks said softly as his arms and legs began to pop, crack, and twist into a completely different shape.

“Damn,” Trevor McCall, the team’s armorer, muttered. “You can’t tell me that doesn’t hurt.”

Becker silently agreed. Even though he’d watched the other guys shift into wolves quite a few times, he’d never gotten over how violent the whole thing looked. Pain wasn’t really a problem for the guys in the pack. There wasn’t a single one of them who hadn’t been shot, stabbed or beaten with a blunt object at some point during their time in SWAT. But that didn’t mean any of them enjoyed the prospect of their bones breaking and reforming into a completely different shape.

Brooks shook his head with a growl as dark fur starting sprouting all along the ridge of his spine. A moment later, his neck and shoulders hunched and thickened.

“It not about the pain,” Cooper said. “It’s about accepting who you truly are inside. Once you do that, a full shift isn’t difficult.”

That’s what the guys who could handle a full shift always said. It was about accepting and being at piece with your inner wolf. Becker wasn’t so sure about that. Sometimes he figured it was just a matter of some of the guys on the SWAT team being gluttons for punishment. Like Gage. He could handle a full shift, but then again he’d been shot like twenty times since joining SWAT. As for Brooks, he’d been known to smash head first into a moving getaway vehicle to knock it off the road. Then there was Cooper, who’d been blown through a brick wall at one point in his military career. None of them were probably right in the head.

A few feet away, Brooks’ spine popped so hard that Becker and everyone else but Cooper jerked.

“Oh, hell no,” Zane Kendrick said in that British accent of his. “I’m getting out of here. You chaps roll around on the ground as much as you want. I’m staying on my own two feet.”

Thirty seconds later, the clearing was empty except for Gage and Brooks in their wolf forms, Cooper, and Becker. All three of them turned their attention to him.

Becker held up his hands. “Don’t look at me. I’m fine being a two-legged werewolf, too.”

As he walked away, Becker could hear Gage and Brooks chuffing in what sounded like laughter. He wondered if they were amused by what he’d said or the visual of half a dozen naked SWAT cops going in search of their clothes.

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PaigeTylerWebGraphic

This story poses an interesting question… would YOU want to be a shifter? If you had the chance, and considering the kind of transformation we saw here… would you want to be a werewolf? A lion or tiger shifter? A dragon shifter, maybe? Be sure to leave me a comment below, and come chat about shifters of all kinds with Paige, and the other Featured Authors at the 2016 Coastal Magic Convention!

You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!

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Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Dianna Love

Posted October 29, 2015 By Jennifer

2015CMCHalloweenFlashFiction

 

Today we get to meet a character from Dianna Love‘s bestselling Belador series. It’s a secret, though… can YOU figure out who it is before the reveal at the end? NO PEEKING!

 

winged_guardian_by_nixie04

winged_guardian_by_nixie04

 

HAUNTED MEMORIES: From the Belador world
by New York Times bestseller Dianna Love

I stared up at the menacing gargoyle carved into the corner of a mausoleum in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery and questioned my IQ level. My last visit to a cemetery at night had left emotional scars that stayed with me for years.

Agreeing to a stupid bet with Vivian, my manipulative older sister, cost me a few intelligence points. At nineteen, I shouldn’t allow emotions to get the best of me.

Neither should I be terrified of cemeteries, but that fear had been earned honestly.

“What are you waiting on, Chelsea? Put the sack over your head.”

I glared at Vivian and her smarmy boyfriend, Sonny.

Vivian ragged on me for having no boyfriend, but hers was no prize. Her pack of eight friends that ranged from nineteen to twenty-three was present to witness my humiliation. Not a friendly face among them.

One of the girls started clucking like a chicken.

Another one called out, “Just admit you’re afraid and accept defeat.”

I couldn’t. I’d never live it down after betting my sister the use of her new car, a badass corvette, for a month. It would kill her to hand the keys over, which was how she’d sucked me in.

Of course, if I lost, I’d have to clean her apartment weekly for a month.

Swallowing, I took a breath. As a child, I’d gotten lost during a night tour in a New Orleans cemetery. When I thought I saw a ghost, I’d raced away screaming bloody murder.

This was a mistake.

“Never mind. You can’t do it,” Vivian snapped, dismissing me.

Oh, hell no. I lifted the black bag and yanked it down over my head.

That brought on the jeering and laughter.

Someone tied my wrists in front of me. My heart jumped around like it wanted to get out and run a hundred yard dash.

A strap dropped across the back of my neck. Then the camera for filming my terror was placed in my hands.

Sonny’s nasally voice ordered, “Hold this straight out. Keep the strap taut and it will film you plus a couple feet on each side. It’s my dad’s so don’t bang it against anything.”

I murmured, “I’ll try not to, but I have to run into things to find my way.”

“Bang up your knuckles, twit. Not the camera.”

Sonny and Vivian were a perfect, coldblooded pair.

My breathing picked up. I fought the urge to panic. Not in front of this bunch or I’d lose before I got started. Sure, I was scared, but I wanted to see Vivian hand over the keys to her precious car.

I’d been in this cemetery before, but in daylight. All those rumors about spirits showing up at night couldn’t be true. Right?

Icy fingers wrapped around my upper arm. Vivian whispered, “Feel free to cry or scream at any time to end this. I’ll send Sonny for you.”

That terrified me more than potential ghosts. “I’m doing this.”

I sounded confident. Amazing what I could do when working on a high dose of emotionally driven insanity.

I started forward and had made twenty steps when my hands bumped into something hard. Ouch. A headstone or a statue?

Laughter erupted far behind me and Sonny shouted, “Careful, twit.”

 

If not for fear of retribution, I’d scar up his camera just so he’d have to explain to his dad. I kept walking, turning left then right after each obstacle to hopefully continue toward a new guy in the group, Ed, who waited at the other end.

Something brushed across my arm and I jerked, but managed not to scream. Heart pounding, I stood still. Wind stirred and this time I recognized the next brief touch as a leafy branch.

Breathe. Okay, I had this. Just back away slowly and walk around it. But as I went to take a step, the air turned chilly and thick fingers gently cupped my upper arm. I couldn’t squeeze out a sound.

A smooth voice that sounded like Morgan Freeman playing the role of an old Southern man chided, “Don’t worry none. I’m not gonna hurt ya. I don’t like those idiots bein’ mean to you.”

My heartbeat hammered faster, but he hadn’t sounded dangerous. Would Vivian even care if someone attacked me in here?

“Come on now. We gonna get you to the end where you can show them you got grit.”

Sounded good, but could I trust him? “Who are you?”

“Just someone who don’t like mean people.”

While I made up my mind on the old guy, he tugged me forward, then gently pulled me side-to-side, guiding me in what seemed like the right direction as he gave encouragement. “You doin’ good.”

“Thank you.” I debated calling this off right now, but what if he was just a Good Samaritan? Plus, the camera had to be filming him.

Something about his voice soothed my fears. Still, this was too risky. I prepared for defeat when I heard Ed call out, “This way, Chelsea.”

The old guy said, “See? You’re almost through. Keep goin’ ten steps and you’ll be done.”

He released my arm. I said, “Wait. What’s your name?”

“I’m called Grady.”

“Do you live here?”

“I stay near Grady Hospital. You go on now, and don’t let that nasty sister of yours mess with you again.”

“I won’t. Thank you.”

”You’re welcome.”

I kept walking forward until Ed said, “Whoa, hot shot.”

He pulled the sack off my head. I looked around for Grady while Ed texted the group that I’d won the bet. While we waited for everyone to arrive, Ed replayed the video.

I stared at each frame, right to the end when Ed stepped up next to me on the same side where Grady had walked.

There was no one on camera except me, carrying on a one-sided conversation.

Ed shocked me by brushing a strand of hair behind my ear. “Good job, Chelsea, but who were you talking to?”

 

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DiannaLoveWebGraphic

So… I know Dianna has sent her fans here to try to guess the surprise character in this story… did you figure it out?? Here’s an extra little bit about Grady:

Grady is a Nightstalker in the Belador series. Nightstalkers are ghouls that will trade intel (ghoul informants) about the supernatural world for a handshake with a powerful being.  That quick handshake allows the Nightstalker to take corporeal form for ten minutes.  Grady is special because he once had an extra long handshake and can occasionally turn solid for brief periods on his own.

Now… for a chance to win an ebook (for amazon, nook or ibooks) of WITCHLOCK (book 6 in the Belador series) plus a set of signed Belador cover cards and swag snail-mailed to you (international)… talk to me about scary places and haunted houses. Do you like them? The “real” ones, or the ones set up for holiday festivities. Do you like to be scared? Don’t forget, you can come hang out with Dianna, and a slew of other awesome Featured Authors, at the (totally NOT scary) 2016 Coastal Magic Convention!

 All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!

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Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Terry Spear

Posted October 28, 2015 By Jennifer

2015CMCHalloweenFlashFiction

Coastal Magic Convention Featured Author Terry Spear steps away from her existing series to bring us a brand new, unrelated short. While best known for her awesome shifter stories, this image inspired Terry to delve into a vampire tale…

 

for_halloween_by_ferice-d31lj5o

for_halloween_by_ferice-d31lj5o

 

The Vampire’s Mark
By Terry Spear

 

Misty Wellington stared at the shop, the windows dark and dreary, tendrils of smoke drifting in the air from incense, flickering flames of candles—a Goth hangout. So why was she here?

Again?

Ever since one of her hunter girlfriends dragged her here, she couldn’t stay away. And yet, she hated the strange exotic fragrances, the dusty bottles claiming love potions and cures for any and every ailment, the darkness. Even the woman who ran the shop added to the gloomy atmosphere. Emaciated, she dressed in long black gowns like she was stuck in an earlier time, still in mourning for a loved one, except for the twelve silver balls piercing her ears and the one in the right brow. Her hair—black spiked with gray streaks—looked like she was prematurely graying. Her face, though gaunt, had an ageless beauty.

Her fathomless black eyes affected Misty the most. The way they seemed ancient and all knowing. The woman wasn’t a vampiress, but something else, Misty would bet her life savings. Something else that was as old as time, evil, or just fed up with living. Misty wasn’t sure. The woman seemed as unhappy and dark and moody as the store.

Misty rubbed her shoulder where the vampire had marked her as a child, the scar burning whenever she felt uncomfortable. And right now it felt as if a sword was slicing right through it. But if she drove off and didn’t enter the store, she’d return later, before it closed. She couldn’t help it. Something drew her back, day after day. She didn’t know what she was looking for. The woman’s shop was always full of new items—that looked just as old as anything else that had sat on the shelf for years—but Misty knew the thing she needed was here.

Letting out her breath in exasperation, Misty threw open her car door, and climbed out. Today, maybe she’d find what she was looking for, and then she’d never return here again.

Two Goths stared at Misty as she pulled the squeaking door open to the shop, an old bell jingling her entrance. In her old blue jeans and T-shirt proclaiming, “Save the Frog, Forget the Prince!”—her long blonde hair curling about her shoulders, and not a piercing anywhere, she figured they thought she looked pretty strange, coming in here.

The owner was running an adding machine in the back office, the way she always did at first, allowing the customers to look their fill before she greeted them in her somber way. Misty figured nobody would dare steal from her, or she’d cast a curse on them, or something.

The Goths whispered behind her back, but with her enhanced huntress hearing, she caught the conversation.

“What does she think she’s doing in here?” the girl with the shaved head said. “I mean, look at that getup! It screams boring.”

The guy snorted. “She’s a wannabe. But too scared to take the first step. Plain uncool, if you ask me.”

Yeah, but if Misty jerked down her T-shirt and exposed the vampire’s jagged white scar across her shoulder, would that impress them? She bet they didn’t have any cuttings that looked that wicked and lived to tell the tale.

She glanced at a shelf of dusty jars filled with liquids, streaks of colors blending and shifting as if they had a life of their own, mesmerizing the viewer, their ancient labels blurred, unreadable. She imagined the contents weren’t FDA approved. But she was curious what they claimed to do for the customer.

Incense and burners covered several shelves and one wall was filled with racks of clothes, black, black, and more black. The Goths were rifling through them. The guy pulled out one featuring a skull with a nose ring and showed it to Misty, raising his brows as if asking her opinion. She wanted to shake her head, her real opinion—it looked too comical to be sinister enough, if that was the look he was going for.

She shrugged. He snickered. She smiled inwardly.

She saw an antique looking jewel box, the jewels encrusted in dust and she opened it up to see a red velvet lining and a place to insert a ring. And then she saw it—a gold ring with a ruby on top, calling to her to put it on, begging, luring. Heart beating rapidly, she set the box on the shelf and closed it.

“Special today only,” the owner said, coming up behind Misty so quietly, she hadn’t noticed her there before. Chills swept down her spine and goosebumps dotted her skin.

Misty shook her head. “No, thanks. Don’t need rings. Never wear them.” She lifted her hands to show her unadorned fingers, two showing a band of white where she’d worn two different rings—one from her fiancé and the other from her mother. Both stolen from her a year ago while she was sleeping, her fiancé and mother both dead from an encounter with a vampire.

She swallowed the lump in her throat. She knew vampire hunters were at risk, just as cops and firefighters were in their line of work. Yet, she’d never thought he and her mother would die. Never thought he wouldn’t be there to protect her, just like she never thought she wouldn’t be there to protect him or her mother either.

She looked at the box again, the jewels on top fake, but simulated to look like emeralds, amethyst, and blood red rubies. And dusty, she reminded herself. She didn’t need any more dust collectors. So why did she turn to ask the woman how much the box was?

“For you, ten dollars.”

She hadn’t even asked the price yet!

“Thanks, don’t need it. I don’t wear rings.” She thought she’d made the point already. She didn’t want the ring in the box. It was huge and gaudy. Pretentious. Fake. And the ring box, silver, jeweled, not her style. She preferred ordinary, plain, contemporary.

“Suit yourself.”

Misty perused the shop some more, looking for who knew what, amazed at how few customers the woman had, but she also had new merchandise to fill in the dusty spots where old merchandise had disappeared. Misty didn’t see anything she wanted, like usual, glanced back at the ring box again, and she swore it was as if everything around it vanished and a soft glow surrounded it.

She should just leave. No way was she taking that ugly thing home with her. Ten dollars was a total waste of money. She’d see it sitting next to her blue glass vase of fresh lilies and the current book she was reading, Forbidden Love, about a vampire who loved a huntress but they were star-crossed lovers forever unless they could break a curse.

How many times had she wished she had someone to love her like that? Not a vampire though. She was a huntress like the heroine in the story, but still, she loved how much they loved each other all the way back to the Highlands of Scotland and for all eternity.

Misty stalked back to the jewelry box and lifted the top. The ring wasn’t there.

Okay, so this was too weird. She closed the box, opened the box. No ring.

She set it on the shelf, turned, and walked out of the store as the owner called out, “Come back anytime.”

It made Misty think of the lyrics from the song “Hotel California,” that the person could check into the hotel anytime he liked, but he could never leave.

Her hand on the door handle of her car, she stopped in place. She had never been interested in anything in the store before. She had never had felt anything like the compelling urge she had to hold the jewel box, to see the contents inside. And what was up with the ring and then it just vanished?

She let out her breath and stalked back inside. So she was going to waste her money on one stupid jewelry box, but maybe this would end the morbid fascination she had with the store.

She grabbed the box up and went to the counter.

“You will not be disappointed,” the woman said.

Misty was already disappointed that she would shell out her hard-earned money for something she truly didn’t need and most likely would get rid of at the first opportunity. Working as a library clerk barely paid the bills.

“You will love the emerald. It’s very old, but worn by Lady Desmond centuries ago.”

“Emerald? It had a fake ruby stone. Well, I mean, I thought I saw a ring, but then it wasn’t really there.”

“Ruby?” the woman said frowning as if that was not a good sign at all. She quickly wrapped it up. “That is odd.” But then she pasted on a sinister smile. “Enjoy. May you find what you’re looking for.”

Misty stared at the woman in disbelief. That’s what she’d hope this was. The item she’d been looking for and that would end this bizarre obsession to come here. Ugh. She took the black bag and headed out the door.

Emerald? Ruby? Yeah, whatever.

She got into her car and meant to go straight home, put away the groceries she’d picked up, and do some laundry. She stuck her key in the ignition and couldn’t start the engine, not with wanting to see if there truly was a ring in the box and she had imagined it wasn’t there. She glanced at the black bag sitting on the passenger’s seat. There was no ring in the box.

She pulled the wrapped jewelry box out of the bag and unwrapped it. Then she opened the lid. Inside was the “ruby” ring.

No. Way.

She reached in to touch it, to prove to herself it wasn’t there. But when her fingers touched it, the gold was solid and warm. She slipped it on her finger to prove to herself it was real and not just her imagination.

And then she was standing in woods, misty, dark, spooky. A startled raven flew out of the brush right in front of her, making her scream. An omen of impending death, or a messenger of life.

The shop and the rest of the town had vanished. Her car. Everything gone but the woods. A raven cawing unseen.

The ring. She tried to pull it off, but it wouldn’t budge.

The sound of fighting off in the distance, swords clashing, made her look in that direction. And then horse’s hoof beats pounded the ground headed straight for her.

She expected to see the headless horseman. Or the vampire wearing a cloak and riding like the wind, the one who had marked her that he was coming for her.

Not a brawny Highlander wearing a kilt, shirt, and padded leather vest, and a fierce scowl enough to frighten anyone into their grave. If that wasn’t enough, he was wielding a targe and sword, as if he was ready to cut her in two.

She dropped the stupid jewelry box, threw up her hands in defense, yes, yes, she should have run off. Right. From a man on horseback? Come on. She knew that wouldn’t do any good.

Instead of cutting her down, he scooped her up and muttered in some ancient language, held her tight, and kissed her. “Lady Everline, you have returned to me. You are mine once again.”

The End

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TerrySpearWebGraphic

Big thanks to Terry sending us a new Highlander! Now, for a chance to win an audiobook download of another vampire story from her, Huntress for Hire, let’s talk sparkly things! Emeralds. Rubies. Diamonds. Pearls. What’s your favorite precious gem? Comment below to enter to win. And don’t forget that Terry will be one of the many awesome authors you can hang out with during the 2016 Coastal Magic Convention!

All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!

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Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Kate McMurray

Posted October 28, 2015 By Jennifer

2015CMCHalloweenFlashFiction

 

One of the potentially creepiest (in my opinion) images that our authors had to choose from for these flash fiction stories is the one that inspired Kate McMurray’s original short. And, it takes us back to one of the paranormal entities that really *does* give me the heebie jeebies… ghosts…

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i__m_the_puppet_by_queen_of_loneless-d3csk2q

 

Roosevelt Island
By Kate McMurray

 

“This is your idea of a good spot for a date?”

Brad grinned at Kyle and said, “This is a good Halloween date spot. It’s super creepy isn’t it?”

Kyle looked around at the abandoned smallpox hospital, just reopened to tourists, although why anyone would come here for tourism eluded Kyle. This place was creepy as hell. The site was dominated by a hollowed-out stone structure, parts of which didn’t have a roof to shelter Kyle and Brad from the crisp October air as they walked through it. If the windows had glass, the panels were cracked or broken. The floors were scarred and dusty. The metal frames of a few of the old beds still littered the floor.

“I bet this place is full of ghosts,” Brad said. “I read it’s haunted.”

“You think your apartment building is haunted.”

“It totally is. The elevator got stuck on my floor again yesterday.”

Kyle didn’t have the heart to tell Brad the tricky elevator in his building—which, granted, also used to be a hospital—was more a marvel of engineering failure than proof of the paranormal.

He glanced out one of the windows and saw a girl dancing around near the front entrance of the hospital. People should really keep better watch on their kids. Especially in places where it would be easy to stash a body. That thought made Kyle shiver.

“See?” said Brad. “Did you just walk through a cold spot?”

“There’s no such thing as ghosts. It’s just chilly.”

“Aw, poor baby.”

Brad stopped walking and tugged at Kyle’s sleeve. He rubbed Kyle’s arms as he looked into Kyle’s eyes, which did have the effect of making Kyle feel pretty toasty.

“We’ve fallen behind the rest of the tour,” Kyle said.

“Eh. The guide told me that’s okay. We just have to be back at the lab building by four for the next part of the tour.”

“Okay.”

Brad’s eyes sparkled mischievously. “I asked because, you know. It’s been a while since we had any alone time.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Kyle laughed and shoved Brad away. Brad stumbled, but caught himself before he fell, laughing too.

“Not here,” Kyle said. “Are you crazy?”

“I was kidding. But I did think that touring somewhere kind of scary on Halloween might make you feel more like you wanted to, I don’t know, get snuggly. I mean, if we run into a ghost, I’ll totally protect you.”

Kyle rolled his eyes, but he took Brad’s hand and tugged him to keep walking. “Like going to see a scary movie, right?”

“Sure,” said Brad. “And, who knows? Maybe we’ll run into the ghost of, like, Typhoid Mary or something.”

Kyle sighed. “This is the smallpox hospital. Typhoid Mary was quarantined on North Brother Island, not Roosevelt Island.”

Brad squeezed Kyle’s hand. “See, and I knew you would know things like that. This trip is not only to see something haunted, but also to see a part of New York’s history. You usually like that kind of thing.”

It was true, Kyle did, so he nodded. “Okay. Thank you, then.”

They caught up with the tour, where the guide was going on about the gothic architectural flourishes, from the shape of the windows to the castle-like structure of the roof. “It’s romantic in a way, don’t you think?” said the guide.

“I think so,” said Brad quietly, squeezing Kyle’s hand again. Kyle smiled.

They returned to the laboratory building a little while later, ready for the next phase of the tour. The guide paused to count and verify everyone had made it out of the building. When he seemed satisfied, he nodded. “Okay, I have something really exciting to show you next.”

Kyle looked around, hoping the girl he’d seen earlier had found her parents. There was no sign of anyone under the age of twenty, though. “Hey, I think we forgot someone.”

The guide furrowed his brow. “No, I have everyone here. Thirteen people on this tour.” He counted again.

“There was a girl, too. I think she broke off from the pack. She was maybe ten years old. Didn’t someone bring their daughter?”

Now everyone stared at Kyle. “Um, sweetie?” said Brad. “There was no girl. Not like the one you’re describing.”

Kyle looked back toward the front of the hospital, where he’d seen the girl dancing. “But I saw…” He turned back toward the group. “Forget it. I must have imagined it.”

But had he? He could have sworn there’d been a girl in a dark dress, dancing in front of the hospital as if she hadn’t a care in the world, her long hair caught in the breeze.

The guide announced that the next stop on the tour was the insane asylum called the Octagon. Brad was saying something, but Kyle couldn’t shake that image of the little girl. He cursed under his breath.

Brad nudged him with his shoulder. “Don’t worry, babe. I’ll keep you safe from the ghosts on this island.”

“Let’s just keep going.” But he didn’t hate the idea of Brad protecting him. He took Brad’s hand again, just to be safe.

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I don’t know what it is… but ghosts just CREEP ME OUT!! Well, done, Kate! Talk about getting in the holiday mood! So… everyone… for a chance to win a copy of Kate McMurray’s newest release, Such A Dance, tell me in the comments below which supernatural creature really freaks YOU out? Are there any that make you cringe? We’ll be talking more about paranormal (and not so paranormal) stories at the 2016 Coastal Magic Convention, Kate and her other Featured Authors would love to see you there!

All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!

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Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Tawdra Kandle

Posted October 27, 2015 By Jennifer

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Coastal Magic Featured Author Tawdra Kandle brings us a special holiday short, connected to her Recipe for Death series. And whattaya know… book two in the series, Death A la Mode, is out TODAY! *dances* In addition to finding story inspiration in this creepy-cool stone stairway, she’s been inspired to offer up a giveaway, as well! Check below the story for details.

 

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“That was one of the best dinners I’ve ever eaten that I didn’t cook.” I dabbed my mouth with the linen napkin and sat back in my chair. “But now I don’t think I can move.”

Lucas smiled as he sipped his wine. “Good news is that you don’t have to move far. Aren’t you glad now that we decided to get a hotel room for tonight?”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. You were right. I just hope Makani’s not giving Mrs. Mac any trouble. Normally I wouldn’t worry, but with tonight being Halloween, he’s going to be crazy.” My dog was normally pretty chill, but dozens of trick or treaters set him on edge.

“I warned her about letting him get hopped on sugar. I think he’ll be safe.” He reached for my hand then jerked upright, away from me. “Shit. Shit. Jackie, I’m sorry, but I’m being summoned to a Reckoning. I need to get some place private to transport.”

I sat up, too, and pointed to the back of the courtyard where we were eating. “There’s the alley we cut through on our way here. Now that it’s dark, you’ll probably be safe there.”

“Okay.” He stood up, pushing back his chair, and leaned down to kiss my lips quickly. “I’ll get back as fast as I can. Are you all right to walk to the hotel by yourself? If you feel uncomfortable, call a taxi.”

“I will, but don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.” I lowered my voice. “When your boyfriend’s a vampire slash death broker, you don’t spook easily.”

Lucas rolled his eyes, but he didn’t have time for anything else. As he jogged away, our waitress approached the table.

“Everything okay?” She frowned at the back of my departing date, probably thinking I’d been ditched.

“Yep!” I gave her a bright smile. “My boyfriend . . . uh, his job sometimes calls him away.”

She nodded. “He’s a doctor?”

“Something like that.”

I paid the bill and left, wandering down the narrow side streets of St. Augustine. I’d been here before often enough that I knew my way around this part of town, the old city across from the Fort. The shops and cobblestone streets were familiar, though tonight they seemed just a little spookier, a little more mysterious than they usually did.

After all, it was Halloween.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00035]I knew I should go back to the hotel and wait for Lucas. Reckonings, where he was required to determine the final destination of just-departed souls, could move quickly or take hours, depending on how much of a fight the advocates for light and dark put up. But the idea of sitting in the room by myself, channel surfing, sounded too pathetic. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to wander a bit.

The streets and alleys were crowded, with more people wearing costumes than not. Sometimes it was hard to tell which ones were children and which were adults. I paused outside the spice store, watching the parade of witches, ghouls, monsters and vampires pass, amusing myself by picking out which ones really existed—to my knowledge—and which ones did not.

Jackie.

I startled, glancing around, but the voice seemed to drift by me, as though it had floated in on the sea breeze.

Jaaaaackie . . .

A shiver of dread gave me goose bumps. I was about to push off the wall and head back toward the hotel when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I froze as a strong sense of déjà vu swept over me. Not long ago, I’d had an encounter with Veronica, the mysterious woman who’d apparently changed Lucas into a vampire. I hadn’t known who she was at the time, but ever since, I’d been a little jumpy, seeing creepy vampires around every corner.

Wheeling around, I relaxed when I saw a tall blonde woman I didn’t recognize. Not Veronica. She stepped back when she saw my face.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought—I was meeting someone here, and I thought you were her.” Her eyes narrowed. “Are you all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“At least a dozen of them.” I pointed behind me at the costumed people, grinning. When the woman only tilted her head, frowning, I shrugged. “You startled me a little. I thought you were someone else, too.”

“You look as though you could use a drink.” She hesitated, as though debating something as she glanced over my shoulder. “Come on. I know a place where—well, just come on.”

She grabbed hold of my hand and hauled me down the road a little. Apprehension prickled at the back of my neck as the woman kept looking behind us, as though she saw something I couldn’t.

“I’m Jackie, by the way.” I trotted to keep her from pulling off my arm. “And um, my boyfriend is expecting me back at our hotel. I really should—”

“I’m Eva. And he’s not back yet.” She scowled. “Damn it. Here.” She pulled me around the corner, and suddenly we were on damp stone steps that led up a narrow passage between two imposing walls. The moon shone through the wispy clouds, illuminating Eva’s face. She had an almost other-worldly sense about her, an elusive something I’d seen in our friends Nell and Rafe. And when I’d mentioned Lucas, she’d replied, He’s not back yet.

“Who are you?” I meant the words to sound like a demand, but they came out as a whisper.

She flicked a glance at me. “I’m a friend. And you were being followed. Don’t worry. I won’t let anyone hurt you. I know where we can go to be safe.” She shot me a half-smile. “But you’re going to have to trust me.”

Without waiting for a response, Eva took off up the steps, and I had no choice but to follow her. The passage turned to become a long hallway bathed in pitch-black darkness. I kept moving, groping along the wall until I heard a creak and dim light shone through a rough-hewn wooden door.

Eva slipped through the opening, standing back to let me in before she closed the door behind us. I heard muffled noise below us.

“Where are we?”

“Nowhere you’ve ever been.” She beckoned me forward. “We’ll be okay if we get downstairs. I think, anyway.”

We crept down a winding iron staircase, and the hum of voices and laughter swelled. At the bottom of the steps, Eva paused and glanced back at me.

“We’re going into a bar now. It’s called Spellbound, and you’re going to see some, uh, interesting types here. Don’t talk to anyone unless I say, don’t make eye contact, and stick close to me.”

“I thought you said it was safe.” I wasn’t feeling particularly reassured.

“It is, relatively speaking.” Her lips quirked into a sardonic smile. “You’re going to learn, probably sooner than later, that there’s no place truly safe.”

When Eva had said I’d see some interesting types, I’d pictured a typical bar scene. And in some ways, I wasn’t wrong. But as we darted between groups and wound our way to the bar itself, I began to suspect some of these people weren’t dressed in costumes. They looked eerily real. And some of them stared just a little too long as Eva and I pushed past.

“No eye contact,” she muttered just before she pushed me forward to the bar. I caught myself with both hands and glared at her.

“Eva, what the hell?” The man behind the counter was huge, and instantly I thought, Viking. He crossed his massive arms over his chest and stared down at us.

“Soren, not now. I was looking for—well, it doesn’t matter at the moment. I was supposed to meet someone, but then there were demons after this one.” She pointed at me. “I didn’t have anywhere else to bring her.”

He raised one eyebrow. “So you brought her . . . here?”

She scowled. “It’s Halloween. There’re all kinds of humans in here.”

“Fine, but what’re you going to do with her after midnight? And don’t even think about throwing down with any demon types in my place. Not tonight. Any of them followed you in here and go after her, I’m kicking all your asses out the door.” He let his eyes fall almost shut. “Unless you want to make it worth my while not to do that.”

Eva growled under her breath, and I could hear the frustration. I licked my lips and stood taller, beginning to creep away.

“Listen, why don’t I solve everybody’s problems by going back to my hotel? My boyfriend’s probably freaking out waiting for me.”

Both of the blondes turned as though they’d forgotten about me until I spoke. Eva started to reply, but Soren interrupted her.

“I have a better idea. Why don’t you just come back to my office? I can protect you . . . in privacy.” He smiled at me, and the light glinted off dangerous white teeth. A chill ran down my back.

Eva sucked in a breath, but before she could say anything else, a hand closed around my arm. “Jackie. Thank God.” Lucas folded me into his body, and I sagged against him in relief.

“How did you know where to find me?” My words were muffled against his chest.

He sighed. “It’s a long story, but basically, this was a set-up. I could tell from the beginning something was wonky with the Reckoning. The advocate for the dark kept hemming and hawing, long after I knew what the outcome would be. Finally, the advocate for light accused him of stalling, and we managed to find out what was going on.” He looked grim. “The light advocate told me where you would be.”

“Eva saved me.” I glanced at her over my shoulder.

Lucas’s arms tightened around me. “Thank you.”

She shrugged. “Right place, right time.” Her lips pressed together. “But I need to go. There’s someone else I’m supposed to be with right now. You got this?”

“We’re good.” Lucas nodded.

Eva started to leave and then stopped, looking back. “It’s coming. It’s getting closer. You’re right the hell in the middle of this, and there are forces that would do anything to stop you. You need to know that. There’s no such thing as safe anymore.”

With that, she turned and disappeared into the crowd. Lucas watched her go and then took my hand.

“Let’s get out of here.”

We threaded our way through the crowd and out into the uncertain darkness.

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To go along with our story, Tawdra is offering a signed copy of Death Fricassee (paperback) to one lucky reader! Let’s talk ghosts, shall we? Have you ever felt or seen one? Leave a brief comment letting us know if it was a good or not-so-good thing for you to enter to win. And, you can talk more about it WITH Tawdra, and other Featured Authors, at the 2016 Coastal Magic Convention!

All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!

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