Saturday, October 31, 2015

Return to Autumn House, A Halloween Serial Chapter Eleven by Terri Reed

            Poisoned!
            Kane’s heart squeezed tight. Hallie was suffering the toxin planted in the cocoa powder meant for Mac.
            Jamming his hand into his coat pocket, Kane’s fingers curled around the small vial nestled inside.  Thankfully, he’d had the antidote manufactured to revive Mac when his tormentors had tried to kill him with the same poison.
            His gaze zeroed in on the woman holding Mac at gunpoint. The large October moon shone bright through the windows casting a garish glow over the room.
            Kane needed a moment to give Hallie the liquid inside the vial. To distract Ivy, he jerked his attention to the busted open window. “Did you hear that?”
            “What?” Ivy’s suspicious gaze darted to the window and back to him.
            “Someone’s outside,” Kane told her, praying it was true. “I texted the sheriff to let him know he had a dirty deputy and we needed help here at Autumn House.” Kane sent up a prayer that the sheriff would arrive in time.
            Ivy thrust Mac away from her and ran to the window, giving Kane the perfect opportunity to give Hallie the antidote. He opened the vial and poured the contents into Hallie’s mouth. He rubbed her throat, making her swallow.
            Mac rushed to their side.  The old man’s gaze filled with concern. “Now what do we do?”
            "Pray."   
            Ivy whirled around.  She stood in front of the open window. The stormy weather blew through the house, making her long dark hair fly around her head like spider legs. “You all are going to die. Then I can sell this place and become rich.” She cackled like an old witch as she raised her weapon, aiming at Mac.
            Kane knew he’d never be able to disarm her before she made good her threat. So he sent up a quick prayer and then yelled, “Cowardly!”
            Confusion twisted Ivy’s face, making her hesitate.  It was enough though. A large, monster ball of fur leapt through the broken out window. Cowardly’s paws landed on Ivy’s back sending her sprawling to the floor. Her gun skittered away.
            Mac jumped to his feet, grabbed the gun and held it on a spitting mad Ivy.
            Hallie’s eyelids fluttered open. “What happened?”
            Relief flooded Kane. He smoothed away her hair and smiled. “Cowardly saved the day.”
            And Kane had saved the woman he loved.
            Staring into Hallie’s beautiful caramel eyes, Kane knew he would do anything and everything to stick with the woman who captured his heart so long ago. He sent up a prayer that she’d find it in her heart to forgive him and hopefully, one-day love him again.
            Before he could articulate all that was in his heart the house was flooded with flashlight beams and men as the sheriff and his good deputies swamped the place.  The next hour was a maze of chaos as paramedics tended to Hallie, Mac and Kane.  Ivy and Cris were arrested, handcuffed and led away.  Then the sheriff and Hallie turned expectant gaze on Kane and Mac.
            “For months someone was has been trying to kill me,” Mac explained to the sheriff. “Kane was the only one who believed me." He turned to Hallie.  "He saved me from certain death more than once.”
            Hallie’s surprised gaze zoomed to Kane. He shrugged, uncomfortable with the praise but liking the tender expression on Hallie’s lovely face.  “We devised a plan to fake Mac’s death to draw out the killer.”
            “And it worked,” Mac stated. “Though I never would have guessed the would-be murderers would turn out to be a relative and Ivy. She'd been coming to the house to check on me. I thought she was being so nice but she has a heart full of evil.”
            Hallie slipped her arms around Kane. “I should have trusted you.”
            He savored having her in his arms. “You had no reason to. I hurt you badly years ago.”
            “You did.” She titled her head back to stare into his face. “Why? What did I do wrong?”
            He let out a tortured groan. “Oh, honey, it wasn’t you. Your parents threatened my family. I caved to their pressure. I should have fought for the woman I loved.”
            Hallie pulled back. “My parents!” Shaking her head, tears welled in her eyes. “I should have guessed.” Then her eyes widened. “You loved me?”
            He cupped her cheek. “Still do. Can you forgive me?”
            “Of course.” Her brows drew together. “You still love me?”
            “I do.” He lowered his mouth and hovered over hers. “Could you ever love me again?”
            She let out a small laugh. “I have always and always will love you, Kane Cornelison.”  She pressed her mouth to his. 
            Mac clapped and Cowardly’s distinctly happy barked punctuated the joy filling Autumn House.

           The End

May you all stay safe and be blessed.  And for a special treat, today's the last day to get your ebook copy of DUTY BOUND GUARDIAN, book 2 of the Capitol K-9 Unit continuity series for only $.99.

Also this coming Tuesday MURDER UNDER THE MISTLETOE, book 3 of the Northern Border Patrol series releases.
~Terri


            

Friday, October 30, 2015

Return to Autumn House, A Halloween Serial, Chapter Ten by Pamela Tracy

Horrible?

Kane shut his eyes, his head still pounding, and his wet clothing - thanks to the cold rain - seemed to tighten, threatening to suffocate him.

Horrible?  

Over a month ago he’d been pressed into service by eccentric old Macintosh Appleton, who claimed someone was trying to kill him.  Kane believed it, too.  He’d been the one to have the cocoa powder analyzed and read the report naming the deadly poison.  He’d seen the knot on Mac’s head and believed the man had been pushed down the stairs.  Then, there had been the cut brake line.  Kane had been driving that time.  He doubted Mac, at almost eighty, could have kept the old truck from going off the  mountain’s curving road - not going that speed at least.

Then, tonight he’d been attacked by a strange dog, hit over the head, kidnapped by a policeman, and had been forced to hit said policeman over the head - knocking him unconscious.  Not something a lawyer in good standing wanting on his vidae.

And Hallie Cider had the audacity to call him “horrible.”
The urn lay where Kane dropped it
He reached out and brushed away some cocoa powder sprinkling her cheek.  She started to   step away but then the creak and moan from upstairs turned into footsteps on the stairway.

She smiled, a tentative one, and took a step toward the doorway.

Macintosh Appleton appeared.
As Hallie remembered him.
But now his complexion was gray, his hair pressed to his head.
He looked older than his years.
He wasn’t smiling.

Probably because of the gun barrel pressed against his neck.

“Ivy!”  Kane couldn’t believe it.

Ivy was smiling, but it wasn’t the gleeful kind that usually meant happiness.  No, it was a wicked witch kind, portraying mirth and horror.

“I see that you still have feelings for someone...” Ivy spoke the words to Kane as she gave Hallie a quick appraisal. “...so inconsequential.”

“What?” Hallie sputtered.

“That’s right,” Ivy purred.  “Back in high school, I didn’t even have to work at stealing him from you.  It was easy.  But, then, I did have help.”  She frowned at where Crispin lay unmoving.  “I do hope I don’t have to kill him, too.”

Hallie made a move, but the click of the hammer of the revolver being pulled back stopped her.

Then Hallie Mae Cider turned white and touched her neck.  Her mouth opened and she gasped a little before falling to the floor.  

Kane caught her right before she landed.  He saw it then, and in an instant knew the truth.  The urn lay on the bottom step of the stairs and the cocoa powder covering much of the floor and more.

Ivy's evil smile didn’t fade.  “I knew keeping poisoned cocoa powder in that urn was a most excellent idea.” 


If you enjoyed this.  Pamela Tracy will also be participating in a free Thanksgiving online read in November.
Feel free to stop on by and enjoy 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Return to Autumn House - A Halloween Serial - Chapter Nine - Cate Nolan





    “Out of the car, both of you,” Cris barked as he turned off the ignition. “And don’t try any funny business. I’m the best shot on the Marshmallow Force. You don’t want to give me a reason to prove it.”

    Hallie inched her way across the seat. She could feel Kane close beside her. His breath was warm on her neck as he leaned in to whisper. “Remember, trust me. I won’t let you down this time.”

    This time. Was he admitting he’d let her down before? Was that regret she heard in his voice?

    Distracted, Hallie slid faster across the seat. She wanted to be out of this car. Her sweater snagged the phone and sent it skittering off the seat and along the stone driveway.

    No! Their only link to help and she’d lost it.

    Kane’s arm rested on her shoulder. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’ve got a plan.”

    He stumbled out of the car after her and fell to his knees on the crushed shell drive.

    “Help him walk,” Cris ordered Hallie. “We need to get inside and out of sight. Not that anyone is likely to see you in this fog.”

    Hallie’s hopes sagged. He was right. She could barely see the house through the dense fog. How  could help possibly find them? They were doomed.

    She helped Kane to his feet. He leaned heavily against her, as if for support, but… wait a minute… something felt off. Was he faking it? Was he in better shape than Cris realized?

    “Give me the key,” Cris demanded.

    The key. Who had it? Hallie wondered.  She’d only been reaching for it when Kane had grabbed her arm. Was it still under one of the rocks?

     “I don’t have a key.” Hallie looked from Kane to Cris and back again. Didn’t one of them have it?

    “Never mind,” Cris muttered. He grabbed a pumpkin from the stoop and smashed it through the stained glass window. Hallie felt the break as shards through her own heart. Her dear grandfather had crafted each of these windows, a talent he’d learned from his friend, Tiffany. And now this one lay in glittering shards.

    Cris didn't know it, but he had just given her a weapon.

    Kane sagged to his knees again and Hallie realized he’d had the same thought.  As she bent to help him to his feet, she saw him slide a long glass shard up his sleeve. He winked as she did the same. They’d always had such an understanding of each other - except when it had mattered most.

    Well, they were united now. Maybe this was a chance to start fresh, build a new life together. All they had to do was escape Cris.

“Move it.” Cris brandished his gun waving them through the grand entrance to Autumn House.

Emotion overwhelmed Hallie as she stepped through the doorway. It had been so long since she’d been here. Why hadn’t she come back to see Great Uncle Mac?  She hung her head in shame. She knew why. The dog wasn’t the only cowardly creature here. She hadn’t had the heart to come back and risk seeing Kane again. So instead, she’d abandoned the only member of her family who’d ever really cared for her. She didn’t deserve Autumn House.

“Quit the daydreaming and get on in there.” Cris pointed toward the cavernous living room.  

Hallie helped Kane into the room. Her gaze was drawn to the wall of windows overlooking the rocky cliffs.






    Her great uncle’s desk sat beside it and in his chair - the chair where he’d always sat to write his stories - was an urn clearly labeled Macintosh Appleton. 

    Was this someone’s sick idea of a joke?

    “Where is it?”

    Crispin’s demand brought her back to the present. Right. He and Kane were up to something. How could she have let old memories distract her?

    “In the desk,” Kane muttered.  “Come here. You’re going to have to help me.”

    Cris followed Kane over to the desk. His eyes were glowing with greed like an evil jack-o-lantern.

    Kane bent over the desk, but slowly stood up. “You’re going to have to do it. I’m too dizzy.”

    “Do what?”

    “Unlock the combination. Down there. The bottom drawer. It’s a safe.”

    Kane eased back against the chair and let Cris kneel before the safe. “20 - 35 -left to 16…

    Whack!

    Kane had brought the urn down across Crispin’s shoulders knocking him unconscious. The urn burst open and ashes flew everywhere.

    Hallie screamed. “Great Uncle Mac!”

    The ashes mixed with tears running down her cheeks. One rivulet ran along her mouth and she swiped at it with her sleeve, but not before tasting the liquid. It was like hot chocolate that had been left to sit too long.

    The urn had been filled with … cocoa powder?

     Horror etched Hallie’s face as she tried to make sense of it all. If this was cocoa powder and not Mac’s ashes, where was Mac?

    Just then she heard a creak upstairs and a long, low moan. “Is Mac really alive?”

    She hadn’t even realized she’d whispered the words until Kane nodded. He lowered his voice to a whisper.  

“That’s what—

   
    His words cut off as he noted the look of betrayal in her eyes.

    “You knew? You let me think Great Uncle Mac was dead? What kind of horrible man are you, Kane Cornelison?