Free Fiction – TNT Terror

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Title: TNT Terror
By Jana Denardo
Author Note: Enjoy this freebie flash fic written for the Sweet & Scary Flash Fic Blog Hop. I’m looking forward to reading the other offerings (Follow the link to more!) I set this one fairly local. I live pretty close to Point Pleasant, WV. Word count on this is 736 words. I wrote another one (also set local) that was a tad long but if you want something a bit long (under 2,000 words) you can find it here.

TNT Terror

Tim cursed out the dense underbrush around the TNT area in Point Pleasant. He and his team of paranormal investigators had scouted the area in the daylight. Even then, it had been hard to spot the igloo-shaped storage areas. Mother Nature had done her best to reclaim the land. Now in the dark – because no one wanted to see investigative footage shot in daylight, even though that’s when many ghost hunters actually did their work – the area morphed into an ankle-spraining nightmare.

“Okay guys, Rob and Sharon, you two go investigate to the west while Tanner and I handle the igloo areas,” Tim said, checking his recorder.

“Sure thing,” Sharon replied. She and Rob, armed with cameras, recorders and EMF readers, made their way west.

Tanner nudged Rob. “Are we actually looking for the Mothman?” In the yellowish light of his flashlight, his face set into an expression of pure incredulity.

Tim shrugged. “Not really but there could be ghosts. Our fans wanted us to check it out since we live so close. Besides with the Mothman festival getting so big, with those guys of Mountain Monsters being here a few weeks ago, everyone wants to know more.”

“Just asking. Weren’t there Sasquatch hunters around here recently too?” Tanner herded Tim back toward the plant-covered igloo.

“I think they call it Grassman around here but yeah.” Tim turned on his EMF reader.

“I believe in ghosts but I draw the line at Squatch.” Tanner ran a hand over Tim’s cheek, making his heart thunder loud enough to scare away every ghost in a ten mile radius.

“And the evidence they presented at the Mothman festival?” Tim grinned, not really believing in Big Foot himself, or Mothman for that matter.

“Do you ever think all those Big Foot hunters out there are just scaring each other without knowing it? I mean, what if one group starts tree knocking like a duck call, hoping to lure in a Squatch.” Tanner ghosted his lips over Tim’s. So much for getting any ghost hunting done. Well, he’d let Rob and Sharon have the video camera this time out for a reason. Making out in the TNT area was a decades old tradition, and wasn’t something the people who followed their ghost hunting YouTube channel needed to see.

“So one group starts and the other records it or does their best Sasquatch calls back and end up terrifying each other?” Tim speculated, leaning into Tanner’s touch.

“Exactly. Ever notice how many of those talks end ‘and we ran all the way back to the truck?’ Like a bunch of little girls.” Tanner snickered.

“Don’t be sexist but I know what you mean.”

Tanner buried his fingers in Tim’s hair, tossed into a careless man-bun on top of his head. Their next kiss was deep and long up against the storage igloo. Tim finally pushed Tanner back a scooch.

“We should at least get some readings before you get too out of hand.” He smiled at Tanner.

“And here I thought you said no to outdoor sex.” Tanner rubbed a hand over Tim’s belly.

“I did but there is so much we could do without getting ticks on our balls.”

Tanner snorted, and whipped out his infrared camera from his satchel. Before he could snap more than two pictures a shriek split the air making them jump. More screams followed along with the sounds of someone crashing through the woods.

“That’s Rob!”

Their partners burst into the clearing, Sharon running flat out while Rob ran like Hollywood’s idea of a drag queen: arms up and waving as he outdid Fay Wray.

“What the hell?” Tim took off after them.

“Monster!” Sharon snapped.

“There’s no such thing as-”

Tanner’s voice died as huge red eyes appeared in the tree top. Something leapt down, and they all heard the rush of wings. Tim didn’t know he could run so fast. They fled the woods, piling into the car. Tanner took off down the road with the doors still half open.

When he could finally speak again, Tim asked, “We didn’t get any of that on tape, did we?”

“Sorry no,” Sharon answered. Rob merely panted, making incoherent noises.

“Good. Don’t need famous for this.” Tim shuddered. “And let us never speak of the fucking Mothman again.”

No one protested as Tanner headed for the bridge the hell out of town. No one ever would.

Free Fiction – Midnight in Moonville

Title – Midnight in Moonville
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note: This was written for the Sweet & Scary Flash Fic Blog Hop. I’m looking forward to reading the other offerings (Follow the link to more!) It’s not my official offering because it ended up being longer than the limit (typical for me). I set this one fairly local. In fact I was writing this one in my head while I was standing in line for over 2 hours at the event depicted here. All the characters are original though the ‘historian’ is one of my friends who was doing the historical/ghost talks at the festival. Hopefully he won’t mind too much that I’ve had a ghost toss him about. And if you’d like something a little longer for Halloween, you can check out what I wrote for Spook_Me here.

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Midnight in Moonville

A fat full moon crept over the tree line, decorating the festival with pale light. The moon and the balminess were the only pluses Alex could attribute to this night. When the Moonville fest first started, Alex regretted he had agreed to be one of the musicians entertaining the crowd. What could be more interesting than spending a perfect October night surrounded by forest and the remains of an iron-forging ghost town, complete with a haunted defunct train tunnel? He’d wanted to jump on the horse-drawn hay wagon to ride up the ghost town’s abandoned cemetery. Alex even had his camera and recorder tucked over by his guitar case, ready to capture any ghosts, as he wouldn’t be playing the entire night. Alex had come here thinking he’d be able to sneak off to the tunnel at the very least, and to the cemetery if he were lucky.

He’d thought that up until the point it was obvious the organizers had greatly underestimated the interest in spending the night at a haunted train tunnel in a ghost town. Someone apparently didn’t realize how much the paranormal interested people these days. Instead of a few hundred festival goers, there were over a thousand surly people furious after waiting hours to be shuttled six people at a time to the festival grounds. A few of them sitting on the bales of hay across from him seemed to be enjoying his music, or at least enjoying finding a place to sit in the milling mass of people.

Alex wondered if the next band would even be able to get up here. He knew if they hadn’t arrived before the shuttles had started, there would be no way of getting to the site now. He’d be playing his fingers off if that was the case. As much as he enjoyed making music, if he didn’t get a chance to go back and talk to that amazingly cute paranormal investigator from Athens who had a booth up the hill inside the tunnel, he’d be pissed. He had seen Travis only briefly at the Mothman festival a few weeks before. He’d attended Travis’s talk at the State Theater but had to go on stage himself before he could get a chance to talk to Travis at Mothman, and ditto earlier tonight.

He’d been thrilled to see Travis here. Alex had taken a good second look at Travis’s bright blue eyes and dark wavy hair, and wanted to haul him off ostensibly to look for the sandstone fountains, the remains of Moonville hidden in the woods. Travis could start ghost hunting, and Alex planned for it to end with recorders off and so very naked. Granted it would never happen. He didn’t want ticks on his bits and that’s about what he’d get in these woods. Outdoor sex couldn’t be as fun and romantic as novels made it sound.

Turning his mind from thoughts that could get in him in trouble, Alex concentrated on his music. Alex wanted to perform a little more rock, but he’d been asked to keep it more folk and country. That was easy enough. Alex loved the music he and Cody, his friend who usually play drums but was doing it more electronically as drums weren’t easy to haul back here, had selected. After all, his guitar hero, John 5, played a wide variety of genres, not that he’d ever be as good as John; not many would. Music was Alex’s hobby, his creative passion, but he had no dreams of making it big. Besides, he loved his day job as a surgical nurse.

Halfway through CCR’s Bad Moon on the Rise, Alex lost some of the sourness hanging in the air. He nearly dropped his guitar as screams echoed down the trail from up near the tunnel. These were not the screams of someone having fun or being silly. These were shrieks of panic. Suddenly, the crowd ran as if Sasquatches were pouring out of the woods. Tripping and flailing over the coarse gravel path, the crowd seethed past his mini-stage. Alex picked out the words “Ghost in the tunnel.”

Grabbing his mic, Alex cried, “We need rangers at the tunnel!” He knew all the cops and rangers were at the mouth of the path up by the roadway, valiantly fighting the losing war against getting people to and from the event in a quick orderly fashion.

Alex thrust his guitar at Cody. “Take care of this.”

“What?”

“They might need help. They’ll never get an ambulance up here if someone’s hurt.”

With that, he jumped off the stage. Forcing his way through the crowd was nearly impossible. Thankful for his hiking boots, Alex scrambled along the potentially ankle-breaking, sloped sides of the path. People pushed and shoved their way down the path, screaming and cursing. For people who came here expressly to see ghosts, they sure weren’t ready for the reality. Vendor stalls had been knocked about, spilling their wares. By the time he crossed the bridge, the crowd had thinned, probably trampling each other up by the food vendors at the entrance.

From the tunnel, he could hear strange noises mixed with human shouts. Alex spotted a couple of people on the ground, moaning and holding various limbs he assumed to be twisted or bruised. “Are you okay? I need to get into the tunnel and help them.”

“You’re crazy man,” the fallen man said, rubbing his wrist.

“Just sprained my ankle,” the woman added.

Alex nodded. He could help them later. He ran into the tunnel. Travis lay crumpled against the graffiti-covered walls, bleeding from the head. Not far away the man who had been presenting the history and ghost legends of the tunnel inched along toward the entrance, in similar bloody circumstance. Travis’s partner – Alex hadn’t gotten his name – floated a few inches off the ground as if caught in an invisible bear hug. Well not quite invisible. Alex could make out a hazy mist around the man.

“Let him go!” Alex cried.

Travis’s head snapped over, his lips parted in surprised. He waved Alex back but Alex had no plans on running until he got these three to safety. His plan lasted up until the ghost dropped Travis’s partner and surged toward Alex. Its misty form swirled as it moved. The energy emanating from it – like a storm-generated pressure in the sinuses – yanked the steel out of Alex’s backbone. Battling down the fear, Alex raced forward, grabbing the partner first as he wasn’t moving. Something winged past Alex’s head.

“Baldie likes to throw rocks,” the historian said, staggering up to his feet.

To prove that point, one slammed into Alex’s back. Yelping, Alex took the helping hand the historian offered. Together they muscled the unconscious ghost hunter out of the tunnel. Braving the stone throwing aggressive ghost, Alex darted back in and helped Travis to his feet. More rocks slapped off of them as they cleared the tunnel.

“Will that thing come out of the tunnel?” Alex didn’t like his chances of getting multiple wounded out of the way if the answer was yes.

“Don’t know and we have people on the other side of the tunnel. Can’t believe you ran into the tunnel,” Travis rasped, putting a hand on his head.

Alex took the flashlight Travis had hooked to his belt. He shone it on Travis’s head with one hand, gently probing the head injury with the other. “Couldn’t stand by and not help. I think you’re going to need a few stitches. How do you feel? Nauseated? Dizzy?”

“A little,” Travis admitted.

Alex stripped off his shirt and pressed it to the bleeding wound. “Hold this here to help staunch the bleeding.”

Travis eyed him.

“I’m a nurse. I have to check the others. You keep an eye out for that ghost. What the hell happened?”

“Some of the kids were taunting the ghost, like you see on some of the TV shows,” Travis replied. “He didn’t like it.”

“Yeah never thought that sounded wise.”

While he checked on the other injured victims, Alex kept Travis talking. Soon enough the rangers and the police made it to the tunnel. The former went the long way up and over the tunnel to lead the people trapped on the wrong side of the tunnel through the woods to safety. Alexis eventually convinced the cops he could transport Travis and his partner, Ian, to the hospital in his truck, which was parked at the mouth of the park. The historian said he was just a little banged up and didn’t need to go.

Ian, who had regained consciousness after being choked out by Baldie the ghost, was able to stumble along holding onto Alex’s left arm while Travis steadied himself on the other. They made their way back to the stage, and Cody joined in to help get them to the truck. He had already stowed the instruments. Getting out of the back forty to the main road took longer than Travis liked but once there, it was further than he wanted to think about to get to the hospital. There would be more visitors, too, because Cody had helped several people off the trail after they had been pushed down.

Alex couldn’t worry about them. He had his own charges to care for, and Travis had started getting sluggish. These back country roads had never been more infuriated.

XXX

Alex peered into Travis’s hospital room. “I heard they were keeping you both overnight and I wanted to check on you.”

Travis glanced at the clock. “It’s nearly four in the morning. You didn’t have to stay.”

“I wanted to be sure you were okay.”

“I’m fine but I have a concussion. I’m sorry I’m missing out on the chance to record ghost activity at that level.” Travis sighed.

“I’d say you had more than enough ghostly activity but I suppose that is your job.” Alex grinned.

“It’s not usually this…exciting,” Travis replied, giving his bandaged head a woeful rub. “I did like your music though. I got to hear a little of it before I had to go lead the investigation in the tunnel, such as it was.”

Alex tried not to let that make his head float away. “Thanks. I enjoyed your talk at the Mothman festival.”

“Cool.”

“I should let you get some sleep. I’m glad you weren’t hurt worse.”

“Thanks and hey, Alex, want to go ghost hunting with me some time? I’d love to go back to that tunnel when it’s not packed or to the abandoned cemetery.”

Was Travis flirting with him? Alex couldn’t quite tell. He might be reading too much into it. “Could be interesting. Won’t your partner mind?”

“Ian? Nah, we’re just work partners. I’m not his type, not female enough.” Travis grinned. “Maybe I should start with asking you out for coffee or something.”

There was no mistaking that. Alex’s heart pounded harder now than it had in the tunnel. “No reason it can’t be both. I have one of your cards. I’ll call you tomorrow. You rest now.”

“Go home and get some rest yourself. You were brave tonight. I’m keeping that in mind. We have a few more weeks before Halloween, and I have all kinds of ideas on how to spend it.” Travis smiled a bit weakly.

“I’m looking forward to it like you can’t believe.”

“Great.”

Alex said his goodnights again, energized as he headed for his truck. Midnight in Moonville had been anything but boring. And Travis, he was bound to be more exciting than a tunnel full of ghosts. Alex couldn’t wait for that first date even if it was in a ghost town.

Free Fiction – Perils in Point Pleasant

Title – Peril in Point Pleasant
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note: This was written for the 2016 edition of Spook_Me on Livejournal for the prompt “Grim Reaper,” for the picture below. I set it in my Lucerna universe where Faolan, Jason & Derrek are all members of a demon-fighting organization called the Lucerna, and oh, they’re lovers. This turned out way longer than I anticipated and written down to the last second, so not as edited as I would have hoped (but hopefully not too terrible!). It’s 3,940 words long.

Game of Life by Hu Zheng photo 472852_1342494049_large_zpsryevxrzi.jpg

Peril in Point Pleasant

 

“Do con-goers ever bathe?” Derrek hissed to Jason as they pushed through the lobby, nearly getting run down by a guy in a full fox suit, which smelled like it had never been washed.

 

Jason glanced around, ascertaining Faolan was several steps ahead of them. He didn’t want to hurt his lover’s feelings. He’d been down this route with Faolan many times but this was Derrek’s first time accompanying Faolan to all things geek.  “They sweat a lot in their costumes. By day three, the cosplay gets ripe and yeah, some of these teens need an education in social niceties.”

 

“Why does he love it so much?”

 

“Geeks are hard wired that way.” Jason shrugged watching Faolan thread his way through the throng heading toward the dealer’s room. “Tsubasacon is small. You should go with him to the bigger cons.”
“Do I have a choice?” Derrek rubbed his nose. Jason couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a werewolf’s sense of smell in tight places like this.

 

“Don’t worry. It’s actually fun, if for no reason other than to watch Faolan geek out.”

 

Derrek narrowed his eyes. “Geekier than he’s being here?”

 

Jason chuckled. “You have no idea. This is a small dealer’s room. He probably won’t drop a month’s rent here.”

 

“You two do realize I’m not deaf, right?” Faolan said without looking back.

 

“Yes but we assumed you were too far ahead to hear us,” Jason called back cheerily.

 

“I’ll remember this tonight,” Faolan promised.

 

“I’ll just busy myself with the werewolf,” Jason said, half amused no one even glanced at him. Of course people did know they existed but not many ever got to meet a Supernatural.

 

“Does the werewolf get a say in this, leech?” Derrek nudged him.

 

“Knowing the werewolf, he has plenty to say.”

 

Derrek curled his lip at Jason then got distracted by a cute guy dressed up as Aang. Faolan’s phone sang out the Star Trek theme song, and as Faolan took the call, Jason watched Faolan’s face go paler than normal, and tighten in a way Jason was all too familiar. Derrek must be learning because he bristled.
“A case?” Jason asked once Faolan put his phone away.

 

Faolan nodded, his lips pinched. “Not back home. They want us in Point Pleasant.”

 

“Why does that sound familiar?”
“Mothman,” Derrek supplied.

 

Jason winced. “Man that doesn’t sound good.”
“Does anything in our line of work?” Derrek turned to Faolan. “Do we have time to eat before we leave? Those Hillbilly hot dogs are wearing off, and there’s not a damn place to stop between Huntington and Point Pleasant if we’re going up Route two.”

 

“Yeah we do. I’m hungry too. I’ll fill you in on the way there.” He shot a wistful look at the dealer’s room then turned, stalking toward the arena’s outside doors.

 

Jason sighed. If there was one thing he hated about working for the Lucerna, about dedicating himself to a group that battled demons and other wicked supernaturals. It left so little free time. Human life, unlike his own, was so short. He hated it stole moments from Faolan but there was nothing he could do about it. This was their life, hardship and all.

 

XXX

 

“Nursing home? This can’t be good,” Derrek groused as Faolan threaded their car north along route two.

 

Faolan concentrated on the winding highway caught between the hills and train tracks to one side and the Ohio River to the other. What were so many people doing on this lonely highway at night? “Assisted living.”
“They pretty much smell the same to this nose.” Derrek tapped his currently human nose.
Faolan knew if the werewolf could, Derrek would shape shift his nose right off his face before going into the facility. The smells could be overwhelming to Faolan’s entirely human senses. He couldn’t imagine what it might be like for Derrek and Jason.  “Noted. Grandmother got a call from the Resting Pines assisted living in Point Pleasant. The director there believes an entity killing off the residents.”

 

“No offense but how can the director tell? You mortals pop off all the time,” Jason said from the back seat.

 

“It’s been one after the other, much more than average. Yes, the residents are old but it’s my understanding they’re not entirely infirm either. Grandmother tried to reassure the woman, Jessica Caldwell, someone would get to her quickly but apparently that wasn’t good enough. Caldwell insisted on someone being there yesterday so since we were in the area….” Faolan shrugged.

 

“We were in West Virginia, not exactly a small state,” Jason grumbled.
“But not that far away either, at least not by Appalachian standards,” Derrek said.

 

For Faolan the hardest thing for him – and Jason for that matter – was adjusting to there being long drives to get to just about anything. “This road makes it seem far.”

 

Derrek nodded looking out the car side window into the shadowy tree line. “I always expect something to come popping out of the trees here. It’s a spooky stretch of lonely highway.

 

“More so than the Hocking Hills?” Jason asked.

 

“Yeah, the energy feels more…discontent here.”

 

“Energy? I expect that kind of talk from Mr. Mage.” Jason reached over the seat, and poked Faolan’s shoulder. “Not from the big bad wolf. Aren’t you supposed to be the nastiest thing in these woods?”

 

“Wolves are highly attuned to an area’s nature,” Derrek sniffed.

 

“Yeah I guess animals do know when to tuck tail and run.”

 

Faolan didn’t need to look in the rear view mirror to know Jason was smirking, but he did see Derrek curl his lip and heard the growl. “Both of you, stop it, especially you, Jason. Quit baiting Derrek.”

 

“Where’s the fun in that?”

 

“What part of my brain died and allowed me to think dating a vampire and werewolf at the same time was a good idea?” Faolan muttered.

 

“A large part,” Derrek replied, his voice still growly.

 

“Thanks. We’ll have to spend the night or a couple of them at the Lowe Hotel, which is haunted.” Faolan tried to lead them back on track.

 

“So’s your apartment, we’ll survive. I’m more concerned about the fact we only had two days’ worth of clothing,” Jason said.
“We’ll have to wash our clothes at the hotel or will doing chores kill a vampire?” Derrek glanced over his shoulder.
Faolan didn’t know why he even bothered to caution either of them against baiting each other. Vampires and werewolves never got along for long. He stopped them before they could get really ripping. “None of them seemed to die violently. It could very well be they simply slipped away from natural causes.”
“But there are demon types who suck the life force away so Caldwell might be right to worry,” Jason said.

 

“Why don’t you two start listing out demons that can kill without leaving a mark,” Faolan suggested.

 

“I’m not good with that stuff. I’m more muscle than book guy,” Derrek protested.

 

“Yeah we do keep you around because you’re pretty,” Jason agreed, and the bickering renewed itself.

 

“Keep it up and I’m going to jam this car into the river, and Grandmother can send another team to Mothman country,” Faolan snapped.

 

“Do you think the Mothman was real?” Derrek asked. “And if so why hasn’t it been seen in so long? And yeah I know we can speculate after we make our demon list.”

 

“I think it’s a harbinger,” Jason said surprisingly serious. “We had many harbingers back in my day.”

 

“You had plenty of half human, half animal spirits back in your day too,” Derrek said.
“Yeah, they were probably were-people like you.”
“There is no such thing as a were-cow!” Derrek shot back, obviously offended. “What was it with you ancient Greeks and breeding with farm animals?”
As the bickering renewed, Faolan did seriously consider jamming the car into the Ohio as he had threatened. Instead, he chanted a small silence spell to surround himself. They’d slap him once they realized he was no longer paying attention to them.  It was the most pleasant way he could deal with the trip to the Lowe Hotel.

 

Parking wasn’t a problem, once there. It probably only ever was one during the Mothman festival. The historic, haunted hotel sat across the street from the steel Mothman statue that resembled a comic book villain more so than anything reported being seen here back in the Sixties. Maybe Jason was right and it had been a harbinger. Maybe it was nothing more than what horny teens high on whatever was popular back then had dreamed up. Faolan didn’t really know, and maybe he, being the co-head of the local Lucerna faction along with his Grandmother, should know.

 

Inside the red brick building, an effort had been made to step back in time. The old, dark-stained wood and the antique furniture did their best to confer a Victorian feel though he wasn’t sure the hotel was as old as that. He collected the keys for the suite his grandmother had arranged for, getting the side eye from the clerk who no doubted wondered why three men were sharing one two-room suite. If the bed were big enough, they’d be sharing it like they had at their hotel in Huntington. Faolan ignored it. Some battles were best avoided as they were unwinnable.

 

The room was nice enough, and he was too tired to worry which of them slept alone. Maybe it should be him. He called the rest home but there was no one there who could okay them coming in tonight. Faolan curbed the urge to toss his cell phone out the window. They had rushed for no reason but it would give them time to get into the Lucerna documents and hopefully find something that matched what they’ve been told.

 

“What now?” Jason asked.

 

“All we can do is jump on the lap tops and see what we can find,” Faolan replied. “And get some sleep. I’m short on that.”

 

“That’s what happens when you’re busy being a geek.” Derrek grinned.

 

“And that solves the who sleeps alone conundrum,” Faolan shot back, hoping this wasn’t going to be a long night.

 

 

XXX

 

 

 

“Luckily there weren’t any incidents last night,” Ms. Caldwell said, shutting the door behind the trio as they crunched up in her office at Whispering Pines.

 

“Are the unexpected deaths always as night?” Derrek sat in one of the padded chairs in front of her desk. For someone whose job including talking to family members on a daily basis she certainly had uncomfortable chairs. As if it wasn’t bad enough his senses screamed from the stink in this place. He’d been surprised at the newness of the facility. Probably to normal human senses it didn’t reek of piss, shit and disease but to his werewolf senses, it was still overwhelming. Derrek felt sure he could scent every poise pad in the place.

 

“So far. They’ve all passed away in their sleep.” She held up her hands. “I know. This is a facility for the aged but normally there are some indications they’re unwell. If it was just one or even two, we wouldn’t be so worried but there have been several. It’s unusual.”

 

“Have the doctors given you any indication that this is anything other than a natural death,” Faolan asked, settling in next to Derrek.

 

Derrek noticed Jason had nowhere to sit and would probably bitch about it later. Eh, let the vampire stand. Derrek still didn’t fully understand how he ended up in a three-way relationship with a bloodsucker but when he pushed his inborn prejudices aside, Derrek had to admit Jason was an okay guy. That certainly helped make how hot Jason made him more acceptable.

 

“Not really but there’s more,” Ms. Caldwell said, making Derrek lean forward a bit. “The nurses and aides all said the same thing in each case. They felt uneasy passing by the rooms where the people died. Some even thought they heard voices in those rooms but when they looked all they saw were the clients sleeping fitfully.”  She worried her bottom lip for a moment then said, “You know better than I demons, spirits and ghosts are real. That’s why I called the Lucerna in.”

 

“Understandable though I was wondering why us and not a group from Charleston or Huntington, not that we mind helping,” Faolan said.

 

“Mrs. Medley, who heads up the board of trustees, knows Brighid Fraser, asked for her team specifically.”

 

“Is there no one your grandmother doesn’t know?” Jason snorted, and Faolan waved him off.

 

“We started researching supernaturals who kill and make it seem like a natural death but the list is long,” Faolan said. “Knowing they only attack at night probably isn’t going to whittle that list down much. Our best bet is to be here in the evenings to see what we can find.”

 

She nodded. “That was what I was expecting. You can look the facility over now. I’ll take you on a tour and then if you can come back after dinner, I’ll introduce you to the night staff and you can take it from there.”

 

“Sounds reasonable,” Faolan agreed.

 

Ms. Caldwell led the way out of her office. They trooped along behind her. Derrek hated he was so disturbed by the assisted living home. Efforts had been expended to make this one a beautiful place to finish out life. Werewolves did it differently because dementia often caused a loss of shifting control so the pack nursed their elderly on their own to keep down the risk to nurses. No one wanted a toothless old wolf attacking other patients. There was a difference between knowing werewolves were real and actually dealing with them. He wondered what Jason thought of all of this. Did he feel out of place? Repulsed or maybe even longing to be part of the natural cycle again. After all, he was older than Jesus.

 

It gave him time to learn outstanding mastery in the bedroom. <i>Inappropriate thoughts, Holtz</i> he berated himself and turned his concentration to the lay out of the building. He might have to run for his life and the lives of others so he’d better pay attention to that rather than daydream about Jason’s cock. His ability to focus shattered entirely when an old woman surreptitiously reached out and patted Faolan’s butt as they passed. The expression on his face deserved quicker action on Derrek’s part with his cell phone camera. It would have been the perfect wallpaper.

 

“He makes friends wherever we go,” Jason stage whispered to Derrek, earning himself a sun-hot glare.

 

Once they were convinced they knew the lay out of the place, they drove back to the Lowe.

 

Jason flopped on the bed. “Are we doing more research?”

 

“I’m not sure it would help. We don’t have anything more than we did last night. Tonight will probably be us going into this blind,” Faolan replied, his shoulders drooping. He pulled out his wand, examining it. Derrek had no idea if the thing could misfire but Faolan treated it like a soldier with his gun.

 

“Like usual,” Jason agreed, and Derrek wondered if all their missions would be like this. He was pretty new to it all but it always seemed like they were winging it.

 

“So the smart thing to do would be to take a nap so we’re fresh tonight,” Derrek suggested, wishing he felt more helpful as something other than ‘muscle.’ “But who’s tired?”

 

“I have a suggestion to fix that,” Jason said.

 

Derrek rolled his eyes. “Let me guess. You want to have sex til we’re exhausted and fall asleep.”
Jason reached up, yanking Derrek onto the mattress with him. “Puppy snout knows what I’m talking about.”

 

“Don’t,” Derrek growled.

 

“What? You are a puppy snout.” Jason bopped Derrek on the nose.

 

Derrek gave him a warning growl that somehow ended in a kiss. The bed groaned when Faolan joined them. Well, Jason usually did have good ideas but he was going to get bit for that puppy snout crack. Knowing him, he’d enjoy it.

 

XXX

 

Faolan learned he wasn’t made for sneaking quietly around a senior facility waiting for something to happen. He knew he had more patience than either of his lovers so he suspected they had to be even more antsy. He’d also learned the elderly didn’t sleep as much as he’d thought. There were more of them popping in and out of the halls than Faolan expected. Other than that, the night was insanely quiet, no bad feelings, no mumbled conversations inside of the rooms.

 

He nearly came out of his skin when the Star Trek theme sang out of his pocket. Faolan fished out his phone. “Yeah?”
“You and Jason have to get over here. Room 111, now,” Derrek hissed.

 

Assuming Derrek had conferenced them both, Faolan told him he’d be there, jogging down the hall. Derrek stood in the doorway, hands planted on either side of it. Jason wasn’t in sight. Hearing running behind him, Faolan turned to see Jason pop out of the stairwell door.

 

“What is it?”  Jason asked.

 

“Derrek?”

 

“I…I don’t know. I swear….” Derrek turned, eyes wild. “Faolan, are grim reapers real?”

 

“I wouldn’t think so.” Faolan’s gut twisted. “Derrek what’s in that room?”

 

“A grim reaper and an angel, I…I’m not nuts.”

 

Derrek didn’t sound convinced of it. Faolan peered over Derrek’s outstretched arm. In the room, talking over a sleeping man was a beautiful woman with long red hair, and a creature that could be a reaper. He didn’t know what to say. His breathe remained locked in his chest.

 

“So?” Jason demanded.

 

“A Fodla and a reaper,” Faolan replied, his pagan mind seeing not an angel but an ancient Celtic protection sprit.

 

Jason pushed into the doorway then shook his head. “No, it’s a genius and  keres.”

 

Derrek side-eyed him. “How can you tell how smart they are?”

 

“He means me.” The beautiful woman looked at them. “The genii were the spirits who protected the Greek. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that word.” Her smile was almost too beautiful to look upon. “You do realize we can hear you.”

 

“We do now,” Jason said. “What in Hades is going on here?”

 

“I have a job to do,” the reaper replied, her voice husky and dry.

 

“You do it too enthusiastically,” the angel or whatever she was replied.

 

“Everyone says that but what I do is necessary. They consume too many resources and give nothing back any more.” The reaper took the old man’s hand.

 

“I know their type.” The angel swept a hand back toward Faolan, Jason and Derrek. “They’re here to stop you.”

 

“And what can they do that you can’t?” The reaper laughed, sending chills down Faolan’s spine. Derrek flexed his fingers on the door frame as if holding on for dear life.

 

“Yeah, what can you do?” Jason whispered in Faolan’s ear. “Derrek and I can’t bite death so we’re not much good here.”

 

“I could try a binding spell….but I’ve never heard of binding death, least ways not that it went well,” Faolan said, shaking his head. “Can I ask, why take these people besides being old? Why take so many from here? Why take the ones that seem healthy enough? Surely there are many out there where death would be a blessing.”

 

The reaper stood, and Faolan tried to take a step back but Jason was too close to him. “I wouldn’t have thought modern men like you would believe in death as a creature who literally brings death.”

 

“No I do believe more in disease and trauma but we fight demons and we know the supernatural can kill. You’re just another aspect of that. You’ve already said you’re here to take this man,” Faolan replied, slipping his wand out of his pocket. He didn’t want to try and bind some death spirit. He might be the next to go. Faolan shot the Fodla, the protective spirit, a pleading look.

 

She stood, facing off with the reaper. “The young mage makes an excellent point. You and I meeting here every night, arguing, accomplishes nothing. If I destroy you, I know you’ll only eventually reform.”

 

“I’m bored.” The reaper’s shoulders drooped. “I know what would distract me, a game.”
“I don’t like the sounds of that,” Jason shuddered.

 

“No shit,” Derrek replied.

 

Faolan felt a hand on his arm. The fodla pushed his hand with the wand down. He hadn’t even seen her move to his side, but he let his wand slip back into his pocket, assuming she was warning him. “What kind of game?” He knew he’d regret asking.

 

The reaper pulled a deck of cards out of the ether. “Poker. I win, you four bugger off. I lose, I’ll confine myself to those whose time has come.”
“That sounds fair so why do I get the feeling it’s a bad deal.” Jason eyed the reaper. Faolan wondered what his lover truly saw the creature as. They would all have to compare notes later provided they survive.

 

“I can’t see myself playing for the life of another person,” Faolan said but the fodla-angel winked at him.

 

“It’ll be all right,” she assured him.

 

“And I’m not really giving you an option.” The reaper grinned colder than New Year’s morn polar bear plunge.

 

“When you put it that way, sure, we’d love to play,” Jason said.
Faolan didn’t want to agree but what choice was there? The reaper made them use the sleeping man’s fitful body as a table, and they played. Faolan signaled for his friends to keep as quiet as they could but neither the reaper nor the fodla-angel would let them remain silent. Faolan couldn’t process the surrealism of the night. They talked and played, and he was pretty sure both the reaper and the protective spirit were cheating. The fodla-angel did it better.

 

“It’s nearly dawn, and I believe you do not have the most chips,” the fodla-angel smiled sweetly, pointing to the poker chips she had manufactured out of thin air for the occasion.

 

The reaper scowled, tossing down her cards. “Fine. I’ll go find a nice war zone to haunt, happy now?”

 

“Very.”
The reaper disappeared. The fodla-angel turned to the men and waved. “I hope to see none of you any time soon, if you know what I mean.”
She, too, vanished.

 

“How the hell are you going to write up this report?” Jason asked, sagging against Faolan.

 

“I’m still half convinced I fell asleep, and am having the weirdest dream,” Derrek said.
“Tell me about it.” Faolan sighed. “We’ll think of something.”

 

“I want to go home, and pretend this didn’t happen. I hate feeling helpless,” Derrek ran a hand over his military-short hair.

 

His companions said nothing, silence being their agreement.
“Then let’s go home, or at least back to the hotel and get some sleep,” Faolan said.

 

“On the other hand, we won without one wolf-out, fang drop or wand swish, I don’t know how to feel about that.” Jason scowled.

 

“Me either but seriously, sleep now, worry in the morning,” Faolan said, thinking of that not-quite-comfortable hotel bed made all the better by the press of his lovers against him.
“Smartest thing to do,” Jason said, and Derrek was already out the door, heading for the front lobby.

 

A reaper, who could have guessed? Faolan hoped this would be the first and last time he’d ever have to deal with one. Once was more than enough.

Sunday Small Talk

More like a drive by posting. I missed last week because I was gone most of the weekend and I still have very little of interest to put here.

I’m at the point where both More Than His Scar and Corpse Powder are in their finals edits. The next thing I’ll be sharing of those will be cover reveals no doubt.

I haven’t gotten around to much writing beyond Halloween freebies which I miraculously finished and need to edit tonight. I had to take time off to clean because my god even by my standards it was pretty horrible in here.

I will be nanoing but under my other pen name. There will however be a gay character so I might be by with info on him.

Mostly just posting to prove I’m still alive.

Rainbow Snippets

Ugh I lost internet for days last week so I didn’t get through everyone’s sorry. I’ll try to go back. And now I’m off to visit a haunted abandoned casino/amusement park nearby that was from the early nineteen hundreds.

And since it IS Halloween time how about something from my demon hunters, Temple, Caleb & Agni? (Hey, it’s on sale, and yes it is m/m/m). It’s the 1930s and everyone knows demons and other supernatural creatures are real and they depend on groups like the Soldiers of the Sun to stop them. (It’s also my biggest marketing blunder as the other two in the series are shorter works, making the novel technically #3. They are entirely stand alone so….) In this scene the gentlemen have just met Temple’s new partner, Jo who happens to be related to their General (who knows Temple is bisexual and so long as any soldier keeps their love life quiet, he doesn’t much care what they do behind closed doors). I’m over by two sentences. Sorry.

And oh, for Halloween here’s the symbol of the demon they have to fight in this book. 220px-Astaroth.svg

“He said he was going to castrate me if I touched his niece!” Temple blurted out as his partners nearly doubled over, laughing at him. “I can’t believe that he partnered me with a bird,” he moaned.

“I can’t either. We all know what you’re like. You’re going to look stupid neutered,” Caleb wagged his head.

“He will get fat and doughy. With his coloration he will look like a plump snowman with a bloody head,” Agni said, rubbing his chin.

“I’m ignoring you.” Temple sighed. “A girl…. This is never going to work.”

Blurb : Caleb Davies and Agni Pradesh are worried about their teammate and lover, Temple Chevalier. Not only has he lost his long-time partner, Fu Li, but he nearly died fighting a demon himself. Also, Temple isn’t sure he’s ready for a new teammate after Li. Caleb and Agni are even more concerned that their three-way relationship with Temple exists less because he loves them and more because he’s hiding from the pain of Li’s loss.

1932 shapes up to be a terrible year for the Soldiers as they welcome the New Year fighting demons and then end up investigating a case that pairs them up with the Knights Templar. This would normally be a good thing, but it forces Temple to face his painful past. Worse yet, the case leads right to Astaroth, a Prince of Hell, who might prove to be an unbeatable foe.

Find it here.

Guest Blogger – Meg Harding

Will You Be My Escort, #2 in The Carlisles Series
200 pages
Dreamspinner Press
Cover by Reese Dante

WillYouBeMyEscortFS_v1

A Carlisles novel
Jackson Carlisle has rotten luck with men and women, and after an especially bad situation, he takes a step back from romance. But with a two-week family reunion in Hawaii looming, his mom is determined to set him up with one of the sweet singles she knows would be perfect for him. A normal person would tell her no and be done with it. Instead, Jackson tells her he has a boyfriend. The only problem? He doesn’t.

Aaron Wilkes is an escort. He’s a little surprised when a friend’s girlfriend hires him to date her brother, but he’s had stranger jobs. Jackson is cute, and he thinks a fling with Aaron might be just the kind of no-strings-attached fun he needs to get over his dry spell. As they explore the islands together, their carefully laid plans begin to get away from them. Feelings aren’t supposed to come into play, but that shouldn’t be a problem. After all, you can’t fall in love in two weeks….

Excerpt:

Part of being in a large family means everyone knows everything. And it’s never forgotten, because inevitably someone remembers it. So Jackson doesn’t know how he hasn’t heard about the family reunion until he’s staring at the ridiculous card on his dark-cream tiled counter. Someone has taken the time to make a collage of the entire family’s faces and merge them into lettering that reads “You’re invited to the Carlisle Family Reunion.” He’s not sure whether to be impressed or appalled.

His phone starts to trill. He picks it up without looking. “Are you seeing this?” asks James. “I think I’m hallucinating it.”

“No,” says Jackson. “I’ve got it in front of me. It’s painfully real.”

The last thing in the world he wants to do is attend a family reunion. It’s a two-week-long affair at a resort in Hawaii (which would be lovely if the family reunion aspect was removed), occurring in three weeks’ time, during which they’re going to be surrounded by obnoxious extended family. It’s like something from a horror film.

“I don’t know why you’re complaining,” he says to James. “You’ve got a boyfriend.” He thinks about it. “Can Bastien not come?” He runs two businesses and works a lot, but he’s got a partner who can probably take things over.

“Bastien can come,” grumbles James. “He’s annoyingly excited for it.”

“He’s in for a rude awakening,” mutters Jackson. Bastien hasn’t met anyone outside of their immediate close-knit group yet—he wasn’t around for the last reunion. He’s probably expecting everyone to be like their particular branch of Carlisles. The extended family isn’t like them. Well, in some ways they are, but in others… no. They’re an eclectic group of people who mostly only bother to get together and converse for a period longer than a two-word holiday or birthday card every five years.

There’s a reason for that.

His call waiting goes off. He pulls the phone from his ear. “Mom’s calling,” he says on a sigh. “I’ll call you back.”

“Don’t bother,” says James. “I’m coming over, and we’re going to drink till we forget we’ve been invited.”

Jackson rolls his eyes. “You’re a drama queen.” He drops the call in the middle of James’s indignant squawks. “Hello,” he says to his mom.

“Hello, sweetie,” she says. “Did you get the invitation?”

He glares at their obnoxious collaged faces. “I did.” He looks closer. Someone has photoshopped a curled mustache onto James’s face. He holds the phone away from him as he snickers. Their cousin Bobby must have made the card. He hates James. “James has a mustache in the picture,” he tells his mom. “Did you see that?”

Her sigh is long and pained. “I did. I’m calling to let you know you have to go. You can’t get out of this.” She goes silent, but there’s something about it that makes Jackson feel like there’s more coming. He has a feeling he’s not going to like it. “I know things have been rough, since you had to move and all….”

And he called that.

“But I have a friend, she has a delightful daughter, and I think you two would really get along. She might take some of the pressure off the reunion? And I think it’ll be good for you. I don’t mean to worry, but you haven’t dated anyone since Angel.” He winces at the name. “It’s time to try again, don’t you think? Move on? We’re all worried about you, dear. I have a friend with a son too, he’s a bit older than you, but he’s got a nice job.”

The last thing he wants is to be set up by his mother. A sane person would tell her to butt out and hang up. Politely of course; this is his mom after all. Jackson has a short supply of sanity, though, and he’s been running on very little sleep for the last month. What comes out of his mouth, instead of “no, thank you” or “I don’t need someone else to be happy,” is “I’m already seeing someone.”

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner

Barnes& Noble
All Romance
Amazon

Giveaway: Paperback copy of Dinner for One
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Bio:
Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF and Anglia Ruskin University. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

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Rainbow Snippets

This should be the last from the short story Modified and Sacred for a while (the anthology has been delayed due to health reasons on the publishers end so I won’t know if it’s accepted or not for months).

In this scene, Addison and Deveral’s ship has crashed into a lake. Deveral’s unconscious and Addison’s secret is about to be exposed (in this universe, modifications like this are illegal for humans).

Water poured in. Addison blinked hard, forcing his nictitating membranes out of hiding. They slid over his corneas, protecting them. Addison hoisted Deveral again and swam out. The webbing between his toes caught the water and his powerful legs propelled him upward.

His eyes, designed for dim light, picked out the sunlight barely filtering down through the murk. Gill slits hidden on his neck opened. It had been a long time since he’d been down in deep water. Granted, the lake water wasn’t as deep as he was used to. Addison swam like he’d been born to it. He hadn’t been but renegade scientists more interested in money than morals had fixed that for him.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!