A group of authors from various countries all over the world are writing stand-alone gothic mystery romance novellas set in their specific country. The stories are in the classic style of the old Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney novels—a young woman in a remote setting, cut off from family and technology, a spooky house, a reclusive hero, ghostly elements–but set in modern times. (Although, actually, there will be at least one historical gothic in the series).
While the stories are stand-alone, they each share a recurring thread of a Spinel stone, which can play a small or large part in the plot. The series has stories set in Scotland, Greece, United States, France, Ireland, and more. The releases so far have been Ghost in the Rain: A World of Gothic – Scotland , House at the Edge: A World of Gothic – Greece, and mine (featured below) releases July 8th.
This project has been so much fun, and I hope it continues for a long time. I love reading the stories, they remind me of my youth when I devoured gothic mysteries. We hope readers will enjoy them too.
Amidst a blizzard, paranormal debunker Camille Burditt arrives at Devil’s Promenade in Oklahoma to research a supernatural ‘spook light’ for her latest book. There she encounters a ghostly being, which she dismisses as a figment of her imagination. But as the apparition becomes too persistent to deny, Camille realizes the woman’s ghost is quite real—and that her demise was not accidental.
Declan Rush—the inhospitable, reclusive owner of the inn—is linked to the deceased woman, but he is less than forthcoming. Despite his unfriendliness, Camille is oddly drawn to him, even though she suspects his connection to the spirit might be that of killer to victim.
I was about to turn back when I heard the murmur of a voice—a male voice. An irrational prickle of fear swept through my stomach, but I dismissed it. There was nothing to fear out here. Why would there be? Well, maybe coyotes, but that had definitely been a human voice.
I stood still and cocked my ear, trying to figure out where the voice came from. It came again. I rounded the carriage house and ended up back where the trail had forked. I took the other path this time. I walked a few steps and realized I no longer heard the voice. Maybe I hadn’t heard anything at all.
A glimpse through the trees made me halt. A man. I moved closer and when I cleared the trees, I recognized Declan, although his back was to me. Three headstones were spaced six feet apart. Declan stood in front of the one on the right. It was a white marble teardrop-shaped stone with roses carved into the side and looked newer than the others.
His sister’s grave? I moved around until I was to his right but slightly behind so he wouldn’t see me. He wore a gray coat with the collar pulled up around his neck. His breath came out in wisps of smoke. He was bare-headed, snow dampening his dark blonde hair, making it look almost black. He was unaware of my presence. His focus was on the grave.
Sympathy pierced my heart, and I blinked back moisture. He looked so forlorn, so alone. I had to tighten my hands into fists inside my coat pockets to keep from reaching out to him. In spite of my good intentions, my efforts wouldn’t be welcome.
After several moments of silence, I began to wonder if I’d really heard his voice. Had he been speaking to his sister? He didn’t seem the type of man to give in to sentiments such as talking to a dead loved one. But what did I know?
I no sooner had the thought than he spoke again. “I’m sorry, Eleanor. I wish we’d gotten along better, but I did love you. I never wanted this to happen. I only wanted to protect you.”
Feeling like a spy and not wanting to continue intruding on his privacy, I stepped back. My foot landed on an icy tree branch lying on the ground, and the sound cracked like a firecracker in the still afternoon.
Declan whirled to look at me.
My heart leapt to my throat.
His expression tightened in anger. “Ms. Burditt? What in God’s name are you doing out here?”
“I—I was just…taking a walk.” I cast a guilty glance over my shoulder, then looked back at him.
He peered in the direction from which I’d come. “You were at the carriage house?” The words were barked like an accusation.
“Y-yes. I just…” I took a deep breath, suddenly feeling the cold even though the wind was still calm. “I just came upon it. I didn’t go in. the doors were locked.” I realized my error as soon as I said the words. Too late to take them back.
“You tried to get in?” He stalked over until he stood directly in front of me, looming like a dark angry cloud. “The carriage house is off limits. Stay away from it, do you understand me?”
I swallowed. “I wasn’t going to hurt anything, I was just curio—“
“I said stay away.” His voice was deadly, his eyes molten steel. “Do you understand?”
I couldn’t speak, so I only nodded. He held my gaze for a few more angry moments, then stormed away.
Alicia Dean is a suspense and paranormal author in Edmond, Oklahoma. She wrote her first romance at age 11, and she still has the tattered, pencil-written copy. Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL, and watching her favorite televisions shows.
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