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4883Promo: Excerpts and buy links, book cover from paranormal anthology

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  • JoAnne Tucker
    Apr 16, 2014
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      Blood Ties
      “Wake up, sleepy head,” said a cheerful Kyle Roper to his snoring sister
      Audra. Living next door with a key to her place, he often visited
      unannounced…like this morning.
      Audra stirred in her canopy bed, then slowly opened one bloodshot eye.
      “Is it morning already?” she asked, releasing a Wild Turkey and Coca Cola
      scented yawn.
      “Wooo…weee…” said Kyle as he waved the noxious fumes away from
      his face. “I’m glad you’re on vacation so you can sleep late. What time did you
      bad girls leave the bar?”
      “One hour after closing,” she said rolling onto her back and pushing her
      long chocolate-colored hair from her mascara-streaked face. “I feel like crap.”
      “Maybe sooo…but if you’re gonna take Mom to the hairdressers, ya got
      less then an hour to shower and make it on time.”
      “Eight a.m. is too early to be getting a perm. What’s wrong with that sweet
      mom of ours?”
      “She’s an early bird, unlike a pair of twins I know,” he said pulling back
      the covers to reveal his sister’s Asian inspired silk pajamas. “I gotta go. I’ll call
      ya later.” He then left the room as Audra reluctantly rose from her bed.
      Immediately she felt a severe pain in her abdomen and cried out, alerting
      her brother just before he reached the front door. He raced to her side and found
      her kneeling on the floor, holding her stomach with both hands. “Audra, what’s
      wrong?” He lifted her petite body onto the bed. “Do you need an ambulance?”
      Her face twisted in agony. Each word was a struggle to release. “Lisa!
      Lisa!” She sobbed, horrifying her big brother.
      “What about Lisa?” He shook her to get a response.
      “Lisa,” she whispered before fainting. Kyle was shaking with the
      realization his other sister needed help. He grabbed the nearby telephone from
      the side table and frantically dialed Lisa’s number.
      On the third ring, his brother-in-law Doug Smalley answered. “Hello,” he
      said with a grumpy tone.
      “Doug, I need to talk to Lisa,” Kyle said with urgency.
      There was a moment of silence. “Do you know what time it is? She’s
      asleep. She didn’t get in till after four. She’s dead to the world.”
      “Well then…tell her ta call me or Audra as soon as she gets up,” said
      Kyle. “Don’t forget, Doug.”
      “When could I ever forget my in-laws?” The line went dead.
      “Bastard!” said Kyle before returning the receiver to its base.
      At that moment, Audra regained consciousness. “I need to call Lisa.”
      “Don’t bother. I already did, and she’s asleep.”
      “Your stomach feeling better? How’s your head?” he asked, sitting down
      on the bed next to her.
      “Can you get me two aspirins from the bathroom medicine cabinet?” Her
      older brother obliged. He returned shortly with the tablets and a glass of water.
      Audra swallowed the pills and liquid then said, “Something has happened. I can
      feel it. Like when we were kids and Lisa or me got hurt…”
      “And one twin felt the other twin’s pain?” he said, finishing the
      explanation.
      “Yes! It was just like that…but much worse.”
      “Doug promised to tell Lisa I called.”
      “So you didn’t talk directly to Lisa?”
      “No, but you and I both know it’s not just alcohol Lisa is prob’ly on.”
      Audra rebelled at her brother’s accusations against their sister. “So you
      believe Doug’s lies about Lisa using drugs?”
      “Don’t forget I had a drug addiction once. I know the signs of a heroin
      addict. When Lisa calls you, make it clear to her that she needs to get help if
      she wants custody of the kids in the divorce.”
      “If Lisa loses those kids, she’ll just die.”
      “And that’s exactly why she must get help. I gotta go,” he said, kissing
      Audra on the cheek and leaving.
      After hearing the front door shut, she remembered her previous obligation.
      “Oh crap! Mom!” She jumped off the bed and into the shower.
       
      Dark Visions
      Waking from a nightmare was not the ideal beginning for twenty-six-year-
      old Carrie Reynolds’ birthday. At least, it was not what she had hoped for.
      “What the hell was that all about?” she asked herself as she climbed out of her
      sleigh-like bed.
      She ambled to her vanity and examined her peaches-and-cream
      complexion in the tall mirror. “I look like a raccoon or hung-over from a
      drunken binge,” she whispered, concerned about the dark rings around her
      blood shot eyes.
      She quit primping to enter her adjoining bathroom and begin her morning
      ablutions, ending with a long, invigorating shower. Twenty minutes later, she
      was drying off when the telephone rang.
      “Hello,” she answered cautiously, her voice barely rejuvenated by the hot
      water.
      “Happy birthday, baby girl.”
      “Thank you, Mom. How are you?”
      “I’m great, but you sound tired.”
      “I just had the strangest dream. More like a full-blown nightmare.”
      “Oh, really! That is strange. What was it about?”
      “It was about people yelling at each other, I think…and a loud noise—I
      think it was some kind of an explosion—then I woke up.”
      “Did you get drunk last night?” her mother asked with a chuckle.
      “Mom! You know I don’t drink liquor.”
      “But you had Italian food and wine for dinner. Spicy food and alcohol…”
      “No, Mom, that wasn’t it. It was nothing, I guess…but it seemed so real.”
      Carrie shook off the bizarre incident to ask, “So…who’ll be coming to my
      surprise party tonight?”
      “What party! You think just because I love you—”
      “I’ll be there…when? Sixish?”
       
       
      “Perfect! See you then.”
      After hanging up, Carrie talked to the air. “Mom, I love you, but you’re a
      ding-bat.”
      Before leaving for the mall, she briefly put her Corgi, Mitzi, into the
      enclosed backyard, then fed her and locked her in her kitchen kennel. Mitzi was
      accustomed to being alone during the day while Carrie was at school, working
      or shopping, so it was no hardship. All that alone time meant she would be
      mighty eager to see Carrie on her return. Carrie liked to be enwrapped by her
      warm, undemanding love on coming home.
      Carrie quickly changed into her “shopping mall” outfit and bolted out the
      door, heading for the shopping center. While she allowed her car to defrost, she
      was shocked to be confronted by an unwelcome guest.
      “Stick em up!”
      She swung around to find a tall, hooded man aiming a .44 Magnum at her
      face. “Give me your wallet,” he demanded. His deep voice approached a growl.
      Willingly, she handed over her property. She included everything, even
      her gold and diamond watch, an early birthday gift from her maternal uncle,
      Doug Reynolds, police supervisor/trainer.
      “Is that everything?” her assailant yelled, cocking his weapon.
      “Yes! I swear that’s all I have,” she whispered, while scanning the area for
      anyone who could help her.
      The robber also saw her searching for a rescuer. “There’s no one here to
      help you, pretty lady. It’s eight A.M. Most people are still in bed or gone to
      work.” He then gave the slim, dark-eyed girl a more careful once over and with
      a sick sneer added, “And I bet you’re a real devil under the sheets, uh?”
      She immediately knew what he wanted and grew more horrified at her
      impending fate. “Oh, please, mister…just take my money and jewelry…and
      leave. I won’t tell anyone.”
      “I know ya won’t,” he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her back toward
      her apartment.
      “No!” she yelled and resorted to her as-yet-untried self-defense training.
      Abruptly applying a palm jab to his nose, she made him drop his weapon, but a
      kick on his shin only angered him.
      “You’re gonna regret that, bitch!” he said again in a near-growl. He then
      grabbed her around the throat and pinned her against her vehicle. Just before
      she passed out, her savior arrived in the form of Uncle Doug and his new
      trainee, twenty-eight-year-old Officer Mark Ety.
      “Stop! Police!” yelled Mark, pulling the creep off his partner’s niece, then
      slapping cuffs on the guy who now lay face down in the snow.
      Doug immediately checked with Carrie. “Are you okay?”
      “Yes. Thank God you were in the neighborhood.”
      “God had nothing to do with it,” Doug said, nodding toward his handsome
      partner now placing the prisoner in the cruiser’s backseat. “My new sidekick
      trainee saw what was going on from the top of the hill. He has the eyes of a
      hawk.”
      Mark then retrieved Carrie’s belongings from the ground and helped her to
      her feet.
      The Apartment
      For a young couple in love with college ambitions Seattle, Washington
      was the perfect place to fall in love and marry. Little did Bill and Gayle Price
      know, but their happiness, their faith in each other and their sense of security
      would be tested beyond human limits.
      * * * *
      “Well…how does being a married woman feel?” asked friend and
      classmate Sukie.
      “Is it true the sex gets better after marriage?” asked a second friend Amy,
      the bombshell horn dog.
      Without hesitation, the plump and bubbly blond newlywed said,
      “Fantastic. I would recommend marriage to anyone.”
      “Well, I hope when I meet that special someone I feel and look as jubilant
      as you are right now,” said Sukie with a big smile.
      “You will,” said Gayle, noticing her groom driving up. “There’s my ride.
      I’ll see ya in class.”
      Sukie and Amy nodded and waved to Bill who waved back before opening
      the door for his wife. The young honeymooners kissed and drove off.
      “I found an apartment in a great neighborhood,” said Bill, passing the
      newspaper to his startled wife.
      She read the notice. “This apartment is located in the preppy part of town.
      We can’t possible afford it.”
      “It’s only fifteen dollars more than what we pay now,” he said. “And it’s
      in a low crime area. I have a great feeling about this place.”
      “Is that where we’re going now?” she asked, not recognizing the turns her
      excited husband was making.
      “Yes. I told the realtor we were sick of the rowdy campus life and wanted
      a better neighborhood. She said this place sounded like what we were looking
      for. She said to come right over.”
      Minutes later they arrived at the perspective new home. The first thing
      they noticed while approaching the first floor flat was the abundant amount of
      torn and broken furniture in the front yard. “What happened here?” Gayle
      asked, giving the rubbish the once over. “It looks like an animal chewed up the
      stuff.”
      Just as baffled as his bride, Bill said, “Maybe they had a big dog. I’m sure
      there’s a reasonable explanation for all this.”
      “There is!” chirped a voice from behind.
      The couple turned and found the thirty-something realtor waiting for them.
      “Hi,” she said. “You happy-looking folks must be Mr. and Mrs. Price?”
      “Yes, we are,” replied Bill, extending his hand as his wife repeated his
      gesture.
      “Whose property is this?” asked Gayle, pointing to the junk.
      “Oh…it belonged to the last occupant. They left unexpectedly,” she said,
      still smiling.
      “Did something happen here that we should be concerned about?” asked
      Bill. “I mean, this area is known for its antique stores and art walk. Not riff-raff
      tenants.”
      “It was nothing criminal, I assure you,” she said. “Let’s go inside and have
      a tour.” She gave no further explanation.
      Bill and Gayle apprehensively followed the enthusiastic woman into the
      apartment. Once inside they noticed extensive remodeling in process. “The
      paint and carpets look brand new,” said Gayle, noticing the work crew moving
      about.
      “Yes!” piped the realtor. “We gutted the entire place after the last tenants.
      New floorboards, new dry wall, new fixtures.”
      “Well, the rent is certainly in our price range,” said Bill. “Isn’t it, honey?”
      “Oh, yes…it is,” whispered Gayle. She had an uneasy feeling about the
      place. But it would be silly to turn down such a great apartment, she thought.
      “Great!” said the realtor. “You can move in Friday. I have the rental
      agreement right here.” She promptly removed the lease from her briefcase, and
      the young couple applied their John Hancock’s. It was a done deal.
      * * * *
      For days, Gayle worked hard to make their new place comfortable. She
      bought new pictures for the walls. New towels for the spacious bathroom and
      new cookware to make her husband the gourmet dishes he so loved. She was
      looking forward to their housewarming party. She had already told her
      classmates about the apartment.
      “I just love coming home to this place after work,” said Bill one night over
      dinner. “All my co-workers got pea green with jealousy when I told them where
      this place is and what we pay in rent.”
      “Well, don’t brag too much,” smiled Gayle. “Envy causes trouble in the
      work area.”
      Bill nodded, and the two finished their meal with plans for the upcoming
      dinner party.
      * * * *
      Things went well for the couple and their beautiful apartment until three
      weeks after they moved in. While dusting the living room before class, Gayle
      had the strangest sensation she was not alone. Bill worked as a driver for a local
      carrier during the day and took night classes, leaving Gayle alone most of the
      time.
      THE LEGEND OF LAKE MANOR
       
      Twenty-three year old Cassandra Lopez, embarking on a long-standing
      family quest, traveled by bus to Lancaster, Ohio, arriving late in the afternoon
      of March 9. Opposite the depot, directly across from the parking coach, she saw
      a taxi line running along the street. As soon as traffic permitted, she scurried
      over, grasped the door handle of the first Yellow Cab and climbed into the rear
      compartment.
      “Lake Manor, please,” she informed the pair of dark eyes peering at her
      via the rearview mirror. Eyes that widened in shock at her destination.
      “That’s a bad hotel. I know many that are much better.”
      Leaning forward, Cassandra politely told the middle-aged ebony driver,
      “So do I, but take me there anyway.”
      The man reluctantly removed his cigar. “If the lady wishes.” He then
      kissed the rosary around his sweaty neck.
      Cassandra nodded at the gesture. “I’ve never needed religion, but I’m sure
      it’s calming to many.”
      “For one not to need faith, one must have many guardian angels or be an
      atheist.”
      She smiled at his comment. She then removed her heavy hobo bag from
      around her shoulders and breathed a sigh of relief. Her two-hundred mile
      journey was finally over.
      The taxi driver shifted into Drive and pulled away from the curb, heading
      toward Route 22 East. “The only people who dare stay at Lake Manor are
      fugitives or strangers who don’t know ‘bout its history. Which are you?”
      “Neither,” she said. “I’m a thrill seeker.”
      “Ahhh, even worse.” He added a hearty laugh as he turned onto the
      winding Lake Road.
      From the corner of the road, with the corn still low, she clearly saw the
      brick and mortar mansion. The three-story building, built into a hill, was an
       
      impressive yet daunting sight. Her first glimpse made the hair rise on the nape
      of her neck.
      SUMMER WIND
      The summer of 1971 was a new beginning for Ginger Duncan, a mother of
      two girls. Eight year old Betsy liked to paint and dreamed of becoming a
      professional artist. Ten year old Daisy loved animals and wanted to be a
      veterinarian. The girls had a pet raccoon that they kept in a cage. The animal
      was a gift from their maternal grandfather, Ralph Weisman.
      Ginger had recently wed businessman Mike Duncan. It was her second
      marriage and his first. The couple wanted a new start and decided to move to
      the small town of Destiny, located in northern Wisconsin, and buy a home.
      * * * *
      “We’re almost there, dear,” said the realtor, Lucille Keefer. “It’s just the
      right size for a small family unless you and your new husband are thinking of
      having more children.”
      “Oh no,” laughed Ginger, cutting off the nosey woman. “Mike is content
      with being a step-father.”
      “Another two miles, and we’ll be there,” said the realtor just as a large
      ominous looking house overlooking the bay caught Ginger’s eye.
      “Who lives there?” she asked, pointing out the car window.
      The realtor stopped in the middle of the road and looked. “Oh, that white
      elephant,” she said with laugh. “I own it, too, but you said a small home for
      now.”
      “I’ve changed my mind,” said Ginger flippantly. “I want to look inside. Do
      you have the key?”
      “Yes…but…” said the realtor.
      “Let’s check it out,” said Ginger, interrupting without bothering to look at
      the realtor.
      “Okay, if you insist,” said Lucille, steering her Cadillac in the direction of
      the two-story white mansion.
      As the car pulled into the horseshoe driveway, Ginger marveled at the
      structure, as if hypnotized by an uncontrollable and unknown force. “This place
      has great potential. I can feel it.”
      “It has something alright,” mumbled the realtor.
      “What did you say?” asked Ginger, exiting the vehicle.
      “Oh, nothing, dear. Here’s the key,” said the realtor, handing the item out
      the window.
      “Aren’t you going in?” asked Ginger, accepting the key.
      “I never go inside that home. I always wait outside.”
      “Suit yourself,” said Ginger, ascending the steps onto the front porch. The
      boards beneath her squeaked with each step. As she inserted the key in the lock,
      the heavy wooden door mysteriously opened. “That’s odd,” she whispered
      before entering.
      THE HAUNTING OF BARB MARIE
       
      “Barb Marie!” calls the girl’s mother, Tricia, from the backdoor. “Come
      in, and get washed up. We’re going out.” Tricia waits patiently for her only
      child as her husband, Rob, warms up the car.
      “Yes, Mommy,” replies the green-eyed seven-year old as she turns and
      says goodbye to her deceased grandfather.
      Then with excited anticipation about the new restaurant where her family
      will dine that evening, Barb Marie races across the lawn into her house.
      “Barb Marie, who were you talking to?” asks Tricia.
      “Oh, it’s just Grandpa,” says the girl with a big smile, walking past her
      mother to retrieve her coat.
      “Oh…is that who it is?” says Tricia as she gazes around the large yard,
      seeing no one before closing the door and joining her daughter. Tricia then slips
      into her coat, and the two exit the home. They find the man of the house
      waiting in the car.
      “I’m out with the two prettiest girls in town,” he says proudly as they drive
      to the bistro only blocks away.
      As they drive, Tricia and Rob complain about their neighbor’s pooch using
      their yard as a dumping ground. “You just let me catch that mutt doing his
      business under my hedges again,” says Rob sternly. “I’ll scoop every bit of it
      up and throw it on that man’s front porch.”
      “Now, dear,” says Tricia, trying to calm her excited husband. “That will
      only make matters worse…and… Barb Marie, who are you whispering to?”
      She looks back at her daughter playing with her favorite doll in the backseat of
      their station wagon.
      “Oh, just Grandpa,” says the girl as Rob eyes her in the rear view mirror.
      “He says he can take care of the neighbor’s dog.”
      “Now, Barb Marie,” says her father with that stern tone again. “Didn’t we
      have that conversation about talking to imaginary friends?”
      Barb Marie becomes silent and fidgets with her dolly’s hair. “Answer your
      father, dear,” coaches Tricia. Barb Marie knows only too well the wrath of
      Father as she rubs her still sore arm.
      “Yes, Daddy,” whispers the frightened child from the backseat.
      “So who were you speaking to?”
      “No one, Daddy,” says Barb Marie apologetically, combing her doll’s hair.
      The rest of the evening goes well. Rob keeps his cool. Tricia laughs at his
      silly stories about co-workers, and Barb Marie eats everything on her
      plate…just like Grandpa tells her to.
      It snows lightly as the family drives toward home. “That chicken fettuccini
      was delicious,” brags Rob, fully satisfied for the evening.
      “Maybe we should take your mother there for her birthday?” suggests
      Tricia as Rob smiles in agreement.
      As they near a red light, stopping behind a motorcyclist, Barb Marie blurts
      out. “Don’t go yet, Daddy. Wait!”
      “Wait for what, dear?” asks Tricia as she and Ron watch the light turn
      green, and the motorbike zoom through the intersection. At that exact moment a
      pick-up truck runs the parallel red light, smashing into the cyclist from the left,
      killing the driver instantly from the looks of the mangled bike.
      Barb Marie and Ron are shocked. Ron turns to Barb Marie and asks, “How
      did you know that was going to happen?”
      She smiles and says, “Grandpa told me so.”
      THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIES
      ~ Laying the Norfolk Ghost to Rest ~
      As I drove from the Norfolk airport in my chartered car on that warm
      windy day in 2003, I steered toward Burnt Pine, the commercial hub of the
      Island. It had been two years since I stepped foot on this small, but lush islet,
      one-thousand miles north-east of Sydney, Australia. Being called in to
      investigate American-born thirty-seven year old Ruthie Geil’s murder, I had the
      haunting feeling that this case was the case that would make my career.
      Before the horrific crime which occurred the previous afternoon, this
      native land of mine, this tight knit community of sixteen hundred, had only
      known peace and security. In the blink of an eye, Ruthie’s death put folks on
      pins and needles. I suspected that feeling would last for years to come.
      Norfolk Island was discovered by Captain James Cook on his second
      voyage to the South Pacific in 1774. Abundant with tall straight trees and New
      Zealand flax plants, he named the Island after the Duchess of Norfolk. It soon
      became one of Australia’s most inhumane penal settlements before closing in
      1855.
      Chief Inspector Talent in my home district in Sydney turned the case over
      to me when the local Island police force asked for additional help. No one had
      been murdered there in over a hundred years. As I am a native of the Island, he
      thought I might have more insight into the locals than someone else on the
      force.
      As I studied the flimsy case file the Chief Inspector gave me, I realized my
      life and the lives and reputations of every resident on Norfolk could forever
      change. After dropping off my luggage at the Resort, I drove to the police
      station. I needed to check in and introduce myself. Also something in the
      homicide report had set off a red flag.
       
       
      I flashed my badge at the native dispatcher and gave her my name and
      badge number. “I’m here to help investigate the death of the American. Were
      there any other crimes that day?”
      She thought momentarily, then flipped through a stack of reports. “Only a
      rental car theft. The car was later recovered from the bottom of a cliff near the
      Island National Park.”
      That was near the area where the body was discovered, the case file said.
      Was there a connection between the two crimes?
      “When was the car rented?”
      “At 10:30 am.”
      “Who rented it?”
      She looked again and said, “Ruthie Geil.”
      I was stunned at hearing that. Why would my victim rent a car thirty
      minutes before she went missing? And who drove it off the cliff?
      “Thank you,” I said with a smile before leaving.
      That serene Easter day is where my story began. My name is Ian Christian,
      and I was the Federal Police Inspector assigned to the case.
       
      Respectfully yours,JoAnne Myers-Author of Murder Most Foul, Flagitious, Loves, Myths, and Monsters, The Crime of the Century, Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between, Twisted Love, Wicked Intentions