Monthly Archives: April 2019

Chapter reveal: Blood on the Chesapeake, by Randy Overbeck

BloodontheChesapeake_w12700_750

Title: Blood on the Chesapeake

Author:  Randy Overbeck

Website:  www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Purchase link:  https://www.authorrandyoverbeck.com/books

Genre:  ghost story/mystery

About the Book:

Blood on the Chesapeake—Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.

About the Author:  

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a writer, educator, researcher and speaker in much demand. During his three plus decades of educational experience, he has performed many of the roles depicted in his writing with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. His new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake, will be released on April 10, 2019 by The Wild Rose Press. As the title suggests, the novel is set on the famous Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, home to endless shorelines, incredible sunsets and some of the best sailing in the world. Blood is first in a new series of paranormal mysteries, The Haunted Shores Mysteries. Dr. Overbeck’s first novel, Leave No Child Behind, a thriller about the terrorist takeover of a Midwest high school and one teacher’s stand against the intruders, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thrillers from ReadersFavorite.com. Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community. You can follow him on Twitter @OverbeckRandy, friend him on Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck or check out his webpage, www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

Connect with Randy Overbeck on the Web:

www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

@OverbeckRandy

Facebook: Author Randy Overbeck

 

Blood on the Chesapeake

August, 1998

The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay

1

         “You see that widow’s walk up there, with the white railing and the cupola in the center? That’s where they say he died.”

The high school secretary, one Mrs. Harriet Sinclair, stood beside Darrell Henshaw on the cracked asphalt parking lot, her small, blue-veined hand pointing up to the third floor.

Darrell’s gaze crawled up the two floors of traditional red brick and landed on the white fencing of the widow’s walk. He’d noticed the unusual feature of the building when he arrived for the job interview two hours earlier.

Harriett’s high voice continued, “Years ago, a student, some poor young black kid took his life up there. Some history, huh?”

Surprised, Darrell looked at the secretary, who kept her gaze focused on the top floor. She was serious.

Darrell returned his glance to the widow’s walk. The brass-topped cupola shone green in the morning sun and below it, a bare-chested, young black man leaned against the fence, his hands dark smudges on the white railing. The youth stared down and met Darrell’s gaze. Even though Darrell couldn’t read the features on the face three floors up, he was mesmerized. Somehow, an overwhelming sense of sorrow and regret seemed to emanate from the young man and, for an instant, Darrell felt it pierce him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on edge. He shivered and stared, unable to look away. As he peered up, the figure at the fence shimmered and then disappeared.

Oh, God, no, he thought, shaking his head, and turned to ask Harriet, but she changed the subject, rattling on about some of the less morbid history of the school. “That walk is famous, all right. There was the great piglet race up there and the famous protest streamers on the walk…”

But Darrell stopped listening. He shook his head. He hadn’t felt that…that sensation for years. Ten years. A decade earlier, he’d had a confrontation with another ghost and it had not gone well. It still haunted him and he was not anxious for another visit from the spirit world.

Then, something Harriet was saying registered. “That window up there to the right, that’ll be your office.”

He struggled to find his voice. “My office?”

“At least, if Mr. Douglass likes what he hears when he calls your references.” She winked at him, one gray eyebrow curling like an albino caterpillar. “Our athletic office isn’t much, just a tiny space and away from the gym and locker rooms, but it’s got the best view in the building. I thought you might appreciate the vantage point better from down here.”

He got the job? He couldn’t believe it. After thirty-seven resumes, eighteen phone calls, four failed interviews, he’d done it. And just in time, too.

He stared open-mouthed at the building, trying to keep his exhilaration under wraps, and then remembered the young black man and realized the job may come with some extras. He definitely didn’t want to deal with any extras, but he really needed the job. Before he had time to think about it, Harriet was off.

For the next forty minutes, she took Darrell on a non-stop, guided tour of the empty high school, leading him past dueling trophy cases—one for sports, one for band—through run down classrooms and into a dilapidated gym with collapsing bleachers. Twice he paused, seeing an award or painting hanging crooked, and reached out to straighten it. He stopped himself and then had to hurry to catch up.

Oblivious, Harriet charged ahead, short legs pumping like pistons, all the while regaling him with more stories about the old high school. Darrell was hardly able to catch his breath. At her pace, he felt like he’d done a 5K, zigzagging through hallways and up and down creaking stairs. They finished by climbing two flights of stairs to arrive at the Athletic Office.

Just as they reached the top step, a door in the hall slammed shut. Darrell jerked. He glanced over to his escort, who hadn’t even flinched. Instead, the school secretary asked, as if reminded of something, “Mr. Henshaw, uh, do you believe in…uh, ghosts?”

Darrell’s mouth went dry. She didn’t just ask that.

“What?” he managed.

Harriet shrugged, the collar of her gray dress almost touching the lowest locks of silver hair. “I just asked if you were superstitious. You know, if you believe in ghosts?” She strolled over, turned the handle and pulled open the door.

Darrell fought not to go pale. Could she possibly know about the ghost back home or maybe she picked up on his reaction to the widow’s walk? He fumbled for an answer. “Uh, no more than most, I think. Why?”

Standing at the door, she lowered her glance, as if studying her black flats. “Well, uh, some folks say the school is haunted. Ghost of that student who committed suicide I was telling you about. They say his spirit likes to prowl the hallways at night, ‘specially up here on the third floor.”

Darrell remembered the figure staring down at him from the railing and the prickling hairs on his neck. He studied Harriet. She was serious.

But, when her gaze lifted, the secretary smile was back in place. “What do you expect? It’s an old school. Bound to hold a few skeletons, right?”

Harriet stepped inside the office, burying the subject as abruptly as she raised it. She led him in and Darrell watched as dust mites rose and danced on a wave. The cramped space was small, eight by twelve maybe, with a worn, blue couch under the broad window and a standard gray metal desk and file cabinet on the wall opposite. A lone, wooden bookcase stood facing the door, barren and sad-looking, its shelves sagging.

She moved to the window, pointing, “Great view of the widow’s walk from here, too.”

Several questions pummeled his brain—about what happened on the walk, about the kid who died—but he needed this job, so he didn’t ask.

She plowed on. “I got to leave you here and get back. Give Mr. Douglass a few more minutes and see what he has to say.” Two brisk steps took her to the door.

Darrell thought of one question he figured it’d be safe to ask. “Harriet, you mentioned I was the last name on Principal Douglass’ list of candidates. How come?”

She turned and grinned. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that. The answer’s simple, though. None of the rest of the candidates were Yankees.” She waved a hand. “Anyway, you must’ve made quite an impression, ‘specially for a Yankee. Not many get the fifty-cent tour. Enjoyed showing ya around. I’m a good judge of character and I think you’ll do fine.”

“Thanks, Harriet, for the tour and all the background. And the vote of confidence.”

“I’ll see you downstairs in a bit.” Her leg pistons chugged and she disappeared through the open doorway.

Darrell listened to her footsteps echo in the stairwell and, when the sound died away, he said aloud to the empty room, “O-kay, then.” Exactly what he needed. Move half way across the country and run into another damn ghost. His gaze swept the small office and took in the widow’s walk, remembering the figure at the railing and the tingle on his neck. He inspected the entire office for paranormal evidence. He saw nothing, of course.

Ambling over to the picture window, he took in the expansive scene, white posts and railing of the widow’s walk up close—with no young black man standing there—and the water of the Chesapeake shining emerald beyond. He could get used to this view.

He’d take the job and…deal with the rest, if it came.

He strolled over to the door. Something drew his attention and twisting around, he glanced back into the office. A draft of cold air struck him. He shivered again.

         He turned to go, but couldn’t. Standing in the doorway, it felt like his shoes had been glued to the floor. No, it felt like two huge hands were holding his ankles and wouldn’t let him leave. He pulled on both legs. Staring down at his legs, he saw only the smooth cuffs of his dress pants and his black Oxfords.

Ugly memories resurfaced, as if it were yesterday. His uncle’s ghost using him as a conduit. The death of two friends. The crippling of his brother. Oh, hell, not again.

         Sweat dripped down the side of Darrell’s face and he blurted out the only thing he could think of. “I haven’t even been hired yet,” he said in a harsh whisper. “And won’t be, unless I get back down there to see the principal.”

The grip on his ankles released. He opened the door, stepped through and slammed it. In seconds, he hit the stairs, taking them two at a time.

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter Reveal: ‘Jordan,’ by Victoria Landis

Genre: Thriller

Author: Victoria Landis

Website:http://www.VictoriaLandis.com

Publisher: BookPainter Press, LLC

Purchase link:https://amzn.to/2HWMs5R

JordanFrontCoverFeb12019

About the book:

When Petra Simmons and her brother, Andy, help a seemingly homeless young woman, their intended good deed immediately changes their lives forever. Within days, it’s clear that the woman, Jordan Crissman, is so much more than meets the eye. Jordan possesses an amazing ability – perhaps the most miraculous ability of all. Petra and Andy realize that, in the current world of viral social media, they must proceed with extreme caution. But how can they best employ the miracle without causing havoc? They plot a careful strategy. Despite their plans, word gets out too fast, and the world comes running – invading and overwhelming South Florida and bringing danger.

Television talking heads pontificate. Pundits opine. Some claim Jordan’s a messiah. Others insist she’s the devil. Massive crowds gather, demanding to see Jordan. Everyone wants her.

But there’s nowhere left to hide. Damaging and horrible rumors swirl. Protest groups march and riot. Mass hysteria reigns.

And people are dying.

VickiSF15Headshot

About the Author:

Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.

She’s taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/VLandisAuthorFB

Twitter: @VictoriaLandis1

Instagram: VLandisArtist

Website: http://www.VictoriaLandis.com

First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

Sunday 6PM

 
Petra Simmons plucked the last truffle from the day’s sample tray and added it to the other chocolates in the white paper bag.  She handed it to Lettie Hillier, an old friend of Petra’s deceased parents.
     Lettie accepted it with a grin.  “Are you sure you kids are doing okay?”
     “I miss them.”  Andy, Petra’s younger brother, stepped toward them.
     “Losing them still hurts,” Petra said.  “But, yes.  We’re fine.”  She gestured to the bag.  “Open it.”
     It crinkled when Lettie unfolded the top and looked inside.  Laugh lines scrunched outward from her mouth when she smiled.  She winked at Petra.  “Chili-pepper-shaped?  That’s new.  Thanks, Punkin.”
     “You’re most welcome,” Petra said.  “They’re infused with cayenne.  Hope your husband enjoys them.”
     “If they escape being eaten on the drive home.  You kids take care, okay?”
     “Will do.”  Andy held the shop’s glass door open for Lettie, grinned at her as she exited, then locked it.
     Pushing her palms against her temples, Petra sighed.
     The building shuddered slightly for a half-second.
     Petra grabbed the counter.  “Did you feel that?”
     “Yeah.”  He pointed skyward.  “Weird.  Military jet going by?  A sonic boom, maybe?”
     “I didn’t hear any boom.”
     “Me, either.  Maybe it was too far away.  Wasn’t very strong.”  He ambled toward her.  “We don’t get earthquakes.”  With a dramatic flourish, he took a wide stance and stretched his arms outward, as if waiting for the building to shake.  After a few seconds, he went back to a normal stand.  “I think we’re good here.  Why do you give Mrs. Hillier free chocolates?”
     “Because she’s been so kind to us since Mom and Dad died, and she sends all her friends to me for their special occasions.  At first, she argued with me about the freebies.  I’m far more stubborn than she knew, and I won.  So now she calls herself my taste tester.”    She wiped her brow and surveyed the mess around the seating area of three small round tables by the front windows.  “Wow.  That was one hell of a last minute rush, huh?”  Grabbing the cleaning spray and sponge, she realized he hadn’t responded and turned.  “Andy?”
     He’d returned to the door, his back to her.  “There’s a strange chick on the plaza freaking everybody out.  See?  They’re all moving away.”
     Petra came from behind the counter and stood beside him.
     A disheveled woman, her brown hair a rodent’s nest, sat staring at the sky, on the bench ledge of the hexagonal fountain twenty feet from Petra’s Kingdom of Chocolate shop.  She wore a red T-shirt and blue jeans−both ripped and stained.  Her entire body shook for several seconds, then she lowered her head.
     The people nearest her shuffled further down the bench.  A man with two toddlers in tow hustled them off the plaza.
     “Really, I can’t work up much interest,” Petra said.  “Another homeless person.  It’s sad, but too bad.”
     “No,” Andy said.  “There’s something different about her.”
     Andy often misjudged situations and people.  Petra sighed.  “I don’t think so.  She’s only another hard luck story.”
     “She’s pretty.”
     “No.  She’s not,” Petra said.
     “Look beyond the mess.  Come on, let’s see if we can help her.”
     “Please don’t.  I’m so tired.  I want to finish and go upstairs to relax.”
     Ignoring her, Andy unlocked the door and headed outside toward the woman.  He gestured for Petra to join him.
She shot a glance heavenward.  “God grant me patience.”  She ventured out.
     Reaching the homeless lady, Andy knelt to peer under the cascading hair.  “Are you okay?”
     The woman shook her head.
     Nearing her, Petra found her younger than she’d assumed.  Maybe thirty.  And she did have attractive features under the unkempt locks.
     “Do you need help?” Andy said.
     His angelic expression of compassion tugged at Petra’s heart.
     “Apparently.”  The woman chuckled and swept the hair from her face.
     Her voice also took Petra by surprise.  The one-word reply was enunciated in a clear, sophisticated tone.
     “What happened?” Andy asked.  “You look like you fell out of a tree.”
     She hesitated, then leveled her gaze at Petra.  “I really don’t know.  I can’t remember anything.  It’s all blank.”
     Her eyes were a golden brown, almost amber.  Unusual and striking.
     In her peripheral vision, Petra saw the three remaining people on the plaza, now sitting on an iron bench eating ice cream cones.
One of them pointed behind Andy and Petra, and the others’ eyes widened.
     Petra twisted to see a small red fox sniffing and making its way, inch by inch, toward them.  “Andy, very slowly, look behind us.  It’s an actual fox.  Where did that come from?”
     He turned.  “That’s strange.  Don’t make any sudden moves.  Maybe it’s rabid.”
     “No,” the disheveled woman said.  “He’s not.  He’s being friendly.”
     Petra glared at her.  But, in fact, the fox was sniffing its way closer to them as a curious dog would.  She didn’t like the oddity of it.  “I think we ought to go back inside.”
     “All right,” Andy said.  “Come with us, um . . . What’s your name?”
     “Wait a minute.”  Petra grabbed Andy’s arm and pulled him about ten feet away.
     The fox froze, then retreated a few yards.
     Its posture reminded Petra of a spooked cat with its fur standing on end.  Whispering, she said to Andy, “Are you nuts?  We’re not bringing this woman into my store.  It’s closing time.  I’m tired, and who the hell knows what kind of drug addict she could be?”
     “We can’t leave her out here.”
     “Sure we can.  We’ll call security, and they’ll take care of getting her to someone who will help.”
     “No.”  Andy gestured toward the woman.  “We should help.”  He went back.
     “You can be so infuriating sometimes, you know that?”  Unwilling to leave him alone with a possible lunatic, Petra joined him.
     The woman was touching a purplish mark on her left palm.  “I don’t blame you.  Look at me.”  She grinned and displayed her bruised arms.  “I’m a mess.”  Her eyes locked onto Petra’s.
     A strange comforting feeling about this woman enveloped Petra—as though she were with a long-lost friend.
     “Help me up?”  She kept her right arm in the air.
     Petra offered her a hand before Andy could.  “Come on.  Can you stand?”
     “We’ll find out.”  The woman gripped Petra’s hand and pulled herself up.  She twisted her torso.  “Okay.  Much better.  I was so dizzy when I woke up.”
     “Woke up?  Where?”  Petra’s fingers spasmed and felt suddenly warm.  The recurring fear that she’d inherited her father’s arthritis raced through her.
     “Right here.  On the edge of the fountain.  All I know is waking while sitting on it.”
     “Were you tired when you sat down?” Andy asked.  “Tired enough to fall asleep sitting upright on a concrete bench?”
     She gave him a blank stare, while seeming to ponder his question.
     “This is beyond strange,” Petra said.
     “I agree,” the woman said.  “I don’t like feeling this disoriented.”  She blinked.  “I’m sorry, I don’t know how I got here.”
     Petra’s resistance to her lessened.  To her amazement, she felt a growing urge to do as Andy suggested—help her.  “My name is Petra Simmons, and this is my brother, Andy.”
     “Hello.”  She pushed on and patted her legs, then her ribs.  “No broken bones, it seems.  I’m relatively unscathed.”
     “What’s your name?” Andy said.
     The woman’s mouth screwed up to one side.  “I haven’t a clue.”
     The feeling the stranger wasn’t a threat, and was, in fact, someone innocent, grew stronger.  “Tell you what.  I live on the second floor over the shops.”  Petra pointed behind her.  “See?  That bay window is in my living room.  Let us take you there.  You can get cleaned up, and I’ll lend you some clothes.”
     Andy gave her a shocked expression, then smiled.  “That’s a great idea.”  To the woman he said, “Don’t worry.  We’re good people.”
     She nodded.  “I know.”
     “And . . . how do you know?” Petra said.
     She shrugged.  “I don’t know.”
     It seemed the woman was thinking the same way as Petra.  Producing a key from the back pocket of her jeans, Petra handed it to Andy.  “Will you lock up, then come upstairs?  We can do the tally and cleaning later.  And bring my phone and purse, too?”
     Grinning, he took the key, pivoted, and strode to the shop.
     That startled the fox, but didn’t stop him from edging closer.
     A huge black blur swooped in, nipped the fox on the head, then settled on a nearby tree branch.
     The fox yelped and scrambled into the thicket of cocoa-plum shrubs at the edge of the plaza’s parking lot, now backlit by the transitioning oranges, reds, pinks, and lavenders of sunset.
     “Did you see that?” Petra glanced around.
     The three people finishing their ice cream cones nodded, looking dumbstruck.
     “I have never seen a fox out in the open like that.  Or a buzzard attacking a live animal.”  Petra spoke to the ice cream folks.  “That was a turkey vulture, wasn’t it?”
     One of them responded with a weak shrug.
     “Wow.  Freaky animal day.”  Petra gestured toward the alley between the two three-story buildings of the retail complex.  “The apartment entry is in that causeway.”
     They walked in silence to the entrance.  Petra used a passkey to unlock the residence lobby door, held it open for her, then pressed the elevator button.
     Petra studied her as they rode up one flight.  Long hair, in tangled waves, fell to her waist.  Her T-shirt had grass stains along with mud, as did her jeans.  She wore a ripped and frayed pair of canvas sneakers that Petra assumed were once white.
     The doors opened, and the women turned right, going to the end of the hall.
     “I was lucky enough to get an end unit,” Petra said while inserting her key.  “Lots of windows.”  They went inside.
     “It’s beautiful.”  The woman wandered around the combined living and dining space, stopping at the wide bay window facing the plaza and its fountain.  She gestured to the open kitchen and the granite island that separated it from the living area.  “There are four barstools.  Do other people live here with you?”
     “No.  I live alone.  My boyfriend is here a lot, though, and my brother stays fairly often.”  Petra walked to the short hall off the kitchen leading to the two bedrooms and a guest bathroom.  “I imagine you’re anxious to get that dirt off you.  You look like you’re around my size.  A six?”  She opened her bedroom door and went in.
     Another shrug.  “Guess we’ll find out.”  The woman leaned against the doorframe while Petra gathered some clothing for her.
     A stab of doubt hit Petra.  What was she doing inviting this complete stranger into her home?
     “You’re being so kind.  Thank you.”  The woman touched Petra’s hand before taking the neat pile, then entered the bathroom.
     In an instant, the negative thoughts disappeared—replaced by that comforting feeling again.  Petra shook her head to clear it.  “You’ll find everything you need either in the tall cabinet or in the drawers next to the sink.”
 
                                                                           ***
 
Petra was in the kitchen perusing the freezer when Andy came in.
     “How is the mystery girl?”  He tossed the shop key into the raku pottery bowl on the entry table and placed Petra’s purse on the counter.  “We left the store a mess, and I should have stayed to clean it, but I’m too curious about her.”
     “Still can’t remember her name.  She’s in the shower.”  Petra shut the freezer.  “I’ll order pizza.”  She grabbed her cell from her purse.  “But first, I’m calling Ben.”
     “Is he on duty tonight?”
     “Yes.”  When Ben picked up, she filled him in on the woman in her bathroom.
     “What’d he say?” Andy asked after she put the phone down.
     “It’s a slow Sunday night, so he’ll come over himself.”
     The bathroom door opened.  Her guest emerged, smelling of fresh flowers.  Clean, her skin was flawless.
     Andy let out a small gasp, and Petra knew he was smitten.  That was probably not good.
     The woman smiled and pulled at the black tank top.  “A little tight, but thank you so much.”  She held up a hairbrush.  “I couldn’t get all the knots out.  Would you mind trying?  It might be easier because you can see them.”  She came to stand in front of Petra, handed her the brush, and turned around.
     With an inward shrug, Petra accepted the brush and worked through the first of the tangles.  “My boyfriend is a Sheriff’s Deputy.  I’ve asked him to come over.  Maybe he’ll be able to help you.”

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: