Welcome to the October Frights Blog Hop. Be sure to read through to the end of this post and click “Blog Hop Links” at the bottom so you can check out the other blogs on the hop. Also, there is a Rafflecopter giveaway, so be sure to check that out as well.
For my first October Frights post, I’m sharing an excerpt from my soon-to-be-released-if-I-ever-get-it-finished book, An Uneasy Inheritance. In this section, Kyr abruptly leaves her house after a frightening encounter with the resident spirit and finds herself in her great-aunt’s garden.
The rusty metal gate protested loudly as it swung shut, drawing me from my reverie. I looked around, bewildered but not frightened by the fact that I now stood on the other side of the gate, with no memory of having walked through it. Recalling Celeste’s final words to me, I muttered, “Well, I suppose Celeste has something to show me.”
I started down the stepping stone path, trying not to step on the random vines and branches that seemed to reach across the path to each other. Regardless of my attempts to avoid brushing against the plants, a dried leaf here and a limp tendril there stroked my face or my hair as I passed. A shiver raced down my spine at the uncanny notion that they reached out to me as they would to a long-lost friend.
The further I walked into the garden, the more I sensed that it was enchanted. From outside the fence, the space appeared quite small. As I wound my way along the path, however, I realized I’d been walking for some time and still hadn’t reached the center. No wonder Teresa Vale thought Celeste was a witch. If she’d ever visited—
Glancing to the side, I gasped as I caught a glimpse of a small white face peering at me through the branches of an overgrown snowberry bush. Immediately recognizing it as a little girl, I dove into the bush and cried out, “Charlotte?”
It wasn’t Charlotte after all, but a life-sized statue of a little girl gazing with wonder at a butterfly in her palm. Snow covered much of the statue, and icicles hung from the girl’s hair, nose, and fingers. I cocked my head and stared curiously at it, searching my memory for any recollection of such a figure in the garden. Finding none, I stepped forward to gently brush away the snow and break the icicles from the white marble.
As my fingers brushed against the cold stone, an overwhelming surge of sadness swept over me, as though this statue memorialized someone who had passed. Charlotte came to mind once more, but I immediately dismissed the thought; Celeste likely didn’t know Charlotte and would have no cause to either mourn her or memorialize her in such a way. Not knowing what else to do, I kissed my fingers before pressing them to the little girl’s cheek and entreating her to be at peace.
Continuing on past what I guessed were lilac bushes, I came to a small, shallow, brick-encircled pool with three concrete benches spaced evenly around it. Of course, the water in the pool was frozen over and snow-covered, as were the benches, but I was delighted with the space and hurried over to brush the snow from one of the benches so I could sit down.
It didn’t take long for the cold to seep through my jeans into my backside, but still I sat gazing around, trying to imagine what this spot looked like in the summer, with lovely white flowers blooming all around and with stars and the full moon shining down from above. I closed my eyes, willing myself to feel the warmth of a summer night, to smell the heady aroma of a hundred different flowers, to hear crickets serenading all around.
A skittering sound in the underbrush nearby ripped me from my daydream and made my head whip around in the direction from which the sound had come. I sat motionless, holding my breath and listening, as I tried to determine who or what might be approaching.
The garden fell silent once more, without even a breeze to rustle the leaves, and I decided it must have been a bird. After a full minute, I relaxed and allowed myself to breathe normally. Turning to face the pool again, I stretched my legs out in front of me and leaned back on my hands as I gazed at the perfect circle of white before me. Feeling much lighter than I should have after my terrifying encounter at the house, I looked around for a twig. Finding one beneath the bench on which I sat, I plucked it up and sat for a moment, thinking.
I leaned forward to draw a few squiggles in the snow with the twig. After the initial sketch, I sat back and wrinkled my nose. Drawing had never been my forte. As I reached down to erase the offending doodle, I stopped. Inspired, I took up the twig once more and added to my simple sketch.
When I finished, I sat back and laughed to myself. I had turned my initial mess of scribbles into the face of a crooked-nosed man with a wavy moustache. On a whim, I took out my phone and snapped a picture, then texted it to Spook with the caption, “The scariest thing you’ll see today—one of my drawings.” I giggled as I hit Send, wishing I could see his face when he got it.
The very next instant, I let out a scream as a furry black blur burst through the bushes and whizzed past directly in front of my face and landed with a thud next to me. “Lucifer! What the ever-loving hell?”
My cat turned to stare haughtily at me, his tail lashing back and forth like a furry black snake. Apparently pleased with himself for giving me my second heart attack of the day, he planted his bottom on the bench and began grooming himself.
No sooner had my heart rate slowed to its normal speed than a loud snap made me tense again. The sound of approaching footsteps and a low, murmuring voice told me I wasn’t alone in the garden. I caught a flash of blue through the thicket, announcing an unexpected presence. I glanced around for something—anything—I could use as a weapon, but the only two things close enough to grab were the discarded drawing twig and the placid-for-the-moment demon kitty.
Just as I’d made up my mind to grab Luci and launch him at whoever was trespassing in Celeste’s garden, Helen suddenly emerged from between two pyracantha bushes. Seeing me perched on the edge of the bench with my arms extended towards my unsuspecting cat, she grinned broadly and said, “There you are, Kyree child. I knew you’d be in the garden.”