They say still waters run deep.
In the little lakeside town of Midnight Cove,
still waters harbor dark secrets.
When writer Bree Blaylock rented the lakeside cottage in the small town of Midnight Cove, she didn’t count on staying in a haunted house. But she doesn’t mind sharing quarters with a restless spirit. She learned long ago that the living are always more dangerous than the dead.
She also didn’t count on falling for local lawman Jake Hanson. But life often has other ideas. Can Jake keep her safe when the past comes calling?
Read a little teaser from MIDNIGHT COVE.
Together, Bree and Jake sank into their camping chairs. “I suppose this crowd can be a little overwhelming,” Jake said quietly, “but they’re really nice. You’ll see.”
Bree sipped her wine and watched as people shared embraces like long-lost friends, chatting and laughing as they did.
The whine of outboard motors announced that another couple of boats had pulled up onto the beach. Bree recognized the cashier from the market among the new arrivals. Despite the cool fall evening, the young woman wore denim cut-offs so short, her ass cheeks hung out. In the thin white camisole she wore, her pronounced nipples attuned everyone to the fact that she was cold.
Immediately, she zeroed in on Jake. “Hey, there,” she drawled, eyes locked on his. “I’m glad you made it.”
“Hi, Darlene,” he answered, his tone friendly. Bree watched him carefully, but he didn’t seem impressed by Darlene’s obvious display. “You remember Bree from the other day.”
The woman flicked her gaze in Bree’s direction, her lips pressed together in contempt. “Oh, yeah, hi.”
“Hello.” Bree tried for friendly, but she felt her irritation rising. It was the second time she’d met this Darlene, and the second time the woman had both dismissed her and fawned all over Jake. It was sickening.
“There’s plenty of beer over there,” Jake nodded toward the collection of coolers. “Help yourself.”
“In the Publix bag, there’s everything you need for s’mores if you like,” Bree offered helpfully, smiling.
Darlene looked at Bree for a second, then returned her attention to Jake. “I believe I will have a beer. Talk to you later.”
During the exchange with Darlene, another boat had arrived. Dragging their own chairs and a cooler, a ragtag assortment of people approached the others. Bree recognized the young woman from the bookstore.
Her smile was friendly. “Hey, how are you? I’m April, from the Peacock. How’s the book?”
“Yes, I recognized you. I’m great, thanks, and I’m loving the book.”
Space around the fire was filling in, and April slid her chair into a small gap at about Bree’s three o’clock. “It’s one of her best if you ask me,” April said. “How do you know Jake?”
Eyes wide, Bree looked to her left at Jake.
“We’re neighbors,” Jake said quickly. “Bree’s a writer. She’s renting old man Meyer’s place for a couple months.”
“Wait!” April leaned forward in her chair and squinted in Bree’s direction. “You’re not Bree Blaylock, are you?”
Bree nodded. “I am, actually.”
“Holy shit!” April squeaked. “Bree Blaylock! I should have recognized you the other day. I mean, your red hair should have given it away. Holy shit! I loved your book!”
Blushing, Bree glanced over to see Jake watching her. “Wow, thanks so much. I’m really glad you liked it.”
“No, seriously, Nothing Much, are you kidding me? It was life-changing. I read it three times.”
Aware that conversation around the fire had paused as April gushed on and on, Bree felt herself blush even deeper. “That’s really nice of you to say.”
“Oh!” April popped up out of her chair, waving her hands expressively. “We should do a book signing! My bosses are always looking for ways to get more customers in the door. A signing with Bree Blaylock! That would be amazing.”
Sheepishly, the young woman looked to Bree and sank back into her seat. “If you were interested in doing it, of course.”
Bree smiled warmly. “I’d be happy to do a book signing if the owners of the store wanted to do it.”
April grinned from ear to ear. “They’d love it. I’ll ask them as soon as they come back.”
“So, Bree Blaylock, what’s it like staying in a haunted house?” The disdainful drawl came from directly across the fire ring.
“Come on, Darlene,” Jake objected softly.
Darlene dismissed him with a wave of the Budweiser in her hand. “We’ve all heard the stories. There’s a ghost in that cottage. How many summer renters have come running out of that place like a bat out of hell, never even bothering to look back?”
Determined not to let the woman get the best of her, Bree leaned back in her chair and smiled. “I’m very comfortable in Mr. Meyer’s house. It’s nice and quiet, and I’m able to get a lot of writing done.”
Eyes wide, April leaned forward. “Have you seen a ghost?”
“Oh, come on,” Jake objected. “You two can’t be serious.”
“There are stories, Jake,” Rusty commented. “Years ago, they supposedly found a dead girl out here floating near the island. They say they never caught her killer.”
“Every summer, a handful of Meyer’s renters leave before their week is up,” someone else added. “They tell some weird stories.”
“That’s what it is,” Darlene purred, narrowing her eyes at Bree. “It’s the ghost of the murdered girl, looking for revenge on the one who killed her.”
Picturing Steven, Bree tried to suppress a smile. “Again, I’m very happy at the house. And by mid-November, I’ll be finished with my book and out of your hair.”
Determined, she held Darlene’s stare until the other girl finally dropped her gaze. Keeping her outward expression neutral, inside, Bree rejoiced. You’re being ridiculous, she chided herself. You just won a staring contest with a local grocery clerk.
Still, Bree was happy when the conversation moved on to other topics.MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks
MIDNIGHT COVE is currently available exclusively in fall’s hottest anthology, DARK SECRETS. Available for just .99, and free with Kindle Unlimited, this boxed set includes nine brand new romantic suspense novels that make for perfect Halloween reading.
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A few months ago, I was invited to join an anthology of fall romantic suspense novels. I jumped at the chance to write a story that has been swirling around in my brain for a while. Here’s the official blurb for MIDNIGHT COVE.
They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove, still waters harbor dark secrets.
Writer Bree Blaylock just wants a chance to catch her breath.
Having finally escaped an abusive relationship, she’s relieved to have found a quiet place to finish writing her new book.
From the moment she arrives, she realizes that
she’s not alone in her rented cottage on the lake.
But she’s okay with that.
In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.
Meeting handsome local lawman Jake Hanson wasn’t even remotely on her radar.
Now that she has, maybe it’s time to take another chance on love.
But can he keep her safe when the past comes calling?
MIDNIGHT COVE was a chance to stretch my writing into contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. How about a teaser?
When the battered white pickup disappeared around a bend in the long gravel drive, Bree Blaylock kept her foot steady on the gas pedal of her 1975 Beetle. Mr. Meyer would wait.
After her long drive, she wanted to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the ancient live oaks that lined the way from the highway to the house she planned to rent for the next two months.
Grey-green tendrils of Spanish moss dripped from the broad branches that arched over the gravel driveway. Though the September air was crisp, brilliant sunlight filtered through the moss-hung trees and dappled the ground in patches of gold.
Beside her on the passenger seat, Murphy whined. Bree glanced at him and smiled. “It’s okay, boy. We’re almost there.”
While for her the 8½ hour drive from Tampa to western South Carolina had seemed long, for her three-year-old yellow lab, it must have seemed interminable. Although for his first big road trip, Murphy had done remarkably well.
As the yellow VW curved around the next bend, the house came into view. It was the 1920s Craftsman-style house she’d discovered online, a charming vintage structure of pale-green clapboard, two stories high with an additional narrow attic perched in the center at the top.
The covered front porch ran beyond the width of the house to form a carport on the left side. Wide front steps led up to the porch, its arched supports perched on cream-painted columns that were wider at the bottom than they were at the top.
Ahead, Mr. Meyer had parked his truck and stood waiting for her. She pulled up beside him and opened her door. Before she could get out, Murphy scrambled across her and ran happily snuffling around the front lawn.
“This is the house,” the man said, hooking a thumb over his shoulder.
Bree nodded. “It looks exactly like it did online.” She glanced up at the front of the house. A hint of movement in the attic window caught her eye, and she frowned slightly.
“I took the pictures myself,” Mr. Meyer informed her. “My rental’s on the up and up.”
“I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t, I just meant that it looked familiar.” Bree flicked a glance back up to the attic, then followed the man up the front steps.
As he unlocked the heavy front door, Bree noted the beveled glass panes in the top third of the wood panels. She loved everything about the vintage home. It was exactly what she’d been looking for when she’d decided to leave Florida.
The door swung open, and Mr. Meyer preceded her inside. While Bree took in the high ceilings and dark wood trim in the living room, he launched into his tour narrative.
“You can see the parlor,” he commented over his shoulder as he continued toward the back of the house. “Back here’s the kitchen and the den. ‘Course, you’ve got lake views from any room on the back of the house.”
Mesmerized by the tranquil sight of the lake, Bree approached the bank of windows that ran along the back wall of the open-concept kitchen and den. She sighed deeply.
This. This was exactly what she needed.
He led her upstairs, showing her four bedrooms in total, two overlooking the front of the house, and two, including the master, overlooking the lake. A large bathroom featured vintage tile and an antique clawfoot bathtub. Off the master bedroom, a terrace doubled the deck downstairs off the den. A door in the hallway led up a narrow flight of stairs to a small attic that ran front to back like a spine across the top of the house.
Mr. Meyer led the way back down to the first floor. Bree couldn’t resist returning to the windows overlooking the lake.
“What was it you say you do?” he asked.
She turned and smiled softly. “I’m a writer.”
Hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans, he nodded. “It’s unusual, is all, you wanting to rent the cabin this late in the year.” He nodded toward the lake. “Folks like to come in the summer to swim and fish and that. In the fall now, it’s quiet. Only a handful of people live on the lake year-around. Most people live in town.”
“Quiet sounds perfect to me. I have a deadline, and I need to get busy writing.”
The man nodded again, pursing his lips. “And we agreed on a price?”
Bree rummaged through her leather shoulder bag and produced a white envelope. She held it up. “We did. And you accepted my cash offer.”
He shrugged slightly. “I don’t usually discount my cabin…” He let his comment hang.
“Like you said, it’s late in the year.” Bree straightened her five-foot-four frame and looked him square in the eye. “And I’m paying you cash, in advance, for two months’ rent.”
After a moment, the old man nodded. “Cash, in advance.” He accepted the envelope, briefly peering inside. Then he handed her the key and headed toward the front door.
Out on the lawn, Murphy was still exploring along the edge of the woods. Mr. Meyer stopped at the driver’s side door of his pickup. “You need anything, you can call. And I’m at the hardware store every day.”
Bree pictured Meyer Hardware on the main street of Midnight Cove. It was where they’d arranged to meet when she’d called to make her reservation two days earlier.
“I live up over the store,” he continued. “So if anything breaks, you can let me know right away. If I can’t fix it, I’ll find someone who can.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it,” she murmured.
Meyer glanced up at the house, then looked at Bree. “Just so we’re clear, though.” He held up the envelope. “No refunds. You decide you’re not staying, you can’t get your money back.”
Bree drew a ragged breath, thinking about where she’d just left. “I’ll be staying,” she said firmly.
The old man nodded. “Alright, then. I suppose I’ll see you in town. Not too many redheads living in Midnight Cove.”
With that, he climbed into his truck, backed around, and headed down the driveway.
When he was out of sight, Bree called Murphy. “Come on, boy. Let’s go get settled.”
From the attic window, he watched as the old man drove away, leaving the redhead and her dog standing on the driveway. A dog. That was a development. Might be good, could be bad, he considered.
On the one hand, animals usually seemed to see him, or at least be aware of his presence. The family dog or a cat staring into a seemingly empty corner was sometimes enough to freak out its owners. The dog’s attention could, however, make it difficult for him to move about undetected.
Didn’t matter, he shook his head. He’d concentrate his energy, knock over a few things, and send the woman and her dog skittering back to wherever they’d come from.
Out on the driveway, the woman retrieved a pair of black bags from the front of the yellow Beetle and carried them inside. From the corner of the master bedroom, he watched as she unpacked some clothes and hung them in the closet.
Another trip to the car produced a big blue dog bed and a large tan leather shoulder bag. When she returned inside, to his surprise, she rearranged the den, placing a small table against one of the back windows then adding a chair. From her bag, she removed a thin electronic gadget and placed it on the table.
Although in life, he’d never known anything like it, he’d seen other summer folk with the same kind of thing. It was like a typewriter, but you didn’t put paper in it. He couldn’t figure out the purpose of the gizmo, but it really didn’t matter.
She put the dog bed in the corner beside the newly created workspace, and the dog happily launched himself onto it, burrowing into the soft cushion and lolling gleefully. The woman smiled at the dog. “Who’s my good boy?” she asked softly.
She squatted to briefly rub the dog’s belly, then crossed to the French doors that opened onto the back deck. As she stood gazing out over the lake, he glanced around the room, assessing what might give him the biggest bang for his buck.
An empty rocking chair moving on its own accord was always a good bet. If he could slam shut her typing gadget, that might be a nice touch as well. As he made his way across the room to the rocking chair, the dog let out a low growl.
Good, he thought. Now she’ll be paying attention.
Concentrating intensely, he reached for the back of the rocking chair. With effort, he managed to push it forward once. It rocked forward and back a handful of times before slowing to a stop.
The dog woofed once, then whined. The woman watched as the chair settled. Then she covered her face with her hands.
Unsure, he wavered for a moment before he made his way to the desk. He was just reaching out to slam shut the device when she spoke.
“You should know that I’m not going anywhere. I just gave the owner all the money I have in the world. I don’t have anywhere else to go. You’re stuck with me until the middle of November.”
Shocked, he froze. No one had ever addressed him before. But his surprise was quickly replaced by determination. This was his house. Where she went was her problem. Forget closing the lid of her electronic device. He’d shove the damn thing right off the table.
He was just gathering his strength when he heard a sound. Turning, he saw that she’d sunk into the rocking chair, the very object that should have sent her running. Holding her face in her hands, she sobbed like her heart was breaking.
Immediately, he felt his resolve melting away. He didn’t mind scaring people. It was just good, clean fun, really. But causing her to cry made him feel like a shit.
He sighed to himself and watched her for a moment. It looked like he might be stuck with the redhead and her dog for a bit longer than he’d thought.MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks
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