Weekend Excerpt–Happy Halloween!

…the living are always more dangerous than the dead…

Happy Halloween!
If you’re in the mood for a ‘dark and stormy night in a haunted house‘ kind of romance novel, MIDNIGHT COVE is the book for you.

Writer Bree Blaylock leaves Florida and an abusive fiance for a quiet cabin on the lake in a small South Carolina town. The fact that the cabin is haunted doesn’t bother her in the least. In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.

When she meets her handsome new neighbor, local lawman Jake Hanson, she wonders if it might be time to take another chance on love.

But can Jake keep her safe when the past comes calling?

Here’s a brand-new teaser from MIDNIGHT COVE.

With Main Street blocked off, Rusty parked the truck in a designated area, and the pair set off on foot, joining dozens of other costumed townspeople as they made their way toward the center of the action. 

Midnight Cove had been transformed into a black and orange fairyland that would have made Tim Burton proud.  Orange lights were strung back and forth in zig-zag patterns across Main Street, and carved jack o’ lanterns of varying temperaments grinned in front of every business. 

The nostalgic aroma of fried dough and onions and fresh popcorn filled the air as Bree spied a row of food kiosks down the center of the street.  An area at one end of the street featured Halloween-themed carnival games for children, and residents had begun to arrange their chairs along the sidewalks, huge containers of candy at the ready for the trick-or-treating to begin.

At the opposite end of Main Street from the games, several stands offered adult beverages, and that’s where Rusty led Bree.  “I told her to meet us at the Dew Drop Inn tent,” he explained.  It’s right in front of the bookstore.

Just as they arrived at the orange and black canopy, the door of the Plucky Peacock opened, and a familiar figure emerged.  She locked the door and walked toward them.

“Hey, y’all!  Ooh, Bree, you look fantastic!  I love your makeup.”  She rose on her tiptoes and gave Rusty a kiss.

Bree shrugged lightly.  “It’s not too much, is it?”

“Girl, it’s Halloween.  Let it all hang out, that’s what I say.  Speaking of which,” she lowered her voice, “great cleavage!  Jake’s gonna love it.”

Beneath the heavy makeup, Bree blushed profusely.  “So, what’s this all about?”  She waved toward April, hoping to change the subject.

April held her hands out to her side and slowly rotated in a circle.  “Get it?” she grinned happily.

Bree scanned her friend up and down.  April was covered from her shoulders to her knees in a shaggy brown faux fur tube.  Her arms and legs stuck out from holes in the sides, and the whole thing narrowed to an elongated point that dragged on the ground several feet behind her.  A round fur hat completed the ensemble.

“What are you supposed to be?” Bree wondered.

April rolled her eyes good-naturedly.  “I’m a tail.”  She tucked her arm through Rusty’s.  “He’s a fairy.  Together, we’re a fairy tale.”  She gestured between herself and Rusty.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” Bree laughed lightly.  “Listen, have you seen Jake?”

“I don’t know.  He was down here earlier, but they may have sent him to the kids’ area.  We’ll find him later.  Let’s go get us some Witches Brew.”

Bree glanced around, but Jake was nowhere to be seen.  Reluctantly, she joined April and Rusty in line.  Ten minutes later, they each held a black plastic bucket containing a fruity alcohol concoction.

“Thirty-two ounces of different kinds of rum with a tiny splash of juice.” April giggled. “Any other day, it’s called a voodoo bucket, but on Halloween, they call it Witches Brew.”

Bree sipped hers, deciding the combination of different rums and juice was an enjoyable mixture. 

“Okay, what now?” Rusty asked.

“I really need to find Jake,” Bree responded.

“I thought we could work our way over to the nachos.”  April sounded a bit disappointed.

“You guys go ahead,” Bree told her.  “I’ll catch up with you in a little while.”

April looked to Rusty and rolled her eyes comically.  “The girl has the serious hots for your best friend,” she told him.

Bree laughed with more patience than she felt.  “Really, I’ll find you again.  And thanks for the drink.  Next round is on me.”

“Now, you’re talking.  Okay, go find Jakey-boy,” Rusty teased.  “We’ll see you in a while.” 

Bree watched the pair make their way to one of the food tents.  Then she turned and headed back toward the other end of the street.  Her sense of unease growing, her gaze flitted around as she scanned the crowd searching for Jake. 

She finally spotted him just as he was leaving the children’s game area.  Before she could reach him, he was stopped by Darlene Bright, who was sporting a very short plaid skirt and a white blouse tied around her bare midriff.  Her long blond hair hung in pigtails, and she wore white knee socks and black stilettos. 

Nodding at something Darlene said, Jake looked up and saw Bree coming toward them.  Grinning broadly, he excused himself and met Bree in three long strides.

“Hello, beautiful!  You make just about the sexiest witch I ever saw.”  He leaned down to kiss her lightly.  “And I see you found the official Halloween libation.  Where are Rusty and April?”

Bree hooked a thumb over her shoulder.  “They went to get something to eat.  I wanted to find you, though.”

“The festival’s going really well,” he commented, looking out over the crowd.  “The weather is perfect, and everyone’s having a great time.  Are you hungry?  The onion rings are to die for.  My treat?”

Shaking her head, she put her free hand on his arm.  “I need to talk to you.”

At her urgent tone, he frowned.  “Is everything okay?”

She sighed deeply.  “It’s just…”  She looked around.  “Can we talk someplace quiet?”  She dropped her drink into a nearby trash can.

He nodded.  “Sure.  Come with me.”

Taking her hand, he led her through the crowd to the police station.  The front doors were unlocked, and he led her through a swinging wooden gate into the inner office.  Brow furrowed, he turned to face her, leaning a hip on one of the desks.  “What’s the matter, Bree?  You’re worrying me.”

She exhaled sharply and paced a few steps away.  “This is going to sound nuts.  But I need you to believe me.”

Jake crossed his arms and nodded.  “Just tell me what’s going on.”

“Mr. Meyer killed that girl all those years ago.  Christie.  And he killed his brother, Steven, too.”  She wrung her hands together, desperate for Jake to believe her.

His frown deepened, and he swiped his hand across his chin.  “What makes you think so?”

Bree chewed her lip, hesitating.  “I saw him do it.”

She watched his eyes widen.

“You saw him.”  He shook his head.  “Bree, that murder happened forty years ago.  How could you have seen it?”

“I know how this sounds, Jake.  But I saw him.  Out on the island.  I don’t think he set out to do it, but he strangled Christie, then he hit Steven in the head with a rock.  He buried Steven in the basement of the lake house.”

Pushing away from the desk, he approached her, taking her hands in his.  “Bree, I just don’t understand.  What do you mean, you saw him do these things?”

“It was a dream.”  Her voice was nearly a whisper.

Relief flooded Jake’s face.  “A dream.  Bree, you just dreamed you saw Meyer do those things.”

Frustrated tears threatened to spill down her cheeks, and she swallowed hard.  “Jake, I need you to believe me.  It’s true.  The murderer has been here the whole time.  People should know the truth.  Steven and Christie deserve justice.”

He watched her for a moment, then pulled her to himself, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.  “It’s not that I don’t believe you, babe.  But let’s say I do believe you.  I can’t act on something you saw in a dream.  I need concrete evidence, something irrefutable.  I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to–“

With a grunt, Jake went limp and slid to the floor.  Where he’d been, Eric Meyer stood glaring at her, a heavy glass paperweight in his hand.

“See what you made me do?” he said to Bree.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

Find MIDNIGHT COVE at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/MidnightCove

Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove,
still waters harbor dark secrets.

Doesn’t September put you in the mood to read something suspenseful and romantic? You know, a steamy ghost story with a happily-ever-after ending?

Take a creepy lakeside town, add an eclectic cast of characters with secrets and a haunted house, and you have MIDNIGHT COVE, my spooky, sexy Halloween romance novel.

In MIDNIGHT COVE, 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?

Here’s a teaser from MIDNIGHT COVE.

Sand feels cool beneath her bare feet, and a light breeze ruffles her long red hair. Turquoise water sparkles in the sunlight as foam-edged waves rush up the sandy slope. Normally, the beach would make her nervous, but this isn’t her beach. It’s just a dream.

Bree relaxes in the knowledge that she’s tucked safely in bed. She’ll just enjoy the serenity of the imaginary shoreline. Smiling to herself, she looks down past her flowing white dress to the footprints she’s leaving in the soft wet sand. She wonders if this is Fiji. She’s always wanted to go there.

Further down the beach, she sees a figure and she stiffens, hoping this isn’t turning into one of those dreams. Maybe she should wake up now. She squints, raising a hand to shade her eyes.

The figure is closer now. It’s a man with light hair. Bree relaxes again. She doesn’t know who the stranger is. She simply knows who he is not.

Bree drags her toes through the shallow tide, playfully kicking up water in front of her as she approaches the stranger. To her left, a trio of dolphins leap joyously. Nevermind that the water is too shallow. That’s how it is in dreams.

She raises her hand in a wave. “Hello!”

The stranger stops a short distance away, a bemused expression on his face. He’s nice-looking, she notices. His blonde hair is a little shaggy, but his light blue eyes sparkle with intelligence. He’s dressed a bit oddly in her estimation. He’s wearing faded blue jeans that flair toward the bottom and his blue Superman T-shirt looks vintage. A strand of puka shells encircles his neck. Like Bree, his feet are bare and he’s wading along the edge of the water.

“Hello,” he returns.

“Hi.’

He grins broadly. “You said that already.”

Bree shrugs lightly and twirls in a circle, swinging her skirt around. “I know. Did you see the dolphins?”

He nods and looks toward the water. “I did. They’re cool.”

“This is a cool dream,” Bree agrees.

He smiles again. “What’s your name?”

“Bree. Bree Blaylock. What’s yours?”

“I’m Steven.”

She holds out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Steven.”

He stares at her outstretched hand and hesitates before reaching to take it. Static electricity pops slightly as their skin touches.

“It’s nice to meet you, Bree.”

“Do you think this is Fiji?” Bree asks.

Steven glances around and shrugs. “I’m not sure. Do you think it is?”

“Maybe. It’s not Clearwater, that’s for sure.” Bree wraps her arms across herself and shudders.

“Is Clearwater bad?” he asks.

“This is a happy dream. Let’s not talk about Clearwater.”

Steven shrugs. “Fine by me. We can just enjoy the beach.”

Bree nods happily and slips her arm through his. Together, they wander along the shoreline, stopping occasionally to examine a shell or two. Steven stoops, picks up something, and hands it to her. “Here, this is for you.”

It’s a tiger cowry. She knows this because as a child, she had a book of shells and she’s seen the picture.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you.”

He nods, looking pleased. “Keep it so you can remember this beach. So you can remember me.”

Bree turns to him frowning. “Will I see you again?”

Steven shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“I hope so,” she says fervently. “This is the nicest dream I’ve had in a long time.”

“I’ve liked it, too.” There’s a hint of sadness in his eyes.

***

Sniffing loudly, Bree rolled onto her right side and curled around her extra pillow. Her eyes fluttered briefly before she was fast asleep once again.

From the corner of the bedroom, Steven watched her in wonder. He had no idea how he’d ended up in this woman’s dream. But for the first time in a very long time, he hadn’t been alone.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

MIDNIGHT COVE is now available in wide release
at your favorite online bookseller!
books2read.com/MidnightCove

Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove,
still waters harbor dark secrets.

Writer Bree Blaylock has left behind an abusive relationship for a fresh start in the small town of Midnight Cove. All she wants is a quiet place to finish writing her next novel. She didn’t count on living in a haunted house. But as she’s learned, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.

She also didn’t count on falling for her sexy new neighbor, local lawman Jake Hansen. But it seems that fate had other plans.

Can Jake keep her safe from the dangerous old secrets that threaten to destroy her?

Here’s a steamy little snippet from MIDNIGHT COVE.

Once the front door was locked behind them, they were magnetically drawn back together, lips locked as they shrugged out of their jackets.  Breathless, Bree stepped back and looked up at Jake.  He watched her curiously as if to see what she had in mind. 

Unwilling to leave room for any ambiguity, she began unbuttoning his shirt, pressing a kiss to his chest with each button. 

“Holy shit, Bree,” he groaned.

Emboldened by his response, with his shirt all the way undone, she lightly licked her way up from his navel to his breastbone.

He lifted her chin and kissed her passionately, grabbing the hem of her sweater and lifting it off over her head. 

Thank God I wore my best bra, she thought.

Stepping back, he gazed down at her and shook his head.  “Holy shit, Bree,” he repeated.  He reached up to lightly finger the black lace of her bra before he gently squeezed her breasts and kissed her again. 

As she welcomed his lips, she felt his hands slide around her sides and up her back where he made short work of the clasp.  She shrugged slightly, and the straps slid down her arms. 

Jake broke the kiss, glancing down at her bare breasts.  He slid his hands up her taut belly to cup them, to heft their weight.  Then he brushed his thumbs across her tight pink points, and Bree gasped as goosebumps danced over her body.

Jake’s voice was husky.  “Where’s the bed?”

Smiling, Bree took his hand and tugged him up the stairs.  Tail wagging, Murphy padded along behind them.  At the bedroom door, Bree stopped.  “Nope, buddy, this is as far as you go,” she said to the dog. 

Jake chuckled softly.  “Sorry, Murph.  Adults only.”  He closed the door, leaving the dog in the hallway.

When she reached behind her waist to unfasten her skirt, he stopped her with a gentle hand on her arm.  “Let me.”  His tone was soft, reverent even, as desire flickered in his eyes. 

Pressing another kiss to her lips, he slid his hands around to the zipper on the back of her skirt, slowly lowering it and allowing the garment to slide to the floor. 

Breaking the kiss, he held her hand to steady her as she stepped out of the skirt.  Again, Bree was grateful that her black lace thong matched the bra she’d chosen for the evening.

“Lie back on the bed,” he urged her softly.

Heart ticking in anticipation, Bree did as he asked, stretching out across the bed with her legs still hanging over the edge.  She watched as he shucked his jeans and moved toward her in gun-metal grey boxer briefs, nudging her legs apart with his knee.  Her eyes were drawn to the enormous bulge currently shrouded in grey fabric.

“I want to see,” she whispered. 

His crooked smirk was beyond hot.  He hooked his thumbs in the elastic waistband and slid the skivvies down his thighs, releasing his monster erection.

“Oh, my,” Bree breathed.

With a sexy arch of his eyebrow, he lowered himself over her body, trailing light kisses from the top of her thong up her belly to between her breasts.  There, he paused, moving to lavish attention to each pert nipple. Ripples of pleasure made Bree gasp. 

Jake’s lips continued their journey to the hollow of her throat, then up the side of her neck.  Bree’s skin was awash in goosebumps. 

“Now, I want to see,” he murmured into her ear.

He moved to her lips, bestowing a decadent kiss.  When he moved further, she opened her eyes and watched breathlessly as he made his way back down her body and used his teeth to gently tug down the black lace thong.  With a wry grin, he tossed the panties over his shoulder. 

“What do you know?” he chuckled.  “Red down here, too.”

He tilted his head, his expression suddenly serious.  “Is this okay?” he asked.

“Oh, God, yes!” Bree nodded quickly.

The seductive smirk returned, and he lowered himself between her knees.  Unable to see him, Bree gazed up at the ceiling and smiled happily as she felt him use his thumbs to part her outer lips.

“So beautiful,” he murmured.  “I need a taste.”

Bree’s eyes slammed shut, and her head tilted back as he began to worship her sex with his tongue, caressing her with long sensuous strokes.

“Holy…” Bree breathed through clenched teeth as she felt her climax building.  She slammed her hands on the bed beside her, clutching handfuls of the duvet for dear life.

“Oh, shit, I’m about to come,” she hissed.

She felt the vibration of his chuckle against her sweet spot.  “Come on, baby, it’s all you right now.”

Panting furiously, Bree gave herself over to wave after wave of pleasure, finally crying out in ecstasy as her orgasm tumbled over her.  When she thought she couldn’t take any more, she lowered her hand to his head, tangling her fingers in his hair.

“Stop,” she gasped, “oh, please stop!”

Again, he chuckled.  “Too much so soon?  We’re just getting started.”

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

MIDNIGHT COVE is currently available exclusively in the romantic suspense anthology,
DARK SECRETS.

But it’s coming soon on its own to KINDLE UNLIMITED!
Stay tuned…

Weekend Excerpt–Happy Halloween

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.

Treat yourself this Halloween.
Download fall’s hottest anthology for just 99¢!
https://amzn.to/2meuZOd

Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

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

Although eventually I plan to publish it under my own Bratty Ginger Books imprint, MIDNIGHT COVE is currently part of DARK SECRETS, an anthology of 9 steamy, suspense romance novels you’re going to love.

DARK SECRETS comes out October 11,
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