There's a vast difference between the Christmas spirit of giving and the kind of spirits I'm talking about. Or is there? #:0)
The spirits in my upcoming Yule Tale are certainly giving it to the hero and heroine, but that's only because they've seen a past injustice and want to right it. Maybe the real lesson in this kind of story is that no-one is ever what they seem. We all have secrets we'd like to keep from others. Some secrets are insignificant…some are deadly. The question really is, who's guarding what kind of secret?
It's an age-old tale…a bunch of people are trapped inside a mansion with a killer. But in this case our hero and heroine must figure out if the killer hails from the ether, or is the flesh and blood kind. The outcome might be the same, but the search is certainly made more difficult with a spiritual nemesis. Fortunately for the trapped potential victims, they have friends in the ether too. And if they're very lucky, their ghostly friends can help them trap a killer!
So what does Protector Spirit Joss, a cowboy from the pages of America's history, think? Let's take a look at his response when our heroine, Anna Yesterday, asks him if he can cast any light on who might have ended Christmas early for their victim:
Joss scratched his head. “Not a clue, darlin’. Tell ya the truth, this whole thing’s got me a might all overish.”
Anna sighed. “I’m pretty squigged out myself, Joss. Have you managed to find the poltergeist?”
“Nope. The poor g’hal’s up and absquatulated. But unless I’m a coot, Miss Penny’s not the killer. I’d bet my hat we’re looking for a flesh and blood varmint on this one.”
“I don’t necessarily disagree. But, since we all seem to be prisoners in this house, that doesn’t make me feel any better.”
So Joss is as much in the dark as Pratt (our handsome hero) and Anna (our lovely heroine) about who gave the victim a deadly Christmas present. But that doesn't mean he isn't in for the fight. As shown in the clip below, Joss takes his job as Anna's protector spirit very seriously:
Something slammed against the outside of the door. The ghostly hands loosened around Anna’s throat and she dropped to the floor, coughing and gasping for breath. The door trembled under another blow and flew inward, admitting a roiling force of manic fog and light into the room. The force spun across the room like a cyclone, a roar of rage flaring from it like a flash of light. It slammed into the ghostly presence hovering over Anna, shoving it back and reducing a small wooden chair to splinters under its force. Anna pushed to her feet and stumbled out of the room, her throat burning painfully as she dragged tortured breath after tortured breath through it. She collapsed to the ground, her gaze locked on the battle raging across from her.
Footsteps slammed up the nearby stairwell and Pratt’s deep voice, fierce with obvious terror, somehow managed to rise above the cacophony. Anna tried to call out to him…to tell him she was okay…but words wouldn’t emerge from her damaged throat. He came around the corner and thundered toward her, his gaze locked onto her despite the violence being perpetrated in the small room across the hall. “Oh my god! Are you all right?” One of his big hands lifted toward her throat and his gaze filled with anger. “Who did that to you?”
Anna shook her head, pointing to the stairs. All she wanted to do was get out of there, away from the poltergeist with the hate-filled eyes.
Fortunately, Pratt understood. He reached down and helped her to her feet, lifting her into his arms and hurrying down the narrow hall.
Bill thundered up the stairs as they were starting down. Pratt shook his head. “Turn around, Bill. You don’t want to get in the middle of what’s going on up there.”
Their friend skimmed one last look past them as a particularly violent crash sounded, and then turned on his heel and retreated to the kitchen. Nobody spoke until they were out of the stairwell, the door closed and locked.
Anna almost laughed as Bill turned the deadbolt on the flimsy wood door. Even if a door could contain what was raging above their heads, the lock holding it closed certainly wouldn’t.
Pratt barked out an order for tea with honey and eased her into a chair. She heard running water and then something heavy being settled onto the stove. A beat later flame flared to life under what Anna could only presume was a tea pot. She tried to talk and was reduced to painful coughing instead.
Pratt placed a hand over hers, squeezing it gently as he dropped into the chair across from her. “Don’t talk. Just rest until we get some tea into you.”
Anna shook her head, shooting a worried gaze toward the ceiling as the windows rattled under another crash.
Pratt’s gaze followed hers and he frowned. “Joss?”
Anna nodded, giving him a slight smile.
“And the other one?”
She shuddered violently. A fragrant cup of tea appeared on the table in front of her. She looked up into Scarlett’s worried face. “What happened up there?” her friend asked.
Anna sipped carefully at the steaming cup, closing her eyes as the honey sweetened liquid coated her sore throat. A few sips later, she thought it might be safe to speak again. Her voice was husky but held. “I don’t know. But she was really mad whoever she was.”
Pratt and Bill shared a look. Pratt leaned closer, keeping his voice low. “You said she. Can you describe her?”
Anna shook her head, glancing toward Scarlet as the other woman sat down next to her. “This is delicious. Is that ginger I’m tasting?”
“Yes. It’s good for the throat.” Scarlett wrapped her arms around herself and rubbed her arms. “This is ghosts isn’t it? The killing? The doors?”
When all eyes widened at the doors reference, Scarlett clarified. “I tried to go outside…” Guilt flared in her pretty eyes. “Not to leave or anything. I just needed some air. When the first door wouldn’t budge I tried the others. Then I tried some windows.” She shuddered, looking as freaked out as Anna did. “They aren’t going to let us out are they?”
“Eventually they’ll have to,” Bill said, his voice trailing off as she turned even more pale. “I mean, what kind of power does it take to do something like this?”
Scarlett’s chest started to heave as panic set in and Pratt threw Bill a dirty look. “We’re going to get out of here soon, Scarlett. Bill and I just need to figure out what's going on.”
“And then what? You think the ghosts will just let us go? What makes you think that’s even what they want. Maybe they plan to kill all of us like they did poor Mr. Arnout.”
Pratt’s face tightened. Anna realized in that instant he wasn’t sure at all. “I have someone on the inside who will find out what’s going on,” she told Scarlett. Even as she said the words, Anna wondered if Joss would be able to suss out the problem. Currently it seemed all he could do to contain it. And barely at that.
How did a Christmas party go so horribly wrong? Why did something that started with such good intentions turn deadly? Was it just happenstance? An opportunity seen and taken? Or were there more devious machinations involved?
Whatever…or whoever…was behind what happened in Nelson Manor on Christmas Eve in Crocker, Indiana, there's only one thing for certain. It should be a whole lot of fun getting to the bottom of it!
Yules of Yesterday is scheduled to release on December 28th. Can't wait for some paranormal cozy fun? Have you read the other books in the series yet? You have time to catch up. Grab your copies HERE!