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I’m excited to reveal a brand-new cover for my 2017 “I Heart Indie Award” finalist, Spirits of the Heart. Here’s the blurb:
An addiction counselor and a security guard struggle to free a little girl and her father, two lost spirits trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum.
Addiction counselor Laura Horton returns from college to move in with an old friend and start her career. But her homecoming is jarring. Her friend moves out, leaving Laura alone with the gorgeous but intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard.
Officer Miller Stanford is a man with a shattered past. His alcoholic dad destroyed their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is a sexy, blonde addiction counselor watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.
But Laura sees her too—a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. Then Laura starts digging into old asylum records . . . Can Miller and Laura uncover the secrets of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?
And here’s an excerpt from this exciting, supernatural suspense/romance:
As Miller made his way back toward his house, he tried to ignore the fetid tinge of sadness that had permeated his gut. He hadn’t been to a funeral since . . .well, in quite a few years. But even then, he hadn’t felt the cramp of grief in his chest he felt now. And hell, he’d hardly known Ken Rupert. Guilt fueled his bad feelings.
He should have made more time, paid more attention. Ken Rupert had been his next-door-neighbor, for Pete’s sake. Ever since he bought this house and moved in three years ago. There was no denying it: Miller should definitely had made more time in his day, in his life, to pay attention to the living. Instead of grieving the dead. Or, the just-as-good-as dead.
Miller glanced at his watch. Damn. The hour he’d had to run to the store was nearly gone now. Sighing, he trudged back up his porch steps. He’d take his shower and maybe stretch out on the couch for a half-hour before he had to leave for work.
But as he stepped into the tub and reached for his bar of soap, Miller found only a slimy, slender green splinter. He swore and stepped out. Padding out into his hallway—nude—he left a trail of dripping water on the hardwood floor. He didn’t give a shit. Slinging open the pantry door, he grumbled as he rummaged through five haphazardly folded towels, four extra rolls of toilet paper, and three half-empty bottles of tile cleaner.
Where the hell was the soap?
Another stark reality hit him. “That spiteful bitch,” he snarled, his voice echoing in the hallway. He simply couldn’t believe it. Not only had Angie run out on him without any notice, but she took his last, new bar of Irish Spring with her.
Laura Horton’s bad feeling began the minute she pulled up in front of Angie’s puke green, two-story house and parked at the curb.
Not Angie’s house, she reminded herself. Angie’s boyfriend’s house. Although they’d been pretty tight in high school, she and Ang had kept in touch mostly via telephone and email these past few years that Laura had been in grad school. Once, a few years ago, they’d gotten together for their five-year reunion, when Laura had come home to visit her ailing dad.
That was the first time she’d seen the compact craftsman bungalow—after dark—and she hadn’t realized it was such an ugly color. She hadn’t met the boyfriend, Miller Stanford, whom Angie either claimed to love with all her heart, or wanted to eviscerate with a Phillips head screwdriver, depending on the day. Nor had Laura noticed then that the house snugged up tight on one side to an ancient-looking graveyard. The only thing separating the two properties was a narrow strip of grass and a dilapidated, iron fence.
A shiver ran across her shoulder blades as she sat in her car, studying her new surroundings. Her new home.
Chillier up here. Where’d I pack that hoodie?
She turned to dig around in one of the boxes squashed into the back of her tiny car, quickly realizing it was pointless. Nearly everything she owned in the world—besides a few pieces of battered, old furniture—filled the back seat, and passenger side, of her thrifty Kia. When she’d run out of room for boxes, she’d resorted to folding softer items, like her sweaters and sweats, into new plastic trash bags. Stuff crammed every nook and crevice in the car, leaving just enough space beneath the headliner for her to see out through the rearview mirror.
There was no way in hell she was locating her hoodie in Mt. Clothesmore.
Rubbing her hands up and down her arms, she climbed out and sprinted up the steps to the front door. She hadn’t been able to reach Angie by phone since she’d left Boone, North Carolina the day before, but that wasn’t too unusual. Her friend was a bit flighty, and prone to misplace her phone, her charger, or both. Angie had been juggling courses at the community college with a full-time night job, tending bar at the pub just down the street, for the past two years. Laura couldn’t blame her for acting a bit squirrelly at times.
She reminded herself how nice it was of Ang and Miller to rent her their spare room. When Laura landed the job in Middletown, her initial exhilaration had been tempered by a glaring question: where the hell was she going to live? There was no way she could move into her father’s tiny condo with his new wife, Deirdre. And securing an apartment on her own was out of the question, at least not until after her first few paychecks hit the bank.
Laura squared her shoulders, which were quaking slightly in the cool spring breeze, tipped up her chin, and rang the doorbell.
Twice. She shifted her sneakered feet against the creaky porch boards, folding her arms against the chill. After another long moment with no answer, she rang the bell a third time, holding down the ancient button a full ten seconds this time. She could hear the electronic buzz through the peeling front door, but no other sounds at all.
Angie had to be here—she knew Laura was coming. It was Friday, but Angie’s last term of college ended last week, and it was nearly two o’clock in the afternoon. There was only one vehicle parked in the short driveway, a late-model Ford pickup. But Laura wasn’t sure what it was Angie was driving these days.
Then, she heard the booming, thumping sound. Footsteps? Deliberate, heavy, booming steps. Did Bigfoot live here too?
A dull click, then the tinkle of chain skittering on the inside of the wood. The door burst open. But it wasn’t Angie standing on the threshold.
You can buy Spirits of the Heart HERE and watch the video book trailer HERE.
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Claire Gem writes contemporary romance and supernatural suspense. Find out more about her and her work at her Website or her Amazon Author Page.