A Halloween Treat
In honor of Halloween, I thought I'd share a scene a paranormal romance that I wrote with my good friend Cynthia Valero. Scandalous Spirits was an RWA Golden Heart Finalist, and was soon after scooped up and published by ImaJinn Books. The story was inspired by a local 'haunted mansion' (I'll blog about that if I can find the pictures to scan!) and though it features a dynamite hero and heorine, I aways felt that the three sibling ghosts--stuck in limbo and, worse, that mansion--were the heart of the story. Enjoy!
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"You're all wet, Jonas! It's better this way." Isadora paced the upper floor of the west tower, trying to blow off some steam. It was either that or sock her stubborn, opinionated, know-it-all brother in the snout. He'd always been bossy, but this preoccupation with crossing over had stretched her nerves to the breaking point. "We make our presence known and the sell won't go through. We scare them off. Then things will go back to normal. We'll be safe. Bored, but safe. No one wants a haunted house."
"We agreed to work on this together!" Jonas bellowed, fists on hips.
"I didn't agree to anything! It was Jimmy who jumped ship and sided with you!"
"Now just a minute," James said from the sheet-covered sofa.
"I asked you not to interfere," Jonas said, plowing right over him. "To let me handle this. But no! You couldn't listen to me. You couldn't show a little restraint. Though why I 'm surprised, I have no idea. Restraint was never one of your glowing attributes ."
Bulls-eye. An arrow to her heart. Isadora marched up to him and narrowed her eyes. "Don't mince words, Jonas. Spit it out. Say it. Say what you've been thinking for the last seventy years!"
Jonas stared at her.
"Cat got your tongue? All right, then. I'll say it for you. It's all my fault!"
"Izzy," James cautioned.
"Shut up, Jimmy!" Isadora never looked away from Jonas. Like two sworn enemies squaring off in the street, the showdown had come at last, the blazing orange sun in the distance sinking lower by the minute. "I talked you into going with Jimmy and me to the speak-easy. It was the night before the eve of my thirtieth birthday and I was horribly, wretchedly depressed. I begged, cajoled, and sulked until you finally agreed to forgo your silly dinner party with your wife for a night of debauchery with your sister ."
"Izzy. For God's sake," James said.
"You didn't seem to mind so much, Jonas. Not after a few shots of tarantula juice and a lusty toss in the backroom with Sally Langhorne ." She cocked a brow. "You always were a sucker for a vamp with long gams and big tits."
"Izzy," James pleaded. "She's just scared, Jonas. She's--"
"Shut up!" Jonas and Isadora ordered as one.
"But then it was three a.m. The band was packing it in and we were lit up like the store window. You suggested we call a cab. 'What for?' I asked. 'Jimmy's only half-screwed. Besides he could drive us home blind-folded.' Being the egotistical sap that he was, Jimmy agreed ."
James rose to his feet. "Now just a minute."
"So off we went in your Pierce-Arrow, stinko and zipping along in the fog as if guided by friggin' Rudolph-the-red-nose reindeer himself!" Isadora was screaming now. Tears scalded her eyes. She hadn't cried in seventy years. She wasn't even aware ghosts could cry. "The World Series. I don't remember how we got on the subject, only that I wanted to talk about anything other than my birthday, anything other than turning another year older. Thirty. God, it sounded so . . . final. So I picked a fight with you. I said the Dodgers would take the Yanks in '29. I so loved to tease you, Jonas. I knew it would gripe your cookies. And did it ever! Cheering for someone other than the Yankees? You were outraged. I laughed and egged you on.
"Jimmy was shouting at us to clam up, fending off a couple of playful slaps I sent his way, then . . . then . . . " She swiped away her tears, refusing to let them fall. God, she was angry with Jonas. Or was it with herself? "Then we were free floating over the bay, a pathetic ghostly trio." She waved a limp hand through the tension-filled air. " The rest is history. So go on, Jonas. Go on and say it. Get it out of your system. You'll feel better for it. We're dead, because of me. We're stuck here, because of me. This is all my fault!"
A pickaxe couldn't chip the ice in his eyes. When he spoke, his voice could've frozen the sun. "I don't know what you're whining about, Izzy. You should be happy. You got what you wanted. You're twenty-nine . . . forever ."
Isadora shivered from her brother's cold cruelty. She felt like a beaten dog left to freeze in the night. It was more painful than dying. She backed away from him as though he were the devil.
Jonas said nothing to stop her, nothing to soothe her.
"Izzy?" James ventured. "Jonas?" He threw off his fedora and jammed his hands through his hair. Desperate to mend frayed bridges, he said, "Come on, guys. All for one and one for all. Our childhood oath, remember? "
"Sorry, Jimmy," Isadora whispered as she drifted down through the marble floor. "I think we've finally grown up."