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The Ghost on Firefly Lane, A Pekin Dewlap Mystery #2
A heartbroken ghost searches in vain for her baby. Pekin Dewlap and her best friends Scout and Amber are hired to help her spirit go into the light by the kindhearted homeowners who’ve grown fond of the crying ghost. The teens move into the house while their clients are on a cruise, and their first order of business is to find out the ghost’s identity. A neighbor is able to provide the name of the house’s last owner, and the story of how his wife died in childbirth. Now, armed with the ghost’s name, along with those of her husband and baby daughter, it’s time to set the ghost free.
However, it isn’t as easy as the kids expect. First, Lily the ghost doesn’t seem to be aware of their presence, and when she finally “sees” them, she becomes angry and destructive. The Ghosties track down Lily’s husband and daughter to ask for their help, but, much to their surprise, their invitation is met with hostility. The father has secrets of his own that he must protect.
If Pekin and her friends can’t convince the father to help them, they may never be able to set Lily free, and send her into the light.
Published: Nov. 30, 2019
Catching her boyfriend with another woman, London Calloway storms home, fuming and hurt over the betrayal. Sitting at her desk, the tears come. As she searches for a tissue, she accidentally knocks a stack of mail onto the floor. Reaching for it, her eyes fall on the Los Angeles Times. She is immediately captivated by the picture of a soldier on the front page. She muses over the differences between her playboy boyfriend and the hero in the photo.
A published writer, London is looking for inspiration for a new book, a fruitless endeavor until she has a vivid dream of being rescued by the soldier in the photograph.
The words to her new novel, The Hero, at first come easily, and London relishes her story of Jemima Curry, a journalist in Afghanistan whose life is saved by a Special Forces soldier, Captain Jason Westfall. As the story takes shape, London’s real-life attachment to the soldier in the photo guides her hand as she crafts the hero in her novel.
London tells her best friend Nicole about the book, but not about the picture. She can’t bring herself to share the soldier with anyone. Despite London’s best intentions, however, Nicole spots the photo and immediately knows he’s the inspiration for Captain Westfall. And London has to confess.
If only she could meet someone like the soldier. As she gazed at the picture, she could imagine what kind of man he must be, and she tried unsuccessfully to contact the photographer to see if he could tell her who the soldier was, leaving a message. When she hears back from the photographer much later, he refuses to give her any information.
Nicole starts dating Kyle, a promoter, but London doesn’t like the new boyfriend, and those uneasy feelings increase when she learns that Nicole has told him about her book and about the soldier in the picture. Kyle seems a little too interested in London’s book, attempting to push London into using him to promote herself and the novel.
The worst part, however, is when Nicole tells her that Kyle has contacted the photographer to try to track down the soldier in the picture. London is horrified that the soldier’s privacy is being threatened, sure he wouldn’t be happy to be pulled into the limelight, but Kyle insinuates that she can’t stop him if he wants to search for the soldier.
London discovers Kyle has been successful when the soldier shows up at her front door to tell her to respect his privacy and stay out of his life. Of course, his anger prompts her anger and they part on bad terms. And she didn’t even get his name.
Kyle’s actions cause friction between London and Nicole, but London is able to move past the temporary bump in their friendship.
London meets Alex at the gym and they settle into a relationship. He’s a nice guy and London is happy being part of a couple again.
Her book, The Hero, is published and becomes a best seller.
And then she literally stumbles into the soldier at the airport. She apologizes profusely for their last meeting and begs him to let her explain everything, but he’s just come off a long flight and doesn’t want to do anything but go home. Before he leaves, London tells him she’s a writer and to Google her book. Then if he so desires they can meet so that she can tell him her side of the story.
He finally does call, and they meet for drinks. Both apologize for their previous behavior and they have a lovely evening, enjoying each other’s company. He asks to see her again, and she accepts but stipulates that she’s in a relationship and wouldn’t go behind her boyfriend’s back and that she will tell Alex about their meeting. He agrees to her terms and says he’ll call.
London’s emotions are all over the place after spending time with the iconic soldier. But she pushes thoughts of him out of her mind, because she’s with Alex and doesn’t want to hurt someone who’s been such a wonderful partner to her.
At home, she texts Alex that she misses him and tells him goodnight, then realizes she wants to be with him so she impulsively grabs her handbag and keys and drives to Alex’s apartment. When she knocks on the door, she can immediately tell that all is not right. Alex doesn’t invite her in, complaining that it’s not a good time and offering to call her in the morning, but she hears laughter in the background and pushes the door open to see a half-dressed woman with a bottle of wine in her hand. Once again, London’s boyfriend has betrayed her.
She cocoons herself for a few days, not answering her phone. Alex comes to her apartment to explain, but London doesn’t want his explanation and tells him it’s over. By the time she’s feeling better, the soldier calls, and she agrees to meet him. Now there was nothing to stop her from seeing where s relationship with the soldier could go.
And the timing was so weird, almost like fate was clearing the way for her.
JUSTIN BECKETT seemed interested, and she was definitely interested in him. She asked why he had left the service, happy that he was home safe.
But he was bitter. He’d come back because he’d been shot in an ambush and had a bit of shrapnel still embedded in his chest close to his heart, making it impossible for him to stay with his unit.
Still, slowly they built a relationship. Hikes, dinners, walks on the beach. Then kisses. But when London invited him into her bedroom, he threw up a smokescreen, saying there were too many reasons why their relationship couldn’t work out. But the real reason he finally confessed to is that he doesn’t think he’s a good bet because of the shrapnel in his chest.
London was heartbroken, but let him go. Being a good friend, Nicole invited her to have dinner with her and Kyle. Things with Kyle had been going well, but he took the opportunity to rudely tell London that he was sure her soldier thought she was a crazy stalker, since she’d been mooning over his photograph for years. London fled from Nicole’s apartment in tears. When she pulled up to her apartment, Justin was waiting for her, apologizing for leaving her and telling her he was willing to try.
Nicole, who kicked Kyle to the curb after his attack on her friend, showed up at London’s door, with a broken heart. Nicole was horrified to see that she’d interrupted London and Justin’s reunion and offered to leave, but Justin left instead after promising to see London the next day.
London is happy, but sad at the same time that her best friend is in pain.
London and Justin grew closer, and, during the holidays, after meeting their respective families, Justin proposed to London.
Friends threw them an engagement party, and Nicole met Billy, one of the men Justin served with in Afghanistan, at the party. Soon, they are double-dating with London and Justin, and soon after that they are in love.
One day, Justin seemed somber. When London asked him what was bothering him, he tells her it’s the anniversary of the ambush that killed two of him men and sent him home. He shares that he’d go back in in an instant if it wasn’t for the bullet in his chest. London is horrified and it suddenly becomes all about her and how hurt she is that he would want to leave her. They part angrily.
In despair, London goes to Nicole’s for some comforting words. Nicole instead takes her to task for selfishly overlooking Justin’s feelings, pointing out it’s an emotional day for him and he has the right to feel whatever he feels. London realizes she’s made a terrible mistake and rushes to his apartment to apologize.
Justin accepts her apology and they grow closer than ever, but London’s world is shaken and she fears that their happiness can’t last.
In order to allay her fears, Justin gives London his dog tags. She’s incredibly touched as she puts them around her neck.
Kyle, who was recruited by London’s rich ex-boyfriend to finagle his way into London’s life to keep an eye on her, successfully manages to plant a story about London and her soldier in a sleazy gossip magazine. The story insinuates that the soldier was a foolish man who was duped by London in an effort to promote sales of her novel.
Before London can tell Justin what happened, she’s called to the ER. The bullet fragment in Justin’s heart has shifted and he was rushed to the hospital. When she sees him, her heart breaks. He looks so frail. He’s in a coma for days and family and friends come to support London. In a rare moment when she’s alone with Justin, she tells him she’s pregnant. Of course, he can’t respond.
When he’s finally awake again and recovering, she brings him home where she can take care of him until he’s back on his feet. She tells him again that they’re expecting a baby, and he’s over the moon. He’s also happy because the doctors removed all traces of the shrapnel and he’ll now be good as new.
London’s fears reappear as she realizes that he’s now got nothing stopping him from reenlisting. Knowing how important it would be to him to be back with his unit, she returns his dog tags and tells him she understands his heart is with him men.
Justin refuses to take them back, saying that he heart lies with London and their baby. He feels no need to go back in and wants more than anything to start his life with his family.
When London says, “Are you sure?” Justin suggests they elope.
“But our families will be so disappointed,” she responds.
“We can do it again for them. This time it will be for us.”
Sitting on a bench outside the office of the justice of the peace waiting to be called in, London looked at Justin’s handsome profile. I wonder if it’s irony or fate, she mused, that the first sentence of the novel setting off the chain of events that brought us together is so meaningful now:
“Most people never meet a real live hero, but I was in love with one.”
And I’m marrying mine.
The Little White Lie
Hadley Grant told a lie. Not a willful lie, but an I can’t believe I just said that lie. It was the only way, really. Going about her currently single life, she almost collided with a stranger in the stairwell of her apartment building. In a case of love at first sight, Hadley finagled a way to become better acquainted with her new neighbor. Over pizza and wine, she worked up the courage to ask if there was anyone special in his life. His answer surprised her when he mentioned the word “wife” (which he clarified immediately to ex-wife), and then emphatically stated that he wasn’t interested doing that again. Not words she wanted to hear her future husband say.
When Jackson Hill asked if she had a significant other, Hadley blurted out that she was getting married. It had seemed a harmless fib at the time, her reasoning being that she didn’t want to lose him before he found himself madly in love with her. Perhaps if he thought she wasn’t trying to wrangle him into a relationship he’d let her into his life as a friend. Then she could work on becoming indispensable.
Immediately ashamed of herself, she hoped she could pretend she hadn’t told the lie, but Jackson wanted details: when was the wedding, how did he propose, what was the fiancé like?
Turns out a lie can grow legs and take on a life of its own.
Hadley has to convince her best friend, Jenna, her assistant, Scott, her family and finally his family not to give away her plan. And it took some convincing.
When Jenna wants her to tell Jackson the truth, Hadley’s afraid he’ll never forgive her. She keeps telling herself she will come clean, but somehow the right moment never arrives, and she’s carried along on the wave of her upcoming nuptials.
For his part, Jackson develops feelings for Hadley but believes he needs to keep them a secret because she’s in love with someone else.
Many complications arise for Hadley as her “wedding” begins to materialize, all the way to setting a date, finding a venue, buying a dress, all the while wondering how this can possible have a happy ending.
In the time Hadley spends with Jackson, she can sense his growing feelings for her. After an unexpected kiss catches them both off guard, Jackson makes a heroic effort to be an honorable man who won’t try to steal her away from her fiancé. As she realizes how deeply he cares for her, she falls into the depths of despair at her deception.
Her plan was to have Jackson arrive at her wedding ceremony and then she would tell him that he was the groom, the man she was really in love with. In the beginning, this had seemed like a harmless lark, a romantic lark, but now she was haunted by the very real possibility that he would never forgive her.
Jackson, for his part, didn’t feel he could watch the woman he loved marry someone else, so planned to skip the wedding. When Hadley found out, she had to quickly devise a way to ensure that he would be at the church.
Torn by the need to finally do the right thing, when Jackson arrived for the wedding, Hadley pulled him aside and confessed everything.
Jackson couldn’t believe the woman he’d trusted had betrayed him with her lies. He turned away from her and stormed from the church.
Dissolving into tears, Hadley felt the weight of the loss she’d hoped she’d never have to face. Jenna rushed to her best friend’s side and told her to go get her man, and Hadley stepped from the church, searching for Jackson, hoping she could convince him to give her a chance.
She found him leaving against a tree in the park across from the church. Hadley poured her heart out to him and asked his forgiveness. When it seemed he was unmovable, she told him to have a nice life and turned to leave. When he asked where she was going, she said she was going back to the church to tell everyone to go home, and then she was going to return her dress.
He watched her walk away, her veil billowing in the wind. Could he really let her go?
Hadley faced the wedding guests, prepared to confess everything, when Jackson came striding up the aisle and said “Wait.” As she looked at him in confusion, he took her hand and said, “Let’s do this.”
And Hadley’s improbable wedding took place. She couldn’t stop smiling. Her new husband had forgiven her. In fact, he was even able to laugh when Jenna winked at him and said, “Remember, Jack. It was just a little white lie.”
The New One
CARRIE GILDER is an Atlanta psychiatrist with a husband she loves and a successful one-woman practice. She has the usual assortment of patients with the usual assortment of neuroses, until PICA SHARP walked into her office one evening and changed Carrie’s world forever.
Pica claimed to be a vampire, a premise Carrie initially refused to accept, her mind only changed as she comes to believe that Pica is telling the truth. Reluctantly, she took on as her client a vampire who doesn’t want to be a monster.
In the sessions that followed, Carrie devised a way to make Pica less lethal than her vampire life would seem to require. Pica’s transformation would consist of drinking only enough blood to keep her alive without killing her victims.
While the solution will allow Pica to become merciful, she comes to the realization that she must break away from Harlan, her maker, because, even if she leaves her victim alive, Harlan won’t. The only way it can work is if Pica leaves Harlan so that she can hunt alone.
Harlan confronted Carrie in the parking lot of her office, and told her he will have his revenge. In his rage, he promised to take from Carrie what he believed Carrie took from him, plunging her into the dark world that inhabited her nightmares from the day Pica Sharp walked into her office.
In horror and fear, she rushed home to find her husband lying in a pool of blood, his neck torn out. Carrie was devastated at losing the man she loved. As she planned a memorial service for her husband, in the days leading up to the service a miracle occurs when Carrie discovered that she was pregnant, and she bonded with the fetus growing within her. Together, they would find a way to get through the darkness.
As if the pain of loss Carrie faces wasn’t enough, being turned into one of the undead is the next blow that befell her. Harlan wasn’t satisfied until he made her a vampire, in the process destroying the baby growing inside her.
Carrie found the grief she should be drowning in strangely absent. She accepteds her new reality matter-of-factly and fed on human victims without an ounce of the humanity she once possessed.
Into the newly-turned Carrie’s world stumbled her good friend Gary, who’d been her rock since the death of her husband. He’d become concerned about her and dropped in unexpectedly to make sure she was all right. He was horrified when she coyly told him that she was no longer human. Being near him provoked her hyper vampire sex drive, and she gave him the choice of becoming her lover or being drained of his blood. She commanded him to obey her and tooks what she wanted from him, but a spark of feeling for him remained. He couldn’t be allowed to know what she is, so she planned to wipe his memory and tell him goodbye. Before that can happen, however, Harlan broke in the front door and sank his teeth into Gary’s neck.
Carrie plunged a dagger into Harlan’s back and he let Gary fall to the floor. Harlan also crumpled to the ground. Harlan’s lover, Veronica, came to his aid and demanded that Carrie took the knife out. Carrie agreed after securing a promise that the two vampires would leave her alone. Veronica said she couldn’t guarantee that Harlan wouldn’t come after her again and advised Carrie to leave town, then helped Harlan out the door.
Carrie rushed to Gary’s side and found he was almost gone. She forced blood from her wrist into his mouth. Turn him or lose him to death, a choice she wished she didn’t have to make.
When Gary awakened, he’s understandably angry. Carrie helped him come to grips with his new reality and they began to forge a new life together. And Carrie realized she loved him.
Despite Veronica’s promise, Carrie and Gary fled to New York City to get away from Harlan, where they moved into an expensive hotel. They honed their vampire skills, learning as they went, and found that Central Park was a fertile feeding ground in the wee hours of the night.
Life was good.
Until Harlan found them. Silently entering Carrie’s room at the crack of dawn, he manages to kidnap her and hopped with her to a remote estate, where he and Veronica ravage and tortured her and then left her unconscious naked body lying in the courtyard, shackles on her arms ensuring she would be unable to avoid the rising sun, whose rays would turn her to ashes. The sky was turning pink and her skin was starting to smoke. The silver shackles on her wrists caused unbearable pain and the flesh of her legs was burning. Tears coursing down her cheeks, Carrie wished for death.
Before the sun shines fully onto her helpless body, Gary was at her side and managed to free her of the shackles before the rays broiling their flesh could send them both into a permanent death. He gathered her into his arms and hopped them back to their hotel room.
When Harlan and Veronica arose, they found empty shackles and an empty courtyard, with vestiges of blood and black stains on the flagstones where they left their prisoner. Which is what they would have found if the sun had indeed turned Carrie into ashes that blew away on the breeze, leaving no trace of her other than those stains on the ground.
Carrie explained to Gary that Harlan would believe that she was dead. This gave them the opportunity to create a life for themselves without hiding.
They had an emotional conversation about everything that had befallen them. Carrie told her lover that she was pregnant when Harlan turned her, and Gary confessed that the thing he hated most about being immortal is that he can never be a father.
They took comfort in each other’s company and looked toward an eternity together. And, as Carrie pointed out, they could “make” their own children.
The New One is a racy novel of over 66,000 words. It’s a horror story and love story that leads Carrie Gilder into a world she never knew existed and which she can now never escape.
The Rand Prophesy
A two-hundred year old curse pulls 7-year old Laura Sheldon from her bedroom in the dead of night to an old cemetery, where her father finds her sitting in front of a crumbling tombstone.
Twenty years later, Laura has a successful career, a boyfriend and a normal life, and that night is a distant memory until it seeps into her dreams, bringing with it an odd compulsion to return to that cemetery.
After the latest nightmare, Laura’s thoughts inexplicably turn to Rocky, the black and white dog from her childhood, and Greta Llewellyn, her best friend in grade school, who was hit by a car at 13 and killed instantly.
As her compulsion grows, Laura determines that she needs to tell Jake Warren, her FBI agent boyfriend, about her past.
Before she can, she has an encounter with Greta’s ghost, who warns her that whatever is pulling her back to her childhood home wants her heart. Greta’s message is loud and clear that she must fight for her soul and her heart.
It was bad enough thinking about telling Jake about the dreams, but how does she say that she’s seen a ghost?
Although her story is bizarre, Jake realizes she's scared, and vows to do all in his power to help her. When night time incidents leave Laura under the spell of something unworldly, Jake becomes concerned, but he’s shocked when he sees the first inkling of what Laura is afraid of. He finds her checking flights to her hometown in the middle of the night, obviously not aware of what she’s doing. His worry is heightened when the sound of something breaking wakes him a few nights later to find Laura missing from their bedroom. Rushing outside, he spots her half a black away, still in her pajamas and bare feet, in a confused mental state.
Jake feels it’s time for Laura to return to her hometown and confront her demons, but, before they get on the plane, Laura gets a call that her parents have been killed in an accident in Florida. The circumstances of their deaths lead Laura to fear that the death of her parents has something to do with the strange occurrences in her life.
At her parents’ funeral, a woman approaches Laura and tells of the strange dark cloud that appeared over her parents’ car out of a clear blue sky. Laura begs her for more details, but the woman seems afraid to say more, suggesting they contact the police. The only witness they can find was clearly spooked by what he saw, calling it a supernatural event, and then, as they’re leaving, the young man says something chilling to Laura. “He wants your heart.”
From Florida, they fly to East Channel Beach to unravel the mystery facing Laura. On the way to the cemetery, they stop at Laura’s childhood home, which is now vacant. After her visit, Laura is sitting on the porch when a black and white dog nudges her. There’s an immediate sense of familiarity, and the dog’s collar identifies him as “Rocky Sheldon.” Jake is skeptical about the dog, but Laura feels sure Rocky is meant to help them. As they enter the cemetery, the dog runs on ahead and uncannily leads them to the grave they seek. Erosion has erased any words on the gravestone. By doing a grave rubbing, they discover an ominous message, but they are quickly chased from the cemetery by vicious weather.
Back in their room, they unfold the hastily tucked away grave rubbing. “Ortu Babba Rand” reads the first line, followed by “January 1798 - Evermore.” Laura’s heart sinks when she reads the last words on the page: “She Comes to Bring Me Back.” Laura knows unequivocally that the words refer to her.
Seeing Laura’s fear at what confronts her, Jake tells her how much she means to him and proposes. Laura feels unable to accept, because her joy at being engaged would be tainted by the events about to engulf them. She tells him to ask her again after they come out the other side.
Jake and Laura track down an old woman, Ceara, who seems to watch over the graveyard. She tells them a fantastical story of immortal beings and resurrections. Initially skeptical, Jake and Laura finally come to believe the old woman’s story of a curse that compelled Laura to return to the graveyard.
The trio formulates a plan to thwart Ortu’s return. After a vicious fight Ortu Babba is destroyed. Before they can celebrate, however, the witch Arctura, mother of Ortu Babba, kidnaps Laura. Laura is rescued by Jake and Ceara. Jake believes he has killed the witch.
Her work done, Ceara returns to the past from whence she came. Laura and Jake return home. Soon after their return, Arctura comes to Laura in the night and terrorizes her. The witch is furious that Laura thwarted the curse she had cast to bring back her son.
With the help of a friend, magic rings and the black and white dog, a trap is set for the witch and she is finally destroyed.
Home again safely, Laura gladly accepts Jake’s proposal.
Under the Willows
After her husband is killed by a drunk driver, Kelly Harris and her son TJ move to Ohio to a sprawling Victorian house left to her husband by his grandmother.
Dealing with her overwhelming grief is a struggle for Kelly as she adjusts to life in her new town.
Within a short time, however, life takes an unexpected turn when the Alexa unit in her son’s bedroom starts to cry, and a little girl’s voice comes out of it asking for help. At first, Kelly is freaked out and grabs her son and dashes from her house in the middle of the night, spending the night in the nearest motel. But Kelly isn’t willing to be chased from her home by a ghost, so decides to find out what the ghost wants.
Mixed into this drama is a detective Kelly meets and becomes drawn to. Rob Porter is investigating the disappearance of a child named Marilee, and is taken aback when Kelly’s ghost mentions Marilee’s name. In fact, the ghost says Marilee’s with me.
Whether that means the child is a ghost as well is a question Rob and Kelly hope to answer. The ghost offers vague clues which eventually lead to the identity of the kidnapper, which leads to the location of the lost child. Rob and Kelly arrive at the kidnapper’s lakeside cabin in time to see him carrying a bundle to his boat. When the bundle moves, Rob announces their presence and a gun battle ensues. Rob and Kelly are both wounded, but are able to capture the kidnapper and get help for the little girl, who is near death from starvation.
It’s a good outcome, but they also need to find the remains of the ghost child, Emma, who was dumped in the lake by the same man who took Marilee.
It’s a big lake, a seemingly impossible task to search it all, but Emma is able to cause a water spout to appear. Rob dives into the lake at the location the ghost indicated and locates tiny bones which are confirmed to be Emma’s remains.
Kelly has battled conflicting emotions since she first met Rob. Guilt at being unfaithful to her husband tears at her, but she can’t deny her deepening feelings for Rob, who isn’t quite sure how to get through her reticence at letting another man into her life.
The hunt for Emma and Marilee brings them together in a way that allows their feelings for each other to grow, and Alexa speaks one more time. Tom, Kelly’s husband, gives his blessing to Kelly moving on with Rob, and Rob takes the first step by telling Kelly he loves her.
And TJ, dealing with a case of hero-worship, welcomes Rob into their life.