Number of pages: 147
Word Count: 76,303
Cover Artist: Maria Zannini
Paul Herrera finds himself bequeathed a mysterious old house near the California central coast by a deceased aunt he never knew. The woman who shows it to him is the spitting image of his wife, taken from him three years before in a senseless car accident which also took his unborn son.
While he deals with the ghosts of a past he cannot let go, there are new ghosts Paul must deal with - alone for the week in the expansive two-story house that he will soon discover holds many secrets.
Eventually, he will see that he is surrounded by ghosts as he struggles to hold onto the only thing that he has left in this world - his sanity.
“A dollar and a half for your thoughts,” Anne asked, catching me in mid-thought. She held her glass of wine in her right hand and lightly swirled the remaining contents.
“What?” I asked, glancing over at her smiling face.
“A penny for your thoughts sounded a tad cheap, so I thought I would up it for inflation and cost of living.” She sat back. “You were grinning just now. What were you thinking about? Something good?”
“I don’t know,” I lied, and then spooned the last of my dessert into my mouth. I fought the urge to lick the bowl. It was that good.
“Yes, you do!” Anne said. “You’re a terrible liar.” She set her glass down and folded her arms across her chest. “Give it up, mister!”
I glanced at Jason, who was watching the exchange with a curious look on his face, then back at Anne and shook my head.
“Must have been something good,” Anne said, refusing to let it go.
“Do you two need me to leave the room or something?” Jason asked.
“No!” I said, perhaps a little too loudly. A twinkle sparkled in Anne’s eye, so I kept my eyes off her. I suppose that made me even more suspicious-looking.
From my peripheral vision, I saw her stand and grab the plates to take to the kitchen. Leaning to my ear, she whispered, “Hmm?” and I knew I hadn’t heard the end of it.
“You know she’s never going to let that go, right?” Jason offered in a whisper when she left the room.
“I was afraid of that,” I mouthed to him.
“Good luck,” he mouthed back.
He got up from the table just as his mother came back to retrieve the fudge, strawberry and caramel toppings to put away. Fearing being alone with her, I quickly jumped from the table and followed Jason. For the next few minutes I was his shadow, and when he made a move to leave, I grabbed for his shirt, keeping him beside me. As if sensing this, Anne sent her son upstairs to get showered. I turned to him, feigning panic. He just grinned and waved melodramatically at me. When I turned back around, Anne was waiting for me with a devilish grin.
“Hi,” I said sheepishly.
“Hi there,” she replied. “How’s it going?”
“Fine.” We said nothing for a few moments. I snaked past her and began setting up to wash the dishes.
“That’s all you’ve got?” she asked. “After I went and made all of this food.”
“I told you it was fantastic!” I said without facing her. “Are you kidding me? I haven’t eaten this great in years!”
“Thank you, but that isn’t what I wanted to hear.” I could hear her move to the counter by the refrigerator and pour herself another glass of wine. “I want to know what you’re hiding.”
I filled one side of the sink with soap and hot water and bided my time while I attempted to think of a possible response. I filled the sink with dishes. “Why don’t you go sit down and relax?” I offered. “I’ll clean the kitchen.” I was stalling and we both knew it. I still couldn’t look at her.
“No, thanks. I’m fine right here.”
I felt myself growing embarrassed now as I anticipated her reaction. Perspiration formed on my forehead and it had nothing at all to do with the hot water I stood over.
“My, you are turning a bright shade of red,” she said before sipping from her wine.
“Please, Anne,” I pleaded, still not looking at her. “You don’t want to hear this.”
“Apparently I do.” I didn’t have to turn her direction to see her grin. Her voice said it all.
I sighed, utterly defeated.
“Come on,” she goaded me.
“I was wondering what it might be like to be Jason’s step-dad,” I said at last.
“That’s it? You don’t want to be with me. You only want to hang out with my kid?” Slowly I looked her way. She was grinning just like I suspected and kept her eyes on me over the top of her wineglass.
“Don’t be silly,” I said and looked for something to throw at her. A dish towel came in handy. I quickly grabbed it and tossed it her direction. She moved out of the way, but it would have missed her to her left anyway.
“I thought you were good at baseball. Jason said you were.”
“My throws are not usually that poor - only when I’m terribly distracted.” I sighed again, leaning against the sink and shaking my head at this incredible turn of events.
“What?” Anne asked. She lowered her glass and put on a more serious look, although still quite pleased with herself.
“Are you sure? I mean, are you really sure that you want to…”
“Oh, I’ve agreed to nothing,” she interrupted. She bent over and retrieved the rag from the floor, then approached me. I clammed up when she got close, but didn’t move an inch.
“Relax,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure you were interested. Now I know.” She laid the towel upon my head. “Now, hurry up and finish the dishes.”
“Yes, dear,” I said from inside the dish towel.
“Practicing already?” she asked as she stepped out of the room. “I like it.”
About the Author:
James Garcia Jr. was born in the Central California town of Hanford. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. They, along with their teenage sons, still make their home in Kingsburg which is also the setting of James’ vampire series. Dance on Fire was published in 2010 and its sequel Flash Point was published Halloween 2012. His third book entitled, Seeing Ghosts, a stand-alone paranormal romance is set for a June 2013 release.
James is an Administrative Supervisor for Sun-Maid Growers of California.