Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Shivery Tale Continued... and a Book Give-A-Way!

It's the season of Thanksgiving, and I have plenty to be thankful for. Today I'd like to thank everyone who has read and enjoyed my books. I'm thankful to each of you who stop by our blog, read the newest post, and smile. If you leave a comment, it really makes my day! My last contribution was a shivery tale, and I ended it with a real cliffhanger. Due to popular demand (another reason to be thankful!) I wrote a sequel to Keepsakes. If you missed the first part, here's the link: http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com/2011/10/shivery-halloween-tale.html. I hope you enjoy the conclusion. Make sure you read to the end of the blog for details on my book give-a-way!


Keepsakes


The Conclusion


By Jannine Gallant



October’s brilliant colors had faded to brown with the onset of a frigid November. Wind whipped a swirl of dead leaves across the driveway to settle in piles at the edge of the lawn. Amy turned off the ignition and listened to the ticking of the car’s engine as it cooled. Overhead, bare branches on the huge oak tree rattled and shook.

She stared at Great-Aunt Margaret’s house, noting the loose shutter that slapped against the siding, and told herself walking up the front steps didn’t require an act of heroism. It was just an old house. There was no such thing as ghosts.


A shiver slid down her spine. She’d only imagined the man in the blue uniform. It was her own fault for reading those damn journals and staying up until the wee hours of the morning. Her exhausted brain had conjured up the image, which disappeared the second she blinked. Farley, the long dead Civil War soldier, was buried in a nearby graveyard. The Farley in her aunt’s journals was probably just a neighbor. It was the only thing that made sense.


She opened the car door and stepped out onto the graveled drive. She’d been an idiot to abandon the house two weeks before with the packing unfinished. But the realtor had a potential buyer, so she couldn’t put off finishing the task any longer. Her gaze strayed up the facade of the three story house. Above the porch roof, the lace curtain at her aunt’s bedroom window twitched.


Drafts.


“There’s no such thing as ghosts.” Chanting the mantra, she squared her shoulders and marched up the porch steps with the key clutched in her hand. Come hell or high water—or an onslaught of visitors from beyond the grave—she wouldn’t leave the house until every last one of her aunt’s mementos was packed.


****


“The buyer’s definitely a live one, even made an offer, though it’s ridiculously low. Still, you can counter.”


Victor “Just call me Vic” McCall dropped the papers onto the kitchen table. “In this economy you can’t get too greedy, especially under the circumstances.”


Amy stared at the man through narrowed eyes. Everything about the realtor irritated her, from the big, toothy smile and unnatural tan, to the Italian leather shoes that probably cost more than she took home in a month adorning his oversized feet. She turned back to the papers in front of her and jumped when he rested a hand on her shoulder and leaned close to point at a figure.


“You can maybe get this much.”


She shifted away from him. “Why so low, and what ‘circumstances’ are you talking about?”


Vic cast a quick glance up the back staircase. “I had a family interested, but the wife came tearing down those stairs screaming about—”


The breath left Amy in a whoosh. “Dead soldiers,” she whispered.


His thick black brows shot up. “Huh?”


Goosebumps pebbled her arms, and she rubbed them through the sleeves of her sweater. “Nothing.”


“She swore the rocking chair in the master bedroom started moving when no one was near it. I tried to explain about drafts in these old places, but she wouldn’t listen.” He gave her his toothy smile. “The current buyer doesn’t have a nervous bone in his body. The front door slammed shut for no reason, nearly smacked him in the ass, and he didn’t even flinch. All he’s concerned about is the zoning laws in this neighborhood.”


Frowning, she dropped the papers. “Why would he care about that?”


“I think he wants to turn the house into a bed and breakfast.” The realtor waved his hands in the air. “When you think about it, it’s in the perfect location. Close to skiing in the winter, and a leaf peeper’s paradise in the fall. And to clench the deal, this area of Vermont is an antique hunter’s dream year round.”

Aunt Margaret will roll in her freshly dug grave if strangers invade her home. Amy shuddered. “I don’t know…”


“Why do you care what he does with it? You’re selling the place.”


Yes, she was. Her home was in Boston. Her brother lived in New York, and her parents spent most of the year in Florida. None of them wanted the house. Aunt Margaret expected me to care. She shut down the thought before guilt could take hold.


“I can’t sign anything right now. I have to talk to my family first.”


He shrugged. “Sure. Give them a call this evening. I’m sure your dad will see the wisdom in what I’ve suggested.”


Amy gritted her teeth and rose to her feet, pushing the chair across the linoleum floor. “A man having more sense than a woman, of course.”


Color burned in his cheeks, turning his tan a muddy brown. “I didn’t mean…”


She walked past him out into the hall. Pulling open the front door, she turned to face him. “I’ll get back to you with our decision.”


“Uh, you bet. Nice seeing you again, Amy.”


She closed the door and leaned against it. “Smarmy, condescending idiot—” Something brushed her ankle, and she let out a shriek. Glancing down, she pressed her hand to her chest. “You need a bell, Max, before you give me a heart attack.”


The cat twitched his tail and led the way back to the kitchen. After filling his bowl with kibble, she climbed the stairs to the upper hall. Her aunt’s room was in the front of the house. She paused to give the rocker a push with her toe, then stood next to the window. Pulling back the white lace curtain, she stared down at the lawn, remembering croquet games from her childhood. Aunt Margaret had always let her win…


A whiff of lilac teased her senses. The room still smelled like her great-aunt, though she hadn’t noticed it earlier. Dropping the curtain, she turned. Max rubbed against the rocking chair, purring insanely. Amy stared at the empty chair and bit her lip.


There’s no such thing as ghosts…


“I’m losing it.” Striding from the room, she headed down the main stairs and entered the parlor. She’d box up the rest of the photo albums, then pack the angel figurines adorning the mantle. She’d always loved the delicate little trinkets, and even when she was young, her aunt had let her touch them. Blinking back tears, she dragged a half-full box over to the bookshelf. Taking down the first album, she laid it inside. A second and third followed.


She’d reached the tenth book before she gave in to temptation. Cradling the old cloth album, she sat cross-legged on the rug and opened it on her lap. Pictures of a trio of girls in flared skirts with high waists and short, fitted jackets filled the page. Surely the blonde in the middle with the rolled bangs and flipped up hair was her great-aunt. Even the ravages of time hadn’t been able to obliterate the pointed chin or the mischief in her eyes. Aunt Margaret would have been about twenty when these photos were taken, shortly before her fiancĂ© was killed in the war. Back when she was a carefree girl…


Amy shut the book and placed it in the box. Then she set to work on the angels, wrapping each in tissue before packing it away.


Hunger drove her into the kitchen. She filled the teakettle with water, opened a can of soup, and glanced over at the papers good old Vic had left. Selling the house was a wise decision, even if it had been in the family for nearly two hundred years. Keeping it was out of the question. Wasn’t it?


She ate the soup and placed the bowl in the sink, then stepped out onto the back porch. Her fingers wrapped around the porcelain teacup as she raised it to her lips. A chill autumn wind cut through her sweater, and she shivered. Long shadows stretched across the yard to the forest beyond.


She’d procrastinated long enough. Time to finishing the packing. Turning on her heel, she gasped when a flicker of movement caught her eye. She swung back around. Surely she’d seen…


A man in a blue tunic ran across the yard. His face wore a teasing grin as he looked down at the blonde girl with the pointed chin at his side. Hand in hand, they disappeared into the woods.


Amy backed through the kitchen door and slowly closed it. Her hand shook as she picked up her cell phone and pushed a button. Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply and waited for her dad to answer.

“Hi, honey, how’s the packing going?”


“Dad,” her voice quavered, and she made an effort to steady it. “I think we should keep Aunt Margaret’s house.”


He was silent for a long moment before a warm chuckle rolled into her ear. “I was wondering how long it would be before you made that decision. Can I ask what changed your mind?”


She glanced toward the empty hallway. “Let’s just say some keepsakes can’t be packed away in a box.”



For our November Give-a-way, I'm giving a PDF copy of my first book, Victim of Desire, to a random commenter. It isn't a ghost story, but it does have it's shivery moments! If you're new to our blog, please leave your email address with your comment so I can contact the winner. Good luck!


For blurbs and info on where to buy Victim of Desire and my other books, please check out my website at http://www.janninegallant.com/.




15 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

My Goodness Jannine, that was a fabulous story. I really enjoyed it and ghosts really aren't my thing usually.

Regards

Margaret

Jerri Hines said...

Jannine,
When you sit down to write your next new book, I believe you should give paranormal a shot. Nothing like a good ghost story! Loved it!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great post, Jannine.

Alison H. said...

Count me among the eager readers who couldn't wait for the rest of this story, and you didn't disappoint! Thanks, Jannine.

Caroline Clemmons said...

You're a fabulous storyteller, Janine. Keep them coming!

Barbara Edwards said...

Great finish. loved the story.
Barbara

Alyson Reuben said...

Awesome, Jannine. I agree with the others — you're an amazing storyteller!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks all, for the kind words. I always wanted to write a ghost story... If I ever finish all my current projects, maybe I'll write a full length book!

Mary Ricksen said...

You are something else Jannine. A talent ready to burst into the NY publishing world. You continue to get better and better. Which is hard to believe, you're so darn good already. Good luck sweetie!

Nancy Jardine said...

I loved the story, Jannine. I've got one question though. Who fed the cat???

Calisa Rhose said...

Love the story, Jannine! I can't wait to read more of your writing. :)

Jannine Gallant said...

Wow, Mary, thanks! If only NY would take a look at all of us!

Nancy, LOL - I thought about the cat, honest! The neighbor or Aunt Margaret - you decide!

Mary Ricksen said...

That my friend, was awesome!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Jannine,

As usual, you didn't disappoint. And I agree with the NY publisher comments!

Great, great ending. Thank you.

Jannine Gallant said...

And the winner is... Alyson Reuben! Congratulations, Alyson. I hope you enjoy Victim of Desire!