I'd like to personally thank everyone at Crescent Moon with a special thanks to Hannah, who believed in me from the very beginning. Another thanks goes to Lyn who encouraged me, and to my husband, who is my best friend and life partner.
Now I'm off to play with my grandkids who could care less that I have a book coming out today. They want to swim in the lake, go to the pool, and eat at McDonalds. I can't think of a better way to celebrate.
If you like the paranormal, and creepy haunted houses with a dark romantic twist, venture into the estate called, Shadow Ley.
I was probably 7 or 8 the first time I read a horror story. It was The Haunting of Hill House, straight out of Reader's Digest condensed stories. I was frightened, curious, and fascinated. The thoughts and ideas expressed within the Haunting thrilled me. One day, I thought. I'd write something that would thrill a reader, well, hopefully that is.
As I grew older different ideas about my first horror story surrounded me. My friends and I played with ouija boards, automatic writing, we put tape recorders in graveyards. Elements of the paranormal surrounded my family and close friends. Each of us had our own unique experiences. I often wondered if in some way I was trying to find my father whom I lost when I was five.
Still, things happened to me--continue to happen to me. In some way we are all interconnected. You run into old friends, people you haven't seen in years but you think about them and the next thing you know you run into them in the grocery store. You have the odd dream that sparks into reality a week or so later. You think of someone and the phone rings. A friend's son sees the future. Your dog runs around the house, barking at someone or something that floats near the ceiling, something she can see and you cannot. You get a phone call from a relative with a warning about someone in the family.
I held my nose, took a deep breath, and jumped into theoretical physics. What a miraculous place we live in where thoughts can influence reality. Strange things happen outside of our visible world. There are more dimensions than we can comprehend, a world filled with wonder and delight. And ofttimes cruelty.
I wondered, is evil real? Or is it genetic, crossed wires, written in our DNA.
From all these thoughts A Shadow of Time was born. It is a world of possibilities, multidimensions, evil, and the overpowering force of love. Welcome to my world, where things that go bump in the night are all too real.
Still reeling from Michael's death, Kellyn moves to Shadow Ley. Soon after her arrival, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary: broken drinking glasses repair themselves, stair rails that were once old are now new and suddenly the estate of Shadow Ley is not what it seems.
She turns to the local historian and hears the tale of Shenahobet, the portal guardian, and the Hutto-pah, a tribe of Native Americans related to the Maya. She meets John Aldridge, a physician who experiences visions of other times and places. Her dreams turn into nightmares with windows into past lives, hints of multidimensionality, and the promise of life beyond death.
Legends abound and so Shadow Ley, the home Kellyn had hoped would bring peace to herself and her children, becomes mired first in doubt, then in terror, and finally in love eternal.
“Shit,” Kellyn O’Brien complained as the Honda Prelude sputtered. She’d worried the entire way, but the car had served her well in her three-hour journey from the Bay Area.
She drove up Main Street in Jackson, California then climbed higher into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At the five-mile marker, she found the turn off to Reservation Road. A quick left, then a right, brought her to a wrought iron gate that barred her entrance. Shutting off the engine, she glanced back at Scott. Her three year-old son slept with a sippie cup clutched in his hand as if his life depended on it.
Getting out of the car, she approached a gate that stood at least six feet high and was topped with heavy spikes. Grabbing the rigid metal, she gave it a good shake. The lock held while rust-colored needles fell on top of her like rain. She glanced around, unnerved by thick pine trees and underbrush. It looked as if the gate hadn’t been opened in ages. All was dark gray and green, spider webs dancing in spiky boughs.
A razor-sharp wind picked up, blowing her scarf across her face. She whipped it away as she stumbled over a rock. Without notice, her stomach gave way to a morning sickness that only occurred in the afternoon and she retched painfully. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she approached the Prelude where a newly awakened Scott babbled at an invisible presence in the back seat. Her heart sank as she realized he was up to his tricks with his imaginary friend, Man. She opened the driver’s side door and sat down.
Scott giggled. “Man!”
Covering her weariness, she glanced back at the empty seat next to him. “Man?”
“Yes. Nice man.”
“Very nice man.”
Kellyn’s hands shook as much from the cold as from exhaustion. Closing the car door, she peered out the window. The solicitors had promised her the gate would be unlocked for her arrival. The lawyer had given her a set of twelve skeleton keys that looked as old as mankind, but only one was marked.
She sighed. Trouble was something she had come to expect. Life had been challenging, first as an orphan, then as a foster child. She considered herself toughened, relished challenges, and met head-on whatever circumstances came her way. She thought herself emotionally strong, but the death of her husband had stretched her resilience almost to the breaking point.
“Cain I hep ya?” a tobacco thickened voice asked from outside the car.
Startled, she glanced up, instinctively clutching her purse as she rolled down the window. A disheveled elderly man stood before her dressed in filthy corduroy pants with a small, stained, gray T-shirt that read See the Grand Canyon Today! His coat was at least two sizes too large and hung on a skeletal frame. The old man scratched his beard then sucked on his teeth.
“You Kellyn?” he asked, sticking his head toward the opened car window.
She stared back at large canine-like yellow teeth, chipped and stained. “I’m Kellyn O’Brien. Are you Henry?”
He nodded and his glasses slipped down his nose. He pushed them up with a gnarled, blue-veined finger. “Sorry ’bout keeping ya out here. I was busy up at the house ’en just made it to the gate.”
“Can you let me in?” She wondered at his voice. For a moment, it had sounded odd—bereft of emotion and tinny. She laughed at herself. Fanciful thoughts for a pregnant woman, she mused.
Needles crunching underfoot, the air perfumed with pine, Henry muttered to himself as he fumbled in his pocket. He withdrew a thick iron key and unlocked the gate. It swung outward before coming into contact with a large pinecone.
“Widdamaker,” Henry said, puffing. Visibly distressed, he pulled the pinecone from between the gate and the dirt. His legs shook with the effort.
“What?” With her head poked out the window, she shivered in the cold, almost missing his last remark. Thick heavy clouds roiled over head, threatening rain or snow.
“Widdamaker cone,” he yelled. His large fingers curled around the heavy seedpod as he walked toward the car. “No good for nothing, ’cept to hit ya on the head ’en knock ya out.”
Concerned, she clicked the shoulder harness into place and relocked the car door. Scotty opened his pudgy hands as she glanced at him in the rearview mirror.
“I see, Mommy?”
She shook her head, catching his eye. “No, Scott. It’s dirty.”
The old man continued, “You watch out for these things, missus. They can kill a grown man. Or woman.”
The caretaker smoothed back what remained of his gray hair then spat on the ground. He threw down the pinecone, brushed his hands together, and backed up, allowing her to maneuver the car around hanging boughs then through the open gate. The little car sputtered as she drove down the drive.
In her mind’s eye, the phone rang. She had just finished feeding Scott and the newspaper want-ads were splayed out on the kitchen table, a coffee stain smudging an ad for a caregiver. “Hello?”
“Good day, Mrs. O’Brien. This is Shauna from Liberty, Bell, and Law, Attorneys at Law. I’m calling to inform you that your son has inherited your husband’s family home, located just above Jackson, California.”
“Shadow Ley. In the California foothills.”
She paused for a moment as Scott banged his tray with a spoon. Irritated, she said, “You must have the wrong person.”
“No, Mrs. O’Brien, I don’t.”
“But Michael was adopted.”
“Adopted? Michael was born at Shadow Ley to Robert and Marion O’Brien. The house has belonged to the O’Brien family for generations.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” She remembered thinking it couldn’t be true.
“No, Mrs. O’Brien, I am not kidding.”
Michael, it turned out, had been the perfect liar. Not only had he lived with his birth parents, but his family was seriously wealthy.
Two weeks later, a Mr. Shaw from Liberty, Bell, and Law sent a copy of the O’Brien Family Trust and a contract in the mail. She’d taken both documents to a local lawyer who went through them line by line. Fortunately, the trust paid for the visit.
The papers were explicit in that she occupy Shadow Ley with her son until he reached the age of majority, even if she remarried. After that, she was free to do what she liked, and a part of the trust, a cool one million, would belong to her, tax free. She’d signed the contract with relief, knowing that finally she would have a safe place to raise her son and, soon, the baby that grew within her womb.
While preparing to move, she’d spent countless hours imagining what it would be like to be wealthy. She envisioned shopping at Macy’s, eating at fine restaurants, and buying Scott every toy imaginable.
After discovering Jackson was more than two hours from San Jose and an hour or more away from a decent mall, the first pangs of leaving surfaced. However, she was determined to make this work. Day before yesterday she’d finally ordered the moving van which left about fifty bucks in her pocket—just enough gas money to get her to the foothills.
Mr. Shaw informed her that once she arrived, a debit card and checkbook with a balance of five thousand dollars waited for her. She planned on arriving today then hitting the bank tomorrow. After that, it was shopping for them both. Scott needed new pants, plus his shoes were getting small. They’d need warmer clothing, too.
The Honda shuddered as it took a deep rut, forcing her to focus. Globs of mistletoe hung from twisted branches scraping the car’s roof. Glancing in the rearview, Scott gazed at her with concern. Another half mile and she began to wonder if there was a house.
She downshifted to climb another hill, and as she crested the top, she gasped then pulled over to the side of the road. On a knoll overlooking the city, pines and oaks surrounded the hillock where Shadow Ley reared a gargantuan head. Sunlight streamed onto white clapboards and a meandering front porch. The only part of the house that wasn’t white was the slate gray roof that seemed to go on forever.
Shocked, she stared at the monstrosity. Where was the Victorian she had envisioned: the turrets, tiles, and warm colored paint? Where were the windows shining in the sun and the overgrown garden she was going to lose herself in? This wasn’t a house. It was a giant deformity! It was huge, off center, and more work than she’d ever be able to handle.
She cocked her head, examining the architectural monstrosity while trying to make sense of the situation. A rabid shadow shimmered around the periphery of the house that made the creation look ugly, unwanted, and somehow, soiled. Were those gargoyles on top of dormer windows?
Her stomach plummeted as she contemplated rambling around the interior, her fear of large spaces overwhelming her. Long and low slung, the porch hugged what looked like a Colonial mansion with a Georgian flair—a miserable gothic mess with an eclectic sense of humor. The boarded-over windows were dark and lifeless, the lawn out front brown and unkempt. Three chimneys sprang from the roof. Two in front, one in the back.
“Man,” Scotty shouted. “Come here.”
Turning in her seat, she gazed at her son, perplexed. His imaginary friend was as real to him as she was.
“See Man, Mommy?” His blue eyes shined with excitement as he tried to get her to see his invisible friend.
As usual, nothing was there. Man was a figment of her son’s imagination, brought on by the death of his father, an opinion espoused by his pediatrician.
Exhausted, she gazed at the littered floor of the automobile. Animal crackers decorated the space in-between the door and the seat. She sighed, a strange longing coming over her. I want to go home, she thought. I just want to go home.