Horrorfest Short…Tonight is the Night

Tonight is the NightTonight is the Night

by Lynxie

I pushed a post-it note into my shirt pocket as I hurriedly packed up my books.

I placed my glasses on top of my head and wiped my eyes before placing the pieces of glass and metal back on my nose. I started shoving the books into my satchel and threw it onto my shoulder as I whipped around the side of the desk in the library.

“Please Sir, you must hurry up. The library should have been closed ten minutes ago,” the old, wrinkly librarian practically screamed at me from behind the front desk. Her lavender and light grey shirt washed out the colour of her droopy skin, yet strangely matched the colour of her hair.

Smirking to myself as I ducked out the door, I avoided making eye contact with her.

“What an old witch,” I forced out under my breath along with a heavy sigh as I walked towards the empty bus stop. I kicked a small stone on the ground before me; the onyx lump ricocheted off the metal seat inside the small bus shelter. Making myself jump at the loud clang, I slowly shook my head in disbelief.

“Quiet!”

I looked around quickly.

“What the hell?” I quipped quietly as I searched the immediate area for the person who’d yelled at me.

“I said quiet!”

“Stuff you!” I yelled into the quickly darkening sky. “I don’t have to be quiet!” I kicked another stone at the bus shelter reveling in the loud clang.  “I’ll be as loud as I want!” I kicked another stone, this one missing the bus stop, I continued to search for the owner of the voice, but seeing nothing, not even a stray cat, I shrugged and went to sit on the cold metal seat.

An incessant buzzing in my pants pocket brought me back to the present. Fishing my phone out, I read the text on the screen.

“Oh great! Alone for dinner again,” I sighed and plopped down heavily on the seat. “I have such a crap life, my own mother can’t catch up for dinner,” I sighed again and slumped over my legs, supporting my head with my hand. “Why the hell am I talking to myself? Anyone would think I’m insane,” this elicited a snort of mirth from me.

I would have to be the furthest thing from insane. I majored in mathematics and psychology at school and was currently working on my thesis on the human brain and dreaming. It covered some pretty psychedelic stuff, but not for someone who could potentially be insane. Though one could argue that if I were insane I could come up with some of the best dreams for my thesis and then break them down.  I’d have to ponder that thought some more later. I filed it away in my mental thought bank, yes, I said mental thought bank. That’s how I am, highly organized and methodical. I have a photographic memory, and utilise that frequently to assist my analytical thought processes. People call me a nerd. I call myself organised and efficient. I intimidate people; they don’t understand me. That was through no fault of my own. I am highly articulate too, probably too much so for some of the slobs and brain dead dropouts that attended my school.

Shoving my phone back into my pocket I saw the bus come around the bend down the road. I stood up and waited as it drew closer to me.

“Psst…”

I swirled around quickly; my heart beat racing a little. No one there.

“Psst… in here!” whispered into my ear. I continued to whirl around in a circle trying to find the person who was now whispering to me.

“Where are you?” I asked. I had to at least pretend I wasn’t about to pee my pants.  A loud roaring engine and the hiss of air brakes shocked me. The bus pulled to a stop behind me.

“You gettin’ on here Mate?” The dimwitted bus driver drawled. I turned around to face the bus and nodded, not trusting myself not to sound as freaked out as I felt. I could see the hostility and distrust emanating from him as he watched me take a seat at the back of the bus.  I shrunk down into the seat to try and get away from his continued stare.

“Why don’t you just drive the bloody bus instead of checkin’ me out back here?” I yelled up at him, feeling aggressive.

Aggression wasn’t an emotion I was familiar with, being an academic I was more used to sitting quietly in the library or study hall. What was going on with me?

The bus driver slammed his breaks on and stopped the bus. I was pitched forward, hitting my right shoulder on the seat in front of me.

“That’s it! I won’t take any more! Get your freaky ass off my bus!” He screamed at me, spittle flying from his mouth as his bloodshot eyes bulged out. I looked at him with what must have come across as incredulity.

“You’ve got to be kidding me?” I squeaked out. “What the hell did I do?”

The bus driver stepped menacingly towards me. He came up the isle to where I was sitting and stared down at me. I could see the beads of sweat forming on his greasy brow. I had only a few seconds to think how gross that sight was before his bear like hands grasped the front of my shirt and jacket and picked me up. He continued to manhandle me down the isle and pushed me unceremoniously down the steps from the bus and onto my ass on the curb outside.

The bus doors shut quickly and the hulking metal beast left me in a mess on the side of the road. Brushing myself off, I slowly rose to my feet and picked up my satchel. As I swung it over my head to place it on my shoulder I noticed a dim red light pierce the darkness around me. Where’d that come from I wondered.

I checked the phone in my pocket. Nothing. Looked around for taillights of a car. None.

I twirled around like a prima ballerina looking around again. What the hell was going on with me? Did that bus driver make me hit my head when he shoved me off the bus? No, I was hearing things before I got on the bus…

That thought dispersed as I lifted my left hand up to unconsciously scratch my ear. The red light appeared again. This time I managed to catch where it came from.

Me.

More accurately, the inside of my jacket. I glanced down at the inside left breast pocket, feeling a little apprehensive about what I might find. I slid my hand into the pocket and my fingers brushed against the cool, shiny surface of a photograph. I remember putting it in there a few months ago at my Grandfathers funeral. My strange distant cousin had been passing out photos that had been found with the rest of my grandfather’s belongings. I had glanced at it and shoved it into my pocket that day. I didn’t know many of my extended family, but I’d been there to support my mother. She’d had a falling out with her Dad years before I’d been born and I’d never really spent any time with the rest of the family. It was just Mum and me at home, but granddad’s funeral was tough on her. It didn’t mean much to me.

Taking the photo out of my pocket, I flipped it over and saw glowing red eyes looking out from under the brim of a low-slung hat. My mind reeled.  I didn’t remember the photo glowing when I was given it. I probably would have paid more attention to it if it had.

“You’re going to die,” caressed my ear.

A shiver sped up and then down my spine and I dropped the photo.

“Who said that?” I jumped and searched the immediate area. The neighbourhood was deserted. None of the houses had lights on inside, no cars drove by, no one was out walking their dog, I was alone.

Suddenly feeling chilled to the bone; I picked up the photo. The red eyes glowed brighter and a sinister smile graced the man’s face.

Was that there before? Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Am I going crazy?

I continued to ask myself these questions as I quickly walked down the street, hugging my right arm around my stomach, my left hand holding the photo.

“Psst…” tickled my earlobe.

The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. I could feel eyes on me, I felt watched. I hunched my shoulders and rushed quickly down the empty street. My eyes were darting from left to right trying to find anyone, someone who could help me, someone who could be making these noises. Someone. Anyone.

“I’m going to kill you…” hissed into my ear.

“Stop! Stop it! Please…” I begged as I rushed faster still down the street. Whipping my head to look over my shoulder, I tried to catch a glimpse of someone in the shadows. I strained my ears to hear another set of footsteps racing down the street after me. Nothing.

I passed under the archway into a small grassy park, ploughing straight into it, too afraid to stop or to walk around.

“I’m coming to get you. I’m going to enjoy stripping your bones…” echoed all around me as I stumbled up a small grass knoll.

Making it to the top of the hill, I had a 360 view all around me.  My eyes darted about focusing on everything, yet nothing at the same time. There was no one. Not a whisper of wind, no movement. None.

“You’ll never find me, but I’m going to find you!” Threatened the disembodied voice. I shuddered and swallowed the scream that welled in my throat.

“I’m coming, can you hear me? I’m going to kill you, can you feel my eyes watching you?”

I whimpered and whirled around again trying in vain to find this evil that was terrorising me. I twirled again, tripping myself on my own foot and fell heavily onto the damp grass. The photo lay in front of me. One of my eyes was closed and squashed into the grass, but the other was open and focused on the evil red glow that came out of the photo.

A pair of sinister red eyes bore into my single green one. The sadistic smile grew larger before my eyes. I watched in horror as the photograph started to come to life. The man in the dark trench coat in the photo lit a cigarette and took a drag, blowing a lung full of smoke out. The smoke swirled around his head in the photo, then left the photo and escaped hurriedly into the dark sky above me.

A strangled noise that was a mix of a scream and a howl of laughter escaped my throat. My heart beat so fast I was sure it would escape my chest. I could feel beads of sweat trail cold rivers down my back as I watched the man take a step towards me. I closed my eye, afraid to watch more.

“Look at me! You little piece of crap.” Flowed almost musically from the photo.

My body appeared to be frozen in place, but my eye opened again and stared straight into the murderous red ones of the man in the photo.

I think I peed my pants as his first hand punched through the shiny skin of the photo. His evil, twisted laugh erupted in my ears and I heard him take a deep breath through his nose.

“You are pathetic!”

I shivered, my wet pants sticking to my legs and my face still partially pressed into the grass where I’d fallen. His second hand escaped the photo, closely followed by his hat and those evil, glowing eyes of red.

I screamed.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Horrorfest short story 🙂 It was written as a creative exercise for a group competition…

“I’m a regular on www.GoodReads.com I have a number of pieces in various stages of completion on my profile too, but I kind of shocked my socks off, when one of my groups (The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword) had a competition and my result came out like it did.

The prompt was: AN OLD FAMILY PHOTO OF A STRANGE MAN IN A TRENCH COAT – Now, you can describe it, or write of the person in their time or of you finding it, or whatever, have fun with it!

I decided before sitting down to write that I wanted a visual prompt for this story. I did some googling (don’t we all when we need a little inspiration) and I located this picture [shown at the top of the post].”

And here’s a little more about the author, Lynxie, who blogs at Coffee2words

Coffee2words is me at my most basic in terms of my writing. I drink copious amounts of the darkly, rich stuff and attempt to convert it into at least partially amusing or interesting written word. I am sure those of you who check back here from time to time will see various spatterings of my work adorn the pages of my blog.

In other aspects of life, I enjoy reading, reviewing the books I read and interacting with the over 10 Million members on goodreads. I have spent a great deal of my life with my nose shoved between the pages of a book, and more recently pressed against the screen of my kindle. On a good week, I read between 1-4 books and I endeavour to review each of them. Reviewing is still quite new to me, having only picked up my quill late in 2011, I am still finding my own style.

When I’m not writing, reading or stuffing my husband’s or my own face with food, you can find me out walking my beautiful Border Collie dog, Tammy, frequenting the gym or sewing up a storm in my sewing room.

Thanks for taking part in our Horrorfest Lynxie 🙂

Horrorfest Review…Like Death by Tim Waggoner

likedeath

This book needs a bit of an intro before you read my review… it was truly strange.

Synopsis

Scott Raymond is a man haunted by his past and terrorized in the present. As a young boy, he witnessed the brutal murder of his family, but there is so much of the gruesome tragedy that he simply cannot remember — including the identity of the killer or why Scott alone was spared. The memories won’t come, but the trauma won’t go away.

Scott is an adult now, still emotionally scarred but learning to deal with it. He has come to Ash Creek to write about a different mystery, a six-year-old girl named Miranda who has disappeared in broad daylight one year ago. Here, Scott meets another girl named Miranda, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the one who’s missing — but this one’s a teenager. She will draw Scott into the bizarre hidden world known as Shadow. A world where nightmares are very real . . . and very deadly.

What the synopsis doesn’t tell you

Anything, even things just barely on your level of perception will be thrust into this world of crazy! If you’ve ever dreamt strange things that kinda freaked you out when you woke up, this will likely talk about and explore some of them! It wasn’t creepy (well not to me) but I wanted it to be. Perhaps I’ve just done a good job of creeping myself out of late. On another note, everything in this book has a latent sexuality to it. If not immediately, down the track some sort of sexual innuendo will be made about it.

Who I would recommend it to

Anyone interested in a complete mindscrew.

Having said that, it doesn’t ring true to horror, so some horror fans would be disappointed; it’s not even totally gore, though it is probably closer than horror. It’s not even in or outside of the science-fiction realm either. It contains some aspects of mystery and some crime-thriller themes. It seems to be a mash of a lot of genres, just a very gruesome one.

Review

Like Death: I’m not 100% certain as to why the book was called Like Death I think perhaps the PR guy thought ‘complete mindf*ck’ wasn’t appropriate. Even something relating to darkness or evil would have been a bit more appropriate in my opinion.

Don’t rush into this story if you can’t handle gore and horror. Don’t rush into it if you can’t stand constant WTF moments. Don’t rush into it if you don’t like talking/reading about killing, screwing, blood, guts, and all other manner of darkness.

This book was certainly all of those things; it was deep in the world of a sick mind (Scott Raymond’s, the main character). There was a lot of sexual innuendo mixed in with the horror and gore; everything seemed to be tinged in boobs, nipples, penises and sex. It did get a little, dare I say it, boring, tedious, same-same.

There were things I did enjoy. Some of the craziness was absolutely unexpected. I liked that feeling of being completely thrown off balance by a twist in the story. I also found the ending to be a bit odd, but I felt that it was a good ending to this truly strange book.

I didn’t feel creeped out by this book. I wanted to. Some of the scenes were heading down that path, but I didn’t feel the tension, I didn’t feel goosebumps on my skin or the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. This left me feeling a little disappointed.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Horrorfest review, here’s a little more about the author, Lynxie, who blogs at Coffee2words

Coffee2words is me at my most basic in terms of my writing. I drink copious amounts of the darkly, rich stuff and attempt to convert it into at least partially amusing or interesting written word. I am sure those of you who check back here from time to time will see various spatterings of my work adorn the pages of my blog.

In other aspects of life, I enjoy reading, reviewing the books I read and interacting with the over 10 Million members on goodreads. I have spent a great deal of my life with my nose shoved between the pages of a book, and more recently pressed against the screen of my kindle. On a good week, I read between 1-4 books and I endeavour to review each of them. Reviewing is still quite new to me, having only picked up my quill late in 2011, I am still finding my own style.

When I’m not writing, reading or stuffing my husband’s or my own face with food, you can find me out walking my beautiful Border Collie dog, Tammy, frequenting the gym or sewing up a storm in my sewing room.

Thanks for taking part in our Horrorfest Lynxie 🙂

Horrorfest Post…Why Stephen King missed his calling

This post by Tony T orginially featured on the blog in October last year, but I thought it fitted well with this event and so have re-posted it today 🙂

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I’ve read quite a few Stephen King books. Not all of them by any means – I believe the list is now up to sixty two, – but I’ve read enough of them to know his writing pretty well.

We all know the genre: Joe Average (who has a habit of being a writer) finds himself in a supernatural situation, gets himself out of it – though doesn’t always survive mentally.

And fair enough, some of them are gruesome to the max – I believe all aspiring writers should read Misery, just as an object lesson to run from anyone who tells you, ‘I’m your Number One Fan’, and as a delve into the writing process.

But I digress, and back to my point.

I put it to the world: He missed his calling. The man was born to write YA.

I came across the review Em posted on here for The Long Walk, and flicking through my shelves of King today, it occurred to me that the works I think are his best are all, at heart YAs: IT. The Long Walk. The Body (Stand by Me, for those who only know the film). The Talisman. Christine. Carrie.

But what about the horror? What about the profanity? Some might ask. I’d ask if they’d read any YA recently. I’d pick up a Bali Rai and point out the profanity in there. I’d pick up a Darren Shan and show you the gore inside. He’s not written anything in the books I’ve mentioned above that couldn’t be handled by a teenager.

The simple fact is Stephen King works best when he’s writing about teenagers and children.

He knows on a fundamental level how they tick, the elemental fears that move and shake them. He knows how a dark cellar scares the lunch out of them, how sunlight gleaming from the ankle bracelet of the first girl you ever love melts your heart.

And he knows the value of childhood friendships (The Body: I never had any friends later on like I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did anyone?), the easy pain cruel parents inflict on their children – and not always physically.

That’s why his horror works so well…he knows the fears of childhood and knows we’ve all been there. Who’s never been frightened by a clown like Pennywise in IT? Personally, I don’t remember a time I didn’t find clowns scary.

Even Christine, which is perhaps a borderline case for YA, is all about the losers in high school, full of teenage angst and anger. Breaking the rules for the first time to get what you want, breaking away from your parents.

Stephen King missed his calling. He’s wasted on all those adults! YA’s should take him as one of their own!

So I put it to the world: Start a campaign. Stephen King should write YA!

Horrorfest Review…Live Undead by Steve Warren

LiveUndead

ReviewStars-4

Live Undead – a wicked ride slick with blood, guts and fangs

Synopsis: The first installment of the Undead Chronicles.

Live Undead tour the country, bringing their blood-slicked shock rock to out of the way dives and underground clubs. Their obsessed fans follow them from city to city, unaware of the band’s horrifying secret. The lacerated throats and acts of self-mutilation isn’t simply makeup and effects – it’s all real. The members of Live Undead are vampires. They prey on the black-clad, disaffected, and depressed teenagers who flock to their shows, while leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake.

Depressed, sexually confused, and bullied at school, Nothing desperately longs for escape. He dreams of rock and roll stardom and thousands of adoring fans, but will settle with knowing what it’s like to be special. That’s the question he needs answered when he finally gets his chance to meet Live Undead.

Eric’s life has been in a downward spiral ever since his pregnant girlfriend went missing thirteen years ago after a concert. When Eric stumbles across Live Undead, he’s shocked by their uncanny resemblance to the band that had played the night his life changed forever.

Inspired by splatterpunk novels of the late 1980s and early 1990s, LIVE UNDEAD contains depictions of explicit sex, gruesome horror and graphic violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Thoughts: 133 pages. While not for everyone, this book was fairly easy to digest in terms of writing style. It took me two days to read.

Where to buy: You can buy from Amazon on kindle for $2.99.

Review: Live undead will not be a book mainstream book readers will read, it has far too much death metal, hard rock and gore in it, but there will be a loyal group where it will make its mark.

Akin to the cult following of the band ‘Live Undead’, the book too will likely find a niche with the horror/gore fans. I must admit, however that while I am no horror/gore enthusiast, I didn’t find this book to be overly offensive. Perhaps it is that through the reality of today’s society that we are becoming desensitised to this subject, but while definitely in the gore realm, it wasn’t truly in your face.

There is a lot of sexual violence, blood, fetishism and murder among other things, so if these areas bother you, don’t pick this one up!

I think even more-so others will be put off by the large amount of gay sex in this book. This too could be another area for potential fans, I am sure there is a group of M/M fetish/horror/gore fans out there.

Add to this wicked little tale a dark undercurrent of paranormal themes, including the non-sparkly vampires, a very heavy dose of hardcore music exposure, and you have yourself a tidy read. (Blood and guts aside of course).

The writing is clear, the plot reasonably well developed and a few twists thrown in to keep you guessing, the ending is a bit of a let down, but I feel there will be a continuation down the track that will probably fix that. I personally would have stopped after the mention of Hollywood.

If you want a comparison for this book, think Marilyn Manson meets a twisted Twilight meets an episode of Law and Order. Give it a try!

*NOTE: The author provided me with an electronic copy of the book in return for an honest review*

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Have you ever read any books dripping with blood? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below. Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Horrorfest review, here’s a little more about the author, Lynxie, who blogs at Coffee2words

Coffee2words is me at my most basic in terms of my writing. I drink copious amounts of the darkly, rich stuff and attempt to convert it into at least partially amusing or interesting written word. I am sure those of you who check back here from time to time will see various spatterings of my work adorn the pages of my blog.

In other aspects of life, I enjoy reading, reviewing the books I read and interacting with the over 10 Million members on goodreads. I have spent a great deal of my life with my nose shoved between the pages of a book, and more recently pressed against the screen of my kindle. On a good week, I read between 1-4 books and I endeavour to review each of them. Reviewing is still quite new to me, having only picked up my quill late in 2011, I am still finding my own style.

When I’m not writing, reading or stuffing my husband’s or my own face with food, you can find me out walking my beautiful Border Collie dog, Tammy, frequenting the gym or sewing up a storm in my sewing room.

Thanks for taking part in our Horrorfest Lynxie 🙂

IAM Excerpt…Waiting for the Storm

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is Marie Landry and we’re excited to be showcasing an excerpt from her latest novel Waiting for the Storm. Marie has featured with us on Aside From Writing several times since she released her debut novel in early 2012, and she is a firm favourite 🙂 

Waiting for the Storm

~Meet the Family~
From WAITING FOR THE STORM by Marie Landry

I asked him to start the water for the pasta while I assembled the salad. We’d made enough food to feed about half a dozen people, even though I wasn’t sure anyone else would be joining us.

As if on cue, Ella entered the kitchen and froze when she saw Ezra standing at the stove. Her eyes roved over him from head to toe, and a wolfish smile overtook her face.

“Hi there,” she said, sashaying further into the kitchen and stopping a few feet from Ezra. She struck what I’m sure she thought was a sexy pose, with her hand on her hip. “Who’s this?”

I was ridiculously pleased to see that Ezra didn’t look impressed by Ella. I figured that said a lot, considering my sister was wearing about the shortest dress I’d ever seen, baring an almost indecent amount of perfectly tanned skin.

“This is Ezra,” I said when he didn’t answer right away. “Ezra, this is my sister El…Gabriella.”

“Ezra,” she said slowly, eyeing him like he was a big piece of man candy. “What a cool name. Where’d you get it?”

“I’ve always had it,” he said, and I couldn’t help the snicker that rose to my lips.

Ella shot me a nasty look, her sexy smile fading. “A funny one,” she said, turning back to Ezra. “I like that.”

Ezra smiled, but it wasn’t one of the knock-your-socks off smiles he’d been giving me all day. I’d seen guys give girls that smile—the kind that didn’t reach their eyes—when they were giving them the brush off.

“Ezra’s staying for dinner,” I told Ella. “It should be ready in about ten minutes.”

“Oh, what a shame,” Ella said, looking at Ezra as if he was the one who’d spoken. “I’d love to stay but I already made plans with Caroline from next door.”

“That’s too bad,” Ezra said, shooting me a surreptitious look of relief.

Ella must have seen the look that passed between us because her expression turned sour. She covered it quickly, and said to me, “It’s so good to see you making friends, Charlotte.” Her tone was sweet, and she spoke slowly, as if she were talking to a very small child. “It’s not healthy for you to spend so much time alone. I worry about you, you know.”

She brushed past me, patting my shoulder and sending a dazzling smile in Ezra’s direction. “You kids have fun. Don’t wait up!”

I turned quickly toward the stove, stirring the sauce with new vigor as I tried to avoid looking at Ezra.

“What a bitch,” he muttered.

I looked over at him and almost laughed when I saw that he’d clapped a hand over his mouth.

“I’m sorry,” he said quickly. “That was so inappropriate. She’s your sister, and…”

“She is a bitch,” I agreed, surprised to hear the words coming from my mouth. I’d thought them often enough over the last few months, but I’d never said them out loud.

Ezra looked relieved, and when he smiled it was one of those genuine knock-your-socks-off smiles that made my heart stutter. “I’ve never understood why people feel it’s necessary to cut others down in order to make themselves feel better,” he said. “But especially when it comes to family. I…I heard what she said last night. On the beach. I couldn’t see your face, but I knew you heard her, too.”

I sighed. I’d been hoping he hadn’t heard what Ella said to that guy. And yet, it didn’t seem to change the way Ezra felt about me. He’d still talked to me today, and he was still here now.

“She just…” I shrugged, uncertain how to explain the odd relationship between Ella and me. “I don’t even know anymore. We used to be close when we were younger. Things just got messed up somewhere along the way.”

Ezra nodded. “I can understand that,” he said quietly.

His expression was so earnest I wanted to pour my heart out to him and tell him everything that was on my mind—my mom’s illness, how my dad was acting so strange, my sister’s resentment toward me, my fears and insecurities and uncertainty over my own future.

But then I remembered that we’d only just met, and you didn’t dump all your crap on someone you’d just met. I had no idea if he was just being nice to me, as the new girl in town who happened to be the daughter of his mother’s childhood best friend, or if he was interested in being friends…or dare I even consider something more?

Either way, I wasn’t going to unload on him until I was sure.

We finished making dinner, and I got out three pasta dishes. I was about to go in search of Dad when he peeked his head into the kitchen.

“Oh, Charlotte. And…Ezra, is it?”

“Yes, sir,” Ezra said.

“I thought I heard voices. And smelled…” He looked toward the stovetop and I suddenly remembered that alfredo had been one of Mom’s specialties. She’d taught me how to make it before she got sick, and it was one of Dad’s favourites.

“We were just about to eat,” I told him. “Why don’t you join us?”

He shook his head slowly. “I’m not hungry.” He looked exhausted, even though I knew he spent a lot of time sleeping lately. Or maybe he was pretending to sleep so he wouldn’t have to deal with Ella and me, or the rest of the world. “I’ll eat later. I’m just working in my room if you need me.”

“Okay, Dad,” I said, feeling slightly deflated. I thought maybe having Ezra there would have made a difference; that Dad would make more of an effort with someone else around. Clearly I was wrong.

Dad looked between us, nodding his head absently. He gave an equally absent smile and headed back to his bedroom.

“Well…” I said after I’d heard Dad’s door click shut. “That’s my family.” My voice wavered a little on the last word, and I turned away.

“Hey.” Ezra laid his hands lightly on my shoulders. “It’s okay.”

It wasn’t, but the way he said it almost made me believe it was true. He gently turned me around so I was facing him. With him standing so close, I realized how big he was—tall, broad, and muscular. He had to be at least six feet tall, and he ducked down slightly so we were eye to eye.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes…no. I don’t know. Things are just so…” I let out a noise of frustration, unable to voice all the thoughts swirling through my mind. “The way my dad was just now—that’s how he’s been since before my mom even died. It’s gotten worse in the last week, though. He hardly speaks to me, he barely eats, he sleeps a lot, he’s just…he’s here, but not here. He’s just sort of…checked out, you know?”

Ezra’s eyes darkened, and he nodded. “I do know.” I waited for him to say more, but once again, he didn’t elaborate.

“I just wish I could have some normalcy,” I said.

“Well, I can’t promise you normal,” Ezra said with a crooked smile, “but I can try to make sure you have some fun this summer. Does that sound like a good compromise?”

I blew out a long breath that ended on a light laugh. “Yeah. That does sound like a good compromise. Thank you, Ezra.” Since his hands were already on my shoulders, I impulsively closed the small gap between us and hugged him.

He stiffened for a moment, and I automatically started to pull back, feeling my cheeks flush with embarrassment. He drew me back, keeping his arms loose around me, but it didn’t escape my attention that our bodies fit perfectly together.

“Charlotte?” he whispered, his breath tickling my ear.

“Yeah?”

“Can we eat now? I’m starving.”

I shoved him away, glad the moment hadn’t had a chance to turn awkward. After being introduced to my crazy life, the least I could do was feed him.

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Marie’s novel Blue Sky Days is also out now!

Would you like to know more? Check out the links! 

Debut novel, Blue Sky Days, available now on Amazon and Smashwords
Blog: Ramblings of a Daydreamer Author blog: Marie Landry, Author
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