QSFer Elizabeth Andre has a new FF paranormal tale out, book two in the Paranormal Grievance Chronicles – Muses.
A lesbian ghost with a broken heart. Sisters who never want her reunited with her lost love. A binding spell that must be broken.
After a Halloween party ends with an untimely death, paranormal investigators Maya and Julie are called in to check out ghostly happenings at a house built by a patent medicine magnate at the turn of the 20th century. The magnate’s daughters lived in the house their whole lives and never left, even after death. Now, they’re angry and taking it out on anyone who enters the house.
Maya and Julie have to figure out why and reignite a love that was always meant to be.
Or the sisters’ torment will never end.
Muses is the second novel in the Paranormal Grievance Committee Chronicles series, but each book can stand alone.
Elizabeth is giving away an eBook copy of The Curse of the Old Woods, Paranormal Grievance Committee Chronicles Book 1 with this post. For a chance to win, comment below.
By the time Richard and Kate Vinette had barricaded themselves and their remaining guests in the study, Richard started to think that maybe Kate was right about getting someone in to do something about the ghosts. Richard had always referred to them as his muses, his assistants as he wrote his novels, but Kate was at the point where they were nuisances at best. Richard had hoped his muses — Nelly, Rosie, and Maddie — would behave around their guests, but they were becoming increasingly uncontrollable. He wondered with a sinking feeling if he’d ever had control of them at all.
“Jesus, Richard. I know it’s Halloween and all, but this has been just a bit too real.” Tom Florian, a CPA who wrote eco-thrillers featuring rugged secret ops men and beautiful female marine biologists or botanists, pulled the Harlequin mask from his face and wiped sweat from his forehead.
Richard, still panting a little, tried to smile. “You know me, Tom. Verisimilitude. Always verisimilitude.”
“Verisimilitude my ass, Richard.” Nancy Daddario, a political strategist who wrote sweet romances, snorted with derision. She shook the broken fake shield that was part of her Viking maiden costume at him. “Someone slapped me out there! Who was it? What the hell is going on?”
Richard had hoped the Halloween party would help break the tension that had been developing between him and Kate lately. It was a small party, made up mostly of people from his writing group and book club along with a few of Kate’s friends from work and church. For the first hour or so, it seemed to be working. Their cats, Abner and Athena, had checked out early on, opting to stay upstairs in the guest bedroom. The guests were mingling. The hosts were charming. The ghosts kept a low profile. Richard and Kate smiled and socialized as if they didn’t have a care in the world and everything was just fine.
Then Fran Perlman ran screaming from the downstairs bathroom, her hair soaking wet. When Kate finally calmed her down with soothing words and a shot of whiskey, Fran said that someone had dunked her head into the toilet bowl.
“A few times. I don’t know how many times. And then they flushed the toilet!” More dramatic sobbing and another whiskey. “When it stopped, I looked around. There was no one there. I was in there alone the whole time.” Fran sobbed while another guest rubbed her head vigorously with a towel.
Richard chuckled. “Someone gave you a swirly?!”
Kate and another guest, Veronica Gish, shushed him. Kate gave him a particularly nasty look.
That was only the beginning of the troubles about to beset the party. Larry Shadley’s clown pants got pulled down — twice. Guests inexplicably became clumsy, spilling their drinks on themselves and each other, tripping over the carpet, and walking into doors that suddenly closed.
“Guess we’ve had too much to drink,” said Richard with a chortle, triggering another angry look from Kate.
Lights flickered on and off. Richard thought about making a flippant remark about the electrical grid and the wiring in their old house. Another dirty look from Kate made him hold his tongue.
One of the Vinettes’ neighbors, a skittish man named Paul who, as it turned out, was claustrophobic and scared of the dark, ended up trapped in a closet for several minutes before Richard, Tom, and Larry could bash their way in. Paul ran screaming from the Vinettes’ house. Fran left right after he did.
“Wait. Did Paul say something about a ghost as he left?” Nancy asked.
“He said ghostly voices, I think.” Veronica turned to Kate. “Do you guys have a ghost?”
Richard didn’t want anyone to know about his ghosts. He wanted to keep them to himself. He swore Kate to secrecy. They were the secret of his success, he said. They were his muses. Before they came into his life, he’d worked full time as payroll manager at a tool and die company while writing in whatever spare moments he could grab. He and Kate had bought the old house with good bones on Grant Street in Springfield Heights fifteen years ago when the neighborhood was still a bit iffy. They’d put a lot of work into renovating it, and it needed it. The lowest point for the house, built in the 1890s, was when it became a shooting gallery for heroin addicts in the 1990s. The Vinettes got the house for a song, thinking that they would flip it once they’d finished the work on it. But he and Kate, who was a claims investigator for an insurance company, had fallen in love with the house during the renovations and couldn’t bear the thought of selling it.
The ghosts first appeared to Richard like a whisper. They were so hard to hear and see that he initially thought their voices were just the sounds of an old house. He told himself the brief sights of their faces in a mirror or a shiny object were a trick of the light, but their voices got louder. They assured him that he was a good writer. With each appearance, they became easier to see. Eleanor or Nelly, as he later came to know her, had a long mane of jet black hair tumbling from her head and had been the first one to make herself fully visible. Rosamund and then Madeleine, her younger sisters also known as Rosie and Maddie, quickly followed.
At first, Richard had kept his work with the ghosts to himself. He thought he might jinx the sisters’ guidance if he told anyone, even Kate. With the sisters’ counsel, he was finally able to finish a young adult novel about a wizard detective and his dragon sidekick that had long been percolating in the back of his brain.
To his delight, he was able to secure an agent who sent The Whitebinder Staffaround to publishers. A medium-sized press expressed interest, which thrilled him. Rosie was particularly pleased since one of the main characters had been named after her. The editor praised Richard’s sparse prose.
“Thank my hero, Ernest Hemingway, for that,” he would always say with a chuckle. The sisters didn’t like that. They wanted more credit, but he kept saying it anyway.
That first book debuted eight years ago and, while it had never been a blockbuster, it sold steadily. He told Kate about the sisters a few months after that book was released. For months she’d questioned him when he left his study after an evening of writing. She claimed she’d heard him talking loudly, sometimes to himself, sometimes to female voices that seemed to come from nowhere. Richard told her that he was talking to himself in order to get the dialogue in his stories right. She had nodded and said what a good idea that was. Then he said he had been listening to recordings of women in order to get his female characters right. That triggered slightly more skepticism.
“Okay, if that’s your process, that’s your process,” she had said.
One Saturday, she had left to do some shopping. Richard settled in his study for another writing session with his muses, as he’d started calling the three ghostly sisters. Kate had burst into his study far too soon. She couldn’t get the car started, and she was in a hurry. The sight of him hunched over his laptop surrounded by ghosts stopped her in her tracks.
“We need to talk,” she had said before she left once more, this time in Richard’s car.
Elizabeth Andre writes fun and diverse lesbian fiction. She is a lesbian in an interracial same-sex marriage living in the Midwest. She hopes you enjoy her stories. She certainly loves writing them.
Amazon author page: author.to/elizabethandre