QSFers Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt has a new bi/gay paranormal mystery romance out, Haunts and Hoaxes Book 2: “Harrowed.”
There’s nothing scarier than the truth…
Noel’s got issues. Like, he doesn’t know what to call his lover. Are they boyfriends? A fling that got out of control? Something more? Even worse, he may sometimes get waylaid by a random ghost or two.
Or else he’s losing his mind.
Now Adam? He’s stable and solid and warm; the kind of guy Noel never knew he wanted. He’s also the historian on Haunts and Hoaxes, which gives him a professional interest in Noel’s “special talent”.
When the ghosthunting crew turns up something weirder than normal at a Louisiana plantation, Adam convinces Noel to check it out. Instead of finding a haunt, they uncover a mystery. Noel used to be a cop and he grabs the chance to investigate something real. DNA is evidence. No matter what Adam says, the ghosts don’t prove anything.
But the past is done hiding and the spirits are going to have their say. Noel better figure out how to listen, because Adam’s job, their relationship, and even his sanity are at risk.
“What nothing.” Noel sounded put out. “Asshole started with a descendant, ergo the story is true. He wants your attention. Don’t be gullible.”
Adam tried to shrug off the insult as they turned and made their way toward the cabins that had once housed the plantation’s workers—first enslaved people and then tenant farmers. “I’m a researcher. I deal in historical fact. I’m not gullible.”
“So you say.”
Noel probably had him there. Historical fact and established scientific thought didn’t exactly cover the reason they were here. Open mind, he reminded himself. He was here to apply as much reason to…whatever…was going on with Noel as possible. “Look, let’s set all that aside and check out the cabins.”
“Sure.” Noel barely glanced at the tape and barriers marking Cabin 1 off-limits as they passed. His gaze scanned the fields and tree line instead. “Gotta admit they had some ’nads, though. I mean, even in a car, you’re talking serious travel time to get from here to anywhere safe. And they were, what? On foot?”
“Horseback.” They were approaching Cabin 2. Adam relegated Valsin and Marie to a back burner. “Noel?”
“Yeah?” He sounded distracted.
“Umm…” Neither of them knew what prompted Noel’s episodes. Adam was struck with the sudden realization of just how much they didn’t know.
He should give Noel another opportunity to leave. Except what if it was real? What if Noel really could connect with the past? Excitement warred with apprehension. To quell both, he picked an easy option. “You want to see number two? It’s normally open to the public.” And hadn’t elicited a single blip from any of the minions’ equipment.
“Is that where…?”
“No. I just thought we might get a sort of…um.…baseline reaction.”
“Baseline reaction?” Noel sounded disbelieving. “You mean where I walk around and don’t froth at the mouth? Like I’m doing right now?”
Put like that, it sounded stupid.
Noel shrugged. “Yeah, sure. Might as well take advantage of my VIP tour, right?”
“The bricks used in construction were made on-site.” Adam dropped into lecture mode, his usual coping strategy. “These cabins were actually in use by tenant farmers up until the 1970s. But by the time the NPS took over thirty years later, they were in pretty bad shape. This one’s been fully restored.”
They were at the door. Noel didn’t hesitate, but Adam heard him suck in a breath, as if he were preparing for a dive, just before he stepped over the threshold. He paused inside and let it out slowly as he looked around. His voice didn’t betray any nerves at all when he spoke. “Kept the original track lighting and all, huh?”
Adam stepped next to him and reached out to twine their fingers together. “Tourist model.”
He waited while Noel took in the small room. Eventually, Noel pulled away and wandered over to look at the vintage pictures displayed on a small folding table in the corner. He ran his fingers over the brick walls and touched the wooden slats at the windows.
Adam trailed behind him, trying not to fall back into lecture mode and unsure what to do with himself otherwise. “Okay?”
“Yeah.” Noel sounded subdued. “It wasn’t here, was it? Whatever happened to your crew?”
“No.” Adam swallowed. “Cabin 3.”
Noel simply turned, walked to the door, and waited for Adam to lead the way.
They stepped out of the cool interior of Cabin 2 into bright sun, muggy heat, and the smell of recently mowed grass. Normal. Cabin 3 was directly across from 2.
Adam’s heart began to pound. As they walked the few yards to their destination, time and distance expanded, the way it sometimes did in dreams. Adam’s feet moved, but he didn’t cover any ground. He walked and walked, and all he could see was Noel in Lafayette Cemetery, eyes wide and harrowed, mouth moving but no sound coming out. Adam had touched him…
…how had he forgotten the next part…
Hot wind, a woman screaming and… Something. Something so terrifying, his mind shied away from it. The whole episode took no time at all. The entire thing happened between one breath and the next. One breath when he’d felt like he might never take another. And when it was over… Noel lay on the ground, pale and bleeding.
He forced his feet to keep moving.
Suddenly, they were there. Like before, no time at all had passed.
From the outside, the cabin looked almost identical to the one they had just left. Except outside Cabin 3, Adam couldn’t force his feet to move. Couldn’t take the few final steps to…
Noel surged ahead and disappeared into the cabin.
Liv is a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and loves history just as much, so her stories often feature vampires or magic or they’re set in the past…or all of the above. When Liv isn’t writing she takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether she’s at work or at home. Her husband is a soul of patience, her kids are her pride and joy, and her dogs – Trash Panda and The Boy Genius – are endlessly entertaining.