QSFer Elizabeth Andre has a new FF paranormal book out, book one in her new Paranormal Grievance Committee Chronicles series: The Curse of the Old Woods.
Two rival lesbian paranormal investigators. A dangerous cursed entity. Long dark nights in the old woods.
Maya Nicholas doesn’t need any help finding ghosts. They find her and talk to her all the time.
Julie Sussman doesn’t need any help either. She solves plenty of cases, both normal and paranormal, without any special abilities.
When they learn that both of them have been hired to find a teenager, lost decades ago in the haunted Promontory Woods, they are not happy. But when they find the teenager’s ghost and discover that she, along with many other spirits, are being held captive by an evil entity, they have to work together.
Or they, along with many others, will never leave the woods again.
Today was a good day. For one thing, Evelyn had more energy. The treatments for breast cancer often left her physically drained, but over the last few days she’d felt invigorated in a way she hadn’t felt since the treatments began a few weeks ago. She felt so good that she hadn’t asked Gwen, a dear friend of hers, to take her shopping. More often than not, it was Gwen who drove Evelyn to and from the hospital for her treatments, and it was Gwen who helped her run errands.
But when Evelyn woke up this morning, she felt a lightness and delight that she hadn’t felt in a long time. She managed to eat more for breakfast than she ordinarily did. Her appetite hadn’t been robust lately. She ate a couple of slices of toast with butter and plum jam and a nectarine. She drank her coffee with a little bit of cream.
Evelyn was in such a good mood that she didn’t mind the humidity of this sunny June day or the fender bender that backed up traffic for several minutes on her way to the store or the little boy who had a screaming meltdown in the middle of the frozen food aisle or the cashier who liked oversharing about her personal life. Evelyn just nodded as she paid, and the cashier talked. She only bought a few things because Gwen had been so good about keeping her pantry well stocked. She just had the one bag with a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, and a cup of hot soup from the salad bar in it.
Leaving the store, Evelyn shielded her eyes from the sun with her free hand. She looked this way and that before stepping into the parking lot. She took one step and froze. For a second, maybe just a fraction of a second, she saw something extraordinary. She saw a young woman’s face, a face so like her older sister Katie’s that her breath caught at the back of her throat. It was just the head and shoulders like a high school yearbook senior portrait. It was there for only a moment.
“Katie?” she whispered.
It floated in the air near a black SUV that was parked in one of the disability spaces. Evelyn took a step. A car honked and swerved, narrowly missing her. The driver of the car yelled some choice words before heading to a parking space. Evelyn took a good look around, still shocked by what she’d seen. The face was gone. She was sure she’d seen it, but now saw no evidence that it had ever been there. A trick of the light perhaps? Evelyn stood, indecisive, in the middle of the parking lot. She switched the grocery bag from one hand to the other. It suddenly felt heavier that it should.
“Madam? Are you all right? Madam?”
The soft, kind voice jolted Evelyn out of her thoughts. The woman who spoke was medium height, slim, dark skinned. She wore a dress and head wrap that were colorful and bold. Evelyn guessed they were made from an African print. She had three children with her, two girls and a boy, wearing Western-style clothing. Their features and slender build indicated they were the woman’s children. The children, who Evelyn smiled at, regarded her with solemn curiosity.
“I’m fine. Really,” Evelyn said. “Just a bit tired.”
“You are sure, madam?” asked the woman.
“I’m sure. Thank you for your concern, but I’m fine.”
To emphasize how fine she was, she tried to smile as she said goodbye to the woman and her children and began to walk to her car, taking care to be more aware of her surroundings. Once she got into her car, she sat for a bit before switching on the ignition. She glanced toward the supermarket entrance and saw the woman herding her children into the store. Now that Evelyn was sitting down, she realized how heavily she was breathing. She knew what she’d seen, yet she couldn’t quite convince herself that she’d seen the face of her older sister floating in the air like that. For many years after Katie had disappeared, she’d held on to the hope that she would see her again someday, but not as some disembodied head and shoulders in a supermarket parking lot. The day she buried her mother was the day she finally accepted that she’d never see Katie alive again. That thing that had distracted her in the parking lot seemed a cruel prank. Perhaps it was the cancer treatment. Maybe hallucination was a side effect.
She drove home slowly, feeling exhausted. Grateful to be home again, she parked her car in the garage and walked into the storage room that separated the kitchen from the garage. There was a small bench pushed up against one of the room’s walls. Katie was sitting, or appeared to be sitting, on the bench. As before, Evelyn could see only her head and shoulders. She dropped the bag of groceries. Katie opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Then she was gone again. Evelyn, trying to keep her composure, stepped over the grocery bag to stand in front of the bench. She put out her right hand at the spot where Katie had been. She could feel cold air. She drew her hand back. She let out a breath and sunk to the ground, insensible.
Elizabeth Andre writes lesbian erotic romance, science fiction and young adult stories. 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.