QSFer Elle E. Ire has a new FF paranormal romance out: Dead Woman’s Pond.
No matter how Flynn Dalton tries to avoid it, the supernatural finds her.
At first it’s not so bad. Flynn’s girlfriend, Genesis, is a nationally known psychic, which makes Flynn uncomfortable for both paranormal and financial reasons, but she can handle it. As long as no one makes her talk about it.
Then, on her way home from her construction job, Flynn almost ends up the latest casualty of Festivity’s infamous Dead Man’s Pond. And when her ex-lover’s ghost appears to warn her away, things get a whole lot weirder.
Flynn might not like it, but the pond has fixated on her to be its next victim. If she wants to survive, she’ll have to swallow her pride, accept Gen’s help, and get much closer to the psychic realm—and her own latent psychic abilities—than she ever wanted.
Expect the Unexpected
FEMALE BOWLERS HAVE BALLS.
I smooth down the peeling sticker on my bag and set the double-sized bowling ball carrier on the floor beside one of the bar’s lower tables. I plop myself on the metal chair with the torn vinyl seat and tug off first one mud-encrusted work boot, then the other. The neon signs on the walls flicker through the haze of cigarette smoke, making my eyes water. Spilled beer puddles on the table’s surface.
Reaching to the side, I bang the heels of the boots against the inner rim of the garbage can, knocking off the day’s dried muck. Could’ve just used the black-and-gray-checkered linoleum floor, but the waitress and the bartender are friends of mine. No need to make more work for them.
Out of my bag I pull bowling shoes, a used pair bought from this very alley the year they upgraded to new ones. Hey, when you find a set that fits, you hang on to them. They slide onto my feet like my most comfortable bedroom slippers—if I owned bedroom slippers.
“How about a beer, Flynn? We’ve got a couple of new microbrews on tap.”
I glance up from tying the laces, pulling my dirty-blonde ponytail out of my face and throwing it over my shoulder to hang halfway down my back. Allie stands beside the table, order pad in one hand and pen in the other. Not like she needs either one, but she says they’re her version of a security blanket. My eyes trail up her long, shapely legs in the way-too-short miniskirt the manager makes her wear. A white button-down blouse hangs open almost to her belly button, where she has the tails tied in a knot.
Strictly look but don’t touch. Steve, the bartender, is her boyfriend, and they make a great couple.
“Hey, Allie,” I return. She prefers Allison, but everyone calls her Allie because, hey, she works in a bowling alley, and she’s certainly never heard that one before. She gave up fighting it long ago. My thoughts shift to the handful of change and a few crumpled singles in my pocket—enough money for the lunch truck at the construction site tomorrow and one game. “Um, gonna have to pass on the beer. I’d love some water, if you don’t mind me hogging up a table.” I gesture toward the bar’s exit opening out to the lanes.
Allie pops her gum. The faint scent of peppermint carries across the space between us. She makes a show of scanning the bar. Two old guys on stools at the counter. Four ladies in matching team shirts around a table on the far side, a half-dozen empty Bud Lites between them. Dave and Charlie, a couple of guys in their forties, guys I’ve seen before and occasionally bowled against, take up two other seats, doing exactly what I’m doing: putting on shoes, strapping on wrist support bands, wiping their sweaty fingers with rosin bags out of habit rather than current need, or applying New-Skin to old cuts and scrapes.
Lots of empty tables.
I pull out my own New-Skin bottle, almost empty, and open it. The pungent antiseptic odor rocks me back in my seat until a hand wave clears the air. A couple of dabs seal over a cut on my thumb I got when my saw slipped this morning.
“Oh yeah, I’m really swamped,” Allie says. “Don’t know how I’ll manage all the orders.” She holds out her empty notepad for me to see, then flips the chair opposite me around and straddles it, her twirly miniskirt draping to either side and barely covering the tops of her thighs. I swallow and focus on tightening my wrist support band. She leans her arms across the seat back. “Tapped out again?”
I work up a lopsided grin for her. “It’ll be okay. New job—that apartment complex going up in Festivity. Steady work for over a month now, but I’m still living paycheck to paycheck. We went a long time before the company got this contract, none of the others were hiring temps, and I don’t get paid again until day after tomorrow.” I glance around at the pitiful prospects Kissimmee Lanes has to offer tonight. “That’s why I’m here, actually.” When I’d much, much rather be in a hot shower. I worked the site all day in Florida’s famous ninety-plus heat and stayed three extra hours off the clock to help my foreman and friend, Tom, with the paperwork. Every muscle in my body aches, and my head hurts from dehydration.
Allie follows my thoughts. “Doesn’t look good. Everyone here knows you, even if you’ve been avoiding us lately.”
I pout at her.
She tucks the pen behind her ear and reaches across to pat my shoulder. I suppress a wince. Took a loose board to that shoulder this afternoon, and the bruise will be a beaut. “I know you aren’t really hiding from us,” she says. “Believe me, I understand ‘broke.’ Maybe you’ll get lucky. We’ve had some newbies over the past few weeks.” Allie pulls the bar rag from her waistband and wipes down the table, then stands. “Hang in there. I’ll grab you some water.” She flounces off, her skirt flipping up a little when she turns, revealing black boy-shorts underneath.
Oh yeah, I’ll look plenty.
Elle Ire writes science fiction novels featuring kick-ass women who fall in love with each other. Her first novel, VICIOUS CIRCLE, released from Torquere Press in November, 2015, and was rereleased in January, 2020, by DSP Publications. Her STORM FRONTS series, THREADBARE, PATCHWORK, and WOVEN were released in 2020 – 2021, by DSP Publications. Her work is represented by Naomi Davis at the BookEnds Literary Agency. Learn more at her website: http://www.elleire.com.