Do come in, but for those of you who are superstitious, BEWARE…
A screech owl flaps its wings before taking flight from the willowy branches of a towering pine, its warbling hoot reverberating through the deepest thicket of the woods.
Forgoing their usual banter as the hostesses three enter the forbidden cemetery, they join hands to dispel any evil lurking in the deep, dark woods. Costumed in masquerade for the gala, they walk straight into a massive spider web and scream loud enough to wake the living dead.
“Holy crap!” Mary spits and fumes, her long dragon tail swooshing around the three of them, ensnaring them in its scaly grip. “Man, I thought that was one of the bodies rising from the grave.”
“Let’s keep our cool,” Sharon whispers, breaking the chain long enough to clutch the crystals around her neck. “We all know the dead can’t hurt us. Now all we need do is walk through that patch of tombstones over there in the clearing, and we’ll find the steps leading to the cellar. Now come on, let’s join hands. All for one and one for all.”
Lyn tips her head back and howls at the full moon, her witch’s hat slithering down the nape of her neck. “We must remember, sisters. We three have magical powers, a gypsy, a dragon and a witch. Together we stand, divided we fall. If you’ll pardon the expression, it’s time to make heads roll.”
But when rolling heads begin tumbling down a hill and into the clearing, fluorescent green horns sprouting from fleshless faces, the hostesses tear through the disused cemetery, feet thundering on the dank earth. But just as the rolling heads pick up speed, teeth chomping, Oliver floats up from the ground and grins. Dressed as a vampire, he smiles, his fangs glowing in the moonlight.
“Good evening, ladies,” he takes a sweeping bow, his black cape swooshing in the cool night air. “Just in time to help prepare the feast for our offering.” He points to the steep, broken stairs leading to the musty stone cellar. His wicked laughter echoes through the forest. “Watch your step.”
Descending the steps to the basement, dark music rises from the speakers. A hoot owl screeches as it soars down from the rafters to perch on Oliver’s shoulder. Michael Jackson’s Thriller screams from the skeleton head in the corner. Candles flicker on coffin tables, wax dribbling onto the stained wood. Spider webs hang from every corner, ripe with black widow eggs ready to hatch. After indulging in a sample or two of the home-made wine from the countless barrels lining the stone walls of the cellar, the hostesses get into the party spirit.
Gypsy Sharon dances around, her silver jangle bracelets snaking up her arm as she places platters of grapes rolled in powdered sugar on the coffin. Popping one into her mouth, she shudders with delight. “Mmm. Nothing like a glazed eyeball.”
Lyn floats in the air, making fast work of the finger food arrangements as they magically appear on the lids of coffins. She takes a moment to admire the green fingernails on the batch Oliver has just dished out. Stealing one without missing a beat, she smacks her lips. “Crunchy, too.”
Mary’s dragon tail comes in handy, swooping across the floor, gripping platters of bat wings, stuffed brain cells, and fried kidneys quick as a wink. Showing off in true Mary Ricksen style, she coils her long tail around a bat wing, dips it in bloodecue sauce and brings it to her mouth. “Delicio.”
But when a were-wolf howls from the cemetery, announcing the arrival of Barbara Edwards, Oliver dashes off to open the cellar door. It creaks back on its rusty hinges, blowing in the mistress of the dark. Looking sexy and just a little naughty in her black she demon dress, an Elvira knockoff complete with glittering widow earrings, she blows kisses to the gathered guests.
Once the living dead settle down, Cuddles and Junior, dressed in matching wizard hats, beckon one and all to read the blurb and excerpt appearing on the wall as an old projector rolls:
In Ancient Awakening, Police Officer ‘Mel’ Petersen investigates a death only she believes is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her.
Her neighbor Stephen Zoriak is a prime suspect. Steve worked for a major pharmaceutical company where he discovered a weapon so dangerous he destroys the research. He is exposed to the dangerous organism. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help her find the truth.
In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find the real killer and a love that defies death.
“Don’t touch me, Mel, not unless you’re willing to do a lot more,” he warned as her hazel eyes flared golden.
“Don’t threaten me, Steve. You’re…”
He pulled her into his arms despite the alarm bells clanging in his head.
Danger! Danger! Danger!
Her widened eyes met his. Mel’s hands were trapped against his chest, but she didn’t push him away. Instead, her fingers curled into his shirt.
Her mistake. His mistake was to crush her mouth under his.
Mel’s soft lips parted. Need exploded. The taste of black coffee didn’t hide her sweet flavor. As her tongue tangled with his, her arms slid around his neck and her fingers burrowed through his hair.
Steve hungered to peel the starched shirt off her soft shoulders, lay her on the thick turf and ease his desire. He tasted her brows, her cheek, along her throat, seeking the source of her call. Her pulse whipped under his mouth, awakening another need.
His teeth gently closed on the vulnerable vein.
He wanted, wanted, wanted…
Cold alarm chilled his pounding blood.
Steve gasped for air. He’d forgotten his own ironclad rule. Mel’s eyelids flittered open to reveal the molten glow of desire but he forced himself free.
He had no right to touch any woman. Not until he knew he hadn’t become what he had set out to destroy.
Sharon: Interesting and very intriguing. It draws us right in. So tell us a little about the heroine and the romantic hero of your book.
Barbara: My heroine ‘Mel’ is a strong, independent woman with no imagination. When she finds a murder can’t be solved by normal means, she is baffled. My hero ‘Steve’ is hunting a cure for a terrible curse. He craves blood and can no longer tolerate many foods, he is experiencing black-outs, and his night vision is sharpening along with his sense of smell. He fears what he may be doing during the black-outs.
I’m Barbara Edwards and I’m a native New Englander. I’m a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I write poetry for myself and novels when I need to tell a longer tale. I’m fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. The dark paranormal stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people’s basic goodness and longing for love.
I lived in Florida for several years and am past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America.
When I returned to Connecticut, I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.
My husband is a retired Police Sergeant. We share an interest Civil War re-enacting and travel the Eastern states to participate in events. I love visiting museums, galleries and battle sites, gathering information for my stories.
I taught Romance Writing at Manchester Community college for three years.
I’m fond of gardening and growing antique roses with limited success.
Most of my exercise is when my Belgian Shepherd, Dixie, demands a walk.
To win a prize from Barbara, answer the following question: What is your favorite Elvira movie?