"You rang?" A tall, serious, white haired gentlemen, with bolts on either side of his neck and highly reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster, drawls.
"Every time he says that I can't help but crack up laughing Lyn." Mary dressed as a tavern wench keeps pulling the front of her dress up. "I swear you get these get ups on purpose to make me look... Huge!"
Lyn's cackle fills the air as she adjusts the fake nose she wears and straightens her witches hat. "Yeah, well who ordered the warts and fake nose? Huh, answer that will you."
Mary smiles and pulls the warts and nose off off Lyn. "Hey, it was just a joke ya know. Besides they can tell it's you no matter what." Her index finger aimed at Lyn's humongous shoes. "Yeah, yeah, we buy them big. Sure, whatever you say. You look beautiful. You have to admit that costume is rather sexy on you."
"Where is Sharon, do you know which costume she picked?"
Lyn shakes her head. "I have no idea. Wait, that has to be her with the mask over her eyes, she has a friend who collects them and she has all kinds of them. And look she is dressed as a vampire!" Lyn rushes to Sharon with Mary on her huge heels.
"Sharon you look divine! That slinky costume is just beguiling!" Mary hugs Sharon after Lyn and looks down over Sharon's shoulder. "Did they pad the butt or is that really yours?"
Sharon smacks Mary's hand as she reaches to touch Sharon's backside and then gives her the look.
"It's all me girl and men love it. So there." She laughs because she knows Mary is just teasing, and to get her back she reminds her to pull up her top. They all crack up.
"Mam," Oliver interrupts. "Sandra and company have arrived."
The three hostesses run to the front door of the huge mansion the party is being held at. Guaranteed to be haunted, possessed by demons, over run with gremlins and other annoying creatures, and sure to scare the devil out of someone for sure.
The cobwebs are pushed out of the way, three black cats screech as Lyn steps on all three of them with one foot.
A spider falls into Mary's cleavage and so Sharon is the first one of them that makes it to the door.
Oliver stands to the side with his arm out to stop them and holding back a chuckle.
And in walks Sandra. She looks just fantastic!!! All three have made it to the door to oogle her costume. She is dressed as Venus. She has a magical allure about her and even the girls are affected.
"You can't help but to be attracted to her. She has a geis on her and it enhances her own natural beauty. Here's a potion to help. Or you'd never leave her side after you hugged her." They each swallow a bit and look at Sandra. She is beautiful beyond words. But now they can hug her and not be one of the twenty or so costumed followers she has picked up on her way here.
After they greet one another Lyn shows Sandra the food around the room.In each available corner platters of finger foods abound. From chips and hot and mild dips, to fine cheeses and crackers, small finger sandwiches, eggs and chicken fingers fill the tables which line the room.
Ghost, witch and pumpkin decorated cookies still warm from the oven, mini angel food and devils food cakes, plus other strange things, like blood pudding are all over.
Sandra smiles and nods her head.
"Hello everyone." The chatter silences as many haloweened costumes people stand listening intently to Sharon as she speaks. Ghosts, princesses, pirates, Queens, Kings, and even a nun, are among the numerous costumes.
"Please welcome our friend Sandra Sookoo. This is her Halloween party, please eat hearty, drink the wonderful Pomegranate martinis and party on! Don't forget to buy your copy of one of her books, Hunters Moon Magic, it's a must read. She plans to give away several prizes, good luck to you all. What fun! We are gonna have a scavenger hunt, a corn maze to navigate and then Oliver has a surprise test of his own."
Oliver winks at Sharon. "So everyone, please enjoy yourselves and Sandra, welcome to your party" The crowd roars and glasses are clinked to the toast for Author Sandra Sookoo!
Book Title: Hunter’s Moon Magic (blurb and excerpt)
Blurb: Judith Goode, wrongly accused of witchcraft during the trials in 1600 Massachusetts, casts a spell on the black velvet dress she intended to wear for her lover’s return. If she can’t realize true love then she wants to ensure that any woman who wears the dress will but fate has other plans.
Even though Judith is now in ghost form, her quest to unite her soul with her lover’s burns strong. The enchanted dress has survived for two hundred years and is now in the hands of Carolina Cox who wears it to a masquerade where she meets Paul Brown. Love blooms and is realized yet life’s problems prevent a perfect match.
Disheartened through the years, Judith gives the attempt one last time in modern day Indianapolis by putting the dress in the hands of Jacob Howson, one of her last living ancestors. He’s a computer programmer looking for love and finds it by literally running into Lexy Brown at a dry cleaner.
Sometimes the love worth waiting for can be found under the light of a Hunter’s Moon.
Excerpt from Chapter OneOctober 29, 1692 Ipswich, Massachusetts
Brilliant moonlight streamed through the window, competing with the weak glow from the candle on the worktable. Judith Goode snipped off the last thread and placed the scissors into a basket near her elbow.
Standing, she shook out the length of black velvet pleased with how the dress had turned out. A round full skirt fell to the floor in elegant waves with faint glimmers of silver thread gleamed in the folds. The bodice was a masterpiece of scooped neck trimmed with runic symbols in the same silver thread, designed to catch an admiring gaze.
Black satin ribbons crisscrossing under the neckline would lend the dress structure and matched the tiny stain bows on the tops of the fluttered, capped sleeves.
The ideal gown to wear for a romantic tryst, especially since the fabric had been given to her from her lover when he had returned to port from his last trip.
Unfortunately, she would never be allowed to wear the dress--unless they hanged her in it.
Hearing an angry assortment of voices just outside her modest cottage, Judith folded the gown and placed it into a reed basket. The tinkle of breaking glass sounded, followed by a scuffle and several loud shouts for the ‘Devil’s Follower. They’d branded her a witch, and she didn’t correct them.
It wouldn’t have mattered.
She was different from the others in the village. A healer, and not disposed to spending hours on her knees in the church, Judith was automatically dubbed a follower of the occult.
The gray streak down the middle of her black hair didn’t help matters. Nor did her affinity for bathing naked at the shore on the nights of the full moon for no other reason than she admired the silvery light.
To these people, if you looked and talked differently from them, you must be evil--bad--not worthy of redemption and no amount of explanation would change their narrow minds. She’d tried twice before to plead her case. Now luck had abandoned her.
Judith wanted no part of the religious bigotry, their interpretation of salvation for the sake of public cleansing and a way to gain land and property.
Their way was not the only way to live a life.
Outside, shouts from men and women alike drew closer. Her breath quickening, Judith opened a carved trinket box on her worktable and withdrew a small sachet of cloth. A secret smile curved her lips. If she couldn’t wear the gown, at least she could ensure the women who did would have a happy life. Tucking the sachet between the folds of the dress, Judith nodded in satisfaction. The herbs were good and would not fail.
“May the women who wear this dress find their true love. May desire overcome them in such a way they cannot deny its call. May the women whose lives touch this dress be happy throughout all eternity with the men of their dreams, the mates of their hearts, and the keeper of their souls.”
After she recited her spell, Judith’s attention wandered to her absent lover. He’d been away, along with her brother, on a fishing ship for months and this time when he returned, she and Percy planned to be married. After three years of courtship and clandestine meetings, he’d offhandedly asked for her hand one evening over dinner. Judith agreed and the small, private ceremony was planned. Now, a few days shy of their reunion, the elders of the village were hell bent on ferreting out witches.
Not that they would even know a real witch if they bumped into one at the market. Hysteria reined in the small towns and anyone they couldn’t understand was immediately suspect.
Above everything else, Judith vowed never to reveal Percy’s name to the elders for fear an appointment with the gallows would await him, too. The only reason she embraced her destiny with calm was she knew Percy would live to tell her tale. A twinge of regret tickled her stomach. They’d talked at length of this very occurrence. It was always a risk, but she wished she could see him one last time.
With a sigh, she gave the plush velvet one last loving stroke then scattered a few red clover flowers for good luck and two dried hibiscus flowers for attracting love on the top. A folded quilt completed the contents of the basket and hid the gown from view.
It was all she could do.
A prayer that the frock would find its way into good hands escaped her lips shortly before an insistent pounding rained on her front door. With a gasp, Judith scooped up the basket and padded across the simple wooden planks of the floor to her kitchen window. Releasing the catch, she swung the casement out. “Hide it well, Jenny. Make certain my brother receives it and cares for it. Someday, somehow, Percy and I will be reunited, even if it takes two lifetimes to accomplish.”
The melodious whisper of her apprentice seeped in from the darkness beyond. “You needn’t worry. I will take care of it. Godspeed”
Another round of hammering on the door brought Judith’s attention to matters at hand. She wiped her sweaty palms on her humble white apron.
Her heart raced in time to the blows.
She swung the window closed and pulled the curtains.
Then, with a deep breath, she tied the strings of her bonnet beneath her chin, crossed to the door, and unlatched the locks.
Time to usher in her fate. Judith straightened her spine. She would not meet death with tears.
Blurb and excerpt for Changing Tides (a Strange Hollow tale):
Blurb: Born of water. Neadra is an Undine, yet the thought of being in any body of water besides her bathtub terrifies her. In Strange Hollow, she lives on the side a the mountain, content and out of harm’s way, even as she yearns to be understood for her fears and loved in spite of them.
Drawn to water. Caelan, a water dragon from the wilds of Ireland, has been shunned by his clan for his inability to shift and terrorize. Lonely for too long, he meets Neadra one moonlit night and becomes enchanted by her kindness and her unique beauty, but how could anyone love him if he has no heroic ability whatsoever?
Threatened by water. When late spring rains, coupled with warm temperatures, melt much of the snow pack on Mt. Mitchell, a flood sweeps through the outskirts of Strange Hollow, putting Neadra’s life in danger. Caelan fights his way to get to her, pulling out the hero he never thought he could be while she, in turn, works through her fears to find him. Only through acceptance of the world around them and of each other will they find the life they’ve always wanted.
Neadra sighed and dipped her feet a bit deeper into the chilly water. She perched at the very edge of Shady Lake, alone with only the moon and the lake for company. The romance of the area wasn’t lost on her.
A thick wood line shrouded the far side of the lake, serving as a barrier between the business end of Strange Hollow and the small network of farms and homes of the flatlands. She’d heard that any resident wishing to buy property in the outlying areas must be prepared to defend said real estate against interlopers who didn’t hold true with the laws of the town. Every homeowner outside the downtown area received two acres of land along with their house with specific instructions not to sub-let the acreage.
It seemed the founder of Strange Hollow didn’t want the beauty of the town marred by endless subdivisions, fast food joints and strip malls. Working alongside nature. As it should be.
Slowly wriggling her toes, she stared at the dark stretch of water. So much potential. So much fear. She pulled her long skirt up her legs and slid forward until the water lapped over her calves.
Ignoring the task at hand, Neadra let her mind ponder her state of singleness. Since she’d been a very little girl it had been drilled into her that water sprites only mated within their species. What happened to a woman who, by necessity, had to live away from her community and family? Because of her fear, she’d been forced to make her home in a tool shed near the sea, much to the derision of her family.It also meant she appeared damaged and broken in the eyes of potential mate material. Not to mention, she lacked the gills inherent to her species, making living on land essential. She was decidedly too odd to fit into the aquatic community.
She blew out a shaky breath. Time marched on while her biological clock ticked down the years, bringing panic with it. In two months, she’d pass her thirty-first birthday, not young anymore and nearing the danger zone on the reproductive scale.
My life is so messed up.
Watching the moon’s reflection on the lake surface, two glowing blue objects caught her attention. Neadra narrowed her eyes, straining forward. It was too early in the season for amphibian life and the orbs were too large to belong to a snake or fish. In the space of a heartbeat, they vanished. Relief swept through her body. She didn’t want to encounter some of the more fierce wildlife rumored to live around the mountain.
As suddenly as they disappeared, the blue objects came back into view, almost staring at her with weird, electric light. She shivered and pulled her feet beneath her, out of the water. Were they eyes? How was it possible? If an Undine didn’t want to be seen, no one except another water sprite could see them--unless she failed at the camouflage aspect of her culture as well. She’d never had an opportunity to test the theory.
The eyes came closer, confirming the fact the objects belonged to something. Her pulse steadily increased until it drummed out a frantic rhythm. Too fascinated to move, she watched as it closed the distance, only ten feet from the shore and her.
Threads of nameless anticipation slid over her skin, invoking goose bumps, but she felt no fear. Five feet of dark water separated her from whatever lurked beneath the surface. Her throat went dry as she wondered what kind of being it was.
With the smooth movements of someone accustomed to spending time in and around water, the placid scene shimmered. The top of a male head appeared, bobbed for an instant, his gaze never breaking eye contact with her, and he swam forward. The closer he got, the more of his body was revealed until he stood, dripping, on the shore near her.
“Wow.” She’d barely forced the word out when her sex contracted with a strong aching need and she had to squeeze her thighs together to stave off the sensations. Quickly snapping her gaze to his face, she sought to distract herself from his body--except his brilliant eyes caused havoc with her insides. She felt an insane desire to trace the strong lines of his face, run her fingers over his jaw, and feel his lips against hers. “Wow.”
The man smiled. The ordinary action lit his face into a softer version, twinkling his eyes and causing gentle creases to appear at the sides of his mouth and across his forehead, as if he indulged in grinning often. “It’s not often I get such a reaction from the ladies, especially not one as pretty as you. I’m Caelan Burke.”
Neadra melted a tiny bit further at the slight Irish accent in his baritone voice.
“Hi.” At a disadvantage from her position on the ground, not to mention the tempting distraction of his naughty bits at eye level, she struggled to her feet. The small pebbles that made up the shore cut into the soles, but she barely noticed as she held out her hand. “My name is Neadra."
When she moved forward to shake the hand he offered, her toes tangled into the hem of her long skirt and she stumbled, taking a few unsteady steps backward and teetering into the lake with a resounding splash.
Publisher’s website: http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com
Strange Hollow site: http://www.strangehollow.com
Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction. Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, sci-fi and paranormal romances. She loves to blend genres and spice them up and often times will add humor as well.
After catching the writing bug at the young age of ten, she's gone on to grow her unique writing style. She's a regular contributor for the Paranormal Romantic's blog and has a great time keeping things interesting at the Believing is Seeing blog.
When not immersed in creating new worlds and interesting characters, Sandra likes to read, bake and travel. Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World. It's where dreams come true and the soul can play. That suits her just fine.
Writing is her ultimate dream job.
You can write to Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her website at http:///www.sandrasookoo.com or look her up on Facebook and Twitter.
Damaged Cargo (a S.F.romance)--Available now from Purple Sword Publications.
Hunter's Moon Magic--Available now from Liquid Silver Books.
On the web: Website, Facebook page, Twitter, Believing is Seeing blog, or the Paranormal Romantics blog