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Okay, I’m supposed to share a spooky story, but I freely admit to being a weenie when it comes to that kind of thing. I don’t see scary movies or read scary books. To tell you the truth, I don’t even like to think scary thoughts, so my experience with spooky is limited. But, I do have one memory from my childhood that still gives me chills – one I’ve told here before. It happened the summer I spent several weeks at my grandmother’s home in a small town in Illinois…
I was seven years old and thrilled to tag along behind my older siblings and cousins as we roamed the town each day and long into the summer evenings. Those weeks were a sweet taste of freedom and innocence, of bare feet and fireflies, of corn fields and fireworks. But all that changed the evening the oldest of the group, my very cute, fifteen-year-old cousin, led us up the walkway of the Sauer estate.
He dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper as he explained that the neglected mansion had been empty for ten years, since the day old man Sauer had vanished mysteriously. At the time, I didn’t understand the concept of breaking and entering, but was pretty sure climbing through the window of the spooky mausoleum was a bad idea. I wanted no part of this particular adventure, but older kids can be brutal in their challenges. Especially to naïve seven year-olds. And there was no way I was waiting outside all on my own. I buckled to peer pressure and followed them inside.
The hairs on the back of my neck prickled and stood at attention as I looked around. Cob webs clung in every corner and worn and dusty furniture filled the living room. A yellowed newspaper lay folded on the end table beside a tattered arm chair. The teasing laughter and chattering voices of a few minutes earlier dropped to cautious murmurs as we moved as a group through the house. Each room held more of the same. Everyday household items rested where they had been left. In the kitchen, a moldy plate of food sat on the counter beside a half-filled glass of water, as though Mr. Sauer had simply slipped out to run an errand – and never returned.
At a sudden thump from the second floor, I yelped and my older sisters jumped. They clung to one another, eyes wide with fear as their bravery deserted them. My gaze flew to the window and escape. But no, cute cousin wouldn’t have that. Pressing a finger to his lips, he jerked his head in a follow me motion and headed for the staircase. My heart pounded as the other kids hesitated. Surely we’d be leaving now. We shouldn’t be here. Something very, very bad was going to happen if we didn’t leave immediately. But apparently, a fifteen year-old’s arched brow has magical powers of persuasion. My feet dragged as if they were encased in lead and I clung to the tails of my sister’s t-shirt and climbed the stairs.
If the first floor was spooky, the second was downright creepy. Little light came through the shuttered windows. The floorboards squeaked and groaned beneath our feet, and the gloom of the airless hallway amplified the scrape of scurrying rodents. My imagination conjured up long tails and sharp teeth. I grabbed my sister’s arm, wrapping my fingers around her wrist. Hoping the dig of my fingernails would help snap her out of her blind obedience, I fought against peeing my pants. I’d never been so scared before, or for that matter, since.
Like prisoners facing death row, we shuffled forward. Our destination, a door at the end of the hall, directly above the kitchen. Cute cousin and my brothers were first in line, with us girls bringing up the reluctant rear. By the time we reached the door where the boys waited, I could barely breathe and things only got worse when my cousin pressed a hand to the door – and shoved! The heavy wooden panel crashed against the wall of a large, tiled bathroom and my ear piercing screams joined those of every one of siblings and cousins – including the cute fifteen year-old whose face blanched with terror.
In the far corner of the room, a claw-foot tub crouched like a beast about to leap. And in its depths, cold and still as death, waited…
Psych! I made the whole thing up. Weenie, remember? You would never catch me inside a spooky house!
Okay, not nice, I know, but I got a laugh out of it, and my cute cousin would as well. So, to make it up to you, I’ll be gifting an ARC copy of IRRESISTIBLE DECEPTIONS, my debut romantic suspense, to one lucky visitor. The trailer link is below. Feel free to check it out, and to be entered in the drawing for IRRESISTIBLE DECEPTIONS, leave a comment telling me what you imagined awaited us in that tub.
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