Midnight Surrender Release Day!

My two favorite things SPOOKY & ROMANCE! This anthology contains some deliciously creepy short stories perfect for this time of year.  So, if you want to get your scare on…check it out! The stories in the anthology are by authors Charlotte Abel, Shannon Dermott, Airicka Phoenix, Amy Maurer Jones, Kelly D. Cooper and myself. You can check out my terrifying teaser from Shadow Slayer’s lost excerpt here.

Woot! I’m thrilled to host a teaser of the short story Dance by Moonlight by the wonderful author Kelly D. Cooper:

Homestead, South Carolina – Midsummer’s Eve – 1912

She winced as her hands were tied behind her back, her accusations caught in her throat, choking her in fear. Casting her gaze to the circle of people – friends and neighbors – people she had always trusted staring back at her with hungry eyes. . . glowing eyes.

The hooded figure turned, lengths of robe swirling around a thin form, the face, proud and poised turned toward her, and she gasped. “Margaret?!”

Suddenly the poised face morphed to that of a monster and the last thing she knew was the hiss of the crowd and piercing pain of fangs sinking into her jugular.

-oOo-

Homestead, South Carolina – 2012

Spanish moss dripped like dirty lace from the trees surrounding the old homestead. They drove to the back, dust billowing up in their wake and parked. Caroline felt her chest grow heavy and her stomach clench as she looked at her mother, taking note of the dark circles beneath her eyes and the strain around her mouth.

“I could help you, Mom,” said Caroline, tone pleading.

“I know, darling. I know you could but-” her mother paused briefly, “your Aunt Carol and Uncle Wyatt would be so disappointed if you didn’t spend some time with them this summer.”

“They’ll get over it,” she insisted. “C’mon.”

Her mother stopped gathering her purse and turned to her, her face a tapestry of pain and weary acceptance.

“Caro,” her mother said, “I can’t be a good parent to you this summer. We’ve discussed this and I thought we were in agreement. Tell me you understand.”

214“Ha- ha,” snorted Caroline.

Midnight Surrender

Sighing, Caroline turned her head to the passenger side window. “Yes, I understand.” She wrenched open the door, letting the oppressive southern heat into the car. Grabbing her purse she stood to watch as her Aunt Carol came bustling toward them.

“You made it!” she exclaimed, smiling, her arms opening to hug Caroline close. Pressing her face into her aunt’s soft neck, Caroline breathed deeply the scent of home as her aunt pulled back and held her by the shoulders. “Just look at you, darlin’” she said. “So grown up.”

Caroline’s mother came around the back of the car, carrying her suitcases. Uncle Wyatt threw his arms around her, dragging her into a tight embrace.

“How you doin’, Sis?” he asked. When her mother pulled back from him, Caroline could see the emotion in her mother’s eyes, reminding her that the divorce was tearing her mother apart.

“Oh, I’ll be fine,” she insisted.

Aunt Carol wrapped her arms around Caroline’s mother and steered her toward the house. Caroline watched them walk before turning to lift one of her suitcases.

Uncle Wyatt took the case from her, shaking his head. “I have this, little bit, you just go on in and visit with your mama a bit before she has to leave. Your Aunt Carol has prepared a feast for you since she figures you haven’t eaten anything good in a long time, what with living up north and all.”

215

-oOo-

Midnight Surrender

Caroline stood next to her aunt, trying not fidget.

“Caroline is going to be staying with us for most of the summer,” said her aunt. Several of the ladies who had gathered around them nodded, offering her polite smiles. Caroline just looked down at the clear plastic bowl of melting ice cream.

“It is nice to meet you, my dear,” said Margery. “You look like a deer in headlights. I bet you’d like to meet some young people. My Sheridan is over on the other side of the picnic shelter with some of her friends. You should meet her, Caroline. I am sure you girls would have so much in common.” The lady threaded her arm through Caroline’s and tugged her across the lawn.

A tall girl rose gracefully off the hood of a car to meet them. “Mother,” her eyes trained on Caroline, “what are you doing?”

“I wanted to introduce Carol and Wyatt’s niece to you and your friends, Sher. She is here for the summer,” she said.

The dark haired girl smiled and held out her hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you . . . um–” she faltered.

“Caroline,” supplied Caroline, wiping her moist palms on her dress before accepting the

hand.

“Would you care to join us?” Sheridan gestured to her friends. At seeing the unsure look on Caroline’s face, she laughed a bit. “I promise we don’t bite, not even if you want us to.”

Caroline chuckled at her own wariness and stepped forward. She stopped and turned to

thank Sheridan’s mother but . . . no one was there.

Kelly D. Cooper is the mother of two little southern beauties. She lives with her family in South Carolina where she spends her time weaving tales of romance, suspense and mystery. “Dance by Moonlight” is her first story, but she hopes to put more out soon.

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