New Years Eve found me with my best friend for as long as I could remember, Angel or as some of you know her AJ Kelton. We watched movies, ate too much and talked about our dreams for the New Year. Angel was always full of dreams, she planned big. I on the other hand never aimed as high as she did. My plans for the New Year? To finish my sequel to Legion, to do a little traveling and maybe write a traditional M/F romance. Angel though had much bigger dreams. She wanted to get twelve stories published.
On January 17th all of her dreams came to an abrupt halt when she passed away. Three months later I’m still in shock, I still pick up the phone and want to call her. Her dream was to put out twelve stories; it is bittersweet that it looks as if I will be the one that accomplishes that goal for her.
In February I had the story Everything Changes published by MLR press. It was the last story that Angel read and told me how much she loved it. She agreed with several people that read it, it was a story that brought a tear to her eye. Everything Changes is about romance writer Colton who refuses to move forward in life after his lover dies on Valentine’s Day. He is so wrapped up in his grief that seven years later he still refuses to neither love again nor see the love that is right in front of him.
My Angel friend teased me saying I was finally moving into the angst that she loved to write and away from the paranormal. A couple of days later something happened that changed my life. My best friend in the entire world told me she was sick. She was going to spend the day in bed. I wasn’t worried, it was January after all, everyone caught a cold on occasion. I sent her a text telling her to rest. It was during this time that my story Forgotten was moving though the editorial process.
Forgotten is the story of two married men that buy a rather large country house that has more land than they know what to do with. It is more house then Peter wants but he could never tell Rhys no when the man had his heart set on something. It isn’t long before Peter starts to hear crying, doors slam and water that turns on. When he finds out that Rhys sees and hears nothing Peter begins to feel that the stress of the move and his career as a writer has finally pushed him toward a mental break.
Then the dreams start, dreams of a dark haired man that tell Peter he loves him. Soon Peter realizes that the house is haunted by a man who wants Peter and will do anything to get him, even committing murder.
During the time of my Angel friend’s illness I focused on my writing. Three months into the year and I have four stories out. The short story The Right Combination can be found in the Red Hot Valentine anthology and the short Snow and Red can be found in the Hot, Strong and Irish anthology.
A couple of days after telling me she was sick my best friend went into the hospital. They admitted her with pneumonia. I wasn’t worried; I talked to her on the phone. Pneumonia is something doctors can cure. On Monday she was laughing with me, she talked about the story she was working on and I asked her to look over my blurb. Angel read through it quickly and told me she loved the blurb for Forgotten and couldn’t wait to read the final piece of work. She assured me she would be going home the next day.
On Tuesday I texted her and I got no response. Instantly panic set in. In all the years we had been best friends we never went a day without texting or talking in some way. By Wednesday with no response from her I knew in the way that only someone who was like a twin could know, something was wrong. I had people try to calm me down but I was terrified, they didn’t know my Angel, they didn’t understand that we were almost like soul mates. We finished each other’s sentences, we knew each other’s thoughts, I made the phone call. It was on Wednesday that I found out she was on life support. My beloved Angel never woke back up. I will never again here her pick up the phone and say “Kitten friend guess what!” Never would she do our night time ritual of tucking each other in. We may not have been together but the moment we left work we were on the phone with each other. We watched TV together, we wrote books together, we shopped together and we never went on a date unless the other approved of the man who asked us out.
On January 17th my beloved Angel was gone. She was 39 years old. She died from something the doctors should have been able to cure. I was ready to follow her, I had friends rush to my side and I was put on suicide watch. Everyone tried to tell me what Angel would want, no one knew her like I did and I honestly felt that since they didn’t know us then people shouldn’t be telling me what she would want or how she would feel. I curled up in the chair and refused to move, refused to eat. I wondered how you went on when you shattered so badly.
I put all my writing aside. Writing was something we did together and without my best friend to brainstorm with it held no interest. My releases started to come out but I couldn’t be happy about it. How can you celebrate without your best friend? I was barely functioning. Then a friend gave me a piece of advice, he said “tears can destroy a country but rage can build an empire.” Of course I stared at him like he had two heads. He smiled and said that crying will do nothing more than destroy everything we had created. I could take the anger that she was taken from me and use that anger to build upon what we started. I have started to write again. I sat down and made my beloved Angel a promise, I would take everything we started and I would continue on. I would take her dreams and turn them into reality. It is that promise that keeps me writing, that keeps me moving through the day.
So my Angel friend, I would have loved to have seen what we could do together but someday I will see you again and I will tell you about all the amazing things I did with what we started together.
Some houses come with secrets, and some secrets should never be forgotten.
After eight years together, Peter and Rhys have finally achieved success: good jobs that keep them comfortably fed and a happy married life. The icing on the cake is their move from a small city duplex to a large farmhouse in need of repair.
Peter instantly senses something going on in the house that he can’t put his finger on, something a bit sinister. Things start to happen: whispers in the night, crying only Peter can hear, faucets that turn on for no reason. When Peter starts to dream of a dark-haired young man who tells him how much he loves him, he feels like he’s losing his mind, especially since Rhys doesn’t see or hear anything.
Only after suffering accidents and injuries does Rhys agree the house is haunted, and they’ll have to figure out how to fight a lovesick ghost.
“Would you love me? Would you protect me?”
Peter could almost hear the whispered voice. It even held an accent, something that Peter loved.
“Yes,” he whispered. “I’d keep you safe. I’d love you.”
The man standing beside the window turned to look at him. “You would have loved me?”
“Yes, I would have loved you,” Peter responded, studying the full lips and the brown eyes that seemed too big for his heart-shaped face.
The man focused on something over Peter’s shoulder, his eyes growing wide with fear. Then he ran, and a cold breeze blew through the room, ruffling Peter’s hair and knocking over his trash can.
Peter opened his eyes with a start. It was a great scene for a book. Now if he could just get it from his mind to the computer before any of it faded. He noticed the trash can lying on its side. Reaching down to pick it up, he briefly wondered when he’d knocked it over.
Somewhere downstairs, he heard a thump, like someone had fallen. Peter glanced over his shoulder as the hair on his arms stood on end. He breathed deeply, calming his nerves. The stairs creaked—it sounded almost like someone was walking up the wooden steps. The footfall was heavy, it reminded him of a man wearing hard-soled shoes or maybe even boots.
“Rhys?” he called over his shoulder. He waited a moment, expecting Rhys to answer, to step around the corner.
He shook his head. He was letting his imagination get the best of him. Houses made noise—that was a fact. The sound of someone walking up the steps was nothing more than the house settling.
Peter stared at his computer. Ten minutes ago he couldn’t stop his overactive mind from giving him scenes for a story, and now nothing more than a sentence or two would come. Usually he had no problem coming up with stories. His editor knew he would produce at least four books a year. He was her go-to guy whenever they didn’t get the books they needed for an open call. He always had something in the works, some harebrained idea, most of which were so odd they never became a story. His mind was a scary place. Rhys teased him, saying he could mention a rubber duck and it would make Peter think of haunted houses.
Rolling his shoulders, he let out a frustrated sigh. “You can do this, Peter. Just pick a story and start typing. You can always delete what you don’t like later.”
Peter jumped at the sound of his name, more a whispered sigh than spoken. He pushed his chair back a little and turned to see if Rhys had gotten out of bed. Perhaps Rhys was talking in his sleep. He often did that.
“Rhys, honey?” Peter called. Silence answered him again. He rose from his chair and walked across the bare floor, wishing he had worn socks. He peeked out into the hallway, checking for Rhys. The hallway stood just as dark and empty as when he’d first walked down it. “Are you okay, honey?”
He stared down the hallway, holding his breath as he strained to hear even the slightest sound. Perhaps he had only heard Rhys roll over, a rustle of blankets but nothing more. He tilted his head to one side. The shadows seemed different than they had before, darker, with a more solid shape. He stepped into the hallway to get a better look. His heart beat loudly, and his skin tingled as goose bumps started to rise on his forearms. The shadow seemed to loom at the end of the corridor—if a shadow could loom.
“It’s a full moon,” he told himself. “The moonlight shining through the window caused shadows.”
A chill passed over his body. He shuddered, rubbing his arms for warmth as he walked back into his office. Almost as soon as he felt the cool air, it vanished. Peter sighed deeply, shaking his head as he did. He wrote paranormal romance. He couldn’t let his imagination get the better of him. He walked back to his computer.
“You just moved in, Peter, you’re letting a beautiful house spook you. It’s just like when you moved into the duplex. New places always creep you out until you get used to them.”
Shaking his head slightly, he turned back to his computer, and taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, he began to type.
About the Author
Raised in a small town in the corner of Kansas, Rider’s mother installed a love of books in her. Thanks to her mother she developed a love for all things paranormal at an early age. Her parents always encouraged her to use her imagination and write stories.
When she was 18 she left the small farming community without a stop light and headed for the bright lights of Las Vegas. She continued to write but life kept her from actually publishing anything. After ten years in the big city, Rider decided she wanted a much slower paced life and returned to Kansas.
It was here that she met a friend who loved her stories and encouraged her to submit them.
When not writing Rider loves to read anything she can get her hands on from the Dark taboo erotic books to the lighter Amish romance. She also has an interest in the lost art of pen paling. Putting pen to paper and sharing the good times and the bad through the written word with friends near and far. Rider also loves to travel and while she has been to the tourist attractions she much prefers the hidden gems off the beaten path that few know about. It is these adventures that often find their way into her books.
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