KC Burn has a new MM Paranormal book out (gay, bi): West on Grainger. And there’s a giveaway.
Is Sandy Bottom Bay truly full of ghosts?
Wendell Weston is in a slump. Paranormal stories are his life. His income. His sole focus for as long as he can remember, not that he actually believes any of it is real. His obsession has complicated his love life, but for the most part, he hasn’t minded. But now his muse has gone quiet. In search of inspiration, he flies across the country to the purportedly haunted bed and breakfast, just before Haunt Fest. Soured on romance by the cynicism and superficiality of the Hollywood actors he works with, he’s not expecting a chance encounter with an attractive man to go anywhere.
But Kyle Grainger isn’t just a pretty face. He also hosts local ghost walks. The closest thing to an expert Wendell has encountered, and with any luck, Kyle will lead him to a spectral encounter. Before long, Wendell realizes he wants to follow Kyle anywhere, ghost or not. As a true skeptic, Wendell doesn’t believe he’ll see a ghost for real, but he’s going to have fun trying. Especially with Kyle. One of the many local legends will surely trigger his muse, but in the meantime, getting to know a sweet, mesmerizing man would make the trip worthwhile.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to encounter a ghost?
That’s what Kyle thinks every time he hosts another ghost walk in Sandy Bottom Bay. Not once in hundreds of tours has he seen one, but he remains hopeful. Kyle hasn’t had a lot of amazing in his life. After an injury in college, he had to pivot on his life’s dream. He’s content, more or less, professionally. His romantic dry spell, on the other hand, could turn the Everglades into the Sahara. Wendell is an unexpected pleasure, one Kyle hopes is more than a Haunt Fest hookup.
What if the ghost isn’t harmless?
After one of the other guests at the local bed and breakfast dies suddenly, Wendell and Kyle experience a number of odd occurrences that suggest Kyle might be more sensitive to spirits than either of them imagined. If Wendell can’t shake his skepticism about the paranormal, Kyle’s sanity and even his life could be the price they pay.
Warnings: self harm (appears off page), references to murder
KC is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47288/?
A crash broke the silence, shattering the sense that they were alone in the world together.
In unison, they both stood up, Wendell’s heart pounding as he strained to listen.
“Did someone fall? Should I call the police or an ambulance?” He couldn’t hear any cries of pain or pleas for help.
Kyle darted his gaze around. “It sounded more like something fell? Not heavy enough for a person, I don’t think.”
True. And maybe not thump-y enough to be a body hitting the ground. But better safe than sorry.
“I need to check this out”.
“I’ll come with you.”
Wendell smiled gratefully at Kyle. He’d much rather not be alone if there was an emergency. He snatched up his phone and keyring, then led Kyle into the lobby.
“Where do you think it came from? Upstairs?”
Kyle shrugged. “Maybe. But it sounded closer than that. I think.”
He hoped he wouldn’t have to start knocking on doors. Like Kyle said, it didn’t sound loud enough to be a human body, but if someone was hurt in their suite, well, he had a responsibility for that, didn’t he?
They peeked into the tea room and the main dining room, both of which were dim and obviously empty. Wendell flicked on lights but that only confirmed that the rooms were empty and undisturbed, ready to serve guests tomorrow first thing.
“Library’s next.” Then the game room. Then opening unoccupied rooms. Not long before he’d have to figure out if he had to start knocking on doors. Pretty much the last thing he wanted to do.
Kyle nodded, and gestured for Wendell to proceed.
Wendell flicked a switch by the door and various tabletop lamps flickered to life, filling the room with a serene yellow glow. This particular room had no windows—the one existing window had been blocked up at some point to accommodate the later addition of a fireplace—and as such, always required lighting.
Wendell strode into the room, almost at the far wall, when he spotted it.
“This must be it.” He turned back to Kyle, who hovered in the doorway. “Is something wrong?”
An indecipherable expression crossed Kyle’s face, before he sucked in a breath and walked into the room.
“Uh. Okay.” Something definitely was, but Wendell wasn’t about to poke his new friend about something sensitive. “Anyone else here?” Wendell called out.
“Don’t say that,” Kyle said from just inside the doorway.
Kyle rolled his eyes. “This town is full of ghosts. You don’t want to accidentally invite one in.”
Wendell’s eyes widened. “For real?”
“Eh. I don’t know. I’ve never seen a ghost, but Eddie—he’s a medium—and he says stuff like that all the time.”
Wendell made a mental note to seek him out at some point during his stay. Interviewing a ‘real’ medium would be excellent research.
Then Kyle approached close enough to see what Wendell had found. “What the hell happened here?”
It looked like someone had swept an arm across an entire shelf of books, sweeping them to the floor, along with some sort of ceramic sculpture, which lay in shards on the floor amongst the haphazard pile of hardcover books. This had to be the source of the crashing sound they’d heard.
Wendell frowned. “If we were back home, I’d assume we’d had an earthquake, and these books hadn’t been shelved securely or something. But you don’t get quakes out here, do you?”
Kyle shrugged. “Not that I’ve ever heard of. I guess there’s a first time for everything, but wouldn’t we have felt an earthquake strong enough to dump books off their shelves? I’ve never been in an earthquake.”
“Yeah, we definitely would have noticed that.”
“Kids, then? A stupid prank?”
Wendell chewed at his bottom lip. “Think there’s any way outsiders, like kids from the town, could easily get in here and do this? Although I have no idea why they would.”
“The Lady isn’t exactly Fort Knox, but I also don’t see any reason why anyone, kids or not, would sneak in here to do this. And it’s not like there aren’t any security measures.”
“Yeah, I know. So weird.” But it wasn’t a prison. Any number of employees, past and present, could have either gotten around the current security. Maybe it had been a localized weather phenomenon?
And just like that, Wendell could believe it was a freak weather thing as a gust of chilly air swept across his neck.
Kyle also rubbed his arms. “It’s cold in here.”
One of the table lamps nearby flickered, then the bulb blew with a sharp pop.
Kyle yelled, and clutched at his chest. Wendell flinched, then curled a lip at the shards of lightbulb glass that had been added to the mess on the floor.
“Can you grab me a broom or something to clean this up? I’ll start putting the books back.”
Within minutes, the mess had been cleared up but the vibe between him and Kyle was still weird.
“You sure you’re okay?” Wendell asked as they returned to the lobby.
The question got him a big sigh. “It’s stupid but I’ve never liked that room. I don’t know why.”
“Haunted? The Orange Lady?” Wendell could not be that lucky. But Kyle snorted and rolled his eyes.
“Not hardly. I don’t think there have ever been any sightings of her in the library. Besides, I’m sure I’m not sensitive to ghosts, or I would have seen one at least once during the many, many ghost tours I’ve done.”
“And you don’t think hating a room for no good reason might be a haunting?”
Kyle smirked, and Wendell smiled back, relieved to see Kyle’s good mood returning.
“Nope. It’s probably something wonky in the proportion of the rooms and it’s messing with my equilibrium or something. Maybe asbestos.”
“Asbestos?” That was the sort of horror story Wendell was not interested in living. Not a tiny bit. “Wouldn’t there have been inspections or something to correct that?”
“I’m just kidding. But I wasn’t kidding when I said that room hadn’t been changed since the house was built.”
“Original? That’s pretty cool, actually. What about the rest of the place?”
“The guest rooms upstairs are mostly original too.”
“I suppose so.” Nevertheless, the mental gears that Wendell had feared were rusted over for good had, well, they hadn’t started moving. Nothing as solid as a faint idea. But this simple discussion tweaked something in his mind. Like it was lubing his gears, or scrubbing away the rust. Preparing for work. Too soon for hope yet, but if he relaxed and let it happen, he might be able to coax his muse back.
“And I guess you haven’t seen the Orange Lady, have you?”
“Nope. But I haven’t been here overnight, either. She doesn’t show herself during the day, or so I’m told.”
Kyle’s phone buzzed and he pulled it out of a tight pocket.
“I have to get ready or I’m going to be late for my tour.” Kyle grabbed his bag and swanned into the employee bathroom.
Shortly after, Kyle emerged wearing the same pirate-esque outfit he’d worn the previous night, except this time his eyeliner was thicker and more dramatic.
Butterflies swooped and soared in Wendell’s belly. Kyle was just so beautiful. Too beautiful for a writer nerd like him.
That didn’t stop those damned butterflies.
KC Burn is a Canadian transplanted to Florida who writes happy-ever-afters about men loving men, whether they’re psychics, space travelers, aliens, professors, construction workers, cops, amateur sleuths… you name it, she’ll probably write it. She’s got a pair of black cats, aka muses/nuisances, and a supportive, understanding hubby.
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Kyle stood under the shade of an old oak tree and watched Wendell peer at the engravings on various gravestones. One of his teachers had brought his class on a field trip here to do rubbings of gravestones and something else historical related, but he didn’t recall anything of significance, historical or otherwise, in the gravestones they looked at. But he’d rather hang out in this cemetery than the library at the Lady. Perhaps he was just allergic to books that weren’t on his Kindle.
Wendell would occasionally pause and take a picture of various stones, rub away some of the moss, or pull back creeping ivy.
He could hardly believe Wendell had blurted out that he wanted to start dating. Amazed and thrilled, but so surprised. Sure, Wendell was only in town for a short amount of time, but that could be a good thing. A test run. Or, if things went well… no, he wasn’t going to leap ahead like he often did. He was going to be chill. Take things as they came. Be a normal person. The complete opposite of what he’d been when Wendell had asked about Eddie.
A breeze from the ocean ruffled Wendell’s hair and he brushed it out of his face in a distracted manner. Definitely more intense than the average tourist, but maybe not as intense as some of the hardcore paranormalists?
“What made you come to Sandy Bottom Bay?” Kyle wandered over to the tombstone Wendell was crouched over. He wasn’t going to stay out in the sun long. It might be edging into autumn but the sun was still strong and Kyle had not applied his heavy-duty sunscreen this morning, since he’d anticipated hanging out at the store most of the day.
“Oh, well, I saw an episode of this show, Phantoms?”
Kyle’s earlier anger came boiling back. “Oh really?”
Wendell rocked back on his heels and stared up at Kyle, who had been unable to hide his ire about the host and the damage that man had nearly done to people he cared about.
“You don’t like Phantoms?”
“The host is a total jerk and I refuse to even speak his name.”
“Agreed, he’s a total jerk. Did you meet him when he was filming here?”
“Yes, and I hope to never repeat the experience. He needs to drop off the face of the earth.”
Wendell laughed. “I could get behind that.”
“How do you know he’s an jerk? I mean, he seems so charming on the show. It was a real disappointment to find out how self-centered he is in person.”
Wendell stared at him for a moment before standing. “We’re going to try dating, right? We agreed to that? I mean, I’m only here for a few months, but I don’t really like casual, and I’d like to see how it goes.”
“Yes…” Although Kyle had no idea how those two ideas were connected. “I’m interested in that too. If it’s a vacation fling, that’s fine. If it gets more serious than that, we can talk long distance stuff later.”
Wendell nodded and blew out a breath. “And no one told you what I’m doing here?”
“You’re helping out at the inn. That’s all I’ve heard.” And somehow, it had never come up in their recent text conversations.
This time, Wendell’s laugh was rueful. “I honestly thought the small town gossip network functioned better than this.”
“Well, I heard that you were coming long before you got here.” Kyle frowned. “But it sounds like you’ve… got a secret?”
“It’s not really a secret. But I guess it could change things. I probably should have told you earlier.”
Oh great. Just what he needed. “Let me guess. You’re married?” Kyle wasn’t going down that road again. No way, no how.
Wendell’s eyes widened. “Oh, no. It’s nothing like that.”
“It’s getting hot out here. Let’s go by the Dairy Devil, and find a quiet place to talk.”
“Yup. Soft serve ice cream. It gets mobbed in the summer, but it shouldn’t be too busy right now.”
“Maybe some lunch afterward?” Wendell was hopeful.
“Yeah, maybe.” Although it would depend entirely on what this ‘secret’ was. Because if it was Wendell was married or had an open marriage or whatever crap guys tried to pull when they wanted their cake and to eat it too, Kyle wasn’t going to stick around for a meal.
Ice cream was more carbs than he needed, but he had a bad feeling he was going to need the ice cream therapy after this discussion.
“Lead the way.”
They left the cemetery, and Kyle only hoped this fledgling relationship wasn’t as dead as the cholera victims whose graves they walked over on the way out.