After this post, I will be focused on my upcoming poetry book release. Instead of a big blog tour like for In the Tree’s Shadow I will be doing posts here. But before I get started, I wanted to share an excerpt from my novelette in the Harbor Pointe Series.
I will be talking about this series more, as the release dates get closer! Can’t wait 🙂
The Harbor Pointe Inn has loomed on California’s cliffs for generations of Hawthornes. For some, it’s been a blessing. For others, a curse. Travel through two centuries of stories to discover the old inn’s secrets.
It’s 1967, and best friends Lacey and Sandy are enjoying a beach vacation, completely unaware of the danger that is lying in wait outside their door. Their room is quaint, with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and an old lighthouse, but a killer is stalking their next victim. Powerless, Annie the ghost watches, knowing there’s nothing she can do to help—not even her parents, the innkeepers. Who will survive their stay at the Harbor Pointe Inn, where the edge of evil lurks within the shadows?
1967, Northern California
Annie watched helplessly as evil exited the beautiful redwood forest in predator mode. It prowled over to the precipice by the old lighthouse. Her deepest desire was to protect her parents. She had stayed by their side since dying in the wooden cradle her father had made, patiently waiting until they could hold her again. They deserved a happy life until then, but now a cruel person with an empty heart was near them, threatening them. Yet what could she do, a spirit?
The only time she’d been able to assist the living was nine years ago when that poor girl Shelly had been lost and out of gas and given birth alone to sweet little Luke. Annie had guided Shelly through a snowstorm to her own parents, but she couldn’t lead this evil away from them. And what about the others at the inn—who would be the prey?
She sighed and wiped away a tear, knowing the killer would never feel this sorrow. What good was it for her to know things and not be able to do anything about them? It was a hard choice to stay and wait. The worst part was that her sweet mother had booked a reservation yesterday. More guests were coming to Harbor Pointe Inn, and there was no way to stop them. No way at all. Someone was going to die unless the evil was defeated. Since no one knew it was there, how would that happen? Saddened, Annie glided back to the inn to be by her parents.
The solemn middle-aged man topped off the gas in Lacey’s new red ’67 Ford Mustang convertible. Fluid and tires were checked as Sandy handed Lacey her requested coffee and donuts.
“Where you young ladies headed?”
“North. Up the coast.” Lacey placed the coffee in the small box she used to hold her coffee and change and revved the car with her usual gusto.
The man wiped his hands on an old greasy rag and frowned. “Pretty drive, but a dangerous road. Take those corners easy.”
Lacey winked at him and tore out of the gas station faster than she should have. Sandy clicked her seat belt snugly across her lap as the coffee sloshed through the top of the paper cups and drained into Lacey’s box, soaking the tossed coins. Sandy dabbed the spill with a napkin she found in the glove box. A mess never bothered Lacey, so Sandy didn’t bother to comment. They were like sisters but could never be roommates.
Lacey tapped her pink manicured fingernail against Sandy’s arm. “This is going to be the best. Don’t you go falling asleep again and miss this view.”
Sandy held back a sigh and blew on the hot coffee. “I hardly slept last night, worrying if I’d forgotten something. I needed a little nap. Besides, there hasn’t been anything I haven’t seen before since we left Sacramento.”
“Yeah, but you don’t want to miss the redwoods and the coast. Grams took me to this inn when I was little. You will love the ocean view—there’s a genuine working lighthouse. Maybe you’ll spot a whale to study.” Lacey grinned.
“I’d love to see a whale breach or even a pod of dolphins. Maybe I could get a picture.” Sandy’s stomach fluttered like a kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies in flight as Lacey passed a car. The feeling was a combination of the thought of seeing whales and Lacey’s adventurous driving.
Lacey slowed after passing and rolled her shoulders. “You aren’t an accountant and dutiful housewife. You are a marine biologist.”
Sandy looked down and tugged off her white boots. “My family needs me to work for them. It’s been planned and—”
Lacey cut off Sandy’s weak protest, holding up a hand that should have been on the wheel. “Your family will survive without you. Pay attention to all this beauty—we’ll be there in about two hours.”
The coffee kept her awake as they sped through the turns the man had warned about. Sandy’s stockinged foot pumped an imaginary brake as her friend deftly navigated the winding road. Lacey was right about the view. It was incredible—dark blue waves crashing against a jagged rock shoreline. There was nothing but road, ocean, redwoods, and open land for the next two hours. But no whales.
Lacey broke the admiring silence. “My cousin used to have a house in Crescent City. He lost it because of his gambling, you know.” She stuffed a donut in her mouth and shrugged. “Grams always said it was lucky he never married. He moved to Reno and lived in some nice lady’s extra room until he died. So sad to waste living in such a beautiful spot because he threw his money away on gambling.”
Sandy kept her eyes pinned on the ocean over the curvy highway. “I’ve heard it’s an illness.”
“One they sure don’t have a cure for. I think it’s more like a compulsion, like killing. Although they may not kill anyone, they sure kill their lives.” Lacey shook her head and then pointed. “Look, on those rocks! They remind me of dogs!”
Sandy laughed. “Probably Steller sea lions. They can get up to 2,500 pounds and would be hard to walk.”
“Only you would know that fact.”
“Seals are fascinating. I’d love to live here and hang out with them.”
Lacey pursed her freshly lipsticked pink lips and rolled her eyes. “You should.”
Sandy’s throat tightened as she pushed down the hidden simmering rebellion with the cold coffee. “I have my family and my boyfriend.”
Lacey sighed dramatically. “Your boring boyfriend. Greg’s not your soul mate, and you know it.”
Sandy ignored Lacey’s truth bull’s-eye and tried to remove the barbed arrow that dug deeper into her obligation-filled reality. “I’ve known Greg since kindergarten. We get along, our families are friends, and we would have the same values for raising kids. It makes sense that I marry Greg.” She focused all her attention on the expansive Pacific Ocean while stuffing the last powdered donut in her mouth.
Lacey flung her auburn hair over her shoulder and added a head shake. “That would make sense if you were hiring an employee, but you aren’t. This concerns your heart, not job qualifications, duties, and balance sheets. I’ve known you for as long as you’ve known Greg. You don’t have to marry me because we’ve known each other a long time, do you?”
Sandy grinned but didn’t respond. Lacey was right. These very thoughts had crossed her mind more than once or twice. However, she never dared to say them out loud. It would make it all too real. Sandy had told Greg she’d consider his marriage proposal while she was away. The families were probably already planning an engagement party for them.
“Not gonna answer that? Well, what about you having to lie to your parents and Greg about where we’re going?”
Sandy looked away. “They would worry too much.”
“Worry? They would have stopped you!”
“Well, they care about me.”
Lacey threw both hands up before gripping the red steering wheel again. “They smother you! I’m pretty sure they don’t know the real you like I do. Good thing they didn’t know you had some money stashed away, or they would have put it to work for you and not let you use it.”
Sandy shrugged. Her friend spoke the uncomfortable truth. In comparison, Sandy had woven a fictional story about visiting Redding to clean up Lacey’s grandmother’s house to sell—a house that was already sold. The only thing that wasn’t a lie was that they were headed north, but she honestly didn’t believe there was another choice. At twenty-one years old, she’d always done the right thing, like earning her associate’s degree in accounting from the local junior college several months ahead of schedule. She needed to taste freedom, even if this was her last and only shot at it before she committed to Greg.
Lacey skillfully changed the subject. “I already paid for the room. So you got some money to do some more traveling.”
“What? No, we agreed to split the room and gas.”
“We’ll talk about it later, Sandy. Let’s have some fun, okay?”
“Sure, later,” Sandy mumbled, knowing she had already lost the battle. She’d find another way to pay her friend back.
Lacey slowed down for a hairpin turn. A thick fog bank was creeping in from the sea.
“Is that it?” Sandy pointed to a lighthouse blinking in the distance.
“It sure is. Although we got a room with a view, I wish it had been on the third floor, like when I went with Grams. Plumbing issues. What can you do?” Lacey patted Sandy’s hand as they pulled onto a road with several potholes, probably from recent storms. They forced her speed to a crawl to avoid bottoming out. “I wish you’d reconsider coming to Europe with me. There’s a whole big world out there. You can pay me back if you have to. Grams left me well taken care of, and she loved you like you were part of the family.”
Sandy took a deep breath and let it out quietly. Lacey’s offer tempted her. It really did. “I appreciate your wanting to take me along, and you’re right—I’d insist on paying my way. But you know I can’t leave my family. They depend on me. You can do it for both of us.”
Lacey groaned and added a tongue click. “I’m going to change your mind. You are going to be the marine biologist you’ve always wanted to be. There’s a program at Humboldt State College.”
Sandy crossed her arms as they drove past the lighthouse. She wanted to be out there on the ocean exploring. Maybe on her honeymoon, if there was one. “Like I can afford that degree.”
“I’d offer to pay for it, but I know you would refuse. You could work your way through. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. My great-grandparents used to live there, and you’d be fine. Maybe you’d find your real Prince Charming.”
Sandy shook her head, slipped the white boots back on, and responded with more regret than she should have felt. “I already have a life planned.”
“Not the right one. I’m going to do what I want, and so are you. The end.”
Sandy studied the scenery and ignored Lacey. Her friend wasn’t going to win over her family. Or was she? Sandy felt a weight lift off her momentarily, but it came crashing back. They depended on her.
They pulled into a quaint, circular cobblestone driveway in front of a weathered inn. Off to the side was a redwood forest to explore, but the lighthouse caught her attention. She hoped they let the public inside. Next to it was a charming stone cottage. She could imagine living in that little house and working in the lighthouse. However, those days were gone—lighthouses were automated now. Lacey was right about her life, but was she brave enough to change her course? Did family responsibility mean more than what she wanted? Maybe she had some important reflecting to do.
Next week is book reviews and on to new release posts. No new Finn’s Forest until after.
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book. D. L. Finn