Sunday Snippet 05.24.15 - Victoria House

Today's excerpt comes from the second book in my best selling paranormal romantic suspense Haunted Hearts series.

About the book:

Haunted by a dark mystery in her family’s past...

When Tori Downing takes possession of the abandoned Hamilton estate on the longest peninsula on Lake Jefferson, Arkansas, she avoids revealing her connection to the ill-fated Hamilton family. Is the glowing image that shimmers in the second-floor window of Victoria House the ghost of Victoria Hamilton?

Tormented by a scandal she thought she’d left behind...

Until she leaves her career at the Arkansas State Crime Lab behind, she never even considers moving to Lake Jefferson, but the fallout from scandal gives Tori a very good reason to escape to Hill County and refurbish and restore the old family mansion. She settles into her new life...until the old accusations from her past start resurfacing.

Attracted to a man haunted by secrets of his own...

Drawn together to solve the murder of Jared Crenshaw, Tori and Lt. Grayson of the Hill County Sheriff’s Department dive into a tangled web of jealousy, deceit, and revenge as they attempt to solve both crimes, Jared’s death and the mysterious death years ago of Victoria Hamilton. Grayson’s past keeps interfering with his present, causing turmoil in both his professional life and his personal life.

Can love survive revealing the truth—from both the past and present—surrounding the tragedies at Victoria House?

Victoria House is always available in digital format for only $2.99. Here's the excerpt:

The house had obviously been a showplace in a former life. If she could just clean it up, she might manage to tolerate living there, or if she couldn’t, it might actually bring her a decent sales price. Someone had already approached her about buying the property with plans for turning the house into a wedding destination. She had politely ignored the inquiry, but maybe she should have given it more consideration.

Without electricity, she wasn’t going to explore the upper floor. Once again, she turned to leave, but her feet refused to move toward the door as if glued to the ratty, threadbare red carpet. A cold wave passed through her, not over or around, but straight through her. Nausea rolled in her stomach and the room began to wobble. She blinked to clear her fuzzy vision. Shivering and wrapping her arms around her middle, she tried to force her heavy limbs to take the first step. Panic swept over her as a sharp pain sliced across her throat.
Her hand flew to her neck and she withdrew it quickly. No blood. Was the sensation just her overactive imagination? No. The pain was real. She was very familiar with the sharp sting of a knife wound. Her hands began to shake. Her fragile psyche couldn’t endure the horror of being attacked again.

She forced herself to draw in a deep calming breath. If her throat had been cut, she wouldn’t be having an internal discussion. Would she? She’d be unconscious or dead.
Whatever was happening to her wasn’t normal, if the word could even be applied to the situation. Paranormal was a better word. On a deeper, instinctive level, she sensed the house was trying to hold her captive...or worse, trying to hurt her. She attempted once again to move, but she still couldn’t budge her legs.

“Let go of me,” she shouted as if someone could hear her, and she immediately realized how silly her demand might seem to an observer, not that there was anyone around to hear her scream.

As if she’d been suddenly released from an invisible grip, she broke free and nearly tripped over a wrinkle in the carpet. She glanced over her shoulder, fearful of what might be looming in the darkened house behind her. Movement caught her attention. Just a flash in the corner of her eye. Her gaze shifted to the top of the stairs. For an instant, she could have sworn something blacker than the darkness moved on the upstairs landing.

She didn’t want any part of something that even appeared paranormal. Once in a lifetime was enough. From a past littered with inexplicable experiences, she had learned that some things were better left unexplained.

She rushed to escape the oppressive heaviness of the house, shaking off the weird, unexplained feeling that had enveloped her. This time her feet cooperated. She burst onto the smooth stone of the front porch, banging the heavy front door shut behind her. Pressing her hand against her chest, she stopped to catch her breath. Then she held her shaking hand in front of her. The urge to flee grew in intensity with each beat of her hammering heart. She raced across the yard to the pebbled driveway, yanked open the door of her car, and climbed into the driver’s seat, clicking the lock as if that could keep something unnatural away from her.

Once inside the relative safety of her vehicle, she turned her gaze on the house. A light flickered through a second-floor window. It grew brighter and then dimmed before moving from one window to another. In turn, it glowed for just a moment in every window on the second floor. She puzzled over the phenomenon. Surely, the house had multiple rooms on that floor. How could the light move from room to room, seemingly passing through interior walls? Unless...

She fumbled in her purse, grabbed her key and jammed it into the ignition, and then gripped the steering wheel. She shuddered as she drew in a shaky breath. Before she slammed the shift into drive, she glanced up at the second-floor windows once again. The house appeared completely dark. Not even a glimmer of light.

Then a bright figure appeared in the nearest window, the translucent form of a woman. Tori blinked and the image disappeared. The glass shimmered as if she were looking at it through an energy field.

The urge to escape overwhelmed her. She couldn’t explain her odd feeling, but she sensed the house didn’t approve of her intrusion. Like it had lain silent for years and was happy with its dormant state. Like her presence had stirred up things that preferred to remain at rest.

The fear she’d been holding in erupted, and she screamed like someone was committing bloody murder. 

Victoria House is the second book in my Haunted Hearts series.

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You might also enjoy my free short story, Ghost In the Garden, available here:

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