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Happy Halloween!

The kids and I are having an all-day party packed with ghoulishly delicious homemade appetizers. Deviled eyeballs, Bacon-wrapped Cajun Jalapenos, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Spicy Jalapeno Dip, lots of meats and cheeses, and spiderweb cupcakes are just some of the menu items. Unfortunately I can’t invite you in to my home, the inside of which is entirely draped in spiderwebs (some aren’t real, mind you, lol), but I can offer a new excerpt from HAWTHORNE. Still haven’t read this one? It’s only $1.99 … if you dare.

HAWTHORNE | excerpt

[Noah] made a move to kill the light, but before he touched it a flicker on the outskirts of his forty-­‐‑watt island caught his eye. He tipped his head to examine the bulb, wondering if it had somehow moved, but his fingers had yet to find purchase on the pull. He tried to study his surroundings, but a cursory examination of the area proved difficult thanks to the spots marking his vision, leading him to the rather predictable conclusion that staring at a light bulb had not been in his best interest. But whatever compelled him to look past the merger of light and shadow into the dark corner was stronger than his fear—stronger, even, than common sense—so he eased into the darkness.

And saw her face.

Indefinable pain exploded through his skull and wracked his body, nearly bringing him to his knees. Through the power of tunnel vision, he was rocketed back ten years in time. There he stood in a nervous sweat, seventeen years of courage all gathered and reserved for the moment he’ʹd ask her for the world. Weeks of planning had come down to a single act: the caretaker’ʹs son palming a dime store ring intended for an heiress.

Emma Grace was his.

He was close enough to reach for her—to revel in the flirtatious, come‐‑hither grin she wore as she backed away from him on the roof, her hair blazing under the kind of moonlight that set the world on fire. He’ʹd stolen a single kiss, and the weight of a decade had yet to fade the light pressure of her hand stroking his cheek as she fell into his arms. They’ʹd shared their last kiss; it was a reality he never saw coming, and yet he wouldn’ʹt change a thing if he had known. Things were like that with them—always perfect.

Until the moment she’ʹd caught his lip between her teeth in a playful nibble that still drew an intimate surge through him when he thought of it. Then she’ʹd run the length of the walkway, hair flying, bare feet slapping on the wood. Two wooden rails stood between them and nothing, and the world was theirs.

Then he blinked.

In the infinitesimal moment of darkness Emma Grace screamed, and Noah watched from a helpless distance with unbelieving eyes as the form of an old woman appeared between them. The leering, decaying figure carried the scent of skunk—a horrific stench on a gentle breeze—and pressed relentlessly closer to Emma Grace. She’ʹd scrambled, running backward, and before he could say stop, before the word forced itself from his brain to his mouth, she’ʹd taken one step too far and plummeted over the railing. The sound of her sliding—screaming—echoed through every why and what if he’ʹd collected over the years, as if any amount of wishing could change a thing.

Before the echo of Emma Grace’ʹs cries had died in his ears, the woman twisted and sneered—a lurid, heartless upturn of her face. It was the last thing Noah remembered before he blew right through her, running in terror to the edge which had taken Emma Grace, as if he could somehow catch her and make things right.

Then he was on his knees, begging for none of it to be real.

And that was it.

The attic grew cold, the brittle air sucking Noah from his past. He blinked, his unfocused eyes settling on a murky disturbance of air. Had he seen the woman at all? Glancing around, he was startled to find himself kneeling on the plank flooring in a deep recess of the attic, far from the relative safety of the light. Then confusion gave way to the cold. Terror crept into his bones, and was left with one simple thought.

He had to get to Emma Grace.