Welcome to Tuesday Treat. I’m treating you to an excerpt from one of my stories as my guest for today has electrical problems and couldn’t get their post to me. Therefore, I am offering you an excerpt from my ghostly romance published with Liquid Silver Books, Your Heart My Soul.
I love this story, I loved it when I wrote it, when I got the contract, the cover art and even through edits I loved it. Please enjoy this excerpt, which is in the Tuesday Treat frame of mind as it is a first. This is the first time Libby steps inside the old pawn shop she’s inherited. I do hope you enjoy it.
The wonky grin on the lion-faced boot scraper in its niche in the wall welcomed her as, no doubt, it had welcomed thousands of others. The thick metal bar ran across from the face end of the scraper to the tail and looked dependably solid. The piece of street furniture offered a sense of permanence, a crumb of hope. All of the age-related decay to the building, it could be superficial. The bones of the building might still be strong and the rest—it could be repaired.
The chilly wind managed to sneak into a gap in her scarf, making her shiver. She angled the little spray nozzle on top of the can into the lock mechanism and squirted the pungent liquid for a good minute, left it to allow the fluid to sink in for a second or two, and repeated. Trickles rolled down the door scenting the air and her fingers. “This had
better work.” Fitting the key into the lock once more, she turned it and though still stubborn, finally, with a creak and a rasp, the lock turned. She pushed the door another time, hard enough to make it shudder and open.
She placed one foot on the grubby black-and-white tiles in a small lobby. She shoved harder at the door to gain full access and get out of the cold wind.
Cobwebs, the kind normally associated with Miss Haversham’s wedding breakfast, festooned both of the inner doorways. A trailing rent showed at least one person had been inside recently. Heaven knew how any visitor had opened the door. Suddenly afraid to find herself alone in the dark, she sorted through the bag and dragged out the flashlight. She angled the wide beam so she could see and checked through the rest of the keys, to find the one to the internal door to the store. The cobwebs shimmied in the breeze, because the whole time she’d left the street door open behind her.
The building has been unoccupied since the mid-nineteen fifties. The shop was unused for some time prior to this date. Much of its nineteenth-century stock remains in situ.
The words on the letter that lured her to the place returned.
More sprayed lubricant. Three times she tried with the key before she bested the lock on the internal door. The rank odor of mildew greeted her as the inner door to the store opened with a creak. A strange smell soured the air.
God, its freezing in here.
The icy chill seeped into her bones. She pointed the flashlight and peered inside.
One step forward and gooseflesh not caused by the temperature rippled along her arms. The back of her neck tingled, and though she knew no one else could be in the shop, the sense she wasn’t alone added to her disquiet.
The huge amount of clutter, dirt, dust, and decay revealed by the sweep she made with the flashlight defied logic. What kind of shop had this been?
“Get a grip.” She edged forward until she stood in the one clear space in the center of the room. The unpleasant odor she inhaled caught in the back of her throat and forced her to cough. The flashlight beam wavered in her hand until she balanced it on the top of the bookcase to illuminate as much as it could while she fought for breath. How she wished she’d asked Trudy or Hugo to accompany her. Grateful for the sense of safety the cell phone offered, she clutched it in her palm as she swallowed to calm her tickly throat.
Surrounded by baskets of trash, each stack and pile outlined by the invasive light, she fought off a fresh and powerful wave of despair. The dreadful sense if she touched a thing in here, she’d never be clean again kept her hands in her pockets.
What is all this?
Images of the experiences tracing her journey to this point raced by—the day the letter came, the phone calls with Trudy, the hours she’d spent in Frank’s office. The effort she’d put into the loan application to the bank, the day she got her passport, booking the flights, and her friends surprise about the trip.
All for what?
A fresh catch in her throat and she blinked back tears. This was a development property, for sure, and she’d expected some renovation work would be needed.
But this much?
She looked up. More bad news greeted her in the gloom.
The bulge in the ceiling above where she stood didn’t offer much hope for upstairs.
The place should be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. I don’t think I’ll be able to fund a refurbishment. I should just go home.
A sigh echoed around the room, and for the life of her, despite what she’d discovered so far, she didn’t think it was hers. She never sighed. Slow and deliberate, she lifted her chin, stood as tall as her low-heeled boots allowed, and looked over the room to make a full assessment of her enemy. “From today, this place is mine and everything in it, lock, stock, and barrel. This store is going to be a store again and…” She’d no idea whom she addressed. “You’d better get used to it.”
The crash of a fallen picture frame sent ripples of adrenaline through her. Accident. It had to be. Maybe an old nail? Or a hook loosened by her body warmth alone working on the powdery, disintegrating plaster. She took a step over a big basket full of dust-laden cloth and picked up the framed print of a ship from where it had tumbled.
A three-masted tall ship struggled for life in impossibly wild seas. The white sails swirled in tattered shreds. The body of the ship plunged into waves that promised to overwhelm it. She squinted at a title to the picture etched on a small plaque and rubbed her thumb across the dirty little brass roundel until she could make out the words. “The cruel and brutal destruction of the Hannah Bright.”
“Is everything in here about doom?” She shoved the picture into a small basket of others and turned to the door.
Another crash, the sound of metal hitting wood, rang out as she closed the door behind her, but it didn’t stop her from locking the door on her way out.
Why the heck do I feel so filthy?
Her skin felt grimy as though she’d rolled in the dirt and dust, like she’d need to shower for weeks to be clean on the outside. It might take longer to purify her on the inside. “Ugh!”
A shudder raced over her. The place was disgusting.
Out in the cold and clean air of the street, she lifted the cell phone and scrolled through the premade contact list.
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