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A spooky collection of Halloween tales with a splash of romance.
Modern takes on our favorite stories including mummies, vampires, demons, creatures from the deep, and Frankenstein's monster.Join USA Today bestseller Virginia Nelson and her award winning friends as they spin tales of darkness, fear, and that ever-shining light in the dark: true love.
Excerpt from Night of the Loving Dead
The rumors said the walls bled, which was enough to intrigue Madeline. She’d never seen anything like that, and if there was even a slight chance to see something like that, she was in. Most of the time, their little band of paranormal researchers spent their time stumbling around in the dark.
Nothing popped out of the inky blackness when they searched, unless she counted the occasional startled and unhappy raccoon. On really unlucky days, they might scare a skunk… not an experience she wanted to repeat.
No noises she couldn’t explain, even if Drew—her recent ex, and the leader of their misfit bunch—liked to romanticize everything. Every creak of old wood, every moan of wind through cracked windows, every inexplicable orb of light in their pictures were proof to him of life beyond the grave.
Madeline took a bit more convincing.
Her best friend, Layla, insisted that her disbelief was reason enough to leave the society and stop wandering around in the middle of the night seeking proof of the unknown, but Madeline didn’t see it that way. She went ghost hunting with the society because she wanted there to be something more. There had to be. Something other than waking up to go to work and paying bills. Something more than growing old and facing death. Something special. Something magical.
Besides, Madeline suffered from insomnia since she was a kid, so it wasn’t like she had something better to do at two o’clock in the morning. It was after her shift at the gas station—cashier, super fancy gig, right?—ended, so it wasn’t like she could work or do something else with the hours she spent wandering around abandoned buildings and anywhere else that might be haunted.
The road to the old mansion was overgrown and pitted, so they’d only made it partway down it in the car before they had to strike out on foot. A little walking never bothered Madeline, but Drew bothered her. When she’d first broken up with him—because lackluster sex wasn’t enough to make her keep dealing with his bullshit and drama—he’d tried to hook up with Cammie, another of their little society. Cammie wasn’t into him so much, but she wasn’t a great friend to Madeline, so for a bit…they’d had a thing. Madeline thought they still were together, at least as far as she knew. That led Carter, the last of their group, to think he should hit on her.
Nope. No way, no how. Been there, didn’t get a tee shirt. There is no way I am hooking up with anyone else in the society. This is my recreation and curiosity time. I’m not wasting it pretending to feel something for someone.
Because that was what relationships had become to her. Pretend. It didn’t seem anything enough anymore. Like she’d built up a tolerance to relationships and couldn’t get that emotional payoff others enjoyed.
Whatever. Enough introspection. Back to bloody walls.
Supposedly the old mansion had so many ghosts, people had actually died of fear when they tried to stay one night there. One person claimed they knew someone scared so badly, they never spoke again. All in all, it really was sort of the typical urban myth laden kind of thing the group chased down. But this one felt different, somehow. Like her skin was awake, each tiny hair on her arms feeling the breeze in a way they hadn’t before. Distant lightning illuminated the beast of a structure as they approached, making it look like black teeth gnawing at a storm tossed sky.
“Could you keep up? It is going to start raining on us if we don’t get a move on,” Drew complained. Since Madeline was about two feet behind him, his whining tone and stupid words were even more grating than normal.
“You don’t even know if this place has a roof, or if whatever roof it has is even waterproof. Rushing in isn’t a guarantee we’ll stay dry. Not to mention, aren’t we supposed to take in the ambiance around the building as well as within?” she asked.
“Whatever,” he said, shaking his head. His flashlight beam shifted swiftly, blinding her as he shined it right in her eyes.
Dick. Bag of dicks. Limp bag of dicks, Madeline thought spitefully.
“We do need to hurry,” Cammie agreed. “Even if the ceiling isn’t great, it still will provide some protection for the equipment.”
Madeline snorted. If the haunting was real, we shouldn’t need equipment. That was her big beef with their group and other paranormal research teams she’d seen on television. If the ghosts were real, and they were interacting with their plane, why would they need temperature gauges and other stuff to recognize they were here? A good ghost should be like the old horror movies—in your face, pea-spitting, and obviously nasty.
But then again, they did say she was a perverse little beastie.
Even with them rushing her, though, she paused at the grand staircase leading up to the doors to enter the mansion. She couldn’t help it, something drove her to look up at the windows. Well, what was left of the windows. It looked like someone had busted out most of them and some were replaced with bits of plywood, but on the upper floors…some glass remained, reflecting the latest flash of lightning.
A second after the flash, for a brief second, she saw red eyes. Glowing red orbs, set in what looked like the oval of a face, looking right back at her.
Madeline blinked fast as rain began to pelt her. The face was gone, so it could’ve been her imagination. It could’ve been just the lightning messing with her eyes, like the after effect of a camera flash or something entirely natural. But her excitement ramped. Maybe tonight they really would find proof of something Other...
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