Welcome to the day one of our October Frights Blog Hop.
My new book, a suspense romance titled "Gypsy Stone" will be released on October 30th (coincidentally also my 50th birthday), from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterflies Publishing, or as often referred to as CHBB, where dreams take flight.
As usual, there's a light paranormal thread in the story, of the Gypsy Stone that has its own powers.
When running away is no longer a choice, fighting for life begins.
She exposed the heinous crime, no one believed her...now she must run...
Dario returned to his seat, the band’s music drifted past him, but he couldn’t place the song with Ana’s words replaying in his mind. He breathed deeply and took a slug of his beer, scowling again at its bitterness. A person clad in a red cloak approached, the deep hood hid the face, but the swaying of hips under the cloth reminded him of Irena. She still wore her mask even though it was after midnight when true identities were revealed. She squeezed between his stool and the one next to him. The citrus perfume was Irena’s branding.
Holding her glass, she faced him. Her hood covered most of her features, but something about her deepened his suspicion that Irena stood before him. She downed the orange drink, then licked her full lips. With the glass pressed to her chest, she uttered a deep moan for the appreciation of for the cocktail.
“Easy there, there’s plenty of night left.” He tilted his head, trying to catch a different light to see her, but it was too dark to make out her features around her mask.
“No worries, I only drink half a shot of vodka.” She placed the tumbler on the bar and flashed him a smile. Her accent seemed foreign and so did her treble, unlike Irena’s alto. Who was this woman?
But her drink, or the way she liked it, had him sitting on nails. Half a shot of vodka in her screwdriver…only one female drank it that way.
The girl took two steps away from him, halted and turned her head to look over her shoulder. Was she waiting on him to follow her? What are you waiting for? He set his drink on the bar and got on his feet. She continued on her way, keeping a slow pace, squeezing between the crowds. He stayed a few steps behind.
Ante intercepted him at the main door, shoving a brown bottle at him. “Leaving already? You forgot your beer.”
“Hold it for me.” He waved him off, never taking his eyes off the red hood, slowly disappearing into the crowd outside.
“Hold it for you? Oh, you’re expecting to find beer left when you get back?” Ante’s shout grew louder with every word.
Dario glanced at him. “Fine, drink it up.”
When he raised his glance at the crowd on the street, the red hood had vanished. Damn it. Had he seen a ghost? It couldn’t have been too much beer. He’d barely taken a couple of sips. No, she was real and she couldn’t have gone too far. He stepped out on the cobblestone paved road of the old city. At the corner, he spotted her cloak and followed her. In an instant she ran into the narrow alley.
“Wait,” he called, catching up with her. Grabbing onto her shoulder, she turned her around. The girl uttered half a scream, and pierced him with do-I-know-you stare. He spotted the differences between this girl and the one at the bar. The blue mask encircling her eyes and half a nose had shiny studs, not red feathers. She stood good two inches shorter than the other girl and wore no lipstick.
“So sorry, I mistook your for someone.” He released his grip on the girl’s shoulder and took a step back. What were the odds they’d be two girls in red cloak tonight?
Wondering where to look next, he rubbed his neck, walking slowly back toward the Papillion Bleu.
He pivoted at the piercing sound and there she leaned against the whitewashed wall of a Gothic church, several steps from him. Some unexplained power rooted him to the spot. Would she run away if he approached her? She gathered her cloak around her and continued down the alley.
“Wait, don’t go.” He called after her, but she spun in his direction and placed her gloved finger to her lips. The deep hood still hiding most of her face, the large plumes of her mask covering her eyes, fluttered in the air.
Then she took a sharp left turn, skipped the two steps and entered a dark vault of the ‘City Gates’, a tunnel leading beneath the ancient, stone-built medieval walls once erected for protection, and one of many perfect hideouts for the couples of old and modern times. The secret make-out hole he’d taken Irena to spend time alone, away from prying eyes.
He approached with hesitation. His heart pounded, ready to jump out of his chest. Could it be her? “Who are you?”
She panted in the corner, her breathing audible in the quiet of the night. Her shoulders rose and fell with each breath she took. Slowly she turned and faced him, and pulled the hood and the mask from her head, revealing the rest of her. “Have I changed that much?”
His heart stopped for a moment. Even in the dark, her blonde hair would stand out, not now. Her head blended with the darkness. The length of her hair seemed odd, cropped too short. Still, the tresses framed her petite face. A face that haunted him for the past fourteen years finally stood in front of him.