At every crossroads he has encountered in life, Sean Brody has made the safe choice. In the year 2046, at the age of ninety-three, Sean is given one final opportunity to deal with his greatest regret. Sean is the only man Marshall Grissom and Marta Hamilton can find who might be able to save Sheila Schuler, their friend and fellow traveler lost in the distant reaches of time. If Sean accepts the task of traveling to his childhood in a parallel universe—with no guarantee that any aspect of the past can be changed—Sean must also accept his death in the only world he knows.
That’s when the horror began. Bizarre scenes flashed through Amanda’s brain, crowding everything comforting and familiar off to one side. Each thread of this torrent was snapped by some vivid instantaneous image of people she didn’t know, and a world she didn’t recognize. Each image seemed to be swallowed by another as soon as it appeared. She saw herself, naked and terrified as a leering man reached for her. She saw—and heard—a stark, white empty space filled with voices. She encountered a parade of people she’d never seen before. But she knew their names—Marshall, Marta, Elvin, Gretchen, Naomi. Then she saw herself again. She tasted raw fear. She felt everything about herself slipping—no being dragged—away. She saw death reaching a skeletal hand to her throat.
Her face became a picture of abject fear. Her eyes darted wildly.
“Concussion!” shouted Miss Best. “Young lady, you must not go to sleep!”
With an aside to the rest of the class Miss Best added, “You must never allow someone who has suffered a concussion to sleep.”
“Miss Best, shouldn’t we call someone?” Joni asked.
Miss Best squinted at Joni and said, “Don’t panic, Miss Miller. Right now, we have to call someone. Mr. Janson, would you please go to the office and tell them we need medical assistance in the chemistry lab.”
Joni knelt next to Amanda.
Amanda felt an overwhelming darkness marching across her brain, taking pieces of her as it went. She was being strangled mentally. Now the darkness began to encompass her. She summoned her strength to make one, desperate plea. I . . . I am Amanda. Amanda Page. The blackness began to retreat. But this other pervasive presence, the other existence, remained.
“Amanda,” Joni pleaded, “Amanda. Please! Tell me what’s wrong!”
Joni’s voice wove itself into the other voices and all the images thundering through her perception. She clamped her hands over her ears, squeezed her eyes shut and said with stark desperation, “There’s someone in my head! Get them out! Please! Get them out!”
About The Author
Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. He left journalism in 1998 to form a business related to adult amateur baseball. At the age of 60, he stopped procrastinating and revived his life-long ambition to write a novel. He is author of Sections, an award-winning coming of age novel set in Eastern New Mexico where Mike grew up. He is also author of The Conman … a Baseball Odyssey, another award-winning novel. Killing Time is the third novel in his Physics, Lust and Greed Series. Mike splits his time between Spokane, Washington and Phoenix, Arizona where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.
She’s afraid to take risks. He’s an incurable daredevil. When tragedy throws them together, will it spark a lasting devotion?
Crystal Whalen isn’t sure why she should go on. Two years after her husband’s death on a ski trip, she’s devastated when a fire destroys her quiet Colorado mountain home. And when she can’t keep her hands off the gorgeous divorcé who’s become her new temporary housemate, it only feeds her grief and growing guilt.
Garth Welty won’t be burned again. After his ex-wife took most of his money, the downhill-skiing Olympic medalist is determined to keep things casual with the sexy woman he can’t resist. But the more time they spend with each other, the harder it is to deny his burgeoning feelings.
As Crystal’s longing for the rugged man’s embrace grows, she worries that his dangerous lifestyle will steal him away. And although Garth believes she’s his perfect girl, the specter of betrayal keeps a tight grip on his heart.
Will the thrill-seeker and the wary woman succumb to the power of love?
The Patron of Emerson Pass is the emotional second book in the Emerson Pass Contemporaries small-town romance series. If you like lyrical prose, unexpected chances at happiness, and uplifting stories, then you’ll adore Tess Thompson’s sweet tale.
Other Books in the Emerson Pass Contemporaries series:
The Sugar Queen
Emerson Pass Contemporaries, Book 1
Published: May 2020
True love requires commitment, and many times unending sacrifice…
At the tender age of eighteen, Brandi Vargas watched the love of her life drive out of Emerson Pass, presumably for good. Though she and Trapper Barnes dreamed of attending college and starting their lives together, she was sure she would only get in the way of Trapper’s future as a hockey star. Breaking his heart, and her own in the process, was the only way to ensure he pursued his destiny. Her fate was the small town life she’d always known, her own bakery, and an endless stream of regret.
After a decade of playing hockey, a single injury ended Trapper Barnes’ career. And while the past he left behind always haunted him, he still returns to Emerson Pass to start the next chapter of his life in the place his ancestors built more than a century before. But when he discovers that the woman who owns the local bakery is the girl who once shattered his dreams, the painful secret she’s been harboring all these years threatens to turn Trapper’s idyllic small town future into a disaster. Will it take a forest fire threatening the mountain village to force Trapper and Brandi to confront their history? And in the wake of such a significant loss, will the process of rebuilding their beloved town help them find each other, and true happiness, once again?
Fast forward to the present day and enjoy this contemporary second chance romance set in the small town of Emerson Pass, featuring the descendants of the characters you loved from USA Today bestselling author Tess Thompson’s The School Mistress.
Tess Thompson is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary and historical Romantic Women’s Fiction with over 40 published titles. She lives in a suburb of Seattle with her husband and their blended family of four kids and five cats.
Destined for the hangman’s noose, love is a dream he cannot afford…
When Blayne MacNeil agrees to be Miss Charlotte Russell’s bodyguard, he doesn’t expect her to expand the job description to fake fiancé. After twenty years in hiding, announcing his engagement to a viscount’s daughter could prove fatal. For if anyone were to recognize him, he’d be charged with murder.
Determined to keep her independence in order to safeguard her writing career, Charlotte must avoid marriage. After all, no respectable gentleman would ever permit his wife to pen outrageous adventure novels. But when her most recent manuscript disappears, the roguish Scotsman posing as her fiancé becomes her closest ally – and the greatest threat to her freedom.
Blayne MacNeil picked up his glass of Madeira and saluted his host. Nothing improved his mood as much as a meal at Windham House. The duke and duchess, Valentine Sterling and his wife Regina, had an incredible chef whose skill in the kitchen was second to none. Considerably different from what the two men had known in their nearly two-decade friendship in St Giles. But now that Carlton Guthrie, former Scoundrel of St. Giles, had taken his rightful place as Duke of Windham, Val denied his new wife, Regina, nothing, including incomparable food.
The sweet wine slid down Blayne’s throat, sending a warmth through his stomach. Truth was, sometimes he missed the old Guthrie—and the brutal force he and his friend had used to vanquish the vermin of the world. Now he himself was a businessman with a respectable tavern to run…well, a tavern, at any rate. And Guthrie still made sure justice was served, but it was done with more discretion now that he was a duke, and by accepting help from the authorities.
“I have been toying with the idea of hosting a ball,” Regina said. She glanced at her brother, Marcus, who also resided at Windham House, and then at Blayne. “If I do, I shall expect you both to attend so you can dance with some of the ladies the marriage mart has to offer.”
The comment was jovial – teasing even – yet it still caused Blayne’s lungs to strain against his next intake of breath.
Marcus snorted. “As if any well-bred woman would dare.”
Blayne met Marcus’s gaze and slowly exhaled. His insides eased and he forced a wry smile. “Even if one of the lasses cared to, I’m sure her parents would quickly step in to prevent it.”
“I could coerce them into compliance,” Guthrie murmured, a twinkle in his cat-like eyes.
“And into marriage, I’m sure,” Marcus said with a grin.
“Good lord,” Regina murmured.
“Without a doubt,” Guthrie told Marcus. “Shall I?”
“No.” Regina gave her husband a firm look. “There will be no coercing. I merely thought it might be nice to offer Blayne and Marcus the means by which to attend a social function.”
“To the horror and despair of the ton,” Blayne said right before he spooned more shortcake into his mouth. “I thank ye for yer thoughtfulness, Regina, but I think yer ball would be better served if I stayed away.”
“Nonsense,” she said. “You are a handsome man, Blayne. Kind, too, and hardworking.”
“Not exactly the qualities upper-class parents seek in their future son-in-law.” Blayne took another bite of his dessert. It truly was exceptionally good. “A yearly income close to five thousand pounds and un-calloused hands would be more desirable. Preferably a title or two as well. My income is modest though, my hands as rough as tree bark, and I’ve nae title to speak of.”
More importantly, he had a past he couldn’t in good conscience chain another person to. And he sure as hell couldn’t confide it in any woman. So if he did wed, his marriage would be a sham. He took another sip of Madeira.
“My situation is similar,” Marcus said. “Worse than Blayne’s, in a sense, seeing as I had a title and lost it because of our father. No man in his right mind would allow his daughter to be seen with me, Regina.”
The duchess huffed a breath. “In my opinion, a man’s character – his very own actions – ought to be of greater value than what a relation of his might have done.”
“I don’t think any of us disagrees with you there,” Guthrie said. He gave Blayne and Marcus a pensive look. “Perhaps I can help?”
“Thank ye, but no.” Guthrie had offered to give Blayne a handsome sum once before, and Blayne had turned him down then as well. He didn’t want handouts, not even from a friend who wished to disguise it as overdue wages. “There is something to be said for earning one’s own living.”
“I’m of a like mind,” Marcus said. “Although I might appreciate a loan for the sake of acquiring a profession.”
“Indeed?” Regina regarded her brother with a pensive mien. “And what profession do you have in mind, Marcus?”
“Well.” Marcus cleared his throat. “Medicine would be an interesting field of study. Certainly more so than law.”
“I think that would be marvelous,” Regina said with a smile. “Don’t you agree, Guthrie?”
Guthrie nodded. “I would be happy to provide you with the necessary funds, Marcus.”
“As a loan,” Marcus reiterated.
Blayne hid a chuckle behind his last spoonful of dessert. It was clear Marcus did not want to feel beholden to Guthrie any more than he did.
“Of course,” Guthrie said. He turned his assessing gaze on Blayne. “What about you? If you accept a loan you’ll be able to purchase that property you want a lot sooner than otherwise.”
“What property?” Regina asked.
“I’ve been of a mind to get away from London for a while now,” Blayne said. “With my interest in plants, I’d like to have a spot of land to cultivate, maybe with a wee house on it. I dinnae require much in the way of a home, but a sizeable piece of property would be grand.” It would provide him with the freedom he’d started to crave since Guthrie had left The Black Swan. Blayne ran the St. Giles tavern on his own now and saved every hard-earned penny, but the place was different without his friend there, and with every passing day Blayne could feel himself getting older. It was time to move on and settle down to a quieter way of life.
“Then I hope you shall soon be able to acquire it,” Regina said. She raised her glass. “To Marcus’s medical aspirations and to Blayne’s countryside acquisition.”
Blayne drank and breathed a sigh of relief when the conversation turned to the recent coronation of George IV.
It appeared Regina’s idea of a ball had been forgotten for now, for which he was grateful. Aside from the obvious reasons he had for not wanting to attend, there was the more dreaded prospect of being recognized. As unlikely as it might be after twenty years in hiding, one couldn’t be too careful.
Least of all when one was on the run for murder.
About the Author
Born in Denmark, USA TODAY bestselling author Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian with varying degrees of fluency. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.
When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.
Olive Meeks is anything but. Quiet – yes. Shy – sort of. Yet underneath beats a heart filled with hope and promise.
Which is why she accepts the challenge and applies for one of the open positions with Burlesque A La Mode. No surprise she’s really good at it and becomes a darling burlesque baby.
But…Vic Thornton is the owner of the Speakeasy, where the troupe performs, and weeks before, she literally crashed into him. Well, her bicycle hit the truck he was riding in.
Now, she’s certain he’s what she wants, but Vic’s sending mixed messages, and Olive doesn’t play games. More than most, she’s learned to live life and to love when she feels it since no one is promised tomorrow.
Vic still has to figure out he’s worthy of the incandescent sprite who has the potential to become his whole world.
Twelve years ago Amanda Lane fled her small town, and the man she loved. She changed her life in Chicago, and found a new family with Burlesque A La Mode. Now on tour, the troupe is performing near her former home, and her past walks in looking better than he ever did.
Mike Nichols never understood why Amanda left him, and his heart has never recovered since she ran away. Now, watching her take off her clothes in his crowded club, he wants to drag her off the stage and yet is mesmerized by her beauty and her charms. Mostly, he needs to know why the hell she disappeared, and what he can do to make her stay.
Brigette O’Hare – photographer and graphic designer by day, burlesque performer by night – is in New Orleans to dance with a local burlesque troupe. Touring the city, she has an incredibly sensual encounter in a voodoo shop with the mysterious Henri Dauphine.
Henri defines everything Bridgette doesn’t trust she deserves: wildly sexy, old money, his own man, and crazy about her.
She can’t wrap her mind around why he wants more than a weekend fling while he’s trying to figure out how to get to her to stay in New Orleans with him – forever.
Henri won’t give up on the only woman he’s ever loved and Bridgette finally realizes he’s the man who colors her life with everlasting happiness.
Kitty Bardot juggles a life full of excitement and love. By day, she’s a chef with her own catering company, by night she puts tens years of burlesque experience to use in various venues in the Quad Cities. She writes from her country home not far from the Mississippi River, enjoying every moment with her husband and their three children. Currently, she is working on her next Burlesque River story.
Brittany Nelson returns to the South Carolina Lowcountry to help her sister, Blake, run the family bed and breakfast and care for her three-year-old niece. Soon after, strange occurrences begin taking place. Brittany can’t shake the feeling that the ghosts of her family’s past haven’t been laid to rest, after all.
As she works to unravel how this is possible, she finds herself in the center of unfathomable events. But if the Nelson sisters know anything, life at Isle of Palms isn’t always a day at the beach.
Brittany Nelson imagined the roaring applause as she looked out into the sea of people attending her graduation ceremony. Was the sound of the large crowd unnerving? She’d lost her hearing as a toddler. Her late grandmother’s singing had been etched in her mind, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t remember hearing anyone else’s voice.
She wiped her sweaty palms on her gown and smiled at her family. Granny Mason waved from the back of the arena. Family matriarch Julia Caroline Mason was nearly 20 years in her grave, but that didn’t stop her from supporting her granddaughters. Brittany waved back, gulping when she saw a stranger talking to Julia. Who was this cheerful co-ed who conversed with the dead? Brittany hadn’t seen the young blond woman around campus, but Atlanta University was a huge school. The dean tapped her on the shoulder, and she read his lips. “Brittany, smile for the photo. We’ve gotta keep this line moving.” Camera flashes stung her eyes, but she complied. Shaking his hand, she posed for a photo and exited the stage.
When she looked back, Granny Mason and her friend had disappeared. The rest of her family stood, applauding and signing, “Way to go,” in American Sign Language. She thanked them as she kept looking for the girl, but she had disappeared.
Not sure if she’d imagined the whole thing, she tried to brush it off and took her seat with her classmates. These strait-laced soon-to-be engineers, stockbrokers and teachers were in full party mode. But Brittany’s thoughts distracted her from celebrating. She kept turning her head back to where her grandmother had been. Her sister, Blake, caught her eye and asked her what was wrong.
“Who was the girl talking to Granny Mason?” Brittany asked.
“Who? Where? I didn’t see Granny.”
“They were sitting right in front of you guys.”
Their grandmother had explained that spirits could hide from each other and clairvoyant people. Maybe Granny Mason didn’t want to be questioned about her newfound friend.
Blake turned, and Brittany saw her gaze zero in on something in the distance. She strained to see what had captured her sister’s attention—Granny Mason and the woman sat five sections away, across the arena.
Brittany watched, puzzled, trying to determine this girl’s identity. It was impossible from her vantage point. She needed to get closer, but the ceremony was still going full swing.
She got her sister’s attention and signed, “Who is that?”
“I have no idea,” Blake signed. “She looks familiar, but I can’t put my finger on where I know her from.”
“Can you get closer?”
Blake stood up and walked toward the women. Brittany watched as Blake smiled, shook the woman’s hand and walked back to her seat. She looked at Brittany and signed, “That woman has spoken to spirits most of her life, and Granny’s helping her figure out how to send an evil one on its way.”
That sounded like her grandmother. “What’s her name?”
Blake scrunched her face. “I forgot to ask.”
“Really?” Brittany laughed. “You’ve always got your head up in the clouds.”
“Yeah—just wait until you have kids. You’ll see how little sleep you get. It messes with your brain.”
There were circles under Blake’s eyes, and her skin was more ashen than before she had become a mom.
I should offer to help with my niece more often.
Looking up, Brittany noticed the last row of graduates were in formation, waiting to cross the stage. Soon everyone took their seats again. The band’s music vibrated and reverberated through her body as the university president walked up to the microphone. A sign language interpreter began translating, “Thank you to everyone who has offered their support to our graduates through their respective master’s programs. Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce the Class of 2021!”
A whoosh of air flooded the coliseum stage as the graduates jumped to their feet and threw their caps toward the ceiling. Grad school was over!
A group of Brittany’s friends asked her to pose for some photos. After a dozen selfies, her family made their way down the steps. Before they made it to her, someone tapped her on the shoulder.
Brittany spun around to see Ryan, her fiancé, holding a bouquet of sunflowers. “How did you get away? You’re so close to finishing your residency. Are you sure you should be here?”
Ryan laughed. “Geez. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you didn’t want me here. It’s a pretty damn big deal that you just graduated with your master’s degree in architecture.”
Her cheeks flushed, and she kissed him. “I’m sorry. I’m just surprised. Why didn’t you sit with my parents?”
He shrugged. “My flight arrived late, so I grabbed a seat near the entrance.”
Before she could respond, her dad slapped her on the back, “Way to go, Britt!”
“Now, we need to grab some pictures, too!” her mom said, teary-eyed. “This is our last graduation until Macy graduates from kindergarten.”
They grouped for a few shots until her dad protested, saying they had taken enough photos. “Let’s go get some grub.” Jeremy Nelson was always hungry. He patted his belly and grinned at Brittany, whose mouth was gaping.
“Dad, that was so embarrassing!” She rolled her eyes. “Thank God I’m done with school and won’t see these people ever again.”
Ryan grabbed her hand and kissed it. “I’m feeling a little weird right now, probably just jet lag. You guys go on and grab lunch. I’m going to go back to your apartment and wait for you.”
Brittany locked eyes with him. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you want to have dinner delivered to my apartment instead?”
He flashed her a smile. “Nope. I’m just tired. I don’t want to ruin your graduation dinner with your family. I’ll be there waiting for you when you get back.” He arched his eyebrow and winked.
Heat radiated from her chin and chest. “Hmm. Sounds like a plan.” She gathered up her belongings and followed her family out to the car.
During the ride to the restaurant, she took in the Midtown Atlanta scenery. She was going to miss walking at Piedmont Park and shopping at Atlantic Station. Finally, they arrived at Mary Mac Tea Room, a comfort food haven, where the sweet tea flowed like water, and plates covered with fried chicken and okra were worth their weight in gold. Indulging in comfort food was worth the calories. The women in their family could pack on pounds quickly, but one meal wouldn’t derail her healthy lifestyle. Calories don’t count today! She’d just take a long walk the next day.
During lunch, her mom turned to her, “So what’s the plan now that you’ve got your degree?”
Good question. What should Brittany do now? Ryan hadn’t committed to either of the lucrative job offers he had waiting for him. She didn’t want to begin her career just to quit after he returned. Sure, she could start a job wherever she wanted and ask him to be happy living there, but that wasn’t the foundation for a healthy marriage. They needed to decide where to live together. That was important to her. Besides, he was supposed to be back by September.
“Brittany…hello—uh, Mom asked you a question.” Blake stared at her.
Brittany shrugged. “I don’t know the answer. With Ryan’s career still up in the air, I’m not ready to put down roots in any city. But I need to make some money so I can afford to live.”
Blake’s eyes widened, and she slapped the table. “Ohmygod! I’ve got the perfect idea. Do you wanna hear it?”
“Um…” Her sister could be impulsive. She had outgrown it somewhat since marrying Clint, but she still had her moments. Brittany cringed. “What’s your suggestion?”
“Don’t make that face! My ideas aren’t that crazy, are they? Wait, don’t answer that!” Blake giggled. “Why don’t you work at the Mason B&B until Ryan comes home? I need all the help I can get, especially with Macy going through the excruciatingly terrible threes.”
Brittany laughed. “You’re forgetting a couple of details. I don’t have the first clue about running a bed and breakfast or raising a kid.”
“Neither did I a few years ago,” Blake said. “And I can teach you what I know about both.”
“True. Well, it would give us a chance to catch up before I move across the country.”
Their mom signed the word for “sad” and pretended to cry. “Please don’t go too far away.”
“Mom, don’t worry. Wherever we live, we’ll visit a lot.”
“I hope so. I want to see all of my grandbabies.” She winked. “Macy needs cousins.”
Brittany scowled and crossed her arms over her chest. “Really, Mom, already?” We’re not even married yet, and the baby talk has already started. Couldn’t she give us at least a year before hounding us? Brittany was in no hurry to start a family and wasn’t sure if she ever wanted one.
Maybe it was selfish, but she wanted to enjoy her career and marriage before considering having children. She knew Ryan wanted to wait to have kids, too. Trips to surf in California, eat pasta in Italy and dive in Turks and Caicos were all on their bucket list.
“I promise, you guys will be the first to know when and if we decide to give up our freedom, but we have a lot of plans that don’t involve little ones.”
Blake laughed. “I remember this pressure all too well. Speaking of which, I miss my little monster, even though she’s been a bit of a nightmare lately. Clint will be relieved when I get back tomorrow. It would be even easier if we had another set of hands. We’d be thrilled if you came to stay with us. Please say you’ll do it.”
Brittany grinned. “Let me talk to Ryan, just to make sure he’s not expecting me to go to Seattle for the summer. Hanging out with you guys sounds like fun. Plus, in between the madness, I could work on my tan.”
“I promise that we’ll make time for fun, and we’ll eat all the delicious Lowcountry food we can handle.”
“You’d better! And, tempting me with shrimp and grits is pretty low.” Brittany punched her sister on the shoulder. “I’ll talk to Ryan tonight.”
About the Author
Stephanie Edwards has been writing professionally since she landed her first newspaper column at the age of 13. Her love for the Lowcountry, the Atlantic Ocean and a good ghost story inspired her to write her first book, The Haunting on Palm Court: An Isle of Palms Suspense. A stay at a beach cottage with a spooky backyard, filled with old oak trees, inspired the novel.
Stephanie lives in Tennessee with her husband, Ron, and their adorable dog, Shadow. Be sure to keep up with Stephanie’s publishing news at stephedwardswrites.com.