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The Warwicks of Slumber Mountain
Tags: Gothic, paranormal, witches, romance, fantasy, clairaudient,
Editor: Barb Wilson
Line Editor: Penny Ehrenkranz
Cover Designer: Winterheart Designs
LINDY, almost eighteen, hears voices from distressed creatures that others don't. But she isn't crazy. She's a clairaudient.
After fleeing her stepfather's abuse, she lives with her grandmother at the bottom of Slumber Mountain owned by the wealthy Warwicks. Scattered throughout the world, clan
members drift in and out of the mountaintop mansion like wraiths. People say they’re different. Maybe even witches. Cross them and your children sicken, your garden
withers, your dog dies.
Lindy avoids them until one night The Voice makes her rescue GARETH WARWICK from drowning. When she takes him to the mansion, his aunt plies her with tea that puts
her to sleep. Then the aunt proposes a trade: in return for fame and fortune, Lindy will loan her soul to the Warwicks. They need her clairaudient ability to communicate with
It’s wrong to give away her soul, but Lindy wants desperately to be like other people, untainted by a sordid past. Maybe if she becomes successful, someone like Gareth
can love her.
In a weird, erotic dream, Gareth takes her into the heart of Slumber Mountain and brings her back. But she’s dreaming. And it’s only a loan. She’s not really giving away her
"Ready to go?"
A quick movement of his head made me wonder again if he’d drunk as much as I thought. "Yeah, I’m ready."
Driving him home, I decided he had. No one whose alcohol content was anywhere near the legal limit could be half so garrulous.
He began by asking me to talk to him. "I don’t want to go to sleep on you."
"I’m not the talkative kind."
"All right, then I’ll talk to you. What shall I talk about?"
"Tell me how to keep a drunk from getting rowdy."
His strange chuckle acknowledged my dig. "You needn’t worry. I’m not drunk but when I am, I’m never rowdy. I’ll tell you about the party tonight, shall I?"
"No need to bother."
"I knew you’d want to hear all about it. Grandmama had the dock lit up with little white lights. The yacht, too, from bow to stern. And there were these neat Japanese lanterns strung up over the outside tables. All colors. Red, blue, yellow. Then, when we got on the yacht..."
As I drove, he detailed everything, from the number of tables set up – twenty-one – to the Sasaki table vases that held gardenias, from the recipe for the champagne punch to the variety of delicacies – lobster and sushi – on the buffets.
His ramblings got on my nerves, but I gritted my teeth and let him talk.
He told about cruising the lake under the night sky and eating on the deck beneath the lanterns. He described the lights on shore winking as they went by. Even his unexpected swim, he said, was invigorating. The water had been soft and cooling as he floated and looked at the stars and picked out the ones he knew.
"What happened? Did you fall off the boat?"
The torrent of words checked. "No-o-o. Not exactly. I'd been, um, talking to a cousin. We don't always get along and things got...Anyway, I went back to the stern to cool off. One minute I was looking down at the wake in the water and then, boom, I was in it. I guess I grabbed onto a chair when I fell overboard. Lucky for me. When I came to, I had its cushion so I hung onto it till you came."
"You were unconscious? It’s a wonder you didn’t drown." There had to have been some horseplay involved, maybe between him and this cousin.
"Nah, not me. I told you, I’m a water baby." He rushed on as if anxious to forget his plunge.
He discussed the town’s growth and the new senior center his grandmother had recently built. He told me about his schools in Switzerland and England, and how much he’d missed the Georgia sun. He spoke of jaunts through Europe and Africa, and other places I’d never been nor could ever hope to go. He described stores catering to the rich that I’d never enter, and the celebrities who used them that I’d never meet.
He chattered nonstop all the way to Slumber Mountain. I learned about the childhood pleasures he’d enjoyed and the adult pleasures he was poised to enjoy.
Cross with envy, I drove tight-lipped.
It never occurred to me that he talked to keep from thinking about the people on the yacht because I had no idea of what had taken place or what was taking place as we drove.
Nor did he.
Years later, maturity convinced me he must have suspected something was wrong from the time he was pushed into the water. This night, though, I was simply one stranger taking another home, and that was more than fine with me.
We pulled up to a gate, and Gareth stopped in the middle of a story about a Wimbleton match to tell me the code to put in. The headlights caught some dark figures to the side, but the dogs, big hulking animals, watched us and let us pass without a single bark. Like they knew a Warwick was passing. When the pickup started the steep climb to his home, he fell silent. He’d talked so much, he was hoarse.
I missed his prattle.
The only sound was that of the engine. No. That hammering in my head was my heart.
The headlights glowed weaker than usual. Any moonbeam was blocked by trees rising on either side, their large outspread limbs leaning to embrace overhead and form a corridor. The truck crawled up it on a narrow, twisting road.
I wished Gareth would start talking again. Anything would be better than the monotonous hum of the motor and the blood pounding in my ears.
I ought not to be coming up here.
All the old stories rushed back.
Teenagers out to vandalize the mountain’s rocky face when their car plummeted over the side. Pets wandering toward the summit and never coming down. Weird lights dancing in the dead of night on the mountain’s peak. Hikers stopped by huge dogs as they went past the unmarked boundaries of Warwick property tacitly forbidden to outsiders. A lingering aura from primitive revelries at the top during an earlier period when forests still covered the land.
My father’s death…
But I’m taking a Warwick home.
Surely I would be safe. I was invited.
About the Author:
Shares a home with her guy and two cats, one of which enjoys reading with her. The other watches TV with the guy.
Dislikes cooking, cleaning, gardening, et cetera and uses writing as an excuse not to do them.
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Customer Reviews:riweber (Friday, 30 November 2012)
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