#RRBC 30-DAY #BLOGGING CHALLENGE DAY 30

This is day 30, the last day of the blogging challenge. It has ruled my life for the past month, and I will feel lost without it. The challenge achieved its purpose: to bring back my love for writing. I haven’t written poetry or my book for the past year and needed an outlet to inspire me. Writing every day for thirty days has shown me that I can do it. And I will do it.

In my blog posts, I returned to events I remember most fondly.

Vacations with my daughters in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Vacation in Jamaica with my oldest daughter and son-in-law.

Vacation with my younger daughter and son-in-law in the Dominican Republic.

Visiting with family.

Happy days when Nounous was healthy.

People I loved and lost.

People I will never forget.

People I respect and have come to love, including the Rave Reviews Book Club members. They have become family to me, reading and responding to my long-winded posts.

Thank you, my new family, for participating in the RRBC Blogging Challenge, and a big thanks to Nonnie Jules for organizing this fantastic event.

Please visit my fellow RRBC bloggers at https://ravereviewsbookclub.wordpress.com/rrbc-member-chat/

#RRBC 30-DAY #BLOGGING CHALLENGE DAY 29

We’ve reached the homestretch of the blogging challenge. I am not a poet or claim to be one, but poetry has been an outlet for my feelings, and I will share a few with you.

 WASH AWAY MY PAIN

Please wash away my sorrow and pain.
Let it flow down the streets with the rain,
Dissolved in torrents of despair and sadness,
Joining others on their way past the madness.


The ocean may take it far away,
To places we cannot even say
,
Where no one recognizes its sting
Or knows the infliction it can bring.

Let the rain grow harder with its might,
Becoming hail on this fateful night.
I want to be free of all traces
Of unwanted feelings and faces.

My body grows cold from the rain.
I stand clean and free from the pain.
Shivers create a path down my spine
As I wait in the dark woods of pine.


I hold my head high to the wet spray.
It becomes a mist of blue and gray.
The faucet has been
turned off for the night,
Leaving me feeling clean and all right.

MURDERS AND LOVERS

I don’t need to fight the snowdrifts.

I’ll stay inside with the misfits.

The ones who prefer books

that grab you with their hooks.

The fire is getting low

as the strong winds begin to blow.

I snuggle farther beneath the covers

as I read about murders and lovers.

SOLITUDE

A rare commodity is solitude.

It can be easily misunderstood.

To be all alone with no one else around.

You can do this in the air or on the ground.

You can sail off in the blue sea,

Or hop on a plane without me.

We can all use some time alone

Without T.V. or telephone.

Time to think about your goal.

You will come back feeling whole.

A Darkness To My Soul

The black abyss grabs hold,

Taking me to its soul.

Reflections of hell and beyond,

Pushing me deep and far.

Away from the light of day,

I have no need to pray.

Take me to the bottom,

Where no human has tread.

Away from humanity and light,

I have made my dark bed.

CLOSER TO THE BLUE

Puffy clouds appear far and few

In the aqua sky, so brand new.

I sink deeper into the white sand,

My heart beats like a marching band.

If I close my eyes tight,

will I see paradise this night?

It takes me back to the time

When everything had been fine.

Fantasy, I beseech thee.

Return me so I can roam free.

Take me back to the shore.

Where I’d been happy before.

SING ME A SONG

Sing me a song.

Write a melody

Of times gone by

And moments lost in time.

Stroke the keys.

Massage the ivories.

Raise your voice high

So I can hear your words.

Words of hope and loss.

Sing them loud and clear.

Stories of faraway places

And times that are gone.

I close my eyes.

I can hear your words.

I see your fingers as they

Glide across the keys.

The words take flight.

They reverberate through time.

They leave your lips

And land on mine.

A sweet melody

To soothe my advancing years.

A pretty song

To fill my empty heart.

WHITE BLANKET

Look to the glowing skies,

Magic before my eyes.

Snow flutters to the ground

Without even a sound.

Masking the dirt with white,

So pretty and so bright.

I hope it can remain this way,

A blanket for one more day.

Thank you for joining me as I shared a sample of my poetry. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed composing them.

MEET ME IN MAINE – Let’s Read A Chapter Together

Chapter 9

Elizabeth’s first date with David goes differently than expected.

I spun in front of the full-length mirror hanging from my closet door, eyeing my black dress and high heels. My hands trembled as I smoothed the silky fabric against my thighs.

Scarlett came through the doorway, wearing a tight red dress. “Sexy.”

“Is it too short?” I turned to her. “I can change.”

“Don’t change. You look hot.” She grinned. “It’s not as short as my dress.”

“You’re comfortable in too-revealing clothing while I’m not.”

“Are you calling me a slut?” Her eyebrows arched.

“If the shoe fits.” 

Scarlett stalked across the room, a shoe dangling from her hand.

I stepped back, shaking my head. “You wouldn’t.”

The doorbell rang.

“Now, you’ll never know.” She slipped her foot into the pump and winked before rushing from the room.

“Lizzie. It’s for you,” Scarlett called from the living room.

Why was David early? I raced for my bag and coat. My heart was pounding as I came to a stop. I must act cool and collected. I took a deep breath and sauntered through the doorway.

He came to his feet. “Hello, Elizabeth.”

My gaze drifted from his cleft chin to chiseled cheekbones, coming to rest on dazzling blue eyes. I opened my mouth, but no sound escaped.

“I hope you’re happy to see me.” He shifted closer, lifting his hand to stroke my cheek.

“I am.” I closed my eyes as his touch sent shivers through my body.

“Okay, lovers.” Scarlett pushed between us. “You’ll miss your reservation, and my date will be here soon.”

David took my hand. “We can take a hint.” I followed him from the apartment, but not before I stuck my tongue at Scarlett behind his back.

* * *

After clicking the remote to unlock the black Jaguar parked at the curb, David opened the passenger door, and I sank into the beige leather seats. Once the car was humming, he seat-belted himself and faced me. “Are you comfortable?”

I nodded. “It’s a gorgeous car.”

“Air-conditioning or sunroof?” David grinned, giving me an enticing glimpse of dimples.

I thought of the wind messing my hair. “Air-conditioner, please.”

We drove in silence until I asked, “Is there any news?” When he didn’t respond, I added, “We don’t have to mention the explosion or –”

“Pick any topic.” He glanced at me. “I want us to relax and enjoy the evening.”

I lowered my face and smoothed the black fabric bunched beneath the seatbelt. 

He placed his hand on my arm, and I lifted my face to the glittering blue eyes seeking mine. “Don’t worry. We’ll find the ones responsible for the explosion.” David pulled the car in front of a one-storied teal blue building, its windows and door strung with twinkling lights. “We’re here.” 

Valets rushed to open our doors. I took David’s arm as we headed inside behind the couples filing through the doorway. Soft music accompanied the hushed conversation in the darkened room. A fire sizzled in the fireplace, nestled in the far left corner. The maître d led us to a table set for two overlooking the water.

After the maître d seated us, a server filled our water glasses and handed us menus. I glanced through the pages, amazed at the steep prices.

“Don’t look at the prices.”

I raised my face and stared at the handsome man sitting across from me, grinning. “I wasn’t.”

“You were.” David chuckled. “Your arched brows tell the complete story.” When I blushed, he continued, “Don’t worry. You have lovely eyes and brows.” As heat suffused my face, he laughed. “I have the money, so spend it.”

I shook my head.

He reached for my hand, which rested on the table, covering it with his. “Order what your heart desires.”

“I’m not familiar with most of these dishes.” As I perused the menu, my gaze drifted to the tables closest to us. Well-dressed couples drank wine and ate, smiling at each other, laughing, and holding hands. His finger stroked the inside of my wrist, and I shivered.

“Are you cold?”

I met his gaze. “I’m fine. Can I order the same dish as you?”

A smile deepened his dimples. “I was going to order steak and home fries.”

“A steak-and-potatoes man.” I smiled. “I’ll have the same.”

The server took our orders and David’s choice of wine. I turned to the window where the moon stroked the dark water with shimmering silver streaks. The soft music and murmur of conversation helped to soothe my frayed nerves.

“Are you upset?”

I caught his concerned expression. “No. Why do you think I’m upset?”

He leaned forward, giving me a lopsided grin. “I was hoping you weren’t angry from last night.”

“Last night?”

His jaw tightened. “The way Logan interrogated you, I should have stopped him. The chief allows him to take control.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” I twirled the wine glass in my hand, watching the dark burgundy liquid catch the votive candle’s flickering light. “Why does the chief allow Logan to intervene?”

“Logan is wealthy and has influential contacts.” He leaned back in his chair. “The chief needs his help to solve the recent crime wave.”

“Is it a crime wave?”

David took a sip of wine, his unhurried gaze following the contours of my face. “A few incidents have occurred in the past six months.”

“Murders?” My stomach plummeted as if I’d consumed a lump of coal.

“Yes.” David shifted in his seat. “Chief Lively has requested my help.”

“Why you? Aren’t you a lawyer?”

“Yes. I’m a mere lawyer.” His eyes darkened to midnight blue as they met mine. “But the chief claims to enjoy my keen mind; he told me I chose the wrong profession.”

“I can see you as a detective.” I busied myself with sipping wine instead of witnessing his woeful expression.

David laughed out loud. “I’m not hurt.” Heads turned from neighboring tables. “I’ve been an officer of the law.”

“As a marine?”

“You’ve heard.” He winked. “Major David Hunt, at your service, ma’am.”

“Nice.” His uneven smirk captivated me as I struggled to compose myself. I didn’t hear the server arrive and place our dishes on the table.

I came to realize I loved to watch David eat. He cut his steak with precision, chewing with his mouth closed, his Adam’s apple bopping along his tan neck. My gaze lingered at the juncture of his white shirt and blue-striped tie. I noticed he had stopped eating, and I raised my face. 

“Hi.” Dimples appeared in the light stubble on his cheeks.

“I enjoy watching you eat.” Blood rushed to my face, and I glanced away. Why did I say that?

David took my hand. “And I love watching you.” His face shifted closer to mine, and I shut my eyes. “Lizzie.”

I opened my eyes.

“You’ve mesmerized me as no other woman has for a long time.” He sat forward, his hungry gaze devouring me until I trembled from its intensity.

“There you are.” A shout rang across the room, followed by the husky figure of Chief Lively. 

David shot to his feet, facing Lively with an annoyed expression. “What’s wrong now?”

“There has been another death.” The chief halted beside our table, his dark glare landing on me.

“I can’t help you; we’re having dinner.” His face ashen, David sat, replacing his fallen napkin on his lap.

“I need you,” Lively replied, his voice sharpening. “They took Logan to the hospital.”

“What happened?” David threw me a concerned look before hurrying to his feet and leading the chief to an isolated spot beside the window.

“Logan will be okay. A woman is dead.”

“A woman, this time?” David glanced over the chief’s shoulder at me. “I’ll drive Elizabeth home.”

“No. We don’t have time.” Lively stepped in front of me, his heated gaze meeting mine. “You’ll have to come with us.”

I nodded.

David said to the chief, “I’ll meet you.” He then turned to me. “I’m sorry.”

Attempting a smile, I said, “I’m fine. I might even help.”

His eyebrows rose in disbelief as he escorted me from the restaurant. And so began my journey into Blue Harbor’s secrets, known only to the select few, which now included me.

MEET ME IN MAINE – Sneak A Peek

CHAPTER 8

Were Elizabeth and Scarlett ready to buy an inn and settle in Maine? Scarlett wasn’t so sure of the answer.

Scarlett’s car bumped along the winding road, farmhouses peeking at us from behind thick clusters of trees and bushes, the afternoon sun warming the inside of the vehicle with its hazy glow.

“Are you sure you know the way?” I asked. “I thought the inn was in Blue Harbor.”

“It is.” Scarlett squinted at me. “Not everyone lives near the main harbor.”

Ten minutes later, she said, “We’re here.”

A red-bricked building appeared between two thick groves of maple trees. A lush green lawn and white picket fence fronted the house. Four wide steps led to the wrap-around porch, dotted with white wicker chairs and tables. A chubby, middle-aged woman stood on the top step between two white pillars supporting the steep overhang.

“That’s Lucy Green.” Scarlett parked on the graveled driveway to the right of the house.

Lucy descended the steps, wiping her hands on the yellow frilled apron tied around her waist. “I’m happy you could meet with me today, considering the recent excitement.” Her short, brown curls fluttered in the cool breeze as she crossed the blue paving stones to the driveway.

“We were at the ice cream parlor when the guy ran inside bleeding.” Scarlett halted in front of her. “The customers ran from the place screaming and yelling.”

“How awful.” Lucy wrung her hands. “I hope you’re still interested in my inn.”

I drew alongside Scarlett. “We’re rethinking our move to Blue Harbor.” I ignored Scarlett’s sidelong glare. If Lucy believed we were reconsidering, she might lower the price. I grew up in New York City and couldn’t help my big city frame of mind.

Lucy pursed her lips. “Chief Lively will clean the riffraff from Blue Harbor, he’s done it before, and our town will be peaceful again.” She motioned for us to follow her into the house. The warm glow from the Victorian lamps, sitting on small end tables, lit the spacious room dotted with comfortable-looking couches and chairs. We followed her through an open archway to the right. Leather couches and chairs faced a red-bricked fireplace. Across the room, a set of glass doors overlooked a side garden bursting with red and yellow rose bushes. When she swung open the doors, a rose-scented breeze drifted toward us.

“Lovely,” I said.

She gave a sweet smile before shutting the glass doors. We trailed her from the den and the front room to the dining room, where glasses and silverware sparkled on the five tables set with white linen. The doorway on the back wall led us to an industrial-sized kitchen with a white marble island dead-center, surrounded by yellow stools. The view from the picture window took my breath away. Rose bushes lined the pebbled path through the green landscape to a lake filled with floating Canada geese.

“Nice,” Scarlett said.

“Thank you.” Lucy hovered behind us. “Are you ready to see the guest rooms?”

“Sure,” Scarlett replied.

A narrow door in the kitchen, wedged between the double wall ovens and built-in refrigerator, led back to the front room. We climbed the carpeted stairs between the curving wood banisters as Lucy regaled us with tales of the house’s vibrant history. On the second floor, doors stood open on either side of the hallway, revealing canopied beds and flat-screen TVs. At the end of the hall, we stepped into the owner’s apartment. The two bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, and sitting room offered impressive views of the lawn and sparkling blue lake.

“Iced tea and pastries in the sunroom?” Lucy asked as we descended the staircase.

“Sounds good. I’m thirsty,” Scarlett replied.

Lucy led us through the den to the bookshelves spanning the left wall, where she tilted a group of books forward. The bookcase shifted, and a hidden door creaked open.

“Neat,” Scarlett said as the door of bookshelves shut behind us.

I asked, “Does the house have hidden passageways?”

“There might be.” Shirley’s round face wrinkled into an eager grin. “This is an old house. A hundred years old next year.”

The sun shone through the picture window on the far wall, throwing bright squares of light across the mint-green couches and chairs. A pitcher of iced tea and a tray of pastries waited on the glass coffee table. We took seats as Lucy poured the tea into tall glasses.

“Are you still interested in purchasing the inn?” Lucy asked, handing a glass to Scarlett.

“We are.” Scarlett glanced at me. “But I’m confused.”

Lucy’s chocolate brown eyes widened.

Scarlett continued, “You have tables set in the dining room, but I didn’t see any preparations in the kitchen. Where are your guests and staff?”

“The guests aren’t arriving until Friday.” Lucy’s eyes twinkled. “And the staff have left for the day.”

I asked, “How large is your staff?”

“I have a maid, chef, and waitress.”

“Do they work every day?” Scarlett asked.

“The cook and waitress work when we have guests, and the maid cleans twice a week, even if we don’t have guests. This past year, we began offering dinner twice weekly, and the chef and waitress have increased their hours.”

“Once you sell the inn, will they be willing to continue working here?” I asked.

“They love the bed-and-breakfast. I have a contract ready to be signed.” Lucy huffed to her feet. “Relax and finish your tea and pastries.” She grinned before hurrying from the room.

“We have decisions to make.” Scarlett bit into a red velvet cupcake.

“I’m not ready to make them today.”

“Me neither.”

Lucy returned with a stack of papers. For the next hour, we discussed the price and conditions of the contract. We departed with a promise to call her in the next few days. Scarlett needed to show the paperwork to her lawyer, who will now be our lawyer. Even though the price was within our budget, we needed time to decide whether Blue Harbor was right for us.

MEET ME IN MAINE

Lizzy gets ready for her first date with David. Is she eager? Let’s find out.

CHAPTER 7

Scarlett stepped through the front doorway, halting in surprise. “I thought you’d still be asleep.”

“Where were you?” I asked from my perch at the kitchen counter, eyeing the white paper bag clutched in her hand. “You’re never an early riser.” 

With a grin, she sauntered into the kitchen, placing the bag beside my coffee cup. “I bought muffins at a cute cafe around the corner.”

“No diet?” I asked.

“Not today.” Scarlett popped a Keurig cup into the machine, withdrawing two plates from the kitchen cabinet and settling beside me before reaching for the bag. “I’m hungry from scouting the town.”

“What?”

She set a chocolate chip muffin on a plate before sliding it toward me. “Everywhere I visited, people were discussing the explosions.” Scarlett bit into a corn muffin, her voice muffled as she continued, “No one was hurt, but plenty of boats were damaged.”

I quirked a brow.

“Ten boats burned to ashes, and many residents believed it was arson. The shipowners have insurance, but it takes time to collect; for now, they’ve lost their livelihood. The cafe owner handed around a collection to support them, and I pledged money from the both of us.” She glanced at me. “Is that okay?”

“Of course, it’s okay. The boat owners need our help.” Losing my appetite, I shoved the plate away. “Were these people shocked?”

“Nope.” She shook her head, her long ponytail bouncing around her shoulders. “A wave of violence has plagued the town for the past six months.”

“That’s strange; the residents should be more concerned their harbor exploded.”

Scarlett stopped eating and looked at me. “I don’t know the details since people are closed-mouthed, but I’ll find out.”

“Are you canceling our appointment at the bed-and-breakfast for this afternoon?” I stood and began pacing the tiny kitchen. “New York City was dangerous enough; I don’t want to move to a place where I’m afraid to walk home in the evening.”

“I’m not canceling.” Scarlett swiveled to me. 

“We can find a town with no crime wave. The coast of Maine is lined with towns offering picturesque harbors and inns to purchase.”

“No.” Scarlett scrambled to her feet, retrieving her cup from the Keurig and bringing it to the counter. “I want to live here.”

“Why?” I sat as she sipped her coffee. “Is it Jonathan?”

She peeked at me from the corner of her eye. “Yes, it’s him. Then there’s David and Logan. Blue Harbor has interesting characters.”

“Are you seeking characters for a murder mystery or a Hallmark movie?” 

Scarlett pulled a plastic knife from the paper bag and cut my rejected muffin into bite-size pieces. “I don’t want to live in a boring town.” She offered me a piece, but I shook my head. “Blue Harbor offers a unique way of life.”

“The town offers more options for dying.” 

She popped a chunk of muffin in her mouth. “Every town has crime. Once the police catch the ones responsible, the town will be peaceful again. Blue Harbor has the best shops and harbor, and I don’t want to live farther north.”

“The explosions destroyed the harbor.”

“The planks are being replaced as we speak.” Scarlett gave me a pleading look. “Blue Harbor has other piers.”

“Okay. We’ll keep the appointment.” I took a sip of coffee.

“What will you wear on your date with David tonight?” 

“I forgot.” My head pounded. How did I forget?

“Don’t tell me you forgot a date with a gorgeous man.”

“I’ve been trying to forget yesterday; the bleeding man, burning boats, and chilling screams gave me nightmares.”

“Are you keeping the date?” She gawked at me. “No way are you canceling it.”

“I’m going.” I shrugged. “But I don’t need a man to feel whole; I can find happiness without being half of a couple.”

“You can still date and have fun.” Scarlett winked. “You remember how to have fun, right?”

I turned my face to the window where white puffy clouds coasted along the blue horizon. “It’s been a long time.”

“One date doesn’t have to lead to another.” Her expression becoming somber, she added, “I’m not looking for a commitment either.”

I nodded.

“You can’t help men falling for you; you’re blessed with blonde hair and green eyes.” Scarlett tossed her ponytail. “While I sport a frizzy mop of brown with boring brown eyes.”

“Nothing about you is boring.” I laughed. “And you have no problem finding men.”

“But I’m always one step behind you.”

“And I picked Martin.” I stared at the shredded napkin clasped in my hand.

“Forget Martin; he’s history.” She took my hand, peeling pieces of napkins from between my fingers. “Turn your thoughts to David, tall, dark, and handsome.”

“He has those Nordic blue eyes.” I gave a soft sigh.

“Nordic blue?” Scarlett chuckled. “Is that a color?”

“Yes.” I wrinkled my nose. “I found it on Google.” A side glance at her confirmed my suspicions; she sat there grinning like a cat who consumed a bowl of cream. “When is Jonathan taking you on a date? Tonight?”

“Yup.” She slid from the stool. “I’m excited; he’s taking me to a new restaurant on a pier.”

“Nice.” I swallowed. “A pier that didn’t burn?”

“Blue Harbor has many piers.” Scarlett shook a finger at me. “Remember, happy thoughts.”

I planted a smile on my face.

Scarlett gave me a smirk before continuing, “I checked the restaurant online, and it’s fancy.” She leaned her hip against the counter. “Should I wear my strapless red dress?”

“Perfect choice.” I grinned. “You’ll catch the big fish.”

She laughed. “I won’t tell Jonathan you called him a big fish.” Scarlett tilted her head to the side. “What will you wear?”

“I have my little black dress.”

“With an emphasis on little.” With a snicker, she added, “Perfect.” 

I got to my feet and began rinsing the dishes. “Who gets Logan?” I turned to her.

She canted her head to the side.

“If I pick David, and you choose Jonathan, who gets Logan?”

“Can he be the spare?” She clapped her hands together in delight.

A giggle slipped from my mouth. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Men refer to women as spares, so why can’t I?” 

“As long as they don’t hear it.”

“I’m sealing my lips,” Scarlett replied, running an imaginary zipper across her lips.

MEET ME IN MAINE

Book Review

From the start I couldn’t stop reading. The characters were fun and believable. The setting is fabulous. A small town on Maine’s coast led the way for the paranormal fun that ensued. The action was nonstop and I enjoyed the creativity in how some of the death’s occurred. I caught myself laughing while thinking yuck.
This book is far more than a cozy mystery and in a similar fashion to The Dead Game series its filled with all types of elements that make me anxious for the next book in the series. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves paranormal and/or mystery.

MELTING DESSERTS

Silhouette of a man behind a frozen glass

As the desserts melt, Chief Lively questions the witnesses of the bloody crime.

MEET ME IN MAINE

CHAPTER 5

The blood congealing in the chalk outline made my stomach queasy. Jonathan and Eric stood behind the counter, their faces pale, ice cream dripping from the sides of the banana split dish. Colorful dessert melted in the deserted dishes on the tables and the cones that had fallen to the sparkling white floor. 

“Elizabeth.” David rushed to me. “What are you doing here?”

“We were ordering ice cream when the man collapsed.” I shivered.

David pulled me into his arms and whispered, “I’m sorry you witnessed this,” as he rested his chin on my head.

“You know her?” Logan’s deep voice rumbled behind me.

“Have you met Logan?” David stepped back, staring at me, his hands gripping my shoulders.

“I met both of you today.”

“Nice,” the chief said. “You come to Blue Harbor and meet two of my men… how convenient.”

“What are you suggesting?” David glared at Lively.

“I’m not suggesting but pointing to the fact these two women have insinuated themselves into our town on their first day.”

“A coincidence.” David focused his stare on Logan. “How did you meet?”

Logan raked long fingers through his thick hair. “Bella was showing them the town when I bumped into them… a coincidence.”

“We’re full of coincidences today.” The chief paced the room, sidestepping the crime scene outline. “And now, we have a dead body.” He pointed to the thick mass of blood.

“How does this relate to us?” I asked.

“It could be nothing.” Lively scowled. “Or could be everything.” A strange light shone in his dark eyes.

“Stop with the macho act.” Logan marched to the chief, jabbing a finger at his chest. “They’re new to our town.”

The chief stepped back. “Okay, big boy, no need to argue. I’m doing my job.”

“So, do it, and don’t harass the women.” Logan took a deep breath before approaching us and turning his face from Lively. “Ladies, please have a seat. We have a few questions.”

“Sure,” the chief mumbled behind Logan’s back. “Do my job for me.”

David led me to a table, taking a position behind my chair, while Bella and Scarlett took seats on either side of me.

With a stern expression on his face, Logan halted in front of Scarlett. “Did the shop appear unusual before the man entered?”

Scarlett cleared her throat. “I don’t know what’s unusual for this town since I just arrived.”

“You know what I mean.” Logan lowered his face near hers.

“I was trying to lighten the mood.” Scarlett averted her face. “No. I saw nothing strange.”

“Did you?” Logan directed his sharp gaze at me.

I shook my head.

When he glanced at Bella, she mouthed, “No.”

“Okay, let’s try this.” Logan circled the table before standing in front of Scarlett, his hands on his hips. “What do you remember?”

Scarlett squirmed in her seat. “The man ran into the store, blood gushing from his neck. He said, ‘they’re back,’ and then collapsed.”

“Nothing else?”

She shook her head. “Nothing else.”

“Elizabeth?” He faced me.

David’s fingers tightened on my shoulders as I replied, “I remember the same.”

Logan swiveled his head to Bella. “I take it you have nothing to add.”

“There’s nothing to add.” Her face reddening, Bella came to her feet. “He walked into the store and bled to death.”

“Did you recognize him?”

We shook our heads in unison.

Logan directed his icy glare at me. “Why did you choose this week to visit Blue Harbor?”

“What do you mean?” I squinted at him, confused.

“Most people visit our town during the summer and leave after Labor Day.” Logan tilted his head, watching me. “Why are you visiting after the season?”

“We’re not visiting.” Scarlett rushed to her feet, her voice rising in tone. “We’ve moved here.”

Logan spun to her. “You’re staying?”

“Why is that so strange?”

David replied, “It’s unusual because we didn’t hear of your arrival.”

Scarlett shoved her hands on her hips. “We didn’t arrive with a parade and horns blaring.”

David gave her a sullen look.

The chief grunted. “I don’t enjoy surprises.”

“I didn’t think we were an unpleasant surprise,” I said.

“You’re a pleasant surprise.” David patted my shoulder.

“We had nothing to do with the man’s death,” Bella said. “Let us go home.”

Logan frowned at Bella. “Thank you, women. You can leave.” He strode to the door and held it open for us.

MOONLIT FOREST

Walk with me through the moonlit forest.
Let our feet graze the tips of the grass,
Never touching down,
Held aloft by our love and passion.

Follow me through the endless night,
To a land where no man walks.
Only creatures as dark as the sky
Dare to venture forth alone.

Love has no bounds or shackles.
We will be free to display our passion,
Without retribution from humanity,
As long as you remain mine.

Come with me, my ice princess.
Step award from the burning plains,
Where the heat burns your soles,
And love is hampered by the living.

Wolf holds his hand out for me.
The words flow from him,
His lips never uttering a sound,
But his meaning is as clear as can be.

We can be together forever more.
But the other has followed us to the clearing.
He will try to take me back,
And never give up his hold on me.

His eyes burn red with passion.
Fire follows close in his footsteps,
Scorching a trail through the grass,
Melting his enemy’s cold path.

They face each other.
Hot and cold from opposite poles,
Dueling until the end of time,
Both fighting for me.

Our games have just begun.


THE DEAD GAME
by Susanne Leist

WHO WILL SURVIVE?

Candles in basement

Are you invited to a party?
Can it be at End House?
A deserted house at the edge
Of the forest in Oasis, Florida.
People have disappeared from this house,
Never to be seen or heard from again.
Are you going to this party?
I admire your courage.
Your tenacity.

I will tell you what you may expect.
No one will answer your knock on the door.
The door will open by itself,
Inviting you to step inside.
Flickering candles and gargoyles line the staircase.
Your group will divide into two.
The first group will follow the staircase candles.
Your group will follow the flickering
lights in the right hallway to the basement.

Which group will find the elusive host?
Who will survive to tell the tale?
Only I know.
For I am one of The Dead.
We love our games.
Welcome to THE DEAD GAME.

Kindle

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MEET ME IN MAINE – The Perfect Backdrop

It’s time for chapter two of Meet Me In Maine, book one of The Blue Harbor Series. Our heroines arrive at Blue Harbor, eager to see their new home. The town meets their expectations but with a deadly twist.

Chapter 2

After three brief stops and seven hours of driving, we rolled into Blue Harbor. Once we’d crossed into Maine, the traffic had thinned. A blanket in alternating shades of red, yellow, and green draped over the hills on either side of the open road. Instead of crowded sidewalks, traffic jams, and tall buildings, grass and groves of trees filled my vision. A salty breeze from the window swept across my face, and the tension eased from my body. Freedom smelled divine.

Scarlett said, “We’ve arrived,” sporting an eager smile on her face.

“I hope the people are friendly.” The sign on the highway welcoming us to Blue Harbor passed my window.

She glanced at me, her long brown curls lifting in the warm breeze. “I’m sure they are.”

I checked the visor mirror. Almond-shaped green eyes stared back at me as I patted my straight blonde hair in place. Stop worrying, I told myself. Everything will be fine. Martin will never find me; he won’t even miss me.

“Did you say something?” 

“Nope.” I folded the visor, reaching for the map spread open between us. “Do you need directions to the apartment?”

“I memorized the street map.” She threw me a saucy wink.

After exiting the highway, Scarlett followed the road past sculpted lawns and well-maintained homes painted in vibrant colors, the quiet streets turning busier once the harbor came into view.

“I bet the town was more congested during the Labor Day weekend.” I stared through the window at the people strolling the sidewalks, smiling as they greeted one another. Two men, sitting on rocking chairs on the front porch of a barbershop, nodded hello to us. Hope blossomed in my heart as I smiled back at them. 

“I heard Blue Harbor was a madhouse of tourists last weekend.” Scarlett changed lanes to pass the double-parked cars. Beyond the colorful shops, turquoise water shimmered beneath a cloudless sky as boats of various sizes coasted along on its choppy swells. She turned a corner, slowing the car to check the addresses before parking in front of a red-shingled, two-story house. “We’re here.”

As we stretched our legs on the sidewalk, a white puppy ambled toward me and sniffed my leg. He nuzzled my hand with a wet nose when I bent to pat his head. “Hi, boy. You’re adorable.”

“He’s a girl, but she is adorable,” a deep voice replied. “Her name is Stella.”

I raised my face to light-blue eyes. The sandy-haired man grinned and extended his hand. “Hi, I’m David Hunt.”

I straightened and took his hand. “I’m Elizabeth Reading.”

Scarlett cleared her throat. “Don’t forget me.” She pointed to herself. “Scarlett Harding.”

His gaze glued to mine, he asked, “Are you moving into the rental?”

“Yes.” Not able to meet his direct stare, I shifted my focus to his cleft chin and chiseled cheekbones. “How did you know?” 

“The rent sign and the fact you have luggage stored in your car.” He nodded to the backseat.

“That’s right, Sherlock.” Scarlett pushed past me. “Hi.” She eyed David with a mischievous grin. “We’re moving in today.”

“Let me help you.” David handed the leash to me before rushing to open the car door and unloading the bags to the sidewalk.

“We have more luggage in the trunk.” Scarlett sauntered to the front steps. “I’ll find the owner.”

“Where are you from?” he asked, piling bags in his arms.

“New York City.” I crouched beside the puppy, who licked my hand.

After depositing the baggage on the porch, David descended the steps and hunched beside me. “I see you’re a dog-lover. Is your friend a dog-lover? Maybe she can babysit.”

“Babysit?” I swallowed. “Do you have children?”

“No.” A chuckle rumbled deep in his throat. “I’m not married.” He straightened to his full height, between 6’ 2’’ or 6’ 3’’, revealing broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and sculpted muscles beneath his white T-shirt. “We’ll need a babysitter for Stella if I take you to dinner.” A shy smile appeared between an enticing set of dimples. 

“You’re taking me to dinner?” One last pat on the puppy’s head, and I rose to my feet. “Are you asking me or telling me?” I refused to date another aggressive man.

“Asking. I’m not usually so forward.” He cleared his throat. “Is tomorrow evening too soon?” His blue eyes twinkling, David shifted closer, letting his fingers graze my cheek. “I must work on my technique… I’m rusty.” He dropped his hand to his side. “I should have waited to ask you.”

“That’s okay,” I replied. “Are you divorced?” He seemed sweet, but there had to be something wrong with him: no one was as perfect as they appeared.

He stepped back. “No. I’ve been busy with my practice.” He stared into the distance. “My last relationship ended a few years ago.”

“Are you a doctor?”

“No. A lawyer.” His attention drifted back to me. “Why are you smiling?”

“I’ve just ended a relationship with a bossy doctor.” I wiped sweaty palms on my jeans. “I’ve sworn off doctors.”

“Then I’m happy I didn’t attend medical school.” He grinned. “My parents… both doctors… were eager for me to follow in their hallowed footsteps.”

“Do you enjoy the law?”

He smiled, dimples emerging again. “Yes, I do.”

Scarlett called my name from inside the brownstone. 

As I headed to the front steps, David whispered in my ear, “Is that a yes for dinner?”

Am I ready for a date, or is it too soon? I turned to him, hesitating before nodding.

A grin crossed his face as he climbed the stairs and hurried to open the door for me. “That was the answer I was hoping for.”

When we stepped into the narrow hallway, David nodded to the door standing open to our right. “That’s the owner’s apartment.”

Scarlett strolled through the open doorway with a tall redhead trailing behind her. “You have a spacious apartment.” Scarlett turned her companion. “Is the rental as large?”

“All the apartments are the same size,” the redhead replied in a bored voice, but as soon as she spotted David, she became animated, batting heavy-mascaraed eyelashes at him. “David, are you visiting me?” She crossed the hall to stand at his side, sliding an eager arm around his.

“No, Bella.” He stepped back, removing his arm from hers. “I’m helping Elizabeth and Scarlett with their luggage.”

Bella glanced at me with an annoyed frown.

Scarlett grabbed my arm. “Let’s check the apartment.” As we crossed the hall, she whispered, “Bella doesn’t trust you because she sees you as competition for David. But he can’t keep his eyes from you.”

Bella’s voice took on a sugary tone behind us. “See me before you leave, David.”

“Sure, Bella,” he replied before shutting the apartment door.

Scarlett said with a chuckle, “Good riddance.”

I walked into a room flooded with sunlight from the large kitchen window straight ahead, highlighting the yellow cabinets and white granite island with a cheerful glow before settling its translucent rays across the gray suede couch and chairs. 

“Isn’t this an awesome apartment?” Scarlett asked before disappearing into the hallway to the right of the kitchen.

As Scarlett investigated the two bedrooms, we followed the narrow hallway to a small den. David joined me at the window overlooking a compact lawn. “I’m happy I walked Sally on this block today. I got a feeling.”

“A feeling?”

He grinned. “I get those.”

“What other feelings do you get?”

“Let me see.” David paused as he took my hand, his thumb rubbing the inside of my wrist. “I have a feeling you’ll enjoy the French cuisine at the restaurant I picked for tomorrow evening.”

I gave a nonchalant shrug. “Everyone likes French food.”

“They make a delicious chocolate mousse.” 

“They do?” I swallowed. “Mousse is my favorite dessert.”

“I’ll store that information for future use.” David winked before handing me the puppy’s leash. “I’ll get the luggage.”

Scarlett rushed into the den, her eyes sparkling with mischief. “Wow. David is handsome and nice. I’m happy you found him. Well, he found you.”

“Is he acting too pushy?”

“No. David likes you.” She watched me with a concerned expression. “Don’t worry, David is not Martin.”

“Okay.” I exhaled the breath I was holding. “I like him.”

She chuckled. “So does Bella.”

I frowned. Forcing Bella from my mind, I said, “We should help him with the bags.” Then I remembered Stella, who was watching me with soulful brown eyes. 

“I don’t need help,” David whispered in my ear.

I twirled to him. “You’re finished?”

“I move fast.”

I followed him to the bags piled high in the living room. “Yes, you do.”

“I believe Stella needs a walk.” He took the leash from my hand. “Can I pick you up at 8 o’clock tomorrow? I have a late client.”

“That’s perfect.”

David lifted my chin with his finger. “See you tomorrow.” He nodded to Scarlett before leading Sally through the doorway.

Scarlett pouted. “You met a cute guy right away.”

“Dumb luck?” I quirked an eyebrow.

“Lizzie, one thing you’re not is dumb.” She laughed.

“Let’s unpack, then we can order pizza.” I marched toward the bags. “Maine must have pizza places.”

“We passed a few.” Scarlett wound her long, brown curls into a ponytail with a scrunchie. “You noticed nothing but David.”

I grinned. Freedom felt divine.