The Smoking Volcano

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The fires on Vesuvius looked small from our hotel room in Naples this morning, but tonight the smoke is much thicker, and clearly visible from Capri. This it the view from Ana Capri, where we’re currently staying. The colors are fantastic, but I pray the fires are extinguished soon.

Flying into Naples

House sitter in place, cases packed, boarding passes printed…let the vacation begin!
I’m excited to be flying through Munich. My daughter was born in Germany, but I haven’t been back since 1985. I’m sure listening to people talk in the airport will make me feel nostalgic. An added bonus to my trip.  After Munich, its Naples, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Feel like a kid about to open the best present ever.

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Ghosts on the Sand

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Ghosts on the Sand  (Art by Kara Boulden)Strangers emerged from thin air, running toward the fire, shouting to one another in a language I didn’t understand. The watery inferno illuminated their fear-stricken faces. Shadowy figures floated slowly toward the shore, bobbing up and down grotesquely in the shallow water.

Trembling, I closed my eyes and prayed. Was this a nightmare?

Kara Boulden is an exceptional artist and she has agreed to produce a fabulous book cover for me. This is where we are so far. What do you think? I LOVE it.

Juggling work, home, chores and life with my next book release is tough, but I can do it.

Ghosts on the Sand (and other chilling tales) will be released late 2017 or early 2018. It will be a compilation of three or four short stories at the bargain price of $99 for the eBook.

I’m excited for you to read my next venture, and encourage feedback (good or bad), its how I become a better writer. As I head down the road to retirement I realize I’ll never truly retire, so writing will be my new and very pleasurable job.

Toodles, pop back soon!

Legacy of the Lake

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The pregnancy hadn’t been a good one. Juliet had been bedridden for most of it. The birth was a struggle too.  Afterwards she barely found strength to hold Sacha. The beautiful baby girl was named after Jake’s grandmother.

“Do you want me to go? I can leave you to get some sleep if you like.” Jake asked.

He worried as he looked at her exhausted pale face, and the dark rings under her eyes.

“No, stay. Dad will be here soon, stay until he leaves. Talk to him for me. I’m just so tired, but I want him here, I want him to see Sacha.” her voice trembled, “Wish mum was still here.”

Jake reached out and put his hand over Juliet’s. “She’s here, she’s watching you.”

“But I don’t feel her. How do I know?” She shivered. “It’s so cold in here.”

Jake took another blanket from the closet and tucked her in. There that should keep you warm. “I’ll be back in a second,”

He found a nurse “Whats wrong with her? Why is she so weak? It’s 24 hours since she had the baby, shouldn’t she start to feel better? I’m worried, I don’t want to lose her.”

“We’ll watch her, she’ll get better everything looks fine, but she’s exhausted. The trauma of losing her mother isn’t helping. Did the police ever figure out what happened? Was it suicide?”

Jake hung his head. “Can’t see she’d kill herself, but why would she get so close to the lake in her wheelchair? Tragic accident is what they’re saying.”

The shadows in Juliet’s room gathered unseen around the crib. Sacha slept, swaddled in blankets as a dozen eyes looked down at her. She’s perfect they whispered she’ll be ours soon. The keeper of the lake.

Juliet didn’t hear them, she was slipping away into a drug induced haven, blocking out a terror she didn’t yet know, just like her mother before her. The family legacy continued and Sacha was next in line.

 

These Old Bones

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Sunday – a day of rest.

I wish!

I’m sixty (I whisper that number quietly in my head). Never thought I’d live to see this age. A child of the fifties, I thought I’d stay young forever. I guess we all think that, but here I am SIXTY!

Weekends used to be spent partying, dancing, sleeping late, and then if I could find time, doing housework. I had lots of energy back in the day, it wasn’t a problem. My body isn’t quite as flexible anymore. Yesterday I cleaned house, worked on the yard (yes all 3 1/2 acres), cooked and baked. I rose at 6:30 am and by the time I sat down, it was 6:30 pm.

I forgot my age and when I got out of bed this morning THESE OLD BONES ACHED

Nice Day for a Wet Wedding!

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Juliet discovered she was pregnant a month before the wedding. It wasn’t a problem, unless morning sickness spoiled the big day. She was happy, and so was Jake. Pregnancy meant no wild hen party (or bachelorette party as her American friends called it), but that was OK, she could put it on hold until after the baby was born, something to look froward to.

Then the big day came. May 15th. She was awoken by someone tapping on her bedroom door.
“Is the bride ready for breakfast?”
“Come on in dad, I’m awake”
He dad carried a tray laden with goodies. Fruit, coffee, brioche, jam.
“You’re the best dad in the world!”
“I just want to spoil my little girl while I can. Why are you crying? Don’t cry. You still want to get married don’t you?”
“I’m crying because I’m happy!”
The quiet moment didn’t last long. The doorbell rang constantly after that as caterers, family, friends and neighbors showed up to help prepare for the big event. Juliet drank her coffee and nibbled some fruit, but was far too excited to eat more. She was marrying the man she loved. Life was good.

Stretching she slid out of bed and walked across to the window. The large marquee was set up out front and was bustling with activity. There were flowers, balloons, lights, tables, ribbons. Everything a girl could ask for and more. The sky was a perfect blue.
I’m so lucky, nothing could spoil this moment.

Juliet was wrong!

As she slipped into her beautiful white wedding dress thunder rumbled, and it wasn’t in the distance, it was right overhead. She shivered! Please don’t rain on my wedding day! By the time the bridesmaids had fixed her veil the first big drops of rain splattered on the ground.
“I hope the marquee is waterproof.” she joked, but she wasn’t laughing inside. Something bothered her. When she saw Jake waiting for her in the marquee, she stopped worrying. The sight of him filled her with happiness. His hair was cut shorter than normal and made him look like a school boy again. She remembered their first prom together and smiled and walked towards him.

As the ceremony began, the intensity of the rain increased. By the time they exchanged vows they had to shout to be heard.

The happy couple said I do, kissed and then turned to face their guests. They were finally man and wife!

Something caught Julia’s eye at by the entrance at the side. A woman stood dripping with water. She was dressed in black. A dark veil covered her face. Juliet stopped smiling when she saw her. Something was wrong, something tugged at her memory. Who is that? The woman lifted her veil revealing her face.

Juliet’s face.

Jake tried to hold onto his bride, but she fell to her knees.

Juliet fainted.

Where are you Juliet?

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Gasping for breath, Jake sat up. He was cold! Where am I?
Are you okay?”
Juliet looked at him, concern in her big brown eyes.
“I must have fallen asleep. I had a weird dream.”
He put his arms around his new fiancée and hugged her close, kissing the top of her head. She smelled good. The mists of his nightmare faded as she lifted her face and kissed him again.
“What did you dream?” she asked.
“I can’t really remember, I think I was drowning!”
“Well there isn’t much chance of that happening is there”? You were the champion of the swim team in high school. No drowning for you Jake”
He smiled at her and kissed her again, pulling her close, feeling the warmth of her body close to him.
“When shall we get married. I want to wake up next to you every morning for the rest of my life.”
“Next June,” Juliet replied, “everyone loves a June wedding.”
She stood up and walked down to the lake, dipping her toes into the cool clear water. Jake shivered, but he didn’t know why. Juliet turned and reached out to him, here
come sit by the water for a while, it feels good. They sat with their toes in the water, the sunset and fading light turning the lake’s surface red.
It looks like Hell!
“I’ve never told anyone this before, but I got a bad scare down here one night. I thought I saw a lady in the middle of the lake.” Juliet said as she gazed into the distance.
“What, you mean in a boat or something?”
“No, it was weird and scary she was just hovering there. Half of her body was under the water. She had long hair. I know it was just the light playing tricks with me, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought it was a ghost.”
“Did you ever see her again?” Jake could hardly get the words out of his mouth as his dream flooded his brain. The sun was gone and the remaining light played tricks with the shadows. He began to shiver. He took hold of Juliet’s hand. It was as cold as ice. When he looked at their reflection in the still water he froze.
He was alone!

The Lady in the Lake – was it me?

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A college grad! She couldn’t believe it. 22 years old!

“Mum, I’m home!”

SURPRISE!!!!!!

The quiet dark house exploded into a mess of bright light and excited voices. Juliet stood in the doorway as a sea of happy faces rushed towards her. She was pummeled with hugs and kisses. The party started in the early afternoon and didn’t ease up until after six. Finally she found a quiet place in the garden and sat down to catch her breath. A hand touched her shoulder. It was Jake, they’d been sweethearts since high school.

“Your parents did you proud, were you expecting this?”

“Are you kidding? I had no idea. I was sad they couldn’t come to see me graduate, but mum’s illness makes things tough. This was fantastic. Did you help?”

Jake smiled “A little. Lets take a walk by the lake. I want you to myself for a while.”

They walked hand in hand down the hill, the fading sunlight reflected on the distant glassy surface. Juliet shivered and stopped in her tracks.

“Are you cold? Shall we go back?”

“No, I’m okay, someone walked over my grave that’s all!”

“What a weird expression that is, I wonder where it came from?” Jake said as he put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer.

They sat on a bench close to the water and kissed. A romantic setting, the sort of setting that begged a proposal! Juliet said yes and they kissed again, softly, lovingly and then with unbridled passion.

Afterwards they walked to the edge of the lake and sat for a while, dipping their fingers into the shallow water, it was cool, clean. Jake turned his back for a moment, there was no splash, no scream for help, but when he turned around again Juliet was gone.

“Juliet, this isn’t funny, where are you?”

Silence. “Juliet?”

He looked at the water, its glassy surface was still.

“Juliet!”

She looked at him from the depths of the lake, a wicked smile on her face. I was lonely, but it won’t last forever. I’ll have you with me, I’ll catch you.

I’m the lady in the lake and I take what I want.

“Jake I want you!

Secrets of the Lake

Juliet was only LakeLadyfifteen the first time she saw the lady in the lake. She’s taken a short cut on her way home from theater class at school and stopped to rest under the shade of a Weeping Willow. With her back up against the trunk, she inhaled the sweet evening air.

The lake was a beautiful shade of sunset and she wished she had a camera to capture it.

At first she thought the shape in the middle of the lake was a log, but it was too tall. The lake was deep, very deep. Police divers had scoured it for a missing child a couple of years earlier and she’d heard one of them talking to her mam about it’s surprising depth.

Juliet stood up and walked to the water’s edge, hoping to get a better look. Were her eyes playing tricks with her? Clear as can be, in the middle of the lake, was a woman. She appeared to be waist deep in water, which wasn’t possible. Her face wasn’t visible because because she looked down into the water. Long black hair trailed on it’s glassy surface.

“Hey there, hello, do you need help? HELLO!”

No answer.

Shall I go for help?”

No answer.

There was a boat tied up by a little jetty on the far bank, but it would take a half hour or so to get there. The woman must surely be treading water, she’d be dead by then.

What do I do? I’m not a strong swimmer, if I tried to save her I’d drown!

She looked back at the lake, the empty lake, it’s smooth surface reflected the setting sun like a mirror. There wasn’t even a ripple in the water.

The light began to fade fast and Juliet knew she wouldn’t get home before dark. She shivered, eager to be away from the lake and its secrets.

She burst through the front door of her house, happy to be enveloped in warmth and light. Her dad sat in his favorite chair, watching television, he looked up when she walked in!

“Whatever’s wrong pet? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

In 2013 I published my first novel Dead of July – Amazon. Life has kept me pretty busy since then, but I’m writing again and soon hope to release a compilation of short stories – Ghosts on the Sand and other Northern Tales. I love writing stories about the North of England, its where I was raised.