Hello my pretties!
Today I’ve got an excerpt from THE HOUND OF BAR HARBORVILLE for you! I’m so excited about this little story! It’s so fun slipping back into Jane and Anyan’s world. And this story is from Anyan’s point of view, which was also super fun.
Without further ado, here’s the excerpt! The whole shebang will be available October 15, 2014.
Excerpt from THE HOUND OF BAR HARBORVILLE:
Of course, lunch wasn’t just lunch. After we’d eaten our weight in Bar Harbor lobster—I’ll never understand why vacation lobster tastes so much better than our normal, Rockabill lobster, considering it’s the same damned lobster—Jane spotted an “adorable” gallery, and then another, and then another. After that she had to have an ice cream, and then a cocktail, and then another cocktail, and then there was another gallery, and then it was time for dinner, and then a nightcap. Somehow she conned me into ice cream again. Then we called home to check on the twins and Jane’s dad, who had everything well in hand. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was eight o’clock and I was very, very ready for our bed, if not for sleeping.
A shiny brass call bell was sitting on the desk at the hotel, and I gave it a mighty clap when we arrived, carrying what felt like dozens of shopping bags filled with tourist tat and some nice pieces of local art.
And then we waited.
“That’s weird,” said Jane, and she clapped the bell again.
This time it was Timmy who shambled out of the hidden door behind the desk.
“Hullo,” he said listlessly, staring at us.
“Hello,” said Jane, straightening her spine with an expectant air.
Timmy’s dull brown gaze shifted between us like he wasn’t quite sure who we were or what we were doing there. His graying blonde hair hung into his eyes, contributing to the boyish air that clung to him, despite his obviously being middle-aged.
“We’re the Barghests,” I explained. “You carried our luggage to our room earlier today.”
“Okay,” said Timmy.
“Could we go to our room now?” Jane asked gently.
“Okay.” Timmy didn’t have a very wide repertoire of responses, apparently.
“We don’t have a key,” said Jane. “Or a room number.
“Okay,” said Timmy, but this time he did move, first to take a key from under the desk and then to lead us up the stairs with a slow, determined tread.
Our room number was 13. Jane nudged me, but at that point I didn’t care if we had to kick a black cat and walk directly under a ladder to get into our room. Timmy pushed open the door and stood back, handing me the key as I followed Jane into the room. When I turned around to tip the man, he was gone, disappeared like a ghost.
I felt the hair on my arms rise and I reminded myself that I was Anyan Barghest, scourge of the supernatural world, and I shouldn’t be afraid of a middle-aged boutique hotel valet with the IQ of a toddler.
“It’s gorgeous,” Jane breathed as we set our shopping bags down next to the door and I turned to shut the door. “Look at that bed!”
The bed was huge and very elegantly made up. A four-poster draped in fabric, it was utterly romantic and incredibly practical for tying someone to. There was also the advertised chaise lounge and the fireplace and, when we poked our head in the bathroom, the enormous tub and equally large shower.
I turned to Jane, who put a hand on my chest.
“Not so fast, puppy. I need a shower. And to put on something special for our special night.”
“You already are special,” I said. “You can’t get any specialer…”
Well played, I congratulated myself. For I had my own special plans for tonight that had counted on Jane’s usual nightly ritual of a shower or bath before bed.
“It’ll take me twenty minutes, tops,” she said. “Think you can survive for that long?”
I sighed. “I guess. If I have to.” I bent to kiss her, meaning it to be just a quickie, but it deepened and soon we were almost too deep into it, ready to forget both of our separate missions. Champagne, I reminded myself. Candles. Shit girls like.
And with that I managed to pull back. “Get ready,” I said, giving her a soft kiss before she gathered up a few things from her little suitcase and went into the bathroom and shut the door.
I sprang into action.
From my own suitcase I pulled out three pillar candles I’d stashed amongst my clothes and the kit that Grizzie and Iris had handed me the following evening. I opened it to find a baggie full of rose petals, a bottle of massage oil, a pair of handcuffs that were not the fuzzy sex kind but real, honest-to-god handcuffs, a variety of toys, and a bunch of bananas. I hoped the bananas were for us to eat to keep our strength up, but with those two I probably didn’t want to know.
I placed one candle on the bureau across from the bed, by the door, one on the mantle above the fireplace, and one on the left-hand nightstand. I pulled from the earth’s magic, using a small burst of power to light each candle as I set it down. Then I strew the rose petals on the bed, looking at the clock. I still had fifteen minutes to carry out my plan.
Creeping out the door, I turned off the lights, looking back to check the scene. I had to admit, it looked good. I’d not bothered with the fire, as it was a warm night, but the candles lit the room with a soft glow that left most of the room, especially the bed, plunged in velvety shadow.
It looked warm and mysterious and sexy, like my Jane.
Then the candle next to bed guttered in a draft and went out, leaving the fabric-draped four-poster bed in total darkness. I nearly went to relight it, not trusting my aim with fire to do it from the doorway without lighting the bed on fire. Then I decided it could wait till I got back; getting the food and booze was more important.
It was Jane I was dealing with, after all.
Downstairs, there was no one at the desk and no one answered the bell this time when I slapped it impatiently. After a few minutes of waiting, I decided to take matters into my own hands and went behind the desk to push open the secret door there. It led into a small office, through which I could see a large kitchen.
I went to the refrigerator and pulled it open. Sure enough, there was a large paper bag that said “Barghest” on it. Inside I found the champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries I’d had delivered to the hotel for our arrival. A little rummaging in cupboards and I found a few flutes and a silver tray, upon which I arranged everything. I debated whether to open the champagne there, in the kitchen, but figured I’d do it in the bedroom, especially as there was no one to help me open doors or anything.
Where the hell is the staff? I wondered. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves, which was odd considering part of the Chateau’s outrageous price tag was its promise of first-class service.
The champagne flutes jittered on the tray as I carried everything through the secret door and back up the stairs to our room. I figured that in the time I’d waited at the desk and then helped myself, I’d been about twenty minutes. I’d wanted everything set up before Jane came out of the shower, but arriving with it on the tray wouldn’t be too shabby.
I did have three of her favorite things, after all. On the tray was food and booze.
And the third thing is my doggie style, I thought smugly as I carefully nudged open the door, trying to be as quiet as possible in case she was still in the bathroom and I might yet manage to surprise her.
Only I was the one who was surprised.
For Jane was doing a sexy little shimmy for another man.
Even with my sharp barghest eyesight, I couldn’t see whom he was through the thick darkness created by the curtains of the four-poster bed. All I could see was that someone was in the bed, and Jane was standing just a few feet in front of me, facing the stranger and sliding her robe down her shoulders to reveal an absolutely stunning lingerie set.
“Who is that in our bed and why are you dancing for him?” I said, keeping my voice carefully neutral, not least because I’d registered something very odd about the man.
He wasn’t moving. Not even when Jane revealed her lace-covered tatas, which should have created some sort of reaction.
And speaking of Jane…
“EEEEEK!” she squealed at the sound of my voice, drawing her robe up and jumping away from where I stood, then shrieking again and jumping back towards me as her head swiveled toward its mystery occupant.
“What the fuck?” she shouted, lunging for the light switch even as I reached to flick it on.
She turned on her heel and we both looked at the figure in our bed.
It was our host, Jack(ques). He was propped up on the pillows, the covers—that I’d so carefully strewn with rose petals—pulled over his thighs.
He was very naked.
He was also very dead.
His eyes stared forward, his color already pallid. I couldn’t see any signs of blood or bruising or any other trauma, but he was definitely dead.
Jane looked at me, eyes wide. I looked back at Jane. Then I swore, moving just far enough into the room to set the tray down on a small table by the door before steering her away by the elbow to go call the human police.
So much for our romantic getaway.