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Genre: YA Mystery & Suspense
Release Date: October 1st 2018
Lydia’s life felt like it ended when Tristan died. Sure, they had their problems and he could be a little…intense at times. But he’d promised to love her forever…
When her parents propose a summer across the country with a music teacher who runs an inn, Lydia agrees. But it’s different from what she expected. There’s a presence there she can’t quite reconcile—and it feels like it’s hunting her. It seems Tristan’s promise followed her…and may have graver consequences than she could have known.
Then there’s Michael Malone, the one light spot in an otherwise dark existence. Lydia can’t help but be drawn to him, and as they try to uncover the evil plaguing the inn, they grow closer. But guilt over Tristan’s death still consumes her. Can she and Michael uncover what evil lurks in the inn before it takes another victim?
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Excerpt from After Always
“That’s an unusual place for a not-so-unusual tattoo,” Michael said.
I stiffened. I braced for the touch to come back even as the cloud passed and a new light bulb brightly illuminated the hall.
“It was a secret. My parents couldn’t know,” I said.
For some reason, even though I’d said very little to Michael in the days we’d worked together, I found myself sharing the whole story.
He listened, sitting on the top of the step ladder like a lifeguard at a crowded beach. One in faded jeans with a tool belt hanging low on his lean hips. His tan and his sun-streaked hair made it easy to imagine him shirtless and vigilant and flocked by bathing suited admirers who wouldn’t be caught dead in walking shorts. While I talked, he flipped the ever present multi-tool into different configurations in his right hand. I thought maybe he was looking for the right configuration to fix this strange, broken girl he’d found. When I finished, he climbed down. He closed the tool and slipped it away in his back pocket. I didn’t expect him to do anything after that except fold up his ladder and walk away. Instead, he knelt beside me. He brushed aside the tendrils of hair that almost covered the tiny butterfly. I held my breath. Unlike the whisper of the phantom touch, his warm, calloused finger as it traced my tattoo was intimate and real. I’d seen myself in all the mirrors even when I’d tried not to look. I was too pale and too thin and the shadows under my eyes were way worse than the khaki uniform.
But I swear Michael’s touch seemed to negate all of that. I wasn’t the kind of girl that would attract a muscled future engineer with warm eyes and crinkles already starting to form at the edges of his frequent smile. And, yet, somehow, I was. His touch wasn’t a come-on, but in spite of his intentions, the second the calloused pads of his fingers brushed against my skin I was more awake than I’d ever been. I’d been right. Numb wasn’t possible with Michael. My heartbeat raced and blood rushed to my face and chest and the tattoo he touched.
“So he took you to a tattoo parlor so unprofessional they didn’t even check for IDs, and he had you get inked when he knew your parents wouldn’t want you to, when you had already said no?” Michael asked, completely missing the point. Tristan was gone. And there was no configuration of Michael’s multi-tool that could fix what had happened.
I stepped away from his soft touch. The rock in my chest had trembled and I chewed my lips to stop an answering tremor. Michael’s eyes were a warm brown the color of aged copper in the hallway shadows. They met mine and didn’t look away. He seemed to see someone else when he looked at me. Not the girl I used to be and not the girl I was now, but another Lydia that was just out of my reach. Braver, better, in touch with who she was and what she wanted. And who she wanted. Is that what he saw when he looked at broken things? With his engineer eyes, could he see the potential of an object—or a person—to be whole again?
About the Author
Barbara J. Hancock lives in a cabin in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her many rescued pets and the guy who lured her into the wilderness with promises of lots of peace and quiet for writing. To this day, the Appalachian wildwood is the best gift she’s ever been given. Her favorite pastime (besides animal rescue) is bringing darkly romantic stories to life by firefly light.