And with the release of ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE only weeks away, I thought I'd give readers a little taste of what's on the way.
So here goes, an excerpt from my new, soon-to-be-published Christian romance novel (which as I said before, has paranormal elements).
“Welcome to Meridian Amusement Park,” Tom said softly. “Opened in 1908. For many years it was a dream come true. That is, for the first owner.”
“Was that your great-great-great grandfather?” she joked.
He led the way in, shaking his head. “No, it was another man. He sold it to my great-grandfather in 1958. That was the real heyday of this park, 1958 to about 1968. He sold it to my grandfather because he was afraid. He was the first one to say it was haunted.”
“By the farmer who killed his family and then killed himself?”
Turning to her, Tom didn’t seem either annoyed or surprised.
“That, and the little girl who fell out of the roller coaster,” he said. “She wasn’t restrained properly. She was also too young and probably shouldn’t have been on the ride anyway. That was in 1924.”
“How old was she?”
“Five, almost six. Her name was Bridget.”
They were walking past a couple of old-fashioned ticket booths. Seeing the park from behind the gates was different from being inside it. Tom flashed her a kind smile.
“I don’t want you to think it’s always been tragic here,” he explained. “Yeah, there was also a man who was said to be disturbed who pushed another man off the Ferris wheel—and he fell about fifty feet to his death. But all that’s happened here hasn’t always been bad.”
“So there were happy times here, too?”
“A lot of happy times. Like—well, this way…”
Deeper into the park with him. With Tom, a guy she barely knew. Her parents knew him from church. Interestingly, Heather didn’t feel threatened by that at all. She felt safe with him.
And where were the ghosts? The spirits hidden in every shadow in that place?
The park wasn’t as scary as it was sad. Sad, lonely—and yes, a tragic place.
She thought back to all the scary movies she had seen. Now that Heather thought about it, she had seen more than she could name, including “classics”—or at least, a friend of hers at Barton Lamplight had called them classics. Movies like Night of the Living Dead, The Omen, The Exorcist. Lots of those slasher-style films, too, like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
The amusement park wasn’t like that. Just an old place, frozen in time. They walked past an old, rusted Himalaya ride. A shop that might have sold baseball caps, T-shirts and plastic cups, other souvenirs, with the park’s logo. An area with games, like the one with the sign that read WIN A TEDDY BEAR, 25¢.
There had been fun there. Once, a long time ago. Heather found herself wishing it was still like that. Wishing the park was still alive.
“From what my grandfather told me,” Tom recounted, tossing out an arm showily at the entrance to the Tunnel of Love, “there were more than a few wedding proposals in this place.”
Heather smiled. “Wish it was still working.”
“Me, too. The water either was drained or they let it all evaporate over the years. Even if it wasn’t,” he told her, “there’s no electricity running through the place.”
“Nowhere in the park?”
“Not even the lights?”
“Nope. I use a flashlight. I try not to come here at night, though.” Tom paused. “Since I was jumped.”
“You were jumped?”
“Yes. That happened in broad daylight, actually. They beat me and they left me there. Made off with my wallet and about thirty dollars. I guess they thought there was more money or something to find here.”
Heather sighed. No wonder he was that way around her the day he’d found her snooping around at the gate.
“Did you ever think about opening it again?” she asked.
“My dad did. He went broke. Not because of the park. He closed it a long time ago, back in ’74. Want to see something amazing?”
“I think the whole place is amazing.” She was being truthful with him. “Sad and old—but amazing.”
Grinning appreciatively, Tom took her gently by the arm and led the way.
“Well, then, you’ll really love this, Heather,” he promised.
He’s like the park.
Where had that thought come from? But it was true. Tom Clayton, though not old, was sad and rather haunted. Heather clasped her hand over the one he had on her forearm.