By Lillie J. Roberts, author of Life After Death
I’ve been asked by many of my friends, when did I start writing? The answer I have for them is when have I not? Writing is like breathing, it’s a part of my human existence. There’s always a story percolating inside my head.
An imagination was an escape from being the oldest of a large family and all the responsibilities that go along with it; fairytales were my refuge. The Beauty, who managed to tame the wild Beast; Snow White, who waited for her true love to bring her to life, setting her free. The excitement of Neverland and Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell (I still believe in fairies), and what a love triangle! Then Sleeping Beauty, who had to wait one hundred long years for love to find her. Lastly and one my favorite fairytales of all time, Cinderella. I was in love with the Prince who swooped in and carried her away. I’d discovered the romance of reading, the romance of true love.
It wasn’t until I was about eleven years old that I found myself out of fairytales and searching for more. My grandmother was a voracious reader, I’d watched her read through boxes of books. I dipped into those boxes to find books by Barbara Cartland; classic bodice rippers, virginal young women and the Lords who loved them, some scoundrels and others, out to protect what they secretly desire. I was in heaven, I swear, there was nothing like reading those Barbara Cartland stories, imagining those Lords and Ladies. But, still I desire more excitement, thrillers, chillers, mysteries, the unknown… until I found the genre of Paranormal Romance. Finally, I had found my home: vampires, strange creatures who could shift forms, ghosts, the fay, miraculous wonders, terrible circumstances, life and death situations… all wrapped up in a great read. Then, and this is where that inquisitive imagination can into play, I started thinking up stories for those heroines who wanted to dig in and fight back, make their own way, maybe play with a little bit of the magic, and I haven’t looked back since.
In Life After Death,my heroine, Chelsea Karmikel, is suddenly thrust into a new life, everything she thought she knew has changed, and in her view, not for the better. I mean, how would you like to wake up to real live ghosts? It would be a major shock to anyone’s existence.
But think about it. Would it be so bad if ghosts existed (and who knows, maybe they do)? What if you were the one person who could help them? A real life Ghost Whisperer meets The Sixth Sense? Personally, I think it’d be pretty cool, at least as long as the ghosts were the friendly kind, anyway.
Then into your life waltzes this sizzling hot guy, Brad Rearden, and okay… he’s a little bit of a prig, until he understands you but, hey, no one said life or love was going to be easy. And that’s where my story takes us… to the point where love and life come together, acceptance and willingness to overcome any obstacle to be with that one person you can’t live without and all the craziness that goes with it. Love, in any form, is work but so worth it in the end.
And, now, since I promised my Facebook friends, here’s the second sneak peak of Life After Death:
The old rambling farmhouse in Taylorville, Illinois was the only home Chelsea had ever known. She shivered, wishing someone waited to welcome her besides Grendel, her tabby cat. Her grandmother wanted to move home—why hadn’t Chelsea taken her offer? Maybe living alone wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. She screwed up her face and chewed a fingernail. Did she really want to be here?
“Hey, lady?” The cabbie chomped a wad of gum. “We at the right address? You getting out?” He watched her in the rearview mirror. “’Cause the longer we sit here, the more you gotta pay.”
Chelsea glanced at the meter—fifty dollars and change—and the change was jumping higher with every passing moment. “Yeah, it’s the right place.” She fingered the door handle. “Thanks.” She shoved three twenties through the tiny hole between her and the driver, and opened the door. Before it slammed closed, the cabbie roared off, leaving a trail of dust behind.
She glanced up at the house. Was it just bad luck? Or was it something else? Sparrows filled the yard, hunting moths and grubs. She shuddered; there was something about sparrows that always gave her the creeps. Messengers of the dead, her great-grandmother had always said. They squawked at her intrusion, then paid her little attention. At least the sky had cleared.
She walked on the balls of her feet, her souls still tender. Thick bandages covered the tips of her thumbs. A black spot marred her right shoulder blade where the electricity had exited her body. Her skin tingled with a bee-like buzz, tremors quaked through her body. It was all supposed to go away in a few days—at least, that’s what the docs said. But none of it explained the nightmares that haunted her in the hospital, of people she didn’t even know. She hoped it would all go away now that she was home.
Chelsea unlocked the door and stepped inside the white two-story house. A picket fence guarded the front yard and maroon shutters stood like sentries at the windows— she’d always been safe here. “Grendel? Here kitty, kitty…” she called softly. “Grendel?” The small yellow cat tumbled down the stairs to happily twine around her legs. She scooped the small cat up and buried her face in her purring neck. “Hi, baby.” Grendel responded by mewling loudly and pushing out of Chelsea’s grasp.
Her lips curved into a smile. “Are you hungry?” Grendel blinked her strange cat eyes before scurrying to her bowl. Chelsea coaxed her feet to move a few steps, but the buzzing worsened and the whisperings came to her ears, the same as in the hospital. She cleared her throat, and shook her head. “Don’t be a baby, Chelsea Karmikel,” she chided herself. “Grow up! You’ll be fine, you heard what the doctor said.” She determinedly continued toward the kitchen. She jerked open the pantry and grabbed a can of tuna. The buzzing increased in volume, more piercing, as the can opener churned. She covered her ears. “I wish this noise would stop!”
Grendel hissed, pulled back her ears, and the fur on her spine spiked in a curved arch. Puzzled, Chelsea reached for her two-year-old tabby. “What’s wrong with you?” She stepped towards the cat, but it was too late—Grendel skittered off, sliding across the hardwood floor to land under the couch where she lay growling. Chelsea sat the tuna on the floor. “Well, when you get over whatever set you off, your tuna’s ready… silly cat.” She headed for her bedroom and the disastrous shower. “Damn,” she said, as she entered her bedroom. “I forgot to stop and pick up a new blow dryer.” Hers had burned out when it hit the water. She peeled off her jeans and blouse, wincing as she brushed the tender places, leaving on her bra and panties as she turned back down the hallway to the spare room. There was an ancient dryer somewhere.
A pounding on her front door pulled her up short. Chelsea snatched her great-grandmother’s faded afghan and wrapped it around her body. She tiptoed down the stairs, cracked open the door, and peeked through the chain lock. Ozone still filled the air from the chilly morning rain.
“Can I help you?” She lifted her eyebrows at the young uniformed officer. She looked around—the birds had vanished, leaving behind only silence. Where had they gone? She shrugged her shoulders. Strange.
“I hope so, ma’am.” The man removed his cap. “I need you to do something for me.”
“Umm… I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” It was an odd request, but then again this was a week of oddities. Still, she didn’t open her door to just anybody. “Do you mind letting me see your identification?”
“Oh, sure.” He fumbled and flashed her a badge. “Sorry, I haven’t had to do that in a while.”
Reassured, she laughed, embarrassed. “No problem, can’t be too careful these days. As far as I know, there haven’t been any problems around here. So unless your car’s broken down or your radio is out, I don’t see how I can help you, officer.” She smiled. He was kind of cute.
“No, no, it’s nothing like that.” He smiled back. “I need you to get a message to my wife, Nicole.”
“Oh.” All the cute ones were taken. “I’m sorry, but you seem to have mistaken me for someone else. I don’t know Nicole, Officer…”
“Sorry, I thought you’d know me. I’m Officer Davies, Brenden Davies.”
“It still doesn’t ring a bell.” His uniform didn’t look familiar—she didn’t think he looked like anyone local. In fact, now that she looked, he didn’t have a radio. Instead, an old-fashioned walkie-talkie was clipped to his belt. Did they still use those?
“Let me bring you my phone,” she offered. “Just one moment—”
“No, I need you to do this for me. Here’s her phone number.” The young officer rattled off a number. “Please, just call her for me—now if you can. I’m afraid she’s worried.” He looked so lost, Chelsea’s heart went out to him.
She slid the chain free and opened her door wider. “Alright,” she said, hesitation in her voice, “if you can give me a minute? Why don’t you come in?” There was no need to give the old farmers fodder for gossip. She’d seen Officer Davies’s ID, he was probably safe.
“Thanks,” he said, twisting his cap around in his hands. Chelsea could read the signs—he was nervous or scared, maybe both. Again, odd. “I’ll be right back.”
“Sure.” But he didn’t relax. If anything, his face grew tenser.
She hurried up the steps as fast as her tender feet allowed, and came back moments later in a pair of boy’s grey sweatpants and a pink Dylan tee. Her feet she left bare. “Okay.” She opened her cell phone. “Nicole, right?”
“Right.” He smiled, relief apparent on his face. “Thanks for doing this, you don’t know how much you’ve helped. If you can just tell her I’m fine, and I’ll see her soon.”
“Wouldn’t you like to tell her yourself?” She held out the phone.
“Oh no, I can’t image how, you know, and besides, I don’t want to scare her.”
“Okay… but if it was me, I think I’d rather hear it from you. Did something happen this morning?”
“No, I just want to let her know I miss her.”
“Sure…” She smiled in confusion, but she dialed the number and relaxed when it was picked up on the fourth ring.
“Hello?” An elderly voice came over the phone.
“Hi, my name is Chelsea Karmikel, would Nicole be available?” She looked at the young officer, and he nodded with a smile, and she smiled back at him.
“Speaking,” the voice returned.
“Nicole Davies?” She looked at the young officer, and doubt filled her voice.
“No, not anymore. Nicole Radley.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Relief flowed through her body. “I meant to ask for Officer Brenden Davies’s wife, Nicole.”
“This is Nicole Davies. Nicole Davies Radley.” The voice became adamant.
Embarrassment colored Chelsea’s voice. “Oh, sorry. I guess I misunderstood.” She laughed. “Officer Davies is here at my home, and he wanted me to call his wife, Nicole, to let her know he was fine and he’d see her soon.” Chelsea glanced over at the officer, and he winked at her. She walked in a small circle, her own nerves showing. She began to shiver; it felt like the temperature had dropped twenty degrees. It was probably just the electricity, though, some kind of residual side effect.
“I’m sorry, I… I… I don’t understand. My Bren died in ’62, in a pile-up out on Highway 29. Who is this? You say there’s someone in your house?”
Chelsea swung around to face the young officer, but he was gone. The front door stood open, only his wet footprints remained, and they were rapidly evaporating.
“I… I’m sorry. I must have gotten it wrong. Please forgive me.” She ended the call, and looked down as the cell phone slipped from her fingers. The buzzing had finally stopped.
You can visit my sites, Lillie J. Roberts or Tink’s Place more information about my books.
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