If you follow me at all, you probably know I’ve been working through edits on not one but 2 books. Before you think I’m patting myself on the back, well, you’re right, I am. Largely because this is a big deal for me. I know many of my peers always have 3 or 4 books in various forms of pre-publication, but this is the most I can do while still maintaining a job outside of my writing. So, yeah, back patting.
As a result, I’ve managed to write books number 19 and 20 this year so far. Yes, that’s right – 19 and 20! And all I can say is OMG!!!
When I started this journey in 2015 the thought of writing 20 books felt like it was a pipe dream that would never happen. Yet, here we are and here I am and it feels GREAT! What feels even better is that I have so many more in various stages of planning and by the end of the year, if I can keep up a moderate pace, I’ll publish number 23! I’ll really celebrate then.
Now that I’ve given myself my moment of reflection and glory, I want to share the first chapter of Defending Keirnan with you. Defending Keirnan releases on April 21, 2020 and is the prequel to my popular GHOST series. I love how the story turned out. Better yet, so far my beta readers are enjoying it too! Insert happy dance here.
So, here you go, Chapter 1 of Defending Keirnan.
Turning the corner and entering the back section of the library, which was closed off to the general public, Keirnan frowned at the condition of this part of the gorgeous historical building downtown. She’d been organizing the program, Read with Your Littles, for well over two years. At first it was difficult getting busy parents to take another hour or more out of their already busy weeks to bring their little children to the program; but it became an occasion to spend time together reading and talking about the stories and enjoying each other’s company.
But, her patience had paid off, and parents began pouring in. There were children with a single parent; some parents worked long or odd hours. So, she had encouraged not only parents but grandparents to join in, even babysitters. Low and behold, her small project, Read with Your Littles, began filling up. They’d grown to capacity at the Beachwood Elementary School library. So, after only one year, she’d received permission from the Friday Harbor Town Council to move the venue to the downtown library. As generous as it was that the town had been eager to accept Keirnan Vickers’ program, this old library building was in poor shape.
Many windows had been painted closed, which was a safety hazard. The handrails on the steps were loose, the flooring was sadly neglected and the plumbing, well the plumbing, was atrocious. That’s when she knew she had to do something. The town had agreed to pay the lion’s share of the repairs, but Keirnan had to first raise donations to cover the first one quarter of the $500,000 repair costs.
With the help of her best friend and fellow teacher, Lexi, she organized a huge fundraiser to the detriment of her sleep. Did she invite the right people? Would they come with money, credit cards or checkbooks in hand to donate? Would the library be able to make many of the necessary repairs? Or would she look the fool? It was the last one that kept her awake into the wee hours of the morning.
Hearing a loud bang, she stopped and turned. Waiting to hear more or someone moving around, she hesitated to go investigate. The library was open now, but this wing was not. She was simply keeping her decorating stash here so she could bring it in small batches and not have to haul in carload after carload.
Another bang had her heart racing and the tiny hairs on the back of her neck prickling. Inhaling deeply, she slowly walked down the hallway and in the direction of the noises.
“Hello?” Waiting for a response, she could only hear her heartbeat thrumming in her ears. Swallowing, she called a bit louder. “Is anybody back here?”
Looking into the first room, grateful the sun was still high in the sky, she didn’t see anything but stacks of chairs on top of tables that had seen better days and bags of decorating supplies: pretty purple hanging decor, napkins, matching plastic wear and expensive looking, but not, plastic plates for guests at the fundraiser. She had wrestled with how fancy to make the event, opting for low budget, showing their future benefactors that they wouldn’t be squandering their money on needless frilly things.
An old portrait of Mr. Vandebrooke, the founder of the town and this library, hung askew on the far wall. The eerie look on his face, that vacant look that signified the artist was not quite able to capture the soul of the man, just the body, gave her the chills. Did his eyes follow her? Shaking her head, she chastised herself for her overactive imagination.
Turning to the hallway once again, she ventured down it further to the next door. “Hello?”
From the corner of her left eye she thought she saw movement. Jumping and stifling a squeal she looked to her left and surveyed the area. What did she just see? Nothing seemed out of place, then again, how would she know? She rarely came back this far other than to make lists of the things that needed upgrading. Another sound came further down the hallway.
Her heartbeat increased further, and her hands began to shake. She’d never been one to scare easily, and she’d seen her share of old buildings in her twenty-five years; it was likely a mouse or a broken window allowing the breeze to move items on the wall or a door closing. She continued to the next room and jumped about a foot off the floor when she saw a man sitting in a chair in the far-left corner of the room. She’d never seen him before, not in town or in the library, but he seemed as if he was waiting for her to appear.
“Hello. May I ask what you’re doing in this wing?” Proud her voice didn’t shake proving her fright.
“I’m a potential investor in this great building and wanted to see for myself during the day just how bad the condition is.”
Swallowing to moisten her dry throat she forced a smile. “Oh, I’m Keirnan Vickers, one of the fundraisers. I’m happy you’ve taken such an interest in the building and that you can see for yourself the poor condition it’s in.”
“Yes. That’s clear as day.”
“What is your name, please?” The way he stared at her made her skin crawl. The close to being a sneer on his face kept her from coming any further into the room.
“That’s not important. I’ll be on my way in just a moment.”
“But, I don’t think anyone is supposed to be in this area, Mr. ?”
“But then again, here you are as well.” He stood and she guessed his height as just under six feet. His sandy-colored hair was slicked back, and tied together at his nape in a short ponytail. He wore a clean, dark blue, short-sleeved, three-button, placket shirt, jeans and sneakers. He didn’t look like someone who had the money to invest, but a person could never know for sure.
“Yes, I’m storing some of the items for the fundraiser in this section to keep them out of the way.”
His hands tucked into the front pockets of his jeans, he began walking around the room, first looking at the windows, then at a photograph on the wall. As he neared her, she straightened her back fighting the urge to turn and run. If he actually was a benefactor, it was imperative that she leave him with a positive impression.
“Well, I’ll see you in two weeks at the fundraiser then, Mr.?”
He inhaled deeply, removed his hands from his front pockets, and walked to the door as if ready to leave. She stepped aside and swallowed. Clamping her hands together in front of her, she hoped she didn’t look as scared as she felt. His whole demeanor seemed bizarre at best.
He walked to the door, then stopped in the doorway, turning to look at her. His eyes stared into hers for a long moment before trailing down her body. The dreadful feeling that plummeted to the pit of her stomach left her ready to run screaming from the room.
He simply smiled, though it looked scornful. He nodded as if dismissing her and left the room.
Allowing herself a moment to regain her composure, and let her knees stop shaking, she inhaled and exhaled a few times, nodded her head and began walking as quickly as she could to the main area of the library to tell, Bekah Dodson, the curator, that someone was in the closed section. Her skin crawled again and she looked back and forth into the rooms to make sure he wasn’t going to jump out at her or follow her. She chastised herself for being a scaredy-cat, but he was a creepy-ass man. The first thing she’d do is ask Lexi, if she had added to the guest list.