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Excerpt for Killian's Pass by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




















Killian’s Pass











Killian’s Pass









Ginger Elinburg



Copyright 2017 Ginger Elinburg



All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted in any form or by any means, or store in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the Author. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the publisher.







This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.

Other Works by Ginger Elinburg

Wicked

Wicked Welcome (Book 1)

Beyond Wicked (Book 2)

Wicked: Family Ties (Book 3)

Pantar (Book 4)

Damien: The Guardian (Book 5)

Dimitri: Deadly Obsession (Book 6)

Donovan: Unleashed (Book 7)



Standalone

Hunted by Death

Always Girl

Sharp Edges

Whispered Deceit

Killian's Pass

Draçon

Hunted by Death II





Thanks for listening when I needed to talk my way out of writer’s block. For your suggestions when my plot took a turn in a seemingly wrong direction. I couldn’t do any of this without your help, dear husband.

One

Aviana looked up at the house and winced when her husband, Finn, slowly brought the truck to a stop. “Are you ever going to get those brakes checked?”

Finn rolled his eyes and shifted the truck into park. “I told you, I’d do it after the move.”

Aviana unsnapped her seatbelt and looked over at him. She studied his tired face and instantly felt guilty for nagging him so much during the move. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so hateful.” Leaning across the seat, she kissed him softly on the cheek before pushing her door open. “Let’s go check the place out. You got the keys?”

Finn reached into the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out the keys, dangling them out to her on the tip of his forefinger. “Got ‘em right here, babe.”

Snatching the keys from his finger, she flung open the door and jumped out. Looking up, she smiled and ran up the porch steps. Grasping the doorknob, she was about to put the key in the lock when she felt a chill course through her body. Her scream reverberated around the closed in porch and the keys fell from her fingers.

“Geez, Ava, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Bending down, Finn picked up the keys and unlocked the door. Turning the knob, he pushed it inward and stepped inside. His breath caught in his throat when he looked up the stairs and pictured Emma and his future children sliding down the wooden banister. Absently reaching back, he found Aviana’s hand and pulled her inside to stand next to him. Lifting his hand, he pointed to the right. “Look at that fireplace. Have you ever seen a mantel like that?” Looking down at his wife, he saw that she was looking around his back toward the opposite direction, a small dreamy smile curving her lips. Turning, he tilted his head to see through a partially opened door. “What do you see in there?”

Releasing his hand, she walked over and pushed the door open, a gasp of joy whispering through her smile. “Oh my God, Finn, it’s gorgeous.” Walking to the middle of the room, she looked up and turned in a circle, her smile growing bigger. Clasping her hands into a fist on her chest, she looked at Finn with wide excited eyes. “This is really mine? Do we get to keep everything in here?” Her smile fell and her eyes filled with sadness and worry. “Do you think the previous owners intend to come back for these?”

Finn looked around the room and walked over to the wooden staircase. He ran his hand over the polished wood and whistled through his teeth. “Someone really loved this room.”

Aviana walked over and grasped his elbow. “Did you hear my question?”

Finn nodded. “Yeah.” When she released a defeated sigh, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a loving squeeze. “I meant, yeah I heard you. Cheer up, panda bear, this all belongs to you now.”

Her squeal of happiness caused him to cover his ears and he laughed as she ran up the stairs and ran her fingertips along the spines of the books lining the walls. “I’ve always dreamed of having a large library, but I never dreamed of having one this big.”

Putting his hands on his hips, Finn studied the room. Bookshelves lined three walls on the lower floor and all four walls on the two floors above him. Each shelf was filled with books and he wondered, out loud, how old some of them were.

Aviana’s voice echoed down from the third floor and he looked up to see her standing on a wooden ladder attached to metal tracks. “This one has a leather cover.” Opening the book, she held her fingers just above the pages. “I… I’m scared to touch the pages. I’d hate to ruin this beautiful book.” Putting it back in its place on the shelf, she worked her way back down the ladder and walked down the stairs to join Finn on the first floor. “I’m pretty sure that entire floor is nothing but old books. Why do you think they left them? Some of them must be worth a fortune.”

Finn shrugged and led her from the library, turning to pull the door closed. “Their loss is your gain. Hey, I’m feeling a little hungry. You want to run down to that little store we drove by and see if they have chips or something? And get me a bottle of coke or a shake.”

“You don’t want to go with me?”

Finn arched an eyebrow and looked at her for a second before shaking his head. “Someone’s got to stay here and wait for the movers.” Lifting his arm, he glanced at his watch and tapped the crystal. “They should have been here already. Maybe I need to call and see what’s taking them so long?”

Holding out her hand, she wiggled her fingers in his direction. “I’m going to need some money. I don’t know if that little country store takes debit cards and I’d hate to get there only to have to turn around and drive back here for cash.”

Finn pulled his wallet from his back pocket, pulled out two twenties and handed it to her. “That should be enough, right?”

Aviana looked down at the money and laughed softly. “I’d say it’s more than enough.”

Finn shrugged. “Hey, you never know with these small towns. Remember that time we stopped to get a sandwich and they charged three dollars for a small soda?”

Stuffing the bills into the front pocket of her jeans, she lifted up on tiptoe and kissed him before smiling and nodding. “I remember. I shouldn’t be gone long. Hopefully the movers will get here before nightfall. You want me to take Emma or are you okay with her staying here with you?”

Bending at the waist, he looked out the window toward the front porch where their daughter was sitting on the porch swing. “I got her. She can help unpack when the movers get here.” Finn swatted Ava on the butt when she turned toward the door. “You be careful, watch out for idiot drivers.”

Turning to face him, she walked backwards from the room. “I’ll be right back, stop worrying so much.” Winking, she walked out onto the porch and pulled the door closed behind her.

Two

Finn woke up with a scream dying in his throat. Sweat covered his naked chest and he pressed his hand against his mouth to stifle his sobs. She had invaded his dreams again, first begging him to help her, later demanding that he join her. His sobs shook the bed and he struggled to draw breath into his burning lungs.

The dream was always the same and each time he woke up with the feeling that his life was slowly being drawn from him during the night as he slept. Rolling to his back, he wiped the tears from his eyes and stared up at the ceiling, taking slow deep breaths to gain control of his emotions. Throwing his arm out, he rested it on the empty pillow next to his head, his hand closing into a fist as he grasped the cool pillowcase and pulled the pillow to his side.

“Why do you torment me so much?”

His eyes watched the shadows that played across the ceiling and he wished for something he knew he could never have again.

“I’m sorry, I miss you so much.”

His breath hitched in his throat and he rolled to his side, pulling the pillow into the crook of his body. He cried for what was lost, he cried at the unfairness of it all, but most all, he cried for the strength to make it until morning.

Three

“Look, all I’m asking for is a little more time.”

“Finn, it’s been six months. We need you here tomorrow or we’ll be forced to find someone to fill your position.”

Finn rubbed his face and scowled out the kitchen window, “You can’t just replace me, Kevin, I own half the company.”

“Maybe we should discuss that. Let me buy you out. You can retire early or start your own company when you’re ready to get back to work.”

Finn watched a raindrop slide down the window and thought about Kevin’s offer. He wasn’t ready to go back to work and he didn’t really need the job, he just never thought about leaving it. Clearing his throat, he picked up his shot glass and took a drink. “How much were you planning to offer?”

“Come into the office and let’s talk about it. We can get everything worked out then.”

“No, let’s talk about it now. You’ve obviously been thinking about it so, what’s your offer.” Finn lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, squinting his eyes against the rolling smoke.

“I really don’t feel comfortable discussing this over the phone, Finn. Listen, if you don’t want to come over here, maybe I can come over today after work?”

Finn opened his mouth to tell him no, but the words stopped in his throat when a moan sounded from overhead. Looking up at the ceiling, he rubbed his beard stubbled chin and sighed. “Okay. Say about six?”

“Six would be great. I’ll type up my proposal and bring it over at six. See you then buddy.”

“Yeah, see you then.” Pressing the end button, Finn kept his eyes on the ceiling and carefully pushed his chair away from the table. His legs shook and he berated himself for being scared. “It’s probably just the wind.” His whispered words were loud in the empty kitchen and he jumped when he heard scraping against the kitchen window. His eyes widened and he slowly turned his head toward the window, laughing to himself when he realized the noise was being made by a tree branch brushing against the glass.

The hairs on the back of his neck stiffened and he spun to see who was standing behind him. Blindly reaching back, he picked up his pack of cigarettes and stuffed them into his shirt pocket before reaching back for his whisky bottle.

The wail came again from overhead. A long drawn out sound that caused a ball of dread to build in Finn’s stomach and the bottle slipped from his fingers, shattering when it hit the hardwood floor.

Keeping his eyes on the ceiling, he quickly backed out of the kitchen before turning and rushing toward the front of the house, snatching his keys from the entry table on his way out the front door.

His hands shook as he inserted the key in the lock on his truck door and he almost dropped them when he caught a movement from the corner of his eye. Looking in the direction of the movement, his pent-up breath shuddered from his lungs and he dropped his head against the doorframe of his truck.

“You alright there, Finn?”

Finn took a few calming breaths and nodded against the cool metal. “I’ll be fine.” Lifting his head, he looked over at the man now leaning against the front of his truck, one foot resting on the chrome fender. “What can I do for you, Tom?”

Color stained Tom’s cheeks and he looked toward the house as he spoke. “Well, the missus sent me over to see how you’re doing. She had one of her dreams last night and made me promise to come check up on you?”

Finn lifted an eyebrow and studied the man. “One of her dreams?”

Tom nodded slowly and looked at Finn from the corner of his eye. “She fancies herself to be precognitive.” When Finn continued to look at him, he cleared his throat and tugged on the brim of his hat. “Sometimes Doris has dreams that turn out to be warnings. Now, I know you’re thinking we’re just crazy old people, but hear me out. Doris thinks you’re surrounded by danger and she’s scared for you.”

Finn’s forehead wrinkled and he stepped closer to the old man. “What kind of danger?”

Tom shrugged and looked back toward the house. “She doesn’t know, but she wanted me to tell you to be careful.”

Pulling his cigarettes from his pocket, he tapped one out and lit it before propping his elbows on the hood of the truck and staring up at the house. “You ever hear anything about this house?”

Tom nodded once and spoke without taking his eyes from the house. “Yep, I’ve heard plenty since I was a young boy. My daddy wasn’t a mean man, but he told us he’d beat our asses if he ever caught us near this place.”

Finn looked at the old man and saw his jaw flex, as if he were grinding his teeth. “Let me guess, that made you want to come on over and see what was so forbidden?”

Finn was still looking at Tom, so he didn’t miss the shudder that shook the man’s body. “One of the biggest mistakes of my young life.” Tom finally looked at him. “This is a bad place, Finn. Take my advice... get out while you still can.”

Finn’s heart kicked beneath his ribs and he thought about the strange wailing he had been hearing. “Are there mountain lions in these parts?”

“Did you hear what I said? This is a bad place. If you’re hearing something, I assure you, it ain’t mountain lions.” Pushing away from the truck, Tom turned and began walking down the driveway, waving back at Finn. “When you’re ready to talk, come on over.”

Finn watched the old man walk away and debated following him. When Tom stopped, Finn stood up straighter and watched him, waiting for him to come back.

Turning, Tom rubbed the back of his neck and looked at his feet for a few seconds before finally lifting his head and meeting Finn’s eyes. “Why don’t you come back to my place with me? I’m sure Doris would like to see for herself that you’re okay and she was baking a pie when I left.”

Finn was about to decline when he heard the wailing start up again. He kept his expression blank and waited for Tom to mention the noise. When the old man continued to look at him, he nodded and walked towards him. “I’d be happy to join you and Doris.”

The wailing grew louder and seemed to follow them down the driveway. When they crossed the road, the woods instantly grew quiet and Finn felt the muscles in his neck beginning to relax. The headache that had plagued him for months finally started fading and he sighed in relief.

“You sure you’re okay?”

Finn lightly slapped Tom on his shoulder and smiled. “I’m sure. Say, how about we go fishing this weekend. Do you know any good spots close by?”

Tom’s face broke into a smile and he pointed into the woods. “As a matter of fact, I have a honey hole right down there. I’d be happy to take you there, just keep its location to yerself.” He winked and laughed when Finn quickly nodded. “Come on, boy, I think the missus might have that pie ready by now. Little Emma still at yer kin folks?”

Finn smiled sadly, his eyes glistening with unshed tears and nodded. “I’m in no shape to take care of her right now and they don’t think it’s safe for her to be here.”

Tom looked up at a hawk circling overhead and cleared his throat, shaking off thoughts of impending death. “Might be she is a hell of a lot safer with them.”

“Do you think they’ll ever find her?”

“Aviana?” When Finn nodded, Tom rubbed the back of his neck and looked at the ground. “I cain’t rightly say and I don’t want to take away your hope, but they’ve yet to find any of the people that have gone missing in this area.”

Finn bit the corner of his lower lip and swallowed the sob of despair that rushed to his throat upon hearing Tom’s words. Clearing his throat, he turned his head to the side and spit before speaking. “So… tell me more about this honey hole you’ve got.”


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