Your favorite BestSelling authors know how much you love a good scare. Here’s a taste of the creepy, chilling and sometimes funny Crimson Vale for you
By Jennifer Harlow
Like it was shot out of a rocket, the toaster flies off the counter onto the floor. Oh, God. Oh God. Before I can stop myself, I dial the number on the card. Nononononononononononono.
“Hello?” Bram asks on the other end.
“Bram?” I whimper.
“Jane? What’s the matter? Are you okay?”
“No. No,” I answer, voice trembling as violently as my body. “There may be people in this house or I’ve gone crazy. They-they-I-I-I’m so scared. The toaster…the toaster just moved on its own. And I can’t see them. I don’t want to but I know…I-I feel them watching me…” I glance around the room, seeing no one but sensing their eyes glued to me. “They’re here.”
“Jane, listen to me. I am on my way, okay? I am coming to you right now. Just get out of the house. Wait for me in your car and—”
The phone jerks from my hand by the unseen force, skidding and clattering on the floor. I scream, pick up the lantern, and dash the opposite way. Car. Car.
The moment I open the front door, the howling wind whips the cold rain against my body. That doesn’t stop me. Nor does the lighting, the thunder, or the ankle deep water like quicksand, I trudge through. I don’t care. I am driving the heck…oh, no. No. When I reach for the spare key under the wheel well, I notice both tires on the driver’s side are flat. How…? No. No, come on. Oh God. A snake glides a few feet away in my direction. Oh God. Having no other course of action, I just climb into the dry car.
Three voices, no four now, they won’t stop their torture. Through my sobs I groan in frustration and cover my ears to no avail. “Leave me alone. Just leave me alone. Why won’t you leave me alone?”
They won’t stop. Why won’t they stop? Please…stop. I rest my head on the steering wheel and sob until my throat and eyes ache. Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up. Why can’t I make them stop? Just stop. I hate this. I want to be normal again. Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why is God punishing me? Why? These questions cycle through my head as fast and loud as the voices. So loud. So loud. I cry and cry and cry as the concert continues in my head.
A crack of thunder like a leather belt snapping booms even louder than the voices and jolts my gaze up in time to watch as a jagged bolt of pure light makes contact with a tree twenty feet away, splitting it straight down the center like an ax. But my mouth remains open in a silent scream, not from this show of raw, savage nature but because of the man standing not three feet away staring at me as intently as I am him. There’s only an instant of light before the bolt dissipates, but I recognize him instantly from the glasses and dry hunting attire. Even when the light fades I can make out his outline. Still there. Still watching me. It’s him. Not a cousin, it’s him. The man from the photo. My grandfather. Daniel.
ItsnotsafesugargohomegotoOwennonothisisyourhomegohomedear. There’s another flash of light, and this time I see the bullet hole in his forehead. “Oh God.” No more. I shut my eyes and curl up like the frightened madwoman I’ve become.
Lust…Murder…Madness… Welcome to Crimson Vale.
It’s a dream come true. A vast inheritance. A beautiful mansion in the heart of the small town South. A seductive, mysterious, literal man of her dreams offering true, pure love.
Ravaged in both body and mind, Jane Harrow leaps into that living dream with abandon. Despite the voices. Despite the visions. Despite the warnings from both the living and the dead. Because what Jane doesn’t know is nothing and no one are what they seem. Because demons from the past are patient.
Because dreams can quickly turn into living nightmares, especially in… Crimson Vale.
spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books.
She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia, which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, graphic designer, and government investigator.
Currently she calls Atlanta home, but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. She is the author over twelve books, an Independent Publisher’s Award, and was interviewed on NPR.
For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at www.jenniferharlowbooks.com.