Between the 12th and 19th of July, many German regions experienced heavy flooding. In many places, it rained more than 150ml per square meter in only 24 hours. Hundreds died (firemen, men, women, and children), many more lost their homes, their possessions, their livelihood. The country was in shock even as help began to get organized.
Just a few days later, I was contacted by a fellow writer I knew from Facebook. She needed a publisher for a charity anthology she was planning, and since I own my own, tiny publishing company, I agreed. Then, the stories began t pour in and they varied so much in genre and target audience, that we decided to split them into 5! themed anthologies.
Since my grandson also is at home right now, kindergarten holidays, I’ve been to busy to breathe. BUT I managed to prepare one more publication for you. The German version of this book has been out for a while. I had this scheduled for much earlier, but never got around to creating the necessary files.
So without further ado, here’s my newest release: The Witches of Greenwitch (it’s on Amazon first, the other retailers will follow asap). And this time you have the choice between eBook, paperback AND hardcover (although the print versions will take a little longer to trickle through the system). Here’s what the story is about:
Can a book-rat haunted by memories escape a determined hunter and save the world she only recently discovered?
Orphaned by an accident, Melissa lives with her aunt and uncle, and reluctantly accompanies them to a holiday at the Baltic Sea. Luckily she brought along a book in which to immerse herself instead. But when she discovers a magical stone, it transports her to Greenwitch, a world that could have been the setting for one of her fantasy novels.
As she searches for a way back, she must cope with giant spiders, stuck-up unicorns, and other legendary creatures. Meanwhile a skilled hunter is tracking her with a handful of trained fighters, and he will stop at nothing to get her magical stone.
Melissa must learn to control the stone’s power to re-balance Greenwitch, or her pursuer and his allies will invade the worlds like locusts and eliminate all magic. Is Melissa strong enough to stop them?
If you like magic, unicorns, and dragons, enjoy Melissa’s adventures. But if you suffer from arachnophobia, don’t touch this book!
I’ve helped my good friend William L. Hahn to bring this baby to live. The print version (for saving paper) is 764 pages long, but kindle inists it’s over 950. So you’ll get high value for your money. I suggest grabbing a copy if a) you love epic fantasy, b) you love looooong books, and c) if you prefer complex plots with many, skillfully interwoven story threads and intriguing characters.
After two millennia of peace the relentless war between Hope and Despair flares again. With the innocent in peril, can raw unproven heroes resist immortal foes?
Treaman lives for the thrill of adventure. Guiding a group of enterprising companions, he’d put his life on the line for any of them. But when the adventurers become lost in a land tainted by the growing curse of Despair, he fears his leader’s mission is destined to end in failure and death.
Solemn Judgement will never see his homeland again. Brought to unfamiliar shores, Solemn burns any chance of return along with his boat and his father’s body, before setting out to seek his purpose. But the determined young orphan has no idea that acquiring his education could unleash the ultimate evil.
As Treaman and Judgement separately trek to seemingly inevitable doom, a prince seeks to rescue an old alliance, a mysterious fighter in black slays monstrous foes with his bare hands, and a broad cast of characters unwittingly play their part. All are hanging onto a slim sliver of Hope for their future. But even their combined might may not be enough to stop the ruthless march of a powerful necromancer and his tide of undeath …
In a world that only dreams of heroes, can they rise up against oppressive forces and prevent the Lands of Hope from descending into foul darkness?
Harbingers of Hope is an epic fantasy novel that will leave you breathless. If you like expansive worldbuilding, fierce magical battles, and monstrous enemies, then you’ll love William L. Hahn’s sweeping tale.
Read Harbingers of Hope to stand up and fight today!
I missed last month’s blog post and nearly this one as well. I’ll get to the reasons in a minute. But first the release for May: the fourth and finalfairy tale retellings bundle is available on Amazon (even in KU). I will make the others available at the other retailers as soon as the chaos dies down. Here are all four bundles again:
The reasons why I missed the last blog post are manifold. For one, I’ve hit a major low in motivation. I’m currently writing short stories, and I get praise for many of them (e.g. from Writers of the Future judge David Farland and others), but whenever I send them to a paying market, they get declined. I’ve been publishing at least one book per month since March 2020 (so that’s more than a year worth of stories) and there’s no increase in sales.
Also, in December a personal disaster stuck and I’m still not over it. It influences my time management, and the ideas that want to be written tend to grow much darker these days. Many turn into stories I have no interest in writing.
So all in all, I’m questioning my writing career. I’ve written and Indie published non-stop for more years than I care to admit. I’ve seen people have success with their stories (and I do not envy them, they put in just as much heart, blood, and sweat as I do) while mine remain invisible (I know I’m an idiot when it comes to marketing).
I still write, and I still love the writing side, but all drive to get things written and published has left me. I’ve run into a wall and instead of getting up to find a way around it, I’m sitting here, feeling drained and tired and unwilling to go on.
I’d appreciate some motivating words. Have you read one of my books? Shall I keep going or would it be better to concentrate on something else?
Here’s my newest release. From 19th of April on, you can now get the third fairy tale retellings bundle on Amazon (Yes, this time it’s even in KU). It will also be available at the other retailers in 90 days. If you haven’t read the tales yet, go and get them:
Today, you’ll also get a free short story from me and I hope you’ll like it. As usual there’s a list of more participants of this BlogHop after my story. Enjoy and leave a comment!
A Day to Remember
The first of April was the first sunny and warm day of the year. Of course the family decided to eat on the terrace. The sky was blue as my baby nephew’s eyes with small white clouds sauntering slowly across it. Birds were singing everywhere, not just in my parent’s garden, and the apple, cherry, and pear tree lifted clouds of white and purple blooms toward the sun.
I loved the day – until my gaze fell on two small red spheres in the midst of the cherry flowers. Cherries? At this time of the year? Impossible! It had to be something else. I set down the pile of plates I’d been carrying to the outside table, turned, and walked closer to the tree.
My jaw dropped. An elephant the size of a small car sat on one of the branches. It’s light gray skin merged perfectly with the flowers. When it turned its red eyes to me, I stumbled backward.
“Folks!” I called. “Hey, folks! You gotta see this.”
“What’s it?” My brother called back. He was just distributing the plates I’d abandoned.
“There’s a bloody elephant in our cherry tree!”
“Yea, sure.” He laughed and kept working. “Nicely played though.”
His kids came running, wanting to know where the elephant was, but when I tried to point it out to them, it was gone, no matter how much I tried to find it again. The kids were rather disappointed.
“That wasn’t a very funny April Fool’s joke,” the eldest, my ten year old niece, said.
“I’d so wanted to see the elephant.” My youngest niece hugged me. “I’m sorry it’s gone now.”
I watched them race over the bloom-covered lawn, avoiding clusters of daffodils and spring snowflakes as well as the sagging crocuses and snowdrops without even trying.
When I turned to glance at the cherry tree a last time, the elephant reappeared as it opened its eyes. Did it really turn invisible when it closed its eyes?
“Neat trick, ey?” It winked at me.
It took me a full minute to regain my wits. Then, I asked, “Why?” And when it didn’t answer, I expanded on the question. “Why did you do that?”
It giggled. It was the strangest sound I’d ever heard, a mix between a blocked trumpet and the squeal of a mouse.
The elephant spread its big ears and jumped off the branch, floating in the air above me. With its trunk, it patted the crown of my head. “April Fools!”
It flapped its ears, and soared into the sky, vanishing in but a heartbeat. And I stood there, staring after it, wondering how it knew where to fly with its eyes closed.
More participants of the BlogHop and their stories:
This omnibus contains the retellings of The Hut in the Forest, Hänsel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty. Of course, it also contains the originals of those tales in case you don’t know the story, plus three bonus stories going along with each retelling. To round off the bundle, I included a brand new, never before published bonus story based on The Brave Little Tailor and its original. If you haven’t read my retellings yet, you should try them:
A hunted mechanic, lovers torn apart, and a beauty sleeping away her life must discover the truth or die trying…
Once upon a time there was magic. But even in fairy tales, time does not stand still. From mechanical gadgets to steam-driven machines, new inventions clash with old powers.
A young mechanic must evade execution after discovering the Hut in the Forest, slave traders are hunting Hänsel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty has to break the curse before it kills her. Will magic be their salvation? Or technology? Or will both only create more havoc?
Find out how your favorite fairy tale characters survive in a world where technology suppresses magic.
I also started a new project that might be of interest to you. A friend of mine sent me three books she very much loves but that have suffered badly over time. They were all partially ripped, one was missing pages, and one was even slightly moldy. I’m doing my best to restore them. You can follow my efforts on my Facebook Page or on Instagram (the accompanying texts are German, please don’t be put off by that; FB has a translation button that works reasonably well).
In the first step, I dried the books (in my oven for 3hrs at 70°C), then took them apart to look at the damage. I’m now at the stage where I reinforce the fold of the paper-sheets with a thin paper so I can start sewing. If you’re interested in my progress, head over to FB or Insta and follow me there.
Pst, it’s me again. You can now get my fairy tale retellings in four bundles with really cool covers. Each omnibus got a brand new, never before published bonus story. If you haven’t read the tales yet, go and get them:
Today, you’ll get a free short story from me. I was asked to include: Valentine or Love or Anti-Love, Cat, Grimoire and Fire. I hope you’ll like what I came up with. Again there’s a list of more participants of this BlogHop after my story. Enjoy and leave a comment!
Heart of Fire
Going to the Witch Hunt Remembrance Fire with Gregory had been Jackie’s desire since she’d been allowed to go the first time at age thirteen. Two years later, her biggest dream was about to come true.
Fighting her elation, she’d put on her best black dress—the one that looked least sun-bleached—and even found a purple scarf with matching stockings that would go with it. Unfortunately there wasn’t much she could do about her squished witch’s hat or her sturdy boots. With the family finances like they were, she had to wear what they could afford.
How had Gregory noticed her? Normally, he only hung out with the in-crowd. It didn’t matter. He was going to take her along as his partner, not any of the other girls.
Wrapped in a wide, black cloak she’d inherited from her gran—one of the last True Witches—Jackie waited for her beau. Her heart beat frantically when the limousine stopped in front of her house.
But no one opened the door for her, and when she climbed inside on her own, the long interior room with the dark blue velvet seats was empty. Even the tinted glass between her and the driver was closed. She’d never felt this lonely. The disappointment gnawed at her heart.
Just as she was about to step back out, the limousine drove off. The door closed with a thud, and Jackie fell into one of the soft velvet seats.
The sound came from one of the hidden compartments near the front of the long room, and the order was indisputable. Wrapped as tightly into her cape as possible, Jackie opened the small door, ready for a furred fury to attack anyone in sight. She’d never been particularly good with familiars.
But the cat—a black tom with white front paws—just walked out, tail held high and meowed again as if to say, “What took you so long?” It turned and stared at Jackie.
A few heartbeats later, the limousine stopped and the door was ripped open.
“There’s tonight’s princess!” Gregory’s voice was like honey and made her knees wobble.
The tom mewed in disdain, scratching the extended hand before Jackie could grab it.
“Yikes, why did you bring that monster?” Gregory sucked at his fingers while Jackie climbed out of the limousine.
“He isn’t mine. He was locked in a compartment.” Why did she have the feeling she had to defend herself?
Gregory grunted and took her upper arm. None too gently, he pulled her on the path uphill, toward the bonfire. As tradition demanded, it burnt in a ring of stones on top of an airy hill next to a spring. All four elements combined were the token that the witch hunts would never return. By the elements, the last few True Witches had made peace with the None Talented a century or so ago.
Jackie was looking forward to dancing around the fire. When the flames died down, those whose powers had already manifested would jump through the flames, the others would wait to jump the glowing embers.
Jackie loved the flames. In her family most members were fire witches. She breathed in the aromatic scent of smoking wood. It seemed to be calling for her, but no. It was just the dratted cat, hissing at Gregory.
Only when they neared the groups of teens dancing around the flames did she notice that no adults were around.
Where were the supervisors? She would never have gotten permission to come if the school hadn’t promised to bring in supervisors. And Gregory’s grip on her arm was beginning to hurt. Just as she was about to turn to head home—even with Gregory by her side she wasn’t ready to face the school bullies without adults nearby—two heavily built young men approached. Thank the Mother, Gregory has brought his bodyguards to protect me. Jackie relaxed as they stepped beside her.
“You’re sure about this?” Gregory asked someone behind Jackie.
“Witches take up to fifteen minutes to catch fire.” It was Dina’s voice, and it seemed to douse Jackie in ice water.
Gregory nodded to his bodyguards. Four strong hands grabbed Jackie’s arms. And before she could so much as protest, she flew into the heart of the fire.
The heat and the smoke from the burning timbers stung on her skin and made breathing hard. She teared up. Tendrils of fire seemed to wrap around her arms and legs, prolonging the flight. Hot air whipped up her hair and made it dance.
Meow! The tom jumped after her, and they hit the white hot coals throwing up a shower of sparks. Jackie fell forward and her hand landed on a searingly hot pebble. Still her fingers closed around it instinctively. To examine it, she blinked away her tears. They dropped onto the hot stone with tiny hisses, their vapor licked up by flames and carried away by the hot air.
Then the pebble changed. It expanded, grew rectangular and flat and softened to the touch. The corners turned to gilded metal. A grimoire? Only the rare True Witches owned one.
Jackie was so excited, she didn’t notice the fire’s discomfort any longer.
“I knew it,” the tom said. “From the moment I set my eyes on you, I knew you’re a True Witch. One of the few that can balance all four elements.”
“You can talk?” All of a sudden, Gregory, Dina, and all the others were farther away than the moon.
“How else do you expect me to teach you?” The tom sat down and began to lick his up-stretched hind leg. “Aren’t you going to punish them?”
“Now, that sounds like a really good idea.” Jackie grinned and pulled the fire to her. Flicker by glow by flame, it came to her, climbed her legs, spread over her body, her face, her hair, and her arms. Like a living torch, she stepped off the bonfire.
Gregory turned paler than the white sand of the sea, and if not for his bodyguards, he would have dropped where he stood. They carried him downhill as fast as they could. Following them, Dina screamed like a banshee as she ran. Most of the other kids fled too. Only a few reached for blankets and the fire extinguisher valiantly.
Before they could do anything, Jackie sent the flames back to the bonfire.
“All the better for us,” she said to the stunned helpers and pointed to the long table covered with delicacies. “Let’s party!”
The tom stalked off the bonfire and sat beside her. “I’m quite proud you didn’t hurt anyone.”
“They’ll be running home to mommy and daddy, wailing about murdering me.” Jackie spoke with a new spark in her voice. “Let them get themselves into trouble for a while.”
“I knew, you’d be the right kind of witch for me.” The tom lolled his tongue and it looked just like he was laughing.
More participants of the BlogHop and their stories:
I can’t believe it’s December already. Publishing-wise, the year was quite successful. I managed to release a new book every single month since April, and I’ve still got a few more lined up. This month’s title is the fifth in my “Gaggle of Stories” Series and it contains eleven playful short and shorter tales. Grab your copy.
Free minds and unbroken spirits will find creative solutions …
With enough imagination, problems turn into opportunities. With enough creativity, the biggest struggle can be overcome.
A cat must fight its fear of water to save the world.
A party-girl’s dream of an early retirement evaporates as she gets involved with an escaped slave.
A young witch who pretends to be old falls for a truth loving magician.
When a young artist dreaming of grandness is demoted to kitchen duty, she gets creative.
There’s no guarantee that the adventurers will survive their exploration of Softrock Mountain.
A young girl’s move to the countryside proves more magical than anticipated.
When a desperate girl gets a chance to visit Australia magically it might change her future.
A young student writes a very honest essay about the Salem Witch Trials.
Kissing a frog does have consequences after all.
In the kingdom of words, an insignificant nurse faces annihilation when she sets out to save the king.
A mistreated girl must protect her Halloween sweets from the school bullies or face her mother’s wrath.
These lighthearted fantasy stories illuminate what it takes to enjoy life to its fullest, even if you have to start over. Get your copy now.
Other than that, this year was a catastrophe. I’m not just talking about the pandemic. Have you noticed how early the trees turned red? Stress from too little water. The soils here in Germany (and most likely all over the world) are rapidly losing water, and there’s not enough rain to replenish the reservoirs. It might still be a few more years, but we’re facing a world without the kind of trees we know. For the first time in my life, I’m more scared than I care to admit.
And even my haven, the one place where I was able to refill my resilience all these years, has dwindled. I didn’t write much (barely 1/4 million words, most of that in short stories and translations). November – strike that – the whole year didn’t go as planned. Writing fell to the wayside, and financially, it was a disaster. Not a single book fair to go to (the online events were trying hard but couldn’t really compete), no readings, no direct interaction. I missed that so much (even more than the money I didn’t make).
At the beginning of the pandemic, we couldn’t visit our special needs kids for over 1/2 year. They were very brave and coped, but the fallout only became visible after. My eldest is extremely clingy at the moment and the youngest withdrew and is worrying about her future. It will take many visits and hours of telephoning to return them to +-normal.
I don’t really want to complain though. After all, we’re healthy. my grandson is striving, and life is still interesting enough. That said, have you already checked out “The Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar“? It’s still time to enjoy the stories, and if you sign up for the daily alerts before the 24th, you’ll get them bundled including the bonuses in a single (free) eBook.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (and let’s hope the next year will be better).
Yay, cool theme. I love strong women. They appear in my books again and again. But before we get to that, here’s this month’s release (BTW, it’s the 8th release this year and I’ve still got enough material for publications up to March next year). So without further ado, here’s a collection of grim-dark short stories.
Eight dark short stories
Find hope even in the darkest places …
When darkness threatens to swallow all that’s good, a few brave souls must stand up against evil.
An American girl visiting Germany must find a way out of a nightmare realm without losing her sanity.
A runaway girl must rely on a tortured boy to leave Hell on Earth.
When visions in a mirror cabinet seem more real than life, a young girl’s decision determines whether she’ll be loved or killed.
An inherited house isn’t as easily cleaned as two sisters think and to survive, they must learn to trust each other.
When the death of a person is like the best drug trip ever, how can a young man stay sane?
A reluctant invisible friend will do anything to protect her charges.
A human monster must face the truth of his actions.
Living on nightmares and beer, an old adventurer gets a stone that fulfills dreams.
In these dark fantasy stories, people face the blackest moments of their lives. But even then, a sliver of light gives hope. Writers of the Future judge Dave Farland told Katharina, “Your writing is excellent and you pulled me in from the start.”
Now back to this month’s theme:
When I started school, I was soon ignored by the girls because I enjoyed learning, loved reading a lot, and played with the boys. I didn’t even notice their animosity, I was too busy with my friends. But then, puberty hit and I was suddenly all alone. The boys had suddenly noticed that I wasn’t one of them.
I suffered through many verbal attacks that only stopped when I (accidentally) cracked two teeth of a classmate (whom I secretly swooned over). He’d been teasing me (in a friendly way) and I overreacted. After this incident, everyone called me ‘Gerlatschko’ and avoided me. There also was a bodily attack that I managed to fight off. When I told my father, he intervened with all the power he had as a forester and official assistant to the local police authorities. I’m still grateful that my trust in my parents has always been so strong that I did talk to them.
It got better when I changed to a school where no one knew my nickname. I started over. Still, the characters of the novels I read were my best friends for a good, long time. When I started writing my own stories, those characters found their way into my typing fingers that kept reminding the readers that: »It is perfectly fine to defend yourself. It is right to talk to a person you trust, and that person doesn’t even have to be a grown up. Share your burden and allow people to help. There are always some who will be there for you come storm and Armageddon. You just need to let them know that you need help.«
Then one day, you will be able to embrace life with open arms and enjoy it to its fullest. Don’t allow anyone to put you down. You are worth just as much as anyone else on this Earth, regardless of how much power, money, influence, skin pigments or thoughts, feelings, and ideas you have.
I know that what I went through is kinda harmless compared to some things today’s kids go through. The word ‘Mobbing’ (German for bullying) didn’t exist yet, but the problem did. That’s why I found and still find it important, to gift my readers with strong characters as role models. Maybe that’s the thing that makes my stories different. Get one of my books and decide for yourself.
Themed Month October: If I could jump into a book …
Hahaha! It is my job to jump into books. I do that day in, day out. If it’s a good day, I manage to write around 1500 words about the experience. But let’s do this month’s post a little different. I’d like to get the new release out of the way first. We’ll have fun with the theme afterwards.
In time for the spookier season, the short story collection “Ghosts” (universal link to many shops) is now available. If you like ghosts and libraries, you’ll love these stories (not all of them feature libraries but many). Check it out:
In the world between ours and the next, unhappy souls wait for the unwary.
Ghosts are known to scare and torture people, but are they evil?
An oversized librarian must stop a well-proportioned ghost from destroying her beloved books.
Although a young girl has lived with ghosts all her life, coming to term with their existence threatens her sanity.
When a reading addicted teen gets locked in the library, she must face the ghost haunting it.
Struggling with an overpowering craving, a forgetful man must remember to discover the meaning of death.
A young woman’s live is in danger when she finds out why the Blue Room is forbidden.
A book addicted ghosts haunts a library, but protecting the books seems more than he can handle.
A bullied school girl must face a haunted house and her only ally is the bully.
A grandmother’s life in a haunted house changes when she discovers intruders.
These fantasy stories show how to handle a variety of ghosts (many in libraries) for Light never is without Shadow.
Great. Now that this is out of the way, let’s get back to being inside of books. Does one really need to enter a book or story bodily? I don’t think so. In my personal experience, it is far more satisfying to share the adventures and minds of peoples in books, visualizing things the way my imagination likes them best, and feeling the characters’ emotions. That way, I can live a multitude of interesting lives, not just a single adventure (Actually, it’s probably the same difference between watching a film and reading a good book, just a little more direct).
Also, there are way too many good books to decide on a single one to jump into. How can I chose? I’ve got close to 2,000 books on my attic shelves, and those are just the favorites I kept. I’ll stick with traveling into stories with nothing but my mind, experiencing a character’s life, love, thoughts, and adventures without coming to harm (even though the character might). How about you? Would you jump into a book? And if so, which one would you chose?
New Release plus Storytime Bloghop April (free fiction)
I’ve done it, I’ve published the first short story collection of the six I’ve planned for this year. This one is all about portals. If you like the idea of stepping into another world through a door or something similar, you might like this little collection.
Below the information about the release, you’ll also find a free flash fiction story about a pretty confused old lady that I wrote for the Storytime Bloghop. I hope you’ll like it. But the release first:
Doors are useful. Close them to keep people out. Open them to let someone in. Or step through … into another world.
His music condemns a young musician to death on a pyre.
Katlani’s plans of revenge crumble around her when her goddess interferes.
To save her father, a young woman must face the danger of doors that take her anywhere.
A disabled phoenix must rekindle his flames or die forever.
To save herself and those she loves from death for being different, a young woman must find the City of Many Worlds.
A bereaved tyrant faces loneliness if he doesn’t atone for his actions.
In these six portal stories, Katharina shows people at a crossroads. Their actions lead them to a literal or fictional door where they’re faced with an impossible choice.
But now to the free flash story I promised you. We hold the Storytime Bloghop quarterly, and all stories are free. I hope you’ll like mine, and as always, remember to visit the other participants (list below the story).
The day faded and night fell. With the moon absent, it was so dark in the house, Jane couldn’t see where she was. All she had was a sense of space and age. Dust motes hung in the air, she could smell them more than see them.
The whole world seemed like that, slightly off. When she tried to look out of one of the windows, the curtains wouldn’t budge until she used all her strength. And when she went to the kitchen to fry some eggs, the sink under the window contained different dishes every time. As if someone put them there when she didn’t look.
Was there a ghost in the house? She remembered her gran—ages ago when Jane was still young—telling her stories in hushed tones about the young, handsome laird who’d been killed in this house and who’d come back to haunt it.
Jane shook her head. There were no ghosts. And if she was wrong and and the laird did exist, she would have noticed him by now, wouldn’t she? After all, she’d lived here for sixty five years; ever since her marriage.
She made her way to the living room by touch. One of those big, modern TVs hung at the wall. She didn’t remember buying it, but since it was there, she might as well use it. The living room smelled of stale beer, and she wrinkled her nose. Was someone trying to annoy her? But who?
She had no lodgers, even though Katie had often suggested she’d get some. Maybe her daughter was right. After all, the house was rather big for a single person.
But she didn’t feel ready to give up the life she’d known for so many years. The memory of Todd’s death still brought tears to her eyes. The clingy wetness tasted of salt and reminded her of the many times they’d taken their daughter to the sea. Those were the days … She sighed and there was a good portion of longing in the sound.
If only her day-night-rhythm would improve. The pills she was using didn’t seem to help. She still fell asleep at sunrise and lost most of the day to weird dreams before waking at nightfall. If she could reverse that, she wouldn’t depend on Katie so much.
Poor child. She walked to the fireplace and looked at Katie’s graduation photo. How the child had grown. Jane frowned. She really had to talk to the cleaning lady. She didn’t pay her for cobwebs and layers of dust.
The old-fashioned grandfather clock from the hall chimed melodically. Jane loved the clock. It had been a wedding present from her parents. She counted the beats automatically.
Nine, ten, eleven … twelve. Midday! A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Todd would come home any minute now. She had to prepare his lunch.
With a spring in her step, she hurried into the kitchen—was it winter already? It was so dark—grabbed a pan, a bottle of oil, and eggs, set everything on the table, and turned on the gas.
Someone gasped audibly.
“See, I told you.” Even though the person was whispering, Jane knew the voice.
She put her arms akimbo. “Katie Joanna Lou Hawkins. Come out wherever you’re hiding. That is not polite, and it might scare your father to death. You know how bad his heart has been lately.”
Katie stood up on the other side of the kitchen table, barely illuminated by what little light from the streetlamp in front of the house the curtains admitted. A slender youth that looked just like Todd when he was still young clung to her arm, and a dark haired young woman was half hiding behind her.
Jane frowned. There were streaks of gray in her daughter’s brown curls. But … but … she’d only graduated from university a few weeks ago, hadn’t she? And who were those teenagers?
“Mom?” Katie’s eyes were bigger than Jane had ever seen them.
Her poor baby. Still as afraid as a rabbit. “Oh, hon. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” She smiled reassuringly and opened her arms wide for a hug.
“But you’re…” Katie and the teenagers took a step back. All three grew very pale when Jane followed. Their gazes clung to Jane’s midriff. Jane looked down, and paled too. She was standing right in the middle of the kitchen table. How did she do that?
But she knew.
Everything came crashing back. The short, sharp pain in her chest, Katie’s and her grandchildren’s crying, the overbearing scent of white lilies, and the fact that she’d been standing beside her body, watching the mourners carry it away after the wake.
Heavy boots clonked on the stone floor of the small rear hallway. Katie and the teenagers grew even paler and moved out of the way of the door. It swung open with vigor Jane knew only too well.
“Darling!” Todd opened his arms wide. He was so strong, his shoulders so wide, and the scent of tobacco and leather so intense, she nearly cried for joy. And his voice … his voice still made happy little shivers dance down her spine. “I’ve been looking for you ever since you died.”
“I think, I was a little lost,” Jane said and threw herself into his arms. Gone were the years, the gaps in her memory, and the pounds she’d gained throughout life. She felt young again.
She never heard the grandfather clock strike one.
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