Authors: Vanessa K. Eccles
Vanessa K. Eccles
Bound and Brewed Books
P.O. Box 324
Georgetown, GA 39854
Copyright © 2015 Vanessa K. Eccles
All rights reserved.
No reproductions of this book may be made without the permission of the author and publisher. For interviews, live events, subsidiary rights, or purchases, please contact Bound and Brewed Books at
This book is fiction. All events, characters, names, and places are a product of the author’s imagination.
Cover Design by Carrie Butler from
ISBN (kindle): 978-0-9861345-3-1
To My Prince Charming
For making me believe in fairy tales
“Heads or tails?” Lil asked as she opened the door and stood in front of me.
“When are you going to learn that heads always wins?” She snickered and rolled her eyes in amazement of my apparent naivety.
“Not always. Besides, tales are more interesting.”
Not understanding my word play, she shrugged and searched her pockets for a coin.
I leaned into the porch swing, coffee and book in hand, and watched as autumn's first leaves sunsetted the deadening grass. I rested the mug on my knee and let the cool breeze sway me back and forth while I waited.
Trying to ignore my little sister's attempts to aggravate me, I looked down at the fantastical book in my hands and realized how beloved, yet unrealistic it seemed. Most of us lead relatively dull lives and are content but never satisfied. The “happily ever afters” they crammed in our minds as children were merely lies, but I couldn’t help dreaming of an adventure like the one I was holding. I wanted my life to be
. Who was I kidding? Only characters in our favorite stories experienced magical lives. Mine had already been planned out for me − go to college, land a mediocre job, get married, and have 1.8 perfectly groomed, smiling children. That was it. The end.
I hugged the book close.
She flicked the coin with her thumb. As it reflected the last bit of sunshine, I knew I was going to be beat yet again.
“Heads.” She grinned. “That means I get to go upstairs and get ready for the party, and you get to clean the kitchen.” She bumped the swing with her foot, sending hot coffee in my lap, and waltzed inside trailed by obnoxious laughter.
I wiped myself down and reluctantly washed the dishes. “Who needs a dishwasher when you have two daughters?” I mumbled Mom’s words.
Since I graduated in May, I’d been doing more of the chores. My parents were hoping I’d follow most of my classmates to junior college, but I decided to take a semester off to study for my SATs and hopefully get a scholarship to the University of Georgia. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be, but I knew being a “Dawg” would make my dad proud.
Just as I dried the last plate, a knock at the door made my heart leap.
“Coming,” I yelled with an excited grin.
“Take your time. It’s not like I’m anyone special,” he spoke from outside.
When I opened the door, the cool breeze hit me and so did his embrace. I wrapped my arms around him and nestled my face into his neck until I could smell him — with his perfect mix of aftershave and AXE body wash. He looked handsome in his rolled up trousers suspended over a sloppily tucked in linen shirt with matching plaid socks.
“I missed you,” I told him while squeezing tighter.
“I’m here, love,” Dashielle whispered.
“Come on in,” I said while closing the door behind us. “I still have to get ready, obviously.” I motioned to my wet clothes.
“I’ll wait down here. I’m sure your mom would not like catching me in your room again,” he said.
“Probably not.” I shuddered at the thought. “You’d think that an eighteen-year-old is old enough to have a boy in her room.”
“My house; my rules. Especially with someone two years older than you,” he mocked in his poor rendition of my mother’s voice. “Like I thought two years ago with less hormones than I do today.” He grinned suggestively.
We laughed. I fetched him a pumpkin muffin from the kitchen and then rushed upstairs.
I grabbed the peasant costume from my closet door. A puffy, burgundy chiffon skirt nestled over white frilly bloomers. I tucked my peasant top into the skirt, but I was at a loss on how I was going to get the corset tied by myself.
“Lil!” I yelled.
“What?” she asked, peeping into my room from the hall.
“Will you tie this thing?”
As she approached, I saw her one painted black eye and t-shirt with a big letter “P” on it.
“What are you supposed to be?”
“A black-eyed-pea, silly.”
She is going to have a good time explaining that to everyone at the party,
I stood in front of the body mirror and watched. She began tightening the corset violently, which caught me off guard.
“Do you have to pull so hard?” I asked, trying to catch my breath and force the corset loose by expanding my chest.
She wickedly cackled. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”
Our eyes met in the mirror, and I gave her a mad glare.
“You know, Scarlett O’Hara-like.” Her eyes fell, and her grip loosened. Her hands then worked the ribbons to a more reasonable, breathable fitting.
“Thanks,” I said sarcastically as she finished.
“You’re going to be uncomfortable, you know?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Are you excited? Dashielle and you are going to look great together. Remember to grab your camera,” she said while heading back to her room.
I fluffed the lace ruffle on my shirt around my chest and arms, and tied my coffee ringlets back in a loose, high bun. To complete the outfit, I put on some antique crocheted gloves with the fingers cut out that I picked up at a thrift store.
As I walked downstairs, I saw Lil sitting next to Dashielle. Her fleeting eyes danced across his face. My little sister’s flirtation didn’t bother me though because she lacked that old-world charm that Dashielle was so fond of. On the other hand, her loud, lively, and spirited personality often made up for her unrestrained nature.
“Are y’all ready to go?” I asked, standing on the edge of the stair landing.
“When you are,” Lil answered with a smile.
Dashielle’s eyes stared at me with admiration, and I could feel myself blush despite the many other times he’d given me that same look.
When we arrived at the party, I realized immediately that my introverted-self had made a bad decision in coming, but I knew Dashielle really wanted to meet Toby, a guy who worked at the radio station where he’d been dreaming of getting a job. Toby was the DJ at the party, so there we were.
Lil came because of her insatiable appetite for social attention. She’d never been one to hide from a party, and her bouncy blonde hair and tall, slender shape made the boys glad she didn’t. At only sixteen, she already knew how to charm a crowd and leave people full of herself.
Standing there next to her in that moment, realizing how perfectly gorgeous she was, made me feel self-conscious and a bit agitated. She, wearing her locks carelessly in a ponytail and dressed casually, still outshined me. I clung tighter to Dashielle, the only one who appreciated my untamed brown curls and didn’t mind me being a little shorter and fuller in shape.
A large man guarded the door in a zombie/Frankenstein outfit that made him look even more intimidating than his size already allowed.
“Invitation?” he asked in the most badass voice he could muster.
“We’re special guests of Toby a.k.a. D.J. Bones. We don’t have invitations, but we followed the request to dress-up,” Dashielle’s voice, so confident and nonchalant that Zomenstein actually believed him.
As we entered the house, I realized this was the haunted house I’d reluctantly visited with Lil as a kid − Jacey’s Haunted House − I think it was. It was a mix of terrifying darkness, creaky wooden floors, special effects (or however special effects can be on an obviously tight budget), and sadists’ dressed in bad horror film costumes jumping out of inconspicuous corners at the paying customers. Nothing made less sense to me. Don’t people usually try to avoid the scary things in life? I mean, why do we pay to be threatened with blood, murder, and death? Isn’t walking the streets dangerous enough? Yet another mystery written on a file in my brain.
The Victorian house now looked more run-down with its whitewashed siding and periodically boarded up windows.
I have no idea why they would have this party here.
I tried to shrug the uncomfortable feeling that raged within me. After we walked through the door, though, I felt better seeing that the once black, peeling walls were now painted an antique white and the bare floors were now covered with layers of area rugs. An old chandelier hung in the entryway, and a velvet rope blocked the ornate stairway.
Like that would keep anyone out.
To the left and right, there were masses of people bouncing and swaying to the creepy Goth music being played on the speakers placed randomly throughout the rooms. Confronted with the gobs of people, I felt that all-too-common anxious feeling rise up in the back of my throat and flutter in the pit of my stomach. I stood there seemingly glued to the floor.
“I’m going to scope out the place and look for Toby, so we don’t have to stay long,” Dashielle yelled over the pounding music. He must have seen the stress on my face. “You can stay here, if you like.”