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Authors: Denise Daisy

One Last Time

BOOK: One Last Time
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When it comes to love, time is all they need…

 

Averie is terrified of anything remotely scary, but when she finds herself short of cash, she has no choice but to work on the catering staff at the creepy historic Faulkner mansion. The Faulkner Plantation was the site of a bloody massacre in the 1800s, and the event is an attempt to change its reputation. There’s just one catch: the host has more in store than dinner. Soon Avery, along with a handsome guest named Quillan, is transported—back in time…

 

It’s one month before the massacre and Averie and Quillan must find the courage to do more than survive. Together, they must uncover the truth about the Faulkner family and try and stop the murders. But as Averie and Quillan grow closer, the stakes are higher than they expected. Will they be able to put their feelings aside to change the past—and find life, and love, in the place Averie fears the most?

 

 

Visit us at
www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

 

Books by Denise Daisy

 

One Last Time

 

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

 

 

 

One Last Time

 

 

Denise Daisy

 

LYRICAL PRESS

Kensington Publishing Corp.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

Copyright

 

Lyrical Press books are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp. 119 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

 

Copyright © 2013 by Denise Daisy

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

 

All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund- raising, and educational or institutional use.

 

To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

 

Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager:

Kensington Publishing Corp.

119 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

 

Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

Lyrical Press and the L logo are trademarks of Kensington Publishing Corp.

 

First Electronic Edition: August 2013

eISBN-13: 978-1-61650-747-3

eISBN-10: 1-61650-747-0

 

First Print Edition: August 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1-61650-748-0

ISBN-10: 1-61650-748-9

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

 

Dedication

 

This book is lovingly dedicated to my beautiful momma, Mary Frank Reed, a true southern belle. A charming woman of a humble and quiet spirit, who influences so many lives, although she is not aware of it. Thank you momma for continuing to believe with me, that I will accomplish all my wild crazy dreams. I love you.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

In the south we say grace at every meal, so before you dive in to, One Last Time, I would love to give thanks.

 

Thank you, my little Journey Grace, for being the sweetest and best thing in my life. You are so young right now and do not understand a lot of things but nevertheless you always encourage me with my writing and you believe in me like no other. I honestly would not trade the past nine years with you for anything this world has to offer. You make me wealthy, you make me courageous, you make me feel beautiful, and you make me understand what it means to really, really love.

 

To, Autumn, Brittany and Kendall, my three eldest daughters, thank you for always believing in your mommy. Thank you for all the encouragement and wisdom you pour into me. Thank you for being the best children a mother could ask for and thank you for becoming my best friends when you grew up. Thank you for all the laughs, all the drama and for always being real. And most of all, thank you for staying true to your Creator.

 

To my step father, Tom Reed, thank you for your giving heart and for all the time you spent editing and proof reading my work. Thank you for being a wonderful grand-pa to Journey and giving us a place to build memories. I enjoy working in the yard with you, and want you to know you have planted more than flowers and bushes. You have planted much love and wisdom in all our lives.

 

To my best friend, Carleen Parra, miles can never separate the bond we share of true friendship. You are the best!

 

To my Father, John Parton, thank you for being my daddy. I love you.

 

To my agent, Brittany Booker Carter, thank you for taking a chance on me and my work. I am excited for the both of us!

 

To Renee Rocco and Corinne DeMaagd of Kensington/Lyrical, thank you for all your kind words and hard work and for your belief in, One Last Time.

 

And Finally, thank you to the lover of my soul, God my Father, you are my life.

 

Chapter 1

 

Gray moss sways with the cool evening breeze, tickling the top of my head as I make my way up the cobblestone walkway. Shuddering, I pick up my pace and focus straight ahead, daring not to look at the massive trees surrounding me.

The last thing I want to see is the ghost of Lunar Wilson. They hung him, right here on this very property. A hundred and fifty years ago, his lifeless body dangled, swinging in the breeze along with the Spanish moss, while a distraught Emily Faulkner watched from the cupola. Later the same night, the petite Southern belle wrapped a thick rope around her delicate neck and joined her lover in the afterlife. Legend says all hell broke loose after that. Unaware their only daughter was hanging dead in the cupola, Emily’s parents continued with their festivities, gorging themselves on prime rib and guzzling expensive wine. They were drunk by the time Lunar’s brothers burst inside the house, slinging their hatchets, vindicating their brother’s murder. They decapitated James Faulkner, his socialite wife, Elizabeth, and dismembered all eleven dinner guests. The massacre was the bloodiest ever recorded in these parts.

Up until this afternoon, I had never set foot on this property. Unlike my friends, I don’t particularly enjoy spooking myself. They come up here all the time, hoping to catch a glimpse of Emily Faulkner’s body hanging in the cupola. For the life of me, I’ll never understand the perverse pleasure of being scared out of your wits. Purposely putting yourself in fearful situations is about as crazy as making yourself throw up. Neither of those two are any fun. Needless to say, I’ve never accepted any of their invitations.

Tonight is different. I have every reason for coming, although I dreaded it ever since I agreed. I am here because I desperately need the money, and Mike, my best friend in the entire world, knows it. Mike’s mother, or the MILF as all the guys refer to her, is Steffi Booker, and she owns Cherry Tree Catering. On occasion, when the parties are big and extra servers are needed, she has Mike round up some of the gang to help. It’s a good way to earn quick cash. Steffi usually pays at the end of the night. She gives us ten bucks an hour, too, so everyone always jumps at the chance. Most of the guys would do it for free, just to be near Steffi. She smells like sugary-sweet cotton candy, and her smile lights up a room.

As much as I adore Steffi, I have other reasons for taking the work. Rent is due in the morning, and I am short fifty bucks. My momma didn’t send anything this month, and I refuse to ask her about it. She has enough on her shoulders. She left for Florida two months ago to take care of my grandmother on my dad’s side. She loves my Grandma Flitcraft as if she were her own mother. It was charitable of her to go there and help, but I wish she wouldn’t have. I feel guilty for being selfish, but I need her here with me because I don’t have anybody else. I was ten when momma left my dad. She walked in on him, caught him with one of his clients. He was cheating right there in our own house. Momma had enough that time. She packed what she could in a suitcase, took me, and left. That was eight years ago. He never sends any money, and I know he could care less about me. He didn’t come to my high school graduation last month and, of course, he won’t pay for college. He doesn’t care about anyone other than his own damn self. I doubt he even knows his poor old mother suffered a stroke.

The wind picks up, and dark clouds brew in the distance. Great. All I need is a good electrical storm to add to the ambiance of this creepy place. The Spanish moss blows out like a curtain, and I duck to keep it out of my face. My heart is inside my throat, and for a second, I think I see someone watching me from behind the big oak. I look again, but no one’s there.
Just keep walking,
I tell myself. Think about something other than all the horror stories everyone is so eager to share about this place.

I go over tomorrow’s schedule. I’ve kept Momma’s hair salon going this summer. Her clients trust me, and I am pretty good with hair, even though I don’t have any formal training. Momma says I am somewhat of a natural. She says I have talent, and she hopes we’ll work together someday, but I have bigger aspirations. Although for now, it’s our only source of income, which is why I am working there. State board never gets down our way, so I get away with not being officially licensed.

I’m finally past the gargantuan trees. I shudder, making my way up the steps and onto the broad wooden porch. The planks groan as I trespass across the shaded lumber, and I couldn’t agree more with their remorseful protest. I reach for the old brass doorknob and hesitate. Do I simply walk in, or should I ring the bell? And if I do ring the bell, I fear who might answer. I imagine the door chimes, echoing through the desecrated halls of this mansion, wakening the dead from their sleep and warning them of my arrival. Skipping the bell, I turn the knob and push open the door of doom.

I step inside. Everything smells old. The foyer is bigger than my entire apartment. I shiver again. The furnishings are daunting. It’s nice if you like antiques, but I don’t. I think they’re creepy as hell. The renovator tried capturing the authenticity of the time era when the mansion was constructed so the wood is dark and intricately carved. A chill traces its way up my spine, and my hair stands on end. Momma always says when I have a chill, it means a possum is running over my grave. I hate it when she says that. Not only does it sound hick as hell, but it makes me shiver more, and then she goes and says it again.

From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a beautiful young woman appropriately dressed for tonight’s occasion. She is wearing the perfect Southern-belle costume and is stunning in her lavender and black gown. Silk gloves cover her arms up to her elbows and a choker is fastened around her thin neck, making her appear a bit gothic. Her fiery-red hair is curled in spirals and adorned with black ribbons. I know some girls at school who would die for the costume, but as hot and humid as it is this evening, I bet she is melting in that ridiculous ensemble.

She’s the only person I see, so I wave my fingers in the air, trying to get her attention. Maybe she can point me toward the kitchen. “Hello,” I call out, hoping she will hear and turn back, but she doesn’t. She is too preoccupied and doesn’t see me. She gracefully ascends the colossal staircase and disappears down the hallway. I am definitely not following her.

My nose picks up the scent of something delicious, and it calms my nerves. Steffi’s food is a comforting thought, and I need to go to my happy place right now. If I can just follow the tantalizing aroma, I should be able to find the kitchen. I hesitate before taking another step. Confound it fear! Why does it paralyze me so? What could have happened inside my momma’s belly that caused me to be so damn afraid? I want to be adventurous and courageous, but I’m a freakin’ coward.

BOOK: One Last Time
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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