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Authors: Karen Michelle Nutt

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Shattered Illusions

BOOK: Shattered Illusions
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Shattered Illusions

Karen Michelle Nutt

Shattered Illusions

Presented by Publishing by Rebecca J.
Vickery

Copyright © 2015 by Karen Michelle Nutt

Cover Design Copyright © Karen Michelle
Nutt

Editor Rebecca J. Vickery

Design Consultant Laura Shinn

Smashwords Licensing Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this ebook with other
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and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of the author.

Shattered Illusions is a work of fiction.
Though actual locations may be mentioned, they are used in a
fictitious manner and the events and occurrences were invented in
the mind and imagination of the author except for the inclusion of
actual historical facts. Similarities of characters or names used
within to any person – past, present, or future – are coincidental
except where actual historical characters are purposely
interwoven.

**Note: Previously appeared in the Victory
Tales Press anthology released in September 2012 titled 2012
Fall/Paranormal Collection.**

Brona lives in an isolated house on the
cliffs which overlook the sea. She arrives home to find the door
ajar. Her husband is out of town and her sister, who is staying
with her, has disappeared.

Blood-stained floors appear and disappear,
low whispering voices greet her, and a storm outside rages causing
the lights to flicker. Brona must put her fears behind her and
unravel the mystery that haunts this house.

To forget time, to forgive life, to be at
peace

~ Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost" ~

Chapter One

The fierce wind shrilled as blue arms of rain
reached down from the clouds, drenching everything in its path.
Brona shivered as she fought her way up the walk and away from the
crashing waves that threatened to flood the beach. Lightning
cracked the sky apart, illuminating the house with an eerie
backdrop. She pulled her windbreaker tighter around her.

She berated herself for her stupidity. She
had noticed the threatening storm clouds when she started out this
afternoon. "Oh, but you had to ignore them," she sarcastically spit
out not caring in the least that she was talking to herself. "You
had to walk along the cliffs as if you've never seen the ocean
before today. Soaked to the skin, you are, and looking like an
eejit for the effort." Her dark strands were plastered to her head
and her makeup all but washed away. It was a good thing she hadn't
put on mascara this morning or she'd have streaks of black running
down her face.

She hurried up the porch steps and to some
remnant of cover. She needed to collect the firewood and light the
fireplace or the house wouldn't be warm tonight. She wished her
husband would hurry home. "I miss you, Liam."

He had been called away on business and she
didn't expect him home until the end of the week. She sighed. "Ah
Liam, a welcoming hug and your warm lips on mine, is what I be
needing this night." Instead, she had her sister, Tara for company.
She loved her sister and they would probably talk into the wee
hours of the night, but it wasn't the same as having her husband
there to keep her warm. She liked to snuggle near the fire with him
on nights like this. They would sip hot chocolate with marshmallows
as they talked about their dreams for the future.

She glanced up as the lightning shot across
the sky. She hoped she wouldn't lose electricity as they had many
times before with lesser storms. She shook some of the water off
her and walked over to the front door. Her hands were frozen and
she fumbled with the key, only to realize the door stood slightly
ajar.

Brona hesitated at the threshold, listening,
but the only sound she heard was the bawling winds and the rumble
of thunder behind her.

Her sister, Tara was napping when she left
the house. That's why she had taken her keys to lock the door. Her
brows furrowed. Did I forget to lock it in my haste to be near the
sea? It wouldn't surprise her if she had. How many times had Liam
come home to find the door unlocked and she nowhere to be
found?

Their rugged house stood hidden in a lush
forest near the edge of a cliff. From the porch they could see
where the ocean met the horizon, an endless view of blue and green
water. A hike down the cliff brought them to a private beach with
areas she had yet to explore. She sighed. On a clear night the
sunsets were breathtaking. She loved that they lived far off the
beaten path. They didn't have much traffic here, but Liam was from
the city and insisted that locks were placed. She looked at the
open door. Now he had her paranoid that someone had broken in while
she'd been gone. "Don't be silly. I forgot to lock the door is all
there is to it." She chuckled and shook her head for believing the
worst.

Chapter Two

She entered the house with sure steps. She
reached for the light switch and flipped it on, flooding the living
room with light. "Tara, I'm back and cold to the bone." Silence
greeted her. It was odd how silence could clamor louder in the mind
than an orchestra playing a symphony. Her chuckle died in her
throat. A confusing rush of anticipation and dread whirled inside
of her. Why wasn't her sister answering? No sounds came from
within, as if she entered a tomb. Goose flesh moved up her spine,
making her shiver.

Lightning crackled in the sky and thunder
shook the windows, causing Brona to jump. She whirled around to
shut and lock the door behind her. She headed for the stairs with a
thought: What if she had locked the intruder in with her? She stood
at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at the inky blackness
waiting for her.

She had to go up there. She had to make sure
Tara was okay.

She'd only taken a step when a guttural cry
of terror rose above the storm's violence. "Oh my God, Tara!" Brona
raced upstairs to her sister's room. She threw open the door,
sending it slamming against the wall. Nerves at full stretch, she
searched frantically for the light switch. Finally her fingers
brushed over it and she flipped it on. She shielded her eyes with
her hand to block the brilliance of the light. It took her a second
to focus.

She gasped, and her hand flew to her mouth.
Near the bed, blood pooled starkly against the light grain of the
hardwood floor in its greedy eagerness to be seen. "Tara, where are
you?" The sharp coppery scent hit her nostrils, making them flare
in protest.

Brona leaned against the wall, her whole body
numb, her head pounded as if someone had clobbered her with a
sledgehammer. She blinked, trying to focus and make her limbs obey
her. She needed to stay on her feet and not pass out.

She steadied herself as she looked on with
half-startled wariness. What had happened? Did someone hurt her
sister? Where was she? There was so much blood. She scanned the
room, wondering where an intruder might hide. The four-poster bed
had drawers added to it, leaving very little room between the bed
and floor. Unless the intruder was a small child, no one could hide
under there. The only place would be in the closet.

She needed a weapon, anything that would help
her. She went for the crystal lamp—the nearest object to her, but
then her eyes locked onto the letter opener resting peacefully
beside it.

"This will do." Brona grabbed it.

She moved toward the closet with slow careful
steps. When the floorboards creaked, she cringed and held still.
When no one burst out of the closet, she took a step toward it
again. The lightning flashed and the rain pelted harder against the
window. She held her body rigid. She unclenched her left hand, but
she kept her right hand poised with the letter opener in front of
her. She held her breath and threw open the closet doors. She flung
the clothes aside and stabbed the letter opener in a forward
thrust.

Chapter Three

No demon greeted her and no murderer slashed
at her throat. She took a deep breath to steady her nerves. "I'm a
thundering eejit. Why would an intruder hide in a bloomin' closet?
Why would he hide at all? He's gone. He wouldn't stick around to be
caught." Brona tried to convince herself, but it didn't explain
what happened to Tara. "I need to find her. If the blood is hers,
she's hurt or..." No, she wouldn't go there. Her sister was alive
and needed her help. She turned toward the bed. Her gaze landed
where the puddle of blood should be, only it wasn't there. Her
breath solidified in her throat, choking her.

How could it be gone? She took a tentative
step forward. Her whole body tensed and a cold sweat trickled down
her back. What in the hell is going on? It was as if someone had
mopped the floor while she had her back turned and removed the
damning evidence.

Waves of grayness overtook her, threatening
to make her pass out. She fought it, trying to tame the roaring in
her ears. She stumbled to the bed and sat down, taking in deep
gulps of air.

Clear as day, she had seen the blood. How
could it be gone? She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts.
She needed everything to make sense again. She'd heard Tara scream
hysterically as she had entered the house. That was real—wasn't it?
It couldn't have been her imagination.

She forced herself to leave the safety of the
bed. She knelt down and felt the floorboards. They were smooth
beneath her fingertips and dry as a bone. Obviously, there had
never been any blood other than what her wild imagination had
conjured up, but that still didn't explain why Tara was
missing.

She flew to her feet and rushed to the door.
"Tara," she called. The roar of absolute silence greeted her, which
did nothing to ease the tension coiling in the pit of her stomach.
Something was terribly wrong, but she couldn't place her finger on
it. She wished Liam were here. It wasn't as if she couldn't take
care of herself, but Liam was tall and strong. If an intruder
lurked within their home, he'd have a better chance of subduing
him. She stood five-foot-two and a hundred pounds.

Liam used to tease her. "Don't wander too
close to the edge of the cliff, luv. If a strong wind picks up,
it'll take you right over."

A thunderclap rattled the windows, causing
her heart to leap. Then another flash of lightning before the
lights flickered out, leaving her in total darkness. "Bloody
brilliant!" Brona cursed under her breath. She hugged the wall and
moved forward, feeling her way as she went. If she could just reach
the desk a few feet in front of her, she'd have light. She kept
batteries and the torch in the top drawer for such nights like
this. She strained her eyes, opening them wider as if this would
allow her to see through the inky blackness. She needed to keep her
wits about her. She had to find Tara before it was too late.

She bumped into a cabinet, stubbing her toe.
She hopped on one foot and bit her lower lip to stop herself from
crying out. Finally, the pain subsided and she drew in a ragged
breath. She fumbled with the drawer. It didn't want to open. She
pulled on the handle again, rattling the drawer and hoping to
dislodge whatever kept it shut. At last, she managed to pry it
open. She reached inside, feeling for the torch.

Whispering sounds of voices caused her to
pause and listen.

"Tara?"

The murmuring stopped cold.

Fear, like the quick hot touch of the devil,
shot through her and the prickling hairs on the back of her neck
rose.

If it was Tara, who else was with her? Maybe
one of the voices hadn't been her sister's. Maybe there was more
than one intruder and they were discussing their diabolical plans.
Would someone really dare to make the hike up the cliffs in this
storm? Brona imagined all kinds of horrible scenarios. Her
imagination conjured up the worst and she convinced herself a
stranger held her sister hostage in one of the rooms.

BOOK: Shattered Illusions
5.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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