We are days away from the release of the fourth book in our Triskaidekaphilia series, Haunted.
Because we’re so excited, we’ve been giving you a sneak peek of the stories as we countdown until the September 13th release.
Today we have Love à la Carte de Visite by Harley Easton.
Love à la Carte de Visite
by Harley Easton
“Aaron, where the hell are you?” Lance tapped his foot and scowled at his phone. He had waited a year for the Third Ward Market to reopen. It stretched through five warehouse buildings in old downtown. Only open for one weekend every six months, it drew vendors from all the surrounding states. It was arguably the score of the year for collectors and Lance had missed it in April thanks to his brother. If he missed it again, he was going to kill Aaron.
When the truck rolled into the parking lot, he darted toward it. “Finally,” he said in greeting.
“Woah, where’s the fire, bro?” The older Briggs brother slammed the door of the pickup. “You could have started without me.”
“But not without the cash you owe me!” Lance extended his hand expectantly. “Seriously, Aaron? You cleaned me out the day before the market and didn’t even let me know. I had my hands on a great piece and didn’t have money to give the guy.”
Aaron started walking toward the first building shaking his head. “You and that weird collection.”
“No worse than your old LPs.” Lance jogged to keep up with his brother’s longer stride. “Now pay up! The guy is holding it, but I don’t know how long he’ll wait.”
The wad of cash barely hit his hands before Lance took off running. He knew that Aaron didn’t get it. Sure, his brother was a collector, but vintage records had become pretty mainstream, easily found at any show. Lance’s obsession was a little more obscure. But as he slid into the door of the warehouse labeled Building Two, he caught sight of his prize.
Photographs. But not just any photographs. Daguerreotypes. Tintypes. Cartes de visite. Intimate memories washed in sepia tones and weathered by love. Moments forgotten until unearthed for estate sales and moving days. Lance liked the idea of holding tiny bits of inconsequential history. He’d often wondered when he stumbled upon a particularly unique photograph if the film captured a bit of the subject’s soul like people used to believe.
The vendors in Building Two were reliable resources for his preferred brand of off-beat images. They were pickers or junkers looking to unload leftovers they couldn’t sell elsewhere. That almost always included a box of family photographs.
Huffing, he approached the vendor, a large man with mustard stains on his shirt. The creased and unfocused photo was waiting for him on the table like a patient lover. He was certain it had been taken in the Victorian Era by the fashions the people wore, but the cartes de visite should have been out of favor by then. The composition was uniquely candid rather than the stiff formality common at a time when photography was a lavish expense rather than a hobby.
He felt his mouth pull into half a smile as he gazed at the trio in the picture. Their picnic lunch forgotten, they seemed content to enjoy each other’s company. One of the young women perched upon a chair. Her wide-brimmed hat had been removed to display fashionable curls that failed to feminize severe, almost mannish features. Her affectionate gaze was aimed at a dark-haired beauty whose head rested in her lap.
Harley Easton is a Renaissance woman dabbling in everything life offers. She’s worked at a theme park, found expert witnesses, guest lectured at a national museum, and worked with medical students. Putting experience and insanity to good use, She’s found her favorite job, writing. Now she specializes in erotic, romantic, and speculative fiction. Who knows what kind of trouble she’ll get into next.
Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned
Not all ghost stories are simple sightings and things going bump in the night. Not all ghosts are left behind because of simple unfinished business. No, sometimes that unfinished business is messy, complicated, and even deadly.
These are not your typical ghost stories—they are desire, love, and most importantly, revenge—all rolled into one. Revenge for a love stolen away, a love that never was, a retribution for a horrific act, or even an act of war.