I'm excited! It was one year ago that I was sent the manuscript for Haunted Journey to the printer. The following months have been very rewarding, as I received feedback from readers of all ages. In fact, the first was from a nine-year-old who read it with her mom and sister before it was printed. She literally bounced with excitement as she told me what must happen in the sequel she thought I should write! Since then, many readers have offered similar suggestions. Most insisted there simply must be a wedding, perhaps two or three!
Ideas have been percolating in my brain, and I now have several chapters of a sequel. Most of the same characters will show up again, but I also want this to be a stand-alone story, so that a reader who hasn't read Haunted Journey will enjoy it, so new characters will be introduced.
Here is most of Chapter One. Any more would be a spoiler, and I don't want to give away any surprises !
If you feel like it, I'd welcome your critiques and suggestions. Thanks for your continuing support and encouragement!.
Jamie Macgregor was on a mission. He surveyed the handful of cabins and sheds in the tiny village. On this afternoon, everything lay as silent and deserted as a cemetery at midnight. No dogs barked at passing strangers. No wagon wheels creaked along the dusty track. No farmers gossiped outside the general store. He noted its drawn window shades. The business was closed, a rare occurrence indicating the importance of the day.
He avoided the main route and approached the Lawson family’s home through the woods behind it. Most of the villagers had already gathered inside for a special occasion. He had come for the same event, but with a different purpose: he would wait on the outside.
A familiar horse, hitched to a buggy, waited in front of the house. Close to a side window, Jamie spied a tree thick enough for his purposes. He approached it with stealth, keeping an eye on the horse, not wanting to spook it and alert others to his presence.
He reached the safety of the tree and flattened himself against it. Sweat poured down his face, blurring his vision and stinging his eyes, but he didn’t dare try to wipe them. Someone might detect the movement. He held his breath and listened. A deep grunt and the scraping of wood on wood indicated someone pushing up the lower half of a stiff window. A whisper of soft voices floated onto the still air.
White hot rage shook his body, but he couldn’t afford to lose control. He’d planned for so long and chosen his moment carefully. He would only have this one chance to get it right. I have to get it right! This is for her.
Inside the house, the voices stopped. His heart raced. He’d lost track of time! How long had he been standing there? Had he missed the moment? No! I can’t. I have to do this. He leaned closer, as far as he dared without being seen. A man’s voice rang out, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
The vision of a loving face, his reason for being here, swam before his eyes as he stepped out from his hiding place. She should be here, too! But she’s dead! And her murderer is in there. Getting married! Unclenching his fist, he hefted the sizeable rock he’d been squeezing so hard his fingers ached, wound up like a pitcher, and hurled it. The shattering sound of the missile smashing through the glass at the top half of the window provided a fleeting moment of satisfaction before screams erupted inside.
He ducked back behind the tree as the familiar, red face of his neighbour, Jim Whylie, leaned out the window scanning the surrounding bushes. “Who’s out there?” he shouted, shaking a fist. “You’ll pay for this!”
Quick! He only had a moment to crouch down and half-run, half-crawl into the bush and get as far away as he could before the others, now pouring out the front door, could spot him and give chase. He was fast on his feet and with a bit of a head start, he knew he could outrun any of the others. Even if one or two came after him on horseback, he knew the paths and trails where a horse couldn’t get through.
Inside the parlour, the shocked bride stared at the offending rock lying amongst the dangerous shards of thick glass glittering on the dark carpet. Most of the men rushed to get outside and give chase to the culprit, as their stunned wives and daughters gathered around the newlyweds.
“Who would do such a thing?”
“At a wedding!”
Dear Reader, Here is where I'll stop in the middle of Chapter One, to avoid spoiling things for readers of Haunted Journey.