Today's topic: My favorite ‘scary’ excerpt from Lancaster House!
If you missed yesterday’s post about why I scared myself while writing Lancaster House, click here.
The below excerpt is about as scary as Lancaster House gets, which isn’t really very scary in the scheme of things—as a matter of fact, it’s pretty tame. But the scenes do build upon each other, so it’s difficult to step right into one without knowing the background—and still feel the intensity of the scene.
Lancaster House is much more of a romance, than a scary read. In the end, maybe it’s best described as a paranormal psychological thriller, with ROMANCE. (heavy on the romance!)
Excerpt from Lancaster House:
It was morning when she awoke and peeled herself off the floor. Bed—I want my bed. Just let me die in peace.
Zoe stood, holding onto the wall to brace herself. All she had to do was get herself to her bed and she’d sleep this off. Her head felt heavy, as if it suddenly weighed fifty pounds and holding it up seemed an impossibility. The house felt hot and humid as if all the fresh air had been sucked out of it. The low hum of the air conditioner met her ears and she stood under the vent for a few seconds letting the chilly air cool her hot cheeks. She glanced at the doorway to the circular room and felt a ripple of shock filter through her body from head to toe.
The doorway was gone.
The room had been re-sealed and the wall, painted. There was no evidence it had ever been opened.
How can it be?
Her heart knocked in her chest wildly and her knees buckled as she fainted, hitting the floor with a loud thump.
Everything was a bit of a blur after that. The next time Zoe regained full consciousness, several things quickly registered. A cool washcloth covered her forehead. She was tucked into her bed, the blankets neatly placed around her. She was wearing her pajamas, which she had no recollection of changing into, and a tall, icy glass of water sat next to her bed with a straw sticking out of it. She vaguely remembered sipping out of that straw, but had no idea who it was that was helping her. Slowly, she sat up and looked around her room.
“Hello,” she called out. But no one came or answered her call. Reaching out for her glass, she gulped down the entire glass of water and then collapsed onto her bed, feeling as weak as a newborn kitten. Rolling onto her side, she pulled the blankets up to her chin and let sleep claim her, even while knowing there was some reason why she should be running like hell out of this house, but unable to remember just exactly why that was.
When she next awoke, she knew the worst was behind her. She even felt like getting up and walking. Her nightstand held a tray of crackers and her water glass had been refreshed. Before getting up, she decided to get some nourishment in her, knowing it would help her get her strength back. Her memory began to come back to her as she sat there munching on the crackers and drinking the water, thirstily.
Who was taking care of her?
After finishing off the last few bites and brushing the crumbs off her lap, she yelled out, “Connor, you can come out now. I know it’s you.”
There was no response, not even a hint of a whoosh of movement or a small thump-thump of retreating footsteps. Nothing. No muffled laughter, no whispers. Not even the sound of pant legs rubbing together—a sound that could easily give away the sneakiest of the sneaky.
Silence. Absolute bone-chilling silence.
Puzzled, she let her feet hit the floor and tested her steadiness. Although still weak, she felt perfectly well enough to walk. Making her way down the stairs, she called out again, “Hello . . . hello.”
The house answered with an eerie silence and she felt her palms moisten. This wasn’t funny anymore. A joke can be taken too far and this one definitely had been. Once downstairs, the first thing she noticed was all four walls of the living room she’d been working on were completed.
Her breathing quickened.
“Hello . . . hello,” she yelled unsteadily.
The kitchen was perfectly spotless with no sign anyone had been there, except herself. Ever so slowly, she walked back up the stairs, ignoring the urge to flee from the house screaming for help. She could just imagine it. Help, help, someone is taking care of me and redecorating my house! There’s a mad man in there!
Yeah right. The only mad person around here is me. Stark raving mad.
She had to know who was doing this for her. Walking away was out of the question. When she reached the sealed entrance to the circular room, she stood motionless for several minutes, simply staring. Her eyebrows knit as her thoughts raced. She was completely baffled.
Why seal the room?
Why didn’t he paint it?
Zoe slowly walked back to her room feeling sluggish. An eerie sort of calm overwhelmed her. Whoever was doing this didn’t want to hurt her. They’d had ample opportunity to take her life if that had been what they wanted to do. No, whoever was doing this wanted to mess with her mental stability.
The only candidate was Connor.
Unless . . .
Maybe it had nothing to do with her. Maybe it had everything to do with this house. Perhaps a former owner who wanted the house back or a disgruntled neighbor who wanted the house torn down or maybe a concerned citizen who felt it should be given to the city as a historical landmark. How about a college psychology experiment? Maybe there were hidden cameras placed throughout the house.
Unlikely, she thought, feeling deflated and lethargic. She sat on the edge of her bed and let out her breath. And then a thought occurred to her.
“Dad?” she whispered. “Dad, is it you?” She didn’t really believe in that sort of thing, but it was as good an explanation as any. But the only answer to her inquiries was a deafening silence. Her head hung dejectedly. “I miss you, Dad.”
If they were watching her, they’d know she was losing it. She’d better put up a brave front. But she knew the worry was evident on her face. A glance at her bedside clock sent waves of fear coursing through her and her eyes widened into huge saucers.
The tray was refilled with crackers and her water glass was full.
For several seconds Zoe sat completely still—frozen in time. And then she exploded. She knocked the tray and the glass off the nightstand in one fell swoop. They clattered to the floor, the glass shattering and the crackers breaking into pieces. “Leave me alone!” she screamed.
She grabbed her inhaler and breathed in two puffs of air, greedily. She huddled under the covers and curled up into a fetal position.
Leave me alone. Leave me alone.
She fell into a troubled sleep, knowing in her heart she should leave this house and yet, refusing to give up. This was her home and she wasn’t about to let anyone chase her out of it. None of this was real. Someone was playing a trick on her. They were in for a fight.
That is . . . when she felt better.
COMING NEXT: Learn why I chose the book covers for Lancaster House and The Middle Aisle! (Just click and follow!)
This was originally posted as part of a book tour at Passion and Life.