What harm could come from attending a séance? Kellan Brooks is up for anything that might boost her creativity, but finds the event silly until she steps into a crack between her world and a place she could never have imagined. The local grapevine pushes her cleaning business down the drain, her boyfriend to running damage control, and a steady stream of troubled souls to a mysterious gate that has appeared in her apartment. Her writer’s block is broken, but the clear voice Kellan hears doesn’t belong to her.
Connor Clarke was thought to have taken his own life, when in truth, he was taken by something people had long stopped believing in. Now he needs Kellan to get an urgent message to his brother. She agrees to keep the gate closed on the entity that claimed his life, but no way is she playing messenger for a dead kid.
Anthony Clarke seeks truth for a living, and has spent twenty years searching for reasons behind Connor’s suicide. He is as blind to his own problems as he is to Connor’s presence. So when the entity escapes to target Anthony, Kellan must drop everything to find him before he meets Connor’s killer face to face.
She would have sold her soul for a story. Chalk on the blank slate in her mind made agonizing noises as her level of anxiety grew. Kellan took a couple deep breaths and rubbed her hands together to generate an imaginary spark. “Day one, do or die.” She had convinced herself that the next thirty days would decide if she had what it took to live her fantasy writer’s life, or if she needed to let go of her childhood dream.
Her thumbs tapped the space bar in anticipation.
Any minute now.
After ten minutes, she typed: This sucks. Why did I think I could do this? I haven’t written more than a grocery list in three years.
She knew her day was about to go off the rails when the phone rang. The time on the computer read 4:22 AM and she didn’t need Caller ID to know who was calling.
“You need to come with me tonight.” Jade never bothered with preliminary greetings.
“Not with a gun to my head.” The last time Kellan let Jade talk her into going out, it was Ladies-Drink-Free night at a men’s strip club. Women pushing forty didn’t belong in strip clubs.
“Don’t tempt me.” Jade’s southern lilt was slanted with sarcasm.
“What are you doing up this early?” Then Kellan remembered the Danish boyfriend was in town. His band had just begun to get airtime stateside. She could also hear Jade smoking. “Putting a few clicks on the rock star?”
“Not writing in the middle of the night, that’s for damn sure.”
Kellan stared at her twenty one words. “Makes two of us.”
“See there. You have to come. Get your juices flowing.”
“I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.”
“Oh, come on. This is something you only get to do when opportunity knocks, and it’s pounding the door off the hinges.”
Kellan’s stomach fluttered as she fingered the peeling edges of her mouse pad. Her writer’s block had been reinforced with steel, and she felt like a convict trying to dig her way through a cell with a pencil nub. But she conceded, knowing full well she’d live to regret it. “No drag strips, no sex toy parties, no men’s clubs, biker bars, two-for-one tattoos, and no checking out a new band in the basement of somebody’s grandma’s house.”
“God, you’re worse than my mother,” Jade said. “I’ll have you know that this happens to be a very classy soiree at the Crestletter Mansion. Seven thirty.”
“Seriously?” Kellan perked up. What she wouldn’t give to see inside of those gates. “What are you doing, a private class?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“You already agreed, so don’t wimp out.”
“I clean these people’s houses. Well, not that house, but you know what I mean. I can’t sit at the same table with them.”
“Trust me,” Jade huffed out another puff into the receiver, “tonight you can.”
The words ‘trust me’ never went down without a strong chaser. The needle on Kellan’s suspicion meter swung to its highest level and she had prickling up her spine that warned her not to go. Seeing inside of the Crestletter Mansion would be worth any humiliation Jade might spring on her, right? Facing a long night staring at a blank screen was option two. Option three was nonexistent, since her boyfriend was busy dealing with a family matter.
“I swear on Opal’s life, if you don’t come home with a story idea, I will. . .” There was a long pause as Jade thought it over. “Well, you know I’m good for something.”
Kellan closed her eyes. Jade’s daughter was usually not in her good graces. “If some stripper shakes sweat on me or some old fart tries to cop a feel–”
“There won’t be any men there.”
“Well, women either.”
“No one will sweat, slobber, or paw on you.”
“Wait,” Kellan sucked in a breath, and her eyes flew open. “What would I have to wear?”
Sheila Englehart grew up obsessed with the afterlife, UFO phenomena, and the mystery that had shrouded the Bermuda Triangle since the disappearance of Flight 19. She wrote to figure out what she believed while viewing everything through the lens of a skeptic.
For twenty five years she wrote feature film scripts, novels, and novel adaptations. Her day jobs were many, some in the name of research. Sheila worked in the domestic, financial, and medical fields before studying hypnotherapy. This opened a new door that led straight back to the unknown, through which she flew like a duck that had spent too long on dry land.
She lives in Winston Salem, NC and has charted a course toward novels easily adapted to film. Warning Signs is the first of those.