It's almost here! Wicked in Glimmerspell (Hot Flash Homicides 2) releases 7-8-21! I can't wait to take you back to that magical, haunted town. Here's a little peek into what's happening in Glimmerspell. Happy haunted reading! (Click the image below to preorder and have it delivered to your ereader on release day!)
An impending divorce. A hot homicide detective. And spontaneous time travel.
Midlife in Glimmerspell is proving to be magical.
After catching my husband in bed with another woman, I gave him the heave-ho, put our house on the market, and moved away to an enchanting little town for a brand-new start. What I didn’t count on was the fact that enchanting little town might just be—enchanted with vampires, werewolves, and fae. Add my inadvertent jaunts around the time continuum, a corpse, and a homicidal maniac, and you have the recipe for disaster.
A masquerade ball has all of Glimmerspell a titter as the entire town congregates at Hyland Hall, where an art benefit is set to raise funds for the local university. But things take a dark turn when an artist turns up dead and I’m left holding the murder weapon. Not only will I have to clear my good name, but the local vampire coven has recruited me to help find a couple of missing women using my time-traveling abilities. They’ve got to be kidding, right? I can no more control those jaunts around the calendar than I can control the hot flashes that sponsor them. Here’s hoping I don’t end up dead or worse—staring a mastodon in the face.
If I thought the first half of my life was a bumpy ride, I’d better buckle up because I’m about to go over the hill and off the rails.
Midlife in Glimmerspell can be a real killer.
Two women hikers missing near Glimmerspell. Both women disappeared within twenty-four hours of one another. Foul play cannot be ruled out. Incidents are not yet determined to be related. Sheriff’s deputies are scouring the area.
Keep your eyes open for suspicious activity and report any incidences directly to the Winchester County Sheriff’s Department.
“I should have killed you months ago!” I grit the words through my teeth as I do my best to strangle the life out of my soon-to-be ex.
It’s the night of the Hyland Masquerade Party right here in Glimmerspell, an enchanting little town in the heart of Maine that just so happens to be enchanted.
Harold growls as he does his best to remove the death grip I have around his chubby little neck. His face is turning a rather violent shade of purple and his eyes are laced with the crimson tracks that one would typically have when shedding a tear, but since Harold Boobe doesn’t have a heart, he’s incapable of that precipitous display of affection.
My name is Billie Buttonwood. I’ve got brown hair with more than a little silver tinsel to it, Buttonwood-issued lavender-blue eyes, and the supernatural ability to travel in and out of time continuums. Believe me, that newly acquired supernatural quirk sounds a bit more appealing than it is. And considering I’m not very good at it, I’ve come to accept the fact that every moment in the here and now can be my last, lest I get trapped at the dawn of time. Therefore, I live every moment as if it could all come crashing to a spectacular end. But the only thing I want to end today is Harold Boobe’s unspectacular life.
Lord knows I’ve given Harold and his limp wiener the best years of my life. I eschewed a perfectly good surname and became a Boobe for him. And sure enough, he treated me like a boob of the highest order when he dumped me for a coed tramp who also happened to be related to him.
Deep down, I have always known that Harold was a moron, but I tried to sweep that little misnomer under the rug, because not only did I so desperately want our family of three to work, but I didn’t think I could survive on my own. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t think I could do much better than him either.
It was a lie, of course—on both counts. Now the divorce is well on its way, and Harold and his kissing cousin (third cousin—and it’s been a hell of a kinky family reunion ever since they discovered one another last fall) have taken up residence in our old home, in our old bed. So in light of that nausea-inducing fact, my sixteen-year-old daughter, Harper, and I have moved to Glimmerspell, which I had hoped would remain a jackass-free zone.
According to my lawyer, the divorce in question is just a waiting game—waiting for Harold to pony-up half the money he owes me for the house, along with my fair share of our family business, the hardware store. But screw the divorce certificate. I’d much rather have a death certificate where Harold is concerned.
I add a little more oomph to my strangulation technique as I tighten my grip on the jackass in question.
“Why are you here?” I howl as I proceed to squeeze Harold’s head off, behind a display of enormous sculptures and paintings.
It’s the night of the big masquerade ball that has had all of Glimmerspell a titter for the entire livelong week. Apparently, a woman by the name of Magdalena Hyland, socialite extraordinaire, hosts an annual ball right here in her home, which can double as a castle, and does her best to shill her artwork—mixed media, but mostly paintings and sculptures. A three-year-old could have outshined her in the effort.
But, hey? Art is subjective. Sort of like the views Harold and I had about our nineteen-year union.
Here I thought we were long-haulers. Being married to Harold cemented the fact long-suffering was my cross to bear, just the way Harold and I were cemented together. But evidently, Harold thought monogamy was optional.
Honestly, as horrible as it sounds, Harold’s horny hiccup may have just been the best thing that’s happened to me, but at this moment I’m not willing to admit it.
“How dare you tell your little harlot you’ll rename our store after her!” I bellow.
Okay, so Harry’s Hardware is technically owned by a majority of Harold’s family. But for the entire length of our marriage, it was our baby.
His mother and sisters have been nothing but silent partners. Silent as in, they hardly thanked us for their cut at the end of the month. Harold worked the floors, and I did the hiring, firing, accounting, and managerial work. I was the lifeblood of that hardware institution. I’m shocked the place hasn’t tipped over without me. And once my divorce is done and over with, I’ll get half of all of its worth.
“And what’s this I hear about you buying your hussy a Tesla Model 3? I’m the one that wanted a Tesla! I’ve been driving the same minivan for fifteen years. You said I couldn’t have a Tesla!”
“You couldn’t.” Harold manages to yank my hands off his neck. What’s left of his blond comb-over is pointing to the ceiling a foot in the air, his face is still a pleasant shade of pomegranate, and his suit is slightly askew.
Harold is tall, round, and balding. And despite the fact he was bossy and cruel, I was still willing to stick by his side through thick and thin. Come to think of it, maybe I was the moron in the equation.
“We couldn’t afford a new car for you,” he gruffs.
“But you can suddenly afford a new set of high-tech wheels for Charlene?” I riot in his face, incredulous at the thought of that boink bunny snagging my shiny new ride. Heck, at this point, she can have my man. I want my new car.
I’ll admit, I was eavesdropping on the owl and the pig—and that’s not me taking an easy swipe at the happy home-wrecking couple. The owl and pig were the masks Charlene and Harold were given at the door for this money grubbing charade.
My blood was boiling as soon as I spotted my ex and his knocked-up trollop, so as I scooted their way in hopes to talk them into leaving early, my ears picked up on a few tidbits Harold was spouting off to some unsuspecting professor from Dexter University. As soon as I heard that Harry’s Hardware was about to be renamed Harry and Cherry’s Wood Goods, my body began to shake. That store was as good as mine. Although years ago when I suggested a name change, I was handed my hind end on a platter and threatened with a restraining order from his mother.
Not only had Charlene stepped into my old life, she was easily molding the very things I had found impossible to hew.
While Harold was spouting off to the professor, he mentioned a few other things he was doing for his teen queen, like the kitchen remodel, which was already underway, adding a hot tub off the master bedroom—second story be damned—and the fact they were in line to have the pick of the litter for a couple of French Bulldogs. A stark turnaround on his no-pets stance, considering Harper and I weren’t even so much allowed to feed a stray due to his apparently contrived allergies. But when I heard that little morsel about the Tesla, I knew there was no talking me off the ledge.
“Yes,” Harold says in an equally incredulous tone. “I’ve just about got a wife now, Billie. I’ve got to keep her happy.”
Teddy jumps in front of me with her wiry hair floating above her head like a gray cloud. Her purple satin dress, with its full skirt and ruffles, fans around her like a puddle.
“Kick him in the cookies!” she cheers as she kicks her foot in his direction and nearly manages the feat herself.
Teddy Roosevelt happens to be the quirky eighty-something-year-old who has taken in Harper and me.
Sunny Kelly, my newly minted blonde bestie, stands next to her with her phone pointed my way.
“Don’t worry, Billie!”—Sunny shouts over the buzz of voices, not to mention the classical music drilling into our ears from the speakers above—“I’m getting the whole thing on tape.”
“Good,” Harold grunts her way. “I’ll need the proof when I press charges.”
“We are not pressing charges.” Charlene, teen dream, third cousin extraordinaire, flicks a wrist my way as she yanks Harold to her.
Charlene is a bodacious blonde, with big doe eyes, big boobs, and an even bigger belly. Although the jury is still out on whether or not Harold is indeed the father of that baby floating in her tummy, Harold stuck my old engagement ring on Charlene’s finger and is about to make it official. He’s bought the farm with his happy little hooker, and as a favor to me, I’m hoping he’ll kick the bucket.
“Don’t ya worry, Bill.” Charlene leans my way and winks. That hot pink dress hugging her every baby-making curve is causing a scene all on its own. “We both know how he can get when he’s not properly medicated.” She says medicated with air quotes. “I’ll make sure to get some vodka tonic in him asap. You’ll have to stop by the house some time. We just converted Harper’s old bedroom into a nursery slash bar. I’d love to get your opinion on what to buy for the baby.” Her arms hug her distended belly. “I could really use an older woman in my life who can help guide the way.”
Harold pulls her away, and wisely so, considering she’s with child. If she weren’t, I would have included her in on the strangulating good time Harold and I were having.
“You can’t be nice to her,” he snips. “She was choking me.”
Charlene smacks him on the arm. “You should have used the safe word.” Charlene turns my way. “Before I forget…” She waves as he continues to drag her deeper into the crowd. “If it’s a girl, I’ve added the name Billie to the list!”
“Oh my living God, hold me back,” I mutter mostly to myself, but both Sunny and Teddy are right there by my side like a couple of instigating bookends as they nudge me forward.
“Come on, girls.” Teddy rolls up her imaginary sleeves. “We’ll each grab one of these soda cans and knock them over the head.”
“Yeah,” Sunny bleats. “And once I’ve uploaded the whole thing to YouTube, we’ll make a fortune off of it. All the kids are doing it.”
I frown over at her. Sunny may be five years older than me, but I’ve learned quickly that age and wisdom don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Her dress is a deep shade of navy, her hair is coiled into creamy vanilla ringlets, and her skin holds an iridescent blue hue with a slight sparkle to it—which makes perfect sense considering the fact she’s a fae.
“I’ll take a hard pass,” I tell them. “Besides, those soda cans are sculptures. Hard to believe, I know.” I take a look around at the crudely sculpted sailboats, the knockoffs of the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, the ode to vampires, werewolves, and fae. Those last three things make a little more sense around here since they happen to be creatures that live in this town. And in Glimmerspell, those three creatures aren’t lore used to scare small children—they’re firmly embedded in reality.
Odd, I know.
Just a few weeks ago, I thought they were nothing more than the stuff of nightmares myself.
A sign posted in front of the sculptures reads do not touch! And just behind the table strewn with crude clay delights are oversized canvases that hang from the ceiling from long, thin chains. They’re set about two feet apart as they skirt from one end of the palatial room to the other.
I scan the crowd before us, and it’s nothing but luscious dresses in a sea of masked faces, but there is one face in the distance very much unmasked.
My heart stops cold once I spot him. Our eyes lock and a jolt of electricity runs from him to me as efficiently as if he had touched me with a livewire. He’s tall, dark, and brooding for the most part. But in addition to that, he’s morbidly handsome, has clear green eyes, and a come hither look on his face that was hewn to perfection by God Himself. Have I mentioned the rock-hard body, muscles for days, and bedroom eyes that have the attention of every ovary-bearing female in the room?
Elliot Greenly is not hard to look at. He also happens to be a homicide detective for the Winchester County Sheriff’s Department. He’s the same man who managed to give me the kiss of a lifetime a few weeks back—same man I’ve been avoiding just about ever since.
Elliot made a rather heart-stopping revelation to me about a week ago at the Haunted Book Barn. He let me know in no uncertain terms that he was one of them—a vampire, to be exact.
Since then, both my head and my heart have been in a tailspin, so I’ve been avoiding him at every turn. And I very much plan on carrying on with that evasive plan tonight.
“Billie Buttonwood!” Morgan Buttonwood, my sweet niece, hisses as she appears from seemingly thin air and takes me by the hand. I’m thankful for it, too, considering she just broke the spell between Elliot and me. “Are you nuts? I just heard Harold shouting to anyone who would listen that you tried to decapitate him with a butter knife.”
“And to think I didn’t know he was capable of coming up with a single original idea. Teddy, remind me to shove a butter knife in my purse the next time I go out.”
Teddy winks my way. “I’ll do you one better. I’ve got a rusted saw blade I’m willing to lend you.”
Morgan’s eyes bug out. “No to the saw blade.”
Morgan, like everyone else in this haunted hall tonight, is dressed to the nines. She’s donned a red satin dress with a black lace bodice, which complements her dark hair and lavender blue eyes.
Morgan is my brother’s daughter. Unfortunately, she lost both parents and her twin sister, Mabel, too, within a short span. But thankfully, we still see plenty of Mabel, mostly at the Haunted Book Barn, the bookstore Morgan owns and runs. Mabel would be the ghost who puts the haunt in haunted.
“Pull it together, Billie,” Morgan says, looking out at the bodies gliding around the cavernous room.
The walls are composed of pale gray bricks, the floors are creamy limestone, and the plethora of chandeliers that hang from the impossibly high ceilings are made from the most expensive glittering crystal money can buy.
It’s a night to remember by anyone’s standards, even if every soul here is strutting around cleverly hidden by elaborate masks.
Sunny hands me mine, a blue and green number comprised of peacock feathers. It’s all very Phantom of the Opera-esque with the men in dark suits and the women wearing bloated jewel-tone regency dresses. Mine happens to be gunmetal gray with a purple sheen. When Harper saw me in it, she said I looked like the personification of a storm brewing on the horizon. I laughed a little, but mostly I was impressed with the fact her lexicon grew to include the word personification. I’m convinced that we’ve both grown a few more brain cells now that we’ve distanced ourselves from her father.
Harper isn’t here tonight, and after that throttling I gave Harold, I’m glad about it, too. They’re still working on repairing their fractured relationship, and apparently I’m still hopelessly homicidal.
“What do you think he’s doing here?” Sunny asks, while taking footage of the scene in front of us.
Morgan grunts, “It’s a fundraiser for Dexter. Magdalena gives all proceeds earned from the sale of her artwork directly to fund the art program at the university.”
“A fundraiser for a good cause,” Teddy muses. “Now I get it. Under normal circumstances, no one would be moved to buy this crap.”
A trill of laughter erupts from behind and we turn to find a woman in a yellow frilly gown with a silver and rhinestone studded mask adhered to the upper portion of her face. She’s pretty, with long dark hair, dark crimson lips, and the twinkle of mischief in her hazel eyes. Mask or no mask, I’m guessing she’s about my age, mid-forties, maybe a touch beyond that. And the fact she has a silver cane in her hand intrigues me.
“Magdalena!” Morgan’s voice hikes a notch. “My apologies. It seems Teddy here has hit the vino a little hard this evening.”
“There’s vino?” Teddy cranes her neck every which way before disappearing, and Sunny is hot on her heels.
Truthfully, I’m about ten seconds from joining the hunt for fermented grape juice.
Morgan shakes her head as she watches them go. “Magdalena, I’d love for you to meet my Aunt Billie. Actually, I’ve never called her my Aunt Billie. We’ve been more like sisters. Billie, this is Magdalena Hyland.”
“The artist of the evening? So nice to finally meet you.” I hold out a hand and her cool fingers go limp in mine. “I was just commenting to my friends what unique pieces you have.”
Her forehead hikes a notch. “Yes, well, they’re all for sale. And don’t forget every last nickel goes to supporting the arts, so be sure to do your part.”
Morgan nods my way. “Magdalena was nice enough to send all of her friends to the Haunted Book Barn when Mabel and I did a grand reopening a few years back.” She looks at the woman. “And I’ve already got my eye on a few more pieces to add to my collection at the bookstore.”
Her collection? I do my best to scour my mind of what art pieces we might have at the shop and come up empty. Wait a minute… Could it be those hideous canvases in the stockroom? We’ve been using them as glorified walls to create some semblance of order when sorting the genre deliveries.
Huh. Learn something new every day.
Morgan’s mouth falls open. “Is that Harlow Waylon?” She points to a redhead in an emerald green dress not too far from where we’re standing. Harlow just so happens to be chatting away with a blonde in a cobalt number that looks ten times more stunning than any other dress in the room.
A hard groan comes from Magdalena. “That little waif?” She takes me by the hand. “Come, come.”
Within seconds we’re standing in front of the women. Both take a moment to scowl at Magdalena before offering affable smiles to Morgan and me.
Magdalena forces a smile herself, and it looks painful. “Morgan, Billie, I’d love for you to meet Harlow and Pepper, both of whom I was fortunate to have as my stepsisters at one point in time.”
Both women hood their lids as if they could contest that fortune if given the chance. The redhead’s emerald gown offsets her eyes with the same matching hue. And the blonde is wearing an electric blue frock that makes her pale skin glow like paper.
Magdalena pulls the redhead forward. “This is Harlow Waylon, a very talented author, as you well know, Morgan.”
“You’re darn right I know.” Morgan is quick to shake the redhead’s hand. “You write the Moon Chasers series. I’m addicted to your books. I just love how you make everything come alive on the pages. Every time I read one of your novels, I feel as if I’m actually in Lake Howl.” She glances my way. “It’s the name of the town where the story takes place.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” I say, equally taken with the redhead among us. “I’ve been reading the Moon Chasers series for years! I’m a huge fan. Your books helped me with some much-needed escapism. I don’t think my miserable marriage would have lasted nearly as long as it did if I didn’t have Lake Howl to run off to every night.” Sad but true.
Harlow laughs as her fingers pinch the emerald encrusted mask over her face. It’s sort of heart-shaped and has green feathers spearing out of the top. And unlike Magdalena, Harlow is holding her mask to her face with a stick just like the rest of us.
Harlow lowers her mask and leans my way. “Well then, I’m sorry I made the misery last.”
We share a warm laugh as Magdalena pulls the blonde forward.
“And this is Pepper Simmons.” She bares her teeth at the woman a moment with something akin to a smile. “Pepper? What exactly is it that you do other than visit your house in Vail and your beachfront home in Florida? Oh, that’s right—you do nothing.” She chortles and waves to the crowd. “Excuse me.”
She twirls off into the sea of bodies, leaving poor Pepper to glower in her wake.
“Pardon me.” The blonde sniffs. “It was nice meeting you all.” She takes off in flight as if her carriage was about to turn into a pumpkin.
“Forgive her.” Harlow rolls her eyes. “Mags is prone to rudeness the way others are prone to breathing. Thank you both for the kind words and for reading my books. You don’t know how much I love to hear that.” There’s a genuine sweetness about her, and now I love her and her books ten times more. “If I can ever do anything for you, please let me know.”
“You can,” Morgan is quick to tell her. “I own the Haunted Book Barn on the edge of Main Street by the lake. You just have to come and do a book signing. I’ll make a huge to-do over it. Glimmerspell is up to its eyeballs with people interested in the were lifestyle.”
Mostly because those people are werewolves themselves, but neither Morgan nor I dare to extrapolate. From what I gleaned last month, a handful of people know the paranormal truth about this town and the others merely consider it lore to lure the tourists this way.
Harlow cocks her head to the side. “You know, I thought the two of you looked familiar. I’m a huge fan of that show of yours.”
“The show? What show?” Morgan blinks back. “Oh, my show!”
The show in question would be Murder, Mayhem, and Baking. Morgan’s been filming herself whipping up a sweet treat while dissecting murder mysteries for a few years now, and she’s amassed quite the following on YouTube.
“You should come on down for the next taping,” I tell her.
“Yes, please.” Morgan nods wildly. “You’ll be my special guest, and afterwards we can do a book signing.”
“That sounds wonderful. I haven’t done a book signing in so long, I’ve already got butterflies.” She reaches into her purse and hands Morgan her card. “Just call me with the details, and we’ll work it all out.”
She takes off, and Morgan and I stare at one another with our mouths agape.
“Did that just happen?” I ask a little too loud, with a touch too much enthusiasm.
“It did!” she shouts right back, her enthusiasm eclipsing my own. “I’ve got to tell Mabel. I’ve got to tell everyone. I’ve got to get a drink,” she says as she speeds off.
I’m about to head for the bar myself when my body begins to flood with heat.
“Oh no,” I moan.
Not only am I no good at this time-travel business, but those interdimensional jaunts just so happen to be tied to my hot flashes. Not every hot flash, not every time, but when the floor begins to bounce, like it is now, and the world around me grows increasingly gray, I’m pretty sure I’m about to be shipped off to Timbuktu—let’s hope not literally.
* * *
The scenery changes. I’m standing in a dimly lit room, a quiet yet palatial room.
That king-size bed centered against the back wall, the gray damask wallpaper, the plush navy comforter, and the gray sofa tucked to the side all look increasingly familiar.
Oh good grief, I recognize this place.
I’ve found myself smack-dab in Elliot Greenly’s private chambers. It’s dark outside the bedroom windows as the room glows from a light pouring in through the double mahogany doors.
The faint scent of Elliot’s spiced cologne tickles my senses, and it’s enough to make me sigh in his wake. I don’t know what day it is, or what year for that matter. For all I know, Elliot and his old baby mama could barrel in this direction while going at it hot and heavy.
I frown at the thought of Elliot and Iona locked at the lips, hips, or God forbid, any other places. Elliot and Iona share a seventeen-year-old son who happens to be at Glimmerspell High with Harper.
The sound of voices emanates from the hall, and every muscle in my body freezes.
Elliot is saying something, and I watch, slack-jawed, as another version of myself backs her way into the room. Her eyes are locked over Elliot, as if she didn’t dare turn her back on him.
Good girl, I want to shout, but keep my mouth shut for fear of being cornered by the two of them.
Elliot knows all about my hot flash hops around the calendar, and unfortunately, so do I.
“What happens next, Detective?” I hear this other version of myself purr the words out like the sex kitten I’m panning out to be.
I’ll admit, a tiny part of me is proud of the scene playing out before me. But a much bigger part of me is still a little miffed at the good detective for taking his sweet time in letting me know he was a bloodsucker. I pretty much let him know about my paranormal quirk from the get-go.
Elliot’s lids hood low, a dangerous smile curving on his lips as he towers over the version of me that I can see.
He picks up my hand and kisses the inside of my wrist.
And I swear on all that is good in this world, I felt that down to my very nexus—both versions of me.
“What happens next?” Elliot bores his eyes to mine—the other mine. “What happens next is up to you.”
I bite down on my lower lip. Of course, I’m going to say yes. I’m not an idiot.
A thought comes to me.
Hey? This little side trip to Elliot’s bedchamber hasn’t played out yet. That must mean I’ve ventured off into the future for the very first time.
The floor bounces beneath my feet, and the surrounding scenery begins to blur once again before reimagining itself to look exactly like Hyland Hall. I begin to stumble and a pair of strong arms catches me as I’m about to fall.
I look up and meet with Elliot Greenly’s commanding eyes.
“Billie.” His heart thumps hard against mine. “We need to talk.”
(I hope you loved the preview! Click the image below to preorder today! XO)