If your whole life has been a lie can you trust what’s right in your hand?
Below is an excerpt from Acceptance: Book 1 of The Leelanau Chronicles.
Genre: adult paranormal romance
Mending her life and her broken heart, Brin Kelly finds a new start in a tiny Michigan water town. Things are finally looking up until a violent crime is dropped into her gifted hands. For good reason, she’s spent a lifetime avoiding her otherworldly gift. Now, she must make a choice; stay sheltered in ignorant bliss, or step up and use what she was born with. New passion and old friendships pull her unwittingly into the world of human/animal shifters. Brin discovers she may have more in common with them then she knew. As her perfectly normal human life begins to give way to the work she was meant to do, will she trade her wedding planner status for a future with her hands in someone else’s blood? She may not need a hero to keep her safe, but it sure would be nice to have the backup.
Oh… and the love thing? Yeah. That would be real nice, too. One small detail…he’s not exactly human either.
They weren’t fresh. That’s for sure. Using the stick I’d picked up, I gingerly poked at the disintegrated material that had once been a handbag. Or a shopping tote from the size of the piece of shoulder strap that I carefully drew from the dirt with my makeshift tool. Now crumbling leather, at one time, it had been pretty nice. The little F’s that faced head to toe told me it was a Fendi bag. Though that’s not what freaked me out. People toss out all kinds of stuff, valuable stuff, in the weirdest places without a thought that there’s a trash bin just down the path at the trailhead. Slobs.
No. It was what was in the bag that sent a shudder that wound its way up my back. The clasp was broken and as it dangled from my stick I saw the interior. The bones were definitely human. A radius, ulna, carpal and metacarpal. Adult, if the size of the carpal joint were an indicator. Each finger had been bitten off at the knuckle and the gnaw marks showed some crushing power from sharp teeth. I could see that they were white and a bit aged so it’s not like a killer would be jumping out at me from behind a tree in the park. Even so, I did a quick look around and listened hard for any sound of company.
It was so quiet up here at the tip of the peninsula. After a storm like last night’s, it had become my routine to come all the way out here to look for stones and shells and driftwood I could use to make the tabletop decorations for my business. Usually, I loved the isolation. This morning, all I had on my mind was to find a signal on my damn phone. At the rise of a dune, I finally had some bars and I breathed relief when Andor picked up his phone.
“Brin. What’s shakin’, kiddo? Don’t tell me you ran out of coffee. I can call the National Guard if you want.” He said.
“Funny, Andor. Nope. Not a coffee emergency. I’m out at Cathead collecting rocks and driftwood and I just found something very weird.” I said.
“I’m listening.” I heard curiosity in his voice now.
“I’m pretty sure I found a bag of human bones. There’s a forearm, part of a hand and it looks like the fingers are gnawed off, but just the phalanges. All of them. Neatly. Across the knuckles. The storm must have loosened the ground around it because it looks like it might have been out here a while. I don’t know if there’s any more than what I saw but I thought it best if I didn’t disturb the area. Andor? Are you still there?” I asked.
“Yeah, Brin. I’m here. I’m sending a text to the station for a forensic team to head up. Look, I’m about twenty minutes out from you. Can you come back out to the road and wait for me there and then you can walk us back in to the site?” He had switched me to speaker phone and I could hear the click of his fingers on the keypad now.
“I’ll head that way right now. Thanks, Andor. This was super creepy and you’re the first person I thought of to call.” I said.
“Super creepy made you think of me. Uh, thanks?” he said.
I guffawed. “You know what I mean. Because you’re a sheriff. Not because you’re creepy. Because you deal with creepy shit for a living.”
“Just pulling your leg, Brin. See you in twenty.” he said before we disconnected.
While I waited down at the road for the sheriff and the others to arrive, the one thought in the forefront of my mind was thank fuck that I didn’t reach down and grab that bag with my hands. That’s all I’d need. The images would have seared into my brain and I wouldn’t sleep for a month.
My “gift” only gets the better of me when I’m distracted and forget to keep my hands clear of any things I’d rather not know about. Between the info sucking touch thing and the crazy-good memory aspect of whatever makes me different, I don’t need to add any nasty, weird details to my brain library. Usually a pair of gloves can keep contact at a minimum. I’d probably be in a hand shaking situation when Andor’s team arrived so I popped the glove box open and pulled out a pair of cotton fingerless ones and slipped them on just as I heard the cars arrive on the gravel road behind me.
Leaning on my back bumper, I blocked the sun with my hand as the Leelanau County Sheriff’s trucks, two of them, pulled in behind my car at the roadside. We would drive back into the park area and get closer to where I was. Andor yelled out his window for me to take the lead. I got back in my car and led the way to where I’d parked earlier.
As we walked along the dirt path out to the edge of the woods, I filled them in on what I’d found. One of the team had a kit and evidence bags with him. When he asked if I had touched the find I may have been a bit over the top with my hell no.
I haven’t shared my little quirkiness and psychometry thing with any of these people. It’s hard enough to start your life over in a new place, making friends and all, so announcing to the town that I also have an unusual ability is more than I ‘m willing to give up right out of the shoot. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed and anxious about being the person to find this grisly stuff. Couldn’t it have been some long time trusted resident? Or even one of the thousands of tourists who make their way up here every summer and then go home before Labor Day?
Nope. It had to be me. Like it wasn’t odd enough that a woman, a widow no less, would move to the end of nowhere, buy a treasured local business after one week in town and befriend (sort of) the townspeople while never quite offering up all the juicy details of her past. Hey. I share what I feel I need to share. The rest is private.
I led them out to the bones and let them do their thing so Andor walked me back to my car and said it looked like that site was pretty old. Maybe fifteen years or so.
“That sounds about right. That round Fendi travel bag was the old pequin stripe from something like 1999. So if it was new when that happened…”
“Hey, that’s helpful. They’re going to dig out the site and see what else is out there. Thanks for calling that in. And Brin? “
Andor leaned towards my open car window with his hands on the ledge. His always steady voice was a balm to my wrangled nerves. “Try and let this go. Don’t dwell on it and let it wreck your day. We’ll see what we can find out and if there’s more to the story, I’ll let you know. Have a good day.”
He tapped the roof of my car twice and I waved as I pulled away and down the road back towards town.
Coming soon… Acceptance: Book 1 of The Leelanau Chronicles.