Today we have a special Guest Post
with one of my all time favorite authors
I love all her books. And after her post you will get a chance to win Demonically Tempted a book from one of my favorite series!! I will stop rambling now and let Stacey take over!!
WOO HOO! I’m thrilled to be back at Awesomesauce Book Club, and even happier the next Tess & Kipp book is out in the world. So, here we are in their next adventure, and I thought I’d talk a little bit about Tess and where she’s at. I had a reader contact me the other day saying that Tess seems so different…and yes, she would. It wasn’t by accident that she seemed that way. It’s all about her journey…
DEMONICALLY TEMPTED is much darker than the first book, SUPERNATURALLY KISSED. And I knew that was going to happen. Tess was a woman who ignored her abilities to converse with the dead. Her journey through the first book was coming to terms with that ability. Even that was a huge leap for her. So, what happens when change comes into your life? It either makes things better or makes things worse. For Tess, it’s the latter.
I’ll admit this book was emotional to write for me because I missed the light-hearted Tess I knew in SUPERNATURALLY KISSED. I felt her strain, her stress, and the weight on her shoulders in this book. Tess has fought for a long time not to accept what she can do and then with that acceptance, comes a world of trouble that she wants no part of. We have to remember that Tess wanted none of this—EVER! She wanted a normal life and to be left alone, so when things take a new direction it’s pulling her in ways she’s not mentally prepared for. Not mentally accepting of. And to put it very simply, the world is a dark place around her.
It made her character much more serious. But I always knew Tess would be tortured along the way because accepting her gifts isn’t an easy thing to do, but a complete life change. And any life change, as we all know comes with a rocky road. However, that’s Tess’s journey in her life—her uphill battle to find happiness in this new life of hers.
So, do I love to be cruel to my characters? Sometimes. But more than that I love to send them on an emotional journey. One that we all face. One that makes “the end” just that much better because it was hard to get to. It makes the characters in my eyes more deserving of it. And I love, love, love seeing characters’ lives comes full circle.
Do I feel for Tess? Incredibly, so. My heart went out to her in DEMONICALLY TEMPTED because her struggle was an obvious one. She’s torn in a bunch of directions, has more to deal with than I think any sane person could handle, and she’s got forbidden love on her hands. Nothing in her life is “normal”, and that was all she ever wanted. Does Tess realize the strain in her life? No, I don’t think she does…but she will.
That’s her emotional journey. She’ll have to come full circle to remind herself who she once was at the beginning. She’ll have to realize what she has to give up to have that again, what she has to accept to find her peace, and I’m only too glad to be on that journey with her.
Because one thing is for sure—I’m cheering Tess on and wanting her life to settle, for her be happy in the gifts she has, and finally for her to have that happily ever after.
Frostbite, Book TwoBlurb:
Tess Jennings, now a member of the Memphis Police Department, is on her first cold case. The suspected suicide of Lizbeth Knapp ten years ago isn’t a theory her family accepts—they believe she was murdered.
But the case is only one of Tess’s worries. Ghosts are talking, and word of her abilities rapidly spreads. A dark ghost is terrifying the spirits of Memphis, and she must force the entity to cross over.
Tess doesn’t have to do this alone. Not only does she have her ghost-lover, Kipp McGowen, but the department has brought in a medium. Dane Wolfe might answer all her questions, but he also brings a world of trouble. Will Tess finally have all she’s ever wanted, or will everything she’s vowed to protect be ripped away?
*SERIES DOES NOT CONTAIN STANDALONE STORIES. MUST BE READ IN ORDER. FIRST BOOK IN FROSTBITE SERIES IS SUPERNATURALLY KISSED*
The old farmhouse had seen better days. Not only could it use a coat of paint, but it also needed a dose of love. Dry, brown grass surrounded the home, and the only flowers topped four-foot high weeds. I glanced toward Zach—a cop with the Memphis P.D.—and crinkled my nose. “Someone actually lives here?”
His blue eyes met mine and he ran a hand through his blond, stylish hair and shrugged. “Max said the victim’s sister still resides in the home where the death happened.”
As he lowered his arm, he cringed. The injury still hindered him at times since we solved the cold case of Hannah Reid, especially when the weather was damp like it was today. Heck, only weeks ago he’d been stabbed and shot in the shoulder.
The man who caused Zach’s injury got it worse—by my very hand, no less—but I was glad Hannah’s murderer hadn’t returned to haunt me.
I might have suffered some serious remorse. That is, if I didn’t believe God wouldn’t punish me because I killed a murderer. Brody would’ve done the same to me if I hadn’t gotten to him first. I tried my best to stick with that theory. It saved me from the lingering guilt I might—and would never admit to—have for taking a life.
Sure, there was an internal investigation through the police department, and I had been questioned until my voice went scratchy. But in the end, the shooting had been declared self-defense, and I was perfectly happy with that. Or so I told myself every day until I finally believed it.
Besides, the cops that I now worked alongside had my back throughout the investigation, and nothing would change that. We’d grown close through the time spent during the Reid case, and even closer in the weeks that followed.
“I’m going to see if Lizbeth is out here somewhere,” Kipp—a ghost, and my lover—said, dragging me from my thoughts.
Yes, our relationship was complicated and it’s insanely sick that I’m in love with a ghost, but I wasn’t about to fight my heart’s desire. “If you find her, then come tell us, immediately. The less time I have to spend in that house, the better.” Scummy houses and me didn’t mesh well. I like cleanliness and hate spiders.
“He’s going off on his own then?” Zach asked.
As of late, Zach had caught on to our conversations better. Seeing that I was the only lucky one—or not so lucky as I viewed it—who could hear ghosts’ communication was annoying, at best.
Maybe I gave more descriptions in my answers than I normally did, or maybe he’d gotten used to having to fill in the blanks. Whatever it was, I appreciated the ease of our conversations now. The back and forth got on my last nerve.
As Kipp strode away, I stared at his scrumptious ass filling his dark blue jeans. The man might be a ghost, but he was sex packaged into muscular goodness. One of his eyes was chocolate brown, while the other was crystal blue, and he had untidy brown hair that no matter how messy only made him look more attractive. And he was all mine.
I blinked, pulling myself away from my ogling, and frowned at Zach. “Ready?”
His gaze danced with laughter, yet a smile never appeared. “For someone who accepted a job with the department, you would think you’d hold more excitement.”
I snorted. “Just because I can officially call myself part of the police department—which is absurd, by the way—doesn’t mean I still don’t have hesitations.”
My gift took a while to adjust to but I knew when to see reason. Helping ghosts that had met a horrible fate wasn’t a bad job. That is, as long as I didn’t run into any more crazy-ass killers who wanted to make me a ghost, too.
Zach approached the house, and I trailed after him, not showing half the confidence he carried in his gait. I climbed the old steps, slightly worried the wood would break under my weight, but seeing Zach went first and the man was all power, the wooden planks could support my slender frame.
He knocked on the door. And a moment later, it opened to a woman who matched the house. She looked to be in her fifties, but the dark circles under her eyes and the hunch to her shoulders made her look well worn.
“Ms. Knapp?” Zach asked.
“Yes.” Her voice dripped with despair. “Are you the detectives?”
Zach nodded. “Is it still all right if we come in?”
She widened the door, and moved aside. “Please call me Anna.”
“Thank you, Anna.” Zach entered the home. “We appreciate you taking the time to discuss Lizbeth with us.”
I hesitantly followed and tried my damndest not to let my repulsion in the house show. Not an easy feat.
“Please, will you have a seat?” She waved out to a couch that I wouldn’t sit on even if it had a layer of plastic over top of it.
I held back my desire to gag, and twirled my finger in my brown, shag-cut hair. “I’m okay here, thanks.”
Zach grimaced at me before he took a seat and shed all emotion as he turned to Anna. “We’re aware that this will be difficult for you to discuss, but we need you to remember anything you can from when Lizbeth died.”
“I’m not sure I can tell you anything that…” She peeked at the ceiling. I followed her gaze seeing dark brown stains, and restrained my shudder. “…Max, was that who I spoke with?”
“That’s right. He’s the sergeant.” Zach smiled softly. “He told us the necessary information, but I’ve learned it’s always best to hear it directly for myself.”
In all actuality, I hadn’t heard all the details except that I was officially on my first cold-case file.
“Well,” Anna paused, glancing down at her fingers as she fiddled them. “It started a year before Lizbeth’s death. She began to act differently.”
Zach pulled his pad of paper and pen from his pocket, and flipped the notebook open. “Can you explain that in more detail?”
I clasped my hands in front of me. Just because I was now part of team didn’t mean I would start acting like a cop in any official capacity. Let’s be serious now. I wasn’t really a detective.
Anna continued, “She’d talk to me about an evil presence around her.”
“Evil?” I gasped.
“I know how funny it sounds. At the time, it did to me, too. But looking back, Lizbeth just didn’t seem like herself, and maybe I should’ve listened to her.” Anna crossed her arms and shifted in her seat. “She used to be a very happy young woman. Full of life and spirit, but all of a sudden she seemed so dark.”
I gave my head a shake, trying to make sense out of her nonsense. “Dark how?”
“Depressed.” Anna exhaled. “She never came out of her room, and totally withdrew from life.”
“She was suicidal, then?” Zack asked with a gentle tone.
“I suppose you’d draw that conclusion from what I’m telling you now, but the truth is I never took her to be the type.” She gave a knowing look. “Like I said, she was well adjusted and quite happy.”
“But you just said she was depressed,” I countered.
“Yes, I did, but still, Lizbeth was a fighter. She used to tell me that this evil presence was overtaking her soul, and she tried so hard to fight against it.”
Zach made a face. I made one of my own. We were speaking English, yet gibberish would have made more sense. Seeing that we were getting nowhere, and I suspected Anna had lost her mind a long time ago, I moved along. “Did her condition get worse?”
“It got so bad, my parents had no idea what to do. You have to remember it was a different time. The medications for depression that exist today didn’t back then.” Tears welled in her eyes, but they cleared just as quick. “My parents took her to a doctor, even admitted her into a hospital, but my mother couldn’t manage to leave her there. She thought love would bring Lizbeth out of her trouble.”
“Clearly, it didn’t.”
“That’s right, it only got worse. Lizbeth started to hurt herself.”
Zach’s eyebrows rose. “You mean, caused injuries to herself?”
“No one ever knew—and Lizbeth never said—how she did it. But she had lacerations all over her back.”
Zach scribbled notes, and then peered at Anna. “Did Lizbeth ever say anything to you about the wounds?”
Those tears now weren’t so easily pushed away. “She was adamant she had never caused them.”
One conclusion came to my mind. “No one believed her, did they?”
“Who else would have done it?” Anna retorted. “At that point, Lizbeth hadn’t left the house in over six months.”
Zach stared at Anna, his gaze probing. I inhaled deeply, understanding the frustration. The dust in the room settled into my nostrils. I rubbed at the tickling in my nose, and considered what she had told us.
It seemed to me Lizbeth had clearly been suicidal. I’d watched television shows were people cut themselves. Maybe this was all that was going on here. Case closed.
Zach scribbled a few more lines of notes then scrutinized Anna. “How did Lizbeth act in the days before she died?”
“Strange.” Anna wiped the tears from her face. “She always had this dark cloud over her, but in the week before her death it became much worse. She’d stopped eating and we had to force liquids down her throat.” Her chin quivered, more tears spilling. “But it was in her eyes where I saw her demise.”
“What did you see?” I whispered, not totally sure I wanted to hear her answer.
“She was already dead.”
Zach coughed. “Pardon?”
“Lizbeth was no longer in her body.” Anna shook her head, sending more tears rushing down her cheeks. “I know that is hard to believe, but that’s the only way I can describe it. She had already left.”
“Where did she go?” I urged.
“I have no idea. All I know is she was gone.”
My assumptions that Anna was off her rocker deepened. One question would solidify if I believed she held any sanity at all. “Why do you stay here…in this house?”
Anna’s eyes swam in sadness. “I’m afraid that Lizbeth is still here, and if I leave she’ll be all alone. I don’t have the money to fix the house. Since her death—times have been hard.”
Wasn’t I a shit? Her answer was clear and concise, and, well…I could understand her reasons. If she were crazy, I assumed her purpose for staying here would be, too.
Zach closed his notebook, and placed it into the pocket of his black slacks. “Would you take us outside to the water and discuss what happened the night she died?”
“Of course.” Anna stood from the couch and approached the front door.
Zach gestured toward the hall. I took the hint. Since Kipp hadn’t returned yet, it confirmed he hadn’t found Lizbeth’s ghost. Before we left I needed to check out the house to see if she remained. “Do you mind if I use your washroom?”
“Not at all.” Anna dabbed her tears with a tissue, and then raised her chin. “It’s down the hall—third door on the right.”
“Thank you.” I headed toward the hallway while Zach continued to ask Anna another question as they exited the front door.
The hallway was in a similar condition to the rest of the house, completely in shambles. The flowered wallpaper was peeling off the walls and the color of it resembled something not worth discussing. I wrinkled my nose, catching a whiff of mold, and continued walking.
To my left was an open door to a bedroom. I peeked in and clothes were thrown over the light blue bedspread. Furniture was scarce, but the room seemed lived in. It did appear slightly more taken care of than the rest of the home, which drew the conclusion that this had to be Anna’s bedroom.
I scanned the room and couldn’t see Lizbeth’s ghost, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t there. She could be hiding. “Lizbeth,” I whispered.
No one responded.
Leaving the room, I carried on down the hall to another bedroom on the right, but as I called out her name again, I received the same response.
The bathroom was to my left and another room lay on the right. The door was closed and I did my best to keep quiet as I opened it. I couldn’t hear Zach or Anna in the house anymore, but I didn’t want to chance it. I pushed the door open and it creaked.
I peered in and my heart skipped a beat. “Creepy.” The room wasn’t in the same condition as the house. It looked brand new, even the paint on the walls appeared fresh, and Lizbeth’s name was written in wooden letters above the dresser. Of all the rooms to keep nice, Anna chose this one. I couldn’t decide if that was sweet or freaky.
“Lizbeth,” I whispered again only to be met with silence. I’d never had a ghost hide from me before, usually they were so intrigued by my ability they always approached.
After silence greeted me, I left the room and closed the door. I headed for the bathroom and went straight for the sink. At least the room was clean. Yes, in horrible condition, but the blue bathtub had been scrubbed recently.
At the sink, I turned on the faucet to wash the icky feeling off my hands. I wanted to get home and have a shower. Being in this house for even a few minutes had left my skin feeling filthy and downright gross.
I waited a moment to let the water warm since the pipes thumped indicating trouble stirred, and just as I placed my hands under the water, a voice startled me. “Why are you in my house?”
I looked over my shoulder and spotted a middle-aged ghost dressed in a double-breasted black coat, white dress shirt, and fitted tanned breeches. “I beg your pardon,” I snapped. “But I don’t deserve to be glared at—or spoken to in that nasty tone—when I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“You can hear me?” His eyes widened. “You can see me?”
“Yes I can.” I returned the glower he not-so-kindly offered me. “Why are you so rude?”
“Classic.” I snorted. “The ghost is beside himself. Isn’t it supposed to be the live person who is shocked when they see a ghost?”
Now he was being just downright mean. I shut off the faucet, and with the water dripping off my fingertips, I turned to face him. “Do I look dead to you?”
He gave me a once over with an expression that left something to be desired. “No, but why are you glowing?”
“Yes, well,” I wiped my damp hands on my skinny jeans, “that’s my ability.”
He examined my gold hue—or so I’d been told that is how it appeared—and by his huge eyes this revelation stunned him. “And this ability is how you can see me?”
I wasn’t in any mood to get into this with him. A change in topic was in order. “Have you seen a young girl around here?”
“No,” he responded without haste.
I nibbled my lip, considering that. “Not ever, or not lately?”
If Lizbeth died in misery, it made no sense that her ghost wasn’t here. Ghosts always lingered and needed help to cross over. Someone who committed suicide wouldn’t be a settled soul. And most of the ghosts I’d met returned to a place that had meant something to them. Considering Lizbeth was young when she died, I had assumed she’d come home. Where else would she have gone?
“How long have you been here?” I asked.
“I have no idea.” He paused, thoughtful, then said, “I think it’s been quite some time.”
His response didn’t surprise me. Ghosts never remembered much except what they needed to, to move on. Seeing that this ghost would lead me nowhere, I figured I might as well try and help one ghost today. “Do you want to cross over?”
He scowled. “Are you threatening me?”
“Good God.” I dismissed him with a flick of my hand. “You’re foul. I’m asking to be nice. I can help you, if you’d like.”
“This is my house. I don’t want to leave. I want you to.”
I grunted. “Trust me, I want the same damn thing.”
He gestured toward the door in what might have seemed like a bow of respect, if his tight features hadn’t thoroughly flipped me off. “Best you see yourself out.”
I had just about enough of his bad attitude. I pointed at him. “You better not go scaring Anna. She’s been through enough.”
“I don’t scare her.” He scoffed. “She’s a lovely woman and I don’t mind her sharing the home with me.”
“I’m glad to hear it, but if I find out you’re frightening her, I will Ghostbuster your ass. Got it, jacko?” I flicked my hair over my shoulder, not waiting for him to respond because frankly, I didn’t give a shit.
I exited the bathroom, heard him grumbling something after me. I really couldn’t blame him, though. If I’d been dead since the eighteen hundreds, from the looks of his clothing, I’d be pissy too.
Stacey Kennedy’s novels are lighthearted fantasy with heart-squeezing, thigh-clenching romance, and they even give you a good chuckle every now and again. But within the stories you’ll also find fast-paced action, life-threatening moments and a big bad villain who needs to be destroyed. Her urban fantasy/paranormal and erotic romance series have hit Amazon Kindle and All Romance eBooks bestseller lists.
Stacey welcomes comments from readers. You can find her at www.staceykennedy.com.
You can check out my review of Demonically Tempted HERE
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