Title: Seasons of Time
Author: Miriam Khan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 2
Book Heat Level: 1
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Seventeen-year-old Lara Voight is forced to spend the summer with her stepmom's grandmother, but a ghostly boy in the woods and tales of a nineteenth century murder at the mansion aren’t exactly what she expected.
With her father and his new wife busy with their career, seventeen-year old Lara Voight has no choice but to accept her trip to Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. Her host, Gracen, is as cold and devious as her granddaughter, and Lara continues to experience a burning sensation. The only thing to soothe the horrid pain is the phantom scent that is familiar but hard to recall. When a local girl befriends Lara, she informs her of a girl named Penelope Le Rose who was murdered at the mansion. It turns out it was once known as Montague house.
Lara explores the story further. Gracen is even willing to help, going as far as to reveal a portrait of Penelope who looks just like Lara. Searching for further clues, Lara finds Penelope’s diary and becomes haunted by visions of a ghostly boy who seems angered at her growing affection for Sheba's brother, Will.
The more Lara reads the diary, the more she begins to realize that certain people resemble those described. One of whom could be Penelope’s killer; back to finish her look-alike.
The sun shifted to the right and I could see the miles of dusty roads and fewer cars up ahead.
My step-mom, Susan, who now even controlled Dad, had insisted I stay with her grandmother Gracen for the summer. My trip to Pennsylvania was a command I had to adhere to. My teeth had been gritted throughout most of the drive from Delaware.
She had practically packed my bags and shooed me out the door this morning. Dad, as usual, wasn’t there to argue in my defense. Not that he would have anyway. He was a renowned surgeon and was probably placing a new kidney donor as I chugged out of our driveway; my suitcases packed and my date of return unknown.
Ever since Mom left to be with her personal trainer five years ago, Dad barely looked at me. He just noticed the poodle haired blonde he liked to call Flick. The matchstick woman he rushed all the way home to have candlelight dinners with as I sulked in my room.
I had to stop at the nearest gas station that looked as if it hadn’t been visited since the seventies before setting off again. It wasn’t long before dotted aspens and maples stopped concealing the entryway to Gracen's large estate. Terra-cotta stone and the edges of a lavish roof were just about visible. I had been told Gracen came from a long line of successful merchants and oil diggers. It must have been why she considered herself a cut above the rest of the residents of Spring Mills. Her inherited wealth was the only thing to keep me from pulling up and fisting the back seat.
I parked my cherry red Mustang in the pebble driveway and took in the place. The mansion was breathtaking, complete with a cylinder roof crowned and decorated with a golden leaf detail. It reminded me of a centerpiece to a castle.
But the smile plastered on my face vanished when I got out of the car. I sensed I wasn’t alone. It felt as though someone was watching me, and closely, as if from right behind. When I spun around, there was nobody. I rubbed the goose bumps popping up all over my arms and shivered, gasping when a fiery heat crawled from my feet to my neck. The air turned sour as if the flowers in the crescent shaped garden were decomposing. The added smell of ash and smoke stung my eyes, and somehow the driveway darkened, the ground became paved. Horse hooves clamored and large wheels of a carriage creaked to a halt just as screams echoed from the nearby forest. Flames then licked at my waist. I tried to scream.
“Lara. Lara Voight!”
I turned and almost stumbled. The flames left me as a man in a black tuxedo came ambling down the stone steps: rake thin and with a silver goatee. I finally managed to swallow.
"Lara Voight?" he repeated, getting closer.
"Y-e-s," I stuttered.
“Where are your things?" he asked, looking at my beat up car.
I tried to catch my breath. It was if the wind had been taken out of me. My legs shook.
What happened? Was it heat stroke?
Five hours on the road could probably do that to a person. I could sue Susan. After all, it was her idea I came all the way to Pennsylvania while she “worked things out” with Dad. I was so easy to manipulate.
"In the trunk,” I muttered.
The weary man shook his head, not caring that I was panting.
“Who are you anyway?" I asked.
"Henry." He held out his hand. His long, boney fingers reminded me of the creature from Alien. “You can give me the keys. I’ll take care of your luggage."
I shakily did as he asked. It wasn’t like I had anything to steal.
“You need to go and see Mrs. Miller before she takes her afternoon nap,” he added gruffly. “You're late as it is."
His aggravated tone wasn’t appreciated, but it was helping me to feel less disturbed by what had just happened.
Who was he? Why was there a strange old man in Gracen’s home? Was he a live in lover no one knew about?
"Who are you to Gracen?" I queried, trying to match his clipped voice.
"Her chau-ffer," he said, as if I was too dim to know what one was. He carelously dragged my luggage out of the trunk and waved me away. Actually waved.
What a jerk?.
With a shake of my head, I ran up the stone steps to blow off steam before I said something I could regret. I couldn’t make an enemy on arrival.