Wow. The calendar says spring. The weather says spring. But it sure doesn't feel like it. Being cooped up and watching the window for signs of life during ThisSucksAVirus is really depressing and can take the wind out of anyone's sails. Wherever you are, I hope you're healthy and staying safe.
Hoping to make your time at home a tad brighter, I'm offering a chance to win a personalized e-Book of HauGHnt, a chilling tale of what happens when you're damned if you do and damned if you don't--kind of like our choice of going outside or not right now. I'm giving away one e-Book, plus a $10 Amazon gift card in my "Find who?" giveaway.
How to enter:
1. Read the excerpt from HauGHnt (below).
2. Send an email to email@example.com with FIndWho? as the subject line.
3. In your email, answer the following question:
Who does Paul Steele have to find?
Entry deadline: Friday, May 15, 2020, 6:00 pm EST
I'll announce the winner on (or around) Saturday, May 16, 2020. A big thanks goes out to all entrants, and good luck!
Stuff I need to clarify: (you know, that legal crap)
* Only one e-Book and one $10.00 Amazon gift card will be given away to one winner.
* Only correct answers are eligible to win.
* Only one entry per email address of each entrant is allowed. Duplicate email addresses will be disqualified.
* Only one winner from eligible entrants will be selected as the prize winner in a random drawing.
* Giveaway is open only to countries with valid Amazon online shopping websites.
Excerpt from HauGHnt:
We’re all damned, Paul Steele thought. It’s just a question of when.
He stood in room six of Shelton House Hospice. Despite the tidy, comfortable space, the blinds were closed, leaving the room dim and dreary. It seemed fitting for a man’s final hours. Certainly this man’s.
His father lay dying in the hospital bed. The old man’s eyes were shut. Three thin scars on his left cheek were still there, though not as visible as they once were. The cancer had turned his skin olive.
As he looked down at that withering face, he wondered what was going on in that despicable, self-centered mind. Wondered whether the bastard was preparing for the next life, if Norman Steel really knew he was going straight to hell. Wondered how it was that such a sorry sack of shit had managed to live to sixty-six. The bottle should have killed him years ago. If only it had, instead of driving Mom to swallow a bucket of Valium.
They hadn’t spoken in twelve years, not since Paul’s first novel, Bloodlust, was published. When he’d called to tell his father, to finally get that respect that he’d wanted so badly, all he’d gotten was a slurred, “Do you know what time it is, kid? Some of us actually work for a living.” He could still hear the crack of the old man’s phone as it slammed onto the cradle. He hadn’t even had the chance to tell the prick he’d added an e to his last name, just to stick it to him.
He hadn’t wanted to come. If Erica hadn’t begged him to, he wouldn’t have. But happy wife, happy life, right? The prick could rot, for all he cared. Bury the hatchet? Make amends? Get all sappy and cry? Over this man’s death?
He had to stop himself from driving a fist into Norman’s face.
Norman Steel stirred. His eyes opened slowly. “Is … is someone there?”
Paul nearly spoke, but stopped himself. The caregiver had told him that Norman had lost his sight. Now the man was listening, his glossy eyes searching.
“Are you there, Father?” Norman whispered. “Is it time?”
Last Rites, Paul thought. Hadn’t they done that by now? He should check with the caregiver. It was the very least he could do.
He cleared his throat as quietly as he could.
“Father?” Norman said.
Paul hesitated. “It’s … it’s me.”
“Paul. Your son.”
“Puh … Paul,” Norman breathed. “Paul. My son.”
Paul moved closer to the bed. Put a hand on the bed rail. “I’m here.”
Norman raised a trembling hand.
Paul couldn’t bring himself to hold it. Couldn’t bring himself to touch that old olive skin.
Norman waited, and then his hand slipped down. “My son,” he repeated. “My boy.”
My boy? Paul thought. He hadn’t called him that since he was a boy. Before the bottle.
“I didn’t do right,” Norman said. “Not by you. Not by your mother. I didn’t do right. I didn’t do right.”
“It’s okay,” Paul said. It surprised him that he actually meant it. Five minutes ago, he wouldn’t have.
Norman shook his head with a labored effort. “No. No. You don’t understand. But you will. I need you to.” His eyes drifted and slipped shut.
“Nor—” Paul said. “Dad. You need to rest.”
Norman opened his eyes. “No. No. I need to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
Norman caught his breath. “I’ve done a horrible thing.”
Just one? Paul thought. Still, he was curious. “What did you do?”
“It was a long time ago,” Norman said. “I committed a horrible crime.”
You mean besides beating your wife in your drunken stupors, you fucking asshole? Besides driving her to the grave?
Paul tempered his anger. “Go on.”
“It was just after you were born,” Norman said. “I was still a butcher then. Had steadier hands. But the drink called to me, even then. One night … one night it called to me, too much. I met a young woman at the old hangout over on Eighth Street. I—”
“Dad, don’t do this,” Paul said. “It doesn’t matter now.” He didn’t want to hear it. His mother had put up with enough. And now he finds out that this douche-bag fucked around on her, too?
“No! No!” Norman shouted. “You need to know.”
“Fine,” Paul said. Get it off your chest, old man. You’re still going to hell.
Norman breathed heavily. “It was raining. I offered the woman a ride home. I took us down an old road, told her it was a shortcut. I lied. I was drunk and I lied. I pulled over and tried to have my way with her. She fought. Oh, she fought. Scratched my face. She got out, screaming. I chased her into the woods. Strangled her … left her for dead.”
Paul was breathless. He stood silent for the longest time, his pulse rising. Anger. Fear. Confusion.
“Paul?” Norman said softly. “I can hear you breathing. Say something.”
Paul glared at him. “What do you want me to say? You bastard. You bastard.”
“I am,” Norman said.
“Rot in hell,” Paul said, and turned to leave. He nearly made it to the door before his father spoke again.
“There’s more,” Norman said. “So much more.”
Paul turned quickly. “I don’t care, old man.”
Paul stepped back to the bedside. “Whatever demons you’ve got, Norman, I don’t give a fuck.”
“Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
“I’ll tell you what I’m curious about,” Paul said. “I’d like to know how a miserable, murdering prick like you got away with it.”
Norman sniffled. “Her body was found a few weeks later. Another man was arrested for the crime. Got life.”
“How convenient for you.”
“No,” Norman said. “It was the magician. He gave me the spell that gave me my freedom.”
“What are you babbling about?”
“You need to find him,” Norman said.
Norman nodded. His eyes flittered and shut.
“Norman,” Paul snapped. “Norman.”
The old man opened his eyes. A tear slid across his scars. “Find him. Blackwell. Maybe he can stop him.”
Norman raised that quivering hand. “Please. Hold your father’s hand before he’s gone.”
Paul swallowed his disgust. His pride. He placed his hand in his father’s.
Norman looked up at him with those blind eyes. “He’ll be coming, son. A dark man. He’ll come from the shadows.”
Norman Steel drew a final breath. His chest rose slightly and settled. His face went slack.
Paul set down his father’s hand. He felt no sadness in his heart. Felt nothing.
No. He did feel something.Fear.
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