DO YOU HAVE DEMONS?
Today we have the uber-talented Rick R. Reed with us. Rick's writing talent is unsurpassed, and his books are filled with love, horror and suspense. I think you'll enjoy his step away from the everyday.
Here's a little from Rick:
Well, it's finally here and available both in e-book and paperback editions: my fifteenth book (and fourth with MLR Press), A DEMON INSIDE.
This book continues my goal of combining both the horror and the romance genre into one compelling read. A Demon Inside is as much a romance as it is a chilling horror novel. I believe it will satisfy readers of both genres equally.
So here's a little bit about the book, along with an excerpt.
A DEMON INSIDE
Rick R. Reed
ISBN 978-1-60820-165-5 (print) $14.99
ISBN 978-1-60820-166-2 (ebook) $6.99
Hunter Beaumont doesn't understand his grandmother's deathbed wish: "Destroy Beaumont House." He'd never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother's wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.
But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And who---or what---he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man salvation...or is he the source of Hunter's terror?
Hunter Beaumont awakened drenched in sweat, striped sheets twisted around him. His heart pounded and an irrational fear coursed through him, disproportionate to the calmness of the dark bedroom surrounding him.
He sat up, rubbing his hand over his slick face, and reassured himself with the same words countless nightmare sufferers have told themselves since the dawn of time: “It was only a dream; it was only a dream.” But it was that same dream again. The one that was part memory, part horror movie. The one where he was camping with his parents and he can see the glow of the campfire flickering on their faces. It’s a lovely scene, at first, romantic and warm. His parents’ voices are hushed, his mother’s laugh tinkling, as the two of them huddle together, the fire keeping the darkness of the woods at bay. But then a shadow falls over his mother and father’s faces and their eyes turn in an instant from contented and adoring to terrified. Then come the screams…and the blood, all the blood. That was when Hunter always awakened.
But this time something more than the nightmare had awakened him. Was someone knocking on his bedroom door? Yes, there it was again, an almost tentative tapping. In his post nightmare state, Hunter imagined the worst—that a monster lurked outside, something needing to be invited in. And once inside, it would rip him limb from limb, gorging on his flesh and drinking his blood.
Hunter allowed himself an embarrassed laugh and attempted to pull himself together. He sat up straighter against the headboard and used a corner of the top sheet to dab at the beads of sweat still gathering on his forehead. “Yes?” he called out.
With a creak, the door opened a crack and Lori Schmidbauer, his grandmother’s nurse, peered in. Even backlit, Hunter could see the kindness in the woman’s dark brown eyes and the concern and sadness on her face. She glanced down the hall and then back toward him, gave him a tentative smile.
“Hunter? Honey, I’m so sorry to wake you. Can I come in?”
Hunter pulled the sheet up further, covering his chest. A new kind of alarm began inside, the dread beginning to churn like something alive in his guts. “Is everything okay?”
Lori didn’t respond. She simply tiptoed into the room and sat down gingerly on the edge of his bed. Hunter leaned over and switched on the nightstand lamp. Lori still wore her scrubs and her curly brown hair was pulled loosely into a ponytail. She looked tired. Hunter repeated his question and added to it. “Is everything okay? Is Nana all right?”
Lori clutched his hand, squeezed it, and let it go. “I don’t think so, dear.” She stared off at a point over Hunter’s head and he could see her eyes glistened with tears.
It felt like his stomach dropped a couple of feet. He bit his lip. “Is it time?”
Lori drew in a quivering breath before responding. “Yeah. I think it is.” She stood. “You better come now if you want to say goodbye.”
“Okay,” Hunter whispered, barely able to find breath to put behind the single word. For his whole twenty-two year life, his grandmother had been his savior, protector, shield, comforter, mother, father, playmate, and teacher. There actually was a monster outside his door, and its name was cancer. That monster was about to rip all he held dear away from him.
Lori waited on the bed, watching him. He could tell she was trying to gauge his reaction, to see if perhaps he would need a hug. Lori was the kind of nurse that was free with her hugs. A good woman. But right now, Hunter needed a moment to himself and he told her.
“Sure, sweetheart. Just don’t be too long.” She got up and paused at the door. “I don’t know how much time we have.” Sorrowfully, she nodded, her lips coming together in a line indicating sympathy. She took her time leaving his room, then he heard her quickened pace as she hurried down the long hallway to his nana’s bedroom.
Hunter didn’t know if he could do this. Part of him thought if he just stayed here in bed, he could delay or prevent the inevitable. If he could only freeze time at this moment, he would never have to face a world without Nana in it. He shook his head and chastised himself for being weak.
Feeling numb, Hunter roused himself from bed. He slid into the jeans and sweater he had left on the rocker by the window. He looked outside, where the inky darkness revealed nothing, a void. He knew Lake Michigan was out there and in the morning it would reveal itself in aqua or gray, depending on the quality of light, but right now it seemed as though the huge body of water had vanished. The night’s darkness pressed against his windows like something palpable, aching to get inside.
Barefoot, he padded down the hall to his grandmother’s bedroom. Ever since he had lost his parents at the age of five, this had been his home, and suddenly the big old house seemed strange and unfamiliar, as if he were seeing it for the first time. Here was the portrait of his father, painted when Daddy was sixteen, looking young and vibrant, and not that much different from Hunter: the same smile and auburn hair. And there was the old Oriental rug, its pinks, blues, and grays faded, leading the way to the door to his grandmother’s bedroom, which yawned open. Hunter stood for a long while, staring at that doorway and breathing in the smell of sickness that emanated from the room. “Go,” he whispered.
He ducked into the room. Nana lay propped up on her old four-poster bed, the one she had had since marrying Hunter’s grandfather about six decades ago. She looked small and shriveled, vulnerable and nearly lost among the pillows, blankets, and quilts that never could keep her quite warm. Her hair looked like gray straw and parts of her scalp peeked through. A few days ago, they had taken her off the IVs and oxygen, knowing there was no hope. The medical detritus stood in a corner of the room, looking like defeated soldiers.
Lori stood near the bed. When she saw Hunter, she leaned down and whispered to Nana, whose eyes fluttered open at the sound of the nurse’s voice. Although she had not been completely coherent for the past couple of weeks, a combination of the morphine she took to manage her pain and her own failing memory, her eyes brightened when she saw her grandson. She even managed a weak smile, which vanished almost as soon as it arrived, as if the effort to maintain it was just too much for the old woman.
It probably was.
Lori stepped away from the bed and donned a fleece she had left on a chair nearby. She hugged herself and then said, “I’ll leave you two alone. I’m going to run downstairs and call Dr. Blackstock.” She squeezed Hunter’s shoulder as she left the room.
Hunter sat down beside his grandmother on her bed. “Nana?”
“Hunter,” Nana croaked, her voice only an echo of the vibrancy it once had. She tried to lift her hand to his face but it appeared she didn’t have the strength, letting it drop back down to the bedding. She closed her eyes and swallowed; the latter action looked painful and Nana winced.
“Don’t talk, Nana. If it hurts, don’t talk.” He picked up one of her withered hands and covered it with both of his own, trying to impart some of his own warmth to the frail appendage, feeling now as if it had been made of parchment and bird bones. She nodded, staring up at him. She licked her lips. “I just want to go to sleep now. I’m ready. Can you tell the nurse?”
“Sure.” Hunter smoothed her hair away from her forehead and leaned in close. He bit his lips, not wanting to cry in front of the old woman. What if she didn’t know this was the end? He couldn’t be so cruel as to reveal that to her. And even as he thought these things, he knew—deep in his heart—that Nana knew perfectly well what was happening.
“Sleep. That sounds good.” Nana’s eyelids fluttered and closed. Hunter thought she had fallen asleep and simply sat with her for several minutes, holding her hand. Finally, he thought maybe he should creep away, hoping against hope that this was not the final moment. Lori could have been wrong after all.
But then Nana opened her eyes, and Hunter thought he needed to speak while there was still time and before he gave in to the tears and sobs that were clamoring inside. He gathered the old woman up in his arms and pulled her close. Placing his lips close to her ears, he thought for a moment, grasping for something profound to say, but finally decided on only:
“I love you so much.”
“I love you, too,” Nana whispered. She slumped back against the pillows.
Hunter covered his mouth. Was she gone? But her eyes opened once more, about half-mast, seeking him out even though his face was only inches from her own.
“Beaumont House,” she croaked.
“Beaumont House. Promise me you’ll burn it.”
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I'll be back tomorrow. Until then...
Sweet as Honey...Hotter than Hell