In a month darkness is coming will be available for download on Kindle Unlimited and for purchase on Kindle. Paperback will also be available shortly after on Amazon (no link for that yet.) I will have also signed copies available at the Bizarro Fiction Shop, which you can pre-order now to give me an idea of how many to order; shipping will be approximately three weeks.
While you wait, please enjoy the following excerpt.
An awkward silence came across them. Jamison returned to the hansom cab. Though she knew his sacrifice was out of love to protect her and their child, Elise felt lost and alone.
Petula went to the door, peering inside with a shake of the head, then pulled the door closed.
“You can’t stay here tonight,” Petula said, her tone losing its compassion. “You’ll sleep at my house until this is sorted out, and you’ve laid Conrad to rest.”
Elise scrunched her brow, because she’d never heard Petula call her husband Conrad, she’d always used Mr. Parks.
“Don’t worry about things for Michael,” Petula continued, placing her hand on the small of Elise’s back, guiding her to the hansom cab. “I have plenty of diapers, and bottles, and blankets.”
“Thank you,” Elise whispered, gently placing Michael into Petula’s arms so she could climb inside.
The woman lifted the baby to Elise, waited for Sylvie to join her, then climbed in with them, closing the door behind her.
“I know I vowed to be done with my stories, but this is something we cannot allow the world to know,” Petula said. “The rest of the town must think it was a wild animal, and I’ll be sure no one questions it. Is that clear?”
“What about his knife?” Elise asked, watching her son sleep in her arms. “Wild animals don’t normally carry knives, or is that something new I haven’t heard until now?”
“I will have Jamison retrieve it before anyone else gets there.”
“You’re not worried that he’ll say something?” Sylvie glared at Petula.
“Not a word, unless he wants to return to the slavers down South.”
“Always the good Christian woman,” Sylvie said, shaking her head. “Someone is bound to know the truth, Father Marten for one.”
“He has a vow to keep what he hears to himself,” Petula said, her face turning pink. “Do you have a better idea?”
Sylvie opened her mouth, but Elise put her hand on hers, and said, “She’s right. This must remain between us.” Elise paused. “Felicity might put it together.”
“She won’t say a word.” Petula’s features softened, focusing on Elise. “I don’t know how you are staying so strong after all of this, I’d be a wreck if I had lost Roland.”
“I have to focus on Michael. He’s all I have of Conrad.”
“Still, you need to grieve,” Sylvie added.
“I will, Sylvie, I will.” Elise fought the tears threatening to form. “When we arrive at your house, will you send for Margaret?”
“Of course.” Petula wanted to cry herself, the horror of what had happened in Ashcroft was more than she had ever expected.
With her guests comfortable in the sitting room, Petula went to the horse yard to speak with Jamison before she called for help to retrieve Conrad’s body. His eyes widened with disgust and fear, he’d never in a million years dreamed she’d ever request something so heinous but didn’t disobey.
Petula waited on the back porch, and when she saw him emerge from the dark trees, she returned inside.
“Janice,” Petula said dramatically. “Please get as many men as possible. Something has happened in the woods.”
“What is it ma’am?” Janice said, coming down the stairs.
“A bear or some animal has attacked someone, and Jamison needs help getting them out.”
Janice darted through the front door to do as she was told.
Father Marten came a little less than an hour later. Standing in the foyer with Petula, he asked, “Is Roland back from Chicago?”
“No,” Petula said. “Not until tomorrow. That’s why the ladies are here, we were having tea and playing cards.” He glanced in the room, finding no evidence of either. “That’s when we heard the noises. Have they gotten him out of the woods? Is it anyone we know.”
Elise’s stomach churned, knowing the priest was seeing through the woman’s story.
“Yes,” he said, wishing for a drink of bourbon. “I’m sorry to say, it’s Mr. Parks.”
The words hit Elise, causing the well that she’d fought to keep from overflowing to erupt. Covering her face, wailing, the memory of him taking his life, replayed in her mind.
Margaret and Sylvie rubbed her back unable to hold back tears of their own. Father Marten watched the women not understanding why they were playing along with Petula’s charade.
“Roland and I will make sure everything is taken care of,” Petula said, squatting before Elise after the Priest had gone.
The role Elise had been forced to play, made her angry, and she wanted to take her hands, and press them into Petula’s throat, but she kept them covering her face, not wanting anyone to see the sorrow filling her or the rage attempting to overthrow it.