About the bookTwo Chilling Novellas of Horror
from Peter Giglio and Catherine Cavendish
A Spark in the Darkness by Peter Giglio
On the final day of her second life, Edie returns to the family she abandoned five years earlier. Edie is not merely a vampire, she’s a Goddess…one of the vanishing race of beings whom the vampires need to keep their kind alive. But being dead has taught her much about life, and Edie’s determined to destroy the evil thing she’s become. For something has changed within her, something almost alive in her dead soul. But can a single spark in the darkness be enough to save all she holds dear?
Cold Revenge by Catherine Cavendish
Some dinner invitations are best ignored...
For no apparent reason, Nadine, Maggie, Gary, and Nick are invited to
dinner at the lavish home of top fashion writer, Erin Dartford. But why has she invited them? Why doesn’t she want her guests to mingle? And just what is it about the mysterious Erin that makes them want to run for their lives? Little do they know that as they prepare to eat their first course, an evil as old as mankind is about to be unleashed. And revenge really is a dish best served cold...
An excerpt from the book
Five Years Ago
Slumped into the corner booth of a dingy truck-stop tavern, Edie contemplated the ruin of her life as she emptied a cold, cheap beer. Slamming down the empty bottle, she wondered if enough change lay scattered among her dirty clothes for another drink. Probably not, she thought, stealing a futile glance at her suitcase. Besides, one more beer would hardly grant the oblivion she desired. Closer to home than she’d been in a long time—although the word “home” held no absolute value anymore—Edie had finally hit rock-bottom.
She wasn’t ashamed of anything she’d done; that wasn’t her style. But alone in darkness, honesty came easy. In this rare state of being, she knew herself a failure.
She pulled a bent cigarette from her dwindling pack and hung it from her mouth. As she fished a lighter from her purse, a spark erupted in the gloom.
One glance at the stranger—shadows dancing across his features from the flame of the Zippo he held—and her mind screamed wrong. Hair too short, tall, and dressed in a button-down oxford and pressed khakis, he looked like the kind of guy who wanted to impress others. A real douche bag.
“The wages of despair and hopelessness are shame,” he said.
Do I really look that pathetic? she asked herself.
It was true she didn’t possess the naïve enthusiasm or the buoyant façade of her ex-husband, Colin. But optimism never helped him, nor did it lead to anyone’s ultimate salvation. Not that salvation or love or anything the world had to offer appealed to her.
It had been a long time since she’d seen Colin, and she wondered if their time apart had been kind to him. When she called from California, his voice sounded different, weaker than she remembered. Who could blame him? His dreams had been dashed.
And so have mine.
Truth was, her dreams were as much a fantasy as any hatched in her ex-husband’s misguided mind. At least Colin, though a benevolent slave to a sinister system, had a big heart.
Lighting her cigarette, she noticed the looming stranger also had something big, bulging in his pants, a thing she regularly valued more than human kindness. I’m not ashamed of what I am, she reminded herself again.
She managed a weak, crooked smile, took a deep drag from her cigarette, then nervously bit her lower lip. A long time passed before she responded to the stranger’s glib observation. In those slow minutes, he impressed her with sturdy, motionless persistence.
Exhaling smoke, she replied, “You’re painfully clever. Did you just come up with that, or do you curl up at night with self-help books?”
He laughed. “Well, I didn’t want to lead with ‘what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?’”
She shook her head, turning away. Staring at a dirty wall, as much a mirror as any she’d recently looked at, she muttered, “What do you want?”
He slid into the other side of the booth, grinning like a child on Christmas morning. Holding his palms out, fingers splayed: “You look like you could use a little help.”
While she didn’t think a greater truth had ever been spoken, no one had ever really helped her. How could this man, this respectable looking man, hope to put things right for her? What she wanted—freedom from the shackles of polite society—lay too far out of reach. Dreaming of a world where painful honesty didn’t victimize, where dark observations carried value, was a losing hand she’d already played. But she succeeded on one count: shunning wealth and attachments. Material possessions and love are the opiates of bourgeois conformists, she often railed, audience comprised of anyone who would listen. And now, thanks to her victory, she was broke and alone.
She abhorred dishonesty in others, yet the thought of speaking the truth while sober terrified her. The frequency of, and lack of necessity for, her lies bordered on pathological.
Known for abrupt indifference, she casually distanced anyone who dared offer the slightest criticism. She detested those who held her to a mirror, trying to shame her as if she were a feral child. Wasn’t the misfortune of being alive penalty enough?
I’m a real case study, she reflected. The Apathetic Bitch.
It was all “poor me” bullshit, and she knew it.
Someone’s offering to help, she reminded herself. Time to yank your head out of your ass.
After a long hesitation—the stranger once again remaining motionless and silent—she turned to face him. “And you’re in a generous mood today, is that it?”
“I’m always in a generous mood.” He flagged down a waitress, ordered two beers.
“Make mine a vodka tonic,” she interrupted. As the husky waitress ambled away, Edie began to study him more closely and added, “As long as you’re buying.”
Despite his flaws, he was remarkably suave. Strong. Commanding. A nice change of pace from the wimps she’d held court with in Southern California, could’ve-been, should’ve-been screenwriters and actors. Why she ever thought she would find what she was looking for in LA—why anyone still believed the rainbow ended there—was beyond her.
“So, what do they call you?” he asked.
“They don’t call me anymore. That’s the problem. But my name’s Brandi. What’s yours?”
Smiling, he nodded. “So, what are you running from, Brandi?”
The question rang odd, not where are you headed? Or where are you from? She lowered her head. Long black hair falling across her cheeks, she gazed up. “What makes you think I’m running?”
He shrugged. “Educated guess.”
“Salt Lake City… Bad relationship.” She studied his eyes, trying to determine if he spotted the lie. What she gleaned instead was dispassion for the sound of truth. He was a pleasure seeker—she knew the look well, was religiously compatible with it.
But she needed to divorce her mind from temptations of momentary pleasure. She had more important business to tend to—a much needed cash infusion. Parents long dead, only one person would give her what she asked for, one person who still loved her unconditionally. And she was on the way to meet him now.
Colin would help without saving her, without asking painful questions, without making demands. Most importantly, he wouldn’t make her feel small. He was the only person with any right to remind her of past transgressions, and he wouldn’t; it wasn’t his style.
“Five hundred bucks—hot damn!”
Edie glanced at the redneck who’d barked those words. He flung his dirty John Deere cap in the air like he’d hit a Vegas jackpot. From the looks of his wardrobe, a stained flannel shirt and denim overalls with a broken strap, the guy could use some new threads. He spun on a bar stool, waving a Keno card above his head like a condemned man with a death row reprieve.
“Lucky bastard,” Edie grumbled.
“Do you like to gamble?” her companion asked, arching an eyebrow as he glanced at the redneck.
“Life’s a gamble. Christ, we’re all gamblers.”
“I’m not.” Turning his less-than-impressed attention away from the celebrating oaf, he leaned forward, smile widening. “So Brandi, you don’t strike me as the type of girl who’d do well in a place like Utah.”
“What can I say? Seemed like the worst place to go, so I went.”
Their waitress placed drinks on the table, heaving a death-rattle sigh. “Eight-fifty.”
He nodded, paid for the drinks, and dispatched her with a hefty tip, pale blue eyes never leaving Edie. “So you make a habit of going places others don’t?” He ran a steady hand through golden locks of finely coiffed hair. Fingers played like spider legs down his smooth cheek, then gripped his sharp chin.
“No.” She hesitated for another moment, looking for the right words. “I go places they won’t.”
His smile faded. “And where are you headed now?”
“I dunno…maybe I can help get you there.”
“And what makes you think I can’t get there on my own?” she countered.
He appeared to contemplate the question for a moment, index fingers steepled under his chin. Then, eyes narrowing, he droned, “Well?”
“You’re right,” she whispered.
Broke and desperate, she had hitched from California. And the last thing she needed now was to look the part of a ready-made victim.
Too late to avoid that, she thought.
The best she could hope for was that her new friend didn’t end up a predator. Good old Lady Luck was due for a visit, wasn’t she? Thus far, Edie’s cross-country trip seemed like nothing short of a nightmare. She’d narrowly escaped two dodgy characters—one in Mesquite, Nevada at a hotel/casino for the blue hair set, the other at a Colorado rest stop—and submitted her body to others with less sinister qualities, trading flesh for uneasy lodgings.
“My car broke down a few miles from here,” she offered weakly.
“And where do you need to be?”
“Omaha, but…I’m not in any hurry to get there.” She drained her glass and shook it, ice cubes rattling.
There was a long moment of silence. “You’ve really chosen the road less traveled, haven’t you?” he asked.
She batted her eyelashes. “Aren’t you going to touch your beer?”
Pushing the full bottle toward her, he shook his head. “Not tonight, sweetheart. I’ve got a long haul in front of me.”