Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Asylum Trilogy - Book Three
Present Day, Simple, Colorado
Evil is spreading beyond previous boundaries, beyond the horrors of the past. Only one man and one woman can stop it.
Melissa Allan realizes something is wrong one windy, violent day. People are getting their just deserts. Karma is piling on the punishment, even for small offenses or misunderstandings hardly worth a blink. Melissa, owner of the only new age store in Simple, realizes that the air is disturbed, and that the former asylum on the mountain has something to do with strange happenings around town. Sensitive to the paranormal, she helps those in Simple who feel the need for advice beyond the conventional. Forces in town who want things to stay the same are against her, and she knows it.
Ex-marine Roarke O’Bannion hasn’t seen a freak out like this since he was in war. A search for his missing mother brings him to Tranquil View Condominiums for answers. He’s not interested in the paranormal and thinks people who believe in it just need more medication. He thinks Melissa fed his mother’s belief in ghosts, and he plans on giving her a piece of his mind. Instead he finds a woman who challenges everything he’s believed in and makes him burn with desire.
When Melissa is in danger, he discovers he’ll do anything to save her, and together they’ll battle the unseen until midnight comes or the evil seething inside Tranquil View consumes them all.
Before she could close the window and curtain, a big garbage truck raced down the narrow road, straddling both sides of the middle line. It had to be hurtling down the street at least twenty miles over the speed limit.
“Give me a break,” she said in a whisper. “Is it Halloween?”
Not for another four weeks.
A horn blared and the screech of tires added to the cacophony. A motorcycle went up on the curb to avoid the truck and came to a stop. Mesmerized by the craziness happening right outside her building so early in the morning, she watched as the truck continued down the road without pausing. The guy on the motorcycle drove it off the curb and into a parking spot. A black leather jacket fit over broad shoulders. Muscular legs encased in dark denim and ending in black boots caught Melissa's attention. What she could see looked intriguing, but she’d learned from experience that once the guy took off the helmet, the fantasy didn’t often go with reality.
Motorcycle Man pushed down the kickstand, turned off the bike, and removed his helmet. Her breath caught. Holy guacamole. Talk about a fantasy. As the rest of Motorcycle Man was revealed, what she saw interested her beyond anything she’d seen in a long time. He looked over six feet tall. Very dark hair lay close to his head—a military cut, perhaps. From this distance, she couldn’t see his features that well. With his back to her she could see he had a nice butt in jeans that fit him well, but weren’t too tight. She smiled and wondered if he was as hot up close as she imagined.
He took two books out of a pack on his motorcycle, and looked both ways before crossing the street. He walked down the street slowly, and she craned to keep him in view a bit longer. Even his walk intrigued her. How would she describe it? He projected a great presence with that walk, a self-assurance that said messing with him would be dangerous to the health of whoever considered it. He wouldn’t necessarily pick a fight, but if someone attacked him, he’d know how to bring it. When he went out of view she groaned. Interesting. Very interesting.
She left her vigil at the window and opened her door to get the Simple Herald. She stood at her small breakfast bar with a bowl of nuked oatmeal and read the headlines.
Tranquil View Condominiums Only One-Fourth Filled.
Local realtors state that they’re having difficulty selling or renting apartments at the Victorian monstrosity that was once Tranquil View Asylum, a state hospital for the insane built in 1888. Speculation is that few people can afford the high rent or purchase price in this small town. Most individuals who have purchased or rented condos at Tranquil View are from outside Simple. Rumors have spread lately that Tranquil View Condos are haunted and that is the real reason why it is difficult to get and keep tenants or buyers.
The condo units, all with luxury features and expansive square footage, were built by Steele Company which is known for renovating old asylums rather than tearing them down. The asylum was abandoned after 1988 when allegations of patient abuse came to a head. It lay in half ruins until it was purchased by Steele Company. Steele Company has financed a haunted house feature that starts this first weekend of October. All money will go to local charities. Steele Company will also have its rental/buyer office open at the same time, in case patrons may be interested in looking at a model apartment.
“It probably is haunted,” Melissa said out loud.
She’d wondered about the asylum and wished they had paranormal investigation teams around here. With her sensitivities she might be able to help a team. Then again, maybe not. Some of them didn’t use sensitives or psychics in their work. She didn’t blame them. Trying to keep things scientific meant not relying much on the most woo-woo aspects of the supernatural.
Melissa flipped the pages of the paper and didn’t find too much of interest, so she finished the bowl of oatmeal and readied herself for work. That meant a quick shower and shampoo, dusting of mineral makeup, tie-dye blouse, jeans, down coat, gloves, and snow boots. The weatherman promised snow, and she was ready. She slung her black leather cross body bag over her shoulder and was out the door. Steps creaked as she headed downstairs. She stuffed her fingers into the gloves as descended.
Mrs. Ida Lakes stood at the front door gazing outside--not an unusual occupation for the seventy-something woman. Ida was sweet, but she could also be nosy as hell. Being on the neighborhood watch had turned her into a shark in many ways.
The older woman jumped, her hand going to her chest as she turned swiftly. Her red track suit coordinated with red sneakers and a visor. Her white hair stuck out everywhere. She looked like a fashionable tomato. “Lord, girl. What are you doing? Scared me to death.”
“Sorry.” Melissa couldn’t help smiling. “What’s going on?”
“Did you see that young man park his motorcycle in the parking lot?”
“I did.” Melissa slipped her arm around the shorter woman and peered out the glass front doors. “Wasn’t he a hunk?”
Ida’s eyes widened. “Well, he was handsome enough from what little I could see.”
Melissa cleared her throat. “Hmm.” She released her hold on Ida. “I noticed that trash truck almost took him out.”
“Nasty business. What is the world coming to?”
Melissa laughed. Almost every time they had a conversation, the older woman added in doom and gloom somewhere. If Melissa stayed here, she wouldn’t escape a long drawn out diatribe about weather, the economy, the political climate, and how it all spelled disaster.
“I’d better hurry up and open the shop.” Melissa smiled and hurried away. “Have a great day."
Ida ran after Melissa as she stepped out of the building. “That boy on the motorcycle moved into that nut house on the hill.”
At first Melissa didn’t understand, but swiftly put two and two together. “Oh, you mean Tranquil View?”
“Yep, that one. He moved into his mother’s condo.”
Melissa’s stomach sank a little. So the hunk was a momma’s boy maybe? “I see.”
“I mean, his mother went missing some time ago, and he’s here trying to figure out what happened to her.”
“Missing? That’s awful.”“You remember? It was in the papers.”
Melissa shrugged. “Vaguely, I think. I was considering dropping my subscription. It’s not really that interesting.”
Ida grunted. “How do you expect to know what’s going on in the world? Do you watch the news?
“Sometimes. Most of it I don’t need to know.” Melissa smiled as Ida put on her most disapproving face. “I live a nice life without it.”
Ida grunted again. “Hmph.”
Melissa frowned. “How do you know that’s the missing woman’s son?”
“I met him when he helped her move in to her condo originally. He was on leave from the war.”
Aha. So the guy was in the military. “Which war?”
“Afghanistan.”“Uh-huh. And he told you all this?”
Ida flapped one hand. “No, no. You know how Simple is. Like all small towns. Word gets around.”
Melissa smiled. “I know.” She cleared her throat. “I’d love to talk more, Ida, but I’m going to be late for work at this rate. I’ll talk to you later.”
Colorado winds shrieked down the mountains with icy teeth. Melissa was happy for the fresh, cold breeze against her face. At an altitude of nine thousand feet, Simple usually had plenty of snow in the winter. A warm spell had melted snow last week, and although things were damp, a visitor would never know they’d had six inches of the white stuff.
Today the sun was bright and people had begun to emerge for work. Still, traffic was light and it seemed ... quiet. She looked both ways before crossing at the pedestrian crosswalk, but a car screamed around down the street, engine roaring.
She heard the deep male voice as she half lunged, half ran back to the sidewalk. She tripped and landed on her butt. The white-haired man driving the black Cadillac didn’t stop, but glared at her as if she’d made a stupid error. As the car rushed away, she realized that no one along the sidewalk even took notice of her near miss. A man walked her way from across the street, movements swift and economical. Mr. Tall and Hot Motorcycle Man carried the two books and take out coffee. He tossed the coffee container in the trash; maybe he’d already gulped his morning caffeine.
“Hey, you all right?” His voice matched the rest of him--deep and smooth and sexy as sin.
Somewhat embarrassed and angry that the car had almost plowed over her, she pulled herself off the sidewalk and back to her feet.
Motorcycle Man jogged across the intersection, muscular body moving with the grace and stamina of a predator. His hair shone almost blue-black, its thickness inviting her to touch. This close, she could smell his leather jacket and sandalwood musk aftershave. Stubble lined his jaw, giving him a rough and raw appearance. A scar across his cheek close to his nose caught her interest. Put long hair on him and the appropriate attire, and he’d make a damned good pirate. He was pure man. Big. Intimidating. A stirring low in her belly reminded her she hadn’t been in the presence of such a handsome man in a long, long time. When had she last reacted so intensely to a man?
A county sheriff’s car, lights flashing and sirens blaring, hauled ass down the street in front of them.
“What is going on around here?” she asked out loud.
“Armageddon,” Motorcycle Man said, his voice a low rumble. He cupped her elbow. His ocean-clear blue eyes peered into hers. “Are you hurt?”