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Now that my 2013 novel, “Ghosts of White Raven Estate” is published, I’ve chosen to introduce, in this blog entry, the synopsis and Chapter 1. In this chapter you will meet Victoria Calais and her grandmother, Madame Calais and come to realize the haunting presence that eerily hangs over their centuries old Garden District manor.
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1853 New Orleans ~ As the frenzied drumbeats of Voodoo ceremonies vibrate throughout the city, Victoria Calais, beautiful ingénue and resident of New Orleans’ Garden District, is losing her vision. A Yellow Fever epidemic has just swept the city, leaving her parents and sister dead.
As she goes blind Victoria is visited by a poltergeist that terrorizes the family priest, Father Vivenzio, a frequent (an opportunistic) visitor to the Calais’ estate, La Maison du Corbeau Blanc (The House of the White Falcon).
Unable to gain spiritual supremacy over the unworldly activity swirling through Corbeau Blanc, Father Vivenzio calls on Widow Paris, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.
The identity of Father Vivenzio’s supernatural nemesis is revealed at Mardi Gras during a wild carriage race through the streets of New Orleans!
Excerpt: Chapter 1
1853 ~ Someone Is Watching
It all took place in the fashionable Garden District of New Orleans, where beautiful estates hide behind the screen of tree-lined boulevards. The year was 1853, during an era when family loyalties were guarded vigilantly, some even from beyond the grave.
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Dusky afternoon sunlight streamed into the bedroom of young heiress, Victoria Calais, casting the room in a brooding hue that foreshadows an evening squall. Flying toward the Crescent City at that moment was the kind of storm that causes shutters to clatter, and the shadows of gnarled oaks to bob and weave across expansive lawns.
Victoria sat at her vanity, staring into her mirror but unable to make out her own reflection. Her fingertips, like the feelers of an ant, followed along the edges of each cosmetic item laid out on the embroidered runner decorating her vanity.
A gentle breeze rustled through Victoria’s bedroom, bringing with it the fragrance of rose petals, reminding her that she was not alone. Victoria stiffened and craned her neck squinting into a milky field of vision from heavy-lidded eyes.
“Hello? Who’s here?” She waited. Every instinct told her that someone was standing in the shadows of her room.
A tear rolled down her cheek. Dr. Faust’s diagnosis, delivered the previous day, had been devastating. Hysterical blindness was his prognosis. The diagnosis did not sit well with Victoria’s grandmother, Madame Calais, if her outburst was any indication.
Victoria remembered what life had been like during the weeks that Yellow Fever swept through New Orleans killing her parents, and sister, Evangeline and reached for her sister’s doll. She tugged at its skirt, causing it to fall over with a loud thunk, its porcelain head hitting the mahogany shelf.
“Oh, Bon-Bon! Did I frighten you, my little pet?”
Victoria turned toward the plaintive cry just as her cat bounded off the bed and pranced toward her across the richly woven carpet.
“Can you guide me back to my bed?”
Victoria followed the sound of the little bell on Bon-Bon’s collar as the cat scampered back across the room.
“Who understands what has gone on in this room better than you, my attentive little sentry.”
Victoria retraced her steps, her left arm wrapped around the doll.
“Are you there, Bon-Bon?”
A repetitious mew guided her back toward the bed, one carefully retraced step at a time.
Quite suddenly, Victoria stumbled forward, an unexpected lurch into the uncertainty that was her new world.
Bang! The doors of the wardrobe crashed shut.
“Hello! Answer me! Is someone there?”
Eerie silence hung in the air, as the room grew more chilled. Victoria scrambled to her knees looking around apprehensively as a voice called up from the bottom of the stairs. “Victoria! Are you up in your room still?”
“What is going on? I heard something fall.”
“I tripped, Grandmother! It’s nothing! Bon-Bon was here to save me!”
“Oh, Mon Cher.” Madame Calais softened her voice. “Refresh yourself and come down, Victoria. You’ve been alone in your room all afternoon. We’ll have tea and discuss matters.”
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After dinner that evening a sweeping storm ripped open the southern skies, causing rivulets to run down the side of the Calais home like the veins on the back of an old woman’s hands. In Victoria’s bedroom, shadows danced on the walls as pillar candles spit and flickered. A chill settled over the house, unusual for a New Orleans evening.
Victoria sat on the edge of her bed in semi-darkness. Candles sputtered, causing her to flinch as she sat through the evening deluge pounding at the shutters as she stared straight ahead, listening. She held tightly onto the doll that had belonged to her late sister moving her fingertips over the doll’s porcelain face with its dainty nose and rosebud lips.
“Evangeline is gone, and I am nearly blind. What is to become of us, Bon-Bon?”
The feline pawed at Victoria’s fingertips.
She swiped at her tears and squinted as a shadow passed under her bedroom door.
“Grandmother!” she called out. “Grand-mere?”
Silence loomed. There’s no one to talk to now that Evangeline is gone. Victoria peered across her room trying to blink away the veil preventing her from seeing what had been staring at her the whole time – an apparition wavering in the glow of the candles.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed THIS peek of ‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’. If you’d prefer not to wait to find out what happens next, full edition copies are available at:
Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ on Kindle
Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ on Nook
Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ on Smashwords for iBooks