A Ruthorford 4th!

A Ruthorford 4th!


“No, no, no!” Teresa called to the boys toting a picnic tablepicnic table across the slopping lawn of the bed and breakfast. “Not too close to the creek. We want plenty of room for the quilts to be set up for everyone to pierchildsee the fireworks.” She used a hand-tatted handkerchief to dab at the light sheen of sweat on her neck, then tucked it back into the waistband of her khakis. That handkerchief or one similarly pretty, had become a symbol. It bespoke more to her inner feminine side hidden beneath her customary attire of a crisp shirt tucked into a pair of khaki pants. As owner of Abbott Bed & Breakfast, it wasn’t often that she donned more than a serviceable costume—one fit for helping strip and remake a room in a hurry, or shoulder a tray of food from the kitchen.

She felt the arm around her shoulder before Morgan’s soft voice touched her ears. “Why ice teadon’t you slow down for a second? It looks fabulous.” Morgan squeezed her friend’s shoulder and placed a tall glass of sweet tea in her hand, the outside of the glass already wet with cold beads of water.

“Thanks,” Teresa smiled at the sun-kissed face of the redhead standing next to her. She never stopped being awed by the natural beauty of the young woman who’d become such a part of Ruthorford. Looking almost identical to her deceased birth mother, Morgan’s emerald green eyes sparkled in merriment as she twisted the mass of red curls atop her head, fastening it with a clasp. “Have you seen Dorian?”

Distracted, Teresa’s gaze moved over the lawn and the bevy of people setting it up for the 4th of Julypicnic crowd get together. “I haven’t seen him since this morning. He got a call from Miss Alice and Miss Grace. Maybe he’s still at their place. Where are the twins?” She raised the glass and took a sip before resting the cold glass against her forehead. picnic table family“That really helped.” She pulled out the handkerchief once more to wipe the beads of moisture from her forehead.

Morgan pointed to a blanket on the lawn and the youngest descendants of Ruthorford being entertained by one of Rowe’s many young cousins, in town for the festivities. She was blowing bubbled over the twins heads, making them giggle with glee.

Remembering her question, she replied, “Oh, I remember. I was a little busy with the twins when he told me.” When Dorian had told her about the ceremony the year before,  involving Ruthorford’s legendary birds carrying sparkling streamers, she was amazed. Of course, everything she’d seen and learned in the time since she’d first arrived in Ruthorford had astounded her. At her flurry of questions about the birds, Dorian merely shrugged, adding, “The owl2owls and falcons are the purview of the sisters. I remember sneaking over there as a kid, having heard stories. I’d just managed to step into the barn when a huge owl swooped past me, knocking me to the ground. Miss Alice appeared out of nowhere, lecturing me about trespassing and then feeding me so much pie that I completely forgot why I was there. Some things are meant to remain a mystery, I guess.” Morgan had known he knew more than he was telling, but she let him distract her with a kiss. She now smiled at that memory.

“No,” Teresa called to several girls, her voice bringing Morgan back to the present. “Spread those quilts further apart and closer to the bank. Has anyone seen Rowe?”

“He’s down by the creek giving last-minute instructions to his cousins,” a young voice called from the side of the building, where wisps of smoke carried the aroma of the roastinggrilled meats pork, beef, and chicken drifted across the lawn, promising another bountiful BBQ, this time by Eryk, now Ruthorford’s BBQ Chef, the replacement for Teresa’s deceased husband.

“Good,” Teresa called back. “Make sure Eryk gets some tea.”

Morgan noticed the frown etching Teresa’s brow. “You okay?” she asked. You look a little green.

Teresa patted Morgan’s hand. “Just the heat.” Then, she burst out with a laugh as she turned and watched Mike Yancy stop a tray from slipping off the shoulder of Sandra, who’d been helping run the Abbott Bed & Breakfast when Bill became ill. For all his juggling, Dr. Yancy still managed to get a glass of ice water down the front of him and, almost a second one, when Sandra spun around to apologize. Still smiling, he walked over and handed Teresa a flower. “Good thing I brought a change of clothes,” he laughed, heading up to the bed and breakfast to change.

Teresingle flowersa glanced down at the flower and called to Mike’s retreating back, “You better not have gotten this out of my side garden, Mike Yancy.” But the smile on her face told Morgan she wasn’t all that upset if he had.

Sandra called out, “Sorry, Mike,” smiled sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders, almost upsetting the tray once more. Others carted trays of plates, napkins, knives and forks to the buffet line near the building. Over the years, the arrangement had changed little, the bed and breakfast having perfected the best way to serve large amounts of food to the horde of residents that would soon descend upon the annual cookout and fireworks celebration.

“I almost forgot,” Morgan said, pulling a picture out of her pocket, “I found this in myold sisters mother’s things. Do you think it’s Miss Alice and Miss Grace?” She handed Teresa the picture. Teresa studied it. “I wouldn’t be surprised. I heard they were quite the athletes in their day.” She laughed, looking at the picture. “What would this make them, a hundred and something?” She glanced over at the two women directing traffic around they buffet. They looked to be in their seventies, maybe. But, hadn’t they always, she thought to herself and looked once more at the picture before handing it back. “You can ask them if it’s them. I’m sure not going to.”

Morgan pocketed the picture. “I don’t think so.” She laughed.

lakeTeresa took another sip of tea. “You know, I can’t remember when it’s been this hot in Ruthorford. Or dry.” She looked across the wide creek that had narrowed from lack of rain.

“Bask made sure the new fire engine was delivered this morning. We have two already in position,” Morgan reassured Teresa, knowing Teresa would find it in herself to worry about things easily left to others.

Teresa nodded, reassured. After all, Bask was Ruthorford. He single-handedly ran the Abbott House, the foundation that owned Ruthorford, and ensured that what went on in Ruthorford, stayed in Ruthorford.

“Why don’t you take a break and cool off,” Morgan suggested, lightly touching her arm and giving a low-level push. “I’ve got things covered here. I think I saw Mike come back out couple under treeand head over to the buffet table,” she added. “People are starting to find their spots.” It was one of her greatest hopes that Mike and Teresa would one day resume the friendship they’d had before Bill had returned to Ruthorford and become match-mated to Teresa.

Teresa looked around once more before answering, “I think I will,” she said and smiled at Morgan, “after I check on Eryk.” As she turned and headed across the lawn toward the side of the old Victorian, she called over her shoulder, “…and not because of any push you did.”

She heard Morgan’s laugh as she rounded the corner and saw Eryk taking a long swig of tea. “I’m glad to see you’re hydrating,” Teresa said.

He turned and looked at her, his eyes crinkling. “If my magic was any good, I’d make it a Long Island Iced Tea.”

She rose on tiptoe and planted a kiss on his cheek, still awed by Dorian’s twin. “Hmm. I’ve heard of water into wine, but never tea into liquor.”

“Have you seen Jasmine?” he asked, laughing and eying his glass.hawkj

“I think she’s with Dorian. She is keeping an eye on Brinn,” Teresa supplied. Brinn was the hawk that had attached herself to Jasmine and followed her back to Ruthorford and now lived atop their Victorian in the town Eryk purchased called Merlyn’s Roost. It provided a place for those leaving Safe Harbor to begin their trek back into the real world again. It also gave his crew a wonderful place to winter over before they started their tours of the fairs again, using his real magic to enhance his magic shows.

Teresa strolled down the backside of the buffet, taking inventory as she moved. “We’ll fried chickenneed more potato salad in about ten minutes. Make room for Miss Grace’s pies. And bring more napkins,” she called after the young woman who took off to do her bidding.

Teresa let her gaze travel from the chatting residents heaping potato salad onto their already food-laden plates, across the lawn, to the table where Becky and Talbot Briscoe sat with Morgan, their adopted daughter, and the twins. Morgan had rescued Rowe’s younger cousin when one of the twins started making the bubble blower produce gigantic bubbles. Dorian now sat next to Morgan, his arm slung possessively across the back of her chair. Miss Alice stepped up, planted a loud kiss on Dorian’s cheek and offered the pie she was serving. Teresa smiled as she watched Miss Alice serve, not one, but two hefty pieslices of pie onto Dorian’s raised plate. She was glad he was taking the opportunity to share a bite with his family before he and Eryk manned the fireworks station across the water. They were the obvious choice to set off the impressive fireworks display, since they could do it from a distance. With their natural abilities, they could probably set them eveningwaitoff from this side of the creek. However, Bask insisted they be set up and managed from the other side of the water. As if thinking up the devil, she saw the tall, lean man making his way to Dorian, stopping to say hello as he went. He caught her eye and waved.

jasAt the table near the old willow tree, Brenda Garrett had joined Kateri Chance and Rowe Davis. Kat’s latest showing had been awoman and cat huge success at the Gallery in town. Rowe scooted down to make room for Dink, who’d better not be discussing business today. She managed Elements, the Native American store, and was a pit bull when it came to merchandising. Not to worry, Teresa saw Brenna and David McKenzie join the group and knew the young owners of Chapters, Ruthorford’s bookstore, would keep the table lively and steered away from shop talk.

The sound of children running drew her attention and she allowed herself one moment ofchildrenrunning concern as she watched them race under the willow toward the water. As if materializing from thin air, Rowe’s cousins stopped the youngsters before they could fall into the rock-strewn creek.

Yes, from what she could see, most of Ruthorford was here. And water melonthey all were enjoying themselves, in spite of the heat. With the large fans positioned in the ancient trees, the warm air kept moving, so no one seemed bothered by the temperature.

She watched Dorian give Morgan a quick kiss before heading off to set up the fireworks show. Most everyone had filled their plates and found a spot, either at a table or on one ofpicnic couple2the quilts. The heat sensitive foods were already being moved inside and desserts were taking their place. She reached over and grabbed a cold kabob of strawberries, melons, and peaches, plucking a ripe Georgia peach from the end and popping it into her mouth. She smiled at the cold sweetness.

She felt Mike Yancy’s hand on her back as he managed two loaded plates with the other.

“Think you got enough food?” she teased.

“One’s for you. I know you won’t eat and I can’t have you wasting away,” he teased bapicnic in the treesck.

“Stop that,” she chuckled and swatted at him, letting him lead her to their table, set away off to the side but with a clear view. Tradition had it that for the next few moments, the staff watched the buffet, letting Teresa enjoy a few moments of “down time.” While she and Mike were munching on the final bits of BBQ and discussing the success of the day’s sparklersevents, the lights, strung throughout the trees to illuminate nighttime dining, blinked out, the only light from the sparklers children waved in the air. Within moments, the night sky burst into an explosion of red, blues, and yellows, to gasps and squeals of appreciation . Pinwheels, star-bursts, giant red fireworkchrysanthemums, purple comets, willows, and serpents filled the sky. Oooh’s and aaah’s rose from the crowd as display after display filled the night.

When the sky finally darkened, no one moved. Everyone waited in anticipation. In the owldistance, the silence was broken by owls screeching, and hawks screaming. The sound of beating wings grew louder. From the bend in the river, above the trees, streamers of sparkling light appeared, moving like long serpents, following the course of the river. Astreamers collective ahh rose from the crowd, as the large birds flew over the lawn, carrying streamers of shimmering iridescent colors. As they passed the creek, they released their burdens. The ribbons of light dropped downward, caught in the breeze, twisting and undulated, at last coming to rest on the water, setting it afire with sparkling colors, created from energy infused crushed gems painted on woven sheaths purple nightof grass. As the ribbons absorbed the water and sank, the lights floated downward, given the moving water a multidimensional quality. All of the birds slipped off into the distance, except one lone hawk, who circled until she found Jasmine and lightly landed on the woman’s gloved arm.  Jasmine turned and lifted her arm so Brinn could stretch her wings and, with a flourish, they bowed. The crowd offered light applause, not wanting to frighten the hawk. As the light from the gems winked out, the trees, once again sparkled from hidden lights. Quietly, the Ruthorford descendants rose and bade their farewells, feeling the connection, the unity, and the magic they shared.


Celebrate RuthorfordEnjoy the stories of Ruthorford’s descendants. Meet Morgan and Dorian in THE SHOPPE OF SPELLS, Jasmine and Eryk in MEADOW’S KEEP, and Glynda and Tom in GLYNDA’S DARE. Don’t forget Kat and Rowe in PENNYROYAL CHRISTMAS. All are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

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Remembering Those Gone But Not Forgotten on Memorial Day

Memorial Day

I don’t know of any family who hasn’t lost someone in a military action of some sort. For me, too many! On this day, as we take advantage of sales or join family and friends at picnics and parties, let’s take a moment to remember those that gave everything so we could enjoy those festivities. They did so we can–and I remember and thank them from the bottom of my heart!

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Celebrating with Friends

When I was first starting out, I was approached by our neighborhood pharmacy to sell my books there. For a struggling author, it was a dream come true. More authors were invited and soon the Georgia Writers’ Alliance was formed and Newnan Heath Mart Pharmacy offered us a place to meet. Now, five years later, they are celebrating 5 years of success and having a party. The authors are invited. And, so are you! So, if you are out and about Newnan, at Baker Road and Highway 34, Saturday, please come by. We would love to see you!newnan health mart

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Drunken Pot Roast

Today’s Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special** blog spotlights MEADOW’S KEEP, The Gatekeepers Series Book 2 by SHANON GREY, and includes an #excerpt, #giveaway and Shanon’s favorite #recipe for DRUNKEN POT ROAST.

Stop in and chat with Shanon about her newest book in the series and comment for a chance to win an autographed print copy of The Shoppe of Spells, Meadow’s Keep, or Glynda’s Dare (winner’s choice). Happy Reading!


3D-Book-Template MK edited
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Mardi Gras

dsc_0141.jpg      It’s time for Mardi Gras. For many of you (and me, as well, until a few years ago), Mardi Gras holds little meaning. When I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, not only was I thrust into the warmest, most absorbing lifestyle, I was also thrust into Mardi Gras. Folks on the Coast take Mardi Gras very seriously. So, I thought I would tell you a little about it and share some of the fun!

20170130_080329.jpgMardi Gras begins on January 6th and runs until Ash Wednesday. I mean ~ it ends at midnight on Ash Wednesday. The day before is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday—the literal translation. And, let me tell you the season is something to behold. It is parties, parades, and every kind of festivity until midnight—when the streets are deserted and swept clean 20180203_173843-e1518380541395.jpgand there is no evidence of it—until the next year. This year Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is February 13th, putting Valentine’s Day, February 14th, in the full swing of things. Trust me, celebrating has been in full swing since January 6th.

I thought you might enjoy having me share some fun facts about Mardi Gras:

PARADES:  Contrary to popular belief, the first Mardi Gras parade did not take place in New Orleans. It occurred in Mobile, Alabama in the 1700’s. And it still goes on today allparade along the Gulf Coast. The traditional colors for Mardi Gras are: Purple for justice, Green for faith, and Gold for power. Cities, homes, shops, and people drip with color. You will find every sort of Mardi Gras adornment available everywhere. And if you can’t, you can go to one of the many warehouse size stores that specialize totally in Mardi Gras goodies. The most famous—or infamous—parades are in New Orleans. But the parades, in many ways are just the culmination of all the fun that takes place getting ready them. Krewes, or parade organizations, will host Balls as well as create fabulous floats. From atop these incredible floats, beads and other goodies are thrown into the crowds. You’ll hear shouts, “Throw something at me, mister!” (which generally is not accompanied by exposing one’s chest—but you never know) from hordes of people lining the parade route to get the attention of the passing floats. People become weighed down with beads and doubloons, colored coins, and keep these mementos in their homes for years for good luck, displaying more and more each year.

BALLS:  The Kings and Queens preside over the Balls, where food, fun, drink, beads and trinkets abound. Each Ball will have its own theme and its own King and Queen. Themes can run from the sublime to the ridiculous and anywhere in between. Everyone brings food and King Cakes adorn the tables.

Drinks have been made famous by Mardi Gras. Dishes have been created for Mardi Gras. Costumes can be simple or elaborate.

Most costumes are usually designed  to reflect the theme of the ball, be it an 80’s them20180209_124305-e1518380999195.jpge, a Redneck Ball, or one dedicated to the Roaring Twenties. Don’t worry, you are welcome at the ball, no matter what you wear. It’s the fun, food, and friendship that counts.

KING CAKES:  These are traditional fare of Mardi Gras and are generally shaped in an oval with the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold stripping it. Inside is a little plastic baby and whoever finds the baby is anointed King or Queen of the party (not so for the bigger balls, where much tradition goes into choosing the presiding King and Queen each year). But, the lucky person finding the baby is responsible for providing the King Cake  the next year.

New Orleans has become famous for its Mardi Gras parades and celebrations. Don’t be fooled—there’s one everywhere you turn along the Gulf Coast. Even Hurricane Katrina couldn’t stop the festivities. So, if you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, just stop along the way and as they say—let the good times roll!



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New Year, New Resolutions

I don’t make resolutions. That is, to me, like walking around with ribbons tied too tightly around my fingers. I can’t get rid of them, or the emotional pain, without accomplishing what it takes to be able to remove them. However, this year, I am making two. Both pertain to one–to adjust my work/life balance. I work full-time and recently found out that I have spent enough hours at my day job in the last year to have giving them two full-time employees for the price of one. Unfortunately, that has also been at the sacrifice to my other life–as an author. Even though I put nights, weekends, and holidays into being Shanon Grey, doing events, marketing, promoting, and writing, it isn’t enough. That is why I have two new books only 2/3’s of the way finished and a website that needs updating. From here on, I will give unto my company one full-time employee and spend more time on my passion. The second thing I plan to do is spend more time with my husband. We aren’t getting any younger and have spent our entire lives taking care of others–family and friends–which we have never regretted. It is who we are. We have also never taken a real vacation and we’ve been married going on 38 years. I am hoping, this year, we can do that. No, this year, I am planning on doing that! I want you to hold me to it.

In the meantime, I am heading back to my two new books. Things are happening in Ruthorford with her descendants and they are screaming to have their stories told. If you haven’t visited Ruthorford, please do so. It draws people back again and again.

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!


Combining their abilities makes them amazing ~ and deadly! Welcome to #Ruthorford.
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2yQO35E
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2by79DH
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2eWRiDW
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2ePkA6i
Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/1UnJHuN


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Pennyroyal Christmas

It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a visit to #Ruthorford. Join Kateri Chance, now a famous sculptor, when she returns to a place she just couldn’t forget and runs into the man that caused her to leave in the first place. Kat must resolve her past before she can move forward. However, someone doesn’t want that to happen. http://amzn.to/2kIRR3upennyroyal-christmas

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Georgia Writers’ Alliance

I am part of the Georgia Writers’ Alliance. We are fortunate to have Newnan Pharmacy as our friend. They let us hold our meetings there (and selflessly provide refreshments) and they carry our books for sale. At our last meeting, those of us meeting pooled our money and bought a one-day ad in the local paper, the Newnan Times-Herald for Thanksgiving day. Not only was it bigger, the newspaper generously added color. I want to thank Sid Brown for pursuing this and all the many efforts he makes on our behalf throughout the year. And, a big thank you to Newman Pharmacy for supporting local authors!


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The Ghost Walker


by Shanon Grey

“Hush!” he shushed the girl beside him.

They knelt behind the massive oak in Ruthorford’s private cemetery. It was late. It was cold. His hands felt like ice. He glanced down at his best friend and smiled at the rapt attention she’d fixed on the graveyard. Without thinking, he moved his hand and let it rest atop hers, grinning when she jumped.

“Don’t do that. You scared the bejeebers out of me,” she hissed but didn’t move her hand.

Locking hands, they leaned around either side of the tree. “Are you sure about this?” She forced her voice low.

“Yes. Now be quiet,” he hissed back. He wasn’t sure at all. He’d heard his mom talking on the phone about some ghost walker in the old cemetery and he’d run over to Bethany’s as soon as he could get away. It was late and they had school tomorrow. Hopefully, something would happen soon. It was friggin’ cold out. His breath hung in front of him with each exhale. Even more hopefully, they wouldn’t get caught. It wasn’t that this cemetery was off limits or anything. It was just the cemetery of the descendants, those in Ruthorford who were directly descended from the founding families. There was another cemetery, a more public one, that sat next to the Chapel. Everyone got a memorial service there. And a headstone. Just that descendants were actually buried out here, in the woods. Never seemed strange to him. It was the way it had always been. He would probably be buried in the public cemetery since he wasn’t really a true descendant. Born and raised here, he was as much a part of Ruthorford as anybody. His mom said so. But his dad had been a Navy pilot from Norfolk, Virginia. And his mom was just a distant cousin of a descendant or something. He’d never figured it out exactly. Not like Bethany. She was a descendant for sure, from her tawny skin to her dark red hair. Indian and Scot, all the way.

“I hope they hurry up,” Bethany whispered, “I gotta pee.”

“Geesh, girl. I thought you went before we left.”

“I did. But, it’s cold. I need to pee when it’s cold.”

“Girls,” he said it like a curse.

“I heard that,” she whispered softly and squeezed his hand hard, so his bones bunched together.

“Give,” he whispered back and she let up on the pressure.

He looked over at her and felt the first twinges of sadness. This might be their last outing. Things changed when girls went through puberty around here. She looked like she was damn close. Those bumps on her chest were breasts. Not that he objected to breasts. He’d been looking at them for some time now, sneaking peeks at the magazines his brother kept under his mattress. He’d look and get all warm and funny feeling. Oh, he knew all the right words about what was happening. He just didn’t want to think about it. When he thought about it, he thought about Bethany and losing her to some bulked-up descendant.

“Davy.” She tugged on his hand. “Look.”

In an instant, he scanned the graveyard. “Shit.” He wasn’t sure if the words had come out or not.

His hand felt clammy and he didn’t want to have her holding onto a wet hand, but when he tried to pull away, she clasped a hold on it that wasn’t going to break without some pain. He relaxed and let her hold on, because right now, his wet hand was the least of their problems.

On the other side of the graveyard, barely visible, a figure moved. Or a shadow of a figure. He wasn’t sure. Although cold, there seemed to be a mist swirling about. He squinted, trying to sharpen his focus. It had to be a ghost. He was kinda seeing through it. It looked cloud-like or smoky, with a grayish lavender color.

It moved past a headstone. It had to be a man. It was too tall to be a kid. Its arms hung limp by its sides. Zombie! Get a hold on yourself, Ackworth. Zombies are fiction. This is not fiction. He swallowed hard and tried to remember all his science. Nothing came to mind.

As he racked his brain for some logical explanation, the figure walked another ten feet and stopped between two trees. A light shimmered from below. He couldn’t tell if it came from the ground or what, a tombstone was in the way.

Bethany fell forward, yanking on his hand. He leapt up to pull her up and stopped dead, holding her stretched midway. The man had turned and was looking right at them. His eye’s glowed purple.

Everything seemed to happen at once. The light underneath the ghost shot up, David pulled Bethany to her feet to run, the man disappeared right before their eyes, and a dead silence feel over the graveyard–until Bethany squealed and took off running in the opposite direction, pulling him after her. He caught up and ran beside her, adrenaline rushing through his body. Hell, if this was their last adventure, it sure was one hell of a good one.


The above story is part of my current work in progress. Being perfect for this time of year, I decided to share it with you. I hope you enjoyed it. My novels are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, digitally and/or print. Please enjoy and let me know what you think. HAPPY HAUNTING!

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Being Haunted

What is the most haunted place you have visited? Or lived in? For me, it was, ironically, the most modern of townhouses. My husband and I were young, in love, but broke, living in a rundown little house we’d rented for a song. I kept it as clean and tidy as possible. Unfortunately, it was one of “those” places that should have been torn down after World War II. The mice wouldn’t even stay. When an ad appeared in the paper for a bookkeeper, I applied and was hired over the phone, the woman telling me she could tell I was perfect for the job. Little did I know that she and I would become best friends for the rest of her life. Anyway, on one of the coldest Saturdays of the winter, she paid a surprise visit to our unheated derelict, managing not to run screaming from it after stepping foot inside.

Over coffee she informed me that she had this townhouse she had bought as an investment and just couldn’t seem to rent it. She told us that if we would move in, it would be doing her a favor, since she didn’t feel good about it sitting vacant. We didn’t even have to pay rent until we were on our feet. She even offered to help us move. And we did—that very weekend—in the worst ice storm the area had ever seen. With her help, I had everything packed, loaded, and on its way in one day.

I was in heaven as I stepped into a brand new three-bedroom, one and a half bath townhouse, with a little patio and tiny back yard. It even had a laundry room. There was a huge living room in the front and a kitchen/dining room in the back that was more like a great-room. The stairs rose up along one side to a landing, turned, and rose on up to a large foyer, off which were three bedrooms and a bath. The master bedroom took up the whole back of the townhouse, with a walk-in closet and a storage room. We suspected that the storage room was supposed to be a bath that was never finished.

By bedtime, we were all settled in, having shared pizza with my friend and her sons, as we placed furniture just so. It looked wonderful. My family heirlooms filled the large living room, giving them the perfect backdrop. We even had a sitting room/dining room set up in the back. It felt like we were meant to be there.

I woke in the middle of the night, hearing a noise downstairs. I woke my husband. When we got out of bed, the room felt like an icebox—much colder than that unheated claptrap we’d just left. Shivering, we crept down the stairs, leaning over the half-wall that served as a railing. Out ocloaked_ghost4f the corner of my eye, I saw a figure dressed in a dark grey cloak move down the hall toward the kitchen, where a reddish glow emanated. Baseball bats in hand, my husband and I quietly followed, ready to defend our territory. But, the figure had disappeared. However, all of the stove burners were glowing—bright red.

I saw Mr. Grey (not a very original name, but appropriate, given his manner of dress) many times after that, generally right before something happened. Like the time I heard the guest room door slam upstairs and went up to find the window fan laying in the middle of the floor, it’s sides crushed in. Or, the time I was coming down the stairs and felt someone shove me. I took flight and, right before I crashed headfirst into the wall at the bottom of the stairs, something lifted me over the half-wall, dropping me none-to-gently in the living room.

However, the most extreme was when I fell asleep on the loveseat in that little sitting area we’d created in the kitchen. I’d been up all night writing, and after my husband left for work, I crashed. I dreamed of Mr. Grey trying to comfort me, only I couldn’t understand his language, it being sounds I’d never heard before. Anyway, I woke to find my full coffee cup on the floor, not a drop spilled. I glanced at the clock. I’d only been asleep 15 minutes and,  being terribly groggy, I decided a shower might help. As I stepped into the front room, I stopped. It was empty. I immediately looked at the door. The chain lock was in place. I walked straight out that door and called my friend from the neighbors, waiting for her on the stoop. She arrived, police in tow. I explained and the police went in first. They returned and, seeing the worry in my eyes, took me inside. I found my furniture in the upstairs bedroom. Every piece of furniture I’d had in the living room was now deposited in the middle of the room, which we had vacated because of the cold just days before, sleeping in a smaller guest room. All the exterior doors had been locked—and no, I am not superwoman. Someone or something had silently moved a sleeper sofa, hutch, chairs, and filled bookcases up winding stairs in fifteen minutes. (It couldn’t have been easy, because getting it down when we moved took four guys and a whole day.) Unfortunately, they didn’t have a good sense for decorating, leaving everything piled on top of each other.

This being the best house I’d ever had, I was determined not to be driven out. I read up on the paranormal. My friend and I tried communicating with “it”, making a recording of our little séance. When we played back the cassette (yep, that long ago), about twenty minutes in, we heard a garbled “kill the tape.” Finally, out of desperation, I stood in the middle of the kitchen and begged for a truce. We left the furniture in the master bedroom, turned off the circuit breakers every night, and kept all interior doors closed. And, I tried not to piss it/him/them off. My efforts, for the most part, seemed to work because, over time, things calmed down—or, I made peace with whatever it was.

Oh, there were other instances. They loved to rearrange my papers and move my clothes. I found a sweater I really liked, but they apparently didn’t, in the pantry on top of the paper bags we used for trash. They rearranged a magazine layout I’d done. (I kept it and it turned out to be one of our best issues.) The instances became fewer after I started writing Capricorn’s Child, a novel about a woman with paranormal abilities who doesn’t want them. The manuscript, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, had put me on my path as a fiction-weaver.

On the day we moved out, having finally made it to the position of buying our first home (ironically, a fifty-year-old spirit-free colonial), I found a goodbye present. On top of the kitchen cabinets were three small piles of fresh wheat. Where they came from, I have no idea, but I know they’d never been there before. I’d tried putting displays up there only to take them down when I kept finding items on the floor—unbroken—but moved, nevertheless. I was grateful for the wheat, since, when the next tenant left (which only took a week), they found three piles of maggots.

Moral of the story—don’t piss off your ghosts.

Oh, one last comment. Decades later, when a publisher asked me to pick a pen name, it didn’t dawn on me that choosing “Grey” was anything other than it located my books eye-level on most bookstore shelves and was easy to sign. It wasn’t until after my friend passed away and I received a box of mementos from her estate, that I found the true answer. Upon opening the box, I pulled out a sketch she done of the cloaked figure and realized my choosing “Grey” might not have been as random as I’d thought.

Happy Haunting!

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