With the popularity of Outlander on television lately, I was inspired to post an excerpt from a paranormal romance I wrote many moons ago. Forevermore was inspired entirely by a dream I used to have as a child. As I grew older the dream didn’t happen as often, and when I visited Ireland in 1983 the dream stopped. But that is a paranormal thing for another discussion…maybe during my October Halloween Spooktacular! I set Forevermore in Scotland and it was the first and only romance I’ve written in first person. Here’s a tidbit!
Sometimes one lifetime is not enough…
American Mae Sutton travels to Scotland to investigate tormenting dreams that have plagued her since childhood. Once in the shadowy, misty land, she discovers a brooding Highlander—and a secret that threatens her very existence.
A dark castle ruin haunts her nightmares…
Mae discovers Moor Castle is the same ruin in her nightmares, and knows she must learn why she’s been drawn to Scotland and the crumbling castle that whispers her name. She experiences an intense and immediate attraction to Aidan Ramsay, conservator of the evil castle. She’s shocked to find out she is the spitting image of a Ramsay ancestor, and that maybe her nightmares are past-life memories.
Mae and Aidan have lived before, and the dark legacy that destroyed them once, may destroy them again…
As I stared at the pile of stones high on the hill, familiarity tickled at my memories. I’d seen Moor Castle as an eighteen-year-old exchange student nine years ago. More than once I’d been drawn to the castle, but something always held me back.
Fear of something primitive and raw. Wounding and evil.
Now I had to take that first step toward showing myself that my dreams remained unreal. That I had made up horrible images in my mind that had no basis in fact.
I got out of the car and pulled my trench coat close about me. A compulsion drew me a few steps forward. Soon I’d discover the cold walls of Moor Castle held nothing baneful. Something stronger than apprehension, though, stopped me again.
Why had this place haunted my dreams for so many years? Somehow, somewhere, there had to be a reason, a meaning behind the demons that possessed my nights.
I’d taken a leave of absence from my job to investigate Moor Castle for myself. Maybe I’d find peace exploring this dilapidated ruin.
I forced myself up the hill. Daylight faded as rain fell like an icy blanket.
I pressed on until I reached the top, a wide mesa somewhat naked and barren, the scraggly trees surrounding it in need of tending to bring them back to life.
I noticed how light seemed to disappear into the arched entrance without means of escape. Suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Taking a deep breath, I pressed on, even though the trek up the steep hill had quickened my pulse. Or was that fear?
When the huge arch loomed above my head, cold penetrated my sweater, oozing into my bones with a chill, arctic and numbing. Trembling, I peered into the darkness, and as the rain lessened, shafts of weak light speared from a hole in the roof high above.
I proceeded. Up above, in the crumbling stonework, a fluttering sound echoed. I thought of the creatures of nightmares, flying on wings and snatching me away to dark lairs. A screech echoed all around me and I whirled, my apprehension escalating. Seconds later, a large black bird gave flight, turning away from the castle walls and sailing into the air until it looked like a tiny dark dot against the sky.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a bird, not a bat…or…” I whispered.
I glanced around me nervously. Yeah, right. Big, brave Mae. What would Aunt Ethelfreda think of me now? I could see her crinkled brow and piercing blue eyes condemning me for cowardice. Since I was three and Aunt Ethelfreda had adopted me after my parents had died in a car accident, I’d endured her belief that I somehow wasn’t “worthy.” I fell short, continually, in her estimation. I fought back frequently, though my ego took a nasty blow. Many dents still remained. Deep inside I hated myself for trembling like a frightened pup. A litany ran in my head, the same thing unkind children had yelled at me in grade school: Scaredy cat, scaredy cat. Mae is a scaredy cat!
I shoved aside disturbing childhood memories. Those children weren’t here now. My aunt wasn’t here now. In some ways this journey to Scotland proved those children and my aunt wrong. I could and would conquer these fears. Strength filled my limbs as I glanced around at the haunting beauty of the castle.
I hadn’t gone far into the grand foyer when I knew someone watched me.
I turned, my heart thumping with renewed alertness.
The man stood several yards away, almost hidden in a shadowy doorway. He stood with arms at his side and feet planted apart. His white poet shirt opened at the throat, giving me an enticing view of muscled chest sprinkled with dark hair. Snug black breeches were tucked into tall black boots and molded his legs. His wide mouth firmed into a tight line. A brisk wind blasted through his cascade of long, wavy black hair. Welded to the spot, I stared with unabashed curiosity at the strong planes of his face.
I took a breath, ready to call out to him in greeting. But I didn’t have a chance because suddenly he looked straight at me. His gaze turned sultry, hot, and welcoming. The moment drew out, long and surreal.
Behind me a crack like a gunshot sent me spinning around, my heart leaping. I threw myself sideways as a large stone missed me by inches, bouncing away to break into smaller pieces. My heart pounded as I looked back to the mysterious man. He’d disappeared.
“Hello!” I listened to my voice echoing in the cavern of the castle, but no answer came.
I walked about, certain he must be somewhere close. Within a few minutes, though, I had to wonder how he could have vanished so completely. A thought slipped into that part of my mind reserved for negative thoughts. Had I imagined him? Seen a ghost?
I could almost see Aunt Ethelfreda’s disapproving moue reprimanding me for even thinking I’d spotted a ghost.
“Pfft. Bug off, Aunt Ethelfreda.” I gave a nervous chuckle, realizing that if anyone heard me now they’d think I’d turned nuttier than walnut pie.
Or, perhaps, a sane person would heed the pervading gloom and leave before whoever or whatever appeared.
The wind picked up again, whistling around the walls like the demented wailing of a banshee, her grief so deep it etched into the castle walls. That pain knifed into me, and unaccountable tears rose to my eyes. Sorrow filled these ruins, soaked with harsh deeds and horrors I couldn’t bear to ponder.
Deliberate, unbidden apprehension pushed me forward and I rushed out of the castle and down the path at a jog.
I didn’t look back.