Articles

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

DawnOverDayfield200

Blinking against a too-bright light, Weston tried to inhale. The air stabbed his lungs like knives, and when he coughed, the pain worsened exponentially. He was covered with a thin sheet, and the smell of soot surrounded him.

“Easy.” An unfamiliar female face appeared above him. “You inhaled a lot of smoke. We’re getting oxygen set up for you. Take it easy.”

Reassured by her soothing voice, Weston closed his eyes again.

The next time he opened them, a mask covered his mouth and nose. The light wasn’t as bright now. He tried to sit up, and a hand pressed his shoulder.

“You need to be still.” The voice sounded like the same woman as earlier.

“Andy.” Weston couldn’t even understand himself through the mask.

Apparently the woman—a nurse, he guessed—had some practice at translating oxygen-mask speak. “Your friend is in the next room. He’s unconscious. Try to breathe normally. I’ll find out what’s happening with him.”

Weston nodded his thanks and stared up at the white ceiling, listening to the nurse’s footsteps fade and trying to sort out his memories of what had happened.

A fire. Someone had set fire to the library as soon as Mildred was out of the building.

The crash in the main room must have been the arsonist breaking out through one of the windows so Andy and Weston wouldn’t see him.

Someone had chained the back door shut.

Someone had wanted Andy and Weston dead badly enough to make sure they couldn’t escape. Badly enough to destroy the entire library.

Andy should never have come to Dayfield. The town had never been a good place, but Weston hadn’t realized exactly how deep the darkness ran until Andy showed up.

“Your friend’s doing better.” The nurse walked over to stand beside Weston. “Still unconscious, but the doctor says he’s going to be fine.”

Weston started to speak, but his throat was too raw and sore to make another sound. Instead, he simply nodded again.

For a little while, he dozed off and on, waking each time someone entered the room. He expected his mother to show up, but she didn’t appear.

Finally, a male doctor carrying a clipboard entered with the nurse Weston had seen first. Without a word, she removed Weston’s mask.

“Try taking a breath,” the doctor said. “Slowly.”

Weston obeyed. His chest ached, but the sharp pain had faded enough for him to draw in some air.

He put his hand on his throat. “Water?”

The doctor nodded. “We’ll get you some. How are you feeling?”

Like I almost died in a fire, idiot. “Hurts.”

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

DawnOverDayfield200

Weston didn’t say another word until they were inside the historical society room. He took off his denim jacket and draped it over a chair, then cracked his knuckles. “My dad has a lot of friends in town, and they keep him informed of what’s going on. Including the fact that a Chaffee is poking around. Why are you going into the diner? Didn’t you learn anything yesterday?”

“I learned they have good food.” Andy shook his head. “Why do I feel like I’m in a horror novel or something? Stay away from the town, or they’ll possess you and eat you alive.”

“That’s how some small towns are,” Weston muttered. “You had a run-in this morning.”

“A couple of guys in the diner weren’t thrilled with me being there, but Rich shut them up.” Andy paused. “After I told him to get over himself.”

Weston’s frown deepened. “I heard about that too. Maybe you should take the books back to Boston and mail them to me when you’re finished.”

Andy stared at him. “Kicking me out of town? I wouldn’t have figured you’d agree with the general public.”

“I don’t, but Dad said Ernie implied you’d better get out of here sooner than later.”

Andy had no clue which of the men in the diner was Ernie. Nor did he care. He wasn’t about to leave because of a dickwad blustering over the phone. “I’ll get out of here when I’m finished what I came here for. Matt over in the photo shop doesn’t seem to hate me, at least.”

“Matt’s a little different. He’s a townie, but he tries to keep an open mind most of the time.” Weston nodded toward the bag Andy was still holding. “You bought a photo?”

“He gave it to me. It’s the factory.” Andy hesitated. “I haven’t seen the factory yet.”

“Do you want to?” Weston sounded surprised.

“It’s part of the family history, right?” Andy wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to visit the place, but since he was in town, it wouldn’t hurt.

“In a way, I guess. Not a pleasant part.” Weston walked over to one of the bookcases and ran his finger over the spines on one shelf. “I have a book about the factory here somewhere. When it started, when the Chaffees took over, all of that. Maybe you should read it first.”

“Sure.” Andy didn’t see why he needed to read a book before visiting the factory, but he appreciated Weston’s willingness to help.

“So are you planning to hang out here again today?” Weston asked. “You took all those books yesterday. I figured you’d spend the day reading at the motel.”

Andy hesitated. They were barely at the friendly acquaintance stage, and he wasn’t the kind to admit an attraction to someone after knowing them such a short time. He’d learned to be cautious.

But Weston was worth taking the chance. Worst case, Andy would avoid the library for the rest of his time in the area, except to return the books he’d borrowed.

He smiled. “I wanted the company.”

Weston glanced over his shoulder. “You did, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I don’t mind the company either.” Weston turned back to the books. “Here it is.”

“Okay.” That’s it? We say we like being around each other and then go back to talking about books?

Then again, he didn’t know what else he’d expected

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

DawnOverDayfield200

This room smelled even more of old things and dust, and Andy stifled a cough. Around him, papers were crammed between books or piled in unsteady stacks. Andy saw no one else in the room.

He cleared his throat. “Hello?”

“Oh. Hang on.”

Andy waited, rocking slightly back and forth on his feet. A slim man who barely reached Andy’s shoulder walked out from between two shelving units. His brown hair was tousled, and a small gold hoop adorned each ear and one eyebrow. He had a sparse mustache and goatee, and his brown eyes gleamed even in the dim light.

He seemed as out of place in Dayfield as the elderly librarian would have been in downtown Boston.

Andy cleared his throat again and tried to moisten his dry lips. “Hi. I’m Andy Forrest. She, um, the librarian said she told you I’d be here today?”

“Yeah.” The man’s face crinkled into something resembling a smile. He held out his hand. “Weston Thibeault. Historian, such as it is.”

Andy shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise, though I wish it was in a nicer place.” Weston grimaced. “Sorry. I tend to be a bit cynical about this town. No reason for it to spill over on you. You won’t be here long, I take it.”

“How long I stay depends on how easy it is to find the information I need.” Andy glanced around.

Weston chuckled. “Yeah, it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it? People keep dropping off stuff they figure I can shoehorn in. Which I sort of can, but it isn’t a matter of simply shoving things onto shelves. There is, believe it or not, a system, and I haven’t had much time lately to put things away.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You’re going to have to. I’m the only one who knows where things are around here.” Weston gestured at the nearest shelves. “This is what a degree in history gets you. So Mildred said you want to find out about a family from Dayfield?”

“Yeah.” Andy hadn’t given the librarian the whole story when he’d called. There were some things he wasn’t comfortable saying over the phone. And after the way the woman—Mildred, he guessed—had greeted him, Andy doubted he would ever be comfortable enough to tell her anything. “My birth father’s from here.”

Weston raised his pierced eyebrow. “You’re adopted?”

“Yeah.” Andy braced himself for the myriad questions he generally got when people found out he’d been “given away.” Questions which, for the most part, he couldn’t answer.

“What about your birth mother?” Weston asked.

“I think she lives on the North Shore. At least, that’s where she was living when I was born, as far as I know.”

“She might have moved since.” Weston paused. “What are their names? If one or maybe both of them are here in town, you could bypass all the paperwork and talk to them.”

“I don’t want to meet them,” Andy blurted. “I’d rather leave it at finding out more about my father and the family. History, you know?”

“Sure.” Weston wrinkled his forehead. “Okay, well, if you have their names, I’m sure we’ll have something about them here. At least about your father. We have info about pretty much everyone who’s lived here, at least in the past century and a half or so.”

“That’s what I’m hoping.” Andy glanced around again. There was no guarantee the shelves and piles contained anything about his biological father, and even if they did, he hadn’t decided how much he actually wanted to learn. The biggest question he had was one old books and papers probably couldn’t answer: Why had his birth parents given him up?

“The names?” Weston prompted.

Andy took a deep breath. “My mother is Elise Cummings. My father is Vardon Chaffee.”

He expected some sign of recognition from Weston. In a town as small as Dayfield, it was unlikely Weston wouldn’t have heard the name. But Andy didn’t expect the disgusted twist of Weston’s mouth or the narrowing of his eyes.

“Chaffee?” Weston spoke the name as if he were spitting out a mouthful of shit. “You’re a Chaffee?”

“No. I’m a Forrest.” Andy folded his arms and squared his feet. He had no clue why “Chaffee” was a bad thing, but he damn sure wasn’t about to let Weston insult him because of a guy Andy had never met. “My birth father was a Chaffee. And I’m guessing you aren’t too happy about it?”

Weston pressed his lips together and looked away for a moment. When he faced Andy again, his expression was blank. “Sorry. Yeah, that name tends to leave a bad taste in most mouths around here. You don’t know anything about the family?”

“Not really.” Andy’s adoptive father had tried to give him what little information he had beyond the names of Andy’s birth parents and their hometowns, but Andy had refused to listen. He only wanted to learn enough to relieve his dad’s fear that Andy might carry some unknown health condition, like the heart problem that had killed Andy’s mom.

“Wow. Okay.” Weston ran his hand through his hair. “So not only am I going to have to find you information about the family, but I’ll have to educate you so you don’t say that name in too many places around here.”

Dawn Over Dayfield Release!

Finally! I’ve been waiting a year for this day!

Well, actually for tomorrow… but close enough.

I’ve blogged a few times now about the creation and development of the novel known as Dawn Over Dayfield, so I won’t rehash what I’ve already said. Suffice it to say, a then-friend planted the plot seed and helped me with some brainstorming and research, I fell in love with the book as I was writing it, and fortunately, since it turned out not to be a romance but a suspense novel, Dreamspinner Press had recently launched its non-romance imprint DSP Publications, and they were happy to take the book.

Dawn Over Dayfield was accepted last March. I don’t mind the amount of time between then and now, because it means DSP Publications and I have been able to do some advance promotions that might not otherwise have been possible. When you’re releasing a book, it’s kind of important to let readers know it exists!

But now, at last, it’s time for Dawn Over Dayfield to see the light of day, and I hope readers will love the story and characters as much as I do. You can get your copy from DSP Publications, Amazon.com, and Omnilit.com.

New Book Next Week!

Next Tuesday, March 1, marks the release of my first suspense novel, Dawn Over Dayfield. While the story has romantic elements, it isn’t a romance. The characters didn’t seem to want it to be, and that made sense to me; it’s difficult for love to form over a few days of research, mystery solving, and nearly being murdered.

DawnOverDayfield200

Dayfield is a fictional town in central Massachusetts, and it definitely has issues. Once a booming factory town, Dayfield began its decline in the 1980s when the furniture factory which employed many residents closed for good. Nearly thirty years later, the town’s fate was sealed when a tornado struck the area, destroying some buildings that no one can afford to rebuild. (While Dayfield and the furniture factory are fictional, the tornado that hit that part of Massachusetts in 2011 was all too real, as were the effects on some of the towns in the area.)

During the editing process, one of the editors who worked on this novel said that Dayfield almost seemed like a character in and of itself, and that’s how I felt writing the book. I didn’t develop the town entirely on my own; someone who, at the time, was a good friend helped. And all the work he and I put into creating Dayfield definitely paid off.

Dawn Over Dayfield is available for preorder from the publisher, DSP Publications; Amazon.com; and Omnilit.com.