Chance parked his SUV beside the truck and climbed down. His feet had barely touched the ground when he heard the scream. At first he thought it was a figment of his imagination. The setting was perfect for a horror story; perhaps his mind had conjured a muffled scream to add to the ambience.
“Miss Taylor?” Chance called out.
He climbed the stairs and entered through the open front door, treading softly, holding his breath and listening for any sound.
Nothing moved. The old house didn’t even creak, as if it, too, held its breath. Chance passed through the wide center hallway all the way to the back of the house, peering through the open doors into what appeared to be a living room, study and dining room. At the other end of the house, he emerged onto the back porch. Lumber lay in neat piles against the side of the house. But there was no one around.
Chance’s gut tightened. Molly’s friend wouldn’t have abandoned her truck, leaving the truck doors and the trailer wide-open.
He returned to the entrance and climbed the stairs to the second story. Cobwebs hung from the corners and the wooden floors were covered in a thick layer of dust. This home hadn’t been lived in for a very long time.
After determining each room was empty, Chance returned to the first floor, passed a stack of clean white drywall leaning against a wall in the living room and entered an old-fashioned kitchen. Some of the upper cabinets had been ripped from the walls, and the countertop had been removed from the lower cabinets, making their remains appear skeletal.
“Miss Taylor?” Chance called out.
A plaintive, bleating cry of a small animal, muffled by walls, reached him, and he turned toward a door at the far end of the kitchen.
Chance twisted the knob. The door didn’t budge. Inspecting the door, he noticed a rusty hook near the top, threaded through a metal eye loop. Forcing the hook out of the loop, he flung open the door and flipped the light switch. A yellow bulb blinked to life, illuminating a small portion of the stairs nearest him.
The weak cries of a tiny animal sounded again, only louder.
Chance descended the stairs, the pitiful amount of light diminished by the time he reached the bottom. In the gloom, he almost tripped over a pile of rags. When his toe connected with them, the rags moved and a low moan rose from the floor.
Chance dropped to his haunches, his vision adjusting to the darkness. A figure dressed in jeans and a faded plaid flannel shirt rolled over and light blue eyes stared up at him.
“Who are you?”
“Chance McCall. Molly and Nova sent me over. You must be Jillian Taylor.” He scooped his hands beneath her, lifted her into his arms and rose with his burden.
She blinked and stared around the basement, her pale blond hair tousled, strands falling across her forehead. “What happened?”
“I’d like to know that myself. But first, let’s get you out of here.” Chance started up the stairs.
“I can walk,” she protested.
“Yeah, but if it’s all right by you, I’d like to get you into the light without worrying about someone pushing you down the stairs again.”
She shook her head, her silken hair brushing against his arm. “I wasn’t pushed.”
Her frown deepened. “Why would you think that?”
At the top of the stairs, Chance set her on the dingy linoleum floor, keeping an arm around her waist to steady her. “If you weren’t pushed, why was the hook engaged at the top of the door?” He tipped his head toward the hook.
Leaning against him, she glanced up at the door, her eyes widening. “Why would the hook be engaged? I was the only one in the house. All the workers left.”
“That was my question.”
“Maybe it fell into place when the door closed.”
“Let’s see...the door was closed, the hook engaged, and when I opened the door, the light was off. Are you telling me you turned off the light, as well? And if you weren’t pushed down the stairs, you must have fallen.”
“I didn’t fall down the stairs.” She pinched the bridge of her nose.
“Then why were you lying on the ground?”
She stared up at him. “I don’t know.”
“Well, one thing’s for sure.”
“You can’t stay here alone.”
Jillian stiffened. “This is my house.”
“Yeah, but something’s not right here.”
She glanced around as if still getting her bearings. “Some say it’s haunted.”
She shrugged. “I think it needs work, but it’s my home.”
“Lady, you’re crazy. The best thing that could happen to this dump is to run a bulldozer over it.”
Jillian’s chin lifted. “That is not going to happen. I have workers scheduled to restore the house to its former glory. You wait. It’s going to be beautiful.”
Chance snorted. “It’s your funeral.”
“The only way I’m going to die in this house is from old age.” She pushed away from him and headed back to the front of the house. “You can go back to the B and B. I don’t need your help.”
“Can a ghost help you unload that couch off the trailer?”
“No. But I’d dump the damned thing on the ground before I let you touch it.”
Q&A for Deadly Obsession
- Who is your favorite thriller character? Fiction or nonfiction.
I love the action heroes in the recent comic book movies like Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America. If I had to choose, I would choose, Thor. I love the legends and the mythical quality surround him and his world.
2. What are five words that describe your writing process?
Brainstorming, Characterization, Conflict, Romance, Success
3. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I’m writing an action scene and the words are flying off my fingers onto the keyboard, I feel like I’m playing a concert piano and I’m hitting the crescendo!
4. How do you come up with the locations for each of your books? Do you get to travel to them?
As a military brat, we traveled around and lived in different states. I’ve also had the pleasure of traveling a lot lately. I’ve been to 49 out of 50 U.S. states (I’m missing Delaware). I’ve traveled in Canada, Italy, Mexico, Virgin Islands, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. I’ve used some of these locations in my writing. I don’t always have to have been to a place to write about it. I do a lot of research online and relate places to those I’ve visited for climate and ambiance.
5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love traveling! Seeing new places, visiting other countries is a thrill for me. My bucket list primarily consists of places I want to see. I also like boating on the lake, four-wheeling in the mountains and watching HGTV. I’m hooked on home remodeling shows!
6. Do you like to write in other genres besides romantic thrillers?
I love writing paranormal, romantic comedy, western contemporary romance and I’d love to write a young adult paranormal series when I get time. Ha! I seem to be writing all the time.
7. How long does it typically take you to write a book?
It depends on the length of the book and if the story is coming easily to me. Sometimes I can write a 70,000-word book in four weeks, sometimes it takes two months. I can write a 55,000-word book in the same amount of time. It really depends on the story and how the characters are taking shape and what’s going on in my life at the time. Life tends to get in the way quite often and slows my writing. But then you have to live, right?
8. Is anything in Deadly Obsession based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
It’s all purely imagined. I love losing myself in a story that comes alive in my head. I hope my readers lose themselves as completely as I did when I wrote it.
9. Do you prefer to write at any specific part of the day?
I prefer to write in the middle of the day between 10:00 and 5:00. If I’m pushing a deadline, I could be writing from 7:00 until midnight.
10. Which would you rather do, never write another story or read another book?
Wow. If I never wrote another story, I think I’d be okay. But I always have to have something to read! I started out a reader. That has never changed. Granted, I don’t have as much time to read, but I love to read!
11. Ballpoint, uniball or fountain pen?
Gel pens! I love colorful gel pens with thick, vibrant colors. Pens are like candy to me. I can’t get enough. I love to see the ink flow onto the paper and make notes about my stories.
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