Candy Cane Christmas

Christmas was Denise’s favorite holiday. That’s not unusual since it’s almost everyone’s favorite holiday, but her story was unusual. It was the Christmas season when her parents adopted her twenty years ago on December 21st, 1998. The anniversary of that with Christmas following soon after was always the best part of her year.

In the last two years though, she had lost both of her parents – one to cancer and one to what she can only describe as a broken heart. Since her Dad died in June, she had been dreading this Christmas season. That was, until around October when a little girl who was seven years old named Tiffany came through the agency she worked at. She was orphaned (both parents died in a plane crash) and had no other relatives to take care of her.

Denise worked at an adoption agency, because had it not been for an adoption agency helping, she never would have met the people who raised her. She wanted to give back, and she felt like this was how to do it.

When she met Tiffany, Denise felt an internal tugging to help. She had always planned to adopt, in a way of honoring her parents, but she planned to wait until she was married and a little older. After she heard Tiffany’s story though, she knew that it was her time now. So, she started the process of adoption (it tends to go quicker when the child is orphaned and when you work at an adoption agency). The Judge had planned to sign the official adoption order on December 19th, but Denise had explained the significance of the 21st, and they all agreed that it would be special to share that date together.

Tiffany had been living with Denise as a foster situation for a little over a month though. She was adjusting, but she didn’t come without issues. She had nightmares almost every night, and she was constantly anxious that something was going to happen to Denise. With everything Tiffany had been through, Denise told herself that it would just take a little bit of time.

The Judge did sign the Order of Adoption on December 21st, 2018, and the girls celebrated with a big lunch at Tiffany’s favorite restaurant in the city, followed by ice skating and a visit to see Santa. Denise was excited to help Santa out and give Tiffany the best Christmas she could afford on her salary. As they left, Tiffany stuffed several candy canes from Santa’s elf into Denise’s bag and took her hand. This little girl was so happy now, and so was she.

That next day Tiffany and Denise spent hours baking cookies and cakes for Christmas, and watching Christmas movies. Any doubts Denise had in the beginning about going forward with Tiffany’s adoption dissipated. She felt like nothing in the world could ruin this Christmas for them.

That night Tiffany had one of her nightmares again. It was different this time though, because once Denise woke her up Tiffany didn’t seem to snap out of it like she had every other time. Denise tried to go back to sleep, but she couldn’t get her mind to settle down. When Tiffany had one of her episodes, it always left Denise a little shaken. It was hard to describe, but her eyes were blank and she didn’t say anything when Denise tried to talk to her about it.

Denise went into the kitchen and made herself a glass of hot chocolate. She sat at the table stirring the marshmallows in her mug, wondering what she could say to help her.

Denise heard footsteps and turned around to see her new daughter in the doorway of the kitchen holding a sharpened candy cane.

“Merry Christmas” Tiffany hissed as she lifted the candy cane in the air and charged toward her.

BOOK LOVERS DAY!

Happy Book Lovers Day!

If you follow my blog, I assume you love books and reading as much as I do. It has always been a huge part of my life, and I would not be the same person I am if it had not been for many different novels growing up. I figured I would update everyone on some books I have recently finished reading to celebrate the day; along with what I am currently reading!

 

Five Books I Have Recently Finished Reading

  1. Death Overdue is part of the “A Haunted Library Mystery” series by Allison Brook. This book follows a girl named Carrie who works in a library in a Clover Ridge, Connecticut. The book is set during Halloween (my favorite) and involves a ghost who resides in the library, and a couple of murders both in and out of the library. It’s an amateur sleuth type of mystery, and I enjoyed the character development for Carrie throughout the book. I will definitely pick up a few more books from this series in the future.
  2. Pet Sematary almost seems like a silly book to write a review on. Honestly, everyone is familiar with this book by Stephen King. I had seen the movie years ago, but after seeing they were making a new one I wanted to read the book. I was absolutely terrified, but it was an amazing book. Again, I really feel like it would be ridiculous to explain to you how good of an author Stephen King is.
  3. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Loveit by Chelsea Sedoti has got to be one of the strangest books I have ever read but I definitely found myself really invested in it. It is a story of a teenage girl who leads an incredibly normal life, and then she inserts herself into a completely insane scenario for no good reason other than because she wants to. Throughout the book she navigates life, death, and love and it ends in a perfectly normal way but the journey through the book is full of twists. I would not recommend it for anyone younger than sixteen, but I am glad I read it.
  4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis hit me right in my feelings. I have long been obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia movies, but as a kid I never read the books. I figured I may as well start now, and I am so glad I did. Reading this made everything in the movies start to make sense. I am a sucker for fantasy type books for kids. Every single kid should read this book.
  5. In Conclusion Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham was so good. I actually did this in audiobook form, because I had heard that she narrates it. Lauren is Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, and that has been and will always be one of my favorite shows. I was very interested in this book for that reason, but I ended up really enjoying the content. It’s not long at all (probably an hour) but she lets us in on a glimpse of her past and how she got to the point in her career that she is at. It was very uplifting and motivating.

 

My current read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. My younger cousin Will, who is wise beyond his eighteen years, recommended this book to me. It is absolutely wonderful so far. I love historical fiction, and I think this book will end up being a favorite of mine.

 

A little fact about me: My favorite book growing up (and to this day remains the book that helped me fall in love with reading) was: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews. It is a book that my future children will read, and hopefully the generations beyond it. Whenever I feel discouraged or in a rut reading, I pull it out and remember the things that book did for my imagination.

 

Happy Book Lovers Day everyone! Enjoy celebrating!

 

Ghosted

Monica was so excited she could barely sit still while Meghan was curling her hair. Meghan had been her best friend for over a decade, and today she had surprised Monica with tickets to a ghost tour while on their vacation in New Orleans. AND today just so happened to be Friday the 13th.

Monica had been a fan of all things supernatural her whole life. If it was weird or spooky, she was going to watch it. She was starting college in the fall, and she wanted to study Criminology. If it had to do with murders or mysteries, she wanted to know about it.

The girls had decided to venture to New Orleans for their first solo “adult” trip. The fun nightlife, the history, and the good food had landed them in New Orleans. The first two days had been fun, but with this surprise Monica had no doubt she would have the most fun tonight.

Monica knew Meghan didn’t believe in ghosts, but she loved her friend for being willing to sit through this for her. They finished getting ready, and went outside. Their hotel was right off of Bourbon Street, so they didn’t have far to walk to get to the carriage ride.

Five minutes later they were hopping up onto the carriage and listening to the tour guide’s instructions.

“When we get off at a stop for a guided walk through, please remember not to stray. These are old buildings and not all of the floors are stable. Not only that, but you may encounter a couple of spirits that aren’t happy you’ve disturbed them,” said the guide with a wink.

Monica’s eyes lit up, and Meghan shot her a glance. Monica knew Meghan would complain, but she couldn’t promise she wouldn’t explore the parts of the tour that were “off-limits”.

“Don’t look at me like that Meghan,” smiled Monica. “I won’t get us into any real danger. It’s just made up right?”

“I’m more worried about falling through an old floor board than a ghost,” said Meghan.

A few minutes later they were in the carriage slowly moving along. The guide went over the usual historical talking points, pointing out which buildings people claimed to see or hear things in. The carriage came to a stop outside of a dark alley beside a large, industrial type building.

“Okay, everyone off. This is our first leg of the walking tour; follow me!” said the guide.

Everyone filed along behind the guide through the alley and into a side door of the building.

“I wonder what this building was for,” mused Meghan.

The tour guide heard her question. “This was once a canning factory. It closed about thirty years ago though.”

“Why did it close?” Monica asked.

“Over the course of a year, six people were murdered here,” the tour guide said in a creepy voice that made their skin crawl.

“Did they find who did it?” another tourist asked.

“No,” said the guide. “The legends say that the murderer still comes back here occasionally. There have been a few unexplained disappearances in recent years near here, but the police have never been able to link them. Rumor has it, the murderer comes back every Friday the 13th and waits on someone to find him.”

Meghan shifted uncomfortably beside Monica, but Monica was too interested to notice.

“Oh, oh will we get to see where they were killed?” asked Monica.

“We’ll walk above the area on a raised level, but do not stray off of the path,” warned the guide.

“We’re definitely going to look around,” whispered Monica to Meghan. “What could actually happen to us?”

They walked along until they were raised above the area the guide had told them about. Monica looked around and there was an entry to a staircase to her right. She grabbed Meghan by the shoulder and pulled her into the staircase.

“Monica I’m scared, I don’t think we should do this,” whimpered Meghan.

“Don’t be a baby. We’re just going to look around and then we’ll go right back before they even know we’re missing,” said Monica.

Reluctantly, Meghan followed Monica down the stairs into a large room full of machinery. They were about to turn around a go back to the group when Monica saw a hat near one of the machines. It looked fairly new, so she wanted to check it out, thinking it may belong to one of those missing people the guide mentioned.

They creeped along and Monica reached for the hat. It was Pelicans cap, and she had been right- it wasn’t old at all. Monica looked up and as she did, a shadow ran along the back wall.

“Meghan,” hissed Monica. “Someone just ran by.”

“I’m sure you’re just seeing things Monica, but I’m really creeped out. Can we please go?”

Even Meghan had to agree that she was feeling uneasy and wanted to get back to the group. They turned to go back towards the staircase when they heard a thud.

“Don’t look back just run!” screamed Monica.

The girls ran as fast as they could, but when Monica reached the door to the stairs and threw the door open, she saw that Meghan wasn’t with her anymore.

“Meghan! Someone please help! She screamed.” Meghan ran up the stairs to find the tour guide and the group for help, but she couldn’t find them.

They were gone and no one heard her scream.

Outside, one of the tourists remarked that the girls were gone.

“They probably just took off for Bourbon Street,” said the guide. “Happens all the time.”

“Told them not to wander off,” the guide muttered under her breath, as she steered the carriage forward.

 

 

Happy Friday the 13th friends!

Thunder Rolls

When Molly returns from a work trip to Syria, she meets a cute guy named Preston online. But the hours following go from flirty to deadly…

Molly normally liked when the weather was bad. She preferred the rain to other types of weather; she always got her best writing done when there was thunder and lightning in the background. She just didn’t have it in her tonight.

After a couple of hours trying to get through the piece she was writing for work about her recent trip to Syria, she called it a night. She had about a page and a half to show for her efforts, but it would just have to wait.

She went downstairs to feed her cat and pour herself a glass of wine. Molly palmed her glass of Cabernet as she leaned against the counter. Her sleep schedule was still off from her trip and she knew she wouldn’t sleep for hours. She grabbed her cell phone and pulled open one of her dating apps. She had a message from a guy named Preston.

“How is your night going?” he wrote.

He was cute and she was bored so she responded with “It’s good. Just drinking some wine and relaxing.”

They chatted for a few minutes, and Molly went and plugged her phone into the charger in the hallway. Molly took a long, warm bath and when she went to check her phone, her heart fell into her stomach.

“That pink robe looks good on you” the message read.

Molly ran to the front door and made sure it was locked, and then she sprinted to the back door and latched it. She had a lump in her throat and her hands were shaking as she typed out “how did you know I’m in a pink robe?”

But no one messaged back.

Molly went up to her room and locked the bedroom door behind her. She checked under her bed and in her closet and when she was sure no one was in the room with her, she grabbed her pistol out of the nightstand by her bed and loaded it. She didn’t want to call the police over what was probably just a prank anyway.

She sat on her bed clutching the gun, trying to calm herself down.

Her phone beeped. “Why do you look so nervous Molly? I’m not going to hurt you; you can put your gun down.”

Molly let out a cry, and quickly muffled her mouth with her hand. She thought about calling her ex-boyfriend Danny, but after she had broken up with him before her trip he made it clear he didn’t want to speak to her.

Just as Molly was about to call the police, her phone beeped again. Another message from “Preston.”

“Call the cops and I will kill you. I can see you.”

She could feel the warm, salty tears streaming down her face. The sound of glass breaking downstairs pierced her thoughts. She grabbed her phone, ran to her closet, and barricaded herself in it. She didn’t have anything to lose, so she called the police.

“911- what’s your emergency?”

She kept it short. “There’s a man breaking into my house, I’m at 473 Cherry Lane, please hurry I’m in my bedroom closet with a gun.”

“Okay ma’am, there’s an officer not far from you. He will be there as quick as he can. Stay on the phone with me. Do you know how to use your gun?”

“Yes, I think so. I have it loaded.”

“Okay, just don’t panic. You’re going to be fine.”

“Oh Molly, where are you?” teased the intruder. “I thought I told you not to call the police?”

She could hear him opening doors and getting closer. The voice sounded familiar, but through the closet walls everything was muffled. She heard her bedroom door shake. Whoever the man was couldn’t get it open. He threw himself into the door a few times until it broke open. Molly held her breath, not knowing what to expect. She was thankful she had a dresser in her closet that she had been able to push in front of the door…maybe it would delay him more until the officer could get there.

Her hands were shaking as she backed herself into the wall of her closet and braced the gun in front of her. She had only shot it a couple of times, but she figured at such a close range, she wouldn’t miss. She didn’t know if he was armed or not, but she wasn’t going to wait and find out.

“Oh Molly, this wasn’t very smart. I’ve got you cornered now. Those cops you called won’t get here in time.” he said.

She saw a knife plunge through the door. He stabbed it until he had made a whole big enough to see through, and as soon as she saw his eyes and the knife, she shot.

Her ears were ringing and tears were streaming down her face but she was alive and no one was trying to get through the door anymore. Before she could stand up she heard a voice coming up her stairs asking if she was okay.

“Yes, yes I’m okay. I’m the one who shot,” she screamed out.

She stood up, knees shaking and pushed the dresser away from the door so she could get out. When she opened the door and saw the officer she knew she was okay.

Then she looked down, and saw Danny on the floor. She hit her knees and cried out, finally realizing why she recognized the voice.

Over the next couple of hours, after several officers combed through her house, she learned about Danny’s plan. While she was in Syria, he had used his key to her house to set up cameras and microphones, so he could watch every move she made. He knew where she was and what she had been doing for the days since she had been back from her trip. They didn’t know the point of the dating profile, other than to make her feel even more vulnerable, and make her think it was someone else torturing her until he revealed himself. They found his car a block away with ropes and tape in the trunk.

The only thing he didn’t think through was that she could have a gun, because she had never told him.

Outside, the thunder rolled.

Just Another Maniac Monday

If you ask my family and friends, they will be the first to tell you that if my television is on, it is likely on the I.D. Channel (Investigation Discovery). I have always loved watching any show dealing with crime, murder, mystery, etc. When I was younger, my mom introduced me to mystery books, and as I got older, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew turned into Agatha Christie and Lois Duncan.

I am fascinated by serial killers, and I am keenly aware of how odd it is to write that. In another life I would be a profiler for the FBI on serial killers. The closest I ever came to that was taking a “Psychiatry and the Law” class in law school. My paper for the class included several different serial killers and the legalities of their cases- from the things that were missed throughout their lives to their actual trials and sentences.

Honestly, they are all terrifying. You don’t get lumped into the category of serial killers without being scary. In terms of which serial killer scares me the most though, I would without hesitation say John Wayne Gacy. The man dressed like a clown for parties and charity events, and ended up killing around thirty-three young men. Have you ever seen anything more terrifying?

“The Killer Clown”

john-wayne-gacy

No, you have not. He is the real life version of Pennywise, and just from writing this post I will likely have a nightmare about him tonight.

For me the scariest part about serial killers is their otherwise normal existence. Most of them lead normal lives with families and jobs. No one is ever the wiser about their real personalities, until they are. Often, the scariest monsters are the ones who look just like us.

Hopefully your Monday is less horrific than “The Killer Clown”!

 

 

Carrie’s Cup- Final Chapter

Carrie tried to muffle out a scream for help, but she knew it was useless. It was getting dark and people would be arriving for the play soon. It was so cold and she was only wearing a thin sweater. Her hands were ice and the only thing keeping her teeth from shaking was the cloth Donovan had so generously shoved into her mouth. She looked around for anything that could cut the rope around her. She saw some garden shears, but she couldn’t exactly pick those up and use them, so she kept looking.

The rope was not very thick and Carrie knew if she could just find anything sharp that she could back up to, she could possibly cut it off. She could stand, but she was tied to a chair and the door was shut, so she knew her only way out was to free her arms. She scooted her chair closer to the edge of a metal table and tried to use the corner to saw through the rope.

“How could Donovan have done this?” mused Carrie.

Carrie blamed herself. If she hadn’t hired Mary-Anne, Donovan never would have had the opportunity to be near her. She knew there was not anything she could do to help Mary-Anne at this point, other than to stop Donovan from getting away with this.

She kept sawing at the rope until one popped. She moved on to the other one and she prayed by the time she got it undone, Donovan wouldn’t have already left town.

After what felt like another hour, Carrie finally got the second rope undone. She ripped the ropes off, pulled out the cloth from her mouth, and tore across the greenhouse only to find that the door was blocked by something.

“Wonderful! Someone please help me!” screamed Carrie. She kicked and screamed on the door until tears were streaming down her face and her voice was growing raspy.

Suddenly she could hear someone coming. She backed away from the door and grabbed the garden shears she had seen earlier in case it was Donovan coming back to check on her.

It wasn’t Donovan.

“Beatrice!” exclaimed Carrie. She had never been so excited to see that woman, or anyone for that matter, in her life. “Thank God you’re here. How did you find me?”

“Carrie,” cried Beatrice, “why are you in here? What is going on? When you weren’t there for final alterations and curtain call, I went looking for you. Donovan said he thought you had just run back to the coffee shop, but I knew something was off.”

“He’s still here? Listen Beatrice, Donovan put me in this shed. He is the one who killed Mary-Anne. I figured it out, or I was about to, and he confronted me when I got to the school earlier today. We have to go right now.”

Beatrice looked pale, but she nodded her head and they ran towards the school.

“Beatrice, go inside and find a phone and call the police department. Ask for Detective Johnson- tell him to meet us here and not to make a big scene.”

Beatrice nodded and followed it with “Wait where are you going Carrie, why aren’t you coming in to wait on him?”

“I have something I need to grab while I still can from Donovan’s house. If he’s in there, and does not know I’m out of the shed, this is the best time to do it” said Carrie, and she took off down the sidewalk.

Donovan lived close to the school, so Carrie hurried towards his house. When she got there, she ran around the back and grabbed a key from under the stone frog beside his door. She let herself in, and gasped at how the heat felt on her face. She looked around. She knew his laptop had to be here; she just needed to find it. She wouldn’t need any more proof than that to hand Detective Johnson.

She grabbed a coat out of his hall closet to try to stop her bones from shaking, and she made her way into his bedroom. The laptop wasn’t there. She was walking out of the room when she saw it on the master bathroom counter out of the corner of her eye.

Carrie snatched the laptop up and ran out of the house as fast as she could back to the elementary school.

As she opened the double doors, she was met by Beatrice and a confused Detective Johnson and ushered into a side room.

“Beatrice, go make sure he stays where he is until I can talk to Carrie and figure this out,” ordered Detective Johnson. Beatrice left the room, closing the door behind her.

“Tell me what happened Carrie. Beatrice was a mess and I only got half of what I assume is the story.”

“Donovan killed Mary-Anne,” said Carrie flatly.

She explained how she found the mug handle, how Waffle had gone missing, how she had gone through Mary Anne’s Facebook and figured out she was talking to someone. Then, she explained the connection of Donovan and Connor’s name, and how he confronted her and tied her up inside the greenhouse.

“So, you left to go to his house to get his laptop so he wouldn’t be able to destroy it?” asked Detective Johnson.

“Exactly” smiled Carrie.

Detective Johnson opened the laptop and looked through the messages. Turning a shade of red, he closed it and stood up.

“Carrie, you did really good with this. I’m going to go get him now.”

Carrie nodded her head and followed him out of the room. No way was she going to pass up the opportunity for Donovan to see her.

His reaction did not disappoint. He pitched a fit in front of everyone standing in the lobby of the auditorium. As Detective Johnson put handcuffs on him, Carrie smiled and waved at the frowning face of the man she once considered her closest friend in town.

Guess she would have to find someone new to have coffee with every morning.

 

 

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 6

Donovan was waiting on Carrie when she got to work the next morning.

“Sorry I didn’t call back. I fell asleep early last night…wasn’t feeling well,” said Donovan.

“Aw I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well. Come on, it’s cold out here. Let’s get some coffee,” Carrie said.

They walked into the shop, and Carrie made a pot of coffee. She poured two mugs, and sat one down for Donovan on the table and took the chair across from him. She told him about the night before, and Donovan sat and listened quietly. She told him about Waffle being missing and the coffee cup handle. She told him more about Connor and Noel mentioning that no one in Mary-Anne’s life had met him.

“I think it’s weird,” mused Carrie. “Don’t you think it’s weird? No one knows him, no pictures of them together. Do you think it’s a fake profile?”

Donovan nodded, but he was quiet. Carrie figured he just still did not feel great from the previous night. He had a second cup of coffee and then was off to work.

The Thanksgiving play was that night. With everything that had been going on, it hadn’t been at the front of her thoughts, but she only had one small part of a Pilgrim costume left to finish.

Carrie closed the shop early at 4:30 so she could get to the school to finish the costume. No one was there yet; the play wasn’t until 7 p.m. so she didn’t expect anyone to be there until around 6 p.m. Carrie preferred it that way- fewer distractions. She got out of her truck and hurried inside. It wasn’t even dark yet, but the temperatures were dropping quickly.

Carrie sat down at the sewing machine, and fixed the hemline on the Pilgrim skirt she was working on. It didn’t take her long, so when she finished it, she pulled out her laptop.

Carrie googled Donovan’s name, and a few different things popped up. Donovan had grown up in Ristretto, and some local news articles about him popped up, including a list of graduates from the year Donovan graduated high school: “Donovan Connor Landry.”

Carrie stared at the name. “His middle name is Connor?” she questioned.

Is it a coincidence? Since she spoke with Donovan earlier, all she could think about was how out of character he seemed. She was just starting to wonder if she needed to call and speak to Detective Johnson when she heard a footstep.

Carrie felt a hand touch her left shoulder, and she jumped slamming her laptop closed.

She turned around and Donovan was standing behind her.

“What did you find Carrie?” Donovan asked.

“Wha…wha…do you mean?” Carrie stuttered.

“Why did you save that handle Carrie?” asked Donovan. “Why couldn’t you have just let the Detectives do their jobs? They wouldn’t have found out, but at least you wouldn’t be in this situation now.”

Carrie turned white. “I don’t know anything though. What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb with me Carrie. You’ve been digging around asking questions, looking for answers that you don’t need. I loved Mary-Anne.”

Carrie gripped the arm of her chair, as Donovan started laughing. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t want to interrupt him.

“She’s the one that suggested we meet at C4. It was her idea. We’ve been talking for months, and I told her I’d “fly in” to meet her. She didn’t want her mom to know she was meeting someone off the internet so she wanted to meet at the shop instead. She got there and didn’t seem happy to see me. I tried to explain that it didn’t matter that I was older, that she wouldn’t get in trouble. She tried to leave; she was upset. I grabbed her arm to stop her, but she started screaming. I couldn’t let her leave. I hit her in the head with the mug, and I dragged her into the back room. You know the rest,” Donovan sighed.

Carrie felt like she was going to be sick. “Did you break into my house?”

“Not exactly,” laughed Donovan. “You left your door unlocked and I snuck in before you got home. When you fell asleep, I let Waffle out and when you went to look for him, I found the mug handle.”

Carrie felt the room shift out of focus.

“Now what to do with you?” asked Donovan.

Carrie tried to get up and run, but before she could, Donovan pushed her down. He grabbed a rope from a supply box under the table and tied her arms. He rushed her out the back door of the school without her coat.

Donovan led her to a shed behind the school that the kids used in the spring for their garden. He tied her to a chair and put a piece of cloth in her mouth so she couldn’t scream out.

He left her there.