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Posts tagged ‘sequel’

Strangers’ Angel Chapter Two



Dear Diary,

“Strangers’ Angel”, the sequel to “The One That Got Away”. Last week, chapter one, next week chapter three.


Strangers’ Angel Chapter 2

Walking always cleared Anna’s mind. It seemed to allow ideas and thoughts to blow in and out unhindered by whatever she had to concentrate on. Occasionally, she would grab a thought as it slid by and consider it a bit more closely before setting it free to circulate once again. Sometimes stray thoughts that did not belong to her would enter the mix when she would pass a stranded spirit. These thoughts were usually vague and unobtrusive and would drift right back out as she passed their vicinity. She always felt a touch of sadness for the stranded souls because they were trapped between the two states of being. She knew that this limbo would not last forever, but they all had some repeating thought that they were fussing over. This single traumatic event that occurred at their death would continually loop until somehow they pushed past it and would continue their journey. Sometimes they were aware of her as she entered their area. On those occasions she would make eye contact and nod politely to acknowledge their presence. Most of the time, however, the stranded souls would not notice her and would not interrupt their seemingly endless hand wringing about whatever it was that was agitating to them. Anna did not know why some souls got stuck and some did not. There were all sorts who got stuck- Bright Souls, Dark Souls and in-between ones. It seemed to Anna that it was kind of like swerving off into a ditch on the road of life.

She was coming up to the sorority house where she often sensed a stranded soul. His name was Nicodemus and he was a famous ghost in her college town. The sorority house had long since replaced the modest home that existed in Nicodemus’ day. In the 1850’s 24 East Washington Street was a station for the Underground Railroad. Nicodemus’ story was that he had been an escaping slave that had taken refuge there. Unfortunately for him a group of angry townspeople got wind that the home was a haven for runaway slaves and raided the place. Nicodemus was shot dead while fleeing. Anna’s quick stride faltered as a sudden thought struck her. She hadn’t realized it before, but she now knew that as Ida Spencer she had known Nicodemus briefly. Hazy fragments of memories tugged at the edges of Anna’s mind. Pieces of conversation, a shared meal, obtaining a pair of sturdy boots for him…Nicodemus had stopped off at Ida’s farm during his Underground Railroad journey. A tight jolt of sadness shot through her. Ida hadn’t known that he didn’t make it to freedom. Nicodemus was a spirit that normally did acknowledge Anna’s presence if he was there when she passed. She wondered if this was because he recognized her. Interesting. She might have to risk seeming odd to passersby to try communicating with him more substantially. Anna searched her mind to ascertain whether she felt that she recognized any of the other stranded spirits in town. She did not believe that she did, and she couldn’t think of any of them that appeared to be interested in her either.

The sleepy town of Athens was touted as the most haunted place in Ohio. Anna never had anything to add to the topic if it ever came up in conversation with others. She had learned as a child not to talk about it. She was able to see these spirits as long as she could remember. It did not disturb her. She was used to it and accepted it. She used to try to speak to them, but later discovered that it was not necessary. The communication worked just as well silently. They usually only had that one looping thought anyway and were not particularly interested in conversation. Shortly after her mother’s death she learned that not everyone could see them as she did.

Anna was four years old when her mother died. She was sent to live with her Aunt Leigh, Uncle Jeff and their children Franny and Kate. Aunt Leigh became quite alarmed when her young niece would speak of random stranded souls that she was able to observe. Leigh attributed this oddity as Anna’s attempt to deal with the loss of her mother. She immediately put Anna in counseling. From her experience with counseling Anna learned to keep it all to herself, except for Aunt Sara.

Sara knew. Aunt Sara was a Bright Soul. But Sara wasn’t really her aunt. She was someone that her mother had met shortly before her death. Anna had always felt comfortable with Sara from the moment she walked into her life. At first, Aunt Leigh was hesitant to allow Sara to be involved in Anna’s activities but after a couple of full blown tantrums on Anna’s part, she relented. It soon became apparent that Sara had a calming and positive impact on the young girl who had lost her mother. Over the years, the relationship between the two of them continued and grew. Anna learned that Sara also dreamed of her previous pasts and could see stranded souls as well. But Sara seemed to understand much more about this other reality than Anna did. She would explain some things but had a tendency to be mysterious and talk in riddles. She was fond of saying that it was better to glean information than to be given information. It made the discovery a pure idea and unbound by the possibility that given information was skewed or not complete. She also insisted that she was not privy to the entire picture either.


It was going to be a hot one today. The air was muggy and not a breath of wind stirred the numerous trees lining the brick walk. Anna wiped a trickle of sweat from her brow and glanced over at the sorority house as she passed. She wouldn’t have time to stop there today or she would be late for her breakfast date. Nicodemus was there pressed closely to the side of the house. She silently called a friendly hello. Then, abruptly, she stopped. She seemed to have slammed into a wall of extreme tension and fear. It made her gasp suddenly with the force of it. Anna stared at the man spirit and he stared back at her. His eyes were frightened and his mouth worked wordlessly trying to tell her something. She could not understand specifically, but she could sense that it was some sort of warning. A warning for her. Then he hurriedly turned and ran away as though being pursued by a mob, which was in fact how his story had ended. A jagged wind began to blow.

“Are you okay?” A passing pedestrian stopped to query Anna.

Anna pulled her glance away from the scurrying figure and forced herself to manage her countenance before addressing the girl in front of her. She cleared her throat.

“Yes, thanks for asking.” The wall of anxious dread was subsiding and the wind continued to pick up. It felt good and fresh to her. It was going to thunderstorm.

“Well, okay, then. Bye.” The girl adjusted her backpack on her shoulder and gave Anna a small smile before trudging on her way.

Anna returned her eyes to the house. She couldn’t see or feel him anymore. She looked up at the sky that was becoming rapidly overcast. She had better hurry on to the restaurant before she was poured upon.





Strangers’ Angel Chapter One


Dear Diary,

Some of you are aware that I have promised a sequel to my novel “The One That Got Away”. I worked on it diligently for several months and then got waylaid by real life causing me to get off track with”Strangers’ Angel”. I have recently recommitted myself to getting up at 4am daily to accomplish this goal. It feels good. I am poised to submit the first three chapters to literary agents in the near future. I will share these with you.


Strangers’ Angel Chapter One


The gritty fingers of fear clawed their way up into her throat and clutched unmercifully at her stamina. She coughed only slightly, but felt as though she were choking on it. She willed the paralyzing mass back down to the pit of her violently wrenching stomach. The fact that she and Cora had just walked briskly from her farm further aggravated her breathing condition. The darkness had also caused her to trip on an unfortunately placed gnarled root and her old bones ached and protested the jarring they had received. Ida Spencer had a mission to complete and it was going awry, but panic was not an option. Participating as a station master in the Underground Railroad had always been risky, but as the Presidential election loomed on the horizon tensions between slave holding states and free states had reached a fever pitch. Some southern states were threatening to form their own country if Abraham Lincoln were to be elected President. Ida’s own state of Virginia was in turmoil over which side to be on. Parkersburg, Virginia did tend to be sympathetic to slave freedom, but as of late it seemed to Ida that western Virginia was crawling with slave catchers. She had heard tell that slave catching earned a pretty penny and that even judges were paid more for declaring an apprehended negro a slave. Ida didn’t really care to know all of those details. She was not what they called an ‘abolitionist’. She was not so much concerned about causes per se and certainly wasn’t one to be ranting loudly about them. She was concerned about what was morally correct and was stalwart enough to stick her neck out to help where needed.

Ida could feel the cascading trembling of the woman beside her even though they weren’t actually touching. The two women were crouched low in the sparse, stubby grass hiding behind a haphazard line of overgrown bushes beyond the pasture of Ida’s farm. Ida could tell the slave catchers were coming nearer. She knew that Cora needed to make a dash for the woods immediately. Ida took in a shallow, steadying breath and grabbed Cora’s lovely ebony face between her dirty hands.

“Cora…Cora, look at me,” Ida whispered insistently. “You need to go…” Both women flinched outwardly when the dog barked again. The beast and its owners were definitely closer. Cora pulled away from Ida and strapped her arms around hers knees and began to rock, shivering uncontrollably.

“Cora,” Ida physically turned the woman’s face to her again, “the worst thing is the fear. Bravery is following through with something when you are scared out of your wits. You must gather your wits. You must continue to be brave or it will all be for nothin’. You have made a choice to take your freedom. You have come so far. You cannot stop now.” Ida pointed in the darkness. “Look to the left. Do you see the grove of trees? Go there. There will be a stream. Cross over the stream to hide your scent and then follow it north for about five miles. You will see a small abandoned house. You must hide there until tomorrow night. There will be food in the hamper. A man named John will come for you after dark.” Ida paused and carefully raised her head to peek over the concealing bushes. “I don’t see them yet, but they be coming. Now is the time. Go now!”

Cora stayed frozen. The only movement was her eyes, which were blinking rapidly as tears began to well.

“Cora!” Ida hissed and shook the girl roughly. “Pull yourself together. You must be strong. Now go! Run!”

A small childlike whimper escaped Cora’s lips before she reset her features and pushed herself up off of the ground. Her face visibly shifted and her supple mouth creased into a firm line. There was no time to risk any last thank you or goodbye. She bolted to the woods like her life depended on it, because it did.

Ida watched the fleeing figure become smaller and blend into the shadow of the trees. She sighed jaggedly and tried to quiet her own cantering heart. Now what to do? She crouched there in the fleeting stillness and considered her options. She could continue to hide and hope that they did not find her. In fact, they were not really looking for her, they were looking for Cora. They did suspect, however, that she was aiding runaway slaves, but had no proof, until perhaps today. If they did find her, how would one explain an old widow groveling in the dirt, in her housedress, after midnight, in a field a half a mile from her home? Not very effectively, unless she made up some elaborate story about how she got there. But no, Ida Spencer was not an actress, nor did she have the imagination to spin such a tale. She was a direct and plain sort, driven and stubborn from strongly held moral beliefs. She decided that it would not do to just sit in the dirt awaiting them to come up on her. Surely they would find her if she stayed. They had a dog and all. It made the most sense to get up and walk on home. She would hope for the best. She would face her fate walking. She stood laboriously and winced as she put pressure on her right leg. The last several years had given her body mysterious aches and pains. She tried diligently to pay them no mind and function as efficiently as she was able. There was so much to be done on any given day. She brushed herself off briskly, ignoring her complaining joints. She fussed inwardly that her dress was most likely unsalvageable from the dirt ground into it. Then she stood straight and firm and entered into prayer. She asked the Lord for protection and guidance for herself and for Cora and thanked Him for His goodness. Then she began her walk home. She comforted herself that each step brought her closer to her haven. The dog began to bark again. It was sounding more excited. Ida began counting her steps to distract herself from her perilous situation. Her footsteps sounded so loud to her as she crunched through the underbrush. Perhaps it was God’s will that they find her, not Cora. That girl had her whole life ahead of her. Ida fervently hoped that Cora would find her freedom, especially if Ida paid the price for it. Ida immediately scolded herself for such vain thoughts. It would be as the Lord would have it and that needed to be the only thing that mattered.

Ida could see the silhouettes of the men and the dog coming from the south. She cringed inwardly, but continued her stalwart pace. Ida believed that she recognized her pursuers. She had heard talk that Old Man Peters and his sons had recently taken up slave catching. Peters was a mean and vile sort. Her mouth dried at the thought of having to converse with the man. The men began yelling at her to stop. Ida Spencer wanted to run as fast as her stubby old legs could carry her, but what would be the use? They would certainly loose the dog on her. That would be worse.

Ida halted and turned to face them. As she waited for them to approach she heard them cussing and exclaiming to each other as they recognized who she was. One of the three men shushed the frantically barking dog, although the animal continued to growl as they covered the distance to where she was standing. Old man Peters spoke first.

“Widow Spencer, fancy meeting you here.” His voice dripped with sarcasm and disdain. He paused to spit tobacco juice just inches from Ida’s foot. “Where be that blackie you been hidin’?” he drawled as he fixed her with his probing, beady eyes. Ida was suddenly struck by the fact that she recognized this dark soul from somewhere that she could not put her finger on. Of course she knew him as one of her neighbor’s farmhands, but this was something else, from somewhere else. This happened to her occasionally and she had learned to trust this instinct. These dark souls needed to be thwarted at all costs. There were also bright souls that Ida felt moved to aid in any way. They were like living angels. Sometimes she mused that she herself was an angel in training, but then her practical nature would chide her insisting that was just pure vanity.

“Let me shoot her in the leg, Pa. That’ll make the cow talk. Filthy slave lovin’ whore.” Ida looked closely at Peters’ oldest son and saw him to be a dark soul too. It was never good to find two dark souls together. It magnified their spirit strength. She shifted her gaze to the younger brother. He looked agitated and scared as he nervously tried to control the dog. His soul was not dark.

“Put the rifle down, son,” Peters demanded. “I don’t expect no trouble from Miz Spencer.” He changed his tone to imitate the most polite of gentlemen, although his sneer and malicious eyes quite spoiled the effect. “I’m sorely disappointed to find a woman of your upbringin’ aiding runaway slaves, Miz Spencer. Maybe we can get you off easy this one time if you tell us where she be and promise never to do such a thing again.”

“I will not do that, Mr. Peters.” Ida spoke evenly and her eyes flashed with determination as she stood solidly.

It was then that understanding crept into the grizzled man’s expression. Peters’ face twisted in smoldering rage as he realized that Ida was in fact a Bright Soul.

“Go ahead, son, shoot her in the leg.”

The older son grinned wickedly and aimed swiftly.

“No!” the younger brother shoved at the rifle as the bullet flew out of the barrel. The bullet lodged squarely in the center of Ida’s forehead, forced its way through the back of her skull and then continued its journey to rest under the dry, rain craving soil. Ida collapsed immediately to the ground.


Anna awoke with a start. She instinctively reached to touch her forehead with her long, tapered fingers. She found herself sitting bolt upright in bed and breathing heavily. After a moment, she relaxed her body and slumped back into the comfortable disarray of blankets and pillows. She always preferred a plethora of both. Anna stared up at the ceiling and watched the shifting pattern of shadow that resulted from the early morning sunlight fingering through the tree outside of her window. She adjusted her head on the pillow until the sun shone warmly on her face. She closed her eyes and sighed, releasing the dream.

“I guess that’s how that one ends,” she murmured to herself. Chances were good that Anna wouldn’t be dreaming of Ida again now that she had seen her death. Over the past several months Anna had been sporadically witnessing snatches of the woman’s mostly uneventful life in her dreams. But in reality these dreams were actually scattered memories. Anna Parker had lived as Ida Spencer. It was not unusual for Anna to dream of the people she used to be. It had begun when she was twelve years old and by now she was accustomed to it. However, she thought she would never get used to how exhausted they made her feel. That was annoying. Anna had a busy schedule to keep and it was difficult when she felt like falling asleep in the middle of it. She hoped now that the saga of Ida Spencer was complete she would get a break from the vivid dreams and have some months of normal sleep. She had a feeling, however, this was unlikely. She wondered briefly who she would dream of next.

Anna allowed the sunlight to caress her slender and pointed features and began drifting slowly back to sleep. It was only moments before her alarm clock began chiming an electronic version of the Beatles’ song “Here Comes the Sun”. Kate’s dog, Clarice, immediately began to howl and charged into Anna’s bedroom to protest the ear splitting tones. Clarice licked at Anna nervously until the girl reached over to eradicate the merciless noise. Then the dog began to bark and wag her tail wildly in greeting.

“Sorry, Clarice, I forgot to close the door again.” Anna slid her feet onto the hardwood floor and adjusted her pale blue tank top before reaching down to scratch Clarice’s brown peppered ears. “There. All better now.”

Anna stood and retied the drawstring on her plaid pajama pants while Clarice did a few happy circles. Anna walked carefully to avoid stepping on the animal amid her joyous prancing. She paused by the oval mirror hanging on the wall by the door and wiped at a mascara smudge under her left eye. Did she look like she was two decades old today? It was always a silly thing to be checking, but she did it every year. Nope, she looked the same as yesterday. Age always had a way of sneaking up on you when you were not looking. Anna padded into the living room, yawning and pushing her long chestnut hair out of her face. Clarice bolted ahead to find Kate. Anna noticed that her other roommate, Viv, was dead asleep on the couch. She was still wearing her snazzy date outfit from the night before. Her arm trailed on the floor and her mouth was wide open. She was snoring softly. Even in such a disheveled state she was beautiful. Her skin was the color of a perfect cup of coffee and she had the figure of a Greek goddess with a face to match. Her long corkscrew ebony curls were in an extremely haphazard arrangement at the moment, but were fetching nonetheless. Viv uttered a sudden, guttural snort that startled her. She turned and delved further into the couch. A pillow plopped to the floor. Clarice instantly ran over to inspect it and waited hopefully, tail flailing, to see if Viv was getting up. She was not. Clarice raced back to the kitchen. Anna followed her and poked her head in.

“Got coffee, Kate?”

“Yeah, sure. Hey, happy birthday, Cuz.” Kate was cooking scrambled eggs. “Want some?”

“No thanks. Stephen’s taking me out for breakfast.”

“Oh, yeah.” Kate slid the small frying pan off of the burner and opened the cabinet next to the microwave. “Give him a smoochie for me. I would come too but I have that Art History final today. We will play tonight, okay?” She rummaged through their assorted coffee cup collection.

“Okay, sure.” Anna pulled a corner off of Kate’s nearby toast and popped it into her mouth.

“What are you in the mood for today? Teddy bears, flowers, sarcasm?” Kate triumphantly pulled out a turquoise coffee cup speckled with balloons and emblazoned with large pink letters spelling out the words ‘Birthday Princess’. “Hey! Who knew we had a birthday coffee cup?”

“Must be Viv’s,” the cousins spoke simultaneously and then giggled at the timing.

“I heard that,” came a muffled reply from the living room couch.

“Well, you would be the House Princess, Vivian Starling. Even your name sounds like one. Or maybe it sounds more like an actress name.” Kate pronounced the word ‘actress’ in decidedly British fashion, flipped her shoulder-length carrot colored hair, adjusted her studded cat’s eye glasses and struck a dramatic pose.

Anna smiled. “Kate, you are a nut.” She took the mug from Kate’s extended hand and reached for the coffee pot. Anna’s phone began ringing in her bedroom. She set the cup down and hurried to retrieve it. Clarice yipped excitedly and Anna almost tripped over her as they entered the bedroom. It was her dad. He gave her the typical happy birthday spiel and then asked her about her classes and her summer plans. He expressed an interest in trying to get together over the summer. Anna agreed, participated in farewell pleasantries and then hung up. She sat on her extremely comfortable and welcoming bed and considered whether she had time to snuggle back into it for a few minutes before she needed to get ready to meet her brother for breakfast.

Kate appeared in the doorway holding a steaming cup of balloon decorated coffee. “And here would be your breakfast in bed. You may be the princess for today.”

A sleepy Viv pushed past Kate and flung herself onto Anna’s bed. “Who are you to give away my title?” Viv feigned shock and disapproval before burying her head in Anna’s assorted striped pillows. “Girl, your bed is so comfy.”

“No one told you that you had to sleep on the couch,” Kate retorted and handed Anna the turquoise mug. “That guy must’ve wore you out last night, Viv.”

“Nah. I just drank too much. Remind me never to drink rail liquor ever again. Ugh! My head hurts.” Viv pressed her hands on both temples.

“I must say he was quite the hottie.” Kate nodded her head matter-of-factly.

“Yeah, but he’s not a keeper. He is certainly some eye candy, but he’s about as sharp as a marble.” Viv closed her eyes. She sighed as her fingers traveled to her eyelids. “I got class in an hour. Anna you got class today?”

“No, I just have to work on my final paper for Psych. Too bad you can’t come to breakfast with me and Stephen.” Anna smiled slyly.

“What?” Viv sat straight up. “Stephen’s coming? Oh my God! I can’t let him see me like this. When’s he going to be here?”

“Relax, Viv. I’m going to walk over to Friscos Diner and meet him there. He offered to pick me up, but you know I always prefer to walk.”

“Thank God. Wait, I mean dang! I always love seeing that man. Sorry, Anna, I know he’s your brother and all, but now he’s hot and being an anatomy professor is just too sexy.”

“You’re too young for him, Viv,” Kate teased.

“Hell, no!” Viv exclaimed. “Tell me what thirty three year old man don’t want a gorgeous, glamorous, intelligent twenty two year old college girl? Hey, Kate, he’s coming to your sister’s wedding, right?”

“Yeah, he told me he was, right Anna?”

“Yes, he’s coming.” Anna smiled with amusement and pushed herself up off of the bed. She took a sip of coffee.

“That’s where I will make my play,” Viv plotted, “at Franny’s wedding. And I expect you girls to help me out.”

“I will tell him you said hello, Viv. Now I need to go take a shower.” Anna replied.

“Wait!” Viv started, but then stopped. “I guess I’ll let you have first shower since it’s your birthday. Happy birthday, girl. We’ll go out tonight after I get rid of this headache. Poke me if you see me asleep in your comfy bed when you get out of the shower.”

“Will do.” Anna threw down another swig of coffee and headed for the bathroom.







Strangers’ Angels

Dear Diary,

Most of you are aware that in June I published my first novel “The One That Got Away”. It is a fictional story whose premise is that reincarnation, ghosts and Heaven are all somehow connected in the big picture. The story is told through the journal of a modern day single mother who feels she has more important things to deal with than these notions that she is ultimately forced to believe. More information about this book can be found here: .   My WIP (Work In Progress) is the sequel to this story. Today, I am giving you a teaser for that sequel entitled “Strangers’ Angels”. I hope you enjoy your taste.

Strangers’ Angels:

From a corner of her mind, Anna heard a footfall and a sound like something sliding across a table. Viv was back? Clarice growled low and quietly. It wasn’t her usual cocky, protective growl. It seemed a bit fearful. Anna’s scalp prickled. The tingling sensation crept down her back and traveled to her forearms, resulting in goose-bumps. Anna lay still for several impossibly long minutes while she strained her ears for any additional sounds. There was none. If it had been Viv, or even an intruder, there would have been more noises. Anna had not heard the front door open or close. She didn’t hear any more footsteps. Had Viv come home while Anna had been sleeping? Were the stray sounds coming from the apartment upstairs? Something did not feel right to Anna. She knew she would have to go into the living room to see for herself. The cold chill ran back up her spine and tickled her scalp again as she slowly and quietly sat up in bed and carefully extracted herself from her tousled blankets. She touched her feet to the floor and waited another moment, listening intently. Nothing. She flexed her toes on the smooth, cool wood and took in a steadying breath. She exhaled and stood quickly. The floor groaned in protest. Anna paused. She thought she heard an urgent whisper, but she couldn’t tell if it was in her own mind or outside of her head. She listened again, but did not hear a thing. Even Clarice was quiet. Anna tiptoed to her bedroom door, tightening the drawstring on her cotton pajama pants as she went. She placed her hand gingerly on the doorknob and cautiously began to turn it.

A sudden noise caused Anna to release the knob and jump a step backwards. A dropping sound. Something hitting the floor in the living room. Clarice yelped once and then became silent. Was Clarice out there? No. Anna became increasingly sure that it was a stranded spirit, a ghost of a person, not a living person. She became aware of the telltale whispers inside of her head. But the whispers were garbled. It was as though more than one person was speaking, or perhaps several. Anna had never encountered this before. It was also unusual for a stranded spirit to be in her apartment. She had lived in the same apartment for almost two years with nary a peep from the spirit world on the premises. Some living people had a stranded spirit that followed them because of an important link. Most people that had one were not aware of their existence, but there were some that seemed to sense their presence. If the spirits were benevolent in nature, they were sometimes referred to as Guardian Angels by their living objects of attention. During her life, Anna’s mother had one of those, but this was not the case with Anna herself. Very unusual indeed. Who was out there and why?

Anna gripped the doorknob firmly, twisted, and pushed the door open. The frigid air and a staggering sense of fear washed over Anna causing her to gasp involuntarily at the intensity of it. She quickly regained her composure and rubbed her arms vigorously in an unsuccessful attempt to rid herself of the cold. She scanned the room, but could see no one.

“Hello?” She called quietly. “Who is here?”

Anna took two more steps into the room and inadvertently kicked something that was on the floor. The filtered moonlight glinted off of the shiny object at her feet.

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