Date of Publication: June 7, 2017
Number of pages: 340
Word Count: 122,743
Cover Artist: Keri Knutson
Tagline: A detour down memory lane wakes up the ghosts.
Curtis Aisling has literally dodged a bullet. At least he thinks he has. But he wonders whether that bullet still has it out for him when he leaves his ex-fiancÃ© and Los Angeles behind for Coronado, New Mexico to borrow some much-needed money from his sister.
The small dilapidated desert town of Coronado has exactly one mansion, belonging to 92-year-old Veronica Meeks. Curtisâs sister, Dia, and her partner, Araceli, are Veronicaâs live-in caretakers and while they are delighted to have a visitor, Veronica doesnât even know heâs there.
In the final stages of what the locals call âthe reminisce,â she is no longer aware of her surroundings. But when Curtis starts seeing things that no one else does, heâs not convinced that the old, unresponsive woman is as disconnected as everyone thinks. At times what should be empty rooms within the huge house appear filled with furniture, and music emanates from a dusty radio that has been packed away for ages. Tales of Veronicaâs associations and connections with the occult lead Curtis to believe she is causing the ghostly occurrences.
But when people begin to appear in those phantom roomsâpeople from her past including Veronica herselfâheâs no longer certain it is her doing. Each vision pulls Curtis further and further back, each one detailing a consequential moment in Veronicaâs long life, until he begins to fear he could become lost in her past. And then thereâs that bulletâ¦
Dia returned her attention to the old woman and took her bony, veiny hand. âVeronica, honey, this is my brother Curtis. Youâve seen his picture in our bedroom, remember? He came for a visit.â She looked up at Curtis. âVeronica was quite smitten with you the first time she saw your picture. Couldnât take her eyes off it and she would just smile and smile.â
Curtis knelt next to his sister. Greeting the old woman seemed pointless, since it was obvious by her vacant stare that she wasnât aware of her surroundings. But his sister was right; introducing himself was the proper way to behave regardless of her condition. âHello, Miss Meeks. Iâm Curtis Aisling.â
The old womanâs wispy gray hair was short and pulled back by small butterfly barrettes. Her thin face was pinkish-white, wrinkled, and haloed with brown age spots. The eyes that seemed to be looking at something no one else could see were a cloudy gray-blue. Her small frame was covered in a clean pink nightgown and she wore blue slippers.
âHow old is she?â Curtis asked.
Dia stood up to help Araceli gather the tray with Veronicaâs barely touched lunch on it. âNinety-two.â
Remaining crouched before her, Curtis continued to look at the old woman. He found it difficult to imagine that the slack face in front of him had once been young, but he searched for signs of it anyhow. If there was life in her dull gaze, Curtis was sure he would find it there. A strong hot breeze rattling the palm fronds behind the gazebo hit him in the back. Thatâs when Veronica blinked and looked right at him.
âFinally,â she whispered.
About the Author:
H.L. Cherryholmes, author of The Lizard Queen Series, The Reminisce, Come Back for Me, and A Slight Touch was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico but has spent most of his adult life in California. He has a BFA from University of New Mexico and a Master's degree in Playwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, he lives in SoCal with his husband, Ron Cogan.