by Debbie De Louise
Genre: Paranormal Romance
When you lose a loved one, whether it’s a relative, friend, or precious pet, you wonder where that special soul has gone and if you will ever see him or her again. For Dulcie Mills, Long Island computer programmer, the answer may lie between a virtual world and the real one, between the past and the present, between dreams and reality.
Unable to get over her fiancee’s death and facing the impending loss of her 15-year-old cat, Dulcie escapes to a virtual world. When Dulcie’s best friend accepts a job from a clairvoyant who offers predictions regarding Dulcie’s dead fiancée and Dulcie becomes attracted to an online stranger, history begins to repeat itself in ways that are both promising and terrifying. What Dulcie discovers through a virtual séance may mean the only chance she has left for love or death itself.
Addressing topics of reincarnation and soul transfer in similar ways as Greg Iles’ Sleep No More and Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou, Cloudy Rainbow features an interesting mix of technology and the paranormal and will also appeal to cat lovers.
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“I don’t mean to ignore you, big boy,” she murmured. “Visiting a virtual world isn’t as compelling as
spending real time with you.”
She hit the ESC key from the online game she’d been playing to pass the time and shut down her laptop. She glanced around the tiny kitchen she used as an office.
Tonight, would be especially hard. Thank goodness for Floppy’s company. October 9th, three years ago. She looked at her kitchen clock, which featured her name encircled by yellow roses that matched her wallpaper. It was an apartment warming gift from her friend Valerie. She was lucky she’d been able to bring Floppy to her new home. She couldn’t stay at Frank’s place. Too many memories, clouded now but like light through a rainbow.
They would’ve been married two years this past summer, if a tragic accident hadn’t torn them apart.
Tears spilled down her cheeks. She wiped at them with the same hand that had petted the cat. He put out his paw gently as if responding to her sadness. The whitebooted foot gently touched her elbow. She gazed into his yellow eyes and wondered if he remembered Frank, was just responding to her feelings (cats were intuitive that way) or was just asking for more attention or his supper.
She couldn’t sit here anymore, so she got up and went to the pantry to take out a can of cat food. As she opened the chunky chicken feast with a pull of its flip-top lid, Floppy jumped off the table and bounded toward her as fast as his old body could carry him. She was worried about his slower movements, and the aging that was becoming more apparent recently. Although more indoor cats were living to twenty or older, a cat over eight was considered a senior.
Dulcie had studied the cat age charts on the Internet and in her feline health books and knew that Floppy would now be well into his seventies in human years. It seemed such a short time ago that she had first adopted him and held him in her hands. Her roommate had found the stray kitten near her dormitory at college. Many changes had happened in her life since then. She’d studied journalism in college, secretly hoping to make a career out of being a reporter, to live the glamorous yet poor life of Lois Lane without a Superman. Then Frank came along, and she switched from writing articles to writing computer programs to be near him in the computer science classes he taught as a junior professor.
Floppy’s plaintive meow brought her back to the present, and she remembered that she still hadn’t scooped cat food into his food bowl. “Sorry, fellow,” she
apologized. “Mom was just daydreaming, or nightdreaming since it’s almost time for bed.”
She watched him lap up the food and then cleaned and filled his water bowl. She knew she was just putting off getting into bed tonight. In the last few months, she’d traded watching late night television for playing a computer game called Virtual Universe. As fans of this game were eager to point out, it wasn’t a game but a virtual world where people via the Internet highway were able to communicate under different names and even create characters that represented themselves. Was this unlike the
pen names that some authors used or the characters that they wrote about in their books? But these computer images--avatars-- had identities and even interacted in this virtual space. She’d once gone dancing using a computer animation with a guy who called himself Nero.
She’d immediately thought of the Roman emperor. But to give the guy credit, he didn’t have any tattoos and hadn’t built up his biceps in any virtual gym. He was ordinary looking, if computer images could be labeled ordinary. She ran into him occasionally when she logged on, and they’d chat for a bit. But neither knew much about the other, and she wasn’t about to indulge in any online relationship. For
all she knew, Nero could be a woman or a married man.
“I think I’ll just stick with you, Flops,” she said, bending down to give her cat a pat as he finished his meal.
She took a last glance at her laptop, stifled a yawn, and headed across the room to her daybed which doubled as a sofa. Valerie often berated her about why she’d chosen such a small apartment. It wasn’t a matter of cost. She didn’t need much. It was only her and Floppy. The converted garage apartment she’d had years ago before Frank came back into her life was taken now, so she had to find something else. Fresh starts in new places were always best after life-changing events.
She pulled open the bed and then went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and change into her cat decorated nightshirt. When she finished, she turned off all the lights but the reading lamp, got under her quilt that was also cat patterned, and opened the Nora Roberts book she was in the middle of reading. Before she could start another page, Floppy was there, treading gently up to her pillow.
She lay the book down and cuddled with him. It was relaxing to stroke his soft fur and listen to his purrs. While it wasn’t the best substitute for a lover, it was easier and less stressful in many ways.
My first novel, a paranormal romance, "Cloudy Rainbow" (Booklocker 2008) received an honorable mention in the Writer's Digest self-published awards. I wrote that book after my beloved cat, Floppy, died from diabetic and liver complications. The book is dedicated to him, and he is featured as a character in it.
My second novel, the first book of the Cobble Cove Mystery series, "A Stone's Throw," (November 2015) was published by Limitless Publishing, LLC. It is the story of a widowed librarian who visits her husband's hometown and finds a new love with the town's newspaper publisher but also discovers some alarming truths about her husband's death and its connection to the publisher and his family. Along with a variety of characters, there is also a cat and dog who play minor but interesting roles in the novel. The second Cobble Cove Mystery, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" was released in October 2016 by Solstice Publishing and a reprint of "A Stone's Throw" with an additional chapter was published in March, 2017. The third book of the series, "Written in Stone," was released in April, 2017. I've also published a romantic comedy novella, "When Jack Trumps Ace."
I'm currently working on a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, and have several other writing projects planned for 2018 including a new cozy mystery series along with the fourth volume of the Cobble Cove mysteries.
I'm a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Cat Writer's Association, and Long Island Authors Group and have published articles in Cats Magazine and Catnip (Tufts University Veterinary Newsletter). I won the Glamour Puss special award from Hartz Corporation for my Catster.com article, "Brushing your cat for bonding, beauty, and better health," (June, 2016). My short mystery, "Stitches in Time" was published in the Cat Crimes Through Time Anthology, (1999). I have also published several other short stories of various genres in Solstice anthologies. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and our cat, Stripey.
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