by Jessica Jesinghaus
Genre: Paranormal Mystery Thriller
Samantha Williams was just a young girl when her cousin, Emily, was brutally raped and killed in her own home. As a child, Sam's family did their best to shelter her from the gruesome details. Now, working the crime beat for the Portland Tribune, Sam has the resources at her fingertips to investigate the case for herself.
Through the eyes of a killer...
After inheriting a family heirloom, an antique vanity table that once belonged to her murdered cousin, Sam begins seeing visions in the mirror's depths. Like watching an old home movie, she bears witness to Emily's murder. As if that weren't frightening enough, she starts to see other things too: fleeting glimpses of the killer himself! Are the things she sees just a figment of her imagination or could something otherworldly be trying to communicate with her? When the killer strikes again and leaves clues behind meant specifically for Sam it becomes a race against time to try to catch him.
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“I can’t help but think this is my fault.”
“Why?” Jen questioned.
“If I hadn’t brought that damn file for her to look at...”
“She would’ve gotten her hands on it eventually. Somehow. If not from you, then from Joe, or from some one else. That’s just Sam, so don’t blame yourself.”
“What do you think she was talking about?”
“I have no idea.” Jen shook her head.
“Whatever it was, it had her pretty freaked.”
Sam could hear the two of them talking, she’d only pretended to fall asleep. She needed a moment to sort things out, to try and make order of the racing thoughts inside her head. Was it real? Or had she imagined it? She didn’t like the implications of either answer. Something inexplicably scary had just happened to her. Either that, or she was cracking up.
Sam stood shakily in front of the mirror, reaching out hesitantly to touch its surface. Her fingers trembled uncontrollably, and she drew her hand back, afraid suddenly to touch the glass. Afraid it may not be real and afraid it might be at the same time.
“What just happened to me?” she wondered aloud.
Then, in a flash, the smooth pane of glass before her filled with the same image as before. Sam stood mesmerized, watching the scene play out before her again. As she watched, the figure in bed with her cousin rocked atop her in the unmistakable throws of passion. Sam could hear Emily’s voice crying out in ecstasy. Then there was that same strange crackle, and the scene jumped forward. Emily’s lover now stood by the window, his back to Sam, and Emily was asking him to untie her. But he never moved.
“Come on,” Emily was giggling. “Untie me. Please?” Still nothing. “Untie me.” Sam could hear the discomfort growing in her cousin’s voice with every request.
The scene crackled one more time. This skip brought the vision to its grizzly end. As Sam watched in horror, she saw Emily’s lover atop her again, this time wielding a knife. He let out a horrific sound, half laugh and half scream, as Sam watched the knife make its first vicious plunge into her cousin’s body. All the while, Emily screamed, and the knife flashed again and again.
Just as suddenly as it began, the vision flickered and disappeared. Sam was utterly astounded by what she had just witnessed. She turned away from the vanity table and quickly strode out into the living room. She must’ve looked frightened, because as soon as Jen saw her she jumped up from the sofa and rushed to her side.
“Sam? What’s the matter? What’s happened?”
“The mirror...” Sam started, but Patrick stepped to her side and interrupted.
“Come sit down,” he instructed as he led her to the sofa.
“What about the mirror?” Jen prompted.
“I saw Emily.” Sam stopped to collect her thoughts and to try to convert them into words her friends would understand. “I was looking in the mirror, and I saw Emily... on... on the night she was murdered...”
“What?” Patrick asked. “Sam, you... that’s not possible,” he sighed.
“I know what you must be thinking,” Sam admitted, “but I did not imagine this. It was real.”
“Sam, are you hearing yourself?” Jen asked, trying to reason with her friend. “What you’re telling us is just impossible.”
“Don’t you think I know how this must sound? I know it sounds nuts, but I also know what I saw! She knew her killer. He was there, in bed with her.” Sam stopped her narration a moment and saw Jen and Patrick exchange worried glances. “Listen, I know you must think I’m nuts, but I’m telling you she knew him! She was tied to the bed, they were having sex, and the next thing I saw was him with the knife. And he was stabbing her and she was screaming...” Sam felt hot tears quietly sliding down her face.
“Honey, stop,” Patrick cooed, stroking her hair softly. “We can talk about this later. You can get some sleep, you can calm down...” Sam nodded reluctantly.
“How about I run you a nice, hot bath?” Jen offered.
“Okay,” Sam relented.
As Jen got up and disappeared into Sam’s room, Patrick held onto Sam tightly. “Honey, are you all right? You’re scaring me.” Sam looked up into Patrick’s face and he couldn’t miss the terrified look in her eyes.
“You’re scared?” Sam managed a half-laugh. “Try being me right now.”
“Okay, point taken.” They both released a jitter of nervous laughter and when it subsided, Patrick asked, “Feeling better?”
“Come on. Let’s go check on that bath.”
They found Jen in the bathroom, adding some bubbles to the already half full tub. “Hey girl, bath’s almost ready.”
“If you need to talk later, I’ll be upstairs, all right?” Sam nodded. “Patrick, you got it from here?”
“Yeah. I got it.” With Jen gone, Patrick turned to Sam. “Come on, let’s get you out of these clothes.”
Sam smiled, despite the tears still brimming in her eyes. “Is that all you think about?” she teased, while Patrick helped her out of her T-shirt. As she slipped into the water she asked, “Care to join me?”
“If you’d like,” came his reply.
As Sam sank back against Patrick’s chest in the hot water, she sighed deeply. After a few minutes of silence, she piped up, “I didn’t imagine it.”
“I never said you did.”
“I need you to believe me. What I’m telling you is real.”
“What did you see, exactly?”
“Like I said, I saw Emily.” She spoke haltingly. “It was like looking through a window, right into her room. It was the night she died. There was someone with her, in her room. His face was always in shadow. They were in bed together...” Sam’s voice trailed off for a moment, and she closed her eyes. Patrick’s hands made their way to her hair, his fingers twining there, relaxing her.
Sam continued, “She was tied to the bed, but willingly. Patrick, she knew him. They were lovers... and I... I saw him kill her.”
“But honey,” he protested.
“I did not imagine it!” Sam sat up and turned to face him.
Patrick cupped her face in his hands. “I believe you. Okay? I believe you saw something.” Patrick paused. “But we’d just seen all those pictures. You looked at pictures of your cousin’s dead body!” He took her by the shoulders and turned her back around, leaning her against his chest once more.
“Now,” he instructed, “Just relax. And try to forget about it for a little while.”
From the Shadow
by Jessica Jesinghaus
Genre: PNR Horror / Occult
For too long Jacob has lived in isolation. Forsaken by God and cursed by a Shadow, he is doomed to an eternity of solitude with only the demons of his past for company. For nearly two hundred years, he has longed for that which he knows he can never have: forgiveness, love, and redemption.
A chance encounter could hold the key...
When Jacob meets Lynn, she shines a ray of hope across his bleak existence. But will she be strong enough to shoulder the truth of his past? Can she forgive the horrors he has wrought? Can she help him come to terms with his past and move with him into a brighter future?
An old nemesis threatens...
Confronted by an ancient enemy, Lynn and Jacob travel halfway around the world. There, they face the daunting task of sifting through ancient history for clues to their tormentor's weaknesses and a way to loose his grip on their future.
What good can come From the Shadow?
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When she spoke, there was a slight tremor barely concealed in her voice, but none of the anger or contempt he expected. “What are you?”
“I do not know,” he sighed, then added, “I am a monster.” Against his will, his body shook with a silent sob that welled up from deep inside. He fought against it with all his strength. He started to rise, knowing he must leave before she turned against him, but he was surprised when she pulled him back to her side.
“You’re not a monster.”
Tears began to fall freely from his eyes now. “But I am,” he argued feebly. He started to say something more, but Lynn pressed her lips to his once again, silencing him. He had longed for little else these past years than to be accepted, yet now he pulled away from her.
“Lynn,” he tried, but she continued her gentle assault. He submitted to her, allowing himself to be lost in the feeling he had coveted so desperately.
His fingers found themselves lost in her soft hair. He pressed his mouth to hers, satisfying a different hunger for the first time in centuries. Lynn sensed the change in him and responded in kind. Her hands traveled across the skin of his chest, moving down to the waistband of the swim trunks he still wore.
Jacob was torn between his desire for her, for her acceptance of him, and a fear that he would, in the end, harm her. But his fear was pushed aside as her hands continued their exploration of his body. She pulled her mouth away from his for a moment, a quiet sigh escaping her lips.
He took this opportunity to move his mouth to her neck, kissing her gently, breathing deep and enjoying the smell of her skin. For so long, he had not been this close to anyone without smelling fear. Hers was a glorious scent, filling him, causing his head to spin dizzily. While her hands moved ever lower, he became more excited. In this frenzy, he lost track of himself and grazed the delicate skin of her neck with one of his sharp teeth.
She felt it happen and gasped, her entire body becoming rigid. Yet still, there was no real sign of fear.
“I am sorry.”
“It’s okay,” she assured him, her body relaxing a little.
He could see a small bloom of red blood against her white skin and could not help himself. He put his mouth near her neck again and lowered it to the wound. His tongue swept over the red liquid. It was the sweetest taste he had ever known, free of the bitterness of hate and fear.
Lynn was frozen and her breathing halted. In that moment, while he tasted of her, she was flooded by a wash of images, visions of his past. It seemed an age, his mouth frozen hungrily over her neck, but in reality it was a fraction of a second. In that moment, she learned much of what he was, what he had become, and what he had done.
It was as if she were inside a great sphere, suspended weightless in the very center. Sights, sounds, and colors were perceptible every direction she looked. As she watched, the colors coalesced into distinguishable images.
She turned her head and was able to see a moving image, a memory from Jacob’s past. Her senses were bombarded. She could feel the wind, smell the salty air, and hear the sounds of seabirds in the distance. She could tell by his dress and his manner that this was an image of Jacob from a time long past. She watched, mesmerized, as Jacob walked along an ocean beach. There was a woman at his side. She was beautiful, her long hair whipping in the salty breeze. They kissed and Lynn lowered her eyes, turning her head modestly.
When she moved her head this new direction, she was met with a new image. She saw him sitting at the bedside of the same woman. Candles burned solemnly on the bedside tables. She appeared wasted and weak. Her once bright green eyes were now clouded and dull. Lynn could hear Jacob whisper comforting, loving words to the woman before him.
Turning around, she was met with yet another image. This time, Jacob stood bare-chested in the rain, calling to the heavens, pleading with God to save his love. He screamed her name repeatedly to the stormy sky: Johanna.
Lynn watched a progression of similar visions, and in each she was met with an image of Jacob in desperation, either at the side of the woman he loved, trying to nurse her to health, or pleading with God for her safety.
She was heartbroken as she watched. She was witness to the unraveling of his life, of everything he held precious. She felt like an interloper, a trespasser. She didn’t want to see any more. She closed her eyes, begging for the images to stop.
But when she opened her eyes, she was greeted with another image. It was a bleak night, lighting flashed in the distance, and Jacob stood alone in the dark. He screamed to the heavens again, begging God one final time. In desperation, he changed his plea, calling to the Darkness instead. He spoke words she couldn’t understand, another language, words from another age. “Cruinnich dorchadas! Teth pian, sgrios, eagal agus bàs, tighinn!”1
She watched in horror as a Shadow solidified before the spot upon which Jacob stood. She could sense the fear he felt, but watched as he steeled himself in preparation to do whatever was necessary to save the woman he loved.
Lynn listened as he struck a cold bargain. She watched, horrified, as the Shadow wrapped itself about his body, shrouding him completely, obscuring him from sight. Then it seemed to sink into him, disappearing for a moment. He writhed in pain, falling to his knees, a dreadful scream erupting from his mouth. The scream poured forth, seemingly unending, until finally the Shadow withdrew from him. It stood before him again, this time announcing a terrible sentence.
He had been duped. The Shadow had tricked him, lured him with the promise of saving Johanna, but there would be no stopping the sickness which was claiming her as its own. And he, Jacob, had been condemned to life as a monster.
Lynn watched as he made his way back to Johanna’s side. Johanna could sense he was changed. He tried to make her understand that the choices he made were for her benefit, to try to save her. She looked at him in revulsion as he tried to explain the terrible bargain he made. As he talked, her pious hatred of what he had become began to permeate the very air. Lynn could smell it, taste it, and feel it. She knew Jacob could sense it as well.
Her hatred ignited the hunger within him. Lynn could feel it as strongly as if it were her own. It was the first time he had been confronted with the hunger and he could not fight it. He acted upon this new impulse to feed, reaching for the closest thing to quell the hunger. Before he realized what he had done, he held Johanna’s wrist in an iron grasp, sucking greedily at her. She screamed in horror but this only incited him further.
Lynn watched, unable to tear her gaze away, as she witnessed Jacob’s first kill. She cried silently, sharing his pain as he realized what he had done. The hatred he felt for himself was as tangible as anything Lynn had ever felt. Hot tears spilled down her face.
Visions of his long isolation cascaded around her. She saw flashes of his desperation, moments when he had made himself known to others only to be met with hatred and fear. In one vision, he brought a woman back to his den, stolen from her bed as she slept. He sat at her side, waiting for her to wake, hoping when she did she could be accepting of him. He was sorely disappointed. She watched as, instead, he gorged himself on the woman’s entrails.
Lynn felt the acute anguish of his hunger, witnessed his efforts to ignore its bite. He failed. She saw many more of his kills, the visions tumbling around her in a dizzying torrent. The blood, the pain, and the hunger filled the pit of her stomach until she felt as if she would be sick.
He hid in dank caves, living on the outskirts of villages and towns. She watched as centuries passed him by. She witnessed his assault on a small child one Halloween night. The boy was in costume, dressed as a vampire. Although Jacob was not a vampire in the traditional sense, his immortality and his thirst for blood were vampiric qualities. Neither she nor Jacob himself knew exactly what he had become, but he considered himself a monster. She could sense his outrage at being mocked, although the child who lay dead in his arms had meant no such thing.
More of his victims screamed in fear around her. The sound was a cacophony that resounded in her head until she felt as if she could take no more. The nameless faces paraded past in an endless stream. Finally, she saw an image different from the others.
Jacob cowered in his den at the back of a cold, dark cave. Men were there with guns. They fired and Lynn could feel the bullets as if they had struck her own body. He fell to the ground, prodded and examined fearfully by his would-be killers. Then they left him, unaware that he could not be killed, that he wished for nothing more than death, and that he had tried to die many times.
He began to run.
She could sense this was almost the end of his journey so far. She was dreading the visions to come, for she could almost sense what would be. Thankfully, the images of her friends were brief. She could taste the hatred they felt before they died. She pitied them almost as much as she pitied Jacob. Hot tears fell from her eyes and the colors around her abruptly ceased, pitching her into total darkness.
**1 Gaelic: “Gather darkness! Hot pain, ruin, fear and death, come!”
by Jessica Jesinghaus
Genre: Romantic Suspense
But Fallon isn't everything he seems; he has dark secrets of his own.
When Valerie finds herself in a dangerous situation and must flee, it's a daunting task. With nowhere to run and no way to guarantee Fallon won't follow, Valerie finds herself stranded in a small Central Oregon town at the mercy of a handsome stranger. He promises to help her, but can anyone save her from desolation?
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After Fallon’s insistence there was nothing wrong, heavy silence had fallen between us. Neither of us spoke as he navigated the car fluidly through traffic, wending the way back toward my apartment complex. I sat in quiet discomfort beside him, wondering what could have possibly happened to change his demeanor so drastically.
No obvious answer came to me and in the silence my mind swam with unbidden memories of my uncle.
I felt now as I always had after my uncle’s ‘visits,’ like the outcome was somehow my fault. I tried to push the memories away, but to no avail; they were just too strong. It seemed the more I thought on them, though, the more detached and angry Fallon became. I could almost feel the anger pouring off of him in waves, washing over my skin and chilling me to the core.
When we arrived at my apartment Fallon pulled the car to the curb. His dark eyes fell upon my face and I was startled to see they were filled with icy rage. Despite the warmth in the car, I shivered.
Fallon seemed to notice. “I’ll walk you upstairs,” he breathed, contrition starting to edge past the anger that had hardened all the angles of his handsome face.
“No,” I mumbled, my hands wringing nervously in my lap. “I can manage,” I began, but Fallon shouldered his door open even as I spoke.
He led me inside and onto the elevator without another word. I cast him periodic, sidelong glances during the ride up to the seventh floor, still perplexed by the change that had derailed our otherwise wonderful evening.
While the elevator made its slow climb upward I replayed our time together in my head, smiling inside at my acute awkwardness at the restaurant and at Fallon’s seeming enjoyment of my company. I could see nothing that would have triggered his anger like this, yet still I could feel his boiling rage just under the surface.
When Fallon spoke, it came as a shock. “I’m sorry about this. I wish I could explain...” The elevator chimed then, interrupting him, and the doors ground open. He placed his hand in the small of my back and pressed me forward out of the confines of the lift and toward my apartment door.
When we reached it, I gulped once, gathering the courage to speak. The words poured out in a hushed whisper. “I’m sorry, too,” I started. “I don’t know what I did, but…”
“No!” Again, the anger in Fallon’s voice was tempered with another emotion, but I didn’t have time to consider what it might be. “You’ve done nothing wrong,” he repeated forcefully.
His dark eyes glistened and he stared at me for a long moment before suddenly pressing his lips against mine. This wasn’t a tender kiss, meant to reassure me like the one in the restaurant, but rather a kiss full of fury and heat. It took my breath away.
His body pressed against mine, trapping me against the door of my apartment. I could feel tension in his frame, as if he restrained some wild animal. Suddenly, his hands were upon me, slipping beneath the coat I still wore until they found the bare skin of my arms. His fingers tightened around them, making me gasp in surprise and pain. He stopped abruptly, his hands falling away, his eyes wide with shock.
“I’m sorry.” He kept his face near mine and his words were a whisper of breath against my cheek. “I should go.”
I was surprised by my response. My hands darted out to grip his shoulders, pulling his body closer to me again and pressing my head against his shoulder. “Please,” I managed, my voice a mere croak, “tell me what’s wrong.”
Despite his words to the contrary, I still thought the fault must be mine. I was desperate to see his anger somehow appeased; I just didn’t know how to go about it.
“I can’t,” he said. Although I couldn’t see his face, I could hear the conflict in his voice. I knew what I would see should I look up; Fallon was torn. His arms wrapped around me, encircling my body tenderly, his hands stroking gently upon the sore places on my arms where he’d only just hurt me. “I wish I could tell you Valerie.” His voice hitched as he spoke and I could feel his hot breath against the top of my head.
A sudden urge gripped me. I didn’t know how he would react, but I acted upon the impulse anyway. Stretching up on my tiptoes, I kissed him. The action was completely unlike me, and I felt almost as if my body moved of its own accord. My hands moved to cradle his head and my fingers became lost in his soft, dark hair.
He was slow to respond, as if fearing his anger would hurt me again, but gradually he warmed to my affections. He pressed me against the doorframe once more and his hands began to move tenderly across my body. The rage was still there, but it wasn’t as potent. I could feel the heat beneath his skin returning as my lips moved against his.
I tore away, breathless, and looked up at him, surprised to see the glimmer of damp tears clinging to his lashes. It didn’t appear that any tears had spilled over, but the mere fact they were there at all shocked me deeply.
“Are you okay?” I whispered, moving one of my hands to his cheek and wiping the moisture away with my thumb.
Fallon’s eyes closed heavily and his chin sank to his chest. “I should go,” he whispered, although his arms didn’t lessen their hold.
I sighed. I couldn’t move away from him, he still had me pressed against the door of the apartment, but I began to shrug off Fallon’s jacket so I could return it to him. I was surprised when his hands moved to stop me.
“No,” he breathed. “Keep it. You can give it back later.”
“Later?” I dared to hope.
Fallon smiled. That act alone transformed his face, and the anger seemed to melt away. He mimicked his own actions from earlier in the evening and kissed the tip of his index finger, then pressed it against the end of my nose. “I hope I haven’t made so much of an ass of myself that you don’t want to see me again.”
I shook my head with conviction. “Not a chance.”
My words made his smile grow even wider. He leaned in again and kissed me, softly and quickly, before saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” With that, he turned and strode away down the hall.
Following the birth of her second child, she committed herself to writing her first novel. Unfortunately for her, story ideas rarely present themselves one at a time and she often has two (if not three) manuscripts in progress at once. When she's not writing her own material, she enjoys reading a wide variety of books, many of them aloud to her husband and two children.
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