Spotlight on Tangled Blood Lines by Deborah Noel

Tangled Bloodlines cover new

Title ~ Tangled Blood Lines

Author ~ Deborah Noel

Genre ~ Paranormal, Horror, Dark Fantasy

~ Blurb ~

This is not your sweet sparkling vampire story. Old-school vampires have re-surfaced, responsible for brutal murders and more blood than anyone can cope with. In “Tangled Blood Lines”, Cianna Fitzgerald, a young but “retired” crime scene investigator, finds herself back in a world she walked away from some years ago. She grew up in twentieth century Pennsylvania countryside knowing she possesses superhuman powers from her “Irish pixie” bloodlines. She had retired after a particularly tough case where the victim was her husband’s twin brother. After her brief respite from murders and homicides, Cianna witnesses a killing where the murderer is a vampire. Her daughter goes missing soon after the killing. Cianna and the love she had once pushed out of her life, her estranged husband Declan, travel halfway around the world to try to save their child. As the mystery unravels, she learns that although she is a half-breed, the other half isn’t “Irish pixie” as she grew up believing – weaving her into a more tangled history and frightening future than she had bargained for

~ Excerpt ~

I walked up the steps and into the cramped room. I no sooner had both feet in the door when my bladder let me know it was full, in no uncertain terms. I needed to go – NOW – and I had only been on the scene for three seconds. Figures.

No time, I told myself. There is work to be done.

I wasn’t able to concentrate. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the work to be done. I tried to figure out why. I knew. It was my way of procrastinating.

Back to the job at hand. Focus.

I looked around. It was dark. I could hear the humming of the generator as it powered up the lights. The sight before my eyes was almost indescribable. I took a moment to gather myself. I had to get myself into my character, so to speak.

I pulled out my notebook to keep notes of what I saw. But it was too loud around me. I needed everyone to clear from inside this tiny room. Too much distraction, too many moving things walking around and trying to keep their stomachs where they belonged and not add to the mix of already putrid things on the floor.

“Everyone needs to clear out for a spell. I need to be alone with the scene to process it. Please, give me five.” I yelled out.

There were no arguments. Quicker than the urge to pee had hit me when I arrived, I was alone.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My nasal passages were swamped with smells of death, rot, mold and a few other things I couldn’t quite identify. I slowly opened my eyes. It was only as the blurry visions came into focus that I was able to see the truly horrible scene.

Blood was everywhere, and I mean everywhere. On the floors, the walls, the chairs, table, the sink, the stove, the refrigerator and even on the ceiling. There were dead rats, cats, and pieces of animal legs scattered around. There were nooses hanging from the exposed beams and meat hooks as well. Rabbits and squirrels hung from some of them.

“This gives a new meaning to a work-from-home slaughterhouse,” I said to myself.

I pushed the notebook into my kit. There just weren’t any words. I grabbed the camera hanging from my neck and began to focus the lens. I snapped pictures of everything.

In the corner was a small closed door. I made my way to it. With great effort I pulled it open and stepped inside. I wish I hadn’t.

The first thing I noticed was there was much more light in this room than the last. It was so bright, in fact, that it took a few seconds for my eyes to re-focus. When they did, I knew that the extra lighting was for effect.

On the small bed in front of me was a body – I knew before totally seeing her that it was a she and that she was dead. Her ankles where bound to the footboard posts. The bed was caked with dried blood. Her hands were bound to the posts of the headboard. Her naked body was covered with a white sheet only. Her curves were as visible as if she wasn’t even covered. Her head was covered with a pillow. Her neck had been sliced wide open. Her wrists, too. Her abdomen had an incision that had been hand-sewn closed with big stitching. Between her legs lay a dead baby, the umbilical cord still attached.

All of my superiors used to tell me that I would always remember my first dead body on the job and I would always remember the worst smelling one. They were right.

I wanted to puke right there.

I closed my eyes and composed myself.

I walked to the top of the bed to remove the pillow from her head. Her blonde hair was matted with blood. She was facing away from me, her eyes open still, and I could see the fear and hurt in them. I looked across the room to where her final vision was. My knees buckled.

A small crib was against the wall. Hanging above the crib was a mobile, and in the center of it hung small blonde-haired little girl. She couldn’t have been more than 2 years old. Under her dangling feet was her stuffed teddy bear. I knew she had been holding it before her neck snapped.

Suddenly, without warning, I fell to the floor. I winced. I consciously gagged on the screams that were building in my throat. I fought back the tears that blurred my eyes. I knew the others didn’t know about this. The door I pried open had been closed for a good while.

I began to scan the room to see if I could notice anything that would lead us to the horrible monster who called this place home.

The room was simple with a hardwood floor. There was a nightstand by the bed that only held a lamp. I walked between the bed and the crib; there was the body of a dog that had meant to protect his girls. The dog had been ripped to shreds. I couldn’t imagine who could do this. This was beyond a who; no human in his right mind could do this. The one responsible for this or even capable of this was beyond mental.

I turned to go back to the door to begin taking photos, but could not move. Through another doorway I saw him. He was trying to smile. That is what stuck out the most in my mind. He was hanging in the middle of the tub; a chair lay on its side in the tub and he looked like he was trying to smile at the image he saw through the doorway.

I screamed.

 

I woke myself from my nightmare, screaming. I was covered in sweat. The sheets were soaked.

My dog, Bullet, had already jumped up on the bed to comfort me.

Gasping for air I tried to calm myself. I was used to this; this was the scene that had haunted me since I first saw it almost five years ago. I thought the nightmares would eventually go away, but they hadn’t. I thought a hundred miles or so between there and here was a good hiding spot. The nightmares still found me. It sucked.

I allowed Bullet to lick my face. He always feels better if he thinks he has helped. I got up, stripped the bed of the wet sheets, then myself of my tank top and shorts. I walked a few feet into the master bathroom and tossed the sheets in the hamper and turned on the water in the tub.

I lit eucalyptus and vanilla candles. The tub was loaded with the hottest water I could stand. I poured in some bubble bath for the hell of it. This had become my “after nightmare” ritual. With my suction-cupped pillow already in place, and my hair up in a scrunchie, I climbed into my claw-foot tub and sunk in. Even if it truly didn’t help, I convinced myself otherwise.

Bullet turned himself in three circles and curled up on the fuzzy peach- colored rug in front of the tub. In seconds, he was snoring.

I closed my eyes and slid down far enough to cover my shoulders and let the bubbly hot water work its magic, penetrating deep in my blood-starved muscles.

About halfway through the process, I was startled by my alarm clock. I hadn’t even bothered to look at the time. I now knew it was 7:00 a.m. What day was it? I thought for a minute. Friday. Today was Friday. I had 45 minutes to get Mattie and her things ready for the weekend with her father.

Declan was taking her on an adventure this weekend. They were going to go camping by a waterfall, which had a beach and woods nearby to explore. He had asked if I wanted to join them, but I politely declined. Mattie was so looking forward to going. She was becoming a true tomboy, even at the young age of 4. She was the only little girl I knew who, with pigtails and a mini-skirt, insisted on wearing work boots.

“Ya never know what you’ll need to walk over, Mommy,” she told me once when I questioned why she wanted to wear her work boots with a pretty sundress.

Mattie wanted to know all about snakes and fish and “crocs” and insects, just like her hero, Bindee Irwin. And Declan was the one who could teach her; that was for sure.

I smiled at the thoughts in my head. I rose from the tub and pulled the plug. Bullet was up and wagging his tail. I wrapped myself in my favorite pink micro fleece robe, blew out the candles and left the bathroom to turn off the music spewing from the alarm clock.

Just down the hallway was Mattie’s room. Her door was closed as I had left it last night. Bullet beat me to the door and was jumping up and down trying to reach the door knob. Poor guy didn’t know he’d never reach it, nor would he know what to do if he did reach it.

I knocked gently on the door before opening it. When I looked in, Mattie was sitting in the middle of a haphazardly made bed, staring at me.

“A nutter nightmare, huh, Mommy?” she softly asked.

“Just a bad dream, doll-baby,” I answered as I joined her on her bed.

“Same one?”

“Yep.”

“You okay now?” she asked as she reached out and took my hand.

“I’d be even better if I had a big hug and kiss from my favorite daughter.”

She nearly knocked me off the bed with a huge hug. She squeezed as tight as she could, nearly choking me, then pulled back and planted a kiss on my cheek.

“I’m your only daughter, Mommy! There, all bedder, right, Mommy?” she whispered, although she really wasn’t asking me. Before I could reply she was off the bed and giggling, with Bullet nipping at her heels.

She turned to me and stated, as matter-of-factly as she could, “It’s been three sleeps since Daddy promised to go on our adventure. He’s coming today, right?”

I was amazed. When had she learned how to keep track of days? Did I miss something somewhere?

“How do you know this?” I asked her.

“Simple, Mommy. When I told Daddy you taught me to count, he told me the secret of how to know when things were going to happen,” she began to explain. “He told me that, since I could count, if I wanted to know when something was going to happen I could make lines and count them when someone says something is going to happen in so many days. See, look.”

And with that she ran to the small table beside her bed and pulled open the drawer. She pulled out her doodle pad. She brought it over to me and opened it.

“See, Daddy told me after three sleeps we would go on our adventure. Every time after that when I woke up, I put a mark on the paper. Today is three,” she pointed to the paper and then looked at me. “One, two, three.”

“Wow. When did you get so smart?” I asked and pulled her in for a hug. Amazing. I was at a loss for words, stunned.

We went downstairs and had breakfast together. Mattie talked on and on about what she and her Daddy were going to do and what she wanted to see, and asked if she could take pictures of everything so that when they got home she and I could add pages to her scrapbook. She talked so much that I barely got a word in edgewise. The phone rang, interrupting our conversation.

“Hey, Kid,” the husky voice greeted through the phone.

“Ugh,” I rolled my eyes and sighed. This wasn’t going to be a good phone call.

“Now, now. Well, okay you might be right with your quick assessment. Come on, Cianna, cut me some slack, will ya?” the voice begged.

“What Sam? What?” I demanded.

Sam was not a good ex-boss, but I did have to give him credit, he was a good uncle. As a boss, he wasn’t half bad either.

“All right, listen. I know better than to ask you for help. But I have to ask you to arrange for me to see her… ” Sam’s voice trailed off as he waited for me to unleash my anger on him.

“No,” was all I decided to give him. I was still too exhausted from the nightmare and I needed all my energy to deal with Declan.

“Call Declan,” I yelled and slammed down the phone.

 

The phone rang again. I knew it would. I walked down the hall and up the stairs back to my room.

The phone stopped ringing. Then from far away I heard Mattie’s giggle. Crap, I kept forgetting she was getting older and more independent. She had answered the phone for the first time last week and had been doing it ever since, if I didn’t beat her to it. I hung my head and went back downstairs.

Giggling still, Mattie looked up at me. “Hold on, Uncle Sammy. Mommy’s here.” She handed me the phone and skipped into the den to find Bullet.

“Sam…”

He cut me off. “Listen, Kid, I am under strict rules that Declan is unavailable for the weekend. His cell phone is sitting here on my desk. I need help. Mattie said you had another nightmare. I’m sorry. Can I help?”

“No, Sam. It was just a nightmare. I refuse to think about it in the light of day. And I will not involve Mattie in any of this. I know I have taken extreme measures to protect her, but she is my baby and that’s my job,” I began.

“No need to go into that Cianna. I know. I am glad you are letting Declan stay involved with Mattie. He is a good man and he loves you and Mattie more than his own life. You know that.”

“Yeah, Sam, I know. I just can’t for me. For Mattie, I would never hurt her by keeping her father away. No matter what happened between me and Declan.”

“What did happen, Annie… er, Cianna? No one will tell me.”

“That’s because it is none of your business. It’s between him and me.” I hope he heard the finality in my voice. Subject closed.

Before he could object, I continued, “Besides, Sam, I don’t know where she is. I haven’t talked to her in six years. We cut all ties. She went her way and I mine. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find her.”

“Cianna Izzabelle Fitzgerald…”

I rolled my eyes. I was in trouble now.

“You can’t begin to tell me, with your detective nose, your background and with your family bond; you cannot make me believe that you don’t know where your own sister is.”

I drew in a deep breath. I knew that it would come to this one day; but I kept hoping this day wouldn’t be able to find me.

“Sam, look. Please understand. I did it for Mattie. I want to keep my daughter from harm. I honestly don’t know. Declan has kept in touch with her. I made him promise to never tell me and to tell her she is never to come see me. Whenever he tries to inform me of anything to do with her, I stop him. I swear I know nothing.”

“Urgh, Cianna! You are so fucking stubborn!” The line went dead.

 

Sam’s phone call set the tone for the rest of the day. Although I was frustrated and miserable, I tried to be enthusiastic around Mattie.

At 2:00 p.m. I called my babysitter, Marcy, to come to be with Mattie when Declan was due to pick her up. It was the routine. I locked myself in my room and gave him free range of the house while they gathered all that she needed for the weekend away with him.

I tried to get my mind into a book.

There was a soft rap on my door. When I opened it, Mattie stood there looking up at me.

“We are leaving now, Mommy,” she announced. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, my doll baby,” I said as I embraced her.

“I talked to Bullet. He is going to protect you,” she smiled.

“Thank you. You make sure you listen to Daddy and be a good girl.” I kissed the top of her head.

She rolled her eyes. “Always!”

We hugged. And she darted down the hallway to the stairs.

“Bye, Cianna! I’ll have her back first thing Monday.” It was Declan hollering up to me from the front door.

“Have fun,” I shouted back and retreated back into my room.

I heard the front door close. A few seconds later it closed again. Marcy left too. There was a small scratching on my bedroom door. I let Bullet in. The two of us curled up on my bed. I tried to concentrate on the book but to no avail.

I stood there staring through the window at him as he walked down the walk holding Mattie’s hand. His tousled sandy-colored hair was curling upwards just past the nape of his neck, flirting past the rim of the cap he wore backwards on his head. The muscle shirt was just for politeness of having a shirt on; it left nothing to the imagination. The curve of his tone, muscular form was titillating. Without seeing his bare back, I knew its structure with deadly accuracy. The thought of it weakened my knees. Through the open window I inhaled to drown my lungs with his scent.

He had no idea what only looking at him did to me. It was probably a good thing he didn’t know. I giggled to myself; this feeling was most likely illegal somewhere. He glanced back at the door and was smiling as if he knew I was watching him and as if he was in on my secret feelings. The wrinkles around his eyes were my favorite. They added character and made his smile all the more contagious. I couldn’t help but smile back.

I closed my eyes. I was back in time, five years earlier. The memories were so vivid as I watched a happier time in my life being relived.

Declan rang the doorbell. He wanted to see me about something.

Holding on to the railing for support of my weakened legs, I went downstairs. I opened the door slowly. His smile, which couldn’t possibly be any bigger, grew.

He stepped through the threshold without saying a word. In sync with his forward advance, still with my hand on the knob, I retreated backwards, opening the space for his entrance. His eyes brightened as the edge of my lips went upward.

Without pause he scooped me up into his arms and closed the door behind us. The kiss left me breathless. I surrendered to it before I could even realize what was taking place. The tiny indicator hairs on the nape of my neck stood at attention. Needing to catch my breath, I broke the seal of our lips. Not letting go of me, he slowly opened his eyes.

“Hi, Kid,” he smiled and winked, his voice rough and rugged.

His lips were against mine again, demanding from me what he needed.

Suddenly we were upstairs at the bedroom door.

I hadn’t known we were actually moving; I thought it was me dancing on the high of the kiss. My feet dangled just above the reach of the floor.

I smiled back not yet able to suck in enough air to get my vocal cords to make noise. I tightened the knot of my fingers in his curls and flipped off his cap. I never heard it hit the floor. I brought my legs up to wrap them around his hips. I squeezed them tight.

“Easy there killer, I need the blood to continue to flow in that direction,” he answered.

I crossed my ankles behind his back and shifted my weight to them and relaxed my thigh muscles in response. I giggled. My vocal cords were finding their strength, finally.

Though only a whisper, “Declan… ”

He stopped me with another kiss. We were sitting on the edge of the bed. Well, he was. I was sitting on his lap. I don’t know if the waves of tremors were coming from him or me, but they were getting stronger.

He ran his hands up my sides and cupped my face. Although the hunger in his lips was present, he set a slow pace, drawing from my mouth what he wanted. The sweetness was overwhelming to my taste buds.

Before I knew what I was doing, my fingers found their way down to the bottom of his shirt. Though we parted for a brief second so I could remove his tank top, we never skipped a beat. I softly traced the curves of his back and arms. He slid his hands down my neck and over my collar bones. He ran his fingers along the fabric of my button-down cotton shirt still keeping contact with my now moist skin. The first few buttons were already opened. He undid the rest and removed my tee-shirt while his lips traveled the path of his fingers and hovered over the exposed tops of my breasts. The black bra I was wearing was less of a challenge to remove than my shirt. With a quick, firm, gentle action he pushed my breasts together and traced them with his tongue. The excitement of his movements and touch rocketed through my body.

And he could feel it. His own nipples got harder through the fine layer of hair that covered them. His groan when I ran my fingers over them excited me more.

“Cianna,” he whispered in my ear. “You are my love, my heart. I can’t stand to be away from you.”

I unlocked my ankles, still tight behind his back, pulled my shins to contour his legs underneath me and pushed him back on the bed. I was now kneeling over him. My hair hung down, its end just floating over his skin. He ran his fingers through it and held it up against my head, pulling me in for another hungry kiss. I stopped just shy of his lips. “Declan, you know I love you too. Forever my heart belongs to you. But…”

He rolled us over. Laying on our sides, we removed the remaining clothes that separated our flesh. “No more words,” he firmly demanded in his softest voice.

Together we caressed the valleys and peaks of each other’s bodies. Beads of sweat surfaced on our skin as the heat washed over us. Our tongues followed the lead of our fingers touching every part they did. When there wasn’t a piece of flesh left untouched and the teasing of anticipation was ready to burst, we joined our bodies together. In perfect rhythm our bodies arched and collapsed together as one. The pace quickened. Air was harder to grasp.

Background noise, though ever so soft, faded to silence. Our moans filled our ears. For a split second, the entire world was gone. Time stood still. Euphoria ruled.

 

We came together.

 

With no more strength, we collapsed in a heap of flesh, tangled and joined. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I let them flow freely. Declan smiled at me and wiped one away. He kissed away the next.

“I love you, Cianna. More than you could ever dream possible.”

“I know, Declan. I love you, too.” I let him wrap his arms around me and settled into his chest. As his heartbeat slowed to a normal pace, I drifted off to sleep.

 

I opened my eyes. Tears escaped and fell gently as the memory faded back into its place within my mind. Hugging myself, I buried my face in my pillow and cried myself into another restless sleep.

I trudged around the house to the backyard in six inches of snow. A thin top layer was frozen ice. It crunched under the weight of my boots. There were footprints in all sizes going everywhere in all directions. Great. At least I didn’t have to worry about anything melting away. The house was long, getting to the back was time consuming. The scenery heading there was breathtaking.

There were three sets of bay windows along the side of the house. The view to the right was nothing short of spectacular. What looked like the remnants of a garden butted up against the house, and it was lined with a subtly curved sitting wall. I could still smell hints of lavender. The white river-jack stone path followed the slight curve of the sitting wall. I was glad it was cleared of the snow. Ten feet to the right, a dozen huge weeping willow trees stood side-by-side creating a wall of their own. They were spaced apart perfectly and manicured with precision. In the space between each tree there were more river-jack stone paths. Tops of solar lights peeked through the snow, guiding the way into the mystery of the wooded land. Ice covered each hanging branch and glistened from the lights. I could understand the bay windows. I quickly envisioned myself sitting cozy in the warmth and protection of the house, losing myself in fantasies of the fairy world that was hidden just beyond the trees.

The snow kept the night’s darkness away. As I moved closer to the back, I could hear voices mumbling. A new smell entered my nose. I was taken aback.

 

You would think that being a crime scene investigator I would be used to traumatic things. The putrid smells. The horrible remains of a world gone wrong. But I wasn’t.

Each time I entered a new scene I was always taken by surprise by how other people were able to mangle such an existence of life into a graphic display of death. I had a knack for getting these types of assignments. I was the only one on the team that could overlook the severity of the onslaught and see clearly the evidence as it presented itself. Others couldn’t cope with what they saw in front of them, on the surface. Lucky me.

Suddenly Sam stood in front of me, blocking what was coming into view. “This is a bad one, Cianna. The worst one yet.” He reached out and put his strong hands on my shoulders, as if to brace not only me, but to stabilize himself as well. “I want you to be prepared for what you are about to see.”

I shrugged him off and nodded. I took a deep breath and watched my exhale float in the stiff air to nowhere. The putrid air still carried the aroma of faint lavender and something I couldn’t quite identify. I knew the smell, but couldn’t place it. I concentrated on the lavender, while a pair of dogs howled in the darkness from inside the house.

As I stepped around Sam and the corner of the house, the beautiful picturesque scene of pure white snow was replaced by ponds and streaks of crimson red everywhere. The color white was no longer to be found.

Body pieces were strewn across what was the patio and yard. Even the big oak tree had a few dozen body parts hanging from its bare limbs like Christmas ornaments hanging from an Evergreen.

Six heads were frozen in their own little blood pools scattered apart. The morbid terror in the eyes of victims grew greater as I glanced at each one individually.

Seasoned veteran officers were hunched over just past the tree line puking their dinners up. Sergeant Malloy was trying to comfort a crying Officer Kristy Staleman, hollering for someone to take her away from the scene.

The barbeque grill was still releasing warmth into the air. The smoldering ashes in the fire pit nearby were still full of red embers and releasing smoke upward.

Music was soft from the speakers placed at the two open windows near the sliding glass doors leading into the house. The speakers looked as if they were not in their original place.

The sliding glass doors were streaked with smudges from the inside down to where I saw what looked like two Akita dogs sitting with their noses pressed against the glass. I knew the dogs had tried to prevent this monstrosity. One of them arched his neck backward and howled again.

The dog next to the howler looked down to his left. I followed to where he was looking. I saw the whites of a huge pair of eyes. They were larger than anything I had ever seen. I didn’t know eyes could stretch that far open. The eyes staring out blinked. They were low to the floor and all else was hidden in the shadows.

I grabbed Sam’s arm and whispered to him, “VERY SLOWLY and WITHOUT saying A WORD, Sam, look. There’s someone in the house.”

He slowly turned. “Yeah, kid, the dogs.”

“No, Sam, the smaller dog – look to the floor to the left.”

Sam’s body stiffened in my hand. He slowly pulled his walkie-talkie to his mouth. “Did anyone search the house?”

“No, Sam. All doors are locked. The dogs won’t let us near the sliders. Everyone seems to be out here,” a voice came back over the radio.

Sam walked to the door. In a flash the eyes were gone. Sam didn’t even get within seven feet of the door when the dogs attacked the glass. I was surprised the doors didn’t burst apart with the impact. The dogs were bigger than I thought.

“There’s someone in the house. Someone get inside NOW! I want an officer at every entrance point, every fucking window, and every door. NOW!”

People scrambled to obey orders. Guns were drawn.

“Sam,” I hollered to him. “It’s a child, scared out of its mind. Go easy. Get the telephone number to the house and call. Talk into the answering machine if there is one, calmly, and let the kid know it is okay to come to the door. That it is safe now.”

He nodded. He jogged toward the front of the house to talk to the neighbor, who was being consoled by someone near the front of the garage. I remember seeing them as I arrived.

Suddenly, I was alone looking at what was the end of life for the people who lived here, minus one. I could only hope the child inside hadn’t witnessed this destruction first hand. I shivered at the thought.

I lowered my kit to the ground in front of me. I grabbed the camera hanging from my neck and began to focus the lens. I snapped pictures of everything.

I looked through the lens of the camera at the head furthest away. It was that of a woman. She seemed to be a little older than my 21 years, maybe 25. Her cheeks were still red from the cold of the night. Her hair was blood colored–I couldn’t even make out its natural hue. Her eyes were riddled with fear. What she saw last was anyone’s guess. Was it her murderer? Was it the look of fear in everyone else’s face? The face of her child? Or maybe the mutilation of everyone else?

The next head was smaller, and the blood pool much less than the others. Its short blonde hair was doused with blood. I could tell this was a teenage boy. His eyes were rolled up into the back of his skull. His lips frozen forever in a scream.

I took the camera down from my eye and looked at him. I scanned the scene again. The rest of his body was in pieces littered around with the rest of his family. I covered my nose and mouth to avoid gasping the strong smell of death in through my nose and having it stay there forever.

I closed my own eyes and slowly counted to 15.

I reopened my eyes and pointed my camera to the next dismembered head. I took pictures without even seeing them. I couldn’t tell of any details, I refused to see them at the moment. The next head, about three feet away from the third, was the same. My fingers did all the work. My brain remembered nothing as if it was blocking the details to protect me.

Next was the fire pit. The camera capturing frame after frame buzzed steadily and quickly. There was something about the embers in the pit and the ashes surrounding them. It didn’t look quite right to me. Something was different. The glow didn’t match the natural fading of a fire. There was a sheen to the ashes instead of the usual white and gray. I zoomed in and snapped more photos, concentrating on the center where something looked odd.

It was then that I noticed some fabric in the center of the fire pit, mostly covered by the ashes. I focused on the area around the burnt cloth and took more pictures. Through the lens I could make out what looked like hair draped over the stone edging of the pit.

I moved closer to get more angles, more pictures. My gut told me that someone, or at least a part of someone, had burned in that fire. Suddenly, the embers flared up as if in agreement with my assumption then just as quickly died out. I shivered. I would collect these things when I was finished taking pictures.

When I felt I captured all the details on film, I turned to continue with the rest of the scene.

The fifth head was on its side. It looked as if it fell from the sky. I looked up into the tree through my camera to see a torso with arms dangling there. The top of the shoulders were hanging down. I could see the path the head took as it departed from its rightful place on those shoulders. Another teenaged child; a girl, from the looks of the remains. The fear left on her face was so gripping. Robotically I snapped more pictures.

I turned and began snapping pictures of the sixth and final head. As I focused more on this head, my body turned to stone. Not pushing the button to snap the photos, I stared at the features of the placid face. The curve of the cheek bones, the chiseled jaw line. I knew this face.

My camera fell from my hands. I couldn’t move to catch it. I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t…

“DECLAN? NO!” I bellowed and began to shake uncontrollably. “NOOOOOOO! OH MY GOD, DECLAN, NOOOOOOO!”

 

~About the Author ~

Deb

Born and raised in North Eastern Pennsylvania, i fell in love with writing at the age of 12. I have written plays, short stories and poetry. Married at sunset on Hawii’s Maui Island. I am still residing in Pennsylvania with my husband Herb and our Jack Russell Terrier, Rocket. While our demolition business slowed down in the year 2009 Herb encouraged me to follow my novel-writing dream and Tangled Blood Lines is the result.

~ Links~

 http://amzn.to/16qaA9U
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tangled-blood-lines-deborah-noel/1105874226?ean=2940044541733
http://www.authordeborahnoel.com
https://www.facebook.com/authordeborahnoel
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