The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome F.E. Feeley Jr. today! Read on for excerpts from both Objects in the Rearview Mirror and Timber Manor, then click on the Rafflecopter link and enter for a chance to win an e-copy of one of the books.
Blurb: Their new home on Frederick Street in Clay Center, Kansas, was supposed to give writer Jonathan David and his husband, clinical psychologist Dr. Eddie Dorman, an opportunity to enjoy married life. Jonathan has just released his first major bestseller, and he hopes to finally escape his traumatic past and find the quiet existence he has always craved. Eddie has taken a job at the Kansas State University psychology department, and they intend to begin anew.
They have barely settled in when the nightmare begins. Noises, disembodied voices, and mysterious apparitions make Jonathan’s life hell. Part of the house has decided to bare its teeth, show its jagged edges, and bring back the worst of Jonathan’s past. At first, Eddie cannot perceive the spectral events and fears for his husband’s sanity. When he’s also affected by the haunting, he’s unsure of what to do but refuses to be beaten.
Together, they seek a way to fight the forces trying to tear them apart. The world is a frightening place, but confronting their fears plunges Jonathan and Eddie into absolute horror.
Jonathan let go and walked over to the fridge, pulled out another beer, popped the top, and put it up to his lips.
Thump. Eddie started to say something, but stopped short when the noise came again.
They both raised their gazes to the ceiling as Jonathan walked over to the wall for his baseball bat. He didn’t believe in owning guns, and he figured this would give him more pleasure without all the cleanup necessary in dispatching someone with a firearm. He wrapped his hand around the base of the bat as they both listened intently, hearts beating.
Thump. Thump. Thump. It sounded like someone heavy walking across the floor above their heads.
Their gazes locked, and Jonathan mouthed, Someone is upstairs.
Eddie nodded and reached for his cell phone, which was plugged in on the counter. The two of them moved from the kitchen to the staircase. They had both been standing in view of the front door and knew there was no way someone had simply walked in. As silently as they could, they made their way up. Jonathan led with the bat over his shoulder, and Eddie followed, having already tapped 911 into the phone. He waited to press the Send button, wanting to make sure it wasn’t a squirrel or a raccoon first. He didn’t want the embarrassment of having the police show up because of a furry home invader.
They crept up a stair at a time and were nearly at the top when they heard the sound of footsteps again. Whoever it was was coming toward them from the back room. Jonathan pushed himself farther, feeling a burning sensation in his gut as his trembling legs fought to hold him up. The three steps to the landing were the most difficult three steps either of them had ever taken. One, breathe, two, hesitate, breathe, three, and they were there. The first thing they noticed was that all four doors were shut, including their bedroom door. Jonathan pressed his hand against Eddie’s stomach as a sign to stay put as he approached the bedroom. Eddie stood watching, ready to hit the Send button.
The door swung open to a dark room. Eddie’s nerves were on high alert, his heart hammered hard in his chest, his mouth was dry, and his palms were sweaty. Jonathan walked in.
“Jon—” Eddie began, but he was silenced when his husband turned around and held up his hand, signaling him to be quiet. He shut his mouth with a click but kept his gaze glued to what Jonathan was doing. Jonathan disappeared into the dark and, from somewhere inside, clicked on a light.
Eddie breathed a sigh of relief when Jonathan came walking back out giving him a shrug.
Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound came from one of the empty rooms down the hall. The feeling of relief Eddie had felt suddenly vanished like smoke, making him tense up again. Jonathan rolled his eyes. He was getting sick of this. Instead of creeping down the hallway like he had up the stairs, he charged down the hallway and Eddie chased after him. Jonathan flung the door of the room on the left open. Nothing. He reached out and swung the middle door open. Nothing. Finally, he grabbed for the last door and hesitated. Instead of turning the knob, he pressed his ear to the door.
“What is it?” Eddie whispered.
“Shhh,” Jonathan said.
Eddie leaned closer to the door and listened with Jonathan. Jonathan motioned for him to back up before turning the knob and trying to push the door open. As it started to swing inward, it hit something and stopped. Eddie jumped back. The room was empty, or it should have been. Surprised, Jonathan let go of the handle, and the door swung shut and slammed hard in his face with a loud bang. Jonathan backed up a step and then grabbed the knob again. This time it wouldn’t turn.
“Whoever the fuck is in there, I’m coming in to beat your ass!” Jonathan said, and he twisted the knob with all his might. Whatever or whoever was on the other side was struggling to keep Jonathan out. Eddie brought his phone up to call for help but discovered that it was inexplicably dead. Jonathan struggled with the door and finally lost his temper. He backed up a few steps, dropped the bat, and charged the door with his shoulder. Instead of meeting resistance he had expected, the door burst open and slammed against the wall. Luckily, Eddie had been hot on his heels and kept him from going headfirst through the closed window directly across from the door. To their surprise, the room was empty.
Blurb: While recovering from the recent loss of his parents, Daniel Donnelly receives a phone call from his estranged aunt, who turns over control of the family fortune and estate, Timber Manor. Though his father seemed guarded about the past, Daniel’s need for family and curiosity compel him to visit.
Located in a secluded area of the Northwest, Timber Manor has grown silent over the years. Her halls sit empty and a thin layer of dust adorns the sheet-covered furniture. When Daniel arrives to begin repairs, strange things happen. Nightmares haunt his dreams. Memories not his own disturb his waking hours. Alive with the tragedies of the past, Timber Manor threatens to tear Daniel apart.
Sheriff Hale Davis grew up working on the manor grounds. Seeing Daniel struggle, he vows protect the young man who captured his heart, and help him solve the mystery behind the haunting and confront the past—not only to save Daniel’s life, but to save his family, whose very souls hang in the balance.
Martin leaned across the desk, a look of concern on his face. “I’m fine, Martin, please.”
Suddenly there was a great deal of commotion going on downstairs. Laughter rang through the house, a thud, and then a yelp—my heart stopped for a second—then even harder laughter and a good-natured “ow.” My heart warmed to hear these things as Martin and I both rose to find what all the noise was about.
I thought Martin was at my heels as I was greeting two very soaked, very out of breath young men. Hale and Daniel were both laughing, with Hale trying to pick Daniel up off the floor. He wasn’t doing a very good job of it, and his shoes kept trying to skid along the marble foyer floor. Anita had come in and was fussing over the two, but the gales of laughter kept rolling. Daniel had his hand over his stomach and was laughing so hard his face was beet red. Hale wasn’t much better, as he could barely stand. I stood there smiling, leaning against the rail that led up the stairs, watching the two of them. The sound of laughter was like sunshine bursting through on a gloomy day, and I basked in it. I cleared my throat, and they both looked up at me and settled down a bit. Anita had already grabbed the mop, and Daniel took it from her.
“We made the mess, Anita, and we’ll clean up after ourselves.” He smiled up at me, and my heart couldn’t help but leap for joy, he looked so much like Michael. “Hello, Aunt Carol, sorry about the mess we’re making.”
“Not at all, not at all!” I laughed, coming down the rest of the stairs. “It’s good to see you both didn’t get zapped by lightning. A little water isn’t going to ruin anything.”
“Supper is almost ready, Carol,” Anita said. She stood there staring at the mop like her best friend had just been taken from her. Surely, she didn’t know what to make of Daniel taking the chore upon himself. “You two are going to catch your death playing in the rain like that,” she chided, but that was where the seriousness in her tone died. She too was enjoying the sight of these two drowned boys.
“How was your tour, Daniel?” I inquired.
“Oh, it was great. I saw the pond, and then we saw the tennis courts, the pool, and the stables. Your horses are awesome,” Daniel said as he emptied the contents of the mop into a bucket. Anita had left and come back with two large towels.
“And the land is so huge, and it’s gorgeous. And hard to run across when it’s pouring!” he continued.
I smiled. “I’m glad you liked it.”
“Carol, will Mr. Lahey be joining us for dinner?” Anita asked, handing the boys the towels.
“Martin? No, he”—I turned, expecting him to be by my side—“isn’t,” I finished. He would never sit in that office by himself. Fear gripped my heart, and it was everything I could do not to run up the stairs to find him. Hale and Daniel, sensing my distress, followed close at my heels. As I walked down to the office, which was almost across from Daniel’s room, I saw the door was ajar. We all approached the door almost on top of each other, and I reached out to open it. We stood there looking in as the door swung to reveal the office, and there sat Martin in the seat, papers clenched in his right hand. He was facing the desk, where I sat during our conversation, and the back of the chair was to us.
“Martin?” I tentatively spoke.
He didn’t move. “Martin?” I said more nervously and quite a bit louder. He didn’t respond. I felt Hale’s hands on me, holding me back. He walked cautiously around the chair to face Martin and then my worst fear was confirmed. The look on Hale’s face was shock and fear. His eyes grew wide, and I couldn’t restrain myself anymore. Daniel and I both rushed around to see what Hale was staring at.
Martin was clutching the documents with his right hand but was clutching his chest with the left. His heart must have given out on him. Yet that wasn’t the most disturbing thing. On his face was a look of sheer terror. His eyes were wide and staring and his mouth agape. His face was white as a sheet, and we knew there was nothing we could do to save him. Daniel whispered, “My God,” and Hale leaned in to feel for a pulse. There was none. Immediately, Hale lifted Martin’s body off the chair and lowered him to the floor to perform CPR. He gave up after a few minutes as if he knew that it was a futile gesture.
Hale grabbed the phone off the cradle on Papa Jim’s desk and dialed 9-1-1. He gave the operator his badge number and asked immediately for an ambulance and the coroner. He also asked that someone head over to the Lahey residence and notify his wife. He put the phone down a little harder than perhaps he intended, and we all jumped. Daniel had a troubled look on his face, and he was shaking his head. I reached out for him.
“He was the family attorney. He came over to draw up some paperwork for me. I shouldn’t have left him in this room alone.” I felt the tears grow hot at the back of my eyes, and Hale walked to my side.
“It’s okay, Carol. Let’s just see what the coroner says.”
I shook my head. “He was terrified of this place, Hale. I knew it. I just didn’t think anything could happen like this.” Hale led me out of the room, and Daniel followed, but Mr. Martin Lahey, who was ready to retire and take his wife on a trip across America in their new Winnebago, silently waited for his last time leaving the house.
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