When Tawny spots a fixer-upper on the Oregon coast, she and her husband jump at the chance to own a cottage near the beach. As repairs turn their dream home into a nightmare, their marriage unravels. And worse…the house is not quite vacant. Something in the house’s dark past remains.
Tawny’s daughter has a new imaginary friend, and she bears a striking resemblance to a little girl who once lived in the cottage but went missing, along with her mother. After meeting the former owner, Tawny suspects she knows what happened to the last people who slept in the house. Her family might be next.
I was falling in love with this fixer-upper, but before we made an offer
on the house, I had to check out the basement. I clicked on the light
and stepped over the threshold, into darkness. Floating dust motes
filled the air, dancing in the flashlight’s beam.
The room before me was expansive, running the length and width of the
house. On one end was a wooden stall for firewood, still stacked with
logs. They’d come in handy if we restored the fireplace, though I
didn’t look forward to cleaning off the cobwebs covering them. The
other end of the basement was stacked with junk and garbage, similar to
what we’d encountered upstairs.
Everything was blanketed with a thick layer of dust. My nose was
stuffy—all the dust triggering my allergies. I made a mental note to
take an antihistamine when I got back to the car. Otherwise I’d be
paying for this excursion tonight, when my sinuses were too clogged to
let me sleep. I just hoped there wasn’t any mold down here. I’d
heard horror stories from my neighbor about getting mold removed from
her home. The procedure had been costly, and if we got this house,
it’d cost us enough as it was.
I ventured a little deeper into the basement, shining my flashlight on
the pile of junk. I could make out an old wooden trunk. Did that come
with the house? Maybe I’d clean it up and use it for a coffee table.
The beam of my flashlight fell on a tattered ragdoll. The doll’s
fabric face and its light brown yarn hair looked dingy. Its flower print
dress was dotted with rust colored stains and black flecks. The flecks
looked like rodent feces.
There was a rustle to my right, and I startled, swinging my light toward
the sound. Given the state of the doll’s dress, I thought it might be
Suddenly the air was thick with flies. I clamped my mouth shut as they
flew toward my face, waving my arms madly to keep them away. They
crawled in my hair and buzzed in my ears, and I bit back a shriek. The
beam of my flashlight flickered as I used it to swat the flies. I
shuddered at the thought of it going out and having to find my way back
to the stairs in the dark.
I stumbled back toward the corridor that led to the door of the
basement, trying to see through squinted eyes, the cloud of flies, and
the dying light of the Maglite. As I reached the passage, the buzzing
sound eased, and the flies began to drift back to whatever attracted
them to the basement.
I dared one last look, directing my beam to the offending corner of the
basement. The dirt floor was carpeted with insects. Flies and other
crawling things, though I was too far away to tell what they were. There
seemed to be a small lump on the floor that attracted their interest. A
dead rat, most likely, but there was no way I was going back to find
Excerpted from "Pitcher Plant: A Pacific Northwest Suspense" by Melissa Eskue Ousley. Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Eskue Ousley. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Melissa Eskue Ousley
Melissa Eskue Ousley is an award-winning author of young adult fiction. Her first book, Sign of the Throne, won a 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award and a 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award. Her third book, The Sower Comes, won a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her fourth book, Sunset Empire, debuted in the bestselling young adult boxed set, Secrets and Shadows. Her new suspense novel, Pitcher Plant, was released May 2017. She has edited fiction for Barking Rain Press and contributes monthly articles on writing, editing, and book marketing to BookDaily.com. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association. Connect with her at MelissaEskueOusley.com.
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