Title Crimson at Cape May
Author Randy Overbeck
Genre Paranormal Mystery
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
What if you needed to escape a haunted past and a town furious with you for exposing its ugly secret? With no job and few options, Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach and paranormal sensitive—heads for Cape May to accept an offer to coach a summer football camp. And the resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might be just the getaway he needs.
Only, no one told him Cape May is home to even more horrors as the most haunted seaport on the East coast. The new town launches his gift of seeing ghosts into overdrive and one resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks him, begging for help.
Darrell can’t refuse.
Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers an even greater crime. Can Darrell and Cassie expose the killer before they meet the same fate?
CRIMSON is the second entry in my series The Haunted Shores Mysteries. Both CRIMSON and the first book in the series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE, have earned ★★★★★ and a national award (The Gold Award) from Literary Titan.
There was something off about her.
Darrell Henshaw had first spotted the woman on
the Promenade near the corner of the Cape May
Convention Hall. Huddled in the shadows, her long
white dress soiled and torn, she stared at him with sad
blue eyes that might have once been enchanting, but
now seemed haunting. With her dirty blonde hair, a
pallid face, and ragged clothes, he thought she was
simply another homeless person. He’d heard
panhandlers like to set up under the shade of the
Convention Hall, on the famous beach and across from
the meticulously restored Victorian houses. That is,
until the cops ran them off.
After he used the faucet to rinse off his feet from
his walk in the surf, he dried them with a towel he’d
brought along. Between the water and the cloth, he
fussed to make sure not one grain of sand clung to his
feet. He’d had another full day at the junior high
football camp where he was assisting, and he only
wanted to get to his room and collapse. After losing his
teaching and coaching job in Wilshire, he was glad for
this gig. He shot another glance over at the woman. He
didn’t need any complications.
He slipped his shoes back on and started walking,
keeping the woman in his peripheral vision. Unlike
other homeless he’d seen, she held no sign or bucket to
beg for money. Instead, as he passed, she extended
small, bony hands and said, “Please help me,” the
words so soft he could barely hear them. Darrell
pretended he didn’t see her. He didn’t feel good about
it, but he kept moving anyway.
As he made his way around the front of the
Convention Hall, Darrell sensed movement behind him
and glanced back. The woman rounded the corner,
coming his way. He ambled across Beach Avenue,
strolled past a few stores and then ducked into the
alcove of a gift shop. He knew he was being paranoid,
but with his experience back in Wilshire, he couldn’t
Stopping beside the glass window, Darrell chanced
a look back. Across the avenue, the Convention Hall
loomed to his right, its scrubbed gray stone and blue
windows looking almost like some Greek temple. It
was flanked by the wide stretch of a white sand beach,
still populated by tourists in colorful swimsuits. He
craned his neck and examined his side of the street,
studying the restaurants, beach shops, and bars that
fronted the road. The woman stood, about four shops
down, waiting. Did she see him? He yanked his neck
back inside the alcove.
A small bell tinkled and he jumped. As the door
opened, the aroma of homemade fudge wafted out. His
stomach growled in response. He’d worked hard at
football camp today, running drill after drill with the
teens in the blistering Jersey sun, and hadn’t had time to
eat. An older woman with a tight bun of brunette hair
exited the store and walked around him, giving him a
wide berth and raised eyebrows.
Darrell ignored her and peeked his head around
the corner again, careful not to touch the grimy glass.
She was still back there, not more than fifty feet down
the walk—he caught a glimpse of her disheveled,
shoulder-length blonde hair—just standing there, watching.
Waiting for him?
Working hard to not glance behind, Darrell headed out
again. As soon as he stepped out of the alcove, the salty
breeze off the water hit him.
He hurried on, his feet stumbling on the sidewalk.
When he stole another glimpse back, she was keeping
up with him.
Darrell couldn’t believe he was being followed.
Picking up the pace, he turned up Ocean Street,
trying to figure out where he was. On the right, he
recognized the distinctive pink architecture of another
Victorian. He remembered it. He was heading toward
his boardinghouse and didn’t want her to follow him
there. In the middle of the block, he started across,
dodging between passing cars, and turned onto
Carpenters Street. Both drivers hit their horns hard,
making Darrell dart across. He grabbed a quick breath
and glanced back again. A few houses down, his
shadow stepped out between the cars and eased across
the street, apparently oblivious to the traffic.
He cursed aloud, his paranoia full tilt now. Staring
at his feet and counting his steps, he hooked a left onto
Why would this woman pursue him?
Now a safe distance away, he studied her. She was
thin, with a small, drawn face of pasty skin, and he
would’ve guessed her to be about his age, mid-twenties.
But there was something about her, something that
made him shiver. Did she have a black eye? Were those
cuts on her cheek? Why hadn’t he noticed those before,
when he passed her on the Promenade?
He sped up, the street crowded, congested with
tourists. Normally, the jostling bodies would’ve given
him the creeps, but today he was grateful for the
numbers so he could blend in.
As he turned back onto Beach Avenue again, the
sight of the beautiful blue ocean across the road struck
him and he stopped for a moment, then chanced a peek
back around the corner. No sign of his stalker.
He reduced his pace, easing past a beach shop, and
saw his reflection in the store front. That gave him an
Ahead, he spied a coffee shop with two long
windows facing the street, the panes so sparkling clean
he could see the image of the sun hanging over the
ocean in the glass. As he walked along, he turned his
head to catch his image and, when he was far enough
along, he glanced sideways at the window. Trailing
behind him, he could make out, reflected in the glass,
only two people, a gray-haired couple. No one else. He
took a few more steps, watching and slowing a little,
and exhaled. He’d lost her.
He turned and studied the man and woman, who’d
paused to examine the restaurant menu posted next to
the door. A few feet beyond the couple stood the
woman. Darrell’s gaze darted. The couple. The woman.
The coffee shop window. Back to her. The petite young
woman in the tattered white dress stood hunched not
more than ten feet away. Darrell searched for her
reflection in the glass. There was not even a shimmer.
Oh no. Not again.
The side of the young woman’s face was beaten
and bloodied. Her exposed neck bore a long, ugly
purple bruise. The torn dress now had blood seeping
across her torso and down her right leg. He looked
back. Still nothing in the window. The hairs on his neck
Darrell kept staring and as he watched, the young
woman walked through the older couple and stopped in
front of him. This close up, her one deep blue eye—the
one not blackened—seemed vacant and carried an
emptiness that frightened Darrell. She again extended
both pale hands, blood now covering them and dripping
off her fingertips. Mesmerized, Darrell watched as fat
crimson drops splattered red onto the gray sidewalk.
In her soft voice, she said again, “Please, help me.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
I’m one of the authors participating in the Read a Book Month Giveaway and you can win one of three e-copies of Blood on the Chesapeake (book 1 in this series).
Runs September 1 - 30 and is open internationally for most prizes.
Winners will be drawn on October 1, 2020.
Dr. Randy Overbeck is a veteran educator who has served children for more than three decades as a teacher and school leader, winning national recognition and awards for his work. Over that time, he has performed many of the roles depicted in his writing with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. An accomplished writer, he has been published in trade journals, professional texts and newspapers. His first novel, Leave No Child Behind, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thriller of the Year from ReadersFavorite.com. His second novel, Blood on the Chesapeake, a ghost story/mystery, released by the Wild Rose Press, is the first in a new series called the Haunted Shores Mysteries. The second entry, Crimson at Cape May, was released Summer, 2020. Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community.
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