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New Release | Towers of the Hungry Ghosts by Lee Kaiser #suspense #womensfiction #newrelease
Title Towers of the Hungry Ghosts
Author Lee Kaiser
Genre Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
Mythical Dacian wolves, hungry ghosts and Dracula's ruined fortress next door is hardly a winning formula for a piece of real estate. Inheriting a castle, especially a former insane asylum, would blow anyone's mind, but its reclusive new owner, Paula, doesn't want her mind changed, let alone blown. The naive woman soon finds herself embracing the ominous incidents inside the abandoned fortress as secret messages from her ex-lover—a mad artist missing and declared dead. Whether it's the painter, spirits, or criminals causing the chaos, Paula's friends fear she won't survive long enough to find out.
Nothing else moved until a breeze kicked up and parted the fog. Below, prowling around the outside of the cottage was a pack of wolves. Or—She blinked against the mist. Could wolves possibly get onto the island? How foolish she’d feel setting off the gun and waking her friends needlessly.
She stood for a better look, immediately bringing the intense eyes of one of the animals on her. It sprinted forward. Desperate, she glanced over her shoulder at the citadel. Too far. Then the plum tree—robust enough to hold but slippery with frost.
Frantic, she slammed the chair against the trunk and hauled herself to the crook of a branch just as the animal’s snout appeared at her boot. She raised the blank gun. Boom! The shock wave reverberated within her like scattershot, sending the wolf thundering down the knoll.
Low and menacing, a woman’s voice pierced the mist. A ragged stranger seemed to float within it. Tossing her twisted snake pit of black hair, she raised her arms, palms up, high overhead, scattering the wolves over a nearby embankment.
Tall and bone-thin, a face cut with age, she wore a billowing white blouse over a torn burlap skirt which flapped about her ankles. Her embroidered vest and the red bandana capping her head snatched her from the ranks of a common tramp and into the realm of a nomadic fortune-teller.
The cottage door banged open; out burst Ram, swinging a charred piece of firewood and naked except for his jockey shorts.
Hyper-alert, Paula slid from the tree and advanced, the gun at her side. If the wolves returned, a lot of good it would be, never mind Ram’s piece of brittle charcoal.
He stopped in his tracks as the strange woman wheeled around.
“Well.” Her head swept up and down his body. “You’ve filled out nicely.”
Ram lunged to embrace her. “I honestly didn’t have a clue it was you,” he said, holding her at arm’s length.
Paula kept her distance. While they’d sat on their water-bound rock, had a new fashion craze swept the globe? Instead of shredded denim, threadbare, soiled burlap?
“We seem to be picking up right where we left off. No?” She homed in on Ram’s hands, hovering in front of his crotch. “I don’t believe you wore any pants that time, either.”
With Ram’s virility diluted to a lopsided smile, he glanced back at Julie, standing on the steps and clutching a blanket, then said to Paula, “Uh—you can put the gun away, now.”
“I was sure I saw some kind of wild animal.”
“Naw, Claudia’s fairly tame, aren’t you?” The two of them guffawed into the wind, locked in a weird private moment until Ram’s eyes strayed to Julie once more and the grin fell right off his face.
“Okay, then. Claudia, this is my fi-an-cée, Julie, and over there is my dearest friend, Paula. That’s not a real gun by the way. I’m going in to throw some clothes on.” Without a glance back, he shouted, “Goran’s cousin.”
The woman’s enthusiasm evaporated at the click of the door. She looked down her nose at Paula.
There was no mistake. Paula had clearly seen this bizarre woman among the wolves. “I’ve been sitting on that chair up there, but I didn’t see you come up from the beach. How did you get here?”
The cousin frowned and shifted to a superior tone. “I wouldn’t climb those stone stairs if I were you. To be honest, which is what I always am.” Claudia aimed an acerbic eye at Paula. “This rock has never been more treacherous than now.” Without warning, she wheeled around as if challenging Julie’s sour stance, and the two of them studied each other with the shiftiness of thieves divvying up a bag of money.
“Cat got your tongue?” Julie finally said, stepping forward to close their jagged circle.
Claudia descended on her. “Don’t use those words with me. I despise idioms. They’re gauche and the sign of a stagnant mind.”
A wicked glee spread over Julie’s face. If only Paula had Julie’s courage to put this high-bred vagabond in her place.
“You good?” Julie asked Paula. She crooked a finger in her friend’s direction, never taking her eyes off the cousin. “I’ll meet you in the citadel. No more than ten minutes.”
“Oh, take your time,” Claudia said to Julie. “In fact, go back to bed if you like. I can find my own way around. Although…now that there’s a new owner, it would be bad manners. Perhaps worse. Trespassing.”
Paula couldn’t imagine a more disastrous start for Ram’s future wife and Claudia. What to make of the tasteless no pants quip? How dare she insult and embarrass her friends that way? And were those not gray hairs in that tangle of braids? The woman must be well over fifty.
Poor Julie. Not that Claudia had given Paula any reason to like her so far, either. Black marks were piling up against this relative—the cousin was a rough character with base morals, someone Paula was thinking might even be a thief.
Why else would Claudia turn up on their remote island so early in the day without notice if not to steal the paintings before Paula found them? She certainly had the leathery face of a desperado in need of a meal. Not only that, but how did she cross over if they already had her boat? Paula was of a mind to let the cousin go ahead while she checked the beach for any cohorts.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)
All retailers http://catalog.wildrosepress.com/bookpage.php?TitleID=16359
Amazon CA https://www.amazon.ca/Towers-Hungry-Ghosts-Paths-Kaiser-ebook/dp/B0BS4JYJP6
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/Towers-Hungry-Ghosts-Paths-Kaiser-ebook/dp/B0BS4JYJP6
Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/towers-of-the-hungry-ghosts-lee-kaiser/1142929607?ean=9781509247585
Read the first in series! A free e-copy of Sutra of the Pearl, first in the Paths Unknown series, is available on her website www.leekaiserauthor.com
Lee Kaiser writes women's fiction intrigue in settings around the world. She self-published her first novel, Sutra of the Pearl, set in India. The second in the Paths Unknown series, Towers of the Hungry Ghosts, is set in Romania and was picked up by traditional New York publisher, Wild Rose Press, for release March 2023. Her interest in Buddhism began in 2000 while studying the sutras at Theravadan tradition monasteries around the world. She previously worked as a journalist and editor in Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Canada. She presently divides her time between Mexico, Europe and Canada where she ponders new plots and lives with stray animals.
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