Happy Friday everyone!
Today’s post is going to consist of a little blatant self-promotion. I am including an excerpt from my latest novel, A Touch of Cedar, a gay-themed time-travel ghost story. In this scene, Marek our hero encounters the ghosts for the first time:
Marek clasped his hands in front of him and glanced down at the table. He observed the scratched, faded wood and recalled that Randy had reminded him just recently that it needed some work. Another thing to add to his ever-growing never-ending to-do list. A slight shiver fluttered up his back. He shook himself and drifted back into his thoughts. He involuntarily smiled as a light aroma of cedar passed through the room and he lost himself in pleasant nostalgia. The smell reminded him of his youth on his father’s farm and all the wonderful summers he had spent there growing up. He and his brother would spend hours climbing the huge cedar tree on the edge of the property. How simple things were back then. He felt an ache in his chest as he thought about how much he missed his father these three long years since he had passed.
He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. Then all at once he snapped to and his eyes flew open. Cedar. It was the same scent he has smelled a couple of weeks earlier upstairs. That odd cologne that was in his room.
The hairs on his arms rose and his skin felt prickly. He glanced down at his arms, intrigued by the strange sensation. He lifted his head and surveyed the room for the source of the odor. He leapt to his feet, walked to the living room and then to the study, sniffing the air as he strode, like a dog with its snout to the wind. The fragrance seemed to follow him and appeared to increase in intensity. Another light shiver tickled his neck and he absentmindedly brushed it away. He made one last defiant entrance into the kitchen where he had first noticed the odor. It was definitely the strongest in here. He sighed loudly, frustrated at not being able to discover the source of the curious smell.
“This is really getting bizarre,” he said out loud. He placed his hands on his hips and silently wished Randy was home. All at once, things seemed to change. His perception of his surroundings became muddled and off-kilter. The kitchen grew brighter and as it did, the smell of cedar intensified. Marek squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and then reopened them, his face frozen. He leaned against the wall for support and an even heat rose on his palms. He saw, or rather sensed, a fleeting movement near the kitchen table and snapped his head toward its source. His eyes grew wide and he struggled for breath at what he saw. To the left of the table, standing in front of the window was a most handsome, unknown man. The stranger’s eyes locked to his and Marek’s eyes grew even wider as his gaze fell upon the man’s smooth, youthful face. He was unquestionably a young man, not older than twenty-three or twenty-four, with solid square features, a heavy head of dirty blond hair and a barely perceptible coating of blond razor stubble glazing his two ruddy cheeks. His light blue eyes flickered as they studied Marek’s face. He was dressed in what could be best described as one’s “Sunday Best” — a black suit coat, whose sleeves appeared to be a little short for the man’s lengthy arms, a vest with a shiny silver chain leading into one of the pockets and a pair of dark but somewhat wrinkly trousers. The cut and style of the man’s clothes seemed to be dated which made the man appears as if he had just stepped out of an old time photograph, although the clothing itself appeared to be new and well taken care off.
Marek drew an urgent breath. “Who are you?”
The stunning stranger did not respond. The smell of cedar was almost overwhelming now and Marek’s head pounded as a result. It was then that he detected — no, actually felt — a cloud of sadness shading the young man’s expression. The man’s grief seemed to swell in the room and settle even over Marek himself. He felt the weight of the man’s sorrow pull at his own chest and solar plexus. Involuntarily, he found himself almost at the point of tears, not knowing why.
He had no idea how long he stood in place watching the stranger watch him. Time seemed to have stopped with Marek unable to move. A thicket of jumbled thoughts swirled in his brain as Marek and the man continued their stare-down. Marek finally found the strength to speak again.
“How did you get in here?” His voice cracked and sounded feeble.
“What do you want?”
The young man’s face then broke into a weak, almost forced smile and he nodded reverently to Marek. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his trousers, the action being carried out so gradually that it seemed as if the entire scene were taking place in slow motion. He broke Marek’s gaze and glanced around the room. A look of surprise then displayed on the man’s face as he began to fade into nothingness. Marek watched wide-eyed as the man in front of him became more and more transparent, the stunned expression still stamped on his face as if he hadn’t expected to begin disappearing. The man’s body then softened, along with his expression, and within moments, resembled nothing more than a light mist. Then, he was gone.
Marek’s hands shook wildly and his heart hammered so hard in his chest that he feared going into cardiac arrest. His shaky legs were barely able to carry him over to the kitchen table. Still gasping, he waved his arm in the air where the man had just been standing. He could feel icy coldness and a prickly energy where the man had stood. A pins-and-needles sensation flowed up his arm. He rapidly jiggled it, trying to shake off the sudden numbness. He then noticed that the smell of cedar had completely disappeared.
He secured both of his trembling hands on the table and settled down on the cold wooden chair. He sucked in a breath through his parched mouth and applied more pressure to the table in an attempt to stop his hands from shaking. His head pounded dully and his knuckles turned white from the pressure he was applying to the table. Realizing this, he wrung his hands together, still fixing his gaze on the location where the eerie man had stood.
His thoughts hammered his brain as he tried to figure out what in the hell he had just witnessed. The image of that striking man floated before his eyes. He laid his head in his hands and squeezed. His heart rate finally lessened and his breathing slowed to a more normal pace. He then looked up as comprehension tumbled over him.
There was only one explanation for what had occurred. This damn place was haunted and what he had just seen was nothing other than a ghost.