Hello there my lovelies! Happy Sunday! I am deep into working on my Vella Story this week, so I didn’t have time to come up with a blog post! So instead, I’m going to give you a sneak peek of Someone’s Always Watching, my dual-POV, mystery/thriller which can only be read on Kindle Vella (KV) right here:
Someone’s Always Watching blurb:
Jenny's day started with expectations for a perfect beach picnic, on a warm summer day, with her five-year-old son and her husband. But when hours pass, and she can't remember where they went, Jenny embarks on a terrifying quest to not only find out what happened to her son and husband, but also why she's covered in blood and can't remember an entire day. Will she be able to find them, and who in the world is the strange dark figure who appears out of nowhere to 'help' her?
If you love episodes one and two (below), skip on over and read all 33 available episodes to see if you can figure out what in the heck is happening in Jenny’s world. Episodes 1-3 are free on KV, and first time users get 200 tokens for free. If you’re not new to KV, the episodes only cost about 6-15 tokens each. That means you can get caught up on Jenny’s life for less than 500 tokens! Let me know in the comments below what you think is going on, and how the story will end.
Next week author Lashun Williams will be our final guest blogger of 2023! Applications for 2024 guest blog spots are now open (click here), so if you’d like to share your thoughts on anything writing/reading related, we’d love to have you! We’re hoping to get a few more book reviews on the 2024 blog, so we’re especially hoping for book reviewers/authors who want to write reviews to apply!
Without further ado, Episodes 1 and 2 of Someone’s Always Watching:
The Perfect Day?
Carl’s golden hair blew in the breeze as he danced around the shore waving his sandwich like a flag while singing, “Peanut butter, peanut butter, jelly—”
“Be careful sweet boy.” I grinned at his giggling before my gaze flicked to the side.
Next to me, Gordon's arm was bent at the elbow, his large hand propped underneath his mop of honey-brown curls blowing in the breeze. Both of our gazes pointed toward the water, but his sculpted body faced me on the blanket. The sound of splashing in the distance ripped my attention away from the sun-kissed Adonis next to me and back toward my son.
“Stay away from the water, you don’t want to drown Mr. Sandwich,” I fussed.
Gordon’s grunting exhale should’ve said a lot to me. Especially when coupled with the deadness in his eyes as he watched our perfect baby boy dancing around in front of the still water. But unfortunately, it didn't.
“You baby him,” Gordon said, positioning a beach towel under his neck as he rolled over on his back to stare at the sky.
“He’s fine.” I flopped down next to him, tickling his side to lighten the heaviness his foul mood was bringing on our limited family time together. “He's only five.” Intertwining our fingers, I kissed his knuckles.
As the tepid wind blew over us, I nuzzled my head into Gordon’s chest, adjusting my head to keep an eye on little Carl. “You think he's warm enough?” I sat up slightly and pulled the corner of the blanket under us over my bare legs before laying back down.
“It's like a hundred and fifty degrees out here,” Gordon moaned as I twisted my blonde hair in a knot then laid back down on top of him and slipped my hand back in his.
“Yeah, but the breeze is kinda chilly.”
Gordon let out a grunting noise that could've meant anything, but I assumed it was his attempt to tell me he thought Carl was fine. It was late summer in Louisiana, after all, so he was right. It was hot. Although, I'm not sure it ever got truly cold here. I wouldn't know, we only ever came in the summer, and this was the latest in the season we’d ever stayed.
“You should finish your sandwich,” Gordon said, drawing open my eyes which had instinctively closed against the sun.
“I'm fine, I ate most of it. But I feel a little nauseated.”
“That's why you should eat.”
“What kind of sandwich was it? It tasted a little funny.” I kicked the blanket off my legs because, without a constant breeze, it was sweltering. I'm sure I'd only felt cool because I was still a little damp from being in the water with little Carl before lunch.
“Just peanut butter.” He pulled his hand out of mine and scratched his chin. “The kind you like,” he mumbled.
“Hmmm.” I ignored his jab at my pickiness and snuggled in deeper. Smootching his chest, I grabbed for his hand, but he snatched his away before I could wrap them back together. “Well, maybe it went bad. I bought it last summer I think. Or at least I don't remember buying any this summer.”
A grin overran my face as I watched little Carl chase a bird for a second before getting distracted by something shiny in the sand. Gordon reached into the chip bag next to him and popped a chip in his mouth. I listened to the sounds his body made as he crunched and swallowed it.
“I love you,” I whispered, pulling his arm around me.
“Hmm—” he relented, lazily draping his hand on my shoulder.
And it didn’t even occur to me to question that response, because I was used to it. My heart swelled as I watched my son play on the beach and melted into the warmth of Gordon’s strong arms enveloping me.
I didn't think twice about being the one who made him touch me. It seemed normal. I just relaxed into the warm breeze of the perfect day blowing over us.
Maybe if I'd questioned more, things would've turned out differently. But I didn't. Instead, I nestled into my husband’s chest and closed my heavy eyelids while we listened to the heavenly sound of our son singing in the distance.
Where are they?
I only meant to close my eyes for a moment, but an undetermined amount of time later, water splashing my face, jarred me to life.
Salty sweat stung my sunburned skin as it dripped down my cheek into my mouth. Sitting up, I shielded my eyes from the sunlight blazing off the water.
How did I get in the boat?
My voice cracked when I hoarsely croaked out, “Carl? Gordon?”
Where are they?
The sun was fading, so it must’ve been at least seven o’clock, and the warm breeze off the water stung as it whipped my face. But as much as it burned, it was simultaneously icy against my skin and I shivered uncontrollably while I used what felt like every ounce of my energy to pull myself upright.
We were just eating lunch... What happened?
The wind shifted as I stepped onto the dock, causing the boat to bob like a buoy. Grabbing hold of the wooden railing to steady my wobbly legs, I peeled my dry cracked lips apart to yell more forcefully, “Gordon! Carl!”
Only the brisk cadence of a cricket orchestra answered me.
My heart drummed in my ears while I stomped toward the edge of the dock and feverishly scanned the deserted beach for Gordon and Carl. Heat waves danced above the ground, and before I stepped onto the sand, dread overran me, forcing my foot to hover for a long beat before I planted it back on the safety of the rickety wooden dock.
Gripping the thick wooden pylon for support, I leaned as far forward as I could without stepping on the molten beach. My head swiveled back and forth scanning the sandy shore for any signs of life. Or even remnants of life.
None of Carl’s beach toys. Our picnic basket and blanket... Gone. Nothing was in the boat with me, where had everything gone?
No sign of Carl, no sign of Gordon. And there’d been several families on the shore earlier, but now the beach was deserted. If we didn’t head back soon we wouldn't have time to row home before dark.
The only way off the island is by boat, did they leave with someone else? Why wouldn't they wake me?
My bones creaked their discontent as I plodded toward the boat and climbed back in. Groping around the bottom I searched for anything left that might help me. My excited heart picked up pace when I found my phone. Frantically, I pounded the black screen but there was no hint of life left in it.
How!? It was fully charged earlier...
The cicadas and crickets grew louder, reminding me that it was late in the evening, almost night. From experience, I knew the auburn sky also meant I had a matter of minutes before I’d be blanketed in darkness. And it was a new moon tonight, which meant it would be even darker than usual. Gordon had scoffed when I checked earlier, even though he knew how scared Carl got when he was outside at nighttime. Especially when it was that dark. But he'd still promised we’d be back before nightfall.
Where are they? They had to have gone home, right? That was the only explanation.
Staring at the shoreline, I desperately tried to reconcile what strange set of circumstances could've left me there alone. Precious minutes ticked by as I fought back and forth in my brain, while I watched heat mirages dance above the grainy sand. Unable to convince myself to get back out and search, I scanned every inch of the shore I could see, then decided heading home was the only logical course of action.
The oars clomped against the side of the boat as I loosened the rope, and pushed myself away from the dock. My stiff arms dragged long strokes across the still, glass-like water, but the exertion barely propelled me and took almost every bit of energy I had.
Sweat poured down my face, and as I swiped it, the rough touch of my debris-laden hands was almost unbearable across the sensitive skin.
My gaze met a sliver of the moon as the sun continued to fall, followed by a peek of the first star of the night coming out which transported me to little Carl’s bedroom window.
“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight,” we’d say in unison.
Watching for the first star of the night was our little summertime tradition. And Carl hated it when we missed it, but he also hated being outside during it. I’d learned that the hard way.
“No Mommy!” He’d scream. “Bad things happen outside in the night, we have to be inside, we can’t—“
“Shhh. There, there baby boy. Don’t worry, Mommy and Daddy won’t let anything happen to you,” I’d soothe. And, when he was there, I’d always look to Gordon for support.
But Gordon’s answer was always something like “Grow up,” or “Don’t be a baby.”
He’d had a demanding alpha dad, so I’d always dismissed it as just one of his childhood wounds. But maybe if I’d questioned—”
The ore clunking against my lap jarred me out of the memory. Picking my head up off the edge of the boat, I brushed my hand down my belly, the grit on it scraping me through my mesh top. I scrubbed my hands over my lap, attempting to clean them but the cakey red liquid mixed with dirt refused to come off.
Is that blood?
Dread filled me, sending a dose of adrenaline to my heavy bones. Silently panicking, I rowed with fury, scanning the shoreline through the tall grass and weeds for any hint of life. But my heavy heart pounded as only nature looked back.
Happy Sunday my loves! Enjoy Lashun’s post next week and I’ll be back Sunday Dec 17th.
Have a great week!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
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