Welcome to today's stop of the Haunted Blog Tour! Haunted by Joy Preble is the sequel to Dreaming Anastasia, and these paranormal books feature Russian folklore in a new way. Joy Preble is a local Houston author who I've had the pleasure of seeing many times at various book signings and events, and she is a great person. I'm very excited to be part of this tour!
Before we get to the excerpt, here's a bit about Haunted and the scene from which the excerpt comes:
HAUNTED by Joy Preble
Anne Michaelson is trying to forget everything that happened last year. But it's hard to do when her heart aches for Ethan "and there's a wild-haired woman stalking her..."
Ethan Kosinsky is embracing his newfound mortality. But something is drawing him back to the girl he left behind-back to Anne and back to the magic...
A mysterious stranger is hunting Anne wherever she goes. No one sees her but Anne. When she searches for the woman's identity, Anne exposes secrets about her own life- things that will change her life forever. And when the gorgeous Ethan returns, her life gets a lot more complicated.
Anne thought her journey with the Romanov family had ended, but it was just the beginning...
This excerpt comes from a chapter from Ethan's point of view. In this scene, Ethan has returned and his presence has set the big bad stuff in motion again. The mysterious rusalka that has been stalking Anne turns suddenly malevolent and tries to drown Ben. Tess, being Tess, blames this on Ethan, who attempts to defend himself to her while Anne comforts Ben.
"I didn't do this, Tess."
"Maybe not," she acknowledges. "But you started it all. Everything was fine before you started following her around. And now it's not. So don't even try to deny that part, Ethan."
"There was something down there." I don't mean to tell her this, but I do anyway. "it was only a flash. A shadow. But I saw it. A woman, I think. And then there was a voice. Did you hear it too?"
"I'd have told you if I did." Tess flips that long blond hair behind her. "But I bet Anne did." She sighs, seems to push all that flaring anger down a few notches. "I hate this. Watching her. It's like when her brother died. She got all quiet then too. That's just how she is - private like that. But I guess you know that. Or if you don't - well, you should."
"Of course I know it." Only if I did, then I should have pushed more for the truth, rather than accepted Anne's silences. But I didn't. "And for the record, I didn't start all this. It would have happened whether I was there or not. She was the one, Tess - the girl who could save Anastasia. I was just the person who figured it out."
Tess is quiet for a moment. This unnerves me almost more than the rest of it. In my thankfully limited experience, Tess has never been quiet.
She looks at me, her expression intense. "Ethan - what made Ben jump into the pool?"
"I don't know. But I'm going to try to find out."
Tess pokes a finger at me again. "I'm holding you to that." Her voice lowers to almost a whisper. "She feels responsible, you know. For Anastasia's death. Probably for that rotten Viktor, too. That's what I think, anyway. I guess that might not be worth much to you, it being my opinion and all. But that's how I see it. And no this thing with en is going to make it all worse."
She places her hand s on her hips and seems to wait for me to disagree with her. My jeans and T-shirt continue to drip pool water.
"So that shadow woman," Tess asks. "What exactly is it that you thought you saw?"
The answer rises from me quickly. Like the tales of Baba Yaga that I'd once thought were just stories, another tale come to mind: one that the women in my village had told when our neighbor's nineteen-year-old daughter had drowned in the river a few days after her lover had died of influenza. She was pregnant, and he had promised to marry her, and then suddenly, he was gone. She grieved and grieved, and then one day, her father found her floating, her hair wild around her in the water.
Rusalka," I say. "Russian mermaid."
"Ru-what? Don't just say that like I'm supposed to know what you're talking about. Mermaid? Like Ariel in that Disney movie?"
I smile in spite of myself. "More malevolent. Less cheery singing. Definitely less cheery outcome. Women who've been wronged. Sometimes murdered. Always near a body of water. The transform sometimes. That's how the legends go. They become this other thing - this water creature. In some stories, the find release. In others, it's more - um, permanent. But I've - well, I've seen things. They're real. Rusalkas exist."
"Terrific. You know it might be easier if you made us a list, Ethan. You know - crazy Russian folklore shit that's going to appear, freak us all out, and try to kill someone's boyfriend. That kind of thing."
"I'll consider that. So he really is her boyfriend?"
Tess raises an eyebrow. "Yup. So this mermaid thing - is it dangerous?"
My silence is my answer. It's broken by the sound of sirens. Someone's called an ambulance or the fire department.
"Ben has been really good for her," Tess says. "So while you're screwing things up again, you remember that."
"I'm here to help. That's why I came back." It sounds foolish coming out of my mouth as it did in my head before I said it.
Tess laughs. "Right," she says. "So start helping."
And there you have it! Be sure to check out the rest of the stops for the Haunted Blog Tour here!