Debby Grahl and Bev Moss Haedrich
Debby Grahl‘s first release, The Silver Crescent, won the Paranormal Romance Guild’s 2014 Reviewers’ Choice award. Her latest book, Rue Toulouse, a contemporary romance set in New Orleans, was a Finalist for the First Coast National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award and was selected as a choice read by Hilton Head Monthly. Visually impaired since childhood, she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. She enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. See http://www.debbygrahl.com and https://www.facebook.com/debbygrahlauthor.
Beneath the Pines (an excerpt)
Hilton Head Island, 1911
Lightning flashed as the tall sea pines surrounding the old two-story plantation house swayed wildly in the rising wind. Ancient live oaks groaned and cracked as the sky darkened and the rain fell. Thomas Shelton stepped from the house onto the wide porch and peered into the darkness. Unable to see through the sheets of rain, he heaved the burlap and oilskin bundle over his shoulder and, raising his lantern, hunching into the wind, made his way through the sodden grass until he reached a thicket of trees.
Here, somewhat protected from the rain, he found the tree he was looking for and deposited his burden at its base. As he reached for the shovel he’d placed there earlier to mark the spot, a gust of wind almost knocked him off his feet. Around him branches snapped. He held onto the trunk of the tree for balance, praying he hadn’t waited too long. In his forty years on the island he’d lived through a few hurricanes, but something told him that whatever was coming now was going to be horrific. But he’d had no choice. He had to wait until it was safe. The treasure had been in his family for nearly 150 years, and there were those around him he didn’t trust.
He’d sent his few servants to the mainland and planned on rowing himself across the sound when he was done. As he began to dig, the wind died down, and the rain stopped. Other than the water dripping from the trees, everything around him went silent. Unease prickled the back of his neck as he shoveled out more of the sandy soil. Just a little further down and he’d be finished. A twig snapped behind him, and he whirled around, shovel held high. His eyes filled with surprise as a visitor entered the circle of lantern light.
“What are you doing here?”
The intruder smiled. “What do you think? I’ve come for what is rightfully mine.”
“I have nothing that belongs to you, sir.”
“I beg to differ. If I’m not mistaken, what you are in the process of burying,” he tapped the sack with the toe of his boot. “Was stolen from my family, and I’ve come to reclaim it.”
“We stole nothing from you. Samuel acquired these riches honestly. If your ancestors were careless enough to lose them, it is not my fault.”
The intruder’s face darkened with rage. “My ancestors were upright merchantmen. Yours were nothing but pirates and thieves. With the storm coming, I knew you’d either take it with you or bury it, so I’ve been watching.”
Thomas kicked the sack into the hole. “Then, sir, you’ve been watching in vain.” He lifted the shovel high. “For I will never relinquish my riches,” Thomas yelled over the roar of the rising wind.
Torrents of blowing rain whipped their faces, and a mighty gust unbalanced both men. Thomas swung the shovel at the intruder’s head, who ducked and lunged, slamming into Thomas, sending both men to the ground as a mighty crack sounded. They watched in horror as an eighty-foot pine tilted and came crashing down.
“Beneath the Pines” © Debby Grahl (2017) from Ebb & Flow
Bev Moss Haedrich‘s work has appeared in Beaufort and Charleston magazines, Chamber of Commerce publications, and newspapers. Her local travels have encouraged others to discover the joys, serenity, and fragility of the Lowcountry, a place she has lovingly called home for the past thirty years. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, and encourages others to journal their journey. Her favorite quote is ‘All those who wander are not lost.’ She can be reached at email@example.com.
In Her Own Sweet Time (an excerpt)
“Mom, who plays with him when we’re not home?”
I thought for a moment, and said, “Well, um, that’s when he sleeps.”
“You sleep with dad, and I sleep with Pookie, Teddy and Starlight. So, who does he sleep with?!”
Hmm, this is going to be a tough one. Rhett, our feisty Springer, could be more than a bit stubborn at times. At a year and a half, I could swear he was either going deaf or had very selective hearing as simple quiet commands—even after Puppy Training, then Agility Training—were ignored. Granted, he was very protective of all of us. At least he barked loudly when someone approached our car, or when one of us was on a leisurely stroll with him in tow. But really, two Springers? What if his new pal was as rambunctious as him? Maybe, just maybe, a female would be the answer. Worth a try, I thought.
Over the years we had a variety of pets, some invited, others not. Dogs, however, would occupy our family for the next several years, beginning with an ADHD cocker spaniel named Toby—a striking blonde cocker that never found any peace in repose. One summer a neighbor’s aunt and uncle were visiting from the Carolina mountains and spotted Toby running around the yard. They must have recognized Toby’s anxiety and took an interest in him. They lived on ten splendid acres, and near the end of their visit, they asked if they could adopt him. They thought the energetic cocker and their free-roaming horses could be a perfect match. Toby jumped into the back seat of their SUV without hesitation. We stood there waving like idiots, hoping to capture his attention or a whiff of departing gratitude. But nary a coiffed ear turned in our direction. He was gone.
Then one day in a small shopping village near Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, my heart fluttered. I gasped.
“Is that a spaniel?”
“She sure is,” the guy answered. “This is Molly. She’s an English Springer Spaniel.”
“What a cutie! How old is she?”
“She just turned twelve weeks yesterday.” He picked her up, holding her infant legs in his palms. Her topaz eyes squinted at the bright sun. “Wanna hold her?”
“In Her Own Sweet Time” © Bev Moss Haedrich (2017), from Ebb & Flow