Eight tales of spooky romance brought to you just in time for Halloween, by Linda Carroll-Bradd, Lisa A. Adams, Lily Carlyle, Anne Higa, Havva Murat, Echo Shea, Christy Thomas, and Michelle Ziegler.
Includes Bewitching Gypsy by Linda Carroll-Bradd:
Fiona Mikolas is an outcast—branded by her fiery red hair and a purple birth mark—forced to live a solitary life, traveling a circuit of southern states in America and selling healing potions. Until the night of All Hallow’s Eve, when her lonely life is changed by the arrival of two strangers in her camp.
Beaten and robbed, rancher Hagan Fletcher tracks his stolen stallion and stumbles toward a campfire in south Texas. He awakens, suffering from amnesia and is intrigued by the mysterious beauty to look beneath the surface to who she really is.
After one final dip under the surface, she brushed her long hair away from her cheeks and turned toward the shore. Several long-legged strides carried her over the smooth stones lining the creek bottom to the water’s edge. The trade of her goat’s milk lotions with the band of Tonkawa Indians for the sandals made from woven sisal leaves had proved advantageous. She grabbed the long sheet of toweling lying atop a nearby rock and brushed it over her slender limbs. Cooling air caressed her skin, pebbling its surface and invigorating her bloodstream.
From the velvet drawstring pouch she’d left nearby, she pulled a small handful of slender sage leaves and lightly crushed them in her hands. Using a circular motion, she rubbed the crumpled mass over her naked torso and arms, inhaling the spicy, earthy fragrance that cleansed her body and soothed her soul. With her face canted toward the pearly moon, she lifted both hands skyward and chanted:
“Sweet Goddess, sustain me health and well-bein’.
Holy Goddess, give me luck and grace where’er I go.
Powerful Goddess, let me welcome the spirits who are so close tonight.
Immaculate Goddess, provide me with yer wisdom when ‘tis needed.
Loving Goddess, aid me to be open and accepting to the purpose ye intend.
Crone Goddess, show me the path of me days yet to be lived.”
A thin cry warbled through the night air, and she jerked around toward her camp, scanning the brush and trees for any sign of wild animals. South Texas had its share of wildcats, javelinas, and coyotes, making a lone woman more vulnerable—even with the powers she possessed. She gave a low two-note whistle and waited until Clancy, her wolfhound, eased into sight from where he guarded the backtrail.
Pulling a cotton shift over her head, she darted her gaze into the underbrush and listened for rustlings that signaled an intruder lying in wait. She wrapped her loose-fitting skirt around her waist and secured it with a knot in the cloth tie. With practiced moves, she tied the leather strap that held her dagger to her right thigh, reassured she could easily reach it. Closing her eyes, she extended all her senses outward until the whirr of the cicadas and the brip-brip of the frogs on the bank of the creek assured her no danger lurked close by.
Hefting her hazel wood spirit stick, she stepped along the dusty trail and through the low mesquite bushes, the warm glow of the flickering campfire beckoning her.
Clancy lumbered ahead toward the fire, his long legs eating up the distance. He stopped, right paw suspended in mid-air. Lifting his head, he sniffed the air, and his stance grew rigid.
The cry sounded again, a plaintive warble rising into a panicked shriek.
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As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication–a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.