If you like extreme suspense that lingers somewhere in the dark with The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock and Mary Higgins Clark, then you need to check out Elle Klass’ latest chiller, Calm Before the Storm: Evan’s Sins. There were parts of this book that were simply too much for this faint-hearted reader to handle!
There were a few scenes I contributed to via my Whobeda persona. I had fun doing this interview for Elle’s blog with the fictitious Whobeda which you can find here. After we discovered that astrology works on fictitious characters (see my previous blog on the subject here) Elle decided what we’d discovered was too good not to include in the book as part of its occult angle. Stay turned for an excerpt that contains some of the results. It wasn’t originally intended to be a blatant plug for my book, Whobeda’s Guide to Basic Astrology, but it turned out that way. In fact, the reason it’s now available in print as well as an ebook is because Elle wanted to give away an autographed copy as part of her book launch activities. Talk about motivation!
It’s no surprise that Elle’s a night-owl whose imagination feeds off shadows and creaks in the attic. Her previous works include As Snow Falls (which I loved); Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy (creeped me out), and the Baby Girl series (if you haven’t met Cleo, you need to). Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy, first book in this new series, is a Reader’s Favorite Fiction-Paranormal Finalist in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Awards. The Calm Before the Storm Evan’s Sins is a worthy sequel (prequel, actually) that’s even creepier. Elle has a gift for suspense which in this series has turned lethal. (It’s moderately graphic in the sex and violence department to say nothing of nail-biting suspense so I’d rate it in the “R” range.)
Visit her website at https://elleklass.weebly.com.
Evan O’Conner isn’t a normal child. His father’s alcoholism and mother’s abuse drive him to concoct a plan to rid his life of them permanently. The night is fraught with a horrendous storm, thunder and lightning as the beast inside him is born. Even in her death his mother won’t leave. She haunts his subconscious as he attempts over and over to kill her.
Evan meets his match when Officer Burkhalder enters the picture. One of her closest friends and his family fall victim to violent deaths during the worst hurricane Billows Hollow has ever seen. With only a sketch she learns the identity of the perpetrator and digs into his life, pries into his past – hunting him. Will she stop him? Or will somebody else?
Eilida yelped at the chance to make the OPA conference and her chance to meet nationally renowned Patrice Renard. The 9th annual professional astrology retreat in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She flew down the stairs and flopped her body on the couch next to Sage. Leaning her head against her friend’s shoulder she blurted her news. “I did it. We’re in!” She lifted her head to gauge Sage’s response.
“OMG!” The two women leapt off the couch and jumped up and down like two school girls going to see their favorite band. Both women believed there was more to life, something brewing beneath the surface, or in this case above the surface – dictated by the stars and planets of the vast universe.
Sage and Eilida arrived at the convention center and took the nearest escalator to where the conference was being held. They stepped inside the vendor room, eyes soaking in the activity around them. The huge room was divided into several aisles with more vendors lining both sides as well as the perimeter. Astrology related materials, from jewelry to crystals, were everywhere. As they strolled the aisles, Eilida tried not to be too obvious ogling the name badges of those around them, looking for someone whose name she’d recognize. Some astrologers looked appropriately weird in long, flowing skirts matched only by their hair, with more rings than fingers while others were in jeans and others still in business dress. The men were mostly in casual dress, though one in particular was wearing a kilt. Her eyes took in his strong, muscular legs and sent a quiver bounding through her as she imagined the kilt tossed on the arm of a chair and… She shook the image from her mind.
The pair perused the plethora of goodies, Eilida dragging her friend by the hand when she saw a crystal table, spending a good bit of time examining the many offerings. She felt drawn to certain ones, slips of cardstock the size of a business card accompanying each one describing the stone’s influence.
She stood there a while, admiring one in particular for its odd shape. The card said it was a desert rose, good for transmuting hatred into love and healing past conflicts. She took it in her hand to see how it felt. It felt good but she could see the vendor guy was occupied with other customers so set it back carefully, deciding to come back later.
Another table caught her eye, this one apparently occupied by an astrologer. The lady behind it had shoulder length salt and pepper hair, maybe a bit more salt than pepper. Her genuine smile and attentiveness to those talking to her attracted Eilida. While other patrons talked to the astrologer Eilida browsed her books, one of which was entitled Whobeda’s Guide to Basic Astrology. She picked it up and flipped through the pages, reading sporadically.
As much of an astrology buff as she was, most of it really confused her. Written in terms that made sense, Eilida decided to buy one and waited in line to get it autographed.
At last it was her turn and she handed over the book, grateful no one was behind her so she could chat a bit.
“Hi,” the woman said with a smile. “Would you like me to inscribe it to you personally or leave it plain so you can sell it on eBay when you’re done?”
Eilida laughed. “I wouldn’t do that!” she responded.
“Yes, you would,” Sage muttered, giving her a friendly nudge.
“Not this one,” Eilida insisted. “So make it out to me. Eilida.” She spelled it out, knowing most people gave her a blank look if she didn’t.
“So are you Whobeda?” Sage asked. “That’s a pretty unusual name, too.”
The woman chuckled, laugh lines crinkling the corners of her amber-colored eyes. “Yes and no,’ she responded. “It’s my mystic name. Some of us prefer to operate behind some degree of anonymity. Some of the people I work for in my day job wouldn’t be amused if they knew I was an astrologer.”
“Really?”Eilida responded. “What’s your day job?”
“I work in the aerospace industry,” she answered, but before Eilida could prod her for more, Sage pointed at her watch.
“We better get going over to the auditorium if we want a good seat,” she prodded.
“Oh! You’re right! Nice talking to you, Whobeda,” she said with a smile. “Thanks for the autograph! And I promise I won’t sell it on eBay!”
The pair left the vendor area and strode down the broad, carpeted corridor to the auditorium where they slipped through the chunky double doors held open by metal door stops and found two open side by side seats. Both women beamed with excitement as they waited for Patrice Renard, slated as the next speaker, to take the stage.
A few seats behind them a shaven headed Evan took his seat. In the thickness of the crowd, neither was aware of the other. Throughout Patrice’s speech the women soaked in her every word. Anticipation building as Eilida determined she would meet her face to face.
Her speech and Q and A session over, everyone filed out of the auditorium. Evan, a few rows behind, conveniently left the room before the two women. Light reflected off the baldness of his head catching Eilida’s attention. A cold breeze swept over her and tremors of fear coursed through her body.
“What’s wrong?” urged Sage as Eilida stood frozen and ghostly white. She took her hands and guided her to the closest seat.
“I… I… I’m not sure. A feeling, like doom is waiting for me outside those doors.”
“Take a deep breath and we’ll wait for the crowd to leave. We haven’t eaten yet, let’s grab a bite.” The pair headed for the door behind the diminishing crowd and turned down the concourse toward the escalator and restaurant below.
Eilida knew food wasn’t the problem. The fear that swept over her was the same as her fright filled dreams where the bald man with eyes black as a moonless, starless night chased her. In his hand a knife, drops of blood trickling from its blade. “This feeling is like in my night terrors.”
“You’re awake and we’re safe.”
Eilida remembered the flash of light reflecting from the man’s scalp – the same flash that identified him in her dreams as the moonlight danced across his barren head. Feeling dizzy again, she dropped down in a chair across from the vendor room and concentrated on where she was, looking intently at the different booths beyond to ground herself back in the present. Her gaze fell upon the crystal table and it was as if a bolt of lightning struck. She got up and headed for it with purpose, Sage right behind her.
“Where are you going?” her friend asked.
“The crystal table. I have a feeling he might have something to help me.”
They waited for what seemed forever before the man behind the table made his way over to her.
He greeted them with a kind smile. “Good afternoon, ladies. I’m Mike. Can I help you find something specific today?” He was older, probably fiftyish, medium build with a full head of hair that was probably blond at one time but now mostly grey.
“Oh, yes, I hope you can!” Eilida spilled out. “Which ones are good for protection?”
His expression went from friendly to concern, as if perceiving her desperation. “Are you in some sort of danger?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I feel as if I am. I keep having these awful nightmares and feel as if they’re some sort of message.”
The man frowned, his gaze drawn to the zircon ring she’d bought at the last conference. “Do you realize that your ring may be drawing whatever you fear to you?”
“What? How could that be?” she asked, taken aback.
“A tetragonal structure is considered an Attractor. If you want to keep something or someone away, you need something that has an entirely different crystalline structure. One that’s monoclinic and serves as a Guardian or a Barrier that’s triclinic. That zircon is tetragonal, entirely different.”
Horrified, she slipped it off her finger and handed it to Sage. “Here, you always liked it. You can have it!”
Sage stepped back, shaking her head. “Not if it’s bad luck!”
“Not necessarily,” Mike explained. “It’s great for bringing something you want into your life such as a new relationship but not so good if you’re looking for protection.”
Sage smiled. “Cool! Then I’ll take it!”
“So what do I need?” Eilida prodded.
“It depends on what you want protection from. Guardian talismans help protect something of value while Barrier talismans keep away undesirable situations. Perhaps you could use a Guardian to keep you safe and a Barrier to keep you away from danger, or perhaps it away from you.”
“Yes! That sounds like exactly what I need. What do you have?”
“I should have just the thing,” he said and turned toward a cabinet at the back of the booth where he searched through a couple drawers before returning with a pendant set in silver which featured a round, dark green, iridescent stone about an inch in diameter, accented by four smaller stones of a similar color but lacking the rainbow effects.
“The center stone is moonstone, an excellent Guardian, and the smaller stones are kyanite, a traditional Barrier,” he explained, handing it to her.
She intuitively closed her fingers around it and held it to her heart, eyes closed, sensing its energy. Her heart rate slowed as a sense of peace settled around her. She expelled her breath in a sigh and opened her eyes.
“Oh, yes, this is wonderful. I must have it. How much?”
The price was a bit outside her budget but she pulled out her credit card, knowing she would have paid a lot more.
Behind her, a man cleared his throat indicating her turn was up. She twisted sideways to give him the evil eye. He glared back under eyebrows resembling squirrels’ tails.
The following day, Eilida and Sage waited in line nearly forty-five minutes so Eilida could get her natal chart and reading from Patrice Renard. A mass of dragonflies flew through her stomach as her turn approached.
A short lady with a bob strolled out of Ms. Renard’s room. Eilida looked at Sage, smiles plastered across their faces. “Our turn!” voiced a giddy Sage.
Eilida took Sage’s hand and they marched into the room like two schoolgirls. No crystal balls or tarot cards, instead a full figured Patrice, her fiery hair curled just above her shoulders. But they weren’t there to see a gypsy and have their palms read.
“Ms. Renard. It’s so wonderful to meet you. I follow your stuff.” As the words dropped from her mouth she felt stupid. Follow, she’s going to think I’m a stalker.
Eilida and Sage talked with Patrice a few minutes. Her round figure reminded Eilida of her mother, warm red hair and confidence further eased Eilida’s nervous stomach. Once she had their dates, times and places of birth, she typed everything in and the computer generated their charts. Eilida’s flew off the printer first. Ms. Renard looked from it to Eilida then slid it to the side as she studied Sage’s. She laid it in front of them and explained the position of the planets and their meanings. Sage’s horoscope was filled with happiness, longevity, and success.
When it came time for Eilida’s, she laid the natal chart on the table facing Eilida and sucked in her breath. Eilida’s eyes went directly to the blue triangle in the center.
“We call this blue triangle a yod or the finger of god.”
“What does it mean?”
“A fated life, but let’s get through all of it before you decide what that means. This blue line ties Pluto in the 3rd house to the Sun in the eighth house. This implies that you crave powerful experiences and are attracted to the unfathomable. You commonly hide your interests, except from your closest friends and family. Uranus and Neptune in the fourth house indicate your home life, growing up may have been unstable in some way. You may be searching for an ideal home. The darkness in your eyes reveals the truth in these words.”
“I love my family but I’ve always felt like an outsider except with my grandmother, umm… until she passed. Sage feels more like family than my parents sometimes.”
Patrice’s bubbling personality spilled over. “At your age, most of us feel that way.”
Eilida’s anxiety eased again as Patrice continued.
“Mercury in Taurus and in the 8th house show you tend to be very methodical and have an interest in investigating the supernatural.”
Eilida’s lips curled into a smile. Her interest in Astrology centered on her interest in the “otherworldly”
“Pluto in Scorpio, the twelve year group you’re both part of, loves mystery and the macabre.”
Both girls chuckled, they lived off zombie and suspense flicks.
Patrice smiled, then her face grew stoic. “There is something in your past, maybe a natural disaster that changed the course of your life. It might be related in some way to the death of your grandmother.”
Zombie-like, Eilida lifted her chart from the table and stood to leave. The dragonflies morphed into dragons breathing fire into her innards, aching to get free. As Eilida exited the door the chatter and noise in the convention center quieted as her mind focused on something in your past. What could possibly be in her past? Her parents were the most “normal” people she’d ever met and she had a picture perfect childhood, no siblings, everything she needed and most of what she wanted. Her parents and grandmother spoiled her. Yet a feeling she didn’t quite belong always lingered in the back of her mind, followed by a sinking feeling of dread in her belly.
She turned and took a step back into the room, asking another question. “Is all the bad stuff in my past? Does my future look better?”
“Here’s my card, feel free to call.” Eilida noted her solemn expression.
Eilida lay in bed tossing and turning all night. Her mind a flutter of curiosity and fear, replaying Patrice’s words over and over, ‘a fated life… there is something in your past’. Her fascination of mystery drove her imagination. The man in her nightmares flashed in static against her fleshy brain. Light glittered from her pile of clothes on the floor. Her pendant! She reached down and clutched the pendant, cradling it in her hand. Peace bathed her body and she fell into a restful sleep.
The Calm Before the Storm
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