Today is the cover reveal for Willows of Fate by Suzanne J Linton. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.
All her life, Desdemona has seen things others haven’t. Dragons, knights, dwarves, kids with three eyes. Heeding her mother’s advice, she keeps silent about this and struggles through life, pretending everything is normal.
At her mother’s death, Desdemona returns to a home haunted with memories but she is determined to not be shaken from what little normalcy she has. However, when her brother is murdered and she uncovers a family secret, Desdemona realizes that there is more to what she sees. Perhaps a whole other world, one that’s willing to kill to have her as its own.
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Mall maintenance halls are creepy. Plain and white, with fluorescent lighting, they evoke images of serial killers, hockey masks, and bloody butcher knives. The figure standing at the end does not help matters.
He’s wearing a brown hood, pulled low over his face, casting the upper half in shadow and exposing only his beardless chin. A long knife hangs from his side, and a quiver with arrows on his back. Dressed in a green long shirt, black pants, and brown hood, he appears ready to attend a Ren Faire. I can’t tell if he’s looking at me or past me. I assure myself that he’s gazing beyond me because that is the more bearable thought.
A gaggle of girls bursts from the bathroom in a cloud of body spray. They pay no attention to the man, and they wouldn’t. I step to the side to let them by and slip into the restroom.
After doing my business, I stand at the mirror and concentrate on what I came to the mall for: yarn for a coworker’s baby blanket, a new sketchbook, and a pair of shoes. I remind myself that I need to get home in time to prepare for this night’s class at the technical school. The steel sink feels cool and wet under my hands, anchoring me more firmly in the moment, in what is real.
I know the hooded man is one of the phantoms only I can see and not some costumed crazy. It’s like knowing the sun is out when my eyes are closed because of warmth on my face or knowing there is a fire because of the heat against my skin. And, as always, that feeling spikes a need in me to forget somehow, to reach for a beer or bottle of liquor to distract myself. My gut clenches against the need but I shove against it.
Desdemona, I remind myself, you have a good job at the law firm and you’re going to school to be a paralegal and you have a pretty decent life. Don’t screw it up. You can do this.
I pull my curly red hair into a pony tail. Leaving the restroom, I don’t look toward the end of the hall and re-enter the stream of people on their Saturday shopping excursions. My cell phone rings the sound of chimes in a breeze and I stop to dig it out of my purse. “Hello?”
“Is this Desdemona?”
I don’t recognize the thin, quavery voice. “This is she.”
“This is Mae Winslow. I’m one of your mother’s neighbors.”
“Hello. Is everything all right?”
“I’m afraid not. Can you come down? There’s something very important that’s happened.”
Someone bumps into me and I step a little more out of traffic. “What’s wrong?” I reply.
“Desdemona, I really think you should come—”
“What’s wrong!” My voices spikes and a couple of people glance my way.
“I’m so sorry. I wanted her to call you sooner, but, she wouldn’t listen. Said you needed to focus on work and school.”
“Is she all right?”
“No, darling.” The old woman pauses and I nearly scream at her to go on. “Your mother is in the hospital. She has lung cancer and there isn’t anything more the doctors can do.” Another terrible pause. “You should come down right away.”
Tears prick my eyes. “I’ll come. Which hospital? What room?” Pressing phone between ear and shoulder, I fumble for the pen and notepad I keep in my purse. Ms. Winslow gives me the information and I jot it all down before saying goodbye and ending the call.
The man in the hood walks by, slipping away unseen by everyone else, and I have to fight the urge to throw my phone at him, to demand if he was some sort of death omen. I close my eyes. Breathe deep. Count to ten. And I tell myself that he can’t be real, that he isn’t, but the cell phone in my hand is.
About the Author:
Suzanna Linton became a writer the first day she picked up a pencil, scribbling happily in magazines and books. Growing up in (very) rural South Carolina, she was steeped in legends and ghost stories and was surrounded by her mother’s ever-growing book collection. She graduated from Francis Marion University with a degree in Professional Writing and bounced from job to job until she landed in a library, where she met her now-husband. She lives with him in South Carolina with their two dogs and cat.