In Cassadaga, Florida, the paranormal is normal and chats with the dead are an everyday occurrence.
When acclaimed spiritualist Ambrose Lunan arrives in town to host a convention he reveals that Patrick, the town's tarot card reader, is a former student. Lynn wonders why the young psychic seems unwilling to acknowledge the relationship, but Patrick won't answer her questions.
Then someone sends Ambrose to join his spirit friends, and Patrick's partner, Rafael, is implicated in the murder. Lynn must unravel a tangled web of betrayal and murder to find the killer and save a friend.
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
Marie Dees is a Native Floridian and Central Florida author who enjoys writing about the quirky aspects of Florida that many don't see. She can sometimes be found hanging out at the actual Cassadaga Hotel where the hotel spirits may be whispering ideas for the next book.
"KNOW WHAT SUCKS?"
"What?" With Patrick snuggled under his arm, Rafael pointed the remote at the DVD player and switched off the power. He wondered if Patrick would insist on watching another Star Wars movie.
"Nobody, like, hugs the kid or anything. They drag him halfway across the galaxy and argue that he's the wrong age and gonna be evil, but nobody hugs him or asks him if he's okay. No wonder he goes to the dark side." Patrick pulled out of their embrace and pushed a stray bit of blond hair out of his eyes. "What would you do if I went to the dark side?"
Rafael leaned close. Patrick backed against the arm of the couch, his blue eyes widening. Rafael made his voice a low whisper. "Then I would have to kill you."
"You aren't supposed to say 'kill me,' " Patrick huffed.
"You have gone to the dark side. What am I supposed to do?"
"Rescue me. Make me come back to the good side."
"Ah." Rafael pretended to consider it then impatiently waved away the suggestion. "No, that would take too much time. Much easier to kill you."
"That makes you an evil Jedi."
"I am on the good side and you are on the dark side. That means you are trying to kill me. Why am I not supposed to kill you?"
"You're supposed to know I'm worth saving and rescue me."
Rafael shrugged. "I have an entire galaxy to save. I don't have time to waste rescuing one confused Paduan apprentice."
Patrick looked thoughtful. "I'm faster than you. I'd win."
"I am stronger. I would win."
"Nope." Patrick's eyes glinted with the challenge.
Rafael glanced at his watch. Still early. The inn was empty and there was nothing to be done before the evening's meeting. He stretched. "Get the lightsabers."
Patrick shot off the couch and into the spare bedroom. Rafael found an elastic band in his pocket and pulled his dark hair back into a ponytail. Patrick returned with two gray-handled lightsabers. He tossed one to Rafael and struck a combative stance. Rafael flipped his plastic blade out. Patrick's lighted blade swung at him.
He deflected it and stepped back, banging against the couch. He held up a hand. "Wait. We need more space." Pretending to study the room, he moved toward the door.
Patrick lowered his weapon. Rafael leapt into the hall, pulling the door closed. He dashed to the inn's empty lobby and pressed against the wall, waiting. He heard the door open. No footsteps. Patrick was probably barefoot. Rafael readied his lightsaber. Patrick surprised him by diving low and sliding across the polished wood floor.
"You anticipate my moves well, apprentice," Rafael intoned in his best Jedi voice.
Patrick's lightsaber slashed out. "My skill surpasses yours, master."
Rafael leapt back, pulling his stomach in. Patrick was fast, and a couple inches taller than him. "Remind me to choose shorter apprentices in the future."
"What!" Patrick swung again. "You'll not live to choose another apprentice."
Rafael swung back. As his lightsaber thunked against Patrick's, he edged toward the stairs.
"Retreating?" Patrick slashed forward. His socks slid on the polished wood floor, and he fell to his knees.
Rafael flew up the stairs and down the hallway. He hid again, waiting. He heard the floor squeak. Patrick was moving slowly. Time to go on the offensive. He leapt from his hiding spot.
"Defend yourself." He swung his lightsaber.
Patrick took a step back.
Rafael pressed forward. "Think you have learned all there is to know, apprentice?" He swung hard, hitting Patrick's weapon. The blade shattered, sending the plastic sections spinning.
Rafael laughed. "Now, you are mine."
Patrick tossed away his broken handle and ran. "Gotta catch me first."
Rafael thudded after him. When he reached the stairs, Patrick was already halfway down. He glanced at the fleeing form, then the banister. He leapt, letting his jeans slide along the polished wood. "Ah hah!" he yelled, and Patrick dove forward.