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Monday 10 October 2022

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada. Enjoy this #Holiday-ish excerpt from #ParanormalRomance Autumn's Healing

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope you are enjoying the day with family, friends, food and fun! 

In honour of the day, here's a snip from Autumn's Healing. 

Former serviceman, wounded in the line of duty, Salem Aames, and his all-veteran construction crew take on a renovation job for a single-mom. 

Kaylah MacDonough is not only dealing with an empty nest for the first time, she has also purchased a creepy old house that needs some serious TLC... and maybe an exorcism!

A single mom... 
A haunted house... 
A wounded vet starting over... 
A secret...


Rarely do we get to pick our battles… Often, they choose us...

Single mom Mikaylah MacDonough and her only daughter Autumn have been on their own a long time. So, when Autumn goes off to school, it seems only natural for Kaylah to pull up stakes and follow, though with some clear-cut boundaries, of course. She’s determined to give Autumn space to enjoy the whole college experience but remain close enough for emergencies, meals and laundry. But when the closing date of the current house overlaps with taking possession of the ‘new’ house, along with orientation week, Autumn has to go it alone. From that moment on, Kaylah’s dreams of a new beginning turn into a complete and total nightmare.

When former serviceman Jerusalem Aames drives up to the century-old Cleary house, he sees dollar signs for himself and his all-veteran crew. The rundown, old place would finally put his fledgling construction-renovation firm in the black. But the moment he meets the gorgeous homeowner who had been duped into buying the money-pit, his attraction is swift and instantaneous.

However, there’s something very strange going on in the dilapidated, old house that has nothing to do with rotting timbers or shoddy wiring. Whatever it is, it’s affecting Kaylah’s state of mind, and Salem soon finds himself in a battle he’s not sure he can win.


As expected, once the crew began to renovate and upgrade the house, more problems came to light besides the wiring, foundation and plumbing, but, weeks into the project, slowly but surely they were beginning to make some headway. Though everything that could possibly go wrong seemed to. 

Today, the team was replacing windows. The one in Autumn’s room needed extra work. As they’d done in all the upstairs bedrooms, Salem had torn out the old plaster and replaced it with the more modern drywall sheeting. Though they were going to try their best to keep the plaster walls intact on the main level, if possible, it wasn’t really an option on the second floor. 

After replacing some wood support, Salem and Fray hefted the new window into the freshly framed-in rectangle. 

“Careful. We don’t want to eff this one up, too,” Fray cautioned. 

“Fourth time’s a charm, Fray,” Salem replied, shoving a shim between the vinyl and the wood. 

“This is the third freakin' pane, not to mention the week we spent fixing the rot and replacing the strapping and drywall. Don’t ya think it’s weird, Salem? We put windows in all over this house but never had the problems we’ve had with this one.” 

“Well, the first one was obviously my fault. I must have measured wrong.” Though he was certain he hadn’t. Or perhaps the measurements had been recorded wrong on the order with the glass manufacturer. “The second one, though the right size, arrived broken, and we had to send it back. The third one, Thompson and Kraft broke putting in,” Salem recapped. 

“But, seriously, boss, it’s not just this room. Almost every part of this reno has been a nightmare. Everything that possibly could go wrong, has. We’ve never had problems with the distributors like we’ve run into on this job. From late supplies or discontinued product to backorders and material arriving either warped or completely wrong… I just don’t get it,” Fray ranted. 

“I know. It’s like we’re never supposed to finish this house or something.”  

“I think we’ll be done remodeling the rest of the entire place before you get this one room completed. Everything you’ve done in here has gone to sh*t. What else could possibly go wrong?” 

“Shhh. Don’t say that out loud,” Salem cautioned, while eyeing the window. Though every time they hit a snag with the refurb—whether it be structural or a delay in getting materials—Salem was secretly pleased. Anything that would keep Kaylah near him longer was a welcome setback. He was in love with her. There was no getting around it. She’d wound her way into his heart 

“Ya got this?” Fray asked. 

“Yeah, thanks, I’ll finish shimming it up, spray in some foam to seal it, then it’s trim time.” 

“You gonna get Kaylah to paint all the trim in here, too?” 


“She’s really gotten into the swing of it, eh? Painting and peeling off all that gaudy wallpaper. I swear every room on this second level had it. I never thought she’d get it all off. She doesn’t mind gettin’ her hands dirty.” 

“Yeah, she seems to be getting into the process. She learns quick, too. Did you check out that powder room downstairs? Kaylah did all the tile work and the grout.” 

“I did. You’d better watch it, boss. I think Thompson had a bit too much fun teaching her that stuff.” 

“I know it. But I think half of you guys would push me off the roof if ya thought you had a chance with her.” 

“And I think you’re underestimating,” he said, as he disappeared down the hallway, his evil laugh fading as he went. 

“Loyalty’s a lost quality,” he mumbled to himself. “Now what did I do with that level?” He’d thought Fray had leaned it against the wall. “And where’s my f*ckin’ tape measure?” Reaching into the leather pouch slung about his hips, he also came up empty. Salem looked around the room then started bellowing, but as usual, no one heard him. 

After carefully navigating the stairs, he made his way to the living area where the majority of the work was centered for the moment, but the room was empty. “Does no one work around here, anymore?”  

He snagged the first tape measure he saw then followed all the noise and commotion to the kitchen where he found Piquet and Thompson carrying groceries in the back door. The counter was littered with fresh vegetables, fruit and a massive turkey. 

Soon the other guys followed with more. 

Salem set the tape measure on the sideboard and grabbed an apple from the big bowl in the middle of the table. 

“What’s all this?” Salem asked, as Kaylah entered with several bags in her arms. 

“Fixin’s for Thanksgiving dinner,” Piquet crowed. “And this is just the first wave.”
“The first wave?” 

Kay set the bags down then picked up a pencil. “I still have to go out and get baking supplies for the pies—coconut cream for you.” She eyed him as he devoured the seasonal Empire. He was about to make a totally inappropriate comment about Kaylah-cream. As if she knew exactly what he was about to say, she talked over him. “Pumpkin for Piq. Blueberry for Thoms.” Salem tried not to roll his eyes, as she’d affectionately begun to call Thompson ‘Thoms,’ for f*ck’s sake. 

“Cherry for Kraft and Fray.” 

Fray flexed his muscles when she said his name, though Kay didn’t even notice. Instead, she jotted another list on a notepad by the phone as she spoke. “And butterscotch for Tagg.” She gnawed her lip for a second. “Though he said he’d get me his gran’s recipe, he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. I’ve never made one of those before.” Kaylah bounced the eraser end of the pencil on her lip, distracting him. 

“Tagg?” Salem questioned. 

Kay’s lovely baby blues lit as she focused on him. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. The other day when Tagg called to speak to you, I invited him, and he agreed to come have supper with us.” 

“Huh?” Salem choked in surprise. “He swore not to set foot in this house.” 

“Well, there’s the catch. We’re going to eat outside.” 

“Like the pilgrims,” Piquet chimed in. Salem had never seen Piq so excited about anything. He was a big kid. 

“The guys and I are going to set up tables in the front yard,” Kaylah explained. 

The guys and I? 

“Weather permitting?” Salem asked. 

“Weather won’t matter, bossman,” Thompson added. “You know first-hand we can set up a ten by sixteen tent in two minutes-forty seconds flat.” 

“You’ve got this all planned out, huh.” He was impressed. “You know you don’t have to do all this, Kay.” 

“I know, but I want to. I want everyone to have that little taste of home, and I want us all to be together.” 

Salem poked the turkey. “That baby has to be a twenty pounder, at least.” 

“You’re close. Twenty-five,” Kaylah replied. 

“Holy crap, woman. Are you planning on feeding the entire neighborhood, too?” 

“Nope.” She looked around at the men. She softened her gaze and grinned. “Just my own little army.” 

If possible, at that moment, Salem fell a little bit more in love with her. 

Perhaps she didn’t have Autumn to mother on a day-to-day basis for the time being, but she certainly made up for it by taking care of his motley crew. And they lapped it up. But the caring was mutual. 

“I can’t wait.” Kraft rubbed his hands together. “Kaylah makes the best roast chicken I’ve ever had. Makes my mouth water to think what she’ll do with that ginormous bird.” 

“Well, I for one can’t wait to meet Autumn,” Salem said. “When do you expect her in?” 

Kaylah’s expression drooped and she looked down at the floor. “She’s not coming home,” Kaylah murmured in a whisper. 

“What do you mean, she’s not coming?” He frowned. “This is the first big holiday since you two have been separated—the perfect opportunity for her to visit. The pair of you need to see each other.” 

“She’d have to spend the entire holiday traveling. She has class until Wednesday at four. It’s a ten-hour drive. She’ll sleep, eat, then be back on the road for the trek back. It’s just not practical, Salem.” 

“Is it money? I’ll buy her a plane ticket myself.” Though, he was more than confident it wasn’t a financial issue. Every time he needed more supplies, the money was there and every installment they’d agreed upon had been paid on time and in full, which was more than he could say for any other job he’d ever taken. 

“We’ll chip in, Kay,” Piquet piped up. “The guys and I can’t afford much right about now, but we’ll take up a collection, see what we can scrounge up.” A tear ran down her cheek as she slowly reached out and squeezed Piq’s wrist. If he wasn’t mistaken, Piq’s eyes glazed as he watched her. 

“That’s lovely of you to offer—all of you—but it’s not the money. That’s not a problem. It was her decision not to come. Besides, she’s already made other plans with her friends, even if she could secure a ticket at the last minute.” 

“Well, we know what to save up for Christmas, fellas, ’cause this ain’t happenin’ again,” Thompson ranted. “I don’t care what her excuse is, that girl is coming home for December twenty-fifth, come hell or high water, even if we have to go up there and get her ourselves.”

All the guys nodded. 

“I love you guys,” Kaylah murmured, her lips trembling. 

Well, it wasn’t quite what Salem had imagined the first time she said the words, including his whole company and all, but he’d take it. And, by the gentle looks on all their goddamn ugly mugs, they would, too. 

“Get back to work,” Salem said, in no uncertain terms. 

After a round of ‘yes sirs,’ they did as commanded. 

“They are an amazing group of men, Salem,” Kaylah said, hugging him. 

“I know it. But did you say annoying? ’Cause I heard ‘annoying,’” he tried to joke and lighten her mood. 

Even through lessening tears, she giggled. The sound reverberated in his chest. 

“Ya need any help putting all this stuff away?” 

“No, thank you. I’ve got it.” 

“Then I’ll get back at it, too.” 

Salem went to retrieve his tape measure. 

“Piq, did you steal my f*ckin’ tape measure again?” With the noise, no one heard him. “I was sure I left it on the sideboard,” he grumbled. 

As he limped back up the stairs, he wondered about Kay and Autumn’s relationship. The more he hung around, the more he wondered if things were not as rosy between the two of them as Kaylah wished him to believe. So, Autumn had plans with friends for Thanksgiving. He could accept that, he supposed. But, he’d also suggested Kay take a week and go up and visit her, if she missed her daughter so much. There had always seemed to be an excuse. Next time he had that girl on the phone, he was determined to get to the bottom of it. Yet even her phone calls were becoming fewer and farther between. 

As soon as he entered Autumn’s room, he spied his measuring tape on the new window sill. 

He sighed and picked it up. Most of the other paranormal activity had calmed, as Tagg had advised. No more banging doors at six a.m. or popping bulbs or disembodied footfalls. The lost or moving objects were another matter altogether. The men were forever misplacing tools and, as Kaylah had mentioned, finding them in the most confounding places. 

“It’s gettin’ old,” he mumbled to no one in particular. 

Thanks for stopping by
Happy Thanksgiving

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