This book was a struggle and was delayed, but I hope it was worth the wait. Scroll to the bottom to read the first chapter!
The paperback isn't live yet but should be any day. For now, you can get it on:
Here's the blurb:
A HAUNTED HOUSE TO DIE FOR
Bookish, broken yet beautiful, Amelia Craven is trapped. Trapped by controlling best friend Tiffany, trapped dating shallow guys, and trapped into joining Amteep university’s only sorority, the Omega Pis. But things go from bad to worse when she discovers the final initiation for pledges involves spending Halloween night inside the infamous Raimi House – a dark hell hole of macabre deaths and tales of demonic possession.
The only saving grace: she’ll get to share it with her secret crush, Guillermo Romero, and being there together is the only way she'll tell him how she truly feels. That is if they can survive the night inside the most haunted house in town.
A love-song homage to Eighties classic horror films, this rollercoaster ride is filled with scares, guts and gore – plus a true romance that might be the one thing that will be their salvation.
Now for the first chapter of Her Halloween Party!
September 27, 1987
Amelia Craven was in hell. Well, technically not yet, since Hell Week was four weeks away. Tonight’s hell was another frat party.
As the stereo blared Michael Jackson’s Bad album for the hundredth time, Amelia reached into the ice-filled Rubbermaid tub for another wine cooler. The new album was okay, not as good as Thriller, and now less appealing since the Alpha Lambdas had played it way too loud every weekend at their parties. Her head ached and her throat hurt from having to yell over the music to have a conversation. The air reeked of spilled beer, cigarettes, Aqua Net, and the miasma of too many people packed in one place.
She didn’t want to be here in the always chaotic, perpetually odorous Alpha Lambda house. She’d rather be back at the Omega Pi house, alone in the room she shared with her best friend Tiffany, studying—or even better—curled up with either Cabal, the newest Clive Barker novel, or Mysteries of the Cursed Mine: An Unauthorized History of the Camp Natty Massacre. Her opportunities to read for fun had been severely limited since the Fall semester started five weeks ago.
She’d earned her associate’s degree in English last spring from Amteep Community College and was pursuing her Master of Library Science here on the adjoining campus at North Idaho University. The coursework was heavier, but that didn’t stop Tiffany from insisting that she and Amelia join the university’s only sorority, the Omega Pis. Despite Amelia’s fervent hopes otherwise, she and Tiffany were accepted as pledges. That meant instead of attending a few frat parties here and there, they had to go to all of them.
But Tiffany had been Amelia’s best friend since junior year of high school. The popular blonde had been like a beautiful fairy princess, transforming Amelia from a wallflower to a member of the in crowd. Amelia owed Tiffany so much. She’d been so lonely before then, walking in a haze of grief from losing her mom in the eighth grade, her brown hair hanging in dull tangles, her clothes unkempt, losing herself in books about ghosts and monsters in fiction as well as the spooky real history of her hometown of Amteep. Then Tiffany, for reasons of pity, or perhaps desire for a challenge, took Amelia under her wing and became her friend. They did everything together. But lately, Amelia was beginning to chafe under Tiffany’s perpetual leadership of their lives.
As if drawn by the thought, Amelia’s roving gaze landed on one of hers and Tiffany’s biggest subjects of contention: a man whose long, curly black hair framed an angular bronze face, deep brown eyes, and a smile to die for. Guillermo Romero, heir to Romero Construction, the most prominent building contractor in town, never failed to render Amelia breathless. He was a pledge for the Alpha Lambda fraternity and they’d been sharing their initiation woes. She’d met him in her first year at Amteep Community College, when they’d first had English and Intro to European History together. They’d also seen each other at metal concerts and parties, as well as on the campus, and struck up a tentative friendship over the last two years. Amelia had basked in the warmth of that friendship, free from pretenses or expectations, even as she harbored a secret crush on him since day one.
How could she not when, aside from his gorgeous face and physique, he was unfailingly kind, actually seemed to see her when he spoke to her, and had a husky, lullaby voice that haunted her dreams?
Every time they were both single and Amelia considered asking him out, Tiffany held her back. “You should be with a guy of higher status. You don’t want to be dating a fellow pledge. He probably wouldn’t be interested in you anyway…” and so on. After a lot of soul-searching, Amelia realized only the last argument held water.
Now Guillermo was single again—she couldn’t suppress a wave of elation when she heard the nursing student he’d been dating split up with him over summer break—and now, as of last week, she was also unattached. So maybe…
Suddenly, the music stopped, making everyone curse and yell in protest.
Susan Acuff stood up on the keg and rang the cowbell reserved for announcements and waking up pledges, making a hush instantly fall over the crowded house. In spite of her petite stature and Goldilocks curls, as president of the Omega Pis—and girlfriend to Kirk Sorbo, the president of the Alpha Lambdas—she intimidated everybody. “It pains me to say this, but we have a rat in our midst. A filthy, dirty rat.”
Kirk moved to stand beside her, a sentient Ken doll in a polo shirt with a sweater tied around his shoulders. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his Dockers and surveyed the crowd with a stern eye. “Someone revealed the location of the final initiation of our pledges.”
Susan picked up where he left off, crossing her arms over her North Idaho University sweatshirt. “The rituals of our organizations are supposed to be sacred and secret.”
“Where is the location?” Tiffany and a few others asked.
“Don’t play innocent,” Susan snapped. “There’s a letter to the editor in both the Amteep Press and the university paper saying we shouldn’t be allowed to rent the Raimi House. Someone had to have told. Or maybe one of you wrote that letter.”
Holy shit. Amelia gasped. With her heavy course load, she hadn’t had time to look at the newspaper since this semester started. “The Raimi House?”
Susan’s anger momentarily dissipated as a triumphant smile lit her hazel eyes, making her look beautiful and sweet even though Amelia knew better. “Kirk and I managed to convince the owner to rent us the property for October and November. We get the keys and sign the paperwork on Tuesday the first.” Her sour scowl returned. “It was supposed to be a surprise, but one of you spoiled it.”
Despite her better judgment, Amelia spoke up again. “The rental agency probably gossiped. No one’s occupied the Raimi House since 1962. The last person inside the house was an appraiser last year, and he died there. So, someone renting the place would be huge news. No way anyone in the agency would keep their mouth shut.”
“That would be a relief if that’s true,” Susan said with a shark-like smile. “But how do I know you didn’t say anything, pledge? Or maybe you’re trying to protect your friend.”
Nancy, Amelia and Tiffany’s assigned mentor, countered the president in a firm voice. “I know it wasn’t Amelia. Or Tiffany, for that matter. If their obvious shock isn’t enough to convince you, I can attest that they’ve both been in sight every waking hour when we’re not in class. Amelia’s been buried with homework and studying all week. I haven’t seen her look at either newspaper to see those editorials calling for us to cancel the party. And Tiffany—”
“The party?” Tiffany asked eagerly, making Amelia bite the insides of her cheeks to halt a chuckle. Tiff loved parties.
Susan sighed and attempted to thrust her hands in the pockets of her acid-washed jeans, but they were too tight. “We’re going to have a Halloween party at the most notorious house in town.”
Raucous cheers erupted around them while Amelia quivered with mingled excitement and trepidation. She’d been fascinated with creepy houses and local haunted landmarks ever since she saw her first ghost at a sleepover in one of the old Victorian houses downtown. Since then, the middle school librarian nurtured her interest, telling stories about the Raimi House to Amelia’s sixth-grade class, but the idea of having a Halloween party with the final initiation taking place in the house where so many people had been killed or maimed scared her a little. Especially since what Kirk and Susan planned had to be more than a party. A party was supposed to be fun. Final initiations for pledges were never fun.
When the cheers died down, Kirk confirmed her thoughts. “After the party, all you pledges have to spend the night in the Raimi House alone together. If you eight survive the night, Guillermo, Mike, Chuck, and Dan will be inducted as active members of Alpha Lambda. And…” He paused while Susan whispered the girl pledges’ names. “Tiffany, Amelia, Layla, and Tina will become full-fledged sisters of the Omega Pis.”
Amelia’s mouth went dry. Spend the night in the Raimi House? She looked back to Guillermo, who looked genuinely scared. As he should be. She may not believe in God or the devil, but she and everyone else familiar with the town of Amteep knew that place was pure evil. And yet, even knowing the horrific history of the haunted cliffside estate, Amelia squirmed with curiosity to see the subject of her obsession.
Suddenly, Layla Thomas, the only Black pledge, spoke up. “I guess I’m not going to be an Omega Pi then. Because there’s no way in hell I’m going into that house.”
With that, she strode out of the frat house. Amelia was torn between cheering Layla’s bravery, envying her escape from the sorority, and being sad to see her go. Layla was one of the few people in the sorority house she liked, and the only girl who shared Amelia’s love for heavy metal music.
“I’m not going there either,” Dan Gatchel said. “I’ve heard the stories.”
“Me too,” Tina called behind Dan’s shoulder. “I quit.”
Susan stuck her nose in the air and made a prissy harrumph. “Fine. Then pack your bags. I want you out of the Omega Pi house tonight. Tell Layla she’s out as well.” She leaned over and whispered something to Kirk, then turned back to glare at everyone. “I can’t believe the ingratitude I’m seeing. Kirk and I worked hard to gain access to this house and to give you pledges the most legendary initiation in history. One that you’ll be able to tell your children and grandchildren about.”
Guillermo made a derisive snort. “Yeah, if we survive to have children.”
Kirk stepped forward and thrust out his chest like a rooster. “Any other chickens dropping out?”
The room fell silent. Amelia held her breath, wondering if Guillermo would be the next to walk out. Was it selfish to hope he stayed? Or was she an idiot to not walk out?
“Okay then.” Kirk put his arm around Susan’s waist. “After we get the keys on Tuesday, the ladies will clean the place up and the gentlemen will chop firewood, get supplies, and do any handyman work necessary to make sure the house is safe. All of you will ensure we have the best Halloween party in the history of our organizations. Now let’s get back to the party.”
Susan opened her mouth to say more, but Kirk gestured to the guy by the stereo. Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” roared back at full volume, leaving her to pout at not having the last word.
Tiffany took Amelia’s arm and led her away before opening her compact to inspect her perpetually flawless makeup. “You shouldn’t have said anything about the rental agency gossiping about the Raimi House. Going against Susan, especially in front of everyone, is going to incur her wrath.”
“Everything incurs her wrath,” Amelia grumbled.
Tiffany leaned in close, her breath smelling like vodka. “I’m going upstairs to spend a little time with Brandon. See what else he knows about the Raimi House initiation and make sure that tramp Valerie doesn’t get her claws in him.”
Amelia rolled her eyes as Tiffany walked away. Why did Tiff have to be so possessive over everyone in her sphere? Valerie barely ever spoke to Brandon. The sorority treasurer’s only crime was being as beautiful as Tiff, with the cheekbones of a model and a voluminous permed mass of dark gold curls. At least Tiffany going upstairs with Brandon meant Amelia would be free of her bossiness for a while. Amelia wove her way through the crowd, refusing offers to dance. Her legs throbbed from the lunges Susan had made the pledges do that afternoon. Amelia was used to staying in shape, a habit from being on the dance team in high school, but Susan treated exercise as punishment and a way to shame and torment anyone who wasn’t as thin as her. She constantly mocked Amelia’s thighs to the point where she was ashamed of them.
Amelia found Guillermo lounging on a sofa in the corner, farthest from the speakers and the masses. Miraculously, the place beside him was empty. She met his dark obsidian eyes and gave him a questioning look. With how rude her best friend was to him, he had every right to refuse Amelia’s company.
When he nodded, she sat by him. Her heartbeat accelerated at being next to him, feeling the heat of his muscular legs only inches from hers, admiring the way the band shirts he wore—Dokken tonight—stretched across his broad chest and accentuated his brown biceps and his forearms… Goddamn. She subjected herself to this sweet torment every chance she got. Which wasn’t very often, since Tiffany interrupted every time she spotted them talking.
But Tiff’s disdain wouldn’t stop Amelia from talking to him, though it did embarrass her enough to keep her distance when her friend was around.
“How’s your week been going?” It was a lame question, but she had to start somewhere.
“Awful,” Guillermo answered, though his white teeth flashed in a heart-melting smile. “They made us eat spoiled food from the fridge. And now they’re gonna make us try to steal your pledge pins.”
Amelia immediately removed her pin and handed it to him. “Here. Tell them you stole mine.”
His brows drew together with touching concern. “Won’t you get some sort of punishment for losing yours?”
“Maybe.” Amelia shrugged, feeling brave now that she was with him. “Or maybe I can take Layla’s or Tina’s pins since they’re dropping out.”
“I’m thinking of dropping out,” Guillermo said so quietly she almost didn’t hear him over the music.
“Me too,” Amelia replied hesitantly, taking a moment to imagine being brave enough to ask him to run away with her, out of this frat house and into each other’s arms and Tiffany be damned.
A reflexive pang of guilt for the thoughts she’d been having about her best friend gnawed at her, albeit lighter than usual.
Guillermo’s eyes widened. “You don’t want to join the Omega Pis?”
“Let me guess.” Guillermo gave her a knowing look. “You’re here because your friend wants to join.”
Damn it, so it was that obvious. She tried not to sound defensive. “I don’t want to do everything Tiffany does.”
She hadn’t wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad back in high school, which had been Tiff’s original aim, and they only settled on the much more fun dance team when they hadn’t made the cut.
Then there were the little ways Tiffany tried to control her. Every time Amelia was rocking out to Helloween in their room on her cassette player, Tiffany popped the tape out and put Madonna on. When Amelia wanted to wear black velvet and leather or band t-shirts, Tiffany wheedled her until she put on something trendy instead. Tiff was always disparaging her for having her nose in a book or watching comedy films.
Guillermo brought her attention back to the present. “I heard you and Cameron broke up last week.”
“That’s right.” Cameron Dane, best friend of Tiffany’s boyfriend, Brandon Schmidt, was the latest of a long string of guys Tiffany set her up with. Back in high school, it seemed convenient, and sometimes a little romantic, for her to be with the close friend of Tiffany’s current flavor. The double dates worked well and the two girls could better understand each other when venting or celebrating the relationship ups and downs. But as an adult, Amelia had soured on the experience of having dates arranged for her. And Cameron was the worst. All he’d wanted to do was try to get into Amelia’s pants. He’d finally succeeded last week, when Amelia had been passed out drunk, leading her to a pregnancy and STD scare. That’s when Amelia had enough. She broke up with him the next morning.
Tiffany was still mad at her about breaking up with Cameron. Amelia’s story about what Cam had done only made Tiff shrug and say that was how guys were. Her lack of empathy felt like a knife through the heart.
“He seems to have moved on pretty fast.” Guillermo pointed at Amelia’s ex, who sat on a recliner over by the coolers, plying drinks on Laura Hayward, one of the few sorority sisters who was actually sorta nice. Amelia made a mental note to keep an eye on Laura in case Cameron tried to take advantage of her as well.
She turned back to Guillermo, who seemed to be watching her reaction to the sight of her ex with another girl. Her heart did a little skip. Did his observation mean he’d ask her out now?
She tried not to sound too hopeful. “I’m the one who broke up with him because he’s an asshole.”
After a long pause, Guillermo nodded. His expression was frustratingly unreadable. “So, are you going to drop out of the sorority?”
Amelia’s heart sank at the change in subject. “I’d been seriously considering it all week.
But I can’t help being curious about the Raimi House. I’ve had a thing for creepy places since I was little.”
And now something else that Kirk had said about the initiation struck her with a chord of excitement. If she and Guillermo went through with it, they’d be spending the night together. The Raimi House was huge, with a lot of places where they could be alone. A lot of bedrooms.
A fresh and powerful resolve filled her. It was past time to break loose from Tiffany’s control. For starters, Tiffany wouldn’t have any more say over who Amelia dated. Now she would find a way to date Guillermo.
The problem was that since Tiffany always assigned boyfriends to her, she had no idea how to even flirt with a guy, much less ask him out. Even worse was the terror that filled her at the thought of Guillermo rejecting her and losing the safe haven of his friendship.
Then Amelia had an idea.
I hope you liked this sample of Her Halloween Party!
Next newsletter could be sooner than usual, since I'll be sending one as soon as the paperback is available. I'll also have some Halloween fun brewing!
Thank you again for being one of my readers!
Series by Brooklyn Ann
Brides of Prophecy
(Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy)
Also don't need to be read in order until book 5...kinda
Prequel: Tesemini (Free)
Wrenching Fate (Free)
Hearts of Metal
Standalones that intertwine
Scandals With Bite
(Regency paranormal romance)
Books do not need to be read in order
For excerpts and special content, visit BrooklynAnnAuthor.com