Table of Contents
About the Author
ISBN # 978-1-78430-772-1
©Copyright Bailey Bradford 2015
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright September 2015
Edited by Claire Siemaszkiewicz and Rebecca Scott
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Pride Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Pride Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2015 by Pride Publishing, Newland House, The Point, Weaver Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QN
Pride Publishing is a subsidiary of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
Book five in the Southern Spirits series
Darren Brown spent two years running from his past, but he could only run so far before he was found.
Darren Brown lost the only two people he loved just days apart. His mother first, then his best friend. Guilt over his friend’s death drives Darren to wander for over a year before he winds up in the town of McKinton, Texas.
Lee Bausch served his tour in the Army then started his quest to find answers only one person could give him—except that one person had moved away. It takes him almost two years to find Darren Brown, and it turns out Darren doesn’t have the answers Lee needs—he is what Lee needs. Darren is shy and so sexy Lee can’t get enough of him, but he still needs answers because he can’t shake the feeling someone he loved was murdered.
After a terrifying experience at the motel, Darren knows he has to tell Lee about the spirits in McKinton. And there’s one spirit, scared and alone, who has the answers Lee seeks, if only the spirit knew how to tell Lee his suspicions are right.
To childhood memories, and childhood friends—those we still have,
and those we’ve lost but will always love.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Superman: DC Comics
Camaro: General Motors
Maglite: Mg Instrument, Inc.
Darren Brown eyed Red, the Rhode Island Red rooster, cautiously, watching for any signs of agitation from the bird. Generally he didn’t have any problems when it was time to feed the critters and gather eggs, but every now and then that red rooster got his feathers ruffled and decided Darren looked like a walking whipping post. The rooster tipped its head to the side and clucked. It was the sign Darren had been waiting for. He wouldn’t have to toss the food from the bucket and run for cover this morning.
A ripple of unease clambered down Darren’s spine as he stepped off the front porch of old Widow Hawkins’ place. Virginia, the café owner, and Deputy Nixon, along with Nixon’s life partner, Carlin, had bought the place with the intention of turning it into a hang-out for the elderly. There’d been talk of Darren staying on once the conversion was done, kind of like a groundskeeper or something, Darren wasn’t sure. The talk never went far since Darren didn’t do much to encourage it. He didn’t know how long he was going to be in town and hated the idea of letting anyone down if he left. As it was, Virginia and the others had agreed to let Darren stay here as long as he kept the place up—and took care of the chickens, a job that had, up until Darren moved in a couple of months ago, belonged to Deputy Nixon.
Darren glanced around as the uncomfortable feeling increased. He knew that sensation, the one that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. It was the one that told him someone was watching him, and his heartbeat accelerated until he thought he might burst an artery. But as hard as he looked, he couldn’t find anything suspicious. Nothing was out of place, and there was no one here but him and the chickens. He’d heard rumors of ghosts—spirits, Severo insisted they be called, and didn’t that little guy creep Darren out? Those pale eyes seemed to drill right into Darren, so he did his best to avoid meeting them.
Still, despite the talk, Darren didn’t worry about such things as lingering spirits. People just stopped when they died. He knew that, believed it if he didn’t believe anything else. One second they were there, laughing, loving you, then they weren’t, and everything about them vanished except what you carried in your memory. Even if you wished you didn’t carry anything of them at all.
Darren shook off the paranoia that threatened to swamp him. No one was here besides him. He hefted the bucket of chicken feed and waved it at Red. “You looking for this?” Darren flinched. The sound of his own voice only seemed to emphasize how alone he was, yet he couldn’t shake the idea that he was being watched.
The rooster clucked and flapped its wings. Darren shoved aside his discomfort and reached into the bucket for a handful of feed. He tossed the mixture on the ground and waited. Sure enough, Red gave him a haughty look, or as haughty a look as a chicken could give, then strutted to the feed and began pecking at it. Soon the hens joined the rooster, fussing and clucking as Darren spread the food around.
“Be nice,” he scolded when a few