Nicola has a common problem that most authors face - writer's block. After eighteen strenuous months of suffering through the departure of her muses, she has ventured to a foreign land to seek inspiration. The tiny community of Woodland Village promises the romantic intrigue that she so desperately desires, but within the woods of this village, there is a dark, terrifying secret that lurks at night - a time when no one in the village dares to venture outside of their homes. When her romantic leads turn up flat, Nicola decides to ignore the warnings of the townsfolk and discover for herself what it is that lives within the seemingly haunted woods. Will her investigation lead her to the romance that she needs to break free of her writer's block, or will it lead to something much more deadly?
$2.99 - eBook
Published Aug. 2012
A book was what had led Nicola to Woodland Village. A novel idea had sprung into her mind and it had remained there for weeks before she’d known what to do with it. She had published three best sellers over the last five years, and none of them had been published in the last eighteen months. She had been desperate for her muse to give her another tale, and that muse eventually led her from her New York City home to Woodland Village, a tiny but historic town tucked deep in the European hills. It was filled with romantic cottages, castle ruins, and old fashion charm that were the perfect setting for her ideal comeback novel.
Everything about it was exquisite, with the exception that she had been anything but inspired since arriving, and she had not written one single word.
It was a depressing stream of stillness that her muse had presented her with in New York, and the stillness had even followed her to where her muse had sent her.
“How can everything be so still when I feel so restless?” she asked, wondering if anyone on the other side of the window would answer her. The street was still clear and not a sound responded in return.
“Nearly a month,” Nicola pouted, turning her back to the window and slowly stepping toward her bed, “I have been here. I have spoken with every local that I have come across. I have eaten at the restaurant with a different native almost every day.” She was quiet as she sat down on the bed. Then, “I have gone where they have told me to go and I have done what they have suggested I do. There has to be a story in this place; I can almost feel it.”
Again, she stood. The restlessness was creeping from her mind and into her bones. She moved to the light switch and illuminated the room, which seemed dusty and faint under the dim lighting. There were three pieces of furniture in the room, aside from the bed, and a lone faded painting of a disgruntled looking gentleman that hung over a fireplace that did not work. Her clothing and many of her belongings were still in her suitcases at the foot of the bed; the dresser drawers remained empty. A bathroom was attached to her chamber, and she crossed over the cold hardwood floor to it. Stepping inside, she turned the light on and gazed at her reflection in the oval mirror above the hand-sink.
At thirty-five years old, she did not consider herself old, but somehow, she looked it right now. Her hair was a tangled mess and there were dark bags under her eyes from where the insomnia had taken its toll. She’d had an impressive, though fake, tan before leaving New York, and she was not certain if it was the lighting or not, but on this night, she simply looked pale – pasty. Part of this was to blame on Woodland Village’s weather. Although she had not experienced much rain here, the days had been mostly cloudy and overcast. She could not remember having seen the sun even once on this visit.
“No sunshine,” she pouted, “nothing open at night, and no one fits a romantic lead role here. My search for romantic inspiration seems to have hit a low point.”
Nicola briefly considered leaving early. She had rented the room for six weeks. Four of those were over. She was not sure if the innkeeper would charge her for the rest of her booking or not, and at the moment, she did not care. She could afford to cut her losses. She could not afford, however, to spend two more weeks in a place that seemed to be draining the life from her.
Story or not, she was ready to give up on Woodland Village. It had proved to be one dead end after another, and it seemed there were no knots left on the rope for her to climb around.
The sound of something crashing outside echoed its presence through her window, giving her a startle. Hurriedly, as if she had never heard something so frightening or exciting, she raced from the bathroom and approached the window. She stared out into the night-covered town and searched for the source of the crash. Yet her eyes found nothing. The darkness was shielding the culprit.
“It must be nearing morning,” she whispered and walked to the nightstand, picking up her cellular. Noticing it was barely twenty passed ten, she sighed once more and cursed under her breath. “It’s not even close to midnight. Someone out there must still be awake to have made that noise.”
A look of elfish mischief emoted over her face and she smiled. Who said Woodland Village had to shut down at dark? There was plenty of life left in Nicola, and she imagined someone else out there was feeling the same. Perhaps this was what that feeling of a story being near was – perhaps she should have been seeking through the night all along.
Quickly, she changed from her nightgown and into a pair of jeans, a dark t-shirt, her hiking boots and a suede jacket. She tucked her cell phone into the pocket of her jeans and, exiting the room, she turned the light off and grabbed her cigarettes and lighter from the side table next to the door. She paused in the doorway for only a moment, considering her actions and wondering if they were wise. Perhaps there was a reason the village shut down at dark.
And perhaps that reason was what would make her next bestselling novel.
End of Excerpt