Excerpt from Dearly Departed by Rachael Rawlings

Dearly Departed by Rachael RawlingsToday, I have the author of Dearly Departed, Rachael Rawlings, on my site. She’s going to share an excerpt of her book with us. So let’s jump in with both feet and hand things over to Rachael!

This evening, I feel like one of the luckiest ladies in the world.  I have finally gotten a chance to see my dream come true, a book in print.  I have been writing since I was in grade school, going from ghost stories, mysteries, romance novels and everything in between.  With my present job in a high school, I have had a rare glimpse into the life of today’s teenagers, which, to be perfectly honest, hasn’t changed that much since I was that age.

My favorite books are ones in which the real world rubs elbows with the unreal, where reality is bent just enough to make us think that it could be true.  I don’t need to travel to another world to see the miracle of the supernatural when I feel sure it exists just under my nose!

For my first published novel, I put my main character in a place that fascinates me, the line between life and death.  Dorothy is an ordinary teenager forced to deal with extraordinary circumstances.  Not only are her parents on the odd side, but she lives right next to a cemetery in a tidy small town setting.  Her world opens up when a visitor comes calling in the cemetery, following his own purpose and his own rules.

Dearly Departed

Grave Reminders Series

“You’re out late.”

His voice came, filtered through the heavy air, deep and hushed.

“So are you, I suppose.”  I tried to keep my voice as even as his.

“As always,” he replied, finally reaching the soft light of the moon.  He paused and leaned against the low stone wall, comfortably.

The moonshine was generous to his sharp features, softening them with the forgiveness of the night.  He was all angles and long lines, from the sharp blade of his nose to the golden arch of his brows.  His eyes were impossible to see, but his hands were beautiful where they rested on a moss lined stone. A heavy gold band circled his thumb, looking tarnished in the dim light.

“It’s a quiet night.”  The words that came were not the ones that I would have reasonably spoken.  This was not a conversation that had any of the norms of social interaction.

“Not so much.  The birds are complaining.  They don’t like the fog.”

I looked at him, immersed in the unreality of the scene.  “You know much about birds?”

“More about the night.  I don’t sleep much.  I tend to travel most often at night.”

That explained a little, but not nearly enough to satisfy me.

“Why here?”

“I have my own reasons.” He returned softly, no sting to his words.  “You watch.  I walk.  We all have our little ways of coping with the time.”

The conversation had little substance, but I was reluctant to leave him, even more to turn my back on him.

“Are you staying nearby?”  The questions seemed general enough.

“You assume that I’m passing through?  Yes, I am staying nearby.”  He looked away, the sound of a car’s motor seeming unusually loud.

“And you’ll keep coming back?”  My hushed voice was reverent for the people that lay there, silent in their soullessness.

“Until I find what I need.”

“And that is?”  I honestly felt that I could help him.  After years of living here, the graveyard had become my walking park, my backyard, and my pondering place.  I knew most of the names intimately, as well as the familiar faces of the mourners that came to visit them.

“I’ll know it when I see it,” he responded with a frustrating calm.

The insistent barking of a dog caused me to turn back toward the gate where I could see the sleek shape of my mixed breed hound pressed against the slats.

“Baxter, quiet,” I said, my firm voice bouncing like a crazy ball off the stone and wood.

“He’s missing you,” the stranger said softly, “and he doesn’t trust me.”

“He doesn’t trust anyone until he can smell them,” I said, frowning at the pacing figure of the dog behind the gate.

“Let him free.”

Obediently, I went back toward the gate and let it swing open.  Baxter ran through with amazing speed, his muscular legs eating up the ground as his long beagle ears flapped with each stride.  He stopped abruptly in front of the man, his paws digging in the moist earth, his nose to the ground.  It took only seconds for his sensitive nose to complete the assessment; he ran his face close to scuffed black jeans, tattered leather jacket cuffs, and over the beautiful hands before he allowed them to rest on his head.

“He’s a fine dog.  A good friend.  He wants to know if he can trust me.”

“He’s usually pretty quick to warm up.  Not the best guard dog, especially if someone was carrying a treat.”

“He would know if someone meant you any harm.  He’s more sensitive then you might think.”

I looked at him, pondering his cryptic statement.  There was very little about this man that seemed easy to discern.  He was watching the dog as Baxter investigated the yard, his nose working furiously.  I allowed the hound into the cemetery only on occasion, but he had always been a perfect gentleman.  He never misbehaved, barked, dug, or wet in the area.  It was as though there was something in his canine manners that realized the place for what is was and respected it.

“It will rain soon.”

My eyes went back to his face, my hands burrowing into my jacket pockets as the light wind tugged my hair out of my collar.

“Why do you say that?”

“I know.  He can tell too,” he responded, looking toward Baxter.  “You need to get back home.  I don’t want you out in the rain.”

“And you?  Where will you go?  You won’t stay?”

“I’ll see you safely inside.  Then I’ll go.”

“You’ll be back?”

He nodded wordlessly and I watched, frozen, as he drew close to me.  Closer, I could see that his eyes were a very light color, but could not see the shade.  The scent of him, something like pine and soap, enveloped me momentarily as the wind caressed his figure.  He was tall, and I had to tip my head back to follow his expression.  One long fingered hand caught my elbow and followed my arm down to my wrist where he pulled my hand from my pocket.  He enveloped my freed hand in his gentle grasp, his skin surprisingly warm and dry.

“Come on,” his voice was soft, floating on the breeze, mixed with the waning fog.

I followed.

Many thanks to R.S. Hunter for letting me post my first blog piece.  I have naturally loved writing, but have been astonished and heartened by the many wonderful writers at Hydra Publications.  I hope everyone joins me in reading the other great books that Hydra is representing.

The second in this series from Grave Reminders, will continue the story of my characters from Dearly Departed.  I hope to explore a little further the line between here and there, the life and the afterlife.

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Thank you for sharing that with us, Rachael! You can buy Dearly Departed in ebook and paperback forms from Amazon.com.