Twilight (Bay City Paranormal Investigations book 3) is now available for purchase from all the usual vendors.
In the twilight shadows, nothing is what it seems. And not all the monsters have claws.
While leading an amateur ghost-hunting expedition in Asheville, NC, Bay City Paranormal is called to investigate Sunset Lodge, a rustic inn situated on a remote Smoky Mountain peak. In recent weeks, employees and guests alike have seen a weird, frightening creature in the forest near the Lodge. A creature which sounds all too familiar to the BCPI team.
Sam Raintree doesn’t want to deal with another interdimensional gateway. The last one they faced nearly took the life of Sam’s employer and lover, Dr. Bo Broussard. Sam can’t stand the thought of it happening again. Especially now that he and Bo are finally together and working through their problems. But Sam’s psychokinetic abilities give him the power to permanently close the gateways, and he can’t bring himself to ignore that. With the safety of the Sunset Lodge staff and guests at stake, Sam, Bo and their colleague, Dean Delapore, make the trip to the Lodge to determine if it indeed hosts a portal to another dimension.
At the beautiful and remote Sunset Lodge, a missing man, a grisly discovery, and a moment of carelessness converge to reveal secrets much different – and far uglier – than any the BCPI team expected. Secrets which not only put their lives in danger, but which might provide Sam with an escape from the portals. If he’s willing to take it.
Copyright 1st edition © 2007 Ally Blue
Copyright 2nd edition © 2017 Ally Blue
Ten minutes later, Lex was nestled in a large chair in the corner of the tremendous lobby, with a mug of coffee in her hand and the BCPI team gathered around her.
“So, Lex,” Andre said, leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees. “Tell us about your place. Sunset Lodge, right?”
“That’s right.” Lex sipped from her steaming mug. “My husband and I bought Sunset Lodge ten years ago, when the previous owners became unable to keep up with it.”
“I imagine running a business like that would be a lot of work,” Cecile observed.
“Especially this one.” Lex grinned. “It’s located at the top of one of the highest peaks in the western North Carolina mountains, almost at the Tennessee border. There’s no electricity, and it’s only accessible by foot or horseback.”
David let out a low whistle. “Dang. No offense or anything, Lex, but I don’t blame the former owners for letting it go. Sounds pretty rough.”
“It is, in a way. But the beds are big and warm, the food’s out of this world, and the view is not to be believed, especially watching the sun go down from Sunset Rock. People come from all over the country for the experience. We stay fully booked up to a year ahead.”
“It sounds fantastic.” Setting his coffee mug on the table between the sofa and Lex’s chair, Sam leaned on the arm of the couch and gave Lex a keen look. “Why don’t you tell us why you believe you have an interdimensional gateway?”
She stared into her coffee for a moment. Please don’t be another one, Sam thought. If it really was a gateway, he knew he wouldn’t be able to walk away from it. He’d promised himself he’d do his best to permanently close any gateway he found, and he intended to honor that promise. But the thought of facing another gateway, of having those alien beings inside his mind, made him feel sick.
He refused to think of what might happen to his friends, or to Bo, if Lex’s suspicion was correct. The temptation to run the other way would be too strong to fight if he let himself dwell on it.
When Lex finally spoke up, her voice so soft Sam could barely hear her over the buzz of conversation around them. “In the past two weeks, several guests at the Lodge have seen strange things in the woods around Sunset Rock. It’s about a twenty minute hike between the Lodge and the Rock. People have caught glimpses of what they say is a strange animal in the woods on the way back to the Lodge after the sunset. It’s always at the same spot, in the trees to the left of the path about halfway down. A couple of people thought it must’ve been a bear, only it didn’t make any noise.” She glanced up, her blue eyes locking onto Bo’s face. “Only one person got a really good look at it, just the day before yesterday. She said it looked…wrong. Twisted, somehow. She took her family and left at first light the next morning. None of them slept. Her youngest son saw it too. She said he had nightmares about it.”
The BCPI group all looked at one another with identical horrified expressions. An icy lump lodged in Sam’s gut. It’s a gateway. Another one. Fuck.
“I came into town yesterday afternoon for a doctor’s appointment,” Lex continued. She scraped at a chip in the handle of her mug with one short, ragged thumbnail. “I’d read about your previous gateway cases online, and what’s happening at Sunset Lodge sounds awfully similar. I was going to call you and ask you to come investigate. It was just dumb luck you happened to be here in town already.”
“How’d you hear about our cases?” Dean wondered, fixing Lex with a bright, curious gaze. “I know you don’t get internet on top of the mountain.”
Lex smiled. “No, we don’t. But Carl—that’s my husband—and I don’t spend all our time up there. We generally go for a few days each month, and leave it to the regular staff the rest of the time. We live in Maggie Valley, a little ways west of here.”
Scooting to the edge of the sofa, Bo leaned forward, braid swinging over his shoulder. “Lex, has anyone been injured since these sightings began?”
She shook her head. “No, thank God. I’d like to keep it that way.”
“Have there been any other unusual events preceding the start of the sightings?” Bo asked.
Lex gave him an odd look. “Funny you should ask that. One of our employees went missing just before these sightings started.”
Andre’s eyebrows went up. “What were the circumstances surrounding the disappearance?”
“He went down the mountain to pick up his prescription, and he never came back. The police searched for him, of course, but they didn’t find him. I have no reason to think his disappearance was connected to whatever people have been seeing, but you asked.” Biting her lip, Lex looked around at the group. “So, what do you say? Can you help us?”
Sam turned to look at Bo. His brow was furrowed, his fingers restlessly twirling the end of his braid. Everyone else stared at him, clearly waiting for his verdict.
“I’d like to take the case,” Bo said, speaking slowly. “But it’ll have to wait a few days. We’re in the middle of an investigation here. We have a group of amateur investigators with us who’ve paid for a ghost hunting trip. We have an obligation to give them what they paid for.”
Lex hunched her shoulders. “I expected you’d say that. The thing is, there’s a winter storm predicted to hit in the next couple of days. We’re considering canceling the reservations that haven’t already been canceled because of it, but even if we do, Carl and I and our staff will be trapped up there. If there’s really a gateway, and those things are coming through…”
She didn’t need to finish. Chills raced up Sam’s spine. He knew what the creatures were capable of. They all knew.