Hey folks! Today I’m happy to introduce you to Tia Reed and her story The Grotesques!
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Tia Reed loves nothing better than burying her nose in a story of her own imagining, cuddling her bossy cat and rescuing chewed pillows from her hyperactive dog. She takes every opportunity to do all three when she is not teaching English as a second language. Her other hobbies usually take a back seat but include trying to tame her beast of a garden, hiking and travelling. The latter has thrown her many interesting, sometimes hair-raising experiences, which she loves twisting into stories. She was born in Malta, but lives in Adelaide, Australia.
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~ * ~ BLURB ~ * ~
Discredited journalist Ella Jerome isn’t thrilled about working at Adelaide’s fanciful tabloid The Informer. So when zoologist Adam Lowell seeks her help in finding his missing cousin, she’s cynical of his claim a monster lurks near the Church of the Resurrection. The trouble is, solving the gruesome case could be her best shot at restoring her shredded reputation.
With her old instincts resurfacing, Ella combs the Port for clues. Experience tells her the only monsters are the human variety, and the bloodied stonemason certainly raises her suspicions. But when her investigation turns up everything from petrified remains to the headless carving of a dragon, the truth threatens to steal both her sanity and the man she’s falling for.
After all, gargoyles can’t be anything other than harmless stone. Or can they?
~ * ~ EXCERPT ~ * ~
A hammering echoed up the stairs. As the workman paused, they heard a yelp. It jolted them into jogging down into a small, unadorned chamber. The arches ringing it might have impressed if its grey stone blocks weren’t such a cold contrast to the dazzling limestone above. Across the chamber, the bold iron hinges on an oak door bled rust onto the stone. As if that wasn’t enough to give her the creeps, planks were nailed haphazardly across its width, as though after it fell into disrepair a child had made a clumsy attempt to fix it.
The hammering recommenced, resounding through the chamber from behind the door. After several beats, the workman stopped.
The church plunged into silence.
The hammering resumed.
When quiet fell once more, Adam banged against the wood.
The door creaked open. A hunchback, neck extended, peered out in enquiry. His dusty coveralls hung about his thick body as if he had suffered a precipitous drop in weight. Behind him, yellow light illuminated his workroom, throwing his skewed face into shadow.
Taken aback, Ella stammered a greeting. “We heard you working and were hoping to talk to someone about the church.” She hoped it didn’t sound like they wanted to join the congregation.
The hunchback moved his head, up and down, side to side, examining every inch of her body. Affronted, she buried her hands in her pocket and hunched her shoulders. She was about to make a stinging comment when the man spoke.
“Bitter, bitter,” he muttered, his voice husky. “No good, no good.”
Ella had the distinct impression he meant her. Unable to think of a retort, she blinked at Adam, who cleared his throat.
“I’m Adam Lowell. I’m researching bats in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The caretaker, Mister Genord, is aware of my project. My assistant and I were hoping to examine the bats in their sleeping quarters.”
The hunchback smiled, his mouth gaping through missing teeth. “Bats up. Tower.” With great effort he pointed a bloodied hand to the ceiling. His finger failed to rise higher than his head. “Up.” He nodded and closed the door. A few muffled scuffles preceded further hammering.
Ella shivered. “Do you think he cut himself?”
“It would explain the scream.” Noticing her discomfort, Adam flashed her a smile. “He looks harmless enough.”
“It’s not him. It’s damp down here.”
She left Adam to examine the door and walked under the closest of the arches which ringed the room. Trailing a hand along the grey stone, she made her way around the shadowed cloister. She could hear herself breathe, her lungs raspy with the moist air. The absence of an electric bulb was enigmatic, but the wicked axe hanging on the wall below the foggy window was downright ominous. It looked just the sort of weapon to break through a door.
“I can’t see anything suspicious here. Ready?” Adam queried.
“Yes. No!” She had just spied a glint at the back of the stairs.
~ * ~ BUY ~ * ~
~ * ~ GIVEAWAY ~ * ~
Tia Reed will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. CLICK HERE to enter to win! Readers, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates and places can be found here: Tour Schedule
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Tia Reed, thank you for stopping by today!
Love & blessings to all! ❤