Meant to Be Press presents the 5th book in the Love Notes Series.
MEANT TO BE…MYSTIFIED! Edited by Naching T. Kassa
Every romance begins with an element of mystery, and these five tales are no exception.
Cozy up with a whodunnit at a ski resort, a scandalous nuptial theft, the secret held by an antique table, supernatural murders in a small town, and a ghostly encounter at a Regency wedding. Can you solve these puzzles before the amorous sleuths? Or are you…
Featuring the stories of Emmy Z. Madrigal, Lela Bay, M.M. Genet, Kate Nox, and Naching T. Kassa
An excerpt from MEANT TO BE…MYSTIFIED.
Hair of the Dog
Lori ran through the list in her head. Glancing at the passenger seat, she confirmed the cloth bag and the small, hand drawn map with a red circle drawn around the area where she’d found a bumper crop of porcini mushrooms the year before. Parking on the side of the road, she laced up her boots and pulled a knitted hat over her head.
“Gourmet dinner headed our way tonight!” she texted her roommate, Amber. She slid her phone in her coat pocket and hopped out of her small SUV. The air was cool and the trees were bursting with fall colors. “Perfect,” she thought.
Her AirPods securely in her ears, Iggy Pop and the Stooges blared “Search and Destroy.” Dried leaves crunched under her feet as she looked for the familiar rise in the trail. Her hopes rose when she noticed the dew on the ferns nearby. Damp, cool weather was the perfect condition for porcini fungi. Taking out the map, she calculated just another quarter mile and she would be close.
As her step quickened, her sharp eyes searched the forest floor. Looking for mushrooms in the wild was like trying to find a raven on a moonless night. Porcini mushrooms grew below oak trees. She scanned the leaves of the trees above her. Something flashed with color, making her stop to take notice.
A sapling nearly her height was weighed down with something. As she walked closer, Lori’s heart sank. A pink pet collar with silver tags engraved with the word “Hobbs” on the front. She flipped the tag over. No phone number or address. So many pets from town ventured out and rarely came back after entering the woods. Still, it was strange the collar was so high up in a small tree. A cat or small dog couldn’t have leaped high enough to land in a sapling’s branches unless something larger…
Her thoughts were interrupted by a strange sensation of floating; no flying. Was it flying? Her brain struggled to make sense of it. She was moving way too fast for her own feet and speaking of her feet, why weren’t they touching the ground?
Another sensation blocked out all others. Pain. On the ground, she writhed in pain. She wanted to vomit. She wanted to scream. It was happening so fast. Snarling and howling flooded her ears. In reply, she listened to her own pitiful cries. The mud beneath her body was cold. She was growing colder.
Her plea for help was answered by a sound that made her want to run or crawl away. The sound was something from her nightmares. She heard the ripping and tearing and cracking of bones. There was a distant idea in a forbidden corner of her mind that knew they were her bones being broken, and her skin being peeled away from her muscles, but it was all so far away. Her fleeting thoughts were clear. A monster was eating her alive.
Her blood rapidly soaked into the forest floor. Would she be more delicious with the mushrooms? It was a morbid thought that made her laugh. Maybe she should suggest a mushroom pairing like she would for customers at the Lupin Moon. She tried to say something but her throat wouldn’t work. In fact, it was no longer attached her body. Those were the last of Lori’s dying thoughts before the thing holding her to the forest floor plunged its teeth into her chest and feasted on her beating heart.
To read more, check out Meant to Be Mystified on Amazon.com.