Date Published: July 28
A Pathseekers Novel
Love, obsession, and betrayal, the most powerful human emotions, are spun together in this gothic novel. Tandie Harrison is a police medium who has just suffered a divorce after losing both her psychic visions and her daughter in a car accident. When she leaves New York City to start a new life near her hometown, she moves into the alluring plantation house, Chelby Rose, and falls for its enigmatic caretaker, Eric Fontalvo. Their burgeoning affair ignites a century old curse, ensnaring them in a web of danger, deceit, and intrigue. Soon Tandie learns that in placid Bolivia, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected.
Hacienda Moon is a seductive tale of one woman’s journey to confront the demons of her past and find the courage to face her future. It is a mesmerizing novel that explores the deepest depths of human nature, and the characters will hold and haunt you long after you have read the final chapter.
Crowds, noise, loudspeakers, coffee smells: words that described Raleigh-Durham’s airport. There wasn’t much difference between New York’s JFK and North Carolina’s RDU. The noise and crowds were all the same in these places. An airport was still just another way of transporting someone from one life-changing situation to the next. And Tandie’s journey was about to begin again in a small town located about twenty minutes away from where she grew up.
Waiting at the conveyor carousel, she picked up her two bags and headed toward the rental-car section. With her head pounding from jet lag, Tandie took the keys from the woman behind the counter and mentally reviewed her driving route. Turning, she collided with a set of broad shoulders. Her handbag fell to the floor, scattering the contents.
Ready to offer a chunk of her tired mind, she opened her mouth to complain, but stopped right away. Her victim was a man. This wasn’t just any man, though. He stood just under six-feet-tall, and had gorgeous dark hair flopping over a ridiculously handsome face. Dressed in a dark-blue shirt and gray cargo pants, the man knelt down right away to help pick up Tandie’s things.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said, collecting Tandie’s items, which included tampons and sanitary napkins of all things to drop.
Their eyes met and locked on one another. His hazel-green ones took in her features with one glance. Her stomach flipped as if she were a young girl flirting with a cute guy. And something hitched in her chest, teasing her with a vague memory.
His muscular frame made him seem as if he could crush Tandie’s dainty little bag with one good squeeze. His strong facial features, full lips, and dark olive skin made him look Hispanic.
Damn he’s sexy!
Tandie concentrated on returning her things to the bag. If she were quick, then maybe he wouldn’t see her embarrassing stuff. Too late. He’d already picked up her little green Always bag and placed it back in the satchel without even flinching.
Cringe and die, won’t you?
“I’m such an ox,” he said in a deep voice.
“You’re not the clumsy one. I should really watch where I’m going,” Tandie said, still too embarrassed to look at his face. She was aware of him staring at her, even though she couldn’t figure out why he was doing it. Tandie’s face flushed. Even her golden-brown skin must’ve turned crimson.
Standing up quickly, she stepped on the edge of her pants and stumbled backward. Her unintentional hero caught her with ease, steadying her body. What else would she add to her klutz list? She’d probably do something stupid like slip up and grab his crotch by accident next.
“Thanks. Again, I’m really sorry,” Tandie said and moved around him.
“Wait. Can I carry your bags for you? It’s the least I can do,” he said in a voice to match his looks.
“No. I’ll be fine, thanks,” Tandie said, walking toward the rental-car garage. Behind her, she felt him watching as she scurried away.
"How many months has it been since you last had sex?" Frieda asked Tandie while taking a drink. She nearly spit out her Bahama Mama as she glanced around the club full of people, thankful they sat in a place where a rock band was playing. "It's okay to say: 'Frieda I haven't had sex in ages. Jack was a royal bastard who made me feel like the ice queen. So I never wanted any.' "Frieda took another swallow of her drink.
Even Tandie had to laugh, even though she was glad to be the designated driver. “Must we talk about something like that in a club?"
"Like that? Do you mean to say sex? Let me hear you say it?" Frieda teased.
Tandie rolled her eyes upward. "You know what I meant."
“If we weren’t in a club, you would still clam up. Mental note to me: Must take my bestie out more often before she forgets how to have any kind of fun at all. Deal?”
“All right, deal. Anything to keep you quiet.” Tandie glanced around, taking in the club scene. She hadn’t been anywhere near a dance floor like this one in almost six years. Getting involved with someone hadn’t even crossed her mind, especially while she still grieved for Breena. In the presence of a cute guy, she either stuttered or dropped her tampons at his feet.
“Frieda Tyson. You made it,” a dark-haired woman with a braid sweeping her waistline announced. A gangly man stood behind her, scoffing. Dressed in an apron, he was the thinnest male Tandie had ever seen. Spiky brown hair gave him a rock star look and the thick-rimmed glasses he wore reminded her of a movie she couldn't quite finger.
Frieda stood, embraced the woman, and stepped back to admire the huge diamond on her left hand. “Whoa! You must’ve really whipped it on him, Shania.”
“It was those tips and pointers you gave me. Now I know why you’re such a good therapist.” The two women exchanged laughs, while the gangly man standing behind them shook his head and sighed.
"Excuse, me," he said to Tandie and Frieda, "Shania, can you tell me where to sit this box of glasses. It feels like I'm holding an elephant."
"Gus, my fearless multi-tasker. Meet my co-worker, Frieda, and her sidekick I haven't met," Shania said. Her voice was light and her carefree attitude made Tandie want to know more about her.
Frieda turned to Tandie. “This is my good girlfriend, Tandie Harrison. She recently moved back here. Keep an eye on this chick, Shania. She intends to be a bestselling author.”
“Ah yes. I’ve read one of your non-fiction pieces. I especially enjoyed the one where you explain how you channel psychic energy. Excellent piece of literature,” Shania said and turned to Gus. "Put those over behind the wet bar. Those are for the Geisha celebration next week."
"It's about time," he muttered and turned to Tandie and Frieda, "Nice meeting you ladies. Try not to be strangers." His eyes were locked on Tandie, making her feel uneasy.
“Thanks,” Tandie said. Gus nodded and moved on toward the bar.
Tandie's gaze drifted off to the right side of Shania. The man sitting at the bar, the same man she’d run into at the airport a week ago, had his gaze locked on her. Tandie looked away, pretending not to notice him. But each time she glanced back in his direction he was still watching. Her breath hitched, and her pulse increased. It was the same feeling she experienced before when she last saw him.
Hugging her shoulders, she suddenly had the urge to leave the area. Frieda and Shania were engrossed in their own conversation, so Tandie had no problem slipping away.
She had wanted to investigate the rooftop dining area ever since they arrived. She headed up the steps leading to the balcony, taking in a quick breath when the cool nighttime wind bit into the top Frieda made her wear. A July night at the beach sometimes packed the same ice-cold punch as a September one. There were fewer people sitting at the tables.
Leaning on the rail facing the ocean, she took in the black view and listened to the waves sloshing against shores invisible in the nighttime hours. Something rode the waves in the distance. At first glance it resembled a cruise ship sailing along fully lit. Tandie moved over to the telescope attached to the rail and glanced at the ship. Inside the lens, the ship’s form changed. It was more like a blurry silhouette of a ship. Straining to focus on it, Tandie stretched her eyes until they felt dry. And then like magic, the ship disappeared completely from view. No lights, blurry outlines, no nothing. “Whoa. Too much Bahama Mama tonight, I think.”
"Nope. It's not your wine. Not that you'd be the type to get drunk," a woman's deeply accented voice said from behind her. The woman dressed in a red shirt and black jeans was pretty in a gothic kind of way. Her dark red lips blended in with her deep auburn tresses; but her eyes lined with mascara reminded Tandie of a burglar. "There's really a ship out there, but only certain ones of us can see it. Creepy isn't it?"
The woman studied the ocean, lost in her thoughts. Tandie always attracted strangers who would suddenly start spilling all their secrets. It had been that way for her ever since she was a little girl. But this woman along with the disappearing ship she had just seen succeeded in making her jittery. The chill in the air increased and the thin cottony blouse she wore did a lousy job of blocking any wind.
"Wow. It's really cold up here. I'm heading back inside."
"Don't you wanna know why you can see it?" the woman asked.
An invisible force stopped Tandie in her tracks. There was no way this woman could be talking about the ship she just saw. "Not really, I’m good," Tandie answered truthfully, turning to study her face.
"We can see it because I'm touched by death. And you…" she turned and narrowed her eyes at Tandie. "You got the witches mark. I can smell dark magic on somebody all the way from my house."
Feeling a bit anxious, Tandie turned to go back inside the club. The woman moved in her path and stepped closer to her face. "You stay away from what's mine, witch. Do you hear me?"
"I don't even know you. It would be hard to take something from a person I don't even know," Tandie said, inching back toward the telescope. She really wished her psychic intuition still worked.
"Abby! What's going on?" a male's deep voice said behind the woman. She flashed a bright smile just before she turned around and said, "Not a thing. We girls were just having a little chat."
It was him, the man from the airport and the bar. He strolled toward them. His dark shirt and blue jeans gave him a strikingly mysterious appearance under the balcony’s lights. With his gaze locked on Tandie, she suddenly understood the woman's warning. Sure, he was drop-dead sexy; but it was more like the turn-me-into-a-zombie kind of death. That way I can come back and kidnap you when I'm ready.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. Abby doesn't mean to be this way. We still have to keep child locks on the cupboards because of her."
Abby clucked her tongue. "Don't you dare talk down to me."
"Look, people. I don’t have a clue about who you two are; but y’all need to work out your problems. I'm heading back inside to get my friend. Try to have a good night," Tandie said and headed back into the club before the man could say anything else, and before that woman accused her of being a witch again.
Eric Fontalvo began Tandie's renovations the following Monday. He arrived with an armory of tools and gadgets, setting to work with a tape measure as quietly as he did the first time he came by. Tandie’s curiosity was killing her. She wanted to know more about why this handsome stranger appeared in her novel and her dreams.
After spending Saturday night with Saul, a man who seemed to be handling quite a few issues himself, she craved something normal. One thing Frieda was right about: there wasn’t a shortage of eye candy in her life at the moment.
Dressed in ripped jean shorts, an old tee-shirt, and a blue bandana that would scream gang-girl if she were ever spotted in public, Tandie walked outside. The outfit wasn't too New Yorker, and it had just enough grit to compliment any job a contractor might need for her to do. On the first day she arrived at Chelby Rose, she’d promised herself that she would put her own personal touches on any renovations.
“Um, Ms. Harrison, what are you doing?” Eric’s face bore an amused smirk underneath his smile. He also had a slight accent covered up by his well-spoken English.
At first, the accent in his voice sounded somewhat southern. But after listening to the next few sentences, Tandie thought it sounded more Puerto Rican or South Columbian.
“Isn’t that obvious? I’m going to paint. Do you have issues with that?” Tandie asked, slightly annoyed by his smirk.
“Course not. It's your place. I just thought you’d—want to be writing.” He flipped a strand of hair away from his face. Tandie wondered if he was going to move the one beside it too.
“That's exactly why I need to be out here. I need inspiration.” Tandie pranced over to the two five-gallon paint buckets Eric had lined up along the front porch. She pulled out her paintbrushes and counted them. One of the six that came in the pack was gone. “Crap. One is missing.”
He cleared his throat before speaking. “Far be it from me to keep a lady from her mission, Ms. Harrison. But, you’re going to paint with those?”
“What’s wrong with my paintbrushes?” Tandie asked, glancing down at her hands. She took her time picking them out at the hardware store.
“Not a thing if you’re doing a paint-by-number job, that is.” A grin was creeping across his face. “Those are touch-up paint brushes. As in, you paint little tiny sections with them. Not the best thing for covering 200-square-feet of siding.” Tandie frowned and glanced at her brushes. They were super small compared to the ones he had laid out on the ground. They glanced back at each other. He burst out laughing, and so did Tandie.
“Well why didn’t you say something before now?”
“Sorry, Ms. Harrison,” he said and tried to straighten out his face.
“And please, lay off all the Ms. Harrisons. I mean, that sounds so grandmotherly,” Tandie said. He gave her a tight smile and then turned his head toward his toolbox.
“All right, Tandie it is. At least let me help you with those.” He grabbed the buckets much to Tandie’s relief and set them down on the porch. “Painting can be trickier than it looks. The house has to be sanded first.”
Tandie was determined to not let him see her squirm in her moment of renovation stupidity. Translation, she was completely dependent on this contractor. Plus, there was something about this guy that made her feel like it was all right to be somewhat needy. “I appreciate your offer, but I suspect painting doesn’t come anywhere close to writer’s block.”
He set down two more of the heavy buckets after moving them out of the sun, wiped his face with the back of his hand, and glanced at Tandie with his intense chameleon-eyed gaze. Yeah sure, it was no secret that she had strange two-toned eyes, but Eric's did amazing things. The pupils changed colors depending on the way and type of light that hit them.
“Somehow, I believe you can handle some pretty fierce writing issues.” His voice came out low and raspy and the tee shirt he wore stuck to his abs, all six glorious packs of them. Perfect wasn't a word that came anywhere close to describing Eric Fontalvo.
“Thank you for that vote of confidence, Mr. Contractor.”
"Ooh, I get it. You can use old-fashioned greetings on me, but not the other way around," he said with a smile spreading across his heart-shaped mouth.
Tandie shrugged. "It doesn't count for work titles, only when you use someone's last name."
Eric smirked and made a small laugh. "How convenient." He bent down, picked up his tool belt, and then stood up, leaving a small amount of space between their faces. He was ruggedly handsome in a subtle way minus the cockiness that made Saul Chelby so popular with females. But even with Saul's confidence and rich boy looks, this guy held his ground with ease.
"What's so convenient?" Tandie asked.
"That I'm stuck with an assistant who makes words and rules up for a living." Moving around Tandie, he said, "I'm heading inside to take a look at those pipes. I’m sorry that you got all dressed up in those shorts for no reason." He strolled toward the house, leaving Tandie outside.
"Okay. Maybe I gave you too much praise, a little too early," she whispered to herself and headed toward the house.
Author Bio :
KaSonndra Leigh was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. She now lives in the City of Alchemy and Medicine, North Carolina. She likes to write about people doing fantastical things in magical worlds. Her two sons have made her promise to write a boy book next.
She holds the MFA in creative writing, and loves to play CLUE, Monopoly (the Indiana Jones version), and Pandora's Box (good writer's block therapy). She lives in an L-shaped house with a garden dedicated to her grandmother. It has a secret library complete with fairies, Venetian plastered walls, and a desk made out of clear blue glass.