Welcome to Keta's Keep! Today, I want to share with you my most recent release. A Western Ghost story!
Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series
Western Romance/Ghost story
Six months ago, Anya Fleming's ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father's suicide, the boy hasn't spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there's only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.
But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman.
As if Anya didn't have enough to deal with after her husband's death and son's illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn't done making her life miserable.
"I have lived in the redness of the stones that mark a path
through my blood. I am a descendant of a forgotten race,
but I carry in my hands the remnants of their fire"
West of Butte, Montana
The ghost came again last night.
What little sleep found Anya left her drained and anxious. She dragged herself from bed, dressed in a dark blue, calico blouse, long brown skirt, and left the cabin to gather fresh eggs for breakfast. They sizzled in the skillet now, reminding her of the hissing sound the evil spirit often emitted. The haunt mimicked other noises too. It rapped its knuckles against the timbered walls of the cabin outside, howled louder than a cyclonic wind, screamed like a banshee and gnashed and growled like a weasel caught in a trap.
She closed her eyes. And other despicable things I can’t bear to think of much less talk about.
Willie-boy shuffled into the kitchen looking drawn and pale but seemed intent on performing his morning ritual of calling Cobb, their ranch hand, in for breakfast. Even Soot, her son's faithful hound, lacked his usual vigor. His ears lay flat against his head and his long, black tail hung limp between his hind legs.
Anya called out to Willie-boy. "Whoa, there, son. Where's my morning kiss?"
Willie-boy pivoted and looked up at her, his adorable, ten-year-old face flushed, his dusky-grey eyes dull. He walked toward her, a half-smile lifting the corner of his lips.
Leaning down, she placed her palm against his forehead. Did he have a fever, was her imagination working overtime or had she truly cracked? "Are you feeling poorly?"
He shook his ebony head of hair.
That's all he ever did these days, nod or shake his head. He hadn't spoken a word since his father died six months ago. Not one. Most days she wondered if he'd ever speak again.
One day, she saw him doodling at the table. When she looked over his shoulder he had drawn the image of a ghost. The specter's face was leathery, marked by deep crevices and jagged lines, yet had gray hair and pale blue eyes. Underneath the amateur drawing, he had written 'Papa'. At the time, her heart sank. Had he actually seen the spirit? Tarot readers, gypsies and mediums said children and animals can see ghosts because they've never been told not to.
She knew for certain then he had also heard the ghost. Course, one would have to be deaf not to. Willie-boy wasn't deaf; he was—the bitter word almost choked her—mute. And, after looking at the name under the picture, she wondered if her son thought Lewis had risen from the grave in the family plot to haunt them. She did too, although they'd never spoken of it.
"All right, then," she said cupping his cheek, "run along and tell Cobb his coffee is getting cold."
She thought about Cobb, her faithful friend who always seemed to be there in all her ups and downs in life. She pictured his long limbs, and slim, but well-muscled body, a body honed to perfection from years of hard work working a ranch. A handsome man with wheat-colored hair and hazel eyes, any sane woman would be attracted to him, yet she never thought of him as anything other than a friend, perhaps a brother.
When Willie-boy slammed the door on his way out, she jumped, and then cursed her late husband. "Isn't it enough you tormented me in life, Lewis? Be gone from here now and leave us in peace."
Lewis had always been a mean-spirited man, especially during the drinking binges, but in the months before his death, he'd gone off the deep end. His binges turned into nightly affairs and paranoia dogged his heels. He would sit at the kitchen table, fingers quaking around the jug, ranting at some unknown entity. The unearthly look in her husband's eyes as he searched every dark corner in the room unnerved her.
Anya treaded softly around him, afraid to ask questions much less suggest he put the jug down. She had seen his wrath, suffered his verbal abuse on many occasions and had no desire to provoke him. He had never raised a hand to her, but in this new, highly inebriated state, the man seemed capable of anything… even murder.
Damn her father for insisting she marry a man ten years her senior 'He will be a good provider, gal. He has promised to buy a small ranch with fifty head of cattle and a handful of well-bred horses.'
'I don’t give a whit if he buys a fancy hacienda and a thousand head of cattle', she had countered. 'I do not like the man much less hold a smidgen of love for Lewis Fleming.'
With tear-filled eyes, her mother had stepped forward. 'Anya, our good name will be tarnished forever if you do not marry and marry soon, before the babe….'
'I will go to Aunt Flora in Wyoming. No one has to know.'
Her mother had gasped. "And never come home again? Oh, I cannot bear the thought."
Her father had banged his fist on the table. 'You will not name the father and Lewis has agreed to take a wife. The good man has asked for your hand. I have accepted.'
Back rigid, she had met her father's angry eyes but remained silent.
'Listen carefully, gal. There will be no more talk of Aunt Flora or running away from this shameful mess you've gotten yourself into. I will not allow your good Irish name to fall from everyone's lips with a sneer.'
Head up, her chin came out. 'I do not love Lewis and never will!'
Hands out at her sides, a pleading look crossed her mother's eyes. "Maybe in time you will come to love him, daughter.'
Anya felt the depth of her despair in every bone of her body. She knew she could never love Lewis, not when her heart belonged to another, had always belonged to another. Trapped, she had no choice but to acquiesce to her parents' demands, and she had no one to blame but herself.
A familiar, frantic voice broke into the musings of the past. "Anya, come quick! Anya!"
Cobb's voice. Now what could possibly have happened? Standing at bedlam's door, a breath away from madness, she wondered how much more she could take—Lewis' death, her son's sudden refusal to speak and an infernal ghost bent on terrorizing them.
Anya moved the skillet away from the heat, turned on her heels and rushed out the kitchen door. Terror struck her heart when she took in the scene—Cobb rushing forward with Willie-boy in his arms. Her son's face looked whiter than the clouds overhead and his arms hung limp at his sides. With a hand over her mouth, she sprinted toward them. "What happened? Is he hurt, bleeding? What's going on?"
"Not bleeding and I can't see any injuries. I found him in the barn unconscious. He was under the rafters, Anya, where—"
"Dear God, under the rafters?"
"Lying on the ground, eyes rolled back in his head."
Anya turned in a flash. "Bring him into my bedchamber, and hurry, please." Briefly, she thanked God for Cobb, a childhood friend who had remained steadfastly loyal to her. During the nine years they had lived with Lewis' parents, Cobb worked their ranch. When Lewis finally purchased this place a year ago—a godforsaken, cursed piece of land—Cobb came with them.
Anya settled onto the bed next to Willie-boy. With a sick feeling in her stomach, she reached down and touched his forehead. His raging fever confirmed her imagination had not been working overtime earlier. Shallow and slow breaths rose from his chest, and not a muscle moved in his small body.
Leaning into his ear, she whispered. "Don't leave me, Willie-boy, please hang on. Do you hear me? You must fight."
She stumbled to her feet while trying to dispel the helplessness consuming her. "I'm going for help."
"To Doctor Metz in Butte? That's a good day's ride."
She shook her head. "No, Doctor Metz will be well into his cups by nightfall. The man is a notorious sucker."
Cobb rubbed his chin. "He does like to pull a cork. Where then?"
"Is Sutter still camped along the Wise River?"
"He's called Yellow Smoke now. He doesn't speak his white name, not after Baker's Massacre."
"Oh, I can't think about that now, his parents killed and just about everyone he knew." She rubbed her forehead as if a sharp pain had settled in. "I can only think of Willie-boy, and Sutter Sky, or Yellow Smoke if you prefer. He's the best shaman in the territory."
"He won't help white folks, and besides, you know he's soured on you, ever since you done married—"
"No one holds a grudge for ten years."
"He does after you up and married Lewis Fleming."
Her voice took on a pleading tone. "But Willie-boy is only a child. He must help, he will help me."
"Let me go. I've known him since we were children."
"Oh, and I haven't?"
"Yes, but he's not sour on me."
"No, I'm going, and one way or the other, I'll make sure he comes back with me. Will you saddle Cheena while I fetch clean rags and cool water? While I'm gone, swab his forehead, and keep swabbing it. Don't forget to place cool, wet rags under his armpits and change them often."
Cobb rose from the chair he'd been sitting in. "I'll do my best to get the fever down." He paused for a brief moment. "You know, you're going to have to push that mare hard to get there and back before night settles in."
"Cheena's fit as a fiddle and fast too. Now, go, please, we must hurry."
Anya called out to him before he left the room. "Cobb, you won't leave him alone, will you, not for one minute?"
"You know I love Willie-boy. I promise I won't leave his bedside."
"What about… what about the ghost?"
"He hasn't entered the house. Don't see any reason he will tonight. 'Sides if he does, I been aching to kick his butt clear to Pittsburgh."
Anya couldn't squelch the small smile. "You can't kick his butt if you can't see him." She looked down at Willie-boy again and wondered if he had seen the spirit. He'd drawn a picture of a man with hollow eyes and an ancient face. Maybe he thought of his Papa as old. "All right, go now and come back as soon as Cheena's tacked. And don't forget my scabbard and Winchester."
"I don't like this plan." Cobb shook his long, blond hair. "Don't like it all, but I know I'm not gonna win with you. I never do."
As soon as Cobb cleared the bedchamber, Anya went in search of clean rags, and a cool pitcher of water.
When she returned, she deposited the rags and pitcher on the night table, then retraced her steps to close the door. She undressed in a rush, and then donned a pair of snug-fitting buckskin trousers, black knee-high boots, a tan blouse and a long black jacket that hugged her waist and flared over her thighs and hips. The jacket would act as a buffer from the dust rolling over the plains and the cold, night air if for some reason she didn't make it back before dark.
As a final touch, she grabbed the gray Fedora resting on a knob of her bureau mirror and plopped it onto her head. She debated about tucking her long blonde hair underneath the hat but in the end, decided to let it flow loose and wild down her back.
Speaking to the mirror, her dark blue eyes narrowed. "I'll find the place you call home, Sutter Sky, and beg if I have to."
What Reviewers Are Saying…
"Comes a Specter by Keta Diablo will raise the hair on the back of your necks as she mesmerizes you, chapter by chapter, through a story of love, determination, and a ghost that wants them all to die. The history of the Blackfeet tribe is woven into the pattern of this story like a delicate chain, connecting the characters together. Keta has done her research well. The anticipation of what will happen next flows through her chapters like warm honey down a sun warmed rock. You think you know what will happen, but then you realize you never had it quite right." 5 Stars
All the characters were well constructed and smoothly set into the setting of the story. The ranch made me visually create the image in my minds' eye. The setting of the story is very descriptive. The end of the story carries a lot of excitement. But I must say that the excitement is being carried throughout the story, which makes the reader want to know, what will happen next. I found the whole story overwhelming. It is a quick read and I would highly recommend to anyone who loves to read Paranormal Romance." 5 Stars
I can't recall the last time I read such a fascinating ghost story, especially one that is steeped in ancient traditions of Native Americans, particularly the Blackfoot tribe. It's rare I come across a paranormal story that is rich with tradition and that those traditions are called upon to expel the evil wrecking havoc in an otherwise normal world. This story is heavy and rich and enthralling. It begs the question, "What next?" 5 Stars