USA Today Bestselling Author
Gabby Mulder was loving her winter in Aspen, Colorado, until a dangerous event with a ghost nearly killed her. Not that she was a believer but, given the circumstances, she had to be open to such a possibility. When one of her roommates is brutally murdered in their shared apartment, rumors circulate of a serial killer returning, which just adds to Gabby’s pain. Confused and grieving, Gabby is forced to move to a new residence, while the police investigate the death, the crime scene at the apartment, and her.
Detective Damon Fletcher considered Gabby a flighty troublemaker after an incident at the bookstore where she worked and then later on the slopes. But when one of her roommates is murdered, his interest in her grows to a whole new level.
When another of Gabby’s roommates is killed, Gabby is caught in the middle, as suspicious gazes turn her way. What had she gotten mixed up in? Even worse how are these deaths connected to several cold cases? The danger escalates as events, ghostly and otherwise, strike closer to both Gabby and all those who she holds dear.
When Gabby Mulder and her best friend Wendy decided to spend the winter in Aspen she never expected to feel so at home there. She has a job she loves at a bookstore in spite of the prickly owner and on her days off she loves snowboarding with her roommates. Aspen is extremely expensive and along with Wendy they share an apartment with three other girls.
As this book opens Gabby has a very scary experience on the slopes, almost going over a precipice. Observers say it looked like she just went crazy with speed and lost control, but it’s what she thinks she heard and felt that is truly puzzling to her. She’s sure she was pushed, but there was no one around.
Detective Damon Fletcher was working with the ski patrol when Gabby had the accident. He’s not convinced of her story but the ER doctor has him thinking about ghosts and the reputation of the mountain.
Damon also comes by to check on her and speak with her friend Wendy. It’s then he learns of a book about the darker side of Aspen that Gabby purchased from the other bookstore in town.
Wendy starts discussing the fact spring was coming to Aspen and they said just one winter but they leave it at that to go to bed. Only to be awakened by strange and downright scary noises coming from the living room. Terrified Gabby calls the number the detective gave her.
This is a favorite scene.
“I just feel like we could do so much more with our lives if we weren’t here.”
“I know, and that’s why we said one winter. Remember?”
“I remember,” she said. “It’s almost April. Remember that?”
Gabby frowned. “Meaning?”
“Meaning, when is winter over here? It’s not like we set any guidelines for that.” “I know,” Gabby whispered. “Let’s not talk about it tonight though, okay?”
“Okay,” she said, “but it’s not something we can keep pushing off.”
“Maybe we can, though.”
“And maybe we can’t.”
With that in mind, the two friends split to their separate bedrooms. As she curled up in bed, Gabby realized that Wendy was right, of course. They had made the decision to come for a winter but had never discussed at what point winter was to be considered over. She hated to think that her best friend would move away because this wasn’t where Wendy wanted to be. But, at the same time, it was exactly where Gabby wanted to be, so she had some decisions to make herself. One of the realities of living here was that it was very expensive, particularly when they had low-end paying jobs.
She groaned on that note, determined to get through the night with some rest and to wake up nice and happy again tomorrow. Soon she drifted off to sleep. The next thing she knew, she heard all kinds of odd sounds in the apartment. She sat up in bed, wondering if one of the windows had been left open. She walked over and opened her door just a hair, only to hear an odd wail coming from the living room. Wendy’s door beside Gabby’s door opened up, and the two of them stared at each other, terrified.
“What the hell is that?” Gabby whispered.
Wendy immediately shook her head. “I have no idea,” she said, “but I don’t like the sound of it.”
Both of them were too terrified to go into the living room.
“You should call somebody,” Wendy said.
Gabby grabbed her phone and called the police. And, for whatever reason, her fingers ended up connecting her to the same detective. When his sleep-clogged voice answered, she said, “I don’t know if you can hear this going on in the background,” she said, “but that’s happening in my living room.” He came awake almost instantly.
“What the hell is that?”
“I don’t know,” she wailed, as softly as she could. “I don’t know. It’s coming from the living room.”
“Stay in your room,” he said, “and lock your door, if you can. I’m on my way.”
As she turned, Wendy was here in the room with her, shutting the door quietly, and the two of them sat and waited on the floor, their backs against the door. Then, all of a sudden, the noises stopped.
They looked at each other, and Gabby jumped up. “I don’t know, but maybe it’s safe to look now.”
“Hell no, it’s not safe,” Wendy said, in an adamant voice, rising to her feet. “We’ll wait for the detective to come through.”
“But what if he doesn’t come?” Gabby said.
“I’m not going anywhere until the detective gets here! Did he say he was coming?”
“Yes. He said he’s on his way,” she replied. She turned to the door, put her ear against it, and looked at her friend. “It’s quiet out there.”
“I know,” Wendy said, “and somehow, somehow that seems even worse.”
Gabby hated to agree with her, but, when she opened the door a bit, she heard just this weird deathly silence. She immediately slammed the door shut again, then turned to look at her friend.
When a loud bang came from the living room, the two women jumped together, arms around each other, as they clung tightly. Then they heard footsteps coming toward the bedroom door.
“Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” Wendy whispered, and they backed up toward the window, where they could look out of their third-floor apartment. “We’re never getting a third-floor apartment again,” Wendy whispered. “If we were on the first floor, we could be out and gone by now.”
The two women trembled as the footsteps stopped just outside the bedroom door. Gabby’s phone rang. With their arms clenched around each other, Gabby was too scared to even look at her cell. “Shit, shit, shit, shit,” she said, quickly trying to turn off the noise. If the intruder didn’t know someone was here, he did now. But her cell rang on, and, as her fingers fumbled, she answered it.
“It’s me. I’m outside your building now.”
“Oh, my God,” she said. “Come in. Come in. Come in. He’s right at our bedroom door.”
“I’m here,” he said. “Just stay on the phone with me. I’m on my way in. Did you see him?”
“I can’t see anything,” she said. “Whoever it was stopped just outside my bedroom door. Some horrible noises were out there.”
“Okay. I’m at the front door. I’m putting the phone in my pocket, just stay on the line.”
And, with that, the two women grabbed hold and waited. They heard something more in their apartment, but Gabby didn’t know what it was. Then more footsteps. Finally the bedroom door opened, and it was Damon. She looked at him in shock; then she raced toward him. “Oh, my God,” she said. “What happened?” And then, as he reached out to her, she didn’t give a damn. She threw herself into his arms, and he wrapped them around her.
Damon said, “I’m here. Easy now. Take it easy.”
Now Wendy clutched him, right beside Gabby. With his arms around both women, they burrowed close, looking for that reassurance that whatever hell had gone on was okay now. Finally they calmed down enough to look up at him, questions written all over their expressions.
“Give me a moment. Just step back in your room and stay here.”
“No problem,” Gabby said. The women both stepped back, but, with the door open, they could watch as he headed back out to the living room. Then she heard him on the phone but couldn’t understand what he said. Gabby looked at Wendy, the two of them standing there, close to each other.
When he finally came back, his face was grim.
“What did you find?” Gabby asked.
“I think it’s one of your roommates,” he said hesitantly.
Dale Mayer. Ice Maiden (Kindle Locations 579-629). Valley Publishing.
Damon breaks the horrific news of finding possibly one of their roommates and says he needs a description of all of them. When Damon’s partner arrives he delivers the news that the MO of this crime is like a serial killer from the past, a killer that is dead.
Now the girls can’t leave town but neither can they stay in their apartment. While Wendy does have a place to go, Gabby doesn’t. Damon steps up and offers her the use of a small furnished apartment over the garage of the place he just inherited.
Things start getting a bit weirder as Gabby has a revelation thinking she’s arguing with herself. In fact she’s arguing with the ‘ghost’. It’s Damon who suggests she see someone, a specialist of sorts. Dr. Mica is speaking with Gabby about the events of the previous days when she says the entity is there. Both Dr. Mica and Damon can feel the cold, but Gabby can’t shake the cold off.
Things start getting even stranger as more bodies start turning up. There has to be a connection to Gabby somewhere.
Stefan gets involved at Dr. Mica’s request and things start getting more intense as he discovers it’s some sort of a possession.
Full of suspense and plenty of surprises and that simmer to sizzle romance I love.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.