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Just Released: Southern Souls by Sarah Lauer Nakawatase

by admin

A Note from Sarah:

Last summer, my Mom and I took a day trip to Hampton Plantation to do some research for Southern Souls.  For anyone who has not been to South Carolina in the summer time, the humidity is brutal.  It was ninety-seven degrees in the shade with 100% humidity and we were dying!  We tried to stay under the shade of the massive live oak trees.  We were about to go back to the welcome hut for some cold water when both of us suddenly became cold and covered in goose bumps.  This happened near one tree in particular.  I can only describe the feeling as evil in the air.  This is where I drew the inspiration for the hanging tree in Southern Souls

     Southern Souls is a fictional Romance meant to entertain, but the South has had a painful past.  We should never forget the social injustices that occurred as we look forward to a brighter future.

     Please enjoy this fast paced paranormal romance and be swept away as Cheryl and Derek’s new love grows into a solid relationship.  Happily ever afters are possible- even the second time around!

Cheryl is a newly widowed mother of two who has moved from a busy metropolis to a small southern town for a fresh start.  Their temporary accommodation is a dilapidated mansion in the heart of the Lowcountry.  Formerly a rice plantation, this home is now a den of suspended souls, the darkest of which resides in the attic.

Through her work in a medical office, Cheryl meets Derek, a handsome and hard-bodied local farmer.  As their attraction grows, the paranormal activity in the house unfolds.  She is hearing voices and seeing figures in the shadows, and psychic disturbances continually plague her and her children.  Worst of all, her innocent young son has become fast friends with the damned soul in the attic. 

With the aid of a local psychic and with Derek at her side, Cheryl is determined to eradicate the evil from the property as the spectral grasp on her son tightens. But neither she nor her friends understand the true depth of the malevolence that is slowly poisoning her life, and it will take every last bit of courage she has to defeat the sinister pull of the plantation.  Derek may be her second chance at love – if she can make it out alive.

Reader Alert!  An unsuspecting young widow moves her family to a southern rice plantation with its roots seated in black magic.   A dark soul has lured her young son from her protection.  It is an intense race against time to find him before the plantation claims another victim.


Georgetown, South Carolina, January 2020

Saturday, late evening

     A skeleton key turned over the lock and the door stuck in the frame.  Cheryl had her arms full and leaned on the heavy wooden door.  It came free and the kids ran past into the kitchen.  It had been six months since they had lost their father to an accident on the family ranch in Mexico.  He had been struck by lightning while building a wire fence on a hilltop.  Cheryl had seen it happen.  Her whole world had shattered before her eyes and it had left her with an empty feeling inside. This hollow stole her breath every time she thought of Rigo. 

     “Mom,” said Madison, running up to her with her younger brother Jackson in tow.

     “Yes,” Cheryl answered, laying her bags down on the counter and bending down to meet her gaze.

     “Jackson and I went around the whole downstairs, but the lights won’t come on.  Can you help us?  We’re too scared to go upstairs in the dark.”

     “Are you scared, baby?” she asked Jackson.  He was three now and would be starting preschool this coming week.

     She pulled Jackson up into her arms.  “Follow me, guys.”

     Cheryl entered the living room from the kitchen and felt along the wall for the light switch.   She flipped the switch but nothing happened.  It was an older plantation home, built in the early 1800s.  The real estate agent had described it as updated. Cheryl wasn’t too sure if that was an accurate description, but it was the only rental home available in their price range with a large yard for the kids.  So, she had signed the rental agreement before having seen the property.

     Madison ran over to the lamp on an end table next to a couch draped with a white sheet.  “Look, Mom.  Can I turn it on?”

     “Please,” said Cheryl, nodding her head in approval.

     Madison turned the knob, and pale light fell across the living room.  The power was intact, but the light bulbs probably needed to be changed throughout the house.  Dust caked the sheets covering most of the furniture and cobwebs hung from the corners of the rooms.  Even the spiders had moved out long ago, their webs weighed down with years of dust.

     “I’m scared,” said Jackson, burying his face into her neck and squeezing her tightly.

     “You don’t have to be afraid, sweetie,” she reassured him.  “This is just a big old house.  No one has lived in it for a long time and it just needs a good cleaning.  After we move all of this dirt out and get your toys set up, I think you’re really going to like it here.”

     She squeezed him back.  “Tonight though, we can all sleep together in my room.  It’s too late to start cleaning.”

     Darkness had fallen before they had pulled up to the house that evening, but the days would soon be getting longer.  It was January.  The holidays had passed and Cheryl was glad they were over.  The kids had had a wonderful Christmas with cookies, parties, and family, but the hollow feeling in her stomach had been ever present.  It was a black hole that nothing could satiate, hidden by her smile.

     “Let’s all go out to the car together and get our overnight bags from the front seat.  They have everything we need for tonight,” said Cheryl.

     “Okay, Mom,” said Madison.  She was mommy’s little helper.  She would be starting kindergarten this week.

     They made their way back into the kitchen through the swinging door that connected the two rooms.  It hung on double hinges that groaned in need of some WD-40.

     “It’s too dark out there,” said Jackson, peering out of the window above the kitchen sink as Cheryl carried him to the back door.  The window was black and all that could be seen was the reflection from inside the kitchen.   

     “Don’t worry,” said Cheryl. “We’ll get a better look at the yard tomorrow morning.  “The real estate agent said that there are acres upon acres where you could play.  She also said that there were huge live oak trees on the property that we could use for swings, and an old garden where we could plant vegetables and flowers if we wanted.”

     “Mommy, I can see the big trees for the swings,” said Madison, as they descended the cracked concrete steps from the kitchen door.  “Look.”

     She pointed beyond the driveway.  A cluster of trees silhouetted by a waxing moon stood sentinel.  Hundreds of years old, these trees had seen everything. 

     Jackson picked his head up from her shoulder and craned his neck to see the trees.  “I see them too,” he said.

     “Can we go over there, Mom?” asked Maddie.

     “No, not tonight.  It’s too dark.”  Cheryl leaned into the van and grabbed the overnight bags.  “Madison, can you hold these pillows?” Cheryl asked.

     “Yes, I can,” said Maddie.  She took the pillows under her arm and followed Cheryl back into the house and up the second staircase in the kitchen. 

     Clean sheets on the mattress and pillows arranged, they all piled into the master bed.  Jackson and Madison snuggled into her arms on either side.  In Mom’s protective embrace their worlds were right.  Cheryl could feel their love and felt love for them, but this was all she could feel.  The numbness that comes with losing your one true love so quickly is all consuming.  The only remedy she had found was time with her children.  It wasn’t taking care of the children on her own that she feared.  It was the time that they spent apart.  Time alone allowed the blackness to creep out of her stomach and into her mind.  She could not let the sadness into her mind.  She had a job to do.  She had children to raise.

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