Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Check it out! MARY ROSE by @Geoffrey_Girard #Excerpt #GhostStory #Suspense @AdaptiveBooks

ADAPTIVE BOOKS has a new gothic horror novel available this fall.  Mary Rose by Geoffrey Girard is a contemporary ghost story complete with an unexplained disappearance, a haunted island, and a family that’s not what they seem. 

Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened.
After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after the engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.
Mary Rose is author Geoffrey Girard’s chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story originally written by J.M. Barrie. And for years, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt Mary Rose into a film but was never successful. With this novel, Girard taps in the nightmarish fears that inspired both Barrie and Hitchcock, while also bringing the story to the present day with his own unique voice.


“What happened?” he asked quietly, when they were alone again. “Who did you see?”
She turned her back to the store window. “Let’s go,” she said. “I want to go home.”
“Done.” He took her hand. “Sure you’re okay to walk?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. I—”
“Shhhh. No apologies. You’re fine. Everything’s fine.”
“She’s always been here,” she said.
Simon stopped, glared down at her. “What?”
Mary Rose shook her head. “I shouldn’t . . .”
“Mary Rose?”
She leaned, crumpled against him. “I don’t want to be afraid anymore.”
“Of what?” Simon hugged her close, putting on his best face.
“What’s there to be afraid of here?”
She gave no answer.

Simon couldn’t breathe.
Every time he tried, the attempt was choked off. Blocked. His
throat and lungs burning for air. The pressure in his chest mounting.
The panic.
He’d been dreaming of his father and an empty coffin, and no
matter where he looked—in various dream halls and dream rooms he
didn’t recognize—he still couldn’t find it, the corpse. Him. Then he
found another door at the end of some hallway and knew his father’s
body was behind that door, but first the handle wouldn’t turn, and
then the door had no handle to turn, and when the door opened, his
father was standing at the end of a long hall, but it wasn’t his father at
all; it was a little girl in a blue nightgown, and she had bare feet, and
the nightgown was tattered at the bottom, wet and sullied with sand,
and her face was hidden at first in shadow, like pictures he’d seen,
but closer he saw the stiches between her lips, pulled open enough so
that she could speak, and her dark widening eyes became deep black
sockets filled and squirming with life, and he wanted to wake but
couldn’t, because she wouldn’t let him, not yet, and then he couldn’t
breathe and—
Simon lurched awake, gasped for air. Moaned in relief, and mitigated
panic, in the dark room. He clenched a pillow in his hands,
wondered if he’d somehow been holding it near his own face when
he slept.
“Merz . . .” He gulped her nickname.
Someone was standing in the room.
Two pitch-black forms standing beside each other at the end of
his bed. Silhouetted in the room’s dim light. One shape barely above
the bed, its tiny head tilted in the darkness. The second, an enormous
figure, which took up the entire end of the bed, the contour
of its shoulders and head almost bent beneath the ceiling, looming
over him.
The smaller figure lifted its hands onto the bed.
Simon hurled the pillow, the only weapon at hand, and jumped
from the bed with a long string of angry loud curses.
No one was there.
But a large shadow had moved across his opened doorway.
Simon pounced forward. He knew positively he’d closed his door
hours before and pounded after the fleeing shadow into the hallway.
His heart bursting in his chest, fist drawn to strike whatever he
found, his—
He stopped. The dimly lit hallway was as empty and quiet as his
bedroom. Only his panicked breath seemed to fill the whole house.
He’d expected to see figures rushing down the steps or scurrying into
the next room, but the stairway was empty, the doors to the next
rooms all closed.
Simon couldn’t help but think of the dream he’d been having, the
same endless hallway and doors, and wondered some if he were still
dreaming as he plodded down the hallway, toward Mary Rose’s room.
At the very least, he’d just cursed a blue streak, and no one had
woken up to see what had happened. Seriously? He couldn’t believe it.
Her door was closed. No light or sound from the other side.
Farther down, a greater darkness caught his eye and he recognized
the next room down.
The disturbing “cross room” at the end of the hall. The old playroom.
Its door was open again.
This time, wide open.
So much so that the shadows within were splayed against the opposite
wall in the hallway.
Simon gathered himself, his body trembling, knowing already he
hadn’t really seen anyone but equally knowing that if he had, then
they’d be waiting, waiting for him, within that same doorway.
He marched to the door as before, stepped in, his hand slapping
around for the switch. A waft of fetid ocean water suddenly filled
the room.
Something stood in the room across from him. Crouching in the
dark. The shape vividly crooked and inhuman.
The room’s stench grew more putrid, like spoiled food.
The prayer kneeler again, no. Whatever this was stood behind
the kneeler. It exhaled with the thinnest sound, and a puff of breath
wafted out in a frosty cloud.
“Francine?” he asked, whispering. It was her room now, wasn’t it?
No answer came.
“Answer me!” Simon shouted at the figure, no other words or ideas
coming to mind. The cloud evaporated, though its chill had crossed
the room and blanketed his whole body.
He found the switch and flipped on the light.
The room was empty. The nauseating odor faded.
Directly across the room, Simon’s own reflection came unevenly
off a dozen metallic crosses caught in odd angles like a fun house
room of mirrors. He’d been screaming at himself. The wooden pieces
hung and mixed within the reflective crosses cut his image, the impression,
into many pieces.
He stepped farther into the empty space, Francine Morland’s words
about the room, its door, booming in his harried thoughts. And there
was a new smell in the air. Yet familiar.
Sheets of paper had been draped over Francine Morland’s kneeler.
Painted sheets that lay, in this room particularly, like burial shrouds.
Simon crossed the room and lifted the first.
He could still smell the fresh paint. The painting was the two figures
he recognized from Mary Rose’s childhood art books: the giant
dog man; the faceless little girl. A chill ran up Simon’s back, one so
strong as if the imagined girl herself had touched him with her tiny
fingers. How he’d imagined these two at the end of his bed, he had no
idea. He must have been thinking of them all this time.
The second painting was of the girl alone. The head, larger than
his own, taking up the entire paper. A pear-shaped face and dark hair
framing an empty circle where eyes and nose and mouth should be.
Instead, lines of a dozen different colors, various shades of gray and
green and yellow ran vertically, slashed in thick jagged strokes, down
the face and into where the neck should be, each line bleeding off
unevenly at the bottom of the page and running onto the top of the
wooden kneeler.
Simon touched the paper, the paint still tacky beneath his fingers.
He stepped backward clumsily and saw himself in several of
the crosses again, momentarily startled at the puzzled, weak man
looking back.
Simon flipped the lights out again, pulled the door closed, though
the handle turned in his hand easily enough if he wanted to reenter.
He looked down the hall to Mary Rose’s room and stood for a
while, hand on the doorknob, thinking. Simon crept down the silent
hallway once more. He stopped at her door and opened it carefully,
peering through the crack first before entering.
He could see only her blanketed legs. Lifeless. She was asleep, he
decided, and—more important—had been this whole time. Simon
looked up and down the hall again, and then crept fully into her room.
Mary Rose lay in the darkness, her head turned toward him. For a
moment, he saw only an empty space where her face should be. Some
trick of the moonlight spilling through the window. He approached
the bed carefully, so as to not startle her. There’d already been enough
of that for one night.
As he approached, he noticed—for the first time—on the bureau,
a vase of long-dead flowers, wilted over, brittle and browned. Several
purple petals lay curled together beside the vase. He shook his head;
Francine Morland was proving more inattentive to her daughter every
day. How simple to have replaced new flowers for their visit.
“Mary Rose . . . ,” he whispered, sitting gently on the bed beside
She stirred, smiled thinly.
“My beautiful Simon.” She spoke his name without opening her
eyes, then turned herself to be closer to him.
Simon continued his crawl into the bed, pulling her closely against
him. She lay a hand upon his bare chest, and he grasped it, trying not
to flinch at the unexpected texture of the touch. He looked down at
their entwined fingers in the night’s darkness.
Hers were darker still.
Stained with fresh paint.