The Dead Tree
by Lori L. Clark
Title: The Dead Tree
Author: Lori L. Clark
Genre: New Adult Romantic Mystery/Family Saga
Expected Release: June 10, 2014
A young woman seeks to uncover the truth behind the legend surrounding the dead tree on the property she's inherited so she can clear her Great Aunt's name.
When twenty-three-year old Ariel Fountain inherits her reclusive Great Aunt Blythe's estate in nowhere, Missouri, she leaves California -- and her lying, cheating ex-boyfriend -- to start over.
A giant dead oak tree stands in the front yard of the inherited property, and Ariel wants it removed, but handsome landscaper, Grady Tucker, is reluctant to cut it down, saying it would be bad luck.
Decades ago, a young man hung himself from the tree, and though his death was deemed a suicide, many believed otherwise. After the apparent suicide, it was discovered that the man had been dating three women at the same time -- one of whom was Ariel's Great Aunt.
After the hanging, the other two women disappeared, never to be seen, or heard from again. Legend has it they are supposedly buried beneath the dead tree, and Blythe Fountain was said to have murdered all three of them.
The engine of the Bobcat sputtered a few times before dying. Grady swore and climbed down from the machine. I watched him out of the corner of my eyes as he sauntered up the hill. His feet stopped right under my nose. "I have to run back to town and get some gas."
I raised my head and stared at his gorgeous pale blue eyes. He surprised me by holding my gaze.
"Um, I think there's some in the garage. I'll check, if you'd like," I offered. He was still watching me intently. I blinked and looked away. I reached behind me to push myself off the ground and immediately felt a searing pain in my left palm. I jerked my hand back and felt something warm trickle down my wrist. I'd just managed to impale my hand on the garden shears I'd laid in the grass behind me. "Damn."
Grady knelt beside me, gently taking my hand in his. He inspected the wound, while I was too afraid to see how bad it was. Judging from the way it felt, it wasn't good. "You're gonna need stitches," he said.
My eyes went round. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, Ariel, I'm sure." He quickly removed his t-shirt and wrapped it around my bleeding hand. I grimaced when I caught sight of the amount of blood trailing down my arm. "Hold it above your heart and apply pressure with your other hand."
The edges of my vision went dark, and I thought I was going to pass out. Not from the loss of blood, I was squeamish when it came to the sight of blood. I whimpered and wobbled on my feet. "Oh, shit."
Grady wrapped his arm around my waist and half carried me to his pickup. He opened the passenger door and helped me inside. "You okay?"
I shook my head no but said, "Yes."
He laughed. "Hang in there."
As it turns out, I had a pretty nasty gash. Fourteen stitches and some kick ass pain meds later, we were on our way back home. "Thank you," I whispered.
"Let this be a lesson," he said.
I peered sideways at him. "A lesson? For what?"
"I told you, you jinxed yourself when you said you weren't accident-prone, and look what happened."
I rolled my eyes. "Pfft. As if."
He chuckled. "One of these days, you'll trust my superstitious nature."
I lowered my eyes and nodded. "We'll see."
When we returned from town, Grady shut the truck off and jumped out. He hurried around to open my door and help. The warmth of his hand radiated through my tank top when he pressed it against my lower back and guided me toward the front door. "Let's get you inside. I think it's safe to say you can have the rest of the day off, Princess."
The pain meds must have made me loopy, because I would never have said what I said next, had I been in my right frame of mind. "If I'm a princess, then you must be my knight in shining armor."
"Something like that," he said softly.
Lori L. Clark was born in Iowa, where she spent the first forty-six years of her life. In 2007, she loaded up a moving van and relocated to Missouri, where she currently resides. Lori's only child is a very spoiled Min Pin named Barkley. When not writing, she reads and runs. She completed her first half marathon at the age of fifty.
In 2009, after participating in NANOWRIMO, she began to take seriously the voices in her head. Two New Adult contemporary romance novels, Different Roads, and I Breathe You, were published in 2013, and showed early success. The Heart Knows What the Heart Wants is set to release in March 2014, and has her venturing into the realms of Romantic Suspense.
Lori is a member of Savvy Authors, the St. Louis Writers Guild, and Romance Writers of America.
Personal blog: http://www.lorilclark.com
Book review blog: http://www.shereadsnewadult.com
Amazon author's page: http://www.amazon.com/Lori-L.-Clark/e/B0085953FA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1