Excerpt: Dance of Flames

Book 3.5: An Allegra Fairweather Paranormal Mystery

Excerpt: Dance of Flames

Bloodcurdling screams are a pain in the ass. We’d endured them every night since arriving in the villa and it was getting old. A family vacation in Spain is not supposed to include sleepless nights. Well, not unless you’re at a tavern drinking sangria and dancing flamenco. Things had got so bad Mom was threatening to replace the maid with someone who didn’t suffer nightmares. Much as I hated to admit it, I was beginning to agree with her. Don’t get me wrong–I liked Consuela, but I was home alone babysitting and I’d just got my niece to sleep.

Abandoning the terrace along with my piña colada and the amazing view of the Mediterranean, I hurried to Consuela’s room. Her door was locked. I knocked and called, “Consuela, wake up.” Another scream shredded my eardrums. I considered kicking the door in and clapping my hand over her mouth, but Mom would kill me if she had to pay damages for a broken door. Not the money, you understand, the embarrassment. I headed outside hoping Consuela’s window was open.

Yep, just a crack, but enough for me to push it wider. Groans drifted from the darkness within. Another scream was only a breath away. Folding my six-foot-and-one-half-inch frame, I slid over the sill and into her room. Night turned everything to shades of gray. I could just make out a sitting area and TV near the window. Moving toward the sound of her moans, I banged into a low table, knocking a lamp off balance. I caught it before it crashed to the floor. Flicking the switch, I filled the room with ghost-pale light.

Consuela’s sheets were tangled around her. Hair clung to her scalp, dark rivers amongst islands of sweat. She arched her back and opened her mouth. I rushed forward to cover her mouth. Her scream crashed against my hand and retreated into her throat. When she coughed, I removed my hand. She blinked, shielding dark-circled eyes from the light. Her olive skin was unnaturally pale. She whimpered in Spanish, but I didn’t understand a word.

“You’re okay,” I said. “It was just a dream. You’re here in the villa. Safe.”

“Potro,” she said, her eyes suddenly wide and staring. A sob broke from her throat. “Potro.”

I crouched beside her, resting my hand on her damp forehead. She sucked in a breath and sat up. One arm was held at her side slightly away from her body. Her face was twisted in pain.

Was that what potro meant? Pain? Or did it mean arm? Or get me to a hospital, now?

“Do you need a doctor?” I asked.

“Sí, doctor,” she said.

“Did someone break in?” I asked, remembering the open window. “Did they hurt you?”

The color drained from her face. Her eyes rolled back in their sockets, and she sucked in air as though she’d just run a marathon.

“Take it easy,” I said, squeezing her good shoulder. “It’s okay.” That was when she fainted.