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Late Edition (The Godmothers Series: #3) :
Teresa "Toots" Loudenberry has a knack for finding adventure, even when she's not looking for it. But ever since Sophie convinced her friends to start holding regular seances, life in Los Angeles is getting a little too dramatic even for Toots's tastes. When Ida receives a message from the beyond suggesting that her late husband was murdered, a spooked Toots decides it's time the Godmothers left LA for her hometown of Charleston...
Meanwhile, Mavis has been acting suspiciously, mailing packages in bulk and refusing to divulge what she's up to. She should know by now that Ida, Toots, and Sophie will never let secrets rest or ignore a friend in need. And when the Godmothers discover that whoever killed Ida's husband has plans for Ida too, they'll do what they do best--rally together, concoct a daring plan, and show the world there is no match for these four formidable friends...
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August 29, 2011
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Excerpt from Late Edition (The Godmothers Series: #3) by Fern Michaels
At dusk they gathered to speak to the dead. With Sophie acting as their spiritual guide, the official leader of their weekly seances, the four women--Teresa Amelia "Toots" Loudenberry, Ida McGullicutty, Mavis Hanover, and Sophia "Sophie" Manchester, lifelong friends of more than fifty years--took their seats around the old wooden dining table left behind by the former pop star who'd lived in the beach house before Toots purchased it almost a year earlier.
Sophie had read somewhere that once wood was charged with an unnatural entity, it acted as a conductor. When Toots remodeled the house, they'd kept the table for the sole purpose of conducting seances. Using a purple silk sheet for a tablecloth and a drinking glass as their tool for communication should a spirit decide to join them, Sophie did what she always did before they began. She said her prayer.
"Oh, great one, bless this dump and those who inhabit it, living or dead."
Toots kicked her on the shin beneath the table. Sophie cast a wicked eye at her best friend, as if to say, "I'll kick your rear end later."
Sophie took her bottle of holy water and spritzed it around the table. She flicked a few extra droplets in Toots's face just to tick her off.
She sat back down in her chair, tucking the small bottle of holy water inside her pocket. "We are here to communicate with the other side. We are friendly. We mean no harm." Sophie said this at the beginning of every seance she conducted. Who knew what kind of evil lurked in other dimensions
"Let's place our fingertips on the glass. Very gently," Sophie instructed.
When the tips of their fingers were lightly touching the glass, Sophie scanned the others. All three had their eyes closed. Good. They were learning. She closed her own.
"If there is anyone who wishes to make contact, we are willing to allow you into our . . . realm," she said in place of the word home. She really wanted to say home, as it sounded so much more inviting. Couldn't have a spirit believing they weren't welcome. "Come into our home," she added, suddenly changing her mind.
No air circulated in the room, yet the candles she had lit earlier flickered, as though a slight breeze had passed through the room. Sophie opened her eyes, shocked at what she saw.
Hundreds of tiny white lights, orbs they were called, spun around the room so fast, it was hard to follow the movement.
"What the hell?" Toots blurted in total amazement.
"Shh," Sophie cautioned. "I'm not sure what's happening."
Mavis and Ida stared at the bright dots dancing around the room. Moving, it seemed, at the speed of light, the orbs whirled around the room, then shot off to who knew where, only to have another hundred or so take their places. After several minutes of shock at what they were seeing, they heard a soft drone begin to fill the room, low, as if the sound were coming from a distance.
Bees, Sophie thought. It sounds like a swarm of bees. Seconds passed; the noise grew louder. Toots, Ida, and Mavis looked to Sophie for guidance. The noise became louder and more distinct as the small circles of light darted around the dining room.
Voices. It sounded like hundreds of people trying to talk at once. Sophie jerked to attention, trying to identify the interpreter, or whatever it called itself. Her hearing as sharp as a sword, Sophie went from her normal olive-colored skin to white in less than a second.
"Walter!" she whispered, knowing it couldn't be, yet she'd clearly identified his voice as one among many. Maybe she was cracking up, losing touch with reality. Maybe it was time to give up the ghosts, move on to something more ... earthbound.
The others gaped at her. "Sophie," Toots said in a normal tone. "What did you just say?"
"Nothing." Sophie shook her head, hoping to clear what she thought she heard. She scanned the room, still jam- packed with the translucent balls of light, trying to distinguish exactly where this so-called voice was coming from.
"Liar," Toots said in a low tone.
"Shh," she said. Sophie leaned closer to the table, wrenching her neck into a position so precarious that it actually made a popping sound.
"Are you okay?" Toots asked. She moved her chair closer to Sophie's. "Something isn't right. We need to stop this right now."
Hearing the alarm in Toots's voice jolted Sophie back to reality, or as much as one could, given her current circumstances. "I'm fine. Listen." She leveled her gaze at the door leading to the kitchen.
The high-pitched garble in the room thundered in their ears, sounding like thousands of hoofbeats pounding against the earth. Straining to discern a male voice in the earsplitting loudness, Sophie cleared her throat before she spoke. "If you wish to make yourself known, do so or leave this room!"
In the blink of an eye, the room temperature dropped at least twenty degrees. Shivering with fear yet wanting to clarify what she'd thought was a voice from the past, Sophie drew her strength from Toots, who'd placed her hand on top of hers. Sort of like their secret handshake.
The anomalies began to disappear one by one, until there was only a handful of the translucent balls of light hovering several feet off the floor. After several seconds, the voices stopped, and the only sounds in the room were coming from the women themselves, their quickened breaths, in and out.
One by one, the orbs of light began to take on form. Each vaporous cloud became distinguishable by its gender, its clothing, and, lastly, for some of them, a face of sorts.
Before she totally lost her cool, Sophie counted the spirits. Thirteen in all. That had to be a bad omen. Clearing her throat again, Sophie spoke to the ghostly apparitions floating above the table.
"Identify yourselves!" she commanded with more power than she felt. The only female, or what Sophie designated as a female, swirled below the others. The misty image wore a flowered-print housedress with a V neckline. Several tissues leaked from her large bosom. Long wisps of white hair touched the flounce of her outdated dress.
"Oh my God," Toots said. "It's . . . Mrs. Patterson? But...how? She's not..."
Sophie careened around so fast, her neck popped again. She'd be in a body cast if this kept up.
The old woman, void of the dentures she wore in life, smacked her waxen lips together. "Dead?" A cold mist passed through her lips when she spoke. "Then where's Snuffy? Is she dead, too?" The old woman looked at Toots as if she knew the answer to her question.
Scooting their chairs across the hardwood floor, the four gathered closely around one another as quickly as possible.
In a raspy voice, Toots demanded, "Is this for real? If I remember correctly, Snuffy was Mrs. Patterson's cat."
Sophie nodded, asking, "Who the hell is Mrs. Patterson?"
"My neighbor in Charleston, but I'm not sure she's actually dead," Toots whispered.
Ida and Mavis hovered side by side, hands gripping one another. Sophie and Toots examined the hazy, mistlike woman levitating just above the table. She didn't appear to have any legs. The male entities continued to linger a few feet above and behind the single female.
As suddenly as she had appeared, the ghost of Mrs. Patterson disappeared. In her place, one of the male ghosts zoomed over so quickly, Sophie wasn't sure if what she thought she saw was actually happening. At least she wasn't until she saw Ida's features change from astonishment to total and absolute fear. Ida's lips moved, but there was no sound. She shook her head, and her lips kept moving, but she remained completely speechless.
The male spirit bobbed above the table. His features were nebulous, yet his clothes were clearly outlined while still being transparent. Dark slacks and a fitted suit jacket shimmered against the flickering light from the candles.
"It's . . . Thomas!" Ida placed a hand over her heart, as though she were in pain.
Sophie responded succinctly and without fear. She stared at the creepy form of matter that had captured Ida's attention. "Now's your chance to ask him exactly where he bought that tainted meat."
Just as one would expect, Ida took a deep breath and proceeded to slither out of her chair, landing in a dead faint.
The spirit began to twirl, becoming cylindrical in shape, then shot toward the ceiling. A hollow sound, which Sophie could have sworn was laughter, reverberated through the room. The remaining orbs whirled around in every direction, reminding Sophie of shooting stars.
As fast as they had come, the other eleven orbs disappeared.
Sophie removed the bottle of holy water from her pocket. She proceeded to dump its contents in Ida's face. Within a split second, Ida jolted back to reality.
Sputtering, wiping the remains of the holy water off her face with the back of her hand, Ida sat up, leaning against the chair's legs. "I believe Thomas has returned from the grave to haunt me."
Toots spoke, fright making her words shaky. "You may be onto something."
For once, Toots, Mavis, and even Sophie nodded in agreement.