Welcome to my little corner of the vast web and this week’s book tour. Thank you for stopping by and checking out the reviews and giveaways. Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter and good luck in the contest. Take a moment to read a bit about the book as well. Who knows, it might turn out to be your next favorite book.
He stalks you when you’re sleeping. He kills when you’re awake…
She couldn’t have been much more than five or six when it happened. It wasn’t on Christmas Eve when most people usually saw him. It was in the middle of December when she had heard the rustling from downstairs and hurried down. She had spotted Santa in her living room, sitting in her dad’s recliner. As he saw her, he tapped his lap and signaled for her to come and sit on it and so she had. He had laughed his deep laugh while asking her what she wanted for Christmas and Jackie had told him, whispering how she wished for a new bike, a Barbie doll with purple nails and…oh, yes…for her parents to no longer be divorced. Santa had laughed, holding his stomach, then told her he couldn’t give her all of that, but he could give her something else.
“What?” she had asked, looking up into his red glowing eyes that looked like two beautiful Christmas globes.
Santa had turned his lips upward in a grin when suddenly the light was turned on in the living room and her mom had spoken with a sleepy voice.
“What’s going on down here?”
Jackie looked up at her, then said: “It’s Santa, Mommy. He wants to know what I want for Christmas.” “What are you talking about, Jackie? It’s not even Christmas yet.” Jackie had then turned her head back to look at Santa, but he was gone and she was sitting in the recliner all alone.
“Get back to bed,” her mother had said angrily. “I don’t like you running around at nighttime.” “But…?”
“Go to bed.”
Tobin woke up just as the clock stroke midnight. Eyes wide open, he stared at the ceiling. Had he heard something? Was it a sound coming from the living room? Was someone down there? Could it be? Santa!
Tobin leaped out of his bed, then stopped for a second and stared at the light coming from the closet. It had always scared him to pass it at night since he often imagined it being a gateway to another universe filled with monsters and that the portal might suck him into it like a spaceship into a black hole.
Tobin stared at the light coming from the closet, his breathing getting heavier while imagining the door slamming open, and almost feeling the suction from it.
Then he shook his head and looked away. No, he had more important things to do. If Santa was, in fact, downstairs bringing him Rocky, there was no time to waste.
Tobin opened the door and went into the hallway,bursting with excitement as he heard another noise come from the living room. It sounded like bells. And not just ordinary bells.
Santa. It has got to be Santa!
Tobin imagined Santa eating his cookies and drinking the milk while rubbing his belly and chuckling joyfully. He imagined his red cheeks getting redder from smiling so much and his beard being all white and fluffy as cotton candy.
But when Tobin reached the top of the stairs and looked down, he couldn’t see anything. It was dark, but light emerged from the streetlamps outside and lit up the living room just enough for him to see that there was no Santa, there was no Rocky, and the cookies and milk were still where he had left them. Disappointed, Tobin sulked. He was about to turn around and walk back to his room when he heard another sound. Excited once again, he looked down and saw ashes falling in clusters from inside the chimney.
It is him. It is Santa!
Tobin let out a small shriek and hurried down the stairs, closer to the chimney. A small cloud of ashes fell and filled the air. Tobin had told his mother to get the chimney cleaned for Santa, but she insisted he was used to it, that a little ash stuck inside of it wouldn’t bother him much. As a matter of fact, it helped him slide down easier, she had said. But Tobin knew his mother was just saying that because she didn’t want to spend money on getting the chimney cleaned. Christmas was expensive enough as it was.
Poor Santa. Struggling to get down.
Tobin stood for a little while by the fireplace, watching the ashes fall down, coughing whenever some of it hit his face, worrying that Santa might get stuck or maybe even sick.
Nonsense. Santa does this all the time.
Tobin could hardly keep the excitement inside. He was about to explode while waiting, imagining Santa handing him Rocky and how he was going to play with the dog all night and never go back to bed.
I am gonna kiss him and hug him and play fetch and…and…
Tobin stared at the chimney as the movement inside of it stopped. No more ashes fell, no more sounds came from inside of it.
“Santa?” Tobin said with a small shriek.
He dropped to his knees and peeked inside. It was pitch dark in the chimney. A lump of ashes fell on his face and he spurted and coughed and pulled his head away, then wiped it off. He waited a few seconds more for Santa to come down, but still, nothing happened. Once again, Tobin peeked up into the chimney to see if Santa might be stuck further up. He couldn’t see Santa, but he could see a set of red glowing Christmas globes.
“Santa?” he said again.
There was something about the eyes that made him back away, and that was when a voice from inside the chimney, said: “Hello, Tobin.”
“Santa?” Tobin answered cautiously. “Is…is thth-that you?”
The laughter rumbled inside the chimney. That very distinctive yet familiar laugh that could only come from one particular person.
Tobin’s face lit up. It was him, he was really here inside Tobin’s chimney. But why wasn’t he coming down? Why wasn’t he already in the living room, eating cookies and drinking milk? Was he stuck in the chimney and couldn’t get down? Was he hurt? Had he brought Rocky?
“It is you, Santa.”
Tobin dropped to his knees again, crawled closer this time, and peeked inside again. The red glowing Christmas globes stared back at him. They were sparkling in the darkness. Tobin smiled.
“Did you bring Rocky?”
“I sure did,” Santa said, his voice as deep as thunder.
“Why don’t you come a little closer, so you can see him?”
Tobin did as he was told and stuck most of his head into the chimney.
“A little closer,” Santa said.
Tobin crawled. His fingers were getting black from soot.
“A little more, just a little bit and you’re there.”
“It’s awfully dark in here, Santa,” Tobin complained.
It made Santa laugh his hearty, deep, merry laughter. It seemed to make the entire chimney shake.
Tobin smiled and crept closer still, soot on his face and arms and on his new pajamas that his mother was so fond of. It didn’t matter, he thought to himself since soon he would have his puppy; soon, Rocky would be with him, and the pajamas could be washed and so could he.
“Reach out your hands, Tobin,” Santa said and Tobin did as he was told, thinking only of Rocky and all the hours they were going to play together. “Both of them.”
Tobin stretched his arms up and felt Santa’s hands grab him, his long thin fingernails piercing into his skin. Tobin didn’t even manage to scream. He was pulled up into the horrifying darkness and never saw daylight again.
And worst of all, he never got to play with Rocky.
and an Amazon ALL-star Author of more than 40 novels. She writes
Mystery, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural thrillers, and Fantasy. She lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters.
When she is not writing or reading, you will find her surfing and
watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic
Ocean. Willow’s books are fast-paced, nail-biting pageturners.
Several of her books have reached the Kindle top 20 of ALL books in the US,
UK, and Canada.
She has sold more than two million books.
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!