Hi friends! On the first Wednesday of every month, I share an excerpt of what I’m working on and invite you to do the same. It’s okay if it’s rough! Mine will always be!

It’s great to leave encouraging comments, but don’t critique anyone’s work, unless they specifically request it. This is sharing time, not uninvited beta reader time. (It is never uninvited beta reader time.)

I am working on the first draft of Wicked Garden, a romance novella about a haunting set in Savannah, Georgia. I’m hoping to have the draft complete by Monday! This is near the beginning of the story.

Ted had objected to Nicole putting luggage on a bed because he thought it was too dirty from being dragged around. That had been just another of his criticisms of her on that terrible trip they had taken together. Nicole heaved the suitcase onto the pristine white comforter. She couldn’t help but smile.

Maybe it wouldn’t take her too long to get over him, after all. As she put her clothes away in the drawers, she started to hum.

She had always loved to sing. Not that she did anything with music now. The world needed more paralegals than pop stars. But there was nobody in the house but her, and she took advantage by belting out an old song.

Oh where is Pretty Polly, oh yonder she stands

Oh where is Pretty Polly, oh yonder she stands

With rings on her fingers and lily-white hands

As she sang, she put her bras and underwear in the top drawer, including the frilly, skimpy pairs that had languished unworn lately. It was a creepy song, really, with the fiancé telling Polly he had dug her grave. She should think of a more cheerful one, but she had to finish this one first.

He threw the dirt over her, and turned away to go

Threw the dirt over her, and turned away to go

Down to the river–

Nicole stopped.

What was this song? She had never heard it before in her life.

Impossible. She knew all the words, so she must have learned it somewhere. Maybe at summer camp, or in music class.

No. They didn’t teach children songs about men murdering their fiancées. Her heart sped up, pounding against her ribs. She took in a ragged breath. What in the world—

She should leave. Just for a little bit. Take a walk around the block. But she had just gotten here.

Of course, she had learned the song somewhere. She might have heard it at a bar on open mic night, back in the days when she thought her talent and passion might be worth something. Somehow, the lyrics had stuck in her head. Why not? They were pretty hard to forget.

Her mouth was dry. She was exhausted, and thirsty. Driving from Chicago to the coast of Georgia would make anyone tired. Sure, she had split the journey into two days, staying overnight at a motel in Knoxville, but the people in the next room had been enjoying what sounded like a truly spectacular night. Nicole hadn’t gotten much sleep.

She trudged down the stairs again to get a drink of water. A strange sensation irritated her, as though she were being filmed by a hidden camera.

When she got to the bottom of the stairs, an odor hit her nostrils. Foul. The smell of a dead, rotting animal.

How had she not noticed this before?

The smell was stronger in the kitchen, although the counters and floors gleamed, clean and bare. Nicole grabbed the handle of one of the bottom cabinets, bracing for the sign of something disgusting. A dead mouse, teeming with maggots. Or a dead squirrel or raccoon.

She yanked open the cabinet door and squatted down to look. Pots and pans, nothing else. The other cabinets contained nothing out of the ordinary, either.

In the dining room, she gagged and held her nose.

The stench emanated from the flowers she had brought in from the garden.

How? Camellias smelled good, didn’t they? No one would grow them if they smelled like a putrified corpse.

Transfixed, she stared at the blooms.

They made me sing that song.

No, that’s not possible. But she needed to get rid of them.

Tossing them out the back door would just make the garden stink—or maybe it did already, and she just hadn’t noticed. She did not want to go there. Just the thought of opening the back door made her feel shaky. She couldn’t even look in its direction.

~ ~ ~

By the way, that creepy song is real. It belongs to that popular sub genre of folk songs known as “Killed My Girlfriend LOL.” It’s so old that it’s public domain, and there are a lot of different versions of it floating around. Here’s a recording of it, in case you’re interested!

What have you been working on? Please share in the comments, if you like. Happy writing!