Nightmare on Jacey Street
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Supernatural Central
Date of Publication: October 2016
Number of pages: 164
Word Count: 55,000
Cover Artist: Tom McCaw
NIGHTMARE ON JACEY STREET, book two in the Helens-of-Troy series, finds matriarch Helena LaRose planning a quiet Thanksgiving dinner with her daughter Helen and granddaughter Ellie. Uninvited guests keep turning up at the door, and when the turkey hits the table, all hell breaks loose
To add to the craziness, body parts are turning up in the neighborhood. Helen gets a new job at the police station with her mother`s ex-lover Chief Roy Cohen and Ellie gets a new job at the Topaz with her frenemy Tara Wildman. Ryan Lachey and Tom Williams uncover secrets from Jacey's Sumner's mysterious past.
Join the Helens and your favorite Trojans as the hellmouth opens once again and the LaRose women are called upon to ward off the latest terror in the sleepy little town of Troy.
NIGHTMARE ON JACEY STREET...because it's never good when the dead are at your door.
NIGHTMARE ON JACEY STREET
Helens-of-Troy Book 2
Helen LaRose burst through the front door of her mother Helena's home like a banshee on crack cocaine. "It's never good when the dead arrive," she announced, removing her mohair hat with one dramatic swoop of her hand. The static electricity in the dry winter air immediately made her ebony tresses stick out in different directions as if she were permanently attached to a Van de Graaf generator at a science fair.
"What on earth are you going on about?" her mother asked. Being a trained health care professional, she quickly gave her only daughter the once over and deduced that although Helen might be emotionally insane, she was physically fine.
"Love the look," she teased, approaching Helen and yanking one of the fly-away hairs from her head.
"Cut that out," Helen snapped.
"Don't look at me like that. You had 'I am angry' stamped on your forehead before you even came through that door," her mother insisted.
"I told Ellie to put some salt on the front porch steps before she left for school today so the ice would melt. Obviously she forgot," Helen sighed. "I just wiped out on the second step from the bottom. The result of which makes me afraid to tell you the turkey you so desperately wanted for Thanksgiving dinner won't make the cover of Food magazine anytime soon." She paused a moment to wipe some snow from the back of her coat. "But I’m fine, thanks for asking."
Turning to prop the front door open with her foot, she proceeded to drag the bird across the threshold and into the house.
Helena did her best not to smirk.
"Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?" Helen asked, reaching down to show off the item like it were a showpiece on The Price is Right.
"You're right. It looks dead. You know, if you were going to drop the bird on the ground, you could have saved us some bucks and bought a utility grade one," her mother suggested.
Helen rolled her eyes. "I meant," she tried to explain, "aren’t you going to say anything about the size of the stupid bird? I told you we should have picked one up earlier in the week, but oh no, 'wait until the middle of the week when they panic and put them on sale', you said. Thanks for that. This monstrosity was all they had left."
"It does seem a little large," her mother admitted upon closer inspection of the fowl. "You know that it's just the three of us having Thanksgiving dinner together, right?" She could tell the sarcasm in her voice was starting to annoy her daughter.
Helen kicked the still frozen bird in her mother's direction. It took a couple of rolls across the hardwood floor and landed by Helena's slippered feet.
"So, we’ll have leftovers," Helena shrugged. It was her way of letting Helen know she was good with the whole situation. "I sure hope Ellie likes turkey soup."
It had been a few weeks since Helena LaRose’s adult daughter Helen and her teenage granddaughter Ellie had moved into her home, and she was still trying to adapt to the change. A little extra food was the least of her troubles.
"Where is my daughter-of-doom anyway?'' Helen asked.
"Goth-Chic said she and Jacey Sumner were going to hang out together after school," Helena replied, finally taking her eyes off their future dinner. She spied a disapproving glance from Helen.
"What? Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked. "I thought we agreed that socializing with the undead was good for her."
"I'm not so sure that hanging around with that blonde bombshell is a good idea for Ellie," Helen cautioned.
Of course Helen was happy that her daughter was making friends so quickly after their sudden move to Troy, but there was something about the tall British girl named Jacey that unnerved her. Helena had said the girl was a "sensitive", and was content to leave it at that, but Helen felt there was something not quite normal about the beautiful girl that had become her daughter's best-friend-forever in a matter of a few short weeks.
"The girl tried to save Ellie's life," Helena reminded her. "I know you're good at blocking things from your mind, but even you can't have forgotten that so quickly. Jacey's bravery ought to count for something." She waited to see if Helen would relent, and since that didn't happen, she switched tactics. "Besides, I thought it was the pregnant girls that you wanted Ellie to stay away from."
"Jacey is sixteen and has already had a baby. That's not much better," Helen argued.
"You weren't much older when you had Ellie," her mother reminded her.
"Do I need to remind you that Jacey doesn't seem to know where her child is?" Helen shot back without missing a beat. "I know where Ellie is. Maybe not right this second, but you know what I mean."
"Okay, I'll give you that one," Helena conceded. "It is a bit disconcerting that the girl has no clue to the whereabouts of her child."
"You think?" Helen sighed.
"Jacey probably just doesn't want to talk about it. It's not something a girl her age would want to bring up with people who are practically strangers. She probably doesn't want to be judged. Maybe you can relate to that?"
That comment stung Helen. She'd never admit it, but her mother had a point. If the truth be known, her past was more like Jacey's than she cared to admit. She decided to change the subject "And I also thought we agreed that we wouldn’t call Ellie 'Goth-Chic' in this house," Helen reminded her mother.
"That’s what her friends call her," Helena insisted. "What's wrong with it? I think it's cute, black being the new everything in her wardrobe. I just want to fit in. Besides, I think they've shortened it to Goth now. Too many words, too little time."
Since Ellie's arrival, Helena had not seen her granddaughter dress in any color that approached the lighter side of the color spectrum. Even the loose T-shirts she wore at night were dark in color and usually involved skulls, crossbones and occasionally a withering red rose. But only occasionally.
"You are not supposed to fit in. You are not her friend, " Helen reminded her. "You’re old enough to be her grandmother…oh wait… you are her grandmother." She put her hands on her hips and paused, taking in the vision of loveliness before her that was the matriarch of the LaRose household. "And what the hell are you still doing in your negligee, Mother? It’s four o’clock in the afternoon. Didn't you have any clients today? "
"I’ll have you know this is my afternoon negligee," her mother offered, twirling around so that the chiffon sleeves flowed freely from her arms in a bewitching motion. Helena hinted to people that she was only in her fifties, and luckily her body helped keep her little secret. In reality she was decades older, but the LaRose women hid their age unnaturally well. "If you must know, I scheduled today off. I didn't know I had to check with you first. I thought it was my naturopathic clinic out back, not yours."
"I seem to recall you were wearing that on Halloween, " Helen reminded her. "In the evening. When you were dressed up as a witch. And I thought we were all trying to forget about Halloween. You're not helping much with that whole concept. "
Halloween had been an adventure that began with Helen leaving her husband, moving to Troy with her precocious fifteen year old daughter Ellie, finding a dead body on her mother Helena's front porch, and going straight downhill from there.
"No…" Helena hesitated, brushing a lock of her own dark hair away from her piercing green eyes. "We agreed not to talk about the events of Halloween week. We never said we would forget about them. I kind of made that promise to a few people."
Halloween week had been a traumatic time in the small town of Troy. Two of the town's children had been murdered by a vampire and a third had been kidnapped. It was up to the Helens — Helena, Helen and Ellie LaRose — to rescue the boy and ensure the town returned to its sleepy-town fame and people lived as happily ever after as they could, living in and around a hellmouth like they did.
"Humph, " Helen replied. Her relationship with her mother had always been stressful, and although the terrifying events of Halloween week had no doubt brought them closer together, the combined estrogen levels of the three women living under her mother’s roof was proving to be a lot to handle. "It’s not hard to see where Ellie gets her rebel-on from."
"Was that a Bowie song?" her mother asked, digressing.
"No. That would be Rebel Rebel. Get your head out of the seventies."
"You leave her to me," Helena smiled. "I’ll have her wearing clothes that are more form-fitting in no time. " She adjusted the bodice of her gown to fit snuggly around her ample bosom and stuck her chest forward just enough to make her adult daughter cringe.
"Never mind," Helena said, as she turned around and headed for the kitchen. "I wouldn't want Ellie to usurp you as the belle of the slutty ball in this weird little town."
Helena chuckled to herself. While her granddaughter’s insistence to dress in a Gothic fashion was a bone of contention for her daughter, it didn’t bother her in the least. She knew that Ellie was simply trying to show the world that she had her own sense of style. A style that didn’t appeal to her straight-laced mother. No surprise there. Helen had been a handful in her teenage years herself, a fact that wasn't lost on Helena. Helen, if the truth were known, had gone through a punk-rock phase that was more Salvador Dali than anything Ellie had yet to ensemble. Helen had moved on to the likes of Anne Klein and Ralph Lauren, and Helena suspected that in time, Ellie would leave the darkness behind as well. At least when referring to her wardrobe.
"Helen, come back here. You’re not just going to leave this turkey in the middle of my living room floor, are you"? Helena questioned. Receiving no reply, she tried to pick the bird up herself. "Good Lord, Helen. How much does this thing weigh?" She glanced at the grocer label. "Twenty-five pounds? Have you invited the pilgrims to dinner?"
Helen came back into the room with a large garbage bag in her hand.
"It's here now," Helena told her daughter sternly. "We are not throwing it out. I'll just have to get up at the freaking crack of dawn to dress the bird and get it into the oven." She looked at it again. "I may have to buy a bigger oven."
"Well, at least something would get dressed around here." Helen raised her hand, indicating for her mother to stop talking. "Silence. I have a plan." She put the bag on the floor, rolled the heavy bird one more time so that it landed on top of the green plastic bag, and proceeded to drag the newly devised turkey transporter into the kitchen.
"And that’s why I paid for your university education," her mother commented, following her into the sunny back room. "You're the smart one in the family."
"Thank you. For the education and the complement," Helen noted. "I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving," she added. "I could really use a break."
"A break from what?" her mother asked. "You don't have a job." She sat down at the kitchen table and began to thumb her way through her granddaughter's copy of Rue Morgue magazine that had been left beside the dirty morning dishes that were still on the table.
"A break from… you know…" Helen said coyly, her bobbing, tilted head giving away her futile effort of nonchalance.
"Spit it out, Helen. I've got things to do before I die."
"A break from the craziness. A break from my hormone fuelled daughter. A break from my most recent separation from my most recent husband, and a break from things that go bump in the night." She opened the fridge door and sighed. There was no way in hell that the bird was going to fit into it. "Do you feel like picking up a new fridge while you're out appliance shopping for that new oven?"
"To the best of my knowledge you're not getting any of the things that go bump in the night," her mother smiled. "I'll go get the big cooler from downstairs. You can put it in there." She stood up and walked towards the basement door.
"Get your mind out of the gutter. I meant the vampires and wraiths. They went bump in the night. Well, actually they were sliced in the night, but you know what I mean," she replied.
She opened the freezer door and was relieved to see plenty of ice. With any luck the cooler would keep the turkey cold enough that they wouldn't come down with botulism.
"With you it is hard to tell," Helena replied. "Do I need to remind you that you sleep with dead people? And it was only one vampire."
"You can't look at it like that," Helen insisted. "Ellie's dad… sure, he died… but he's not dead. Not in the human sense of the word. And if we're going down the bizarro road, it was you who tried to set me up with the wraith twins that wanted to kill my daughter. And need I remind you of the teenaged vampire Lothario you had living in the backyard?" She moved so close to her mother that she could see the corners of Helena's mouth squirm ever so slightly. "And there were two vampires, as I recall. Man-oh-man, there were two vampires."
"Wipe away the drool, Helen. I told you, Ciaran Quinn is off limits," her mother warned, placing her hand on the doorknob.
"Come on, Mother. If the deadest of dead are okay by me, then the breathing, strapping loins of that fine specimen of vampire man can't possibly be off limits," she sighed. "You used to tell me not to be so picky about the men I… um … date."
Helena watched her daughter flush uncontrollably and for a moment saw a teeny-tiny bit of her own personality peep through from her daughter’s being. She smiled for a second, and then assessed the seriousness of the matter. "I thought we determined it is never good to date a vampire. Not when you're fifteen, or when you're whatever the hell age you want me to tell people you are."
"Let me think about both those thoughts," Helen replied back. Deep in her heart she knew her mother was right, but her libido wasn't so sure.
Helena went down the basement steps, turned, and looked upward towards her daughter as she reached the bottom. "You think about it all you like," she warned. "I know he's mighty sweet eye candy, but Ciaran will always be a vampire. I trust I needn't remind you how our last go around with one of their kind turned out. He's off limits, Helen. Repeat after me. Off. Limits."
Helen pouted, stomping her way down the steps like she had when she was seven. "Please tell me you've never had a relationship with him. He's half your age."
"And what would be so wrong with that?" Helena questioned, genuinely offended by Helen's remarks. "For the record, the age thing is the other way around. By a century or so, I might add."
"It would kill me," Helen sighed. She had put up with both her parents flirtatious ways during her life, but she hoped anything remotely scandalous that her mother had done in the past, stayed in the past. It was hard enough trying to keep Ellie from making the same mistakes both her mother and herself had made at a young age. It was as if the LaRose women were genetically modified to reproduce early. Only once, and always having a girl.
"Don't be so dramatic, darling. Or morose for that matter," Helen sighed. "I can appreciate that you're wondering how you can get some when you're shut in the house with the two of us…"
"Actually I wasn't wondering, Mother. But thanks anyway."
"…so maybe we should think about inviting a few people over for Thanksgiving," Helena continued, ignoring her daughter's plea of innocence. She opened the door to the storage room and looked for the red and white cooler. "We could mix it up a bit if you don't want to spend the holiday with just the two of us."
"Like, invite Dad?" Helen asked.
"Alexander? Oh HELL no," Helena was quick to reply. She could see the cooling unit under her summer patio furniture, so she began to dig through the pile. "Help me with this, will you?"
"Don’t you dare try to set me up," Helen pleaded while taking a folding lounger from her mother's arms. "Got it? No mixers or fixers or anything that rhymes with that. Repeat after me…ix-nay on the fix-ay."
"But I noticed a strapping… your word, not mine… fireman out cleaning the fire truck the other afternoon while I was in town and I thought of you. No really, I thought of you. Remind me to walk by on Tuesdays in the summer when they're all out there in their T-shirts. I don't know if it would put my fire out, but it would be a hell of a lot more fun than watching the paint blister outside my office out back."
"I thought you said you were thinking of me?" Helen commented slyly.
"Well, I'm not going to let a perfectly good fire hall full of men go to waste, even if you're too silly to recognize all that firm, muscular potential."
"Fine. Have it your way. It will be just you, me and Ellie for the feast."
"Won't that be kind of boring though?" Helena pleaded. "It is a holiday. They're more fun with people around."
"Boring is underrated. And the last time I checked Ellie and I were still considered people." She looked at her mother's stored furniture collection more closely. "Good God, Mother. You've had this furniture for decades. Can you even buy replacement plastic webbing for these loungers anymore?"
"Helen," her mother lamented, "get with the program. That furniture is so old it's retro. I could get a hundred bucks for that chair from a picker."
"Not in this life," she replied.
Helena looked at the chair in question more closely. "I guess it is kind of 1967. I don't know why I keep dragging it with me from town to town."
"We are going to the mall to replace this stuff once winter is over. Out with the old, in with the new as they say," Helen insisted. She saw her mother's facial expression turn to one of sadness, but she sensed the patio furniture wasn't the problem.
"But sometimes I like the old and reliable," Helena said softly.
"Do you want to get back together with Roy Cohen? Is that what this is all about?" Helen asked her mother. "Do you want an excuse to invite him over for dinner?"
Helena had been in a relationship with Troy's Chief of Police until a few weeks ago and Helen knew she and Ellie were at least partially responsible for the couple's breakup.
"No!" Helena insisted. "There are plenty of other single men in this little town of Troy. We'll just have to go out and find us a couple.'' She pulled the cooler from the corner and held it over her head. "Ta-da!"
"That'll be fun…double dating with my mother. Not," Helen told her in no uncertain terms. She noted a power cord dangling from the back of the cooler Helena held. "Ah, it plugs in," she said, somewhat relieved.
"Yes, darling," Helena said wryly. "I did buy the unit this century. So you can save the ice for our drinks. I have a feeling we're going to need it."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Helen prodded.
"Nothing," Helena tried to cover. "You know how I hate the holidays."
"Liar," Helen taunted, knowing full well her mother was counting the days until the Christmas decorations went up. "I can see that while your summer furniture was thrown into a heap over in the corner here, your rooftop Santa display is all neatly packaged away in plastic tubs that are labelled and stacked alphabetically. So you're busted on that one."
"I like the prep," Helena admitted. "The tear down, not so much. Thanksgiving doesn't really count for that though. There's not much decorating to do. It doesn't even have official colors."
"I don't think it's supposed to be about the colors," Helen replied. "But if you have to have some I suggest red, yellow and orange. The colors of autumn."
"It's not autumn in Troy anymore," Helena protested. "It's winter. It's grey. You don't see a lot of festive grey napkins at the Biggie Mart, do you?"
"Work with me here, Mother."
Helena was quiet for a moment. "At least I have you and Ellie with me to celebrate the holidays with this year. For that I am truly thankful."
"Thank you," Helen said, giving her mother a hug. "I know you had a hellacious Fourth-of-July party this past summer, and Halloween definitely got a little out of hand…"
"A little?" her mother laughed nervously.
"But Thanksgiving is the holiday when traditionally we fight over whether you are making a homemade apple or pumpkin pie. You know where I stand on that issue."
Helena smiled. "You know, it's been so long since we spent Thanksgiving together, I'd actually forgotten that little discussion ever happened."
"You threw the dough at me," Helen reminded her. Mind you, it was deserved. She had not so mistakenly picked up a can of pumpkin pie filling rather than the apple one her mother had noted on the grocery list she had given her that day. The mother of all food fights had ensued between them shortly thereafter. It took days to scrape the hardened pieces of what had turned into paste, off the walls.
"You did eventually learn make your own as I recall," Helena laughed.
"And wall cleaner sales started to decline significantly," Helen smirked.
"I like apple, you like pumpkin," Helena shrugged. "I guess that means Ellie has the deciding vote."
"She likes lemon meringue."
"That little tart," Helena laughed. "Then three pies it is. We're going to dine like queens for quite some time."
"If we don't explode from eating the damn bird first," Helen giggled.
"Never say explode," her mother begged. "Not on a holiday. Not in this house."
NIGHTMARE on JACEY STREET is the third novel completed by Janine McCaw. For the Vancouver-based novelist it is the continuation of a dream, and the fruit of years of working in a different creative realm. McCaw is also currently working on two additional books: Sisters of Mercy and Pumper.
In high demand as an insightful, humorous and engaging guest speaker, juror and analyst for festivals and trade forums around the country, McCaw also spent large amounts of time traveling abroad to television markets. Writing relieved the stress of constantly being on the road. Increasingly, she turned her main hobby into outlines for novels, and finished fleshing out the characters, plot and dialogue for OLIVIA’S MINE, a fictional account of a young bride’s struggle to make a life for herself against the backdrop of the disasters that hit Britannia Beach, British Columbia in the early 1900s. The book was released in 2006 and continues to be sold at the British Columbia Museum of Mining.
McCaw’s deep understanding of compelling plots, widely appealing characters, natural dialogue and strong story arcs comes directly out of her early career in the film and television industry. McCaw’s skills as an observer started early when her family uprooted from the City to small town Ontario – and she became the classic fish out of water. Writing down her thoughts became an outlet as she scribbled her way through childhood, while she also developed her observational skills and visual eye with photography. A die-hard hockey fan, McCaw studied Cinematography at Humber College, and was headed for a career as a cameraperson covering professional sports when she landed an internship in a broadcasting services company.
McCaw excelled in the television distribution arena. She joined Thomas Howe & Associates and moved with that company to Vancouver, where she distinguished herself with her talent for identifying the right product for the right market, and her people-skills in negotiating contracts. After furthering her professional development with several high-profile Canadian entertainment companies, she parlayed her reputation as a leading Cable Programming specialist into her own boutique firm. Formed with a partner, Dark Horse Ent. specialized in finding, and selling, niche Canadian television series - entertainment, information and variety - around the Globe.
Free eBook copies of Helens-of-Troy (Book One) via website www.janinemccaw.com