Here is my latest book. Find out why Ivory was never chased by monsters before she moved to Los Roshano.
Ivory Ames searches the campground and finds her best friend Maria dead on the beach with two bite marks on her neck. Ivory and Harmony Lundy look for clues. They learn someone or something is stalking the campers, and if they’re not careful, they may be next.
Chapter 1 Missing
“Hey, Maria, are you in there?” I knocked on the bathroom door and chewed my bottom lip. No light seeped through the cracks. She could’ve left the light off to keep the princess in the other bedroom asleep.
After Maria didn’t answer, I tried the doorknob, it turned, and the latch released from the frame. I knocked again, calling her name in the process. When she didn’t respond, I pushed the door open, expecting to see her in there. The room was the size of a tiny closest. Besides the toilet and a sink, it was empty. Where had she gone? She wouldn’t have left without telling me. I turned around and almost jumped out of my skin. Someone stood behind me.
“Ivory Ames, what’s the matter with you? Why are you making so much noise? You woke me up.” Harmony, the princess, flicked on her bedroom light and stifled a yawn.
“If you closed your door, you wouldn’t have heard me.” I crossed my arms to allow the fear inside of me to subside. I couldn’t believe she had freaked me out.
“Are you using the bathroom or going back to bed? I need my beauty sleep, and you’re being loud. You are rude.”
“I’m looking for Maria. Is she in your room?” Even as I said those words, I knew the answer.
“Why would she be? I need my own space. We’ve discussed this.” Harmony frowned and her eyebrows furrowed. We arrived at the cabin yesterday afternoon. She called dibs on her own bedroom the moment she walked inside. Maria and I were forced to share a room.
“Have you seen Maria?” I changed the topic. I didn’t want another conversion on why Harmony needed the bigger and only room. She could argue for hours. She was exhausting. Instead of being a lawyer, she would most likely become one of those rich housewives, who lived in a big city and married a basketball star or a professional football player.
“Maria may be at the women’s restroom. Why do we have to camp? Can we pack everything up and go to a nice hotel in the cities?” Harmony mentioned Minneapolis and Saint Paul, a two-hour drive from our current location.
“Maria left without telling me.” I ignored Harmony’s other questions on purpose. She and Maria could afford a better week-long vacation, but I couldn’t. I spent months saving up for this trip, and it was split three ways. This was my first getaway in my whole life.
“You’re not Maria’s mom, and she’s an adult now. She may want some privacy. Have you tried calling her?”
“Her cell’s in our room. I’ll go look for her. She shouldn’t have left without telling me,” I said. A knot formed inside my belly. I was way more nervous than I’d thought. Something didn’t sit right with me. She wasn’t the type to flake on me.
“You’re such a worrywart. I’m going back to bed. Don’t bother waking me when you’ve found her.” Harmony turned around, disappearing inside her room.
“I’m heading to the shared restroom. If Maria isn’t there, I’ll check the beach afterward.” She was a great swimmer, but she wouldn’t go alone because she could get a cramp and drown.
“Hold on, you’re leaving me alone?”
“What part of ‘I’m heading to the shared restroom’ did you not understand? Bye now. Have a good slumber.” My tone was filled with sarcasm. I couldn’t believe Harmony would go back to bed. Okay, I could. She was the queen bitch at our high school who only cared for herself.
I grabbed a flashlight from a drawer on the kitchen island. By the time I arrived at my destination, the sun should be rising. I wouldn’t need the flashlight anymore. I flicked the switch, testing it to make sure it worked.
“We shouldn’t go. Some creep could be hiding in the dark. We wouldn’t see him. He would grab us and murder us.” Harmony appeared in her doorway. Her voice was etched with fear, and she played with the ends of her hair.
“You’ve been reading too many books or watching a lot of TV. Our friend isn’t here, and I’m worried.” I kept my snide comment at bay and headed toward the entrance.
“Don’t leave me. I need to change my clothes and do my hair. I’ll be ready in thirty minutes or an hour.”
“I’m not waiting for you. Maria may be hurt.”
“Why are you such a bitch?” Despite Harmony’s harsh words at me, her face softened.
“Why are you such a freakin’ princess?” I asked her. Anger surged through me, and I wanted to strangle her. Why did I have to go on vacation with her?
“I’m not a princess. I’m a queen.” Harmony strolled over to me and puffed out her chest.
“After you, Your Highness.” I opened the door, bowing in front of her. I enjoyed teasing her a little too much.
“Finally, you’re treating me better.” Harmony flounced through the doorway. She didn’t understand I messed with her.
I gave up, shutting the door behind me and switching on the flashlight. Since Harmony stood on the first step on the deck, I walked around her and hopped onto the sidewalk. I stopped on the pathway from our cabin. Glancing over at the one next to us, the light was on. We should speak to our neighbors to see if they had seen Maria.
“Where are you going?” Harmony grabbed a hold of my elbow, stopping me.
“I’m checking with the guys. They may have seen Maria.” I pulled my arm away from her grasp.
“Paul can’t see me like this.”
“You’re fine.” I shined the flashlight near her face. Another frustration part about Harmony was her capability of looking good all the time. My blonde hair was frizzy. Most days, I stuck it in a ponytail.
“My hair and makeup are a mess.” Harmony touched her perfect brown hair with blonde highlights. It fell in the way a haircut should, wavy. No strand was out of place. Her brown eyes were rimmed with black mascara. Her skin glowed. She might get pimples for sleeping in her makeup.
“No one is forcing you to come with me,” I told her. Inside my mind, I begged her to return to our cabin. I could’ve spoken to Stuart or Paul and walked halfway to the restroom by now.
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Harmony asked.
“No wonder you don’t have any friends besides Maria. You’re mean to everyone.” A twig snapped, Harmony screamed, and she tightened her hold on me. “What…what is over there?”
“Someone probably didn’t put out their fire. It’ll die on its own. The park rules said they should’ve used water to douse the flames.”
“Did you put out our fire last night because of the rules?” Harmony asked.
“Duh, a forest fire is not a good thing. We’re surrounded by trees. Do you remember the fire in Canada? It turned our skies hazy. The weather is dry right now. One flame could ignite everything,” I answered.
“Our camping area and everyone else’s are not surrounded by trees. We have open space.”
“A breeze could carry an ember to the shrubs. Although, I heard we were in for some rain today.” I couldn’t imagine being locked inside with her on the longest day of the summer. Maria should be at the restroom. She couldn’t go home because I drove us here.
“You’re such a know-it-all.” Another twig snapped, but Harmony didn’t shriek this time.
I shook my head and resumed my mission with her holding onto me the whole time. She let me go when we arrived at the door. I knocked on it.
“Hey, what are you doing here? Weren’t we hanging out later today?” Stuart asked after he answered a couple of minutes later. I didn’t remember his last name.
“Have you seen Maria? She isn’t at our cabin,” I said. My mouth ran dry and I licked my lips. Did I sound desperate to him? I liked the guy, but showing up at his cabin uninvited wasn’t a great idea. I pushed the nervous feelings aside. I needed to find my friend, which was a good excuse and I wasn’t here to see him.
“No, I haven’t seen her. How long has she been missing?” Stuart asked.
“Not sure. We went to bed right after the bonfire. I woke up a few minutes ago and she wasn’t there. We’ll see you—” I said.
“Where’s Paul?” Harmony interrupted me.
“He’s inside his room changing. We’re headed to the beach for an early morning swim. Do you want to talk to him?” Stuart asked.
Harmony sighed with relief.
“Do you want to talk to him?” Stuart asked again. He glanced behind him and then at me. The poor guy didn’t know what to do.
“I don’t want to see him,” Harmony whispered in my ear. Her fake fingernails bit into my skin as she tightened her hold on me.
“Harmony doesn’t want to talk to Paul because she looks like crap,” I said to Stuart.
“Ivory, don’t tell him those words,” Harmony said, angrily. She released me and hit me on my shoulder.
Stuart scratched at his temple, tilted his head to one side, and pursed his lips together. He was cute confused.
“I’m joking. Harmony always looks like she’s headed to a beauty pageant. How soon are you headed to the beach?” I rubbed the marks blossoming on my arm. If he left soon, he could keep an eye out for Maria.
“I’m not sure. Paul takes forever to change,” Stuart answered.
“I get it.” I motioned at the person behind me. We grinned at each other.
“Do you want to come with us? The smaller beach will be more fun if you do,” Stuart said.
“We can’t. We need to find Maria,” I told him.
“I’m sorry, I forgot. Is there anything you want me to do?” Stuart ran a hand through his short brown hair.
“Can you call me if you see her? She might take a different path from the restroom, and I don’t want to miss her,” I said.
“My phone’s dead. I didn’t plug it in last night,” Stuart said.
“Here’s mine.” I pulled out cell, showing him the passcode and holding it out for him to take. Harmony would never give hers away. Hers costed more than what I made in a single paycheck.
“Is Harmony in your contacts?” Stuart asked. His question was valid since we didn’t get along at our bonfire last night. We were clearly not friends.
“She’s under princess,” I muttered. My cheeks heated. I wasn’t mean to people on purpose, but she rubbed me the wrong way and made me feel like I was an idiot. I was valedictorian of our class.
“Do you think I’m royalty?” Harmony asked me.
“Nope, you act one,” I answered, truthfully.
Stuart laughed and covered his mouth with his large hand. A snort escaped. His face turned bright read.
“We need to find Maria. I’ll see you later,” I said to him.
“Tell Paul I said hi,” Harmony said.
“Please send a text if you find your friend.” Stuart gave me a small smile.
After I waved goodbye, we left him. No one was on the path to the restrooms this late or early, considering it was morning already.
“What’s over there?” Harmony asked, scared. She pointed in the direction of a small grove of dark trees.
“Nothing.” I shinned the flashlight. The light illuminated the leaves and bark only.
“I swear I saw something.”
I didn’t say a word. The limit of my irritation level had reached the maximum. The sun started to rise while we walked. The horizon turned into the colors of fire.
Harmony kept on pointing out every possible place for a person or animal to hide in the shadows. It took a long time for us to arrive at the restrooms. The lights were on and I turned off my flashlight. I only had it on to appease Harmony and her fears.
“Maria?” Harmony entered the women’s restroom. She glanced around and shrugged at me when she didn’t see anyone.
I checked under the door to the first stall for legs and opened it. Maria wasn’t inside. On my third, Harmony opened her first. The six we searched were empty. The knot in my belly turned into a thick piece of tangled rope.
“Maria’s not here. What do we do now?” Harmony asked, her words etched with concern now.
“Check the beach?” My legs shook and I used the sink for support. Maria should be here. Where was she?
“Are you coming?” Harmony held the door open.
“Yeah, give me a minute.” I took a step and found out I could walk.
We exited the restroom, hanging a left. The restrooms sat on a hill, and cement stairs led to the beach.
I placed my hand on the rail, walking down the first few steps. My gaze scanned the shoreline. Something was near the edge of the water, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I kept going, hit the middle portion of the stairs and recognized the purple shirt. My purple shirt. Maria loved to borrow it.