Blurb for Ghosts of Gannaway:
Ghost whispers echo through the mines of Gannaway. They have a story to tell. It’s the story of a town torn apart by greed, pollution and vanity, by racial discord between the Native Americans and the invading miners, by the Great Depression, by the violent union strikes of the 1930’s. That’s not all that brought Gannaway to its knees, though. Not by a long shot. Because something—else—lives in the deserted tunnels of the mine, something dark and evil. Something that breathes life into the Ghosts of Gannaway.
Excerpt from Ghosts of Gannaway:
When the casualty whistle shrilled across the street, she felt it reverberate all the way into her teeth. She bunched her skirt up in one hand and broke into a run. Tommy. My God, Tommy!
On the other side of the fence, miners gathered. Raised voices, pregnant with panic. Men racing to and fro with no discernible destination. A group of them stopped in the center of the grounds, peering down into a hole. Around Tommy’s mine.
Claire bypassed the man at the gate, running past him before he had a chance to raise any objections.
Two men propped up a young man between them. Slack-bodied, his head bounced with each hurried step the men took. Immediately, Claire thought it had to be George Kendricks. His eyes remained closed, as if sleeping. Or dead. A circle of miners formed, shuffling alongside Kendricks and the two men. Claire overheard snippets of questions, tidbits of conversation. Just enough to whip her tizzy into a tornado of fear.
“The boy’s dead.”
“He ain’t dead!”
“Was it a cave-in?”
Claire ran past them, yelling, “What happened? Tell me what happened!” She didn’t slow to hear their answer. Even if she had, she wouldn’t have heard anything over the hellish pitch of the casualty whistle. Her heart galloped in her chest as she hurtled toward the shaft.
Jim Reaper sat in his perch, showing about as much emotion as Claire had ever seen from him. For once, he looked uncertain, nervous, his eyes brighter than his usual reserved demeanor. Gripping the bucket’s rim, she climbed onto the platform.
“Um, Mrs. Donnelly? You can’t get in the bucket.”
“Jim Reaper, you just watch me! Where’s Tommy? Is he all right?”
Jim scratched the back of his neck. Claire didn’t like the way his lips twisted. “I ‘spect he’s fine, ma’am. Reckon he’s still down below.”
Claire struggled to hike her legs into the bucket. Her long skirt impeded her movement. She failed at tearing it, then hitched it up. She rolled into the bucket and fell onto her hands before climbing to her feet. “Well? What’re you waiting for? Lower it!”
“Can’t do it, ma’am. Against regulations.”
“I don’t give a hang about your regulations! I need to see how Tommy is. You lower me right now before I go up there and smack some sense into your thick head!”
Jim’s hand wavered over the lever. Finally, he said, “But…you’re a…”
“You’re a red-head, ma’am.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake! Don’t give me that superstitious baloney! Lower me. Now!”
Jim took off his hard hat, studied it like he didn’t realize it had been on his head. “Yes, ma’am. But at least wear this.” He tossed it to her. Catching it, Claire flipped it on.
The bucket lowered, Claire’s stomach rising. Every time the bucket clanged against the wall, her heart jumped faster. Please, God, let Tommy be fine. Let him come home to me again.
Claire had one leg hanging over the rim before the bucket landed. Clutching the cable, she hoisted herself out.
Several miners stopped what they were doing. A chorus of groans went up.
“Woman down below!”
“We don’t need no more bad luck!”
“You boys best be showing this red-headed woman some proper respect. Now hush and tell me where Tommy is!”
A miner she didn’t recognize knew when to shut up and pointed down the drift.
“Is he fine?” she called back.
More cries of outrage flared as Claire entered the stope. One miner high-tailed by her, averting his eyes as if afraid he’d turn to stone if he met the intruding red-head’s gaze. When Big Ed saw Claire, he nudged Tommy. Tommy’s eyes widened. He tilted back his hat and came at her, arms open.
“Claire, what are you doing down here?”
“Tommy Donnelly, you darn near gave me a heart attack! That whistle goin’ off and the Kendricks boy dying and…and…” Sweet relief drained her adrenaline rush. Her eyes filled with tears as she fell into her husband’s embrace. “I thought…”
“It’s okay, Claire. I’m okay. And George isn’t dead. Just…an accident. I don’t know why they set the whistle off.” She looked into his eyes. Saw hesitation, an edgy shift. Withholding the truth. But they’d talk tonight. He wouldn’t get off that easy.
“Told you I’d come down here, didn’t I?” Claire wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“Yep, you surely did,” he said with a chuckle. “Come on, let’s get you outta here.”
Tommy wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She heaved a sigh and looked about her. Miners still grumbled, but soon took up their posts again.
“That’s right, you big ol’ tough miners! Look out for the scary red-headed woman coming through!”
She could tell she’d embarrassed Tommy, but it didn’t stop him from grinning. Even if he did turn ten shades of red, deeper than her hair color.