My name is Jinx Delaney. I thought this summer was going to be fun and relaxing. I’m spending it visiting my sorority sister, Brynn, after all. Her exclusive community in the heart of Tennessee is beautiful. Almost too beautiful.
The houses are old and gorgeous. Here in the Deep South, many longstanding homes are slowly going to ruin, their deep-rooted stories falling into decay along with them. But the eight homes in this neighborhood have been carefully restored and rebuilt, magnificent relics of the past, no longer forgotten.
But… well… ever since I arrived, I’ve sensed… ugliness under this façade. I’m probably just not used to being around such expensive and exquisite homes or such expensive and exquisite owners. The houses have all been returned to their former southern grandeur and are nothing like where I grew up. Their owners include doctors, lawyers, and trust fund kids. In short, rich and successful people who know what they want out of life. I just don’t feel that I fit in here.
My days are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. I wake up early and go for my daily jog around the neighborhood. Well, I’ll be perfectly honest, after a lap or two, I spend time visiting with the neighbors while Brynn finishes her regime. I usually have breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Beard, the most normal couple here in my opinion, followed by a visit with striking, scarred Mrs. Darley. I can’t stand her greasy husband though, so I try to avoid going to see her when he’s there. The young rich couple, the Hills, are often still asleep so I haven’t gotten to know them very well, besides what I hear from the neighborhood gossip, Mrs. Thompson. She and her next door neighbor, Mr. Pickett, seem to be quite involved. And then there’s Dr. Rogers and his wife, who are the epitome of the sweet, old couple in the neighborhood. I do find that I’m uncomfortable around Brynn’s family. I don’t see much of her parents or older sister, Roslynn. They’re never at home. Even her brother, Max, has been acting oddly.
I have to admit, I didn’t expect for two of these rich homes to be empty. I’ve learned that the owners have passed away, leaving their homes behind, uninhabited. Almost like a tribute or tombstone for them. An empty mausoleum, that’s what some of these houses remind me of…
Anyway, after my neighborly visits and Brynn’s jog, we head down to the barn and ride our horses. Lunch is followed by swimming in her exclusive community’s pool. I thought when I came to visit that I could spend this summer figuring out what I want to do. I graduated from college a few months ago and since then I’ve been a bit lost. I want to do something more with my life than I’ve been doing. I want to travel and compete with my horse, Ranger. That’s what the future holds for me if I could only figure out what I want to compete in. That’s what I thought I would be concentrating on, my future.
But now… something is off here. The neighbors don’t seem to really like each other. Fighting and discontent are festering under the surface…
I feel that something dark is coming. I’m not sure what yet, but it’s on the horizon. A dark fear I’ve never experienced before has settled deep in my bones and seems to waft out of the very walls of these time-worn mansions, filling the long halls and empty rooms with gloom. I catch myself looking over my shoulder as I tread these echoing floors.
Something is going to happen soon. I just wish I knew what.
And how to stop it.
Price is giving away one (1) digital copy of MURDER IS UGLY. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be sent by the author. Contest ends April 22 and US entries only.
Meet the author
Price McNaughton was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. A childhood steeped in the stories and legends of her ancestors as well as the southern way of life led her to carry on the tradition and become a storyteller herself. After years of traveling and working at a variety of jobs, she has finally returned to her roots and devoted herself to writing. She is the author of A Vision of Murder and Murder is Ugly as well as The Ruby Necklace (a mini-mystery). You can reach Price at talebearers book review blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook
Books are available in digital form at online booksellers.