Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Ghostly Undertaking: Tonya Kappes

Today we have a first chapter excerpt of Tonya Kappes new book, A Ghostly Undertaking. This is the first in a new paranormal series and the second book comes out in March.

Here's a little bit about the book:

"Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she’s suffering from “funeral trauma.” It’s trauma all right, because the not so dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne—innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee’s granny—she’s adamant that she didn’t just fall down those stairs…she was pushed. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie’s ex-husband and co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective for Ruthie, or will risk being haunted forever."

Chapter 1

Another day. Another funeral. Another ghost.
Great. As if people didn’t think I was freaky enough. But, truthfully, this was becoming a common occurrence for me as the director of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home.
Well the funeral was common.  
The ghost thing…that was new, making Sleepy Holly anything but sleepy.
“What is she doing here?” A ghostly Ruthie Sue Payne stood next to me in the back of her own funeral, looking at the long line of Sleepy Hollow’s residents that had come to pay tribute to her life. “I couldn’t stand her while I was living, much less dead.”
Ruthie, the local innkeeper, busybody and my granny’s arch-nemesis, had died two days ago after a fall down the stairs of her inn.
I hummed along to the tune of “Blessed Assurance,” which was piping through the sound system, to try and drown out Ruthie’s voice as I picked at baby’s breath in the pure white blossom funeral spray sitting on the marble-top pedestal table next to the casket. The more she talked, the louder I hummed and rearranged the flowers, gaining stares and whispers of the mourners in the viewing room.
I was getting used to those stares.
“No matter how much you ignore me, I know you can hear and see me.” Ruthie rested her head on my shoulder, causing me to nearly jump out of my skin. “If I’d known you were a light seeker, I probably would’ve been a little nicer to you while I was living.”
I doubted that. Ruthie Sue Payne hadn’t been the nicest lady in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky. True to her name, she was a pain. Ruthie had been the president and CEO of the gossip mill. It didn’t matter if the gossip was true or not, she told it.
Plus, she didn’t care much for my family. Especially not after my granny married Ruthie’s ex-husband, Earl. And especially not after Earl died and left Granny his half of the inn he and Ruthie had owned together..the inn where Granny and Ruthie both lived. The inn where Ruthie had died.
I glared at her. Well, technically I glared at Pastor Brown, because he was standing next to me and he obviously couldn’t see Ruthie standing between us. Honestly, I wasn’t sure there was a ghost between us, either. It had been suggested that the visions I had of dead people were hallucinations…
I kept telling myself that I was hallucinating, because it seemed a lot better than the alternative—I could see ghosts, talk to ghosts, be touched by ghosts.
“Are you okay, Emma Lee?” Pastor Brown laid a hand on my forearm. The sleeve on his brown pin-striped suit coat was a little too small, hitting above his wrist bone, exposing a tarnished metal watch. His razor-sharp blue eyes made his coal-black greasy comb-over stand out.
“Yes.” I liked. “I’m fine.” Fine as a girl who was having a ghostly hallucination could be.
“Are you sure?” Pastor Brown wasn’t the only one concerned. The entire town of Sleepy Hollow had been worried about my well-being since my run-in with Santa Claus.
No, the spirit of Santa Claus hadn’t visited me. Yet. Three months ago, a plastic Santa had done me in.
It was the darndest thing, a silly accident.
I abandoned the flower arrangement and smoothed a wrinkle in the thick velvet drapes, remembering that fateful day. The sun had been out, melting away the last of the Christmas snow. I’d decided to walk over to Artie’s Meats and Deli, over on Main Street, a block away from the funeral home, to grab a bite for lunch since they had the best homemade chili this side of the Mississippi. I’d just opened the door when the snow and ice around the plastic Santa Claus Artie had put on the roof of the deli gave way, sending the five-foot jolly man crashing down on my head, knocking me out.
Flat out.
I knew I was on my way to meet my maker when Chicken Teater showed up at my hospital bedside. I had put Chicken Teater in the ground two years ago. But there he was, telling me all sorts of crazy things that I didn’t understand. He blabbed on and on about guns, murders and all sorts of dealings I wanted to know nothing about.
It wasn’t until my older sister and business partner, Charlotte Rae Raines, walked right through Chicken Teater’s body, demanding that the doctor do something for my hallucinations, that I realized I wasn’t dead after all.
I had been hallucinating. That’s all. Hallucinating.
Doc Clyde said I had a case of the “Funeral Trauma” from working with the dead too long.
Too long? At twenty-eight, I had been an undertaker for only three years. I had been around the funeral home my whole life. It was the family business, currently owned by my granny, but ran by my sister and me.
Some family business.