At the Stroke of Midnight
Heat index: sweet to sensual (two flames) Pages: 104 (approx. 15,000 words)
Publisher: Otherworldly Romances; 1st,Revised edition (July 17, 2008)
ISBN-10: 061523786X ISBN-13: 978-0615237862
Cover Artist: K.M. Nutt
Print: $10.95 E-book: $2.99
E-book available at: Nook
E-book ISBN# 978-1-4580-7528-4 (IPad, Apple IBook, Sony, Kobo, Nook)
Barnes and Noble
Tricia Lancaster, a reporter for a small time newspaper volunteered to cover the story of Dean McCloud's life. Even though the actor died before she was born, she felt a connection to him. She thought if she wrote the story, her curiosity would be satisfied and she could move on with her life. When she's miraculously transported back in time and she finds out it's a few days before Dean killed himself, she realizes she has a chance to save him. However, after meeting the overconfident movie star, she's convinced he didn't kill himself. Someone else pulled the trigger.
Dean McCloud thinks Tricia is trippin' when she tells him she's from the future. However, when Tricia's predictions start coming true, Dean realizes maybe she's not a crazy chick after all. Someone murdered him and they have until the Stroke of Midnight on New Years Eve to find out who wants him dead.
Chapter One ....
Tricia Lancaster parked her car and leaned on her steering wheel as she gazed at the two-bedroom house that was once Dean McCloud's home. Dean had been an American icon in the '70's, when angel flight pants and afghan coats were in style. He was the star of the western series, The Long Trail where every week he kept the west safe from outlaws. He was on his way to being on the big screen, landing a part that would have been perfect for his bigger than life persona. He could have had it all, but he threw it all away by blowing his brains out.
Some believed it was an accident while conspiracy theorists believed he was murdered. The coroner called it a suicide, leaving his fans disillusioned. His home was turned into a shrine. It was a museum of sorts for the long dead actor as if all of America should give homage.
Tricia was here to cover a story for the local newspaper. In three days, it would mark the anniversary of the death of Dean McCloud. There would be thousands of flowers and presents covering the lawn and a vigil would begin a minute before midnight. It was the documented time of death. So here she was to do the story, take some pictures, and film the rest later. She begged for the piece even though it wasn't a high priority for the small town paper. She couldn't tell anyone the true reason she wanted the story. She felt connected to Dean McCloud as if she should know him. It started with the dreams. Vivid true-to-life dreams before she knew he was even an actor. For God's sake, she wasn't even born when Dean McCloud died. She didn't see one of his TV shows until they aired on Nickelodeon. Now she owned the entire three-year series on DVD.
She bought his biographies and purchased magazines on e-bay that had pictures and articles about the actor, but none of them touched what she knew from her dreams. She opened her car door and stepped out. Without a backwards look, she locked it as she made her way to the front steps. She took a deep breath before she entered. She was here to take the tour. She should have done it a long time ago, faced the ghost so to speak. She hoped seeing his home and doing the story would finally put her obsession of him to rest. She needed to have a normal relationship not this morbid affair with a man who died over thirty years ago.
She paid the elaborate fee and took the pamphlet that gave a brief description of Dean McCloud. She walked into the living room where the twenty-something docent was talking about Dean as if he were a close and personal friend. At first glance, Tricia knew most of the furniture wasn't original. The recliner was brown; his had been blue. The lamp should have been made out of glass marbles instead of the gold tinted glass.
The carpet wasn't even close since it used to be green shag. She walked down the hall glancing at the photos depicting Dean as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, with his shoulder-length dark hair, sideburns and contagious smile that showed off the sexy dimple in his right cheek. She moved on, venturing toward the bedroom, then hesitated. That was where he had decided he had nothing to live for. She didn't go in. Instead, she took a detour into the den. The floor television model was showing a Long Trail episode, one of her favorites. Dean, or rather his character Samuel Baines cleverly stopped a bank robber from killing a hostage. Boy, he was good. He was charming and lethal all in one. Tricia made herself at home, ignoring the roped off area and took a seat. She tossed her backpack at her feet. Dean had sat in this chair; this was his. She lightly caressed the threadbare arms of the chair. She snuggled down to watch the show, catching a whiff of cologne. She smiled wondering if it was Dean's forever embedded within the fabric of his chair. On the television, she watched Dean out draw the outlaw. This episode, this scene in the saloon was his last.
* * *
Tricia was startled awake by a loud popping sound followed by screams. She catapulted out of the chair expecting to have to take cover. Fear was replaced by confusion. The last thing she remembered was watching Dean's final performance. She looked around the crowded room wondering how she slept through the caretaker setting up for the seventies costume party. The men had long hair and side burns and the women wore dark eye shadow, flowered tops and suede boots. Tricia deducted the popping sound came from someone uncorking a champagne bottle. A woman in a tight short skirt and go-go boots was trying to pour the bubbly into two flute glasses. "Hey, do you need a beer?" "What?" She turned, seeing the Corona inches from her face before she looked up. "No, I'm ..." Her eyes widened. "I must be dreaming. Dean McCloud?"
His cocky grin spread across his face. How he loved these parties, women throwing themselves at him as if he were a god. This one was cute even in her odd attire. He loved the way her wild curls framed her pixie-like face. Tricia was convinced she was still asleep, only she never dreamt with this much clarity. "Dean?"
"That's me, Baby." She looked around her, taking in the subtle differences that made the home seem more...McCloud-like, was all she could come up with for now. Dean sat down in the chair and snaked out a hand, grabbing her arm and pulling her onto his lap. Her arms went around his neck, but that was simply preservation. It was not meant as a come on. Dean obviously thought otherwise. He smiled his eyes taking in every feature before his gaze landed on her lips. She knew the moment he decided to kiss her, his eyes turned a shade darker, and his eyelids closed halfway. Her heart pounded in her chest. She prayed if this was a dream she wouldn't wake up. Dean McCloud was going to kiss her.
Dean was enchanted by the little pixie. She seemed skittish, innocent, so unlike the other women who threw themselves at his feet. He wanted a small taste of her before he let her go. His lips came coaxingly down on hers with tantalizing persuasion, surprisingly she didn't object. The pleasure was like sweet agony as she met his caress, as if she had been waiting for him. He took more. Tricia relished in the way his tongue traced the fullness of her lips before slipping between them. While he tasted her, she clung to him. She wanted the kiss to go on forever as passion inched through her veins. She was kissing Dean McCloud, the man she dreamt about, with the contagious smile and polished moves. His hands moved to her waist holding her close. That felt too good. Her mind screamed it couldn't be happening. The man died over three decades ago, she thought as reality came hurtling down on her. She pushed him away, breaking contact as if his lips had suddenly burned her. A shadow of annoyance crossed his face until he saw the panic rioting within her gaze.
He hadn't meant to scare her. Dean's fingers lightly caressed her arm. "Don't fly away little chick. I won't hurt you." This was a private party among friends to celebrate the wrap up the last episode of TheLong Trail. Dean wondered who brought her.
Tricia couldn't help herself. She had to know if he was real. She touched Dean's face his ears, his nose, which caused him to chuckle. When her fingers touched his mouth, he took hold of her wrist halting her. He tried to reclaim her lips but she moved her head to the side and his kiss landed on her cheek.
He pulled back to look at her. She tasted wonderful, like strawberries, all sweet. He wanted her, but he had enough ethics not to pursue this one. She screamed of commitment and he wasn't offering. "Chickie, I need to tend to my other guests." His fingers twirled a honeysuckle-colored curl before he gently removed her from his lap and stood. Since she looked like she was about to pass out, Dean placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her so that she fell easily into the chair he had just vacated. She looked up at him with those big amber-colored eyes. Man, she was one foxy lady. He cupped her chin, gliding his thumb over her lips that were still swollen from his touch. He was tempted to take from her again, but then his gaze found hers and he knew it would be too much. He casually stepped back and melted away to join the others who were making bets on how many shots of whiskey Fred Mack could take before he fell on his face.
Tricia sat there not moving for a full minute. Forget that she had miraculously traveled back in time and was thoroughly kissed. She glanced around the edge of the chair to see Dean throwing his head back with a roaring laugh. The phenomenon was Dean McCloud was alive.
~Ghost Writer Literary Review~ "Wonderfully Romantic Story"
The author takes us immediately to the heart of her story with Dean, the captivating movie star and Tricia his savior. This is a wonderfully romantic story. Modern and revealing!
Reviewer: Anastasia from Ghostwriter Literary Review
~Bitten by Books~ http://bittenbybooks.com/?p+1907
I enjoyed this short story, although I hate to think of the 70’s as being historical! I applauded Tricia’s 21st century determination (in the face of Dean’s less than enlightened macho attitude) to answer the questions about Dean’s death and to do her best to prevent it. The characters were believable, as was the setting, and Dean’s transformation is remarkable. I would recommend At The Stroke of Midnight to all time travel devotees.
~Mystique Books Reviews~
Four and Half Moons from Mystique Books Reviews!
Tricia Lancaster is obsessed with iconic seventies star Dean McCloud, who committed suicide at a young age. After sitting in one of Dean's chairs, while on a tour of his mansion, Tricia is transported to the past. Will Tricia be able to save Dean and change history?
Ms. Nutt pens a unique time travel with interesting characters and an unexpected twist. I was drawn into Tricia's struggle to save Dean's life, because she knows that their lives are somehow entwined. Dean is a likeable playboy, who deserves redemption. All in all, At the Stroke of Midnight is an enjoyable short story, which I highly recommend.
Marlene Breakfield, Reviewer http://www.mystiquebooks.com
~Trinagon Reviews Ramsey's Reviews ~
A Stroke of Midnight is a fabulous read that will take the reader on a fascinating and delightful journey back in time. Karen Michelle Nutt is a remarkable writer, who will impress any reader, by creating such vivid and lively characters, which compliments a cleverly designed plot. I would absolutely recommend this short tale to anyone interested in romantic time-travel genre.
"This is a groovy tale of time and fate!"
Karen Michelle Nutt puts a different spin on fate and time travel. I'm sure we would all love to be able to go back in time and change the future. This is a groovy tale of time and fate! Not only does the story grab you at the beginning, but the reader is thrown back in the 70s and goes along for the ride. Can you dig it?
Reviewed by Ruth Schaller
At the Stroke of Midnight is when Dean McCloud, at the height of his career, blew his brains out. Tricia Lancaster feels drawn and connected to Dean for some reason she can’t fathom. He died before she was even born but she’s collected everything she can on him. She’s finally convinced the paper she reports for to let her do a story about him on the anniversary of his death. His home has become a shrine, complete with tours and she starts her research with a visit. When she falls asleep in his recliner and wakes up in the ‘70’s things really start to get interesting.
Dean McCloud is a lovable, exasperating but worthy of redemption, playboy. He just takes what’s thrown at him and then moves on to the next one. Tricia is obviously different from the women he’s use to. She’s not offering and she actually scolds him. Dean thinks she’s adorable but crazy when she starts talking about time running out and how she needs to save him from committing suicide. When she reveals some key details, Dean starts to believe maybe she’s not so crazy.
At The Stroke of Midnight is an utterly charming enjoyable read. I was caught immediately and tripped right back to the ‘70’s with Tricia. It’s not your typical time-travel romance, having a delightful twist. Definitely worth reading, especially if you’re in the market for something different.