25,190 words; 80 pages
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Once a tavern historically popular amongst pirates, the Sea Turtle Inn is now an enchanting coastal Floridian hotel and bar that boasts stunning gothic architecture, scenic views, and a nightlife that can best be described as, well… unique. Accomplished paranormalist Andrew Wells has been hired by the current owner to investigate claims that the Sea Turtle Inn’s rooms are haunted by the unruly, restless, and randy spirits of Black Roger and Dirty Davy, two rival pirates rumored to have murdered one another over a woman. But the truth story behind the pirates’ tale and the degree to which the Sea Turtle Inn is actually haunted turns out to be more complicated than centuries’ old rumor and popular reputation would imply.
As he thoroughly investigates each room with reports of poltergeist activity and possession, Andrew finds himself more intrigued by the inn’s enigmatic proprietor, Davis. After inheriting the inn from family, maintaining the Sea Turtle Inn and keeping its staff and guests has been Davis’ sole focus, leaving little time for self-contemplation or a personal life. But it is precisely Davis’ personal secrets that Andrew is drawn to most. And it is resolving those secrets that may prove key to finally putting the tumultuous and potentially dangerous spirits to rest.
Gressive Press, an imprint of Circlet Press dedicated to sex-positive science fiction and fantasy outside the gender binary, is proud to present Sea Turtle Inn– a transgender, gay, paranormal romance by H.B. Kurtzwilde, the LAMBDA Literary Award nominated author of Chocolatiers of the High Winds.
About the author: H.B Kurtzwilde lives in the wet, sticky, mosquito-ridden depths of Florida. When not busily avoiding alligators, he scribbles out futuristic and paranormal fiction, as if this is any way for a grown person to behave. His works include Phoberia, Guide to Survival, and Sea Turtle Inn, among others. Drop by his Livejournal or his personal blog at hbkurtzwilde.circlet.com to say hello, or to make a donation in support of his artistic efforts.
Look under the cut for an excerpt…
Andrew Wells had a genuine satisfaction in his own reputation. His life as a paranormalist was built on tall tales, credulity, patience, and professionalism. His actual job skills had come naturally to him. He eschewed digital cameras, EMF detectors, and shoddy methodology in favor of his own instincts. Over time, he’d acquired a legend of his own to go with his history of superstition and weird visions.
He wasn’t more than a local, but in St. Augustine, Florida, spooks, ghosts, creeps, and tales were a growth industry right along with the tourism. He approached the Sea Turtle Inn, jewel of the local historical registry. It had been burned down twice, continued to operate in its original incarnation of bawdy house, and was known to pass down through a family line associated with piracy. It was also a local monument for tall tales and pure lies.
The ghost tales alone were not enough to turn Andrew on. Those were his stock in trade. No, the Sea Turtle had more than just stories. He pushed through the white arch of the front gate and breathed in the perfume of a tropical garden. He dragged the strap of his overnight bag up his shoulder and looked around for help. Thrashing noises nearby made him clear his throat a few times to draw attention.
A woman in a massive straw hat straightened from contending with the soil. “Lobby’s up them big white stairs, sir. Pleased to meet you and welcome to–You’re not a customer.”
“I’m Andrew Wells, looking for B.A. Davis?” He tried to understand what he was seeing.
“I’m Davis,” came the soft voice from under the wide brim of a gardening hat. “You that psychic from the historical society? I hope you can do something more than burn sage sticks, because we’ve got a mess on our hands here.”
“I know you may be nervous in your new home, Miss Davis,” Andrew tried to soothe.
“Just Davis,” she interrupted, laughing behind her hand. “I’m not nervous. I got pirates in the honeymoon suite. I guess you woulda’ heard about them by now. I think they’re doing something dangerous.”
Andrew put his hands on his hips and looked up at the Spanish-style inn of blinding white stucco and tropical breezeways. The Sea Turtle was not a house call for the weak at heart. All the references were loaded with notes like ‘hot spot’, ‘non-local activity’, ‘transubstantiary locomotion’, and most interesting, ‘passionate possession’ or ‘luck charm’ reported by lay observers. Andrew pulled out his tin of cigarettes and shared with Davis. She touched the tip to the lighter as he held it for her and turned away to exhale.
“I don’t know why the guests wouldn’t like ghosts,” Andrew said. “This place is famous for really having some. It must be Black Roger Davis cutting up tricks.”
“I know who it is,” she said, sounding annoyed. “I saw him glowing all over the floor right before he jumped on me. He used to have manners, but now he ain’t welcome. The living still have rights, I assume? There ain’t some city ordinance banning the eviction of unwanted spirits is there, Mister Historical Society?”
Andrew laughed hard and Davis started chuckling, too. “I wonder if you still serve a Bluefoot Booby? I assume a Davis mixes a mean one.”
Davis led him up the steps through the wide-open reception room where he was told to leave his bag. They went on to the day bar in the front of the building. Davis perched on the bar stool and waved a small hand until the barkeep noticed she was there. When she pulled her hat off, Andrew had a moment of disorientation.
From the rich depths of her drawl, he had expected an older lady. He found himself facing the dark olive skin and brown-red hair of a young, brown-eyed woman. Two tall glasses of frosty blue hellfire were put down before them. Davis tasted, then nodded with approval before setting it aside.
“I can’t help but wonder if you’re really related,” Andrew hazarded. “What did you mean about the spirit having manners?”
“Well, I’ll say a story, Mister Wells….”
“All right, Drew then,” Davis easily agreed. “These two spirits have been peaceful guests, playing tricks and messing with tourists for more years than the lions have guarded the bridge. Up ’til now, it was fine. I thought I was safe up there. I stayed alone the other night and… something bad happened. There’s no telling what he’ll do to the next young girl up there. For all I know, it might have been Black Roger, Dirty Davey Bonny, or both.”
“Are you hurt?”
“I think I fell. I’m bruised, sore, it wasn’t too bad,” Davis sniffed. “At the time, it were just like the stories said. I don’t think I was harmed in any way. But I can’t let paying guests stay up there under the circumstances. I can’t promise that this is perfectly safe any more. Have you got any idea how desperate my insurance company is to drop the coverage on this heap? It was built before fire codes was invented.”
“The stories say at least one man has to be present for Black Roger to appear,” Andrew pressed. “I guess that could just be tales, unless you could say for sure.”
“We got guest books up to the rafters. I’m sure,” Davis said.
“Maybe… um….” Andrew cleared his throat. “Isn’t the innkeeper here usually a man?”
“All right, he got after me like they say he does the boys. I’ll give you that for free,” Davis said. “But my Great Aunt Petie had the place for years and never had such a thing happen. Does it matter?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Andrew said. “I know all the stories about the possessions, Davis. You don’t act scared, that’s for sure.”
“I said I wasn’t,” Davis agreed, frowning slightly. “It just wouldn’t be right to go on letting that poor boy get killed every night. Not with what else is going on up in there.”
“Davis, you’ve got to stop jumping around over tourist tales,” Andrew said. “Why don’t you let me see what the space can tell me?”
“They don’t come out in daylight,” Davis said.
“They don’t play tricks on women either,” Andrew reminded.
Davis slid off the barstool. “Bring your drink. You might be one of those that needs a stiff belt when they see it the first time.”
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The Sea Turtle Inn is a hotel/bar once frequented by pirates. Now, paranormalist Drew Wells has been hired to investigate its haunting. Yet even as he learns more about the inn & its history, Drew finds himself more intrigued by the enigmatic proprietor Davis, whose secrets may prove key to finally putting the spirits to rest in this transgender, m/m, paranormal romance.
Also available in paperback!