I have a new book releasing on Tuesday and it’s the first book in a new series. I can’t even remember the last time that happened–it’s been that long! The Games We Play trilogy is set in and around a quirky old hotel (the Wild Geese Inn) that’s located in Atlas Beach–a fictional small town on the Jersey Shore. Each book features one of the three cousins who have recently inherited the inn from their grandmother. Gwyn, Luke and Brenda each have their own ideas about what needs to be done to make the hotel a success. Here’s a sneak peek:
[Brenda] eyed the others uncertainly. “So you really want to do this, huh?”
“Hell, yes, I want to do this,” Luke assured her. “I’ve always wanted my own bar, even if it is haunted.”
“Don’t be silly,” Gwyn told him. “The bar’s not haunted.”
“Of course it’s not!” Brenda agreed.
“It’s the hotel that’s haunted,” Gwyn continued. “The bar is infest—”
“Stop that,” Brenda interrupted angrily. “That’s what I started to say before. If you really want to do this, there are conditions. We have to stop with all the hocus-pocus.”
“For example?” Gwyn asked.
“Number one,” Brenda said, “the hotel is not haunted. It’s an old building, Gwyn. I know you love it. But you have to admit it’s not in the best of shape. The walls are too thin, the stairs creak, the pipes make noises, the lights flicker, it’s drafty—that’s all normal.
“And maybe you think it sounds romantic, but when you tell our guests that the hotel is haunted—”
“Which it is.”
“—you’re just calling attention to the hotel’s deficiencies.”
“What else?” Luke asked, jumping in before the girls got into it. Too much of his childhood had been spent watching the two of them fight and make up.
“Number two. There is no boggart in the bar.”
“Okay, stop,” he said, starting to get annoyed himself. “Now you’re going too far. You don’t know that for a fact.”
Brenda shook her head. “C’mon, Luke. How’s that even make sense? It’s an Irish bar; what would a mischief-making Scottish spirit even be doing there?”
Luke grinned. “Making mischief. Obviously. Besides, it’s people they attach themselves to, I think. They’re family spirits, like the bean sidhe. Who’s to say there’s no Scotch-Irish somewhere in our family mix? There’s some funny stuff goes on in that bar, Bren. I’ve seen it.”
Brenda nodded. “I’m sure there is. Do you know why people go to a bar in the first place?”
“To have a drink?” Gwyn suggested.
“Exactly. And what happens when people have a few too many drinks?”
“We make money?”
“They get clumsy. They trip over their own feet. Sometimes they fall down. They misplace things—their keys, their wallets, their phones.”
“Their clothes?” Gwyn smiled at her cousin. Brenda ignored her.
“They make stupid jokes and play stupid pranks and generally act—”
“Stupidly?” Luke supplied.
“And that’s all there is to it. There’s no supernatural troublemaker behind it. The only spirits in that bar are the ones that come in bottles.”
Gwyn gasped. “There’s a genie there now too?”
This time Brenda glared at her.
Luke sighed. “Is there a number three?”
“Yes.” Brenda pointed toward the restaurant’s dining room. “You know that odd-colored stone floor tile in the entryway?”
Luke and Gwyn exchanged a smile. “You mean the Blarney Stone?” they asked innocently.
Brenda glared. “No, I don’t mean the Blarney Stone,” she repeated mockingly. “For fuck’s sake, guys. The Blarney Stone is right where it’s always been. In Blarney Castle. It’s part of the friggin’ wall. No one chipped it out and shipped it across the ocean.”
“Okay, fine,” Gwyn said. “I’ll give you that one. I always thought that was crazy. What would the Lia Fiál be doing here?”
“The what now?” Luke asked.
“The Lia Fiál,” Gwyn repeated. “The Stone of Destiny? That’s what they used to call it.”
“Oh. Well, then that actually does make sense, doesn’t it?”
“That business about how if you kiss your true love while standing on the stone you’re destined to be together. Destined—get it?”
“Yes, Luke.” Gwyn rolled her eyes. “We get it. It’s still crazy.”
“Number four,” Brenda continued without waiting for the others. “There is no family curse.”
Luke and Gwyn looked at her in pained surprise. “Well, of course there isn’t,” Luke said. “You mean the ‘nothing will prosper the family Walsh in Atlas Beach until the Wild Geese return and are reunited with their loved ones’ nonsense? Yeah, that’s bullshit.”