Thea and Paul's lives take a bit of a turn into the paranormal in this latest adventure when they dig up a human bones in their own backyard. Excitement in the town of Snohomish, WA abounds and friends and relatives lose what good sense they possessed over rumors of a buried treasure the skeleton was supposedly guarding. Some convene a seance to seek help from the hereafter, and others take a more direct approach and go right for the digging.
Here's an excerpt from Chapter One of BushWhacked
Even as loud as it was, the diesel tractor's grumbling did not drown out my sister Juliet's scream. I whirled and spotted her across the yard, by my house, partially concealed by the big rhododendron. Her second scream, a prolonged howl, set my pulse into a panicked lick in a single beat. The shovel I'd been using, to improve a temporary home at the back of the garden for the big old rhody, flew from my hands with the force of a home-run swing.
Blood, and a lot of it, was my first thought.
I booked it, straining to see as I ran from the end of my yard toward the house. Unfortunately for me, the half-uprooted rhododendron hid most of Juliet. From sixty feet away all I could see was the flashing of pink parka and red Wellies in a frantic, blurry motion that took her nowhere. No way could I determine what had gone so wrong -- and with my twenty-three-year-old younger sister, assuming the worst was always the safest bet.
However, the jerky, marionette-gone-berserk leaps accompanying her continual high-pitched shrieking had me reconsidering after a few frantic strides. I cut my pace to a walk.
Mice, and a lot of them, was my second thought.
No doubt we'd uncovered a nest of the little critters (previously) sleeping through the cold, wet December, doubly protected in their cozy burrow by the dense evergreen branches of the rhody and the foundation of my house.
Without warning, Juliet's panic found a forward gear. Unfortunately Paul, my fiancé, was also by the house -- and standing directly in her path. With the speed of a fat man on a zip line, she slammed him onto his back in the sodden grass and kept going. The shovel he'd held arced gracefully through the air and pierced the center of the kitchen window, shattering the glass with Hollywood drama.
Juliet's fiancé, Eric, driving the borrowed tractor and finessing the heavy lifting of the rhody, took a slow minute to notice her hysteria -- understandable, since he was practically sitting on the noisy engine. He made up for the oversight with the speed in which he abandoned the machine and rushed after her. They both disappeared around the corner of the house without a backward glance.
I hot-footed it to Paul, although he'd regained his feet before I was half-way there.
"Are you okay?" I asked, ignoring my sister's still audible, though incoherent, babbling.
"Yeah." He snagged his knit cap off the ground and pulled it back on over his dark hair, then brushed plant debris and dirt-on-the-verge-of-mud off his butt. I helped. "Looks like we've got another window to replace. What the hell was that all about?"
"Probably a family of mice who thought they were hibernating. She was practically standing on the rhody while Eric lifted it out of the ground. The poor, groggy little things probably ran laps around her feet."
"Mice don't hibernate, Thea," he said, striding the few paces toward the rhody before I was done brushing him off. I trotted after him and took another couple of swipes. "In Western Washington, the winters are so mild they probably don't even --" He breathed an oath with religious overtones -- a new habit I noticed a few days ago when he'd returned from his Christmas visit with his family in Minneapolis. Crouching by the base of the plant, he pushed the leafy branches aside.
With my line of sight cleared, there was no need to ask what had grabbed his attention. Dangling from a root was a dirt-colored human skull.