SHORTS FROM THE SHELF features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, administrator of SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. The story line featured currently is “Haunted by Dreamer Shores,” which will run over the next four consecutive days. This is Part One.

The Lockwood family moved to the city about a month ago. With Olly Lockwood being wealthy, everyone knew about the family’s comings and goings on a global media stage. They’d specifically moved into this upper scale neighborhood so that the wife, Breah, could live near and get to know the son she’d secretly had as a teenager that her parents secretly gave away. Every one of her new neighbors knew that part of her story. Once the media caught wind, they couldn’t let go.

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That headline proved to be everywhere, and hard to hide.

What the Lockwood family worked hard to hide were Breah’s troubled past from the years in between. Her husband Olly married her regardless and the two of them vowed to make a clean start. Olly even paid a private investigator friend of his, Vienna Wendale , to find out how much people in the area knew about Breah and her past before they made the final move. He wanted to be sure to protect his family.

However, during their first Halloween season in the neighborhood, Breah and her family would learn that some things haunt you that you can’t control.

Breah and Olly took their family to meet the neighbors at a Halloween block party. Their first stop was the house next door. A beautiful woman, looking no more than in her mid to late twenties, answered.

“Hello,” she said, a bit cautiously at first. Then she recognized Breah.

“Oh, you’re our new neighbor. The one that’s been in the news.”

Breah couldn’t tell if the woman thought this to be good or bad.

“I’m Tessa Royale,” she said. “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

Breah recognized the last name. The Royales – not just this family in particular, but the whole clan – came from fairly wealthy stock.

“My husband Clif has taken my children over to a friend’s home. But do please come over another night. I’d really love our children to meet.”

That did happen, and soon the kids went over for regular play dates. One evening, Olly and Breah planned on the two of them just having a romantic dinner at home until a masked man with a gun broke in.

“I want your wife,” the man with the mask and the gun insisted.

“You’re not taking her out of this house!” Olly insisted.

“Your bedroom will do fine,” he said. “Or perhaps right here, if you care to watch. We both know she’s been around with other men while together with you. She can do this for me.”

Breah then understood what the perpetrator meant.

“Look, you can take everything here we have, sell it. Get the attention of any woman you desire. There are so many women out there whom you could take.”

The perpetrator stepped closer, and shoved the gun in her face.

“But it wouldn’t be you, Breah. It needs to be you. No one else.”

Breah and Olly both recognized the voice now.

“Collin Weatherton?” they both said aloud, believing that the person they faced was the man Breah’s family originally wanted her to marry.

The perpetrator pulled the ski mask off, showing they were both correct in their assumption.

“This would have been so much easier if I could have stayed anonymous. But since you’ve figured it out, why hide? Better you know who has come to demand what is due his family.”

Collin nudged the gun toward the direction of the staircase leading upstairs.

“Your kids will be home in a couple hours from the community party. We don’t have all night.”

Breah didn’t expect that. Collin actually cared about what this might do if her kids came home and found them like this. She couldn’t understand how the same man who pulled her away from Dreamer Shores and demanded she debase herself an an exotic pregnant dancer would actually be concerned about this. Something seemed to have changed about him.

“What do you feel you’re due, Weatherton? After everything you did to my wife?” Olly pointed out, no regard for the gun in Collin’s hand.

Breah looked Collin straight in the eye. Where she expected anger, but saw only sadness and pain.

“There’s more to this story. There always was, wasn’t there, Collin? Tell me.”

Breah hoped this would work. She pressed to continue her point.

The gun shook in Collin’s hand.

“But what would you care?”

Breah held up her hand.

“Put the gun down, Collin,” Breah said gently. “Please.”

Breah wondered what Olly might be thinking right now, but only for a moment. Right now, this was about her family. Not just her family with Olly, but all of her family.

“You’re just trying to trick me.”

“No, no I’m not, Collin,” Breah said, continuing to use his name. “I want to talk to you. But I can’t with a gun in my face.”