Here at The Fantasy Review, we are very happy to present a book excerpt of Holly and Oak by Ash Tough. A book description and links can be found at the end of the article. Let us know what you think of this excerpt in the comments!
Book Excerpt: Holly and Oak by Ash Tough
Twins: two unique souls united by birth. – Unknown Author
A dark Ford Explorer SUV pulled to a stop outside of a two-storey, Greek Revival Colonial-style house. The house had been converted into four condominiums several years earlier. It was perfectly situated in Capitol Hill in Seattle on a quiet tree-lined street lined between several other beautiful homes.
A slimly built woman, with long, luxurious dark brown hair, captivating emerald green eyes, a strong jawline, alabaster skin and a charming smile, stepped out of the car and onto the curbside. The 28-year-old was named Rowan Ashley. She was wearing dark blue jeans, a dark grey shirt under a leather jacket with knee-high, black boots.
Rowan knew that she had, at various times in her life, been described as the human equivalent of a golden retriever. While she had initially been offended by such a description, she had grown to appreciate that the sentiment was a testament to her loyalty, good-hearted, irresistibly nice, personable, friendly and positive nature, which was often accompanied by a tendency to be a little goofy and overly eager at times.
Just as Rowan shut the door, her mobile phone rang. She stopped to lean against the side as she fished her mobile phone out of the pocket of her form-fitting jeans. The name on her phone’s display read ‘Captain Tomas Montoya’. Captain Montoya, like Rowan, was a member of Seattle’s Police Department.
Rowan enjoyed working under Captain Montoya as, on most days, she appreciated his no-nonsense and by-the-book approach. Today was not one of those days, though, as she needed more than platitudes about how she followed procedure. For Rowan, following procedure meant nothing when it resulted in her partner in the hospital fighting for her life. Rowan needed someone to tell her the truth, or at least what she wanted to believe was the truth; she needed someone to tell her that there was something more that she could have done.
Rowan sighed and rubbed the nape of her neck before she started to walk towards the door of her ground-floor apartment in the house in front of her as she answered her phone and placed it on speaker. ‘Hello, Captain.’
‘Detective,’ said Captain Montoya in lieu of a greeting. ‘Are you still at the hospital?’
‘I just got home.’ The tight fabric of her jeans enveloped her fingers as she fished for her keys. ‘I needed to grab a change of clothes before I head back to the hospital.’
‘Was there any news on Eddie before you left?’
He was referring to Detective Edana Caulfield, or Eddie as she was more commonly known. Eddie had been Rowan’s partner for the Seattle Police Department for the last eighteen months. Rowan had only just, albeit reluctantly, left the hospital where Eddie was fighting for her life after being injured during what had started as a routine canvass of witnesses before it went drastically sideways.
‘Yes.’ She spun her keychain around her index finger. ‘She has three broken ribs, a punctured lung, a lacerated spleen and a severe concussion. They were taking Eddie into surgery when I left.’
Even Rowan, with all her positivity and optimism, knew that Eddie’s prognosis sounded grim. However, as grim as that prognosis was, it was so much better than her initial assessment. There had been several seconds when she first saw Eddie on the ground that Rowan had been sure that it was going to be a lot worse. Rowan was not sure whether she had ever been as scared as she had been in that moment when she was struggling to find Eddie’s pulse. She had even been relieved for a moment when the emergency room doctor had first given her Eddie’s prognosis. That relief was short-lived, though, when the gravity of Eddie’s situation sunk in.
As Rowan turned the doorknob to open her front door, she felt someone come up behind her. Before she could react, her head was slammed into the jamb of her front door. Rowan, slightly dazed, dropped her phone and keys as she dropped to her knees.
‘Detective? Rowan?’ asked Captain Montoya in concern as Rowan reached for her service weapon.
Before Rowan can pull her service weapon from her holster, the figure behind her stabbed her twice in the back; one stab between two ribs into her lung and one stab between two other ribs into her liver. Rowan continued to hear Captain Montoya dimly asking whether she was okay as she fell forward against her front door.
The weight of Rowan’s body pushed the door open, revealing her living and dining room. It was filled with the assortment of furniture that Rowan had been able to cobble together over the years. As she tried to place a hand against her back to staunch the bleeding, her gaze landed on one of the two things that were more about design than function. It was a large black-and-white photo of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge. She had purchased it and another large black-and-white photo of New York’s Flatiron building when she first felt something calling her to New York. She only hoped that she had the chance to see them in person one day.
SIX WEEKS LATER
Another 28-year-old-woman with the same slim build, as well as the long, luxurious dark brown hair, captivating emerald green eyes, a strong jawline, alabaster skin and a charming smile, walked across the ground floor of the converted condominium apartment in the Greek Revival Colonial-style house. The apartment was empty of all furniture and belongings.
The woman standing in the apartment was wearing a navy lace trimmed blouse and black slacks as she walked across the living and dining room to look out of the room’s large windows. Her name was Katherine Matthews.
Kate knew that people perceived her, and rightly so, to be a motivated and determined perfectionist with unrealistic expectations of herself. She also knew that people misconstrued her introversion and guardedness for an aloof detachment. She felt that this could not be further from the truth as she had an incredible capacity for kindness, loyalty and compassion. However, she knew that she preferred to display such traits through everyday gestures instead of more ostentatious grand gestures. She also measured these qualities against a responsible and dutiful nature.
‘As I was saying,’ said the real estate agent from behind Kate, ‘this apartment just exudes warmth. It has 931 square feet of living space. It has a classic open floorplan with oak hardwood floors, high ceilings, large picture windows and pocket doors. The owners would like to have a new tenant as soon as possible. The owners updated the kitchen about two years ago. It is through to your left.’
Kate turned to look at the real estate agent standing behind her. She had introduced herself to Kate as Agatha Trueman. Agatha was only a centimetre shorter than Kate and had wavy blonde hair that came to just past her shoulders, and warm brown eyes. Kate would have guessed that Agatha was of a similar age to her, being in her late twenties or early thirties. Even in the short time that she had been around Agatha, Kate had realised that the other woman was highly motivated and determined bordering on stubbornness. Admittedly, Kate thought, those were traits that well-suited Agatha to her chosen profession.
Kate wandered away from the window to glance in the kitchen as Agatha continued.
‘The master bedroom is back this way. It has double glass French doors, which open to a rounded balcony.’
Slowly, Kate turned back towards Agatha. The apartment suddenly darkened. The empty spaces filled with an eclectic array of furniture that suddenly materialised out of thin air. The furniture looked like that odd mix that one would normally see in someone’s first apartment. On the wall between the foyer and the doorway to the master bedroom, there was a large black-and-white photo of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge. On the wall between the doorway to the second bedroom and the kitchen, behind the couch, there was another large black-and-white photo of New York’s Flatiron building.
A woman, wearing a rain jacket, jeans and rubber galoshes, walked through the front door and hallway before she walked into the living room. The woman dropped a bag next to the doorway then walked to the couch and sat down. She picked up a remote from the coffee table and turned on the television. In the low light from the television, Kate finally saw the other woman’s face. It was identical to her own.
The darkened room filled with furniture suddenly dissolved, leaving her standing in the empty and sunny apartment facing Agatha. ‘Ms Matthews?’ asked Agatha as she cocked her head slightly to the left. ‘Is everything all right?’
Kate offered Agatha a tight smile to cover her surprise before she walked past her to look at the master bedroom. ‘What can you tell me about the owners?’
‘An older couple owns the property,’ said Agatha after a brief pause. Kate assumed that the other woman had been waiting on some explanation as to why she had suddenly spaced out and was slightly disconcerted when she found that an explanation was not forthcoming. ‘They purchased the property about four years ago when it was converted into a condo. From memory, they were downsizing. They lived here until two years ago when they moved to a nearby retirement community. They have been renting it out to their daughter ever since.’ ‘Please tell me they didn’t evict their daughter,’ said Kate as she tilted her head slightly in confusion.
‘No, they didn’t,’ said Agatha softly. ‘Their daughter died. She was killed about six weeks ago. The owners aren’t sure whether they want to hold on to the property but they are relying on the rental income until they can decide.’
‘Hence the highly motivated part?’ asked Kate.
‘Should I be concerned about my safety here or in this neighbourhood?’ ‘No.’ Agatha’s brows knitted together in a frown. ‘Why would you ask that?’
‘You did just say that the woman that lived here was killed less than two months ago,’ said Kate.
‘Right, no. She was a cop killed in the line of duty. Her death had nothing to do with how safe this building or this neighbourhood are,’ said Agatha before she paused. ‘So, would you like a rental application?’
‘Yes, I’d appreciate that,’ said Kate. ‘I’d also like to be notified if the owners are interested in selling.’
‘Would you be interested in buying the property if they are?’ asked Agatha in surprise.
Kate only smiled, more genuinely, in response.
Holly and Oak: Description
A DEADLY CAR ACCIDENT STEALS KATE’S LOVER FROM HER LIFE AND SHE LOSES EVERYTHING…
Running from the life she had built in New York to attempt a new life in Seattle, Kate is determined to run from her demons before they swallow her whole.
Instead of the desired new beginning, Seattle holds the ruins that threaten to overwhelm her once more.
Kate learns of a twin sister, along with her death, and finds the remnants of a decades-long civil war that tore her unknown family apart.
A new world suddenly reveals itself to Kate; one populated by Faeries, wolf-shifters, kitsune and a vast array of other Fae – some determined to protect her and some hellbent on ending her…
Kate must stand against the forces assembling and stop the darkness consuming her or lose even more than she first thought sacred…
- Website: https://www.ashtough.com.au/
- Linktree: https://linktr.ee/ashtough
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/ash.tough
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/Holly-Oak-Season-One-1/dp/1922851906/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=