Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross

The March Special Guest Writers are Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross

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Spite House by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross. Coming 2021.


There's an island up in Gold Country at the northern end of Snapdragon Lake. It's named Manchester for the family that owns it, but the locals call it Spite Island. There's a single lonely mansion on that island and a group of authors have been invited there to write about its ghosts and its mysteries. But the real mystery is, who will still be breathing at the end of this luxurious and deadly retreat? 

Sins of the Night – Chapter 17

Paige Allen finally undressed and went to bed, but now she lay there silently berating herself. It had only been six months since she and Ryan had called it quits. The relationship had ended amicably enough - after several months of dating, the two simply lost interest in each other and mutually agreed they were better suited as friends than lovers. So, it wasn’t that Paige was “healing” or under any kind of emotional duress - and she certainly wasn’t on the rebound. 

Still, it seemed too soon to let herself take such a strong interest in Jeff Hastings - and yet here she was, thinking of him in the middle of the night, wondering what, if anything, he thought of her. It was pathetic, really.

Rolling over onto her side, she pulled the quilts higher. Her room - the nanny’s room - was exceedingly cold despite the space heaters. She wished she had a fireplace. 

She closed her eyes, intent on getting some sleep, and moments later found herself envisioning Jeff Hastings’ face. Nice jawline. Light blue eyes fringed by thick dark lashes. A strong nose. Lips that evoked erotic notions. Even his eyebrows were sexy. 

And that was just his face. As for the rest of him… 

Stop this! Paige opened her eyes, flipped to her other side, and punched her pillow. Just stop. It wasn’t like her. Having a little crush was one thing, but this was ridic-

Click, click.

She froze. It came from the nursery door at the far end of the room and sounded like someone was trying the knob, turning it one way then the other. Suddenly, Paige was nine years old, afraid of making a sound lest the monsters in the closet grab her. 

Ben had told her that door was the only way into and out of the locked nursery. Then how can anyone be in there?

She heard it again. More of a rattle than a turn. A shake - someone was quietly trying to get into her room!

Paige shot up and fumbled for the lamp. The blue-shaded fixture shot a cold eerie glow across the room just as the sound at the nursery door abruptly stopped.

Staring at the knob, breathing hard, she waited for it to rattle again. Paige was cold enough inside to match the chill of the room. She shivered, her heart pounding.

A creak sounded - small, careful as if whoever stood on the other side of the door was tiptoeing away. She didn’t like what this suggested: Someone was deliberately trying to get in! 


And perhaps more importantly: Why?

Nonsense. You’re acting like a child.

The room was silent.
Paige let out the breath she’d been holding and told herself she’d imagined the whole thing. 

And she might have believed it if not for quiet scratching on the nursery door.


Something howled behind the house. An owl answered. A raccoon came out in the light rain to rummage food for her kits. A badger dug a ground squirrel from its muddy home and ripped into it with sharp teeth.

Another howl. A wolf? Something else? The raccoon, holding a duck egg purloined from a deserted nest, looked around, worried. Grabbing a second egg, she fled back to her own den. The badger finished its meal and trundled toward the back pond, where the raccoon had just been. Halfway there it found the mutilated body of the duck and dragged it into the shelter of a broken cement cage hidden among the ferns; a cage that had once held monkeys; the badger could still smell them. There, it gnawed the cooling remains.

Something howled again.


The scratching stopped as suddenly as it began and the room fell preternaturally silent. Paige’s eyes were riveted to the nursery door. It’s locked. It’s always locked. No one can to be in there.  

But someone was - and they were trying to get into Paige’s room. 

After several minutes of quiet, she slipped out of bed and tiptoed across the long room toward the nursery door. She needed to check it, to make sure it really was locked. So, painfully aware that she was acting like one of the dumb girls in a bad horror movie, Paige approached the danger, and tried the knob. It was locked. She placed her ear against the heavy wood, straining to hear movement within.

Nothing. Nothing but that cold, slightly rotten smell - and she was sure now that it was coming from the nursery.

She swallowed convulsively, her mouth as dry as a stale Saltine. “H-hello?” The rusty croak of her voice unsettled her. She tried the knob again. It was definitely locked.

Slowly, carefully, she pressed her ear against the door once more. She had to hold her breath in order to hear, and even then, the thud of her heartbeat drowned out all else.

She stood back and stared. It couldn’t have been her imagination. It couldn’t. 

The keyhole was the old-fashioned kind.

Paige took a deep breath and crouched, pushing away images from horror movies as she peered into it.

Pitch darkness as her eyes adjusted… and then, slowly, she made out moonlit shapes. A pale oval.

A face! The knife-blade of a nose… a thin slash of a smile. 

An old woman, her skin dead pale, sitting in a chair, staring at her with bulging black eyes so filled with lunacy and hatred that Paige felt like she’d been shot through the heart with an arrow of ice.

By the time she noticed the frame and realized she was looking at a portrait, her pulse hammered so wildly that her fingertips tingled. She nearly wept with relief. The painting hung on the opposing wall and it was the only thing she could make out.

The woman in the portrait was hideous, perched like a great bird of prey in a wingback chair. Her eyes weren’t as large as Paige had initially thought but the gaunt, cadaverous face drew them out in ghastly relief.

Paige pitied the children who had been forced to spend their nights beneath the old woman’s terrifying gaze.

A black shadow blocked her view. 

The doorknob clicked softly. It sent her scrambling back across the room.

Shaking, Paige dragged a heavy wooden chair to the door and wedged it firmly beneath the knob. 

And then she stepped away, still staring, her eyes blurring with the almost icy tears that only true terror can bring. 

She couldn’t stay here another minute. She didn’t even bother to grab her robe before fleeing the room.

Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne joined forces in 2012 and in collaboration, they have written several novels including The Cliffhouse Haunting, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, and Mother. They are collaborating actively on several more novels and together, they also host the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which has featured such guests as Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, Christopher Moore, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, VC Andrews, Preston & Child, Charlaine Harris, and Christopher Rice. Currently, Thorne & Cross are writing the continuing Ravencrest Saga, and a sequel to Tamara’s Candle Bay, which will feature Michael, Winter, and Chynna from Alistair’s vampire novel, The Crimson Corset. 

spite house