The Longing and the Lack
(The Unliving #1)
Publication date: September 19th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal
“Gothic curses, deadly love affairs, and vengeful ghosts combine to make this paranormal mystery a compelling page-turner.” — Tina Connolly, Nebula-nominated author of Ironskin
Lucinda Hightower is no stranger to death.
Since she was a child, Lucinda has been haunted by rabid dogs, suicidal crows, and the ghost of a woman in white. All are omens signaling someone’s imminent demise—except Lucinda’s friends and family are still breathing.
The omens follow her to Ireland and the quiet university in her father’s hometown, increasing in strength and frequency once she meets Damien Reed. A handsome third year student, Damien thrusts himself into Lucinda’s life almost immediately and caresses away the unsavory reputation that shadows him.
It’s not until the ghost sinks her nails into Damien that he reveals his secret: the death omens are for him.
They’re the manifestations of a curse that claims the life of the eldest Reed son every generation. Damien’s time is nearly up. If Lucinda is to save him, she must solve the mystery of her family curse, and lay a spirit’s rage to rest.
A dark romance for fans of Diane Setterfield and the TV show Supernatural, The Longing and the Lack is a Gothic story for the modern age.
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C.M. Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN and the paranormal series, “The Unliving”. His enduring love of fantasy started young. Now, he explores the rules and ramifications of magic in his own works—and as a trans, panromantic asexual, he’s committed to queering his favorite genres. In his spare time, he plans his next tattoo (there will always be a next tattoo) and watches too much Netflix. Anything left over is devoted to his tireless quest to make America read more. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his darling husband Matt and adorable dog Jay.
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Damien’s home turned out to be a quintessential country manor—three glorious stories of whitewashed brick crawling with trellised ivy and roses, roughly half an hour from the university. Teddy pulled up a long drive and into a circular lane directly in front of the house, stopped the car, and opened the door for Damien. Lucinda waited for her host to come around to her side; when her door opened, Damien smiled warmly down at her and offered her his hand.
“My great-granduncle had much of the facade redone in the Gothic style toward the end of his life,” Damien said, looking up at the turrets and buttresses. “The family were practically exiled until it was all finished. The place was uninhabitable.”
“I wonder what must have spurred such an endeavor,” Lucinda remarked.
Damien was silent for a moment. “His letters from that time hint at a passionate affair with an unnamed woman. He wrote that the house needed to be made worthy of her.”
A gargoyle perched over the manor’s double doors caught Lucinda’s eye. “Was he a widower?” she asked.
“Ah, no. He died quite young. My age, in fact.”
She tore her eyes away from the gargoyle and looked to Damien. He stared at her, his eyes shaded by the setting sun behind him, unreadable. She took a deep breath and did nothing but gaze back at him, unwilling to make a move until he showed some indication of whatever thoughts lurked behind his expression. Finally, he closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, they had a bright light within them.
“What a bore I am. I bring you here to sweep you off your feet, and instead, I end up spilling family tragedies,” he said quietly.
“With a house like this, how could your family not be tragic?” she replied.
The corner of his mouth twitched into the half-smile she was accustomed to seeing on him. “How indeed,” he said. “Come now, let me show you to your table.”
They linked arms once more and entered the house. It was quiet and dim, all dark stone and richly colored rugs. Damien led her up a grand staircase, and then through a large parlor with great glass windows. The creamy white furniture was cast in flaming hues of orange and red that faded to hazy gray-blue in the corners where the western light couldn’t reach.
“My mother’s preferred parlor. She loves the windows. The rest of the house frequently oppresses her; she says it’s too dark and claustrophobic for her tastes,” Damien said.
Lucinda laughed. “Well, I don’t mind dark spaces, but I must say that I agree with your mother. This room is glorious.”
“You’re not afraid of the dark, then.”
It was a harmless enough question, but it settled seriously on Lucinda’s shoulders and dampened her good mood ever so slightly. “The dark is nothing to be afraid of,” she replied.
Damien nodded. “I agree.”
He lifted his hand and gestured to the wall of windows. Upon closer inspection, Lucinda realized that one of them was actually a door onto a glass-enclosed balcony; she could see a table for two set in it. Light flared up as she watched; two women dressed in all black moved around the table, igniting the wicks of several dozen candles in tall candelabras.
She smiled, relieved to get to the dinner portion of the evening. She was powerfully curious about the rest of the house, but it seemed that every bit of information Damien provided about it led them down morose paths, and that was certainly not desirable—not nearly as desirable as the host himself, at any rate.
They entered the balcony. Damien pulled out her chair and tucked it under her as she lowered herself into it, then sat himself across from her. The table was covered in a cascading white tablecloth. Peaked black napkins sat over calligraphed menu cards, flanked on either side by an array of silverware. Lucinda smirked as she shook out the napkin and placed it in her lap.
“You don’t do things by half, do you, Mr. Reed?” she asked.
Damien shook out his own napkin. “I hope you’re not still concerned that this is all a manipulation.”
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