Spirits of Savannah Book #1
Date Published: 01-28-2022
Sophie seems to have it all, a thriving career at the MET, a handsome soon-to-be fiancé, and an eccentric father who is the toast of the academic world. Yet, fate has other plans for her. After the death of her father, she starts to see visions of a beautiful woman who claims that Sophie needs to return home and take care of some unfinished business.
But where is home? And what business? Unexpectedly, she receives a strange invitation from a mysterious organization in Savannah, Georgia. Determined to find out more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death and her sudden ability to see the dead, she accepts.
Welcome to Savannah, Georgia, a city so beautiful that it was spared from the wrath of Union General William T. Sherman. In this city filled with the spirits of the dead, arching live oaks draped in picturesque Spanish moss, luxurious looming mansions, and men who have impeccable manners and voices as smooth as butter Sophie is an outsider. Yet, she begins to discover that maybe the answers that she has been searching for are closer than she expected… Step into the haunting yet beautiful world of Sophie and Savannah where the dead walk among the living and every nook and cranny has a mystery that demands to be solved.
Excerpt of Called
Brooklyn, New York
I pushed open the creaky door to my father’s study, a place where he had spent many sleepless nights examining documents from some far-flung corner of the world. Lost in thought as he carefully mulled over the validity of the papers and the possible reasons why they could have been mere forgeries or the biggest discovery of the century. Large mahogany bookcases which were filled with leather-bound books and parchments lined the walls which were painted an earthy red. A replica of the Mona Lisa smiled at me from one wall while Van Gough’s Starry Night mesmerized me from another. A large grandfather clock chimed loudly from one corner and caught me off guard.
I took a seat behind his gigantic wooden desk and sunk into the plush leather chair. The collection of imported spirits that sat on a small table beside the desk caught my eye and I poured myself some expensive scotch even though I didn’t like the stuff. The scent of fiery liquor mixed with that of the musky antique wood. As the first sip burned the back of my throat I felt like a school kid committing a crime, only there was no one to catch me. My father loved to collect these rare bottles whenever he traveled. He claimed that the monks held the secrets to the best liquor recipes in the world such as the pale green Chartreuse which was created in 1605. According to the legend of the Carthusian order, which still owns the recipe and the brand, it was Marshal d’Estrées who supplied the original recipe to the monks of the Carthusian monastery of Vauvertin Paris. It was, however, the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse of Isère that took over its production in 1737, following a recipe inspired by the original one and developed by the monastery pharmacist, Brother Jérôme Maubec. The same formula that was used so many years ago is still used today. I glanced at the vivid green bottle and figured that it would be my next drink. I missed him terribly at that moment. He had taught me something new every day.
When I had gone through my goth phase, he had simply laughed at me and told me that I wasn’t the type to give myself over to eternal darkness. At one point, he had been obsessed with finding the “real Dracula” and I had been obsessed with Twilight.
“Sophie, Vlad did not live in a castle in Transylvania and he did not sparkle in the sun. As for this Edward character, it is highly unlikely that he has any basis in historical reality.” He had calmly lectured me one Halloween as he helped me paint my face deathly white and helped place plastic fangs into my mouth which stopped me from overdosing on candy corn before we went out trick or treating.
“No?” I had tried not to sound disappointed.
“No. You see, Vlad or Dracula as you call him wasn’t always the villain of the story. He once was a young Prince who found himself held captive in a very dark and mysterious fortress in Turkey. Now, I don’t go telling the entire world, but we may have found the Turkish dungeon where he and his brother were locked up.”
My mouth had simply hung open at the possible discovery. “And where might this Turkish dungeon be?”
“My team and I have found numerous secret tunnels and two dungeons located at the ruins of Tokat Castle in northern Turkey. Deep, dark, and full of mysteries, those dungeons are full of unspoken words, desperation, and death. Something happened in those dungeons that transformed the young prince into a killing machine.”
My eyes had widened. “What?”
He had taken a deep breath and bit his lower lip as he always did when deciding if I was mature enough to hear the whole story. “Perhaps, his father placed him in that dungeon for him to transform into something more sinister. You see, in 1431, the young Vlad’s father was inducted into a strange and mysterious knightly order called, the Order of the Dragon. But, that’s enough of my stories, your friends are here and Halloween night has officially started. It is time for you to go and socialize with people your age and leave a boring old man to his musings.”
What I would have given to go back in time and ask him to tell me the rest of that story. But, I had been too excited to see Lisabeth and the rest of the gang that I had forgotten all about poor ol’ Vlad the moment they had arrived. Turns out, my father’s team had been correct as evidence had been found in those ruins at Tokat castle were where the young Vlad at been held. As I nursed the drink, I opened the desk drawers looking for something, anything that resembled a good-bye letter, but there was nothing of the sort, only documents that looked as if they were for official business. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but it was something along the lines of P.S. I Love You, in which the main character was left with a heart-wrenching collection of good-bye memorabilia until she was finally ready to let and move on with her life. As my snooping progressed, my head started to get heavy and while it could have been my imagination, I heard what sounded like heavy footsteps making their way down the hall.
Puzzled, by who would be visiting unannounced I quickly rose from the seat and made my way towards the partly open door. My Ugg clad feet dragged across the ground slowly clearly an indication that I should have eaten before I hit the monk’s liquor. Before I could step outside, a thick, beefy arm covered in tattoos reached for my neck and started to squeeze. I attempted to scream, but words would not escape my lips. The beefy arm belonged to some thug wearing a black ski mask, a white wife beater, and leather pants so tight that he probably slept in them so he wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of taking them off and then putting them on. The stale scent of cigarettes and Budlight filled the air and made me nauseous. Lucky, for me, the self-defense classes that I had taken at my local gym came into play and I kneaded him hard in the balls. This caused him to release his grip and visibly shook him somewhat.
“You, bitch!” he hissed in a low voice that was enraged with fierce anger.
“You creep!” I screamed as I ran towards a heavy Chinese vase that rested on a low corner table. The thug was coming towards me, but before he could make another move, I closed my eyes and smacked him across the head with the vase which was quite a feat considering I stand at a measly five feet three inches and he towered over me like Andre the Giant. The attack caught him off guard and a gash appeared at the side of his forehead. Bright red blood started to rush onto his wifebeater, but that didn’t slow him down. He reached for my neck again, this time with more power, force, and savage aggression pinning me against the wall in mid-air.
“Tell me where it is and I’ll let you go. Do anything stupid, I have a toolkit of torture devices and all the time in the world on my hands,” he said. His tone was no longer angry. It was full of peaches and sunshine as if he had won the world’s largest jackpot. “I also have a lot of friends on speed dial who would do anything for a quick buck or two if you know what I mean. I hang out with the wrong crowd and I like to brag about it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I croaked through his leathery grip. “There’s no money in the house. I have a debit card with a few hundred bucks on it. Look, dude, I’m an adult, but I’m a starving student. You must know how high the cost of tuition and books is these days.”
He laughed and flashed me a set of pearly whites. “Look around you, this doesn’t look like a place where a starving student would live, now does it? No, it looks like a place where a trendy, snobby, elite princess would live. Of course, she doesn’t consider herself a princess because she’s too cool to have an Upper East Side apartment where all the other brats live. I bet you’ve never had to work a day in your life.”
I wanted to argue and show him my work schedule. But in the grand scheme of things, he had a point. He really did which made my case appear futile, but my father didn’t have a safe around, and I had no idea how much savings he had left me. After his death, I had avoided the numerous calls made by his very insistent lawyer. Money had been the furthest thing on my mind. I guess when you’ve never truly had to worry about where your next meal came from, you weren’t as hungry for free money. “No, but, I swear. I am a starving student. If you let me go, I can write you a check for a couple of hundred bucks. Look man, my dad just died. I don’t have time for this. Let me go.”
I wasn’t expecting sympathy from my masked, tattoo-clad offender, but I wasn’t expecting what I heard next either. “Yeah, I know that the old man’s dead. Everyone knows that’s why I’m here. Now, no more playing innocent. Just tell me where it is and I’ll let you go. I don’t like to kill unless I’m really pissed off. Besides, I couldn’t kill you if I wanted to unless you hand it over. You live and I live, this is a matter of life and death for the both of us.”
About the Author
Kira Saito is the author of the Arelia LaRue Series and The Girl on Prytania Street. She loves writing twisty books with soul, suspense, and magic.