Title: A Demon Inside
Author Name & Publisher: Rick R. Reed (DSP Publications)
Publication Date & Length: August 25, 2015 – 284 pgs
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.
But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter’s terror.
Hunter wasn’t sure how much time had passed as he wandered the rooms, thinking, but he knew he should be getting back to Ian. He remembered there was a back staircase, not nearly as grand as the large curving one at the front, but closer. It led down to the kitchen and was narrow, for utilitarian purposes only.
The stairway was close… and dark. Hunter needed to grip the walls as he made his way down the raw wooden stairs. Before he even saw it, he felt it, the web of a spider, sticky yet almost ephemeral, clinging to his face. And in dim periphery, he saw a fat, hairy brown spider, alerted to a catch, begin to make its way toward his face. Hunter struggled to get out of the web, trying to tear the gluey strands away from him. He gasped as some of the web got into his mouth and was horrified at the thought that the spider might follow suit.
He pushed onward down the stairs, stumbling, the web clinging to him, accompanied by the crawly sensation of the spider now making its way through his hair. From below he heard laughter. He realized Ian must have returned to the house and glimpsed his predicament. The laughter grew along with Hunter’s horror at the web. He batted at it, struggling to get down the stairs and away from the spider.
After jumping down the last few stairs, Hunter managed to get most of the spider’s web off himself and at last to fling the advancing beast to the floor. He looked back to see it scurry away.
He had a few choice words for Ian, which he started right in on before even seeing the man. “What’s wrong with you? Couldn’t you have helped me? Who knows if that damn spider wasn’t poisonous? And to laugh at me! I just don’t get—” Hunter stopped talking all at once in the middle of the bright, sun-drenched kitchen.
He was alone.
“Ian?” Hunter moved through the other rooms. Ian was nowhere to be found.
“Ian? This isn’t funny. Come out now.” Behind him he heard giggling. Hunter whirled around and was confronted with only empty space. This was not like Ian at all, not at all like the kind but rather staid and humorless friend of the family Hunter had always known. He did one more search of the first floor rooms, assuring himself that all were empty.
Hunter hurried from Beaumont House and stood for a moment after closing and locking the doors behind him, composing himself. The sensation of being watched returned once more, and this time Hunter could pinpoint where it came from. He turned quickly, surveying the upstairs windows, but all of them were dark, reflecting only the sun.
Hunter knew the car was just a few yards away, but as he rushed to it, his foot caught on a bramble, which brought him to his knees. He skinned his hands as he went down. “Jesus,” he whispered… and then tensed. He could feel someone behind him, drawing closer. He was sure it wasn’t Ian. Hunter squeezed his eyes shut, muscles tensing, as he felt hot breath on his neck. He wanted to scream but had no voice.
He turned quickly.
And there was no one there.
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”