Shushan Portal: Behind the Hollyhock Hedge by Gloria Pearson-Vasey

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After her sister dies, Meara Deleaney invites her bereaved nephew, Jackson, to accompany her on a book tour to Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Fearful of leaving the security of her apartment, Meara bolsters her courage by recalling the imaginary dragons she and her sister slew as children behind the hollyhock hedge.

As they travel in a motorhome from park to park and bookstore to bookstore, Meara and Jackson are unaware of the manipulating forces intent on preventing their return home. They do, however, realize they are being stalked and therefore welcome the company of another touring author, criminology professor Bartholomew Wolfe.

A long-standing professional relationship between the authors builds to romance and a persuasive invitation to seek shelter at the professor’s lodge. However, to reach the lodge, Meara—now accompanied by her nephew, niece and mother—unsuspectingly travels through a portal which exits in a future dimension near a fortress.

From there, the family is escorted under guard through dangerous territory to a lodge where metaphorical dragons lie in wait, and security comes at a price.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As bedtime neared, Meara was reaching for the television remote when the screen went dark. Simultaneously, the cabin lights dimmed to battery mode, the refrigerator switched from electricity to propane gas, and the microwave blinked off.

Meara and Jackson went outside to see if the power was out in the whole campground. It was an ideal summer night perfected by the sound of rolling surf, a sound they expected to later lull them to sleep in their motorhome haven. A breeze swept the scent of campfire smoke into the ocean-scented air. Small animals could be heard scuttling through nearby shrubbery, rustling twigs and leaves.

When it became apparent there was no generalized power outage, Jackson checked their electric outlet. The motorhome’s electric cord lay unplugged on the ground.

“Pranksters again,” he muttered as he bent to plug it in.

However, at the motorhome steps, Meara and her nephew came to an abrupt halt. On the vehicle’s bottom step lay a long-stemmed rose bearing an attached note.

Someone had stealthily placed it there in the brief time they were outside. Someone had been watching, waiting for the right moment to leave the rose.

No longer did the sound and smell of the ocean seem soothing. No longer did the scent of campfire smoke seem inviting. No longer did the rustling of twig and leaf seem friendly. They looked around nervously and saw no one.

About the Author: Gloria Pearson-Vasey weaves contemporary issues into her novels, and likes a story – be it literary fiction, historical fantasy or science fiction – to be authentic and end on a note of hope.

A member of The Writers’ Union of Canada, Pearson-Vasey has also penned non-fiction books on autism and pilgrimage.

The author feels blessed for experiencing the joy and chaos of merging child raising with career, camping, travel and pets.

She lives in a picturesque Ontario town, and enjoys reading, music, country drives and time with family and friends.

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