Darkest Days, Blackest Nights by River Fairchild by River Fairchild - Read Online



Midnight lasts a bit longer tonight, its shadow cold and bruised. The bell tower strikes a thirteenth time, extending an invitation to the Danse Macabre—the dance of death. Don’t tarry. The others are waiting, anxious to share their tales before the music ends. 

Stories of lust, greed, vengeance, and death. Journeys of power. Woes of the fallen. Retaliation. Atonement. Loss. 

Even now, Death works on his special tribute. 

Will you be one of the honored guests? Think carefully. It may be the last decision you’ll ever make.

Published: River Fairchild on
ISBN: 9781513059518
List price: $0.99
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Darkest Days, Blackest Nights - River Fairchild

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Brush Strokes

Old and half-blind, Denae grasped the paint brush between gnarled fingers and put the finishing touches to what she knew would be her last painting. A soft smile crossed her face as she completed the final streak of blue in her signature. The art world had ridiculed her for years, calling her a hack and everything else under the sun. This was to be her crowning glory in a lifetime of struggle. They all would pay dearly for their snubs.

The brush slipped from her hand and she slumped to the ground.

Isn’t this Denae Anderson’s work? Michelle came up to stand beside Stuart, squinting at the canvas displayed at the annual San Francisco Art Exhibit and fundraiser.

Yes. Beautiful, isn’t it?

It’s gorgeous, but somewhat macabre. I mean, didn’t they find her dead with the paint still drying? Michelle twitched her shoulders and visibly shuddered.

You’re not superstitious, are you? Stuart chuckled as she lifted her chin a bit higher.

No, but... She leaned in closer, studying the far corner of the beautifully rendered garden. Isn’t that her?


Over in the tall flowers with the watering can.

Hm...I think you’re right. A self-portrait? Artist’s ego? Who knows? It’s certainly a tempting piece. The last one she ever painted. Another artist not given her due recognition until after death. Just look at the sweep of her brush strokes. Very unusual technique. The colors seem to pulse off the page as if depicting movement.

Oh, all right. She slapped at his shoulder. Get it if you want. I think it’d look stunning over the library desk.

Michelle insisted on mounting the painting on the library room wall as soon as they got home. Despite teasing Stuart about his obsession with the work of art, she had experienced its pull as well. There was something about it that drew the eye to search closer. To define the pattern she sensed dwelled just beyond the edge of her understanding. It was a puzzle, irresistible in its challenge to step in and solve the mystery.

Her fingers rose to touch the blooms in the tranquil garden scene. At the gallery she’d thought most of the nearer flowers had been new buds. Now she saw that many of them were actually opened in full glory. Maybe it was the difference in lighting that tricked the eye.

Stuart called out to her from the other room, arresting the motion of her hand, leaving it hanging in midair. Are you still fussing with that painting?

No. I was admiring the flowers in it. Do you think we should replace the furniture in here with something more English Cottage style? She smirked, knowing the exasperated look which must be plastered on Stuart’s face at the thought of changing all the furniture...again.

Only kidding, she yelled before he could reply. After one last glance at the work of art, she left the room to join him for drinks. She could study the painting tomorrow in daylight. No telling what new things she might discover with a fresh eye and enough coffee to stimulate her imagination.

Sunshine spilled through the wide windows of the library as Michelle carried her coffee into the room the next morning. Stuart had left for work and she didn’t have morning classes to teach today. She sat at the table by the window, but turned her back on the lovely view of the city spread below, the Golden Gate Bridge shining brightly in the distance.