Life is like riding an elevator... just make sure you get off on the right floor.

Hello.  My name is Virginia, although I live in Georgia… Atlanta, to be precise.  Two years ago I happily clutched my degree in Hospitality Management, smug with the knowledge that I'd always have job security because no matter what, people would always travel, right?  And then the pandemic happened.  I feel guilty complaining about losing my job in the midst of so much tragedy, but it came on the heels of a bad breakup, and being partially abandoned by my jet-setting parents.  I was shook.

Thank goodness the economy is starting to reopen, but because so many hotels have closed permanently, there are three people for every hospitality job available, and I don’t have enough experience to even warrant an interview.  So when I heard of an opening at a historic hotel in Midtown that’s allegedly haunted, I showed up in person to beg for the job.  I naively told the eccentric owner I’d do anything… and that’s how I wound up being an Elevator Girl.

What’s an Elevator Girl?  Stay tuned, friends, for the story.  There are ghosts, an unsolved murder, and some of the most oddball guests imaginable.  Oh, and the mind-bending secret I stumbled upon in the basement.  In between I spend a LOT of time riding up and down, wondering where my life went wrong and how I can get off this ride.

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The *FREE* ELEVATOR GIRL daily serial begins Thursday, July 1 and will run through December 31.  Come back to this page every day for a brand new episode!  Be sure to share with your reading friends so they can get in on the fun.   

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(Note:  Daily episodes display from approximately 4am Eastern to 4am Eastern.  If you'd like to catch up on the story or read ahead, novellas of each month's episodes are available in ebook exclusively from Amazon, see links at the top and bottom of this page.  Happy reading!)

BONUS SCENE! November 30, Tuesday (continued) AND December 1, Wednesday

When I realized I was trapped with Eloise’s murderer at knifepoint, I wheeled to try to escape, but my overnight bag made me clumsy.  When I fell into the closed doors of the freight elevator, the steel was solid under the palm of my hand.  I lunged for the Open Door button, expecting at any second to be stabbed in the back.

“Not so fast,” Aaron Cassidy said, grabbing me from behind with one arm.  For a man of his advanced age, he was shockingly strong.  He spun me around and put his face close to mine.  “Why couldn’t you just let sleeping dogs lie, huh?”

My mind reeled and fear clogged my throat. “You were Eloise’s m-married lover.”

“Yeah,” he said with a sneer.  “I offered to leave my wife, but Eloise said she didn’t want to be married.”

I could feel the blade of his knife against my ribs as I panted in terror.  “Th-Then she got engaged to Matthew Vaughn.”

“Yeah… lying bitch. I confronted her and she laughed in my face, said she had big plans and she’d never marry a cop.”

Behind me I could feel the elevator numbers panel.  Mentally I tried to recall where the buttons were located… if the door opened to the ground floor, help was far away, down the unused corridor to the Coronado lobby, and he probably wouldn’t let me get far.

“I understand why you were angry with her,” I said, trying to buy time.  “You struggled here on the elevator… you probably only meant to scare her.”

“Yeah,” he said, easing his grip a fraction.  “I just wanted to talk… but she hit me in the face and broke my glasses.”

The bloody shards I’d found in the seam of the elevator.

“I was furious, and I literally couldn’t see… I was trying to get her off me, so I stabbed her.”

I and a jury might buy that he’d stabbed her once in self-defense, but multiple times?  “You don’t have to hurt me,” I said.  “Let me go… I won’t tell anyone, I promise.”

“Liar,” he hissed.  “You’re a busybody… like Eloise. You don’t know your place.  I was a good cop,” he said in a choked voice.  “Before Eloise and after Eloise, I was a good cop.”

I frantically depressed a button, praying it was for the basement.  When the car lurched downward, I celebrated for a split second before Cassidy grunted and pressed the blade into my side.  “What did you do?”

“It was an accident,” I said, shrinking away from him. When the door opened, the music from the Wayback Lounge blasted us.  I wrenched away and practically fell into the hallway, dropping my bag in the process.  He dove after me and tripped over the bag.  I felt the knife slice into the skirt of my uniform, heard the rip of vintage fabric give way.  I didn’t know if I was wounded, my only focus was on reaching the rear door of the lounge.  Help was on the other side… Alec.

Cassidy tackled my legs and I went down hard on the concrete floor, forcing all the wind from my lungs.  I gulped to drag air back into my body while trying to kick him off.  I managed to stand, but before I could move, the door to the lounge opened and a man emerged.

I whimpered in relief when I saw the police badge at the man’s belt —I was saved.

Then in horror I realized it was young Aaron Cassidy.  I was screwed.

He stared at us. “What the hell?”

“Help me,” I cried, moving toward him.

But the men were staring at each other, stupefied, mirror images except one was old, one was young.

“What is this place?” the older Cassidy said, his eyes wide.

I decided to take advantage of their confusion and lunge for the door.

“Get her,” the older Cassidy said, and the younger man snagged my arm.  He was, I realized, much stronger.

“What’s going on?” young Cassidy said.

“He killed Eloise,” I blurted, then swallowed.  “You killed Eloise.”

The young detective’s face blanched.

“Help me get her back on the elevator,” older Cassidy said.  “I’ll take care of this.”

“No,” I said, trying to twist away.  “Help!” I shouted.  “Somebody—”

A strong, young hand clamped over my mouth.  The two men walked me back to the freight elevator and the older Cassidy shepherded me inside, the knife against my neck.  “If you scream, I’ll slit your throat.”  Then he looked at his younger self.  “You get the hell out of here.”

The younger man stared for a few seconds, then bolted away.

Older Cassidy used his elbow to push the lobby button and the doors closed.  “What was that?” he asked, his voice anguished.

“That was you,” I gasped, afraid to swallow. “Fifty years ago.”

“That’s not possible,” he murmured.

“It’s real,” I said.  “When you murdered Eloise, a time portal opened.  She’s been traveling back and forth, hoping someone would solve her murder.”

“That’s… that’s… cra…zy.”  He grunted as if in pain.  When I felt his grasp loosen a fraction, I threw my weight to the floor and brought him down with me.  My head was yanked back and I realized he’d grabbed my gold necklace.  It was cutting into my neck, choking me.  The doors opened onto the shadowed corridor and I fought to get away.  He let go of my necklace, but lashed out with the blade.  Pain lit up my shoulder, but I kept crawling and kicking.

Then he must have stabbed me in the head… the pain was intense… I think I screamed before everything started to fade.

This was how Eloise had felt every time she’d died…  ~

 

December 1, Wednesday

The surface at my back was cold and hard… a slab in the morgue?  I blinked my eyes open and slowly acclimated to the dim light.  A familiar musty odor tickled my nose.  I was in the corridor outside the freight elevator.  And I was alive.

Maybe.

I moved and my shoulder blazed with pain. I gasped and rolled over on the opposite shoulder, but when my hand made contact with another person, I cried out.  Disoriented, I retreated until I sat with my back against the concrete wall.  My heart had lodged in my throat and my head ached.  Gulping for air, my gluey mind chugged to remember what had happened…

The confrontation with Cassidy… the ride to the basement… the man coming face-to-face with the younger version of himself… then he’d stabbed me as I’d tried to get away.

My shoulder was sticky with blood, but I didn’t appear to be actively bleeding.  Recalling the sharp pain to my head, I lifted my hand to check for a knife wound but didn’t find one… maybe the sudden headache and blackout had triggered by the quick trip to 1971 and back, perhaps exacerbated by the trauma of being attacked.

My eyes were acclimating to the semi-darkness… I could make out the figure on the floor which I assumed was Cassidy.  Had he passed out?  Accidentally injured himself?  I needed light. My phone… where was my phone?  Had I dropped it?

Avoiding his body, I felt around on the floor with my good arm, slowly making my way toward the freight elevator on all fours.  When my hand encountered something solid, I recognized my overnight bag.  I vaguely recalled packing it… I’d been going back to spend the night with Alec because I thought he’d sent me a message through Otis.

Instead the retired detective had been lying in wait.

I unzipped the bag and frantically fumbled through the contents.  When my hand curled around my phone I nearly wept with relief.  The screen came alive and I saw it was one o’clock in the morning—I’d been out for hours.  I brought up the flashlight app and turned it toward the figure on the floor.

Aaron Cassidy lay face up, unmoving, his eyes and mouth open, his face frozen in a mask of agony.  I shuddered.  He didn’t appear to be alive, but I thought it prudent to call 9-1-1.

“Send an ambulance to the Coronado Hotel,” I said to the dispatcher in a shaky voice.  “A man needs assistance at the freight elevator.” I declined to stay on the phone because I needed to make another call.

I pulled up Archie’s phone number, then hesitated.  It didn’t seem fair to call him for help in the middle of the night simply because my boyfriend was in another place.  Instead I phoned Detective Terry.  After a few rings, his groggy voice came on the line.

“Terry here.”

“Detective, it’s Virginia Hall.  Aaron Cassidy attacked me on the hotel freight elevator.”

He grunted, instantly alert.  “Are you okay?”

“He stabbed me in the shoulder and I passed out, but I’m okay… I just called an ambulance.  Cassidy is still here… he might be injured or dead, I’m not sure.”

“I’m on my way.  Get away from him if you can.  Can someone stay with you until I get there?”

“I’ll find someone,” I promised, then ended the call.

But I was exhausted and as much as I wanted to remove myself from the scene, I felt numb and emotionally spent.

Suddenly the sound of the freight elevator moving cut through the silence.  The lights above the doors indicated the car had been called to the basement.  My throat convulsed in terror—had the young Aaron Cassidy figured out the secret of the portal and was coming after me?

As the elevator climbed back to the lobby level and to me, I struggled to my feet.  I was in no shape to run from him, but neither would I go quietly.

My heart was galloping when the elevator doors slid open.  When Otis Mahan’s face came into view, I whimpered in relief.

“Virginia?” Leaning on his cane, he hobbled to my side and caught me as I crumpled.  “What on earth happened?”

“Aaron Cassidy,” I said, pointing to where he lay.  “He confessed to me he killed Eloise… and he tried to kill me.”  I was blubbering like a baby.

Otis emitted distraught noises.  “I’m taking you to a hospital.”

“I called an ambulance,” I said between sobs, “and the police are on their way.”

He pulled me into a hug.  “You’re okay now… it’s all going to be okay…” ~

A Note from the Author