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Terri Talley Venters
She cursed herself for staying up so late dancing and drinking with her friends. Her husband, Henry, yelled at her and made her go to her own room before the sunrise. "But this is the beginning of the season. I want to stay up and watch the sun rise at the Castillo de San Marcos," Ida recalled pleading her case.
Looking down at her ivory lace dress, she admired the intricate stitching of her new frock. Her corset cut into her ribs. She didn't remember putting it on this morning, nor did she recall removing it last night. These lapses in her memory concerned her, but not as much as they concerned her husband. She found huge blocks of time, hours or days, often unaccounted for. She blamed the spirits for this, while Henry blamed the opium.
She felt the broach at her throat and wished she had a mirror in her room to ascertain if her appearance proved acceptable for society. Damn you, Henry. Why did you take my mirror away? I'm not crazy. I won't hurt myself.
Ida found her way to the grand entrance to find the tour already in progress. Stephanie always spoke during the tours, while Ida merely helped guide the crowd of guests throughout the hotel. Ida tried to speak on occasion, especially when Stephanie said something wrong. But Ida's corrections were always met with strange looks, like she was crazy.
Outside in the courtyard, Ida spotted the group as Stephanie said, "Notice the centerpiece of the fountain is actually the hilt of the sword turned upside down."
Ida smiled at the beauty and uniqueness of the fountain in the courtyard of her husband's famous hotel in Florida.
The group poured back inside the grand entrance. Ida looked in horror at the wardrobe of the hotel's guests. She'd never seen the latest fashions from Paris, but it shocked her to see so many women showing their knees.
Ida followed at the rear of the group as they turned right into the receiving room. She loved this room because it was the only one which never changed. And the magnificent Tiffany chandeliers hung down the long length of the room. Her favorite part of the tour was next.
"When guests first arrived at the Ponce De Leon, the women and children were brought in here while their husbands paid for the hotel. Back then, woman were not allowed to be involved in financial transactions," Stephanie said.
"How much are these Tiffany chandeliers worth?" a guest asked.
"The Ponce De Leon hotel converted to Flagler College in 1968. Many items were sold, but not these chandeliers and the stained glass windows. We had these chandeliers appraised a few years ago, and because of their rarity, they are truly priceless. The Tiffany stained glass windows upstairs in the dining hall were appraised at $36 million," Stephanie said.
Stephanie led the group to the other end of the long room. She pointed at the glass casings containing photographs of Henry Flagler and his family.
"Here is a photograph of Henry's first wife, Mary Harkness. She died young, and Henry married her nurse, Ida Alice Shroud, who is photographed here. Henry had Ida declared insane and kept her locked away in the tower until she was institutionalized in 1899. In 1901, Florida passed a bill making incurable sanity grounds for divorce. Henry immediately divorced Ira who remained institutionalized until her death in 1930. In 1901, Henry married his third wife, also named Mary, who is photographed here," Stephanie said.
"It's a lie! I'm alive and I'm standing right here. I'm not dead and I'm not crazy," Ida shouted.
All of the guests in the room heard her this time. They turned and looked at Ida. But they didn't seem to be looking at her. Instead, they looked through her.
"Did anyone else hear that? I thought I heard someone screaming right in front of me," one of the guests said.
"I heard something too. And it is freezing right here in this spot. Look, I can see my own breath," another guest said. She exhaled her breath into the air to demonstrate it turning into white smoke from the cold.
"It's from the nitrogen in the air. When ghosts appear, they carry a strong dose of nitrogen with them. It's what makes it feel so cold when they're near," Stephanie said.
"Excuse me, did you say ghost?" the guest asked, instinctively stepping away from the cold spot.
"Yes, Flagler College is haunted. One of the spirits is Henry's second wife, Ida Alice Flagler."
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|Copper Cauldron by Terri Talley Venters|
Penelope Manchester, a good witch with one green and one blue eye, awaits her destiny: a warrior of God with the face of an angel, the heart of a saint, and eyes which match her own. St. Michael the archangel flies into her life and sweeps her off her feet. Meanwhile, an evil sorcerer captures witches, steals their powers and most of their nine lives, and shrinks them to the size of dolls - Nürnberg dolls. But when he turns two of the Manchester witches into dolls, the Manchester clan fights back with the help of St. Michael, and divine intervention. Armed with the legendary copper cauldron, a fire-breathing dragon, and an arsenal of spells, good battles evil.
Read an excerpt.
Read an excerpt.
Terri received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Master’s degree in Taxation from the University of Florida. She is a licensed CPA and a Second Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband, Garrison, and their two sons.
Terri is the daughter of Leslie S. Talley, author of Make Old Bones which is also available from Wild Child Publishing.
On the first of each month, Terri also posts free short stories on her website. Learn more about the books in her Elements of Mystery series at http://www.elementsofmystery.com/ as she weaves her way through the Periodic Table of Elements.