Book Cover: Struck Through

What happens when an author's characters rewrite her love life?

Could Ivy Byrd’s life get any worse? Now that she’s inherited the house she grew up in, it’s up to her to bring it up to code, or in two weeks she’s losing her last link to her parents.

And she is losing it, in more ways than one. More like three—three guests. Correction, three delusions. A career-driven doctor, a demure Victorian English lady, and a snarkier, sex-obsessed, larger-cup-size version of herself. Heroines of her unfinished novels, all of whom fell out of her laptop when lightning struck the house.

Which reminds Ivy of the hole in the roof, and the flash-fried wiring. The last thing she needs? Her delusions playing matchmaker to hook her up with the blond, blue-eyed, Nordic god of a handyman who’s just knocked on the door.

A.J. looks like he could have stepped out of one of her unfinished novels. He’s kind, sexy…and she should keep him at arm’s length. Except Vanessa, Elizabeth, and Mary Sue are anxious for her to type The End on their novels. And the only way to get their happy-ever-after is to make sure Ivy gets hers.

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Chapter One

It was a dark and stormy night.

Ivy hovered her hands over her keyboard and smiled a little. Sure, it was corny, but the first rule of writing was to write what you know. And right now the storm of the century was screaming around the eaves of her house.

When water dashed against the bedroom window, it looked less like rain and more like a fire hose was trained on her home. Ivy wasn’t afraid—not really. Familiar end table, old posters of Paris on the wall. She’d grown up in this room, this creaky old house. And she’d weathered all the storms with it.

Lightning flashed across the sky, followed by a boom.

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She forced her mind back to her story. Writing was supposed to take her mind off the storm, off her worries. Her stories had been her refuge for years. Not that she’d finished any of them, but the promise of a wonderful beginning had always been enough for her.

Tapping her fingers on the desk, she stared at the computer screen. Seven little words, begging for more.

It was a dark and stormy night.

And…?

She shook her head. Did she really need another unfinished story? Three stalled books still sat on her hard drive waiting for a little attention. Instead of wasting time on another project, she should focus on fixing up the house. The refinance clock was ticking; she only had a few weeks left to finish the mountain of repairs that she needed to complete.

Ivy back-spaced over her words and typed ‘To Do List.’

She hesitated for a moment. Of the thirty or so half-finished projects, it was hard to choose the most important one. She bit her bottom lip in thought.

  1. Finish what you start.

Another strobe of lightning streaked through the window, with thunder close behind. Closer now. Probably less than four miles away. As a child, she’d always rushed into her parents’ room during storms. Her dad would patiently lead her through the “Thunder Countdown,” carefully counting off the time between the lightning’s flash and the thunder’s boom.

As soon as they’d see lightning, he’d say, “Count with me, Ivy,” and they’d say it aloud.

“One-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Missipp—”

Boom!

And he would raise his brows and ask, “How far away?”

She’d say, “Almost three miles.”

And then he’d say something like, “That’s as far away as the river. Say, do you remember when we took you ice skating there?” And before long, she’d forgotten completely about her terror of the storm.

Another streak of lightning strobed through her window. One-Mississippi, Two-Miss—

Boom!

Though she no longer had a child’s fear of storms, the Mississippi counting was hardwired.

Everything about this storm felt unusual—the force, the speed in which it had descended. The air felt odd as well. Like it was charged with…anticipation, somehow. She shook her head again to clear it.

Had she closed all the windows? Tightly?

So much for her To Do List. She pushed away from her desk and slipped down the hall to her parents’ old bedroom. The North side of the house always got battered the hardest. Though she tried to avoid the room due to painful memories, she was alone now and it was time for her to play the grown up.

She poked her head into the crowded room and flipped the light switch. Her dad’s old hospital bed took up most of the space near the windows so she had to squeeze to fit. She checked both windows but they were tightly closed.

Flash! One Mississippi. Boom!

Thunder shook the family photos lining the walls; they sounded like chattering teeth. The lightning strike was so close that her ears rang. Ivy had the sudden compulsion to forget about checking windows and to make a beeline for the crawlspace.

She backed out of the room, making a solid effort at tamping down her rising panic. This was just a thunderstorm, for crying out loud. She was twenty-six and had outgrown freaking out about storms two decades ago. This was no time to get the heebie-jeebies over a frigging weather condition.

She slipped into the guest room and glanced at the window. It was closed tight as well.

Ivy exhaled slowly and closed her eyes. Nothing to worry about. Clearly, she’d just had too much time alone and too much stress and her imagination was getting car—

Flash. Boom!

Ivy gulped.

That was close! Not even time for half a Mississippi.

She rushed back to her bedroom and settled back into her chair. The desk lamp began to flicker. Suddenly, her arms puckered up in gooseflesh, each individual hair standing on end.

BOOM/FLASH!

Everything happened at once. Complete white filled her vision. At the same instant she felt something hit the roof, hard. Ivy leapt out of her chair and fell against the wall.

Her vision cleared just in time to see a glowing flash illuminate the hall. A small…ball of lightning appeared in the doorway and rushed straight for her desk at an impossible speed.

She had to be imagining this.

Ivy clung to the wall as the tight, angry wad of electricity zipped toward a spot just below her desk. Before Ivy had a chance to take a step, the bright sphere hit the electrical socket with a flash. Like the bulb pop from an old time camera.

Then the whole house went dark.

Oh god.

She peeled herself off the wall and took a moment to try to calm down. Though the house was dark, the light from the street poured in through the window. Smoke hung thick in the air along with the strong odor of an electrical fire.

Her laptop was still open, but she felt pretty sure that it was cooked. A few wisps of smoke hung in the air just above the keyboard.

No, no, no. Not her laptop! Everything was on there. And she hadn’t backed up since. Oh, god. Since ever. She couldn’t lose that, too.

At some point, didn’t karma decide that you’d taken enough hits?

Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it smelled. Ivy took a cautious step toward her desk. Suddenly a shadow shifted positions in the dark.

Adrenaline flooded her system and she whirled to face whatever it was.

“Hello?” Which was a stupid thing to say to an intruder, but it was all she had at the moment. “Is someone there?”

“I beg your pardon, but where am I?” a female voice asked. She was soft-spoken and…British.

What was happening?

Ivy skittered backward toward the door. She ran smack into someone.

“Ow!” a woman shouted. “Watch yourself, please!” This voice was cultured and American.

What in god’s name was going on?

“Who are you?” Ivy shouted. She hadn’t meant to shout, but given the circumstances, who could blame her? “What are you doing in my house? In my bedroom!”

“Yeah, what the hell is going on?” A third voice asked. This voice was feminine, but much lower than the other two and sounded…vaguely familiar, oddly enough. The thought wasn’t the least bit comforting.

Lightning storm or not, Ivy decided to flee. When it came to three strangers in her bedroom, flight was going to win over fight.

She dodged the figure she’d bumped into and rushed toward the door.

“Mind the box,” the British woman said softly. But it was too late. After only a few steps, Ivy’s foot caught on something. She hit the floor hard. The taste of copper filled her mouth just before she blacked out.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Linda Green on Books of All Kinds wrote:

STRUCK THROUGH by Terri Meeker is a wonderfully entertaining story about life, loss, and learning to believe in yourself. Ivy knows that she has a problem finishing things from her novels to her DIY projects, but when she is forced to face her demons head on and accept help when it is offered, her character truly begins to shine. I love the three ladies who burst into Ivy's life and commandeer it at every opportunity. Elizabeth is so refined and caring, Vanessa is an intelligent go-getter who knows what she wants, and Mary-Sue is the louder, more confident, brash version of Ivy herself. Together they are hilariously compelling and I really enjoyed the connection that existed between all of the characters in this story, especially AJ who is just such a sweetheart.
​STRUCK THROUGH by Terri Meeker is a must-read for fiction fans everyone and if you need a little sprinkle of magic in your life then look no further than this captivating tale.


Struck Through