Kate will do anything to be the teacher’s pet
An aspiring horror writer, Kate likes a little scare. When offered a spot at an exclusive weeklong writing conference, she jumps at the chance to go. After all, it’s taught by William Drewe, the master of horror himself.
But strangely, when Kate arrives, William Drewe is nowhere to be found. Filling in for him is his brother, Gideon, whose assignments give Kate the thrills she seeks. With a teacher like this, she’ll get all the material she needs to become a bestselling author . . . if she survives.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Richie Tankersley Cusick including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||5 MB|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
For three decades, Richie Tankersley Cusick (b. 1952) has been one of the most prominent authors of horror fiction for young adults. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana—home to some of the country’s most ancient ghosts—Cusick grew up in a small bayou town called Barataria. Inspired by the eerie Louisiana swampland, she began writing at a young age. After college, Cusick took a job at Hallmark and moved to a haunted house in Kansas City, where she began work on her first novel, Evil on the Bayou, whose success allowed her to leave her job and begin writing fulltime. Since then, Cusick has written more than two dozen novels. She and her three dogs live in North Carolina, where Cusick writes on an antique roll-top desk that was once owned by a funeral director. The desk is, of course, haunted.
Read an Excerpt
By Richie Tankersley Cusick
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1990 Richie Tankersley Cusick
All rights reserved.
"I love to be scared," Kate insisted with a smile. "I'd love to write a book someday that would really terrify people." She paused on the top step of the train and shaded her green eyes from the late afternoon light.
"Oh, you young people and your obsession with horror! I bring you here for inspiration and meaningful prose, and all you want to do is hear blood-and-gore lectures by this William Drewe fellow!" Behind Kate, Miss Bunceton heaved her impressive bulk down onto solid ground and glanced around with a critical frown. "Well, honestly, I thought someone would be here to meet us! There doesn't seem to be a soul around!" She swung her suitcase to the platform and let out an exasperated sigh. "Just look at this place—it's like a ghost town! Take out your notebook, Kate; you can write a story about it."
Kate chuckled, one hand running absently through her short auburn hair. "Are you sure they're expecting us?"
"Of course. I called and made the reservations myself. Creative writing teacher from Webster High, I said, and my star pupil and writer extraordinaire, winner of our annual fiction competition—"
"Oh," Kate groaned, "you really didn't tell them that—"
"I most certainly did. Don't want them thinking we're small-town yokels." Miss Bunceton's eyes twinkled. "As long as you're getting a vacation from school, I want it to be an experience you'll never forget."
Kate smiled to herself. "They're probably just late. Come on, let's have a look around."
"You have a look, my dear." Miss Bunceton plopped down on a lopsided bench, regarding it with some dismay. "The train ride exhausted me. I've never had to go through so much trouble before just to get to a writers' conference. I should have chosen one much closer to home. Or farther south."
"It's cold here in the shade," Kate said. "Maybe you should go inside...."
"Not in that thing." The woman looked suspiciously at the ramshackle building. "The roof will probably fall right down on my head. Go on and explore—I'll be perfectly fine."
Leaving Miss Bunceton to guard the bags, Kate wandered down the length of the platform, then circled the back of the building, trying to find a way in.
"Hello?" she called softly. "Is anyone here?"
As her ears strained through the silence, the train whistle suddenly shrieked, and she jumped back, her body slamming into something warm and solid.
Whirling, Kate scrambled away from the silent stranger who stared down at her. He was tall, with hair and eyes as black as smoke, and as she struggled for composure, her anger burst out before she could stop it.
"Didn't you hear me calling? How long have you been there?"
His shrug was noncommittal. "You here for the conference?"
Kate regarded him for several minutes, mustering her dignity. "Yes. I was trying to find someone to help me. We just—"
"Where's your stuff?"
"Well ... out in front, but it's not just me." She gave him a curious glance. "There's someone else with me." As she followed him around the building, she was relieved to see Miss Bunceton still keeping vigil with the luggage.
"Yeah, I know, it says here there's two of you." He shoved a piece of paper into his shirt pocket and strode on ahead. "Let me guess. Romance writers."
It was said with such obvious disdain that Kate felt herself stiffening. "What's wrong with romance writing? And anyway, I'm here to take classes with William Drewe—"
"William Drewe?" He threw a dark glance back over his shoulder. "I wouldn't count on that, if I were you. I'd get right back on the train and go home."
"Why? What do you mean?" She had to run to match his long, easy stride, and by the time she caught up she was out of breath.
"Oh, my dear boy, how good of you to make an appearance!" Miss Bunceton rolled her eyes at Kate and immediately began gathering up her things.
"He says I should go home," Kate said to her, and Miss Bunceton's look was equally bewildered.
"Go home? After all this inconvenience?" She gave a snort. "You must be insane."
"Look." The young man faced her, his jaw set in a mockery of a smile. "I'm just giving you the facts, lady, okay? William Drewe hasn't even shown up yet—in fact, he has a habit of not showing up for his classes. You probably won't even see him at this conference. Just a little free advice, that's all."
Miss Bunceton drew herself up and glared at him. "Well, we don't need your advice—and we don't need your help, whoever you are. Who are you, anyway? Kate, find us a taxi."
The black eyes seemed indifferent. "Pearce Cronan. And don't waste your time trying to find another ride to camp. I'm the only chauffeur you've got."
"Well, Pearce Cronan, I just might report you! What do you think of that!"
He waved one hand toward the train as the whistle sounded again. "I've got things to do. What'll it be?"
A shower of leaves whirled around them. As Kate looked into Pearce's deep eyes, a slow, cold shudder crept up her spine.
"Let's stay." She forced a smile and linked her arm through Miss Bunceton's, and they followed Pearce to his pickup, squeezing onto the seat beside him.
After half an hour of miserable silence, Kate was relieved to see the camp come into view at last. A thin gray fog floated through the trees as they drove past, smudging the shapes of cabins and darkening the thick autumn foliage. Pearce stopped the truck beside a large log building, then jumped out, piling their luggage in the dirt road.
"This is the lodge," he indicated with a nod. "And here," he dug into one hip pocket, pulling out another paper, "is a map. There's some kind of welcome party going on tonight— someone inside will tell you which cabin to use and when to eat." His eyes swept the tangled trees that crowded so close to the road. "Don't go wandering off the trails. It's easy to get lost in these woods. Things ... anything ... could happen." He hesitated, then glanced back at Kate. "Not for any reason. Got that?"
"We'll try to remember." Miss Bunceton sounded annoyed as Pearce ambled away. "Well, really, can you imagine? Not very considerate of William Drewe, hosting this thing and then not showing up. And you, so excited about his lectures—"
"He might still come," Kate said hastily. "Let's just go in and find out what we're supposed to do."
The lodge was bright and warm, with crowds of people milling about, sipping drinks, and munching snacks. Almost at once Miss Bunceton attached herself to a lively group, and Kate was relieved to escape unnoticed as she sought out a place to sit down. Spying a chair behind a potted plant, she collapsed into it, content to survey the gathering with droopy eyes. The long trip ... Pearce's strange reception ... and now here were all her classmates, all older than her, acting like they all knew each other, being so chatty and sophisticated.... She wished she could just find her cabin and sleep. She wished now she'd gotten back on the train when she'd had a chance.
With her eyelids almost closed, she suddenly started up and grabbed for the pinched spot on her arm. What she saw were two owlish gray eyes surrounded by steel-rimmed glasses, staring at her between the leaves of the potted plant.
"Psst!" hissed a voice that seemed to belong to the eyes. "Wanna escape?"
"Did you just pinch me?"
"Sorry. Didn't mean to pinch so hard," the voice hissed again. "If you fall asleep and someone sees you, you'll never forgive yourself."
Kate stared hard at the thick lenses and the oversized eyes. The leaves stirred, and a face came into focus ... then a wide, boyish grin ... and last of all, a head of curly brown hair crowned with a cowboy hat. The boy looked about thirteen, but his voice sounded older.
"You're right, I'd never live it down." Kate smiled, and the grin widened. A hand shot out through the branches and pumped hers warmly.
"Denzil Doyle. Seriously. Would I make up a name like that? And no, to answer your polite expression, I'm not a kid, I'm eighteen—but that means when I'm a hundred, I'll only look ninety-five or so. Come on. I'm gonna rescue you."
Giggling, Kate let herself be guided around the potted plant, and around another corner. Suddenly she found herself in a small, busy kitchen, face to face with her unlikely hero. He was small and slight, shorter than Kate and the other teenagers working around them, wrapped in a starched white chef's apron several sizes too big. She couldn't help but smile as that contagious grin lit up his face again and he gave a deep bow.
"Glad to be of service, ma'am. And you are—"
"Kate Rawlins." She smiled. "Thanks. I'm not really the socializing type."
"You don't seem like them," Denzil agreed. "So why're you here?"
"I won a fiction contest, so my teacher brought me with her to this conference—she thinks I can take back some good tips to share with the class. Also," Kate added modestly, "she thought it would inspire my own writing."
"Great! So you really do wanna be a writer! Me, too. It's my one art I suffer for—otherwise you'd never see me set foot in a kitchen." Turning toward a pantry, he sidestepped several workers carrying trays and tried to yell over a clatter of dishes. "Hey, Tawney, we've found us a soul mate! Oh, Kate"—his voice sank conspiratorially—"Tawney's okay, just a little— you know." He made circles with his finger alongside his head, then put his hands behind him and snapped to attention as a tall, pretty girl peeked out. "Tawney, this is Kate. She's one of us."
Tawney cocked her head, her long frosted hair curling damply around her flushed cheeks. "Hi! I'm Tawney!"
"She knows who you are. I just told her who you are." Denzil's glance was apologetic, and Kate hid a smile. "Tawney's into poetry."
"I want to be a poet." Tawney nodded. "I mean, I really want to write poems and things."
"But right now we have to refill these trays." Denzil gave her a little push and nodded at Kate. "Wanna help?"
"Sure. Can I sneak something to eat?"
"Sit here. I'll rustle up some grub. Relax. Enjoy."
Kate took the stool he offered and leaned over, resting her elbows on the countertop. As something brushed against her leg, she looked down to see a big black cat nuzzling her ankle and pawing lazily at her purse on the floor.
"Oh, that's Pet." Denzil glanced down at the cat and shoved a plate of cold cuts at Kate. "Original name, huh? She's the camp cat. Always hanging around. I think she really belongs to William Drewe, but he obviously never feeds her. Her name should be Pest. And you better watch out for her—she's a clothes thief."
"So I see." Kate laughed and rescued the scarf that Pet was slyly pulling from her open purse. The cat batted playfully at her fingers.
"She takes stuff and hides it—socks, gloves, hats, shoes.... We find clothes all over camp. Even underwear." Denzil busied himself at the counter beside her. "Eat up. It's almost time for the bonfire. You're coming, right?"
"So you haven't even looked at the schedule yet. No big deal. Just a way to welcome everyone. You can sit with us—now that we're old friends."
"Thanks." Kate swallowed a mouthful of cheese and watched Denzil slowly run a knife through a loaf of bread.
"So what are you here for? Romantic writing?"
"No kidding? Hope you're not disappointed."
"Oh, if you mean about William Drewe, I already heard." She kept her eyes on each deft slash of his knife. "Do you really think he won't be here? I just love his writing."
Denzil flipped his hat back from his forehead. "Know what I think?"
"I think the guy had one too many drinks, and he's off in a stupor somewhere. Everyone knows he has a problem with the booze." Denzil gave a grin and went back to his slicing, and Kate leaned forward again, propping her chin on her hands.
"Do you know him?"
"Nah. Not really. I just work here when something's going on—retreats, conferences, stuff like that. And I can sit in on the lectures when I have free time. No one likes it when William Drewe's around—he's a real pain in the butt. Bossy. Really full of himself. Pearce lets the employees do their thing and doesn't hassle us."
"Right. The caretaker. The Drewes own the camp, but Pearce pretty much runs the show."
"So William Drewe lives here?"
"Yeah, the house is back in the woods, but it's off-limits to everyone. The guy's pretty antisocial when he's been drinking, I hear. Maybe even more antisocial than you."
Kate smiled. "What else do you know about him?"
"Hey, you really do have a writer's curiosity, don't you?" Denzil wiped his hands on his apron and handed Tawney a freshly stocked tray as she went by. "Bring the empty tray back this time, okay?" he reminded her, and then sighed as she gave him a dazzling smile and ran into the wall. "I'm not responsible, okay? If she causes a scene out there, it's entirely out of my hands."
Kate had to laugh, then rubbed wearily at her eyes. "I'm beat. I wish I knew who to talk to so I could go to my cabin."
"Cabin? Well, you're in luck, little lady. I just happen to have a guest list handy right—"
"Let me guess. You want to write westerns."
He stopped, his jaw dropping. "Westerns! Heck, no, I'm a playwright! Heavy drama! Shakespearian theater!" As she giggled again, he worked his face into a stern gaze and peered over his glasses at a sheet of paper. "Now pay attention. You are in cabin thirteen with a Miss Naomi Bunceton—"
"That's my teacher, the one I was telling you about."
"Good. No strange roommates to get used to. However—you're in cabin thirteen. Which means you're in the very last cabin ... way back in the woods."
"Oh, stop." Kate jumped to her feet as Denzil gave her a slow, smug smile. "You've been reading too many horror stories."
"I admit it." He nodded. "As many as I can get-my hands on. I'm addicted. Here." He handed her a folder and motioned for her to open it. "This is the schedule. Breakfast starts at seven in the dining hall—that's where the main kitchen is—and it'll be served by yours truly. Any special diets, speak now or forever hold your palate. There's a list of classes, too, and a map—"
"I already have a map. Pearce gave us one on the way in."
"Ah, so you've met Pearce. The camp's resident zombie."
Kate had to smile at that. "He doesn't seem to be enjoying himself, does he?"
"Oh, you'll probably fall for him," Denzil tossed back, "so don't say anything you'll regret—"
"What are you talking about?" Kate laughed.
"Girls just do—fall for that type, I mean. The tall, dark, zombie type—"
"He's pretty strange," Kate said. "He warned us not to wander off the trails—made it sound almost scary."
Denzil considered this for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah, it is scary back in the woods. But why would you need to wander around, anyway? The trails take you everywhere—the lake if you wanna swim, canoes if you wanna cruise, stables if you wanna ride—" He glanced at his watch. "Whoops, time for the bonfire. Where's Tawney?"
Kate pointed as Tawney wandered back in, balancing an empty tray on each palm.
"You don't have to carry them like that when they're empty," Denzil hissed.
Tawney's eyes grew wide and serious. "I'm practicing!"
"Well, practice later." Denzil motioned to Kate as he headed out of the kitchen. "We're gonna be the last ones there."
"Okay, just let me empty this trash." Tawney hurried to the back door, tripping as the cat raced out between her feet. "Pet, get away from there, you're going to get all—oh, gross! What is that?"
"What?" Both the front room and the kitchen had emptied now; Kate let the door swing shut as she turned back around. "Tawney, is something wrong?" But when the other girl didn't answer, she frowned and made her way out onto the porch.
Tawney was on the bottom step, and over her shoulder Kate could see the cat. In the pale glow from the kitchen doorway, Pet hunched herself at the foot of the dumpster, her body as dark as the puddle all around her. She was licking something, her tongue making tiny quick sounds as she lapped at the spreading shadow on the ground.
As Kate stepped forward, she suddenly realized that the puddle around the cat wasn't a shadow at all, but something thick and wet that gleamed dully in the half light. As her gaze moved up the side of the trash receptacle, she could see a long, dark stream of liquid that spilled from the pile of garbage inside....
From one large, oblong trash bag.
"Ooh." Tawney made a face and reached for the bag. "Someone must've thrown out some spoiled meat or something—only I don't smell anything spoiled, do you? And this bag's pretty big for—"
"Don't touch it," Kate said sharply, and Tawney looked at her in surprise, her hand stopping inches from the bag.
"But, Kate, the blood's leaking, and I have to—"
"Don't." Kate's voice was hoarse, and a strange, violent chill went through her. "Don't touch it."
She stared at the cat, and Pet looked up at them ... her eyes widening ... her whiskers glistening and wet.CHAPTER 2
"Yeah? So what did it do?" Denzil tried to keep a straight face as Tawney's eyes grew wider.
"Well, it didn't do anything," Tawney replied seriously. "It just laid there and looked like garbage and kind of dripped."
"Ohhhh ..." Denzil gave an exaggerated shudder. "Sounds pretty dangerous to me. Good thing you guys got outta there fast."
Excerpted from Teacher's Pet by Richie Tankersley Cusick. Copyright © 1990 Richie Tankersley Cusick. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Open Road Integrated Media and Netgalley.) Teenager Kate is off to a writing conference; she likes to be scared, and she likes to write horror stories, but she isn’t prepared to be part of one! What is the cause of the strange whispery sounds she keeps hearing? Is Gideon what he seems? And what has happened to the star of the conference – William Drewe? It’s been years since I read this book, so I was interested to discover who the killer was again! Kate was an interesting character, but even though she claimed to like to be scared, it wasn’t the case at all! Even she admitted that when the danger was real, she didn’t like to feel scared after all. The storyline in this was okay, and it was a little creepy in places. It was difficult to know what was going on, and who was behind all the weird and creepy things that kept happening, and I really could not work out the mystery, or guess who was dead and why. The ending was okay, and the whole thing was a bit creepy and weird when the answers were revealed. Overall; a good YA horror story, 6.5 out of 10.
This was one of the best books i have ever read, & thats quite a feat. Since i have read so much.
I loved this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes horror. I havent read all of Cusick's books but i will.
This book is totally amazing! I could not put this book down until i finished it. Yes i am rating this book too high but Richie Tankersley Cusick deserves it!