BY: MICHAEL INFINITO

Everyone has their own identity, but after an unexpected encounter with a forest girl named Diane at his parent’s summer lake retreat, sixteen-year-old Miles Hanson realizes he might just have two of them. Intrigued by the impossible past of which she speaks, their love blossoms quickly, as does the mystery surrounding her presence.

After some investigation alongside his father, a lifelong lake visitor who had also encountered his own version of Diane as a child, Miles soon learns about a local mystery involving The Colby Ghost. The tale centers around a young couple who had disappeared three decades earlier. Their names—Miles and Diane.

Pulled away from Oak Lake for good, a result of family issues, Miles must fight his way back there, in order to learn the hidden truths about the missing couple, as well as some shocking revelations concerning his own life. But will Celia Walton, a new love at home, complicate things, or is her involvement all part of Diane’s master plan? In the end, Miles must make an emotional decision that will affect his future in ways unimaginable, and one girl will be heartbroken. Or will she?

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Colby Ghost by Michael Infinito, sixteen-year-old Miles Hanson has an encounter with a young girl who will haunt his life forever. While vacationing at his parents’ summer lake house, Miles meets a teenage girl who calls herself Diane. But something about her seems strange, and every time Miles sees her, the mystery surrounding her grows. No one else ever sees her, and she tells Miles about some mysterious plan that he devised so that they could be together. A plan that he can’t remember ever hearing about, let alone making. But when Miles tries to learn more about the so-called plan, Diane refuses to divulge any details, saying that it could cause the plan to fail. When Miles’s parents decide to sell the lake house due to family issues, Miles is devastated, knowing that he will never see Diane again. But Fate has a plan of its own, and Miles is unprepared for the discoveries he makes as he attempts to reunite with Diane.

Like most of Infinito’s stories, this one is chilling, unpredictable, and poignant. Just the thing for a hot cup of tea and a rainy afternoon, turning pages as fast as you can.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Colby Ghost by Michael Infinito is the story of a love that time cannot erase, even when fate deals a cruel blow that would keep most lovers apart. Diane Colby and Miles Lawrence are teenage lovers in the 1950s. When the two disappear and are presumed drowned, the lake resort community where they live fears that Diane’s brutal father murdered the kids in a fit of rage when he found them together. But as their bodies are never found, and the only clue to what happened is an overturned rowboat, it remains an unsolved mystery. Many years later, in the 1980s, sixteen-year-old Miles Hanson visits the lakeside community for the summer with his parents and meets a mysterious teenager named Diane, who claims that he and she are lovers and that he made a plan for them to be together. But Miles knows nothing about any plan, has never met the girl before, and is convinced that she’s crazy and has mistaken him for someone else. Even so, he quickly falls for her, feeling a connection to her that he can’t explain. But is the girl actually real? Miles’s family and friends don’t think so because no one ever sees her but him. And if she’s not real, but a ghost, how can their encounters be so physical? The many questions with so few answers turn young Miles’s life upside down, especially when he discovers that his family will never be coming back to the lake.

The Colby Ghost is a ghost story with a unique twist. Poignant and intense, as Infinito’s books usually are, it will warm your heart, send chills down your spine, and keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

Chapter 1

1958:

Two fire trucks arrived on the scene, signals blaring. The night air glowed in a flickering display of yellow and orange, as tall flames erupted from a suburban house’s second story windows.

“Please find my husband!” a frantic woman wailed from the front lawn.

A firefighter approached her. “Are you okay, miss?” he asked, while others rolled out hoses and secured hydrant connections.

“Yes. We both escaped in time, but James went back in for our dog. Max sleeps in the basement at night. Please save them!”

“Jason, we still have one person inside,” he shouted to another fireman. “There’s a dog, also. They may be in the cellar.”

“Yes, sir,” Jason replied. Already fully decked out in their heavy gear, he and another comrade dashed toward the house, axes in hand.

“My name is Carl Weatherly, Mrs.–”

“Adams. DeDe Adams.”

“Well, Mrs. Adams, as fire chief, I suggest you get checked out. Even if you didn’t suffer any burns, there’s a possibility of respiratory problems from the smoke.”

“No! I’m not moving until I know James and Max are safe,” she exclaimed, her voice ringing in defiance.

“Two of my best men are searching for them right now. Please wait near the ambulance so someone can look after you.”

“I said no, damn it!”

“Well, if you won’t get examined, then you must move across the street. Standing so close is too risky.”

“But–”

“As the primary safety officer on site, I really must insist.”

Distraught, DeDe crossed the road and took up vigil on the opposite sidewalk.

***

Jason Durring and his longtime brother-in-arms, Christian Turk, cautiously entered through the house’s front door. Heavy smoke hung thick at eye level, so they crouched in search of better visibility and cleaner breathing air.

“This place isn’t going to stay up long,” Jason said, inspecting the dwelling’s flaming infrastructure.

“Ten minutes at best,” Christian agreed. “We’d better locate this guy in a hurry.”

“Is there anybody in here?” Jason shouted.

A dog bark sounded from below their feet.

“The chief said they were in the cellar,” Christian pointed out. “Let’s find the stairs. Fast.”

“This house is built just like my in-law’s. The door should be inside the kitchen pantry.”

“I’ll follow you, then.”

They moved through a dining room and into the kitchen. Eyes burning, Jason led the way. “There it is,” he said, pointing out an open door.

The dog bark rang out again, this time louder, more distinct.

“The owner is supposedly down there with the dog,” Jason said, raising his voice above the fire roar. A few more sharp yelps followed, but no human response. “Christian, you wait up here. I’ll check downstairs.”

“Make it quick. I heard the ceiling creak. I’m not dying for a dog.”

“Give me a shout if it looks like I’m running out of time.”

“Go!” Christian urged.

Jason shined his flashlight at the pantry. As expected, he found the open basement door inside. “Hello!” he shouted.

More barking.

He moved cautiously down the wooden stairs, scanning the light back and forth in front of him. At the bottom, he spotted a Boston Terrier. It stood over a crumpled man, whimpering and licking his owner’s face.

“Good dog,” Jason said, easing slowly forward. “Let me have a look at your master.” He approached the motionless figure. Right away the man’s condition became apparent. “Christian, the guy’s dead. Looks like the poor fellow took a tumble on the stairs. Worst neck break I’ve ever seen. I’ll need your help bringing him up.”

“We haven’t got time,” Christian replied. “Get your ass out of there right now. This place is falling down around us.”

With a sorrowful heart, Jason scooped up the whimpering dog, never testing its demeanor, and raced to the ground floor.

The Terrier wiggled and whined, but displayed no aggressive behavior. He rushed up the stairs and through the pantry with smoke billowing about in drastically increased levels.

“Move it!” Christian pleaded.

Jason frowned. “We can’t just leave the guy down there.”

“I don’t like it any more than you do, believe me. But a beam just fell in the other room.”

“Guys, hurry it up!” Chief Weatherly’s voice came from the front lawn.

Out of options, Jason followed his partner’s lead. A flaming rafter crashed down between them, cutting Jason off. Then the floor rumbled below their feet.

“Jump it if you can,” Christian hollered.

Jason dove across the fiery wood. He purposely landed on his back, protecting the dog at all costs. Another ceiling section collapsed, barely missing him.

“Forget the damned dog!” Christian screamed, standing near the front door, separated from his brother firefighter by a growing wall of flames.

“Catch him!” Jason tossed the Terrier ten feet or more through the air, above the inferno’s reach.

Without missing a beat, Christian caught the startled pet.

“Go!” Jason ordered. “I’m right behind you.”

Christian bolted outside and turned around just in time to see the roof cave in. He gasped. “Oh, my God! No!”

As the second story came crashing down, Jason burst through a smoke cloud and leapt off the porch. Christian released the Boston Terrier and ran to his buddy’s side. Still whimpering, the dog ran across the street to DeDe.

DeDe couldn’t fully comprehend the scene unfolding in front of her. Two firefighters had rescued Max, but her husband’s whereabouts remained a mystery. Feeling nervous, she crossed the street and approached the men who had just exited her crumbling house. They stood in conference with Chief Weatherly, hunched over and breathing hard.

“Where’s my husband?” she asked, wary of the response.

Jason hung his head. “I’m sorry, miss. He didn’t–”

“Nooo!” Her anguished cry echoed through the normally serene subdivision for all to hear.

© 2017 by Michael Infinito