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P.E.A.R.L. Finalist:
Best Novella/Short Story
Published in 2000

Award in


5 Angels! "At the Stroke of Midnight is a very unique and thought provoking story. ... I devoured this book until the last word was read. You will be looking at 'Death' quite differently after reading his story." —Anita for Fallen Angel Reviews

5 Cups! "This is a mysteriously haunting little tale that slowly reveals a horrible realization at the end. The heroine does not wish to see the truth about the danger to her life, even when Death himself strikes up a conversation with her. The end satisfies and gives the reader the promise of romance." —Jenn for Coffee Time Romance

4.5 Hearts! "Olivia and the Grim Reaper are pretty vivid and sympathetic characters, both leading sad lives, but hoping for something better. The reaper has been protecting her when she needed him throughout her life. ...Death is looking out for Olivia. I found this a very enjoyable and fast moving story. I loved the concept of the Grim Reaper falling in love..." —Maura Frankman for The Romance Studio

"For a spooky tale that's sure to give you goosebumps, pick up AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT." —Sinclair Reid for Romance Reviews Today

2000 AND 2001

"...very satisfying."—Raelene Gorlinsky of The Best Reviews

"...a delightful Halloween tale..."—Sally G. Laturi of Ivy Quill Reviews

"...spectacular... Definitely a must read..."—Sharyn McGinty of In the Library Reviews


by Lanette Curington

Olivia DeBenning has already had three brushes with death in her life. During a Halloween masquerade party to celebrate saving Greystone Castle, Death visits one last time.

P.E.A.R.L. Finalist:
Best Novella/Short Story
Published in 2000

Paranormal romance novelette, approx. 10,000 words or 34 pages.

Published by Silver Heart Books

"A spooky tale!" —Romance Reviews Today        "Mysteriously haunting!" —Coffee Time Romance

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Excerpt from At the Stroke of Midnight
©Lanette Curington
All rights reserved.

Olivia sighed, stood, and walked a few steps. She had too much to do to be sitting there lost in thought and nursing a bum leg. The dull throb that thrummed through her muscles had eased a bit after Davy's massage. She took a few more steps. If she was careful not to twist it again, she would make it through the evening. She took another few steps.

Satin rustled sensually behind her. "Olivia."

She turned her upper body around. "You!"

Then she frowned. She hadn't heard a sound from the squeaky door, the only way to enter the kitchen from the castle. The outside door was in front of her, and she was sure no one had come through it. "How did you--"

"Are you all right, Olivia?" he asked in a rush, as if he had expected to find her writhing in pain.

"I'm fine," she reassured him. "But how do you know my name? You say you know me, but I-I don't quite know you. Tell me who you are."

"I am called Death. You're in danger tonight."

"What are you talking about? Do you mean the limp? I was injured in an accident as a child. It comes and goes. They say--" She bit her lip. Why did she feel the urge--no, the need to explain her life to him at this moment?

"No." He shook his head, the side-to-side movements slow and exaggerated. "Danger comes from another source."

It was a joke, of course, and her sudden laugh sounded bitterly. "Did Margot put you up to this? Oh, I know. The committee thought it would be a funny Halloween trick. I'm afraid I'm not in the mood tonight."

Whoever devised the prank couldn't have known she would hurt herself. Ordinarily, she wouldn't mind, but the mishap with her leg had robbed her of her sense of humor. She had missed so many good times in her life because of the injury. School dances and proms, picnics, roller skating, trying out for cheerleading... The endless list had become a tally sheet of her pathetic life.

"Please tell them I'm not up to a practical joke tonight." She caught another glimpse of his silver eyes inside the cowl, and familiarity washed over her again. "Did we go to school together?"

He shook his head.

"Do you live here in Glenville?" she persisted.


A piteous mewling from outside caught her attention. She went to the back exit and swung the heavy door open. A small, dark shape darted inside, threading between her legs.

"Midnight! There you are." Before the black cat could cause her to trip and fall and really do some damage, she lifted him into her arms. He purred contentedly as he rubbed his head against her chin. "I've been worried about you."

"The cat is yours?" Death asked.

"He showed up when we started decorating the castle, and I shared my lunch with him every day. I call him Midnight." She scratched behind his ear. "We had become such good friends, I decided to take him home with me today. I was afraid something had happened to him when he didn't show up this afternoon."

He moved closer to her and stared at the cat intensely. He touched the sleek black fur, then quickly withdrew. "Keep him with you, Olivia. Don't let him outside again or he'll not survive."

Olivia stepped back away from him. "That's not funny! You've carried the joke too far."

Thunder rumbled low and long and a quick crack split the night air. A bright flash of lightning lit up the sky for a few seconds.

"No, that's impossible!" Olivia groaned and went to the threshold, staring up at the cloudless sky. "The forecast called for warm temperatures and no rain. The costume contest will be held in the bailey later. Rain will ruin it."

Death swept around her and shut the door. "There'll be no rain. It's a warning...for me."

In memory of my beloved Blackness—Spring 1991 ~ April 11, 2001
In memory of my beloved Midnight—Summer 2001 ~ January 26, 2007

Blackness was with me for ten years, but developed cancer in fall of 2000 and passed on in April, 2001. Rest well, sweet kitty.

In October 2001, a little black cat showed up on my doorstep. I named him Midnight in honor of the cat in this story. Midnight passed on January 26, 2007. He was with me over five years and had developed a lot of medical problems, but I tried to make his life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible while he was with me. Rest well, sweet Midnight.

And in memory of all the cats who have come and gone in my life. All of you are remembered, always.

Click the retailer to go directly to the purchase page:

Amazon | Apple | B&N | Google Play | Inktera

Kobo | Scribd | Smashwords | 24Symbols

Check Books2Read for availability at other retailers:
Angus & Robertson, Indigo, Mondadori, Tolino, and WHSmith.


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