by Jan Coffey
Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away.
Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost...or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.
As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago. And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.
Genre: Paranormal RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon Smashwords iTunes B&N
Content/Theme(s): Ghosts, Spirits
Release Date: September 30, 2013
Excerpt & More
Starting up the stairs, Garrett tried to bury the image of a teary Julia when she’d closed the door on him yesterday after he’d arrived at her house. She’d been too upset to talk.
He shivered as a gust of cold air rushed down the stairwell, slapping him in the face. Garrett hesitated, startled by the sharpness of it. At the top of the steps, a shadow moved, catching his eye. But when he reached the second floor landing, he was surprised to see no one there and no open window.
Doors were visible on both sides of the well-lit hallway. A light flickered behind him. Then, halfway down, a bulb buzzed, blazed intensely, and burned out. He stopped dead. A tall woman in a long, gray dress was standing beneath the darkened light, glaring at him.
Something in her face kept him from looking away. Her eyes burned with emotion. Bitterness. Anger. Hatred.
The hairs on his neck rose when she started in his direction. She moved toward him, filling the narrow hallway.
Garrett turned to make room for her, shuffling his overnight bag from one shoulder to the other, but as he did, his room key dropped to the floor.
When he bent down to retrieve it, chilled air, oppressive and gray, hit him like a wave.
He froze. He’d felt this sensation once before, diving with a film crew at the raising of a sunken slave ship. It was in the ship’s cargo hold. It was a feeling so icy, so overwhelming, that it went straight through him, infusing his bones, numbing him. With it came a sudden memory of some forgotten nightmare—a barren winter field, the gaping black hole of a bottomless grave. He could almost taste the dank odor of death.
Cold panic washed through him. She was on him, all around him. He could feel the woman’s fury. Snatching the key, he straightened up.
She was gone.
Garrett looked up and down the hallway. He was alone. No door had opened or closed. The woman had disappeared.
He was in a colonial inn in Newport, he thought. Of course it could be haunted. He ran a hand over his face. Key in hand, he continued down the hall. By the burned-out light, he saw a set of stairs going up to the third floor. Peering up, he saw the chain across the steps with a sign. ‘Private Residence’. It was dark beyond.
Julia had no idea that he was coming. He'd been on the phone with her this afternoon, and they'd even sent texts back and forth a couple of times tonight. He had given her no inkling that he was already on his way to Newport. Yesterday, he’d been shut out. By showing up here today, he wanted to show Julia that the promotion and the move didn’t change the way he felt. He wanted to be part of their life.
His room was just beyond Julia’s. With one last look down the hall, he turned the key in his door and entered the dark room. A gust of autumn wind blew in from an open window, rattling a picture frame on the wall and causing the gauze curtains to stand straight out like ghostly wings against the ceiling.
Standing inside the door, Garrett sensed that he was not alone in the room. He could feel the eyes of someone watching him. Hating him.
He switched on a lamp by the door. Yellow light bathed the room, throwing deep shadows into dark corners.
The door slammed and Garrett jumped, his eyes sweeping the room. The wind eased, and the sheers fell calmly against the sills. No one else was there.
"Halloween, a wicked draft, and exhaustion," he muttered. “Get a grip.”
The temperature had dropped considerably since he left Boston this afternoon. He closed the window and glanced around at the furnishings. Four-poster bed. The usual dressers and tables. Two reading chairs by the window. Exposed ceiling rafters of rough-hewn timber completed the colonial feel of the room. At one end, the bathroom. At the other end, a door that he knew must lead into Julia and Amy's room.
He checked his phone. The last text from Julia had come a few minutes after seven. They were walking into the theater to see a movie. Almost two hours ago.
His eye was drawn to Julia's door. He walked over and unbolted the latch, but it was locked from the other side.
He stopped, hearing faint voices. Snatches of conversation.
I want to stay…
A woman and a child's voice. But the woman didn’t sound like Julia. And it couldn’t have been Amy. For a second, he wondered if the receptionist downstairs had put him in the wrong room.
"Julia?" he called, pressing his palm flat against the door. The wood felt like ice.
The voices stopped.
The knob turned from the other side, but it didn't open. Suddenly, a heavy bang rattled the door.
Shocked, he jumped back. Over and over, the doorframe shook.
"Unlock it, Julia," he called.
As suddenly as it started, it stopped, and the sound of scratching began. Someone was sitting on the floor on the other side, clawing at the door. Then, as he stared, long lines of claw marks started to show through the paint. Garrett took another step back.
“This isn’t happening,” he said, feeling the hackles rise on his neck.
Just as the words left his mouth, the scratching stopped. Even as he stared, the claw marks disappeared.
The sound of moaning came through the door. A woman crying.
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