***Giveaway: AJ has donated an ebook copy of She's Got Dibs! So be sure to enter the Rafflecopter. Giveaway ends on Oct. 31st at midnight PST. The winners will be announced on Nov. 1st. Good Luck!
Clarissa's Ghost by AJ Nuest
An ethereal kiss brushed the skin beneath her ponytail, and the sensitive hair at her nape tingled. Clarissa shivered then laughed. It was during encounters like these, the ghost haunting her latest renovation project seemed decidedly male. “I had a feeling you would like the end result.”
She turned full circle in the empty room. Golden rays from the setting sun streamed through the window, highlighting the rich cranberry walls against the white crown moldings, warming the burnished tin ceiling to a subtle glow.
The plastic wineglass she’d brought with her slid an inch or two along the refurbished hardwood floor. The unopened bottle of at Merlot at its side wobbled. Perhaps her ghost was right. It was time for their celebratory toast. “We’re all done, aren’t we?”
The glass tipped over with an hollow clack and rolled in a wide arc until it bumped the end of her steel-toed boot. She shook her head, chuckling softly. “For a being who doesn’t have to deal with time or space, you sure are impatient.”
The end of her bangs ruffled, and she rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine.”
A quick ransack her toolbox for the corkscrew, and Clarissa poured a glass of wine before ascending the stairs for her final inspection. The furniture would arrive tomorrow, authentic pieces specifically selected by the New Orleans Historical Society. A few days later, the manor doors would be unlocked and the public tours would begin.
The excitement which accompanied the grand openings usually brought her a complete thrill. At the end of each project, her hard work was rewarded, her reputation enhanced. She smoothed her palm along the sleek, wooden banister, her heart heavy as she perused the second-floor gallery. This time everything was different. The money, the accolades, the recognition...they offered hollow consolation in comparison to all she would be giving up in return.
She flicked off the lights as she checked each room. A tear settled in the corner of her eye when a cool hand skimmed her arm and a set of ghostly fingers twined through hers. Four months she and her ghost had spent together, and while, at first, his presence had frightened her, over time she’d come to appreciate his tender assurances. A smile snuck in and she lowered her chin as she recalled the little trinkets she’d often find waiting for her each morning—a rose, a tarnished coin, a small pile of shiny beads. He’d been with her every step, and now...
The time had come for them to say goodbye.
A gentle caress swept her cheek, and she tipped her head back when an airy hand brushed the edge of her jaw. The whisper of a delicate kiss touched her lips. “Find me...” washed past her ear.
The mellow chime of the doorbell echoed off the bare walls and Clarissa jumped. Pressing a trembling hand to her forehead, she descended the grand staircase. Good God, had her ghost just spoken to her? He’d never done that before. And how in the world was she supposed find someone who was dead?
A quick peek through the leaded glass window in the front door, and she slumped. Uh oh... A visit from the estate arbitrator this late in the game was never good.
She grabbed the handle and opened the door.
A gust of cool air rushed past her shoulders and out onto the portico, twirling her ponytail and lifting the hair on her arms. Ramone pushed his sunglasses unto his bald forehead and his toffee skin paled to a strange sickly green. “What was that?”
Clarissa darted a glance around the foyer, but it seemed her ghostly friend had vanished. “I’m not entirely sure.”
“Wretched old plantations and their inquiétant fantômes, ” Ramone muttered, wrestling with the leather portfolio in his arms. “We’ve hit a snag, chérie.” He shoved a piece of paper in her direction and she stooped to catch it, bouncing the sheet in her palm before it could waft to the floor.
She frowned down at what appeared to be an accident report. “What’s this?”
“The owner of this house isn’t dead,” Ramone whispered, eyes darting about the stoop as if he expected some undead zombie to leap out from behind one of the grand pillars.
She scowled, fisting the piece of paper in her hand. Oh no. She’d been here before. And if some lazy bum planned on showing up to take advantage of all her hard work, they had another think coming.
Sure, let the little restorer handle the back-breaking labor. Once she’s done her job, then we move in to our newly rehabbed estate. “What are you talking about? This house was in foreclosure before the historical society bought it and contracted me to handle the renovations.”
Ramone nodded and shuffled some additional documents. Two errant sheets slipped from the stack and drifted down to rest casually against his leg. “That piece of paper you’re currently destroying is a police report. Five years ago, the rightful owner of this house was in a car accident. Trés tragique, no? He’s been in a coma ever since.”
Clarissa withdrew a step. It couldn’t be. “He?”
“Oui. A fellow by the name of—” A chirp vibrated in his breast pocket and Ramone shifted the load in his arms before fumbling his phone to his ear. “Bonjour.” His gaze drifted to the scrolled header above the door as he listened. A moment passed before he locked his gaze onto hers. “Oui. I’m with her now. Yes, yes, right away.”
“Miraculous.” A shudder wrenched his shoulders as he slowly lowered the phone from his ear. “The owner is awake. And he’s asking for you, chérie.”
She smiled, then grinned, and then tossed her head back with a laugh. “Thank you, Ramone. Tell the hospital to let him know I’ll be right there.”
ABOUT Rowena's Key:
Antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, finds herself the owner of an ancestral armoire containing a hidden key and a magic mirror leading to another realm. But the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is truly the final straw. This must be an elaborate joke, right? As she struggles to discover the truth, Rowena learns Prince Caedmon Austiere needs the key to save his kingdom. In the end, she cannot deny him anything. Including her heart.
You can purchase the series at Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Multi-published, award-winning author and editor, AJ Nuest lives in the middle of a cornfield in NW Indiana. Her loving husband, two beautiful children and a bevy of spoiled pets have agreed to stay and, in exchange for three rations per day and laundry service, tolerate her lunacy. While she spends most days happily ensconced in crafting romance across a multitude of genres, an underground coup has been percolating. The dogs just informed her the cat is secretly vying for dictatorship.
YOU CAN FIND AJ ONLINE AT: