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by Joy Gee
Description: "Paranormal Phenomena from a Biblical Perspective" is not the usual course offering for a small private college, and Macy Carter is not the usual college professor. She is the only daughter of Lance Carter, renowned ghost-hunter. Operating in a world where humans and otherworldly beings live in uneasy and unstable coexistence, Macy maintains an air of cool professionalism toward paranormal phenomena in general, and ghosts in particular. Ghosts may be curious or even grateful about human interference in their affairs; or they may react possessively and with violence. It makes no difference to Macy. Her approach is purely scientific. She takes nothing personally. Captain Daniel Smithfield's most recent memory is of drowning at sea after an encounter with the French frigate Desiree somewhere off the coast of Spain in 1813. What claim upon his immortal soul has allowed Smithfield House to call him from the depths of the sea to a ghostly existence 200 years later, and what must he do to escape it? Daniel rages through his ancestral home, trapped between the dual claims of Smithfield House and Davy Jones' Locker. When a series of unusual accidents alert Macy to the possibility of an active spirit presence at Smithfield House, she goes to investigate. This bold woman in men's clothing is the last thing Daniel expects to encounter in his afterlife. The last thing Macy expects is to fall in love with the ghost she has been sent to hunt.
eBook Publisher: Wild Child Publishing/Wild Child Publishing, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: July 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [352 KB]
Reading time: 224-314 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
Macy looked from her compass to the fountain and back again. She wished she had her camera. A human-shaped orb shimmered between her and the splashing water. She could make out no details of face or feature, partly because of the water moving behind the apparition, but the costume identified him unmistakably as a seafaring man. She could see the loose shirt, the woolen greatcoat hanging open from his shoulders, the sash, and the trousers. She could even make out the hat with its adorning feather. She smiled with satisfaction. Her guess had been correct. The resident spirit at Smithfield House had to be the ghost of Daniel Smithfield. The outfit testified to it. With equal certainty she admitted to herself that she currently witnessed the most substantial ghostly manifestation she had ever seen or heard reliably reported. She stood as still as the ghost, relishing the moment but inwardly cursing the lack of recording equipment. She didn't want to do anything to interrupt the unusual encounter.
Daniel drank in Macy's flashing eyes and the slight smile gracing her lips. There were no signs of fatigue or despair in those features now! How wonderful it would be to touch those soft cheeks--to caress her perfect form. He wondered how such a thing could be possible as his ghostly body reacted in all the ways a man ought to respond to the presence of a beautiful woman.
"If you were mine, lass," he said, "I'd have the most skilled artisan in all of Mother England take your portrait just as you are this moment. I'd make your beauty immortal. Then all men would say of me that Doubting Daniel never doubted what woman first stole his heart."
Raucous, ghostly laughter from above greeted Daniel's profession of admiration. He jerked his head toward the sound, astonished to see Michael Hensley perched atop the fountain. Even from a distance, he could discern the measuring look Hensley gave Macy. He looked from Hensley to Macy and back again, trying to figure out what the unpredictable fellow intended.
"I'm warning you, Hensley!" he shouted. "If you touch this lady, I'll--"
"You'll what, Captain? You'll back away from my blade faster next time? You'd be in the sea now had not this 'lady' saved your hide by bringing along a fellow who knows to turn on the lights!"
Hensley nodded toward the house and Zach's antics in the ballroom. Daniel followed his gaze for a second, and then looked back scarcely in time to see Hensley kick the heavy sculpted angel loose from the top of the fountain and send it tumbling toward Macy's unsuspecting and unprotected head.
Daniel reacted by instinct. He launched his spectral body toward Macy. Much to his relief, he remained solid enough to hit her with a thud. He heard the sound of air leaving her lungs as his weight carried her to the ground. She landed far enough away from the fountain to be missed by even a random bounce of the dislodged sculpture, but he saw the angel strike near where she had been standing and watched it roll harmlessly to the lawn beside her. Daniel lay protectively over her slender form. He knew he had frightened her. He could feel the tremors coursing through her body...right along with the desire coursing through his own. He could tell by the look in her widened eyes that she felt his weight resting upon her as surely as he did the soft warmth of the breast upon which his hand had accidentally come to rest.
He moved his hand, embarrassed, and rolled sideways to free her from his pinning weight. He thought she would panic and run screaming to the house and the protection of the man he could still see moving about in the light of the front rooms. But Macy surprised him again. She lay on the ground for a moment, regaining control of her emotions. When she rose to her feet, it was with forced but elegant composure. She busied herself for a moment by brushing the dust from her trousers and her hands as though she wished to prove she was in no hurry to depart the scene. Having righted her clothing, she breathed out slowly, and looked back toward the fountain.
Daniel also rose. He watched in awe as some earnest emotion lit Macy's features with a rosy glow. He stood apart from her now, slightly to the side where he could still be safe in the shadows. She considered the fountain, the angel, and her own uninjured body. She squared her shoulders and addressed the last place where she had faced him.
"Alright, Captain Smithfield. If that's the way you want to play, prepare to meet your match!"
Daniel took a step away into deeper shadow. Hadn't he just saved her? Macy put her hands on her hips and tipped her head slightly to emphasize the threat she had uttered. Hensley, though no longer visible, laughed again.
"There you go now, Captain," he guffawed. "The lady is blaming you!"
Hensley disappeared. Daniel felt, rather than saw him leave. He couldn't take his eyes off the woman before him. He moved to the rim of the fountain and looked from the fountain to the fallen angel, and finally back to Macy. Damn the luck. Of course she would think he had done it. She would think he had lured her into position, and then....