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Amber Circle: Episode III [Amber Circle E-Soap Series]
by T. C. Jilke

Category: Suspense/Thriller/Romance
Description: Welcome to the town of Amberston, California, a place where lies, deception, and intrigue hide behind every door, where dirty secrets are buried in attics, basements, and cemeteries, where love and hatred blur into a blood-red haze of passion, danger, and even death...... In Episode 3 of Amber Circle... Dana Grayson, while in the throes of researching her book, uncovers even more shocking secrets of Amberston's sordid and often-violent history? Jaded rock star Aidan Nash returns to his childhood home, but has much more on his agenda than simply reconnecting with his estranged brother, Brick, or attempting to resurrect his dead musical career? Neville Devon summons the courage to face off with his mother? The Silver Belle Bed & Breakfast gets another lodger whose mere presence stirs up more than a bit of dust? Bliss Peyton moves forward with her plan? After intercepting a package addressed to his wife, Skylar Tayte goes into a state of panic? Chastity Evans grows even more suspicious regarding Olivia's activities and confronts her? Devastated by recent events, Kendra Tayte pays another visit to her new friend Earle "Rocky" Rockland?
eBook Publisher: Amber Quill Press, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: February 2006

eBookeBook

Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [166 KB]
Words: 35121
Reading time: 100-140 min.


DANA GRAYSON

Annabelle Silverton smiled sweetly and poured Dana another cup of steaming coffee. "So you contend that what you saw earlier today was a ghost?"

"Belle, I can't think of any other explanation." Dana stabbed the last morsel of dessert with her fork. "But upon my arrival, when I was standing in the driveway admiring the house, I saw a figure in the window of that room. I know I did!"

With Dana's words cloaking the air in a puzzling mystery, silence descended upon the spacious, raftered kitchen of The Silver Belle Bed & Breakfast, the former bordello and one of the oldest buildings in Amberston.

The women had just finished a scrumptious feast of bouf bourguignon–beef stew with bacon and a rich red wine, garnished with plump onions and even plumper mushrooms–that Belle had seemingly whipped together in seconds. Once again, the influence and training of her first husband, Phillipe–a former professional baker and cook who had died years ago, she had explained to Dana earlier that day–had come through in luscious spades.

Dana scooped the last bite of pecan pie into her mouth and dabbed her lips with a linen napkin. She swallowed, then continued. "And after seeing that portrait in your parlor…well, I just don't know what else to think."

"My ancestor still haunts this house? Hmm…fancy that! Is that truly what you're saying?"

"I truly don't know what I'm saying. But I do know that the woman I saw in that window was the spitting image of the original Annabelle Silverton from the portrait you showed me. The same wild auburn hair, the same sassy features, and wearing Silver's trademark white and silver clothing. I remember thinking at the time how refreshingly unique it would be to have the guests at this bed and breakfast actually donned in clothing relative to the years of the house's origin. But then…then when you told me you had no other lodgers…"

"Not that I don't believe you saw someone, honey, or perhaps a weird reflection in the window glass, but there ain't no other place we can search. We've snooped from cellar to attic, more than twenty rooms in total in the last few hours, and we found no signs of an intruder. And logically speaking, I would've known if I was living here alone once the last lodger checked out several days ago, don't you think?"

Now, Belle's words hung in the air as a fervent challenge. She set the coffeepot on its doily and retook her seat beside Dana at the lengthy oak table. For a while, she eyed the framed black-and-white photographs depicting The Silver Belle on its fascinating journey from a nineteenth-century bordello to a respectable modern-day bed and breakfast. The woman drew a sip of her own coffee, but not before giving it a kick with a shot of Wild Turkey whiskey. She'd told Dana earlier it was a habit she'd picked up from her second husband, Charlie, a man who'd eventually died of liver failure. Belle's eyes, however, hadn't lost their sober integrity when she finally glanced at Dana, obviously seeking further understanding.

"Why are you so certain a ghost is the explanation regarding what you…saw? Yes, yes, I know, you told me one of the reasons you came to town was to research your book about Amberston's supposed hauntings, but still…you're thinking this ol' building deserves a chapter?"

"Please don't think me a kook."

The woman patted Dana's hand. "I would never do that, honey. In all my years on Earth, I've seen quite a few bizarre things…albeit most of them from my many bizarre husbands, may the good Lord rest their bizarre souls."

Dana grinned. "Thanks for at least humoring me…or rather, my speculations."

"To be perfectly frank, the whole idea of ghosts intrigues me."

"Really?"

Once again, the woman studied the myriad portraits on the wall surrounding the antique stone hearth. "Oh, yeah, it also scares the shit out of me. But I admit, I can certainly live with the occasional 'heebie-jeebies,' knowing the fringe benefits."

"I don't follow."

"The extra moolah I can charge in the future for guests renting rooms in a honest-to-goodness haunted house!"

Dana laughed. "Ever the business woman, huh, Belle?"

"Damned tootin', honey. My ancestor wasn't the only woman in this family with a head for business. Although I would never peddle flesh in the form of buxom young ladies like Silver did, I ain't beneath peddling spooks if it means maintaining a healthy bank account in this day and age. Sounds heartless, I suppose…"

"Hey, a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do."

"And that's just what Silver and her gals thought in the 1800s when they resided in this plush establishment. Although with the fees I currently charge, I can at least keep myself in food and furniture." She gestured at the remnants of their delicious feast on the lengthy twelve-seater table. "But I have incentive to raise the room rates, especially in this era of daily tax hikes, gas gouging, and Social Security cutbacks. Don't you just love Republican economics? Ha Ha!"

Once again, the woman's uncensored commentary brought a wide smile to Dana's lips.

"Of course, seeing as how you possess some sort of sixth sense for this 'ghost thing,' you could do me a favor."

"And what's that?"

"You could move into the room in question–Silver's old bedroom–and confirm I have an actual reason to hike up the room rates." A wave of tinkling laughter poured out of Belle's mouth. "Yep, I could say I consulted with an expert in the field of psychic phenomena and she certified the haunting."

Copyright © 2005 Amber Quill Press, LLC


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