When Beth Abbott receives a surprise inheritance from her birth mother, she travels to the family’s nineteenth century mansion in Old Louisville, now a bed and breakfast. There she meets the resident ghost, a little girl whose crying scares, but intrigues guests. Beth sets out to discover the identity of the ghost and why she appears happy to Beth, not sad.
Jeff Halstead, a man with several secrets, runs the bed and breakfast. But he’s more than that to Beth, and she feels their connection immediately. A psychic medium who doubts his skills, Jeff slowly uncovers the truth of their past lives. Will he be in time to reveal the identity of Beth’s enemy? Will the love they shared in the past follow them into the future?
I pulled my luggage into the bedroom. It was only seven-thirty and although I was tired from the day, I wasn’t sleepy. Opening the doors to an antique armoire, I discovered a flat screen TV. I turned it on and taking the remote, sat on the edge of the big bed under the canopy and flipped channels.
These antique rooms creeped me out. They seemed cold and uninviting, sort of like the much too good-looking innkeeper who had ushered me into them. If this was my family history, I really wanted no part of it. Mom was right. I wasn’t a risk-taker. The reality of the adventure was too much for me at the moment. I was suddenly lonesome and homesick. Was it really worth it?
I didn’t really belong here, did I?
Leaving the TV on ESPN for company, I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. After soaking ten minutes in the hot water of the claw-foot bathtub, I put on my flannel pajamas and a pair of socks. I climbed into bed, bringing my laptop with me. Connecting to the Internet, I checked Facebook and Twitter while the TV glowed in the background. Then I surfed, looking for more information on the Chadwick Bed and Breakfast, something more than just their website. I didn’t have much luck and at nine-thirty decided to go to sleep.
I went back into the parlor to make sure the door to the hall was locked and turned off the overhead chandelier. On a whim I pulled my Madame Alexander baby doll from the suitcase and propped her on the far side of the bed on the pillow. A doll named Victoria seemed to go perfectly in this old-fashioned setting. Besides, she brought a little reminder of home with her, and as my mom had asked, I thought about her, hoping she was enjoying her visit with her sister.
I turned out the lights and crawled into bed, snuggling down under the elaborate brocade bedspread. Thank goodness there was a fuzzy blanket beneath it that was warm and cozy. I settled in, on my back, and gazed up at the canopy over my head. The bed was so large I felt lost in it. Maybe that’s why sleep eluded me. Or maybe it was because I felt I shouldn’t be in this room.
I sighed and turned on my side to stare at the window illuminated by streetlights below.
It wasn’t long before a strange feeling stole over me. Someone was watching. I trembled slightly and turned over on my back. I’d never felt so alone in my life. But then again, it seemed as if I wasn’t alone. Turning on the bedside lamp, I jumped out of bed and patrolled the room, even opening the door and looking into the parlor. Nothing. No one.
So I clicked off the light, scrambled into bed and pulled the fuzzy blanket up over my head, letting only my nose stick out from under the covers. This was just a new experience. I was away from home. I was nervous anyway. I told myself all these things trying to convince myself that the sensation of being watched was simply my imagination.
I tried to go to sleep. My new life would be better in daylight. I could at least get a better look at my surroundings. Falling asleep would make the day come sooner.
But it didn’t work. Even though my eyes were shut tight, I couldn’t relax. Time went by. I don’t know how much time. And then I heard a faint noise.
It was the giggling of a child.
Could it be television from someone’s room?
But it didn’t sound like television. It sounded real, as if a child was playing in the hall maybe. It was a high-pitched laugh, like a little girl’s. My skin prickled, and my stomach tightened. Another chilly sensation swept over me. I was being watched. But there was no one in my room with me.
Tossing back the covers, I jumped out of bed and ran to the nearby window. Could the sound be coming from outside? A streetlamp pooled light on the sidewalk. Gray fog swirled in the air making the deserted street below seem spooky as if from a B-rated horror movie. I shivered at the thought and turned to hop back into bed.
At that moment, a flash of white raced past me, and I caught it out of the corner of my eye. I heard the giggling again, louder now. Looking back at my bed, I spotted a little girl standing on the other side of it. She was dressed in white and her slender hand reached toward my doll as if she wanted to touch it and play with it.
She looked up, startled, and smiled at me as if she knew me. And then she ran from the bed toward the door to the parlor which was shut. My heart raced. I followed her, flinging open the door to stare out into the empty parlor with the gray streetlights creating a defused, half-light glow in the room.
How had the little girl gone through the door? It had been shut! How could she have disappeared so quickly? Was I dreaming? Hallucinating? I pinched myself to see if I was awake.
I was. The floor was cold even through my socks. I crossed the parlor and unlocked and opened the outer door to the hall. All was quiet except for the deep tick-tock of a grandfather clock at one end. I bit my lower lip and retreated to the parlor, making sure the door to the hall was locked.
Standing silently for a moment, listening for laughter, I let my heart settle into a normal rhythm. What was the matter with me?
Thinking back at the vision of the little girl, I realized something was wrong about it. The child’s clothes were more fitting for the nineteenth century, not the twenty-first. In fact, her clothes reminded me of the lacy frills of my doll. And the girl’s hair was long, curled in dark blond ringlets down her back, and she wore a white ribbon in her hair. Her body didn’t seem solid. It was transparent, almost ghost-like.
I charged back into the bedroom and leaped into the bed, pulling the covers over my head. As if hiding under covers could save me. I was behaving like a child myself, but I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know a phone number to call unless I punched 911. Then what would I say to the firemen or police? I saw a ghost standing by my bed. Right. That made as much sense as me inheriting a million dollars from a woman I’d never known or seen.
But I had inherited a million dollars . . . two million to be exact.
That realization didn’t thrill me. So I tried to think of another explanation, something besides the paranormal.
Try as I might, I couldn’t make sense of my experience. My mind whirled and twirled but I couldn’t come up with a clear explanation. Later I heard the grandfather clock bong once in the distance, ghost-like itself. This place was too darn spooky for me, I remember thinking. Soon after that I must have relaxed enough to fall asleep.
About the Author:
Jan Scarbrough is the author of the popular Bluegrass Reunion series, writing heartwarming contemporary romances about home and family, single moms and children, and if the plot allows, about another passion–horses. Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town, Southern charm to her books, and the excitement of a horse race or a big-time, competitive horse show.
Leaving her contemporary voice behind, Jan has written MY LORD RAVEN, a medieval romance. Her paranormal Gothic romance, TANGLED MEMORIES, was a RWA Golden Heart finalist.
A member of Novelist, Inc. and the Romance Writers of America, Jan has published with Kensington, Five Star, ImaJinn Books, Resplendence Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press.
Where to Buy Timeless:
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