Today I'm teasing you with Who Killed the Ghost in the Library by Teresa Watson.
Teresa is one of my editors, and I love her sense of humor. I think you'll love it too. This is her first full length novel, and she killed it (pun intended)!
Buy the book here!
Here is the excerpt:
Chapter 1 - Monday
Ghost writer/editor looking for work. Reasonable rates.
Please contact Camille Shaw at 932-555-1624.
“Do you think the ad is okay?” I asked my best friend, Randy Cross one day in early May.
“You mean does it sound desperate?”
“I wasn’t trying for desperate. I was aiming for professional.”
“Keep trying,” he said as he took a sip of his latte.
“You’re no help,” I replied, leaning back in my chair with my arms crossed.
“Quit pouting. Maybe I’m wrong. They’ll be beating down your door, begging to work with you.”
I knew he meant well, but I could also hear the sarcasm in his voice. It had been five months since my last job – ghost writing a star’s autobiography – and money was starting to get a bit tight. I had decided to put an ad in the local newspaper, as well as some big market ones, hoping I could find some work. My agent, Joe Wilder, hadn’t returned any of my calls for the past week. Randy was right: I was getting desperate.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you didn’t want to work at the bookstore with me anymore.” Randy owned The Crack’d Spine, a used bookstore located across the street from Jim’s Heavenly Roasted Java (but Charlotte runs it), the coffeehouse we were sitting in. We lived in Waxahachie, Texas, which is the county seat. Located just south of Dallas, Waxahachie is a city of just under thirty thousand people. You’ve probably seen parts of our city in some well-known movies: Tender Mercies, with Robert Duvall, and Places in the Heart with Sally Field.
“Not a chance,” I said. “But I’m dying to write something. I’m just feeling a bit restless.”
“Restless? Hasn’t that hunky boyfriend of yours been keeping you company at night?”
Sighing, I took a drink of my Dr Pepper to avoid answering him. I hadn’t seen much of David Vaughn lately. Business kept taking him out of town. Truth be told, I don’t think we’ve really had much of a relationship in over a year, but neither one of us wanted to admit it. Sometimes I felt like I was just arm candy for all of his business functions. He wasn’t an affectionate person, although he was when we first met. We hadn’t been out on a real date in nine months. But I didn’t like spending all of my evenings with old westerns and Ben & Jerry’s Peach Cobbler ice cream. It was definitely time to break things off.
“Don’t tell me there’s trouble in paradise?”
“No. He’s out of town on business again.”
“I’ll bet he took that sexy assistant, Kassandra, with him.” I glared at him. “I’m sure it’s all perfectly innocent! Maybe we need to plan a night out. It’s been a while since we’ve gone wild.”
Regina, one of the coffeehouse baristas, stopped by our table. “Cam, someone left this for you at the front counter,” she said, handing me a cream-colored envelope.
“Ooh, a secret admirer?” Randy said.
“Thanks, Regina,” I said, taking the envelope from her. She smiled and walked away. My name was written on the front in calligraphy. “Wow, fancy.”
“It’s probably some rich old geezer who wants to tell how he made his billions on the backs of the little people.”
“Cynical much, Randy?” I said, opening the envelope. Quickly scanning the note, I got the impression that maybe he wasn’t that far off base.
I would like to hire you to write a story. Please come to 3985 Ash Grove Lane at seven o’clock this evening.
I showed it to Randy. His eyes widened as he read it. “You’re kidding.”
“How can I be kidding? I just got it!”
“Oh, come on, Cam! You’ve lived here almost all your life and you’ve forgotten the stories about that house already?” I just gave him a blank look. Sighing, he leaned closer. “3985 Ash Grove Lane belonged to Stanley Ashton III, the grandson of Stanley Ashton Sr., one of the founding fathers and the first president of the oldest bank in our fair city. He was married to Amelia Underwood, daughter of Crawford Underwood, the logging king. Stanley and Amelia had two children, Stanley IV and Celeste. They put on the ‘we’re a happy family’ routine to the public, but reality was a whole different story. Stanley was promiscuous, and his wife knew about his indiscretions. She and Celeste went on a cruise, and while they were gone, Stanley III was found dead in the downstairs library. The police determined it was suicide. Amelia and the children inherited everything, and they lived in the house for a while. But one night, they mysteriously disappeared. No one knows where they went, or what happened to them. The bank accounts were closed two days before they vanished.”
“Maybe a family member has showed up to stake a claim on the house.”
Randy shook his head. “I doubt it. Stanley III’s siblings were scattered all over the country, and none of them ever made a claim on the house, or tried to find Amelia and the kids. But the best part is that people claim the house is haunted.”
“Oh, get serious, Randy.”
“I am serious! There have been reports of lights coming on, smoke from the chimney, things like that. No one goes near that place.”
I looked at the note again. “Well, someone must have moved in. Maybe it’s Stanley IV, coming back to tell everyone where he’s been all these years.”
“Or maybe it’s the ghost of Stanley III, and he wants to tell you what really happened to his family.”
“You need to stop watching reruns of ‘Ghost Whisperer’,” I said as I put the note back in the envelope. I put it in my bag, grabbed my coat and stood up. “I’ve got to run. I’ve got a few things to do before tonight.”
Randy grabbed my arm. “Don’t go, Cam. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. If you need money that bad, I can float you a loan.”
“I’ll be fine,” I said. “What’s the worst that can happen? I get stood up? Wouldn’t be the first time.”
“You could end up dead.”
Nothing like a best friend to give you that reassuring pat on the back.
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