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Authors: Sindra van Yssel

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A Haunted Romance

BOOK: A Haunted Romance
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A HAUNTED ROMANCE

 

 

Sindra van Yssel

 

 

 

www.loose-id.com

 

A Haunted Romance

Copyright © October 2011 by Sindra van Yssel

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

eISBN 978-1-61118-546-1

Editor: Jana J. Hanson

Cover Artist: Tuesday Dube

Printed in the United States of America

 

Published by

Loose Id LLC

PO Box 809

San Francisco CA 94104-0809

www.loose-id.com

 

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Warning

This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id LLC’s e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

* * *

DISCLAIMER: Please do not try any new sexual practice, especially those that might be found in our BDSM/fetish titles without the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Neither Loose Id LLC nor its authors will be responsible for any loss, harm, injury or death resulting from use of the information contained in any of its titles.

 

Chapter One

 

Chelsea Krakowski drove her yellow Volkswagen Jetta up the steep and muddy gravel driveway. She sighed with relief once she reached the end of it and parked. Her Aunt Pat’s old house loomed off to the right, built two stories tall despite the expanse of the land, the paint peeling from its wooden shingles. On the driver’s side, thick green brush grew wild wherever the rocky hillside had allowed it purchase, a marked contrast with the deep red of the leaves that were still on the trees.

She’d been warned the house was not in the best of shape. Then again, her sister-in-law, Jacey, had even claimed the place was haunted. Under the terms of her aunt’s will, the house would have belonged to her brother if he had lived there for one year. Arnold and Jacey had lasted a week and come running back to the suburbs, at which point, by the will, the house became Chelsea’s, but it had been several months before she’d been able to get the key and the deed. After Jacey’s story about the ghost, dutifully backed up by Arnold and both of their “high-spirited” children, Chelsea figured they’d have told her pretty much anything to dissuade her from taking possession. But she didn’t need to live in the house to own it; Pat’s will didn’t have any such provision for the property once it reverted to her. She could even sell it if she wanted to, but she had looked forward to the idea of living in a pastoral setting, writing in blessed solitude.

She was beginning to have second thoughts.

She stepped out of the car, breathed in the fresh air, and the second thoughts were briefly dispelled. She grabbed her jacket from the shotgun seat. It was cooler out in the foothills of the Blue Ridge than it was in the DC suburbs, just enough so to make a difference. Still, it was a relatively warm day for early November, a nice break after a couple of days of cold rain.

She tromped around to the back of the house and surveyed her property. What once had been Pat’s farm had a year’s growth of weeds on it. She could still make out the depressions marking the place where rows of crops—corn, soy?—once stood. She had no idea. She didn’t know much about farming. She did know she’d inherited a hell of a backyard to mow. She’d have to get one of those tractor mowers or pay someone to take care of it for her once she’d gotten rid of the weeds and planted grass seed. There was a shed too to investigate later. What looked like it might be a bed frame leaned against it. Jacey had told her the shed was full of black widows and brown recluses, but then again Jacey had told her the house was haunted.

Chelsea walked back to the front, congratulating herself on having had the good foresight to wear hiking boots instead of her usual tennis shoes, even though they looked particularly clunky with her midlength blue flower print dress. Jeans would have been more practical, but she hated how she looked in jeans, and she wanted to make a good first impression with the neighbors. She needn’t have worried. From out back, she could see a few neighboring farms built on the flat, and any neighboring dwellings were blocked from view by trees. Privacy, just like she wanted.

She noticed with slight annoyance the splatters of mud on the recently washed Jetta and marched up the steps with determination. She wasn’t backing down just because of a few inconveniences. She’d drink sweet tea during the day on the big front porch, typing away on her laptop, and celebrate the better days with a peach julep in the evening.

They creaked. Loudly. But the porch itself was solid enough. It just needed a fresh coat of white paint. The house was old, she knew, built sometime in the nineteenth century. The porch was made of wood and fit nicely, but she presumed it wasn’t that old. How long did a wooden porch last? She’d find out the house’s history if she could. Those kinds of things fascinated her. Maybe there was a local paper with a back file to go through, or perhaps it would take a trip to the county historical society.

She tried the key in the lock, and it didn’t fit. For a moment she thought perhaps Arnold had given her the wrong key on purpose, but then she remembered she had two, and one of them supposedly went to the shed out back. She tried the other one. It turned perfectly.

It looked gloomy inside, but with the curtains shut and no lights on, that wasn’t too surprising. She walked inside and over to the large window in front and pulled open the curtains, strands of dust from them falling onto her hair and shoulders. She coughed a couple times and then smiled. The window let in a fair amount of natural light, enough to read by if she put a couch near it.

She scanned the room. It was completely bare. The floors were good—solid oak, she thought—and the inside walls were hard plaster. But the terms of the will had been quite clear—“the house and everything in it”—and somehow she rather doubted that Aunt Pat had lived her life completely without furniture. Given that the windows were in good shape, and a thief probably wouldn’t bother to lock the door behind himself, it seemed her brother and his wife had taken the chance to make some quick money.

This was the first time she’d been to her aunt’s house; her parents had never gone to visit, although she’d been taken to other relatives more distant both in relation and geography. Chelsea felt bad she hadn’t gone once she’d become an adult either. She’d met her aunt three times—twice at family reunions, and once at Chelsea’s own wedding. The last event was the only one she was sure Pat had been invited to—and what a disaster that had been. Actually the wedding had gone off without a hitch; the disaster was the next ten months until the divorce. Ralph had a law degree and had actually attempted to get alimony from her when they broke up, as if he couldn’t earn plenty if he’d been willing to work. She earned enough money from writing the Cat Connors mysteries to support herself but not any extra to spare for a lazy ex-husband.

He hadn’t even been any good in bed. He’d been good-looking and charming, and that was about it.

Something smelled up ahead, and she had a bad feeling about it. Sure enough, it was coming from the kitchen. An open pizza box sat on top of the range. It had probably been there for months.
Ugh
. She looked for the light switch and flicked it on. To her surprise, the bulb lit up nicely. She’d called ahead to get the electricity turned on, but given the living room, she’d half expected to find the bulbs missing or burned out. At least one worked. There weren’t a ton of insects running around either, although a little blur of white scurried for cover in a crack between the oven and the wall. She’d take mice over cockroaches any day. Hopefully she could find some humane traps in the local hardware store, wherever that was.

She decided she wasn’t feeling quite up to checking out the refrigerator. She had the essentials—milk, cheese, butter—on ice in her car, and they’d certainly last a few more hours out there.

The lack of furniture in the living room had surprised her to the point where she hadn’t really felt like she was inside. A sequence of muddy boot tracks on her oak floor showed her otherwise. She took the boots off in the kitchen and decided the tile was actually a better place for them than inside the front doorway. She’d walk them over when she went back to the car to get her stuff. Her thick socks, she decided, would be enough to protect her from any surprises the rest of Aunt Pat’s house held.

My house.

Well, my house wouldn’t have an old pizza lying around.

She grabbed the box, wondering how much of a meal had been left for the mice by her relatives, and half crushed, half folded it into a shape that would fit in the trash can.

Opening the trash can was a mistake; it smelled worse than the pizza box. But there was a plastic bag in it, so Chelsea pinched the bag closed over the box and tied it shut. Behind the kitchen was a little pantry, thankfully devoid of ancient food, and through that was a back door. She opened the back door and tossed the bag out of the house into the weeds. She’d have to find out when garbage got picked up—they did pick up garbage out here, didn’t they? She couldn’t see any larger, outdoor trash cans, but she’d do some searching later. Right now, that bag needed to be out of the house because a gas mask was not one of the things she’d packed her Jetta full of.

Shutting the door between her and the bag, she took a deep breath. The air definitely wasn’t fresh, but it was at least marginally better. As much as her instincts told her otherwise, she knew the bag wasn’t going to march right back into the house on its own, so she opened the pantry door again. The place needed to air out, badly. The mustiness was getting to her.

She opened the front door too.

Ah. Much better.

There was one other room to explore on the first level. The dining room table, a bare butcher-block kind of affair, was still there. It bore a few stains, and the corners were rounded more from wear than design, but it had thick legs and looked very sturdy. It must weigh a ton, thought Chelsea. And probably has no resale value, which was
why
it was still there. Nonetheless it was very serviceable and would even look nice once she had a tablecloth on it. There was a cabinet for dishes as well—empty, no big surprise there. Some built-in shelves that might have held knickknacks were bare. She didn’t know whether Aunt Pat’s things had been sold off or simply dumped to be replaced with Jacey’s stuff when her brother’s family had moved in. She shrugged. Her aunt had always been a bit of a mystery, and Chelsea would have liked to have known more.

A loud
thump
and a crash interrupted Chelsea’s thoughts. The sound came from upstairs. What or who was making that kind of noise?

She froze, unsure of what to do next. Cat Connors would never have hesitated, she thought.

Against her better judgment, Chelsea went to investigate. She’d have called someone to go with her if she’d known anyone, but since the house clearly hadn’t been entered for a while, she decided she’d be safe enough alone, even though she didn’t
feel
safe.

BOOK: A Haunted Romance
4.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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