Authors: Karen Cantwell
Table of Contents
Some Like it Haunted
Copyright © 2014 by Author Name. All rights reserved.
First Kindle Edition: November 2014
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Some Like it Haunted
is the second book in the Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance Series. Have you read the first?
Ghosts. Do you Believe?
Sophie Rhodes doesn’t have a choice. She’s surrounded by them.
Desperate to pay the bills, 29-year-old Sophie ignores the advice of her stuffy spirit-friend, Marmaduke Dodsworth, and takes a job with the handsome Dr. Callahan, an optometrist with a desperate situation of his own. The good doctor’s problem? He has a spirit-friend as well: one with a fiery crush and a vicious jealous streak. When chemistry starts to brew between Sophie and Dr. Callahan, his green-eyed ghost wreaks some bad-tempered havoc, scaring away his patients and putting Sophie on edge. Will Sophie give up the ghost and quit the new job, or buck up and find a way to rid Dr. Callahan of his pesky specter, freeing their romance to find a life of its own?
“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about, and few have seen.”
—Francois de La Rochefoucauld
ost days, I count myself lucky to have met and befriended Marmaduke Dodsworth. We get along so well that I barely notice he is dead.
But some days, I’ll admit, he kind of gets in the way.
Okay, that was an understatement. Truthfully, on occasion, Marmaduke can be downright intrusive.
Case in point: my new boyfriend, Cal, and I were enjoying a romantic dinner at Winston’s to celebrate the two-month anniversary of our first kiss.
It sounds sappy, I know. And I usually don’t do sappy, but the celebration was his romantic surprise to me and it was lovely.
Tucked away in a dimly lit corner of the classy restaurant, we held our champagne glasses and stared into each other’s eyes.
“Here’s to the best two months of my life,” he said.
“I’ll toast to that,” I agreed.
We clinked glasses and sipped.
He leaned closer and whispered in my ear. “You’re the most beautiful woman in the room.”
His warm breath on my neck triggered the arousal button. “Someone wants to get lucky tonight,” I teased.
“Don’t I always?”
A waiter arrived and set a basket of bread on the table. He refilled our water glasses. “Your dinner should be out shortly.”
“Thank you.” Cal gave him a polite nod. “Now,” he said, turning his attention back to me, “have I recreated the evening to your satisfaction?”
I smiled. Two months earlier we had sat at Winston’s, not as lovers, but as employer and employee. “You forgot the steno pad so we could pretend it was a working dinner. I forgive you though, because the daisy bouquet was perfect.”
“I asked the lady at the shop to make the bouquet special. Special flowers for a special lady.”
Cal’s eyes were on my lips as he eased toward me. It wouldn’t be our first kiss for the evening, and I had definite plans that it would not be the last either.
“I could not agree with you more, ol’ chap,” Marmaduke said, appearing out of thin air, right between us. “She is a very special lady indeed.”
Cal halted his advance and leaned away. He drummed his fingers on the table. Kissing a ghost probably wasn’t on his agenda for the evening.
“And I am of the opinion,” Marmaduke continued without taking a break, “that you, Doctor, are a most special man. A stalwart fellow. A truly good mate. Together, you make a most extraordinary couple. And while history and literature seem fit only to bore us with tragic tales of ill-fated lovers, I, for one, am satisfied with the more common but cheerful yarn of Sophie and her Dr. Callahan.”
“Are you being sarcastic?” Cal asked him.
Marmaduke’s smile fell. He used the bowler hat from his head to cover his heart with dramatic flair. “Why sir, you cut me to the quick. My sentiment was sincere to the core. Deeply heartfelt. Forthright and earnest. The utmost in—”
Cal slipped me a glance as Marmaduke continued expounding.
Conversing with a ghost in public can be a tricky thing. I kept my voice low and stared at Cal to throw off any nearby diners who might be looking our way. “Um, Marmi,” I interrupted, “we were hoping to spend this evening alone. Just Cal and me.”
“Say no more.” Marmaduke returned the hat to his head. “I merely wanted to make a brief appearance to offer my own felicitations as you celebrate your love, your passion, your amour.” He stood and bowed slightly, tipping his hat. “I bid you adieu.”
As Marmi faded away, I smiled. “That was sweet.”
“He means well,” Cal said. “Now, about that kiss...”
“The kiss!” Marmaduke exclaimed, putting himself right between us again. “I nearly forgot to toast your kiss. For isn’t that the true reason for this tryst? I had a toast planned. Do you mind?”
Cal squeezed my hand tightly, which I took as his silent plea for privacy.
“And then you’ll leave us to our date?” I asked, hoping it didn’t sound too rude.
“Why of course. What else? Remain here, the proverbial fifth wheel? Useless, unwanted, serving no—”
“The toast, Marmaduke,” Cal whispered. “The toast.”
“Yes, yes. Raise your glasses then.” Marmaduke adjusted the lapels of his dated suit coat and cleared his throat. “It is a poem, actually. From
by Robert Herrick: ‘Give me a kisse, and to that kisse a score; Then to that twenty, adde a hundred more; A thousand to that hundred; so kiss on, To make that thousand up a million; Treble that million, and when that is done, Let’s kisse afresh, as when we first begun.’”
I touched my hand to my heart. “That was beautiful, Marmi. Thank you.”
“You are most welcome.” He bowed again. “Until tomorrow.”
Cal seemed unsure after Marmaduke’s second disappearance. “I want to kiss you, but I don’t want him popping between us again. It really kills the mood.”
“He meant well,” I argued. “Wasn’t that poem the sweetest?”
“Sweet maybe,” he said, “but my reservations were for a party of two, not three. Don’t get me wrong, I like Marmaduke. I like him a lot. He’s just around a little more than I’d like sometimes.”
“I’ll talk to him. Now, where were we? Oh, right—let’s kiss afresh.” Our lips touched lightly and I felt sure that the third try would be the charm, when Cal’s cell phone blared the song “Hungry Eyes” so loudly that all heads turned in our direction. Scowls on diners’ faces conveyed their annoyance.
Cal fumbled to retrieve the phone from his coat pocket. “Sorry,” he told the world at large. “I forgot to silence it.”
When he dropped the phone onto the floor, the ring tone still booming, he apologized some more, apparently feeling the need to explain. “‘Hungry Eyes.’ I’m an eye doctor. Again, so sorry.”
Thankfully, people seemed satisfied with his apology and Winston’s returned to its natural rhythm. Cal checked his phone display. “It’s my mom,” he said. “I’ll call her later.” He slipped the phone back into his pocket and scooted his chair back in just as two waiters arrived with our plates.
I picked up a fork. “It seems to be a night of untimely interruptions. On the bright side, this pasta looks delicious.”
Cal smiled. “The night is young. I have champagne chilled at my house.”
As I twirled fettuccine onto my fork, a disturbance erupted near the entrance of the restaurant. From our obscure corner, I couldn’t hear who was saying what, but it seemed to be a contentious conversation with possible crying involved. A moment later, the maitre d’ skulked to our table. “Dr. Callahan,” he whispered, “I am so sorry to disturb you, but we have a woman in the front room who is crying quite uncontrollably. It is hard to understand through her sobs, but we think she is asking for you. We think her name is Dianne.”
Cal’s head drooped. “Mother. I knew I shouldn’t have told her where we were celebrating.”
A woman went home with Cal that night, but it wasn’t me.
felt bad for his mother, I really did. She’d decided to leave Cal’s father earlier that day and was an emotional wreck. Evidently she had apologized many times over for ruining our special dinner, but that’s only a rumor I heard from Cal. She never apologized to me directly.
Unfortunately, her presence had put a crimp in our love life. For the next two days it was nothing but long days with no romantic liaisons. By the third morning I was tense and cranky. A throbbing headache, a mile-high stack of work, and Marmi’s incessant babbling only intensified my irritable mood as I sat at the front desk of Cal’s optometry office. It isn’t easy working for your boyfriend all day and then having to go home alone.
“So I said to the man, ‘See here old bloke, I have no desire to move into any light.’ For goodness’ sake, I’m not some flighty moth. I wish you body dwellers would just leave me be.”
“Marmi,” I said, pinching my nose, “can we discuss this some other time? I have a lot on my plate today. Reports to write, Halloween decorations to hang. Every kid who walks in asks why the decorations aren’t up yet. Then, it seems from the messages on the voicemail, that half of Stephens City wants to schedule their children for eye appointments. I have a lot of phone calls to return.”
“I remember a day when you lamented the empty waiting room,” Marmaduke sniffed. “Now clientele are abundant and yet you grouse. I am bewildered. Which do you prefer? Fewer patients and fewer calls to return or more patients and more calls to return?”
I blew out a sigh. “How about I grouse about your yammering?”
I’d hurt his feelings and his face showed it. “You cut me to the quick. I thought our morning chats here were the favorite morsel of your day. A time you savored, treasured, relished. Apparently I was wrong. I shall disperse.”
His visage evaporated, but not entirely. He deserved an apology. I did enjoy his company. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Don’t go. I do savor our morning chats.”
He rematerialized, but gave me a wary squint. “I question your sincerity.”
“I am sincere. Cross my heart. Truly sorry. It’s been tough with Cal’s mother around. She’s...”
I nodded. “Taxing describes her perfectly. Ultra taxing. Mega taxing. Fingernails-on-a-chalkboard taxing.”
My cell phone buzzed in my purse. I dug it out and perked right up seeing my grandfather’s name on the display. He always brightened my gloomy moods. “Hi Grampy,” I answered. “You’re up early.”
“I rise with the sun, you know that, Muffin.”
“I know. I was teasing. What’s up?”
“I need a second opinion. My new eyeglasses are worse than my old ones. You think that new boyfriend of yours would see me?”
“Absolutely. When do you want to come in?”
“I don’t want any special or free treatment, you know. If you schedule me an appointment, I’m paying my bill same as any other patient who walks in there.”
“I’ll let him know your terms,” I laughed.
We found a time he liked and then chatted for a few minutes more.
I hung up with a smile on my face. “Headache gone. All I needed was some Grampy time.”
“In that case, ring him back,” Marmi said, looking out the window. “Your day is about to grow more toilsome. Ahoy, I see trouble on the horizon.”
I checked “the horizon” and spotted a uniformed cop, Shane Daniels, in the parking lot just outside of the office. With a moan, I reached for a bottle of aspirin.
Shane Daniels wasn’t just an employee of the Stephens City police department, he was also my ex-boyfriend. He was a good cop, but he’d been a bad boyfriend. One in a string of bad, cheating, bailing boyfriends. In all fairness to Shane, we were a bad match. For one thing, he didn’t believe in ghosts. When I confided the truth to him about Marmaduke, he scoffed and told me I was crazy. To make matters completely unbearable, he started finding my best friend, Amy, more attractive than me. That sort of thing is a relationship killer.
In recent months though, I’d learned to get past all of that. I had moved on. Shane started seeing Amy. She had my blessing, even if I still begrudged him complete happiness. They were engaged now, and I was happy she had felt comfortable enough to ask me to be one of her bridesmaids. Still, he had a cocky way about him that, despite my best attempts at acceptance, continued to rub me the wrong way.
He opened the door and stepped in, a worried frown crumpling his usually rugged and confident face. When a short little lady ghost with pink chubby cheeks followed him in, I nearly laughed out loud. It appeared that a spirit had attached herself to Shane, the disbeliever, and she was chatting up a storm.
“Where’re we goin’?” the ghost asked him. “What’s this place? What in the heck are we doin’ here anyway?”
I couldn’t hide my smile. From the sound of the twang, his pretty and inquisitive ghost once hailed from a southern state. Normally, Shane would have sauntered up to my desk with a self-assured, cop-cocky stride. But today every step was hesitant, and he flinched when the fax machine whirred and began to print. “Hey there, Soph.” His eyes darted around the room. “How...how are you?”
“My, my,” Marmaduke sneered, “look what the cat dragged in, as you Americans say. Is that a spirited one following the cad, Shane Daniels?”
“Hi, Shane. I’m fine. How are
?” I emphasized the
, because I was pretty sure he wasn’t feeling so great.
He leaned on the counter and nodded a few times. “Been better, I guess.”
The ghost tilted her head and her blond hair bounced a bit. “He don’t talk to me even though I’m almost positive he can hear me. I don’t get it. Why don’t he talk to me?”
Shane winced. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “Soph, do you see...it?”
“It?” the ghost shouted. “Did he just call me an ‘it’? The nerve!”
“The nerve is right,” Marmaduke said to her. “Nerve, audacity, contemptuousness. He has it all.”
Two incensed ghosts and an armed man verging on a nervous breakdown were more than I needed just before our first patient was due to arrive. “Later, Marmi,” I muttered under my breath. “Later.”
Shane shook his finger at me. “You’re talking to Marmi. That’s the Irish guy, right?” He lowered his voice. “The...ghost?”
“He’s British, Shane. I’ve told you a million times. And yes, I see her. Do you see her?”
His eyes widened, and he shook his head. “No. I don’t see anything. I mean, I see you. I see the office. I see real things.”
“Real things!” the ghost shouted. “I’m real. I’m tellin’ ya, this man is testin’ my patience somethin’ fierce.”
He shook his head again. “I don’t see her. I can hear her too well though. She doesn’t stop talking. Just keeps talking and talking and talking. At first I thought I was going crazy, hearing voices. I almost turned myself into the psych ward at the hospital. But, you know, those places are not very nice. Then I thought of you. Thank God you see her.”
“I don’t stop talkin’?” complained the lady ghost. “He’s makin’ me out to be some sort of babblin’ ninny. I ain’t no such thing.”
“I ain’t?” Marmi muttered. “You cause me to shudder, madam. Such vulgar abuse of the English language.”
Shane ran his hands through his hair. “What does she look like? Is she scary looking?”
“No,” I laughed. “She has a pretty face. Short blond hair. Red cheeks.” I wondered if Shane could hear Marmaduke. “Have you been hearing a man’s voice since you walked in?”
“I don’t think so. You mean the Irish guy?”
“British, you imbecile!” Marmaduke sneered. “British. The people who used to rule your pitiful colonies. Honestly, who sought fit to give this monkey a pistol?”
“That man in the funny hat just made fun o’ you,” the other ghost tattled.
“There. She’s at it again,” Shane said. “She said a man in a hat made fun of me. Is the Irish guy making fun of me?”
“Good heavens,” Marmaduke sighed, “I surrender.”
“It’s strange,” I said. “You can’t see her, but you can hear her, and you can’t see or hear Marmaduke.”
“Huh, strange,” Shane mumbled. “That’s an understatement.”
“I wish you’d keep yourself together,” the lady said to Shane, “I need you thinkin’ straight.”
Shane’s eyes widened again. “She keeps saying that. That she needs me. I’m a cop, Sophie. I can’t have this.”
“Calm down,” I told him. “We’ll sort it out.” I gave the new ghost a better look. She must have been young when she died. Twenty maybe. Her blue billowy skirt and white blouse, though tight on her plump frame, reminded me of a 1950s-themed Halloween costume I’d seen in the store recently. “What exactly do you need him for, Miss...um, what’s your name?”
“Myrtle. My name is Myrtle. But see, that’s the problem. All’s I know about myself is my name. Where I’m from, what kind of life I lived—I don’t know none of that. That’s why I need this man. He’s gonna tell me.”