A hunky enforcer for a crime boss fleas to the peace of the Yorkshire Dales to escape the voices in his head. A shy, over-weight ghost whisperer might be the only one who can help him. But she has problems of her own, not the least of which is a gateway to the underworld at the bottom of her garden that has just released an invisible dragon to wreaking havoc on the area.
Targeted Age Group:: adults
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was dealing with some heavy issues in my own life and needed something to make me laugh. Writing this book did that in spades.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The heroine is like me (but a LOT younger) and the hero I modelled after a character in my favourite series by Colleen Helme. The rest of the cast just kind of turned up on the day, wanting to be included. Who was I to deny them their chance at fame?
“He’s a bit o’ all right,” I heard from just behind me, as I stared at the giant and his short companion standing at the checkout counter of Booths, our local supermarket.
Jumping a little in shock, I turned unsteadily to look at who had spoken to me, expecting the worst. Instead, it only turned out to be Bryce Mitchell’s Goth sister, Danielle, who worked as a packer at the store.
Letting out a captive breath, I tried to arrange my lips into the vague shape of a smile.
“Bit o’ rough wouldn’t hurt you none,” she went on with a sly smile of her own.
It was disconcerting to see any kind of smile on the surly teen’s face. I took it as a sign that I was making progress with her. Not that I’d intentionally sought to befriend the girl, but my intentions rarely played a part in the story of my life. I seemed to be blown about by a fortune that made me a magnet for all kinds of mismatched and out of place creatures, living and not, that crossed my path.
“I… I’m sorry, what?” I stammered out as I stared, wide-eyed at her heavily kohled dark orbs and tried to calm a heart that had started beating way too fast at the first sound of her voice.
“Him. Don’t play coy. I saw you eyeing ‘im, Miss Wimple. If I was a bit older I’d be hittin’ that myself.”
Fighting back a smirk at the odd bit of Americanism—courtesy of too much TV, I assumed—peppering Danielle’s Yorkshire accent, I glanced back at the bit o’ rough in question.
“Call me Alfie,” I offered. “Miss Wimple makes me sound like an elderly librarian, and I’m only twenty-four.”
The only Miss Wimple I knew was my aunt, and she’d been anything but a conservative librarian in her short lifetime. But Danielle didn’t need to know that.
“ Oh no, I couldn’t. Not with you being posh. And livin’ in the biggest house in Wiggleswick. And helpin’ my brother. And bein’ so much older’n me an’ all.”
I frowned, waiting to see if there were going to be any more ands in her answer. The only one that really concerned me was the fact that Bryce had told his sister I was helping him. Did she know how I was supposedly helping him?
I fought back the fear suddenly clawing at my throat. People already gossiped about me. Did I really care if this Goth Girl knew my secret? Or if she laughed at me behind my back?
Would she laugh at me now, if she knew I hadn’t been staring at the massive slab of granite standing at the till as much as at his short spectre companion? Would she want to laugh at the ghost’s antics, as I did, if she could see him?
A good foot shorter than the giant, the spirit was currently playing Tinkerbell by leaning in on tippy-toes, arms extended out behind him for balance, as he whispered sweet nothings in the big man’s ear. Of course this Tinkerbell was older, grungier, and a lot less innocent. Not to mention had a sex change.
Mr Rough shook his head yet again, as if trying to dislodge water from his ear. I recognised the move, having employed it often enough myself in the last few years. Did the big man also see what he so obviously heard?
“And he rides a Ducati. And he’s stayin’ up your way,” my nosy informant went on with her list of ands.
The last one got my attention. Up my way? There wasn’t a lot up my way. My home, a once impressive manor house fallen on hard times, sat midway along a lane leading up into the moors, about a mile out of town. Only a few derelict shepherds’ crofts and an empty gatehouse at the entrance to my property shared the lane with me.
“Where?” I found myself asking, despite my distaste for the fruit of the grapevine. When you’d been the subject of gossip, as I’d been for the last five or more years, you didn’t tend to like indulging in a small town’s favourite pastime.
“Moorcroft,” came the instant reply.
“But it’s uninhabitable!” I gasped, knowing exactly what crofters’ hut she referred to. My father had once tried to buy the land it sat on for its views. The owner, a businessman from Leeds, had been unwilling to consider the offer, claiming it was an investment for his eventual retirement.
“Guess he’s fixin’ it up. Been up there a week or so. Or that’s when he started coming in here for his groceries.”
Unwilling to indulge in any more intrusive chatter, I gave Danielle a parting smile, humped my metal basket higher onto my ample hip, and hurried off to join the short line waiting at the one open till.
But my gaze refused to leave the short ghost. His antics would have made me giggle if I hadn’t realised just how frightening it must be for Mr Rough. Right now the little man was bouncing up and down, trying to get closer to the much taller man’s ear, without touching him. He reminded me of a Jack Russell jumping at a back gate or a kid on a trampoline.
Several times, as my gaze kept returning to the antics of the ghost, I caught Mr Rough’s angry glance fall on me. I wasn’t sure if his annoyance was actually directed at me or simply the voice in his ear.
When he finally collected his plastic bags—no environmentally friendly canvas bags for him—and strode out, I breathed my first real breath since catching sight of him.
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