Authors: Edie Ramer
“The story is entertaining, eye-widening, edge-your-seat thrilling and belly-laugh funny.”
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
“Edie Ramer has done it again. She has created such a wonderful new world that enthralls and entertains. This book is filled with laughter, heartbreak, mystery, cranky ghosts, and most importantly, love. The depth of which Ramer is able to put into her characters is fantastic. It doesn’t get much better than this
Coffee Table Reviews
Book One in the Haunted Heart series
When Cassie Taylor talks, ghosts listen. She wants to heal their souls so they can leave earth. Brooding songwriter Luke Rivers wants to give his recently found daughter a normal home, but he discovers his new house in small town Wisconsin is haunted by a ghost with an attitude. His ghost whisperer has an attitude too—even before someone tries to kill her.
He wants conventional. She wants acceptance. No wonder she thinks men are hard and dead people are easy.
Cassie Taylor cruised down the snaking tree-lined driveway, her foot on the brake, as if her body knew something she didn’t. Ahead of her, a twilight shroud draped over the twin turrets of a pre-Victorian house. A greenish light shimmering in its tall windows reminded her of swamp gas, an effect she’d never seen before in central Wisconsin. Behind the house, the stagnant lake appeared murky, secrets hidden in its depths.
“The only thing missing is lightning,” she murmured. As if God heard her, lightning zigzagged across the graying sky.
“Looks haunted.” Joe lounged in the passenger seat.
“I sure the hell hope so.”
“If not, they’re paying you a bundle for nothing. Who designed the house?”
Cassie peered at the part gingerbread, part Addams family house. “A mad scientist.”
“My favorite kind,” Joe said. “Ghosts have become boring. A Frankenstein creature would be a welcome change.”
Glancing at him, Cassie stifled a sigh. His face was vibrant, eyes bright with intelligence, Elvis-styled chestnut hair gleaming. In his brown leather aviator jacket and black slacks, he looked trim and wiry.
The perfect man...except for one small problem.
“I’ll pass on the Frankenstein creatures. You’ll keep out of sight?”
He gave her his shit-eating grin. “What’ll you give me if I do?”
A gray rabbit darted across the drive. She stomped on the brake and flung out her hand to brace her passenger. Her fingers sliced through his arm, ice enveloping her hand like a frigid glove.
She jerked back, and the car swerved. She swore and straightened the wheel.
“Did you forget what I am?” Joe asked.
Shaking her head, she pulled up in front of the stone sidewalk leading to the double doors. “I never forget. That was a reflex.” She made a face as she released her seatbelt and opened the car door. “You’re cold enough to stop global warming.”
“I can turn solid.”
She stared at him. Cool October air wafted into the car, and a small army of goose bumps marched up her arms. Beneath the dome light, his face had a bluish cast. The spectral world’s king of practical jokers looked deadly serious.
“Are you shitting me?”
“Woman, you got a mouth on you.”
“It’s not 1955 any longer. Women swear as much as men.”
“I miss women who talk about women things.”
“You’re changing the subject. Keep it up and I’ll talk about my period. That’s a woman thing.”
He shuddered, his blue tint deepening. “I can turn solid, but it takes a lot of ectoplasm.” With
a change of mood, he waggled his eyebrows. “Make it worth my while, and I’ll prove it to you.”
She wished he were solid right now—so she could whack him. “No wonder you’re stuck here on earth. God wouldn’t let you in heaven.”
“You’re breaking my heart, pretty lady.”
She jumped onto the blacktopped driveway. As she hiked up the front walk, fallen leaves crunching beneath her shoes, Joe floated alongside her. She punched the ivory doorbell and a bell tolled,
bong bong bong
“Sounds like it’s announcing the end of the world,” Joe muttered.
Shrugging, she supposed it would bother most people. Not her.
The doorknob turned and she braced herself.
bothered her. Talking to humans. Ghosts were so much easier.
The door creaked open and Joe shimmered to nothing. A man stood before her, average size and weight, but in no other way average. She could see ghosts, not auras, but she couldn’t miss the power pulsing from him, coming straight at her, invisible hot sparkles landing on her skin.
The air next to Cassie swirled, her invisible companion checking out her newest employer—late thirties, dark haired, olive complexion with a hint of mahogany, wide cheekbones, and unexpected sapphire-blue eyes that smoldered with disbelief.
She straightened her shoulders. He may as well wear a sign that shouted, THIS WOMAN IS A FAKE.
She used to wonder why people like this man called her, begging her to come, paying her a wad of money. By now she knew.
They were desperate.
“Cassie Taylor?” His voice sounded titanium hard. “The ghost buster?”
His eyes narrowed. She guessed he wondered if she was mocking him.
Not this time.
“There are no ghost busters in real life,” she continued, ignoring Joe’s snort in her ear. “I’m closer to a ghost therapist.”
The door opened wider and his lips quirked, though he didn’t smile. That was fine with her. If she were paid for her jokes, she’d be grocery shopping in the dog food aisle.
Her client fit the house, just as gloomy. So what if he had the kind of looks that made her breath catch and her knees weaken? Dracula had the same effect on a lot of women, and all that made him was a woman killer.
Not waiting for a warmer welcome, she stepped into the cavernous foyer, asserting her power. A stairway wide enough to hold a quartet of high-kicking Rockettes flowed upward on her left. To her right was a room veiled in shadows. Dark wood and bad lighting abounded. The only things gleaming were the high polish on the floor and the man’s eyes.
“You’re Luke Rivers?”
“Just Luke.” He held out his hand and she took it. His hand was warm, firm, the pads of his fingertips callused.
“You can call me Cassie.” She released his hand and gave him a professional smile, the kind politicians gave to constituents and hookers to johns.
He continued to hold out his hand. “Your jacket. I’ll hang it up.”
Heat ran up her face. For a second, she hesitated, reluctant to expose her twenty extra pounds to his gaze.
The second passed and she shrugged out of her jacket. Good thing she didn’t give a damn. She’d renounced men four years ago. Besides, though Luke’s ring finger was bare, he was probably married. In their email correspondence, he’d mentioned a ten-year-old daughter. For her last clue, single men didn’t usually live in homes big enough to hold Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester and the rest of the wacky gang.
He hung up her jacket in the closet off the foyer, and she glimpsed her brown cloth jacket sliding against black leather before he shut the door and strode down the long hallway, the lord of the manor. Halfway down, one muted light glowed on a table holding a vase with fake roses. He turned into a room, light spilling out from the doorway.
She hurried to keep up with him. This house was a cliché, made to be haunted. She preferred a ghost with an imagination, like the one from last March, lounging in a Chicago condo, watching “Friends” reruns and enjoying the Lake Michigan view.
The cozy room Luke led her into welcomed her with its pale gold walls, tan couch, and two burgundy chairs. She guessed the room was reserved for the ladies of the house when it was built. The smaller rooms usually were.
Luke gestured for her to take a seat on the couch. She sat on a chair instead. Again his lips quirked and he took the other chair.
“Tell me about the ghost.” She dug into her purse then set her tape recorder on the table between them. “You said it’s terrorizing you?”
His brows slashed together. “If it were just me, I’d turn up the amps on my guitar and ignore it. But I’m concerned about my daughter.” He hesitated, raising his gaze to the ten-foot ceiling. “She’s...fragile. She doesn’t need this.”
“No one needs ghosts.” Or mosquitoes or taxes, though some people would prefer ghosts if given a choice. Apparently not her new client. “What does yours do?”
“The usual. Scary noises, cold breezes, rooms smelling like violets.” He rubbed his forehead. When he dropped his hand, worry flickered across his face.
The glimpse of vulnerability made Cassie want to lean forward and— Oh no. Where did this impulse come from? Her empathy was with ghosts, not virile, brooding men.
“That’s not normal spectral behavior.” She spoke briskly, sitting with her spine rod-straight. “That’s cartoon behavior. Your ghost is punking you.”
She shrugged. “A twisted sense of humor? What do you know about the ghost?”
“Female. Red hair. Sixties.” He gestured with his hands, his fingers long. On his right ring finger, a deep blue sapphire gleamed in the lamplight. “I’ve seen her five times. My housekeeper says her description matches the former owner, Isabel Shay. She died of a heart attack three years ago, but the house took awhile to sell.”
“I can’t imagine why,” she murmured, even as warning whistles shrilled in her head. A heart attack? Not likely.
He glared at her. She fluttered her eyelashes in feigned innocence, and it happened again, the quirking of his lips.
The fluttering transferred from her eyelashes to her pulse.
“What about your wife?” She couldn’t stop her pulse but she could ignore it. “Has she seen Isabel?”
“There’s no wife.” Outside the window, lightning flashed. Inside, his eyes blazed. “If you want anything, I’m the one you come to.”
When he said “come,” heat flushed through her, as if he’d meant it as a double
. Lovely. A few years without a sex partner that didn’t come with batteries, and she was turning into a slut. “I’ll save my questions for the ghost. For Isabel.”
“Tomorrow. It’s late and I haven’t checked in to the motel yet. I wanted to stop by first and get a feel for the house. I’ll walk through tomorrow and see if she’ll contact me. If not, I’ll do some research.”
“What kind of equipment are you using?”
“I don’t use equipment.”
His body visibly tightened, suspicion clouding his face.
“This isn’t a TV show or a movie. Equipment doesn’t work in real life. Ghosts aren’t high tech.” She stifled an urge to bop him in the head with her purse. How many times did she have to say this to clients? She should make it a recorded message for her phone, or put it on the home page of her website. “They don’t leave a vapor trail. They don’t slime people.”