Read HauntingMelodyStClaire Online
Authors: Ditter Kellen and Dawn Montgomery
Melody St. Claire doesn’t believe in ghosts. Until a fire
destroys her whole world, forcing her into a beautiful haunted house and the
territorial domain of one very real, incredibly mysterious resident spirit.
Sexy Travis Santiago haunts the walls of his family home.
Resigned to being alone, he merely exists in a place between the living and the
dead until the frustrating little brunette enters his life and his heart. He
can give her what she needs, if she would just believe.
The passion he ignites threatens to consume her, heart and
soul, but may not be enough to hold back the nightmares. And Melody can’t
possibly hope to spend forever with a man who is already dead.
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
I would like to thank first and foremost, my friend and
writing partner Dawn Montgomery, for giving me this chance and believing in me.
This wouldn’t have happened without her. I would also like to thank Laurann
Dohner for being such a great friend and CP and for believing in me. I love you
Thank you to Sheri Louther for being a wonderful friend and
beta reader. I appreciate and love you beyond the stars. Cynthia and Ashley
Carver, thank you both for your help with beta reading and the support you have
given over the past year. Last but not least, my incredible book group,
According to Ditter. You guys are amazing. Thank you for holding me up through
this roller coaster ride! Much love!
To my writing partner and dear friend, Ditter Kellen. You
make every day fun and exciting. Writing with you rocks!
Thank you to the fabulous Lexxie Couper. You kept me on the
Sheri Louther, Cynthia and Ashley Carver…the best beta
readers in the world. My humble thanks.
My readers are the best in the world. You guys keep me
To Laurann Dohner. You encouraged Ditter to live her dream.
That, in itself, makes you an amazing friend. One of many reasons I thank you.
Golden light spilled over Haven, Texas. Melody stood at the
window and watched her hometown settle into its evening routine. One she’d
followed until the night of the fire. With her family gone and everything
burned to ash, it was almost impossible to put the pieces of her life back
together. She fingered the delicate chain of her grandmother’s necklace.
The front door opened with a loud bang and Melody jumped.
She spun around and came face-to-face with a disheveled and smiling Kassa.
“Sorry about taking so long.” The homeowner carried a plastic laundry basket.
“I brought some necessities. Light bulbs. Some matches. Couldn’t find a
lighter, oddly enough.”
Melody watched the woman move with a grace she envied. She
reached out and Kassa brushed by her. “I got it, honey.” She dropped the basket
on one of the draped pieces of furniture. Dust flew up in swirls and Kassa
The door banged shut and Melody jumped again. Her heart
slammed in her chest. “What was that?”
Kassa grinned. “Resident ghost. He doesn’t like the door
Melody arched an eyebrow. Right. “More like the wind.” She
wrestled up a tentative smile. “It’s an incredible house. Are you sure you don’t
mind me staying here for a while?”
Kassa waved a hand and the soft jingle of a dozen bracelets
punctuated the gesture. “It’s been in the family forever. This old thing might
as well get some use. Stay as long as you like.”
Melody eyed the beautiful architecture of the home. It had
great bones. A little TLC and the place would shine. “Don’t tempt me.”
Kassa dragged a sheet off a piece of furniture. The
high-backed chair was lovely but slightly faded. It was a beautiful mix of
delicate woodwork and comfort. Most of the furniture in this room seemed to be
designed that way. Kassa wiped her palms against her faded jeans. “Well, that
should be a good start. How did the first night go?”
Melody’s hair lifted with a slight draft of air. She’d have
to find that leak before winter hit. “It went great.”
You’re lying through
It was another night without sleep. Every sound and creak of
the old house had set her nerves on edge. “You know, new house, new noises.”
She gripped the curved back of a well-worn chair. “Why is this house empty? I
mean it’s gorgeous. A bit drafty, but beautiful.”
“That’s easy.” Kassa grinned and raised her hands toward the
ceiling. “It’s haunted.”
“Haunted?” Heat rushed to her face. “You seriously believe
Kassa’s expression turned sly. “Yep, I sure do. There’s one
particular spirit who keeps running off the living. I hear he’s quite the
heartbreaker.” She winked. “Feel free to check out the house. The attic has
some old family stuff I’m trying to sort through, but you’re welcome to roam
anywhere you like.”
“There are some cleaners and fresh linens in the basket as
well. Make this house yours.” She narrowed her eyes at Melody. “Just don’t
Melody jerked back as though slapped. “What do you mean by
“I’m sure you wouldn’t mean to. If you do, tell me
immediately so I can get it repaired.”
Melody opened her mouth to ask more questions.
Kassa waved. “I’ve gotta run. You know where I am if you
need me. Later, honey!”
Melody barely raised her hand in return before Kassa was out
the door. She watched the eccentric young woman power down the sidewalk.
Ghosts? Running off the living, huh?
A soft touch against her cheek startled her. She gazed
around the quiet room. A shiver ran down her spine.
“There is no one here.” She forced her fingers to release
the old chair and strode across the elegant little sitting room. It was
probably a stray hair touching her face.
She picked up the basket and hauled it to the kitchen. “I
don’t believe in ghosts.” Melody deposited her burden on the table and pulled
out the contents. The light bulbs and fresh linens were appreciated. She buried
her face in the sheets and inhaled the calming scent of lavender. She set the
linens aside with care.
Melody put the cleaning supplies away and placed the bulbs
on the counter. She wrenched the fridge door open and stared inside. Bare. Looked
as though a shopping trip was in order. She needed to ignore her overactive
imagination and make this house her new home.
She closed the fridge with a quick nod. It was time to take
stock. She rummaged through the pantry. There was some food, a few staples. She
wouldn’t have to immediately go to the store. Melody pressed a palm against her
stomach. “I’m not hungry yet.” She closed the doors and wandered back into the
Dust covered everything. She put her hands on a
sheet-covered piece of furniture. “Let’s see what you’re hiding under there.”
She dragged off the first sheet. Motes swirled around the room, resembling
glitter. She’d found an overstuffed chair with faded armrests. “I bet you were
A cool breeze swept by and she shivered. She ran her fingers
over the soft material. How much change would Kassa tolerate? Melody blew her
bangs away from her eyes and settled down in the chair’s embrace. It was huge
and comfortable, akin to a warm hug. She grinned. It would make a perfect
reading chair. Another shape against the wall caught her attention. It was
rectangular with spindle legs peeking out from the bottom. The cloth covering
it was more ornate than some of the others. Curiosity drew her from the chair
to the mystery box. She eased the sheet off.
Her eyes widened. “No way.” She ran her fingers along the
lid of a console, one that appeared so familiar. Kassa’s warning about breaking
things rang in her ears, and Melody lifted the lid with caution. The hinges
moved as though it were in new condition. They even caught and held the weight
when it was fully opened. She hadn’t seen a record player since childhood. It
was a bittersweet reminder of the mother she’d lost.
Melody knelt down and ran her hands along the sides. There
wasn’t a cabinet door. She plugged it in and heard the satisfying sound of old
electronics warming up. “Where are the records?”
A flash of something jerked her attention away from the
console to a milk crate partially covered with material. Was that what caught her
Melody brushed her palms against her jeans and made her way
to the crate. She moved the material aside. “Bingo.” It contained several old
records. She pulled out a stack and flipped through the contents. One bright
cover brought a smile to her face. She extracted the album from the sleeve, set
it in the player and eased the stylus onto the shiny vinyl.
The unique pop of the speakers brought a grin to her face.
It warmed her as music spilled into the room. “Now this is something I can
clean to.” The relief in her mind was nearly overwhelming. She hadn’t even
turned on a radio since the fire. “No wonder every little sound in the house
creeps me out.” Of course Kassa’s ghost stories had nothing to do with it. She
chuckled. That girl was obviously not playing with a full deck.
She stacked the other albums haphazardly on top of the crate
and hauled it over to her big chair. A few tumbled out of her grasp and she
cursed. It took some quick juggling to prevent more from falling before she was
able to drop the mess on the seat.
A photo slipped from the stack to the floor and she bent
down to pick it up. “Well now, who might you be?” He was broad-shouldered and
sexy with his arms crossed. A white t-shirt stretched across his chest and
tucked into a pair of low-slung, faded jeans. He leaned against a wall with his
legs crossed at the ankles. Her gaze was drawn back to his face. Eyes so pale
blue they were almost clear peered back at her. His dark hair was loose and
easy, drawing attention to the rugged, handsome lines of the man’s face. She
turned the photograph over. It took a moment to read the faded ink.
Haven, Texas, 1982.
She flipped it back over and grinned. He sure as hell wouldn’t
look like that now. Melody picked up the rest of the albums and tucked them in
the chair. She tapped the picture against her palm. A man this handsome deserved
“I think I saw some in the linen closet upstairs.” She ran
her fingers along his cheek. “They just don’t make ’em like you anymore.”
Melody put the photo in with the linens and hauled the load
up the stairwell. The first step creaked loudly beneath her feet. It was
annoying, but the stair came out so far, she had to use it every time.
She reached the landing and rested the basket against the
lovely banister to get a better grip.
Wood groaned and creaked, drawing her attention to the area
below. Her skin crawled and her heart thundered in her chest. Melody swallowed.
There was nothing there. She pulled the basket against her and hauled ass up
the rest of the stairs.
Cool air ran up her legs and shivers followed in its wake.
“Stupid ghost stories.” She hurried to the linen closet and
placed the basket on the floor. Melody glanced back toward the stairwell.
Her fear gave way to annoyance and she flung the door open.
She put a hand to her forehead. “What the hell is wrong with me? I’m going
She tried to shrug off the hebegeebees. The box of empty
frames sat on a high shelf and she stood on tiptoe to pull it down, nearly
spilling the bunch in her haste. Her heart stuttered and she caught the near
miss, bringing her treasure down to eye level.
It was the most eclectic mix of frames she’d ever seen. She
smiled down at Travis’ sexy image in the basket. “I’m sure we’ll find the
perfect one for you.” She picked up his photograph and set it up on the shelf,
leaning it so that he stood.
Melody rummaged through the box. A shiny cobalt one had a
huge gouge in it. “This one complements your eyes, but that scratch ruins it.”
She held up a pink wrought-iron nightmare. “What do you
think of this one? Nothing says sexy like cotton-candy dreams.”
Cold wind blew through the hallway and his photo fell
Melody’s legs began to shake. She gripped the closet door
and peered around it. Nothing. She inhaled slowly and continued her search.
“Yeah. I don’t think it’s quite what we’re looking for.” She
stood the picture up and skipped through the rest until she found one she
liked. It was gunmetal silver with elegant scrollwork. “This will do.”
She turned the frame over and opened it up. “You’re
somebody’s good memory.”
The photo went down, followed by the backing. “Now you have
a home.” She slid the clamps in place and turned it around. “Perfect.” She
winked at his smiling visage. “Looks good on you.”
Melody set him aside and picked up the linens. She buried
her face in a towel and deeply inhaled. The fresh spring scent reminded her of
home, and sorrow knotted in her chest. Melody choked on a sob and ran her cheek
against the soft material.
All motivation slipped away. At that moment she wanted
nothing more than to lie down, wrap up in one of the towels and just sleep. She
tucked it under her arm, grabbed Travis’ frame and walked into the bathroom.
Melody brushed her tears away.
She tossed the towel on the sink and gazed down at his
image. “I hope you don’t mind keeping me company. This big ole house is
creeping me out today.” Melody shut the door and stripped out of her clothes.
She took her grandmother’s locket off and hung it on a hook by the mirror. Her
fingers traced the delicate chain. If she opened it, the first tinny bars of
in a Bottle
would play her grandparents’ song. She smiled at the
photograph. “Travis, this is my grandmother. Nana, this is Travis. Get along.”
She chuckled and turned away.
Melody hiked her leg up on the side of the tub and ran her
palm up over her shin. Thank goodness she didn’t need to shave. She switched on
Water pelted the shower curtain and she ran her hand under
the spray. It was colder than she liked, but it was an old house and it took
longer to warm up. She stepped in and sighed. The shower spray beat against her
skin, easing muscle aches she didn’t know she had. Kassa was kind to let her
stay, but she needed to get her life back together.
Steam wafted around her and she was chilled despite the
heat. Ever since the fire, her whole body was numb to temperature changes, but
the stench of smoke seemed to rest forever around her. She pressed her forehead
against the cool tile wall. Her sense of smell would eventually go back to
normal. Life had a way of moving forward. The cleansing water couldn’t scour
the horrific flashbacks raging through her mind. Smoke. Fire. Her mother’s
screams haunted her dreams. The daylight kept most of the memories away.
Loss and pain squeezed her heart until the tears began to
flow. She hadn’t thought about the fire in days. Why was today different?
Melody clenched her fist against the tile. She watched the water droplets
flowing down the wall.
Her neck prickled with awareness. She turned her head a bit
and peered around the shower curtain. There was no one there.
Kassa’s ghost comments must have made me nervous.
inhaled and slowly released the breath. Between her overactive imagination and
these exhausting memories, sleep was definitely in order.
The water grew warmer, soaking into her skin. Pressure built
along her shoulders as though fingers kneaded her muscles. Oh God. That felt so
good. Melody’s eyes drifted closed. It had to be exhaustion wearing her down.
For a moment she let her mind wander, imagined it was a man actually touching
her. She smiled. Travis.
What kind of lover was he? She buried her head under the
spray. Water tickled down her back and sides as if fingers and lips lingered on
her skin. She sighed. Slow caresses trailed down her hips to her thighs,
teasingly erotic. She braced her palms against the wall and moved forward just
enough to direct the spray on her neck. It flowed down her legs to the
extra-sensitive area behind her knees. Down her calves and back up…