Authors: Mary Lou George
New Crescent 2
All her life, Reggie Stanton has felt connected to Bennett House. Her childhood dreams come true when she's asked to restore the old place. Unfortunately, old friend and combatant Chase McCann has been hired to do the landscaping.
They share a tension filled past he won't talk about, and things are definitely heating up between them. Seeing him, all hot and dirty day after day, wears down Reggie's resistance. The situation is made worse when unexplained and often dangerous things start to happen around the house. What is the soul-sucking evil lurking in the library and what do the children have to do with it? She enlists the help of the meddlesome, matchmaking ghost haunting the garden.
Reggie's willing to risk everything to solve the mystery surrounding Bennett House, but sex with Chase would really complicate matters. Especially since Reggie's been secretly in love with him for years.
New Crescent 2
Mary Lou George
A SIREN-BOOKSTRAND TITLE
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For Kim and Bill. I couldn’t do it without you.
New Crescent 2
MARY LOU GEORGE
Copyright © 2008
He hungered. Not for food…but for life. How long had it been? Time was a concept he no longer grasped. A taste here, a taste there. He’d existed on so little, so pathetically little. But change was coming. He’d felt it when he’d fed from that snooping kid. There were always people nosing around. Their curiosity angered him, but it sustained him. Barely. It was time.
“Bennett House sold?” Regina Stanton swallowed a mouthful of pancake and said, “I was only gone two months. How could it have sold so quickly?”
“I guess there’s still a market for large waterfront properties with white elephants on them,” Reggie’s father replied.
“I happen to like elephants, white or black or even pink. Whatever. I don’t discriminate.” She looked earnestly at her father “So, it’s gone then. My house belongs to someone else. Who bought it?”
Don Stanton glanced over his shoulder at his wife, slicing bananas at the counter. She nodded to him and he said, “Some writer…goes by the name, Pat Somers?”
Reggie choked, and with a grin, her father thumped her on the back. “You’ve heard of her?”
She rolled her brandy colored eyes at him and gasped. “Only because I’ve read all of her books! This is amazing! New Crescent is the perfect place for someone like her to live. And in Bennett House?” Her smile dissolved as she said, “Please tell me she doesn’t intend to tear the place down.”
Her mother stepped in, placing another plate of pancakes and fruit before them. “Apparently not.” She sat down and dug in. “She’s having it restored. The house, the gardens, the path to the beach, the whole bit.”
“The work is well underway,” her father said. “Nothing but the best.”
“This is great news. Did you meet her?” Reggie licked maple syrup off her finger.
Her mother handed her a napkin. “No one’s met her. She made all the arrangements through an agent named Jackie Blake. Your father handled the sale. We debated calling and telling you, but we didn’t want to interrupt your trip.”
Looking at her plate, Reggie chased a blueberry with her fork and effectively avoided her mother’s eye. She wasn’t ready to discuss what had happened that past fateful summer. The only sound heard in the kitchen was the familiar burping and sighing of the coffeemaker.
Reggie finally broke the awkward silence. “Thank you both for holding down the fort while I was gone. I especially missed you…my sweetie. It was way too long.”
She reached down and gave her beloved dog, Prudence, an enthusiastic mauling. Prudence, or Pru to her nearest and dearest, lapped it up.
After breakfast, Reggie accompanied her father to town. Happiness made her heart beat faster as they drove the familiar streets.
She tilted her head in her father’s direction and sighed. “I swear, Dad, for me, New Crescent is a little slice of paradise on earth. It’s good to be home.”
He nodded. “Yup, that’s the way it is, pretty much. Our native sons and daughters always find their way back to us” His face creased with concern. “Does it still bother you that you didn’t inherit the Goode family gift?”
Reggie shrugged. “Not so much. I’ve accepted the fact that I was passed over. I’m just happy that their blood runs through my veins.” She waved a hand at the charming main street. “Look what they founded. What kind of courage would it have taken to provide sanctuary during the Salem witch hunts? For that Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Morgan Goode will always be my heroes.”
His lips turned up into a gentle smile and he sent it her way. “That’s my girl.”
“It’s enough to be part of this magical town. It still amazes me that some outsiders come here and never even sense the undercurrents. They have no idea that it’s so much more—that it’s a place where the unexplainable is almost commonplace.” Sad for a moment, she shook her head. “They think New Crescent is your run of the mill, uneventful small town. The few who take the time to look into our past think the stories of enchantment are manufactured just to entertain the tourists. They smile and act like they’re privy to some sort of inside joke when really they kind of just float on the surface of a calm sea and never dive deeper to explore the wonders beneath the surface. They miss so much.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more. My guess is the Goode sisters set it up that way,” Reggie nodded as they pulled into the parking space behind the real estate office. “Not everyone can handle the knowledge that there is more to this world than what meets the eye. It’s best left to those who are armed with the gifts necessary to comprehend—and the power to act.”
Situated on the main street of New Crescent, Stanton Realty had been in business for years, always owned and operated by a descendant of Rebecca Goode. After her father retired, Reggie had taken over the company. She loved it. There was something very satisfying about finding the perfect home for a client. For Reggie, roots ran deep. Land was more than something to be bought or sold if the price was right. Here, in this town, it was a birthright, and it meant everything.
The office was a welcome sight. As soon as she unlocked the door, she felt comfortable. Decorated in shades of white, blue, and green, the subtle colors and whitewashed furniture suited her to a tee. Reggie took the chair behind the desk. Her father sat opposite her.
She looked at him with suspicion. “That’s a pretty smug look you’ve got on your face there, Dad. Care to fill me in?”
He sucked at subterfuge.
Bursting with excitement, he rubbed his hands together and shifted his chair closer. “I have a job for you.”
She looked around the office, her eyes wide and said, “I thought I already had a job.”
“Of course you do dear and you’re very good at it. The business is yours and has been since the day you were born. It’s been gratifying to see you make such a success of it.”
“I like this work, Dad. Maybe it’s in my blood. I had to inherit at least something from Rebecca Goode besides height, right?” Reggie was almost five feet ten in her socks. It was a well-known fact that founding sister Rebecca Goode had been unusually tall, and Reggie picked up where her ancestor had left off. From her mother, she’d inherited lush curves, blonde hair, and warm coloring, a fact she’d never bemoaned even though her looks had often made men forget what they were saying. Perhaps she wasn’t beautiful in the conventional sense of the word, but she was sexy and striking.
Don Stanton ignored his daughter’s self deprecating comment. “Have you ever considered making use of your more creative abilities?”
“Cut to the chase. What are you asking me exactly?”
“Pat Somers’s agent asked me if I knew anyone in town who would be interested in taking on the interior design of Bennett House, and I thought of you. I know of no one in this world who cares more about that house. You took interior design in college. You’re the perfect choice.”
Regina stared at her father, a look of astonishment on her face. “I don’t have the experience. That’s an awfully big job.”
“The woman wants to hire someone connected to this town. She knows all about you and wants you to take on the project. I must admit, I waxed a bit poetic about your love of the place when I showed the house. I guess my charm held sway. Just call the agent and work out the details. The project is yours if you want it.”
She laughed. “Want it? I’d have to be crazy to say no. It’s the kind of thing I dreamed about when I was a kid…it seems almost too good to be true.”
“Well, honey, sometimes dreams come true.” He walked around the desk and kissed the top of her head. Turning on the computer, he said, “I’ll continue on here in the office until you’re finished with Bennett House. Why don’t you go take a look right now, check the place out.”
“So, Mick Jagger, is this just an underhanded way of coming out of retirement? Is Mom okay with it?”
“Would I be suggesting it to you if she hadn’t already approved the idea? I’m old, not stupid.”
She moved from the chair so he could take it. “You’re neither. And I love you very much. Mind if I take the car?”
“Stop! Flashback! The first year you had your license...didn’t they call you Crash?” He laughed at her expression and said, “Ah, good times…”
He tossed her his keys.
In the driver’s seat of her father’s car, Reggie sighed. Funny how things work out. Her very first solo voyage behind the wheel had been this exact route. She’d made the trip to Bennett House countless times, by every mode of transportation available to her. From the age of eight, when her only means was a silver Raleigh bicycle, she’d taken this road, made this turn. Every tree and shrub had grown up right along with her, like siblings. She couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t longed to live in the big house. But no, now it belonged to someone else, it seemed Bennett House wasn’t her destiny and like other disappointments in her life, she’d accepted it with grace.