Deck the haunted halls for a romantic holiday starring one shy writer and a cynical journalist...and oh yes, a ghost....
Snow on the roofs and wreaths on the doors and chains on the tires...isn't Christmas in New England wonderful? But Charlotte Prescott is too busy taking in super-sexy reporter Sam Landry to notice the nip in the air. Make that the nip in the air alternating with the scorching heat that rises whenever she and Sam are alone together. Charlotte would be happy to forget the supernatural third wheel who seems to be staying for the season in the quaint old house she inherited. It is real. Someone's slurping down all the good eggnog. And something is drawing Charlie and Sam together under the mistletoe--not to mention everywhere else. Happy holidays!
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October 06, 2009
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Excerpt from Christmas Spirit by Amy Garvey
Interview me, baby. Now. It was all Charlotte could think when she saw him. For some reason, she'd expected a reporter out of a 1940s movie-- rolled up shirtsleeves, wrinkled tie, a fedora, a notebook. What she got, she thought when she opened her front door and faced the man standing on the front porch, was something else entirely.
"Sam Landry," the man said, sticking out his hand with something less than a friendly smile. Something closer to a scowl, in fact. "With Scoop." He flashed a laminated ID badge at her, and she was pretty sure she wasn't imagining the distaste in his eyes.
Well, he definitely hadn't stepped out of an old movie, Charlie thought as she put her hand in his. He was twenty-first century all the way, faded jeans slung low on his narrow hips, a dark blue, long-sleeved T-shirt untucked above it, a parka with a fur-trimmed hood, and at least a day's worth of stubble above his lip and along his jaw.
His wide-set blue eyes narrowed when she simply
stared at him.
God, he was . . . gorgeous.
She swallowed hard and shook his hand absently as she found her voice. "Yes, that's me. Charlie. I mean, you can call me Charlie. Short for Charlotte. Everyone does."
He lifted an eyebrow, dark sandy brown like his hair, which spiked up in the front as if he'd run his fingers through it. It was sort of mesmerizing, really, how nice his hair was, even all ruffled that way.
"So . . . can I come in?" he asked finally.
Heat flared in her cheeks. Snap out of it, Charlie. "Of course," she said quickly, stepping back and waving an arm toward the gloom of the entrance hall. "I'm sorry, I'm just . . ."
Well, there was no way to finish that sentence without embarrassing herself, was there? What was she going to say? I'm just surprised because I watch too many old movies and you are so not old? I'm just incredibly nervous that a guy who looks like you is going to interview me? I have no idea how to flirt but I want to? She was uncomfortably aware of the wire-framed glasses perched on her nose and the fact that she hadn't done anything with her hair but leave it to hang against her shoulders, as usual.
She smiled weakly and closed the heavy door behind him when he stepped over the threshold, catching a faint whiff of something male and spicy, like a ghost of scent behind him.
A ghost. Right. That was why he was here, not to steam up the parlor she was going to have to redecorate as soon as humanly possible after Christmas had come and gone. Hooray for the holidays. She had a reason to hang lights and glittery things to distract visitors, not that she had many, from the not-very-successful mix of delicate antique chairs and a brutally modern sofa.
"Have a seat," she said as brightly as she could manage, taking his parka when he shrugged it off and gesturing to the most comfortable chair in the room, which was soft and wide and covered with a grandmotherly chintz. He would make a nice contrast, what with all that rampant virility he radiated so effortlessly. "Would you like something to drink before we get started?"
Those deep blue eyes were blank and bored. "I'm good, thanks."
She sat up straighter, smoothing her hands over her knees. Well. He wasn't very nice, was he? He wasn't even prepared, she noticed, as he flipped through--finally--a small black notebook and took out a pen before he laid a mini tape recorder on the coffee table. He looked like he'd just rolled out of bed, in fact, and here it was noon. She'd been up since seven and writing since eight, curled up with her laptop in the room she'd turned into an office upstairs, with just her coffee and Butch for company.
Which was exactly what she'd dreamed about when she inherited this house, she reminded herself when an unexpected pang of wistfulness hit her. Just because this guy looked like his to-do list included dangerous undercover reporting about drug cartels or mobsters, or maybe jumping out of airplanes and going behind enemy lines, didn't mean that holing up for a year to finish a novel wasn't a perfectly valid goal.
She was trying to decide if she was irritated with him or with herself when he looked up with a smile that was trying for charm and not quite succeeding.
"I'm new to the magazine," he said, sitting back, ridiculously huge and male against the flowered cushions of the chair. "I didn't actually have much time to look at the information before I headed out, so I want to verify a few basics before we start."
She suppressed a frown. Forty minutes on the ferry from Falmouth to Martha's Vineyard should have given him plenty of time to review his assignment--even longer if he'd come from Hyannis--but she wasn't going to be picky. She was still surprised that he had called in the first place. "Sure," she said simply, sitting back and pushing her glasses back up her nose while he wasn't watching.
"So, you're Charlotte--I'm sorry, Charlie-- Prescott, and you just moved into the house?" He glanced up from a page of notes scrawled in a small, almost illegible hand.
"And the house was"--he consulted his notebook again, and she wondered if she'd imagined the contemptuous tilt of his eyebrow--"inherited?"
She couldn't quite stop a frown this time. "Yes, it's been in the Prescott family since it was built. My aunt died earlier this year and she left the place to me." She paused when she caught the expression on his face, boredom now mixed with unmistakable contempt.
And she had no idea what that was about, but she felt herself bristling the way Butch did the first day they'd felt the ghost. Wasn't a reporter supposed to be impartial, or at the very least interested? It would be nice if this one was polite.
"So you inherited this big old place and you're planning to live here year round now." The statement--it definitely wasn't a question-- caught her by surprise before she could come up with anything to say about his attitude, and if she'd doubted it even a little bit before, there was no mistaking his feelings about her now.
Misguided as they were, she thought darkly.
"I'm not sure this is a good idea," she said, hating the stiffness in her tone. "I mentioned the ghost to a friend here, the lady next door, and I really never imagined anyone would be interested but me. And you seem to be more interested in, well, I don't know what, but if you're implying I'm some kind of a spoiled heiress who's planning to stroll around Martha's Vineyard in gem-encrusted high heels and . . . and go yachting or something--"
"Whoa!" He held up a hand, a sheepish grin on his face. "That's not what I was implying. Or what I meant. Or maybe it was. I apologize. I didn't get much sleep last night and I don't know very much about ghosts or haunted houses or, well, you. And like I said, I'm--"
"New to the magazine," she finished for him, and tried to look away from his mouth, which was wide and amused. He probably was a wonderful kisser, she realized, and felt her cheeks flame again.
Okay, stop that. This was business. Of course, since it was business, he had no right to flash that grin, which was hot enough to warm up this bone- chilling winter day. He shouldn't be allowed anywhere within a fifty-mile radius of a convent, for sure. Goodness.
He sat back, one ankle resting on the opposite knee, all lanky, lean confidence, and she fought the impulse to take a good long look. Staring at a point just beyond his left ear was probably safer, she decided, and willed herself to stop blushing. It was completely unfair that he could turn on the charm just like flicking a switch, especially when he'd as much as admitted he was being rude earlier.
"So," he said easily, his tone amiable. "You've inherited this house that you believe is . . . haunted?"
"Yes, I do," she said, drawing herself up to her full height--mentally, at least. The house was haunted, and she knew it as well as she knew her own face. There was no other explanation for the things she'd heard and seen and felt since moving into this rambling old place, which certainly dated back far enough to have a rich history.
He raised his eyebrows. "You want to tell me why?"
Yes, she did. She really, really did. And this guy with his doubtful grin and easy charm wasn't going to talk her out of it. With a tight smile, she stood up and nodded at the kitchen. "Why don't I make some coffee and explain it?"
Charlie Prescott had backbone, Sam had to give her that. He followed her down the wide front hall to the kitchen, squinting a little in the house's gloom. She looked as if a challenging glare would knock her over, much less a feather, but there was a spine beneath that plain gray sweater and a definite stubborn glow in her eyes.
He swallowed down the faint taste of guilt. Served him right, didn't it? He wasn't exactly exuding enthusiasm, much less manners. It wasn't her fault he was here, working a story he would have laughed at even way back in college, when writing anything and getting paid for it had seemed like a victory.