Holiday Hearts, Book Five
When Sam Holiday moves into his Victorian home the week before his thirty-fifth birthday, the last thing he expects is to find a ghost in residence. Especially a horny one.
Evie Bonnell has been hanging around since her death in 1916 because she has unfinished business. She died before experiencing sex. She's learned a lot over the years and has decided single, handsome Sam is the right man to do the job.
Every year she manifests for several days before Halloween, and when she asks, Sam agrees to help. Each night, he teaches her a little more about sensual pleasure. Sam's delighted that his demure ghost has turned into an eager hedonist, but not so happy that she'll be gone after Halloween. Not only is she the hottest woman he's ever had, but he's afraid he's fallen in love.
Now it's up to fate and the Holiday family magic to find a way for the lovers to stay together.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from All Hallow's Evie (Holiday Hearts, Book Five) by Cindy Spencer Pape
"Thanks for the help." Sam Holiday waved from the porch of his new--well, old but new to him--house, as the last carload of his siblings drove away. He eased down onto the porch swing and sipped a beer as the autumn sunset painted the sky. He'd turn thirty-five in ten days and he'd just bought his first home. It felt damn good. Now if only he had someone to share it with.
Shaking off that thought, Sam got up and went into his kitchen to clean up the remains of the pizza, beer and soda he'd fed his family to bribe them into helping him paint, clean and finally move in. It had been a long month of repairs to get the old Victorian lady into shape, and he still had a long way to go. But at least now the wiring and plumbing were up to code, and he had a decent kitchen, bath and bedroom. The rest would come. Including, someday, maybe, a wife and family to help fill up all those empty rooms upstairs.
In the last two years, Sam's four siblings, two older and two younger, had all found the loves of their lives and gotten married. Noel and his wife Shelby had an adorable daughter named Dawn. Star and Theo were trying to get pregnant, and Summer and her new husband Matt had just announced that they were expecting their first child sometime next spring. Valentine and Cora had decided to wait a year or so, but even they were obviously making plans.
Was that why Sam was suddenly feeling old and alone? Or did his attack of gloominess just have to do with being by himself in a big, rambling house? He really had no idea. One way to deal with a case of the blues though, was to work through it. He dragged a stepladder and a handful of work lights out of the basement and started painting the living room, or main parlor as they'd probably called it here in Charleston when the house had been built in the 1850s. The stained Southern pine wainscoting he wouldn't touch, but the walls above were going from a faded nicotine brown to a soothing moss green. Sam was an interior designer by profession, and this house was going to be his masterpiece.
It was almost midnight when he finished the second wall. He was starting to get sloppy, so it was time to quit. He put the lid on the paint can, turned off the halogen work lights and carried his brushes and roller into the kitchen to clean. Soft music still played on the stereo he'd set up in the kitchen for now, and Sam found himself humming along to some old torch song standards.
Finally, once everything was dealt with for the night, he poured himself a beer, flicked off the lights and music, and made his way upstairs still humming "That Old Black Magic".
When he reached the top of the stairs, he damn near fell back down. The cold glass, damp with condensation, started to slip from his fingers and he was barely able to tighten them down enough to keep it from tumbling to the floor.
He'd had only two sips of beer, and he was already seeing ghosts.
At the far end of the hall, silhouetted by a gorgeous oval window, stood a woman--maybe the prettiest woman he'd ever seen. Long blonde hair, tied back with a salmon-pink ribbon cascaded to her waist, and her dress suggested the early 1900s--calf length with long sleeves, a full skirt and lots of lace. The gown was white or cream, with a salmon sash at the nipped-in waist. She wore white stockings and low-heeled salmon Mary Janes. She smiled sadly as she reached for him and opened her mouth, but no sound came out.
Sam took two steps toward her. There was a chill to the air, but what he felt was sadness and loss, rather than danger or fear. He also couldn't help the hard-on that he was getting just from looking at her lovely, sad face and lush curves.
"Who are you?" The closer he drew, the colder the hallway became.
"Evie." He wasn't sure if he heard the name with his ears or with his brain.
"What do you want, Evie?"
Help me. This time, he was sure there hadn't been a sound. She dimmed and the outline of window and wall became visible through her image, which began to flicker.
Before he could reach her, she'd vanished.
* * * * *
Evie lingered, after she'd faded into nothingness, even after the handsome new owner of her house had gone into his room for the night. She'd been watching him as he cleaned and repaired the house over the last four weeks.
And now he was here--just in time for her annual manifestation.
Sam Holiday was perfect. Strong, handsome and kind. With his shoulder-length black hair, and the scruff of a beard he hadn't shaved, he looked a bit like a pirate, but his gray eyes were kind, and his smile was always near the surface. He was the shortest of his brothers but still easily topped six feet, and his wiry frame boasted both grace and strength. His hands--long, slim, agile--those drew her attention the most. While he clearly wasn't afraid to work with them, something about their elegance told her he was an artist, even before he hung a couple framed drawings in his bedroom with his own signature in the corner.
Better yet, while he'd had friends, parents, brothers and sisters helping him move in, there'd been no sign of a wife or a girlfriend. A pretty brunette with the happy glow of an expectant mother had given Evie a moment of panic until she'd realized the woman was the new homeowner's younger sister. An adorable imp of six months belonged to Sam's oldest brother and his wife. Sam himself was single.
Best of all, he hadn't panicked when he'd seen a ghost.
Oh yes. She smiled, even though no one could see her. After more than ninety years in limbo, she might have finally found the right man to take care of her unfinished business.
* * * * *
By morning, he'd almost convinced himself that Evie had been a dream. He would have, except for two things. The first was that weird stuff often happened around the Holiday family. The second was that this wasn't the first time in his life Sam had seen a ghost. They were all over the place at his grandparents' family home in England, and 'round about town here in Charleston.
He had to admit, though, Evie was the first ghost who'd turned him on. All night long he'd had wild, sexual dreams about the blonde beauty. His body still quivered with frustration.
Today, he was damn well going to find out who she was. He'd taken the time off from work to move into his house, so he didn't have anywhere he needed to be, not until after Halloween. Painting would wait. Finding out about his ghost wouldn't.
Sam had a file on the history of his house from the local historical society, including some old newspaper articles. Flipping through them, he found her almost at once.
"Evangeline Bonnell, age 24. Died October 31, 1916, in a tragic accident." He read aloud, testing the words out. They fit. Evangeline--Evie. 1916 looked right for the style of the clothing he'd seen on his ghost. The weirdest coincidence of course was the date. She'd died ninety-five years ago--exactly sixty years to the day before Sam had been born.
He set down the paper and laughed. Damn, he'd been turned-on by older women before, but never one who was one hundred and nineteen.
It took another hour of internet digging before he'd pieced together a rough outline of Evie's life. She'd been born here in Charleston to a wealthy family of French descent, the youngest of four children, and had become engaged in 1910 to a French businessman. Sam guessed that the start of the war in Europe had curtailed their marriage--maybe her fianc? had been killed, maybe he'd just gotten caught up in the fighting, but there was no notice of his death in any records Sam could find. Evie's death though--he finally found a more detailed accounting of that in a local guide to haunted houses. Evie had died in a fall down the grand staircase.
Sam wanted to smack himself upside the head. He knew that ghosts were real, that he could see and interact with them. Why hadn't it occurred to him to check those guidebooks before he'd bought a house? What an idiot! You'd think a guy who saw ghosts would at least check something like that.
Nope. Sam, the reluctant medium, had bought himself a genuine haunted house.
His siblings were going to laugh themselves silly.
According to Haunts About Charleston, his house had been periodically visited by the spirit of young Evangeline Bonnell. The first reported sighting was by a family friend who visited in the 1930s, and then there was nothing until the house passed out of the Bonnell family in the '60s. Since then, there had been a small handful of intermittent sightings, but always the week before Halloween, and always by men--specifically unmarried men. Apparently a couple of those had complained about the ghost accosting them in their sleep. According to them, she was a full manifestation, every bit as solid as a human being. A few others had mentioned her as more the insubstantial wisp Sam had seen last night.
Sam spent the rest of the day finishing up the paint in the parlor and firming up his plans for the evening. According to the stories, Evie usually showed up right at midnight. Tonight, he'd be waiting for her in that hallway. He cranked up his MP3 player, loaded up with Billie Holiday, Etta James, and Ella Fitzgerald and grinned as he worked. This is going to be fun.