Evil shadow ghosts known as soul collectors haunted her childhood nightmares, so Nashville PD criminal profiler Jillian Drew did everything possible to turn her back on her psychic abilities. But now her eccentric sister has been abducted and nothing in her criminology background has prepared Jillian for that tragedy -- or for Benton Smith, the powerful and devastatingly attractive ghost of a Civil War officer and the only witness to Amy's abduction.
Fearful of the brazen specter, Jillian nevertheless needs him. Benton is her Gatekeeper, a spirit sworn to protect her from the soul collectors, who attack each time she unleashes her long-dormant psychic senses in an attempt to find her sister.
Yet she must somehow keep the devilishly seductive spirit at arm's length, for Benton's soul is at stake -- and succumbing to his desires could have dangerous consequences for them both.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Gatekeeper by Debra Glass
A little twinge of jealousy that Amy was so comfortable entertaining spirits passed through Jillian. She sat frozen, staring, her gaze riveted to the ghost's. Absolutely beguiling from his unruly dark hair down to his spurred black boots, he had undoubtedly broken many a Southern belle's heart in his day. Despite his slightly faded appearance, his features were those of a young man. His eyes, however, revealed something hard and jaded, reflecting the horrors he had no doubt witnessed during the war. It lent him a maturity beyond his years. The conflicting fa?ade only made him that much more attractive but Jillian quickly reminded herself she was no Southern belle and he was no flesh-and-blood man.
He gestured toward the chair. "Do you mind, madam?"
"Please sit," she offered, slightly disconcerted that he'd called her on her lack of manners. But even given that, she couldn't believe she was doing this--asking a ghost to sit down and have a conversation with her.
The chair slid back seemingly of its own accord to accommodate his long, lean form. He sat, his body consuming the metal chair. He folded his arms and crossed his ankles.
Jillian swallowed and tamped down the eerie knowledge that the man sitting across from her was dead. But he might very well be the only witness to her sister's disappearance.
Or he might very well be the reason Amy had disappeared.
She took a deep breath and steeled herself. "Did you see what happened to my sister?"
His gaze raked her again in unconcealed appraisal. Jillian shrank back farther into the chair. He maintained their proximity, leaning forward slightly. His gaze remained locked with hers while his long index finger traced the faded checkerboard pattern on the table. "I find it hard to believe that little gypsy fortuneteller is your sister."
Jillian was becoming impatient. She had always hated ghosts. She hated looking at them. She hated their unpredictable behavior. And this one was no exception. He was being difficult on purpose. Still, he was her only link to finding Amy. "Please. My sister has been...abducted." Even saying the word caused a lump to surge in her throat. "I need to find her."
His eyes softened as if some long-ago memory had surfaced. "She was releasing me when it happened. I tried to warn her. Someone struck her in the head and dragged her away." How could he be so matter-of-fact about this? But then he added, "Madam, I apologize that I cannot be of more service to you..."
Her gaze dropped to the three wreathed stars on his upright collar. A dark stain marred the shoulder of his frock coat. Blood? Had he been wounded? Is that how he died? It didn't matter. He'd been a witness to her sister's abduction. She returned her gaze to his. "So you saw the man who took her?"
His brow furrowed. "My dear, I saw someone but the person was covered from head to toe."
Frustration drove her to strike the table with her fist. She felt helpless and she hated it. Besides, she had lifted the veil to a world she had long since turned her back on. What if these spooks started coming to her like they had when she was a scared little girl? She shuddered at the thought.
And then the unthinkable happened.
The ghost reached across the table and before Jillian could move, he placed his hand over hers. Her breath froze in her lungs. She was too terrified to move. Instead, she could only gape at his faded hand on her flesh. None of them had ever touched her before. She stiffened at the cool but solid energy emanating from his touch. Her gaze darted from their hands to his clouded gray eyes. He had meant it as a comforting gesture--it was anything but. "Please don't touch me," she blurted.
The ghost stared for another agonizing heartbeat before he slowly withdrew his hand. His expression turned cool, unreadable. And then a smug smile revealed a deep dimple at the corner of his mouth. "Madam, you act as if this is the first time we have ever touched."