Here is an excerpt of Ghosts of Emerald Bay for your Saturday reading pleasure 🙂 I hope you all have a great day!
Fog shrouded the winter morning, cloaking the lighthouse in a beautiful cloud of eerie white and light gray tones. The light at the top was beaming, a warning to those braving the northern Atlantic.
Kate stepped out of her car, and despite how chilly it was—a balmy twenty-two degrees above zero—she took her phone out of her coat pocket and snapped a picture. Taking a quick look at it, she was proud of the shot, and decided to have it printed so she could hang it on a wall in her apartment. The sound of a car interrupted the thought and she put the phone back into her pocket, and then opened the door to the back seat, grabbing her duffle bag and a messenger bag––the latter holding the books, notes, and pictures she’d brought.
A dark red Blazer parked next to her forest green Cruze LT as she shut the door. After a few moments, a dark-haired man stepped out, around six-foot-three and quite handsome.
When Murphy’s gaze met hers, Kate knew she was going to have a hard time not pushing him off the lighthouse. A really hard time.
“Kate,” he said, giving a nod.
She returned the nod. “Murphy.” After a moment of awkward silence she added, “I’m going to go unlock the main house.”
Oh, this is going to be fun, she thought. As she began to walk to the house, she heard him open his trunk. She assumed he was getting his things as well.
The main house was white, with dark blue trim and shutters. It didn’t have a basement but had a large attic—the first floor was living space. Kate heard the trunk close as she walked up the porch steps to the front door. She shifted her bags so they were a little more behind her as she unlocked and opened the door. Stepping in, she smiled softly, admiring the updates that had been made since she last toured the home and almost unable to believe that she was finally going to be able to investigate it.
The Historical Society had done a great job updating the house—a mix of rustic, coastal Maine and modern technology. The living room was to her right, the dining room to her left, and the kitchen was through the swinging door that was placed pretty much centrally in between the two rooms—along the walls that separated the two rooms from the kitchen.
Nick, Judith, and Lena had set up the main monitors on the dining room table—carefully, of course. When Nick had visited her the previous night he’d mentioned there was a small kitchen table in the actual kitchen.
“Wow,” Murphy said from behind her as he stepped into the house. “They really changed this place. It looks really good.”
She took a few steps to the left, giving him room to close the door and enter the house completely. “Yes, they did. The renovations were finished this past July.”
He looked around the two rooms. “They did a great job keeping the old and adding the new,” he waved a hand at the walls, “—and I love the historic pictures.”
Kate turned towards him, meeting his dark brown gaze. “The bedrooms are down that hall,” she pointed to the hall next at the end of the living room, “—and the attic entrance is the door right there at the start of the hall. Why don’t we set our bags in our rooms and meet in the kitchen. We can make coffee and get a plan together for the hunt.”
He lowered his head for a moment, looking uncomfortable, as he damn well should’ve felt in her presence. But she would be professional. At least for now.
“Kate,” he started, looking at her again, “I know how hard it must’ve been for you to say yes to this investigation, and I admit to being … uneasy, about us sharing the same space after what I did to you six years ago.”
Kate did her best not to narrow her eyes, trying to keep things civil between them, but anger stirred at the memories of those events six years in the past and it was hard keeping her feelings hidden—save a bit of irritation. “As you should, but I want to keep things civil. We’re going to have to if we’re going to last a week, or however long it takes, together in this house doing our investigating side-by-side.”
He stepped forward, extending his free hand. As he did so, she suddenly felt a bit short, even at five-foot-six. “Truce?”
She accepted his peace offering, shaking his hand. “Truce, though we both know the past is going to rub against the present.”
“I know,” he said as he drew back, “but I’m willing to try if you are.”
She really didn’t want to. She didn’t want to be anywhere near the bastard. “I truly am. This investigation? I’ve been waiting for it since I was a teenager. It’s a dream come true.”
He nodded, a distant look in his eyes as a smile formed. “I remember you talking about it. That’s what trigger…” he trailed off. “Never mind.”
Kate smiled. “Yeah, not a good idea to bring that up, O’Keefe. Let’s go get settled then meet up in the kitchen.”
He gave a nod. “Okay.”
Turning, Kate made her way to the hallway, taking the first room on the left. Murphy took the one right across the hall from her. The bathroom was the next room down from hers.
The room was nice, with a full-sized bed with a wooden headboard and foot board, a bureau with a mirror above it, and a rocking chair near the window that looked out to the lighthouse. She unpacked her duffle bag, putting the toiletry bag on top of the bureau, then looked out toward the lighthouse.
She was sensitive to the energy of the dead, but nothing like Arabella, Lena, Judith, and Rayna. At the moment, all she could feel was the history of the house: no ghostly energy. She wondered if Murphy was also disappointed that she’d agreed to the investigation because she wasn’t a medium or clairvoyant. She knew the history better than all, but the head of the Historical Society, and that was something he already knew, and she was Revenant’s lead researcher for all of their cases—she knew what she was doing, but was he hoping she’d say no for other reasons than their past?
Hearing the door to his room open made her back straighten and tense, and it took her a few minutes to relax. She’d met him while she was training with a team in Colorado during college, where she majored in history and anthropology with a minor in communications. When she graduated, she took a job with the Revenant team. Murphy asked for her help with research for one of his hunts about two months after that, concerning a long-closed silver mine, but asked for her not to mention what they were working on to anyone because other hunters and psychics would be all over the two of them—which was true, to an extent. Being a friend, she agreed.
Worst. Mistake. Ever.
After weeks helping him find what he’d been looking for—namely, information on two of the miners—he’d taken all of her research and all the artifacts she’d found while on site with him while she was asleep one night, and she never saw him in person again. She saw an article in a magazine while in a bookstore one day a few months later and read the interview, where she quickly learned that legend hunters like him were all about the glory and fortune, and they didn’t care who they walked over to get it. Not once in the interview did he mention that she’d been the one who’d helped him achieve that particular glory. She was so disgusted she quit her job with the team and moved back to Noble, where she now worked and lived happily.
But the taste of betrayal had yet to leave her where it concerned Murphy. Made worse by the fact that she’d started to have more than friendly feelings towards him right before he’d screwed her over.
A knock at her door startled her out of her thoughts. “Kate? Coffee’s brewing. Have you eaten?”
She cleared her throat, hoping to sound normal when she answered, “No.” Point for her, maintaining a completely normal tone. She opened the door. “Sorry. I got caught up looking at the lighthouse.” That was sort of the truth.
He shook his head. “Understandable, and I’m sure you were having memories of things we won’t talk about right now. I know I am.”
Shock had her raising her eyebrows. She hadn’t expected him to just blurt that out. “Yeah, that too.”
He smiled. “Breakfast—I’ll make pancakes if you’d like some.”
He’s trying, I think. “Sure. I am rather hungry.” Her stomach growled in response. She laughed softly as they started towards the kitchen.
“I’d say that growl was a little more than ‘rather’,” he said. “Let’s see what we can do about that.”
Once in the kitchen, Kate walked straight for the coffee maker. A blue stone cup was waiting for her.
“Ladies first,” Murphy said as he got the ingredients for the pancakes together, as well as a bowl and a cast-iron pan.
Kate smiled as her hand grasped the coffee pot, but the smile faded when she remembered how sweet he was to her before the betrayal. She shook off the memory and decided to just enjoy the coffee and pancakes, for now. They’d take the past as slowly as possible … if they wanted to work together. “Thanks. Want me to make you a cup?”
“If you wouldn’t mind, but you don’t have to. I’ll get it when I’m done cooking.”
She filled a second cup. “Still with a dash of cream?”
He chuckled. “Yes, as always.”
After setting his cup beside the stove for him—at which he thanked her again—she picked hers back up. “I do remember your pancakes being the second best I’d eaten.”
“Second?” he questioned when she looked at him, a touch of indignation in his tone.
She sighed, leaning against the counter. “Sorry, but my uncle Trig’s are better than yours.”
He pointed a wooden spoon at her. “I won’t argue because I’ve never tasted them … and because he’s your family.”
She felt the corners of her mouth tilt upward. “The first thing I think we should do after we eat is look in on the monitors for the lighthouse. I want to see if there’s anything strange on screen before we check it out in person.”
“To get the feel of it?”
“Yeah.” She took a sip of coffee. “Basically, I want to do a walk-through of the lighthouse and then the attic. I don’t feel anything in the house right now, but I’d like to get those two things out of the way before we go over the footage from yesterday to this morning.”
He flipped a pancake then looked at her, his gaze warm. “Start slow? That sounds good to me.”
Butterflies fluttered in her belly in reaction to that warmth, and whether he meant it in regards to her or the case didn’t matter. Crap. Don’t fall for that gaze, Kate. “I’ll set the table,” she said, a little too softly for her liking.
“The plates are in the cabinet right above the coffee maker,” he told her, a hint of regret in his tone. “Silverware is right here beside me in this drawer.” He tapped the drawer to the left of the high-end gas stove.
As she set her coffee down and turned to get the plates, Kate cursed at herself. Idiot. Stop thinking about the warmth in his eyes.
“There’s syrup in the fridge—it’s Vermont-made.”
Kate smiled. “Nick knows what I like to eat. He, Judith, and Lena did the grocery shopping.”
“I’ll have to thank them when the case is over.” Again, regret lay in his tone, a bit more apparent than just moments before.
Their gazes met again briefly as she reached for the silverware, and the look on his face… The butterfly flutters quickened as his arm brushed hers, setting a pancake down on the plate next to the stove. She tried not to hurry as she grabbed the forks and two butter knives, and managed to do just that—act normal.
God, she hoped breakfast went by, and fast. “Why exactly did you agree to the terms of the council and Historical Society, Murphy?” she asked as he turned the stove off.
“I remembered you telling me about the lighthouse and the history of those who lived here in the Keeper’s house,” he said as he brought the pancakes over, “and I was intrigued by Mason Norling, the first keeper and the son of the man who designed and built the lighthouse.”
Intrigued. She should’ve kept her mouth shut.
He placed three pancakes on his plate. “I researched the family a little more, then found all the stories about the pirates. I started seeing connections between Mason and Elise Bennett, and became so hooked on finding the link between them I kept digging.”
“Exactly what do you think is in Mason’s journal?” Kate asked, pouring syrup over her food.
“I believe his personal journal holds the key about the battle between the Whiskey Beauty and the Ravaging Ghost. I found a picture of Elise that someone in town took during that last visit to Noble, when she actually docked in Emerald Bay—I’ll show you when we’re done doing the walk-throughs.” He paused, taking a sip of coffee. “The picture shows her wearing a necklace that’s supposedly an emerald, and a family heirloom.”
“Yes,” Kate said. “It’s written down in the interview with the local newspaper that the necklace was passed down from mother to daughter.”
“But, I found a picture of Mason’s youngest daughter, who was five at the time of the battle. I’m ninety-nine-point-nine percent certain that’s the same necklace Elise was wearing.”
Kate froze, her fork halfway through her pancake stack.
“Kate? You okay?”
She forced herself to look at him. “I’ve seen all the pictures of the Norling family that the town has, which means you must’ve found the missing photos after the storm of 1722.” That wasn’t a question—it was an accusation. “Where?”
Murphy raised a hand, as if to quell her temper. “That daughter, Anya, moved to Massachusetts two years after her father died in the storm. I hunted down her descendants and found only one remaining—that would be a many-greats grandson of hers. He gave me three pictures and I made copies, which I have with me and are going to be given to the Historical Society once the investigation is over.”
The last made her threatening temper calm, and she finished cutting her pancakes. “I have that picture of Elise with me so I can compare them myself, but obviously it must’ve been enough to sway the council to let you investigate.”
The lighthouse and the Keeper’s house were owned by the Historical Society and they planned on using the house as an inn, so vacationers could stay overnight.
“It was one of the top two finds that swayed them, yes.”
“What was number one?”
“Elise returned to Maine in late October the year Anya was born, and looking at the older picture of Anya next to one of Elise…”
Understanding dawned on her. “You think Anya was Elise and Mason’s daughter.”
He pointed his fork at her. “Yep, and I think that before Elise died at sea she gave Anya the necklace and told Mason where he could find some of the treasure from the Whisky Beauty and the Ravaging Ghost.”
Kate hated to admit it, but the thought of all he just told her being true made excitement bubble inside of her. That must have reflected in her eyes because Murphy gave her a knowing smile.
“I also think she may have told him why she and Brenn Remington hated each other so much.”
Quelling her excitement, Kate replied, “The ghost in the lighthouse refuses to speak with anyone—he just walks up and down the stairs of the lighthouse and turns on the light on clear days. He’s even been seen looking out at the sea, for long hours. Getting him to communicate will be difficult.”
Especially since neither of them was psychic.
“Hopefully he does, but if all of what I’ve researched and outlined is true, it could mean finding the treasure as well as solving one of the most infamous chapters of Noble’s history,” Murphy said.
She didn’t like the way he said that. The words sounded as if he were trying to lure her into his games by using what she loved—history and Noble. But she kept that suspicion to herself, and would continue … for the moment.
“And if we, or you, find it necessary we can call in one of your team to help.”
“True, though I’ll warn you right now that what I just said is the truth—no one’s ever been able to get that ghost to talk, not even a ‘hmm’.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt you, but at least we’ll have someone who may be able to persuade him to talk.”
“Lena’s an empath, so she could feel him out better than I can. Folger will do anything to help so I can call in whomever I feel we need.”
“You mean he’ll do what he can to help you work with me,” Murphy said, a knowing expression passing over her face.
Her gaze locked with his. “Both. He wants to help me with you, but he also knows how important this investigation is to me and Noble.”
Murphy gave a nod. “I understand what this case means to you, Kate,” he said, gaze softening. “I plan to uphold that truce we shook on.”
Really? Again with the warm gaze? Her stupid insides threatened to turn to mush. “So do I.” She really did. “And these are good pancakes.”
The smile he gave her nearly undid her. “Second best?”
She laughed. “Second best.”
God, was she in trouble.