Whispering Bay # 1
Releasing April 28th, 2015
Allie Grant doesn’t believe in second chances. She does, however, believe in the power of a permanent paycheck. So when a tipster reports that the soon-to-be demolished senior center in her hometown is haunted, Allie hightails it to Whispering Bay to get the scoop that could secure her dream job at Florida! magazine. What she finds, though, is far scarier than any ghost. Cue her ex-boyfriend, sexy construction foreman Tom Donalan.
When Tom catches Allie poking around his construction site, he quickly realizes his former high school flame is just as feisty as ever. And, heaven help him, her irresistible, mile-high legs still take his breath away. But Tom isn’t about to delay the building’s demolition because of a silly ghost story.
With neither of the stubborn exes backing down from their opposing positions, sparks fly. And, underneath the surface, the fire of their old attraction burns as hot as ever. When strange things start happening with increasing frequency around town, even a tough skeptic like Tom is tested. The question is, can Allie and Tom stop fighting long enough to get to the bottom of Whispering Bay’s ghost problem—and the more important matter of mending their broken hearts?
Yes, just like that, she wanted to say, but something warm and wet trickled down her shin, distracting her. She pointed the flashlight on her leg to investigate. Blood! The sight of blood (especially her own) made her light-headed. Allie took a shaky breath. “Are ghosts attracted to blood?”
“That’s zombies. Or is it vampires? Yep, it’s definitely vampires. Wait. Did you say blood? Allie, whose blood are we talking about here?”
“Mine. I kind of cut my knee going in through the window.” No need to mention the knee incident had occurred as a result of Allie’s own clumsiness. Of course, that clumsiness had been caused by Jen’s poorly timed phone call, but Allie wasn’t one to point fingers.
“Ooh! You broke into the building? How very Woodward and Bernstein of you. But if you get arrested, don’t expect me to bail you out of jail.”
Jen was right. Allie didn’t normally go this far to get a story. Yes, pleasing her editor was a large part of her motivation, but the fact was, despite its run down appearance, there was something about the old building that called out to her.
“The thing is, I have a hot date tonight and driving all the way up to Whispering Pines to save your butt isn’t on my agenda,” Jen said.
A hot date at this time of night was code for a booty call from Jen’s boyfriend, Sean. For the first time this evening Allie was glad she wasn’t home tucked away in bed. She wasn’t sure what Jen and Sean were into, but they’d met at a Tarzan yodeling contest. If Sean spent the night, it meant Allie didn’t get any sleep unless she wore earplugs.
“It’s Whispering Bay,” Allie said, unable to stop from correcting Jen. Allie hadn’t called Whispering Bay home since she was eighteen, but the only family she had in the world lived here, and she still visited frequently enough that she was on a first name basis with most of the town’s population. It was only natural she felt protective of the place.
“Whatever. You’re so uptight. You know, you could use a hot date yourself. Hey, maybe the ghost is male,” Jen added.
“And probably like eighty-years-old. This place used be a senior center. Plus, I kinda like my guys alive. Jen, listen, I really have to go—”
“Alive does come in handy. So…the reason I called is we just got a notice saying our electricity is going to be turned off in two days. Didn’t you pay the bill?”
“I thought it was your month to pay the bill.”
“No, I paid it last month.”
Allie was positive she’d paid the electricity last month, but without checking her online bank statement, she had no proof.
“I’d pay it, but I’m kind of short,” Jen said. “Plus, you know, it is your turn.”
Argh. Why did money (or the lack of it) always seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times? At this point in her life, Allie should have been well on track with Life Goal Number Three—a permanent job with benefits. But Life Goal Number Two had taken her longer (and been more expensive) than she’d originally thought, putting her woefully behind schedule. Which meant she was still freelancing, which meant she lived article-to-article.
Hence, she had to supplement her income with the second oldest profession known to womankind. Waitressing. Weekdays, she lived her dream job. Weekends? Not so much. But the tips she made waiting tables at The Blue Monkey, a hipster Vegan restaurant in downtown Tampa, had saved her carnivorous butt from starving on more than one occasion. There was no way around it. She’d have to transfer money from her dwindling savings and pray she didn’t break her neck trying to crawl back out the window.
The sound of crunching gravel made Allie stop in her tracks. “Jen,” she whispered into the phone, “I think I just heard something.”
“Like what? Moaning? Chains rattling?” Jen’s voice hitched with excitement. “Sounds like my kind of place. And why are you talking so low? I can barely make out what you’re saying. It’s not like the ghost couldn’t hear you if it wanted to. It can probably even read your thoughts.”
If Allie hadn’t been so creeped out she would have laughed. “What are you, a ghost expert?”
Another sound. This time it did sound like a chain rattling.
Blimey. A ghost after Jen’s own kinky heart!
“Jen, I gotta go—”
“But the electric bill—”
“I promise I’ll pay it tomorrow online.”
“Okay. Awesome! So, good luck with that ghost. And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” She hung, up leaving Allie to wonder exactly what those last words meant.
Maria Geraci writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. The Portland Book Review called her novel, The Boyfriend of the Month Club, “immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.” Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA ® award. She lives in north Florida with her family, which includes a very needy chihuahua, an extremely needy dachshund and a not-so-needy cat (guess which one she likes best?). You can reach at her www.mariageraci.com.
Grand Prize: Vera Bradley Beach Tote and a Second prize for a Signed Print Copy of That Thing You Do