I’m delighted to say this is the second anthology in which I’ve had the pleasure of being included with Patti Sherry-Crews. Patti lives in Evanston, IL with her husband and two children. She writes both contemporary and historic romance. Under the name Cherie Grinnell, she has written a series of steamy romances set in Dublin and Wales. She likes to include armchair travel with her books.
Patti studied anthropology and archeology at Grinnell College and the University of North Wales, UK. After college she opened an Irish and British import store, which gave her an excuse to travel to the British Isles for the next fifteen years.
Now she works from home and devotes much of her time to writing.
Being asked to be part of The Good, the Bad, and the Ghostly was a dream come true for me. I’ve always loved a good ghost story from my early days of reading Tales from the Crypt. Though nothing of the sort has happened to me in years, I used to be a spooky character myself with a storehouse of ghostly encounters and weird bouts of ESP to call from whenever someone asks if I believe in ghosts.
I would sometimes walk into a place and get all tingly, and I knew without being told something terrible had happened in that room. The one instance which comes to mind was when I was a student doing my junior year abroad in England. I was running around the Tower of London when I stepped into the White Tower. I touched the wall of the staircase and the tingling went up my arm telling me an evil deed had taken place there. Later I learned this is the tower where the two Princes disappeared during Plantagenet times and where in modern times during repair work two skeletons were found under the stairs. Skeletons belonging to two boys. My PSI agent Healy Harrison knows she’s in the presence of a ghost when her heart hums–or could the feeling be love?
I’ve had my share of encounters with ghosts. I had the ghost of an old man visible from only the waist up leaning over my bed–while I was in it–on two occasions. The cat on my bed arched her back and hissed. These two hauntings were preceded by the odor of cologne. I used both the animal reaction to the ghost and the accompanying odor in my story The Ghost and the Bridegroom.
Then there was the time I met a poltergeist. A friend was showing me her family’s new home–a mansion on Lake Michigan. She led me into one room and such a feeling of malice overcame me, I became paralyzed with fear and stood there on the verge of tears. My friend dragged me out and said, “How did you know?” When we were out in the hall the door slammed shut behind us. I mean it really slammed with great force! When they bought the house, they were told a young man had killed himself in that room. The ghost would move furniture around downstairs while they slept. Previous owners had the same poltergeist phenomena while they lived in that house. Agent Harrison has a similar reaction when she steps into a room inhibited by a black shadow manifestation.
Instead of telling you a story to make your skin crawl, I’m going to tell you about my encounter with a friendly ghost. This ghost was so friendly she helped me toilet train my son. You won’t have to go to bed with the light on after hearing this story.
The year 2001 was going to be a milestone year and it had nothing to do with the millennium. That fall my daughter would starting full-day kindergarten at the same time my son would be entering preschool. As someone who had been a stay-at-home mom for almost six years, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. At last I’d have some me-time if only for a few hours a day.
I had one stumbling block to my mini freedom: children had to be out of diapers before starting preschool. Can I say that the most nerve wracking times for me so far as a parent are kids starting to drive and potty training? Both experiences in parenting left me wringing my hands with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.
My son, Joe, was nearly three and so far, all efforts to get him out of diapers had been futile. By comparison I had a neighbor who looked at her son one day and said, “No more diapers. You’ll use the toilet from now on,” and her son immediately became potty trained. This dictatorial approach to getting my son to use the toilet didn’t work for me, I’m afraid.
Luckily I wasn’t alone in this struggle. I had a friend with a son of the same age who would be entering the same preschool program along with Joe. We compared notes and stressed about our diaper-loving boys daily.
Seeing my freedom waving me goodbye, I intensified my efforts on the potty front. We spent a lot of time in the bathroom that summer.
One day I had Joe sit on his little plastic potty seat fitted into the regular toilet while I read out loud to him. We were hunkered down waiting for the great evacuation. I looked up from my book when a movement by him caught my eye. Joe was craning his head to look over my shoulder. Then he broke out into a big smile and gave a thumb’s up sign to someone standing behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see only a blank wall.
“Why are you doing that?” I said.
He looked at me. “My grandma is behind you. She did this to me.” At that he gave me the thumbs up signal.
His grandmother, my mother, had died the previous spring. My son did start school that fall.
About The Ghost and The Bridegroom:
Life is looking rosy for Abbott Foster when he brings his new bride to his ranch in Arizona. But when he is unable to consummate his marriage due to a malevolent spirit in the bedroom, he is forced to call in Psychic Specters Investigations.
Agent Healy Harrison doesn’t want to accept this case. She has her own demons and likes her quiet life, lived in the anonymity of St. Louis. But Tucson is where she finds herself—with instructions to “Have an adventure! Have a romance!” Things get interesting when she meets handsome Pinkerton detective, Aaron Turrell. Is this the romance she’s meant to have, or when their two cases intersect, will it drive him away?
Excerpt: In this excerpt agent Healy Harrison meets the rancher for the first time and learns about his haunting.
He ran a hand through his sandy brown hair. “I can’t talk to you about this. I thought you’d be a man. This is a delicate matter.”
“Mr. Foster, I assure you I’ve seen everything. There isn’t anything you can tell me I haven’t heard before. What’s happening to you has happened to many before you.”
“That’s just it. I’ve heard about it happening to other men, but it’s never happened to me before.”
“Ah, I see. Well, this too is a common reaction. Many don’t believe in ghosts until they experience the phenomenon themselves. You’re not alone.”
He looked down. “I’m not talking about ghosts.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can’t talk to a young lady about this.”
“You can! Nothing you say will shock me.”
“Are you a…spinster?”
Healy huffed. “I don’t see how my marital status is relevant, but yes, I am not a married woman.”
“So you don’t have experience…”
“Please, I have traveled a long way under the most trying circumstances to help you. You’ve already paid the agency, and here I am! Let’s just start at the place where you encountered the haunting?”
Abbott sighed. “In the bedroom.”
“You’re lucky in that sense. Some ghosts follow people around and make all kinds of mischief.”
“Naw, you ain’t catching my meaning.”
“Aw, all right.” He took a long pause, studying his boots before he looked up again. “I’m a newlywed….”
“Yes, but here’s the crux of the matter. The ghost will not allow me to…consummate my marriage.”
Healy felt her face burn red. “Oh, I see. Well, that is a new one on me. Never heard of that one before. How is it that the ghost has power to stop…the act?”
“Ever since I brought Erline—that’s my bride—home, things don’t work right.”
She put a hand on his arm. “Are you sure you’re consulting the right expert? Have you talked to your doctor?”
His face went beet red with frustration. “It’s having a ghost in my bedroom gumming up the works.”
“You have to be more specific. I need details.”
He shuffled his feet in the dust on the boards of the porch. “I think about Erline all day. She’s so pretty. I can’t wait to go to bed. I get in next to her all cocked and ready to fire—and she’s eager too–I can tell, but then when I put….”
Healy put up her hand. “I don’t mean those kinds of details. Tell me about the ghost.”
“Oh, well, it always starts the same way. First there is this god-awful odor like rotten flowers.”
“Olfactory manifestations. Very rare. Interesting. Go on.”
He looked proud of himself a minute for having a rare haunting. “After I smell the odor a shape appears in the corner. A big, black shadow.”
“Oh, this is bad. Very bad. Black shadows are extremely malevolent.”
“It gets worse.”
“Worse than a black shadow? You’re wise to call in a professional.”
“The shadow moves. It walks, or floats–or whatever those things do–and comes and stands right next to the bed, and the creature points at me! Things shrink up down south at that point, if you know what I mean.”
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