Haunted [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Lisa Childs
eBook Category: Romance/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Was he her savior or her worst nightmare? Ariel Cooper is about to marry her soul mate, but she has a secret. She can see ghosts. For years Ariel's resented her gift, believing it a curse. She's been hiding it from her powerful, brooding fiance, David, afraid that he wouldn't understand. But now she has to tell him. Twenty years ago, she and her two sisters were separated to protect them from a man who had vowed revenge on the women in her family. And someone has resumed the hunt. Ariel knows she must warn her sisters before it's too late--the killer is closing in and his power is growing stronger. With David's help, they begin the search. But the closer Ariel comes to finding her sisters, the more secretive he becomes. Can she trust the man she plans to spend eternity with? Or has he been waiting for the perfect moment to destroy her?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Nocturne
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2006
22 Reader Ratings:
Barrett, Michigan, 2006
The wailing sirens and shouting voices receded to a faint hum as the light flashed before Ariel's eyes. Glowing through a thin veil of mist, bright but not blinding, it granted her such clarity that she could see what others could not.
The little girl. Her big, dark eyes wide in her pale face, her black hair hanging in limp curls around her cheeks and over her shoulders. In that pale yellow dress she'd favored, she was dressed for school. But she wasn't there, safe in Ariel's second-grade classroom. Not now. She hovered before the ramshackle house, back from the curb where police cars and an ambulance blocked the street.
Ariel had left her Jeep farther down the road and walked to the house, which sat on the edge of commercial property, only businesses and warehouses surrounding it and a handful of other rundown rental houses. No trees. No grass. No yard in which a child could play. Ariel had ducked under the crime scene tape roping off the property. She didn't need to rush around like all the other people, the ones trying to figure out what had happened or how to help. Before she'd even arrived, she'd known what had happened and that it was too late for help.
As she blinked back tears, the mist thickened and the light faded, dimly shining on just the little girl, who, too, was fading and dissolving into the mist. Ariel reached out a hand, trying to hold on to her, trying to keep her from leaving. Her voice thick with emotion, she whispered the child's name, "Haylee…"
The little girl whispered back, her mouth moving with words Ariel couldn't hear. What did she want to tell her? Goodbye?
The tears fell now, sliding down Ariel's cheeks, blurring Haylee from her vision. "I'm not ready to let you go…."
She was too young to be alone. Only eight. And she'd get no older now.
Ariel's heart ached so much she trembled with the pain. As she shook, the charm dangling from the bracelet on her wrist swayed back and forth. Her hand was still extended, reaching for Haylee as the child faded away. Ariel's fingers clutched at the mist, slipping through the gossamer wisps until she touched something solid. Something strong and warm.
Arms closed around her. A hand pressed her face against a hard shoulder. On a gasping breath, she drew in the rich scent of leather and man. Her man.
Even with her eyes closed, she saw David as vividly as if she were staring up at him. Although she wasn't petite at five ten, David towered above her and everyone else. With his golden hair and dark eyes, he was a throwback to the conquering Vikings of centuries ago, not so much in appearance as attitude. Or perhaps a black knight, for he was dressed all in black today—black leather jacket, black silk shirt and black pants.
His deep voice rumbled as he told her, "You shouldn't be here. I'm going to take you home."
"H-how did you know?" she asked. How did he always know where she was and when she needed him? She hadn't called him. She should have. She realized that as she glanced up at his face, his square jaw taut and hard, his dark eyes guarded. But she'd called Ty McIntyre instead—for his badge, not his support.
"Did Ty call you?" Of course the police officer would have called David. They'd been best friends since they were little kids—or so they'd told her. She hadn't known either man that long, just long enough to fall for David.
"Ty's here?" David asked. "Oh, my God, is he the injured officer?"
Ariel blinked the last of the mist away. As it vanished, the faint hum she heard morphed into a cacophony of sirens and shouts. For the first time since arriving on the scene, she became aware of the reporters shouting out questions from the curb as officers held them back. "Mr. Koster, why are you here? What's your involvement?"
Her. If Ty hadn't called David, the live coverage of the scene must have been how he'd known where she was. She didn't ask him, though, because he'd started toward the house. Unlike the media, the officers never attempted to stop him. Everyone knew the richest man in Barrett, Michigan.
They didn't know her. Until David's appearance, neither the police nor the reporters had really noticed her.
"Who is that with you?" a reporter called out now as Ariel followed David, his shadow falling across her.
"Who's the redhead?" another one shouted.
David ignored them, intent on the house, its door gaping open on broken hinges.
"Ty's hurt?" she asked him, her voice cracking. She never would have called him had she known it would put him in danger.
"I don't know. I have to find him," David said, then glanced down at her. "But I don't want you to come inside the house."
His dark eyes soft with concern, he obviously feared what she might see. If he only knew…But that was perhaps the only thing he didn't know about her—what she saw. She couldn't tell him because she couldn't explain what she didn't understand herself.
"I'll be all right," she promised him. It was an empty promise because she had no way of knowing if she spoke the truth. No way of knowing what might happen next. That gift had been her mother's, not hers.
He must have assumed she meant she'd be okay by herself outside, for he withdrew his arm and started toward the gaping door. But before he could step inside, two men filed out wearing medical examiner's jackets and carrying a small black body bag on a gurney between them.
Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Childs-Theeuwes.