Excerpt: Once Upon A Ghost

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Whatta ya mean, it’s a scam?

Once Upon a Ghost, Updated Final“You don’t believe this is my first reporting job?”

A hint of sarcasm crept into Zach’s voice. “Don’t you mean your first scam?”

Rachel stared in total bewilderment. “I thought we were talking about reporting skills. What has that got to do with scams?”

“Reporting skills?” He laughed. “What reporting skills?”

My reporting skills.” Hurt made her voice tremble. Something had gone drastically wrong. If only she knew what. “The ones you thought were so good.”

His eyes narrowed. “You can drop the act. I’m on to you. I have been from the very beginning. You’re no reporter.”

“I am so. Sort of. At least I will be once I turn in my first article.”

“Bull. You may not recognized me, but I recognize you.”

He tossed a magazine toward her. It landed at her feet, falling open to a much abused page. Rachel stared down at a wrinkled and torn picture of herself.

“Hey, that’s me!” she said in surprise. “And that’s the article about my ghost.”

“Very astute.”

“What are you doing with it?” He didn’t answer. Instead, he waited for her to do or say something. Something significant. She grimaced in annoyance. So much for having a reporter’s razor-sharp instincts and keen perception. Right now she’d settle for a pinch of womanly intuition and a lengthy, detailed explanation. “Care to give me a hint here? I’m flying blind, in case you haven’t noticed.”

He laughed and she stared at him, amazed by the difference it made, more amazed by the sudden warmth filling her. His stern, remote facade dissolved as though it had never been, replaced by humor and passion and a stunning vitality. She’d like to know him better–this man, a man of charm and grace and strength.

“You should laugh more, too,” she told him, slightly dazed. “Lots more.”

“What do you want, Ms. Avery?”

“I want an interview. No. What I really want is for you to leave my ancestor in peace,” she told him passionately. “I want you to pick another poor ghost to debunk instead of Francisca.”

“Why?” He shot the question at her, the sharpness of his tone demanding an honest response.

She gave him just that. “Because if you claim success or end up scaring off poor Francisca, it’ll ruin my chances of selling the book I’ve written about her. And it’s very important that my book sells.”

“I’m sure it is.”


He cut her off, swiftly and implacably. “Ms. Avery, you asked for a quote?”


“Excellent. Take this down.”

She hesitated, then removed the red plastic heart from her pen and waited, pen poised above the envelope. “I’m ready.”

“Tough. That’s spelled, T-O-U-G-H.”

“Tough. Got it.” She stared at the word for a moment, a small frown gathering between her brows. “That’s it? Tough?”

“That’s it. I’m going to investigate your ghost, Ms. Avery. Nothing you do or say will change my mind. If anything, having met you, I’m even more convinced it’s a scam. Which makes me more determined than ever to prove it.”

She quietly capped her pen and stuck it and the envelope into her purse, then stood. “Do your worst, Professor Kingston. The ghost of Francisca Arista is real. And I’ll protect her from you no matter what it takes.”

His crooked smile reappeared. “I’d expect no less.”

“Goodbye, Professor. It’s been an experience. A bad one.” She started for the door. “And Professor?”


“I hope you realize this is going to ruin our relationship.” With that, she swept grandly through the door.

< Return to The Wacky Women Series

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