Book One: The Holiday Spirit
Writer Kerri Tollbrook spends her free time counseling the newly departed, but the tall, dark and handsome spirit she meets at the shopping mall claims he’s not dead. Is he just in denial? Or is something more sinister at work?
Firefighter Galen McAllister has felt like The Invisible Man ever since a malicious spell separated him from his still-living body. Kerri is the first person he’s met who can actually see him. Now if only he can get her to listen … because the nightmare creature that trapped him between two worlds is far from finished!
WHAT THE REVIEWERS ARE SAYING…
“One of my top ten holiday romances ever.” JUST LOVE MY BOOKS
“An excellent combination of sizzle and emotion.” NIGHT OWL REVIEWS
“… I liked the twists and turns of this story. I never really knew what would happen next. I also loved the humor. I love romances that can blend chemistry with the characters and a great sense of humor, and this one does that. Even if you are not into holiday stories I think this is a great little read to pick up. It has action, adventure, and a whole lot of love inside.”.” REDZ WORLD REVIEWS
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EXCERPT from THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT
“So what’s your name?”
“Galen. Galen McAllister.”
“Kerri Tollbrook. And hey, what you did was pretty awesome, you know. Most ghosts can’t manifest as well as you can.”
“That’s because I’m not a ghost.”
Aaand we’re back to this. “Many of the newly departed have a hard time adjusting. It’s totally normal.”
“There’s nothing normal about it.”
“Death is pretty normal, actually.”
“I’m not dead,” he said through clenched teeth. “I just need your help.”
She folded her arms and surveyed him. “If you really want help from me, then you’re going to have to take the first step.”
“Admitting that you’re dead.”
“For God’s sake, haven’t you been listening? I’m not dead!” he shouted.
Kerri put her hands up in a show of surrender. “All right, all right, maybe the d word is too traumatic for you right now. We’ll slow down and start from scratch, okay? When did you, um, notice a change in your state?”
“Day after Christmas, last year. I woke up and found that I was separated from my body.”
A whole year of denial? Well, he wouldn’t be her first stubborn case. “We have a word for that.”
“Look, I can show you my body. It’s in Sacred Family Hospital. In a bed. Being tended to like a houseplant. Because I’m not dead.”
She stared at him then. “Omigod, are you in a c…coma?”
“No. And hey, your teeth are chattering,” he said.
“It’s nothing. J…Just takes a while for the car to warm up.” She was hugging herself and shivering. In the mall, her coat had been far too warm, but it wasn’t helping much now. Damn. She knew she was feeling the aftereffects of the attack, not the winter weather. It had shaken her more than she first thought, but still she tried to make light of it. “I swear, it’s c…c…colder inside this t…t…tin box than st…standing outside.”
Suddenly the car was filled with warmth. Kerri found herself drawing balmy air into her lungs and felt her body immediately relax. She touched the steering wheel, then the seat. Both were warm to the touch. The windows cleared as if by magic. “You did this?”
Galen shrugged. “Seemed like a good idea. Since you were, uh, cold.” He made quotation marks in the air with his fingers, and she knew he saw right through her bravado as surely as she’d seen through his image at the mall.
“Thanks,” she said quietly. “You know, I’ve never met a spirit with your abilities.”
“You meet them all the time?”
“Ever since I was little.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but isn’t that kind of creepy? You sound like that old movie with the kid and the psychiatrist.”
Kerri shook her head. “Those ghosts were depicted as gory and scary. It’s really not like that.”
“What is it like?”
It wasn’t often—okay, make that practically never—that she got the chance to talk to someone new about this part of her life. Usually, the dead were pre-occupied with their own issues, and the living were seldom receptive to this kind of information. She took deep breath. “All the women in our family, as far back as anyone can remember, can see ghosts. In my lifetime, that means my grandmother, my mom, my aunt, my cousins. And me.”
“You grew up with things that go bump in the night. You don’t find that strange?”
If he was teasing her, she couldn’t tell. “It’s not that big a deal, not really. I was taught not to be afraid of the dead, that ghosts are just people. And I learned to listen to them and find out what they want.”
“And what is it that they want?”
“Some ghosts just want a little attention. Some have unfinished business that they need to work through, emotions they have to process. Some want to get a message to a loved one. A few—” she looked pointedly at Galen. “—don’t understand they’re dead. You can see why I might jump to conclusions about you.”
Without warning, her car shifted into gear, backing out of the stall on its own then began wending its way towards the street. “Hey! Stop that!”
“We’re going to the hospital. So you can jump to some different conclusions.”
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Once upon a time I wrote a short story titled The Holiday Spirit. I had a great deal of fun creating it, and was thrilled when my little paranormal romance received some wonderful reviews. When The Holiday Spirit finished its publishing contract, I foolishly thought that I was done with it. However, the characters refused to lie quiet! They’ve literally haunted me for a very long time, poking and prodding me to revisit this project.
After I finished writing Storm Warned (Book 3 of my Grim Series), I was “between books” for a couple of months, and thought that brushing up The Holiday Spirit for re-release would be a simple and fun project.
I was right about the fun part, but it was anything but simple. I realized much too late that I wasn’t in charge of this story at all: my characters were! And they had a whole lot more to tell. The entire project was rewritten from the ground up into a FULL-LENGTH NOVEL.
To all my wonderful readers who have taken this story to their hearts—thank you!
To my potential readers—if you enjoy a ghostly romance or a holiday paranormal with a fresh twist, this might be just what you’re looking for.
And to my cast of characters who hijacked the story—you can undo the duct tape and the rope now…
Sincerely, Dani Harper