🎃 Happy Halloween! 🎃
Enjoy an excerpt from Lost Time, still one of my all time faves, even after all these years. This story was inspired by a friend of mine who went on a UK vacation and got lost in Wales. Two very sweet people came to her rescue. But that’s about where the similarities end, from there on, my filthy imagination took over and the delicious Lockhart Munro took shape. And Oh, what a shape he has…
supernatural, paranormal, time-travel, erotic, romance
(I’ve left another extract over on the original * Pick a Genre Already * if you’d like to read some more)
But first, here’s the blurb:
“How’s the headache?” Jake asked.
“Mmm, better, thanks. Just have a bit of a sore throat today.”
“Gran says you look a little flushed.”
Hannah chuckled nervously.
Jake’s gran set a bowl of porridge in front of her and sat down to join them.
Hannah took a spoonful of treacle from the fancy little pot and swirled it over the porridge, wondering how to bring up the subject of her missing man. She really should have got his name before she fell asleep. It would make this inquiry a lot easier.
“Um…” She tried the oatmeal. “Do you have…workers—you know, employees that work here—besides you?”
“Nope, there’s just me and Gran. When we need outside help, the neighbors usually pitch in.”
“Huh. Do you rent out rooms?” she fished.
“Nope, only to you.” He chuckled, scraping the last of his breakfast from the bottom of the bowl.
Hannah pinched her lip. “Um, okay, look… Last night, I, uh… My throat was sore, as I said, so I came down here to see if maybe you had some orange juice. I hope you don’t mind,” Hannah rushed. “Um, and I, uh, ran into a man…”
Jake’s Gran shot to her feet and she crossed herself just like she’d done last evening before she’d left Hannah’s room.
“You met a man…down here?” Jake said slowly.
Hannah swallowed and laughed again uneasily. “Yeah, he…um…he was here in the kitchen. He looks just like the guy in the painting in my room.”
Jake’s eyes rounded and his spoon fell noisily to the table as his gran spoke rapidly in Welsh and an overly excited voice. Uneasiness skittered across the back of Hannah’s neck.
“Did he give you a name?” Jake asked. “Gran wants to know.”
“No, I didn’t catch his name. I was hoping you could tell me.”
Jake shook his head. “Nope, I can’t help you.” He stood up from the table and took his bowl to the sink.“You let me know when you’re ready to go to the bus station, Hannah. I’ll gladly take you.”
“But…I was hoping…to stay and…”
Jake shook his head slowly with a skeptical look on his young face. “And hang out with a ghost some more? I doubt that’s what you had in mind for your holiday.”
“A ghost?” She gave a half-assed chuckle, watching Jake intently. “Right, a ghost. Funny. Canadian tourist, right here”—she pointed at her own face—“in haunted old Wales,” she tried to joke, but by the look on his face he didn’t find it funny.
“Look, Hannah, I don’t know what to say. Gran swears he’s here. I’ve never actually seen him, so I don’t really believe it, but I will admit some strange stuff goes on here that defies explanation. If you ran into him last night, I’m sorry that he scared you.”
“He didn’t…scare me… You’re scaring me, to tell the truth. You’re trying to make me believe that…that the guy I”—she almost said ‘fucked’ before she caught herself—“met was a ghost?”
“Well, I guess you should consider yourself lucky that he didn’t frighten you. I’ve gotta go get some work done before you need to leave.” He began to walk out of the room.
Hannah jumped up and gripped his arm, as near hysteria climbed up her sore throat. “The guy, in the portrait. He’s dead?”
“Well, I don’t know. I assume he is. That painting has been here as long as I can remember. It was here when Gran was a child, she told me before. Her family has lived here for generations.”
Hannah began to tremble uncontrollably.
Jake lowered her into a chair. “It’s okay, Hannah. You’ll be all right. I’ll get you out of here. I’ll take you to Swansea and you can just carry on with your trip. Just think of the story you’ll get to tell when you get back to Canada.”
The story she’d get to tell? Who the hell would believe her? Oh, by the way, Cassie, I shagged a ghost while I was in the UK. They’d lock her up and throw away the key for sure. “But…but who is the man in the painting?” She looked at him, needing answers.
“I don’t know. Like I said, it was here. For all we know it is just an artist’s vision and not a real person at all.” He looked over at his gran and shrugged.
Hannah didn’t believe that. He had been real. If he was a—she didn’t even want to think it—a ghost, then he had to have been alive at some point.
Near tears, she covered her mouth. What was going on? She felt that same awful ache of grief she’d experienced upstairs. She couldn’t be so sick and feverish, that she’d hallucinated this whole thing.
Jake bent down and patted her shoulder. “Why don’t you go throw some cool water on your face and pack up your things? I’ll take you to your hotel.”
Hannah swallowed hard and nodded, getting up and stumbling blindly towards the stairs.
She entered the room, keeping her back to the portrait, piling her things into her suitcase without folding them neatly. She went into the bathroom and turned on the faucet, throwing cold water on her face then drying it without even looking into the mirror, afraid that she might see him there.
Hannah had to know. She pulled the collar of her shirt wide and looked down at her breasts. The bruises were still there. What the fuck? Wow, I’ve been ‘used’ by a ghost. Leave it to her to have a relationship with the most unavailable guy around. Oh, wait—he wasn’t a guy at all. She felt light-headed. Jake was right, she needed to get the hell away from here.
Hannah took her toothbrush and hairbrush from the sink, tossed them carelessly into the case, and zipped it up. Hastily, she looked around the room for anything that she might have forgotten.
“Can I help…?”
Hannah jumped a mile at the sound of Jake’s voice.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I just wanted to help with your bags.”
“Thank you,” she whispered. Allowing him to take the two bigger bags, she followed him out, slinging her carry-on over a shoulder. As Hannah passed the painting she had to expend an enormous amount of willpower not to look at it. It was as if it pulled at her, demanding her attention. She ignored it and hurried down the stairs after Jake.
As Hannah reached the bottom of the stairs the floor tilted. The room’s particles whizzed around and she knew he was near. Even though it felt like she was going to pass out or throw up, she bee-lined for the exit. Hannah pulled open the massive door and lunged outside, inhaling deep gulps of cool air into her lungs.
She sat down heavily on the front steps while Jake put her things in the car.
“You ready, Hannah?” he asked, looking down at her.
“Yes.” He reached a hand out to her and she took it gratefully, needing some support—not only physically but emotionally as well.
They drove down the lane. Hannah had already made the decision that she wouldn’t look back. But she did, and almost choked when she saw an old farmhouse. Last night when they’d driven up, it had been a castle. She’d seen it. The lightning had flashed and she’d seen a freakin’ castle. At least that was what she’d thought. Nothing was making sense. As she stared at the old house, she caught sight of movement at the very topmost, octagonal-shaped window in what must be an attic. The pane of glass took on the silvery hue she’d witnessed so many times during the night, as if the house or someone in it were trying to summon her.
Hannah closed her eyes and turned back around in the seat.