One: Granville's Folly, a ramshackle, hundred-and-fifty-year-old Victorian house high in the Rocky Mountains.
Two: Two men. Kieran, the owner of the Folly who plans to restore it, and Layne, who first saw the Folly when he was thirteen and has returned twenty years later to find out if it's still standing.
Three: Three ghosts. Granpa K, who built the Folly with his brother, Thom, and Thom's wife, Lizabeth -- with the help of freemen Granpa K released from slavery.
Mix all these elements together and what could go wrong? Nothing, if you don't count the fact that Kieran doesn't want Layne, a professional photographer, to do a story about the restoration. Or that Lizabeth is bound and determined to play matchmaker for the two humans.
"This is my house, my family's house although I'm the only one who has given a damn about it since the original Kieran Granville died. I want to do everything I can when it comes to the restoration, but ..." Kieran chuckled. "I do know my limits, or rather I've found out I have them. That said, what I can do without messing it up, I will. The rest I'm leaving up to Robert and company."
"Figured as much, but I had to ask. I sort of wish I didn't have to leave so soon. Between the two of us we could probably do a lot more than just strip wallpaper and paint. Things like varnishing the floors and woodwork once his people have done all the prep work. And ... You said you're planning on using the furniture that's stashed in the basement?"
"Absolutely. Some of it, like what's in here --" Kieran smacked the dresser, "-- is in surprisingly good shape. The rest, like the table and credenza in the dining room, will need work."
"And you plan on tackling that on your own?" Layne gave him a knowing look.
"Yes. Well ..." He obviously hedged his bets. "Unless I get stuck. Then I'll ask Robert what I should be doing. If he doesn't know, which is unlikely, I'll go into town do some research online at the library and go from there."
"I can give you some suggestions for good sites to check out," Layne told him. "Or, you can hold off on what you can't do on your own until I come back."
"You really are planning to?"
"You bet. Not that I can say it'll be such-and-such day or week, but I will. I'm having fun and, hell, I definitely like being around you." Layne wondered if he should have said that last bit, even though it was the truth.
"You have a weird idea of fun," Kieran replied with a grin, not reacting to the rest of Layne's comment, at least not verbally, although there was something in the way he looked at him which made Layne think he was assessing the chances there might be more to what he'd said than the word like signified.
Layne shrugged. "As I said, I have a thing for restoring houses, or at least photographing the before and after. Now, I've had the chance to be hands-on. Would I consider changing careers? Hell, no. Unlike you, I'm not crazy."
"Me? Crazy? Sir, you defame me. Now you die." Kieran pantomimed pulling a sword and twirling it before lunging at Layne.
Layne laughed as he grabbed his chest, falling onto the bed.
"A hit, a very palpable hit!"
"You? Quoting Hamlet?" Layne asked incredulously, before realizing the voice had come from the far side of the bed from where Kieran was standing. He jumped to his feet and turned to see who was there. "Damn."
A man dressed in black pants held up with suspenders, a full-sleeved dark shirt, and tall black boots stood there -- a man he recognized. That was startling enough. What was worse was the fact Layne momentarily saw the window through him before the man's body fully solidified.
"Granpa K," Kieran said, sounding exasperated. "You promised."
"I did nothing of the kind," the ghost -- because Layne knew without a doubt that's what he was -- replied. He turned his attention to Layne. His dark, piercing eyes seemed to glitter with amusement as he bowed, briefly. "We met before, many years ago."
Layne swallowed hard, trying to regain some semblance of composure. "When I was a kid and came up here to explore without my sister. I thought ... Kieran said you were his father when I told him about it."
"I'm afraid my great-grandson fudged the truth a mite. Not that I can blame him. I'd have done the same in his shoes. There've been enough ghost hunters coming around over the years. It wouldn't do for them, or anyone, to learn there actually are ghosts residing here."
"That's ... impossible." He spun around to scowl at Kieran, because obviously it wasn't impossible. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Kieran spread his hands. "Would you have believed me if I had?"
"Maybe. I felt something in the hallway, yesterday, like I was being watched. It was you, wasn't it?" he asked the ghost.
Granpa K nodded. "Kieran has already taken me to task for that."
Layne returned his attention to Kieran. "You should have said something, anyway. I've been in old homes that people have claimed were haunted. Not that I believed them. Hell, as far as I was concerned there's no such thing as ghosts." He smiled sardonically. "At least I didn't think there were until tonight."
"There are more things in heaven --" Granpa K started to say.
"You're a fan of Shakespeare, I take it. Not too surprising, I suppose. He did have ghosts in some of his plays." Layne chuckled because, contrary to common logic he had accepted what he was seeing and hearing. "You said, a minute ago, there are ghosts living here, plural, so you're not the only one."
"No. Thom, Lizabeth, if you would show yourselves. I know you've been listening."
Two figures materialized seconds later. Both were as simply dressed as Granpa K, the man in dark pants, a full-sleeved, collarless shirt, and low boots, the woman in a pleated brown skirt and a white long-sleeved blouse with a high collar.
Granpa K introduced them as, "My brother, Thom, and his wife, Lizabeth."
Lizabeth smiled as she dropped a curtsy. "It's nice to finally get to meet you in person, Layne. We've been watching the two of you working on the house. You go well together."
"Lizabeth," Kieran growled at the same time that Thom said, "Behave yourself, my love."
She blinked innocently. "Always, my dear husband."
Layne bit back a laugh, asking, "Are there any more of you?"
"Ghosts?" Granpa K shook his head. "Don't you think three is enough?"