Faced with having to sell a haunted hotel, NYC Realtor Claudia Mackenzie hires the best adviser around—sexy British ghost hunter, Martin Grey.
Attracted to each other from the get-go, together they investigate the ghostly goings-on at the Chestnut Mansion Hotel and stumble across a murder and a theft dating back to the Civil War era. It soon appears someone or something is also on the trail of a missing necklace of fabulous worth.
As they investigate Claudia and Martin fall in love and into bed—but fate has a few surprises in store for them. Will they be able to solve the mystery of the haunted hotel?
Claudia Mackenzie stood at the exit to the JFK airport baggage claim. She held a sign bearing the name Martin Grey in bold letters and wondered if the guy would ever show. The flood of passengers from the British Airways flight from London Heathrow subsided to a trickle. Claudia craned her head to examine the remaining male passengers. She knew what Martin looked like from the photo on his Facebook page, but couldn’t see any guy resembling him. Has he gotten lost between customs and the exit?
The last man to emerge through the doors did so with a gait that spoke of a long flight in cramped seating. Claudia stiffened. He was tall, perhaps six feet compared with her five-nine. He was clean-shaven with neatly-cut short dark hair and wore a casual outfit of a royal blue golf shirt and khaki chinos. At last. She waved and caught the man’s attention, then saw him focus on her sign. Walking up, he smiled, shifted the handle of his rolling suitcase to his left hand and extended his right.
“Claudia? Hello, I’m Martin Grey.”
They shook hands. “Pleased to meet you at last.”
He gave her a friendly smile, his even white teeth belying the old lie about awful British dentistry. “Likewise.”
“My car’s over in the short-stay lot.” She tucked her sign beneath her arm and gestured. “This way.”
As they walked, Claudia gave Martin Grey a covert examination out the corner of her eye. One of the Facebook photos had shown him with a bunch of fellow rugby players at some recent charity match—four smiling guys in white shorts and green and yellow hooped jerseys. From that and what she saw now of his body she guessed him to be in good condition beneath the casual clothes. He’s thirty-five, but he looks younger. Mmm!
She saw him looking sidelong at her and realized she’d been totally distracted. “Good flight?” she asked.
He chuckled. “Turbulent, but relatively crash-free.”
Claudia laughed. A dry sense of humor. I like it. “I got lucky and found an empty parking slot near the doors. I thought you might want to check into your hotel then get some eats. We can head over to the place I want you to look at later.”
“Sounds good to me.”
She cocked an eye at him. “You’re not too jet-lagged?”
He shook his head. “I snoozed on the plane. Jet lag’s worse going west-to-east, anyway.”
“I’ll take your word for it. I’ve never flown across the Pond.” She felt wistful. “I’d like to visit England.”
“You’d be welcome. We like Americans.”
Uncertain, she eyed him. He looks and sounds genuine. “That’s good to know, Martin. Sometimes it feels that few people do like Americans these days.”
A crease appeared between his brows. “That’s a shame. I’ve been over here a couple of times for conferences and what-not and have always been made to feel welcome. I like America.”
“And I like your accent,” she said as they passed through the doors to the parking lot and headed for her Taurus. Mentally, she kicked herself. Damn hormones, I’m coming across too eager. The guy looks fit—and sexy—and it’s been a while since I last fucked.
His eyes twinkled in a way she found appealing. “Thanks. It’s not quite Downton Abbey, but it works.”
She smiled, feeling the skip of pleasure at finding a shared interest. “Oh, I love Downton Abbey.”
His friendly smile flashed again. “It’s one of my favorites, too.”
“We’ll compare notes sometime.”
She opened the trunk. Martin retracted the handle and hefted his suitcase into the car with ease. Claudia watched. Boy, that looks heavy. Yep, he’s fit all right.
They exited the parking lot and headed for the highway. Martin extracted a tablet from the inside pocket of his coat and switched it on. “I’ve got all the notes you sent me about the case on here.”
She glanced at him, seeing the photos she’d sent him as they appeared on the device’s screen. “It’s quite something, huh?”
He nodded as he flipped through the images. “A haunted hotel. It looks like it’ll be a good site to investigate. Haunted inns, pubs, and hotels are common on the paranormal investigation circuit. People often pass through them in a state of heightened emotion for one reason or another.” He pursed his lips. “That tends to leave an impression.”
She pulled her thoughts away from how kissable his lips looked and back to the information she’d sent him regarding the Chestnut Mansion Hotel. “I can understand that.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “I presume your company’s having a problem selling the place.”
Claudia grimaced. “Yeah, you could say that. It’s awkward. The Chestnut Mansion’s a good-sized building in an increasingly successful area.” She shook her head. “Honestly, Martin, the right people with the right cash would jump at the chance to buy and refurbish it, put it to some new use, yet we can’t move it off our books.”
“Because of the ghost?”
“Because of the ghost,” she confirmed. “We can’t think of any other reason. My company bought it as an investment a couple of years ago. The local zoning laws say we must maintain the property until we sell it, and it’s starting to cost us several thousand bucks a month. We’d rather pay it than risking a lawsuit because masonry fell on a pedestrian, and if—when—it sells, it’ll return the investment.” She paused, her fingers stroking the steering wheel. “Martin, ghost stories are nothing new here in the States. People are even attracted to them. Sometimes we can even sell a place on the strength of a haunting. But at the Chestnut Mansion, there’s something different, something that’s consistently turning prospective clients away.”
“So you mentioned in the e-mails.” He tapped the screen. “You also say here that no one would comment on what they allegedly saw.”