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The White Feather by Heidi Wessman Kneale

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  • Crippled by a fear of firearms, James Cowper is rejected by the draft during the Great War. For this, the villagers mark him as a cowardly pariah. Cruelly shamed by them, James attempts a desperate deed by the tombstone of the village's most famous lady, Georgia Palmerton, also known as the Stoweham Ghost.

    A hundred years ago, a romantic rival cursed Georgia Palmerton. Since then, she's wandered in phantom form, naked and alone, watching generations grow up, marry, live, and die. Georgia could be restored back to life, if someone had the courage to help her.

    Freeing Georgia from physical death is a simple matter. Freeing James from social death is altogether more challenging, especially when he is asked to give up everything he's ever known. Now that the ghost and the pariah have found each other, will love and courage be enough to save them both?

    Rating: Spicy
    Page Count: 154
    Word Count: 37980
    978-1-5092-0890-6 Paperback
    978-1-5092-0891-3 Digital

    Excerpt

    She watched him steadily, unashamed.

    He averted his eyes, shading them with his hand. “Did you know you’re…”

    “A ghost?” came her bright voice.

    “Naked.” He risked a peek.

    She looked down at herself. “Ah, that. Not much I can do about it, I’m afraid. Not much I can do about being a ghost, either.” She folded her arms over her bosom and crossed her legs. “Is this better?”

    He carefully looked up. “A little. Would you like a robe or something?”

    She shook her head. “Won’t do me any good. I can’t touch anything solid. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

    He knew her, now that he had a chance to look at her without embarrassment or the rushing of blood away from his head. “You’re the Stoweham Ghost.”

    She smiled. “I am.”

    She was also the woman he’d dreamed of since his adolescence. Not true, solid dreams, but rather catching a glimpse of her just before he awakened. Not that he ever saw her when he was fully conscious. “Have you been haunting me?”

    Her gaze slid sideways. “I wouldn’t call it haunting. But yes. Then again, I haunt everyone who comes to Stoweham House.”

    James’ head spun. He had to sit down. He eased a chair on the far side of the table and fell into it, letting his head fall into his hands. “Why me?”

    She smiled and scooted closer. He scooted back, averting his eyes from her bouncing bosoms. As a young man, he’d dreamed about reaching out and caressing those bosoms. Now his shame flooded back to him.

    “Because,” she said, “I like you.”

    That only made it worse. Nobody liked him. First, he was the man who wouldn’t go off to war, and then he was the man who’d survived. Not everyone who went off to war came back. Those who did come home had left a part of their soul behind. He could see it in their lost little eyes, a nervous glancing to and fro, perhaps in the hopes that if they looked quickly enough, they might catch a glimpse of that sliver of soul that might have followed them home.

    They never found it.

    He looked up. Her eyes didn’t look lost. Instead, he saw a desperation mixed with an optimistic hope. “If you’ve been haunting me these last few years, why haven’t you spoken to me until now?”

    She sighed. “Embarrassment. It’s not like I’m dressed for company. Besides, you would not have listened to me.”

    James found that hard to believe. If a ghost, especially a naked ghost, had come up to him and said hello, he would definitely have paid attention. Parts of him were paying attention now. He took a deep breath and imagined a cold bath. “I’m listening now.”

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The White Feather

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