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Genealogist Azure Clarke is alone in the world, except for her cat and her great Uncle Warren—who hires her to find a hidden letter that may hold old family secrets. The search takes her to the small town of Royal Oak, where she is distracted by a ghost who haunts her and an unwelcome attraction to the handsome attorney Benjamin Fisher.
Benjamin isn’t over his wife’s death—he believes he is the reason she died. When he arrives in Royal Oak to check on his ailing grandmother, he’s drawn to her newfound friend Azure Clarke. When strange paranormal things begin to happen, he is determined that another woman will not die on his watch.
Jesse Fisher is a ghost who needs to save his soul and resolve his murder. He wants the truth to come out about his death, and if helping Ben and Azure fall in love along the way—then all the better.
Page Count: 290
Word Count: 71025
Ben steadied Azure as they walked down the semi-steep terrain toward the vintage red barn. He was surprised the old wooden building still stood. It dated back to around the same time as the early 1800s clapboard house. The house had been well maintained over the years, standing in good shape by comparison.
Azure grabbed his arm and tugged on it to slow his pace. “He’s here again.”
“Who?” Ben looked around and saw a clump of tall grass, a large slanted stone, but no ghost of Jesse Fisher.
“He’s standing right where I found the headstone,” she whispered. “Maybe it’s Megan Catlett, his fiancé.”
Azure moved forward at a faster pace, and he worried she might stumble. She turned, grinning a Cheshire cat grin. “It is a headstone! I see lettering!” She knelt beside the large broken stone, pushing the tall grass aside. “But it’s really worn and hard to read.”
Ben caught up to her, and bent down to try and decipher the stone. The chiseled lettering had nearly washed away for the most part. The gray marble headstone lay broken and on its side, partially covered by weeds. He brushed aside the dried mud. Where dirt filled in the letters, he tried to make them out. He read the name Catlett, and the last two letters of the first name.
“Can you read it?” Azure hovered at his side.
“It’s Catlett, but the letters in the first name are worn pretty smooth. I can barely determine the month or day of birth, March, maybe? The year 1818 or 1819. There’s other writing, but too worn to read clearly.” He straightened up and dusted the dried red mud off his blue jeans. “Azure?”
She stood with her head tilted to the side, her attention captured by an unseen source. She was either listening to the ghost or enjoying the gentle wind fluttering the leaves of the large tulip poplar trees. What did it matter? He couldn’t see the wind or the ghost. He wondered if she’d even heard a word he had said when he read the old headstone.
Smiling, she placed her hands on her hips. “It’s Hezekiah’s grave. Jesse says he needs a proper burial.”
He shook his head in disbelief, irritated a ghost was making the calls. “Is that a request or demand? We can’t go digging people up without permits. Does he know that? I doubt they could in the 1800s either. It’s a legal battle in most cases.”
Damn, he sounded crazy. About to argue with a supernatural being over another dead person’s burial. His organized life had turned surreal.
“Well, we have to try.” Her face flushed with excitement. “Please?”
“I’ll look into it later.” He wanted to bite his tongue. What was wrong with him? He gave into her requests much too easily. He was beginning to think history was her whole life. Her enthusiasm was contagious and he didn’t want it, but found himself drawn in deeper with each passing day. They had to find out more about Hezekiah’s death. Why wasn’t he buried at the old Promise Hill Cemetery in town where all the local families were interred? In Hezekiah’s day, the only things keeping him from burial on Promise Hill would be if he committed suicide—or he committed murder.
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