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2nd Place -Paranormal Novel category of the 2017 IDA
When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.
Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.
With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can't help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.
Her frown became deeper, her voice angrier. “Excuse me?”
Perhaps she didn’t understand him. He spoke slower and louder, “Your tribe. Are. You. Crow?”
“I. Am. Not. Deaf.” She patted her thigh. “Franny come. Get away from him.”
The little dog with the pushed-in face and bug eyes jumped and wagged its curly little tail harder as if in defiance of her owner’s orders. What’s with this so-ugly-it’s-cute creature, anyway?
“Franny! Come here.” The little dog plopped on its haunches and looked back and forth between the disturbingly familiar woman and him as if trying to decide which way to go.
Lucius stood and stretched, still trying to reconcile this woman’s ability to see him and her uncanny resemblance to the woman he’d loved and lost.
“Don’t you come near me.” She backed up to the desk, hands scrabbling on the mahogany surface. “Or I’ll, I’ll—”
“What? Hit me?” He laughed at her surprised expression—the mirror image of Mourning Dove’s wide-eyed, open-mouthed look when he’d proposed to her. “Throw something at me. Please.” He almost hoped he’d get smacked so he could feel something. Anything was better than this nothingness. A book flew at his head—and sailed through him, bouncing off the wall and landing on the floor.
Mouth agape, the woman stared from him to the book and back to him again. “You’re a ghost.”
“Not exactly. Shall we start over?” He leaned against the wall and folded his arms across his chest. “After a hundred years of being invisible to everyone except you, I’d like to know who you are and what you’re doing here.”
“Of course. Why not? Could today get any weirder?” She sank into the desk chair, shook her head, and sighed. “My name is Tallulah Thompson. I’m a hotel inspector, hired by the current owner as a consultant to find out why the renovations are delayed and what he needs to do to fix it. He’s teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.”
“What tribe are you?”
She jerked her head up and those doggone lapis lazuli eyes of hers sparked as if she’d strike him with lightning and kill him with one look. “No one asks that. It’s not politically correct.”
“Well, I guess you haven’t been talking to the right people. And I don’t know what you mean by that last part. I’ve never been involved in politics.”
“Nowadays, it’s considered rude to ask about another person’s national origins.” She threw her hands up. “Why am I giving a ghost an etiquette lesson? What am I thinking?”
“The Crow gal who cleans this place can feel me but never hears or sees me. You can. How is that possible?”
Tallulah wrapped her arms around her shoulders and shuddered as if chilled. “I’m Choctaw. My grandmother is a Medicine Woman. I see…things.”
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