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Her husband’s infidelity turns Cass Peake’s world upside down. Hoping to start fresh, she moves to a sleepy little town called Las Lunas on the northern California coast. The cute seaside bungalow is surprisingly affordable and Cass snaps it up. She soon discovers why the place was so cheap; it’s haunted! And the beach by her new home is called Murder Beach by locals. She can’t even get a pizza delivered.
Back in the Roaring Twenties, the bodies of Doris Pierpont, a notorious bootlegger’s daughter, and her lover were discovered on the beach. Summoned by a séance in the Swinging Sixties, Doris returned to the house. Now she wants to know who murdered her.
As Cass tries to make a new life and solve Doris’s murder, the corpse of the local bookstore owner is found in the sand. Is Murder Beach living up to its name once again?
Page Count: 338
Word Count: 83475
We trooped out the front door and around back. It was slow going as we picked our way through thick weeds and wild flowers, but it wasn’t quite the jungle it might have been because of the sand that had blown up from the beach over the years. The garage was a very small, separate building at the far end of the lot away from the beach. Looking at it, I couldn’t believe a car could fit in it. I’d gotten used to the three-car garage we’d had in Pleasanton with a whole bay for tools and storage.
The wood was badly weathered, and the little building hadn’t been painted nearly as often as the main house. I couldn’t find the key to the padlock, but that didn’t slow us down for long. Jack forced the door open and nearly knocked it off its hinges.
At first we couldn’t see a thing. Jack swung the big Maglite up and illuminated an ancient car. He gave a low whistle.
“What? It’s a pile of—” I inhaled sharply. There was no denying that I had a ghost now, and I think that was her point. A chill shot down my spine.
The woman in the green dress from the beach leaned back across the front seat of the boxy convertible as if the leather weren’t stained and torn. She was dressed in a beautifully beaded sea foam green gown, a white fox stole draped across her shoulders. Her body language screamed “mine!”
I quickly looked at Jack and Gillian, but Jack was looking at the car. He ran trembling fingers over the trim.
Gillian stood apart, keeping well away from the grime, and I could see the shock on her face, her eyes wide, mouth open as if to scream. She saw the ghost, but Jack didn’t.
“Do you know what this is?” His voice wavered slightly.
“A gho—car?” I ventured.
“A Packard Roadster.” His voice broke. “Look at the running boards. The wooden dash.” He rubbed dust off the fender. “Gorgeous gold.”
“I take it that’s a good thing,” I said faintly.
The beautiful ghost shifted her pose, putting her face mere inches from his.
Gillian’s hysterical laugh was shaky, but it was better than having her scream. She couldn’t take her eyes off the ghost. “Oh, you’ve done it now, Cass. We’ll be lucky to get any work out of him around the house.” The hand she held up to her mouth shook.
“We can get this running again,” he whispered with reverence, buffing the hood with his shirtsleeve.
The ghost leaned toward him with a smile on her face. She turned toward me and stage-whispered, “Oh, I like him! Abyssinia!” Then she was gone.
The instant she vanished, Gillian let out a burp of a scream, quickly smothered.
Jack turned, stared at us, and stopped babbling. “What are you girls looking at?”
Gillian and I exchanged a glance.
“N-nothing,” I said. He hadn’t seen her!
It was clear from Gillian’s expression that she’d had the same realization. Then I had another.
Holy shit! I really did have a ghost!
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