Jewelry designer Kat Ramos has come to Banshee Creek to break the famous Hagen House curse and, in order to do that, she must marry Liam Hagen. A vengeful ghost with a deadly history isn’t part of the deal, and neither is love. Will Kat be able to handle both? Or will the mystery of the cursed Hagen House remain unsolved?
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They crossed into the foyer, and she peered at the black and white marble floor.
No sign of bloodstains.
No sign of anything except furniture polish and potpourri, in fact. The room, with its sparkling floors and polished wood staircase, looked pristine. The crystal chandelier was indeed massive, the crystals sparkling in the afternoon glow. It was, she had to admit, a spectacular entry.
Liam, however, did not seem impressed. He was staring at the wooden entry door, a concerned look on his face.
“Did the ghost knock?” she asked, trying to figure out what was wrong.
He looked up. “Oh, no. It’s just, um, we may have skipped a step.”
“We skipped lots of them. We still have to see the living room and the upstairs.”
He shook his head. “No, not that kind of step. One of the wedding rituals.”
What? She didn’t realize there was a checklist for this marriage. They’d gotten the licenses and gone before the judge. Wasn’t that enough? They’d had a wedding reception, for Pete’s sake. She’d thrown a bouquet, eaten a wedding cupcake, and had her picture taken.
What else did the house want?
Liam opened the front door and stepped outside. He motioned for her to follow.
Oh, crap. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Nope,” he said, laughing. “I have to carry you over the threshold. Yolanda said we had to fulfill all the wedding rituals.”
“But … I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m not exactly skinny.” She wasn’t obese by any means, but she was, well, healthy. Okay, she was curvy.
He frowned. “What are you talking about? You’re perfect. Now, come on out so we can get this done.”
She gave in, following him outside. “Fine, but if you get a hernia, don’t blame the curse. It’s your own darn fault.
He laughed and closed the door behind her. “I think that’s highly unlikely. Ready?”
She took a deep breath. The afternoon sun washed over the house, making the white paint gleam. A rogue sunbeam hit the brass doorknob, giving her the strange feeling that the house, amused by the spectacle, was winking at her.
Great, that was just what she needed, a cursed house with a sense of humor.
“I’m ready,” she said. After all, she couldn’t let a building intimidate her, could she?
But Liam didn’t move, his eyes were fixed on her. She glanced down surreptitiously, checking to make sure she didn’t have duck sauce on her cream shirt. Nope, for once she hadn’t smeared food on her clothes.
Then what the heck was he staring at?
The answer dawned on her slowly. He was staring at her. This was the kind of look a man gave to a woman he found attractive.
Scratch that. This was more than attraction. The heat in his gaze was unmistakable, and she felt herself blush in response. She hadn’t expected this kind of attention.
“Liam?” she asked, her voice a bit shaky.
He blinked, coming out of his stupor. “Oh, sorry.” He opened the front door then stepped toward her. “Ready?”
She tensed as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, then bent down. In a split second he’d hauled her up, making it look easy. She held her breath as he walked toward the house, holding her in his arms. She didn’t dare breathe until he reached the foyer.
He set her down gently. “There we go.”
A sudden feeling of … joy swept through her. She took a shaky breath, feeling woozy. He steadied her, arms wrapped around her body. She could feel the rough fabric of his sports coat under her hands. He smelled like aftershave and soap, a clean, masculine smell. Was she trembling? Yep, she was. Her left hand, the one that now wore the filigree diamond ring, was shaking. A beam of sunlight hit the chandelier, blinding her.
“All done now,” he said. Was it her imagination or was his voice a bit shaky too?
He straightened, his grip loosening around her, but she held on, compelled by a force she could not name. She felt curiously giddy, almost bubbly.
“No.” The word seemed to come from far away, and it was a long moment before she realized she’d been the one who said it. “We still have one thing to do,” the alien voice inside her continued, this time in a whisper.
She leaned forward, her hands still on his shoulders as if her body—with a will of its own—could not bear to break the contact. He bent down, looking confused.
The chandelier rained tiny beams of light, a magical mist of electric snowflakes that swirled around them as she kissed him, finally tasting the forbidden fruit she’d longed for all day long. The magical embrace seemed to go on forever.
Finally, Liam broke the kiss. He stared at her in confusion, then turned toward the still-open door.
“Did you hear that?” he asked. “It sounded like a car.”
“What?” The kiss had left a warm afterglow that made it difficult to focus.
A familiar noise reached her ears, an odd choking sound like a car motor dying a slow painful death. The metallic groan woke her up. The glutinously warm, happy feeling faded away, and she pulled away from Liam and ran toward the door.
A small yellowish-gray car was speeding down the road at an impressive speed. It was old, it was fast, and it was her car.
The stupid house had carjacked her baby? How?
“I’m calling the police,” Liam said, grabbing his phone.
Kat ran out of the house, racing after her vehicle and cursing under her breath. Not her car. Why did it have to be her car?
She watched in disbelief as the yellow hatchback braked and made a left turn onto Main Street, ignoring the frantic honking of the vehicles around it.
What the …?
She slowed down, unable to keep up her jog in the heels she was wearing. She turned and saw Liam’s truck backing out of the driveway of the Hagen House. He was driving to pick her up.
The sun was setting and the oak trees cast a shadow over the building’s facade. The house, which had seemed so welcoming a few minutes ago, now seemed dark and uninviting. Liam had left the lights on and the house seemed to glare balefully at her.
Kat glared back.
The stupid house had messed with her car. This wasn’t a business arrangement anymore.
This was personal.