Authors: Kristi Pelton
A Haunted Heart
Text Copyright ©2014
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes. If you are reading this book and you have not purchased it or won it in an author/publisher contest, this book has been pirated. Please delete and support the author by purchasing the ebook or paperback from one of its distributors.
Editor: Lisa Loewen
Cover: Cover to Cover Designs
Publisher: Kristi Pelton
This part seems to get harder and harder for me…I see why some authors say: To my famil
With that being said—Mom and Dad, you rock. Thanks for allowing me to write things I could never say out loud in front of you! Veronica-thanks for all your support and spreading the word! You and your friends (Mallory)…are whom I think of when I think of scary movies—Well and Poppy for forcing me to watch them when I was little! This book isn’t scary but the Halloween theme was fun. Thanks for the idea Lisa!
Pelton’s Wild Women! What can I say—each of you support me day in and day out. Teasers, hugs, smiles, jokes…love you girls! I HATE doing this because I fear I will leave someone out…but here goes: Tera and Lisa—Goose and Iceman…I have no words…Maybe just a snot dog or clam? Elaine (Go KU), Janet, Julie (Go ducks), Kelly (My boomer sooner), Rachelle, Amber W.(my teaser girl), Jill (Healthfirst!), Ketty (go cubs), Kailie (in honor of your sis), Sandra (pimp beast), Riza, Nancy, Barbie, Cyndi (future author), Laura(my Brit love), Heather (hugs), Renee and Michelle (my tweeters!), Lacy, Jasmine (jazzy J), Ashley, Amber B(we think a like/scary!), Britt A, Kara, Joy, Lorelei (smile)… Vanessa-Thanks for your continued support.
My BETA’s… Sam, Lisa, Heather, Tera, Amber and Jasmine… my cup runneth over!
Ang Graham…AG…love you baby. Thanks for everything!
Madison, Clista, Meg…Here we go again…Nothing but love!
To my sons and their friends: IT’S NOT PORN!
Kev, Ben and Zach…thank you for being patient and not throwing my computer out the window! Love you much.
Go Jayhawks! Go Ducks! Go Cubs!
K, B, Z….1
“You, my love, are the sexiest convict ever,” he whispered roughly, his tongue tracing the shell of my ear. “And when Jack and I get home, you’ll be my prisoner. I’m taking you as my cell mate for the night.”
Michael, dressed in his policeman costume, looked sexy as hell. Suddenly, his hands gripped my ass and I spun around punching him in the shoulder. “Our 2-year-old is awake and I’m sure he doesn’t want his mother molested, now stop!”
Michael’s devious grin, narrowed eyes and premeditated stride made my insides clench. “My boy is
before our guys night out, unless you make noise and wake him. But I think we’ve perfected quiet sex over the past two years.”
A giggle escaped my lips when I watched my husband of four years yank the Billy club from his borrowed cop uniform. His hand gently covered my mouth and he leaned into me. To everyone else he was a dorky pharmacist…they didn’t know the Michael behind close doors.
“Not another word out of your mouth inmate 0125. You’ve been a naughty girl. Now turn around.”
Facing the wall, Michael used his feet to push mine apart.
“Call me Officer Brice,” he demanded and lowered his mouth to my neck, treating my skin to delicate little kisses. Goose bumps raced over my shoulders. When the Billy club hit the ground, my entire body jolted.
“Officer Brice. We are going to have trick or treaters any time.” My words told him to stop, but my body arched to his touch.
“Then we’d better hurry.” From behind me, his hand broke the barrier of my prisoner’s costume and my panties in one swoop. Before I knew it, his finger dipped into my wetness.
“Ahh.” I winced the moment the words came out too loudly.
“Officer Brice needs you to not let the other inmates get jealous of the attention you’re receiving. Special treatment isn’t tolerated.” His wet finger found my clit and he wasn’t wasting time.
The rush of blood to my center caused my knees to buckle, and, as his other hand slid up to my breast, blood rushed into them. A low growl rumbled through his chest as he felt the heaviness and massaged the weight.
He nipped at my earlobe as his fingers pinched my nipple bringing me closer to exploding.
Arching my back into him, I could feel his hardness against me.
“I want you,” I whispered.
“That’s a negative prisoner,” he chuckled. “Come for me.”
Michael was my only lover…ever, and I thanked God that he was amazing. He had taught me how to orgasm, and as my body began to tighten, and my breaths grew short, he whispered again. “Anna, baby…come for me.”
He gently covered my mouth, ready for my initial release. As I cried out into his hand, my body greedily accepted his finger. Freeing my mouth, one strong arm circled my waist catching my weight as my knees gave way, allowing me to ride it out, even if it was his finger, zero pressure to hurry.
“Thank you,” I spoke softly slowly coming down from the high.
He removed his hands, adjusted my costume and brushed the softest of kisses over my lips.
“The pleasure was all mine, my love. We will finish when the warden goes to bed for the night.” He tilted his head toward Jack’s bedroom.
Within 20 minutes, our first trick or treaters were at the door and my eyes found Jack’s across the room, happiness radiating from the paralyzing blues he had inherited from his father. Adorable was the best way to describe him, dressed up like a lion and driving his mini tractor across a make believe field.
Michael had loaded the car and they were headed to the few friends and family requiring a visit and pictures of our little guy. This year was a far cry from the circus of Halloween last year with a cranky one-year-old.
As I waved from the overly decorated porch, two superheroes and a princess pranced up the sidewalk. The car lights faded down the street. According to the number of trick or treaters coming this way, the orange and purple strands of lights, the candle lit jack o lanterns, witches up in trees, all of it—this was the night this town lived for.
The candy bowl was nearly empty as I crashed in the recliner, turning out the porch light for the night. Jack’s toys were scattered over the floor, and I was too tired to pick them up.
The clock struck 10, and I shot a quick text to Michael.
Inmate 0125 is getting tired. Bring the warden home. Miss my boys. Xoxoxo
The chime of the doorbell brought my eyes open from the chair where I’d dozed. The candy bowl was on the end table and I grabbed it. When I opened the door, I became more alert and managed to smile at the two police officers.
” I joked wondering what Michael was up to.
“Ma’am can we come in?”
A sudden cold chill swept over me and the unexpected reality consumed my brain that this wasn’t Michael’s doing.
“Where are they? Where are they? WHERE ARE THEY?” Each repeated question getting louder.
“Ma’am. Sit down please.”
Instantly my hand shot up stopping them. Stopping their words. Stopping my world. “No! No! NO! NOO!”
The officer’s hands reached out for me, and I batted him away grabbing my phone to check for Michael’s text back. I shook my head. Then TJ walked through the door with somber eyes.
“They went trick or treating. Is it Michael?” I asked him.
“Anna,” TJ said.
“If it’s Michael, where is Jack?” I cried. “Are they at the hospital?” I reached for my purse and grabbed my car keys, but another officer gently took hold of my arm.
“Mrs. Brice. Listen to me. There has been an accident.”
“They’ll be ok though, right?”
TJ was there next to me. The disengaged expression he wore answered my question. The reflection in his eyes held no life and a funnel opened up beneath me. Thankfully, I began to spiral down. Somewhere in my subconscious, the desire lurked to know what happened. But nothing would change the outcome.
“What happened?” the words came out as I collapsed on the sofa.
“Anna…” he said softly.
“He’s dead isn’t he?” My eyes blurred with a mass of tears.
“Yes, Anna. He is.”
He caught me when I fell into his arms clinging to him for life. My fingers wound into his uniform as I tried to focus on his face through clouded vision.
“Jack?” my voice cracked and even the thought rocked my body with ferocious tremors.
The tightening of his eyes, him clenching them shut and just the simple shake of his head were too much to bear. Instantly, his arms caught me as my limbs…all of them…gave out completely.
“Nooooooo.” Agonizing wails wracked my entire being. My womb clenching in loss. My heart irrevocably crushed. My brain unable to handle the tragic news.
“Anna. Look at me,” TJ pleaded.
There was no strength in my neck so the ability to hold my head upright was impossible. With a sudden jerk, he cradled me into his arms.
“TJ, don’t man,” someone said from somewhere behind me.
“Anna look at me,” he ordered with my face trapped like a vise between his hands while my body rested on his lap. “I need you to come with me, ok? I need you to come down to the hospital.”
Bile screeched up the back of my throat at the thought of seeing them hurt in anyway. The thought of saying goodbye… I wanted to go too…with them. Be with them forever.
“Mrs. Brice. May we call someone for you?”
“My phone is in the bathroom,” I lied, the voice coming from my body—wasn’t mine. It was dead. Robotic. And I knew my phone was on the end table.
Once in the bathroom, I opened the bottle of Michael’s old hydrocodone from when he had kidney stones, emptied them into my palm, and then shoved them deep into my pocket. If they were gone, there was no doubt I wanted to be gone too. Then I grabbed my baby boy’s towel that hung near the sink, still damp from his earlier bath. The smell of baby clung to the cotton material along with Downy and Dreft, and as I slid to the floor, I smashed it to my nose committing every last smell to memory as I muffled my scream with the towel.
“Her phone is right here,” the officer hollered, panic in his tone.
“God damn it, get in there!” someone else shouted.
The crashing sound of the door bursting from it’s hinges brought my eyes open for a short second.
TJ stood in front of me his eyes flashing from mine to the empty, brown prescription bottle.
“Did you?” he asked, his voice cautious and slow.
“You shouldn’t be alone, come on,” he said holding out his hand to me.
The thought of touching another man—ever—was repulsive. But numbly I did as he asked. I’m not sure how, but I went with him.
One month. That’s how long I’d been in this miserable Mayberry-like town. Abandoning the city for this ho-hum place wasn’t as good of an idea as I’d originally thought, but working a four day workweek was a benefit. And bottom line…duty called.
Three other agents had been appointed to this sleepy assignment—and now I drew the short stick. After dumping two creams in my coffee, I thought about the dumbasses they’d assigned before me. Chuckling as I pictured 47-year-old Frank, with his wide brim glasses and monstrous nose. Did they really think she’d be attracted to him? Then there was Scott, the 35-year-old has-been. Maybe 10 years ago he could have fulfilled the job, but his rotund belly put him right on the “undateable” list. I patted my hard-earned six-pack as I stretched.
Lastly, Joseph. Closest thing to competition in the academy I’d ever had. My mouth watered with the taste of being successful with this job given that he had failed. He may beat me in size—though not by much—but I hands down kicked his ass when it came to looks. Three failed attempts at penetrating into this woman’s life. Still in my prime, beastly on all accounts and not afraid of a Goddamn thing—I would succeed.
I rubbed my eyes still working the sleep out of them. I’d hoped to engage her within a few days, get to the bottom of this case and get the hell out of here. Two more months—that would be my limit.
It was Friday. “Anna’s day” in my book. The day I followed her versus watching her from across the street. I caught a glance at my watch knowing she was always on time. One month…four Fridays…that’s the number of times I’d seen her come in, order her two drinks and leave—always—beautifully disheveled.
Not many women under the age of 40 in this dull town, something I didn’t consider when I agreed to my assignment here, but the exceptional pay was worth it.
As I took a sip of my hot coffee, she opened the door as if it was the heaviest door ever. The paper was always my cover to hide behind. I thumbed through it, just like the other Fridays.
Her hair always looked the same…some sort of messy updo, which I have to admit she wore well. Her pale face rarely varied in color and the dark circles beneath her eyes were always present.
The clothes she wore hid her figure well. Every item was oversized; she swam in the excessive material. As I watched her stand at the counter, I couldn’t help but wonder what her body was like beneath the gunnysack she wore.
“Hi, Anna,” the young guy taking orders said with a smile.
Her meager attempt to return the smile never touched her eyes.
“The usual?” he asked.
Her graceful air was intriguing…breathtaking in fact, yet her hollow eyes told a different story.
Today was the day I would make my move. I’d sat idle long enough, watching her every day from across the street at the construction site. Finally, it was time.
She held the $10 bill in her hand, and I watched, carefully measuring her response, when he told her.
“Anna. Your drinks are covered today. Someone already picked up the tab.” That would be me.
Confusion flitted across her pretty face.
“Do you…” She cleared her throat. “Do you know who? I’d like to thank them properly.”
“I think the person just wanted to see you smile.”
Nice job Jose. Exactly as I said.
No smile from her.
“Well. Tell them thank you.”
Jose nodded. “Here’s your latte and the kid’s hot chocolate,” he whispered.
As she turned to leave, her curious eyes scanned the room before becoming hollow once again. Baby steps. I wondered if she drank the kid’s drink or if she just tossed it in the trash.
Dressed in my khaki shorts and a T-shirt, I ventured out of my newly acquired country house with the big wrap-around porch and looked out at the setting sun. This house was going to be the toughest thing to give up.
Outside of the small pick up games of football at the high school, I hadn’t met many people. There was only one person who I intended to meet tonight and she was going to walk out of the library in less than 10 minutes. The note I’d left, with the ‘librarian’ Miranda, should be in Anna’s hand by now.
I stood a block from the library waiting for her. After studying her file, I knew I had to make my approach seem accidental. Once I saw her descend the stairs, I slowly made my way down the street that I knew she’d walk.
“Anna!” I heard the man’s voice.
I stepped behind a fence. “Shit,” I hissed beneath my breath.
The woman had little emotion in her tone, but dealing with a dickhead like him, who would?
“How about a movie?”
“You can. Anna. Please.”
She lowered her head. “I’m headed home, but thank you for this morning with the coffee. And the note.” She paused. “I want to smile. I do.”
“You’re welcome,” he said taking credit for my gestures.
“Can I come by? How about dinner? My treat.”
I peeked at her between the fence posts. Anxiety laced her features.
“TJ.” She breathed out his name as if she had no air left in her lungs.
He lifted her chin. “I just want to take care of you. To hold you,” he said and pulled her into his body. Her arms remained lifeless at her side while his wrapped her tiny frame…the rest of her remained stiff from his touch.
His arms fell to the side flatly. “Someday, Anna.” That was the only words he left her with when he turned and disappeared in the opposite direction.
Though that wee bit of interaction with TJ may have been all she could handle today, I’d at least try to catch her eye as I walked past.
Her eyes flickered up for a moment, a natural instinct when someone comes as close as I was…then her intimidated expression fell to her feet. Most women got caught up in my appearance, but she was having nothing to do with it.
“Excuse me,” I spoke.
Her deep brown, rounded eyes with long perfect lashes met mine…searching for life. “Yes?”
“I hear this town is a little whackadoodle over Halloween. I already see decorations going up,” I chuckled. “You seem my age…or close… I don’t know. Anyway...I’m sort of new. Anything you might recommend to do around this place beside Halloween decorations?” I offered her a shy smile and looked away myself.
Her brows scrunched together unsure of my motive.
She lifted the three books in her hand. “I read.”
“Ah! Hmm.” I held my hands out to the side as if they were two scales. “Read.” I shook my left hand. “Halloween decorations and drink.” I shook my right hand then raised them both up and down like I was measuring the weight of both.
Victory. She smiled.
“I’d go with the reading.” Her words so soft, it was hard to make it out.
“You know, I’m probably creeping you out. I’m sorry. I’m Adam Stroud.”
The darkness in her eyes lightened just a bit. “You’re not creeping me out, but do I know you?”
“Good. Um…no. You don’t know me, but I’m building the house across the street from you. And I couldn’t help but notice your house not being decorated while little decorations are going up all over town.”
“Yep. Gotta have things up and ready to power on by October 1
. After her exaggerated eye roll, I offered her my ornery grin.
“What’s this I hear? Someone doesn’t like this Halloween craziness?”
“No,” she said softly.
“Well, I do like that there is
other person who feels the same way I do about Halloween.” I smiled. “I won’t keep you any longer. Sorry if we wake you up too early with our pounding.” I winked and held my breath waiting for her response.
She shook her head and smiled again.
When she turned away from me, I didn’t want to push things, so I turned to head in the opposite direction.
“Adam?” she called after me.
“Yes?” I said too quickly as I stopped.
“Why do you not like Halloween?”
I shook my head pretending to shake away some bad thoughts. “Can I just say—difficult memories?”
Her mouth fell open just a bit as if my words had knocked the wind from her body.
“How about you?” I pressed already knowing the answer.
“The same,” she whispered with a flicker of hope in her eyes.
“Tell me your name,” I asked, keeping my distance.
Her chest expanded as she drew in breath.
Respectfully, I nodded. “Ms. Brice. Have a great day.”
Taking control, I turned away from her, leaving her standing there in a way I hoped worked to intrigue her further.