Authors: Stacey Kennedy
Blush sensuality level: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type).
Ghosts harass and annoy Tess to save their souls. Sometimes she helps them. Other times she ignores them. But one ghost will give her no choice. Kipp, a former cop with the Memphis Police Department, will stop at nothing to gain her help, including using his ghostly charms to seduce her.
Tess must help solve the five-year-old cold case of Hannah Reid’s disappearance, because solving the case will save Kipp. But a bigger problem presents itself. Tess is falling in love with a ghost. Now she must decide. Keep Kipp forever, or find the killer.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Supernaturally Kissed Copyright © 2011 Stacey Kennedy
Edited by Briana St. James
Cover design by Dar Albert
Photography: Krivenko; fotosav/Shutterstock.com
Electronic book publication December 2011
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned in this book.
The publisher does not have any control over, and does not assume any responsibility for, author or third-party Web sites or their content.
To Bookish Snob, for being her fabulous self!
Huge thanks to Sara Brookes, Aileen Fish, Gina Gordon and Rebecca Royce, who all took time out of their busy schedules to beta read Tess and Kipp’s story.
Big hugs go out to my editor, Briana St. James, for making my work shine. Also I need to send a shout out to Kelli Collins for the warm welcome to Ellora’s Cave.
Thank you, Dar Albert, for the amazing cover! And also, kisses go out to my agent, Lauren Ruth, who always cheers me on!
As always, I’d like to thank my readers for their support of my stories and me. You make me strive to write better, work harder and keep on writing.
An icy wisp of air swept in behind me, causing my heel to twist as I stumbled. To the other pedestrians striding along the downtown Memphis street, the sensation would be brushed off as a cold breeze.
They were wrong. A spirit lingered here.
“Can you hear me?”
From the intrigue rolling in his voice, he hadn’t expected me to acknowledge him.
I’d already given myself away. A mistake I’d rectify.
Without hesitation, I righted my stance and strode forward with purpose, forcing myself to remain deaf to the voice. If I ignored ghosts long enough, they moved on and searched out someone else who held the same irritating ability, whom I had yet to meet.
Much to my annoyance, the ghost stayed right on my heels and his presence remained strong behind me. The cold air at my back remained a contrast to the warm morning air in front of me. Every hair on my neck stood up and goose bumps pimpled a trail along my skin. If only I could rub them away, but I didn’t dare. Ignoring him would make him go away.
“You can hear me, can’t you?” the ghost asked again.
Spirits were typically harmless, but annoying.
I’m dead, what’s going on, why am I a ghost—yada, yada, yada.
I quickened my steps and made my way down Peabody Place in hopes he’d leave me alone.
He sounded desperate, which meant a big headache for me. If I hadn’t worn my damn slingbacks, I would’ve tried to run and hide. But the three-inch Manolos and the tight, tailored gray skirt restrained my movements.
I passed Miss Polly’s Soul Food Café, and the delicious aroma of bacon and eggs drifted along the air. My empty stomach complained. My only thought after I woke had been caffeine. Now I wished I’d grabbed a muffin with my latté at Starbucks. With ten minutes to get to my desk, I couldn’t worry about such things.
My boss, Event Manager Dylan Cobb, would hand me my ass if I stepped into the office a minute late. Sadly, there’d never been a day I didn’t cater to his every need.
I approached Beale Street and sighed in relief, relishing the warmth surrounding me. Not only from the sun above—the spirit’s cold presence at my back had vanished. Pleased my dodge had worked, I took a sip of my energy in a cup and smiled. Coffee’s fantastic, the ghost is gone—life is good.
Another block passed under my heels before I reached the historical red-brick building. Randall Marketing, written in black block letters, decorated the striped green-and-white awning.
I opened the door to the office and strode in, greeted by a bubbly voice. “Good morning, Tess.”
“Give me a moment here.” Doris shuffled paperwork around her desk, her auburn curls bouncing on her shoulders. The receptionist had always been messy, yet somehow organized. “There were a few messages on the voicemail for you.” She raised her head and held out the pink slips of paper. “A lovely day today, is it not?”
“Sure is.” So I lied. The ghost hadn’t kicked off my day on a high note. Not as if I’d tell her about my interaction with spirits. My ability to converse with spirits remained on a need-to-know basis, and as far as it concerned me, no one needed to know. I grabbed the messages from her hand. “Did your weekend treat you good?”
“I spent the entire weekend knee-deep in my garden.” Her cocoa-colored eyes lit up. “My best year ever, I’m hoping. You’ll have to come out and have a look-see.”
“I’d love to.” Doris treasured her gardens, so I tried to appear interested, even though my green thumb looked black.
Her smile brightened, but when the phone rang, she waved a goodbye and answered the call. “It’s another beautiful day here at Randall Marketing, how may I direct your call?”
Leaving her behind, I strode down the hall toward my office and sipped my coffee. The warmth slid down my throat and provided an immediate rush to my energy levels. At the third door on the right, I entered my bleak workspace with its pale-blue walls, closed the door behind me and approached the desk. I dropped down into the black leather chair and flipped through the messages. None were urgent enough to worry about now.
I powered up my computer, but a knock at the door had me glancing up. Before I got a word out, the door swished open and I cringed, fully aware of the looming trouble.
Caley, the officer manager and my best friend since the age of four, looked like a typical Barbie. Perfect skin, long flowing blonde hair and a body men drooled over. I might have been jealous of her perfection since I couldn’t pull off her looks even with a makeover—so maybe a little envious—but her appearance had always been a front. She was the devil in disguise.
She scowled, shutting the door behind her with a slam. “Do you mind explaining where you were all weekend?”
“At home.” I batted my lashes. “Why? Did you try to call me?”
She pointed her finger, narrowing her eyes at me. “Don’t you try that shit on me. I called you all weekend and your phone went straight to voicemail.”
“Hmm…” I pretended to ponder. “The battery must have died.” She had enough gall to just come over, but the little hint had been a subtle way of telling Caley to leave me alone.
“Liar.” She plopped down in the seat across from my desk. “Where were you? I wanted to go out.”
“Nowhere. Honestly, I vegged on the couch.”
Caley snorted. “You lead such an exciting life.”
My mouth parted to offer a snappy retort, but a cold wisp of air brushed across my skin, causing my lips to snap shut. Damn! I thought I’d got rid of him.
“Hello.” Caley snapped her fingers in front of my face. “Leave the aliens behind and return to Mother Earth.”
I blinked, trying to force my attention back to her, yet failing. The ghost knelt right beside Caley—not kneeling, of course; more like floating, since ghosts were never able to obtain physical contact with the world around them—and my focus held strong on him, unable to stop myself from ogling. He stared intently, with one crystal-blue eye, while the other was a chocolate color. His strong jaw, the muscles clenching along his cheeks, all spoke of power. But as he ran his hand through his untidy sandy-colored hair, his expression showed playfulness. His black tank top left his arms exposed and muscles upon muscles layered those arms.
“Anyways,” she said, dragging my gaze back to her. “I had to go out with Susanne because you left me high and dry.”
I laughed. Caley’s horny, twenty-year-old stepsister had the body that men chased after. “You did have the option to stay home, you know.”
Her eyes widened. “On a Saturday night?”
“Yeah, you know, get some popcorn, watch a movie and relax.”
She frowned. “If you don’t stop your grandma behavior, your va-jay-jay is going to shrivel up and die.”
The ghost chuckled.
His smooth laugh hit me like a cup of warm cocoa, causing my insides to melt. Nothing amused me. First off, Caley had been so wrong—maybe a little right—but I’d never admit to her accuracy aloud. Second, reacting in such a heated way to a ghost definitely didn’t hit my to-do list today.
“Excuse me.” I spoke not only to Caley, but also to the irritating ghost. “My va-jay-jay is just fine.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear you’ve still got some spunk.” She stood and placed her hands on her hips. “Because we’ve got a double date tonight.”
“A what?” Dear God!
She grinned from ear to ear. “Yes, my dearest Grammy, we’re going out.”
“Two guys I met on Saturday night. You’re coming with me, either willingly or unwillingly, so suck up your hesitations, babe, because saying no isn’t an option.”
“But it’s a Monday night.” Not saying a date didn’t sound like fun. A month had passed since my last attempt at dating—which failed miserably—but a man Caley chose while drunk? No thanks. My sex life might have been as dead as the sexy ghost in front of me, but I’d still search for a way out. “I have to work tomorrow.”
She wagged her finger in classic Caley fashion. “You’re a grandma.”
Most times, I respected her persistent personality. She never backed down, always dreamed big and went for the gold, but her grit hadn’t been all rays of sunshine. Her determination made her annoyingly tenacious. I had to agree or she’d never give up, and getting her out of my office sounded all too good. “Fine. I’ll go with you.”
“Oh, stop looking so pissy. We’ll have fun. Promise. I’ll come to your place at eight.” She opened the door, glanced over her shoulder and winked. “Leave the granny panties at home.”
* * * * *
The day came and went. My head pounded, not because my boss had been as demanding as any two-year-old, which he did often, but because the ghost hadn’t shut up. The past hours, even after I returned home to get ready for tonight, he’d tried his best to gain my attention. Good thing I’m great at tuning people—ghosts—out, or I would’ve caved after hour two.
“I’m not leaving until you admit you can hear me,” the ghost said.
With a flick of my shag-cut brown hair—that actually didn’t give me any trouble tonight—to dismiss him, I strode next to Caley, heading back toward the downtown core. Dressed in my low-riding, dark wash jeans and blue plaid three-quarter-length-sleeve top, tied to leave my midriff exposed, at least I looked half decent while I suffered through the embarrassing blind date.
The ghost’s tone came a little louder and more abrupt. “Dammit, woman! Will you stop ignoring me? It’s annoying.”
I’m annoying him?
I nearly laughed at the ridiculous notion, but did not intend to give myself away. I’d held strong for nine hours. Soon, he’d catch the drift and piss off.
Caley knocked my arm. “Will you stop looking so tight assed?”
I glanced away from the sidewalk and smiled at her. “My ass is tight.” Okay, not eighteen-year-old tight, but only twenty-five now, I worked hard to keep things tight.
She chuckled. “You’re…”
“Damn right, you do, sweet cheeks,” the ghost said.
Caley stopped dead in her tracks, which caused me to stumble. “What’s got you blushing?”
I righted my stance, raised my hand to my face and, to my horror, my cheeks were warm. “I’m not blushing. I-I-I’m hot.”
“Unless you somehow turned into a lesbian and have fallen for your best friend, you’re acting weird.”
“I do love you.” At her widened eyes, I laughed. “But I don’t want you in the sack. Seriously, I’m just hot.”
The ghost’s voice deepened. “Ah, a way to grab your attention, I see.”
The little purr hanging off his tone made my stomach flip-flop. Clearly, I craved some attention and needed to get some in a bad way if I reacted in such a heated way to a non-living person.
I shoved the ridiculous reaction away and focused back on Caley, falling into stride with her. “Who’s the guy I’m hooking up with tonight?”
“He’s just your type.” She wiggled her brows. “You’re going to thank me later.”
“What do you mean my type?” I liked men, all types of them, and I’d never confine my options into a little box. Caley had apparently taped the box shut and shipped the package.
“He’s a pro baseball player and is home visiting his family for a couple days.”
“A pro, huh?” Maybe I had fooled myself into believing I didn’t have a type, because hearing baseball player made my interest rise. Images of skintight white pants and a scrumptious ass filled my mind.
“Yeah, he’s got the looks too.” She nudged her shoulder into mine. “And the money.”
“Women,” the ghost muttered.
I ignored the ghost like the ghost he was, turned onto Beale Street and Coyote Ugly Saloon appeared. A line of people outside meant an hour of waiting. Not as if I thought we’d have to wait. I had Caley with me, after all.
She snatched up my hand, yanking me forward, and hurried her steps. “Brandon,” she called out.
Two men turned toward her, and evidently, Caley knew my type better than I did, since either of the men would have fallen into the fantasy category.
“I’m so glad y’all came,” Brandon said.
Caley gave one of her pageant smiles. “We’re glad you asked us to come.”
“You must be Tess.”
I glanced toward hunk number two. He held the typical all-American look—brown hair, blue-eyed, charming smile, and with his dimple, I suspected he could woo his way into anyone’s bed. Maybe even mine if he played his cards right tonight.
“Nice to meet you.” I ogled his trim body and handsome face and caught sight of the big white D on his navy-blue hat. “You play for Detroit?”
He nodded. “Both Brandon and I do. We were lucky enough to get a little time off to see the family.”
“Figures, Detroit sucks,” the ghost said.
I smiled, keeping my focus on Trent, ignoring the annoyingly sexy voice by my ear.
“Come on, let’s go get a drink.” Caley wrapped her arm in Brandon’s and approached the bouncer. If one good thing came from her charismatic pushy attitude, she’d always been quite the social butterfly. No one, including me, ever said no to her.
“Did you grow up here in Memphis?” I asked Trent.