Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 236 pages
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Spinning Hills, Ohio, home of the third most haunted street in the state, is the perfect place for three sisters to banish the unhappy specters of their pasts—and to let romance cast its spell . . .
Gracie Piper is good at being invisible, and she likes it that way. At just seventeen, she took a very public stand against the boy who passed a revealing video of her all over school. Ever since, she’s staked her life on staying out of the limelight. But when she moves back to Spinning Hills, she comes face to face with her painful past. In the same historic building Gracie’s boss has assigned her to supervise renovating works the man who helped her find justice nine years ago, and nearly lost his own career in the process. A man who suddenly arouses feelings that make Gracie weak in the knees . . .
Josh Goodwin is sure he’s seeing a ghost when he spots Gracie in the halls of his office building. Taking her case was a professional risk that became all too personal when a bitter ex accused him of getting involved with teenage Gracie. Seeing her again is opening old wounds, and threatening brand-new ones—his campaign for County Prosecutor won’t withstand a brand-new scandal. But there’s something about sweet, gorgeous Gracie that brings out the crusader in him—and the thing he’ll fight hardest for is her love . . .
“Are you one of our courthouse ghosts?” he asked. Humor some- times did the trick with kids.
It was a pitiful and honest yes. Josh was silent for a moment, too. Whoever was behind the door had something to hide, but he’d bet his career she wasn’t a menace. Still, it was his duty to get to the bottom of whatever was going on. Some leader he would be if he simply left. “Look, there’s no lock on this door. Nothing has prevented me from opening it. I’ve been trying to give you a chance, and I hope that shows you that you have nothing to fear from me. But it’s my responsibility to open this door and find out what’s going on.”
The door abruptly swung open and Josh instinctively moved to the side. He peered in and went cold all over. All he could do was stare.
It was a ghost.
As much as she’d done to change her appearance, Gracie knew he instantly recognized her. Everything about him registered shock. It was as if he was frozen in place. She swallowed hard but was unable to get past the lump in her throat. He looked exactly the way she remembered him—spiky and mussed-up brown hair, sparkling dark eyes, and a handsome face. Tall. An athletic build that filled out his fitted suit. He looked the same, but her reaction was new. A jolt of heat infused her from head to toe the instant she looked at him. Embarrassment, most likely.
She hesitated before saying, “Hello, Mr. Goodwin.” The title Mr. sounded strange to her ears. He looked almost her age, though she knew he was a little over seven years older.
He’d been twenty-four and she’d been seventeen when they’d first met nine years ago. He, fresh out of law school. She, a high school senior.
She pushed her glasses up and avoided his eyes. “Actually, I go by Grace Dearborn now.” It was imperative they got that straight.
She forced herself to glance at him again. He’d straightened, but he was still staring. “What are you doing hiding in a closet?” he finally asked.
Something in her bristled. Not at him but at herself. She hadn’t been prepared to see him, but it wouldn’t do to start off on unequal footing. She was twenty-six. She was a professional. And she’d been caught hiding in a closet.
Pushing past her reluctance to speak, she took a quick, deep breath and gathered her wits to start afresh. “Surely you’re aware of the extensive remodeling project that will begin here in three months? The firm I work for, Midwest Workplace Design, is in charge, and I’m the lead workplace designer.” She turned and pretended to study the closet. “I’m—I’m checking everything out. Including the closets.” “Workplace designer, huh,” he stated with a short nod. “Creative yet logical. It fits. I wondered how you’d find something that utilized all your talents.” Not yet ready to face Josh’s intrinsic kindness, she merely shrugged a little. “And you’ve been checking out the supply closet this entire time?” he continued.
When she chanced another glance at him, he was wearing a play- ful smile. Another thunderbolt hit her, and this time it left her breath- less. That was new, too. And it hadn’t been embarrassment. Fear, maybe? No, she could never fear Josh. . . .
She straightened her shoulders, hoping to look confident. “There’s a lot to consider. People don’t want to waste valuable time when they come in here looking for supplies. Organization should be logical. The most-often-used necessities should be easiest to both find and access, preferably at eye level . . .” she went on, repeating things she’d heard a closet organizer they worked with say, before finally trailing off and clearing her throat.
Everything she was feeling was awareness, she admitted with a sinking feeling. Something she hadn’t felt in years but she remembered well. For her, it would forever be entwined with deep, devastating feelings of betrayal and distrust. Their eyes met and she took a step back. He must’ve noted it because his smile faltered and he took a step back, too. “You can come out, Gracie.”
Correcting him once more didn’t feel as important as it usually did. Gracie sounded okay coming from him. The way it still sounded good coming from family. Josh Goodwin had been honorable. One of the few men she knew she could trust, even though she hadn’t seen him in years. Maybe that was what her awareness was about. Eternal feelings of gratitude. Plus, seeing him again was unsettling, though not unexpected. But as her internal reasoning rambled on, her still-sinking stomach told her that wasn’t all there was to it.
It was all too much for her to try to figure out right there and then. She stepped out and caught the quick, up-and-down glance he gave her, and it made her take stock of what she looked like. Pale blond hair done up in a stylish yet no-nonsense bun. Olive pencil skirt. Low-heeled, knee-high boots. Off-white, fashionably bulky sweater. Peach-colored frames on her trendy glasses. Nude makeup. Fashion- able enough to look like she could fit the creative role she played, but nondescript enough to fade away and not draw attention.
“Who are you hiding from, Gracie?” he asked, looking straight into her eyes. There was warmth there. And she couldn’t handle it.
“I’m hiding from disruptions,” she answered and began walking down the hallway ahead of him, a mistake that left her feeling awkward and exposed. “I’m taking everything in. Silence and stillness is a must. Tomorrow my team and I will start observing everyone at work and begin asking questions so we can incorporate everyone’s needs into the design. Tonight, I needed to be alone.” She came to a stop at the end of the hallway and cast him a quick, over-the-shoulder glance, to see if he’d caught the small hint. It was obvious he had, but there was now pity in his eyes. Her cheeks heated up.
Josh set down his briefcase while he shrugged into his light coat. She was dismissing him and it was just as well. They were both uncomfortable.
Gracie, on the eve of his announcement. It was a worst-case scenario. The case that had defined his career had also almost derailed it, thanks to the lies and vitriol of both the people Gracie had been up against and the important people Josh had defied: a group he had once belonged to. It always brought up mixed feelings. Gratitude that he’d been saved from a meaningless life but also the sickening feel- ing that justice and honesty didn’t always win.
When Gracie turned to him, he was again taken aback by how much she’d changed—or rather, how much her experience must’ve changed her. I’m hiding from disruptions . . .
A ghost of the girl she’d once been. She’d even changed her last name. He picked up his briefcase again and stretched his right arm out to shake her hand. “I don’t know what to say. It’s nice to meet you, Grace Dearborn. We sorely need the renovations and updates your firm has been hired to do. But I’d like to talk to Gracie Piper someday to find out how she wound up where she is. I often wonder about her, you know.” And with that, he turned and left.
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Inés Saint was born in Zaragoza, Spain. She’s bilingual and bicultural and has spent the last ten years raising her fun, inspiring little boys and sharing her life with the man of her dreams, who also happens to be her best friend and biggest cheerleader. Her greatest joys are spending quality time with family and close friends.
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