The Ghoul Next Door: A Ghost Hunter Mystery

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9780451240606: The Ghoul Next Door: A Ghost Hunter Mystery

On a well-deserved hiatus from the ghoulish grind of their TV show, Ghoul Getters, psychic medium M. J. Holliday, her boyfriend, Heath, and her best friend, Gilley, are back home in Boston. But there’s no rest for the weary ghost busters. M. J.’s ex comes to her for help—his fiancée’s brother Luke seems haunted by a sinister spirit.
 
The crew sets up surveillance cameras to watch for the possessive poltergeist while Luke is sleeping. But when he goes outside in the middle of the night and returns hours later covered in blood, they are all very concerned—especially when the news reports the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood.
 
Now M. J., Heath, and Gilley must remain self-possessed as they try to stop a wicked ghost whose behavior is anything but neighborly.

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About the Author:

Real-life professional psychic Victoria Laurie drew from her career as a gifted intuitive to create the characters of Abigail Cooper and M. J. Holliday. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ghost Hunter Mystery series, including What a Ghoul Wants, Ghoul Interrupted, and Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls, as well as the Psychic Eye Mystery series.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Being a psychic medium definitely has its downers. As a group, we’re a pretty haunted lot. (Yes, I went there. . . .) Many, if not most, of us had troubled childhoods that caused us to develop a sixth sense in order to cope. And I’m no exception. My mother died on an autumn morn­ing when I was eleven, and in his subsequent grief, my father turned to the bottle and his work. In many ways I lost both parents that day.

It took years, but Daddy finally let go of the grip he had on his daily half gallon of vodka and sought help. He’s been sober for about sixteen years now, but the re­sidual damage to our relationship remains. During my teenage years we fought constantly. In fact, I spent most of my junior and senior years of high school at my best friend Gilley Gillespie’s house, being looked after by Gil’s wonderful mother, who’d been treating me like one of her own from the moment my own mama passed away.

Things didn’t improve even after high school when Gil and I moved from Valdosta, Georgia, to Boston.

Daddy and I just couldn’t seem to make peace even with those twelve hundred miles separating us. And every visit back to Valdosta thereafter was torture for me—?­usually ending with an early flight home to Boston. Re­cently, however, that’s changed, and I can safely say that these days we’ve never gotten along better. Although that could be because we haven’t spoken to each other since I started showcasing my talents on TV.

Daddy was willing to tolerate my rather, as he put it, “disturbing” ability to talk to the dead as long as I didn’t make a public spectacle of myself. Nearly two years ago I’d done a cable special on haunted objects, and since then I’ve landed a nice contract working on my own ghostbusting cable TV series, called Ghoul Getters. News of my success on the airwaves spread like wildfire in Val­dosta, fueled no doubt by Mrs. Gillespie, who’s crazy proud of both Gilley and me. The consequences, however, are that now the only acknowledgments I get from Daddy are a Christmas present (picked out by his secretary) and a birthday card (also picked out by his secretary) with a check inside (probably forged by his secretary).

And as I brought the mail inside my office in Boston, so happy to be home again after a grueling four-­month filming schedule, my mood dampened the moment I saw the return address on a small package mixed in with the bills and ads.

“Well, I guess my birthday is next week,” I said with a sigh, passing through the inner lobby of the little office space I rent out on Mass Avenue, about three blocks away from my condo. After setting the other mail aside, I searched my desk for a pair of scissors.

“Come ’ere!” I heard a squeaky voice cry.

“In a sec, baby,” I replied.

“Come ’ere!” the voice insisted.

I ignored the command and fished around the drawer, finally coming up with the scissors, and began to care­fully cut through the package.

“Come ’ere! Come ’ere! Come ’ere!

I share my office (and my condo, and my life) with a feathered, red-­tailed African gray parrot named Doc—?­whom I’ve had since fifth grade. He’s adorably sweet, funny, and maybe a teensy bit demanding. “I’m busy, honey,” I told him.

Doc climbed along the bars to exit the little door of his cage and make it up to the roof—?­which houses a nice play stand, and where he could perch and have a better view of what I was fiddling with. “What do you do?” he asked. Doc speaks better English than most toddlers.

“Opening a package.” At this point I got the thing opened and managed to pull out a square black box with gold lettering on top, which indicated it’d come from one of the finer jewelry stores in Valdosta—?­my hometown. Lifting the lid, I sucked in a breath when I took notice of an absolutely beautiful gold charm bracelet with three charms—?­a golden parrot, a small happy ghost, and a heart. For a moment I just stared at the gift, completely taken by surprise. “What’re you up to?” Doc called, try­ing to get my attention again.

I realized I had my back to him, so I turned and lifted the beautiful bracelet up for him to see. He cocked his head curiously.

“What do you think?” I asked him.

Doc blew me a really good raspberry.

“Everyone’s a critic,” I laughed. But I went back to staring at the charm with a mixture of bewilderment and delight, while Doc added to the raspberry a long litany of clucks, whistles, and happy chirps.

Doc’s been with me since right after Mama died. My

paternal grandmother had given him to me after my mother’s passing to help bring me out of the terrible grief I was silently suffering.

The baby parrot was like a beacon of light in a world filled only with heartbreak. My mother had been the kindest, most wonderful and loving person I’d ever known, and her loss devastated me right into muteness. I spoke not one word for many months after her funeral. Even when I fell and broke a finger, I cried silently, un­able to free my vocal cords from the crushing weight of my grief. Doc changed all that. Like a phoenix he pulled me from the ashes, and slowly, with his help and love of mimicry, I healed and started talking again. But the chatty, charming bird seemed to have no effect on Daddy. And I’ll never understand why, but right from the start Daddy had seemed to resent my delightful pet. In fact, he’d tol­erated Doc a lot like he’d tolerated my ability to talk to dead people . . . ?as in he’d barely tolerated him at all.

So, opening Daddy’s gift to reveal something so lovely and thoughtful as a parrot charm and a ghost charm was a real surprise. And the heart was also an out-­of-­character choice from Daddy. He just wasn’t sentimental or out­wardly emotive. He was more like a closed door that I’d long since given up knocking on.

For a second I thought that it simply must have been his secretary’s choice, but she’d never shown one shred of sensitivity for me. Previous gifts were simplistic items, like a pair of candlesticks, or a paperweight, or a picture frame. I’d long thought of Daddy’s secretary of twenty years, Willamina, as a harsh, cold woman who preferred dressing all in black except for the bloodred lipstick she coated her thin lips with.

Her style made her look as if she were perpetually in mourning, and given how my mother’s death had turned

Daddy into such a terribly cold and bitter person, I found some irony in that.

At last I tore my eyes away from the charm and fished around inside the envelope it’d come in, finding a card there too. I opened it to read a lovely handwritten note in beautiful cursive, wishing me the happiest of birthdays and hoping to catch up soon. The handwriting wasn’t anyone’s I recognized, but the signature was clearly Daddy’s. And not the forged signature of his secretary, but Daddy’s real scraggly scrawl, which added even more mystery to the gift.

I moved to my desk and sat down, because I needed to sit down. Slipping the bracelet on, I stared at it and won­dered first what was going on with Daddy, and second, how should I respond to such a lovely, thoughtful gift?

The average normal person would’ve immediately picked up the phone to call and thank her father for the kindness, but as you may have guessed, I’m not exactly normal. There were too many years of missed opportu­nities, broken promises, harsh words, and judgmental attitudes to be swept aside by a bit of precious metal.

Still, after taking off the bracelet to set it gently back inside the box, I did reach for the phone. “Sweet baby Jesus, gurl! Why’re you calling me so early?” Gilley an­swered by way of greeting.

“I got a birthday package from Daddy,” I said, getting right to the point.

Gilley yawned, and I could imagine him bleary-­eyed and mop-­headed, tangled in his bedcovers. “Let me guess: This year’s check is for two hundred, right?”

“No. It’s not a check.”

“His secretary just sent a card? Jeez, M.J., why does that man even bother anymore? I’ll call Ma. She’ll make sure you get a nice present on your birthday.”

I smiled. Mrs. Gillespie had been making sure I re­ceived lovely gifts on my birthday for twenty-­two years now, and she never needed prompting from her son, ei­ther. “No, Gil, you don’t understand. Daddy sent me a really nice gift.”

That won me another yawn. “Black leather gloves?”

“A solid gold charm bracelet with three charms: a par­rot, a heart, and a little Casper ghost.”

Gilley was silent for about five seconds. “Is your dad sick?”

I leaned back in my chair and threw an arm over my eyes. “I have no idea. We haven’t spoken in almost a year and a half.”

“Leave it to me,” Gil said. “I’ll call Ma and get the scoop.” Mrs. Gillespie was tied to all the gossip in our hometown.

I hung up with Gilley but kept my arm over my eyes. What if Daddy was sick? What if he was really sick? I knew that with my abilities I could probably find out the answer, but I was too chicken. There was a part of me that didn’t want to know, because I’d already lived through one parent’s terminal illness, and it’d nearly been my undoing.

Doc began singing a Village People song and I knew he was trying to coax me out of the distressed state I was in, but my mind was going in circles and I couldn’t pay attention to him at the moment. Instead I turned my chair around, propped my feet up on the windowsill, and went back to laying my arm over my eyes. After working for much of the last year in the middle of the night, I find that I think better in the dark.

“M.J.? Are you all right?” a voice asked several min­utes later.

With Doc’s singing and my whirling mind I hadn’t heard the front door open. What’s more, as I stiffened

and sat up in the chair, I realized I recognized that voice. The day suddenly went from disconcerting to crazy weird. Turning slowly to the front, I took in the tall, dark, and incredibly handsome man standing in my doorway and had to work hard to appear calm and nonchalant. “Hello, Steven,” I said. “What brings you by?”

My ex-­boyfriend smiled in that way that’d always made my heart quicken . . . ?okay . . . ?still makes my heart quicken. Also, the bastard had the gall to smell really good too. “How’ve you been?” he asked, his voice deep and rich, like a great cup of coffee.

I felt my head bobbing. “Good . . . ?good. You?”

“Good.”

“Good.”

There was a bit of an awkward pause and then the door opened again and in walked my current boyfriend, Heath—?­who also happens to be rather tall, dark, and seriously hunky.

Things went from awkward and weird to Are you kid­ding me, universe?

Heath said nothing; he simply came in wearing a smile, took one look at Steven, darted his eyes to me, back to Steven, then back to me as if to say, “Seriously?”

I pretended not to notice. Oh, and I also held in the urge to run out of there as fast as my feet could carry me. “Steven, you remember Heath. Heath—?­Steven. ­Steven—?­Heath.”

The two surveyed each other with narrowed eyes and forced smiles. I had a moment to compare the two of them side by side and it occurred to me that as similar as they are in the basics of black hair, dark eyes, and tall stature, they’re still strikingly different. Steven’s shoul­ders are broad and his chest is very defined, while his legs are very long. His face is also distinctly European in structure with a wide brow and square features, while

Heath’s face is very angled with high cheekbones and deep-­set eyes. His frame is also more proportional and corded with lean muscle. In other words, neither was the kind of guy you’d kick out of bed for eating crackers . . . ?at least not until after you’d had your way with him.

While the men stared each other down, I cleared my throat and shuffled a few things around on my desk, and that’s when Heath must’ve noticed the charm bracelet I’d set back in the box. “What’s that?” he demanded, pointing to the box on my desk. “You giving her presents now, Sable?”

Steven’s brow furrowed. “Pardon?”

Hastily I put the top of the box back on to cover the gift. “It’s from my father, Heath,” I explained quickly.

“For your birthday,” Steven said with a knowing nod. “That was nice of him.”

I noticed Heath paled a little. “Today’s your birth­day?” he blurted out; then his face flushed red. “I mean, yeah, totally. Happy birthday, honey! I came to take you to a birthday breakfast!” Glancing back at Steven, he said, “My gift’s in the car.”

Steven smiled (a bit evilly, I thought). “Her birthday is next week, Whitefeather. The eleventh. Might want to mark that down on your calendar.”

“What brings you by, Steven?” I nearly screeched, desperate to change the topic before this came to blows, and judging by the furious expression on Heath’s face—?­we weren’t far from that.

Steven and Heath glared at each other for a few more seconds before my ex turned back to me and said, “I need your help.”

“With what?”

“A haunting.”

That took me by surprise . . . ?much like the entire morn­ing. I waved at a chair and he came forward and took the

seat directly across from me. Heath grabbed the other chair and brought it around the desk to park it right next to mine. I held in a sigh, hoping there’d be no suggestion from either of them of lowered zippers and a measuring tape before the conversation was at an end. “Where?” I asked, pulling a pad forward to write on.

“It’s not a where,” Steven said, and for the first time I could see that his eyes were lined with worry. “It’s a who.”

I blinked. “Who what?” (I may have been a little off my game from all the testosterone fumes.)

Steven shifted in his seat, and I suddenly noticed how nervous he was. Coming to me hadn’t been something he’d done on a whim. He’d had to talk himself into it. “It’s not a place that’s haunted. It’s a person. My fian­cée’s brother. We think he’s possessed.”

“Your fiancée?” I gasped at the same time that Heath said, “He’s possessed?”

Heath turned narrowed eyes on me while the corners of Steven’s mouth quirked, and that rather big ego that’d been a part of the reason I’d left him came shining to life again. “Yes. To both of you,” he said. (But I thought he looked a bit smugly at me.)

“Well . . . ?er . . . ,” I sputtered, doodling large circles on the notepad while I tried to collect myself. (He was get­ting married? We’d only been broken up for a few months! What the hell?) “Congratulations!” I said. Per­haps a bit too enthusiastically.

“Why do you think this guy’s possessed?” Heath asked.

Steven sighed and rubbed the stubble on his chin. “You have to see it to believe it,” he said. “But I’m telling you, there is a ghost haunting this young man. My fian­cée, Courtney, can tell you about it better than me. I’d like to introduce you if you’re interested in taking on the case.”

“Possession isn’t exactly our area of expertise,” I said. No way was I getting involved in this. (Okay, so really, no way was I meeting his fiancée!)

“It wouldn’t hurt to meet her and talk about it,” Heath said, never once turning his face away from Ste­ven. “Is Courtney nearby?”

I felt my posture stiffen. Again the corners of Steven’s mouth quirked. “She’s at work at the hospital.”

Now my smile was forced. “Oh? Is she a candy striper or something?”...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. On a well-deserved hiatus from the ghoulish grind of their TV show, Ghoul Getters, psychic medium M. J. Holliday, her boyfriend, Heath, and her best friend, Gilley, are back home in Boston. But there s no rest for the weary ghost busters. M. J. s ex comes to her for help--his fiancee s brother Luke seems haunted by a sinister spirit. The crew sets up surveillance cameras to watch for the possessive poltergeist while Luke is sleeping. But when he goes outside in the middle of the night and returns hours later covered in blood, they are all very concerned--especially when the news reports the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood. Now M. J., Heath, and Gilley must remain self-possessed as they try to stop a wicked ghost whose behavior is anything but neighborly. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780451240606

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. On a well-deserved hiatus from the ghoulish grind of their TV show, Ghoul Getters, psychic medium M. J. Holliday, her boyfriend, Heath, and her best friend, Gilley, are back home in Boston. But there s no rest for the weary ghost busters. M. J. s ex comes to her for help--his fiancee s brother Luke seems haunted by a sinister spirit. The crew sets up surveillance cameras to watch for the possessive poltergeist while Luke is sleeping. But when he goes outside in the middle of the night and returns hours later covered in blood, they are all very concerned--especially when the news reports the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood. Now M. J., Heath, and Gilley must remain self-possessed as they try to stop a wicked ghost whose behavior is anything but neighborly. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780451240606

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. On a well-deserved hiatus from the ghoulish grind of their TV show, Ghoul Getters, psychic medium M. J. Holliday, her boyfriend, Heath, and her best friend, Gilley, are back home in Boston. But there s no rest for the weary ghost busters. M. J. s ex comes to her for help--his fiancee s brother Luke seems haunted by a sinister spirit. The crew sets up surveillance cameras to watch for the possessive poltergeist while Luke is sleeping. But when he goes outside in the middle of the night and returns hours later covered in blood, they are all very concerned--especially when the news reports the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood. Now M. J., Heath, and Gilley must remain self-possessed as they try to stop a wicked ghost whose behavior is anything but neighborly. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780451240606

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Descrizione libro Signet. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Mass Market Paperback. 352 pages. Dimensions: 6.7in. x 4.2in. x 1.1in.On a well-deserved hiatus from the ghoulish grind of their TV show, Ghoul Getters, psychic medium M. J. Holliday, her boyfriend, Heath, and her best friend, Gilley, are back home in Boston. But theres no rest for the weary ghost busters. M. J. s ex comes to her for helphis fiances brother Luke seems haunted by a sinister spirit. The crew sets up surveillance cameras to watch for the possessive poltergeist while Luke is sleeping. But when he goes outside in the middle of the night and returns hours later covered in blood, they are all very concernedespecially when the news reports the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood. Now M. J. , Heath, and Gilley must remain self-possessed as they try to stop a wicked ghost whose behavior is anything but neighborly. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Mass Market Paperback. Codice libro della libreria 9780451240606

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