Blissful's adventures continue in Mistletoe and Spirits.
Now that she and Roan are engaged, everything should go smoothly, right? Wrong. When a mischievous spirit threatens to ruin their holiday, it will take Blissful and her gang of old lady ghosthunters a lot of work to bring this ghost to heel. Can they do it?
Release date: November 15, 2020
Publisher: LADYBUGBOOKS LLC
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Mistletoe and Spirits
“Should the little ghosts be hung on the top or the bottom?”
They were probably the stupidest words ever to have come out of my mouth and I regretted saying them as soon as they slipped off my tongue.
Roan smirked. “Is that a real question, Blissful?”
I lifted the strand of light bulbs shaped like ghosts and pointed to the live Douglas fir that Roan Storm, my fiancé, had just stood up in one corner of the inn that he owned and operated.
“You’re the one with the Christmas lights shaped like Casper,” I told him. “They’re your decorations. I’m just putting them on the tree.”
“That sounds an awful lot like you’re saying I’m not the person in charge.” He took the strand from my hand. His fingers slid over my flesh making my skin pop and sizzle. “I thought this was a group effort.”
I stared at him blankly. “It’s just a Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure no one is in charge.”
Alice Cassidy, a short squat woman who wore glasses and liked to bake, entered the room with a string of white lights wrapped around her chest. “Help! Somebody help!”
Ruth Biggs, my tall geriatric friend with a bun on top of her head, sailed in behind Alice. “What in the world happened to you?”
“I found a box of lights. They were right where Roan said they would be, in the hall closet. I went to get them out and fell in.” Alice glanced at us sheepishly. “I don’t know how it happened. I just lost my balance.”
Ruth shook her head. “It’s that blood pressure medicine you’re taking. I told you that you need to talk to the doctor about it.”
Alice wiggled her shoulders but she was stuck fast. “Help! I fell in a box of lights and can’t get them off.”
“Calm down,” Ruth said. “This isn’t a commercial for an emergency alert bracelet.”
Alice’s face brightened. “Should we call the system? I have my alert necklace on.”
Ruth reached out and tugged on a cord that was indeed wrapped around Alice’s neck. “Alice Cassidy, when did you go and buy such a contraption?”
Ruth said it in such a way that Alice’s bright expression dimmed. “Why, the salesman came around last week and that’s when I signed up.”
“You’ve never fallen a day in your life,” Ruth said. “Except for now, that is, and that’s only because you’re on too high a dose of medicine.”
“You’re not a doctor,” Alice shot out.
“I’m close enough,” Ruth snapped.
Alice had no argument for that except to return to her original conversation about falling. “But what if I do topple over and break my hip? What do I do then?”
“Then you’ll call me and I’ll come over with a shovel and scrape you off the floor.”
Alice did not look convinced. “You aren’t strong enough. Besides, what if I can’t reach my phone? How will I contact you?”
“Need I remind you that we work together? If you don’t show up or call, I’ll know something’s wrong immediately.”
Alice considered this but opened her mouth to argue. “What if it happens on a weekend? We don’t work Saturday and Sunday.”
Ruth pointed a thin finger at her. “I see you every Saturday. That’s when we play Bingo at the Elk’s, and every Sunday we go to First Baptist together. I see you every day, Alice. If something happened to you, I would know. You don’t need some GPS tracker around your neck. That’s what the government wants, to keep tabs on us day and night.”
I rolled my eyes as Roan handed me another strand of ghost lights.
He leaned over and whispered, “May I remind you that this was your idea, to invite Ruth and Alice?”
“At the time I thought it was a good one.”
Mischief sparkled in his eyes. “Do you know what was a good idea?”
I couldn’t help but grin at the dopey expression on his face. “What’s that?”
He lifted my hand so that the diamond engagement ring on my left hand sparkled. “Getting engaged. That was a good idea.”
I scoffed. “Sir, it wasn’t a good idea.”
His face darkened with worry. “It wasn’t?”
“No. It wasn’t a good idea at all. It was a great idea.”
Roan’s lips curled into a grin. “You almost had me, killer.”
I clicked my tongue. “Gotcha.”
As Ruth started unwinding Alice, Roan helped me put the ghost lights up on the tree. “Any leads to investigate?” he asked. “Or do you think this will be a quiet Christmas?”
I laughed. “At Christmas, a lot of ghosts like to gear up. Activity levels increase. You know, because spirits are restless.”
Roan quirked a perfectly delicious brow. My fiancé was tall with wide shoulders, brown hair and eyes and a set of full lips that looked good enough to nibble on.
I should know because I had.
He spoke. “Are you saying that spirits get depressed around the holidays the same as the living?”
“I am saying that.”
So in case you don’t know, my name is Blissful Breneaux and I’m a ghost hunter. Along with Alice and Ruth, we run a company called Southern Ghost Wranglers out of downtown Haunted Hollow, Alabama. We take cases that involve helping spirits head on over to the other side where they can finally find peace, or at least we hope so.
Roan was a demonologist, a gift that he had come into only in the past few months. He helped demons return to the dark hole that they had crept out of in the same way that I helped ghosts.
With our combined gifts, we made a pretty good pair, if I did say so myself.
Ruth dragged Alice over, leading her by a handful of bulbs. “I think this situation calls for reinforcements.”
Roan laughed as he started to unwind Alice from the lights. “How did just falling in a box do this to you?”
“I don’t know,” Alice whimpered. “Because I’ve got talent?”
“I reckon we should skip trying to untangle her and just plug her in and put a star on top of her head,” Ruth announced.
Alice’s eyes filled with tears. “You wouldn’t do that to me, would you?”
I patted Alice’s shoulder. “Of course not. Ruth’s only teasing, aren’t you?”
“Ruth,” I warned.
She threw up her gangly arms. “Fine. We won’t put a star on her head, but we might have to cut you out.”
Alice’s lower lip trembled. “You wouldn’t cut me in the process, would you?”
“Of course not,” Ruth said. “Now just hold still and stop squirming. I’ll have you out of this in no time. Roan, get me the big knife.”
“No,” Alice screamed.
“Y’all, stop it,” I said, arms flaring. “Alice, Ruth is not going to cut you. Ruth, you are not to cut Alice. Have I made myself clear?”
Ruth’s lips smashed together, giving her a sour look. “Completely. Not that I was going to hurt Alice. I would never hurt my best friend.”
“Maybe I should just stay like this,” Alice cried.
“Ladies,” Roan said in that smooth-as-whisky-falling-over-ice voice, “no one is going to be stuck in lights. I will get you out, Alice. Now stand still and I’ll start untangling.”
Roan began unwinding Alice as Ruth looked on skeptically. “We should keep her in there for a while,” she said to me, “teach her that she needs to go to the doctor.”
“I’m not sure that’s the lesson that should be learned.”
Deciding that I could use a little cheer, I headed toward the kitchen to get a glass full of apple cider that Roan had heated up.
Christmas music played on his Bluetooth speaker and the voice of Michael Bublé filled the inn. It was the middle of the week and Roan didn’t have any guests. They would be arriving within the next day to stay for the weekend and shop at all of Haunted Hollow’s stores. For a town that touted Halloween, it sure did do Christmas pretty well.
It would be my second Christmas in this town, the first one where I’d be engaged and my second Christmas without my dad, Vince Breneaux.
As I ladled up apple cider, all I could think of were the traditions that my dad and I had kept. Christmas Eve we would spend ghost hunting, searching for spirits that just had to be difficult during the holidays. Surprisingly, a lot of ghosts liked to play Christmas Past or even Christmas Future. Dead husbands murdered by their wives tended to appear and tell their wives that they would die within the hour, that if they didn’t confess their guilt to the police, they would befall a horrible fate.
Just thinking about it made me laugh. Did that make me a bit of a sadist?
I remember one lady ran out of her house, her hair wild, house robe open, the belt trailing behind her. She ran up to every person she saw and confessed to killing her husband. Sure enough, when Dad and I approached her house, there sat the spirit laughing his fool head off.
I helped the spirit of the dead husband to the other side. After all, once the wife confessed, his business on earth was done.
Others performed a basic Christmas Past haunting. Those were the sort of ghosts that simply wanted to be remembered. Usually there wasn’t a lot of menace to those encounters, but one time, a ghost decided to play Christmas Past at a holiday dance. Unfortunately, the ghost turned up looking exactly as he had died—beheaded.
Needless to say, the party had quickly come to end when everyone started screaming. Then somehow a fire erupted, the water sprinklers got turned on and the whole banquet hall wound up a dripping mess.
Yep, those were the good old days.
“Don’t you think Christmas is like, the raddest holiday ever?”
I glanced up from my cup of cider to see my friendly neighborhood ghost, Susan Whitby, leaning against a chair, chewing bubble gum while she twisted her eighties twisted bead necklace.
“Yeah, it’s pretty rad.”
“What’re you drinking?”
“Hot apple cider. Want some?”
“Barf-o-rama. Like, no thanks.”
“Suit yourself.” I took a long sip. “Everything okay? Is there some reason why you’re here at the inn and not at my house?”
So yes, Susan lived with me. It was kind of a weird thing with Roan. He didn’t like to spend the night at my place because, well, Susan may have walked in on him once or twice while he was in the bathroom.
Susan swore that she wasn’t trying to get a glimpse of his jewels, but I knew the truth. Susan was a closet pervert. There were no two ways about it.
So because of that, whenever one of us wanted to spend the night, I did so at the inn.
Susan tugged the ghostly bubble gum she was chewing, creating a rope from her mouth to her fingers. “Well, I came here because someone came by.”
I frowned. It was unlike Susan to have stopped filing her nails to come all the way over to the inn to give me information like that. I wasn’t kidding. To Susan, filing her nails was a religion, so ignoring that task meant something big had happened.
“Who was this someone?”
She shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. Some guy.”
She was avoiding the topic. “Susan, what’s wrong? What guy?”
Her gaze darted to my cider. “Even though I would rather be gagged by a spoon than drink that gasoline, I have to admit it smells yummy.”
“You can’t smell,” I reminded her. “You’re dead.”
She made a little squeaking noise as if to disagree with me.
My fingers curled around the cup, hard. “Susan Whitby, you tell me right now who showed up at the house or I swear that I will send you into the light right this second.”
Her eyes flared. “You wouldn’t.”
“I would. Don’t tempt me.”
“Fine, but you’re not going to like it.”
“Try me,” I ground out. “Now, who the heck was it?”
In the background, I heard Ruth yelling at Alice to be still. “We’ve almost got you out,” she shouted.
Susan peeked around me. “What’s going on in there? Is there, like some kind of Christmas party going on?” She made an obscene gesture with her fingers suggesting that it was the sort of party that didn’t require clothing.
“No,” I snapped. “There is nothing inappropriate happening at the inn. Wow. I can just about see the light opening up. The big man is ready to welcome you into his arms.”
“Okay!” She held up her hands in surrender. “Fine. I’ll tell you who it was, but don’t get mad at me about it.”
A knock came from the back kitchen door. My brows fused in confusion. “Who is that?”
“My guess is it’s the spirit that followed me here.”
“Spirit?” I stopped. “You didn’t say it was a spirit. You said it was a someone.”
Now my hackles were up. Why was a spirit showing up at my house? And why did this same spirit have Susan’s panties all in a knot?
“Who is it?”
“Just answer it.” Susan whistled while staring at the ceiling. “Like y’all say nowadays—you’ve got this, girl.”
Cold dread washed over me. Was a spirit seeking revenge standing on the other side of that door? If that was the case, I needed to be ready. It was Christmas, after all, the time for revenge in the spirit world. “You tell me who it is or I swear that I will never ask Roan over ever again.”
That got her. She loved trying to see him naked. I knew it! “You wouldn’t dare!”
I smirked. “I would. Now, spill it.” I pointed to the door. “Before I open that, I want to know who or what I’ll be facing.”
“You are most seriously not going to like it,” she said in her Valley Girl voice.
“I know. That’s why I want to be prepared.”
“Okay. You asked for it.”
But as Susan opened her mouth to confess who was searching me out, the door knob turned and the door itself floated open. A spirit that I hadn’t seen in a while and who I had in fact sent into the light, appeared.
He wore a suit that was white on one side and black on the other, Cruella de Vil style. His white hair drifted behind him and the top hat he wore was also half black and white.
The spirit lit up a ghostly filterless cigarette and spoke. “Blissful Breneaux, it’s been a while.”
My throat shriveled. In a small voice I replied, “Why, Lucky Strike, the baddest spirit I know. I thought I sent you on up to the Big Man.”
His lips quirked in amusement. “You sure did, but now I’m back.”
My stomach quivered but I would not let Lucky know that. I folded my arms and glared. “To what do I owe this honor?”
He stared at the burnt end of his smoke. “There’s a spirit that I need you to track down.”
That was a first. “You’re a ghost who needs me to find another ghost. This is classic and not in a good sort of way. Maybe you should find someone else. I’m not interested in working for you.”
I moved to shoo Lucky right on out the door when he lifted his hand, stopping me. “Oh, you’ll be interested once you know who it is.”
I sighed. This ghost wouldn’t leave me in peace until he said what he’d come to. “All right. Who is it?”
“Why, Blissful, it’s someone you’d love to see again.”
I rubbed my head. The waiting game was getting on my last nerve. As much as I adored hunting ghosts, I did actually want to return to doing a little Christmas decorating.
“Just tell me,” I snarled.
“You got it. The spirit I need you to find is your father—Vince Breneaux.”
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