by Katherine Kingston
Release date: July 3, 2009
Note: Part of the proceeds from this book is being donated to the family of Lara Anne Punches, whose life ended tragically and too early.
Blurb: Robert is the best lover Kelly has ever had—handsome, thoughtful, engaging and a thrilling sexual dominant. Too bad he’s a ghost who can’t actually touch her. When Robert suggests that a risky sexual adventure that could offer him a second chance at corporeal life, Kelly agrees to it. He’s open about the dangers of the process, but success carries its own peril. Reality cannot possibly live up to fantasy, can it?
One of the few drawbacks to having a ghost for a lover was the lack of a martini waiting for her when she got home after a rough trip into the city. Oh, and the back rubs lacked a certain heft. Still, Robert managed to make her feel amazingly wonderful for someone whose spirit was willing but the flesh nonexistent.
Kelly Scranton could fix the martini herself. And unlike most of the men she’d dated, Robert was always willing to listen to her gripes, and he generally commiserated. In fact he seemed to crave her tales of woe from the trenches of the architectural world, or any other world. Being limited to the house made him hungry for any and all information from outside, which was why she generally left either the television or a radio going even when she wasn’t there.
Her nineteenth-century mansion on the Virginia side of the Chesapeake Bay coast was almost two hour’s drive from D.C., so Kelly generally spent a couple of days in town at a time, meeting with clients and other business contacts before returning home where she could do much of the drawing in peace and conduct the rest of her business via phone.
That particular Thursday she’d been gone for three days, working on a large collaborative project. By the time she got back at eight in the evening, she was beat. She’d had dinner before she left the city but she headed for the kitchen right after dumping her briefcase and stepping out of her pumps. That martini was calling her name.
Robert was too, materializing beside her while she got out the bottles and filled the shaker with ice. It no longer startled her. His form was never fully solid, which made it hard to get a perfect idea what he looked like. She could tell he had a lean, handsome face with strong jaw and cheekbones and sensual lips, but it was especially hard to see his eye and hair color. Both seemed to be light. Otherwise, he’d been a tall man in life, but thin. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, which made sense since he thought he’d been about twenty-five when he died. He didn’t like to talk about it, but he had one time admitted that he’d been hanged in 1706. He wouldn’t discuss the reason. Nothing she’d learned of him in the three years since she’d bought the house—and his company along with it—suggested he was a bad or violent man, so his fate mystified her.
He must have some way to change his clothes, or maybe just his appearance, since his dress didn’t reflect a man who’d lived in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. He usually appeared to be wearing a polo shirt and slacks.
“Rough trip?” he asked, staring at her as she measured out the vermouth. “Took longer than usual and you look beat.”
“Busy. Lots of negotiations, a zillion details to hammer out. And I had to wear heels for three solid days.”
“Poor baby.” An intriguing hint of British accent underlay the slang he’d picked up from the TV. “Go put your feet up and I’ll rub them while you tell me about it.”
That was an offer she never refused.
Kelly finished putting together the double martini and took it to the living room. She settled into the reclining end of the leather sofa with a sigh of relief, letting the quiet, homey atmosphere she’d created sink into her tired bones. A puff of warm air surrounded each of her feet after she raised the footrest. The air began to move around, pressing against her flesh.
She had no idea how he did that. Another of the drawbacks of a ghostly lover was his inability to touch her, but Robert had figured out how to use puffs of compressed air to substitute for it. He admitted it had taken him years of practice to learn and master the technique. Kelly refused to ask how many women had gotten similar attentions from him. He admitted there’d been a couple, though he claimed he first developed the method to use for turning the pages of books.
“Tell me what’s happened the last few days,” Robert said, his half-visible form kneeling beside the chair. It appeared his hands were around her feet, though he couldn’t truly touch her. Still, the air shifted around her toes, stroking them gently but firmly.
“Damn, that feels good.” Kelly settled deeper into the chair. The air pressed and rubbed in a way that air shouldn’t be able to do, but she wasn’t arguing. “This project is turning out to be a bear,” she told him. He kept “rubbing” her feet while she poured out all that had happened in the past couple of days, venting all the aggravations and irritations. Getting it out always made her feel lighter.
Because she had a lot to get off her chest, it took a while to notice something different. “You’re very quiet,” she said to Robert. Normally, he responded enthusiastically to her tales, asking thoughtful questions, demanding details and reassuring her where he felt it was needed. “Is something wrong?”
“No, not wrong. I have something to discuss with you but not right now. A little later.”
She stared at him for a moment but could read little in the shadowy face. He never had worn his emotions openly. “All right.”
“We have other things to do first.”
The stroking moved up from her feet, along her calves and onto her thighs, pushing below her skirt. It didn’t feel exactly like a human touch but it was close enough for each brush of air on sensitive skin to send those prickly tingles running along her nerves and rousing desire for more. She imagined Robert’s fingers doing that march along her skin and got even hotter.
“Take off your blouse and the bra for me,” he said. He turned one part of his limitation into a virtue, by ordering her to do the things he couldn’t. She’d read about it, but until now she’d never understood on a personal level how sexy it would be to take off her clothes at the command of a dominant man. Even if said dominant wasn’t entirely solid.
As soon as she’d shed the shirt and bra and settled back down, another set of air puffs began circling her breasts. Add to the ghost lover’s pro list that he wasn’t apparently limited to two hands’ worth of air. There were still swirly bits running up and down her legs as well.