Abigail Bender lost her only love at Gettysburg in 1863. One hundred and fifty years later Kaitlyn Novacs, teetering on the edge of a breakdown after the loss of her one love, encounters Abigail’s spirit in a quaint Canadian inn. There’s a connection between these women, Kaitlyn feels it the first moment she sees the ghost but refuses to admit it. She is forced to accept how closely her fate mirrors the ghost’s when through Abigail’s window she witnesses the ghost’s life and death. Still, there’s a secret Abigail withholds from Kaitlyn. Will discovering that secret come too late to save Kaitlyn from Abigail’s fate?
Targeted Age Group:: Senior High School and older
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I had been working on this book in one form or another for almost 12 years. It began as a short romance my then employer asked me to write so he could leave it in the rooms of a B&B her owned. When I showed the story to my sister, she insisted it should be expanded into a novel. So I wrote it… but it just didn't work, so I put it in a metaphysical drawer. Six months ago I came across the story while working on something else. When I started to read it, I said to myself, "Oh, is that what this story's about." That started a series of rewrites until it because the novel that Solstice Publishing has released.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The ghost in the book… The innkeeper at the B&B had told me she thought a ghost roamed the second floor of the inn. While I was there one day a few things happened that told me she was right. weeks of research didn't identify who the ghost might be (from a disembodied sigh I heard, I believe it was a female), so I did what I always do–I made Abigail up. As to when she lived, I found clear history of the house that went back to the 1850s and 1860s, so I placed her life in that era. Once I began telling Abigail's story, the rest of the characters fell into place. I will say that each is modeled on someone I've known, and as happens in most of my stories, I even slip in to play a role.
As I stepped from the rental car, I saw the lace curtains pulled aside in a second floor window. I felt eyes stare down at me. My jaw dropped. Had it followed me here?
Ronnie Hoffmann glanced at me over the roof of the car. “What’s wrong now?” she said.
I stood, blinking.
With a shrug, she turned to Andrea O’Rourke, who popped the trunk and lifted out our suitcases.
When I looked again at the window I saw a woman, but not quite a woman. She appeared to be… transparent. Shuddering, I turned my back to the house.
“Yeah, I’m cold too, Katy. Get your suitcase.” Ronnie took off her thick-rimmed glasses and brushed a strand of hair from her eyes. Though only in her early thirties, her long black hair showed streaks of gray.
I wrapped my heavy coat tight around my chest but didn’t move. I hadn’t wanted to come to Niagara-on-the-Lake, hadn’t wanted to leave my apartment. After what I’d been through, I never wanted to venture out again. Ronnie had refused to let me become a hermit.
“You waiting for April when the snow melts?” she called to me.
I lifted my eyes to the window. The curtains were closed. Feeling as though the woman continued to watch me, I shrank back against the car door. “Somebody’s… up there.”
Andrea clicked her tongue.
“Another ghost?” Ronnie slammed the car trunk closed. “The Niagara Inn isn’t any more haunted than your apartment.”
My friend knew what haunted me. She had helped to pull me through a breakdown seven years ago. She didn’t believe a ghost caused it then, and didn’t believe one pushed me toward the edge this time.
I pointed to the window. “Don’t you see her?”
Ronnie didn’t bother to look. “Probably another guest.”
The stiff Lake Ontario wind had turned Andrea’s face almost as red as her hair. Looking around the empty parking lot, she said, “Can’t be another guest. No one but us is stupid enough to travel in this weather.” She hefted her suitcase. “Yap out here if you want. I’m going inside.”
Shivering, I examined the bed and breakfast Ronnie had brought me to for a long, girls-only weekend. Pale behind the falling snow and surrounded by skeletons of azalea bushes and a row of evergreen hedges, the Niagara Inn rose two stories above what appeared to be an ancient brick foundation.
“Come on, come on. I’m about to turn into an icicle,” Andrea complained.
“More like a cherry popsicle,” Ronnie said.
“Yeah, whatever.” Our redheaded friend turned and stomped off through the snow.
The wind rushed up to encircle me. In its howl, I heard a familiar laugh. This disembodied sound had chased me since my teenage years. I looked at our car, now coated with a thin layer of snow. I had an urgent desire to get in, drive back across the border to the Buffalo airport and fly home to Manhattan. Though the laughter also haunted me there, at least in familiar surroundings I could almost ignore it.
While I thought about fleeing, the lake wind pushed me toward the house. I held fast.
Ronnie grabbed the sleeve of my black faux-fur coat. “Come on!”
I pulled away. “I can’t… the laugh.”
“You’re hearing it again?”
She took me by the shoulders. “You’re not being haunted, Katy. What you hear is just in your head. How many times do I have to tell you that? Now get inside before we both get sick.”
When I still resisted, she gave me a tight-lipped stare—her way of saying, Kaitlyn Novacs, get over yourself.
“Ken and I were here for our anniversary five years ago,” she said. “This is a beautiful place, not some crappy dump with cobwebs your warped mind is turning it into. Now move!”
I gritted my teeth and took a deep breath. Nothing in this house could be worse than what I’ve been through, I thought.
The wind howled again, louder this time. It might have been telling me, You think so?
Ronnie’s grin wrinkled her eyes. “What an expression. You look like an Eskimo searching for the nearest dogsled. Wanna rub noses?”
I grabbed a handful of snow from a bush and flung it at her. Then, feeling a rush of warmth for my best and sometimes only friend, I hugged her.
“Yeah, yeah, I love you too,” she said. “Now can we get out of this storm?”
With her hand propelling me forward, I slogged through drifting snow from the parking lot to the Niagara Inn’s door where Andrea O’Rourke waited.
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