Matt Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts. But there are those who are convinced his home, a historic Virginia estate that dates back to the Revolutionary War, is haunted. Pressured to get at the truth about some strange happenings at Melody House, he agrees to let Harrison Investigations explore the house.
But he isn’t ready for beautiful, intriguing Darcy Tremayne. As a paranormal investigator, Darcy has learned to believe in the unbelievable. And she’s given Matt fair warning: sometimes people don’t like the skeletons she finds. She never dreamed that warning would apply to herself. For she’s about to discover that Melody House holds much more than a simple mystery from the distant past. What it holds is a very real and lethal danger, one that will cast her into a struggle against the worlds of both the living and the dead.
Originally published in 2002
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By Heather Graham
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
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Darcy Tremayne hadn't expected her senior prom to be a dream evening. But neither had she expected it to be the
beginning of a lifelong nightmare.
It started with Hunter being a total jerk.
She wasn't sure what started their argument, only that it escalated into him saying that he didn't intend to speak to
her again until she apologized. She told him he'd better not plan on speaking to her again ever then, because she
hadn't the least intention of apologizing. She hadn't done anything, other than suggest that despite the fact that he
had been given an award in drama club, he hadn't needed to kiss his leading lady quite so long, or so deeply, in the
auditorium, in front of the world. Or their small part of it anyway - the entire high school. When he left her house
that afternoon, she assumed that he'd call her and be the one to say that he was sorry.
The call never came. She heard the next morning that he had invited his leading lady, Cindy Lee, to the prom.
She avoided her friends, and allowed herself to indulge in some well-earned tears. She argued with herself all
afternoon. Hunter was going to head straight out to California after graduation and try to make it big in Hollywood.
She was heading to NYU, and she had been ecstatic about her acceptance there and the small scholarship that would allow
her to go. Eventually, living across the country from one another, she and Hunter would have most probably fallen
apart. She should have accepted the fact long ago that Hunter had an eye for other girls. He was young. So was she.
They should spend some time without commitment.
But she didn't really want to split. She had been in love with Hunter since ninth grade. They had shared the years
since. Very long, good years, or so it had seemed.
In the end, Hunter did call her. He was so sorry. He'd ruined everything, but he couldn't get out of going to their
prom with Cindy Lee.
She accepted his apology with a maturity her mother assured her was beyond her years. And it was her mother who
suggested that she ask her friend, Josh.
"Josh!" she'd said with surprise.
But it was only momentary. Josh was a loner. He was a genius with computers, math, and science. He was painfully shy
himself, but delighted when she wanted to try out a song, a dance move, or a monologue on him. They had lived down the
street from one another in their rather rural area for years, and had long ago become friends. They didn't run in the
same social circles, but Darcy had steadfastly maintained her friendship with him, no matter what anyone else thought.
Over the years, some of her friends had accepted him.
And amazingly, Josh had been able to warn her about many of the pratfalls she might have encountered in life. Go
with Hunter tonight for ice cream, he had urged her once. Don't let him go alone. And she had done so, and
Cindy Lee had been there, flirting with Hunter, until she had realized that Darcy was with him. There were other
things. He'd made her stop her father from driving to the store one day when it turned out that his brakes were bad.
Both her folks listened to Josh. She had learned to do so, too.
Other people, she knew, were frightened by some of his predictions. He had known when Mrs. Shumacher down the street
was about to die of cancer. He had known when Brad Taylor was going to break his leg during a football game. A lot of
the kids called him a freak. But despite her little spat with Hunter, she had always held her own in school. She could
bring Josh to the prom, and he'd be accepted, because he'd be with her. Oh, they'd talk about her - and him - behind
their backs, but what did she care? Hunter had already hurt her just about as badly as she could be hurt; she was cut
right to her eighteen-year-old heart.
And besides, the whole high school thing was over. A new life was about to begin.
Josh hemmed and hawed at first, skeptical. "Darcy, I'll just look like the geek you dressed up and brought along."
But she'd laughed and assured him, "Josh, honestly, you're a good-looking guy. Tall, lean, great eyes, and if you don't
mind, we'll shop together. But if you'd feel uncomfortable, we won't go. We'll just see a movie or something that
night. I mean, if you're willing to keep me company."
He'd smiled at that. "I'd rather be in your company than anyone else's, that's for sure. But you don't have to take
me. Half the school would go with you."
"That's doubtful and it doesn't matter. If you don't want to go, I don't want to go."
At that, Josh had given her a strange smile. "If you want to go to the prom with the class nerd, lady, I wouldn't dream
of stopping you."
To her amazement, the planning was fun. Although he usually dressed like a couch potato himself, Josh had a good eye
for clothes. Hand in hand they went shopping together. They ran into a number of her friends at the mall, and she was
delighted to see their eyes widen at first, and then seem to focus more deeply on Josh. He was able to help Cissy
Miller with a math problem she'd been dragging around for days, and over tacos at the food court, he found a new friend
in Brenda Greeley, a really beautiful girl, and the head cheerleader.
When they got back to shopping, he made Darcy try on a dress she hated on the rack, and loved once she slipped into it.
It turned out that one of Josh's computer buddies worked in the store, and he was able to give her his employee
discount, so she could afford the gown. The young man's name was Riley O'Hare, and he told Darcy he was actually in her
auditorium class. She apologized sincerely for never having met him, and when they left the shop, she thoughtfully
told Josh that she had never known that she could be so rude or careless herself.
"Darcy, you? Never," he told her devoutly. "Rude and careless is when you don't acknowledge someone when they talk to
you, when you can't even lift your hand for a wave. Or when you push over a thin guy just 'cause he's not on the
football team, or can't really join in on a jam with a guitar. Darcy, you know that I love you, and it's one hell of an
overused term, but you're a special kind of girl, you know?" He looked embarrassed suddenly. "Hey, come on, we've got
to find something for me. I can't take out a girl like you looking the way I usually do."
So next came Josh's turn, and when she advised him on a shirt and suit, somewhat funky and retro, he, too was
delighted, thinking that he looked something like a New Age Mozart.
There was only one fly in the ointment that day.
Mike Van Dam.
He was friends with Hunter, and dating Brenda. Darcy realized later that he must have seen them in the food court, and
seen Brenda talking to Josh. When they were leaving the mall, the door suddenly swung back on Josh, who was carrying
the bags filled with their purchases. Mike, broad shoulders thrusting forward, was suddenly there, standing over Josh,
who had wound up on the floor. "Hey, there, geek-boy, having a problem standing?" He reached a hand down, which was
accepted by Josh, except that as soon as Josh was halfway up, Mike released him. Josh fell again, hard, on his
"Mike, what the hell is the matter with you?" Darcy demanded, infuriated, reaching down to give Josh a hand herself.
Mike caught her by the shoulders, spinning her around.
"What the hell is the matter with you, Darcy? Trying to make fools of us all by taking up with the riffraff, the scum
of the school?"
Excerpted from Haunted
by Heather Graham
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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