Taken by the Imp Cat's Paw Cove Book 13 by Sharon Buchbinder Genre: Paranormal Romance
Can a jinni and a warlock cook up a better way to help the poor?
Dexter Graham has no trouble making money as a financial wizard—as long as he doesn’t leave his home. He finds it nearly impossible to be with other people, because he’s a telepath who gets swamped by their thoughts. Prompted by an unexpected visitor from the past who reveals shocking family secrets, he takes a risk and visits his brother in Cat’s Paw Cove. Will the trip make things better or worse?
Ynez Saghira is a gifted chef at the Feline Fine Retirement Home who yearns to be financially independent and open her own café. She has lots of talent and creative ideas but lacks the capital to start her own business. What’s a poor imp to do?
Dexter and Ynez join forces to quiet the voices in his head, build her business, and ferret out family mysteries. Will the secrets draw them closer together or push them apart?
Dexter Graham rattled the bag and called Brutus for the third time. Odd. It wasn’t like him to miss a meal. Unlike finicky felines, the fifteen-year-old black Maine Coon cat lived to eat, racing to Dexter if he unwrapped a cough drop. Something’s wrong. His heart kicked up a notch and his stomach roiled. He always comes when I call him with food.
The sun shone on his grandmother’s well-tended flower and herb garden, which now belonged to him. Butterflies hovered over luxuriant stands of royal red, purple, and yellow. Bees sipped at the open mouths of petunias, ragweed, and clover—the weeds their favorites. A large balm bush, its lush purple color soothing to the eyes, embraced both pollinators. All the little insect people anticipated the cold weather en route and the garden shimmered with activity in the late September sun.
Still shaking the treats, Dexter sought out the intrepid hunter’s favorite napping spot. Not there. Wait. Was that--
“I hear you, Brutus.” He circled around the apple tree. No sign of him.
The sound was coming from beneath him.
He groaned. Loping around to the front of his grandmother’s root cellar, he leaned forward and pulled on a squeaking wooden door. Sitting on the top step, a live mouse dangling from his mouth, the yellow-eyed twenty-five-pound feline blinked and glared at him as if to say, “Took you long enough.”
“How did you get in there?”
The cat strutted out. Dexter snapped his fingers and the cat placed the stunned rodent at his feet.
“Well, it is a lovely gift. I know you worked hard to bring it to me, but I have to tell you, I just ate.”
“Thanks for the scare.” Dexter bent down and rubbed the cat’s ears. He was safe. Brutus had not crossed the rainbow bridge to enjoy an all-you-can-eat-tuna buffet. “It gets pretty lonely here. Sure, I have Ace, my companion computer, but he’s not much company when he’s powered down. If anything happened to you, my friend, I’m not sure what I’d do.”
“Go to your brother.”
“Grandmama?” Feeling like a little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he searched for the source of the woman’s voice. “It can’t be you. You’re—”
“Dead?” She chuckled. “That’s old news.”
“I don’t see you?”
“Buckle up, Buttercup—and look up.”
A gray-haired woman in a brimmed hat, gardening clogs and gloves perched on a large branch of an apple tree. He’d spent many sunny days roped to the trunk while his grandmother tended to her large backyard. Despite her best efforts, he had untied the knots and wandered the surrounding area, nibbling at windfalls and creating stories starring him as a fearless adventurer. Grandmama’s thoughts had broadcasted to him like a megaphone, loud and clear. When she had called, he returned home.
“You look good.” He didn’t know what else to say.
Tilting her head, she said, “Ah, poor baby. You don’t think I’m real.”
“You’re a figment of my imagination. Brutus was missing. I was worried about him” He was familiar with the signs of grief, had worked through them many times. His parents died when he was four. He couldn’t go to school. His brother moved away. His grandmother died. And, now, Brutus had scared the crap out of him.
“Dexter,” she placed a fist on her hip. “Remember that story, A Christmas Carol?”
“Think of me as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Our family made wonderful memories here in this special place. Now it’s time for you to go out in the world and to make new ones. You can’t be a reclusive multi-millionaire forever, honey.”
“Kept you tucked away, safe from people who wanted to lock you up with a diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia.” She shook her head. “Had I allowed the doctors to treat you back then, you would not be who you are now. You are a brilliant, creative, handsome man with extraordinary abilities, who also happens to be a powerful telepath. It’s time for you to leave the nest, get out into the world.”
For a figment of his imagination, she was awfully talkative.
“Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, the bumper sticker, and the pins. Remember that disastrous summer abroad trip I took? That was more than enough of the world for me.”
“You were sixteen. That’s ages ago.”
“Not to me.” The pain of being led on by a flirtatious college co-ed, only to discover her real opinions of him when she huddled with her girlfriends was as fresh today as it was eleven years ago. “I tried again when I graduated with my master’s degree. A real date, face to face, with a woman I met in my online classes. By the time the evening was over, I was done with her and her gold-digging ideas.”
“Dexter, not everyone is after your wealth. There are decent women out there—some even have their own money.”
“For argument’s sake, let’s pretend I say yes. Where would I go?”
“Your brother would love to see you. Dylan’s girlfriend and I have been chatting for quite a while now. Charlotte thinks it’s time for you to visit them. I agree.”
Dexter bit his lower lip and mulled over her words—his thoughts? Personified by his beloved grandmother? “I do owe him a debt—a big one. Fifty-thousand dollars.”
“Pfft.” She waved her hand. “It’s not about the money. It’s about family secrets that might shock you—and what the past means to your present and future.”
“Why are you telling me this now—why not before?”
“Don’t be sassy.” She fixed him with the look, the one that made him freeze as a child. “I was waiting for everyone to be in the right place at the same time. Your brother holds the key. This cannot be done over the Internet, it must be face to face in real time.”
Charlotte Redbird, Ghost Coach Cat's Paw Cove Book 12
Sometimes the dead need a life coach, too.
Driven out of Chicago by a spiteful heiress, life coach Charly Redbird is ready for a change. She moves to Florida to be closer to her family and vows to be more selective about future clients.
With the help of Dylan Graham, a hunky real estate agent, Charly finds a perfect home across the street from a cemetery. When he shows up with a plant and two tiny balls of fluff as a housewarming present, Charly thinks she might be smitten with more than the kittens.
A new client appears at her door and asks for Charly's help, but the woman happens to be a permanent resident of the cemetery. Can Charly convince the restless spirit to move to another neighborhood—or will she take on a new role: Life Coach for the Dead?
Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. She is the author of the Hotel LaBelle Series, the Jinni Hunter Series, and the Obsession Series. When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, herding cats, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
People often ask why I include ghosts as characters in my stories. My response: life has informed me that when we die, we don’t just disappear or “go into the light”. Here’s a good example of one of my many experiences with spirits.
When I was in college, I shared a duplex with four other women. The day I moved into my attic room, as I unpacked boxes, my roommate shouted, “Sharon!” I ran downstairs, only to find that same roommate in the shower. When she came out, I asked if there had been a problem.
She smiled. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. We have a ghost.” This ghost moved things around, knocked things off shelves and mimicked other roommates’ and even boyfriends’ voices to get attention. She also paced a hallway that ran from the kitchen to the bedroom on the main floor.
One night I pulled an all-nighter for an Organic Chemistry exam (not my best subject!). I had a little dachshund, named Bisou, who went everywhere with me. That night I studied in the kitchen, drinking gallons of coffee, memorizing benzene rings. I decided to take a little nap. I cuddled on the couch with Bisou and closed my eyes. The doxie started shaking and whining. In the hallway coming closer were the footsteps. As they came closer, the dog became more agitated. By the time the ghost was standing right next to the couch, the dog was in a frenzy.
“Please,” I said, “I need to get some rest, this exam is really important to me. And you’re making my dog crazy. Could you please go away?”
The ghost’s footsteps receded from the side of the couch, down the hall and then stopped. I aced the exam (a miracle).
After I had been living in the haunted duplex in for a few months, I invited my sister-in-law and brother over for dinner to meet my new boyfriend, my roommates, and see the place. My room was in the attic, and at $25 a month for rent (5 women, $125 total!) I wasn’t complaining about my space. I was very happy to be there and grateful to have such a bargain. The ghost was almost an added value at that point.
We had appetizers, did not really get to dinner, when my brother, a Vietnam vet and Green Beret who to this day keeps in touch with buddies from the 82nd Airborne, said, “Why don’t you show us the place?”
My then boyfriend had already been repeating all the strange events (with embellishments) that I had told him about and was humming the theme to Twilight Zone.
As I led my brother and sister-in-law up the stairs to my room in the attic, the now very annoying boyfriend said, “Ooooooo! Can yooooou feeeeeel the spiriiiiit?”
“Yes, I can,” my brother said. “She’s right next to me, has shoulder length brown hair, and is wearing a brown print dress. She’s very lonely.”
My brother turned on his heel without even reaching the attic and raced down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairwell he said, “I have to go! She’s all over me. It’s like she’s so happy I can see her, she’s trying to get under my skin.”
My brother and astonished sister-in-law ran out the door. The dinner party was over and so was my relationship with that idiot boyfriend. Years later, my sister-in-law and brother told me the ghost went home with them and would not leave my brother alone for months. To say she was clingy would be an understatement.
Ever since that night, my brother literally “sees dead people.” I always thought it was interesting that I heard them. It’s as if each of us got one part of the psychic abilities, but not the whole package!
Have you had any experiences with ghosts and haunted houses? What did you think of the event and what did you do?