×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Cursed
     

The Cursed

3.9 39
by Heather Graham
 

See All Formats & Editions

A haunted house in Key West

Hannah O'Brien, who grew up in the house and now runs it as a B and B, has always had a special ability to see a pair of resident ghosts. But when a man is murdered in the alley behind her place, she's dismayed when his spirit appears, too, asking for help.

FBI agent Dallas Samson has a passionate interest in the murder,

Overview

A haunted house in Key West

Hannah O'Brien, who grew up in the house and now runs it as a B and B, has always had a special ability to see a pair of resident ghosts. But when a man is murdered in the alley behind her place, she's dismayed when his spirit appears, too, asking for help.

FBI agent Dallas Samson has a passionate interest in the murder, since the victim's a colleague whose death is connected to the smuggling ring known as Los Lobos—the wolves. Now Dallas is even more committed to chasing them down….

Unaware that Dallas has certain abilities of his own, Hannah calls her cousin Kelsey O'Brien, a member of the FBI's Krewe of Hunters, an elite unit of paranormal investigators. The present-day case is linked to a historical mystery involving salvagers, a curse and a sunken ship. Danger and desire bring Hannah and Dallas together, but to survive, they have to solve the mysteries of the past—and stay alive long enough to solve the crimes of the present!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bestseller Graham launches the third arc in her paranormal romantic suspense Krewe of Hunters series (The Unseen, etc.) with a rousing tale of the intriguing haunted town of Lily, Arizona.... Readers will enjoy Sloan and Jane's interactions as romantic partners and competent professionals, aided by Lily's ghosts."— Publishers Weekly on The Night is Watching

"Graham does an amazing job of bringing real-life elements into her fictional worlds... [The] messages are subtle, expertly woven through a story that focuses on solving mysterious crimes using the Krewe members' unique talents. Graham also brings the surrounding areas of Nashville alive, with vivid details and lush descriptions-so authentic you can practically see history happening."-RT Book Reviews on The Night is Forever (Top Pick)

"Graham deftly weaves elements of mystery, the paranormal and romance into a tight plot that will keep the reader guessing at the true nature of the killer's evil." -Publishers Weekly on The Unseen

"Suspenseful and dark. The culture and history surrounding San Antonio and the Alamo are described in detail. The transitions between past and present flow seamlessly, and the main characters are interesting and their connection to one another is believable." -RT Book Reviews on The Unseen

"If you like mixing a bit of the creepy with a dash of sinister and spine-chilling reading with your romance, be sure to read Heather Graham's latest.... Graham does a great job of blending just a bit of paranormal with real, human evil." -Miami Herald on Unhallowed Ground

"The paranormal elements are integral to the unrelentingly suspenseful plot, the characters
are likable, the romance convincing...."-Booklist on Ghost Walk

"Heather Graham knows what readers want."
-Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780778316268
Publisher:
MIRA
Publication date:
05/27/2014
Series:
Krewe of Hunters Series , #12
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
163,886
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Hannah O'Brien walked into the large kitchen, ready to throw something. The past hour had been pure bedlam—guests hysterical and screaming, she herself completely baffled.

Of course she had offered to refund everyone's money and suggest a beautiful chain hotel for them to check into.

She opened her mouth, not to scream, but to call out for immediate attention. Because she couldn't think of anything else that might have happened except that one of her permanent residents had played a not-very-funny trick on her unsuspecting guests.

Melody Chandler was already there, leaning against the refrigerator in her beautiful Victorian glory, staring at her.

"What the hell was that?" Hannah demanded. "Did you bring a friend in? A dying man with his throat slit, carrying a knife and trying to kill my guests?"

"No!" Melody protested.

"That was unbelievable. I've never had guests up and leave at 4:00 a.m. before. Never. And I've never had to refund anyone's money before, either." Angrily, Hannah crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the ghost with whom she had shared this house for as long as she could remember. The original owner had been Hannah's great-great-great grandfather on her father's side, but she had actually inherited the house, already a B and B at that point, from her uncle. She had been his favorite niece, and she had loved him and the house. Sadly, he had died in his late forties from a sudden heart attack, and she had inherited the Siren all too soon. He had known how much she loved the place. She'd spent much of her time there with him, since her parents—who had lived a few blocks away on Simonton Street—had both worked.

She knew the house backward and forward—along with its ghosts.

She fought to control her temper. "Melody, a little spooking the guests is fun, but this time you and Hagen went too far. I'm fighting to keep this place, but I can't do that if I don't make a profit. You two just scared all our weekend guests away. And Shelly, the poor girl who saw you, was beyond terrified. And from what she described, I don't blame her."

"You did not listen to me, Hannah," Melody protested, staring at her with wide eyes, pleading to be believed. "We did not do it. Hagen would never do anything like that. You know how squeamish he can be. And look at me. Do I look like a bleeding man with a knife? And who do I know? The same spirits you do! I do not know of a single spirit walking around Key West with a bleeding neck and a knife in his hand."

Melody and Hagen didn't refer to themselves as ghosts and didn't like to be referred to that way.

Of course, tourists and most locals called the city's haunts ghosts, but Hannah was usually careful and polite, following their wishes and calling them spirits within their hearing.

And with her temper cooling, now that the brouhaha in the house had died down, she had to admit that she really couldn't picture her resident ghosts turning themselves into the terrifying apparition described by her now-gone hysterical guests. But if her two known household entities hadn't been playing tricks…

"Then who…?" she asked.

Someone drifted in through the closed back door and then materialized into an excellent imitation of flesh and blood.

Hannah was accustomed to such comings and goings. Hagen Dundee entered the kitchen and took up a protective stance at Melody's side, slipping a ghostly arm around her. "I heard, Hannah, and Melody is telling you the truth, I swear it. As if anyone could ever mistake her for a man! And I promise you that it was not me, either. We were not even here. We were at the Hemingway House, playing with the cats."

"Torturing the poor little six-toed creatures, probably," Hannah said, still angry. She'd lost business tonight, business she couldn't afford to lose. And she was fighting to believe it had been someone's idea of a prank; it was too frightening to think that it might be something else. Something real.

"I love cats. I would never torture cats. You know that I love all animals," Melody said regally.

Hannah swallowed, then pursued the hope that perhaps the couple had schemed with one of their island spirit friends to scare tourists.

"Honestly," she said, "we've talked about this before. It's charming and wonderful and helps business when you guys fool around and moan and groan in the middle of the night. Or, Melody, when you make an appearance at dusk, pacing the roof. Or, Hagen, when someone opens a door in the middle of the night and you're standing in the hallway, looking tall and strong and desperate to find your beloved. But what happened tonight…it was mean. One of those people could have had a heart attack."

Hagen looked at Melody and then walked over to Hannah and set his hands on his hips. His sandy hair was worn in a queue, and his bleached cotton shirt seemed to billow around his broad shoulders. She could have sworn she even saw specks of mud on his black leather boots. "Hannah," he said earnestly, "we did not do it." Then he turned his back on her and addressed Melody. "Dear, I believe we need fresh air—and different company. Shall we go for a bit of a walk?"

She stepped forward and took his arm. Then, heads held high, they headed toward the back door.

"Wait!" Hannah said. "Please. Help me. If you guys didn't do it…who could it have been?"

"This island has spirits—and spirits," Hagen told her. "Most of your ghost tourists stay on at the Hard Rock when you are done talking, and maybe they imbibed too heavily of spirits of an alcoholic nature. What I do know is that we did not do it—and you have deeply insulted us by suggesting we would do something so horrible. I really cannot stand here discussing this any further, Hannah. I am sorry. Melody, shall we take our stroll now? Perhaps down to the beach?" he asked, then bowed in a courtly manner and moved as if he were really opening the door for Melody. She sailed out, and he looked at Hannah again then strode off in Melody's wake.

Hannah watched them go, surprised—and more than a little shaken.

She'd grown up in this house with the two of them for company. Nothing like tonight's events had ever occurred before. She couldn't believe they would do anything so vile, but if not them… She didn't even want to think that a murderous ghost might be stalking the streets of the city she called home.

She sank down on a chair at the kitchen table, exhausted. She'd been sound asleep when she'd been startled awake, stunned and terrified herself, by the sound of screams. And Melody and Hagen were right. They didn't begin to resemble the knife-wielding apparition that had threatened her guests out by the pool.

She winced. It hurt to lose so much business. Weekdays in the Keys were slow this time of year. The Siren of the Sea wasn't a major hotel to be found on every travel site on the web, though she did have a great website of her own. During Fantasy Fest and other Conch holidays, she had it made. And she had wonderful reviews on the sites where she could be found. It was still hard to make ends meet, though. She didn't want to overprice, but she only had six guest rooms.

Her house was worth a small fortune—she knew that. She'd received enough offers for it. But she didn't want to sell—there was certainly nothing else in the area she could afford if she sold, and Key West was her home. She'd seen a fair amount of the world, many wonderful places, but she loved Key West.

"So…" she murmured aloud, drumming her fingers on the table.

Petrie, her humongous, long-haired, six-toed "Hemingway cat," leaped smoothly up into her lap and meowed as if in deep sympathy.

"What's going on, big guy? You're a cat—you're supposed to sense things."

He merely swished his furry tail.

Hannah stood, gently sliding Petrie to the floor, and poured herself another cup of coffee before giving the cat a few treats.

It had all happened so fast. She had heard the screams and shot downstairs to see what was going on. Everyone in the place had been out by the pool within minutes, one college boy wielding a dive knife and Mr. Hardwicke, an elderly regular along with his wife, a heavy boot. But there had been no one there other than Shelly and Stuart, both of them hysterical. Their friends had been less than kind, insisting she'd freaked out over the ghost tour, that was all. But Stuart had been adamant that there had been a ghost—a vengeful ghost—and only their screams had driven him away. Someone had suggested they call the cops; someone else had snorted and said that cops couldn't arrest ghosts.

The next thing Hannah knew, they were all leaving. And while they'd spent most of the night, she'd decided it would be bad customer service practice not to refund their money.

Now the sun had risen on another beautiful Key West morning. Bright and early, just about 7:00 a.m., a westward breeze was coming in, the foliage was moving gently in the breeze, and the dead heat of midday was not yet burning the pavement.

She went to right one of her Victorian lawn lounges, which had toppled over in the commotion.

And that was when she saw them.

Drops of red that led off through the bushes and…

Disappeared.

She hunkered down to study the spots and froze.

They were blood. Real blood. Not astral blood, spiritual blood, ghostly blood or imaginary blood from an apparition of some kind. Real blood meant that someone or something living had come through the yard—not a ghost. There were outside lights by the pool, but at night these drops would have been invisible.

Hannah pushed her way through the foliage where the blood trail seemed to end, though the drops might have disappeared into thin air or they might have been soaked up by the dirt. She couldn't really tell. The yard here in back of the pool grew rich and lush all the way up to the bushes that lined the brick wall and the white wooden gate that led to the small alley behind her house. Vehicles couldn't traverse the narrow way; it was a footpath, normally used only by those who already knew it was there.

The gate was unhooked. There was a bloody handprint on it.

Gingerly, afraid of what she would find, Hannah pushed it all the way open.

And there he was. A man lying just two feet from the gate, sprawled faceup, staring wide-eyed up at the sun.

A brilliant crimson ribbon ran around his neck. And his fingers curled as if he had been holding something….

Like the hilt of a knife.

"How did you know there was a body in the alley?" Dallas Samson asked, after introducing himself and flashing his FBI badge.

The young woman who had summoned the police was standing behind the crime scene tape that now stretched across the alley and up to her gate. Detective Liam Beckett was with her. Beckett was a city cop—and a friend of Dallas's. Apparently Beckett was a friend of the young woman's, too. She was extremely attractive, Dallas noted almost dispassionately. He filed away everything he noticed about possible suspects and witnesses in the back of his mind, so it was second nature to make a physical assessment. She was about five-five, maybe a hundred and twenty pounds, sleek and slim, with deep blue-green eyes and a mane of golden hair. She was, however, tense. She stood straight—almost frozen. Not panicked, but icy. Almost as if she were battling not to show any emotion, doing everything in her power to remain stoic and calm. He realized he'd barely taken his eyes off her. And the tension he was feeling himself was making him come off like a drill sergeant. He couldn't help it—not with a dead body lying in the alley and her standing there not answering his question.

He sure as hell wasn't helping her any, but it rankled that she'd been talking easily with Liam when Dallas had arrived, and now she was just staring at him without saying a word.

Her brows hiked up as she finally considered her reply to his query.

She was taking too long to answer. The tension he was feeling increased.

He pursued his question even more impatiently. "Let me rephrase. Do you usually wake up bright and early and come out to the alley looking for bodies?"

Liam cleared his throat reprovingly, and Dallas winced inwardly. He'd let his temper get the best of him, making him rude and sarcastic. He wasn't usually that way, but he was feeling a hell of a lot more tense than the blonde—than any of them, at the moment.

But, then, he'd known the dead man. And he didn't like the way the man had been found.

"Hannah called me immediately," Liam said, frowning. "And, I assure you, it's the first time she's ever called me about a body."

"Of course," Dallas said. "Sorry. So, you knew he was here because—" he paused, looking at Liam "—because he was in your yard—and still alive—last night?" He realized the implication that she might have saved him was in his voice. He hadn't meant it to be, but that didn't mean it wasn't true.

He looked around and noticed that there was a lot of confusion at the scene. A couple of uniformed officers had been first on the scene, followed by Liam—and he'd been right behind. Now techs were dusting and setting out numbers by everything they found, and looking for evidence, and the medical examiner was with the body. She had touched the body, trying to see what she could do for him before realizing he was dead. If she'd been a screaming basket case, he would probably be having an easier time dealing with her. But though she was calm now, she had been screaming when she'd dialed 911. The uniformed officers had probably arrived within seconds—they were just down the street from Duval, because the department always patrolled the bar and club scene there, no matter how late—or early—that was.

"I never saw him in my yard. Two of my guests—former guests—saw him. But they didn't realize he was real. They thought they were seeing a ghost."

The young woman—Liam had introduced her as Hannah O'Brien—seemed to be growing aggravated with him. He didn't really blame her. He was usually a lot better at a crime scene.

"They thought a real man—mortally injured and bleeding—was a ghost?" Dallas demanded.

"Yes."

"How the hell.?" he muttered.

"I can't read their minds," she said sharply. There was something almost regal about her. Maybe that was what bugged him. It compelled him, and that irritated him. He took a breath and tried to regain a professional calm.

"All right. Can you start at the beginning for me?" he asked.

"I was sound asleep. I heard a scream and came running downstairs—they were in back of the house by the pool. I looked out and saw two of my guests. One of them was insisting she'd seen a ghost in my yard," Hannah explained. "She—her name's Shelly Nicholson—had been on my ghost tour. She and her boyfriend, Stuart Bell, were absolutely convinced they'd seen a homicidal ghost. But there was nothing there.

"I tried to calm them down. I told them…I told them that ghosts weren't real, and even if they were, it wasn't likely they'd be able to kill anyone. I got them to quit screaming and talk it through. Nothing budged them. They insisted they'd seen a bloody ghost holding a bowie knife. By then, everyone in the place was out there and freaking out. So I got everyone checked out and sent them down to the Westin, and then, when it was light, came back out to look around." She hesitated for a long moment, glancing at Liam. "I don't even know of any Key West ghosts that supposedly run around bleeding and carrying a bowie knife." She stopped, struck by the thought that the man on the ground was now eligible to be a Key West ghost legend.

"A bowie knife?" Dallas demanded.

She nodded. "That's what Stuart said. He was one of the people who saw the…ghost."

"How did he know it was a bowie knife?" Dallas demanded.

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, eHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on Facebook.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Cursed 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
Heather Graham is one of those authors I've always meant to read, but just haven't gotten there yet. I can finally say that I've read one of her books and I'll be looking for more. The book description had me at haunted house - the Key West setting was just a bonus. Evidently, the Krewe of Hunters is a series, but I had no problem diving into this book, so maybe they can be read as standalones also. Hannah O'Brien was a very likable character and I found it both intriguing and even entertaining at times that she could not just see the ghosts, but also converse with them. A couple of the ghosts even helped bring in business for the bed & breakfast Hannah owned. The action starts almost immediately and there were very few times I my attention wandered elsewhere. The local tales of ghosts during the ghost tour were engaging and I wondered if those stories were true or made up by the author. I liked the author's writing style and that she didn't go overboard with descriptions, which moved the story along at a good pace. Something that disappointed me was the ending - it felt rushed. Throughout the book, the Wolf was portrayed as elusive and highly intelligent, but when his identity was revealed, I really thought it was a joke at first. The focus of the book seemed to shift to the romantic aspect instead of the mystery so, not being a romance book fan, I was frustrated. Although it wasn't the ending I was hoping for, I'll be looking for more of Heather Graham's books - just maybe those with a little less emphasis on the romance. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read Heather Graham in a very long time and I remember loving every word of it . But now, her writing has changed since then. It now feels like the editors are giving her books get out of jail cards, without even giving them a courtesy read. This one was dry... very and filled with a lot of real facts about history with a little plot on the side and tiny or no character development. It even gave the feeling of being rushed with things having to be explained to you that happened to side characters. The ghosts when they where there, to me are the best part of this book. Disappointment Alert! One time after the main characters have sex, who puts, "And it was good." At the end of it all, by itself. Its like saying that's it, next chap, oh and I think they enjoyed it. That's what it felt like for me to read it and I could not force myself to finish reading the epilogue. PASS!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book. I love reading every Krewe of Hunters books that come out. However, there was a drastic error in this book. In the Bone Island Trilogy Liam and David Beckett are cousins (in more than one book) in The Cursed they're brothers. I found this disturbing. I actually went to my bookcase and looked it up. The Cursed isn't as good as some of Grahams books, but I still found all of the characters enjoyable.
amdrane2 More than 1 year ago
Okay, let me just say that I'm a little confused by this book. Well, actually it's the people that has me confused. This is a Krewe of Hunters book but it's got characters from the Bone Island Trilogy (Katie, Liam, and David). The confusing thing about it is that the characters are all mixed up. First, in TBIT books Liam and David are cousins, in this book they're brothers. Then in this book Hannah and Kelsey are talking about how Kelsey had taken a self defense class from Dallas then a couple chapters later when they see each other for the first time they don't know each other. Also, Dallas knows that Liam is Katie's brother-in-law but then a couple chapters later he is surprised when it's mentioned that Katie is married to David, Liam's brother. It's like Ms. Graham totally forgot what she had written. The plot is interesting and the history of Key West is incredible. You can tell that Ms. Graham did a lot of research regarding the sitting of this book. I always like reading this series for the mix between history and the paranormal. The romance fell a little flat. I didn't really feel a connection between Hannah and Dallas. Maybe the start of something, but not enough of something to pack up and move a thousand miles away with the man. They had only known each other for a couple days. I'll keep reading this series as long as she writes them though cause I do enjoy them and would recommend them to anyone who likes a bit of history with their paranormal romance. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Adrien
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im a new fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Graham's books are good reads with likable characters. This book had a couple of surprises, which was nice since many of her books seem to follow the same premise repeatedly, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jef71 More than 1 year ago
The Cursed by Heather Graham. Very good book. Enjoyed the book very much, could not put it down. I love her books. Hannah O'Brien grew up in the house and now runs it as a B&B. She has a special ability to see a pair of resident ghosts. A man is murdered in the alley behind her place. She can see his spirit and it ask for help. FBI agent Dallas Samson has an interest in the murder, sense the victim's a colleague whose death is connected to the smuggling ring know as Los Lobos- the wolves.
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
A haunted house in Key West, a notorious smuggling ring, long-lost treasure, and paranormal investigating federal agents make for an intriguing thriller in author Heather Graham’s THE CURSED. Luke Daniels does a superb job narrating this suspenseful mystery. His cadence and mannerisms give each character their own unique voice to the point it seems there’s more than one reader. His interruption adds depth to the drama of this fascinating story. Hannah O’Brien owns and operates a B&B in Key West and has the unique ability to not only see the two resident ghosts, but communicate with them as well. After a man is murdered in the alley behind her B&B, he comes to Hannah as a ghost asking for help. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Dallas Samson makes Hannah’s life difficult when he begins questioning how she knows the things she knows. Dallas knows the dead man was an uncover agent trying to get inside information on a smuggling ring known as Los Lobos, the wolves. It turns out Hannah has a connection to Los Lobos, since their leader believes there’s a long-lost treasure hidden in her B&B and he will stop at nothing to get it. Things really heat up when Hannah’s cousin Kelsey and her partner arrive in town. They are members of the FBI’s Krewe of Hunters, an elite unit of paranormal investigators. It seems Dallas has been on their radar for some time and there may be more to him than he’s telling. While this is a paranormal mystery featuring ghosts, the author presents it in such a manner it will quickly seem plausible. The characters are well-developed and likable. The story flows at a steady pace and smoothly. THE CURSED is a good mix of suspense, Key West legends, humor, murder, and romance blended together for a captivating story. Even though this is the 12th installment in the Krewe of Hunters series, it can be listened to/read on its own with new readers being left in the dark. FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AZ_bk2rdr More than 1 year ago
It's always good reading Heather Graham's books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BibliophileExtraordinaire More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book as I always do Heather Graham's books, and it is a quick and easy read. Besides, it involves ghosts and the Florida Keys. Who could ask for anything more? LOL I look forward to the next one in this particular series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dkrn More than 1 year ago
I waited months for this book to come out, just to buy it and not be able to open it. When I contacted B&N customer service they told me it was a glitch on the publishers part and to archive my book until they contact me. Its been 3 weeks do I asked for a refund. I'll reorder after the Contact Response Team tells me its a been fixed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago