My Favorite Phantom

My Favorite Phantom

by Karen Kelley



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My Favorite Phantom by Karen Kelley

I'm scared. Can I sleep in your bed?

When Professor Peyton Cache bought a big, gloomy, romantic Victorian house, he should have expected a ghost. He certainly got one, the kind that likes to float his undies around and drop slime in the stairwell for fun. But the professor can't let the rest of the faculty know he's lost his mind, so he hires a ghost hunter on the down-low. But somehow, when he booked a ghost hunter, he didn't think he was getting a live-in leggy blonde with an attitude like a Jersey gangster and a body like a pinup poster. . .

Kaci Melton needs to hide out for a while, and where better to disappear than a haunted house on one of her dad's ghost-hunting jobs? All she'll have to do is deal with a crabby old professor for a couple days and kick out one measly ghost. Two problems: the professor is a tasty young guy with piecing blue eyes, six-pack abs, and a penchant for talking dirty. And the ghost scares the panties off her. . .actually, given the professor, maybe that's not a problem. But if she can't tell him the truth--and she can't--how is she going to get him to keep up all that wonderful sex? Especially when she's starting to kinda like him. . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780758225726
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 01/01/2009
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Karen Kelley lives in a small Texas town with her husband and their very spoiled Pekingese, six Koi fish, and various wild birds that eat way too much. She's also a collector of junk which she fondly refers to as antiques. Her motto in life is to enjoy each moment of it.

Read an Excerpt


By Karen Kelley
Copyright © 2009

Karen Kelley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-2572-6

Chapter One The old Victorian house was haunted.

And how did Kaci Melton know it was haunted? Because nothing had gone right all week-make that all month. It only stood to reason there would be a ghost lurking inside.

Besides, the place just had that creepy, haunted look about it. Dark, gloomy, and forbidding. The three main ingredients for a house with a ghost.

The porch was wide and wrapped around the house and had all the doodads you'd expect in a Queen Anne Victorian. The large, projecting bay windows, towers, and turrets. Not to mention the decorative finials, spindles, and brackets.

At least the color was subdued shades of brown. In the face of all the elaborate swirls and the fancy trim, the beige and coffee colors toned things down somewhat. But then you had the dark, gloomy, and forbidding look to deal with.

All she had to do was step on the gas pedal of her little blue compact and get the hell away from here as fast as she could drive. All the spooky movies she'd ever watched told her to do just that.

But she couldn't run away because she didn't have a choice. Come to think about it, the people in the movies never had a choice, either.

She was doomed.

No choice whatsoever. She had to help her father out of this mess. She swallowed past the lump in her throat, put the car in park, and turned off the engine. Her hands trembled as she gripped the steering wheel. She wished she knew a calming mantra that would give her the courage to face her fears.

Unfortunately, she didn't.

"Okay, let's get this over with," she mumbled as she opened her car door and got out, eyeing the place with more than a touch of apprehension as she went to the trunk to get some of her things.

Why do I always have to be the one to clean up my father's messes?

Easy answer. She was an only child and her father had no one else. She sighed, knowing he meant well-most of the time.

She dragged a suitcase out of the trunk, then a satchel, shifting the strap on her shoulder so the weight was a little more balanced.

Knowing she'd be spending the next week or so here with some old dude made her queasy. Not because of the stuffy history professor. She could handle an old codger. A ghost was an entirely different matter.

Every step she took, she repeated the only mantra she did know: "I ain't afraid of no ghosts, I ain't afraid of no ghosts ..."

It didn't seem to be working. It hadn't in Ghost Busters, either. She was terrified of ghosts, and she had a feeling they knew it.

A black cat jumped from the bushes and ran across her path. She jerked to a stop. Her heart pounded inside her chest. What the hell was this? Pick on Kaci day?

Stop being such a wimp!

She really hated her voice of reason. Why couldn't it tell her just once to turn around and run for her life? But no, the voice always wanted her to be courageous. Pffft, like that would ever happen.

She dragged her suitcase up the steps, cringing at each thump. Thumping noises were not good, either.

After setting her suitcase on the porch, she slipped the strap from her shoulder and set the satchel down as well. Her stomach rumbled. Even her gut was trying to tell her this wasn't a good idea.

She was here now; she might as well see this through. She tugged her baseball cap a little lower on her forehead and rang the bell.

"Act one. Here goes nothin'," she muttered. "You are tough, and you don't take crap off anyone," she said under her breath. Become the part. She rolled her shoulders, then tilted her head to the right, then the left.

She was ready. Good thing, too, as footsteps approached. She fervently hoped they were of the human variety-the alive human variety. As in the stodgy-professor-who-lived-here variety.

The door opened, and she looked at the man standing in front of her. Stared, actually. She snapped her mouth closed when she realized it was hanging open and that she probably looked like an imbecile. But this was no stodgy professor-not by a long shot.

He needed a shave, and his hair was tousled, as though he'd just gotten out of bed. Oh, that brought delicious images to mind. Her body tingled to awareness as her gaze moved down his sexy bod.

The white T-shirt he wore stretched nice and taut across his chest, and his jeans rode low on his hips. Her gaze dropped lower. And he was barefoot.

She quickly looked at the numbers beside the front door. Right address. But the man before her couldn't possibly be a history professor. She never had that kind of luck. This man was probably a student or a relative or something.

"I'm here to see Professor Peyton Cache," she told him.

He gave her the once-over. She felt a little insulted. She'd looked at him way longer, practically drooling, while he'd given her only a cursory glance. Damn, she should've put on a little lipstick or something, not worn the dumb cap and the baggy shirt and equally baggy sweatpants. She'd been trying to look the part so she'd be taken seriously, not girly.

"May I help you?" he asked.

"I believe I'm the one who is supposed to help you." That should make him take notice.

His eyebrows drew together in a vee. "Help me with what? Did the dean send you over? Are you a student?"

Or not.

"You called us-" she began, but he interrupted her.

"Listen, I'm expecting ... someone. I'll talk to the dean later and we can get this straightened out. I told him I didn't need an assistant. I'm really busy, so if you'll excuse me." He shut the door.

Now, that was rude. She leaned forward and peered through the etched glass. He had a nice walk as he padded away from her. Her gaze dropped. A very nice ... walk.

But she hadn't come here to be dismissed as a college student. Her father needed the money this job would bring. She rapped her knuckles on the door, then straightened when he turned around. His frown changed to a look of irritation as he marched back to the door and opened it.

"I told you ..."

"Do you want me to get rid of your ghost or not?" she asked, crossing her arms in front of her. "I mean, it's no skin off my nose, buddy. I just thought I'd mention that I'm not one of your preppie college students before I turn around and leave."

"You're the ghost exterminator?" His eyes widened in disbelief.

No, but she wasn't about to tell him the truth.

She cocked an eyebrow. "Yeah, you got a problem with that?"

Okay, that had sounded good. Very tough. As though she belonged to the mob and was ready to take out anything that got in her way-including a pesky ghost. She only wished she had some gum to chew. Chewing gum would've been a great prop.

His gaze skimmed over her again; then he arched an eyebrow as though he found her lacking. She squared her shoulders and glared at him. If not for her father, she would be so out of here.

"What happened to the man I spoke with?" he asked. "The owner? I thought he'd be the one coming out."

"The boss is busy. Name's Kaci. I work for him." Let him sink his teeth into that. It was her or nothing. But then, she didn't want him to send her away, either. That certainly wouldn't help her father. She softened her tone. "He's working another case."

Hiding, actually. From Guido. Her father owed him money. This job would pay off the two-bit thug, and then they could get on with their lives. She only had to do a little ... acting and convince the hunk in front of her that she could get rid of his ghost.

She hated being dishonest. But she'd hate it even more if her father was given a pair of concrete boots and dumped over the side of a boat. Not that she really thought that would happen-they'd been in a drought for almost two years.

And besides, she did know how to get rid of ghosts if worse came to worst. They just scared the hell out of her.

Usually, she stayed in the background of her father's business. Way in the background, as in the back of the office buried in paperwork. So, she wasn't being that dishonest. She just had to convince the man in front of her that she was damn good at exterminating ghosts.

And she could get rid of it-probably.

Time for act two.

She lazily looked around the porch, then back at him. "You want me to get rid of the ghost or not?" she asked in a bored tone.

Pushing him to make a decision might not be a good idea, but she had a feeling bringing the ghost back to the forefront of their conversation and reminding him of his problem wouldn't hurt.

Maybe she should've taken up acting. She'd almost had the lead in the school play her senior year, but her father had been a little behind on the rent, and they'd moved.

The professor looked as though he was thinking it over.

She picked up her suitcase and satchel. "Call me if you change your mind."

Please stop me, she silently prayed as she headed down the steps.

"No, wait."

Relief washed over her. Now it was time for the grand finale. She smiled to herself as she started back up the steps. She would've been damn good in the lead, too.

"It's not like I have much choice since Ghost Be Gone was the only ghost exterminator listed in the Yellow Pages," he said as he opened the door a little wider and stepped back so she could enter.

Yeah, she knew they were the only game in town. It was like being the only plumber, except they didn't get the call volume for ghost exterminating that plumbers got for fixing leaky pipes, or the money.

She tightened her hold on the suitcase, adjusted the shoulder strap on the satchel, and then went inside, feeling really good. The professor was desperate.

As soon as she stepped inside, her ego did a downward spiral. She was here to get rid of a ghost, and she didn't like them any more than she had ten minutes ago.

The interior was just as dark and gloomy as the exterior. She didn't like dark and gloomy. And there was a slight musty smell. Her father had told her the professor had recently bought the house. That could account for the dank odor.

But she doubted it.

A ghost could cause certain aromas, too. Sweet and pleasant if it was a happy spirit or, she swallowed hard, musty if it wasn't.

Her palms began to sweat, almost causing her to drop the suitcase. Her stomach churned. She wanted to turn around, tell him there'd been a big mistake, and leave. She could almost feel the energy emanating from the spirit. She was almost certain it wasn't going to go softly toward the light.

"Is that your equipment?" he asked.

"Clothes," she mumbled as she glanced up the shadowed staircase. Where were all the lights in this house?

"Clothes?" he asked.

She looked at him then. Damn, he was a hottie. He was the only good thing that had happened to her all week. She had a weakness for men with deep blue eyes and thick dark hair and ... actually, now that she thought about it, she had a weakness for hotties, and he was certainly that.

Concentrate! It would not do to let her guard down while there was a ghost in the house-if that was the case, and she was almost certain it was, even though she didn't have concrete proof yet.

"Yes, my clothes are in the suitcase," she answered him.

"As in, you'll be staying here?"

At least until the coast was clear to return home. Her father was working on a haunting in another state-where he'd be safe-for now, and hopefully, he'd also bring some money in from that job.

She cocked an eyebrow. "What? You thought I carried a can of ghost spray? A couple of squirts and no more ghost?" Her accent sounded good. Very New Jerseyish, and less like her slow, Texas drawl.

He frowned. Even that looked sexy as hell. Man, she was in so much trouble already. A ghost, a sexy hunk-she hoped there were no meteors traveling to Earth right now.

"Actually, I figured you'd hang garlic from the rafters or something," he said, sarcasm dripping from his words.

Oh, that was really snarky. Very well done. "Garlic only works on vampires," she told him.

"No," he began. "I didn't think you'd get rid of the spirit that easily. But I didn't think you'd have to stay the night."

The professor didn't look convinced that she needed to remain at the house. Time for more acting. Acting sounded so much better than telling herself she was flat out lying to the man.

She opened her satchel and brought out a cheap little meter, holding it high as she turned in a circle. When she faced the stairs, she pushed a button so the meter made a buzzing noise.

It was fake, of course, but it always seemed to reassure people more if you had a lot of gadgets.

"I should be so lucky that it only takes one night," she said as she dropped the meter back in her satchel.

"The dinner I'm hosting is in less than two weeks. The ghost has to be eliminated by then," he told her. "I don't want anyone getting hurt or scared to death."

"Then you'd better show me to my room so I can get settled in."

He frowned, and for a second or two, she thought this might be the end of her stay.

"Upstairs," he finally said.

Apparently, she was the lesser of two evils. She wasn't sure she liked the idea that she rated barely above a pesky ghost.

Peyton closed the door behind him, leaving Kaci to get settled into the guest room. His eyes narrowed as he stood there for a moment and digested everything that had happened. Kaci hadn't looked like a ghost hunter. At least, what he thought one should look like.

He was pretty certain she was a female, but with a name like Kaci, she could be male or female. It was hard to tell when she wore baggy sweats and that baseball cap pulled low on her forehead.

And she'd talked as though she were part of the mob or something. This was Texas. Did they have mafia in this state? He didn't think so. Maybe she wasn't from here.

He scraped his hair back with his fingers.

What the hell was he doing? Calling a ghost exterminator hadn't been a good idea. If the dean or any of the faculty got wind of it, they'd think he was crazy.

Not that he cared much what people thought about him as long as he got to teach, but there was some grant money up for grabs, and he could use it for his research. He seriously doubted he would get it if people thought he'd lost his mind.

Hell, maybe he had.

In the beginning, he'd figured all the odd things that were happening had to be college pranks. He was new to the area. He'd thought it might be some kind of initiation or something. But it hadn't stopped, and when he'd questioned a couple of the students, they'd looked at him as though he'd lost his mind.

No, there was a ghost.

Personally, he'd never really believed in ghosts. Then he'd bought the Victorian. Now he believed.

He'd move if all his money weren't tied up in this place. Besides, the fact was he refused to let something dead scare him away. Calling Ghost Be Gone was a last-ditch effort to lead a normal life.

Except he was running out of time.

Whatever was happening-haunting, poltergeist-it had to stop in less than two weeks. That was when he was hosting the faculty dinner. The dean would be there.

Not that the ghost had done any real damage-yet. So far, only his underwear had sprouted wings and flown through the house, but would the ghost get tired of silly pranks? What would go flying through the air next? The dean? Yeah, right, that would help his cause-not.

He went downstairs. But when he paused on the bottom step and looked behind him, he saw the green mist beginning to form. His stomach churned. There was little that had ever bothered him, but he had to admit, the ghost did exactly that, and then some.

The mist moved to the right, then the left. Slow, deliberate movements.

It was taunting him. Damn it, this was his house! It might have been the ghost's at one time, but that time was gone. "Just wait, buddy, your time here is just about over," he muttered.

The mist slowly faded, but the chill remained. Damned creepy. Okay, he'd try Kaci for a few days and see if the ghost would leave.

He went into the kitchen and grabbed a soda out of the fridge, then continued straight out the backdoor, sitting in one of the patio chairs. His safe place on the property. The ghost hadn't bothered him out here-yet.

Kaci had looked tough enough to whip any ghost.

Had it been an act? The company hadn't come with references. How did you check out a place like that? He couldn't very well call around asking people if they knew anything about Ghost Be Gone.

Hell, they could be shysters for all he knew. A big waste of his money and time. Except they hadn't asked for money up front. So maybe they were on the level.

He pulled the tab on the can of soda, then took a swallow, letting the cool liquid slide down his throat. A gentle breeze whispered through the oak that stood tall and proud at the edge of the patio.


Excerpted from MY FAVORITE PHANTOM by Karen Kelley Copyright © 2009 by Karen Kelley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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My Favorite Phantom 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Judy_F More than 1 year ago
My Favorite Phantom by Karen Kelley is another sexy and funny story that just delights.

Kaci Melton is a ghost exterminator who is afraid of ghost. When her dad is hiding out from the local mob she must take over the actual ghost removal on her own. She is convinced that the old dodger professor she is about to met will be a snap to fool. But its a handsome young man that needs her help. Oh dear.

Professor Peyton Cache wants to keep it a secret that he has a ghost. He can't have it getting around at the college, especially now when he is up for a promotion. When he first meets Kaci in her oversized baggy clothes he knows he won't be making another bad mistake by falling for her. Once she changes into her normal clothes he doesn't stand a chance.

The first encounter with the ghost has Kaci running into Peyton's arms. This ghost isn't a bad ghost until he develops a crush on Kaci, then things really get sticky. Add to this mix the goons that are after her dad, Kaci is having a time of it.

Karen Kelly writes laugher and hot romance like no other. I always know her books will entertain me on every level. Kaci and Peyton send sparks flying off of every page. This book is an absolute delight.
Bluebroom More than 1 year ago
Have you ever met a ghost?? Neither had Professor Peyton Cache, until he purchased the old Victorian house. Now he has a resident ghost which he needs to get rid of before he has a dinner party which has a lot at stake. What better way than hire ghost hunters or so Peyton thought.

This is the premise of Karen Kelley's latest release. The story has a hot steamy romance weaved with humor, all the elements that we have learned is Karen's distinctive style of writing.

Kaci Melton is a ghost hunter, in business with her Dad. She knows how to hunt them and get rid of them, but there is one BIG problem - ghosts scare her. This ghost is more aggressive than others - it wants Kaci for itself - what's a girl to do!! Get protection?? Who ends up protecting who here?

This is a fun romp for the reader. Peyton and Kaci come from different worlds, but the explosive feelings are hot and steamy and know no boundaries. But when secrets are revealed can they be overcome. Will the jealous ghost win in the end as it gets more aggressive. Then there is the father who brings more problems. All elements to keep the reader holding their breath one minute and laughing out loud the next.

The book is a delightful read, with lots of paranormal aspects tied into a steamy romance. I enjoyed this book and am sure that it is one not to be missed. I look forward to reading more of Karen's books in the future, a writer whose star is only getting brighter, and one worth watching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dja1231 More than 1 year ago
The book was cute. A romance wraped around ghost hunting.
NJ1231 More than 1 year ago
Excorcising a ghost is easier, when the ghost hunter isn't afraid of ghosts; and the one being haunted isn't hotter than sin, and VERY creative.
lovestoreadWS More than 1 year ago
I've read Karen Kelley books before and they were good, but this one was great. Very enjoyable and entertaining, didn't want it to end. The characters were fun and I wish my college professor rode a motorcycle and was HOT! I have passed this book around to the girls at work and eveyone has enjoyed it a lot...we can't wait for the next one.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Professor Peyton Cache is a bit shocked that his newly purchased Victorian contains a resident, a ghost who plays with his underwear amongst other disgusting habits. He wants to evict the spirit who emits slime everywhere, but also does not want to become a laughing stock at school. He hires serendipitously a professional ghostbuster informing her that his underwear better stay in his drawers within two weeks when he hosts a faculty dinner at his now house

Ghost hunter Kaci Melton shows up at Peyton¿s house. She hides the fact that her dad is the ghost hunter from her client and she just a needs a place to hide for a couple of days. She figures how hard can it be although she admits to herself ghosts scare the sh*t out of her and worse the hunk of a professor even frightens her more with her attraction to him.

Although the plot is thin, readers will enjoy this amusing paranormal romance with its not so subtle, make that slimed references, to the Ghostbusters. The story line is fast-paced and breezy as reluctant ghost hunter Kaci and skeptical professor Peyton battle ghosts and their respective hearts as each thinks who you gonna call when you fall in love.

Harriet Klausner