Only a Ghost Knows

Only a Ghost Knows

by Mary Elizabeth Sheffield


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Only a Ghost Knows by Mary Elizabeth Sheffield

Amy Fletcher is a skilled Psychic, but her profession hasn’t been easy, since she was raised by strict, religious parents who disapproved of her talents. But troubled spirits do not stay silent, and Amy’s calling is one she follows with her whole heart.

Responding to a frantic call from her closest friend, Amy travels across country to help solve a haunting at the Dandelion Care Home. She unwittingly finds herself being the victim of intrigue, a romance cloaked in deception, and attempted murder. After meeting the home’s owner, Mrs. Dorothy “Cruella” Green, whose nickname was well-earned, Amy realizes that she has a hidden agenda putting everyone’s lives at risk. Dorothy’s desperation to sell her haunted home is thwarted with objects moving, music coming through the walls, and lonesome cries wailing at night.

As Amy stubbornly pushes forward to put this ghost to rest, she gets unexpected help from the home’s lone employee, the peculiar Jamaican caretaker, Tandi Davis. Only Tandi understands the house’s past tragedies and is there to protect those who are dead and alive. Skillfully maneuvering through the spirit world, Amy slowly unravels a mystifying murder which helps her solve the mysteries surrounding the haunted home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490720128
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 12/28/2013
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.56(d)

Read an Excerpt

Only A Ghost Knows

By Mary Elizabeth Sheffield

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Mary Elizabeth Sheffield
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4907-2012-8


A Snapshot in Time

A loud snap of someone's fingers startled me as I said goodbye to my afternoon client. It was my dead grandmother being helpful to remind me of the time. I waved again, thanking her for the two referrals. Twirling around, I quickly closed the door and looked at my wristwatch, thankful that I had another fifteen minutes before my father came home.

I patted the $80 in my tight jeans pocket, relieved knowing I had half of my college loan for the month. The sturdy front door leaned into me as I closed my eyes to the bland living room that hadn't been redecorated in the last twenty years. Glaring at the ancient grandfather clock, its laborious ticking reminded me of my secret life.

My name is Amy Fletcher, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I still live with my parents and was desperate to move out. My big problem was that going to college wasn't cheap, UCLA wasn't cheap, and getting a foothold in the journalism field was harder than I thought. To make things worse, my Orthodox Catholic father and I were on different wavelengths when it came to our individual religious beliefs. If he knew I was using his home as my own personal office to give psychic readings, he'd kick me out of the house. But how else was I going to pay off my outrageous school loans, along with my weekly penchant for a Starbucks cappuccino?

My rebellious nature created a lot of conflict for me ever since I could remember. As a child, I just assumed everyone saw spirits or could talk to them. I was naive and excited about my other world and just yammered away about seeing dead people. My mother used to tell me that when I was four years old, she'd find me talking to someone while playing in my room. When asked whom I was talking to, I hugged my teddy and said it was Boo. Like any other concerned parents, they consulted a psychiatrist, who told them it was natural for a child my age to create an imaginary friend for companionship.

Problem was, Boo never left because it was my grandmother who died before I was born. She was there to keep an eye on me and sang to me at night, trying to coax me to sleep. Part of her charm was to tell me delightful stories at night about my father, making me laugh and clapping my hands for more. Tearing up, Grandma used to say that I was the little girl she never had and promised to protect me while I dreamed.

After a while, my parents' concern turned into frustration, thinking I was making it up to get attention. When I got older, I spoke less about my grandmother, remembering how she always put a finger to her lips and shook her head saying no, telling me to keep it our secret. People are all about secrets. It's inevitable. Maybe a human anomaly, I often pondered, thinking of my own hidden agenda. It begins in our childhood, with us whispering into each other's ears and giggling over some newfound scoop we'd like to share, assuming no else knows.

It's astounding how keeping secrets can hurt us and others, the longer we hold them inside. Like my client this afternoon, who held on to a childhood trauma and couldn't move forward. Her dead mother came through apologizing profusely for kicking her out of the home at a young age of sixteen for being pregnant. Tears rolled down my client's face as she explained that it was her mother's rigid religious beliefs that forced her out of the house, where she had to give her child up for adoption. It's frightening at times being a conduit and relaying someone else's experiences. But that's how my guides communicated with me, by imparting those same emotions I might have felt during my life.

My parents were an emotional oddity too. I often asked myself, "Why did they even have me since they certainly don't act like they even wanted me?" Part of me understood that this lack of emotional nurturing started with my grandfather, a tough Chicago cop who had little respect for women, and that's how my father treated my mother and me. This lack of respect trickled into my formative years, making me continuously second-guess my existence, where I suffered isolation. I tried to be the "good" girl but was forever a disappointment. Growing up, there were times I felt I was running a gauntlet of minefields, wondering when one of them would take me out. My hands clenched as I brooded over a painful childhood memory.

I could hear my mother's frustration as she cried, "How did you get to be such an exasperating child?" I'm only ten years old, but even I know something must be terribly wrong with me because I'm always upsetting her. My parents named me Mary, after my grandmother. As an only child, I got away with a lot of things, which drove my mother crazy. So one day, I decided to hate my name and chose to call myself Amy. No matter how many times my mother grasped her hands in despair, I refused to budge on the issue. What's the big deal anyway? I'm gonna keep three out of the four letters from my old name!

Mom and I were living in Los Angeles, California, while my dad was doing God knows what in the army. Ten-year olds were never told anything important anyway. We were stuck living next door to my cousins, and to make me more miserable, they threw me into Catholic school at the last minute.

Don't parents ever stop and ask what their kid might actually want? I kept hearing them tell me, "Amy, these decisions are made for the good of the child." If my parents only knew of all the other brats that were put into Catholic school, they'd be sending in the SWAT team to yank me out. Oops, I forgot. According to my parents, I'm one of those brats! I guess there's no hope left for me.

Life sucked right now! It's bad enough going to St. Augustine's school, but my parents forced me to go to mass every Sunday, telling me my soul needed to be protected. So here I am, squished in between my mother and father, Henry and Louise Fletcher, who, for some reason, had to pick the pew that had twice as many people in it. Actually, it's my mother's fault. She was always worried about what other people thought and was too embarrassed to go further up where those nice empty spaces were. We were really late this time!

The worst part of being ten is that you get blamed for everything. Like being late to church again. Hey, I'm the kid who can't drive, remember? Like I said, it was my parents' bickering over Dad's last stay in Korea. My father left my mom alone to deal with me all by herself. I know I was supposed to be good, but when I saw something that needed to be fixed, I fixed it.

Like my cousin Claire. She was missing a patch of freckles right on the tip of her nose. She never stopped talking about it. So all I did was help. How was I supposed to know that the marker I used to fill in that blank spot was permanent and purple? Okay, so maybe I did feel a little bad that it wouldn't come off for days no matter how hard my aunt Betty tried to scrub it off. Boy, did I get in trouble for that! My mom was happy to tell me that I committed a venial sin. Did I already say that life sucked right now?

And that part where children are meant to be seen and not heard? I had to change those rules too. I mean, there were so many questions I had to ask, and I couldn't waste a minute of my God-given life. Just quoting Sister Agnes, who pointed out to all of us fourth graders how grateful we should be that we're even allowed to live.

I also hated the fact that I'm just elbows and knees, and my mom refused to let my nice blonde hair grow out like the other girls. I wanted to yell out to the world, "I'm being scalped here," but no one seemed to care. Oh, and what about these god-awful blue plastic glasses I'm forced to wear? Not that I minded the color blue, but why did they have to be crooked? I was constantly holding one side up with my finger, trying to be cool. Don't parents know that a kid can die from all that teasing one gets for just the smallest thing out of place?

So I was trying really hard to listen to this very long-winded sermon that Father Horatio was giving. When I turned to ask my mom if she could see that other priest, Father Seamus, my dad suddenly yanked me up by my collar and pulled me down the aisle in front of everybody.

When he got me behind the church doors, he said in that West Point tone of his, "This is a time of worship and not talking, young lady. Keep that mouth shut and just listen, or I'm going to box both of those ears of yours, where listening won't be a problem anymore!" He then grasped my collar with a tight fist, dragged me down the aisle, and dropped me into my seat with a huge thud.

I stared down at my feet with a very red face and decided right then and there that I hated three people. First, my dad, for embarrassing me. Second, my mother, for not protecting me from my father. Then there was Jesus. A lot of good he was, with all that love-your-neighbor stuff. How about love your kid? So at that point, I decided to hate them all! And guess what? My mother would fall into a dead faint, especially when she found out, how I was going to screw up the big plans she had for me by not being the next Mother Teresa!

The only thing that kept me from bawling right then and there was Father Seamus, who smiled and told me it was going to be all right. I knew my parents couldn't see him. They thought I was making stuff up again. But there he was, floating around with that wonderful glow about him. And when he spoke into Father Horatio's ear, I could hear him too. I thought it was nice that Father Seamus was helping Father Horatio with his Latin, 'cause that stuff was really hard to learn. Even I had a hard time understanding all those big words.

I could feel big drops of tears rolling off my face and onto my hands and was grateful for the first time that I wore glasses to mask my pain. The thing is, I wasn't crying because of what my father just did to me. I was crying because I received a kind word from a complete stranger, who happened to be a ghost. He gave me more sympathy in that one minute than my mother could give me because she was too scared to cross my father. At that moment, I felt pretty pathetic, realizing I couldn't evoke kindness from the people who mattered. That was when I vowed to never cry again.

The shrill sound of the telephone jolted me back to the present. I touched my cheeks and was amazed to find tears rolling down my face. True to my word, I hadn't shed a tear since then. I really thought I had put that all behind me. I remembered my cousins trying to comfort me that day after witnessing my shame. They kept consoling me, saying it'd get better. But what did other kids my age know anyway? All I knew back then was that I was treated like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Like I didn't have a brain.

The irony of that painful experience is, I realized my parents did me a huge favor. Because out of those ashes of shame came a tenacity to continuously prove them wrong. It was that moment in my life where I was most naive yet was able to experience complete clarity that forever defined me. I learned to trust and depend more on my unseen friends than my earthbound ones. As a child, I kept thinking how cool it was that these friendly spirits could float and go through walls.

I might not have been the smartest kid, but I did know that I could see what others could not. Every day since then, I thanked God and science that time didn't stand still for me, and the rhythm of life finally let me grow up.


Time to Use My Brain

In the last three years since I've graduated from college, I've managed to buy a new car, earned a decent living as a freelance journalist, and procured my first rental. Sounds good, right? I kept telling myself that everything was great, except sharing the "moving-out part" with my father. My father has a hard time with change. I'm often astounded that he even allowed me to leave the house to go to college.

At twenty-five, I'd like to think I had the respect of my peers and my father. Well, at least half my wish came true. Life is about upsets and unseen tragedies. That's what happened to me when I lost my mom to a freak accident, which completely turned my life upside down.

Right after I graduated from college, my mother tripped over her own two feet. Not a big surprise, since both of us were klutzes (inherited from a long line of previous klutzes). When Dad took her to the emergency room, the doctors found out that she suffered a hairline fracture in her femur. No big deal they said, but the fracture nicked a vein, so she had to have minor surgery to cauterize it.

Leaving Mom at the hospital to sleep off the successful surgical procedure, neither of us expected the 4:00 a.m. call the next morning. They told us a clot had formed near the nicked vein and went undetected by the surgeons. We were reassured it was quick when she passed in her sleep when the clot lodged in her brain.

My father was an emotional wreck, wanted to cry but couldn't. He turned his anger toward the hospital and the doctors, threatened to sue them for negligence. But I convinced him to let it go, because how could anyone really know that would happen? As it turned out, the hospital wrote a $100,000 check to my father, avoiding any future liability and temporarily pacifying my father's grief.

After my mother's death, I put all my attention on a career and started to earn a respectable living, along with the added income in giving readings as a psychic/medium. You'd think I'd be happy, but living with my father since my mother's death forced me to look for a place of my own. My father (the colonel) was a major control freak, and standing up to him was like facing Saddam Hussein's firing squad. Thank God there weren't any loaded guns around the house, at least not within hands' reach. Life with him had toughened me up to withstand the most catastrophic events, which one of them was happening right now.

He was only five feet six inches tall and still sported the same crew cut he had his entire military career to cover up his premature gray hair. I would have been shocked into a heart attack if he loosened up a bit after his retirement. One of my father's nicest features was his deep blue eyes that were still hidden by a pair of military black-framed glasses. It was a darn shame that my father's biggest fear of not having structure in his life prevented him from being a little trendy. The only thing he had going for him was his love of golf. His passion started when he got stationed at Fort Baker, San Francisco, where they had a huge parade field right in front of our 1920s house. Whenever he had a chance, he'd take a bucket of golf balls and practice hitting those silly white things during his time off.

When I was eight years old, my father sent me down the opposite end of the field to retrieve his golf balls, saving himself a backache. Grinning at this brilliant idea, he was delighted that someone else was doing the extra work, until one day, he made a slice shot and hit me in the leg when my back was turned. My mother screamed at my father for days after they rushed me to the military hospital. Ironically, he was more embarrassed by his bad shot than apologetic for hitting me. Nothing stopped my father from playing a game that could be disguised as work, not when the golf course was the most common place where all the officers, from generals to lowly lieutenants, would conduct their meetings. It was a game that was completely unpredictable and that finally translated into how he changed his style of dress after he retired. Before, his outfits were nondescript white button-down starched shirts, and now he allowed himself to wear more fashionable golf apparel.

No matter how dashing my father looked in his turquoise golf shirt, it didn't distract me from the belligerent look on his face when I told him of my decision. "Look, Dad, I love you, but it's been three years since I've graduated from college, and I need"—I paused, desperate to find the least hurtful words—"my own life. So I've found a new place just a few minutes away." Okay, so it's more like thirty minutes away, but who's counting?

Nervously biting my lip, I watched for his reaction from lowered lids and saw that telltale twitch under his right eye. Uh-oh, this wasn't going to be pretty. I spoke quickly before he could start ranting. "Now, Dad, you've always encouraged me to be independent and be a contribution to society. I'm just taking a piece out of your 'playbook of life' and forging ahead." I swear those are his words, not mine. What idiot my age would talk like this?

My dad held up his hand and motioned for me to stop speaking. My body tightened as I held my breath, waiting for his "direct" attack. "I'm not happy, Amy, by these sneaky tactics you've just pulled on me." He paused for a second, then took a deep breath. "You know I hate surprises, but then, you were always that child who did her own stubborn thing." He muttered to himself, "Must have got it from me."


Excerpted from Only A Ghost Knows by Mary Elizabeth Sheffield. Copyright © 2013 Mary Elizabeth Sheffield. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments, ix,
Prologue, xi,
Chapter 1 A Snapshot in Time, 1,
Chapter 2 Time to Use My Brain, 7,
Chapter 3 Visiting Georgia, 20,
Chapter 4 A Place to Stay, 30,
Chapter 5 The Dream, 40,
Chapter 6 The Dandelion Care Home, 55,
Chapter 7 Meeting Tommy Simpson, 66,
Chapter 8 Mrs. "Cruella" Green, 76,
Chapter 9 The Turret, 87,
Chapter 10 Lily's Final Bow, 105,
Chapter 11 Something Wicked This Way Comes, 120,
Chapter 12 Returning to the Scene of the Crime?, 143,
Chapter 13 The Bitter Road, 157,
Chapter 14 Putting the Pieces Together, 174,
Chapter 15 Full Circle, 188,
Chapter 16 Getting Answers, 208,
Chapter 17 A Beginning at the End, 228,
Epilogue, 233,

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ONLY A GHOST KNOWS 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Only a Ghost Knows is a paranormal thriller written by Mary Elizabeth Sheffield. Amy Fletcher is a freelance journalist who’s finally gotten up the gumption to move out of her father’s house and into a place of her own. After the stress of telling him about her move, Amy's relieved to be returning for a visit to her home-state of Georgia after a 10-year absence. Becky, her best friend and constant correspondent, has asked her to come and investigate the odd goings-on at the nursing home where she works. The stately Victorian mansion seems to be haunted, and the supervisor's decision to close off the entrance to an upper turret seems to have been the catalyst for the increased paranormal activity. Amy's been seeing the spirits of people who've passed on since she was very small, and Becky thinks she'll be perfect for resolving this mystery. Mary Elizabeth Sheffield's paranormal thriller, Only a Ghost Knows, is a well-written and entertaining ghost story. I love ghost stories and was not at all disappointed by Sheffield's offering. She builds a marvelous plot surrounding Lily Richfield, a young woman who lost her husband and son and lived on in the house her husband built until she was found dead of a morphine overdose. The villain of the tale, nursing home supervisor, Dorothy Green, is decidedly creepy, evil and repulsive, and seems a lot scarier than any spectral visitation Amy has yet to encounter. I enjoyed every minute I spent reading Only a Ghost Knows and recommend it to those who enjoy paranormal thrillers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved how the author built up Amy's character and her relationship with her father. It really brought dimension to the character and emphasized that she chose her family even if they weren't blood related. I liked the plot twist at the end of the book and how the book kept you guessing. I also admire the author for questioning life after death and what it might be like; it takes bravery to dig into such a meaningful and deep idea! Overall, this is a really good book that is really well written and definitely enjoyable.