Driving to South Carolina to claim an inheritance from a total stranger didn’t figure into Logan Dean’s long term plans. But she'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity, and her mother didn’t raise any fools. Now she's a pawn in a vampire war and fighting to stay alive. Thankfully, she’s discovered an ally in mysterious Ian Grant. As her feelings for Ian grow, Logan comes to realize if she wants the love she deserves, she's going to have to fight the demons of her past.
For over a hundred years, cynical Ian Grant swore to never love another woman. But from the first time he saw Logan, he knew an ancient part of his history had come back to haunt him, and the one thing he doesn't want becomes the one thing he has to have.
Two irreconcilable lives, five hundred years of history, and all they have to do to live happily ever after is defeat the evil that threatens to tear them apart.
Read an Excerpt
As the sickening feeling clawed its way up through Logan, she froze. Not now. Not when things were, for once, going well. But deep down, she knew something big was coming. Because her premonitions were never wrong. And they were never good.
Seeing nothing out of sorts in the stifling hallway, she focused instead on the voices echoing behind the glossy doors in front of her. They turned sharp, the centuries-old oak not thick enough to mute the escalating argument, outrage and frustration becoming more distinct. Tempers becoming hotter. One of the voices, Logan assumed, belonged to Mr. Robert Fulmer, Esquire. Keeper of secrets and the man she was here to meet.
She was reaching for the brass handle of his office doors when she froze at the fury underlining each word. "Goddamn it, Robert. Tell me why." There was steel in that voice. No, she decided, it was more than that, it was absolute control holding back a tidal wave of rage.
"You aren't even supposed to be here, Ian. Bart wanted you in Scotland ..." Ah, there was Mr. Fulmer. She recognized his voice from the phone. Genteel, patient, and probably, under different circumstances, calming.
"Fuck what Bart wanted. He's dead. So what he wanted no longer matters, does it?" Backing away from that graveyard cold voice, Logan barely caught Robert's final words.
"But the girl matters. Get the hell out of here, Ian. Before she arrives." She? Were they talking about her?
As it was, when the door opened, Logan ended up nose to nose with him. Well, actually nose to chest. She closed her eyes and cursed silently. Damn it, if she'd only moved a little faster, she wouldn't have been caught eavesdropping.
The guy was huge. He sucked the air out of the already cramped hallway, looming over her as the déjà vu roared. Dressed in a suit that cost more than her truck, anger emanated from him, hot as lava, cutting quick and vicious through the air. Fighting the urge to step away, she tilted her head back to make eye contact. And her heart stopped. Set into an impossibly masculine face were shadowed eyes that flashed with anger, and a mouth that made her think of, well, things she shouldn't be thinking about right now. "Excuse me, I'm here to see a ... Mr. Fulmer? Regarding a Mr. Duncan? Am I in the right place?"
A smile that wasn't quite a smile curved those lips of his, and in that second he seemed dangerous, almost predatory, as a chill cut through her. From hot to cold in an instant, blazing to freezing with just a twitch of his mouth. Then suddenly, as he focused on her, his face paled and all that seething anger was replaced by an expression that was as equally surprising. Absolute shock.
"Excuse me. Did you hear me?" But still, he stared, never taking his eyes from her as he seemed torn between temper and confusion.
Logan, still reeling from the premonition, cleared her throat uncertainly. "Look, I'm here to see a Mr. Robert Fulmer, I've got an appointment?" When the client was unceremoniously elbowed out of the way by a slender, elegant man, Logan let out a shallow sigh of relief. 'Robert Fulmer, I presume.'
"Miss Dean?" The lawyer, too, had a look of astonishment on his face as he took her hand. Obviously, she was not what he expected, but then again, neither was he. From his deep voice on the phone, Logan had pictured someone larger and older, but he was tall and graceful, effortlessly handsome in the way that southern men were. Sophistication wrapped in a handmade pinstriped suit. Steady gray eyes were framed by wavy brown hair and a warm smile that put her instantly at ease. And when he kissed her hand in the dingy hallway that smelled of old cigars and stale air, she felt a charge go through her. Like things were on the verge of changing. "I apologize for keeping you waiting, Miss Dean. I know you've come a long way."
The tall man the lawyer had called Ian continued to study her. Almost like he was looking at a ghost. And his gaze was reciprocated by the strange sense of recognition that prickled through Logan. She risked a quick glance. Nope, him she'd remember. If not the face, which was, she decided, as damn close to perfection as you could get on this earth, at least the arrogance. Here was a man used to getting his way. "Um, yeah. I got here about six, I think. I drove all night."
Robert's pale gray eyes blinked once in affirmation. He shot his client a worried look before locking her in a kind, steady gaze. "Then you must be very tired?"
"A little ... uum ..." Logan risked a sideways glance to see if Robert's client had thawed even a little. Nope. Still frozen solid. Staring down at her with bottomless, glittering eyes that sent a chill straight through her. "Are you ready for me?"
"Give me a minute to wrap things up with Mr. Grant, and I'll be right with you." Robert ushered her into his office to wait, and when the door closed she heard voices again, softer now.
The air in Robert's office was at once antiquated and privileged. Scented with lemon polish and old money. Wavy oak floors scattered with faded Orientals and sedate leather chairs. Walls hung to overlapping with photographs of Charleston before and after the war, littered with past governors and those who history had ignored. Bookcases sagging under the weight of law books and oxidized brass plaques. The aging clutter helped her settle, gave her hope that maybe, just this once, nothing would come of her little peculiarity. That maybe, here in this strange place, good things might happen. And so, when Mr. Fulmer cleared his throat, she practically jumped out of her shoes.
He smiled apologetically. "I'll try and be quick, you're probably exhausted. The papers are laid out in my office. Perhaps you'd like some coffee?"
"No thanks, but water would be great. If you have it." Logan fought the impulse to yawn.
Georgia, his assistant, bustled in a minute later. She winked as she pressed the frosty glass into Logan's hand. "Glad you finally made it down here, sweetie, we've been anxious to meet you."
Once the door closed behind her, Logan grinned at Robert. "Georgia's the one who talked me into this, you know. I probably never would have come down without her convincing me you would help me." She'd been in total disbelief when that first letter came, informing her of the inheritance. Georgia had smoothed over that disbelief with a mix of easy charm and common sense. Just come down and meet with Robert, sweetie, and he'll explain things. He handles this kind of thing all the time. You'll see, it'll all work out.
"Georgia's been with me forever." He tipped back his chair. "Practically since the day I opened my practice." Listening to his deep, rolling baritone, somehow Robert seemed instantly familiar. Maybe it was simply the way that small town people seem to recognize each other, are drawn to each other. So familiar, in fact, that Logan almost asked why he'd been discussing her business with that client of his.
As if reading her mind, Robert continued, "I apologize for the way Mr. Grant acted, he's an old friend and he's having, let's just say, a very trying day, Miss Dean. That sounds so stuffy, may I call you Arcadia?" Logan winced. There it was, her mother's twisted sense of revenge.
"Um, I don't usually go by that. Most people just call me Logan, it's a little easier."
Normally that would have been the end of it, but the lawyer in him persisted. "Were your parents interested in Greek mythology?" Logan shook her head. Negatory on that.
Robert looked at her over steepled fingers. "Arcadia is Greek, it means 'Utopia.' I once knew a girl with that name, a long time ago. In a way, you remind me of her a little." The sweet, reminiscent memory in his voice made her smile, too. "Especially around the eyes."
"They always said I was named after Arcadia, Ohio. My dad's hometown. But I just stick with Logan. It's ..."
"Easier, yes, I believe it would be." Robert spread the paperwork out before pulling out a silver fountain pen. "We've dated the paperwork May seventeenth, so all you'll have to do is sign and initial where I show you." Logan couldn't control herself anymore. Anticipation and excitement brushed everything aside, even the lingering déjà vu. She was about to own a house. And not just any house, a house with an actual name. Aviemore Hall.
Not that she had expected anything of the sort when she'd received that first letter, which she'd promptly thrown away and forgotten until the second one had arrived. Certified that time. With the gold, embossed address of a law firm in Charleston, South Carolina on its very expensive handmade paper. That one she'd signed for.
Something about the names at the bottom ... Jane Duncan and Alice Simms, formerly of Northdale, Ohio ... had jogged her memory.
Logan had lived on Main Street in Northdale until she was seven, and next to them, in a crumbling Queen Anne that had seen better days, lived two equally ancient spinsters, Janie and Alice. She'd picked all their flowers; they'd taught her to shell peas. From the time she could walk, till the afternoon they'd moved out to the suburbs, she spent every second of her life at their house. In those years, the women had become family.
Reluctantly, Logan had called her mother. But only because Nancy Wilcox Dean III, knew everything. If it had happened in Northdale, she'd remember. Her mind was a bottomless rolodex of scandals, adultery, and small-town minutia. Between cigarettes, Nancy told Logan what she recalled. Yes, there had been a brother, yes, he'd been from down south, somewhere. And of course he'd been odd, possibly a drifter, or an axe murderer. Armed with that little bit of intel, Logan had called, and Georgia, with her gentle voice that dripped Old South, had convinced her to come. And here she was. Waiting to see what fickle fate had in store for her now.
"I need your signature on these." Robert pushed paper after paper over to her and pointed. "And here ... and here ... and initial down here ... and sign ... and date." He kept his eyes fixed on her face as he briskly tapped them on the desk.
"Now, I know this seems a bit much. But Bart wanted me to read the will to you." Robert placed a manila envelope in front of him, flat on the desk, and grinned. "And I must admit, I'm curious to see your reaction. I've been waiting a long time ... to meet you, Logan." He rubbed his hands together, like a wizard over his Grimoire, summoning all the legal powers at his disposal. "Shall we?" Logan nodded.
He slit open the envelope with a theatrical flourish.
"I, Virgil Bartholomew Crinan Duncan, being of sound mind and body, put to writing my wishes, in this, my last will and testament. I bequeath as follows ..." Robert stopped reading for a second and adjusted his glasses as a ghost of a smile flitted over his face. "I leave to Arcadia Logan Dean, my sole and only beneficiary, all that I have in this world. Namely, Aviemore Hall, located at 1762 Ashley River Road, along with all furnishings, sundries belonging therein, and the surrounding fifty acres of land reaching from the aforementioned road to the Ashley River. Please see updated surveyor's report contained herein."
"Signed, this twenty-third day of August, two thousand and one.
Virgil Bartholomew Crinan Duncan."
A house. He'd really left her the house. It wasn't a dream. Logan wanted to pinch herself, but that would be way too obvious. She did it anyway.
"... And there's an addendum, dated the eleventh of January, two thousand and sixteen, which indicates:
I also bequeath the contents of my safe deposit box located at the Merriman Bank of the South, please refer to Mr. Robert Fulmer for Power of Attorney, as well as the sum of three hundred fifty-six thousand dollars, held in a savings account, also at Merriman Bank.
Money? Logan heard herself asking, "I'm sorry, that can't be right, can it?" Robert was explaining, but she was far away. Trying to remember. Sitting on an old picnic table under the trees, it had been a perfect day. Late afternoon sunlight was filtering down through giant maples when Mr. Duncan had joined them. He dressed old, she remembered, like her grandfather. With his bowler hat and the long sweat stain following his backbone, he sure hadn't seemed like someone who was rich or owned a fancy mansion.
What he had seemed was scary. Sure, he tried to talk nice, but he wasn't, even back then she'd known that. He had a mirthless laugh that had made her edge away into the safety of Janie's arms. So, in a way, Logan did remember him, a faint sense of unease still prickling her neck. Knew him enough to recall his voice, anyway, a deep lumbering hum that could, very well, have been a southern drawl. "Miss Dean?"
Logan pushed the memories aside. "Yes, sorry about that. This all seems so ... surreal. I can't believe somebody would leave all of this to me. You see ... look, I didn't really know him, Mr. Fulmer."
A soft light lit his eyes. "Janie lived a very, very long life, Logan. And after she died, Bart had no one. No children of his own, you see. You might not have known him, but he certainly remembered you. What I do know is that you meant the world to Janie. And down here, family is family. We take care of our own." He shrugged as he took in her glazed eyes. "But all of that can wait. What do you say we meet at the house tonight and walk through it together?"
"Yes, that would be great." Her head was still spinning as she navigated Charleston's narrow streets to the hotel Georgia had recommended and checked in. She pulled out the snapshots Robert had sent her, the ones she'd been poring over for weeks now. The house was huge, framed by oaks dripping moss against a yawning sky. She studied the picture, falling backward onto the softest bed ever. Her back would probably be killing her when she woke up, but she didn't care. She'd sleep until seven and then meet Mr. Fulmer at the house at nine.
No, Logan corrected herself, at her house at nine.
Right before nightfall, Logan turned into the weedy gravel of the driveway, driving slow because she was expecting a gate, then faster because there wasn't one. Clumps of industrious weeds bent down under the bumper, but she still heard the crunch of gravel. As she parked next to a sleek, silver Jaguar, she stood for a moment to let it all sink in. Aviemore Hall was a three-story antebellum with two decadent, albeit decaying, porches. Her heart beat a little faster. There was still a magnificence amid the decay, good bones, and a certain majesty in the peeling moldings and copper finials. "Watch your step." Robert called as she skirted the slick rot of brown azalea blossoms that coated the sagging stairs.
At the top of exactly nineteen steps she paused. "She was a beauty in her time," Robert observed. "Once. Before Bartholomew couldn't take care of her anymore." His eyes gleamed in the pitch-black, paler even than before. Logan was dying to get inside, anticipation positively thrumming inside her.
"I can see that. This was a beautiful home. And it will be again if I have anything to do with it." They dodged the debris that cluttered the porch.
He was wrestling with the key when she took it from him and slid it easily into the lock. It clicked open as he chuckled. "Bart was always able to do that, too. First time lucky, I guess. I always seem to put it in the wrong way." He hesitated on the porch for a minute while Logan stepped into absolute darkness.
"Well, don't just stand there, come in and help me with the lights." She called as she fumbled around in the dim. Within a minute the first floor was lit, mahogany floors gleaming, antiques lurking under expensive white sheets. Smelling of money and privilege, the house didn't have the air of abandonment yet, just the sense of things unfinished and waiting.
"Do you think you'll be staying for a while, then?" Robert brushed the top of a couch. "Bart would have liked that."
Until she'd set foot inside, Logan hadn't considered it. But somehow, Bart had sure known how to get to her. He'd given her something to save. Worked every time. "Maybe. I've been thinking. I could ... use some of Bart's money to fix her ..." she hesitated a little on the word, "... up and once I get things sorted out, I could put her on the market."
"Bart would have liked for you to stay." He narrowed his eyes, looking like he meant to get his way. "You're an artist, right? You can live anywhere. If you wanted to."
Logan studied him for a long moment. "Yeah, I'm a painter, but I can't just pick up and go. There's stuff waiting for me up there. Work stuff." But she wondered how much of her past he knew about. What if the stories had made it all the way down here, to Mr. Duncan? "Look, I've worked hard to build up a successful business back home. I'm closer to my New York clients, plus my family's there. I can't just walk away from all that." The thought of southern heat, humidity, and mosquitoes made her shudder. But still ...
Excerpted from "Shadows of Ghosts"
Copyright © 2017 L. A. McGinnis.
Excerpted by permission of The Wild Rose Press, Inc..
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.