Ghost of a Kiss
ISBN (ebook only): 978-1-907623-28-8
Kindle ASIN: B0083TC5GW
Also available in print, in Black Ice: collected stories.
Length: 13,200 words ( 29 .pdf pages) / Short Fiction
cover art by Anna Reith
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~Take care that you do not leave the old road for the new road. (Cornish proverb)
Read reviews for Ghost of a Kiss here.
Artist Sarah Poole never expected to inherit her Aunt Charlotte’s 1930s Art Deco villa in Cornwall, England. She travels to the tiny village of Porth Greavy and falls in love with the beautiful white house on the cliff, but with it comes a mysterious visitor.
Who is the intriguing Michael Polrose, and what does he really want?
An Excerpt from:
GHOST OF A KISS
© Anna Reith. All rights reserved.
“OH, PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE KIDDING!”
Sarah Poole shook her head, smiled, and ignored the rise of hysteria in Jeni’s voice. They were sitting in Baccini’s, their favourite coffee spot—not far from Central Park, but not so close as to be full of tourists—behind cappuccinos thickly laced with foam and cinnamon sprinkles. Golden summer sunlight slunk around their ankles. Sarah loved New York like this; she saw why Jeni thought she must be crazy to leave.
“It’ll only be for a few weeks,” Sarah said, to convince herself just as much as Jeni. “Just to see what kind of shape the house is in, deal with getting it on the market.”
“But you could do all that from here,” Jeni wheedled. She swiped her spoon through the layer of froth that ringed her half-empty cup and quirked an eyebrow. “Anyway, it’s going to be some awful, tumble-down old heap with rats and rising damp. Probably haunted, too.”
Sarah chuckled. Jeni shook her glossy black hair back off her shoulders and widened her dark brown eyes incredulously. They’d been friends since high school, and ever since people had remarked on the contrast between them: Jeni’s Mediterranean looks against Sarah’s pale, freckled skin and gingery, frizzy red locks. As if they’d planned it like that.
“Well,” Jeni said indignantly, “homes you inherit from long-lost relatives always are, aren’t they? And England has some really old houses… it’s probably got a butler and a crypt in the back yard.”
Sarah’s laugh got harder and gave rise to a snort. She clamped a hand over her mouth, and the heat of a blush washed over her cheeks as Gianni—the barista whom she and Jeni sometimes lazily flirted with over the coffee and amaretti—glanced at her across a tray of cups he’d been collecting from the empty tables. Sarah bit down on the last bubbles of mirth and glared at Jeni.
“Shut up! Anyway, Auntie Charlotte wasn’t long lost. We used to see her all the time when we were kids; she only moved over there about fifteen years ago, after her husband died.”
“Yeah. I think she married again. Mom got a letter when I was at college. Can’t remember the guy’s name, but I know she said they met and married abroad. Whether she meant England or not… I don’t know. Charlotte always did love to travel.”
“Sounds like a woman after my own heart.” Jeni lifted her foam-laden spoon in a mock toast. “To Auntie Charlotte, her rising damp… and her creepy English butler!”
“Stop it,” Sarah said mildly.
In truth, she still hadn’t assuaged her guilt about Charlotte. All her memories of the woman—family Christmases and huge, sprawling Thanksgiving meals, birthday presents, and hugs that smelled of talc and rosewater—and somehow she’d let contact lapse. The lawyers had said they’d spent weeks trying to track her down. She hadn’t even known her aunt had been ill.
Funny to think of those blue eyes wizened with age, the tight, rosy skin of her cheeks sallow and sunken. Sarah hated that they’d lost touch the way they had, because what could there be to connect lives, except other people?
All that holds us together in a light silken web, so easily snapped.
“Well, I’d still have got the lawyers to handle it all without me.” Jeni sniffed. “It’ll be a nightmare—bet you anything. Where the heck is it again?”
Sarah shook her head out of the clouds… or maybe the clouds out of her head.
“Uh… it’s a little village called Porth Greavy, in Cornwall. Right down at the most southwesterly part of England.” She said the words as if she was reading them from a cue card, some half-remembered fragment of one of the online guidebooks she’d glanced at since that fateful call. “Cornwall’s been home to lots of artists and writers. People say it’s very beautiful.”
Jeni snorted. “You mark my words. Rats. And wood rot.”
This title was previously published under the pen name M. King, and is presented here in a revised and expanded edition.