Giving Up the Ghost by Marilyn Levinson



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After her divorce, Gabbie Meyerson moves to the sleepy town of Chrissom Harbor, Long Island, to teach English at the local high school. She settles into her rental cottage above the Long Island Sound and discovers she has a housemate--the ghost of Cameron Leeds, who used to live in the cottage. Cam insists his death was no accident, and implores Gabbie to find out who murdered him eight months ago. After she recovers from her initial shock, Gabbie agrees to investigate.

She learns from CH residents that Cam was the town daredevil, romeo, and wheeler dealer. His four friends Reese, Jack, Terry, and Don are angry because Cam deceived them in a land deal. They each have a personal reason to hate him, as well. And his lover's husband is a possible suspect. Despite what she hears, Gabbie finds herself growing fond of Cam and continues to search for his killer.

At school, Gabbie has to contend with two bullies who pick on one of her students, but receives no support from the ineffectual principal. She becomes friendly with Cam’s married lover, Jill Leverette, whose strange neighbor, Sonia Russell, has turned hostile, though Jill doesn’t know why.

A mutual attraction springs up between Gabbie and Cam's best friend, Police Chief Darren Rollins, which she tries to ignore. After their first date, she decides it's time Darren reopened the investigation into the circumstances of Cam's death. She has Darren talk to Cam in his present form.

The investigation is opened, and someone attacks Gabbie inside the cottage. One of the bullies is murdered and the other goes missing. Nerves are on edge as town residents search for the boy. And suddenly the murderer's inside Gabbie's cottage, putting her life and the boy's in danger.

Excerpt:

Mesmerized, Gabbie stared at the ghost of a man whose striking good looks outstripped her imagination. Khaki shorts and a short-sleeved rugby shirt showed off his lean, athletic build. Black hair framed a square face of even features that reminded her of Warren Beatty in his heyday.

He flashed a grin. "Hey, relax. I'm one of the good guys."

One of the good guys? It was like a macabre joke. She wanted to run from the room, but she couldn’t move. She remained frozen where she sat.

That's good to know, only I wish you weren't here. You aren't here. You can't be."

She closed her eyes and prayed she was in the middle of a dream and he'd disappear. But when she opened her eyes he was still perched against the desk, waiting patiently for her attention.

Was she losing her mind? No, she was hallucinating. Her mind was creating the image she thought she could see, because of what she'd been told about the man who had died while living in this cottage. Except that notion wouldn't fly. Last night, when she'd sensed his presence and heard his voice, she'd known nothing about Cameron Leeds.

At least he showed no sign of being hostile. "Are you a ghost?" she finally ventured.

"I suppose. Or we might use another term if you prefer: phantom, wraith, apparition, specter. All euphemisms, wouldn't you agree?"

Now that her terror had abated, Gabbie was astonished at how quickly she was adapting to the reality of her situation. The ghost of Cameron Leeds haunted, or whatever the appropriate term was, her cottage. Still, she refused to get caught up in his semi-flirtatious banter. She remembered what Lydia and Darren had said about his reputation with women, and could see how any susceptible female might fall victim to his charms.

She was shaken by his ghostly appearance, but totally impervious to his appeal. The certainty broke the spell that had rooted her. She was free to move.

"I'm going to make myself a cup of tea." She strode from the room.

"You have a cup of tea on the table," he said. "Please come back."

She caught the urgency in his voice. "I need to be by myself."

"But I have to talk to you."

Oddly enough, he made no attempt to follow her, but hovered just inside the den. "At least tell me your name," he shouted.

"It's Gabbie. Gabbie Meyerson."

“Are you coming back? Please come back to the den so we can talk.”

And then it dawned on her. Perhaps he couldn't follow her to the kitchen, and could only manifest inside the den.

Though Cam continued to call to her, she didn't respond. She couldn’t. Eventually he fell silent.

She braced herself against the sink and breathed deeply to regain her equilibrium. "There's a ghost in the den waiting to talk to me." She spoke aloud to get some sort of grasp on the situation.

It sounded weird. It was weird.

She'd heard of people who communicated with spirits and with the dead, but she'd certainly never known one. Yet, beneath the strangeness of it all, she sensed exhilaration. A thousand questions arose in her mind, questions that demanded answers.

Curious as she was, Gabbie remained in the kitchen, reluctant to return to the den. Her life had been in turmoil the past year and a half, and now she was embarking on a new beginning. She longed for serenity. Gabbie had had enough excitement these past eighteen months to last a lifetime. She longed for peace and quiet, for calm.

But her need to know, finally propelled her back to the den. She hoped he'd be gone.. She hoped she'd fallen asleep while preparing for her class and he'd been a part of an unusually vivid dream.

She hadn't been dreaming. He stood in front of the bookcase. Was it her imagination or was he more transparent? At any rate, he was eager to see her.

"I'm glad you came back, Gabbie. I need to talk to you."

"Why? You don't even know me."

He waved that away with a flourish. "I know you now. And I can tell you're intelligent and resourceful, as well as a stunning, sexy woman."

"No personal remarks," she said, "or I'm out of here. Don't tell me I'm the only one you've made contact with."

Cam sighed. "You are. I wasn't about to scare the women from the cleaning service half to death."

"But you didn't mind scaring me."

"Only because I desperately need to talk to you." To emphasize his urgency he stepped closer, crowding her. Again she felt that strange chill in the air.

Gabbie leaped back and upset the table beside the recliner, spilling her tea.

"Sorry," he said. "I don't mean to frighten you."

"It's the cold." She hugged herself.

"I'll try to remember. This is so weird for me."

"That makes two of us. But what did you need to talk about? Why do you come back to the cottage from wherever you're supposed to be?"

"I came back to find out who murdered me."

  • Published by: Uncial Press


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