Thursday, October 27, 2016
A Ghostly Affair (Death by Chocolate Book 3) by Pat Amsden Excerpt
Maxine is catering a Halloween party in historic Craigdarroch Castle But when a ghost scares a guest to death Maxine doesn't know what to think. Is it one of the Dunsmuirs, haunting the castle, or perhaps something more sinister?
Add in a dognapping and maybe more, self-defense lessons that are heating thing up between Maxine and Detective Patrick Shannon, a friend left grief stricken by the death of her boyfriend and Maxine's got her hands full.
But the boyfriend may have been involved in bribing local officials for approvals to go ahead with his development. Does a First Nations Indian intent on protecting his people's heritage have something to do with his death? And how do a ghost drone and local teenager fit in?
By the time Maxine's got it figured out she won't be the only one wondering just how far is too far when it comes to fighting for what you believe in.
From the floors above music drifted down. 19th century waltzes and other dances of the era had been replaced with a more modern selection. At present the Monster Mash had taken over.
“I somehow can’t see the people invited to this party getting down and doing a graveyard smash.”
Wendy rolled her eyes. “I know but it was unanimous when I asked for volunteers to run the music. George. It’s what he does in his spare time. Along with his teenage son.”
George Dent. The managing partner of the biggest law firm in town. No doubt more than one of the clients he’d acted for in his twenty some odd years as a lawyer would identify with ‘I Put A Spell On You’, as the song echoed throughout the castle.
“Is his son helping?” She pictured him in her mind. Tall and lanky, with legs and arms which seemed too long for his body, at fourteen he had the awkwardness of someone not quite comfortable in his own skin. He made up for it with a shy smile that lit up the room and blue eyes which sparkled with intelligence.
“I suspect it’s George’s way of keeping him out of trouble.” Wendy gave a small smile, “I’d better get out there and start mingling,” she said taking a truffle as she went.
Maxine sent the first round of appetizers out and gave instructions to Marcus and Ally. “A new tray every fifteen minutes, if not more. Start from opposite ends of the room.”
Taking a tray herself she headed up the stairs. The party was destined to be a huge success with over half the crowd there already and it was barely eight o’clock. Ghosts and goblins, princesses and popular cartoon characters such as Batman, Spiderman and Arrow, from the hit TV show, filled the room.
People oohed and ahhed over spectacular, over-the-top and just plain scary costumes.
Tanya came over now, clutching what looked like a martini in her hand. Maxine greeted her with a smile, noting her latest boyfriend, developer Zak Forrestor, had stopped to talk to someone. Dressed as a sexy vampire, Maxine hoped she didn’t over-indulge tonight.
Tanya held up her drink which was red and sparkled like blood in the light. “Pomegranate juice with tonic water! Let me know if you need any help. You are the BEST caterer! Look at the turnout already.”
“I think it’s more Wendy’s doing,” she said modestly. “Try one of these,” she said giving her a cucumber lox appetizer.
“I wonder if Joan will be here tonight?” Tanya asked. A part-time model and full-time friend Tanya was blonde, bubbly and fun. But the blonde hid a razor-sharp intelligence and more than once she’d saved the day for Maxine. Unfortunately she also had a habit of over-indulging so the Pomegranate and tonic water was good news.
“Joan Dunsmuir, the original mistress of this castle. This is just the type of event she’d like. She loved entertaining.”
“So sad though,” Maureen Ruckles said, local historian and author of over five books, one on Craigdarroch Castle. “Her husband built the castle for her and died before it was even completed.” She helped herself to a chicken satay skewer.
“Mm, so good,” Tanya said. “So, they never lived in the castle?”
“Oh, she lived here to her death along with her daughters. Numerous balls were held here. In fact,” Maureen said dramatically, “some claim they can feel her presence in the room and there’s a feeling of happiness when she’s there.”
“Not what I heard,” Jan Meyer said, a local investment advisor. “A friend of mine swears when she went through in high school there was a cold and angry presence whenever they were in Joan’s rooms.”
“So, I wouldn’t want fifty million school kids tromping through my bedroom or private areas either,” Tanya said airily and waved at Zak, busy talking. She headed off in his direction and Maxine headed back downstairs. Originally dumbwaiters had been used to bring food up from the lower levels to the dining room. But the Castle society volunteer she’d spoken to had made it clear they were no longer in use.
She passed Sara and Danielle coming up with more trays of appetizers. They were definitely getting bonuses tonight if everything went well. And she was sure things would. She was less sure a few minutes later.
She watched in horror as a ghostly shape appeared out of nowhere flying straight at Zak Forrestor as he started down the stairs. He turned to see what made everyone give a collective gasp only to have it virtually accost him throwing him off balance and causing him to fall over the staircase. Maxine watched in horror as he fell to the bottom, landing with a sickening thud. She rushed to him along with another lady dressed in a nurse costume. But she was afraid it was going to take more than an ambulance and paramedics to save Zak Forrestor. The way his neck was twisted wasn’t normal.