Kiss in the Dark
Corsair’s Cove Chocolate Shop Series
The last thing he wants is to rest in peace.
Captain Daniel Blackthorne, the swashbuckling pirate they called the Wolf of the West, was cursed to death by a jealous witch. Since that day long ago, he’s haunted the attic rooms of Red Gem’s Chocolates in sleepy Corsair’s Cove. The rules of the curse are clear: He has until Hallowe’en night to help the women of Blackthorne blood find true love, or his soul is doomed forever.
When Eloise Wilson moves in above the chocolate shop, she’s unprepared for a spectral roommate. Sadly for Blackthorne, she’s terrified of ghosts—and with good reason. Gifted with the Sight since childhood, she’s seen hauntings end in gruesome tragedy. Worse, family and friends think she’s just a pretty young college grad with an overactive imagination. When she finds out her new home is haunted, the last thing she expects is a ghostly captain who rewrote the book on seduction.
But Eloise can’t save his soul until he heals her heart, and Hallowe’en is only days away. Blackthorne is the darkness she fears, even if his touch is as sweet as anything from the shop below. He’s delicious, but he’s dangerous, and Eloise knows better than to taste what she can’t have.
And yet lovers are like chocolate—for some, only the dark will do.
This novella is available for pre-order and will be published September 30/17. This book is part of the Corsair's Cove collection. Visit Corsair's Cove for more novellas set in this world.
Eloise Wilson crouched behind the sofa, panting hard. Terror didn’t permit anything but sawing gulps of air. She squeezed her eyes shut, a hot lick of tears dampening her cheeks. Then she shivered beneath the caress of a frigid wind as her breath came out in a puff of fog.
This place she’d just made her home was haunted. Eloise mentally recited every curse word she knew as her heart tried to pound through her ribs. Fear was stupid. It didn’t help anything. And yet she knew firsthand just how dangerous ghosts could be—not that anyone, especially the cousins who had allowed her to use this apartment rent-free, would believe her story if she told them. No, Eloise was the flake of the family, with her hippie clothes and herbal teas. This would be one more reason to roll their eyes and pat her on the head.READ MORE
Eloise peered over the couch cushion at the door opposite her hiding place. Her rooms occupied the top floor of the old Victorian commercial building, divided from the unfinished half of the upstairs where generations had stowed their trunks and boxes. All that antique charm meant limited electricity, so her collection of candles flickered in the ghostly breeze, making the shadows twist and jump. The door looked like it belonged on a barn, with rough upright planks and a black iron knob and hinges. Someone had painted it to match the room without bothering to smooth, much less sand the boards. She kind of liked the rustic look. What bothered her was the white light seeping through the cracks and crawling across the floor like spilled oil.
Glowing was never a good sign.
She swallowed hard and forced herself to rise another inch. The nubbly fabric of the cushion pressed into her cheek as she examined every detail of the haunting. That cold wind smelled salty, as if it had come straight from the ocean. Unsurprising, given the resident spook was supposedly a sea captain.
The black iron handle of the door rattled, the oblong knob turning ever-so-slightly. This ghost was strong, as powerful as the one who’d terrorized her childhood home. As deadly as the one at college? Eloise shoved the memory away, hating this apparition for reminding her of that terrible, horrible night.
She watched the knob rotate a quarter turn, imagining dreadful possibilities. With ghosts you never knew what you were getting. All the same, she had to deal with her visitor or spend the evening hiding behind the couch.
All at once she found her courage and grabbed a candle from the top of the bookshelf behind her. Scalding wax spilled over her fingers as she moved, but she ignored the pain as she held the candlestick aloft, feeling utterly ridiculous for an instant. She was no grey-bearded wizard, or fairy princess, or elf from a role-playing game. She was a business college grad with no money and fewer prospects, but she’d been able to see ghosts from around the time she’d turned ten.
Furthermore, she’d learned how to keep them in check. Eloise hurried past the end of the couch and set the candle on the floor, facing the attic door. The wind rushed around the circumference of the room, blowing out every flame except the one at her feet. Then the door burst open in a frigid gust of cobwebs and mold, revealing a yawning darkness beyond. The light that had been seeping around it vanished, leaving only the glow of her single candle. Eloise’s scalp prickled, as much a physical reaction to the surge of power as it was one of fear.
She braced her feet, summoning her inner Gandalf. “No dark energy, no unwanted soul, no evil nor haunting shall pass this line of light!”
The room fell utterly, hugely silent. Not even the usual creaks of the old building disturbed the profound quiet. Eloise searched the shadows, nervous sweat trickling between her shoulder blades. Normally she could see ghosts—sometimes just blobs of light, other times entire human forms—but nothing was visible. Eloise held up her free hand, testing for the presence. Her palm tingled as if she'd grabbed a handful of bees.
“Okay, so you’re a different kind of ghost, but you’re definitely there. No one bothered to mention you until my bags were unpacked. Then it’s like, Oh, yeah, Corsair's Cove is full of hauntings. It’s great for tourism.” She tried to swallow, but her throat ached with tension. “Well, bud, I’m not okay with things that go bump in the night. Especially not where I live.”
The flame danced, but that was all. There was an invisible line formed by the threshold between the attic and her apartment. Eloise sensed the ghost pushing to get across like a steady weight against her will. An involuntary shudder worked its way up her spine. Once she’d moved in, she’d started hearing legends about Corsair’s Cove and its bloody past. Sure, Great Aunt Ruby—the last occupant of these rooms—had told Eloise and her cousins plenty of tales, but they’d been little girls back then and Ruby had stuck to the kid-friendly stuff.
“Are you Daniel Blackthorne, the pirate called the Wolf of the West?” Eloise asked, picking up the candle again and taking a step forward.
A burst of cold touched her cheek, so icy it hurt. Eloise’s heart jumped with fright and she shrank back. She’d guessed correctly. “You’re staying on your side of the door, Blackthorne. A girl has her right to privacy.”
Just for an instant, she saw him. Or perhaps saw was too weak a word. This was like waking up with her pulse pounding and every nerve on alert. Blackthorne stood tall and broad-shouldered, his strong form dressed in old-fashioned clothes. He was handsome, with black hair that curled to his collar, but it was his blue eyes that captivated her and marked him as inhuman. Blackthorne's gaze was too bright for any mortal man. His focus was absolute, and it was entirely on her, as if he could steal the intimate secrets of her heart—and show her his.
Eloise shook, wanting to respond but too terrified to summon words. The image hovered for barely a second and blinked to nothing.
A moment later, an aching, crushing grief filled her, so profound she fell to one knee. Tears burned her eyes again, blurring the candlelight. Her thoughts crumbled to pieces, the overwhelming emotion making it hard to sort her feelings from his. What had this man suffered? How had he lingered, clinging to an afterlife with this kind of pain? But this was how ghosts caught the living—by dragging innocent mortals into their misery. She could not afford to pity him. “I’m sorry, but you need to move on.”
Like quicksilver, the sadness became rage. In her mind’s eye, Eloise caught flashes of thrashing waves, a blood-smeared blade, a bullet rending flesh. Mocking laughter. In these moments, when ghosts lost themselves in past wrongs, they became deadly. During her time at college, she’d seen what an avenging spirit had left of his victim. The nightmares had never stopped.
The memory jolted her back to the present. Eloise sprang to her feet and slammed the door. “Begone,” she muttered, shaking too hard to raise her voice. “Begone, begone!”
She poured every ounce of will into the words, pushing Daniel Blackthorne away.