by Tani Hanes
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: November 17, 2017
Number of pages: 210
Word Count: 87,210
Tagline: Can she fall in love with a haunted man?
Scout Lawson is fleeing an unhappy past, and thinks she's run as far as she can from Yale University when she lands a job restoring a library in Cornwall, England for reclusive rock star George Wilder, who dropped out of sight after the death of his beautiful wife the year before.
As soon as she arrives at his estate, Farraway Mist, however, strange things start to happen. As the couple's feelings for each other grow, the events become more harrowing, until everything they hold dear is in peril.
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It was a glorious day for being outdoors. Scout was enchanted with her new clubs, and enchanting as well. She exclaimed over how well balanced they were, and how well they swung, their heft. And how shiny they were, and how pretty the color was. George just smiled, pleased with how well received his gift was.
They played the whole links, while the dogs bounced back and forth, rambling along the different scents. In golf, at least, they were well-matched, and had a good game, with Scout having the weaker but more accurate stroke.
The fog and mist began to come up just as they reached the last few holes. "Maybe we should stop," George suggested, looking around.
"Oh, come on, this is all private, right?" Scout coaxed. "No one else is around, there's no danger of anyone up ahead getting hit by a ball or anything." She looked at him imploringly. "We can be quick, can't we? It's just that I haven't played in so long."
"Okay, but let's be very quick," George stressed, once again enticed by the lovely sight of her hips as they twisted when she swung her club. "You've seen how rapidly the mist can come up."
They played through quickly, trying to see up ahead as the fog rose up the cliffs.
George tried to explain the topography a little to help out, and Scout did okay, calling on her memory from her previous walk along the links. They kept the dogs close to avoid hitting one of them with an errant ball.
The fog finally got thick enough to block out the sun, and Scout pulled on her sweater, which had been tied around her slender waist.
"You cold?" George asked. "We can head back if you like?" He stepped close and rubbed her arm.
Scout shook her head.
"This is the last hole, right?" she asked. "Let's finish." George nodded and stepped up to the tee.
They played through, by which time their hair was wet from the mist and fog. They could hear the waves, too, crashing into the rocks. They quickly shouldered their clubs and began walking toward the house, which was shrouded in fog.
"Scout! Slow down, please. Remember how slippery this bit here can be," George entreated.
Scout nodded and slowed her steps. After a minute or two, she stopped and looked around. "Where's Jess?" she asked.
George, too, looked. "Fuck it all, where's she gone off to now?" he asked, irritated beyond all measure. For no reason he could fathom, he was uneasy. He wanted to get back to the house, he wanted to get Scout back to the house. The longer they stayed outside, the more nervous he felt.
"Keep going, Scout, carefully, though. I'll call Jess and catch up in a mo, okay?" he said.
Scout was going to say she'd just wait with him, but she saw the look on his face and just nodded, not wanting to worry him any more, and turned and kept walking. They had to be pretty close to the house by now, anyway.
"Jess! Come on, girl!" George called. Bandit, understanding that Jess' absence was gumming up the works, promptly went to look for her. George knew that he'd find her and bring her back right away, and that she'd probably be contrite and embarrassed.
Jess was nothing if not polite.
He turned to see how far ahead Scout was, and stopped dead in his tracks. Oh god.
There was something on the trail next to her, some amorphous shape, darker than the surrounding fog. It was hovering about eight inches off the ground, hulking over Scout, who didn't seem aware of its presence.
"Scout!" Her name was torn from his mouth, a warning which she would never understand. How could he convey what he needed from this distance with mere words? That she needed to run, defend herself, be careful?
Scout turned toward him, not understanding her danger, but hearing the terror in his voice. As she turned, she slipped, dropping her clubs with a clatter. She grabbed for the railing, which she knew she should've been holding all along.
She lost her footing, reaching desperately for the iron fencing. She saw George drop his own clubs, coming toward her at a dead run, Bandit appearing out of the fog behind him like a wraith. There was no way he'd reach her in time.
The ground beneath her feet began to crumble, and Scout knew that she was going to fall, and probably die. It was at least a couple hundred feet down to the beach below, and it wasn't a soft, sandy beach, but rather a rocky, cove-like one, deep and beautiful for taking photographs. The stairs were cut sharply into the cliffs, and she would probably hit most of them on the way down.
There was a brief moment when she thought she could save herself, when she managed to grab the edge.
But then, inexplicably, she felt something else, and it pushed her, pushed her body and hands, peeling her fingers off and shoving her over the edge.
And suddenly, just as she was sure she was going to fall, George was there, throwing himself into the breech, literally throwing himself behind her somehow, grabbing her around the waist, changing her trajectory, so she fell, not into the chasm underneath, but onto a tiny ledge, a V-shaped opening between two rocks carved into the stairs.
They both landed with a hard thump, hitting the rock wall hard. Scout carried the momentum for both of them, being so much lighter, and kept going, nearly over the edge. George kept his hold around her waist, hauling her back just in time. He pulled her close, his heart beating like a triphammer in his chest.
They looked at each other, knowing how close their escape had been, both breathing like they'd just run a marathon.
"Oh my god, George, thank you," Scout gasped through chattering teeth. They looked around at their tiny, wet surroundings.
About the Author:
Tani Hanes was born in Yokosuka, Japan. She spent the first few years of her life traveling back and forth between Japan and the US, making the permanent move to the Central Valley of California when she was five. She visited family in Japan on a regular basis, and attended college in Tokyo for one year at ICU before getting her degree in Language Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She has two children, and was a substitute teacher for fifteen years. Hanes currently resides in New York City with her husband and cats, Moss and Lily.