A ghostly tale that blends the past with the present and the living with the dead.
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A ROMANTIC WEEKEND GONE WRONG
A stay at America’s most haunted hotel, a spooky ghost tour with a visit to a former morgue, and a family wedding—all the ingredients for a fun-filled weekend. Emma and Zan Fuller have never been to the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas—at least not in this lifetime. But the ghosts that haunt the former cancer hospital remember Emma, and they won’t rest until she’s joined them once again. When a bizarre accident almost claims her life, her soul is catapulted backward in time to 1938. Things get even worse while she lies comatose, however, because she is now a target for an organ transplant scheme.
STAR CROSSED LOVERS
It’s Depression Era 1938 when Ivy Turner meets Harry Fuller. Love happens quickly, but they’ll never live happily ever after if her parents have their way. Despite their objections, the couple elopes. Wedded bliss soon turns to despair, however, when Harry is arrested and Ivy is sent to the Baker Cancer Hospital in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. But Ivy doesn’t have cancer. She’s pregnant with Harry’s child—the child who will someday become Zan Fuller’s father.
JOURNEY ACROSS TIME
Emma wakes up, but not the way she’d expected. Her soul has entered the cancer-riddled body of a woman who had died only moments before. And to make matters worse, she’s trapped in time—it’s 1938. She’s back at the Crescent Hotel, which is now the Baker Cancer Hospital. The people who had once been simply characters in a ghost story are now living, breathing human beings. But Emma’s biggest worry is Zan’s grandmother, Ivy. If anything happens to her or her baby, Zan will never exist. Can Emma, imprisoned in a sick and dying body, rescue Ivy and Harry? Can Zan, in 2011, prevent the hospital from ending her life support and harvesting her heart?
The red numbers on the digital clock seemed to waver as Emma blinked to focus her eyes in the darkness. A blustering wind wailed mournfully outside and rain pelted the windowpanes. She sat up in bed and scanned the dark and misty chamber.
Instantly alert, her heart shifted gears. Something was in the room—something evil. She wrinkled her nose at the smell; the cloying odor of camphor and alcohol permeated the air.
She gasped when she saw the shadowy wraith hovering just inside the bathroom door. Intermittent flashes of lightning illuminated the sky like a strobe light and sifted through the shuttered window just enough to reveal the outline of the apparition. Emma clutched the blanket to her chin and stared, too horrified to move or speak. She felt icy cold, yet sweat beaded on her forehead. She turned toward Zan lying beside her. He snored peacefully, oblivious to the terror lurking so near.
Emma heard the creak of footsteps moving across the floor. Whoever—or whatever—was in the room passed from the bathroom and headed toward the door, leaving a bitter chill in its wake. She watched in horror at the murky ectoplasm’s metamorphosis. Even in the darkness Emma could make out the shadowy form of a woman wearing a mid-calf length dress and a handkerchief-shaped cap.
The rasp as the deadbolt disengaged and the groan of ancient hinges fractured the silence; the door began to open. Light flowed in from the hallway, casting uneven shadows on the parlor walls. The apparition became more distinct. Emma trembled at the intense hatred that emanated from the mad, cold stare of the spectral woman.
Emma summoned all her strength just to move her hand enough to touch her sleeping husband. The warmth of his skin reassured her and she shook him harder, but he didn’t wake up. She tried to call his name, but her vocal cords refused to respond. Terror gripped her heart like a vise and squeezed until she thought she might faint.
She closed her eyes and prayed to wake up from this hideous nightmare. It had to be a dream—a terrible, horrible hallucination. She opened her eyes and looked toward the door. The phantom was still there. It watched Emma for several more seconds, and then passed through the open door and into the hallway. The door hung halfway open as if to remind her she wasn’t imagining things.
An overpowering compulsion swept over Emma. She climbed out of bed, slipped a nightgown over her head and crept toward the door. The coldness of the doorknob surprised her. She glanced back toward the bed. The back of Zan’s head was all she could see with his body beneath the mound of covers. She pulled the door all the way open and stepped into the hallway.
The ghost was clearly visible now. Emma stared in horrified fascination at the figure standing near the stairwell. Could it be one of the phantom nurses Cheryl had talked about on the tour? Or was it the pursuer in her reoccurring nightmare? Perhaps they were one and the same?
The woman was dressed in an old-fashioned nurse’s uniform, with starched cap and apron. Her dishwater blond hair was pulled back in a severe knot at the nape of her neck. She looked young, no more than thirty. But the expression of madness in her eyes, combined with the grotesquely scarred cheek, lips, and forehead made Emma flinch with revulsion.
As if she were hypnotized, Emma followed the woman down the stairs. The black cat on the bench arched its back and hissed as the specter passed it on the stairwell landing. Emma stumbled, almost tripping on the hem of her long nightgown. When she looked up, the ghost had vanished.
Emma scanned the third-floor hallway, searching for the nurse. She didn’t know why she followed her. She only knew that some irresistible urge pushed her. When she saw a movement at the farthest end she gathered her nightgown in her left hand and hurried toward it.
Whatever she had seen turned left. She came to a glass door leading onto one of the observation decks. The wind formed a vacuum and she had to tug with all her strength to open it. She gasped when she felt the full force of the storm. The battering rain pelted down on her, immediately soaking the thin material of her gown.
Emma flinched when she saw a girl standing there. From her profile she looked young and beautiful. She wore an ankle-length white dress; her long, pale hair was plastered to her head from the driving rain. She turned her back to Emma and slung one foot over the balcony railing. A scream rose in Emma’s throat. “No!”
The girl turned and looked at Emma, her face a mask of utter despair. She gazed sadly, then pulled her other leg over the balustrade and jumped. Emma ran frantically to the edge of the veranda and searched the ground. The storm lashed violently around her, making it difficult for her to see. A bright lightning flash momentarily lit up the night sky. She could see no body on the ground below.
Emma turned and stumbled back inside the hotel. Her teeth chattered; her hair and nightgown were completely soaked. She stood shivering in the hallway, trying to calm her spinning nerves. The clattering screech of unstable wheels approaching from the end of the hallway arrested her attention.
The ghostly nurse advanced, pushing a long cart on wheels. A white sheet covered the object on the gurney. Emma stood paralyzed as it drew closer; the shrill noise grew louder.
She couldn’t move—she couldn’t think—she couldn’t breathe.
The nurse stopped and smiled at Emma. Her scarred lips twisted into a leer as she pulled the sheet forward. A woman’s corpse lay on the gurney, its face contorted in the final throes of agony.
She hadn’t been told who the dead woman was, but somehow Emma intuitively knew. She’d seen that face before—somewhere—sometime.
Overcome with grief, Emma collapsed in the hallway. She pounded on the door of the room where she sat, crumpled and sobbing. She heard voices from inside the chamber; someone fumbled with the deadbolt. The door opened and Emma cried with relief when she saw Moonbeam and Chief Whitefeather.
“Emma, what’s wrong?” Moonbeam clutched her wrap with one hand and helped Emma with the other. “You’re soaking wet.”
“She’s dead,” Emma babbled, shivering and sniffling. “Anna’s dead….”
Eyes wild, confusion painted on her face, Emma scanned the hallway. “I don’t know…I know Anna’s dead…but I don’t know who she is.”