The smell of fresh-baked sugar cookies filled my kitchen, and the tinny sound of Frank Sinatra singing “White Christmas” echoed from my outdated iPhone. Behind me, the ghost of a 1920s gangster hovered while I pulled the last hot tray from the oven. “Move. I don’t want to burn you,” I said automatically, realizing only afterward how ridiculous it sounded. Any object—hot or otherwise—would pass straight through the specter.
Frankie appeared in black and white, his image transparent enough that I could just make out the cooling trays on the kitchen island behind him. He wore a pin-striped suit coat with matching cuffed trousers and a fat tie. He inhaled as if he could smell the crisp, warm cookies.
“That’s a killer batch, right there,” he observed while I jockeyed around him, “but I gotta tell you, most of the gun barrels are crooked.”
I winked, surprising him. “Everybody’s a critic.”
I’d given in to holiday cheer and let him tell me how to shape the last of the dough, and he’d chosen the things he loved most. Which meant I had a baking sheet full of revolvers, cigarettes, and booze bottles—all oddly shaped because, truly, who has cookie cutters for that sort of thing? I placed the tray on a rack to start cooling, glad I’d included the surly gangster in my holiday festivities.
He was technically a house guest until I could find a way to free him. Although I had no clue what I was going to do with his contraband cookies. I couldn’t eat them all or explain them away to guests.
“What’s next?” he asked before I’d even transferred one cookie off the baking tray, never mind the dough-flecked countertops or the dishes. The man obviously hadn’t spent much time in the kitchen before.
“Why don’t you go outside and look at the holiday lights?” I suggested. Perhaps that would get him into the spirit of the season. My sister, Melody, had lent me a few strands of white ones in the shape of magnolia flowers. I’d foraged some lovely greenery from the woods and done up the front and back porches with pine garlands and homemade balsam wreaths. I’d been too broke to buy ready-made decorations, but these looked nicer anyway. anyway.
He snarled at the suggestion that he might be entertained by pretty decorations. “I’m Frankie the German,” he clipped out, as if his words themselves should command respect. “Men fear me. Women want me.”
“I’m very happy for you,” I said, trying to straighten out a revolver barrel as I gently transferred the cookies to the cooling rack. “But this is the holiday season. It’s the perfect time to take a break from inspiring fear. Try to live a little,” I suggested, ignoring his scowl.
“How about I finish cleaning the kitchen, and afterward you can challenge me to a game of chess.” Otherwise, he’d get bored and start making cold spots all over my kitchen. It felt nice in the summer, but right now, it would ruin the yeast bread I had rising.
He clenched and unclenched his hands a few times. “All right,” he said, eyeing me as he glided through the stove and out to the back porch. His voice lingered in the air behind him. “You know I won’t go far.”
“Do I ever,” I murmured. It was my fault he couldn’t leave.
Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Novella
By Angie Fox
Verity was just finishing up making Christmas cookies when she heard a
knock at the door. Her sister Melody normally came right in, so she called out, thinking it was Ellis. Only to find that a ghost was standing at the door! This ghost, by the way, was very powerful and was able to leave his home and even touch items in the mortal world. Still, Verity was quite surprised to have her friend, Major Matthew Jackson of the Union Army, visiting!
I didn't introduce you to Josephine yet, did I? Well, she was a young woman who had been befriended by Verity in an earlier book. And when Matthew and Josephine first met each other, it was instant...attraction...
So with Christmas coming, Matthew wanted help in getting a present for Josephine. A very nice gesture, Verity thought... But he didn't want to give her just any present. He wanted to give her a pearl necklace that had belonged to his mother and which was promised to Matthew for the woman he fell in love with. Verity guessed; and Matthew confirmed that he was going to ask Josephine to marry him at Christmas...
By the way, most of the ghosts in this series are earth bound for one reason or another, but others, when they've died, automatically have gone into the light...
There was only one problem, the necklace was in the 7th generation home of the Jacksons, one of the most important families in Sugarland!
This is another heartbreaker story, since there had been a final disagreement between Matthew and his mother, when he had chosen to fight for the Yankees, and she had banned him from ever coming back home!
One of the best things about this series is Verity and how she now has an ability to talk to ghosts, but it is the action and dialogue created by the author in her ghost hunting activities that makes the series a winner. Sure, she's scared, but she's gutsy and won't go back on a promise once she says she'll help. In this case, she helps not only Matthew and Josephine, but... well, I highly recommend you get this short story if you haven't previously read any of the series. It's an excellent example of what Verity is all about in both helping her town of Sugarland and in helping earth-bound ghosts find happiness!
And there're all so much fun to read, with an underlying humor between characters Verity and Frankie...and with the various ghosts, at least after they get over trying to be scary...😟 Enjoy!