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Ghost Hunters, book 6

Jayne Castle

This one is for Elvis.

Good to know he made it through the Curtain.

A Note from Jayne

Welcome back to my other world, Harmony.

Two hundred years ago a vast energy Curtain opened in the vicinity of Earth, making interstellar travel practical for the first time. In typical human fashion, thousands of eager colonists packed up their stuff and lost no time heading out to create new homes and new societies on the unexplored worlds. Harmony was one of those worlds.

The colonists brought with them all the comforts of home—sophisticated technology, centuries of art and literature, and the latest fashions. Trade through the Curtain flourished and made it possible to stay in touch with families back on Earth. It also allowed the colonists to keep their computers and high-tech gadgets working. Things went swell for a while.

And then one day, without warning, the Curtain closed, disappearing as mysteriously as it had opened. Cut off from Earth, no longer able to obtain the equipment and supplies needed to keep their high-tech lifestyle going, the colonists were abruptly thrown back to a far more primitive existence. Forget the latest Earth fashions; just staying alive suddenly became a major problem.

But on Harmony folks did one of the things humans do best: they survived. It wasn't easy, but two hundred years after the closing of the Curtain, the descendants of the First Generation colonists have managed to fight their way back from the brink to a level of civilization roughly equivalent to the early twenty-first century on Earth.

Here on Harmony, however, things are a little different, especially after dark. You've got those dangerously sexy ghost hunters, the creepy ruins of a long-vanished alien civilization, and a most unusual kind of pet. In addition, an increasingly wide variety of psychic powers are showing up in the population.

Nevertheless, when it comes to love, some things never change…

If, like me, you sometimes relish your romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, Harmony is the place for you.

Love,

Jayne

Chapter 1

ELVIS HAD NEVER LOOKED BETTER. HE WORE HIS NEW cape, the white one with the high, flared collar and the glittering rhinestone trim. The sunglasses gave him a dashing air of mystery.

With a star's unerring instinct for the spotlight, he had managed to find the most dramatically lit position in the room, the center of the Guild boss's vast desk. The light from the nearby lamp struck small sparks off the rhinestones.

'Don't think I've ever seen a dust bunny wearing a cape and sunglasses,' Fontana said.

His full name was John Fontana, but as far as Sierra McIntyre had been able to determine, no one called the new chief of the Crystal City Ghost Hunter's Guild anything except Fontana.

She looked up from her notes, distracted, and smiled in spite of her tension. If you didn't notice the six tiny paws that were just barely visible in the fluffy gray fur and the innocent bright-blue daylight eyes, it would have been easy to mistake Elvis for a large ball of dryer lint; in this case, a ball of lint in a cape and sunglasses.

'Elvis has a sense of style,' she said proudly. 'He knows what looks good on him.'

Fontana leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. 'I can see that. How did you end up with a dust bunny for a pet?'

The black and amber ring on his powerful hand glinted ominously. The amber gem was engraved with the seal of his office. He had ascended to the highest post in the Crystal Guild only a few days earlier, but he appeared to be very much at home here in the executive suite. Then again, he had no doubt been preparing for the position for years. Becoming a Guild boss required the ability to commit to a long-term strategy. Skill at outmaneuvering your opponents and a ruthless streak were minimum job requirements.

Unlike Elvis's baby blues, Fontana's eyes were anything but innocent. They were the color of the gem in his ring, dark amber. Sierra was as familiar with Guild politics as it was possible for any outsider to be. She was well aware that no man—and to date all of the Guilds were headed by men—got as far as Fontana had with his innocence intact.

Under the force of his disturbingly thoughtful expression, she found herself shifting in her chair. She uncrossed her legs and then crossed them again. The odd, fizzy excitement that she had been experiencing since she walked into the room had not diminished one bit. The hair on the back of her neck was still stirring. Energy hummed through her, both the physical and the paranormal kind. All of her senses were fully rezzed. What was wrong with this picture?

You expected a Guild boss to be intimidating, but somehow you didn't expect one to look thoughtful, at least not the way Fontana did thoughtful. The heads of the organizations were traditionally men of power, both physical and psychical, men who had clawed their way to the top using whatever means were required to achieve their objectives. You expected streetwise cunning in a Guild boss, but not the sort of cool-headed intelligence and the aura of centeredness and control that Fontana exhibited. For some reason the knowledge that he was the kind of man who considered carefully before he acted only made him seem more dangerous.

More dangerous and, for some inexplicable reason, more interesting. She was here to do the most important interview of her very short career as a journalist, and she could not concentrate. She just wanted to sit there and stare at Fontana—maybe forever.

Maybe she was coming down with the flu or something. Now that she thought about it, she definitely felt a little feverish.

The day had not started out well in spite of the promise of the exclusive with Fontana. For starters, she'd endured a sleepless night, unable to escape the creepy feeling that someone, somewhere, was watching. She knew it was a totally irrational sensation, but that didn't make any difference. Her intuition did not respond to logical argument.

Elvis had seemed restless as well, although that was probably because he had picked up on her unease. He was very sensitive to her moods. Countless times she had risen from the rumpled bed and gone to the window. Elvis had followed every time, hopping up onto the sill.

Together they had surveyed the narrow street two floors below, but there had been very little to see. That was hardly surprising, of course. It was early fall, and the fog was thick in the Quarter. The locals referred to the season as the Big Gray for a very good reason. The seemingly endless mist that blanketed the city at this time of year was legendary. On the rare occasions when the fog lightened temporarily, rain moved in to take its place.

The lack of sleep had definitely affected her edge this morning, but the real disaster had occurred en route from her office to Guild headquarters. She had taken a taxi because parking spaces were notoriously hard to find in the Quarter in the vicinity of the Guild offices. The driver had let her out on the side of the street opposite the entrance of the Colonial-era building.

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