Two years ago, on a cold October night, I sat in a booth of an old pub house in Weymouth, England. The wind outside howled and whistled through the cozy little wood and brick pub. I held a letter written on thick, expensive card stock which bore the Weymouth family crest. Yet the letter was from my friend, Jane Seyton. She’d come here to finish her thesis on haunted castles the previous year. The local titled lord here was the Earl of Weymouth, but I’d never met him.
I’d read the letter over and over, trying to make sense of its contents. She had sent me a list titled “You May Be Dealing With Ghosts If…” and had listed several statements. Checking my watch for the time, I saw I had another couple of minutes before Jane was scheduled to arrive and meet me for drinks. Time enough to read the strange and curious list once more.
Taking a sip of my beer, I read the list again.
You May Be Dealing With Ghosts If…
- You start having mysterious dreams about a castle you’ve never seen before.
- You feel like a set of unseen eyes are always watching you, the press of their gaze like an icy pressure on the back of your skull…
- You witness a forlorn woman in a white flowing gown floating along a cliff’s edge during a heavy storm.
- You come face to face with a brooding, arrogant, yet sexy earl who doesn’t want you snooping around his castle or investigating his family’s tragic, bloody past.
- There’s a two hundred year old portrait of a woman who looks exactly like you hanging on a wall in the earl’s drawing room.
- Shadows keep forming in the shape of dragons on the library floor while you try to do research on your haunted castle thesis.
- A diary dated from the early 1800s finds its way into your hands.
- When the earl kisses you, it’s as though you’ve kissed him before in another life.
- You keep seeing visions of a jealous witch casting a curse.
I folded the list and slipped it back into my coat pocket, just as the pub house door opened. There was Jane, her gray eyes pure and clear like mercury. Her raven black hair was a tumble of wild waves about her shoulders. She wasn’t alone. A tall man with burnished gold hair wearing a black knee length winter coat followed her. There was something elegant in his features, a handsomeness that wasn’t often seen in this century.
“Hey!” She walked through the maze of little rickety tables and slid into the opposite side of the booth from me. The man followed her like a shadow, protective, quiet, but not unfriendly. His eyes held so much sadness, but there was joy too and surprise, as though he’d only recently learned to embrace happiness.
“Jane!” I grinned, delighted to see my old school friend.
“You’ll never believe what’s happened.” She rubbed her gloved hands together to warm them, a bright gleam in her eyes.
“What?” I asked, retrieving the letter from my pocket.
“I’d like you to meet Bastian, the Earl of Weymouth.” A pretty blush colored her cheeks. “Bastian, this is my dear friend Lauren from college.”
Bastian nodded politely and shook my hand. “A genuine pleasure,” he murmured. His voice was rich and dark like aged Scotch.
“That’s wonderful, but Jane, what’s the meaning of this list you sent me.” I offered the list to her.
A little devious smile ghosted across her lips and she shared a knowing gaze with Bastian before she looked my way again.
“That’s just it. I have quite a story to share and I want you to write it down…”