When a holiday-loving ghost tries to rock around the Christmas tree with a Grinchy guest, will they both wind up on the “naughty” list?

In the Spirit
© 2006 Shannon Stacey
Available Now from Samhain Publishing (on sale for the first week of release at MBaM)

Even though Zach Roberts died in an incident involving a string of lights and an inflatable Santa, he’s determined to deck the halls in a big way. But being trapped in a rental cabin with the Ghost of Christmas Overkill isn’t on Jessica Newton’s bah-humbug agenda.
Together they discover it’s nice to be naughty, but can he help her find her holiday spirit?

Enjoy the following excerpt for In the Spirit:

“How long have you been dead?” In the next instant Jessica realized the question was not only something she’d never thought she’d ask a person, but probably a little too personal, as well.

“On Christmas Eve, it’ll be eleven years.”

Jessica took her coffee to the breakfast nook and wasn’t surprised when Zach took a seat opposite her. At least he didn’t sink down through the chair or anything.

“You died on Christmas Eve?” Even despising the holiday as she did, Jessica found that sad. “How old are you? Were you?”

“Twenty-nine.”

Ugh. “I’m five years older than you.”

Zach leaned forward, grinning in a way that was purely sexual. Her body responded, and Jessica realized if he was solid enough to sit in a chair, he might be solid enough to do other things, as well.

Getting all hot and bothered by a ghost hadn’t been in her rental agreement, either. And yet there it was. Her neck grew hot and itchy, and she squirmed a little in her chair.

“Technicalities aside,” Zach continued, “I should be forty, which would make me six years older than you.”

“True,” she murmured, even as she tried to convince herself this was a ludicrous conversation. What difference did it make if he was five years younger or six years older? He was a ghost or she’d suffered a complete psychotic break. Either condition was not conducive to sex.

The ghost slash possible hallucination shrugged. “But I didn’t live to forty. Instead I’m stuck here forever in my sexual prime.”

“I thought the sexual prime for guys was about eighteen.”

“I was a late bloomer,” he said, then he winked. “Trust me, I’m in my prime…eternally.”

When Jessica had to tamp down hard on the urge to crawl over the table and onto his lap, she knew she’d been wrong about conditions not being conducive to sex. There was nothing she wanted more at that second than to have him untie her bathrobe’s sash and unwrap her like a present on Christmas morning.

And he knew it, too, the bastard. She could tell by the look on his face he knew she was practically squirming in her chair.

She needed to focus on something besides her body’s reaction to him before she did something really stupid like unwrap her own self and dive across the table at him.

“Make the Christmas decorations go away,” she said, determined to talk about anything but his eternal sexual prime.

“I can’t just snap my fingers and make them disappear.”

“Why not? Isn’t that how they got there?”

Zach gave her a wounded look. “I worked all night putting those up. I found them in the storage shed after I died, and I put them up every year.”

“Well you can work all day putting them back.”

He drummed his fingers on the table, and each thump reminded Jessica of just how solid he was. Solid and hard and stuck in his sexual prime.

“Let’s make a deal,” he offered. “Which one do you hate the most?”

Jessica looked around the visual assault, considering. “The ceramic milk and cookies on the coffee table.” There was a childish, homemade look to them that tugged a little too hard on the heartstrings.

“Kiss me and I’ll put them away.”

Her nipples started to ache and she was thankful her bathrobe hid the physical evidence. “Maybe I’ll box it all back up myself.”

Zach narrowed his eyes, grinning slightly at the challenge. “I’ll keep putting it back and, unlike you, I don’t have to sleep.”

This was a challenge she didn’t mind losing, but Jessica was determined to keep her dignity largely intact. “So I let you kiss me and the glass snacks go away?”

He leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms. “No. You kiss me and it goes back in the shed.”

“You’ve got yourself a deal.” Jessica pushed her chair back and walked around the table.

Zach didn’t move. She stared down at him, waiting for him to at least uncross his arms. He didn’t.

Fine. If he wanted to play games, she could play with the best of them. She straddled his lap and bunched the front of his T-shirt in one hand. With the other hand, she tugged his hair, pulling his head back.

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