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Ghost of a Chance

Ghost of a Chance
Mouse over the cover to see
the hero, Tyree St. James

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Ghost of a Chance
Silhouette Intimate Moments (SIM) #131
ISBN-10: 0373273894
ISBN-13: 978-0373273898
September 2004
Frenchman’s Island Duo, book 1

Named Best Silhouette Intimate Moments of 2004
by Romantic Times BookClub
Reviewers Choice Best Intimate Moments of 2004
by CataRomance.com

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Never fall in love with a dead man…

She had to stop imagining things…

Sure, Clara Fergussen loves pirates. And the sultry atmosphere of the South Carolina sea islands certainly inspires all sorts of fantasies. But when the sexy buccaneer Clara dreamed of her first night on Frenchman’s Island suddenly walks in and declares himself to be 200 year-old Tyree St. James, the notorious Blackbeard of Magnolia Cove, she knows she’s losing it badly. There are no such things as ghosts…

Are there?

All Tyree wants is to spend the last week of his two century curse in peace and quiet. But the sudden appearance of a young, beautiful travel writer on his remote estate puts him in mind of all he will miss about life on earth. Unfortunately, falling in love won’t change his imminent, permanent demise.

That would take a miracle…

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“So, tell me about this dream. I need the vicarious thrill,” Mrs. Yates said.

Clara cleared her throat. “I dreamed I met a pirate.”

Mrs. Yates glanced up from her plate. “A pirate?” A sudden frown creased her forehead. “I suppose that’s natural,” she said slowly, “considering where you are and what you’re doing here. What happened with this…pirate?”

Clara blushed. “What didn’t? He was unbelievable.” And from the tight, barely leashed desire in his expression to the musky, slightly mysterious scent that floated to her senses on his body heat the man had seemed vividly alive. “Handsome, sexy as hell, and a body to die for. He literally swept me off my feet.”

“Indeed.”

She blew out a breath. “Oh, Mrs. Yates, you just wouldn’t believe how incredible he was! He made me feel like an enchanted princess being awakened by her true prince. We spent the entire night in the cottage–” She caught sight of the older woman’s expression. “What?”

Not curiosity, suspicion. “The cottage was in your dream? Rose Cottage?”

Clara nodded. “The bungalow was so realistic,” she said with a sigh. “I could even smell the roses and the salt marsh.”

Mrs. Yates looked at her sharply. “Clara dear, did this pirate have a name, by any chance?”

Clara brushed aside a spurt of unease at the unexpected change in demeanor. Her hostess appeared almost…upset.

“As a matter of fact, it was Tyree St. James.”

A crash resounded through the kitchen as Mrs. Yates’ knife and fork clattered onto her fine china plate.

“Tyree St.–” Her forehead wrinkled in consternation. “He didn’t! He simply couldn’t! Oh, dear, this is all my fault.”

“What is? Mrs. Yates, is something wrong?”

“Why, the old scamp! I would never have believed it of him!”

“Who?

With a rattle of dishes, Mrs. Yates rose from the table and paced the uneven kitchen floor, clearly distraught. “This is unforgivable!”

Clara stared in astonishment as her hostess suddenly called out in a reedy, but surprisingly loud voice, “Captain! Captain St. James, you come here this minute!”

Okay, this was now officially weird. Had the old lady completely lost her marbles?

“At once, do you hear me?”

“What did you expect me to do when you install a sweet young thing like Miz Fergussen in my bedroom?” drawled a deep, honeyed voice directly behind her.

At the all-too-familiar accent, Clara whipped around in her chair. No! It wasn’t possible!

“What the–” She froze at the sight of her dream pirate lounging against the kitchen door frame as though that were perfectly plausible and possible.

Which it wasn’t. Because the man wasn’t real.

She had to be hallucinating.

“Hello, sweeting. I trust you slept well after I left?” His gaze prowled over her like a wolf sizing up his prey.

Her chair crashed to the floor as she rocketed to her feet. “You!”

He bowed slightly. “As you see.”

Omigod.

“You can’t be here!”

One black eyebrow rose in that knowing way which had been so arousing last night, but now set her teeth on edge. There was something very, very wrong here.

He was real.

But…how?

Clara clenched her fists at her sides, anger coursing through her. She’d obviously been played for a royal sucker. “Very clever. How did you do it? Smoke and mirrors?”

“Do what?”

“Don’t even try.” She raised an accusing finger. “Just who the hell are you, anyway, and what’s with that ridiculous outfit?”

Blandly, he glanced down at the pirate get-up from the night before, which he was still wearing–except for the hokey eye-patch.

“I gotta say, it loses its effect the morning after.” She grimaced at a sudden thought. “God, don’t tell me, you work at the museum, right? What was the plan? Thought you’d get a big laugh playing dress-up for the gullible Midwestern hick?”

“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Yates mumbled from the corner, wringing her hands.

“I assure you, I do not work at the museum, and was not–”

Clara held up a palm. “Never mind. I really don’t want to know. Just get out of here. Now.”

The pirate leaned back on his heels, folding his arms over his broad chest. The broad chest she’d collapsed on in exhaustion more than once the night before–

“That could be a problem,” he said in those smooth molasses tones, thankfully interrupting the memory. “Since this is my house.”

What?” Clara sliced a disbelieving glance at Mrs. Yates. “This guy lives here?”

“Well, in a m-manner of s-speaking,” the old woman stammered.

Great. Just great. “And you didn’t think to tell me about him?”

“Or me about her?” the faux pirate chimed in.

Mrs. Yates looked thoroughly flustered, but Clara was too embarrassed to feel sorry for her. She wanted to sink straight through the kitchen floorboards and never come up again. How could she possibly face this man after the scandalous way she’d behaved with him last night? After the things they’d done together?

Damn.

“This isn’t happening.” She covered her face with her hands and groaned. “You told me you were a dream.”

“It was the only thing I could think of.”

She heard him take a step toward her and she jumped away, tearing her hands from her eyes. “How about the truth?”

A peculiar expression came over his face and his mouth quirked. “The truth?”

“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Yates echoed again, wringing her hands even harder.

“Well?”

He assessed Clara with narrowed eyes. But his words were obviously for the other woman. “Shall we tell her the truth, then? It seems you had that in mind all along, or you would never have invited her to stay here. Isn’t that so, Mrs. Yates?”

“I just thought… You only have a week left, and she seemed so nice.” Mrs. Yates drew herself up. “But frankly, Captain, I expected you to act like a gentleman, not a–”

“Pirate?” His expression was mocking, but Clara thought she detected an odd sadness to it. Then he sighed, the sound spiced with weariness like salty air from the sea.

“Captain?” Clara questioned, picking up on Mrs. Yates’ words. “You’re a captain? Of what?” She’d absolutely die if he was a cop.

He leveled his near black eyes on her. “Believe me, you don’t want to know.”

A tingle of foreboding trickled down her spine. “Oh, but I do,” she said, despite the growing certainty that she really, really didn’t. Mrs. Yates looked like she was about to expire, and the pirate’s expression was growing more stormy by the second. “Just who are you?”

“You know who I am,” he murmured quietly. “I’m the man you spent the night–”

Captain!” Mrs. Yates exclaimed.

“Captain who?” Clara asked with dawning dread.

“I told you before. My name is St. James. Captain Tyree St. James.”

She just stared. First at him, then at Mrs. Yates, praying a rational explanation was forthcoming.

It wasn’t.

Her heart sank. Oh. My. God.

Not only had she slept with him, but the man was a certifiable fruit loop.

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