Paige Stewart struggled to fit the key into the lock of her hotel room door while juggling an armful of packages and a steaming cup of coffee she’d snagged on her way through the lobby. She stumbled into the huge Johnny Mercer suite and let the bounty from her daylong shopping adventure on Broughton Street tumble onto the bed. She groaned with relief and, rubbing her sore arm, turned to close the heavy oak door. The Kehoe house was lovely, but there was something to be said for new hotels and keyless entry systems.
Paige plopped onto an overstuffed velvet loveseat and contemplated keeping her dinner reservation at the Pirate House. She wrinkled her nose and snuggled deeper into the luxurious sofa cushions. She was already late; besides, her jammies were beckoning, and spending a day in pursuit of bargains instead of boogey men had been too pleasant to wreck now. The supposed spectral scene at the Pirate House would wait another day and the remaining half of her Croque Monsieur from lunch at Papillote’s would suffice for dinner.
Paige’s mouth watered. The piece of buttery Gateau Breton she’d bought earlier, along with the of coffee, would be an even better dinner; and indulging her sweet tooth while sitting on the veranda overlooking Columbia Square would add the final touch to a perfect day.
A woman’s flirtatious laughter drifted from the Square as Paige polished off the last bite of cake and brushed the crumbs from her shirt. She sighed. Savannah’s lush parks and cobbled stone streets were a perfect backdrop for a romantic interlude. She looked around the suite. Polished heart pine floors, soft sage green walls, and a plush king sized bed made it the ideal lover’s retreat; too bad there was no one to share it with.
A vision of Clayton Moore rose in her mind. Thick blonde hair, sexy brown eyes and a body ripped in all the right places; her editor at the Paranormal Post made Paige’s mouth water in a way French pastry never could.
She smiled and walked into the bathroom. A cold shower was probably a better way to cool her desires but the decadent bathtub was an indulgence she couldn’t pass up. While the water filled the tub, Paige sorted through her shopping bags. She hung up the watercolor print tunic and black skinny jeans she’d bought at James Gunn and took the tags off of the wedge sandals from Copper Penny. She grabbed the Nour*ish and Savannah Bee Company bags and returned to the bathroom. Paige sighed and eased down into the warm, lavender scented water. She leaned her head back against the cool porcelain and closed her eyes. A smile lifted the corners of her mouth. Oodles of spa products and a restful night’s sleep would have her looking radiant for her dinner with Clay tomorrow evening; and the new clothes and shoes would be icing on the cake.
Soaked, scrubbed, and softened, Paige slipped beneath the silky sheets. Lulled by the gentle breeze flowing through the open French doors, she drifted off to sleep.
Pulled from a sound sleep by a chorus of high pitched giggles and thumps from the room above hers, Paige groaned and opened her eyes. She stared at the ceiling and gritted her teeth. Having her sleep disturbed by boisterous children for the third time, her pleasure with the Kehoe house was rapidly dwindling.
Another round of thumps and thuds rang out. Good grief! Where they bowling up there? Paige huffed and rolled over, jerking the covers up to her chin and plunking a pillow over her head. With the laughter and thunks muted, she fell back to sleep.
Paige gazed at Clay through her lashes and graced him with a come-hither smile. Her pulse leapt as he leaned closer and brushed his lips across hers. Basking in the glow of the sun and the warm sand beneath her, she allowed him to nudge her down onto the soft blanket. Seagulls chattered overhead and a light ocean breeze ruffled her hair. Damp tendrils clung to her cheeks and tickled her nose. She sighed as Clay tenderly brushed them away – Paige’s eyes flew open. Her skin crawled; that touch had been no dream.
Mouth dry and heart pounding, Paige turned her head and gasped. Standing by the open French doors was a toddler dressed in a long white nightgown. A high pitched giggle filled the room.
Oh this is too much! Mumbling about irresponsible parents and faulty old door locks, Paige threw back the covers and jerked on her robe. She turned toward the veranda and shrieked; her early morning visitor was gone. Paige ran out to the balcony … and found it empty. Dragging a shaking hand through her hair, Paige sank onto a wrought iron chair and stared out at the Square. She drew a ragged breath as her gaze landed on the Davenport House. Yesterday she’d seen a little girl that wasn’t there and now this. Was her biological clock subconsciously sounding the alarm, or was she losing it?
She shivered and rose to her feet, wondering if she should make an appointment with her OB/GYN. She gulped; afraid her problem might call for an entirely different kind of physician. Paige yawned and turned to go inside.
A trill of laughter rang out. Paige rushed across the room and jerked the door open in time to see a child disappear up the stairs. Paige raced across the hall and climbed the stairs. She reached the third floor landing seconds after the child, yet he was nowhere to be found. The only logical explanation was he’d gone back to his room; and there was only one door. She made her way down the hall and raised her hand to knock then lowered it and bit her lip. It was barely six a.m. and … what if she was delusional?
Paige backed away and retraced her steps, but nagging doubts and simmering indignation plagued her. She may have been mistaken about seeing the child by her balcony doors, the room had been hazy in the pre-dawn light, but she was certain a child had climbed the stair and someone had been making the ungodly racket that disturbed her sleep last night … she was not crazy!
Tightening the belt of her robe, Paige marched down to the lobby.
“Good morning. Breakfast won’t be served for another hour, but there’s coffee and tea on the buffet –“
“No thank you. I’d like to speak with the manager.”
The young girl’s eyes widened as she nodded and scurried away. Paige regretted her abrasive tone but she shook off her guilt and told herself to stand firm. Whether or not another guest’s child had been in her room, the fact remained that said child had kept her from a restful night’s sleep, and, that child was wandering the halls while his parent’s slept; someone needed a wake up call.
“Hello, I’m Elsie Barren, is there a problem?”
Remembering her mother’s admonishment about honey and vinegar, Paige summoned a smile. “Good morning, Ms. Barren, I’m Paige Stewart and I’m staying in the Johnny Mercer suite. Um, I’m not sure how they got in, but someone’s child was in my room this morning.”
The young desk clerk gasped but Elsie Barren’s brow furrowed and her lips twisted into a half smile. “Ms. Stewart, are you perfectly sure you saw a child in your room?”
Her doubts returned. Unsure how to respond, Paige bit her lip and fiddled with a pencil lying on the desk.
“Ms. Stewart? What occurred to make you suspect a child was in your room?”
Paige drew a deep breath and decided to spill the whole tale. “Well, it started when I was awakened by loud thumps on my ceiling. It sounded like a herd of elephants – no, I remember thinking the kids were bowling or something. It sounded like they were rolling something across the floor upstairs, and they were laughing. It was about midnight, so I figured their parents would put a stop to it, so I didn’t call the desk.”
“I see. I’m sorry your sleep was disturbed. Was there anything else?”
Paige nodded. “Yes, um, it sounds crazy, and I don’t see how he got the door opened but … About an hour ago I felt a hand brush across my cheek—like someone was brushing the hair out of my eyes—I’m alone so you can imagine how startled I was! I woke up and … and saw a little boy standing by the doors that lead to the balcony. Then, well, this is going to sound crazy but, when I got up he was gone.” Paige shook her head. “I don’t understand it, and I’m not sure he was even there, I mean it was still a bit dark … but a few minutes later I heard him laugh outside my door. I jerked it open and saw him climbing the stairs. I followed, but … Ms. Barren, I feel like I’m going crazy because he wasn’t that far ahead of me, and yet the third floor was empty …”
Elsie Barren patted her hand and chuckled. “Ms. Stewart, I do believe you’ve just met one of William Kehoe’s children.”
Paige stared. “But, but that’s not— I read your brochure! The Kehoe’s haven’t lived here since, since the 30’s!”
Elsie Barren grinned. “Ummm hmmm, but apparently the children weren’t given a forwarding address. From time to time they ‘visit’ our guests.”
Paige closed her eyes and tried to stem her rising anger. It seemed that, once again, a hotel in Savannah was trying to capitalize on the city’s haunted reputation. “Ms. Barren, please don’t insult my intelligence by implying ghostly children roam the halls of this hotel, it is entirely too early in the morning for such nonsense. I assume you’ll speak to the guests about their child so I’m not disturbed again tonight?”
A twinkle lit the manager’s eyes, though she struggled to suppress a smile. “Ummm, Ms. Stewart? The Kehoe House doesn’t allow children to stay here.”
Calisa, thank you so much for allowing me, er Paige, to visit your blog! Intrepid reporter Paige Stewart may be fictitious but the legends of ghostly children at the Kehoe House are all true … to one degree or another. Poor Paige, all she wanted was a break from the supernatural and a good night’s sleep to prepare for her date with Clay. I really hope she’s not expecting an uneventful dinner date … The Olde Pink House has quite a reputation!
If you want to see what happens to Paige at The Olde Pink House, visit my Blog; the link and date of the next adventure will be posted in the News column. And, if you can’t wait for another suspenseful tale set amidst the beautiful and historic city of Savannah, may I suggest my romantic suspense novel Ring of Lies?
(insert Book Cover) Secrets, Lies, and Murder surround Ivy Michaels amidst the backdrop of Savannah’s annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities!
Book Trailer for Ring of Lies: A café owner and an ex-cop must solve the mystery of a hot blue diamond in order to catch a stone cold killer! Excerpt
Things seem to be heating up between Paige and Clay. It’s just a matter of time before I convince her to give my newsletter readers the inside scoop so be sure to subscribe!
If you haven’t read Ring of Lies yet, I highly recommend this book! I’m reading it and loving every word!
Thank you for coming by Rachel and bringing us another wonderful tale from the Deep South!
Don’t forget to pop in to her blog and website to find out what else Rachel’s got going on- and there’s ALWAYS something!
And thanks for stopping by here to visit. Do you have a fave ghost story? Is it ‘real’? Now’s your chance to share, in a place you won’t be judged for believing…