Book #5 in the Nicki Styx series!
Happily engaged and ready to start her new life, Nicki Styx still can't escape the spirits of the restless dead, begging her to pass on messages to those they've left behind.
Imogene Martin, a flamboyant 1960's star of film and screen, claims to have been smothered in her sleep, but is she telling the truth about who killed her, or just looking for one more moment in the spotlight? Nicki's "I do" becomes a "whodunit?" as she learns that her happily-ever-after will only come after Imogene Martin get hers.
“True love does conquer all,” Joe murmured, sliding a hand over my naked hip. “But great sex doesn’t hurt, either.”
I rolled onto my side, nearly purring in bliss. The covers were somewhere near the foot of the bed, and my pillow was gone, but I didn’t care.
“I knew there was a reason I wanted to marry you,” I murmured. “Thanks for the refresher course.”
“You’re welcome.” He pressed a warm, lingering kiss on my lips before easing my head down onto his shoulder. “Any time.” His heart was pounding hard and strong beneath my ear, slowing gradually as we lay together, boneless and content.
I drowsed a little, musing over my day, which I’d told Joe all about over a glass of wine and dinner. Found the perfect wedding dress, met a little old lady who claimed she’d been murdered; the strange had become normal in my world. Joe knew all about my encounters with the dead, and somehow managed to love me anyway. It felt good to be so open with him, so good that I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
“I’m glad you found a dress,” he said idly, stroking my arm. “Two more weeks, and I’ll get to see you in it.”
“Yep.” I smiled against his chest. “Two more weeks. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.”
“My peace is long gone,” he murmured, tightening an arm around me. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“You know I have to help Imogene Martin's spirit find peace, right?” I whispered the words, wishing I didn’t have to.
“I know.” He said it calmly, and my heart, already full, swelled to bursting.
“I want you to promise me something, though. I want you to promise not to go off on any wild goose chases without telling me where you’re going first, and I want you to promise not to confront anyone alone.” His tone was adamant, terms clearly non-negotiable. “This is your life, but we’re in this together, you know? Your safety is my number one priority.”
“Getting bossy already,” I teased, tweaking him on the nipple. “The minister hasn’t pronounced us man and wife yet.”
“Immaterial,” Joe growled, rolling me onto my back. “You’re stuck with me now, Nicki Styx.”
“Lucky me.” I kissed him quick, using the move as a cover as I felt around for my missing pillow. “But you’re not the boss of me yet.” I smacked him gently with the pillow, and a mock wrestling match ensued. Joe won, of course; he was laughing, green eyes alight, dark hair mussed from my fingers.
“I mean it,” Joe said. “No going off without me. I’m going to ask around the hospital, find out more about Donnie Martin.” He grabbed my pillow and stuffed it behind him, settling us both against it. “Any Atlanta pediatrician worth his salt would have privileges at Columbia General. If he seems like an okay guy, we can go together to break the news about his mother.”
I was tempted, yet reluctant. “I don’t know, Joe… you got in a lot of trouble with the hospital board of directors last year because of me. I don’t want it happening again.”
“You were possessed by an evil spirit.” Joe said grimly. “You didn’t know what you were saying at the time.”
My finger touched to his lips. “I don’t think either one of those facts counts as a positive,” I whispered. “No one wants to hear a story like, ‘My girlfriend was possessed by a dead patient, and then got caught on film accusing me of murder. She really didn’t mean to.’”
He sighed, accepting the irony but not abandoning the argument. “No one wants to hear that their fiancé is a murderer, or that their mother is a ghost, either. You’re going to have to approach Don Martin very carefully to get him to take you seriously, and you’re going to do it with me in the room,” he stated firmly.
“It’s not that I want to tell him those things.” I settled my cheek more comfortably against his chest. “It’s that I have to tell him those things.”
“Have to?” He smoothed my hair, tucking it gently behind an ear. “Did Imogene Martin threaten to haunt you until your dying day if you didn’t agree to help her?”
“Did she say she’d go after Evan and scare him to death?”
“No.” I grinned a little, remembering Evan’s reaction the last time he’d had to cope with a vengeful spirit. “She seemed more like the type who’d adopt him. Two drama peas in a drama pod, if you ask me.”
Joe chuckled, chest rumbling against my cheek. “She sounds like a real terror, but sooner or later you’re just going to have to admit that you help these poor souls because you’re a good person, Nicki.” He lifted my chin, looking into my eyes. His were soft and lightly crinkled at the corners. “I know it goes against your ‘Oh, I’m such a badass’ front, but you’re a softie, through and through. You know it, and I know it. Evan and Butch know it, too.”
“Surrounded by know-it-alls,” I grumbled. “What’s a girl to do?”
“I’ve got some suggestions,” Joe teased, “but you’re going to have to let me rest a little first.”
“Wimp.” I kissed the skin of his shoulder nearest to my lips, and then kissed it again, letting my hand wander across his chest, and down his belly. A light tracing of hair led to a delightful discovery that, while soft at first, didn’t remain that way long.
“Mmmm,” Joe murmured. “I see that your talents include raising the dead, as well as speaking to them.”
I grinned, happy to have at least one of those talents. “This poor soul seems to have a lot to say,” I told him, sliding down in the bed. “I better do some more “doing unto others”, and pay attention.”