GHOST - The Damned Book 1
What happens if you could suddenly see ghosts? With amnesia?
Cassie Hunter wakes to find a man with serious green eyes staring down at her in the morgue, but her initial confusion turns to absolute horror when she realises this man has been dead for over seventy years.
Elliot Stone doesn’t know he’s dead. Or how he came to end up in the morgue. Or why he can’t keep his eyes off the sexy doctor. Or anything else, for that matter.
But the truth is, the family curse has awakened. Something Cassie went out of her way to prevent from happening. How can she turn away the soulful, amnesiac detective who strikes a chord in her like no—living—man has ever been able to do?
Ghost is a powerful new paranormal romance series that will captivate your imagination. Follow Cassie on her journey through perilous dimensions of reality to fight for the love of her life.
SPIRIT - The Damned Book 2
Thrown against a sinister threat, Cassie Hunter must race to save the soul of her sister.
The Grey-Mists, the dimensions between dimensions, are filled with perilous danger. But what’s a girl who can see the unimaginable to do when souls are annihilated right in front of her eyes?
Cassie and detective Elliot Stone are thrust into a world between worlds. The place where souls are trapped for all existence. And Cassie and Elliot are trapped right alongside them.
Although they can still touch, kiss, and love each other, things are not as good as they seem. When the villain that has ties to Elliot’s life captures Cassie, bad turns to worse. An evil force has plans to open a portal with enough power to decimate life on Earth and everything in between.
How can a ghost and a living soul ever hope to overcome such dark power?
Spirit is the second instalment in the Damned series. Follow Cassie on her journey through perilous dimensions of reality to fight for the love of her life.
SOUL - The Damned Book 3
How bad can bad get?
Pretty damn bad. That’s the conclusion Cassie Hunter draws, and it’s quite easy to reach. Not only is she the embodiment of a powerful portal that can open dimensions of reality, but she has accidentally unleashed an entity so dark it is annihilating thousands of souls right in front of her eyes.
The darkness is intent on Cassie’s destruction, but she must stay alive to protect the innocent. Cassie and detective Elliot Stone find themselves in a desperate corner, condemned to make an impossible choice that will forever change the human world.
Besides that, Cassie can’t touch the man she loves. An unknown entity has taken up residence inside her. And she won’t survive long enough to tell Elliot how much she loves him.
Soul is the third instalment in the Damned series. Follow Cassie on her journey through perilous dimensions of reality to fight for the love of her life.
The Damned Books 1, 2 and 3
Buy the trilogy in one easy box set.
GHOST - CHAPTER ONE
I fainted just after I lost my mind.
Being a cardiac registrar in The Alfred, I see more blood and guts in one day than most people do in their lives. But since I’d crashed head first into the sharp end of a trolley that morning, things were happening to me that I didn’t particularly want to happen. That included falling into a dead faint on the morgue floor and waking up to a striking pair of serious green eyes peering down at me. The type of eyes that had seen too much of the wrong side of life.
“Who are you?”
“You called for help and I came.” His voice was a soothing deep rumble.
“I did?” I put my fingers on my forehead. The few seconds before I fainted were fuzzy.
A furrow appeared between his brows. “I heard you. And then I saw you. Do you need assistance?”
He was crouching over me. That’s why I had focussed on his eyes. They were so close to my face they filled my vision. I rolled to my side and leveraged myself from the floor.
“I’m okay. I just fainted. I don’t normally faint, but I saw Henry...”
I turned slowly, heat vaporising my blood as I expected Henry to leap out at me again. But there was no Henry. There couldn’t be any Henry. Henry wasn’t dead. I’d checked on him last night. He’d had an Angina attack but had recovered. I’d expected him to go home today. He couldn’t be here.
Unless… I shook my head, laughing at myself. I didn’t have the same gift as my mother.
Not after all this time. If it didn’t appear as a child, I certainly wouldn’t have it as an adult.
I closed my eyes and leaned on the bench, waiting for my heart to stop banging a way out of my chest. The man looked around the room, taking notes in a small notebook. He wore a grey, felt fedora pulled low over his forehead and a calf-length trench coat. Beneath the coat was a light-grey, three-piece suit. The waistcoat was neatly buttoned, the tie precisely knotted between a brilliant white starched collar. He looked like a detective in one of those old-time gangster movies.
He turned penetrating eyes on me. “Who is Henry?”
“He’s a...a patient of mine.” I’d hardly expected to see my healthy, living patient in the morgue.
It couldn’t have been him. I’m just seeing things. I swallowed. Hard. This was just a bad dream. It had to be. I was a doctor. A believer in science and what the eye could see.
Ghosts weren’t science.
My gaze crept to the open trundle. Yep. Henry’s body was still there, half covered by a sheet. Cold and still and dead. Just as I’d seen him before I fainted. But how? Why? Had I forgotten chunks of time? I had suffered a head trauma after all. Maybe that could account for any missing memory. It was natural. Expected. I huffed out a sort of laugh. “All in my mind,” I murmured.
“Do you often speak to people that aren’t there?” Detective Man peered at me, eyes narrowed taking me all in. He wasn’t the type of person you found in a morgue. It struck me as increasingly odd that he would be here at all, let alone speaking to me as though I was the nut-case.
As though I was my mother. As far back as I could remember, I’d never seen what she saw.
A vision of Mum talking into an empty space crowded my mind. I wasn’t my mother.
I never wanted to be.
“Answer the question, please Miss.”
“Not regularly. No.” I didn’t want to answer him at all, but I could see he wasn’t going to let up unless I did. Police could be like that.
But normally, if the police were involved in an unexpected death they made an appointment, told me they were investigating. This happened time to time. I was a cardiac surgeon. People came to me because they were sick and I couldn’t save them all. Even though I tried all I could to keep them alive.
Also, those detectives didn’t wear fedora hats and trench coats and ask question after question after someone had woken up from a dead faint on the morgue floor. They would help. Not interrogate.
It occurred to me that I was all alone down here, if you didn’t include the dead bodies, and if something were to happen with not-quite-right-in-the-head detective man, I didn’t have any help close at hand. Either way, I had to get myself out of here. The sooner the better.
I had to make things look as normal as possible so I covered Henry's still dead body — that hadn’t changed even though there was a good possibility that this could still be a nightmare — with shaking hands and slid the trundle back into the locker, taking the opportunity to make my way closer to the door.
Just moving slowly. No sudden movements.
“Are you prone to times of unreasonable frustration?”
“Not including this moment?” I went on before he could answer, “Look, why are you asking me these questions?”
“To prove you're sane.”
He was asking me if I was sane? I mentally shook my head and took another step towards the door. “Are you a psychologist?” Just keep him talking, concentrating on things other than me, getting closer to that door.
Moments passed and I watched as he considered my question. “I don’t think so. Now—tell me exactly what happened.” He frowned, the line between his brows more of a valley then his green eyes settled on the bandage on my forehead, “You’re hurt!”
He strode towards me and I saw that his eyes had flecks of brown in them, like golden streaks, shining beneath the emerald green. They were deep. So deep I was sure I glimpsed his soul in their depths. As he studied my bandage, I read...concern. I didn’t expect to see that. His gaze slipped from my forehead to my eyes. I felt it digging past my defences, right through me.
“Look, who the hell are you?”
Confusion entered those green depths. He felt through his pockets, eventually tugging out a black leather wallet from an inside pocket of his coat. He flipped it open and stared at it as though it was the first time he’d read his own badge. The sense of not-quite-right speared me, racking my composure.
He roused, coming back into the moment, “I’m Elliot Stone. Detective Elliot Stone.”
“Why are you here?”
“You… you asked for me.”
“Listen, I don’t know you and I never asked for you.” I pointed to the door, doing my best impression of a woman who wasn’t currently doubting her sanity. I was a doctor, after all. I did have authority. “You need to go.”
His frown grew deeper. He blinked in his surroundings, as though this was the first time he’d thought to understand his surroundings, “Where...am I?”
My pointed finger fell to my side. The urge to flee was overwhelming. It was a battle of my will to remain calm. At least on the outside. If he wasn’t going to get out of here, then I had to. I chanced another step closer to the door. “You’re in a morgue.”
I nodded, “Yes, Detective, and this interview is over.”
I’d reached the door. I didn’t stay to hear his answer. I ran. Right into the arms of doctor George Campbell. The living, I-could-feel-his-hard-body-crushed-against-mine, reason for my head injury. My attention had been glued to him right before I crashed headlong into that trolley. Even though I couldn’t remember apparent chunks of time when my healthy patient had died, I’d remembered that I’d quite literally had nothing in my mind expect filling it with George Campbell while I’d been standing beside the trolley. Before I’d crashed landed into it. His perfect, long-fingered hands gripped my forearms to balance me while his face widened in shock, “Cassie...you look like you’re in quite the rush.”
I staggered back, breaking the contact, keeping Campbell at arm’s length. It was the only way I could think. I peeked over my shoulder. The door to the morgue flapped open and as it did, Detective Elliot-Insane-Stone slipped through, still looking as confused as when he was in the morgue. His state of mind seemed to be real. He looked completely lost I almost felt sorry for him, but my frayed nerves got in the way of any residual sympathy.
I grabbed George’s elbow, steering him along the corridor, manoeuvring him to use as a human shield. “Don’t worry about him,” I flicked a glance over my shoulder.
I clicked my tongue. He’d have to be blind not to see someone dressed like Elliot, “That detective man. If you ignore him, he should go away like all good insane people.”
Then another thought struck me. Perhaps detective-man was a figment of my imagination and that’s why George looked so confused. I was hallucinating with something I could see and even talk to, but wasn’t real. I stifled an internal shudder, hoping that wasn’t the case.
I blustered on, purposely talking to George and not looking at ‘The Figment’, “Look, I came to see a patient of mine. Henry Davis.” I stopped mid-step as a thought struck, “Actually, weren’t you on duty last night?”
George’s smooth gaze connected with mine, “I was, but I was on a break when your patient went into cardiac arrest. If you need to speak to the nurse on duty, that would be Jane Murphy.”
“He… he went into cardiac arrest?” Surely I would have been told…
I was actually pretty good at knowing who was responsible for my patient’s care when I wasn’t here, but maybe hitting my head had done more damage than I thought. Maybe I really had lost time. Maybe I had really forgotten that Henry had died. Maybe that was why I’d come here in the first place. If that was the case, then I’d lost more memory since I’d fainted. Panic surged like an acid bile-tsunami, burning my throat. I swallowed it back down through sheer will.
“Yes. Normally doctors are notified about the death of their patients,” George said.
We’d reached the service elevator before I knew I’d even walked over to it. I stepped back so that I couldn’t fall head-over-heels in those liquid brown eyes of his that were looking at me like I’d lost my mind. Which, I was coming to suspect, wasn’t far from the truth. I’d collected more than just one nightly dream that included me, George, a deserted island, no clothing and a hammock that was the perfect fit for the both of us.
“Yes. Yes, they would have,” I mumbled. Surely someone would have informed me. The hospital needed the doctors signature to note time of death. I would have been called. I just couldn’t remember it. That was all. My memory would come back when my brain stopped swelling from the fall. I just had to get through it, that’s all. And forget about insane detectives.
I couldn’t stop glancing at my object of insanity. Detective-Man still frowned, but now he studied George, his brain powering behind soulful green eyes. Thankfully the elevator door slid open and I slipped onto the rail at the back of the car. I was fast losing the ability to stand on my two shaking legs. “Thank you, George. I’m… just going to check my notes.”. The cool metal as the doors slid shut.
Then I forgot to breathe when Elliot walked right through the doors after me. He didn’t just dash through at the last second before they shut. He walked through the metal. My body flushed with a fiery heat while my insides went ice-cold. He really was my imagination…or possibly something much worse. Something I never wanted to see or hear or know anything about.
I couldn’t—wouldn’t—entertain that notion at all. I cringed in a corner of the lift, hoping he wouldn’t attack me, but if he was what I thought he was, then he couldn’t actually do a damn thing to me.
Even knowing that, I perspired from pores I never knew I had. I caved against the corner, fighting to stay upright, fighting quickly disappearing consciousness. My vision had already narrowed to a pin-prick. Oxygen! I needed oxygen! I gasped in a big lungful of air. When the doors opened, I dashed past him. I stumbled through a crowd of people, not waiting to see if I’d pushed anyone over, and scampered down the people-filled corridor and into the safety of my office.
I grabbed the phone from the desktop and cringed beneath my desk. I dropped the handset and it took me a further two minutes for my hands to stop shaking enough to dial Laura’s number.
“Come and get me. Now.”
I ignored Elliot, who had followed me all the way into my office, even though he was now crouching over me with a concerned expression on his face. He was a figment of my imagination and he was concerned about me. A wild giggle nearly erupted from my mouth and I stifled it before it had a chance to come out.
He’s a figment, he’s a figment of my imagination. He’s a figment of my imagination. If I kept saying it, it would be real. Right?
After all, real people didn’t walk through closed metal doors, or along corridors, or through office doors. Real people didn’t dress like old-time detectives unless they were going to a fancy dress party. And real people just didn’t pop into existence in morgues. Not unless they were a… No! No! I would never entertain that thought. I needed my sister, Laura. If anyone knew what to do, it would be her. She had the same kooky childhood I had. If anyone would know if I was seeing… if I was seeing... I swallowed hard.
“Are you okay?”
“No.” I may have stopped the hysterical giggle, but not the sob that broke from my mouth at the sound of her voice.
“Where are you?”
That’s what I liked about my sister. Straight to the point. I guess being a leading paranormal journalist, she practised succinct questions on a daily basis. “In my office.”
“I’ll be there in ten.” I kept the phone to my ear even though she’d hung up. There was something comforting about the sound of the engaged signal. I chanced a glance at Elliot. His green eyes were framed by low-hanging brows, drawn into a line over the bridge of a straight nose. There was still a furrow between his brows which made me think it was more permanent than not. They matched shallower lines on his forehead and ridges that ran from the edge of his nose to the sides of his mouth.
He had a rather symmetrical mouth, the line of his upper lip was a neat masculine shape, the lower lip slightly larger and full of promise. I realised, surprised, that he was quite handsome, in a rugged sort of way. Quite kissable, in fact. At least my imagination had thrown a handsome man my way. Unfortunately, it was reality that had lapsed. As he regarded me, his mouth flattened into a tight line, “Do you know how I got here?”
“Do you mean the morgue or the hospital?”
“I’m in a hospital? It seems so...different.”
“Look, don’t you know how you got here?”
There was a pause as he considered, then, “No. I don’t recall.”
“I guess figments of imagination don’t have much of a backstory,” I mumbled.
His green gaze sharpened, “Backstory?”
“Yeah, you know, like where you live, where you’ve come from and what you do for a living. Things like that.”
“That’s easy. I’m a...a...” his voice trailed away and his gaze became unfocused.
“We’ve confirmed you’re a detective.” Oh great, I was going insane talking to someone who wasn’t there. And helping them conceive of a life. Maybe I should invent what he liked to do on Sunday afternoons. Round out his character like I was writing a novel.
He retrieved his badge and studied it, “I am, aren't I?”
“Do you...have a gun?”
His hand disappeared into his coat, reappearing a moment later with a dull black revolver. “Colt Police Department Centreforce Revolver Special, rifle round barrel, two inches long.”
“Wow.” I tensed from my head to my toes as I strangled the phone, “How did you know all that?”
Elliot shrugged, “It’s common knowledge. Usually, the barrel would be four inches long, but in nineteen twenty-six the shortened barrel was introduced for plain-clothed policemen. The detective special. Fits better beneath a jacket. It’s become a favourite.”
“That’s old news, don’t you think?”
His gaze was blank, “Is it?”
“Well, yes, after seventy-odd years you’d think police revolvers would have changed significantly.”
It was amazing a figment of my imagination knew so much, Surprising really. I would have thought figments would be limited to personal knowledge and I’d never learned anything about guns, especially specialised detective-issued guns of the early twentieth century. “What else does it say on your badge?”
“South Fitzroy Precinct HO three-three-four.”
“That confirms it, you are a detective,” I said, at least pleased that my imagination could be so thorough.
He shook his head as though trying to dislodge something inside, “It sounds familiar enough, but I don’t know for sure. I can’t recall anything specific. Even my name is meaningless.”
“Maybe that’s because I haven’t thought of more for you,” I reasoned.
He centred his frown at me and I had the distinct feeling he felt as though I was being unhelpful. I’d think up a whole case for him if he’d just leave me alone. His presence was unnerving me. Talking to my imagination wasn’t good for my mental health.
There was a knock at the door, “Cassie?”
Thank God. Laura was here. I was still under the desk, “Here.”
Laura walked straight through Elliot. Her long, unbound dark hair streaming around her shoulders like liquid silk. Elliot reeled backward, staggering against the wall, stretching out his arms as if to work out how Laura had walked right through him. Abject horror crossed his features, “Did you just see that? She walked right...through me.”
“Yes. That’s likely to happen if you’re only my imagination,” I said.
“I...I’m not real?”
The look he sent me was one of pure torture. His face went a stark white as he patted his legs and torso, “I feel real. Solid. There’s no way she could walk right through me! What the hell’s going on?”
I felt awful. Even for a figment, my heart reached for him. This was no way to treat someone, even if he was my invisible friend. But I didn’t have time to answer. Laura crumpled to the ground in a pool of flowing purple cheesecloth next to me, “What did you say?”
“Oh, I’m just talking to the detective who's been following me around since I woke up from fainting in the morgue this morning. Detective Elliot Stone’s his name. He talks to me and I talk back and I know all along that I’m talking to thin air but it’s all so real. He’s a daydream, a creation of my mind, an illusion, a chimera, and he won’t leave my side.” That’s when the tears came. I couldn’t stop them. They streamed down my face, searing my heated cheeks in their wake. They clogged my throat and made my tongue thick. “I’m going insane...seeing people...people who aren’t there.” I gasped in the horrible truth. “I’m like Mum!”
Laura choked off a strangled type of sound. I didn’t want to hear that from her. I wanted, ‘that’s impossible’, and ‘only Mum does that’. But she said nothing; just stared at me with large, horrified eyes.
I grabbed her shirt and held her close. The scent of sandalwood enveloped me. I drew in a deep shuddering breath. “She had a breakdown and Dad took her to live in the middle of no-where just so she could survive. What, in hell, am I going to do? I can’t live out there. I just can’t. I’ll go insane if I haven’t already.” I swallowed the second nervous giggle that welled from deep inside.
“Slow down, take a breath and tell me exactly what happened to you. From the start.”
I took a moment, my gaze flicking from Laura to Elliot, “I came to work this morning to check on a patient of mine, Henry Davis. The next thing I know someone barrels into me and I’m flying head-over-heels into the corner of a trolley.”
“You were knocked out?”
“And you refused medical attention, I suppose.”
“I’m a doctor, Laura. I think I know when I need medical treatment. I took painkillers.”
Her brows rose over a pursed mouth before she said, “Okay. Go on.”
“Good. I will. I was really only out for a second or two. I was fine when I regained consciousness. I went to check on Henry when I found out he’d died during the night which doesn’t make any sense. He’d recovered from his Angina attack. He was in perfect health. I only wanted him to stay one more night to make sure he would be alright by himself at home because of his age. I went straight to the morgue to make sure...”
“To make sure they had the right body. You need to do that, you know. Anyway, I was checking his body, when Henry asked me to get his will!”
“His body asked you? I thought he was dead.”
“He is dead and it wasn’t his body, it was his...his spirit. He sort of jumped out at me from no-where. Said he needed me to help him. Then he...then he...”
“Go on, Cassie. Tell me.”
I didn’t want to say it out loud. That would admit I did have a problem. That maybe it wasn’t just my imagination, that maybe I had suffered a serious head injury, or worse, that I was turning into Mum. Seeing what she saw. She’d had the gift since she’d been a child. That was something I didn’t want to happen. That would send me to a place I knew I’d never come back from.
My throat worked hard to fish out the words that came out like razors. “Laura, please tell me I’m just seeing things. Please. Don’t tell me I’m like Mum. I can’t be. Don’t tell me I’m seeing…ghosts.”
But she didn’t say anything. She just looked at me in that way she always had when she knew a truth and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. She looked at me as though the worst fear in my life was now true.