Based in her fictional town, Peacock, Mississippi, author Ashley Hastings brings you a little suspense along with a little history in her new romance, THE ART OF GHOSTING. Alice won’t be tied down and James lives for no-strings hookups but when they find a 100-year olf journal they both to fall in love alongside the journal’s writer. Fans of strong heroines, historical elements will adore this small town, suspenseful yet humorous hot and sexy romance.
No harm in making it an actual date, right?
I would take her out for dinner, and we could share a good bottle of wine and even better conversation. I wanted to get to know her. I wanted to hear about her travels and why she had chosen such a vagabond existence.
So what that I was deviating from my usual routine. Yes, I trolled bars and looked for the easy hookup, no strings attached. Dinner never happened, and conversation was kept to a minimum.
But that was okay. Was there really a problem with becoming friends before we had sex? I would be clear on my expectations and expect the same from her.
I took about two minutes to unpack, which consisted of throwing my folded clothes into the dresser and putting toiletries in the bathroom. I would worry about cleaning and uncovering the furniture later.
Right now, I had a woman to woo.
After stopping at my truck to grab my toolbox, I walked back to the main house and let myself in, making a note to get a copy of the key from Alice. I made my way back down to the basement, figuring that was as good a place to start as any.
I was surprised to see Alice on all fours at the entrance to the closet underneath the stairs. I took a moment to appreciate the view, because I’m still a man, before saying her name.
“Oh!” Alice got to her feet in a hurry. “You snuck up on me. I’m trying to get Sharpie to come out of hiding.”
“I forgot he was in here.” I crossed over to where she stood and peered into the closet. “I don’t see him.”
“He ran in here a minute ago, and I think he might actually be in the wall. See that little panel?” Alice pointed to an access panel I assumed hid some sort of plumbing or electrical system. It was ajar.
She leaned into me, trying to get a better look in the gloomy basement. My brain promptly short-circuited as I breathed in her natural scent. Like rainwater or newly fallen snow. Fresh and beautiful.
Shaking it off, I reached in the toolbox for my flashlight and switched it on. I illuminated the dark corner of the closet, and Alice stepped in front of me. Crouched down on the floor again, she called for Sharpie, and his shining eyes appeared.
Alice held out her hand, and Sharpie slowly advanced, finally giving in to head butt her outstretched hand. His purr filled the closet.
Alice rubbed his head. “Does that feel good, Little Sir?”
I bet it did.
“This is an odd place for an access panel. I mean, it’s so low to the ground.” I was mostly talking to myself, but Alice nodded.
“Yeah. And it’s kind of hidden. If it were closed, I don’t think I would even realize it was here.” She pulled the panel open wider so I could see inside.
I leaned in further and shone the flashlight deeper into the panel opening. Still seeing nothing of interest, I stepped back.
Alice stopped me with one dainty hand on my arm. “Wait! What was that?”
Alice fished her hand around, out of my view, and pulled out a small cloth bundle with a triumphant flourish.
We stepped out of the cramped closet, and Alice unwrapped her find. We stared at a small, leather book of some kind.
Alice opened the old book with care. Scrawled on the first page with a feminine hand were the words, “Diary of Willow Baxter, Started November 1918, Age 16.”
“Holy shit.” I scratched the stubble on my chin with one hand, still looking at the diary.
Alice did a little happy dance. “Willow must have lived in the house and hid her diary here. This is so freaking cool.”
Fuck, she was adorable.
We sat down on the stairs together, and Sharpie sat a few steps above us, spread his legs, and started cleaning his asshole with no shame whatsoever.
Alice turned the page with extreme care, and her eagerness to read the secret thoughts of a teenager from over a hundred years ago made me smile.
“So, let me guess. She’s going to ramble on and on about petticoats and ribbons or some shit.” I rolled my eyes, prepared to be bored.
Alice punched me in the arm. “Hush! Let me read.”
I was ready for any excuse to spend time with Alice, so I shut my mouth and listened.
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