Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.
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Holly's two Christmas wishes this year are to finally win her mother's approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and discovering the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss...even if that mystery kisser is the resident Christmas ghost.
This snippet comes from the first time Holly confides to someone about her mystery kiss. She chooses for her confident the resident vicar, who, in her opinion, is too handsome by half.
“….I cannot imagine anyone else in the household would have done it.”
“Hmmm. That is a mystery.”
“My only other thought is …well, it’s hard to even consider.”
“What is it?”
“You might laugh. Or perform that exorcism in truth.”
He tilted his head, his eyes wide. She’d never noticed what a beautiful shade of blue they were, like a clear winter sky.
“Exorcism?” he asked. “Do you think a ghost might have done this?”
She let out a helpless half-laugh. “Either that, or a servant, which seems preposterous.”
He sat back as if pondering, then resumed his task. “That is something to consider. I agree you are right about Lord Bradbury. I do not know him well, but he strikes me as too honorable to engage in that type of behavior.”
“That is my opinion as well.”
They resumed their bough making and bow-tying in silence. She could not guess his thoughts, but hers returned to that night in the conservatory, the sublime beauty of that particular intimacy.
The vicar’s voice broke into her thoughts. “I believe you may be right.”
“I’m right?” She blinked.
“It might have been a ghost.”
She almost dropped her ribbon. “Do you truly believe that?”
“Let’s consider all the other possibilities.”
Working side by side, they discussed each male guest, and every servant that they had seen or met in the castle. The vicar, having spent so much time at this castle over the years in his friendship with Joseph, knew all of them. They went back over what few physical attributes she had detected about her mystery man, and compared them to each male in the household. One by one, they eliminated them all.
Finally, the vicar said, “It is possible that your mystery man mistook you for someone else.”
She winced. “That would be truly terrible. How humiliating.”
He said nothing for a long moment while they worked. Quietly, he asked, “Can you think of anyone we have not yet considered?”
She worked at her bow, trying to get the loops the same size. “No, I can’t.”
A weighted pause. “Then the only other explanation is that some stranger entered the castle.”
She shivered. That thought frightened her more than the others.
While Holly grappled with the prospect, the vicar said what they were both thinking, “Either it was someone else we have not considered, or it was a ghost.”
That would explain why the sensation had been so…unearthly.
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