Everly Ryan

Historical Romance Author

A Ghostly Excerpt From Gatekeeper by Debra Glass

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A ghost excerpt from the first book in the Phantom Lovers series, Gatekeeper, by Debra Glass.
Her back flattened against the wall and he was against her from head to toe, his hand firmly secured around her fist, one of his knees between hers, his broad shoulders preventing her from escape. Contact with the full length of his body sent shivers down her spine. She thrashed wildly but his other hand caught her chin and held her still. The scent of well-worn wool mingled with the woody redolence of fallen leaves and earth filled her nostrils. Terror rendered her incoherent. All she could do was stand perfectly still and retreat to someplace within.
“Jillian,” he said again. His voice was quiet but commanding, drawing her back out, making her all too aware of his rock-solid proximity.
She dared to look into his eyes. It was a mistake.
Fear of what he might do next engulfed her. His touch was intense but ethereal, more of a firmly concentrated energy than an actual physical contact. Adrenaline set her whole body on fire. She was sweating. Somehow, she had to free herself but his hold on her was too strong, too intense.
“I would never hurt you,” he reiterated.
Some sort of whimper escaped her lips. “Let me go.”
“Promise me you’ll keep the button.”
She merely shook her head. Instinct told her to fight, to flee, but fear rendered her immobile.
“Jillian, promise me. Promise me and I will help you find your sister.”
“You can’t help me. You’re dead.” Even uttering the words caused the panic to rise once again. She knew her horror was obvious to him.
His steely gaze pierced hers, searching. She looked away. He expelled a breath which she actually felt on her cheeks. “I need you, Jillian.”
Her gaze slammed into his once more. She stared.
“Your sister needs you.” He brought the fist that still clasped the button up to his chest. His voice was insistent, almost pleading. “Your sister understood something about this button that I do not. She understood why it has held me here all these years.”
“What does that have to do with me?” Her voice rose with hysteria.
His hand smoothed back the hair at her temple. It was a caress which was incongruously gentle in comparison to the vise grip around her wrist. “You’re more like her than you know.”
Jillian felt sick. Her knees would have buckled if he had not been holding her up.
He went on, his drawl thick and sweet. “You cannot imagine what my existence is like.”
“I don’t want to.” Why wouldn’t he let her go?
A self-deprecating smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “I would never presume to weary you with the details of it but there are things I can see that I could not when I was living. Things I can hear. And there is a…a power…around you, a glow. I’m not certain of its significance but it’s the same as your sister’s.”
“You’re wrong.”
His gaze scanned something above her head. She’d heard her sister discuss auras but she’d never seen one herself. Is that what he saw?
He leaned in even closer, his face only inches from her own. “No, Jillian. It is the same. I see it. And you two are apparently the only ones who can see or hear me.” His fingers trailed down her neck. Her heart skipped a beat. This time, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he was the ghost of a man who’d been dead for one hundred and fifty years. She chanced a glance into his eyes.
“I can also see that whoever attacked your sister—intends to kill you too.”
Jillian froze. Her confused mind tried to comprehend what he was saying. “You’re lying.”
“I have no reason to lie to you.” His voice was but a whisper.
Who would want her dead? And he’d used the word too. Did that mean Amy was already dead?
“How can you see that?”
His eyes darkened. He was grim. “I see shadows around you. Dark things with red eyes. Bad things.”
Jillian swallowed. The evil beings from her nightmare surfaced in her mind.
“You’ve seen them too, haven’t you?”
Impatience set her nerves on fire. “Yes. Yes, I’ve seen them.”
He drew in a slow soft breath. “I couldn’t save your sister from harm but I can keep you safe from the soul collectors—if you will allow it.”
Her lips parted to ask him what a soul collector was but he silenced her with a finger to her mouth. “Will you?” His own masculine taste fused with the metallic tang of gunpowder.
She nodded uncertainly.
“Close your eyes.” His drawl was low but Jillian could not mistake the implied command. Her lashes fluttered to her cheeks.
“Do you see your sister?” His lips brushed her ear.
Jillian sucked in a breath. Her whole body tensed. “No.”
“Look harder.”
She squeezed her eyelids tighter and tried to forget the too-intimate proximity of this ghost. Was he telling her she could see her sister? That she could find her this way? She knew it was possible.
And then like a movie playing in her head, she saw her.

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