Three large men glared at Emma Hopkins, their beefy arms crossed over equally massive chests. Her gloved hands tightened around the handle of a sledgehammer.
Her employees. Fearless. Manly.
Pouting like a bunch of four-year-olds.
“Oh, stop sulking. You guys always get to do the demolition. It’s my turn.”
“We are no sulking. We are waiting,” Carlos quipped in a thick Cuban accent. “Swing the hammer.”
“Yeah, just pretend the wall is the head of that meter maid who gave you a ticket while you were stopped at a red light,” Bart said.
Relaxing her hold, she scrutinized the laborer. “You know, Bart, you really scare me sometimes.”
“He scares all of us.” Mike, her head mason, flicked a contractor bag until it opened.
“Gee, I can’t imagine why.” Emma returned to her task. A gentle late-summer breeze came in through the open window, bringing with it the pleasing fragrance of damp earth. “Hush, all of you. I need to focus.”
She studied the five-foot-high brick structure jutting out from the wall that imprisoned the enormous kitchen fireplace, looking for the perfect place to land her blow. The bottom half appeared solid, with pin-straight mortar joints, but the top was sloppy and uneven. Either two different people had built this thing, or someone had imbibed a few cocktails while on the job. In any case, behind the wall was a huge fireplace she was itching to get her hands on.
She’d earned this privilege.
With a deep breath, Emma swung the hammer through the air.
As soon as the heavy metal head made contact, the top portion of the barrier gave way. She gasped in surprise, stumbling as the hammer dropped from her hands. Bricks and mortar collapsed into the firebox as a blast of cold, stale air swept through her, sending chills down her spine. No, not chills. More like an electric shock that froze her body for a millisecond before it warmed again.
Emma steadied herself. What the hell?
“Estás bien, Boss Lady?”
She focused on Carlos’s concerned face, trying to shake off the odd feeling. “Yeah. I was just startled at how easily it fell.”
He smirked. “Even the wall knows not to mess with you before you’ve had your café.”
Emma removed her safety glasses and slapped them against his chest. “You’ve just been reduced to bag holder.”
While she mindlessly tossed debris into the contractor bag Carlos grudgingly held open for her, her sense of pride grew.
She always loved the first day at a new job, but this one—this one—would put her fireplace and chimney company on the map. Working in a historic brownstone practically at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge was going to be a delight, even if it was a bitch to find a parking space. She loved this part of Brooklyn Heights, and with ten fireplaces to restore, they were going to have one hell of a job to brag about.
As long as everything went smoothly.
Her gloved hand wrapped around something long, thin, and hard. What the hell? She gave a good tug and withdrew a bone. Great, another dead animal. She’d better get it out of the firebox before Bart saw it. With his sick sense of humor, God only knew what perverse ideas he’d come up with just to get a laugh.
Grabbing a droplight, she brought it over to the opening and aimed it down into the pit, peering over the half-wall.
Empty eye sockets stared back at her.
Shock waves rocketed through her body, unleashing a guttural scream. She jerked back, dropping the light and whacking her head against the opening of the firebox.
Her butt hit the ground hard. She cradled the back of her skull, more from reflex than from actual pain. Her mind was too numb for that.
No, it can’t be.
Emma stared at the bone still gripped in her hand. “Ew!” She flung it aside.
In seconds, her men surrounded her.
“Emma, what’s wrong?” Bart’s normally pink-hued face appeared white even against his reddish blond hair.
She opened her mouth to speak but instead released a high-pitched squeak. Carlos offered a hand.
She grabbed it, hoping to draw strength from him before he pulled her up. The guys stared at her, waiting for some direction.
With her heart attempting to punch a hole through her chest, she inched toward the fireplace and picked up the lamp again. Hesitating, she braced herself before glancing over what remained of the brick wall.
Grotesque. Surreal. Contorted into the form of what was once a human being. The skull looked dingy brown in the bright light of the drop lamp. Arm bones, pinned behind the rib cage, were visible beneath the debris.
“There’s a body in here,” she whispered.
About The Book
Author: Maggie van Well
Genre: Contemporary / Paranormal Romance
You never know what you’ll find behind the wall of a closed up fireplace.
Emma Hopkins is a recently divorced chimney sweep trying to make it in a man’s world. When she wins a huge job in Brooklyn Heights , she finds more than she bargains for; a sexy general contractor who makes her blood boil and an evil spirit who wants her dead.
Ryan Atkinson struggles to keep his once-successful general contracting business alive, but horrors in his past have made him a shell of the man he once was. Now he has to face those fears to save Emma from a murderous ghost hell-bent on revenge.
Together, Ryan and Emma become ghost hunting partners, hoping to solve the mystery behind Ruby’s letters. What they uncover is a one-hundred year old murder and a budding love that can’t be denied.
Maggie lives on Long Island with her husband, four insane children (no idea where they get that from) and three entertaining Italian greyhounds; Rosie, Stripe and Santa’s Little Helper (yes, that’s his real name). She also has two ringed-neck doves, because, ya know, who doesn’t like getting woken up at 2 in the morning by cooing?
She loves the ocean, and feels blessed to be able to go to the beach whenever she wants. She is addicted to café mochas, Godiva chocolate, and hidden object games. Seriously, there’s an intervention in her future.