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Life Ghost On (Book 9 EBOOK)

Life Ghost On (Book 9 EBOOK)

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When 'I Do' Turns Into 'Whodunnit?'

Wedding planning is tough, but it's even harder when you're a PI investigating a high-stakes murder. The moment a model turns up dead at the bridal expo, my to-do list gets a lot more complicated.

As if finding a new venue weren't urgent enough—thanks to a fire that turned our dream location into a smoky ruin—I've also got some rather insistent ghosts clamoring for resolution.

Piecing together betrayals, secrets, and a list of suspects as varied as my wedding playlist, time is running out.

With matrimony and mystery both on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher. In this deadly game of vows and villains, will I make it to "I do" or will 'til death do us part' become all too literal?

Dive into a world where wedding veils and police tape go hand-in-hand. Will you RSVP to this unmissable mystery?

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Give me a quick list: what can I expect?

  • Cool Powers and Magic
  • Slow Burn Romance
  • Snort Worthy Hilarity
  • Hot Cop
  • Small Town
  • A Cat!
  • Cozy Mystery

Want a sneak peek? Read a sample

Two words strike fear into my very soul. Bridal Expo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against them per se, but when I’m the bride-to-be, and my entire family wants to be involved? Yeah, that’s a hard no thank-you-very-much.

Seb, my charming, unbelievably good-looking neighbor, hammered the nail into that particular coffin, and I’d crumbled, caved, and given in with undoubtedly lousy grace. He is, after all, my wedding planner, and while I get the final say on everything, Seb overruled me on this one.

“Oh, come on,” Seb nudged me with his elbow. “Cheer up; it won’t be that bad.”

“I just don’t see the point,” I pouted. “My wedding is in two days, Seb. Two days! What could I possibly need from this expo? I have my dress, I have a venue, I have flowers, a photographer and a cake. So why are we here?” My voice sounded like a whiny three-year-old, and I didn’t care.

“We’re here because you promised me an expo, and since we missed the one in the city because I caught Covid, this is the next best thing!” Seb flashed his pearly whites and danced ahead, waving his arm toward the huge banner stretched across the front of Firefly Bay’s town hall announcing the expo.

“Have expo will travel,” Laura grinned, taking his place by my side and looping her arm through mine, urging me forward.

“It will be lovely,” Mom agreed, coming up on my other side. “I’m looking forward to the fashion parade and seeing all the dresses.”

“But I already have my dress,” I wailed.

“It doesn’t hurt to look,” Mom hushed me, while Amanda, trailing behind us, added, “No one is saying you have to change your dress, Audrey. Mind you, you might want to take it easy on the snacks.”

My head swiveled around so fast I gave myself whiplash. “What does that mean? Are you saying I’m fat?”

She didn’t deny it. Instead, she looked me up and down thoroughly before shrugging and saying, “I’m saying I’d skip the free treats today if I were you.”

“Seriously, Amanda, shut up, you’re not helping,” Laura snapped, patting my arm soothingly.

“Girls, girls,” Seb snapped his fingers, drawing our attention, “Today is about fun. It’s not about pressure. Audrey, you gorgeous thing, you don’t need to make any decisions today—see? Consider it my gift to you. Just look at all the pretty things, and if you see a tiara you like? Let me know.” He winked, a huge, exaggerated wink, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Seb had been trying to convince me I needed a tiara, and I steadfastly disagreed.

“Right? Right! Let’s go!”

We followed Seb through the doors and found ourselves instantly transported to another world. It was rather magical once you overcame the sheer amount of noise assaulting your ears. The town hall was decked out like a wedding venue, with vast swathes of fabric draped across the ceiling, fairy lights, and flowers everywhere. Vendors had tables sprucing their wares, from makeup stations to stationery, florists, and jewelers. If it were even remotely connected to the wedding industry, it was here.

The tables were arranged in a grid pattern with a signpost at each row with cute names like ‘Honeymoon Lane’ and ‘First Kiss Boulevard.’ They had erected a catwalk at the far end of the hall, extending off the stage. And just like that, my irritation slipped away to be replaced with something suspiciously like excitement.

“See?” Seb slung an arm around my shoulders and squeezed. “It’s not so bad. We all like pretty things. Am I right, or am I right? Now, where are all those hunky groom models hiding out?”

“Wait!” I grabbed his arm to stop him from moving away. “Where are you going?”

“Girl, divide and conquer!” He smiled, almost blinding me with his white teeth, but then he must’ve glimpsed the panic that flashed across my face, for he sobered. “Gather around, ladies,” he demanded, maneuvering us into a circle. “Here’s the plan. Laura, we need more ribbon, anything in the soft green range.”

“Got it,” Laura saluted him, and I eyed her suspiciously. Did they all have assignments? Had they been plotting behind my back?

“Amanda, earrings. Something with a sparkle but not too long or flashy. She’ll only end up ripping her earlobe off with them. But not too dainty, either.”

“Understood.” Amanda nodded.

They had been plotting behind my back, the sneaky, conniving devils. There was no stopping the smile that curled my lips. It takes brass balls and a poker face to deceive me, and I can’t decide whether I want to throttle them or buy them a drink.

“And of course, Mom, we know you’re here for the fashion, so we’ll all meet at the catwalk at two. Synchronize watches.”

“Wait, what are you looking for?” I asked before he could leave.

“Why an eligible bachelor, of course,” Seb winked and, with a wave, was immediately swallowed by a sea of white—lace, silk, tulle, off in search of a husband for himself. Or a tiara. Possibly both. I suspected that by the end of the day, I’d be wearing a crown, and the truth was, I’d go along with it because he was Seb, and despite only being my neighbor for a short time, he was fast becoming a solid friend. That and he was the only one, aside from my fiancé, Kade Galloway, who knew that I could see and speak to ghosts. And my cat, Thor. And raccoon, Bandit. It wasn’t much, right? Talking to ghosts and animals?

“The look on your face says it all, Fitz.” Ben suddenly appeared beside me, accompanied by his usual spectral chill. “Never thought I’d see the day you’d be at a wedding expo.” His eyes caught the banners overhead that read “Say ‘I do’ to your dream wedding” and “The Best Day of Your Life.”

“Why am I not surprised to see you here?” I muttered out of the corner of my mouth. Ben was an unashamed, avid fan of the shopping channel and would travel around the neighborhood at all hours of the day—or night—to visit with whoever had his favorite channel playing.

“What’s that, love?” Mom turned to me, having caught my mumbling. Ben grinned, then disappeared into the crowd, leaving me to explain why I was talking to myself. Again.

Thinking on my feet, I blurted, “This is overwhelming.”

She patted my arm reassuringly. “Oh, darling, it’s all part of the fun. You only get married once, you know.”

“Statistically speaking, that’s not accurate,” Amanda chimed in.

Laura shot her a look. “Let’s just enjoy the expo, stats aside.”

As we weaved through vendors offering everything from cake tastings to honeymoon getaways, I felt a familiar chill that had nothing to do with wedding jitters. Thinking Ben had returned from his sojourn around the venue, I turned to him, mouth open, to ask if he’d seen anything he liked, only to snap it shut just as fast. It wasn’t Ben. It was Emily Carson.

“Last minute wedding prep?” she asked, her ethereal form shimmering amid the chaos.

Letting the others surge ahead, I deliberately slowed my pace to talk to Emily. Oddly, she kinda fit in at the expo in her pristine white bridal gown, her auburn hair swept up in an elegant up-style, a silver locket around her neck. I ignored the red stain on the front of her dress, the gaping hole in her abdomen, and that she was incorporeal.

Pulling out my phone, I pretended to take a call.

“Emily, what are you doing here?” I asked, still baffled by the randomness of her visits. “I mean, I haven’t seen you in ages.” Emily had first appeared when Kade and I had returned from Chicago after visiting his parents. That had been weeks ago. She’d been coming and going ever since.

Emily smirked, her ethereal form shimmering a little. “I’m not tied to Firefly Bay. I go where the wind—or whatever it is that moves us ghosts—takes me.”

“And you chose today of all days. While I’m at a bridal expo?” It couldn’t be a coincidence, not when she died modeling a bridal gown. What I’d learned about Emily Carson was very little. She was a slender woman with a willowy frame that made her perfect model material. Almond-shaped hazel eyes with a porcelain complexion and a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks. She was, in a word, stunning, so it was no surprise she’d turned to modeling.

“Even spirits get curious,” she said, glancing at a mannequin dressed in a wedding gown. “So, how’s my murder investigation coming along?”

The question wasn’t unexpected. “You have no idea how tangled this thing is, Emily. I’ve pored over public records, stalked social media accounts, and even had run-ins with some less-than-helpful police about your case. And you know what I’ve got? Zilch. It’s like your killer vanished into thin air even before you actually vanished into thin air.”

Emily nodded, her eyes softening. But even spectral expressions are telling, and I couldn’t miss the glimmer of disappointment in her gaze. “I understand. Life’s obstacles aren’t just for the living, apparently,” she said. Her hand fluttered over her abdomen, where her untimely demise was painfully visible. “Just remember, I can’t cross over until this is sorted.”

I felt a pang of guilt, like a splinter I couldn’t quite dig out. “I’m well aware, and it eats at me, Emily. When the wedding whirlwind dies down, I’ll revamp my efforts. Willow Creek won’t know what hit it,” I promised, pondering if a honeymoon could double as an investigative road trip. Kade might just go for it.

She looked at me, stunningly beautiful. “I’m counting on you, Audrey.” Then, just like that, she was gone.

Her absence magnified my guilt. There were scant details to work on—her lifeless body was discovered in a mansion in Willow Creek, wearing the same wedding dress from her last photoshoot. The mansion’s owner, a wealthy philanthropist named George Dawson, disappeared a week after Emily’s body was found. Suspected but never proven guilty. Another dead-end in a case full of them.

A hand wrapped around my wrist and jerked me forward, pulling me from my thoughts. “Come on, Audrey, let’s stick together,” Laura said. “Can’t have you sneaking out on us.”

The hours passed surprisingly quickly, and before I knew it, we were on our way to the catwalk, Mom practically buzzing with excitement. They’d already had several sessions featuring bridesmaid and flower girl outfits, but two o’clock was the grand finale, the wedding gowns.

Laura carried a tote bag stuffed with ribbons and tulle of varying shades of green and pink, Amanda had snagged the perfect earrings, and I’d sampled almost every cake that was on offer—so much so that my stomach hurt—and I’d locked eyes with Amanda over every mouthful. To give her credit, she didn’t say a word, although her lips had thinned into a straight line, a sure sign of her disapproval.

I’d only knocked over one candle, thankfully not alight, which was a definite win because I’m the clumsiest person I know. We’d stopped by a table with an elaborate display of tiaras and veils and had discussed my decision to veto a veil—too risky. I’d either step on it, shut it in a door, or some other situation was bound to crop up where I’d end up ripping it off my head. Plus, a veil was a step too far in the direction of formal, which was not what I wanted.

Kade and I wanted our wedding to be fun, not formal. Yes, I’d be in a magnificent white dress—A Lise Magnier A-line gown featuring sparkling, beaded floral lace over a plunging v-shaped neckline and a hidden thigh-high slit under a layer of shimmering tulle. The moment the saleswoman had slipped it over my head, I’d been mesmerized. I’d said yes to the dress.

Kade would be in tan chinos with a matching waistcoat and a white button-down with the sleeves rolled up. Our reception was in a barn, and while our cake was three tiers, it was decorated with a cute country vibe with green vines, pastel roses, and wildflowers, and the bottom tier had a cute wooden fence. Everything was rustic, country, low-key, and one hundred percent us.

“Come, come,” Seb hurried up, ushering us towards seats in the front row. “I reserved these for us.”

Mom almost flattened me in her stampede to get the best seat. She needn’t have worried. All the seats had the best view.

“How did you manage this?” I asked, waiting for Amanda and Laura to proceed me before taking my seat.

“Oh, I know a guy who owed me a favor.” Seb winked, and my mind boggled with possibilities. By day, Seb was a schoolteacher. By night? Well, besides being a marriage celebrant—mostly for same-sex couples—he also made an amazing wedding planner. A role I’d gladly handed over to him when he’d offered.

“Shush,” he grabbed my hand. “It’s starting.”

Models began floating down the runway in dreamy gowns that probably cost more than my car. Each dress seemed more intricate than the last—swaths of lace, dramatic veils, delicate beadwork, and flowing trains.

“That one’s gorgeous,” Laura pointed out, her eyes locked on a mermaid-style gown that seemed painted on the model.

“Yeah, but not practical. Poor girl can hardly walk,” Amanda weighed in.

I was about to agree when another dress caught my eye. It was a classic A-line with lace sleeves, similar to the one I’d picked. “What about that one?”

Mum nodded, clearly pleased. “That’s more like it.” She leaned over and whispered, “It even has the perfect inner lining for the hidden pocket tradition.”

I chuckled. “You’re still on about that, huh?”

Her smile was warm, almost wistful. “You’ll see. With that little token tucked away on your wedding day, you’ll feel the generations of love and good luck we’ve sewn into our family’s fabric. Literally.”

We sat in the front row, enthralled, as tall, willowy models glided along the catwalk, modeling the wedding dresses. They were unique and beautiful, and I’d been quietly worried I’d have buyer’s remorse over my dress, but hallelujah, I didn’t see a dress I liked more. I’d even relaxed back into my seat, legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles, enjoying the show when Seb grabbed my arm, making me jump.

“This is the grand finale,” he whispered. “Behind that curtain is a B.I.G. huge wedding cake, and on top of it is model extraordinaire Rayna Mills in a gold gown.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“It’s my mission to know. Plus, I hung out at the back; it took me all of ten minutes to pick up the goss.”

“And the goss is?”

“Gossip, darl,” He shot back without looking at me.

I snorted. “I know what goss means. But what did you find out? What is the gossip?”

“Oh, the usual, Rayna has top billing, but another model, Nicole, is … let’s just say a tad annoyed she didn’t get the top job, so the atmosphere in the dressing room is a smidge on the frosty side.”

Mum leaned in, her voice tinged with excitement. “That dress is supposed to be the highlight of the show, you know. They say the designer is here. What’s her name, Marigold something?”

“Marianne Thompson,” Seb replied, not taking his eyes from the stage. He was practically on the edge of his seat in anticipation. “She started her boutique five years ago and has been moderately successful—her bridal designs have been featured in a few local magazines.”

“You know her?” I asked.

“Not personally, but I’m angling for an introduction after the big reveal.” Before he could continue, the lights dimmed, and a hush fell over the crowd, replaced by the rich crescendo of orchestral music. A single spotlight focused on the curtain.

The MC’s voice filled the room. “Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the pièce de résistance!”

With that, confetti cannons boomed, showering us all in a glittery haze. Amidst the explosion of sound and color, I thought I heard something else—a sharp, discordant noise that felt out of place, and I half wondered if someone had dropped something backstage, but in the chaos of the moment, I dismissed it.
The curtain lifted slowly, revealing the gargantuan wedding cake. But it wasn’t the cake that caught everyone’s attention. It was Rayna Mills, the model who was supposed to embody the epitome of bridal splendor in her gold wedding dress. She was there, lying motionless atop the cake, her dazzling gown marred by a dark, spreading stain.

Gasps echoed through the room, replacing the music that had so joyously filled the air moments before. Time seemed to freeze as everyone processed the horrifying spectacle before us.

The screaming was not unexpected. Not by Rayna. She remained motionless atop the cake. No, the screaming came from models standing in the wings who rushed onto the stage, all looking up at Rayna in horror. Standing sentinel at the base of the cake, the groomsmen looked confused, then they, too, looked up at Rayna and started yelling for a medic.

“What’s happened?” Laura asked. “Has she fainted? I wouldn’t be surprised, squeezing in and out of those big heavy gowns.”

Then Rayna moved. Grabbing handfuls of the shimmering gold fabric, she hiked it up and stood, awkwardly making her way off the cake when no one helped her.

“You guys! You’re ruining EVERYTHING!” she screamed, stomping a foot. “Why are you doing this to me?” Only, of course, no one heard her, no one except me, because Rayna Mills was dead and I was seeing her ghost.

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