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McKee’s Ghost

McKee's Ghost by Anita Philmarby Anita Philmar

Included is another story McKee’s Family- sensual western historical.  

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Blurb–
His fiancée called off their engagement after be accosted by a ghost in his house.

Now, a beautiful ghost detective has shown up at his ranch, saying his brother has hired her to take care of the unwanted spirit.

Konnor McKee is more than happy with PSI Agent Ruth Oliva Wilson. One look and he was hooked. Now, if he can only get some help from a ghost, he might be able to secure himself a bride after all.

With the return of his ex-fiancee, his life is turned upside down by an angry ghost, a vindictive woman and a sexy medium. Konnor doesn’t know which way to turn.

Can he get everyone out of this alive and marry the PSI Agent?

Or has he lost all hope of a happy future because of the ruthless ghost of one of his ancestors?

 

Coming to Amazon Soon.

Read Chapter Excerpt

Read Chapter Excerpt

John Bristol Smith needed a job.

“Who the heck is that walking down the lane?” Henry Clark yelled from outside the barn.

Konnor McKee wondered vaguely if having someone help him around his homestead was worth the cost. Henry asked more questions in the few weeks he’d been working for Konnor than anyone he knew could ask.

Locking the door of the stall he’d just finished cleaning out, he grabbed his coat and slipped it over his shoulders. “Give me a sec. I’ll be right out.”

The young man rushed in through the open doorway and glanced around the dark interior.

Konnor studied his young helper, noted his excitement in his antsy movements. Being of Irish descent, his fair skin looked wind-burned. Not a tall man, Henry had the slim build of a boy but the wide shoulders of the strong worker he’d someday become.

“I believe you have a visitor.” He waved an impatient hand.

“All right, let’s take a look.” Not rushing, Konnor walked along the main aisle. He didn’t expect anyone he knew to be paying him a visit, but his parents occasionally stopped by when they were making a trip to Shelton.

After stepping outside, he glanced down the path leading to his home. The dark object moving toward them appeared to be carrying two bags and walking steadily forward. Curious who might be heading his way, he strolled several steps along the lane. The sun setting low on the western horizon told him they only had a few more hours of daylight. Luckily, he’d harvested his crops weeks ago. Now, he needed to prepare for the harsh weather of winter. A North wind hit him in the face, reminding him snow would be here soon.

“Is it that fiancée of yours coming back? Is so? I should high-tail it home. She didn’t like me much.” Henry followed and paused at the edge of the corral’s fence.

“No, Wilhelmina Keller is not likely to return.” Konnor pointed to the house. “Why don’t you head inside and set out something for my guest to eat. Then you can call it a day and go on home.”

The crunch of Henry’s boots on the rough path let Konnor know the boy was following his direction. Keeping his focus on the person in the distance, he rushed down the lane. Topping out at six feet, he had a smooth gait and a toned body. Much like the draft horses he raised, he was built for the long haul. Within a few moments, he spotted a few details of the individual striding toward him.

The wind whipped lengthy strands of reddish-brown hair up over the rim of a black hat. The short man had his collar pulled up close to his neck, and his knee-length, buckskin coat swallowed him. Drawing closer, Konnor noticed something billowing around his feet.

Holy Moses, a skirt.

Surprised to see a woman walking alone this far from town, he picked up his pace and stared at the bags she had in each hand.

Where the hell was she going?

He wasn’t expecting any woman to visit. Damn, his fiancée hadn’t made it more than two days in this remote location before calling off their engagement and leaving. Even though, there’d been other extenuating circumstances. Wilhelmina didn’t have what it took to be a rancher’s wife. He’d suspected as much when they met in Omaha, but she assured him she loved the great outdoors.

“Sure,” Konnor grumbled and raised his voice to catch the woman’s attention. “Excuse me, Madam. Are you heading in the right direction?”

So busy watching her feet on the trail, her head jerked up as if she hadn’t noticed him approach. With a quick halt, she dropped her bags onto the path, crossed her arms, and stared.

Noting her irritation, he hurried to convince her that she had traveled down the wrong road. Once, he drew closer, he tried again, “Who are you looking for?”

“Mr. Konnor McKee. I was told this was his ranch.” She didn’t budge. Her gaze ran from the top of his head to his toes as if inspecting him for flaws.

A little bumfuddled by her answer, he shook his head. “You’ve got the right place, but I can’t imagine any business you might have with me.”

“Is your brother Barton McKee?”

“Yes, did he send you?” He returned her scrutiny and noted her small stature. Her handsome face displayed soft pink lips, a slightly pointed nose, and hazel eyes. Automatically, his gaze dropped to her gloved hands. He wondered if she was married, and cursed any man for letting his wife travel through unknown territory by herself.

“He contacted Psychic Specters Investigations Agency several weeks ago. Said you had a ghost. He wanted someone to check out the problem.” She bent and retrieved her bags. “I met with him briefly and told him I’d be coming to see you today. He assured me he’d convey the information to you.” She lifted an inquiring brow. “Apparently, he didn’t.”

“No. Wait, a sec, let me take those.” He stepped forward and relieved her of her luggage. Her womanly fragrance brushed over his senses, and a feeling of recognition filled him. Trying to identify where they might have met, he drew in a breath and directed her down the lane. “He could’ve written me, but I haven’t been in town for a few weeks now. I told him Wilhelmina probably dreamed up the ghost as an excuse for breaking off our engagement. I’m not afraid of a few strange noises.”

“Right. Then I guess you won’t mind if I take a look around your house, seeing as he’s already paid for our services.” She strolled by him and continued down the path.

Suddenly grasping the intrusion this would cause in his routine, he stiffened. Did he want another woman staying with him even for a few days? After his fiancée had left, he’d come to terms with spending the rest of his life alone. In his youth, he’d avoided girls because he preferred occupying his time with his horses.

Once he bought his ranch with his brother, he’d considered finding a wife. But with more chores, he hadn’t found time for romance. He had to work every minute of the day to achieve his dream of raising draft horses and building a solid reputation as a trainer. Seeing as he was almost thirty, Konnor felt he’d missed the boat and had given up on his search to find a bride.

The woman in front of him turned and glared. “Mr. McKee, if those bags are too heavy. I can carry them.”

The absurdity of him not being able to handle her luggage drew a chuckle from him. “No, Madam, I was trying to decide what to call you. I don’t believe you’ve given me your name.”

“R.O.W. is what everyone at the agency uses. We have two Miss Wilsons so it keeps down confusion if you should need to talk to anyone else regarding the case.” She hurried him along with a slight wave for him to catch up and continued along the trail.

“Whoa, wait.” He realized he dawdled too long behind her and rushed to catch up before he shortened his gait to match hers. “Are you telling me that even more people are coming?”

“Not unless we require their help. I’m here to assess the situation and make contact with the ghost if I can. Depending on the nature of the entity, I’ll deal with it or call in someone else to help with the problem.”

He shook his head, amazed that there were jobs for folks who specialized in eradicating ghosts. “How exactly do you get rid of a spook?”

She shrugged, and her gaze snagged on the corral where Buttercup stood. “Depends. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them to leave.”

Seeing her fascination with his horse, he queried, “Are you familiar with Belgian draft horses?”

Row nodded. “Yes, my father had a Clydesdale for a while back when I was a kid. We sold him when we moved to the city.”

“And that was?” He ventured in hopes of learning more about her.

“Too long ago to let it distract me from the job I was sent here to do.” She bypassed Buttercup without giving her a second glance and pointed to the front porch. “If you’d be so kind as to show me around the house, I’ll get to work.”

****

Ruth stepped through the doorway of Konnor’s home and paused. Directly in line with the entrance stood a set of stairs that reminded her of the ones she’d known as a child. The breeze rushing in shoved at her in the same way that her brother had when they were called in for supper. The memory of his youthful voice rang in her head. ‘Ruthie.’ A shiver of unforgettable heartache sizzled across her nerve endings.

She blinked to mask the pain and walked into the sitting room on the right. Again, memories of the past assaulted her. The large stone fireplace matched the one of her youth, the tan leather couch mirroring the style of her grandparent’s home.

Drawing in a calming breath, she suppressed her sense of nostalgia and searched for subtle differences in the decor. The red throw rug on the back of an old wooden rocker, the wingback chair upholstered in a flower-pattern, and the small footstool shoved up underneath it. Each of these items reminded her she stood in a house unrelated to her family’s.

Konnor set her bags down in the entranceway, drawing her focus to him. “I’m sorry, Madam, but you need to give me a different name to call you. Row just isn’t proper for a pretty lady like you.”

Having heard this comment before, she smiled and studied his face. Curly mahogany-colored hair touched his dark brows and highlighted his beautiful brown eyes. A slight bend in his nose revealed he’d broken it at one time or another. His square jaw covered with the light shadow of a beard, indicated he hadn’t taken the time to shave today or he had very slow growing facial hair.

With his broad shoulders and stout body, she’d wondered if he had a stubborn streak a mile long like most of the men she met. “I should have known you weren’t going to cooperate. Men from the central states can’t let go of their upbringing.”

She held out her hand. “The name is Ruth Oliva Wilson. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. McKee.”

His larger one closed around hers, engulfing it in a warm embrace. Heat traveled through her like a speeding bullet, sparking need in secret places she hadn’t acknowledged existed in months. His brown eyes narrowed as if he’d somehow tapped into the fact. “Please call me Konnor, Miss Wilson.”

With her fingers still locked in his, she struggled with how to maintain a professional image and appear friendly enough to gain his trust. The line already seemed blurred.

Why?

Shoving aside her misgivings, she followed her instinct. “If I’m to call you by your first name, you should call me, Ruth or Oliva.”

A wide grin formed on his lips. He raised her hand to his mouth. “Ruth, then, and thank you for allowing me such liberties.” He kissed the back of her hand before releasing it.

The sizzle of desire rushing through her had her turning quickly for the stairs. “I, huh, wouldn’t mind freshening up a bit before you give me the grand tour of the house. I’m a little dusty from the trip here.”

Her hat shifted as if caught by an invisible force and was lifted from her head. She turned with, “What the—”

Konnor dropped it on one of the pegs nailed to the hallway’s wall. “We’ll simply set this here along with your coat, so you don’t have to go upstairs to retrieve them whenever you’re ready to step back outside.”

Not generally concerned with how she looked, she brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. Was she a complete mess? Her trip from Omaha had taken most of the day. Did she look worn and haggard?

She must. The wind and the exercise had played havoc with her energy level. With only her breakfast to tide her over, she’d struggled to put one foot in front of the other while on the road to Konnor’s place. If he hadn’t walked out to help her with the bags, she wasn’t certain she would have made it without collapsing at his feet once she got here. “Good idea.”

Following his example, she tugged off her gloves, shoved them in her pockets.

After he had hung up his coat, he helped her with hers. His large presence shifted behind her, sending a wash of need through her. Then his hands closed over the heavy leather, bringing with it the smell of fresh hay and his unique masculine scent. He lifted the cured hide from her shoulders and set it on a peg next to his. “There we go. Now, we can head upstairs.”

He stepped closer and laid a hand on her lower back to guide her to the stairs. His blistering nudge sliced through her, reminding her of the endless months she’d endured without a lover’s touch.

Her knees wobbled, and she stumbled.

“Whoa, sweetheart.” Konnor caught her around the waist and held her steady. His impressive form, the perfect anchor to hold her up, had her leaning into him. The sudden contact with his firm body didn’t inspire strength. Instead, she fought the hunger to melt against him.

Somehow, he must have realized her inability to stand. Because one minute, she stood before him, the next he’d swept her up in his embrace. “My, but you are a tiny thing.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and worked to clear her vision while her head still spun in circles. “What are you doing?”

“Carrying you upstairs. A pint-sized woman like you must be exhausted from your trip. What time did you start out?” He walked up the stairs without giving her a chance to demand that he release her.

Her gaze narrowed in on the strong column of his neck. The word determined joined the stubborn tag she’d used to describe him. Nonetheless, she appreciated his assistance. The ache in her feet eased, and she snuggled closer, letting his strength revive hers. Still the man was being awful forward. She needed to remind him she expected to be treated as a professional, not his lover. “I’m not exactly sure when the train left Omaha, they were running late.”

“Omaha?” He paused outside a doorway and released her legs. Her body swung against his. He tightened his hold on her waist and drew her into his chest. “That means you’ve been traveling all day.”

“Yes, after I got to Shelton. I managed to get a ride with a couple who let me off about two or three miles down the road from your house.” She recalled the older man and his wife. They had encouraged her to go home with them and pay a visit to Konnor tomorrow after she’d given herself an opportunity to rest. She smiled. “Mr. and Mrs. Stout. They said they didn’t live too far from here.”

“Yes, they have a place near my parents.” He continued to examine her. A frown formed on his mouth and brow, each leveling out into a straight line. “And I’m sure they stopped by there to tell them I have a visitor. Which means, we might have a problem when they find out you’re staying here alone with me.”

“Why? I’m here on assignment.” Ruth had run into this situation before and understood how her bunking at a client’s home inspired rumors. “It’s not like anything is going on between us. I’m a respected agent.”

He squeezed her tighter against his chest and lowered his head. His eyes alight with desire, he whispered against her lips, “Wrong. One look and I was smitten. Now, holding you in my arms, I’m ready—”

The words evaporated between them when he covered her mouth with his.

My, oh, my, but the man could kiss.

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