- Author: Bobbi Holmes
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The Ghost and Mountain Man
(Haunting Danielle, Book 27)
By Bobbi Holmes
Cover Design: Elizabeth Mackey
Copyright © 2021 Bobbi Holmes
Robeth Publishing, LLC
All Rights Reserved.
This novel is a work of fiction.
Any resemblance to places or actual persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The Ghost and the Birthday Boy
Haunting Danielle Newsletter
Haunting Danielle Series
Unlocked Hearts Series
The Coulson Series
Also by Bobbi Ann Johnson Holmes
To all the essential workers who’ve been on the front lines during the last year. Thank you.
He stood on the sidewalk, ignoring the persistent morning rain, and focused his attention on the house across the street. He had almost missed it, almost walked right by. Looking at it now, he realized it was both familiar and almost unrecognizable. It was the trees; he decided. Not only more trees than he remembered, but much larger. And the neighboring houses—so many houses.
If not for the large sign posted in front of the house, he might have kept walking. It hadn’t been there during his last visit. The sign said he had arrived at Marlow House. He continued to stand on the sidewalk, losing all track of time, something he did all too frequently.
Finally, the rain subsided. He glanced to Marlow House’s mansard roofline and noted the position of the sun, surrounded by dissipating rain clouds. A few hours earlier he had witnessed the sunrise while standing on the pier. That was where he had spent last night.
When first returning to Frederickport, the car he had been following turned a corner, disappearing from sight. The unfamiliar sights had distracted him—many new buildings. And the roads—now all paved. Once he found the pier, it had been the touchstone he needed to convince himself he had indeed returned to Frederickport. It simply was not the Frederickport he remembered.
It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried to go home before. Yet each time he ventured back toward civilization, something new frightened him. First it was the horseless carriages that increased in numbers, followed by paved roads, and later more of those carriages, in unimaginable shapes, going terrifyingly faster and faster.
He might have remained in the mountains if he hadn’t seen Alex. Of course, he didn’t immediately recognize him. Not only was Alex older, but he dressed differently. Once recognition dawned, he had impulsively pulled the trigger, sending off a flurry of bullets. They had miraculously missed their target. He wasn’t sure if he felt relief for not killing Alex or angry it wasn’t finally over.
Since it was three against one, he had thought it prudent to flee, yet he hadn’t gone far. After the failed shooting, he hid in the bushes, spying on the three for a few hours before he decided it might actually be the ideal time to return to Frederickport, while Alex was in the mountains.
Unfortunately, finding his way back to the road took him longer than he had expected, and when he finally got there, he saw Alex again, this time getting into a vehicle with his friends. Instead of retreating into the mountains as he had done countless times before, he followed Alex’s car, keeping a safe distance behind to avoid detection. But when he reached Frederickport, the unfamiliar sights distracted him, and Alex’s car disappeared around the corner.
He hadn’t intended to confront Alex, but now he stood in front of Marlow House. What would Anna think of all this? How had they explained his disappearance? The more he looked back on all that had happened, the angrier he became. He could no longer hide; he needed to face Alex and tell Anna what kind of monster she had married.
About to step off the sidewalk and head across the street to Marlow House, he paused when movement to the right distracted his attention. A vehicle drove up Beach Drive. It slowed in front of Marlow house. Something flew from the car toward the house, flying over the fence and landing on the walkway. A newspaper, he guessed. The car then continued on its way.
After the vehicle drove up the street, he stepped off the sidewalk, on his way to Marlow House. He thought briefly about the newspaper—assuming that was what he had seen fly from the car—and marveled at the expert throw yet wondered briefly if it had landed in a dry spot or in a puddle left behind from the recent rain. It really didn’t matter. Alex would not have time to read the newspaper.
On summer mornings Danielle enjoyed her coffee with Walt on the back patio. But this August morning rain kept them inside, not an uncommon occurrence for Oregon. Instead of the patio, they retreated to the parlor, each bringing along a mug of hot coffee. Walt carried a plate with a cinnamon roll. Danielle had claimed she didn’t want one, insisting she needed to cut back on sweets. Yet once in the parlor, she helped herself to some of Walt’s cinnamon roll. He didn’t object, knowing there was more in the kitchen. Plus, after last week’s misadventure, he was simply grateful to be sitting in his parlor, out of the rain, and with the woman he loved.
Danielle hadn’t changed out of her flannel pajama bottoms and T-shirt she had worn to bed the night before. But she had taken the time to weave her dark hair into a French braid, a slight change from the fishtail braid that had once been her trademark hairstyle.
Already dressed for the day in casual tan slacks and a pale blue polo shirt, Walt sat next to her on the parlor sofa. In one hand he held his mug of coffee, and on his right knee he balanced a plate