That Thing You Do
Whispering Bay, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Date of Publication: April 28, 2015
Number of pages: 345
Cover Artist: Scarlett Rugers Design Agency
her hometown is haunted, Allie hightails it to Whispering Bay to get the scoop that could secure her dream job at Florida! magazine. What she finds, though, is far scarier than any ghost. Cue her ex-boyfriend, sexy construction foreman Tom Donalan.
When Tom catches Allie poking around his construction site, he quickly realizes his former high school flame is just as feisty as ever. And, heaven help him, her irresistible, mile-high legs still take his breath away. But Tom isn’t about to delay the building’s demolition because of a silly ghost story.
With neither of the stubborn exes backing down from their opposing positions, sparks fly. And, underneath the surface, the fire of their old attraction burns as hot as ever. When strange things start happening with increasing frequency around town, even a tough skeptic like Tom is tested. The question is, can Allie and Tom stop fighting long enough to get to the bottom of Whispering Bay’s ghost problem—and the more important matter of mending their broken hearts?
Keeping herself as still as possible, Allie slipped the cell phone back into her shorts pocket. The building was now eerily quiet. No gravel crunching. No chains rattling. Had she imagined it? Probably. Allie let out a pent up breath. She didn’t know whether she was relieved or disappointed. Both, maybe.
She waited a few minutes so that her vision adjusted to the darkness. Years ago, she’d been inside this building. Buela had brought her here after Allie had graduated high school, proud of the granddaughter about to go off to college that she’d raised almost single-handedly. Back then the senior center had been alive. Full of noise and energy. Now, the place just looked sad. Empty, with bits of scattered trash strewn on the floor.
Something small and dark scurried past her.
Correction: Not exactly empty.
The place was probably crawling with them. Allie was a native Floridian, so she should be used to all manner of creepy crawly things, but sorry, she’d never get used to cockroaches. Best to get this over with as quickly as possible.
“Hello?” she called out. Unable to help herself, she giggled. More out of nerves than a comedic response, because it wasn’t as if she expected someone to answer.
A chain rattled—louder than before—followed this time by a distinct clang.
This was no product of her imagination.
Her mouth went dry. She squeezed the flashlight in her hand, nearly cutting off the blood flow to her fingers.
She tried to concentrate on the rattling sound but all she could hear was the soft whoosh of waves lapping onto a beach. Was her mind playing tricks with her? Because it would be impossible to hear the ocean from inside the building.
Then she remembered the window she’d crawled through.
Of course. The sound was coming though the now open window.
A rush of air swept through her. But instead of the cool night air she’d expected, this was a warm tropical breeze. A pleasant smell assailed her nostrils. Slightly sweet, and vaguely comforting. Lemons, maybe? Her arms erupted in goose bumps. But strangely enough, she was neither cold nor frightened.
A door slammed behind her. She spun around just in time to see a shadow dash across the room. The warm lemony smell vanished, replaced by a voice inside telling her that she was in big trouble. The door was padlocked. Which meant that whatever had gotten inside the building had bypassed the lock. Which was…impossible.
Allie tried to scream, but her throat wasn’t cooperating.
Luckily, her legs weren’t so chicken shit.
She turned to run but something charged at her, smacking her solidly in the chest. The air flew from her lungs. Her last thought before hitting the floor was that ghosts weren’t supposed to make physical contact. They needed Whoopi Goldberg for that.
She struggled to roll out from under whatever had attacked her, but it was no use. The thing on top of her was composed of solid bone and muscle.
“Hold still,” hissed a deep voice. For a second there, it sounded like… No, that too was impossible. “I told you the next time I caught you breaking into the place I’d call the cops.”
Allie nearly swallowed her tongue. She knew that voice. Hot, dark, male. And definitely alive.
“I think you have me confused with someone else,” she gasped.
The body above her stilled. Did he recognize her voice, too?
Be careful or you just might end up in my novel. We’ve all seen that familiar saying on coffee mugs or sweatshirts (it makes a great present for your favorite writer!) and it never fails to produce a grin. Or maybe even a cringe, depending on how you might be portrayed.
I always get a kick out of whenever someone says to me that they think they know the person whom I’ve modeled a character after. My usual response is to smile and ask, “Oh, yeah? Who?” Most times, they’re dead wrong. But, it is true that every author has a muse, or inspiration, that informs their writing process to varying degrees. My sister swears she’s in almost every romance novel I write, and to be honest, she was the inspiration behind the character of Pilar Diaz-Rothman, a secondary character I used in my Bunco Babes books and my new Whispering Bay Romances series. Just like my sister, Pilar loves to make up words. My personal favorite is: “I’m going to send you a tex-mex.” That’s Carmen slang for “texting.”
Another favorite character of mine is Rusty Newton, the Barney Fife-esque bumbling police deputy that’s also appeared in all my Whispering Bay novels. Rusty is the comic relief in every scene he appears in. As a matter of fact, I have to be careful with him because he tends to take over, he’s just that fun to write. I think my home exterminator would have a cockroach if he knew he was really my Rusty!
But the best and probably strangest rip off of a “real person” comes in the form of a duck. In my first Whispering Bay release, THAT THING YOU DO, my main character, journalist Allie Grant, is famous (or infamous, depending on how you see it) for a story she wrote about a duck that was shot by a hunter and then came “back to life,” when the hunter’s wife found the duck still alive in the garage refrigerator two days later. She ran the duck to an emergency wildlife sanctuary, and he was saved by the efforts of veterinary science. Too weird to be true, you say? Nope. It really happened! The duck’s name is Perky and she lives in my hometown of Tallahassee. She made worldwide headlines back in 2007, and the story was just too delicious to not use in some way or another. Which goes to show you, even a writer’s wildest dreams are often no match for everyday miracles.
Maria Geraci writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. The Portland Book Review called her novel, The Boyfriend of the Month Club, “immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.” Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA ® award. She lives in north Florida with her family, which includes a very needy chihuahua, an extremely needy dachshund and a not-so-needy cat (guess which one she likes best?). You can reach at her www.mariageraci.com.
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