QSFer Morgan Brice has a new MM fantasy book out in the Magic Emporium shared series: Haven.
Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
A series of long-ago disappearances leads cold case private detective Austin Williams to investigate a troubled sanitarium. Jamie Miller is new in town, temporarily running the local historical association, and he willingly signs on to help solve Austin’s mystery. Sparks fly between them as they dig into the hospital’s troubled past. But someone wants the past to stay buried—and is willing to bury Austin and Jamie to keep it that way.
Haven is part of the Magic Emporium series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit scenes, action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. It is loosely connected to my Fox Hollow series.
The handsome stranger looked a bit pole-axed, staring at Jamie in surprised recognition although he didn’t seem familiar.
“We’ll be closing at five, but we open tomorrow at nine,” he offered, wondering if the man was lost.
The newcomer smiled, and Jamie’s heart sped up. Short, dark blond hair, pretty brown eyes, and broad shoulders got his attention right away. So did the toned chest that tapered to narrow hips beneath the man’s sweater and jacket. He definitely caught Jamie’s notice, something that hadn’t happened often since he’d moved to Saranac Lake.
“I realize it’s close to quitting time, but I wondered if I could meet the archivist? Then we can pick up in the morning.”
Jamie chuckled. “That would be me. Temporary archivist Jamie Miller, at your service.”
Hmm…I wouldn’t mind “servicing” him. Guys like that don’t wander in places like this every day.
The newcomer smiled and stepped close enough to shake hands. “Austin Williams. I’m doing some genealogical research, and I’m hoping you can help me. It’s a bit like solving a mystery—I’ve got bits and pieces, but I need to find the glue to hold them together.”
Austin’s hand was warm and the palm more calloused than Jamie had expected. His first guess had been that the man was a professor or researcher, but the callouses suggested a more hands-on vocation. Maybe I can get some answers while I’m helping him with his “bits and pieces.”
Jamie almost felt guilty about lusting after the man, but he’d had a long dry spell, and Austin was the best thing to come along in quite a while.
“We’re still open for twenty minutes. Tell me what you’re looking for, and that way I can think about it overnight so we can get a jumpstart tomorrow.” Jamie waived Austin toward a seat at a study table.
Jamie listened as Austin talked about his great-uncle’s disappearance and his grandmother’s desire for answers. He asked a few questions, most of which Austin said he didn’t know the answers to. When Austin fell silent, Jamie leaned back in his chair, sad to find that they only had a few minutes left before he needed to close up.
“I’m happy to help you, but the kind of records that might help you find your great-uncle would be at the county courthouse or the library,” Jamie said. “Especially if he wasn’t from a local family, I don’t think anything we’d have here will be what you need.”
Austin hesitated like he was trying to decide whether he should confide in Jamie. “I think he might have been a patient at Havenwood,” he said quietly. “I thought the archive might be able to shed some light on the hospital in that period.”
“Oh.” Jamie had only been at the archive for a month, but he’d already heard plenty of whispers about Havenwood, the creepy old abandoned hospital on the edge of town. “That’s a bit of a touchy subject. What are you hoping to find?”
Havenwood had been closed for decades, but plenty of people in town had worked there, and many of those former employees were still alive. Jamie had overheard some heated arguments between long-time residents over the rumors that still circulated about the old mental institution. He had steered clear since he was just filling in until a permanent archivist could be found. Still, he figured that both sides probably had a bit of truth to them. A place that big with such a long history dealing with vulnerable people was bound to have some heroes and villains.
Which made him wonder what Austin was really hoping to find.
The alarm on Jamie’s phone went off, telling him it was time to lock up. “I have to close on time,” Jamie said, sorry to bring the conversation to an end. “Our insurance company won’t let me stay open beyond the posted times or have anyone inside after we’re closed.”
Austin rose. “I understand. Thanks for listening. I’ll be glad for any help.” He paused. “One more question—where’s a good place to get a bite to eat?” he asked with a slightly shy smile that sent a surge of heat to Jamie’s groin.
“Do you like pizza? Moosehead Inn is a locals’ joint that serves great food. I was going to head over once I lock up—you’re welcome to join me if you don’t have other plans,” Jamie offered, trying to sound nonchalant.
Did I just ask him out? Holy shit. I haven’t done that in…forever.
Austin brightened, and his smile grew broader. “I’d like that. I’ll wait outside. Can we walk there? I didn’t bring my car.”
Jamie nodded, still a little surprised at his own boldness. “Sure. See you in a few minutes.”
He ushered Austin out the door and locked it behind him. Fortunately, Jamie had gotten a head start on the lock-up checklist before the sexy stranger arrived. He powered down the computer and started flipping off light switches as he made his way toward the back door.
This was the part he really disliked. Once he turned on the alarm system, the security lights would come on. But on the way to the back door, the old house got darker, and the shadows stretched longer with every switch he flicked.
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I took the job. But it’s just temporary, and I’m still sending out applications for something better, he reminded himself.
An old house like this was likely to have ghosts, even without being turned into a museum of sorts. Bring together the personal belongings of hundreds of people, bits of local history, journals, and letters, and it didn’t surprise Jamie that the place was haunted. Even if no one else seemed to believe it.
Click, click, click. He turned off the lights in the foyer and the former sitting room and dining room. Jamie had closed up the upstairs rooms early since it was a slow day. It held a storage area, a library of books written by local authors and books about the Saranac Lake area, as well as a conference room and a small classroom for lectures. The attic and basement were storage areas that weren’t open to the public, which made Jamie very happy since both gave him the creeps.
Click. The lights in the old parlor went dark, and Jamie braced himself. On the nights the ghosts felt frisky, this was when the shenanigans started.
A cool breeze out of nowhere made the hair on the back of Jamie’s neck rise. He heard the glissando of crystal pendants gently bumping together, the decorative dangles on a vintage oil lamp in the parlor that shouldn’t have any reason to move.
Jamie resolutely ignored the shadow gliding just at the edge of his peripheral vision as he hurried down the hallway. The kitchen doubled as the staff room and was the least haunted place in the building. Jamie heard footsteps on the stairs and forced himself to breathe. He knew there was no one else in the old house—at least, no one living.
In the room to his left by the back door, the former sewing room for the ladies of the house, he glimpsed a familiar gray figure and heard the swish of crinoline and linen. To his right, in the small office that was once the cook’s room, a rocking chair creaked.
Jamie’s hand shook as he set the alarm. The ghosts didn’t act up every night, and some evenings they were more riled than others. So far, none of them had tried to hurt him. As unsettling as the ghostly manifestations were, Jamie couldn’t object to spirits wanting to stay in a place that meant something to them. He didn’t mess with them, and he really hoped that meant they would return the favor.
The alarm beeped, and the security lights came on, dim but enough to send the shadows scurrying. The sounds stopped, and the house grew quiet. Jamie slipped out the back door and checked the lock, then let out a long breath. The halogen light above the door made the area around the steps almost as bright as day. He shook off the weirdness and smiled, excited about dinner with Austin.
It’s not a date. But I wish it was. Maybe…
This could be a pleasant diversion, Jamie told himself. Austin was just in town to look up some family history, and Jamie’s role with the archive was temporary. Nothing said they couldn’t have a little fun while their paths crossed.
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic and urban fantasy, with less romance, more explosions.
All of the modern-day Morgan Brice and Gail Z. Martin series crossover, so characters from one series appear in cameos and on page in important secondary roles in books from other series. Each book can be read as a standalone, but the more you read the more the expanded universe of friendships and connections becomes clear.
Morgan and Gail believe that paranormal elements make any story even better, and her worlds are full of ghosts, psychics, shifters, creatures, vampires, monster hunters, and magic.
She’s also a huge fan of the TV show Supernatural. (Chibi art by Kamidiox)
Find Morgan at www.MorganBrice.com and her reader group at www.facebook.com/groups/WorldsOfMorganBrice
She’s @MorganBriceBook on Twitter, @MorganBriceAuthor on Instagram, and can also be found on Bookbub, Goodreads and Pinterest (as GZMartin).