She wanted revenge. He wanted her.
Cat was desperate, but pretending to be a ghost to stop the renovation on the neighbouring manor house was a new low even for her. All she needed to do, though, was slow down the renovation and figure out a way to make the owner pay for stealing her family home years before. Simple.
Everything was perfect until a new guy arrived on site, turning her plans for revenge upside down, and her body to a puddle of lusty mush. But when she finds out the secret he's been keeping, will their attraction be strong enough to hold them together? Or will family ties tear them apart?
Warning: This story contains a large orange cat called Elvis, a fake ghost called Cat, a sizzling hot romance, and may cause you to crack a smile.
Elvis, her cat, nuzzled her foot once more and sat staring at her expectantly. She reached over and stroked him, knowing exactly what he wanted. The cat, bless all his fifteen pounds, was a water critter. If she was in the bath, he wanted in. If he wasn't such a scaredy cat and realised there was a world outside the back garden, he'd have loved the sea just a couple of hundred metres from the end of her long garden. Yesterday he'd already jumped in to the pool, swimming around the two foot deep plastic expanse.
"Come on, baby." Her orange monster jumped into her arms and she gently placed him in the water. He was probably as hot as she was. She splashed water over him, enjoying his enthusiasm.
"You do realise there's a giant hamster in your kiddie pool, right?" The voice startled her and she scrambled around to see a man, standing not a couple of metres behind her, next to her petunias, dressed in a suit. Then all hell broke loose.
Elvis didn't like men's voices. The beast jumped up, scrambling to climb the two foot tall wall of plastic, looking like a drowned rat with his long, wet fur clinging to his body and claws that would rival Wolverine's.
She heard a rip and then she was in a rush of water sliding the couple of metres across her lawn and towards the feet of the newcomer. Cat finally stopped, her ass up in the air and her thick hair, unclipped and around her face.
Catherine sat motionless for a few seconds, not quite believing what had just happened. Elvis mewed at the backdoor to be let in, and a soft, deep laugh began behind her. Cat didn't know whether to cry at losing her pool, or come out swinging when she listened to that sexy sound coming from the mystery stranger standing above her.
Collecting herself and adjusting the strap to her too tight swim suit, she sat up and turned, staring at the stranger who was now belly laughing at her, his hands braced against his thighs.
Temper rising, she impatiently waited until the laughter subsided. Cat pushed her hair back from her face and adjusted her skewy sunglasses until she could actually see properly. Ignoring the fact he was a blond God, she narrowed her eyes. "Just who the hell are you, and what the hell are you doing in my garden?"
His grin widened and Cat told herself not to be distracted by the very attractive laughter lines around his eyes. "I'm visiting next door."
That calmed her anger down a little. She looked at him with more curiosity now. "Do you work for Marshall Senior?"
He considered her for a second before answering. "I'm here to try and get the house completed on time and on budget."
"Well, I guess you've heard all the rumours about the house?" Cat said it conversationally, trying to gauge exactly what this guy knew and how she could play on it.
"Ghostly happenings, you mean?" His smile didn't quite meet his eyes now and Cat felt completely exposed as his gaze travelled down the length of her, still sitting on the floor. "I can assure you, Miss—?"
"Wakely. Catherine Wakely."
"Miss Wakely, I intend to get to the bottom of whoever is trying to discourage the build." His blue eyes sparkled as he stared her down and Cat could’ve sworn he already knew the cause of all the mischief, despite her being a careful saboteur. His eyes narrowed a little as their gazes locked and held for a few moments. He wasn't buying in to all the spooky stuff, apparently.
Well, she might have embarrassed herself in front of him, but the war wasn't lost just yet.
"There've been sightings of a woman in white over at the manor for years. But if you're convinced you can get to the bottom of it, good luck, Mr—?" Cat made sure to stick her nose up in the air, despite her disadvantaged state.
"Just call me Jay. And I think I can handle the woman in white—whoever she may be."
"Well, good luck, Jay. I think you're going to need it." Cat climbed to her feet, slipping slightly on the sodden grass. His hand reached for her but she dodged it, straightening herself on her own. "Now if you'll excuse me?" She walked tall towards her house, well aware that her new sexy enemy was watching her every move and was probably seeing her old swimming costume ride high into her curvy backside, too.
"Come along, Elvis," she whispered as she bent to pick up the soaked animal. "We need to up our game, don't you think? The mean man doesn't know what's gonna hit him, does he, baby?" The animal gave a short, sharp meow in response and she bent to kiss his bedraggled head.
"You need to keep that cat under control. He's a menace to polite society." Catherine wanted to ignore his taunt as she opened the back door, stepped inside and almost slipped on the kitchen tiled floor, but she couldn't.
"Piss off out of my garden!" Cat shouted back at him before she slammed the door, putting the cat down on the cool tiles.
Oh, she was going to enjoy tormenting him. And Cat was going to take a whole lot of pleasure in doing so.
Authors Bio: Multi-published author, Xandra James, has always wanted to write romance books. Even when she was sneaking peaks at the hot bits, too young to fully appreciate them, she dreamt of writing her own.
Now, older and wiser, she's got the opportunity to project her slightly dark and wacky, British sense of humour onto others, whilst still writing the hot bits - bonus!
When not writing, Xandra is thinking of excuses as to why she shouldn't be doing the housework, looking after a husband and cats that refuse to pick up after themselves and climbing the mountain in her house that's affectionately called her tbr pile.
She currently holds the crown for Queen Procrastinator – something she's very proud of – so you can usually find her online, somewhere, when she really should be writing.
Adventure…with a dash of romance