Title: A Tale As Old As Time
Author: Mya O’Malley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Some tales as old as time have deep, dark secrets that are never meant to be uncovered. Jackson, a recently separated man, steers clear of women, even his sexy southern co-worker, Kristen. An unlikely friendship between the two begins as they partner up to solve a cold mystery, one dating back to 1871. The seaside pub in which they are both employed becomes a setting of intrigue and danger.
What starts out as an intriguing way to pass the time becomes an obsession of sorts as Jackson bonds with the spirit Mille, an agonized soul who’s seeking closure and true love at a deadly price. This jealous spirit will stop at nothing to see that Kristen is no longer a threat in her manipulative plan.
Add to the plot a beautiful, mysterious stranger named Emily, who captures Jackson’s heart but leaves him wanting more. Jackson’s got his hands full of women with issues. Will Mille find that true love is more than meets the eye or is she destined to spend eternity trapped in a house filled with heartache?
They stood before the bookstore. It appeared that it had just opened; the welcome sign was swinging from the inside. Glancing at his watch, Jackson saw that it was nine-thirty. A bell sounded as Kristen opened the door. Several people were already browsing the store. Checking the sign on the door, Jackson noted that the opening time was nine o’clock. The sign was still swinging. That’s odd. Clearing his thoughts, he followed Kristen’s lead to the front counter. An elderly woman who appeared to be in her early eighties greeted them.
“Good morning, may I help you?” His voice creaked with time.
“Yes, we were here yesterday, and your granddaughter mentioned that you would be available to speak with us about ghosts.” Kristen jumped right to the point. The woman’s eyes opened wide and Jackson was surprised to see that her face seemed at least ten years younger at the mention of ghosts.
“Ghosts, you say? You’ve come to the right place. I’m Shelby, resident ghost expert, what would you like to know? By the way I run a ghost tour; it should be coming up soon if you’re interested.” Something about the way Shelby rambled on reminded him of his own sweet grandmother who had passed when he was a child.
“No, I don’t think the tour is quite what we’re looking for,” Jackson interjected. “We work over at Millie’s and we’d like any information you have on the ghost stories over there.”
“Oh, Millie’s?” Something not unlike fear swept over Shelby’s face. It was there for the briefest of moments and then it was gone. “That one is interesting. It’s a long story and there are plenty of theories, but nothing has ever been solved. If there are any ghosts that I’m intimidated by, it’s her.”
Great. “Aren’t you intimidated by other ghost stories? Why her?” Kristen straightened her back.
“Oh, some ghosts are quite pleasant. Take Amelia, here. She keeps me company, makes me laugh sometimes…”
Jackson spun his head around and saw the sign was still moving. Lifting a finger, he opened his mouth to speak.
“Yup, that’s her. She plays tricks all day long; she really does have a sense of humor. Sometimes she flips that sign around during working hours so that customers think I’m closed. Not especially good for business, but funny, nonetheless.”
“But…” Jackson was rendered speechless, something that didn’t happen very often.
“How do you know her name is Amelia?” There she went again, taking the words out of this mouth. Kristen had her elbows propped up on the counter now.
“Oh, she told me,” Shelby stated, her jaw set.
“Great.” Jackson turned his head, gazing at the shelves in the bookstore.
“What does she look like? Is she young, beautiful?” Kristen urged, her eyes wide.
“She’s quite pretty and does hold some dark secrets. For instance, she told me that Millie is troubled, deeply troubled and that she has revenge on her mind.”
“Millie? That’s our ghost’s name?” Jackson called out.
“Oh yes, Millie’s was named after her,” Shelby began only to be interrupted by a customer. “Excuse me, I have to ring up this sale. My granddaughter is due any moment and then I can sit and chat.”
“I think we’re getting somewhere,” Kristen whispered.
“I don’t know if I like where this is headed. I mean, if I were to buy into this whole ghost story and that’s a big if, I don’t like the fact that she’s seeking revenge.” He must be losing his mind, the way he was being sucked into all of this, it wasn’t like him to believe in such things and if he had he not seen that movement in the window that night, he would be a firm non-believer. Even that swinging sign would cause him to have doubts. That sign… ugh. He was turning into a typical tourist.
“Don’t tell me you want to back out now, that you’re scared. You’re scared, that’s it, you’re scared.” Kristen’s mouth hung open in disbelief.
“I am not scared,” he pronounced a bit too loudly. “It’s just that we’re investigating a mystery, now we’re getting sidetracked with ghost stories.”
“You are scared,” Kristen gasped dramatically. “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” She couldn’t contain her laughter.
“I hate you, do you know that?” But his own grin escaped as Shelby stared at the two of them from the register.
The granddaughter had to pick today of all days to be late for work. Half an hour later, after watching Shelby ring up purchase after purchase, they finally sat with the woman. Kristen was loaded with questions, firing them off in rapid succession.
“So this Amelia, what time period is she from?”
“Did she personally know our Millie?”
“Was it a brothel?”
Holding his head in his hands, Jackson shook his head. “If you’d just let Shelby speak, you might just get some answers.” Kristen glared at him, but held her tongue.
“Amelia is indeed from the 1800s. She doesn’t say so much as she speaks in riddles. From what I can gather, Amelia tells me that Millie was the mistress of the owner.”
“Todd Alcott,” Jackson interjected, feeling pieces of the puzzle start to fit together.
“Yes, Todd Alcott. A slippery man, from all accounts. There was a fire, which was filed away as an accident, but I don’t think it was an accident. I think that poor woman was trapped for some reason and won’t rest until she sets things right, whether it’s revenge or justice.” Placing her hands on her lap, Shelby shrugged her shoulders.
“What do you know about the third floor?” Jackson inquired.
A sparkle lit her gaze. “Ah, yes. Well, the third floor housed the grand ballroom, where the fire was said to have started.” Shelby shared as she fiddled with her pearl necklace.
“What else?” Jackson could see that she was struggling to remember the facts.
“If I recall, Millie herself was said to have loved dancing the night away in the grand ballroom, guests have claimed to have seen her ghostly image dressed in an elegant modern day red gown, rumor has it she stole it from a guest room, she must have admired it so much.”
“Dancing?” Jackson had to admit the sight would startle him.
“Yes, legend has it she’s been looking for a partner all these years. Just the right partner, which apparently has been difficult to find after all this time,” Shelby mumbled, as if in a trance.
“Could we try to speak with Amelia ourselves? Ask her some questions?” Kristen asked, glancing around the store. Oh for heaven’s sake.
“Kristen we’ve taken up enough of Shelby’s precious time, I think we should get going.” Jackson couldn’t believe that she would even suggest trying to speak with this ghost.
Shelby straightened her posture, focused now on Jackson and Kristen. “Oh, it’s no problem. I love talking about this ghost business, it’s just that I doubt Amelia would speak to you. It took me about seventy years to gain her trust. My parents owned this store before me and I saw her as a child, nobody else did, but I saw her, clear as day. She wouldn’t speak to me for years to come, trust is hard to establish with these spirits, apparently.”
He could relate to that. Finally, someone was making sense. “Okay, then let’s just go,” Jackson pleaded.
“Can we just take a look around? We won’t be long,” Kristen inquired.
“Of course, take your time.” Shelby kissed them each on the cheek and wished them luck with their investigation. “Oh and if you find out anything else, be sure to let me know.” It seemed that more and more people were becoming invested in finding clues to the mystery.
Shelby turned around, holding her finger in the air. “Oh, how could I have forgotten to tell you? One more thing. Kristen, be careful dear, she doesn’t like other women. It’s been said that she even pushes women, so I would be careful over there at Millie’s.”
This was getting creepier by the moment. It was one thing to entertain the existence of ghosts when he felt they were benign spirits, but something different altogether when he wondered if this Millie was not the sweetheart he believed her to be.
“Hi, welcome to the Museum by the Shore. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the area, but this town is rich in history. Feel free to look around and ask any questions,” the gentleman offered. Jackson figured the man for about eighty years old. It would be great if he could still get up and out the door to volunteer at the man’s age.
“Hi, we’re here to find out if there’s any information on Millie’s Pub and Bed and Breakfast. We both work there, and we’re interested specifically in the fire from the 1800s and legends of hauntings.” Jackson got right to the point since Kristen was still sulking.
“Well, well, it seems you’ve come to the right place.” The man chuckled. “I’m Bill by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Bill. I’m Jackson and this here is Kristen,” Jackson replied, shaking the man’s hand. Kristen followed, and smiled widely for Bill.
“You two make a fine couple, if I may say so,” Bill grinned, allowing his eyes to dart back and forth between the two.
“Oh, we’re not a couple,” Kristen corrected Bill immediately. Of course she did.
“Are you sure?” Bill’s eyes squinted as he gazed at them.
“Oh, I’m sure,” Kristen announced.
Clearing his throat, Jackson changed the subject, guiding them back to their focus. “Where should we begin?”
Bill pointed to a showcase in the back of the small room. “There are some clippings of articles written about the fire and the woman who was killed,” Bill shared. “Old Millie herself. Actually the poor thing wasn’t that old at all, she was only in her early twenties when she passed.”
“What else do you know?” Kristen asked, moving closer to Bill.
“Not much, how about you take a look at everything and then if you have any other questions, I’ll be right over here, finishing my coffee.” Bill ambled back over to the counter. “You’ll see that there’s a brush and a ladies bag on display that belonged to Millie,” Bill added from over his shoulder.
“Wow, would you look at that,” Kristen stated as she pointed to the items. They don’t make things like that anymore. Intricate patterns were etched on the backside of the brush. Beside the brush sat some faded turquoise decorative combs. The brush, bag, and combs all had hints of the turquoise color.
“She must have liked that color,” Jackson added, gazing down at the items. His gaze was drawn to the newspaper clippings in the next showcase. He scanned the article and then went back to read more thoroughly in case he had missed something. “Look, it says here that she loved to dance.” Jackson nudged Kristen, who was still entranced with the combs.
“And it gives us a last name. Millie Summers, huh.” It seemed a fitting last name for their ghost.
“Are there any photographs?” Kristen finally lifted her head up from the counter.
“No, we have no idea what she looked like,” Jackson announced. He would love to see a photo of the woman. In his head he was beginning to form his own image of Millie. He pictured her to be elegant and beautiful.
“She was blonde, a petite thing, quite the striking woman, from what the people who have seen her tell me,” Bill interjected from his spot across the room. The man’s hearing was certainly intact.
“Who has seen her?” Kristen asked, heading over to Bill.
“My wife for one, but she’s not around anymore.” Bill’s head dropped to the floor.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Did your wife say anything else?” Kristen urged in a gentle voice.
“Just that she was unearthly, surreal. My wife, Tara, her name was, told me that she’s seen many ghosts around here but Millie was the saddest of all and the most worrisome.”
“Did Tara say why?” Jackson inquired.
“I don’t know, she said that she herself wasn’t threatened but had heard of the ghost pushing other women, those she felt threatened by,” Bill shared, shaking his head. “I’d steer clear of that one if you could.”
“How could other women be a threat to her at this point?” Jackson wondered aloud.
“Legend has it that she won’t be at peace until she finds her man. God help the man she finds. In order to complete herself and become free of this world, she needs to find her one true love. But it gets worse, she’ll have to bring him with her to the afterlife.”
“She told your wife this?” Jackson was incredulous.
“Oh not in so many words, but the point got across loud and clear. Luckily she didn’t set her sights on me.” Bill laughed loudly.
“I don’t like this.” Jackson felt that all too familiar chill return. Something about this whole story didn’t sit right with him. They should probably just let it go.
“Oh no, you’re in this with me ‘til the bitter end. What? Are you afraid that Millie’s got the hots for you?” It was the first time all morning that Jackson had seen her light up. It seemed he was stuck in this investigation of theirs until Kristen grew tired of it.
“Yeah, yeah. Funny girl,” Jackson sighed.
“Stranger things have happened; your fellow here is a handsome guy.” Bill directed his comment to Kristen.
“He’s not…” she began before being interrupted by Bill’s laughter.
“I know, I know…” Bill’s laughter faded as he sipped his coffee.
“Bill, thank you, you’ve been a big help,” Jackson said, enjoying the banter.
“No problem. I didn’t mention this before, it slipped my mind, but I don’t think it was an accident, the fire, I mean. I think there was foul play involved,” Bill shared.
“I think you’re onto something there. We agree and we’re trying to expose the crime. Maybe then the poor woman will be at peace,” Kristen stated.
“If only it were that simple.” Bill sighed as he turned his head away.
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of a boxer, Destiny and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.
Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her seventh novel.