“You invited us here, Ms. Jamison. The contract is signed. We’ve spent a fair amount of money already on this special. There’s no backing out now.”
Lindsey’s jaw clenched and ached as she stared at the man who sat across from her on the large porch. Bradley Coulter—charming, charismatic, too freaking gorgeous for his own good and used to getting his way because of it.
She was going to kill Andrew for this, for putting her in this position. They’d planned on starting a bed and breakfast, opening up the house and grounds for events. Neither had wanted to lose the estate that had been in their family for generations, but this… This was going too far.
“Let me be clear, Mr. Coulter. I didn’t invite you here. My brother did.”
“Because he’s smart,” Bradley said pointedly. “Once this airs, you won’t have any openings for months.”
“Oh, yes,” she snapped. “I’ll so busy catering to a houseful of thrill seekers, looking for ghosts and spirits and who knows what else and making my life a living hell. Quite looking forward to that.”
He shrugged, a lazy movement that stretched the fabric of his t-shirt over his shoulders and torso in a way that was in no way appealing. Lindsey dragged her gaze away from him, unwilling to be like everyone else in the world who was so taken by his perfectly tousled golden hair, his dark blue eyes, his chiseled face and equally fit body. Of course, looking away from him only fuelled her anger and frustration more as she watched people—his people—all over the grounds. Placing cameras and microphones and whatever else they deemed necessary to find the paranormal bullshit they were looking for.
Her eyes were drawn to a woman just on the edge of the treeline. Her white dress stood in stark contrast against the dark trunks of the trees. Her thick hair—it looked black but could be brown—hung past her shoulders and blocked most of her face from view.
Lindsey shook her head. How was she supposed to deal with this? How was she supposed to do her job with this man and his crew all over the place?
“This really benefits everyone involved,” Bradley insisted. “And your brother did sign the contract, and since he owns the majority of the estate—”
“I’m well aware I have no say in whether you stay or not.” She pressed her fingers to her throbbing temples and took a deep breath.
“What exactly do you have against this, Ms. Jamison? Are you a skeptic?” he said, amusement dancing through his words.
“About you and what you do? Yes. I absolutely am. What you do is entertainment, stupid, mindless entertainment. It has its place, I’ll grant you that, but trying to explain every noise, every cold draft, every movement from the corner of your eye as evidence of ghosts?” She snorted. “Please. I don’t think so.”
She turned back to him and found his narrowed gaze firmly on her. The firm lips turned down in a fierce frown told her he didn’t like what the was hearing. So used to females simpering and falling all over him.
“And don’t even try to sell me on all the instruments and data you collect,” she warned. “All of that could be doctored—makes better viewing if you can spout off about EMF readings and all that, doesn’t it?”
“It could be doctored, yes,” he said slowly, “but it isn’t. I can show you, give you a demon—”
“Save yourself the effort. Not going to happen.” She took a deep breath and pushed to her feet. “I may not be able to make you leave, but I do have some say on things. You’ll be provided with a list of rooms that are off limits to you and your crew, and Andrew may have agreed to give an interview about the supposedly ghostly history of this place, but I will not be giving one. Nothing will change my mind on that, so don’t bother trying to charm me into one.”
She strode toward the steps and as she descended, he called out after her, “You should know, Ms. Coulter, I love a challenge.”
A spiral of heat twisted around her spine, and she hated herself for that.
“Be sure to tell your people not to trample my gardens,” she threw over her shoulder once she was certain she could maintain the cool air she wanted him to see. Needed him to see. “I’ll throttle them if they fuck up my hard work.”
Walking across the green, well-maintained lawn, Lindsey headed toward the treeline. Toward the woman who stood in the same place, looking around with a lost expression on her face. She met Lindsey’s gaze, brown eyes wide, as the distance between them shortened.
Stopping in front of the woman, Lindsey hesitated only a moment then asked, “Can I help you?”
Bradley slumped back in his chair and watched the prickly Lindsey Jamison walk away. The gentle sway of her hips drew his gaze, and he wet his lips then sipped from the cup of coffee she’d offered him earlier—grudgingly, but good manners clearly had been bred into her very bones.
Her brother, Andrew, had warned Bradley that Lindsey wasn’t exactly happy with the arrangement—highlighting their family estate on his show—but he’d still been caught off guard at the open hostility from the woman.
He’d bring her around, though. He always did. This wasn’t the first time he’d come up against a hard case, and wouldn’t be the last.
Lindsey stopped along the edge of trees that lined the large yard. Setting his cup on the small table, Bradley leaned forward and watched. Even from the distance, he could see her lips moving. Then, she gestured, as if beckoning someone to follow her, and walked farther into the wooded area.
The back of his neck prickled. Perhaps she wasn’t a skeptic, at all, he thought, watching her disappear into the trees. Completely alone.