Read No Ghouls Allowed Online

Authors: Victoria Laurie

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Ghosts, #United States, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Supernatural, #Psychics, #Women Sleuths, #Religion & Spirituality, #Occult, #Ghosts & Haunted Houses

No Ghouls Allowed



Praise for the
New York Times
Bestselling Ghost Hunter Mystery Series

“A quickly paced and cleverly constructed mystery . . . Laurie’s character work is,
as always, first-rate. M.J.’s one of my very favorite cozy heroines; endearingly goofy,
insanely brave, and loyal to a fault, she injects both humor and heart into a story.”

—The Season

“A series that combines suspenseful tension with humor, romance, and mystery.”

—Kings River Life Magazine

“Filled with laugh-out-loud moments and nail-biting, hair-raising tension, this fast-paced,
action-packed ghost story will keep readers hooked from beginning to end.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Paranormal mystery fans, look no further.”


“Fabulously entertaining. . . . [Laurie] has a genuine talent for creating unique
spirits with compelling origin stories and then using those creations to scare . . .
her characters and her readers alike.”

—The Maine Suspect

“Paranormal thrills and chills . . . [and] a healthy dose of fun and romance.”

—Once Upon a Romance

“Without question, this is one of the most bewitching and flat-out-fun series available

Romantic Times

“A lighthearted humorous haunted hotel horror thriller kept focused by ‘graveyard’
serious M.J.”

—Genre Go Round Reviews

“Reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s bunch, Laurie’s enthusiastic, punchy ghost
busters make this paranormal series one teens can also enjoy.”

Publishers Weekly

“Ms. Laurie has penned a fabulous read and packed it with ghost-hunting action at
its best. With a chilling mystery, a danger-filled investigation, a bit of romance,
and a wonderful dose of humor, there’s little chance that readers will be able to
set this book down.”

—Darque Reviews

“Victoria Laurie continues to excite and entertain with her ideas and characters and
also inform John Q. Public in matters metaphysical. Cannot wait for the next from
Ms. Laurie!”


“Perhaps what makes this story and this series so good is that Victoria Laurie is
actually a professional medium. She knows what she’s talking about, and she sure can
write a good story.”

—A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf

“A great, fast-paced, addicting read.”

—Enchanting Reviews

“A great story.”


“Entertaining. . . . With witty dialogue, adventurous mystery, and laugh-out-loud
humor, this is a novel that you can curl up with [and] get lost in.”

—Nocturne Romance Reads

Praise for the Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye Mysteries

“Victoria Laurie has crafted a fantastic tale in this latest Psychic Eye Mystery.
There are few things in life that upset Abby Cooper, but ghosts and her parents feature
high on her list . . . giving the reader a few real frights and a lot of laughs.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Fabulous. . . . Fans will highly praise this fine ghostly murder mystery.”

—The Best Reviews

“A great new series . . . plenty of action.”

Midwest Book Review

The Ghost Hunter Mystery Series

What’s a Ghoul to Do?

Demons Are a Ghoul’s Best Friend

Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun

Ghouls Gone Wild

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls

Ghoul Interrupted

What a Ghoul Wants

The Ghoul Next Door

The Psychic Eye Mystery Series

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye

Better Read Than Dead

A Vision of Murder

Killer Insight

Crime Seen

Death Perception

Doom with a View

A Glimpse of Evil

Vision Impossible

Lethal Outlook

Deadly Forecast

Fatal Fortune


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA|Canada|UK|Ireland|Australia|New Zealand|India|South Africa|China

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

First Printing, January 2015

Copyright © Victoria Laurie, 2015

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices,
promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized
edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning,
or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting
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OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

ISBN 978-0-698-15795-8


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is
entirely coincidental.


For Ruth Margret Laurie

Love you, Gram


Praise for Victoria Laurie

Also by Victoria Laurie

Title Page





Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16


Deepest thanks go out to my editor, Sandra Harding, for all of her hard work, patience,
perceptive advice, patience, wise observations, patience, lovely praise, and especially
her patience. I totally pinkie-swear that someday, SOMEday I will actually turn in
something on time. Pinkie. Swear. (But maybe don’t hold me to that.)

More thanks go to my fantabulous agent, Jim McCarthy, who ROCKS and whom I adores.
The longer I work with Jim, the more convinced I am that he’s just the greatest thing
since chocolate sprinkles on a triple scoop of peanut butter–chocolate ice cream in
a waffle cone. And, if you knew how much I love sprinkles on a triple scoop of peanut
butter–chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone, you’d tooootally get how much I adores

I also want to take a moment to mention how much I count on and totally appreciate
my copy editor, Michele Alpern. I’ve never,
had a better copy editor, who so totally gets my style and gently corrects all the
little (sometimes big . . . doozy!) imperfections in my manuscripts. Thank you, Michele,
for always being so awesome, for always suggesting just the right alternative, and
for catching all of those echoes. I always sweat it until I hear you’re available
to copyedit my latest book, and sometimes I know you work extra hard just to fit me
in. I hope you know how very much I appreciate you.

More thanks go to my awesome, awesome team at New American Library, namely Danielle
Dill, Claire Zion, and Sharon Gamboa. You guys are so great. Truly.

Last, allow me to take a moment to thank those very special friends and loved ones
who support me in so many ways and are the best cheerleaders on the planet! Sandy
Upham, my sister, who gets me in ways that no one else in the world ever will. For
that understanding alone I’d give you the moon if you wished for it . . . and if I
could throw a lasso that far.

Brian Gorzynski, whom I love more than I can ever possibly say. You’re one of the
very best people I’ve ever known, and I will love you with all of my heart to the
very end of my days. Katie Coppedge, Leanne Tierney, and Karen Ditmars, aka Team Lo . . .
how would I ever survive without you amazing ladies in my life? I love each of you
so, so much. Thank you for always having my back. Know that I will always have yours
in return. And, of course the rest of my peeps, Steve McGrory, Mike and Matt Morrill,
Nicole Gray, Jennifer Melkonian, Catherine Ong Kane, Drue Rowean, Nora, Bob, and Mike
Brosseau, Sally Woods, John Kwaitkowski, Matt McDougal, Dean James, Anne Kimbol, McKenna
Jordan, Hilary Laurie, Shannon Anderson, Thomas Robinson, Juliet Blackwell, Sophie
Littelfield, Nicole Peeler, Gigi Pandian, Maryelizabeth Hart, Terry Gilman, Martha
Bushko, and Suzanne Parsons.

Chapter 1

is where you grew up?” my boyfriend, Heath, asked me as our van came to a stop.

I stared up at the large plantation home of my childhood and tried to see it through
Heath’s eyes. The stately six-bedroom, five-bath home sat atop a large hill that I
used to roll down when I was little. I had found such joy in rolling down that hill.
And the grand, ancient sixty-foot oak tree that dominated the far right side of the
yard, where I’d had a swing that I used to ride for hours. And the long wraparound
porch where I’d spent lazy summer days cuddled up with a good book and glass after
glass of pink lemonade.

Of course, all of that was before my mother died. Before all the joy went right out
of my life and right out of that house.

Looking up at the dark redbrick manor with black shutters and a gleaming white porch,
I could see that not much had changed about the house in thirty years. It still looked
as grand, charming, and pristine as ever, but inside I could feel the ghosts that
haunted the old Southern home. Literally.

“Are we there yet?” Gil yawned from the backseat. Gilley is my BFF. He’s been my best
friend for over twenty years, so he knows my history well.

“We’re here,” Heath said, arching his back and stretching. It’d been a long drive
from Boston to the southern Georgia city of Valdosta. “I didn’t know this place was
gonna be so . . . big.”

Gil sat up and leaned forward. “M.J. didn’t tell you?” he asked, like I wasn’t in
the van. “Her daddy’s a
wealthy man.”

I scowled. Gil made it sound like that was something to be proud of. But since my
mother’s death, Daddy had always put his work before me, so I hardly thought it a
positive thing. Plus, he’d never once offered to help me out in all those years Gil
and I had struggled to make ends meet in Boston.

“Yeah, he’d have to be to afford this place,” Heath said. My gaze shifted to him.
He looked intimidated, and I thought I knew why. Heath came from far humbler—but perhaps
more honorable—circumstances.

“Hey,” I said, reaching for his hand. “It’s his money, not mine.”

Heath tore his eyes away from the house. “Yeah, but, Em, I mean . . .
at this place.”

“It’s just a house,” I said, leaning in to give him a quick peck before getting out
of the van.

As we walked from the van toward the house, the front porch door opened and out stepped
Daddy. My breath caught in surprise at the sight of him. I barely recognized the man
standing there.

My father had always been a tall and imposing figure. Well over six feet, he’d been
a big barrel of a man who’d gone gray, then silver prematurely, and whose countenance
had always appeared to be tired and overworked. The man on the porch, whom I hadn’t
seen in several years, was still tall and imposing, but he’d trimmed down by at least
forty pounds—pounds he’d always carried around his middle and which he really had
needed to lose. His hair was also darker, but it suited him and made him look ten
years younger, and his face, always set in a deep frown, was actually lifted into
an expression I hadn’t seen him wear since I was ten. The man
looked happy.

“You okay?” Heath whispered, and I realized he’d taken up my hand.

“Yeah,” I said, shaking my head a little. “He just looks . . .”

“Amazing,” Gil said on the other side of me. “Lord, M.J., is that
Montgomery Holliday?”

“Hey there, Mary Jane,” my father called from the porch with a wave. “I was expectin’
you a little later. Y’all must’ve made good time.”

“Hey, Daddy,” I replied as we started up the walk toward the stairs. “We did make
good time.”

My father nodded and adopted something halfway between a grimace and a smile, but
I couldn’t really fault him for it. If you don’t ever smile even once in twenty years,
I expect you’d be out of practice.

The porch door opened again and out stepped a lovely-looking woman perhaps in her
late fifties or early sixties. She had a regal quality about her with short-cropped
and perfectly coiffed blond hair, bright blue eyes, and a trim figure. Her smile was
brilliant and contagious and she clapped her hands at the sight of us. “Ooo!” she
exclaimed. “Monty, is
your daughter?”

I had climbed the steps and now stood in front of Daddy and the woman who must be
his new fiancée, Christine Bigelow. “This is her, dear,” Daddy said, stepping forward
to open up his arms to me.

For a moment I just stood there confused. Daddy hadn’t hugged me since the day my
mother died. In fact, that was perhaps the last time he’d ever touched me tenderly,
so this open display of affection was throwing me a little and I didn’t know how to

Next to me I heard Gil clear his throat, then push me with his hand a little, and
I sort of took two awkward steps forward and Daddy hugged me with three neat pats
to the back before letting go. He continued to wear that strange half smile, half

And then I was wrapped up in another hug from Christine. She squeezed me tight and
added another “Ooo!” Then she stepped back and held me at arm’s length. “Mary Jane,
I have heard
many wonderful things about you! Your father simply raves about how smart and amazing
his little girl is!”

“You have?” I said. “He does?” I wasn’t trying to be a brat—I was actually really
surprised that Daddy would say anything even remotely kind on my behalf. He’d spent
decades letting everyone else know what a disappointment I was to him.

“Well, of course!” she said, and then her bright eyes turned to the two men at my
side. “Now, don’t tell me. Let me guess,” she said to them. Pointing to Heath, she
said, “You must be Heath Whitefeather, Mary Jane’s boyfriend, and you,” she said next,
pointing to Gil, “must be Gilley Gillespie, Mary Jane’s best friend—am I right?”

“What gave it away?” Gil said, and I wanted to roll my eyes. Gilley was actually wearing
mascara and blush today, along with blue nail polish. He loved flaunting his flamboyant
side in my conservative Southern Baptist father’s face.

“Your mama described her handsome son to a T,” Christine told him slyly. The tactic
worked; Gil blushed and I knew she’d just claimed another ally.

“It’s very nice to meet you, ma’am,” Heath said, extending his hand to her.

Christine laughed lightly and shook her head, stepping forward to hug Heath. “Oh,
none of that formal stuff for family!” she said.

I hate to admit it, but the lovely warmth and charm of the woman had an effect on
me. I liked her. A lot. And I couldn’t understand what she’d first seen in my father,
but looking at the dramatic change in him, I had to be grateful, because it was a
world of difference.

Once she’d had her fill of hugs, Christine took up my arm and Gilley’s and said, “Now!
Let’s all step inside and have ourselves a proper lunch, shall we?”

We began to follow her and Daddy inside when a pickup truck came barreling up the
drive at an alarming rate of speed, honking its horn to get our attention. Daddy’s
posture and countenance changed in a second and he stepped forward to the edge of
the porch, ready to handle whatever came next.

Heath moved over to stand next to Daddy, and I could tell that my father approved
of the move and perhaps even of Heath in that moment. The truck came to a stop and
out jumped a man in jeans, a plaid shirt, a stained cowboy hat, and work boots. “Mrs.
Bigelow!” he called urgently.

“Clay,” my father said, his voice full of the authority that used to send me scurrying.

Clay removed his hat and nodded to my father. He looked out of breath. “Mr. Holliday,
sorry to trouble you, but we’ve had another situation at the work site.”

Daddy moved down two steps toward Clay, and Heath followed him. Next to me Christine
stood rigid, biting her lip as if she knew the news was bad.

“It’s another accident,” Clay said.

“What happened?” Daddy demanded.

“The scaffolding in the ballroom gave way, sir. Two of my men were sent to the hospital.”

“Oh, no!” Christine exclaimed. “Clay, are they badly injured?”

Clay clenched and unclenched his hat. “Not real bad, ma’am, but bad enough. Boone’s
got a busted ankle, and Darryl might have a broken arm.”

Christine’s posture relaxed a fraction. “Oh, that’s dreadful,” she said. “But I’m
so grateful it wasn’t worse! Monty, after lunch we should go straight to the hospital
to see the men. And of course I’ll cover their medical expenses.”

“Now just hold on here,” my father interjected. “Clay, that scaffolding is your responsibility.
If it wasn’t properly put together, Christine ain’t gonna be responsible for no medical

It was Clay’s turn to stiffen. “Mr. Holliday, sir, that scaffolding
put together correctly. Why, I checked it myself this morning. Just like I checked
all the other equipment and rigging that’s somehow managed to come apart, or blow
up, or fail on us and cause nothing but accidents at this jobsite. It ain’t us, sir.”

“Well, then who’s responsible?” Daddy snapped.

Clay fiddled with his hat and looked at the ground. “It’s like I told you last time,
Mrs. Bigelow,” he said, avoiding my father’s sharp gaze. “We think your place is cursed,
and, ma’am, I truly am sorry, but I’m pulling my crew.”

“You’re what?”
Daddy roared loud enough for Clay to jump.

But the foreman wasn’t backing down. Donning his hat, he looked directly at Christine
and said, “I’m real sorry, ma’am. But that estate has something bad creeping through
those hallways. I’ve tried to tell you that I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep
messing with it, and maybe you’d best to cut your losses too, before you or someone
you love gets hurt same as my men. Anyway, we’re leaving. I just wanted to come tell
you in person, is all.”

With that, he turned and headed back to his truck, even though Daddy called after
him to come back and talk about it.

As Clay’s pickup drove away, I turned to look at Christine. She looked stricken.

I knew from the gossip mill that Daddy’s new fiancée—a wealthy widow originally from
Florida—was also fairly new to our small city. She’d told folks here that she had
come on a retreat to Valdosta with her then-ailing husband a few years back and had
fallen in love with the place. After Mr. Bigelow’s death, she’d sold her home in Naples,
which was also rumored to have been a sizably valuable property on the water, and
she’d set her sights on the estate of what had once been a prominent family here,
the Porters of Valdosta.

The Porters had made their money in tobacco, but as smoking declined beginning in
the late 1970s, so had the family’s wealth. Through mismanagement and family greed,
much of the once vast fortune had been squandered, and many of the two dozen or so
Porter family members had fled Valdosta in shame.

Only one group of Porters had stayed in the area after 1985 to keep up appearances
and inhabit the once proud estate, but I’d heard that the mansion had fallen into
disrepair of late, ever since the only two remaining Porter family members—a brother
and sister—had moved out in the early 2000s. Still, no one had ever expected the remaining
Porters to put their family’s estate up for sale—the house came with over three dozen
acres of gorgeous woodlands, and I think everyone in town thought that either the
brother or the sister would eventually start a family and move back in, but the years
went by and that never came to pass. And then there were rumors of the heavy tax burden
that the Porter estate carried, and ultimately, that, and the fact that neither sibling
seemed interested in moving back home, could have been the motivation for the sale.

Whatever it was, the house and its surrounding land had been put on the market, and
Christine had promptly jumped on it. I’d been told that’s how she’d met Daddy, in
fact. She’d hired him to handle the transaction, and he’d asked her out to coffee
after she’d signed the closing documents. Gilley’s mom had said that they’d been inseparable
ever since.

Still, Mrs. Gillespie also said that the Porter house needed to be gutted and completely
renovated, which made me wonder if Christine had known what she was really in for
when she’d purchased the place. And now there seemed to be a troublesome ghost in
residence as well.

“That’s the third contractor to quit on us in as many months, Monty,” Christine said,
her voice holding a slight note of panic.

Daddy turned and came back up the steps, reaching out for her hand, which was still
looped with mine. “Now, now, Christy, don’t you worry. We’ll find another, better
contractor. As I recall, you had half a dozen contractors bid on Porter Manor. After
lunch I’ll look at the list and pick the contractor with the most experience. Someone
who won’t be using any rickety scaffolding, unskilled labor, or poorly kept tools.”

I could see that Christine’s eyes were beginning to water, and she blinked rapidly
to fight the tears. “But what if Clay’s right?” she whispered. “Monty, what if there
something in that old place causing all those accidents?”

Daddy adopted a patient look, but I could see he didn’t believe a word of it. That
didn’t surprise me—even though I’d shown him enough evidence through the years to
convince most anybody, Daddy never admitted that he believed in ghosts. “Bah,” he
said. “Christy, Clay’s just covering his tracks, is all! He’s trying to avoid gettin’
sued by his workers, honey. I’ll bet money he or his crew didn’t rig that scaffolding
right, and it’s his fault it fell down.”

“We could check it out,” Heath said. “M.J. and I could go over there and tell you
for sure if there’s a spook haunting the place.”

My gaze cut to him and I shook my head subtly. But he was focused on Christine, who
was obviously distressed. I knew he wanted to help, but he didn’t know my father.

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