Read The Winter Spirit ARE Online

Authors: Indra Vaughn

The Winter Spirit ARE

The Winter Spirit


Indra Vaughn


Published by Indra Ink

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.




The Winter Spirit Copyright 2015 by Indra Vaughn

Cover Design Copyright 2015 by

Editing by Lina Sacher


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Author, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Indra Vaughn [email protected]

United States of America First Edition

November 2015



Nathaniel O’Donnelly likes his life quiet, his guests happy, and his ghosts well-behaved.
Although a boyfriend wouldn’t go amiss. Someone to share his beautiful B&B with, even if it is in the middle of nowhere and he’s long past the wrong side of thirty. Problem is, Nathaniel’s living with a ghost who thinks he’s cupid, and whose arrows fly a little too straight.
Gabriel Wickfield had the unfortunate luck of dying before his time, and now he’s stuck trying to make romance happen to earn his right to move along. Not that he’s bored in the meantime—Nathaniel is just too easy to tease. And also a little bit scrumptious…
With the curse reaching its expiration date, Gabriel needs to make a final match this Christmas. Without it, nothing but darkness awaits.
Love can conquer all, but can it beat death?




A great big thank you to the usual suspects, Leta and M, for alternately holding my hand and kicking my behind when needed.

Extra big smooches for CP and Jules for the excellent beta and proofreading skills.

I shall ply you both with chocolate and liquor when we meet.


Table of Contents


Chapter One


Chapter Two


Chapter Three


Chapter Four


Chapter Five


Chapter Six


Chapter Seven


Chapter Eight


Chapter Nine




About the Author


More by this Author







Indra Vaughn



Chapter 1


I glared at the mirror of my en-suite bathroom, enhancing the crow’s feet fanning out from my dark grey eyes. A thick tuft of brown hair obscured my view, so I blew it out of my face. “Just this once,” I said, pointing a finger at my own reflection. “Behave yourself. Just this once.”

No reply, of course. There never was one when I really needed it. With a sigh of annoyance I turned away. Heading downstairs, I pushed the cuff of my checkered sleeve back and looked at my watch. Only six am. There were two guests at the Lake House B&B. Neither of them would be up before eight, so I had plenty of time to put some effort into my own breakfast.

On my way past the reception desk, I slowed and glanced at the check-in log. It was still handwritten, even though I did keep records on the computer too these days.

Owen Ashurst, arrival two pm
. The booking had been made through the B&B website, not over the phone. But I just knew. I
. I eased a long breath through pursed lips, hoping it’d settle the squirmy nerves in my belly.

“It’s fine, Nathaniel,” I told myself. “It’s fine.” I wanted to close my eyes and remember all the ways in which Owen and I had been best friends for life. Until life got between us.

I forced myself to walk on toward the kitchen and open the swinging door. Elisa Brown wasn’t in yet, and that suited me fine. I usually didn’t mind her bright and cheerful personality as she did the dishes and restocked the food pantry. But today I wanted a little peace and quiet to ease my whirling mind.

Without giving much thought to what I was doing, I set about making an asparagus and feta cheese omelet, toasted and buttered two slices of bread, roasted a couple of tomatoes and mushrooms, and slid it all on a plate with perfect timing. The old house with the white country kitchen was still quiet. I settled in the seat at the head of the huge wooden table with a sigh of relief. My nerves were ebbing. There was nothing to worry about. Owen was just another guest.

I scooped some egg onto my fork and aimed it at my mouth, when the pan I’d left in the sink rattled. I put the fork down again.

“Gabe, I swear, if you mess with me today I will cover every mirror in this place for an entire month. Don’t think I won’t.”


Satisfied, I lifted my fork again. I opened my mouth. The pan gave a tiny rebellious rattle and I was about to say something else, when the door behind me opened. Elisa burst inside in a flurry of snow and…Christmas lights?

“Morning Elisa.” I knew better than to comment, despite the fact that the outside of the Lake House already looked like an exploded Christmas tree.

“Before you say anything, these are for inside. And morning, Nathaniel.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything.”

“I could hear you think it from here. It’s time for a Christmas tree in the house again.”

I gave her a long steady look. She shrugged out of the oversized winter coat needed in these Michigan winters. Her curly blonde hair drifted with static around her round, pretty face. “You do remember what happened the last time we had a Christmas tree, don’t you?” I still suspected Gabe, but innocent until proven guilty and all that.

“I do. That was five years ago. I got a fake one, so this one won’t catch fire. It’s still in my trunk.” She fluttered her eyelashes at me. “If you’d be so kind.”

Resigned, I shoveled eggs in my mouth as Elisa went to hang her coat away. When she returned she busied herself with tidying up the pots and pans I’d used. I’d feel bad about her cleaning up my mess if it wasn’t her job.

“So still just Anderson and Houzer? No stragglers wandered in last night?”

“No, but we do have a new guest coming in today at two.”

“I saw, yes. Owen something. I freshened up the Bear room yesterday.”

“Actually, I’d like to put him in the Superior room.”

Elisa zeroed in on me like a well-aimed missile and I mournfully stared at my empty plate. I had a vague idea a mouthful of food would come in handy any second n—

Two tiny fists planted themselves on a pair of well-formed hips just inside my field of vision. “Nathaniel O’Donnelly, is there something you have to tell me?”

The B&B had twelve double rooms, and each of them was named after a lake in Michigan. It’d make sense to put Owen in the Bear room because it was down the same hallway as the other guests’ rooms. Efficient, when it came to changing sheets and towels. Conflicting with my plans to keep Owen close to my own room, which was at the opposite end of the large old house.

I rose to my feet and took my plate to the sink, but she grabbed it from me before I could rinse it. She stared at me with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s nothing,” I told her and made a beeline for the walk-in pantry. I made sure to leave the door ajar and she followed me there too. I reached for the fresh eggs and with a put upon sigh, I added, “We used to be friends. I haven’t seen him in twenty-one years so I doubt he’ll remember me.” I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. “Don’t let the door—” Elisa spun around, but too late. “—close.”

“Shit.” She rattled the handle, then tried the light switch. Nothing.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and held it up to the mirror hidden behind the door, where Elisa sometimes liked to fix her makeup. Before I could say something, she pointed at her reflection and stamped her tiny foot against the tiled floor. “Gabriel Wickfield, you open this door right this second.”


I took a deep breath but Elisa lifted her hand to silence me, just as the light on my phone darkened. I swiped the screen again. She’d pulled a sharpie out of nowhere and put it to the mirror.

“Okay fine, it’s open!”

I saw a flash of blue eyes in the mirror and then nothing, but the lock clicked and Elisa gave me a triumphant smile. She turned back to address our resident ghost. “Behave yourself. Nate’s childhood love is coming today.”

I heard a tiny huff, but still no appearance in the mirror. Then came a soft laugh, the one that had scared the shit out of me twelve years ago when my uncle had left me his slightly worse-for-wear hotel. I was now so used to our ghost, I sometimes forgot to keep him a secret from our guests.

“Elisa…” I complained, but she just turned on the light and sashayed away. “Don’t,” I said to Gabe, “even think about it.”

He appeared in the mirror, impeccable three-piece suit in place as always. His blue eyes twinkled. “Old childhood love?” He rested his chin in his hands and grinned. “Do tell me more.”

“There’s nothing to tell. So don’t you start your matchmaking games.”

“Well, you’ve been telling me for years you’re gay and that you and Elisa will never happen.”

I glared at him. “Then why are you still locking us into tight spaces?”

His grin turned wicked. “Because it’s fun.”

I pointed a finger at him as I reached for the door. “Behave yourself.”

“You guys are going to bore me to death.”

In the kitchen Elisa snorted. “Too late for that, sweetheart.”

I hurried out to join her. I’d spent too much time locked in that pantry already.

“He’s never going to give up,” I told her. For twelve years we’d been stuck with a matchmaking ghost, of all things.

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