Authors: Loni Lynne
Wanted: One Ghost
© Copyright Loni Lynne 2013. All rights reserved
Cover Art: Taria Reed
Editor: Judy Roth
Crescent Moon Press
1385 Highway 35
Middletown, NJ 07748
Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Crescent Moon Press electronic publication/print
publication: June 2013
To my family, thank you for your love and support. To all my friends, thanks for listening and sharing in my excitement.
To fate, I’m still holding on tight.
“This is where James Addison’s execution took place,” the college student explained with a hint of boredom, despite the gruesome account. With a practiced flourish of his colonial cape, he turned and pointed at the huge elm tree in the center of Kings Mill, Maryland’s city park. “Rumor has it he was drawn and quartered in public as a traitor to the Crown. The colonial rebellion was on the rise, and King George III was serious about punishing those caught for treason.”
Yawning in boredom, James leaned against a gaslight post. He wasn’t worried anyone would witness such a breach of etiquette. He was a ghost after all. The dialogue sounded practiced and boring as it had every Friday and Saturday since the season began. This was Tony’s second year now giving the tour. From September until the end of November, he’d repeated the same quotes every weekend night, just a bit of information and then he would move on to the next ‘haunted spot’ of Kings Mill.
Dressed in colonial period costume and carrying a tin lantern, Tony tried to look authentic and make the story eerily dramatic for his guests, but to James the tour was plain tedious. Why, he could give the presentation himself, if he weren’t a ghost. He chuckled to himself.
“Excuse me,” someone from the group piped up, stopping the flow of the tour. “What had James Addison done to be accused of treason? Was he one of the Sons of Liberty as some of the books claim? As the son of a British earl, I can’t imagine him part of such a group.”
Curious about the identity of the person who knew so much about him, James pushed off the lamppost and strolled toward the group. The people suddenly parted revealing a tiny figure in leggings and woolens. A tilt of the waif’s head let slip a long, feminine braid of reddish-brown hair.
What had I done to be accused of treason?
He’d suffered the same question for over two hundred and thirty years, but until now, he’d never heard anyone ask it aloud. At least not that he knew of. Those damn Sons of Liberty had made life difficult for many loyal to the crown.
They had been the cause of the skirmishes during his last few years of life in the colonies. Why, he remembered Boston having lost a shipment of tea and then another similar catastrophe happened aboard the
in Annapolis Harbor. Those rascals had deliberately tossed crates of his precious English tea overboard in the name of liberty.
He’d begun to hoard each shipment, in case there was a run on it. But it wasn’t just the tea. The colonists were refusing to uphold the tax England had put on the stamps to authenticate documentation. He’d heard some of the stamp officers had been run out of town or tarred and feathered just for doing their jobs. It was downright scandalous!
James leaned casually against the hanging elm tree, tilted his tricorne down over his eyes, and settled in to hear what the tour guide had to say for himself.
The lad stopped, and for the first time this season, deviated from his normal, routine script. James could tell he was a little unprepared as he struggled to answer.
“Why was James Addison chosen for execution? A good question.” He cleared his throat nervously, swinging the lantern lightly at his side. “I think it’s because Henry Samuel, the county land commissioner, demanded Addison’s execution. He’d had an affair with Henry Samuel’s wife. ”
was why he was murdered? Henry thought he’d had an affair with Catherine? Did the man ever confront him, ask him face to face, and call him out? No—not once!
Rot and nonsense!
Disgusted, he turned to walk away.
The woman burst forth again. “Was he given a trial?”
James stopped in his tracks, circled around the tree to get a closer peek at the young woman. No one had ever asked whether he’d been given a trail before. Was this woman curious about his innocence? He’d hoped, over the years, someone would give him the answer to why he hadn’t been afforded a trial two hundred and thirty-eight years ago. No one had cared to ask. Until now.
The boy shrugged. “There wasn’t any record of a trial. Maybe Henry Samuel wanted to get rid of his wife’s lover and receive accolades from England. It would make him look good in the king’s eyes if he’d found a rebel-traitor and executed him.” James rolled his eyes and jammed his hands into his pockets. What rubbish!
The young lad waited only a brief amount of time before rounding up his group and herding them off to the next ghost house.
Shuffling along, James managed to kick up a few stones in disgust. Well at least he’d learned something tonight even though it didn’t help much. Not a damn thing he could do about it in this ethereal form of hell.
James watched sadly as the group drifted further down the street, on to the next haunted spot, the Old Town Tavern. Supposedly it was haunted by Millie Taylor who’d been accidentally killed in a brawl. Damn shame, too. She’d been a lusty wench! He fondly remembered a few stolen moments nestled against her ample breasts. And then there was the night he’d bedded her and the other tavern maid to solve a dispute between the two women. It was just one of the stories that now labeled him for his sexual pursuits.
He’d always been considered a lady’s man and enjoyed the attention it aroused, but hearing about his past and being remembered for nothing but his dalliances had become a bit tiring. Now, he was known as the town character, a joke, a folly. No one seemed to care about his true part in making Kings Mill what it had been.
He was so tired of it all. There had to be some reason he was still here beyond the jokes and his infamous dalliances. The monotony of whatever existence he was in had worn him down. After two-hundred and thirty-eight years, his spirit remained bound to the last place he’d breathed life on earth, unable to move on to the afterlife. He wasn’t sure why he was still here. Maybe he was waiting for someone to care enough and find out the truth behind his death. Listening to the ghost tours over the years, he wondered if maybe his lack of knowledge about his execution might be the key to what was holding him here. All he knew was Henry Samuel had given the order for his execution. Did he need to find out why before the powers-that-be let him move on?
Damn you, Henry!
Ranting loudly at the man, he raised his fist to the heavens, though if he really thought about it, the man would be in a much hotter place.
James stopped in his tracks and turned around, sensing he wasn’t alone. One guest remained behind. The young woman dressed in the leggings and woolens, her small, flat hat cocked jauntily over her eyes stood there, smiling at him.
Was she really smiling at him or just in his general direction? The empty spot where his heart should have been, leaped. Could she see him or was she looking at something behind him?
No. Impossible! No one could see him. After all these years of yearning for someone to hear him, he was fooling himself, no doubt.
When she moved on to the tree and looked up into the branches, her braid flopped over her shoulder. He wanted to tug on the glorious rope.
She was rather pretty, a pert nose, high, rounded cheeks. When she closed her eyes, long lashes feathered against those rosy cheeks. Her long braid swished from left to right against her shoulder blades as she tilted her head and breathed in the late October air. That same magical smile surfaced again, and she went from pretty to beautiful.
Opening her eyes, she examined the damn tree.
“Did you ever wonder what trees would tell us if they could talk?” She glanced towards him again. “Do you think James Addison was really hanged from these branches?” A hint of melancholy tinged her voice like such an event saddened her.
James looked to the right of him, to the left. No one was there. Who was she talking to, the blasted tree? The wind picked up and tugged a strand of her hair loose from under her cap.
She rooted around in the satchel she carried and dug out a small box shaped instrument he’d seen so many people use over the years. He’d always wondered what they were for. As he watched curiously, she took aim, pushed down on the button and a flash went off. The tilt of her face as she looked up at the branches exposed the angle of her jaw and gave him a sudden urge to kiss her along the tender line right below her ear. The woman closed her eyes again, breathing in the night once more. Her gloved hand caressed the raspy bark of the tree.
“I wonder why he was never given a trial. Wasn’t the Treason Act of 1695 enacted at the time? James Addison should have been provided a counsel and jury for his crimes.” She turned towards him again. “Was he really executed for treason?”
Was he really executed for treason?
” James said, mimicking her feminine voice with his own British brogue, as he walked toward the odd girl, wanting to shout in her face at the idiocy of her questioning the bloody tree. Didn’t she know how foolish she looked? “No, he wasn’t executed for treason. He was beaten to a bloody pulp and murdered!”
With eyes gone wide, the girl stared up at him, her fixed attention giving him a moment’s pause. And so it should. Nobody had noticed him, much less held him in thrall for over two centuries.
“Murdered?” she asked back. “Are you sure?”
James stiffened. Dear God in heaven! Was she actually talking to him? He looked behind him to see if she might be addressing someone else. No one was there. Gathering his wits, he studied her closely. Could this girl hear him, see him?
“Yes,” he said curtly, a bit stunned. He waited with baited breath for her reply.
Her gaze never left him. “Yes, you’re sure he was murdered?” she questioned him intently. “Where did you obtain your information?”
James paced from side to side and did a little jig, to see if she could follow his movements. She did. She even laughed at his dance and gave him an odd look. Bloody Hell! She could see and hear him! She was smiling and didn’t seem frightened in the least.
“So what do you think really happened to James Addison?”
With one boot crossed over the other, the young woman leaned saucily against the tree as if settling in for a story. Openly admiring her slender limbs encased in leggings beneath the hem of her woolen coat, James lost his train of thought.
She, on the other hand, didn’t appear shocked at his appearance. But then he supposed he resembled the tour guide, dressed in colonial garb, his tricorne hat and manor coat nothing out of the ordinary.
Wanting to be able to talk with someone again, he moved cautiously towards her. He would do well to remember to play along as a ghost-guide and not give himself away.
“To answer your earlier question, there wasn’t any trial. He was hung, pure and simple. Neither judge nor jury ever convicted him.
“Addison was kidnapped on his way home from the local tavern, tied and trussed up like a Michaelmas goose. He woke up with a knot on his noggin’ and shackled in the gaol. No one came to speak on his behalf. The next day he was brought, hooded and bound, before the people at this very tree to be made an ‘example of for treason,’” he relayed with a hint of disgust. Let her take his anger for what it was. He didn’t care. He was finally able to tell someone his side of the story—as he’d lived it.
He looked up at the tree and his body shuddered, remembering the night of his death. His fists clenched to his sides at the thought of the injustice. There had been no one to voice his side of the story to. No one to listen.
was listening now, though.
could hear him!
And listen she did. Her eyes never left him, her interest fixed on what he said.
A sense of awareness surrounded him for the first time in so long. She gave him a sense of hope. If she could see him and hear him, could she help him find out the truth about his death so he could move on?
“Do you believe my story?” he asked.
She shrugged and tugged the tiny brim of her hat. “Not necessarily. Why should your tale be any more truthful than your co-worker’s? Besides, ghost tours are supposed to be for fun, not fact. You’re meant to scare and intrigue with tales of paranormal activities mixed with local lore and a touch of history to make it seem real.”
James tried hard not to laugh. “So you don’t believe in spirits?” If she only knew, would she be so comfortable standing there talking with him?