Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Excerpt ~ Mr. Grey and the Hotel Ghosts

Claudia leaned on the table and read aloud from the newspaper in front of her.

"'Joseph Cloverdale, Captain, 104th New York Regiment, late of Wilmington, North Carolina. Died on the 8th February in the course of saving lives during a terrible fire at the Chestnut Mansion Hotel. Buried at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery, New York City, 12th February, 1863. Given a public funeral with full military honors in tribute to his heroism.’"

They were in the public library, checking the newspaper archives. The warm, dry, unemotional atmosphere of the library seemed a million miles removed from the upheaval generated by their experiences of the night. By some instinctive, tacit agreement, neither Martin nor Claudia yet acknowledged what had happened. Neither felt ready to confront it.

"Any mention of his wife?" Martin asked.

"She survived the fire unscathed. At the funeral they gave her the flag which draped his coffin. There's a daguerreotype picture of the scene."

"It would have been a comfort, I suppose, knowing her husband died saving others instead of taking lives in battle."

Claudia nodded somberly. "Yeah, I guess. Here, it goes on to mention the fire itself. 'Suspected to be arson, due to the sudden onset and the speed with which it spread.’ And here: 'Following an incident at the ball given in honor of the 104th Regiment, James Cloverdale, estranged brother of the deceased, was arrested. He later escaped from temporary military custody with the aid of fellow Southern sympathizers.’"

"Interesting," Martin commented.

"Isn't it, though? And here: 'Senator Murdoch of Ohio, a sponsor of the deceased Captain, sees the mark of Cain on James Cloverdale in the foul deed which took the life of a gallant officer. He berates the bloody band of Southern agitators present in the shadows of the city and calls upon the mayor and governor to sweep them from the city.’" She grimaced. "Trust a politician to capitalize on a disaster. They never change."

"I thought he was an oily sort at the time," Martin remarked, then flushed and cleared his throat.

"Yeah, so did I." Claudia didn't quite meet his eye. "Oh, damn it, Martin!" She sighed and closed the folder then turned to face him squarely. "We can't dance around this until the end of time. Those people in the past; Joseph and Claire Cloverdale. Were we them or not?"

"I think we were just along for the ride." Martin shrugged. "I wasn't aware of Joseph knowing I was there in his head. Did you sense anything from Claire?"

"Not a peep. But I could see everything; feel everything; sense her emotions. She sure loved her husband," she added quietly.

"And he loved her."

Claudia's lips twitched. "He was good in bed, too!"

"Er...yes. And so was she."

They looked at each other.

The librarian emerged from her office to throw them out just before they totally collapsed from laughing.


Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Great excerpt and I love the cover for this book!!!

1:51 PM  
Anonymous annalisa said...

What a romantic cover! I love books like this. The excerpt was great!

1:59 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Highly unuasual excerpt *grin* VERY intriguing!

elizabethsreviews-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk (join & be entered to win a $5 GC - authors & readers)

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Cherie said...

Enjoyed the excerpt. Really nice cover too.

3:53 PM  
Blogger A J Matthews said...

It's a wonderful cover! I set out my idea of the composition and April interpreted it to an amazing degree. She even found models who resemble my mental picture of Martin and Claudia so closely it's spooky!

5:49 PM  
Blogger A J Matthews said...

My apologies to one and all, I had hoped to stay on and chat, but I really have to head for bed :( It's 1 a.m GMT and the time difference rules. I hope everyone enjoys the excerpt and the artwork! Goodnight x

7:54 PM  
Blogger snowflake said...

Sounds like my kind of story.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Caffey said...

Hi A.. J.
Definately want to read more of this. I must go check out!
Rest well!

11:22 PM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

I REALLY wanna read this. I love ghost stories!

8:58 AM  

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