Description: Traveling forward in time, Dani Howard’s spirit becomes magically united with reporter, Troy Brennan. He’s everything a girl could want in a man, and during their time together, she falls deeply in love. Though she must return to her own body, she gains his promise to come to her birthday party in seven days time where they will meet in person and continue their romance.
Troy can’t believe he’s fallen for a sixteen-year-old spirit invader. He’s so infatuated that when renowned author, beautiful Ellie Ward, comes on to him, as attractive as he finds her, he’s honor bound to stay true to his young love—or is he?
While her host shut himself off, Dani celebrated.The magic had worked. She’d abandoned her troubles, her home, and even her body to lurk inside another’s. A break from the predicament she faced couldn’t have come at a better time. The fact that she’d ended up in a man’s body didn’t fluster her; itonly added to the excitement.
She knew from looking at his long-fingered hands—through his own eyes, mind you—that she resided in a younger man somewhat fastidious about nail care. His jean-clad legs seemed to be muscular, and she did like the stylish shoes he wore. But she couldn’t wait to see what he looked like. Faces interested her—they represented possible characters in future stories. She wrote constantly and liked to make up adventurous backgrounds for those people who attracted her most.
Apparently he could close himself off from her by blanking his thoughts, exactly what he was practising at the moment. Interesting! Could she do the same with him? She’d have to try it.
It felt strange to be a thought process without any power over the muscles of the body. Wait a second. She should test it before taking anything for granted. She lifted his hand to his face and stuck his finger in his nose. He pulled it out and waved it around as if clearing a swarm of mosquitoes.
“Stop that! Look, let’s get one thing straight right from the start—”
“You’re attracting attention again.” Either her words or her sweet tone angered him, because she sensed a quick rise in his inner temperature. Actually, he became quite hot inside.
“Quit interrupting me, and quit telling me what to do, and for the love of God give me a break and get the hell—heck—out! I need you here like I need a hole in my head. I can’t believe my rotten bad luck—”
“You’re rambling and using profanity. But I don’t mind—the swearing, that is. Go ahead if you want to.”
“Hey! Even if you’re only sixteen, you’re a female, aren’t you? And I’m not a callow kid. I do not swear in front of females.”
“Right! You only cuss away inside your mind.”
He groaned so loudly that the young biker passing by became distracted and had to swerve at the last minute to miss the bushes.
“How about if I promise to censor your language myself when you mess up. Would you relax then?”
“No! I can stop the habit altogether. It only takes a bit of will power.”
She waited, sensing he had more he wanted to say.
“One question, little girl. Do spirits smile?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I’ve had the urge to say ‘wipe that smirk off your face’ ever since this conversation began.”
He found out to his dismay that spirits also laughed.
As Dani felt him loosen up and his anger recede, she decided enough time had passed for him to get over his snit.
“I suppose we should introduce ourselves, since we’ll be living together for a while. My name is Dani.”
“Isn’t that a boy’s name?”
“It’s a nickname I made from my real name, Daniell, which I dislike terribly. Names with consonants on the end are not at all attractive. I love names that end in ‘ie’ or ‘y.’ Girls called Julie and Christy are always so much cuter than girls with names like Marion or Elizabeth, don’t you think?”
“I never thought of it. My mother’s name is Elizabeth, and she’s beautiful.”
“What does everyone call her?”
Dani also found out that a chuckle from inside a person is a very warm sound.
“What’s your name, and where do you live?”
“Troy Brennan, ma’am. Chicago born and bred.”
“I live here in Bury, finished my sixth form just last week, and will probably go on to university next term.”
“Why do you say probably? Don’t you know for sure?”
“I know what I want, but my parents have other ideas.” He sensed her vexation for just a moment, and then she tamped it down like a pro. “I won’t fret about it now, as there are always special circumstances that can bring about changes to the best-laid plans, aren’t there?”
“You mean like having unexpected visitors?”
His sense of humour tickled Dani. “You’re being very reasonable about all this bother.”
“I’m hoping lack of sleep is making me hear voices.”
“I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. Why do you keep looking at that woman in the cemetery? She’s very beautiful. Is she your girlfriend? Or your wife?”
“No. I’m not married. She’s the person I’m here in Bury to interview, but I doubt the moment is right, so I’ll wait around.”
With him, Dani watched the elegant blonde, who, in the distance, wove in and out of the lush vicarage gardens. When the woman stopped and looked towards where he sat, they could see her expression, lonely and a bit sad until a voice shouted to her from behind the wall. A pretty girl of about nine or ten years old, a petite, golden-haired doll whose ringlets flew in every direction, bounded into sight. She never slowed her racing steps until she’d flung herself up into the waiting arms with a glad cry of “Mummy!”
Following close behind were an older couple, arms linked and strides matching. They didn’t rush ahead but drew near in a leisurely manner, as if to give the excited twosome a moment to get caught up with their kisses and hugs. Upon approaching, they sedately greeted the woman before they all turned, clinging together, in the direction from which they’d come. The blonde stopped to pick up a small case hidden behind some bushes, gave one last glance in Troy’s direction, and hurried to catch up.
Troy rose to follow. Sauntering, he stayed many steps behind the laughing, happy group ahead until they slowed for the corner.
As they closed in, Dani recognized the group in front. “Why are we following these people?” For the first time her voice seemed oddly constricted, as if tears clogged her throat.
“You okay? You sound funny. I just want to know where she’ll be staying, so I can return another day to request an interview.”
“I see. Don’t you know her name?”
“Yes, it’s Ellie Ward, and she’s a very well-known author.”
“An author. How lucky she is. One day I want to write books myself. The little girl is wonderful, isn’t she? Will we meet her?”
“If things go my way, then it’s a sure thing.”
“You are very presumptuous.”
“Do you even know what that big word means, little girl?”
“Yes, big man. It means this tenancy could prove to be rather difficult.”
“Go ahead and break the lease anytime you want.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I’m afraid, since it’s only Monday, you’re stuck with me for a few more days.”
Dani had carefully read all the notes her uncle had left in the garden, and she knew her only escape would be on a Saturday at twelve noon.
Earlier, she’d recognized her very own parents, and seeing them interact with the person Troy followed had thrown her into a tailspin. She felt as though she’d looked into a mirror at her own future self, where her stylish silhouette was years older and a whole lot prettier. The little girl calling her “Mommy”—she didn’t even want to go there. But it was clear she must have travelled into the future. How confusing. Could she possibly be in the same place at the same time without there being repercussions? Would the universe allow this? She’d have to stop him from catching up to the group ahead, just in case. At that moment, like a direct answer to her prayer, Dani heard a bawling noise.
“Troy, listen! Can you hear it? Someone in the lane here is crying. Something must be wrong.”
“None of our business. I need to follow Mrs. Ward. I’ve been on her trail since Chicago, and I’m not going to lose her now.”
Mrs. Ward? She was married?
“It’s a child’s voice, Troy. A child is in trouble, and we need to check it out.”
Troy stopped in his tracks. She used every bit of yearning, persuasive power she had to influence his decision.
“For pity’s sake.” He slapped his hands against the sides of his legs, swivelled, and took off down into the shadowy, dark lane.
Three bigger males, teenagers by their appearance, surrounded a small boy who clung to a cowering puppy. The terrified canine, intent on hiding his muzzle under the lad’s arm, appeared to be the object of the skirmish.
“’Ere! Give over, ya sissy. He’s ours, we found ’im.” Two of the brutes reached over and each grabbed one of the tyke’s shoulders.
Brave or just stupid, he didn’t back down. “No!
You’re hurting ’im. I saw you with the cans. You can’t tie ’em to his tail, the noise frightens ’im.” The last words were whispered from a throat too closed up to enunciate clearly. Tears poured down the lad’s face, and a puddle slowly started to form in the dirt under his leg. He trembled, but his intentions were clear. His arms held even more tightly to the whining bundle, while his eyes shut tight.
Without waiting for Troy to speak, Dani jumped in. “Let go of him, you two! You’re a right pair of idiots, ain’tcha, pickin’ on a nipper, and you three all twice his size.”
The leader of the pack sized up Troy, sensing weakness from the tone and the words used. “Don’t mess about, mister. Ain’t none of your business, this. The punk here has me dog, and I wants ’im back. Me mum brought ’im home for me yesterday—for me birthday.”
“You’re lyin’. Your mum never did.” Incensed, the boy tried to break away from the restraining hands.
“Shut your gob.” Neither the pointing finger nor the threats prevented the small boy from speaking up.
“The pup’s a stray.” Tears didn’t halt his words, either. He sensed Troy’s protection. Wriggling hard, he escaped from the two who’d been holding him and ran over to stand next to the big man.