BETTER DEADParanormal Romance / 97,000words/Complete Pamela Kopfler
Holly Davis wanted a divorce, not a funeral.
The young widow eased her desk drawer open then removed two files. The first file held the divorce papers her husband hadn’t lived to receive. The second gave her every reason to divorce him in full-color, glossy prints. She strolled to the fireplace of her plantation bed and breakfast, then dropped both files into the cold ashes.
Two drops of Brut slid between her lips as she tilted her champagne flute. “This requires another glass of champagne,” she announced to her Yorkshire terrier.
Rhett’s ears perked.
She frowned and shook a finger at him. “Don’t you tell me I’m drunk.”
As she turned toward the armoire that concealed the bar, she wobbled on her stiletto sandal. “Damn. Good-looking shoes are just like good-looking men. Dangerous.” She kicked off her shoes. One hurled through the air and bounced off the wall, barely missing a portrait of her great-great grandfather.
Holly returned to the fireplace with a full glass of champagne and a box of matches. She lit the files, then perched on the antique settee in front of the fireplace. The files curled as the flames consumed them and their secrets. She owed Burl that much.
At least, he’d done his philandering out of town. The good people of Delta Ridge had turned out for his funeral, and they’d poured sympathy her way for the last three months. Holly couldn’t make them feel like the fool she was. She’d keep Burl’s secret, but she’d accept no more sympathy. Tonight was her last night as a grieving widow. She’d dressed to celebrate her new life and bid her old one goodbye.
Raising her glass, she made a toast on what would have been their tenth anniversary. “I didn’t wish you dead, Burl Davis, but thanks for setting me free.”
Smoke curled over the mantel.
“Oh, crap. I forgot to open the damper.” She scrambled to flip the damper open as the fire licked her arm. Without thinking, she doused the flames with her champagne.
The fire hissed and then thick billows of smoke swirled and grew. A hazy figure took shape in front of the fireplace.
She gasped and stepped back.
“Is this any way to mourn your dearly departed husband?”
Glass shattered as her flute hit the hardwood floor. “B-Burl?” She blinked, hoping the image would disappear.