Read The Night Is Alive Online

Authors: Heather Graham

Tags: #Romance

The Night Is Alive

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MIDNIGHT IN SAVANNAH…

It’s a city of beauty, history…hauntings. And one of the most haunted places in Savannah is a tavern called The Dragonslayer, built in the 1750s. The current owner, Gus Anderson, is a descendant of the original innkeeper and his pirate brother, Blue.

Gus summons his granddaughter, Abigail, home from Virginia, where she’s studying at the FBI Academy. When she arrives, she’s devastated to find him dead. Murdered. But Abby soon learns that Gus isn’t the only one to meet a brutal and untimely end; there’ve been at least two other victims. Then Captain Blue Anderson starts making ghostly appearances, and the FBI’s paranormal investigation unit, the Krewe of Hunters, sends in Agent Malachi Gordon.

Abby and Malachi have a similar ability to connect with the dead…and a similar stubbornness. Sparks immediately begin to fly—sparks of attraction and discord. But as the death toll rises, they have to trust each other or they, too, might find themselves among the dead haunting old Savannah!

Praise for the novels of
New York
Times
bestselling author Heather Graham

“Graham deftly weaves elements of mystery,
the paranormal and romance into a tight plot that will keep
the reader
guessing at the true nature of the killer’s evil.”

Publishers Weekly
on
The Unseen

“Suspenseful and dark. The culture and
history
surrounding San Antonio and the Alamo are described
in
detail. The transitions between past and present
flow seamlessly, the
main characters are interesting
and their connection to one another is
believable.”

RT Book Reviews
on
The Unseen

“A fast-paced story, involving history and
ghost stories. Graham is skilled at creating intriguing,
mature
characters involved in challenging situations.”

Lesa’s Book Critiques
on
The Unseen

“I am amazed at Graham’s ability to create
a magical story that works so well in the present when part of the facts lie
in the past.
The Uninvited
is a saucy romantic murder mystery with ghosts taking center
stage.”

Joyfully Reviewed

“The paranormal romantic mystery
is
exhilarating and fast-paced.”

Genre Go
Round
on
The
Unspoken

“If you like mixing a bit of the creepy
with a dash of sinister and spine-chilling reading with your romance, be
sure to read Heather Graham’s latest.… Graham does a great job of blending
just a bit of paranormal with real, human evil.”

Miami Herald
on
Unhallowed Ground

“The paranormal elements are integral to
the unrelentingly suspenseful plot, the characters are likable, the romance
convincing and, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Graham’s atmospheric
depiction of a lost city is especially poignant.”

Booklist
on
Ghost Walk

“Graham’s rich, balanced thriller sizzles
with equal parts suspense, romance and the paranormal—all of it
nail-biting.”

Publishers Weekly
on
The Vision

Also by HEATHER GRAHAM

THE NIGHT IS WATCHING
LET THE
DEAD SLEEP
THE UNINVITED
THE UNSPOKEN
THE UNHOLY
THE
UNSEEN
AN ANGEL FOR CHRISTMAS
THE EVIL INSIDE
SACRED
EVIL
HEART OF EVIL
PHANTOM EVIL
NIGHT OF THE
VAMPIRES
THE KEEPERS
GHOST MOON
GHOST NIGHT
GHOST
SHADOW
THE KILLING EDGE
NIGHT OF THE WOLVES
HOME IN TIME FOR
CHRISTMAS
UNHALLOWED GROUND
DUST TO
DUST
NIGHTWALKER
DEADLY GIFT
DEADLY HARVEST
DEADLY
NIGHT
THE DEATH DEALER
THE LAST NOEL
THE SÉANCE
BLOOD
RED
THE DEAD ROOM
KISS OF DARKNESS
THE VISION
THE
ISLAND
GHOST WALK
KILLING KELLY
THE PRESENCE
DEAD ON THE
DANCE FLOOR
PICTURE ME DEAD
HAUNTED
HURRICANE BAY
A
SEASON OF MIRACLES
NIGHT OF THE BLACKBIRD
NEVER SLEEP WITH
STRANGERS
EYES OF FIRE
SLOW BURN
NIGHT HEAT

* * * * *

Look for Heather Graham’s next
novel
THE NIGHT IS FOREVER
coming soon

To Savannah!

For family trips, ghost hunts, a road
trip with Pablo the cat,
an incredible stay
at the 17hundred90 Inn
and Restaurant, the
hearse tour, and so many
more wonderful times!

And to my children,
Jason, Shayne, Derek, Bryee-Annon, and Chynna
and the magic they added to the city with
their imaginations each time we traveled through.

Prologue

Then

A
bby didn’t know why she awoke; she might have heard a sound in the night. Whatever it was, she’d gone from being curled up, enjoying a dream about the great tenth birthday party she was going to have at her grandparents’ tavern, the Dragonslayer, to being pulled out of her dream, as if she needed to be awake. And aware.

There was someone in her room, she thought. Someone with a kind, handsome face staring down at her, eyes filled with great concern.

Then the face was gone and she was instantly wide-awake.

And scared.

She slipped from her bed and out of the room in the apartment above the Dragonslayer, running to the door in the little hallway that led to her grandparents’ suite. Neither of them was in bed.

That scared her more. Her grandparents weren’t in their bed.

She instantly knew she should be quiet. The fear she felt was instinctive, and she tiptoed in bare feet down the curving metal stairs to the ground floor.

Halfway there, she stopped. Her heart seemed to squeeze and her whole body froze.

She wasn’t afraid of the tavern, she never had been. It was filled with old ships’ wheels, countless figureheads, paintings, etchings, maps and more. The elegant beauties, dragons and mythical creatures that gazed down at her from the walls were part of her heritage.

No, she wasn’t afraid of anything in the Dragonslayer, but...

Someone was there, someone who shouldn’t be. He was standing at the entry, looking through the cut-glass window on the front door, and it wasn’t her grandpa Gus.

He was tall, and beneath his tricorn hat, his rich black hair fell down his back in curls. He had a neatly manicured beard and mustache. His black boots were tight on his calves over tan breeches. He wore a crimson overcoat with elegant buttons that matched those on his vest, and a white shirt with lace at the throat and sleeves. He seemed improbably imposing as he stood there—as if nothing could pass by him. She couldn’t see his eyes in the darkness, but she knew their color.

Just as she knew him.

He was the man who’d been standing by the bed, watching over her.

She’d seen images of him dozens of times. He’d been loved—and hated. He’d sailed the seas on a constant quest for adventure, some said. For his own riches, according to others. He’d never killed a man, although he’d made good on many threats regarding severe thrashings. He’d kidnapped a wealthy man’s daughter and held her for a fortune, but when she was rescued, the girl had wanted to go back to her captor. He never broke his word.

Of course, despite his sense of honor, he’d been hunted. He had been the pirate, Blue Anderson. He was her umpteen-great-great-uncle.

Had
been.

He was dead. He had been dead for more than two hundred and fifty years.

But there he was—standing in the darkness, watching whatever was happening outside the door. Watching with intense interest.

He looked up at her suddenly, as if he realized she was there.

He studied her for a moment and then he smiled, inclining his head curiously and nodding.

He could tell that she saw him.

If she’d been able to move, she would have. She would have screamed and gone running back to her room to hide under the bed.

But she couldn’t move. She could hardly breathe, much less scream.

He smiled again, tipped his tricorn hat, glanced outside one more time and then slowly disappeared.

As he did, she heard the door open. Her eyes darted to it with fear.

It was her grandparents coming back into the building. But it had to be about four in the morning, and they didn’t go out at 4:00 a.m. From the stairway window—she hadn’t managed to move yet—she realized there were flashing lights in the parking lot.

Flashing lights. The kind police cars had.

“Not to worry. They got him, Brenda, my love,” Gus told her grandmother.

“Yes, but... Oh, Gus! That horrible man might have gotten in.” Her grandmother sounded worried. She was such a wonderful grandmother—different from most, perhaps; she wasn’t much of a cookie baker. But she came to all of Abby’s school events. She loved to dress up, she read stories and acted out all the characters. She was slim and energetic, too; she loved a long bike ride.

“Hey, so what? He would’ve stolen what little cash we have in the register. But he didn’t get in. We woke up, we called the police, all is good,” Gus said. He looked up then—just as Blue had done, but of course, she couldn’t
really
have seen Blue. That would’ve been seeing a...

A ghost.

“Hey, munchkin, what are you doing up?” Gus called to her.

She willed her frozen lungs to function. “I woke up,” she said. Her voice sounded funny, and she forced herself to move. “I—I just woke up. And I couldn’t find you.”

“It’s okay, now, Abby. Everything’s okay. You can go back to sleep,” Gus told her.

“What happened?” she asked.

Her grandmother turned to her grandfather, and Gus answered. “A thief trying to break in, baby. But the police got him. We’re fine.”

“Back to bed, child!” her grandmother said. She smiled to lighten the sternness of her words. “It’s late. Or early. Whichever. Time for young’uns to be asleep! What would your parents say about the way we keep you up?”

“Mom and Dad wouldn’t mind. Mom always says you’re the best. She said that if you and Gus weren’t so wonderful, she’d never be able to travel with Dad as much as she does. Not many kids are so lucky. I get to stay with
you.
” Her father worked for a major tech company and traveled frequently. She had a room at the tavern with almost as much stuff in it as her room in the house on Chippewa Square.

“Be that as it may!” her grandmother began. “I want you back in your bed. It’s a school night.”

Abby gave her grandfather a wide-eyed look. He was an easier mark than her grandmother. She couldn’t possibly go back to bed—alone. Not yet.

“Come on down. We’ll have a cup of tea, and then we’ll go back to bed. How’s that?”

She managed to nod. And to come running the rest of the way down the stairs.

“Abigail Anderson!” Brenda said sternly. “I told you not to run around barefoot! Glasses do break, my darling, and even when we clean up, you can’t be sure we get all the little slivers.”

“Leave her be right now, Brenda,” Gus suggested.

Brenda wagged a finger at her. “Tonight. Just tonight. You follow the tavern rules—
my
rules, young lady—or you don’t stay here anymore!”

“Yes, ma’am,” Abby said.

Brenda spun on Gus. “And you! Don’t go putting a shot of whiskey in her tea to calm her down, do you hear me? She’s barely ten.”

“Oh, Brenda, it’s what our parents did for us—”

“And nowadays, it’s considered child abuse. You two behave. I’m going back up.”

She caught Abby’s chin and gave her a kiss on the cheek before she went up the winding staircase.

Gus winked at Abby. “Come into the kitchen,” he said. “We’ll brew some tea.”

In the tavern’s large, modernized kitchen, she sat on a stool and watched Gus place the kettle on a burner and bring out the makings for tea. There was a bottle of whiskey on one of the top shelves. He hesitated, and then shrugged. “One little nip. Cured me of colds, stubbed toes and a broken heart, and I had a wonderful mother, God bless her!” He crossed himself and looked upward. “Now, think you’ll be able to sleep after this?”

She nodded enthusiastically. A few minutes later, he’d made tea—with a “nip” of whiskey in it for the two of them. He brought the cups out front and they sat together beneath the figureheads and other artifacts. She cherished these occasions with him; there weren’t many.

“So, why are you scared?”

“You weren’t there,” she said.

He ruffled her hair. “I wasn’t gone. I’d die before I’d leave you, munchkin, you know that.”

She nodded again and sipped her tea. It was sweet and good with a lot of milk and sugar. Whatever else was in it, she couldn’t tell.

“Something’s bothering you,” he said.

“Well, Gus, of course!” she said. She didn’t know why she called him Gus, since she called her grandmother Nana.

He sighed and turned to her and stroked her face. “A bad man was trying to break in. But we heard him...saw him. Called the police, they came right away and now all is well.”

She bit her lip. She couldn’t get rid of the image of the dead pirate watching her grandparents through the door. Watching
her.

“What is it?” Gus persisted.

“How did you know someone was trying to break in, Gus?” she asked him.

He looked away from her quickly. “Ah, just heard him.”

“Gus...”

He studied her, as if trying to read her mind. She was afraid to speak, afraid to say she’d seen a ghost. She was almost
ten,
and she didn’t want him thinking she was a scaredy-cat baby. Or worse—having mental problems. Benny Adkins had acted weird at school, and they’d taken him out and sent him to some kind of special home for children.

She didn’t have to speak. Gus sipped his tea thoughtfully. Eventually he said, “You saw old Blue, didn’t you?”

Her heart thumped. “What?”

“I guess I was about your age when I saw him for the first time,” Gus said. “Where was he?”

“Blue?” she whispered.

Something about the somber tenderness in her grandfather’s eyes made her believe it was going to be all right. She could admit to him what she’d seen.

“I—I think he was over my bed. I think...maybe he... I think he was making sure I was all right. But I was scared and I jumped out of bed and I came running down the stairs. I saw him standing there...at the entry.”

He didn’t laugh or tell her she was crazy or seeing things. He nodded gravely and smiled at her. “Don’t be afraid of Blue. He’s kind of like a guardian angel for us. Some of us see him—some of us in the family—but the rest of the world? I don’t know. We don’t see him often. I figure we’re very lucky, but also that others wouldn’t understand. So let’s keep it a secret, okay?”

“Did he wake you up, Gus? Is that how you knew the tavern was in danger?”

“He woke me up. Yes. I hadn’t seen him in years and years. Hey, this is between us. Drink that tea now so you can get some sleep.”

“But—”

“Abby,” he said, “don’t tell people that you see Blue. They’ll think you’re some kind of fake or crazy, one or the other. And seeing Blue is...well, it’s special. So, just know that if he’s around, he’s looking after you.”

She nodded.

“We won’t speak about it unless we’re alone, okay?”

“Okay.”

She drank her tea and they went back to bed. She was surprised she fell asleep easily and that she wasn’t afraid.

But she wasn’t. The way her grandfather had explained it...Blue was looking after her.

The next day, although her family tried to keep the facts from her, Abby learned that the man who was trying to get in had broken into a tavern in Charleston a few nights before—and killed the owner. Thanks to her grandparents calling the police so quickly and quietly, they’d never have to find out what their fate might have been had he gotten in. And thanks to them, he’d been apprehended.

Thanks to Blue,
she thought.

But she didn’t see the pirate in the tavern again, and as the years went by, she convinced herself that she’d seen him standing there because she knew so much about him, because actors portrayed Blue all the time, and because she’d been so frightened.

Once, when she was thirteen, she talked to Gus about it. “I never saw him after that night,” she said.

And Gus had smiled and put an arm around her shoulders. “He comes when we need him, Abby. He comes when we need him. He made an appearance during the American Revolution when a family member needed to escape after spying on the British. And he came during the Civil War...and he came again when an Anderson was hiding from a fed during prohibition,” Gus admitted dryly. “Blue watches, you know. And he finds the one who sees him, and...well, he’s not on call. God save us all from ghost hunters. I won’t let them in here. Blue isn’t a séance away. Like I said, he comes when he’s needed.”

She saw him the night her mother died of pneumonia, and again two years later when her father died, his heart having given out. Blue stood in the cemetery and watched solemnly as they were buried, and Abby felt his touch on her hair as she sobbed each time.

She thought she saw him at her bedside, occasionally, just watching over her.

But life was busy. Years passed, and her memory of Blue faded and settled back into history, exactly where it belonged.

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