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Clarissa is an author troubled by dreams of a Victorian woman and her family, who were murdered in a mansion on an island in the picturesque Lake District, England. Writing a book about the young family, she is desperate to discover who murdered them, and is doing all she can to research the past when the recluse who owns the house refuses to allow her to visit.
But her quest for information causes her to be haunted by a violent male ghost who will stop at nothing to thwart her efforts – and another, equally determined to protect her and discipline her reckless behavior.
Can the handsome new owner of the island, American billionaire Brandon Clifford, who wants nothing more than to steal her heart, provide her with the answers she seeks to solve the mystery?
Publisher's Note: This is a dark romance, filled with mystery, violence, explicit scenes and discipline. If any of these offend you, please do not read it.
*** Currently available exclusively at Amazon ***
Goldwater, Lake District, England
Clarissa lay on top of the white duvet on her bed, tossing and turning in her sleep, in the small room in her cottage. The air was humid and thundery. In the dream, she wore a long Victorian dress and her red gold hair had disappeared to be replaced by a lustrous mane of dark chestnut piled high on her head. Glancing down at herself sitting in a chair drinking tea from a china cup and saucer, she found she was heavily pregnant. An old man in English upper class Victorian garb sat on the opposite chair conversing with her in a drawing room filled with people.
"I was talking to someone in town, earlier today. He was looking for you and said he was a friend of your family. I believe he was one of your American cousins." The man paused to take a drink of his tea. "He wouldn't tell me his name. A strange fellow. I mentioned where you lived and he said he would call."
Clarissa stood from the chair so fast it made her head spin. The china cup and saucer fell from her trembling hands, spilling tea everywhere. She was terror stricken. Her adrenaline kicked in hard and fast and spurred her into movement. Clutching her swollen stomach, she ran from the room, ignoring the concerned attentions of the people around her.
The dream transformed its landscape, placing Clarissa outside in the dark and cold biting wind that whipped heavy snowflakes in her face. She was running as fast as her pregnant body would allow her across a frozen lake. Cracks in the ice appeared as she made her way across it. Clarissa had no idea where she was going or what she was doing, only that it was a matter of life and death.
A noise made her glance behind to see a coach and horses following her across the ice. It swerved around her, narrowly missing her form, and knocked her to the ground. Dazed, she found it hard to rise, and as she fought to lift her body, the ice floor broke beneath her, plunging her into the freezing water, sucking her under and along under the ice to trap her.
As Clarissa cried and sobbed in her sleep, a tall man stepped out of the shadows to stand near the bed. He stood watching her restless figure for a moment. A flash of white light streaked across the room to be shortly followed by a loud crack of thunder. Heavy rain began to beat the slate roof of the cottage.
The mysterious man moved to the window and closed it before approaching the bed once more. He lay down next to her on the bed, wrapping his arm around her sleeping form, drawing her body protectively against his own. He kissed her bare shoulder visible in the short strappy white silk nightdress she was wearing.
"Shhh. I will always take care of you and keep you safe, my love," he whispered, lowering his hand to her leg. The nightmare began to recede and eventually faded.
He stroked his fingers along the pale, soft flesh upward underneath the nightdress to caress her inner thigh and round over her buttock. His handsome dark features tensed into a frown, feeling the cotton material of her panties preventing him from caressing her bare bottom.
"I hate these. You know that. I need to be able to touch you when I please. It is my right," he whispered softly in her ear.
Carefully, he took hold of her shoulders and turned her over onto her back. Her eyes fluttered open for a moment and then closed again, lost in her sleep. The man grinned and cautiously moved himself down the bed to straddle her lower body. He swept his hands along her warm flesh up to the top of the panties on either side and slowly tucked his fingers down the material. He slid them down over her silky-smooth thighs, enjoying the first glimpse of the neat triangle of her shaven pussy. He didn't pull them all the way down her body and off, but rather, used them to frame the apex just below her thighs and to use them to hamper any movement she might choose to make so he could keep her in place.
Clarissa gave a soft moan and a sudden gentle whimper. Instinctively, he reached up his powerful, lean muscled frame over her body and captured the side of her face in his palm and caressed his thumb over her pale cheek. He spoke in a smooth velvet voice, "Shhh, little one. You are safe. I am here. There is nothing to worry about or fear. Sleep."
Assured she was calm again, he returned to his work, resting his hands on top of the silk nightdress to skim it over her thighs and upwards to the top of her chest to expose her luscious, large, pert breasts. He wanted to remove the nightdress but he was concerned it would wake and alarm her. He wanted their reunion to be a pleasurable one, rather than one of terror.
So, he rested the nightdress on the top of her chest and contented himself with the position of her panties, happy that they would restrict her movement and keep her firmly in place while he pleasured her. He settled himself back at her side and curved one hand around her breast, using his grip to gently force her closer into his protective embrace. He curled his fingers and trailed the back of them slowly down her naked side, taking his time to appreciate the softness of her skin until they rested on her hip.
Clarissa moved restlessly in her sleep but her movement was restricted by her panties and she could not move far, when the man's fingers dipped downwards over her body to reach the apex between her thighs. She was still a little too dry for his taste when he slipped his fingers in between her pouting pussy lips. Covering her vulva with his hand, he possessively squeezed it then lifted his hand to gently slap at it. Her body jerked upwards and, once again, her eyes fluttered open. Giving her pussy another quick slap, he leaned over to kiss her cheek and reassure her all was well; she could return to her sleep. He wanted her to be awake to see him, to remember all that they shared together, but it was too soon. It would be enough that she begin to remember his touch, for now. He kissed her forehead and, for a brief moment, she turned to look at him.
"Nathan," she whispered.
'Shh, go back to sleep. You aren't quite awake. I am here. It is safe."
She gave him a childlike nod and closed her eyes again as he rubbed the dampness now covering his hand in a circular motion on his skin with his thumb. She was ready.
This time, his fingers moved easily through her wet pink vulva. Nathan trailed them up and down for a short while, pausing to clasp the small bud and squeeze it as though to release even more juicy nectar. Small pants of pleasure echoed from Clarissa's lips as her pussy flooded. Nathan took his cue and moved his middle finger down to circle her entrance. Slowly, he entered the tip of his finger in between the soft, wet, velvet muscles and stretched it upwards, curling it to make contact with the rough back wall of her vagina where her G-spot was situated and caressed. At the same time, he gently kneaded the breast he still held so tightly and flexed his thumb back and forth across her erect nipple.
Nathan felt himself grow hard and his cock, sheathed in his trousers, press up against Clarissa's naked back. Inwardly, he groaned, moving it against her to ease some of the ache. Clarissa's pants of need grew louder, competing with the noise of the thunder rumbling overhead. She bucked downwards onto his fingers, prompting him to join the first with a second one and pick up the pace of his thrusts. He brushed his lips against her shoulder and sought the tender nape of her neck to suck upon it.
As the lightening lit up the room with bright white light, once again, Clarissa's pants turned to agitated whimpers. She was close.
"Remember our love, Clarissa," he whispered, pumping his fingers harder. "Remember you belong to only me and always will. We are bound together forever. Nothing can break us apart. Our bond can never be undone. I love you. Come for me and show me your own love and the obedience I demand of you."
Clarissa gave a cry in her sleep and Nathan felt the squeeze of her internal muscles, signalling the release of her climax. He looked down upon her face, watching her contorted, tormented passion ride her beautiful features as her orgasm spiralled and brought tears to her eyes with its power. For a moment, Nathan felt the join between them tighten and grow in strength. It wouldn't be long now before they were fully reunited as one. He just had to be patient.
Quickly, he took advantage of her parted lips and kissed her strongly as her orgasm began to deplete. She responded hungrily, yet still asleep as though experiencing a powerful, vivid dream. Nathan settled down beside her, holding her pussy, his hand still clasped around her breast and curled her up in his arms, falling asleep with her.
The early morning mist rolled across the smooth surface of the water towards the shore. The dawn had just risen and the sun was strong enough to cast the first of its rays through the shroud of white over the surrounding hills. Clarissa raised her camera to capture the moment and rolled off another reel of film. The main focus of her attention was a large island in the middle of Goldwater Lake. The place had fascinated her since she was a child. Upon it sat an old haunted Victorian mansion, the focus of many ghost stories after the murder of a young Victorian family. The house was mysteriously hidden amidst the trees lining the shore and it was hard to capture even a glimpse of it, especially in the summer when the trees were in full leaf, though it never stopped Clarissa trying.
Something caught her attention. Zooming into the boathouse on the island, she was surprised to see a tall man in a suit standing on the wooden jetty. He was looking straight at her. Clarissa zoomed in further until she could see his face more closely, believing he couldn't possibly see her properly from there and she would be undetected. But the handsome dark haired man grinned back at her, staring directly into the camera. Embarrassed she had been caught watching him, she lowered the camera. There was something oddly familiar about him. It wasn't the first odd occurrence she'd had that morning. Her dreams in the night of being made love to by a stranger were also leaving her with a strange feeling of familiarity. Summoning the confidence to look again, she found that the man had vanished.
Raising her eyebrows, Clarissa let the camera sit on her neck and took in the eerie scene before her. It wasn't hard to see why the place was thought to be haunted. She had taken enough photographs. A few of them had to be worth putting in the book she was writing about the historical murders and the history of the island. Whilst busying herself flicking back through a few of them, she heard a voice. "Clarissa. Clarissa."
Clarissa raised her head, wondering who could be calling her name out here at this time of the morning. The male voice sounded disembodied as it floated on the gentle, cooling breeze.
I must be imagining it.
Ignoring it, Clarissa bent her head and looked through a few more photographs. But there it was again and, this time, it was loud enough for her not to dismiss it as mere fantasy. Clarissa whirled around, looking for someone to be close by. Nothing. Her shoulders tensed. Clarissa looked around once more, feeling more anxious by the second. She'd come here to escape, to hide. Had he found her? Picking up her tripod from the pebbled shore, she started to walk back towards the cottage at a quick pace.
She glanced constantly behind her, expecting the man she'd run from to creep up behind her and start tormenting her with his violence all over again. Tears of anger and fear gathered and mingled in her eyes. She'd been happy here and didn't want to leave, especially when the book was going so well. But if he was here, then she'd have to leave. There would be no choice.
Safely back in the cottage, Clarissa wasted no time in bolting the door. She pressed her forehead against its wood surface and breathed hard, trying to calm the rising tide of panic filling her lungs and coursing through her blood. She spoke to herself out loud in an effort to rationalise the situation. "I am just imagining it. Calm down. He can't find me. He can't. Relax, he isn't here. Come on; get my arse in gear. Breathe. Focus on the book and nothing else. I am not going to let him run me out of another town."
Clarissa banged her fist against the door, anger and frustration overwhelming her. Flicking the switch on the kettle, she sank down on the chair in front of her laptop. She picked up the camera again and searched through her pictures.
There were some good shots of the island but that wasn't what she was looking for. It wasn't until she reached the third one, she found what she suspected. A ghostly faded black and white male figure in upper class English Victorian dress stood grinning at her from the side of the image—the owner of the voice. Clarissa gasped and put her hand to her mouth. He'd found her, after all.
Clarissa's mobile rang, making her jump so much the camera slipped out of her hands and clattered on to the table. She quickly took the mobile out of her cardigan pocket and, with trembling hands, answered it.
"How is my favourite author doing today? Finished the book yet? Can I start the publishing process?"
"Liz. It's well on its way. I just think it is lacking a more personal story about the Elliotts."
Clarissa was in two minds as to whether or not she should tell Liz about the reappearance of the violent spirit who had been dogging her every move for the last four months. The whole thing was crazy and Liz was about the only person who actually believed what was happening to her. Still, she didn't want to alarm the woman and decided to keep quiet for now.
"I just wish I could get onto the island and take a look at the house. There has to be a ton of documents that would help my investigation into the murders and give it that personal element. I haven't even got a photograph of Sarah Elliott. It's so frustrating," Clarissa tapped the end of her index finger on top of the table and continued to do so in an irritated fashion.
"That old recluse, Milton Taylor, still determined to keep you away?"
"Yes. I have tried everything. The man won't even take my calls. But I saw someone else on the island this morning, when I was taking photographs. Some tall dark and handsome stranger in a black suit looked back at me from the jetty, when I snapped a couple of shots of him."
"Really. Sounds interesting. Met anyone yet? Maybe this guy might—"
Clarissa quickly interrupted Liz.
"No, Liz. No way. No men. Just work. I am happy on my own."
"Are you now a recluse?"
"Not all men are like your ex-husband, Clarissa."
Clarissa shook her head and tried to think of a credible excuse to end the call. She decided to change the subject instead.
"Got any ideas how I can get on that island?"
There was a pause, then Liz sighed.
"No, not really. And you say there isn't much online about Sarah Elliott and her family?"
"Hardly anything. No photographs. Nothing. I know Milton Taylor must know so much more than he lets on."
"If there is anything I know about you, Clarissa, it's that you are determined and tenacious. You won't let Milton Taylor's stubbornness stop you getting to the island, even if it means you have to swim across in the dead of night and break in. You are like a pit bull when following a story. Now, relax and tell me why you sound so tense. Any more visitations?"
Clarissa bit her bottom lip. She'd never lied to Liz before and wasn't going to start now. Her friendship meant too much.
"I didn't want you to worry. But, yes, there have been. He's found me again, Liz. His image was in the photographs I took just before you rang, and I heard him calling my name at the lake."
"Oh, no. How the hell did he find you? I thought that psychic protection Emma gave you was fool proof? I deliberately found the best psychic in the whole damn country to help you and it was for nothing. I can't bear seeing you hounded by him again. He's vile."
"He is persistent. I will give him that. I don't know how he got through the psychic barriers Emma put up around me, but he did. Don't worry; I can handle him."
"You shouldn't have to handle him. Why the hell is a nineteenth century ghost haunting you, and let's be honest, stalking you from the other side?"
"Emma said she believes he is someone from one of my past lives with an axe to grind. Beats me, though—I never even believed in this stuff until he came along."
Clarissa stood up and walked towards the bench next to the sink and knocked the switch down on the kettle again to reboil it. She took out a clean china mug from the cupboard above her head on the wall, ignoring the six clay mugs hanging on a silver rack near the kettle. She continued her conversation as she inserted a breakfast teabag from the box on the side, added some canderel and a dash of milk from the fridge.
"Is there a psychic medium in Goldwater who might be able to help you fend him off and finally get rid of him?" Liz asked in a worried tone.
Clarissa poured hot water onto the teabag the moment the kettle finished boiling. Then she completed her own small tea ritual by squeezing a little of the flavour from the bag out with a silver spoon before removing it and dropping it into the peddle bin on the floor. She stirred her tea.
"Not sure. I will look for one when I next go into town. This might sound daft, but I think the spirit is connected to the murders on the island and not to me. Perhaps he has just attached himself to me because of the story. He might not want me to write it and expose him. Maybe he is the murderer?"
"Don't say that! If that is right, then why did he attach himself to you before you even thought about writing the story?"
"Maybe he gave me the idea?"
Clarissa took a sip of her hot tea and savoured the comforting taste in her mouth.
"No. You are wrong, and you are scaring me. Stop it. Maybe you should stop writing the book and do something else, just in case?"
"No way. I have come too far with this. There is a real story here, and people need to know what happened to this woman and her family."
She glanced at the window sill over the sink in the rented cottage and frowned. Three ornaments of differing sizes sat on it, the tallest of which was in the middle. Unable to help herself, she began rearranging them with the tallest to the left and then in descending size in a line, the smallest on the right. She smiled with satisfaction at it and moved away.
"Clarissa, I get a bad feeling about this. If you are right, and he has something to do with the book, he might just disappear if you stop working on it. You've been through enough recently."
"I thought you were a publisher?"
"I am. But you are my friend and your welfare comes first."
Clarissa sat down again, feeling annoyed.
"Don't give up on me, Liz." Her tone was snappy. "I can do this. I have to, for some reason. It feels like a compulsion."
"Compulsions are something that come easily to you, darling. Let's be honest."
Clarissa's frame tightened at Liz's condescending tone. "Liz!"
"Don't Liz me! You know I am right."
Clarissa groaned inwardly as she looked over at the ornaments on the window sill. Liz knew her too well.
"Getting on track with this book will help me put the past behind me and move on. I can handle a stupid ghost. What can he really do to me, anyway, apart from be annoying?"
"I don't like it. But all right. I know you won't let this go."
Liz sighed again, and Clarissa grinned triumphantly.
"Clarissa, call me later and keep me updated. I worry about you, even if you don't. I will need the draft of your first six chapters in the next couple of weeks. And, Clarissa, be careful. I love you."
"I love you, too. I'm on it. Don't fret."
Clarissa ended the call. She spent the rest of the morning working on her book at the kitchen table. Eventually, the time to make another cup of tea came around. Three mugs already littered the sink. She reached for another fresh china mug from the cupboard. When she went to put it down on the bench, a dark shadow passed by her. She felt the strange sensation of a man's arm brushing across the side of her breast, instantly forcing her to drop the mug with fright. It clattered to the ground, breaking on the tiled floor. Turning around quickly, she found the solid shape of the mysterious male ghost in an old fashioned nineteenth century dark suit laughing at her.
"What the hell do you want? Leave me alone," she shouted at him, determined not to betray her fear at his presence.
He simply laughed again and then his image became transparent and faded into the air. Clarissa sat back down at the table, holding her face in her hands, relieved at his quick exit.
I am not going to let you get to me. I refuse to let you win.
Clarissa tapped on the keyboard of her Apple MacBook Air and brought up the local news website to distract her anger and calm herself down. The article at the top of the page immediately caught her attention.
"American billionaire, Brandon Clifford, buys Goldwater Island."
Clarissa put her hand to her mouth to stifle a gasp of surprise when she looked at the photograph accompanying the article. It was the handsome man in the black suit she'd seen standing on the jetty. This had to be the break she had been waiting for. All she had to do now was persuade the man to let her visit his island and house.
Outside, the ghost peered in the window behind Clarissa and read the article, unobserved. Darkness seeped into his eyes, making them narrow into sharp points as he took in Brandon Clifford's face.