Fiction by L.K. Campbell

Haunting Evergreen

Lisa watched him pay his check and leave. Who is he? A tailored suit, perfectly groomed black hair, dark brown eyes… The server who came to the table to refill Gary’s drink glass interrupted her thoughts.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Who was the man sitting right there?”

The teenager shook her head. “I’ve never seen him before.”

“Could you get a peek at his credit card receipt and get his name for me?”

The young woman took a couple of steps backward. “Oh, no, I wouldn’t be allowed to do anything like…” She paused and pointed her finger at Lisa. “Wait a minute. I know who you are. I’ve seen your show. You’re Lisa Ryan, Ghost Finder.”

Lisa caught sight of her nametag. “It’s always nice to meet a fan, Carly. Will you do that favor for me?”

“I’m not too sure about this,” Carly said. “If I get caught…”

Lisa reached for a twenty-dollar bill from her purse and pushed it toward the edge of the table. “Pretty please?” she asked.

Carly glanced over her shoulder toward the woman working at the cash register. She slid the money off the table and concealed it in her apron pocket. “I’ll see what I can do,” she said.

The whole exchange seemed to amuse Gary.

“So what’s going on?” he asked. “Why do you want that guy’s name?”

“I don’t believe this was a chance meeting, Gary,” Lisa said. She leaned over on her elbows and folded her hands under her chin. “I think I’ve seen him somewhere, but I can’t place him.”

Carly walked past the table and dropped some napkins next to Lisa.

“There’s a name written on the top napkin,” Gary said.

Lisa grabbed it and stared at the name. A nerve in her left jaw twitched.

“I knew it,” she said and wadded the napkin into a ball. “He’s Justin Marino, the so-called paranormal expert. After he proved that The Real Ghost Sleuths of Atlanta were frauds, their show was canceled.”

“Then you should thank him,” Gary said. “For knocking out some of your competition.”

She tapped one of her red fingernails on the table. “He’s not interested in Evergreen as a romantic getaway,” she said. “He’s hunting a ghost.”

“I’m seeing an angle here,” Gary said. “Since this guy is so respected as a paranormal researcher, let’s get him on the show.”

“Please tell me that you’re joking,” she said.

“Now hear me out,” he said. “Getting him in on this deal could boost your credibility and your ratings. From there, you could move on to a bigger network like The Travel Channel or TLC and become a household name.”

“I don’t know, Gary. I have a bad feeling about this guy. I could tell from the few words we exchanged that he has very little respect for what I do.” She nursed the straw in her diet cola. “The fact that I’ve crossed paths with him is a bad omen.”

“Instead of seeing it as a bad omen, consider it an opportunity,” Gary said.

Lisa pushed her drink away. “So what should I do? Go all over town looking for him and then talk him into teaming up with me?”

Gary leaned to his left and gazed out the front window. “You won’t have to go too far,” he said. “He’s talking with someone right outside the door.”

She sat up straight. “Who is he talking to? Is it Kristy Miller?”

“It’s not Ms. Miller unless she’s an elderly gentleman,” Gary said.

Her stomach grew queasy at the thought of Gary’s proposition, but she couldn’t help agreeing with him. Justin Marino might be her only chance to gain entrance to Evergreen.

“Wish me luck,” she said.

She waited at the door while Justin conversed with the older man. She overheard the man telling Justin that Evergreen had been built in the early twentieth century by a guy named Dickerson. He owned textile mills all over the state. So I’m right, she thought. He’s here because of the reported haunting. Justin thanked the man for the information and walked toward the street corner. It’s now or never, she thought.

Lisa hurried to catch up with him. “Excuse me,” she said.

He spun around, and she almost bumped into him. Close-up, in the sunshine, his Latin features seemed more romantic than brooding. He would look good on television, she thought.

“I don’t believe I caught your name,” she said.

His lips formed a lopsided smile. “I didn’t tell you my name,” he said. “Do you want to sue me for running you off the road?”

Stay cool, Lisa. She blew out a breath between pursed lips.

“Not at all,” she said. “I wanted to apologize for seeming to come on a little too strong.”

“Okay,” he said. “I’m Justin Marino, and I accept your apology.”

“And I’m Lisa Ryan,” she said. “You may have heard of me…”

“Yes, I’ve heard of you,” he said. “I’m a paranormal researcher so I try to keep up with the current crop of ghost hunters.”

He turned to leave, but she called after him. “I’m not sure I like the way you said that. I try to present a professional image.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Professional image? Would that entail scaring and titillating the public with phony ghost stories in order to further your television career?”


“It means enticing…”

She balled her fists at her side. “I know what it means,” she said. “I don’t titillate viewers. I inform them.”

He didn’t even attempt to hide his laughter. “Do you really believe that?” he asked.

“Of course, I do,” she said. “Wouldn’t you like to have advance warning if your vacation plans included a stay in a haunted hotel?”

“Actually, I’d take it as a challenge,” he said. “But what’s with all the crazy equipment? The device with the lights that flash when it supposedly detects a ghost is really lame.”

“It’s called a ghost meter,” she said. “How can you call yourself a paranormal expert without knowing what a ghost meter is?”

He threw up his hands. “Yeah, okay,” he said. “The spirit world is on a different plane of existence, a different dimension, from the physical world. It can’t be detected by sci-fi movie props or apps you can download on your smart phone.”

He would bring that up, she thought. When he took down The Ghost Sleuths, he told the press that they used old movie props for ghost-detecting equipment.

“The ghost meter is not a prop,” she said. “It’s an accepted and proven device for detecting ghosts.”

“It’s an accepted and proven device for measuring electromagnetic fields,” he said. “If Ms. Miller has any loose wiring in her house, you’re her girl.”

She closed her eyes and counted to three. Gary is crazy if he believes I can work with this man.

Ghost Story


Paranormal researcher, Justin Marino and T.V. ghost hunter, Lisa Ryan each receive an email that leads them to the Evergreen Bed & Breakfast. When Justin realizes that he and Lisa are investigating the same haunting, he makes it clear that he doesn't approve of her brand of ghost hunting. Lisa tricks Justin into helping her gain entrance to Evergreen, and the two rivals end up spending the night together in the honeymoon suite where the alleged haunting took place. What they discover will take them both by surprise.

Category: Fiction, Ghost Stories; Paranormal Romance

Published: April 2015

Words: 28,151

ISBN: 9781310193675