Summoned in Time

The McCarthy Sisters #3
October 27, 2020
Indie Published
Available in: e-Book, Trade Size

Summoned in Time

Meredith MacCarthy has plans for her future, and they don’t include volunteering as a tour guide at a haunted ghost town in Montana. But when the matriarch of her fae-gifted family tells her ignoring the summons of the spirit world will haunt her forever, Meredith packs a bag and heads West. There she meets a ghost whose story and presence are so compelling, she cannot resist his magnetic pull. The more time she spends with him, the more she longs for the chance to know him in life.

Before leaving Ireland for America, Daniel Cavanaugh vowed to his mother he’d return with a fortune. Having lost his father, sister, and their family farm during The Great Famine of 1845, he is determined to help his family begin anew. Just when he’s on the cusp of fulfilling his promise, his life is brutally taken, and he’s haunted the mining town of Garretsville ever since. Until the beautiful ghost whisperer arrived, all he wanted was to be free of his earthly bonds. Now he yearns for a second chance at life—a life with Meredith beside him. She stirs long-forgotten desires — and bitter regret for what can never be.

When one of the fae offers Meredith the means to travel through time to prevent his murder, Daniel persuades her to take the risk. Will his plan to cheat death succeed, or will he put the life of the woman he loves in peril?

Chapter One Excerpt

“Finally.” Meredith huffed out a breath as she finished grading the last essay test for the semester. Once she entered her students’ grades into the community college’s system, she’d have to figure out what to do for income over the summer break. Barista at Starbucks maybe? Tutoring? “How about I start charging for ghost whispering?” she muttered.

Requiring payment to help people rid their homes of unwelcome spirits would not go over well with the MacCarthy family at large. Their gifts were meant to be shared, not sold, and she agreed—most of the time.

Others profited from their talents. Singers, actors, athletes, writers, and artists made money from their giftedness. The lucky ones did, anyway. Why shouldn’t she profit from her abilities? Her sisters would applaud and encourage her rebellion.

Meredith raised her arms and stretched, moving her neck to unkink the muscles. She needed a break, and her favorite supernatural tabloid offered exactly the kind of outlandish, sensationalized, ridiculous distraction she craved—a guilty pleasure since her own college days. Meredith hit the bookmarked website and began scanning articles.

Spirit of Deceased Zoologist Possesses Elephant Calf at Local Zoo. She snorted. Sure it was possible, but not probable. What would be the point? Poor baby. The elephant probably had some kind of illness or a parasite.

She continued to scroll, coming to a stop when an article popped out at her as if it had been written in super bold font.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management seeks solunteer staff for haunted ghost town.

An odd, tingly sensation took hold, and her mouth went old-bones dry as she began to read. The bureau was looking for people to live in what was left of Garretsville, Montana. While there, volunteers would lead tours, provide information, run the giftshop, and maintain the buildings and grounds. The once thriving mining town was rumored to be haunted. People reported hearing music and laughter in Keoghan’s saloon. Others heard footsteps and doors opening and closing.

Something traumatic must have happened in Garretsville for so many spirits to haunt the same site. She couldn’t help feeling sorry for the unfortunate souls who were trapped, but she could fight the pull their plight exerted on her.

Meredith leaned back on her couch and rubbed her weary eyes. The summer session she had planned to teach hadn’t materialized, and volunteering was out of the question. How would she pay the rent on her apartment here in Tennessee while spending the entire summer volunteering in Montana? All the bureau offered was a food allowance and a place to stay.

Sure, she had savings, but that money was tagged for her doctorate degree in American History. She had no intention of using any of her hard-earned nest egg for some wild impulse to help a bunch of ghosts move on. Come hell or high water, she would begin her doctoral program within the next two years. Becoming a tenure-track professor at a private college was her ticket to a new life, and she desperately needed a new life. Now that both her sisters lived an ocean away, everything had changed and not for the better.

Besides, a career in academia appealed to her. She imagined lively debates with the other professors in her department, and of course there would be social gatherings. More than anything Meredith longed to find her own place in this crazy world. She needed to find her tribe.

Who knew? She might even meet a handsome young professor who didn’t mind that she could see and commune with the dead. Her abilities could even be viewed as an asset. What historian wouldn’t want to learn from a ghost who’d actually lived through whatever era they were researching?

Meredith scrolled on. Some other medium would have to help the Garretsville ghosties on their way. In fact, she’d share the information on the bulletin board of the American Association of Psychics & Mediums’ website.

Still, Meredith couldn’t help herself. She returned to the article and read through the entire thing one more time, and the same sense of … What was this feeling? Dammit, whatever the sensation meant, it didn’t matter. She needed a paying summer job.

Just as she closed her laptop, her phone began to vibrate and ring its way across the surface of her coffee table with her aunt’s ringtone. Snatching it up, she hit accept. “Hi, Aunt Beth. What’s up?”

“I don’t know. You tell me,” she said. “Whatever you were doing a moment ago caused all kinds of pings on my psychic sonar. My spidey sense tells me you’re about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime.”

“No I’m not.” Dammit, if reading the article set off her aunt’s psychic sonar, Meredith had to take it seriously. Something akin to static electricity arced through her entire body, and stars danced in front of her eyes. What the hell?

Her phone pressed to her ear, Meredith leaned over and put her head between her knees for a few seconds. “I just read an article by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about—”

“Are you free for lunch?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll get takeout,” Beth said. “You can show me the article when I’m there, and we’ll talk.”

 

“Okay, but text me when you get here; the door buzzer is broken,” she said to no one because her favorite aunt had ended the call mid-sentence.

An hour later, Meredith stood on the stoop in front of her eighties-era apartment building and watched the matriarch of the fae-gifted in their family—Elizabeth MacCarthy Brandt—attempt to parallel park her 1960 Cadillac Eldorado. It took her three tries before she successfully wedged the gas-guzzling monstrosity between the other two cars parked in front of the building.

Meredith waited as her aunt made her way up the sidewalk. Petite, an up-scale-salon blonde with very few wrinkles, Beth could easily pass for much younger than her sixty years. Meredith prayed she’d inherited the particular genes responsible for her aunt’s youthful looks. Smiling, she shook her head.

Her aunt shifted the paper bag holding their lunches and arched a brow. “I know what you’re thinking, and you can forget it. I’m not selling the Cadillac. Thanks to your uncle, it runs perfectly, and that car holds many fond memories.” She drew in a breath before continuing the familiar refrain.

“Gordon bought me that Cadillac when your cousin Dylan was born. We were just a couple of kids back then, and we didn’t have much.” Her expression turned nostalgic as it always did when she spoke about the past. “He said the Eldorado reminded him of me—a classic beauty.”

“I know, but how many miles per gallon does it get? Eight? Think of the carbon footprint.” Meredith opened the front door for her aunt.

“I’ve heard it all a thousand times. I only drive the Eldorado when it’s nice out. The rest of the time I drive the gas-sipper. Besides, we’re looking to buy one of those totally electric cars. That’ll balance things out nicely.”

Meredith led her aunt down the hall to her first-floor apartment and unlocked the door. She gestured for Beth to precede her. “What are we having for lunch?”

“I brought smoked turkey sandwiches on caraway rye with all the fixings. I also have chips, pickles, and coleslaw. I stopped at Hammond’s Deli down the street.” She set her purse and the bag on the counter in the kitchenette and started unpacking the food. “I also bought sweet tea and two chocolate chip cookies.”

“Sounds yummy. Thanks for lunch. I’ve been grading essay tests all morning, and I probably would’ve had canned soup if not for you.”

After they were settled at her table with their meal before them, Meredith handed her aunt the article she’d printed about the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s search for volunteer residents.

Her aunt put on her cheaters and began to read, making noises now and then. She swallowed her food and pointed to the URL at the bottom of the page. “The deadline to apply is tomorrow. I heard through the grapevine the summer class you had planned to teach fell through, so there’s no reason for you not to fill out the online application and hit send.”

“I can’t, Aunt Beth. I need to find a summer job that pays.”

“Borrow money if you have to. I don’t know why, but I’m certain you are meant to help those poor souls.” Her aunt waved a potato chip in the air. “As you know, I’m never wrong about these things, sweetie. Think of the good you could do.”

Being in debt gave her the hives, so borrowing money or living on a credit card was out of the question. “I’m not suggesting you’re wrong. I’m simply refusing to get sucked into this. I don’t want to spend my summer volunteering just so I can help a bunch of recalcitrant spirits cross over.” Selfish? Maybe, but why should she put her plans on the back burner for dead people? “You’re more experienced at ghost whispering than I am. Maybe you should apply.”

Her aunt leveled a pointed look her way. “Tell me what happened when you saw the article for the first time. Did it pop out at you? Did it appear as if it had been typed in larger, bolder font while everything around it blurred? Did you get the tingles all over or an odd mixture of anxiety and anticipation?”

Meredith clamped her mouth shut.

“I am an empath, Meredith.” Her aunt snorted. “You don’t have to utter a word for me to know the answer.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t have a choice,” she argued, digging in her heels.

“Of course you have a choice. However, when the spirit world summons you for help, ignoring the call can be disastrous. Turning your back on what you are meant to do will haunt you forever, and like the spirits whose plight you disregard, you will have no peace.”

“You can’t possibly believe I’m the only medium who can help the Garretsville ghosts. There are plenty of ghost whisperers who can step in and persuade them to pass on.”

“Not so.” Beth shook her head. “Many might try, but they’re certain to fail. Why do you think that old town is still haunted? Do you seriously believe no one in the past one hundred and seventy years has tried to send them on their way? Only the one called upon by the spirits themselves will succeed.”

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have any special abilities,” Meredith grumbled.

“All of us who are gifted have shared that sentiment a time or two. Especially when we’re being severely inconvenienced by the needs of the no-longer-living.”

For the next several minutes, she and her aunt ate in silence, and the article sitting on the table drew Meredith’s gaze over and over. She could no longer deny what the strange sensations she’d experienced meant. She’d been summoned.

“Meredith, can you look me in the eye and tell me you don’t believe you’re meant to do this?”

“No, I can’t, so I’ll leave it up to fate. I’ll fill out the application and send it in, knowing full well hundreds if not thousands of people will also apply. Everyone else will do so because they want the job while I do not.” Her aunt opened her mouth as if to argue, and Meredith held up a hand in the universal sign for stop. “If I am chosen, I’ll go.”

“Fair enough.” Wearing a look of supreme satisfaction, Beth tore into her chocolate chip  cookie, pausing between bites to add, “Adventure awaits.”

Meredith did the math in her head, calculating how much a summer in Montana would set her back financially. “I sincerely hope not.”

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