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The Phantom Portrait

White Raven Series #2


by AnneMarie Dapp

The Phantom Portrait by AnneMarie Dapp

The White Raven cozy mystery series keeps you guessing until the end.

Art history master Jade Mackenzie is mourning the recent death of her mother and starting a new life for herself in Pacific Grove, California, where she's inherited her grandmother's cottage by the sea. She opens an antique shop in the heart of town. The appearance of a legendary white raven sets in motion events that cause her to question her own sanity.

After discovering a portrait of a man dressed in 18th century garb gazing at the sea, she begins having bizarre dreams and visions. Is the portrait changing? Could the alterations actually be glimpses of the past or future? As if that's not enough, Jade's research into the portrait brings on the wrath of an ancient cult.

Frightened by what she can't explain, Jade confides in her sweet, sexy friend, Scottish firefighter Aidan MacFie, whose irresistible good nature seems to hide a painful past he's wary of revealing.

Aidan's only choice is to protect Jade personally. But the greatest defense he may be able to give her is to reveal the truth about himself...and risk losing the chance at love with a woman he's already fallen head over heels for.

Aidan's only choice is to protect Jade personally. But the greatest defense he may be able to give her is to reveal the truth about himself...and risk losing the chance at love with a woman he's already fallen head over heels for.

 


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Release Date: December 8, 2020
Genre: Paranormal Romance

A Pink Satin Romance


Excerpt

Prologue

Jade Mackenzie whispered a prayer for her mother.

She’d just finished her grad program in art history when her mother’s illness had taken a sharp turn for the worse. She needed a fresh start. Somewhere peaceful, where she could begin to heal. The cool ocean breeze blew sandy blond locks around a heart-shaped face while tears fell from steel-gray eyes. She walked along the mossy trail, glancing over the grounds of the Queen of Heaven Cemetery. The woman watched as a seagull landed atop a marble statue of the Virgin Mary, squabbling up at the darkening sky. Turning her back, she hurried across the manicured lawn toward her vehicle while pressing the key fob. The door clicked open with a sharp beep and she climbed inside the chilly Ford pickup.

With her wipers on high, she drove down Highway 101 heading to Monterey. An icy wind sent goosebumps over her flesh, so she rolled up the windows and flipped on the heat. She passed miles of sand dunes and colorful ice plants, the waves crashing together along the beach, foamy peaks rising from the glassy currents. Sea lions stretched lazily along granite boulders, basking in the fleeting rays of the setting sun. Thunder boomed overhead, the afternoon sky darkening eerily over the valley.

Her mind drifted while she drove, shooting toward the glovebox, considering the new deed. Her mother had said she could use the family cottage while setting up her shop, but it still felt like she was trespassing. She parked her truck behind the old, newly-hers cottage, grabbed her purse, the newly-inherited diary of her great-grandmother, and bag of groceries and then slipped down onto the sandy beach.

Seagulls cried, diving towards the raging waters. Jade stopped a moment, gazing at the shoreline, watching the garnet rays fading towards the horizon. She walked up the cobblestone path to the front of the modest cottage, briefly noticing the weather-worn exterior. She ran the tip of her finger over the coarse boards, peeling off a few flakes of paint in the process.

There was quite a lot of work to do fixing up the old place. She was almost ready to sign on a foreclosed space in Pacific Grove that held an antique shop that she wanted to remake and open, so at least the cottage was closer to the shop than her mother’s house where she’d moved once it was clear her mother wasn’t going to get better. Juggling a cottage renovation and new business seemed like a daunting task. Taking a deep breath, her hand reached toward the copper knob, and then her key clicked into place. She pushed the door open with a groan from its hinges. At the same moment, streaks of lightning flashed above as a white missile shot past her right side, landing by her feet in a blur of snowy feathers.

She gasped, reaching toward the injured bird fluttering on its side. The creature thrashed the ground, trying in vain to fly, the right wing bent at a startling angle. Pale eyes caught her gaze, and she knew in an instant what she must do. She scooped the bird up and made her way into the darkness.

The cottage was musty and in need of a good cleaning. Old books and vintage collectibles layered in thick dust were cluttered about the room. An empty wire basket sat in the corner by the hearth, so she placed it on the table, then pulled her scarf from her neck and lined the bottom. She held it before her to examine her new charge and its injury. It looked like a baby raven. But white. She wrapped the wing gently with a piece of linen from the sewing box. Satisfied with her doctoring, she placed the baby raven inside the basket. She studied the bird in astonishment, not quite sure what to make of it. The baby appeared healthy, other than the injured wing, but its feathers, which should have been ebony in color, were shockingly white. The fledgling nibbled the soft scarf, then fluffed its feathers and began to preen, eyes fixed on its new caretaker. Within a few minutes, the creature surrendered to sleep inside the makeshift nest. Jade looked at her charge with a soft smile, then moved toward the fireplace, starting the logs with a lighter and bit of old newspaper. She sighed as the room warmed and shadows receded to the far corners of the room.

Warm June rain pounded the tin roof as the wind rattled the windows in their vintage frames. She looked around, listening to the fire crackle in the hearth; Everything was old, yet so familiar, she thought.

Once she’d kicked off her shoes and put away the groceries, she opened a bottle of local Chardonnay and poured herself a generous glass. Outside, the storm raged, shaking the cottage to its foundations. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed behind lace curtains. Taking a seat at the edge of the bed, she reached for the gold-leaf diary. For the next several hours, she traveled back in time, enraptured by her ancestor’s journey. Turning the final page released a pearly white feather which slipped from the binding. Jade held it up to the firelight in wonder, tears blurring her vision. Considering the snowy quill, she realized her own story was only beginning.

 

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