Today I am so pleased to welcome Ella Stainton to Joyfully Jay. Ella has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Best Laid Plaids. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Dr. Ainsley Graham lost his position as a university lecturer two years previous after insisting that he could speak to ghosts. Depressed and anxious, he is presented with a lifeline in the form of Joachim Cockburn, a WWI vet working on his PhD dissertation. If Ainsley can convince Joachim that there are spirits, he’ll be able to prove he’s not a nutter. The two travel up to the Highlands to visit a well-known incorporeal beastie—and Joachim has no idea he’s about to have his world up-ended in more ways than one!
“Tell me about the plans for the evening.” Joachim stared right at him and made it impossible for Ainsley to disappear into his murky mind.
So he explained. “It’s not a spirit in the sense of the ones that speak to me. Those were all people at some point, and this—thing—is unable to communicate. I’ve tried twice now.”
Joachim’s face read amused disbelief with the way his head cocked to one side and his eyebrows raised. “And you see this—whatever it is—rather than hearing it?”
“My good man,” Ainsley started, making it clear he used the term sarcastically, “how are you so sure that there are no such things as ghosts?”
Snapping his mouth shut, Joachim took a moment to think. “Because if there were, people would know it.” It was wrong that man still looked so fuckable when he was dismissing Ainsley like a chump.
It always seemed to frustrate Ainsley’s adversaries that he could remain calm during a debate. His fork poised in the air, halfway to his lips. “Do you know, I’ve never heard of a culture that doesn’t have stories about spirits. Have you?”
“Well, no, but that’s not my expertise.”
Ainsley flashed his most cherubic smile. “It is mine. Folklore—not ghosts. But so many old stories have some sort of basis in historical fact. I’m not sure I understand why you’re so adamant that this isn’t one of them.”
The tips of Joachim’s ears reddened but he continued to slice his fish as if it was the only thing on his mind. He had lovely cheekbones, Cockburn did. High and slanted and curving back toward his ears, which were unremarkable other than the lobes, which begged to be sucked. Begged.
Then Cockburn snapped his fingers under Ainsley’s nose, as if he wasn’t paying attention.
Ainsley was lost. “The Hebrews?”
“No mention of ghosts in the Bible.”
“Good Lord, Mr. Cockburn. I might be more than usually irreverent but even I know that the book is full of spirit this and spirit that.”
“The holy spirit? It’s not the same thing. Have you even ever read it?” The prat. Fuck him—Cockburn could get muddy knees for all Ainsley cared.
It was hardly the time to mention that he’d been sent down from school for writing an examination paper unfavorably comparing the believability of the Bible to Grimm’s fairy tales. “I have read it, and there’s no mention of dinosaurs, either, so they can’t possibly be real, I suppose?”
Joachim grumbled. “They didn’t have archaeologists in Biblical times to look for the bones.”
“No. But perhaps there will be an entire branch of science dedicated to studying the ethereal world in two hundred years.”
“But if ghosts are real, why can’t I see them?”
“Isn’t that the entire purpose of this drive we’ve taken today? Tell me—if you see spirits, or ghosts, or whatever this thing is we’re hunting tonight, will you be honest and tell the world about it? I do warn you; it’s detrimental to one’s career aspirations in academia.”
“I won’t see anything, but if I did, then I’d be obliged to be honest about it.”
Ainsley wished Violet wasn’t under the table so he could reach out and put his leg between Cockburn’s. See if he was willing to touch back. Not so easy with a shoe and a hip.
Cockburn placed his knife and fork across his now empty plate and settled back in the bench. “You have done me a favor by driving me up here, Dr. Graham, so I’ll take this as seriously as I can manage. Tell me about your experience with the…thing.”
There was no hint of unkindness in the Englishman’s lovely eyes now, and Ainsley was lost in them for a moment before Joachim looked away with another of his darling flushes.
Welcome to a sexy, spooky new paranormal historical series from debut author Ella Stainton.
Dr. Ainsley Graham is cultivating a reputation as an eccentric.
Two years ago, he catastrophically ended his academic career by publicly claiming to talk to ghosts. When Joachim Cockburn, a WWI veteran studying the power of delusional thinking, arrives at his door, Ainsley quickly catalogues him as yet another tiresome Englishman determined to mock his life’s work.
But Joachim is tenacious and openhearted, and Ainsley’s intrigued despite himself. He agrees to motor his handsome new friend around to Scotland’s most unmistakable hauntings. If he can convince Joachim, Ainsley might be able to win back his good name and then some. He knows he’s not crazy—he just needs someone else to know it, too.
Joachim is one thesis away from realizing his dream of becoming a psychology professor, and he’s not going to let anyone stop him, not even an enchanting ginger with a penchant for tartan and lewd jokes. But as the two travel across Scotland’s lovely—and definitely, definitely haunted—landscape, Joachim’s resolve starts to melt. And he’s beginning to think that an empty teaching post without the charming Dr. Graham would make a very poor consolation prize indeed…
Buy link: Amazon
Ella Stainton teaches history’s scandals to teenagers near Richmond, Virginia. She’s lived in most Mid-Atlantic states where you can catch blue crabs, as well as four years in Sweden, and a year in Scotland (where she visited lots of haunted castles with her scientist father). She doesn’t mind eating Ramen all year if it means she can hop on a plane during summer break, and has visited around 30 countries. Which equals a lot of Ramen. Ella has four fur babies and four without fur (or children, as she likes to call them). She particularly likes ’80’s Eurotrash synth music, glitter eyeshadow, and men in kilts. Even better if they are all three together.
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