The Silver Crescent
Betrayal, murder and a stolen fortune bring Elise Baxter to Cedar Bend, Michigan, on a quest to solve a family mystery—and recover the missing treasure.
Max Holt impulsively buys a crumbling Victorian mansion and fulfills his dream of restoring it as a restaurant and inn. Aware of its reputation for being haunted, he adds to the mystique by building a garden path of old tombstones, one of which belongs to the original owner of the house, Cyrus Mosby—the man whose legacy Elise has traced, and who allegedly stole her ancestral share of a Colorado silver mine over a century ago.
Following clues gleaned from old diaries and a visit from the spirit of her great-great-grandmother, Elise seeks out Max and his inn. Not knowing if she can trust Max with her family secret, Elise pretends her interest is in researching Cyrus, whose own violent death remains a mystery.
An intense attraction between Max and Elise leads him to believe she may be the girl of his dreams. But when he discovers her true interest in him and his inn, memories of a past betrayal threaten to end their passionate relationship. Elise, finding herself falling in love with Max, fears her deception may cost her more than she is willing to lose.
Once persuaded the stolen silver is hidden somewhere in the inn, and captivated by the idea of a treasure hunt, Max and Elise begin the search together, aided by the resident ghosts, Cyrus and Virginia.
The treasure hunt seems like a harmless adventure until someone tries to steal the diaries. Unknown to Max and Elise, there are others—including an evil presence—who are driven by greed and will stop at nothing to unlock the mystery of the Silver Crescent.
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As though an invisible force were pulling him back, Max made a U-turn and drove up an overgrown, tree-lined drive to a three-story Victorian home surrounded by an unkempt lawn.
His pulse quickened as he stepped from the car. With childish delight, he stared at the house’s crumbling gingerbread trim, peeling paint, and cracked windows.
Max smiled. His day may just have improved. He glanced around. The house seemed deserted. Should he go in? At worst, he’d get caught trespassing. He carefully walked up the rotted steps onto the long columned porch. At least the stained-glass fanlight above the front door was still intact. He tried the door. Finding it unlocked, he called, “Hel-lo, is anyone here?”
Not getting a reply, he stepped into the wide entry hall.
A strange sense of belonging came over him as he took in his surroundings. To his right, a curving mahogany staircase rose to an open landing on the second floor. Doorways lined the central hall to the rear of the house. It felt almost as if he’d been there before, but he knew that was impossible. Feeling somewhat foolish, he shook off the strange sensation and again called, “Hello?”
When the house remained silent, he began to wander through the spacious, empty rooms. Each step he took revealed intricate carved moldings, Adams fireplace mantels, and smiling cherub medallions above dusty crystal chandeliers.
His mind overflowing with ideas for restoring the house, Max didn’t notice the growing cold until he paused in the library doorway. Turning to see where the draft was coming from, his eyes were caught by a portrait that hung above a brick fireplace—a beautiful woman, dressed in a long, dove-gray satin dress with a fitted jacket. As he stared into her blue-green eyes, they seemed to shift to look over his shoulder. An icy chill ran up his spine.
“What the hell?”
He spun around, but the hall was empty. He shook his head. Come on, Max. Get a grip. You’re alone in an old house, and your imagination is playing tricks. The portrait’s eyes did not move.
Yet, when he turned back, he could have sworn the woman made eye contact with him. He swallowed hard. This is crazy. Paintings in old houses are always creepy.
Still uneasy, he studied the room more closely. His forehead creased in puzzlement. The other rooms he’d gone through had been empty, but in here the ceiling-high shelves still held books. The Persian rug seemed almost new. The antique mahogany desk and other furnishings could have been there since the house was built but looked clean and cared for.
Again, he shook his head. Weird.
He crossed the room to look out a tall French window that flanked the fireplace. Max imagined the weed-choked yard as a pristine expanse of manicured lawn sloping down to a curving path through the trees, leading to the stream below, and thought of his architect friend, Jack Callaghan. I’ll bet Jack could design an outdoor terrace for summer dining.
He smiled, thinking of the delight on Jack’s wife, Kathy’s, face when he asked her to do the interior decorating. His biggest challenge would be talking his friend Oliver into leaving his job as a sous-chef in Boston to come work for him.
Having a passion for restoring old houses, Max’s dream had always been to open his own restaurant and inn. But after graduating with an MBA, he had taken a job as business manager for a small electronics company. Now a large corporation was buying the company and Max felt the time was right for him to leave and pursue his dream.
Max smiled. Fate had definitely intervened and led him to this house. Still gazing out the window, his mind bursting with ideas, a sound behind him made him jump. Turning, Max scanned the room. He saw no one, but the sense he wasn’t alone had his palms growing damp.
He cocked his head, listening. The sound of his own breathing was all he heard. I’m as jumpy as a bunch of little girls.
Max tried to ignore the eerie sensation as he headed for the door. He’d only taken a few steps when he saw an object lying on the floor near the desk. He bent down to pick it up and frowned. Silver-gray in color, it was the shape of a crescent moon and made of heavy glass. A paperweight, perhaps?
As he placed it back on the desk, he noticed that the surface was polished to a glassy finish. The object must have fallen from the desk, and that had been the sound he’d heard, but how? Mystified, his attention was again drawn to the woman in the portrait. Her eyes seemed so real he could have sworn she was trying to tell him something.
Shaking off the sensation, he went to explore the rest of the house.
Upstairs, he found the master bedroom with an adjoining sitting room and a balcony that overlooked the stream. In the attached bath, the antiquated claw-foot tub and pedestal sink suited the house, but he’d replace them with a modern shower and whirlpool tub. There were six additional bedrooms and four more baths. Plenty of room for paying guests.
Back downstairs, he ended up in a small conservatory off the kitchen. The house needed some updates, but with the money he’d saved, and if he did most of the work himself, he could do it.
…Max grinned at the prospect of telling his boss to shove it. He gunned the Mustang’s engine and headed in the direction of town.
Back in the library of the old house, the woman in the portrait left her frame and gently floated to the carpet. “Honestly, Cyrus, did you have to play tricks with the boy? I couldn’t believe it when you knocked the paperweight from the desk. The last thing we want to do is scare him off.”
A shimmering shape materialized into the form of a man seated behind the desk. A look of satisfaction crossed his translucent face as he smiled at his wife. “I’m sorry, my dear. I couldn’t resist planting our first clue.”
About the Author:
Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David, and their cat, Tigger. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, New York City, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys
reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books.
Her first published romance, The Silver Crescent, was released by The Writer’s Coffee Shop in January. Her next release will be Rue Toulouse, a romance set in New Orleans, due out January, 2015. Debby belongs to RWA, Florida Romance Writers, Hearts Across History, and Lowcountry Romance Writers.
1 print copy The Silver Crescent