Halloween at Hargreate Hall: Part 3 by Kathryn Freeman

Happy Halloween! It’s time for this year’s Halloween Round Robin. And this year we have not one but TWO fabulously spooky tales written collaboratively by eight talented Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction authors to share with you 👻 We shared one yesterday (click HERE to begin reading it) and today we’re starting again with a new bunch of authors! 

Kathryn Freeman really has her work cut out for her in following up from Angela Britnell who left Joe and Meredith in a very unusual situation with a ghost in the last part! We’re sure she’ll pull it out of the bag though! Read on to see if she does. 

Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition!

A Round Robin is best enjoyed if you read each part in order.
Read Part 1 by Morton S. Gray HERE
Read Part 2 by Angela Britnell HERE

HALLOWEEN AT HARGREATE HALL – PART 3 BY KATHRYN FREEMAN 

‘Your death?’ Meredith lurched backwards, banging the back of her head against the wall. As she felt her knees give way, a pair of strong arms reached out and caught her.

‘Hey, I’ve got you.’ Concern softened Joe’s usually harsh features. ‘Come and sit down.’

Before she knew what was happening, she was back in his office, sitting on the visitor chair with him crouched down next to her. ‘Feeling better?’

She drew in a breath, and as she let it out, Kate’s words rushed back to her. ‘What did Kate mean, about ruining your death?’

Joe sighed heavily, rising to his feet and perching on the edge of the desk. ‘Do I look dead to you?’

Her eyes rested on his big muscular thighs, straining against the material of his jeans, then skimmed up to his darkly handsome face. ‘No.’ He looked gloriously, vividly alive.

‘Well then. Don’t believe any nonsense you hear from a ghost.’ His jaw tightened, and the harshness returned to his face. ‘Especially that ghost.’

Meredith gulped. Clearly Kate had been right. There was some sort of history between them. History she was too afraid to ask about for fear of upsetting him further. ‘Your words imply there are other ghosts, but Kate said she’d run them all off.’

A ghost of a smile – oh God, terrible pun – flickered across his face. ‘What did I say about listening to her? She thinks she rules the place. Always has.’

Okay, okay. About a million questions buzzed through Meredith’s brain, but now wasn’t the time. Not when she had a Halloween trail to put together, which required Joe to be in a good mood. ‘Kate said she would help with the Halloween event.’ Meredith hesitated, remembering the conversation. With the ghost. Joe himself had said Kate was a ghost, so it was quite possible she really was. Then again, Kate had said Joe was dead, which would also make him … no, that was plain insanity. ‘Actually, Kate,’ yes, that sounded better than saying the ghost, ‘said she had a plan, but it involved you.’

‘Did she now.’ He stood, jaw muscle twitching again, and walked to the window, sliding his hands into his jeans pockets. Leaving her staring at his broad back.

Silence pinged around the room and Kate could feel his tension. Slowly he turned to face her. ‘Kate also said I was dead, which we’ve established isn’t true, so why believe she’s going to help?’

Because I’ve established more of a relationship with Kate since coming to work here than I have with you? The words were there, hovering on her tongue, but Meredith held back from saying them. Still, she wasn’t going to leave it alone totally. ‘At least Kate has offered to help. All you’ve done is throw cold water over my ideas.’

He winced, his shoulders sagging. ‘I have, haven’t I?’ Slowly he went to sit down at his desk. ‘Look, I’m sorry I’ve been a bit negative.’

‘A bit?’

He gave her a crooked smile. ‘Fine. Sorry I’ve been a total pain in the backside. Better?’

A warm, fuzzy feeling swept through her. He was smiling at her. They were actually having a friendly conversation. ‘Much better.’

‘The thing is, I had my reasons. Have my reasons.’ He glanced away then, as if considering his next words. ‘If you want to involve Kate, fine. Why not suggest she comes – or appears, or whatever it is she does – to our meeting on Sunday.’ His vivid blue eyes met hers. ‘I’ll bring my daughter to help. She loves all that tacky Halloween crap you’re planning.’

This time she didn’t take offence, because this time his eyes smiled when he said it. ‘Okay, great. And you promise to be nice to Kate?’

The smile vanished. ‘I can’t promise that. But I do promise to turn up and help you.’

It was as much as she could hope for, and more than she’d expected. ‘Thank you. And thank you for, you know, catching me.’

‘No problem.’ His eyes darkened as they held hers. ‘It was my pleasure.’

Her heart bumped against her ribs and Meredith almost floated out of his office.

Now all she had to do was find Kate.

Find a ghost.

She laughed to herself as she stepped into the corridor, feeling lighter, happier. She and Joe had turned a huge corner in their relationship. Working at Hargreate Hall had the potential to be a million times better from now on. Well, it would if she still had a job.

Hurriedly she walked towards the library – the first place she’d ‘met’ Kate. Feeling daft, she paced up and down, past the rows of dusty books, the wooden fireplace, the oil paintings of previous occupants.

That’s when she smelt the lilacs. ‘Kate?’

‘I’m here. So, did you get anywhere with our Joe?’

Our? ‘Can you meet us here on Sunday?’

Meredith heard laughter. ‘I’m hardly going anywhere, am I? Did Joe agree to help?’

‘Yes. He’s bringing his daughter, too.’

Kate gasped and immediately the air around her became noticeably colder, until Meredith felt her fingers going numb.

‘Kate?’ She whispered into the frozen silence.

But the smell of lilacs had vanished.

What did we say about Kathryn pulling it out of the bag? 😉 But now she’s left us on a spooky cliffhanger and it’s up to Berni Stevens to finish things off. We’re going to leave you biting your fingernails in anticipation for another hour though!  

If you enjoyed Kathryn’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers – including plenty of fab Christmas books! Click the images below for purchasing options. 

COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Kathryn Freeman paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What type of flower does Meredith smell when Kate is around?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kathryn Freeman comp’ by Friday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 5th November.

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