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Authors: Linda Wisdom

Hotel Hex

BOOK: Hotel Hex
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54

 

HOTEL HEX

Linda Wisdom

A JOYRIDE ROMANCE

 

Published by Joyride Books, PO Box 258, La Honda, CA, 94020

 

Copyright © October 31, 2012

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

 

ISBN: 978-1-937791-63-6

 

Cover by Rae Monet

 

HOTEL HEX

By Linda Wisdom

 

Chapter 1

 

“What a
lovely
destination for a
romantic
getaway, Nick,” Jazz cooed, as she stared at the four-story gray stone monstrosity known as their destination. Her moss green eyes sparked with not-so-nice magick. “I haven’t seen anything this atmospheric since watching Chiller’s all night slasher marathon. When does the psychotic killer appear?”

Nick winced as her razor-sharp tone tore through his brain.

“It’s like revisiting the 1500s. You remember those days, don’t you, Nikolai? Dark days that included smoky fireplaces, chamber pots, and a lack of any kind of hygiene,” she continued, bestowing her patented
you are so undead to me right now
look on him. “Why you wouldn’t even know we’re in the Hollywood Hills of the 21
st
century. And just like magick we have pouring rain and hail the size of basketballs. Yet it was sunny and eighty degrees when we drove down Wilshire Blvd barely twenty minutes ago. You would think we stumbled into middle of one of those creepy storms in merry olde England.” Her smile flashed fiery darts.

Nick took a quick look at her hands to make sure there wasn’t any witchflame hovering there. When his hexy lady was mad, she tended to bring on fireballs and sometimes thunder and lightning. He slowly guided his black Navigator between the open ornate iron gates and down the muddy track to the hotel’s entrance. He’d barely stopped before Jazz’s hand was on the door handle.

“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. Because I say so, damn it!” Jazz ordered, as she pushed open the driver’s side door. “Hey!” She ducked as what felt like the entire contents of the Arctic Ocean dumped on her head. “Damn it, that spell should have worked! Wet begone, damn it!” Her drenched look didn’t change and her mood only grew darker. 

“Do you wish assistance with your luggage, madam?” The voice was like cut glass on the senses.

Jazz screamed and would have fallen in the gooey mud if Nick hadn’t flashed to her side and grabbed her arm while she fought to keep her balance. She turned her head toward the speaker.

The seven-foot zombie standing in front of them was garbed in a moth-eaten bellhop uniform circa early 1900s, complete with a round tattered green felt cap on his gray-skinned head. One milky eye rolled in one direction while the other looked ready to pop out of his ash-skinned skull at any second.

She spun around to face her vampire honey bun. “And a zombie. Oh yes, it gets better by the minute.” She made her way to the front steps, her boots sinking into the mud.

Nick held onto the Navigator’s doorway and slammed his forehead against the metal, leaving forehead-size dents. “Stake me,” he muttered. “Just stake me now.

The bellman held a three-fingered hand out to Nick. “If you’ll give me your keys, sir, I’ll get your bags inside and put your vehicle in the carriage house. I’m sure you’ll want to go on inside and get yourself warmed up. Don’t worry. I’m a very reliable driver.”

Jazz had already reached the door. She looked over her shoulder at Nick.

“I know,” he told her, grabbing the Coach bag that held the magickal supplies she never traveled without. He also picked up another bag that he knew carried items that were just as valuable to his dazzling witch. “This and your make up bag are to never leave my sight.” 

Nick had an easier time traveling across the gooey mud than Jazz did. The couple walked into the building where warmth wrapped them like a comforting blanket.

Jazz paused for a moment as she inhaled the homey scent of lavender and lemon polish that permeated the high-ceilinged entryway that had been turned into a pleasing-to-the-eye reception area. She briefly admired the mahogany table graced with a crystal vase of fresh flowers along with the crystal chandelier over the reception desk that sparkled like diamonds. Her cold and damp bones welcomed the hotel’s heat.

Memories of her short-lived career as a housemaid haunted her before she brushed them off. Best not to remember those two days of Hades that brought about a broken china vase and a grabby nobleman who soon sported a horrendous wart on the tip of his nose for the next five years. It was more than worth the five years added to her banishment from the Witches Academy to see the vain man cry for a good hour.

“At least the interior is better looking than the exterior,” she drawled.

“Oh my poor dears!” The silver-haired matron standing behind the desk clucked, her plump face showing distress. Her navy wool dress with its snowy white collars and cuffs was conservative but didn’t have the air of a uniform. “Welcome to Stonefield Manor. Such a terrible wicked day for your first view of our lovely hotel. You must be freezing.” Again she clucked over Jazz, helping her off with her coat and carefully draping it on a walnut coat tree. “The weatherman said we’d have a lovely day and instead we ended up with all this nasty rain that I swear chills one to the bone. You must be Ms. Tremaine and Mr. Gregory.” She smile broadly as she pulled an onyx plumed pen from a bronze holder and handed it to Jazz as she turned the registration book around.

As the witch accepted the pen she realized the body of the writing instrument was carved in the likeness of Puck, the Trickster. It took some doing to ensure her fingers didn’t touch any of the dangly parts that seemed to increase in size as she wielded the writing instrument. She quickly scribbled their names in the register and jammed the pen back into its base. As she did, Puck’s head swiveled in her direction and he wagged a tongue as long as his dangly parts at her along with a lascivious wink. She glared at the offending creature and flicked her fingers in his direction.

Ow!
Wincing in pain, he closed the eye that was streaming from a good dose of pepper magick just before he flipped her the finger. Nick grimaced and pulled out his own pen.

“You’re in luck. I registered for the both of us,” she told him.

“Good,” he muttered, glaring at Puck who grinned back.

“I am Mrs. Babbington, the manager.” The woman smiled at them. “I have a lovely suite prepared for you that I’m sure you will enjoy.” She bestowed another warm smile on the couple. “Thank you so much for accepting our invitation to launch our haunted hotel. I am so happy you were also able to come, Ms. Tremaine. Your skills as a curse eliminator are legendary.”

Jazz smiled back.

“Thank you for the invitation. I am curious though. I couldn’t find anything on the hotel’s website to indicate why you think the building is haunted,” Nick commented, his sharp gaze taking in their surroundings. 

Jazz wasn’t surprised by his question. Nick’s past career as an investigator with the Protectorate, the security agency that oversaw all vampire activities, and now on his own as a private investigator meant he liked to know what was going on around him. It was that kind of scrutiny that saved his undead ass for over 900 years. It did make her curious as to why he was willing to come here if he didn’t have all the facts. That wasn’t like him. She glanced at her lover.

Nick caught the why-are-we-here-again look Jazz sent him. He’d seen the invitation to the hotel’s weekend event as a nice getaway opportunity for him and Jazz. Something they’d wanted to do for some time, but hadn’t been able to coordinate their schedules. He’d recently finished a drawn out case for the Protectorate. While the pay had been more than excellent, he was relieved when he handed in his final report.

Even though he knew he would be expected to participate in whatever the hotel had planned this weekend, he still intended to have some private time with his favorite witch. 

The manager beamed with pride. “Stonefield Manor has a long and fascinating background. Logging magnate Randolph Perry built the house in the late 1800s. He wanted the perfect family residence and he had the money to create it,” Mrs. Babbington explained. “Unfortunately, sorrow also resided here. Mr. Perry’s wife suffered six miscarriages before delivering a child. The boy was sickly and only lived a few years. She killed herself after her son’s death. Mr. Perry remained a recluse after that and died a raving lunatic at the age of seventy. A nephew inherited the property and it remained in the family until 1964. No one lived here during those years because of the rumors the house was cursed. It lay abandoned until 2008 when it was purchased by an international corporation with the intent of turning it into a corporate retreat. When that venture failed the property was put up for sale. The new owner refused to believe the rumors about the property and has worked very hard to return the manor to its original sophistication. He thought the way to do it was open it as a hotel offering the European old world elegance you rarely see in this part of the country. And since we’re secluded high up in the hills we can offer our guests privacy along with relaxation. While it’s a large house, we are presently only allowing six guests at a time with the thought of creating theme weekends.”

“Such as supernatural to go along with the hotel’s tortured history,” Jazz said. 

“Yes.” The manager pulled down a brass key from a nearby hook and handed it to the zombie bellman that stood nearby with a small pile of luggage at his feet. “Zorak, Ms. Tremaine and Mr. Gregory will be in the Grand Dame suite.” She smiled at Jazz. “We serve dinner at seven with the cocktail hour beginning at six-thirty. Again, welcome to Stonefield Manor. I hope you have a lovely stay. If there is anything I can do just please press 0 on the telephone.”

“This way if you please.” Zorak bowed deeply. A couple flakes of gray-tinged skin dropped to the carpet. He gathered up the bags and led them to an iron grille cage elevator. 

“It’s very film
noir
here,” Jazz commented, looking at Nick under the cover of her lashes. “You could almost see Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade hanging around. You should love it here. It’s like a better furnished extension of your office.” She wrinkled her nose at him.

“I am afraid I am not familiar with those gentlemen,” Zorak said in his toneless voice as he unlocked Jazz and Nick’s suite door and walked in with their bags. “I do not believe they’ve ever stayed here.”

Nick coughed to cover his snort. 

“There are ice machines up here. You will have to call down if you wish some.” The zombie lit the fireplaces in the bedroom and parlor. He shook his head when Nick offered him a tip. “That is not necessary. Have a good stay.” He flicked his flaky-skinned fingers against his cap. “If you need anything, just ask for Zorak. Even special coffee for witches.” The smile he directed at Jazz was unnerving.

“Don’t tell me. The coffee has eye of newt and batwings in it,” Nick chuckled.

The witch rolled her eyes. “That is so last century. The only thing I’d want in my coffee nowadays is a healthy dose of Baileys.”

Welcoming the fireplace’s heat, she walked around the spacious sitting room. “This is lovely,” she said, admiring the beautiful antiques scattered around the room. She paused to run her finger down the delicate curves of a Lalique crystal vase. “This owner spared no expense decorating the house.”

“You may see lovely, but I see unnerving,” Nick said as he examined the paintings gracing the walls. He gestured to the one in front of him.

Jazz walked over and rose up on her tiptoes to peer over his shoulder. She brushed a light kiss across his neck before studying the artwork. Her nose wrinkled. “Ick.” 

He chuckled. “Not what I’d say, but yes, that works too.” He reached behind him and curled his arm around her, pulling her forward against his side.

Jazz started to touch the painting then changed her mind. While she liked a seascape, this one didn’t inspire thoughts of a romantic walk on the beach at sunset. She wasn’t sure if there could be something harmful in the paint and wasn’t about to finger it to find out. 

She tipped her head to the side as she studied the old-fashioned sailing ship that boasted tattered black sails. If she wasn’t mistaken the tiny figures on desk were skeletons with flesh hanging off them like ragged cloths and they all moved about, intent on their shipboard duties.

“Wow, talk about shades of
Pirates of the Caribbean
.” For a moment she swore she could smell the briny scent of the sea and the rancid stench of death. She covered her nose with her hand.

“And you’d know considering we watched it something like three million times,” Nick muttered, wincing when Jazz’s elbow connected with his midsection.

BOOK: Hotel Hex
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