The Story Thus Far
This entry is meant to provide a refresher of Alive - Book One in The Ghost of Cambria Series. This is not a stand-alone novel, and you will want to begin the story with the previous book. You may turn to Chapter One now if Alive is still fresh in your mind.
Thank you and enjoy! - Joseph Stone
Tony De Luca, a young man who dreams of becoming a carpentry artist, offered Richard Cole the chance of a lifetime. Tony would help to restore Richard’s dilapidated craftsman-styled home in the seaside hamlet of Cambria in exchange for only the cost of materials. The young man seeks the opportunity to have his work photographed to begin a portfolio of his artistry, meant to begin Tony’s career. When Richard received the offer, he opened a bottle of wine and drew a bath to celebrate his luck. After the water had filled the tub, Richard turned to undress and found an unknown man standing in the bathroom doorframe. In moments, Richard was violently flung backwards to strike the cast-iron tub with his head.
Kristen Cole, a thirty-three-year-old clinical psychologist in San Diego, was informed of the terrible accident that had taken her father’s life. As his benefactress, and on the advice of her real estate agent, Kristen decided to give the house a refurbishment before she would place it on the market to sell. When Tony hadn’t heard back from Richard regarding his offer, the young man visited the house where Kristen to relayed the news of her father’s death. In time, Kristen hired the inexperienced twenty-four-year-old Tony to oversee the refurbishment of the house.
As the remodeling began, Kristen met a colleague of her father’s, Ryan Hoffman. Just two years older that she, Ryan had already accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and Yale University graduate, Ryan started his own defense consultancy that made him a multi-millionaire. In search of a new challenge, Ryan stepped back from his company to become a professor at the local university, where he befriended Richard Cole. Comforting Kristen after her father’s death, Ryan courted the woman and began genuine romance with the woman of his dreams. For the first time since childhood, thoughts of marriage enter Kristen’s mind.
An erotic dream about young Tony took Kristen. As the dream was ending, Tony’s face was replaced by another man’s, one she’d never seen. He asked her to allow him to love her. Flustered upon waking, Kristen’s memories of the dream were placed aside.
On his first day of work, Tony examine the house to find a warped wooden panel at the back of the living room coat closet. When he attempted to remove the panel, the lightbulb above his head shattered. Representative of his first mistake, tensions rise between Kristen and Tony as the coming days of renovation work expose the liabilities of his inexperience. Presuming his lack of dedication to the job, Kristen followed Tony to his workshop to confront him, where she discovered the young man hard at work. Embarrassed at her own lack of trust, Kristen’s conciliatory gestures begin a friendship between she and Tony.
After a series of dates, Kristen had an erotic dream Ryan. Near the climax of the dream, Kristen realized that she was dreaming. When she turned her head to see Ryan’s face during their lovemaking, Kristen was confronted by the face of the same unknown man. When Kristen became certain that she was no longer dreaming, the stranger vanished, horrifying her.
Consulting with a psychotherapist, Kristen believes that she has hallucinated due to the stressors of losing her father, sleeping poorly, and consuming unwise amounts of caffeine and alcohol. In an attempt to ground herself, Kristen adopts a young Husky named Penelope from the local shelter to go jogging with. The dog falls in love with Tony, but the young man is agitated by Kristen’s decision to adopt such a challenging breed without considering that she will be keeping the active animal in an apartment when she returns home to San Diego. An argument ensues that results in Kristen having sexual relations with Tony, an act that leaves her feeling angry with herself. Kristen tells Tony that theirs must only be a professional relationship and asks him to agree to forget their carnal mistake. Reluctantly, he agrees.
The next morning, Kristen finds that Penelope has caused havoc to the worksite, knocking over tools, chewing on everything she could find, and scratching wildly on the living room closet door. Tony arrives moments later and begins the dog’s obedience training, as well as her owner’s.
Sleeping better with Penelope at her side, Kristen investigates published research on parapsychology, finding more peer-reviewed journals than she dreamed might exist for the maligned field. When her eyes grow tired, she listens to a comedy podcast about ghosts and research into the paranormal. The plucky host discusses several accounts of hauntings, many of when occur around three o’clock in the morning. In time, and with Penelope resting happily by her side, Kristen falls asleep. At three-fifteen in the morning, Kristen awakes to the sound of scratching from downstairs. Realizing the Penelope has somehow left the closed master-bedroom, Kristen finds the courage to go downstairs alone. Sourcing the scratching to the living-room closet, Kristen finds Penelope in the darkened closet and scolds her for leaving the bedroom.
Ryan arrives at Kristen’s home unannounced to ask her on an impromptu date. Taking Ryan up on his offer, Kristen notices that Tony is clearly jealous of her inclination to date the man. As the pair are leaving on their date, Tony removes his shirt in a clear attempt to intimidate his perceived rival with his strong young body. After a romantic date where Ryan brings their relationship still closer, Kristen comes home and immediately strikes up an argument with Tony over his behavior. The fighting again serves to arouse Tony and leads to a second sexual encounter between the two. In the end, Kristen dismisses her earlier concerns about maintaining a professional relationship, as she is scheduled to leave for San Diego and the house in Tony’s hands the next day.
Ryan returns to Kristen’s house, again unannounced, and invites Kristen on an impromptu date. Reluctantly, Kristen agrees, announcing to the irritated Tony that she will be home before he leaves work for the day. Ryan takes Kristen on a tour of local vineyards, relying on the auto-drive feature of his sports car to drive them between locations when they become intoxicated. Their relationship continues to flower as Ryan asks Kristen about her opinion on marriage. Kristen jokes that she could never think about marriage who she hasn’t yet tried out in bed.
Tony receives a call from a very drunken Kristen, who asks him to leave the house lights on when he leaves, as she will not be coming home before the end of his work day. Without emotion in his voice, Tony agrees, but almost punches a hole in the wall when they hang up on the call. Again annoyed, Tony focuses his anger on how Kristen has not taken her restless dog for a walk all day. Receiving Penelope’s affection, Tony takes the dog home with him, leaving a note for Kristen to say that he will bring her back in the morning.
As Kristen and Ryan’s date winds down, she asks him to take her home. Extremely drunk and lost of all inhibition, Kristen teases Ryan as the vehicle drives them back to Cambria, giving him oral sex in the car. When the couple arrive in her home, they immediately made for her bedroom. Before they begin, Ryan goes to use the ensuite bathroom, where Kristen hears him fall down, presumably from being so intoxicated. Laughing a waiting for him to finish, Kristen falls asleep. Shortly after three, Ryan awakes her with his lovemaking, returning the oral favors from earlier on their date. In the dark of the early morning hour, Kristen never opens her eyes until their lovemaking is finished. When she rises to use the bathroom herself, she finds Ryan dead on the bathroom floor in a pool of urine and drying blood around his head, a frozen expression of horror on his face.