Pirate's Persuasion - Lisa Kessler

Chapter One

It all started with a little ghost boy…

Heather Storrey rolled her eyes. This was not the time to be plotting out the autobiography she’d probably never find time to write. Besides, who would read it? Her family was gone, and her only friend these days was online.

A gust of cold wind stung her cheeks, sending a chill down her back. Fall in Savannah meant cooler days and nights that carried a bite that hinted at the winter to come. Her boots crunched against the cracked tabby concrete drive, the sound marking the increased speed of her strides.

Leaving the massive pillars of the abandoned WWII hospital and research facility behind, she headed for her car. Quickly. As a respected medium, her work in the haunted city never slowed, but lately…paranormal activity had been picking up.

Then there was the little boy.

She shoved the thought away. Her work here was done. The boy hadn’t been part of this job. In fact, he shouldn’t have even been part of this island.

Oatland no longer quarantined patients with infectious diseases. The city closed the facility years ago, and recently the island had been transformed from a hospital and laboratory into a wildlife refuge and zoo. Every day, different Savannah school buses crossed the bridge over the Wilmington River, most of them completely unaware of the restless spirits wandering the halls of the main building. The multistoried structure stood empty, the syphilis and malaria experiments for the Centers for Disease Control long forgotten.

The dead remembered.

The torment had never ended for the two entities she connected with tonight. The male ghosts had been patients at one time, grateful she could hear their pleas. She had no trouble calming them.

It was the little boy wearing clothes much older than any of the structures on Oatland Island that made her hustle for her car.

He hadn’t spoken, just watched her with yearning in his eyes. Haunting.

And “seeing” the dead wasn’t usually her thing. She grew up hearing them. Many had final words for loved ones, some ached for justice, and none of them frightened her.

Maybe frightened wasn’t the right word. Concerned.

Either way, something was wrong here. A disturbance just below the surface of this plane seemed to be shaking the fragile balance between the world of the living and the dead. She couldn’t put her finger on it yet, but she would.

The boy couldn’t have perished on Oatland, and she didn’t recognize him as a relation to her or her family, so how did he end up here, and why? That question had her on edge.

Oatland Island wasn’t the only location around Savannah experiencing an uptick in paranormal activity. The small island had always been haunted. The spectral inhabitants had remained unobtrusive to the employees and visitors until recently. She checked with the management and there hadn’t been any ghost tour companies using the property, stirring up paranormal energy with EMF meters and ghost boxes. Nights on the island had been quiet.

Things changed over the past two weeks. The agitated animals sensed danger, and the night watchman reported lights flickering upstairs in the main building. Skeptics might try to blame it on faulty wiring from 1927, but the city cut the power to the upper floors years ago.

Savannah was no stranger to ghosts and hauntings. Most tour companies touted it as the “city built upon its dead.” However, this energy seemed new.

Halloween was still a few weeks away, so she couldn’t blame it on the thinning of the veil between the living and the dead. And the spirits she’d connected with didn’t seem to know any more than she did. One of them pointed to the water, and an image of a black ship with sails darker than night filled her head. She’d have to do some research later.

The boy did no tricks, nor had he talked. He simply watched her.

A security guard approached as she neared her car. His gaze wandered in every direction. Anywhere except her face. “Everything settled in the main building, ma’am?”

“For now.” Heather smiled, sliding her hand into the pocket of her cape and waiting for him to brave eye contact. The second he looked at her, she held out her business card. “I’m Heather, by the way.”

He took the card with an awkward smile. “They told us you were coming out for the ghost problem.”

Heather chuckled. “The ghosts think we’re the problem.”

His eyes widened slightly. “Are they…dangerous?”

His fear of ghosts seemed to distract him from his uncertainty about her. She was used to the wariness