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The Guests on South Battery

Cover of The Guests on South Battery

The Guests on South Battery

Tradd Street Series, Book 5
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston in her fifth Tradd Street novel, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...


With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she's awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can't deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie's backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried....
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston in her fifth Tradd Street novel, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...


With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she's awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can't deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie's backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried....
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  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

    Copyright © 2016 Karen White

    CHAPTER 1

    There is no escaping the dead. On the slender peninsula that is Charleston, we cannot help being surrounded by them, packed as they are into ancient cemeteries behind ornate iron fencing. Beneath our streets. And under our homes and parking garages. Land is at a premium here, and it was inevitable that over the course of time the living and the dead would eventually rub elbows. Most residents of the Holy City are blissfully unaware of its former citizens who have passed on but whose names and homes we share and whose presence lingers still. Others, like me, are not so lucky.

    It's one of the reasons why I've always been such a light sleeper. Even before I became the owner of a needy, money-sucking historic home on Tradd Street, and then the mother of twins, I always slept half awake, anticipating a cold hand on my shoulder or a shadow by the window. For years I'd learned how to ignore them, to pretend I'd felt only a draft, had seen only a shift in the light as morning nudged the night. But that's the thing with pretending. It doesn't make them go away.

    Which is why when the shrill of the telephone jerked me fully awake I was already reaching for the nightstand to answer it before I remembered that we no longer kept a house phone in our bedroom. Sitting straight up in bed, I stared at my nightstand, where my cell phone lay, its face glowing with an unexpected blue light, the ring tone not my usual "Mama Mia" but identical to the tone of the now-defunct landline handset.

    Fumbling to pick it up before it woke my sleeping companions, I slid my thumb across the screen and answered, "Hello?"

    A distant, hollow sound, like a small rock being dropped into a deep well, echoed in my ear.

    "Hello?" I said again. "Grandmother?" She'd been dead since I was a little girl, but it wouldn't have been the first time she'd called me since then. Yet I knew it wasn't her. When she called I always had a sense of peace and well-being. Of love and protection. Not the feeling of unseen insects crawling over my scalp. And somewhere, in that deep dark space at the other end of the line, was the sound of groaning nails and something being pried loose, and a tinny note, almost indecipherable, vibrating in the empty air.

    I pulled the phone from my ear and hit end, noticing the local 843 area code but not recognizing the number. Placing the phone back on the nightstand, I looked at the video monitor, which showed my ten-month-old twins sleeping peacefully in their nursery down the hall, then turned to Jack. I was met with the wet nose and large eyes of my dog, General Lee. I'd inherited him along with the house and housekeeper, Mrs. Houlihan.

    Despite my protestations that I didn't like dogs, I now found myself the owner of three. Even in his advanced years, General Lee had proven himself quite virile and had fathered a litter of puppies, two of which had been given to us as a wedding present the previous year. With the addition of a husband, two babies, and a stepdaughter, I barely recognized my life anymore and had to pinch myself on more than one occasion to make me believe it was true.

    Which is why the phone call unnerved me more than it should have. The restless dead had left me alone for almost a year. It had been a blissful period when I'd begun to settle into my life as a new wife and mother without the distraction of spirits needing me for something. I'd even begun to hope that the dead had forgotten about me.

    General Lee crawled on top of my pillow, above my head, allowing me to see Jack's face in the soft glow of the...

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Tradd Street Series, Book 5
Karen White
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