Any Time. Any Place. Any Day. Getaway.

The Ghost of January
by Mysti Parker

Product Information

Genre: New Adult Romance

Length: 79 pages

Heat Level: 2

eBook Price: $.99

Print Book: $5.99

 


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Against her father's wishes, twenty-year-old January Cooper elopes with her high school sweetheart and leaves for a fairytale honeymoon in Europe. 

Two weeks later, she's a widow, abandoned by her husband's family and too ashamed to contact hers. She works her way across the continent, scared but determined to make it on her own. 

Renowned food and travel blogger Diederik DeVries arrives in his native Amsterdam and hears rumors of a Ghost Lover who has supposedly left a trail of broken hearts all over Europe. A chance encounter with an American girl named Jan leaves him wondering if she could be this elusive legend. 

Despite her fears of falling in love again, January is just as intrigued with the charming and handsome Diederik. Though he is determined to discover her true identity, she refuses to tell him anything about her past. All he wants is to break down the walls of her hidden heartache to find the real woman within. But will the ghosts of January's past take her away from him before he ever gets that chance?

Prologue

January 25, 1995

Like unwanted house guests, death, and bills, babies had a way of showing up at the most inconvenient times. It was no less true on that record-cold morning in Escape, Indiana. Wind and sleet mixed with snow battered the windows of the Cooper farmhouse. Drifts as tall as Tom blocked the windows on the north side. Amy was in tears. She was also in labor three weeks early, snowed in with her husband and their soon-to-be-born fourth child. Even if he could’ve driven on the unplowed roads, they would’ve never made it to the hospital on time. The baby had decided she was ready to meet the world exactly an hour ago, when Amy’s water broke and contractions kicked into full gear.
Now she sat propped on their bed on an extra blanket and a tarp Tom had found in the barn. “I have to push!” she screamed.
Tom had attended the birth of many alpacas over the last twenty or so years, and he’d witnessed the births of their three previous children. So he wasn’t a complete novice as to how it would all play out. But this was their child and would probably be their last. He always added the word probably when someone asked if they were done, because this new addition had been a complete surprise. Folks around there would call her a ‘change of life’ baby since he and Amy were both past forty.
“Okay, on the next contraction, push gently. She’s right there.”
Tom wiped Amy’s forehead with a damp washcloth as she bore down. His hands shook, and his stomach churned. He’d seen things go wrong with the alpaca births. He wasn’t a doctor or even a vet — what if something happened to their little girl? The other kids weren’t home at the time, all scattered around at friends’ houses for the weekend. He’d been thankful for a quiet couple of days alone with Amy. But right now, with the lives of his wife and daughter in his hands alone, he longed for someone to be there and tell him he wasn’t screwing it all up. Hell, someone to bring him a couple of aspirin would be a blessing to ease his pounding headache.
“Good! Just a couple more pushes, and she’ll be out! Rest until the next contraction, okay?” He kissed her cheek.
Amy nodded.
He walked across the room to get her another glass of water. Thankfully, he’d had mind enough to fill up a pitcher when he knew they weren’t going to the hospital.
“Don’t leave me,” she whispered.
He poured the water and brought it over, holding the straw to her mouth. “Not too much, okay?” Amy took a couple sips. He settled her back down on the bed and took her hand. “I’ll never leave you, not as long as I’m breathing.”
Two more contractions and two more pushes brought their newest bundle of joy into the world. She squalled and kicked — as healthy as their other children as far as he could tell. Tom laid the baby on Amy’s chest, tearing up as she cried happy tears and looked on their little girl with the kind of love that had always felt like he was witness to the greatest miracle of humanity.
Amy laughed and looked up at him with wide eyes. “Oh my gosh, Tom! We haven’t even decided on a name for her yet!”
The baby wrapped her tiny hand around his finger. “You’re right. I guess we can’t call her Baby Cooper for long.”
They’d tossed around names for months — Miranda, Katie, Addison, even old family names like Temperance and Tennessee had been mentioned once or twice. The wind outside stopped howling. A ray of sunlight speared through the clouds, revealing icy fractals on the window panes. It glistened off the snow like millions of diamonds and shone across the light strands of hair on their new baby’s head. It was the prettiest sight he’d seen during that bitterly cold winter.
He looked up at Amy. “I’ve got it. We’ll call her January.”
Amy knitted her brow for a moment, staring down at their daughter. Then her face softened into a smile, and she nodded. “I like that.”
Despite being born on the coldest day in Escape’s history, January Cooper warmed everyone’s heart. As the baby of the family, everyone doted on her. She felt nothing but love and happiness until twelve years later, when the youngest of the Cooper clan sat with her brothers, sisters, and father in front of Amy’s casket.
Everything changed. Tom had shut himself away in his room for a while after the funeral, and even though he did come out eventually, he never fully opened his heart again. He became more drill sergeant than dad. Hugs and praise came less and less, replaced with frowns and nonnegotiable orders.
As her older brothers and sister left home to start their own lives, responsibilities fell on January. Tom needed her to help him keep the house and farm running smoothly, but at the same time, he kept her at arm’s length. Though he was present for her recitals, birthdays, and proms, he didn’t seem to enjoy any of it. She knew he missed their mom terribly, but she didn’t know if he was proud of her at all.
The answer came at her high school graduation. He didn’t take any pictures, barely smiled, and only nodded with a, “That’s great, Jani,” when she showed him her valedictorian medal.
Eight years after Amy’s death, rain slapped against the courthouse windows while January stood with her fiancé in front of a justice of the peace, marrying a man her father didn’t trust. But he was handsome with dark, messy hair and brown eyes like the lead singer of Fall Out Boy, her favorite band. And even better, they were in love. What could possibly go wrong?

Mysti Parker is an award-winning author and shameless chocoholic. She writes romance for every reader's taste from super sweet to scandalously spicy. When she's not writing the next best-story-ever or tackling the endless mountain of laundry, she works as a freelance copywriter and editor. Mysti resides in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, three children and too many pets.

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