Trade Paperback, $12.95
After, Steve, her police officer husband is killed in the line of duty, Nicole Ainsworth struggles with the changes forced on her life. Her efforts to focus on her daughter an cope with her grief are kept off-balance by Steve’s ghostly visitations who seems to be trying to communicate with her. Eventually, Nicole finds that Steve isn’t the only one watching over her, and discovers a second chance for love.
“…Meredith is a master of characterization. She fully rounds out the facets of her protagonists’ personalities and richly develops the details of the supporting cast. She does not hit any false notes with her dialogue and builds strong relationships among her characters. She realistically describes what a young widow would go through following the tragic death of her husband.
Overall, uncovering why this spirit lingers is an incredibly moving experience.”
--New York Journal of Books--Reviewer Nicole Langan owns the independent publishing house, Tribute Books
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Book!
“…Lingering Spirit is well worth buying and spending time with. It'll give you a lot to think about after the story is finished. I loved it, as you can tell. It's the perfect summer OR winter read. Great book, one of my favorite reads this year.”
--Beth Anderson, author and book reviewer.
“I rate this book 5 Stars out of 5 Stars!
I LOVED this book I could not put it down! I am telling you all Marilyn is a FANTASTIC writer and anyone who does not read this book is missing out on a fabulous read…”
– Vanessa -Ohio Girl Talks
“,,,I polished this book off in two days and you won't want to stop reading it once you pick it up. Lingering Spirit is the type of book that romance lovers dream of finding.”
–Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection
"I can't believe you'd do that without discussing it with me first." Nicole's violet eyes displayed hurt and anger.
Steve hadn't been able to think of any easy way to break the news that he'd applied to several Northern California sheriff and police departments for employment, so he'd just blurted it out. He'd been agonizing over his decision for over two months. Keeping secrets was not some-thing he enjoyed. He knew it was past time to tell her. Besides, he had an interview with the Goldfield County Sheriff's Department next week and he'd like for her and the kids to go with him.
It was his day off. They would have two more to hammer out the details and hopefully get their marriage back to normal.
Steve got up from the table where he'd been eating a late breakfast. Nicole leaned with her back against the sink, he circled her slim waist with his hands and she stiffened under his touch.
"I mean it Steve, how can you even consider uprooting all of us without even talking it over with me first?"
"I've been thinking about this for a long time, sweetheart." He smoothed her shoulder length, nearly black page boy away from her pale cheek. The color of her hair and her facial bone structure was all that hinted of Native American blood somewhere in her ancestry.
A single tear slipped down beside nose. "You were planning to uproot me and the girls without even mentioning it beforehand?"
"Sweetheart, nothing has happened yet. I've just submitted some applications." He paused before adding quickly, "And I do have an interview next week."
“Steve, I just can't believe this. I adore Channel Harbor, I've lived here my whole life. I thought you loved being a Channel Harbor Police Officer." As she looked up at him, her pained expression almost made him wish he didn't have to move on.
"Yeah, hon, I know how much you like it here...that's why it's been so hard to break the news to you." Nicole's family and most of her childhood friends still lived in the medium-sized coastal community in southern California.
"Kimberly and Sarah are doing so well in school."
Steve caressed Nicole's shoulder and continued sliding his hand slowly down her back. She didn't move away from him. "Kimberly is just in first grade and Sarah's only going to preschool. They're smart little girls. They'll do well no matter where we go."
"What about my folks...and all my friends?" Nicole wailed.
"We're not going to be moving to the other side of the world. They can all come visit. And I know you, Nicole, you don't know any strangers. You'll make plenty of new friends."
She reached up and caressed his cheek. "But why, Steve? I just don't understand. Is something going on at the department you haven't told me about?"
"No, it isn't anything like that. I love my job, just like I always have." He'd wanted to be a policeman since he was a little boy. In high school, he'd joined the police cadets. As soon as he was old enough, he became a reserve. After graduation, he'd gotten a night job as a truck driver so he could major in police science at the community college, and he'd submitted his application to the Channel Harbor P.D.
As soon as he heard he'd been accepted into the Police Academy, he proposed to Nicole. They were married the weekend after he was hired by C.H.P.D. Next to his family, being a law enforcement officer was the most important thing in his life. He loved everything about it: defending the city from the bad guys, the excitement of not knowing what was going to happen next, the gratifying fervor of upholding the law, the comraderie with his fellow officers.
But for the last few months it hadn't been the same. It wasn't just the increased gang activity and the senseless violence that went along with it, it was how he felt.
He wasn't exactly sure how to explain it to his wife.
"I've got this feeling that something is going to happen."
A tiny crease appeared between Nicole's neatly arched eyebrows. "What do you mean?"
Steve shrugged. "It's like a hunch...or maybe premonition is a better word."
The crease deepened into a frown. "A premonition about what, Steve? What are you talking about?"
"I knew you wouldn't understand." He started to walk away. He could hardly understand what was going on himself, how could he describe the desperate emotions that engulfed him without warning? How he woke up from a sound sleep, shaking and soaking with sweat?
"Wait a minute," Nicole said, grabbing his arm.
"You're not getting away from me without explaining this premonition of yours."
He wished he hadn't started the conversation. At the moment, in their cozy little kitchen, the dreaded uneasiness, the unexpected crash of dark emotion didn't seem quite so urgent.
Nicole put her arms around him, pressing her face into his chest. "I know something's been bothering you. I've known for awhile. I love you, Steve. Whatever it is, we can face it together. Tell me now."
Resting his chin on top of her head, he breathed in the sweet fragrance of her clean hair and the tantalizing slightly cinnamon scent of her favorite perfume. "Okay, sweetheart, I will, but you're liable to think I've lost my marbles."
"No, my darling, I won't think anything of the kind."
He took a deep breath. "Let's go in the living room where it's comfortable, this may take awhile." He took hold of her small hand and led her to their plump, well-worn couch, avoiding the toys and books scattered over the slate blue carpet.
When they had settled themselves side-by-side, his arm around her, fingers of his other hand entwined with hers, he began his story. Not wanting to see her reaction, he stared out the picture window as he spoke. The early morning fog hadn't burned off, giving their ordinary backyard an eerie quality. The girls' swing set loomed out of the haze like some sort of primeval torture device.
"It started about six months ago. At first it was just a nagging sensation that something bad was going to happen. But it keeps getting worse. Now it's like a shadow of impending doom that I can't escape." He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed her fingers.
"How awful. Maybe you ought to see a doctor."
How like his practical wife to blame it on something physical. "I'm not sick. Remember, I just had my annual. All my tests came out negative. This is something differ¬ent."
She reached up and grasped his chin and turned his face so he'd have to look at her. "Are you saying it's something mental?"
Her serious expression made him smile. "I'm not crazy, if that's what you mean." Although at times he had wondered if the dark foreboding wasn't a harbinger of impending insanity.
Blinking several times, her thick, dark eyelashes cast blue shadows on her ivory skin. "The only way to explain it, is that I just know if I stay here much longer, I'll be putting my life on the line." There, it was out, Nicole could make of it what she would.
She blinked again. "But isn't that what you do every time you go to work? If it's bothering you so much all of a sudden, why don't we make an appointment for you with the preacher or a counselor? Have you prayed about it?"
"Oh, yeah, I've been praying and praying. But this feeling keeps getting stronger. What if it's God trying to tell me something?"
"Is that possible? I know God guides our lives, but I never thought about Him giving someone a message in the way you're describing."
The family belonged to a neighborhood church. Nicole and the girls attended far more regularly than he. Usually he worked until the early hours of Sunday morning and when he got home, went right to bed. But he believed in God, and prayed regularly. It was what kept him sane when he saw all the bad things people did to those they were supposed to love and protect. He also knew that Nicole and his daughters as well as his mother-in-law regularly prayed for his safety and well-being.
"I don't know whether it's God, or a guardian angel. What I do know is that unless I get out of here, something really awful is going to happen."
"What do you mean by really awful?"
He didn't want to put the ominous awareness into words, but he knew it was the only way to convince her. "I mean if I stay here, Nicole, I'm going to die."
Throwing herself against him and wrapping her arms around his neck, Nicole began to sob. "I don't want any¬thing to happen to you, Steve. I love you. We'll move anywhere you want, do anything that will keep you safe."
"Don't cry, sweetheart, that won't help."
She sniffed and wiped her eyes. "You said you had an interview. Where is it again?"
"Goldfield County. It's up in the mountains. Pine trees. Snow in the winter. Sounds like a great place to raise the girls."
Lifting her lips toward his, Nicole said, "As long as you're there with me, it'll be fine."
"I love you, Nicky." He was the only one she allowed to call her Nicky. It was special; he usually used the name when they were making love. As his lips met hers, he pressed her back into the plump cushions of the couch.