Friday, February 11, 2011

Paige Stewart and the Ghost Cat of Columbia Square

Today we have a special treat. Paige Stewart (aka Rachel Lynne) is sharing a story with us. I know you’ll enjoy this little interlude, as well as her Jewel of the Night series contribution, Ring of Lies.

“The Davenport House was built in 1820 by master builder, Isaiah Davenport. The house is designed in the Federal style commonly seen in the New England area where Mr. Davenport was born and learned his craft. The focus of this museum is to provide an accurate portrayal of a middle class life in 1820’s Savannah. If you’ll follow me, we’ll explore the drawing room, foyer, and office.”

Paige Stewart obediently trouped behind the group of tourists and wondered what had possessed her to take the tour. Historical restoration and ‘living history’ museums were her sister Anne’s, idea of fun. Paige smirked. Her preferences leaned toward the living and the night life.

“You’ll notice the rooms on the first floor feature more elaborate moldings, fireplace mantels, and furnishings than those of the second and third floors. This is because Mr. Davenport used the home as a showcase for his business and he entertained prospective clients in these rooms.”

Paige tuned out the docent’s spiel and surveyed the room. The house was beautifully restored, right down to the foyer’s floor cloth painted to resemble black and white tiles. She scratched her head. If memory served, there was something similar in the upstairs hallway at Oak Point. Paige rolled her eyes. It used to be there anyway. No doubt her father’s trophy wife had pitched it into a dumpster as part of her ‘modernizing’ of the family’s two hundred year old plantation.

Paige grimaced at what she might find when she returned to her childhood home on St. Stewart’s Island. If Tiffany the Yankee bimbo’s,(Paige refused to think of her as a Stewart), redecorating of the Stewart townhouse on Pulaski Square was any indication of her plans for Oak Point, the Stewart ancestors would be lined up at the Pearly Gates with sharp knives in eager anticipation of her father’s arrival.

“In 1955, seven civic minded ladies founded the Historic Savannah Foundation after learning of plans to demolish the Davenport House to construct a parking lot. Saving the Davenport House was the catalyst for the organized preservation movement that has turned Savannah into an international tourist destination. The foundation has helped to save over three hundred and fifty buildings. We’ll now move upstairs to the family rooms. Note the cantilevered staircase …” The docent spun around and glared at Paige as the theme from the Twilight Zone rang out from her purse. “Ma’am, cell phone use is not permitted during the tour. We specifically ask our guests to turn them off.”

Paige flashed a tight smile and rummaged through her bag. She groaned as she read the caller id. Mouthing an apology to the docent, Paige pressed the green button and retraced her steps down to the gift shop. “Hello Clayton.”

“Paige? Where are you?”

She grinned. “I’m in Savannah, how about you?”

A snort from Clay sent static through the speaker. “Don’t be flippant, Paige, you know what I mean. You are supposed to be at the Seventeen Hundred Ninety Inn, yet I get a call from my secretary saying the reservation was cancelled. Mind explaining that?”

Paige drew a deep breath and counted to ten so she didn’t bless him out. She was still uneasy over what occurred in room 204. “Certainly. If you’ll explain to me how I came to be booked in the so-called haunted room.”

Clayton chuckled. “So that’s it. Were you scared to sleep alone Paige?” His tone softened. “Want me to come down and keep you company through the night?”

A shiver ran down her spine and it had nothing to do with ghosts. A vision of Clay’s toned body entwined with hers rose before her eyes. She gulped and blinked the image away. Clayton Moore was her boss and she had no intention of mixing business with pleasure, at least until she finished the Spectral Savannah series anyway; after that … all bets were off, and clothes too, if she were lucky.

“Paige? Cat got your tongue?”

Paige dragged her thoughts away from their carnal fantasies and tried to recall the gist of the conversation. “Yes …, er, no! No, Clay, I don’t need you to protect me from things that go bump in the night.”

“Sure? It would be fun …”

“Umm hmm, I’m sure it will—I mean would! It would be –“

“Freudian slip, Paige?”

Paige flushed at the knowing tone in his voice. Please God, open a hole in the floor so I can crawl in!
She cleared her throat and attempted to get the conversation back on a professional footing. “Did you just call to tease me or was there something you needed?”

“Oh, I need you all right …” His sexy laugh filtered down the phone line sending a wave of desire coursing through her. She’d wanted him from the moment they met two months ago but she’d denied herself; knowing business and pleasure didn’t mix. She’d even tried convincing herself he was a naïve, ghost hunting fool. Good looking and charming, but a little shy of a full deck. Paige sighed and faced the fact that the effort had been futile. Her body was intent on overriding her brain.

“Paige, you there?”

Paige drew a deep breath and told her rebellious body to chill; she had a job to do. “Yeah, Clay, I’m here. Look, I’m missing this tour so ….”

“What tour? Are you digging up some good ghost stories to replace the Seventeen Hundred story you chickened out on?”

Paige gritted her teeth. “I did not chicken out; those people were nothing but two bit con – never mind. I’m touring the Davenport House Museum. It has an interesting history and the restoration had a tremendous impact on the city –“

“Uh, that’s great Paige but … is it haunted?”

Paige huffed. “I don’t know Clayton and to be honest that isn’t my first priority at the moment –“
“Well it’s mine! I hired you to write ghost stories. My readers don’t give a damn about the –“He laughed. “Geez, you know how to push my buttons.”

Paige laughed. “Well I don’t mean to.”

“Good, bodes well for our future! Look Paige, you’re a damn fine reporter and everything you’ve turned in so far has been excellent so I have no reason to doubt you this time. Besides, I don’t want to fight with you …,” He chuckled. “I actually called to see if you were free for dinner Friday.”

Paige gulped and tried to ignore her quickening pulse, and his use of the word ‘our’. “Umm, this Friday? I thought you were in New York.”

“I was but I flew into Charleston yesterday. We’re looking at doing a series on their ghosts after your Savannah articles run. So, how about it? I’ll drive down Friday afternoon. We’ll have dinner and, since I don’t have to be back in New York until Monday, I thought you might give me a tour of your island.”

Paige laughed. “St. Stewart’s isn’t my island.”

“It’s named after your family …”

“Yes, but we don’t own it, well not all of it anyway.” Paige glanced at her watch and jumped. “Oh! Clay, I’ve got to run. We’ve been talking for thirty minutes, and the tour only lasts an hour. I’d love to have dinner with you Friday night but we’ll have to wait and see on the island tour, okay? I’ll talk to you later –“Paige started to click the phone off but stopped as Clayton yelled her name. “Yeah Clay, whatcha need?”

“Sorry to keep you from your scintillating tour but … I don’t know where you’re staying.”

Paige laughed. “Oh, sorry! I’m at the Kehoe House on Columbia Square, catty corner to the Davenport House.”

“I know it. I’ll pick you up around 8:00. Enjoy your tour!”

Paige turned her phone off and muttered, “I will, if it hasn’t ended!”

Paige ran up to the second floor and paused to catch her breath. The tour was nowhere in sight and the house was silent. She wandered down the hall, peeking into the rooms in hopes of slipping back into the group. The last thing she wanted was another scold from the guide.

She glanced into what she assumed was the morning room and found it empty. The master bedroom also yielded no results. She frowned. One room left, and the door was closed. She hesitated, wondering if the room was off limits to guests but, hearing someone singing, she opened the door. A young girl, dressed in a period costume, similar to the docent’s, sat on the floor playing with a grey tiger striped cat.

Paige smiled and bent to stroke the cat. “Do you know where your mother took the tour group?”

The little girl pointed to the floor above.

“Thanks!” Paige scratched the cat’s chin one last time and headed for the stairs. Half-way up, she paused. The Davenport House was a museum filled with priceless antiques. While a child dressed in period attire certainly added to the atmosphere, she doubted the foundation intended the child to be left unsupervised. The docent would likely be reprimanded for letting her daughter wander and it might even cost the woman her job if they found out her child let a cat inside.

Considering it her good deed for the day, Paige made her way back to the bedroom but found it empty. I tried. She shrugged and returned to the staircase, just in time to receive another glare from the docent.

“Ma’am. At the start of the tour, I clearly stated that visitors were not to wander off alone. I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

That’s the thanks I get for trying to save your ass?

Paige bit back the retort. “I’m sorry. I had to take a phone call. I was trying to find you when I stumbled upon your daughter playing in a bedroom. She told me you were upstairs so I started to join you but then I came back down. It occurred to me that she isn’t supposed to be up here alone either, and I’m sure her cat isn’t allowed inside at all.” Paige smiled. “I was going to bring her to you so you wouldn’t get into trouble, but I’m afraid she’s run off.”

The docent frowned. “Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a daughter and there had better not be a cat running loose in here!”

“But I …”

The docent pointed toward the basement steps. “Please, I think it best you leave.”

Confused, Paige followed the woman down to the gift shop. It made no sense. She’d clearly seen and spoken to the little girl. Hell, she’d pet the cat! The woman was obviously lying … but why? Annoyed, Paige walked over to the cashier’s desk and leaned across the counter.

The docent sighed and halted her conversation with the clerk. “May I help you?”

Paige’s eyes widened at the woman’s hostile tone. What on earth had she done? “Look, I’m sorry to bother you but … I know I saw a little girl and her cat upstairs. She’s dressed in costume. Now, if she isn’t your daughter, don’t you think –“

“Oh for goodness sake!” The docent rolled her eyes. “Please stop. You’re not funny and that gag is getting old.”

“What gag? I’m not trying to be fun-“

“Ma’am, you’re not the first to come in here and try to pull this stunt. The story of the little girl and her ghost cat is hardly new. The Davenport House is not haunted by the daughter of Isaiah Davenport or a cat. We are a serious history museum. If you wish to hear, or tell, ghost stories I suggest you take the haunted hearse tour. Now, for the last time, please leave the premises!”

Paige stumbled outside and walked over to Columbia Square. She sat by the fountain and stared at the Davenport House, trying to make sense of what she’d just heard. She wanted to believe the docent was lying but, after years as a journalist Paige knew the truth when she heard it. Which left her with no acceptable explanation; she’d been hallucinating or …

She jumped up and gave herself a shake. The only reasonable explanation was the power of suggestion. Clay had put the idea of ghosts into her head right before she hung up and imagination took it from there. That was the only reasonable thing to assume. I either accept that or get fitted for a straight jacket.

Determined to take a nap, Paige walked toward the Kehoe House. Half-way across the street she stopped and stared. Her mouth dropped open as she watched the tip of grey tail disappear through the brick wall surrounding the Davenport House’s garden; a child’s delighted laughter drifted on the wind.
Paige rubbed her eyes with a trembling hand and wondered what size jacket to request.

Riley, thank you so much for allowing me, er Paige, to visit your blog! Intrepid reporter Paige Stewart may be fictitious but the history and lore of the Davenport House are all true … to one degree or another. I wonder if Paige will get her nap. Children apparently like her … and the Kehoe family had 10!
Rachel Lynne

You can find me, and my books, at my website and I often hold contests on my FaceBook Fan Page, so why not join?

If you want to see what happens to Paige at the Kehoe House, visit my Blog; the link and date of the next adventure will be posted in the News column. And, if you can’t wait for another suspenseful tale set amidst the beautiful and historic city of Savannah, may I suggest my romantic suspense novel Ring of Lies?

Secrets, Lies, and Murder surround Ivy Michaels amidst the backdrop of Savannah’s annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities!

Book Trailer for Ring of Lies: A café owner and an ex-cop must solve the mystery of a hot blue diamond in order to catch a stone cold killer! Excerpt

Things seem to be heating up between Paige and Clay. It’s just a matter of time before I convince her to give my newsletter readers the inside scoop so be sure to subscribe!


P.L. Parker said...

This was great! Gave me chillies.

Rachel Lynne said...

Hi! I'm glad you liked it. I've always loved the Davenport House's ghost cat story. They don't push the haunted angle because, well, they are a serious museum! However, numerous people have spotted the cat, from restoration workmen and museum attendants, to people walking by. It seems the kitty has a good deal more than nine lives!

Anonymous said...

So, we were walking on a ghost tour and stopped between the Kehoe House and The Davenport house. Before our guide could say anything a little kid in our group said he saw a cat in a window of the Davenport house. Then our guide said we'll get to that in a minute and started talking about the Kehoe House...then she got to the Davenport house and talked about the ghost cat!!!! FREAKY...

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