You might think research is secondary for a paranormal romance writer, but personally I find so much inspiration in the research process. The Matchmaker’s Mark, the first novel in my lighthearted paranormal romance series, is set in Charleston, South Carolina a place that is full of legends and history. Many times, those legends include tales of great love.
One of the my favorite scenes in The Matchmaker’s Mark takes place in the Unitarian Churchyard when the matchmaker meets the Lady in White (as she’s known among the local tour guides). I didn’t specifically set out to include one of the most frequently sighted ghosts in Charleston, but her story has stuck with me since I visited the churchyard on a ghost tour.
The Lady in White was a beautiful socialite from the North who moved South when she married. Legend says the couple was crazy in love, inseparable, and completely devoted. He had a smoking habit and, worried for his health, she often pleaded with him to quit.
He died (from respiratory complications) while traveling for business and for reasons long since forgotten, his body was never returned to the family plot in the Unitarian Churchyard. In keeping with a love worthy of legends, she died on the same day, even before word of his death reached Charleston. While her body was buried in the family plot, it’s believed she roams the churchyard, keeping watch for his return.
In The Matchmaker’s Mark, when Amy, her greyhound Guinness, and Dare take a break in the churchyard, Amy is able to use her unique gift as the matchmaker to reunite the couple. Here’s a quick peek:
The female ghost was elegantly attired and her eyes were direct and a bit disapproving.
But in Amy’s heart, the source of her connection to the ghosts, she felt such sudden, deep longing she clutched her chest. She saw it all, the woman alive and so in love, then crushed and devastated when her husband was lost to her.
“He should be here,” the woman said. “He should be here with me.”
The woman’s loneliness was a tangible force winding through the air, raising goose bumps on Amy’s skin. Instinctively, she reached out, but something bumped her legs – Guinness – and Dare hooked her with an around her waist.
“No!” Amy struggled, but couldn’t twist free. She knew what the ghost needed. She could help if Dare would just let her do it.
With a look of utter contempt, the ghost moved away, skirts swirling behind her as she moved through headstones, iron, and air with equal ease.
Amy slumped, lurching free when Dare’s arm went slack.
“Here!” It took her longer as she was flesh and blood, but she navigated the obstacles in the dark, stopping near the obelisk where the elegant ghost had disappeared. She extended her hand once more. “I can show you where he waits.”
She heard Dare’s footsteps on the path and willed the ghost to act quickly.
Her ears buzzed as ghostly fingertips brushed her own in an ethereal touch totally absent of heat. In that odd connection, she spoke with images more than words, so the two could be united at last. An immense love buoyed her heart as the tiniest bit of relief rippled out of her like a pebble dropped in a pond.
“Godspeed,” she whispered into the peaceful stillness in the air.
The tour guides will tell you the Lady in White tends to appear if someone is smoking in the churchyard because she blames smoking for taking her husband too soon. (Though don’t light up in an attempt to summon her if you don’t want to meet the local authorities too).
Live the adventure!