Title: Charlotte Redbird, Ghost Coach
Author: Sharon Buchbinder
Genre: Paranormal Ghost Romance, Psychic Romance, Holiday Romance
Driven out of Chicago by a spiteful heiress, life coach Charly Redbird is ready for a change. She moves to Florida to be closer to her family and vows to be more selective about future clients.
With the help of Dylan Graham, a hunky real estate agent, Charly finds a perfect home across the street from a cemetery. When he shows up with a plant and two tiny balls of fluff as a housewarming present, Charly thinks she might be smitten with more than the kittens.
A new client appears at her door and asks for Charly's help, but the woman happens to be a permanent resident of the cemetery. Can Charly convince the restless spirit to move to another neighborhood—or will she take on a new role: Life Coach for the Dead?
If it hadn’t been for her uncanny ability to pick winners at the Cicero Racetrack, Charlotte Redbird would have still been working as a prep school lacrosse coach. She hadn’t started out playing the ponies. She had a mandatory school function to thank for her winning streak. The high school guidance counselor had convinced the principal the teachers and coaches needed to spend quality time together, and she’d been ordered to go to the races as part of a mandatory team building activity. Once there, it became evident the guidance counselor, an amazon of a woman, had conjured an excuse to spend time with the good-looking basketball coach—the only marriageable man on staff she didn’t dwarf.
Sitting on a hard bleacher in an atmosphere reeking of dust, horse manure, and cheap booze while a statistics teacher droned on about odds and probabilities, Charly squeezed her eyes shut and wished she could be home in bed with a good book
If their instructor had been her teacher for math in high school, she’d still be in a coma.
Someone rasped in her ear, “That guy running his mouth, don’t know squat about playing the ponies”
Twisting in her seat, she spotted an elderly man sitting at an angle from her. His feet swung in the air above the floor like a child in an adult chair. With the brim of his hat pulled low over his face, she couldn’t make out his features—just the lit cigarette and the curl of smoke rising to the open sky.
“Were you talking to me?”
The man in question, lifted the brim of his hat and glanced from side to side, a wry smile on his wizened face. He removed the glowing cancer stick from his mouth. “You see anyone else around?”
Indeed, Charly had selected a seat as far away from her so-called colleagues as possible. Infused with alcohol, the prim teachers and stern coaches had morphed into party animals—and it wasn’t pretty.
“I see your point.” She rattled the racing sheet at him. “I take it you’re an expert.”
He cackled. “You could say that. What’s your name, girlie?”
Mentally rolling her eyes, she responded, “Charlotte, but most people call me Charly.”
He tipped his hat. “Nice to meetcha. I’m Billy.”
“Well, Billy, if you don’t like the math, what do you like?”
He tapped the side of his head. “Horse sense. Look at the fifth race. See that filly named Sally Rivers?”
She nodded. “Says here she’s a long shot—a hundred to one odds.”
He guffawed. “Doesn’t mean she won’t win. She’s got spirit. The tried and true ones are fast, but she’s feisty.” He lit another cigarette with the dying one in his hand, flicked the butt to the floor, and looked her in the eye. “I like the feisty ones.”
Was this old guy flirting with her? “Are you aware of that cigarettes cause cancer?”
“There ain’t nothin’ left to eat, drink, or smoke. I might as well be dead.” He laughed ending on a hacking cough. “Take my word. Sally Rivers is gonna win.”
Charly looked at her watch and groaned. Another hour before the bus would take them back to the school parking lot. Why not kill some time with a little betting?
“Okay, Billy. I’m going to put twenty bucks on your filly.”
“You’re a cheap date, Charly.” He raised his thumb up. “Higher.”
Payday wasn’t until next Friday and she only had fifty bucks on her.
“What if I lose?”
“Mark my words. This is a sure thing.”
“What the hell. I’m stuck here anyway. Be right back.”
Slapping her remaining cash on the counter of the betting window, she announced, “Fifty on Sally Rivers in the next race.”
The clerk paused, shrugged, and handed her the ticket without a word.
The race started before she could leave the lobby, so she watched it on the overhead jumbo screen. Slow out of the gate, the horse looked like she was going to come in dead last.
“Great,” she complained to no one in particular. “I’ll be eating cereal for dinner until next payday.” She turned to go back to her seat.
A man screamed in her ear, “Come on Double Trouble, get moving before Sally knocks you into center field!”
It couldn’t be. She whirled just in time to see Sally Rivers flying through the crowded pack of horses, bobbing and weaving like a boxer—right up to the finish line. A skirmish of horses came in behind her, no photo finish required.
“Omigod! I won!”
The man beside her threw his tickets down in disgust and stomped away.
With this much money she could pay her rent, have a nice dinner, and still stash some away into savings. Winnings in hand she ran back to her seat to thank Billy.
He was gone, leaving only a whiff of smoke in the air.
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Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. She is the author of the Hotel LaBelle Series, the Jinni Hunter Series, and the Obsession Series. When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, herding cats, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
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