The faint scent of lilac in the air, the far-off tinkle of a music box, doors that won’t stay shut… Melissa Benjamin likes to think the strange happenings at The Valencia add character to the apartments. And when a tall, reserved and seriously sexy new tenant moves into 1-B, there’s even more to like.
Jonathan Adams helps send spirits trapped in this world on to the next, but he finds more than he bargained for in the haunted old building. He doesn’t see ghosts, he feels them—and shares their memories of pleasure. Whoever he’s sharing his apartment with wants Mel almost as much as Jon does—and will go through Jon to have her….
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Melissa Benjamin had grown used to the lingering scent of lilac. The first few months after she’d moved into this apartment, a nice big one on the third floor of The Valencia, she’d driven herself crazy trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. No lilac bushes planted outside. No spilled bottles of perfume or fabric softener, no forgotten melted candles tucked away in any of the closets or cupboards. Just the pervasive and intermittently lingering scent of those purple flowers. It reminded Mel of her grandmother, a sort of powdery, old-lady scent, and that was nice. Much better than her last apartment, anyway, which had often reeked of the neighbor’s greasy cooking and weed habit. She’d given up trying to figure out where the smell came from, or what triggered it. In fact, most of the time, she barely noticed it.
The music was a little harder to ignore.
It had woken her just now, the soft, tinkling sounds that reminded her of a music box. The kind you wound with a small key. A jewelry box with a ballerina inside that who spun on one toe when you opened the lid.
Mel opened her eyes into the dark, her blankets a warm comfort against the chill of an early spring night. She’d snuggled down deep, one ear pressed firmly into the softness of her pillow, the other covered by the comforter pulled up over her eyes. Both the pillow and the comforter blocked a lot of errant noise, which made the slowing, fading music- box tune harder to hear, and because she’d grown as used to it as she had the smell of lilac, at first she didn’t do anything but close her eyes again and wish for sleep. After a few seconds though, when the music didn’t stop, she shifted the comforter from off her face and turned onto her back.
It The music was never loud or raucous, that music. It was aAlways the same tune. “Au Claire de la Lune,” she thought it was, though sometimes it stopped after so few notes she couldn’t be sure. It always sounded sort of faint and far away, yet every time, it managed to wake her up as quickly as if someone had whispered her name directly into her ear. Mel listened now, waiting for the song to die away into the darkness and let her get back to sleep.
This time, it didn’t. The song started up again, slightly louder. A little faster. Almost like as if someone had re-wound the music box.
Blinking, Mel sat up in bed. “Hello?”
She knew it was silly to call out into the dark that way. If it were a burglar messing around in her living room with some random music box that didn’t exist in her living room, he’d hardly be likely to answer her. And if it wasn’t something human, if it really was indeed the ghost she’d joked about since moving in, well…did she really want to hear a reply?