About Happy Medium
Author: Julia Talbot
Series: Club Raven
Word Count: 50300
Page Count (pdf): 186
Date Published: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Evil Plot Bunny LLC
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
File types in download zip: PDF, .mobi and .epub
Andrew is out to debunk Max as a medium, not make love to him…
A Club Raven Novel
Max Bellame is working his way through 1870s Baltimore as a medium, even if he knows nothing about spirits. He uses the power of his mind to move objects, convincing his clients he’s the real thing. He’s making a living, but sooner or later he always has to move on. Something always happens. Usually a disaster.
Andrew Meechum works for Club Raven, a gentleman’s club that doubles as a paranormal research facility. He sets out to debunk Max, only to be fascinated by the man. Can Andrew convince Max to take a chance on love, and to find his true calling as a medium, or will their personal demons force them apart?
The low gaslight in the creaky old parlor cast the perfect glow on the round table, lending atmosphere to the cheap crimson cloth Max had draped over it. A candle or two would complete the look, but he wouldn’t light them until immediately before the family assembled in the room.
He surveyed the seating. Seven chairs.
Max blinked, then frowned. He’d been told five family members and himself. Where had the extra chair come from and why?
He ducked back across the hall into the men’s parlor, where he’d asked the family to allow him to be alone to prepare for the séance. Max took a deep breath, rubbing his fingertips over his watch chain, which hung across his waistcoat. Changing the plan was against the rules. The Marsten family should know that. He’d been incredibly clear. After another inhalation, he knelt beside the large carpet bag holding all his tricks and pulled out a piece of white cheesecloth and a small glass orb. Those would serve as his floating spirit. The glass orb would be far more mysterious than the rubber balls some of his contemporaries used. He needed these and a picture of the deceased.
Many men had tried to debunk the Mesmerizing Maximillian and failed. That was because, while he might not be able to talk to the dead, Max didn’t have to resort to wires and dressed up actors for his tricks. He rubbed his fingers against his thumb, feeling his calluses slide together. Then he stopped, glaring at his hand. No tells. No nervous habits. Get this over with, get the other half of his payment, and move on.
Closing his eyes, he rubbed his hands on his pants, then nodded sharply. Time to set up. Max grabbed some tallow candles scented with a tiny bit of sage, the orb and cloth, and a few other tricks from his bag.
Thank God the parlor was still empty. The family waited in the dining room for his signal, sipping port or brandy in an effort to steel their nerves, no doubt. Contacting a dead relation always gave people pause, and for good reason. Inviting such things into your home, finding out information you didn’t want to know, was always a risk. Even with a charlatan like him, there was a chance of summoning something real. When that happened, if it did, his only backup plan was to run.
He thought of what had happened in Philadelphia and shuddered.
Max couldn’t think of that now. Candles, drunkards’ matches, the orb hidden behind the biggest chair. He placed a few atmospheric touches about, then lowered the gas lamps in the chamber.
Time to go get the family. He needed to lead them in, sort them out so they sat where he needed them to.
He strode to the dining room and knocked on the door, which swung open easily. Clearly the portal was meant to allow servants easy access with trays. This had been a proud house once, beautiful. Now it was run down and sad.
“I’m ready, Mr. Marsten,” Max murmured in a low, respectful tone.
“Thank you.” The gentleman of the house rose, his moustache twitching with distaste. Clearly he was indulging his wife with this séance; the lady in question still wore deep mourning rather than the gray and lavender sported by the other family members, so even though the death had been some time ago, she was unwilling to let go.
A man Max hadn’t met rose from the table with the daughter and two spinster aunts. Tall, broad through the shoulders, he had the carriage of a soldier, not a bit of slouch about him. He held his hat in his hand, and his hair, cut too short for fashion, shone bright gold under the gas lamps. His handsome face creased in a smile, lines crinkling up beside his blue eyes and his mouth.
“I hope you don’t mind that Miss Marsten invited me to attend,” the fellow said. “Andrew Meechum, at your service.”
“Maximilian.” He nodded curtly, noting that Mr. Meechum didn’t specify which Miss Marsten had asked him along. Both spinster aunts and the daughter went by that designation, so the ruse was a clever one, since all three ladies wiggled and fluttered when Meechum said the name. “I wish I had been informed ahead, but no matter if you come with an open mind.” Max gave a strained smile.
“I do.” Meechum spread his hands, apparently trying to look harmless. He managed about as well as a fox in the henhouse. “I am entirely at your disposal.”
“Mmm.” Max turned on his heel and left the room, the ladies preceding the gents as they all trooped over to the parlor. He stopped to light matches, touching them to the candlewicks. One of the spinsters, he could remember neither name, lowered the gas lamps even more, and the atmosphere changed immediately.