Halloween, 1982. MTV is new, poodle perms are the rage, and life just might be getting better for Alma Kobel. Her ugly divorce is final at last. Her new job as chef at Bright Day School’s gorgeous old estate is actually fun. But the place is haunted—and so is Alma’s apartment.
Bartholomew Addison Jenkins’ ghost has been invisibly watching Alma for months. When he materializes one night, Alma discovers Bart—as he likes to be called—has talents she couldn’t have imagined … and a horrifying past. Can you have a one-nighter with a ghost? And what happens if you decide one night is all you want—and end up ghosting him? Some spirits don’t like taking “no” for an answer.
Q & A
1. Did you plot this book out or write wherever an idea took you?
I am ALWAYS a “pants-er.” I get my setting and my characters together first, and then I watch the movie in my head. Because I live near Sleepy Hollow, the part of The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins that involves a local legend was with me from the beginning, but the rest of it just evolved as the characters interacted.
2. What was your hardest scene to write in this book?
I write poetry and young adult novels under another name. This was my first grown-up romance, so I’d never written a really steamy sex scene before. Lots of blushing ensued. I have since lost my—ahem—virginity.
3. Did you hide any secrets or Easter Eggs?
This book is set in the Northern part of the Hudson River Valley, but much of it is based much further south: Nyack, NY in the 1980’s. Anyone who lived there then will recognize a lot!
I had a great editor on The Chef and the Ghost, and I’m still very proud of it. I think I write slightly more streamlined prose now—and I’ve stopped blushing when my characters need to hop into bed!
5. Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Absolutely. Those of us at Evernight Publishing are super-lucky to have Jay Aheer! What a pretty, golden cover she made me!
6. Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
It’s okay to write a grown-up ghost story!
When Alma opened the door to her apartment, her stomach sank. A dim square of light flickered in the hall outside her bedroom door. Yikes! Was I actually dumb enough to have left candles burning? She was scolding herself for having been dangerously spacey when she realized that the light from her room did not come from any sort of flame.
It came from Bart. He was standing beside her bed in his high-collared, loose-fitting shirt and his knee britches. And that was … not really strange at all. Just the friendly, resident ghost. No danger of burning down the house. A relief—and Alma had to be honest with herself—a pleasant surprise.
“Good evening, m’lady,” he said.
Alma opened her mouth to say hello back—and burped, instead. A Garbage Pie burp was an impressive burp. “Oh, wow. Excuse me.”
Bart chuckled as she dropped her purse in the chair next to her dresser.
“A Garbage Pie,” she said. “It sounds awful, but it’s—you know what pizza pie is, right?”
“The previous residents of this apartment ate little else. I know well what Garbage Pies are,” he said. “I do not fear them.”
Then he stepped in front of Alma and slipped his arms around her, something else that should have been shocking but wasn’t. Just the resident ghost, after all. The resident ghost who can really kiss. Bart’s touch tingled with cold fire.
“Well, hello,” Alma said.
“I missed you,” said Bart, then he put his mouth over hers and kissed her. She felt something feathery—his chest touching hers—and she nearly dissolved into it. His tongue was cool in her mouth, and full of sparks. He tasted almost sweet.
Alma stepped back for a moment and looked into his bronze-flecked eyes. They were almost exactly level with her own as they stood facing each other. Bart kissed her again, and his mouth poured her full of prickly, contagious electricity. It was hard to pull away from him. He slipped a hand into her sweater under her bra, and cupped her left breast.
“Let me,” he whispered. “Please.” His fingers were gentle. He found her nipple and stroked it. “Oooo,” he said.
A bolt of electricity shot through Alma and landed between her legs.
He kissed her again, harder, still playing with her nipple. Another sharper electric bolt. She stepped backward to lean against the wall, feeling the weightlessness of him glittering on her, yet feeling his shirt and the buttons of his knickers. His hips rubbed against hers, but they weren’t hips, exactly. They were neither firm nor soft. They were just there—and fiery. He pressed against her and didn’t at the same time.
“Wow. Maybe I should, um, brush my teeth,” she said at last. His hand was still on her breast, but then he let go.
“If you like,” he said.
Alma realized she was trembling as she tried to steady herself for the walk to the bathroom. I’m about to… I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’m about to do it with a ghost. If we actually can manage to… Well, at least I’ve still got my IUD… But that was silly. How could a ghost get you pregnant?
Back in the bedroom, Bart had lit the candles and was sitting on her bed. He smiled as she walked toward him, and his bronze-brown eyes glowed in the candle light. He’d taken his hair out of its queue and it flowed like a shadow over his shoulders, which were just slightly translucent.
“When you kissed me last night, the lights in this whole house went out,” said Alma. “And then you disappeared. But tonight…”
“That won’t happen again. Can’t you tell? I’ve been practicing,” said Bart. He was unbuttoning his shirt. His chest was luminous, of course, but also very well-muscled. There was a small, odd scar over his heart—just a few inches across.
“Practicing?” said Alma.
“Not on anyone else, don’t worry,” said Bart, and his face lit up, too. He was smiling. “This is all a matter of control, just as it is in the flesh.” He chuckled. “It has been so long…” He tossed his shirt on the floor. “Come here, my dove.”
My dove. Alma sat next to him, and he pulled her sweater over her head and then gazed at her. “Oh, my,” he said. “You are ravishing.”
“No one ever called me ravishing before,” said Alma as Bart fumbled with her bra.
“These things,” he said. “I have no experience…”
“Hooks … in the back,” she said. He found them and gently slid the straps off her shoulders.
“So I see,” he said. “Lay back.”
She did, and Bart tugged gently at her leggings.
“A button and a zipper. Over on the side. You know what a zipper…”
But Bart already had undone it. “I do keep up, you know. Zippers are simpler,” he said. He tugged off her leggings, threw them on the floor, and lay down on his side next to her, propped up an elbow. “Oh, my dear,” he said again, and bent over her breast. “I must…” He stroked her nipple again and then gently nibbled it.
Alma closed her eyes. It was like being surrounded by the opposite of “a greater darkness.” Bart ran his tongue down her stomach and Alma opened her eyes to see a silver line of sparks following it. Each one of them icy-hot. When he got to her panties, he pulled them down and opened her.
WHERE TO BUY
Evernight Publishing: https://www.evernightpublishing.com/the-chef-and-the-ghost-of-bartholomew-addison-jenkins-by-aletta-thorne
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-chef-and-the-ghost-of-bartholomew-addison-jenkins-aletta-thorne/1127358798?ean=9781773395753
I've giving away this cute little bat pin! He's got small black jewels for the body and a green gem for the eye. All you have to do is leave a comment and a way to contact you (I promise not to spam you!). A winner will be chosen at random on Halloween by my cute assistant (aka: Son!).