|Alternative Title||UK:Darkest Hour|
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Book Cover SummaryEdit
When the nineteenth-century ghost of Maria de Silva wakes her up in the middle of the night, Suze knows this is no ordinary visitation -- and not just from the knife at her throat, either. In life, Maria was the fiancee of Jesse -- the same Jesse who was murdered a hundred and fifty years before. The same Jesse Suze is in love with.
Maria threatens Suze: The backyard construction must cease. Suze has a pretty good idea what -- or rather, who -- Maria doesn't want found. But in solving Jesse's murder, will Suze end up losing him forever?
Suze Simon is forced to work a summer job by her stepfather, Andy, a first in her life. So her stepbrother Jake (Sleepy) gets her a pretty decent job as a hotel babysitter at the Pebble Beach Hotel and Golf Resort. The pay is good, the job is relatively easy, and there's plenty of eye candy--like Paul Slater, the big brother of her usual charge, Jack, a particularly weird looking and whiny eight year old boy. While she finds Paul really interesting, she feels like she's cheating on Jesse because her true feelings were for him, not Paul. Suze soon realizes that Jack's misery is mainly caused because he could see dead people; in other words, he is also a mediator.
As Suze helps Jack Slater realize ghosts don't mean to do any harm and just want help to go to the afterlife, he becomes more confident and reassured. Soon, he is becoming more like the average eight year old boy in America. Paul is surprised by this and asks Suze to join them for dinner. Suze politely declines and avoids talking to Paul the rest of the day.
Suze's dry routine for the summer is interrupted when her stepfather and stepbrother--trying to install a hot tub--dig up something in the backyard--letters from a person named Maria de Silva to her fiance, Hector de Silva. Suze soon realizes that these letters belonged to Jesse. Problems start as Suze is threatened by Maria's ghost, who does not want them to find the letters. In her attempts to maintain her role in society, Maria starts harassing Suze's family, such as turning the juice in the refrigerator to bugs. Suze fears that if she finds Jesse's remains in the backyard, Jesse will move on to the next world and leave her.
Despite her fear, Suze attempts to give those letters to the Historical Center, where the conservator Dr. Clive Clemmings thinks Jesse did not die from murder, but ran away from his wedding because he was too frightened. She notices Maria's picture and a small portrait of Jesse in the museum, and after listening to Dr. Clemming's speculation of the de Silva's history, becomes very upset.
The following day, Suze is confronted by the police, who inform her that the conservator is dead and Hector de Silva's portrait is missing. Paul stops them from inquiring her further, saying that he can "attract more flies with honey rather than vinegar", and she finally concedes to go out on a date with him.
As Suze returns home from the date, Brad (Dopey) and Andy unearthed Jesse's remains in the backyard. Suze throws up her dinner and assures herself, when she could not find Jesse, that he was only away for a time. Jesse had promised not to disappear if his remains were found and she believes him. The hours drag on as Suze waits for Jesse to return. Jack Slater then calls her to inform her of his successful exorcism of the "ghost who was bothering Suze" for a long time. According to Jack, a pretty ghost named Maria had told him how to exorcise a ghost, and he succeeded without sweat.
Suze is horrified. She is attacked by Maria de Silva and Felix Diego, her late husband, who helped kill Jesse in the past. They try to kill her, but only give her a concussion by throwing her in the dug-up hole Andy and Brad had been working on. The next day, Suze marches up to Jack and orders him to exorcise her. She believes that if she ended up in the same place as Jesse, she would be able to bring him back. Before she could do so, however, Father Dominic, who realizes her plan, intervenes and prevents the whole process from occurring.
Father Dom agrees on doing a "proper exorcism" in the Mission, mainly because he believes Suze will not stop at any account on saving Jesse. He warns her against persuading Jesse with her female attributes, however, or keeping Jesse against his will. She has thirty minutes to go find him and come back, or she will die. Jack arrives in the last minute with the rope to tie around her waist and help her get back.
Suze finds Jesse on the "other side". At first, Jesse was hurt because he thought Suze had exorcised him herself. When he was reassured that it was not her, however, he becomes furious with her safety and tries to lead her back to their world. It turns out that Maria had cut Suze's rope while she was trying to find Jesse, so Suze and Jesse were lost. Paul--who turns out to be a mediator as well--appears and taunts them. Suze realizes that Paul had been working with Maria and Felix, distracting Suze from saving Jesse from being exorcised. Jesse, furious with Paul's selfish outlook on the mediator "gift", punches him. They barely make it back to the Mission, only to find Maria and Felix Diego attacking Father Dominic. Suze finally manages to exorcize Maria de Silva and Felix Diego, and Jesse decides to stay in the living world.
The Slaters leave the hotel, leaving Suze a huge tip and some cryptic letters. As Suze goes up, she finds Jesse wanting to talk. She says she does not want to talk, for fear of confessing her feelings, but Jesse finally kisses her.