Authors: Cheryl Bradshaw
An Addison Lockhart Novella (Book 2)
New York Times & USA Today
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any similarity to events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
First edition May 2015
Copyright © 2015 by Cheryl Bradshaw
Cover Design Copyright 2015 © Indie Designz
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means whatsoever (electronic, mechanical, etc.) without the prior written permission and consent of the author.
It took two years to publish this second book in the Addison Lockhart series, so I’d first like to thank the fans for graciously waiting so long for its arrival. When I wrote book one, Grayson Manor Haunting, I had no idea it would develop a cult following. It’s been exciting to see fans take to this series in the same way they’ve taken to my other series.
To my husband for always supporting my career and my passion. Janet Green (thewordverve), who is like ten people rolled into one-thank you for always making my work shine. Amy Jirsa-Smith and Jenx Byron for noticing all the gaffes I tend to glaze over. To Bob Houston for excellent formatting and Dafeenah Jameel for making every single thing I do look like a spectacular masterpiece. To Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein for always being there and for taking my work to new heights. To Karen Tobias for assisting with legal questions and D.P. Lyle for your forensic evidence support. Finally, the hauntingly beautiful theme song of this novella is “Sweet Afton” by Nickel Creek.
"I claim not to have controlled events,
but confess plainly that events have controlled me."
Addison Lockhart’s eyes blinked open, and she glanced around, surprised to find herself standing next to a tall, wrought-iron gate lining the perimeter in front of a three-story manor. She didn’t know where she was, how long she’d been there, or how she came to be there in the first place. It was like she’d been transported through time, sucked through one end of a static passageway and spit out the other.
Ten minutes earlier, it was nighttime, and she was at home, although she couldn’t recall what she’d been doing before she’d been plucked away. Now it was daytime, and the sun’s delicate rays enveloped her, pulsing shots of heat through every pore of her freckled skin.
Addison looked around. Besides the manor, there were a few other houses in view, but the neighborhood was quiet. Almost too quiet. No birds chirping. No dogs barking. No wind. No noticeable sounds of any kind.
The noise wasn’t all that was lacking either. When she glanced down she gasped, finding herself dressed in a practically see-through nightgown. Her feet were bare, her exposed arms and legs a milkier shade of white than she remembered them being.
None of it made sense.
A car turned down the road, and her eyes darted around, desperate to find a hiding spot to shield her half-naked body. She wrapped her fingers around the rails of the gate in front of her and pushed forward. But the gate wouldn’t budge, and the car was fast approaching. Having no other place to go, she crossed her arms in front of her breasts, squeezed her legs together, and hoped for the best.
The car passed by like it was gliding on air, silent, and without stopping. The man in the driver’s seat couldn’t have been more than four feet away, and yet, he never looked over. Not even a single fleeting glance. Addison stared in disbelief as he coasted by. His chocolate brown hair was long and feathered, and the car he was driving, an orange Ford coupe with black stripes, looked out of place considering it was 2015.
The car didn’t belong.
And he didn’t belong.
Or maybe it was the other way around.
was the one who was out of place.
Addison watched the car disappear over the other side of the hill and then turned, shifting her focus back to the manor, a smoky gray building with eight symmetrical windows lining the first two levels. The home’s exterior looked like it had been carved from a single slab of stone, except for the thick, wooden door in the center. She stared at the door for a moment, and two things happened: a wave of sound penetrated the stale air like a needle pricking a balloon, and the front door of the manor creaked opened. Two girls spilled out, both wearing yellow, short-sleeved dresses with Peter Pan collars.
The door closed behind the twin girls as they descended a series of steps in front of the house, both hopping off the last one onto the meticulously mowed grass in the front yard. One of the girls squatted, picking a thin tree branch off the ground. She slapped the wood against her flat hand, innocently taunting her twin before waving the stick in the air. The twin, who held a furry, white kitten in her arms, pressed it against her chest like the cat’s life depended on it.
The girl with the stick used it as a wand, pointing and taunting in the other girl’s direction. “You better run, Grace, or the cat gets it!”
“You wouldn’t, Viv!” the other girl shrieked.
And the chase was on, both girls circling the trunk of a majestic oak several times before an out-of-breath Grace sagged to the ground, relenting. She looked at Viv. “You better not hurt Shadow. I mean it!”
Viv rolled her eyes and plopped down beside her, tossing the stick across the yard. “Don’t blow your top, Grace. I’d never hurt her, and you know it.”
Grace squinted, screwing up her face at Viv like she wasn’t sure whether she believed her. “Oh…kay. Why’d ya chase me with a stick then?”
“Good grief, I was just teasin’.” Viv tipped her head toward the cat. “Thought you wanted to play hopscotch.”
“Why don’t you put the fur ball down then?”
Grace surveyed the area. “Out here? I can’t. What if she gets out of the yard and gets hit by a car? Or what if she runs away and we can’t find her? Or what if—”
Viv held a flattened hand out in front of her. “All right, all right. I get it. Put her back in the house then.”
Grace stroked the cat, frowned. “Can’t I just hold her and play?”
Viv sighed. “Fine. But if we’re gonna do it, let’s get on with it.”
Addison crossed her arms in front of her, watching the girls’ long, blond, pigtails bob up and down while they hopped along the chalk squares on the driveway. She wondered if they saw her watching them from outside the gate but the few times they glanced in her direction, they looked past her like she wasn’t there.
In an effort to find out where she was and how she got there, Addison cupped a hand over the side of her mouth and shouted, “Hello?”
She tried again. “Excuse me. Girls. Can you hear me?”
Again, no response.
She stood for several seconds, frustrated and confused before a glaring oversight occurred to her. Nothing about this place made sense. The people, the air, the colors, the car. Everything was off somehow. Everything was … wrong.
Am I … dreaming?
The more she thought about it, the more she convinced herself it was true.
That’s it. This is a dream. It has to be. No one sees me because none of this is real.
It made sense because it had to. And because there was no other possible explanation for what she was experiencing. Now to prove the theory.
Addison pinched the flesh on her arm with the tips of her fingernails. Nothing. No pain. No sensation.
Come on, Addison … wake up
She squeezed her eyes shut then opened them, finding herself still there, trapped in her own twisted version of the
She leaned her head against the gate, and even considered banging against it a few times. Why not? It wasn’t like she’d hurt anything.
The word was uttered in such a hush Addison almost didn’t hear it. She looked down. One of the twins stood on the opposite side of the gate, her face pensive, eyes curious. The second twin was nowhere in sight.
“Hi,” Addison replied.
“My name is Vivian. What’s yours?”
“Addison. You can see me?”
“Of course I can see you,” the girl said. “We both can.”
And yet when Addison had called out to them just moments ago, neither of them responded. Interesting.
“The other girl. She’s your twin sister, right?”
Vivian nodded. “Her name’s Grace.”
“Where is she?”
Addison reached out, attempting to place a hand on Vivian’s shoulder. Vivian jerked back. Message received.
“Oh, honey,” Addison said. “Your sister doesn’t need to be afraid. Neither of you do.”
Vivian shrugged. “She didn’t want you to come.”
Still unsure of where
was, Addison decided not to push it. “Why not?”
“No one has ever seen us before.”
No one had ever seen them? How could that be possible?
The kitten leapt out from behind a bush next to the manor. Grace chased after it, yelling, “Shadow, no! Stop!”
But the tenacious feline bounded forward. Vivian intercepted it, snatching the kitten up in one hand before it slipped past the gate. She walked over to Grace and deposited the cat back into her arms. Whispers between the two girls followed, too low for Addison to hear. Grace then tugged at the layers of fabric on Vivian’s dress, like she was trying to hold her back, keep her from returning to the gate again.
Vivian escaped Grace’s grasp, walked halfway back to the gate, and stopped. “I have to go now. Grace needs me. Try and remember, okay?”
Try and remember? Try and remember what?
“Wait,” Addison said. “Please. Don’t go. Tell me what I need to remember.”
But Vivian kept walking, leaving Addison’s mind to run rampant, swirling with unanswered questions. The biggest of them all—whether or not the twins realized they were dead.
Addison jolted up in bed, gripping the bedpost in her hand. Her brow was sweaty, her head throbbing. She glanced over at her boyfriend Luke. He was still sleeping, soundly, like always. A wisp of his blond locks fell over one of his eyelids. She thought about brushing it out of his face, whispering his name, but he looked so peaceful. It didn’t feel right to wake him.
She peeled back the covers and slid out of bed, careful to avoid stepping on any squeaky areas on the wood floor while she crossed the hall and entered the bathroom. Mission accomplished, she flicked the switch on the wall, gripped the sides of the countertop with her hands, and glanced at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy, her hair knotty and unkempt, both attributes of an unsettling night’s sleep. For a woman of thirty, she looked and felt a hell of a lot older right now.
For a brief moment, her thoughts centered on the dream she’d just had—the manor, the twins. Then it switched to something else—her past. It had been six months since she’d inherited Grayson Manor and moved to Rhinebeck, New York, after her mother’s fatal car accident. Six months since she first met Luke. And more importantly, six months since she uncovered the secret about who she
was, a medium, just like her mother and grandmother before her.
It was here at Grayson Manor that Addison had encountered her first restless spirit, a deceased actress named Roxanne “Roxy” Rafferty, who went missing in 1952. Thinking back on it now, she recalled the initial terror she felt after waking one night and finding Roxy’s spirit hovering at the end of her bed. At the time, she didn’t want to believe it was real, didn’t want to accept the fact that she’d been given a gift most others didn’t possess. She didn’t want it—neither the gift nor the responsibility that came with it.
Like it or not, she couldn’t ignore it either.
After Roxy’s apparition appeared, Addison did some digging into Roxy’s past, learned the police suspected she had been murdered. Her body had not been found. Eventually, the case went cold. This explained why Roxy had appeared to Addison in the first place, why she was trapped, and why she’d solicited Addison’s help.
Hovering over the bathroom sink now, Addison could almost hear the words her grandmother had spoken to her all those months ago. “Roxy came to you. Only
can help her get to where she needs to be.”
Had the twins infiltrated her dream for the same reason?
Did they also need her?