A Lucy Tempalton novel
The house kept its secret now
something’s willing to kill to let it out
A Novel by
"Well paced and confident. No attempt is made to explain the supernatural, making it all the more haunting.” Ayami Tyndall, author of Verifiable
Praise for R.M. Kelly’s writing
“Author R.M. Kelly enjoys the art of writing and was inspired by her work with a small indie press...” Kris Wampler's Blog: A resource for indie writers
“A witty and romantic journey into the darker side of a medium’s job. R.M. Kelly brings together the scary adventure of an exorcism with the romance of two souls finally finding one another. Her readers will fall in love with Lucy just like a certain someone in Ashwell Place.” I Citizen Magazine, ICitizenMag.com
As she got out of the car, a tall man with grey hair and dismal blue eyes welcomed her to the plane which included camel colored leather chairs and wood paneling. The whole place exuded the kind of quiet sophistication Lucy could never hope to articulate in herself. Even the tiny plane windows seemed posh.
“I’m Charles. It is a pleasure to meet you, though I do wish it were not under these circumstances.”
The Duke was tall and had more muscle than seemed quite right. His dark brown hair curled right at the edge of his neck and he had bright green eyes that Lucy guessed danced to yellow in low light. He was striking but also tired, as though his battle with this sprit was only the latest in a long line of troubles. Lucy suddenly regretted bringing only her drabby work clothes and nothing nicer. Always bring nice underwear was a notion Lucy wished she’d listened to.
“Nice to meet you. This is Bits,” Lucy said in way of introduction to the handsomely tired man with the overly posh plane of camels and creams.
Bits barked at the Duke and then jumped into one of the soft camel leather chairs.
“I didn’t have time to find someone to watch her at such short notice.”
“I have four greyhounds myself; she’ll be welcome,” the Duke said and motioned Lucy to sit across from him.
“I would really like to know more about your problem. Most clients don’t fly out to meet me,” Lucy said, a smile creeping over her lips although she wasn’t sure why.
“I was here on business and heard your name was one that might, well, help me. I am at a loss as to what I can do next.”
Lucy tugged her wooly black gloves off and leaned back into the soft chair. “Is the sprit angry?”
“You could say so, but I would suggest that it is well beyond angry. Whatever thing is terrorizing my home, it has nearly killed our groundsman.”
Lucy’s eyes widened. The uneasy feeling she had woken with in her stomach was worse. “How?” she asked, looking right into the eyes of the Duke. He moved uneasily beneath her stare and looked out the window for a moment before answering.
The Duke told Lucy of the gardener’s near fatal introduction to his job six months ago when he was cutting roses back and unseen hands pulled him off his ladder.
When the Duke finished he leaned his head back against the rounded headrest and closed his eyes. Charles felt the weight of generations’ expectations in that silent moment, something Lucy could never begin to feel. He had been born into a family line that counted its members back hundreds of years, whose marriages and friendships had sealed bargains and deals all over Britain. The lines in his face relaxed for a moment and he sighed as Lucy put her hand out onto his arm to comfort the Duke. Charles opened his heavy lids and caught Lucy’s gaze right in her round pupils. They stared at each other for a minute until Lucy removed her hand and the Duke regained his composure. Had Bits been able to laugh, she would have at the sight of the stuffy man’s heartbeat getting so loud when her person touched his paw. As a dog of refined abilities, Bits had a hard time grasping why people didn’t notice such obvious things. Life was full of easy to see truths just staring you in the face like a leather shoe and yet so many people walked around as though blind. It all made Bits’ faith in humanity rather low.
“You may not be dealing with a ghost. Generally speaking, they don’t do those sorts of physical things. Have you ever maybe dealt in the black arts?” Lucy asked without much tact. Talking to dead people all week seemed to have had the negative effect of making Lucy too plainly spoken for living company.
“The art of black magic, Mr. Ashwell. In the violent cases it often turns out to be an invited sprit.”
“Never, and I’m sure no one on my watch has. Perhaps it is something you find more in your native country?” The Duke was offended that some poorly dressed pale medium from the US would dare even ask that short of question.
“Maybe, but I’m not sure your staff would mention it if they had dabbled.” Lucy paused for moment to feel out the Duke and try to tell if he was truthful about not dabbling. “Are you afraid of this thing?” Lucy continued.
The Duke snorted, “I would be foolish not to be.”
“There are a lot of fools when it comes to this sort of thing,” Lucy said to him, her face filled with years of experience on the subject. It was not a face to be dismissed, Charles would learn that soon enough.
The Duke nodded at Lucy. “It can’t be easy trying to convince people of your abilities.”
“I only work with people who hire me, so they tend to believe without my convincing.”
“Yes, I suppose that would be true.”
“How do you feel when the spirit is around you?”
“I don’t tend to know for sure when it is. That is one of the problems.”
Lucy thought about that. She had always known when those sort of things were around. In fact it was trying to not notice them that had proven the hard part. Lucy had spent her life surrounded by ghosts at every waking moment and knew in an instant when something not belonging to our world came near her. It must have been scary for the Duke to not know when something other worldly was about or not.