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THE HAUNTING OF HILLCREST MANOR book 1

By SusanLargent All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Scifi

Chapter 1

Elizabeth Cole sat in her bedroom wondering what to do. Now that she was eighteen her father has become more insistent of late for her to marry. Right now he was waiting for her downstairs in his study. But how could she marry? She knew this was why her father wanted to talk with her again. How could she explain to her future husband of her eccentricities? He would never believe her. No one believes her, not even her own father. How do you explain to someone that you get eerie premonitions? Or, being able to see spirits? That has happened quite a few times in her life. Friends, family that witnessed any of her odd behavior or abilities would stop dead in their tracks, staring at her. Their eyes would grow large with fear, chins dropping, their hands flying up instantly to cover the wide gasp of their mouths thinking she had gone mad or some would say that she was even possessed. But all of them would turn away from her and fly out the nearest door and never return. Everyone except her father. He’s all she had in the world. So how could she marry, she didn’t even have any suitors. Or on the rare occasion that a gentleman did come calling, she would turn them down for any reason, except the truth.

Oh well, I might as well get this conversation over with, she thought, heading downstairs to her father’s study.

“It’s about time you came down, Elizabeth. I hate it when you keep me waiting.”

“Sorry father, but you know how much I dislike these discussions about marriage,” she said, as she took a seat across from him.

“Elizabeth … you are at the age now to be married, so you better at least start trying to entice a gentleman suitor. If you don’t, all the good ones will be taken. Don’t you understand that?” He asked as he stood up from his desk and put his hands behind his back. “I’m sure you don’t want to become an old spinster, do you?”

“Nooooo, but I’m just not ready yet, father. I’m sure there will be plenty of eligible young men available … when I do decide to marry.”

William just looked at his daughter in frustration. She just doesn’t get it, he thought to himself, there was no arguing with her, thinking about the many conversations they have had already on this very subject.

“Elizabeth, at least you could start going out more. Staying in this house every day, all day long isn’t healthy for a young woman your age. This isn’t a request, this is a demand. If you disobey my wishes, than you will have to suffer the consequences. Now, I think you need to take your leave of me and think about what I have just said,” he stated a bit harsher than he meant it to sound.

***

Later that night, Elizabeth was lying in her bed unable to fall asleep. Her mind was going over all the things her father had said. He had never threatened her before, so why now? Why is he in such a hurry for me to wed? Her room was very dark now except for what moonlight was shining in from her window. She could feel the temperature starting to drop, lower and lower until she could see her own breath in the air. Sitting up quickly, she clutched the covers tightly under her chin to try and stay warm. The room was now bitterly cold and still no sign of anyone or … anything.

“Is there someone here?” She asked, in a very quiet voice. “Please show yourself.” Still no response. Finally a faint glimmer of light appeared in the middle of the room. Elizabeth couldn’t make out what kind of form it was.

“I can’t see you very well … can you manifest yourself a little more clearly … please?”

The light became brighter as a form tried to appear, but Elizabeth still couldn’t make out much. She couldn’t even tell if it was a man or woman. A hand reached out slowly toward her, beckoning her to come, but come where? Was there someone needing her help now or is it sometime in the future? These visions were very difficult to interpret. She could only go by her instinct and hope she’d be able to help this spirit in any way possible before it was too late.

Spirits had been coming to her ever since she was a child. The other kids made fun of her because they said she talked to herself, but in all actuality, she was speaking to a ghost. She didn’t know why she had been chosen to be the only one that could see them. Her grandmother acted strangely most of the time, but she never explained why. Now Elizabeth knew, she was seeing spirits. I really wish my grandmother would have given me some advice on how … to deal with this ‘gift’ before she died. To be on your own, not knowing who they are, or what they wanted, was really hard to cope with.

The spirit started moving slowly toward the window with its hand still reaching out for Elizabeth, then it was gone. The coldness in the room started to dissipate as Elizabeth sighed, wishing she knew what this spirit wanted. The visit was over now because the room had returned to its normal temperature as if the spirit had never come at all. Now that this spirit had found her, she knew it would return and keep returning until she figured out what it wanted.

***

Days turned into weeks as Elizabeth did as her father requested, she started going out every day whether she intended on buying something or just window shopping. It did feel good to get out of the house but it was still quite disturbing when she would see spirits milling around, going place to place but didn’t know where they were going, or what they were looking for. She tried to ignore them especially when other people were about so she didn’t bring attention to herself. She so wanted to help them but unless they made contact with her, there was nothing she could do.

At the end of the street Elizabeth saw a carnival had come to town, she clapped her hands and started walking quickly toward it. It was always very exciting when the gypsies came, the clothes they worn were very colorful, but very strange. Red scarves tied around their heads with multiple strings of beads dangling from around their necks. Bracelets galore around their wrists. The blouse and skirt or pants they worn were also very colorful which made them stand out amongst the crowds. No one took them seriously though, to them it was just a source of entertainment. But Elizabeth thought differently. She knew they had powers and could indeed cast an evil spell on someone if they chose to. As she approached one of the booths, a gray haired old gypsy was staring at her in a very strange way. It un-nerved her a bit but still continued looking at her wares.

“How much do you want for this scarf?” Elizabeth asked. But the gypsy woman didn’t answer, she just kept staring at her. She tried again a little louder, thinking maybe the old woman was partially deaf. “How much do you want …” she asked, before she was rudely interrupted by the gypsy.

“I’m not deaf you know,” the gypsy replied harshly. “I just am not sure if you should have that one.”

“And why not? Is there something wrong with it?”

“No, no but I have a much better one for you in my wagon if you would accompany me there.”

Elizabeth hesitated for a moment, then followed her in. There were colorful scarves hanging all around the inside of the wagon along with beads and other trinkets she had noticed as she sat down in the chair the old gypsy had pulled out for her. There was a crystal ball on the table with a reddish black colored scarf over it. As the gypsy pulled the scarf off, she handed it to Elizabeth. She watched as the gypsy started to move her hands around the crystal ball until it started to radiant a bright light.

“Yes … you are the one,” and continued staring into the light.

“I don’t understand?” Elizabeth stammered, knowing gypsies were mostly vagabonds, liars and cheats but there were a few that weren’t. Maybe this was one of the true gypsies.

The old woman continued staring into the crystal ball until Elizabeth started feeling very uncomfortable by her continued silence.

“What do you see?” She asked finally, still waiting for a reply.

“I see … you… in a foggy mist, but it’s not clear to me yet. Yes … it’s definitely you.” The gypsy said, as she took the amulet off from around her own neck and placed it around Elizabeth’s.

“You must never, never take this amulet off. Promise me! Promise me now! Your life will be in danger if you do! Do you understand?”

Elizabeth stared at the gypsy for a few moments and then shook her head yes, there was something about this particular gypsy that made Elizabeth take her at her word. She could see a spirit floating behind her as if it was trying to tell her to obey the gypsy. As soon as she said yes, the spirit disappeared as quickly as it had come.

The gypsy moved over next to Elizabeth, taking both her hands in hers, patted them gently. “Haven’t you ever wondered why you’re different from most people? Why you can see and feel things that others can’t?”

“How do you know this about me? You don’t know me. We’ve never met before today, I don’t understand?”

The gypsy took in her breath.

“You’re a clairvoyant. I know you get visions or are making contact with spirits who haven’t crossed over yet.”

“Crossed over? What does that mean? I’ve never heard of that before.”

“When a person dies, his or her spirit sees a bright light that beckons them toward it. They feel such peace and serenity they move into it willingly as it draws them in. Sometimes the spirits don’t want to leave their lives yet, so they move away from the light, not realizing they don’t have a body anymore, they become trapped here, on this earthbound plane. You must help them, you’re the only one that can.”

Elizabeth sat stunned as she listened to the old gypsy woman. Now it all made sense to her, all her life she had been dealing with the spirits, not really knowing what she should do to help them or just make them go away.

The two women’s eyes locked on each other, neither one wanted to break the bond they were experiencing. Elizabeth broke first, she shook her head a few times before looking back at the gypsy.

“From this point forward, if you’re ever in serious trouble, put both hands around the amulet, close your eyes and call to me. I will see you in my crystal ball. We have now established a link between us and hopefully I will be able to help you out of danger. This is the reason you must never take the necklace off. It will break the link. Now … do you understand?”

“Yes, I do. I am so glad that someone finally understands my abilities, odd though they may be.” Elizabeth started rubbing the necklace that the gypsy gave her.

“What is so special about this necklace?”

“It’s not just a necklace, it’s an amulet. It has the power to protect the one who wears it from danger or harm. I have cast a magical spell upon it to repel evil. Elizabeth, you will go on a long journey to meet your fate. There will be obstacles for you to face, many of them will be extremely dangerous. So be warned and be leery of everything you feel and see.”

The gypsy looked again into her crystal ball.

“There’s a child in desperate need of your help. She’s been trying to contact you, but … you’re too far away. You must go to her before it’s too late.”

“A child needs me? I’ve been visited by what seems to be a young spirit, could this be the child you are referring to?”

“Yes, I have seen her also.”

“How am I supposed to find her, I don’t know who she is or where she’s lives. Do you see anything else that could give me an idea of how to find her?”

“The image is fading, all I see is a misty forest, and her beckoning you to come help her. The image is gone now.” The gypsy looked up at Elizabeth.

“Go by your instincts, Elizabeth. They will guide you to her. Now you must go.” The gypsy stood up and reached her arm out toward the door.

“That’s all I can tell you.”

***

Elizabeth entered her house quietly still thinking about what the gypsy woman said. I hope she’s right, that I will know where to go to help this child. She could hear her father speaking with another gentleman and tried to slip past his study without being seen. But no such luck.

“Elizabeth, your timing is perfect. Please come in here for a moment.”

She froze in her tracks, looking at her father she grudgingly entered the study.

“Lord Blackwood, this is my daughter, Elizabeth.”

The Baron glanced over at her in surprise, he couldn’t believe his eyes. “I’m glad to make your acquaintance, madam.” He said simply, as he nodded his head toward her, still staring at her in disbelief.

She nodded back at him. Not knowing why she had to meet this man. Her father never before would interrupt his conversation with someone just to introduce his daughter to them.

“Lord Blackwood is in desperate need of a governess or a companion for his young daughter, Sarah. Since you refuse to marry yet I thought you would be perfect for her.”

Elizabeth stared at her father and then the Baron. “Sir,” she said, looking at the gentleman. “What made you come to my home, I’ve never met you before. What makes you think I would even consider a position as a governess or companion? I am a lady of quality, I don’t need to work for a living,” she said, a little annoyed that her father would even consider this for her.

“I can answer that for you,” he hesitated before continuing. “You came to me in a dream. I normally don’t go around looking for young ladies that I’ve dreamed about, but I have never met you before as you have stated, and I have had multiple dreams about you and where you live. So I am somewhat at a loss here. This has never happened to me before. It’s strange though, that you are exactly the woman that was in my dreams.”

Elizabeth was dumbfounded, how could he be dreaming of her if he had never met her? Could this be a clue into her own dreams and visions? Could his daughter really be the young spirit that keeps coming to her or the one the gypsy told her about?

“Lord Blackwood needs an answer right away, Elizabeth. I think it would be an excellent idea for you, it would give you some exposure to the outside world which you’ve been hiding from your entire life.”

“I need an answer by tomorrow morning, I will call on you then, that’s when I’m leaving for my estate out on the Moors.” He gave her a quick nod of his head before turning back to her father.

“I guess I’m being dismissed like a servant,” she thought angrily. Turning on her heels she sped up to her room to contemplate her decision.


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