THE HAUNTING OF HILLCREST MANOR book 1

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Chapter 7

Elizabeth woke with a start, for a moment she didn’t know where she was. Finally calming down when she recognized the familiar surroundings of her room. Stretching, she climbed out of bed thankful it was still daylight out. She needed to have time to try and figure out why this evil spirit was haunting this family. If she knew why than maybe she could find an answer and help this shadow figure cross over. Ridding the family of this horrible situation they find themselves in. With this resolve, she made her way downstairs. There has to be a family bible or some kind of family recorded history. All she needed to do was to find it. Her first stop would be Nicholas’s study. That would be the logical place to start. Entering, she looked around at all the books on the shelves and decided to go through everything in this room with a fine teeth comb. Surly she would find something. She didn’t think Nicholas would mind her searching his study but memories came flooding back to her. How her father forbade her from his study. He would say that was not a place for a woman. The arguments they would have over it. She knew most women didn’t read or write. It wasn’t expected of them to do so. But she wasn’t the typical woman. She loved to read. It was her favorite past time. Her father just didn’t understand. Probably never would. A sadness came over her. The feelings she had when she left home. Looking back at her father as the carriage pulled away, knowing she would never see him again left her shaken. She had to put these thoughts out of her head. She had to stay focused on the task at hand. There was rows upon rows of books that she would love to read any one of them. But it wasn’t what she was looking for. She had to find some kind of family records. The family bible. Something that would lead her to the ancestry of this Manor House. Suddenly she saw it. She took it off the shelf where it had been stored, placed it on the desk and sat down quickly to scan its contents. The more she read the more excited she got. The family records went back generations. She was now intrigued. Names and dates of births and deaths of every family member back to his great-great grandparents. But her excitement was short lived. She now realized that it was only a record of births, marriages and death. It didn’t tell anything else. It was after all just the family bible. There has to be more somewhere. A more detailed record of the family’s dynamics. But this would be a good start, though. At least she had the names and relationships of the family. When she reached the final entries, she slammed the book closed. Shock over took her. She couldn’t believe what she had just read.

“What are you doing in here?” Nicholas shouted from the doorway.

“You have no business in here, Elizabeth. This is my private study. So … what the hell ….”

“I’m sorry, Nicholas. I didn’t think you would mind ….”

“What, intruding on my personal affairs?” He entered quickly and slammed his fists on the desk.

The movement made Elizabeth jump.

“I could care less about your ‘personal affairs’, I was looking for your family lineage.

He looked at her for a moment before he asked in a more civilized tone.

“Why would that be of any interest to you? What’s in the past, is in the past. So …?”

“It is important. It’s very important. Haven’t you ever wondered why things happen the way they do here? Doesn’t it seem a little odd to you?”

“Well … yes, but …. Look, I know that this house has very strange events happening all the time. It’s an old house. And old houses … do strange things.

“Not like this one does! Nicholas, you can’t just dismiss all of the horrible things that happens in this house. Really? I know it’s been going on ever since you were born. Running away doesn’t change things.”

For the first time in his life he admitted to himself that something was very wrong with this house. “I just thought if I stayed away that life would go on and whatever resides here would eventually leave. But … I guess I was wrong in my thinking. I’ve been running away from here my whole life. The only reason I come back now is because of … Sarah. For some unknown reason she doesn’t want to leave here. I would think she would be much happier in London. With people around, activities to attend.”

“Nicholas, you’re daydreaming. Really, do you think Sarah would truly be happy in London? Maybe before the accident, but not now.”

“You’re right of course. I just don’t know what to do, or who to turn to. I feel like I’m lost in this nightmare I can’t wake up from. You are the only person who really understands the dilemma I’m in.”

Elizabeth looked at Nicholas, there was such sadness radiating from him. She walked around to the other side of the desk and placed her hand on his shoulder.

With that small gesture he turned and wrapped his arms around her tightly. Pulled her to his chest, laying his head on her shoulder.

“I was truly blessed the day I first dreamed about you. I didn’t understand it at the time. But now … I think it was fate that brought us together. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep living under these circumstances.”

“Nicholas,” she said, as she pulled away from him slightly, looking up into is eyes.

“There is more than just fate … at work here. I truly believe that the old gypsy woman had a hand in this somehow. She knew that I was to come here, to help, but she didn’t tell me anything else. She left me in the dark so to speak.”

“You are the strangest … most fascinating woman, I have ever met.”

Embarrassed by his statement, Elizabeth looked down at her hands, wrenching them together as if molding something that was there.

“Now tell me why you’re in my study, and what is it that you’re looking for?”

Feeling more at ease she explained to him that she thought something had to have happened in this house or on this estate that was so devastating that something or someone has remained here, refusing to leave. Telling anyone else this, she thought to herself, would sound crazy. But after the things that have happened over the last few days, she knew he would try to understand. Not ridicule her or think she was out of her mind. He had experienced things here, himself. So if she was crazy, than so was he.

“I thought the first step would be trying to find out who has lived here. And … if something had happened in the past causing this evil entity to remain here. Trying to find justice, maybe?”

“That sounds a little out there, don’t you think, Elizabeth? Something from the past?” He looked at her with an expression on his face of total disbelief.

“I know you’re having a hard time believing in spirits, but … these things really do exist. And I think this is a really strong explanation of the events that happen in this house.”

“I … don’t … know. That just sounds so weird to me. So unbelievable. I would be the laughing stock of all London if anyone thought I believed in such things.”

“People make fun of things they don’t understand. They refuse to look at things more in depth. It’s easier to just play them off and call people that do see things … crazy. Lock them up so they don’t have to face the truth.”

“I guess I was always just like them, until now that is. Meeting you has completely changed my life and my thinking. Maybe if people weren’t so quick to judge, than it would be a much better place to live.”

“Now you’re sounding very philosophical, Nicholas.” She laughed.

He saw the humor in this and started laughing with her. “If my friends could only see me now, I would be locked up in an insane asylum before the end of the night.”

Elizabeth saw a happiness for the first time in him. He was such a sad man, but he had every right to be sad given his circumstances. She knew she had to find the secrets of this house and help all who live here or have lived here and set them free.“Nicholas, would it be ok with you if I kept this bible with me so I could study it? It will give me some insight on your ancestors.”

“Yes, go ahead if you think it will help.”

“Oh, yes. At least it’s a starting place.”

I think we should go have some dinner, don’t you?” He asked, as he escorted her out of his study.

She hadn’t realized how late it was getting and she needed to try to figure out how to keep everyone safe when nightfall came tonight. Taking the evening meal in the dinner room was unusual. Up till now they almost always ate alone in their rooms. It was a nice break to not have to eat alone again. She did enjoy Nicholas’s company and for the first time in her life she actually enjoyed dining with someone else. It was always so hard to sit at the table and not let the spirits that were there distract her. When they did, everyone thought she was a little strange. But her father, whom she took most of her meals with, always ignored her odd behavior. He loved his only daughter and tried to understand her but … it wasn’t easy for him.

“Is the information in the bible helping you at all?” Nicholas said, after a long silence.

“Yes, somewhat. I just wish there was more information about the lives of your ancestors. There has to be another book, somewhere. Someone had to have kept a diary so to speak or something that would give us more insight. But … we’ll just have to make this due until we find it.”

“Nightfall is almost upon us so do you have any suggestions on what we should do tonight?” He said, starting to get a little concerned after all that has happened the last few nights.

“We do have a few choices. I think we should stay downstairs, in your study, perhaps.”

“What about Sarah? She doesn’t like leaving her room? How can we stay downstairs if she refuses to come with us?” He said, not wanting to leave his daughter alone upstairs with that … thing.

Elizabeth sat quietly trying to figure out a way that would be good for everyone. There was no way her or Nicholas could spend another night upstairs, but … Sarah? He was so concerned about her, how could she tell him to leave her there? “I think you and I should stay downstairs ….”

“No, I’m not leaving my daughter upstairs, alone to face that evilness. No, I won’t!”

“Nicholas, we don’t have a lot of choices here, do we? Maybe it would be the safest place for her. “Nicholas, since I’ve been here I have observed that the entity has no real interest with Sarah. She has stayed here in her room for years. And nothing has happened to her. Actually, from what I’ve been told, it’s quiet here when you are not here. Or have just a governess that has no ties what-so -ever with this family. It still scares the women away, but on such a smaller scale than like I said, when you’re here.”

“What kind of father would I be if I stayed downstairs because I was afraid and left my daughter upstairs, alone! I can’t believe you’re saying this. You’re here to take care of my daughter, not abandon her in her room while you hide yourself down here!”

“Nicholas, don’t say such things. You know I’m not like that but … what choices do we have? I think Sarah would be safer away from us. Think about it for a moment. The entity wants you, and you only. The farther you’re away from your daughter the better.”

“Maybe, you’re right. But … I don’t feel right about it at all.”

“Nicholas, in your world that would be unheard of to leave your child in danger, but in my world, it would be the wisest thing to do. She would be in less danger where she’s at. It seems like this entity is getting more and more aggressive the longer we’re here. It is determined to kill you.” She said, her voice trickling off to almost a whisper.

“Well, give me a little bit of time to get my thoughts around this. It just doesn’t sit well with me.”

Like I said, Nicholas. You’re in my world now.”

***

Several hours later Elizabeth found herself with Nicholas standing in front of Sarah’s bedroom door. “Are you sure you really want to tell her? Maybe we should just bid her goodnight and lock her door. She wouldn’t worry as much.”

“No, I’m telling her!!” He stated, as he opened the door.

“We just came to tell you goodnight and let you know what we’ve decided to do.”

Sarah just looked at them.

“We think it would be safer if we stayed downstairs and … let you stay here, in your room.” Her father said.

“Is that okay with you, Sarah?” Elizabeth asked her with her mind.

“Yes. I agree with you.”

“You know I’ll just be downstairs and if you need me, even the slightest bit, you’ll come to me, right? I know you can do that.”

“I’m not afraid, Elizabeth. Now that you’re here, I know you’ll make things right.”

“Most definitely! I will find a way, rest assured.”

“If anyone could help us, it would be you. That’s why I never gave up looking for you. The gypsy woman told me about you”. Sarah said. “I don’t think you had even met her yet, but she sure knew everything about you.”

“That’s a little scary, don’t you think?”

Sarah smiled with the biggest grin on her small, delicate face. Pleased that she had found Elizabeth and now she was here.

“She’ll be fine Nicholas. She feels safe here like you said. Now, I think we had better gather anything we’ll need for tonight and go downstairs.”

“Ok,” he replied as he closed the door.

They each went off into their own bedrooms. Elizabeth decided she had better bring pillows and blankets so in case one or both of them could get some sleep, which she doubted, but there always was that possibility. There I go with my wishful thinking again, she thought to herself.

With everything in hand she closed her bedroom door and went downstairs to meet up with Nicholas in the study. She had never been in a room alone for very long with a man, let alone to spend the night together. She pushed these thoughts out of her head, knowing this was totally different circumstances than what normally transpired between a man and a woman. She blushed, embarrassed at where her thoughts had gone. “Get your head on straight,” she said, mistakenly aloud. Seeing the expression on Nicholas’s face made her realize that he had indeed heard what she just said.

“I have no idea what that means?” He replied, looking at her as if she was daft.

“I mean … you need to not question anything that is said … or done tonight, no matter how strange it may seem to you. Is that clear? Do you really understand what I am saying?”

“Not exactly.” He frowned, not quite getting it.

“I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do, or not do.”

“The best thing for us is for you to try and keep quiet the best you can. Just pay attention to my lead. No matter how strange it seems. I wear an amulet I had gotten from the old gypsy woman. It does give me some protection. But I really don’t know exactly how much. She told me to never take it off while I’m on this property, so I haven’t. It’s also a way to contact her for assistance. But only when I’m desperately in need of her help.”

“You know how strange this all sounds?” He said, with a half grin on his face.

“I’m taking all of this very well. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, I do as a matter-of-fact. It would be really hard to accept any of this if you hadn’t experienced what you have in this house. We might as well try and get some rest in here while we can.” She walked back over to the door, closed and locked it. Then to the settee where she laid out the pillows and blankets.

“There’s no way in hell I’m going to get any rest tonight, that’s for damn sure.” He said, as he began to pace back and forth in front of the fireplace.

“Suit yourself, but I’m going to lay down here. It’s going to be a very long night.”

***

Hours passed with nothing happening. The house seemed so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Nicholas decided to take her advice and laid down on the other settee. He was almost asleep when a loud noise from upstairs startled him, he jumped up quickly. “That came from upstairs,” he shouted. “Sarah … she’s up there all alone. I must save her.”

“Nicholas, wait! That’s what it wants you to do.”

They both heard the noise. It was moving slowly down the upstairs hallway.

“Listen, it’s moving away from Sarah’s door. We must stay here.” She implored.

Elizabeth was right because now they could hear the footsteps coming down the stairs. Making its way toward them. Closer and closer it came until the noise was as deafening as before. Elizabeth could feel the hairs standing up on the back of her neck. The room was cold as ice. Her hand went up quickly over her mouth, stifling a scream that so wanted to come out of her mouth. Her other hand on the amulet. “Stay back, Nicholas. Stay behind me,” she said.

The noise stopped outside the study door. Suddenly it was quiet for a moment. As if the shadow figure was trying to sense where they were. Bang … bang! The sound was coming from the door. It knew they were in here. Again they heard … bang … bang. The door started to splinter from the force of the blows. The doorknob began to turn. One way and then the other. Back and forth it turned until Elizabeth couldn’t stand it any longer.

“What do you want? Why do you hate this family so much? I can help you, if you’ll let me.” The doorknob stopped turning as soon as she spoke. “Whatever has kept you here no longer exists. Let me help you, crossover. You are trapped here on this earthbound plane. Don’t you realize that?” Still no response. Suddenly, the banging started again as if she angered it. She backed into Nicholas who put his arms around her. Terrified. “Please let me help you.”

Suddenly the evil spirit burst through the study door, knocking them both down. The room instantly turned into shambles by the sure force of this evil being. Furniture was flying in all directions, they had to keep ducking so they wouldn’t get hit. The force of this being was so strong they couldn’t even stand up. Elizabeth grabbed her amulet tightly. Hoping for some help before this powerful spirit killed them both. The amulet started to glow, causing the spirit to let out a loud, ear piecing scream. The awful stench intensified causing Nicholas and Elizabeth to cover their mouths so they wouldn’t throw up. It was the most pungent odor they had ever smelled. But the spirit instantly responded to the amulet. It was like a weapon to be used against it. Elizabeth quickly got to her feet and slowly approached the spirit who was now backing away from her. All the way to the doorway where it disappeared down the hall.

“Is it over yet, Elizabeth?” Nicholas asked, as he got to his feet.

“I don’t think so. The room is still cold as ice.”

They moved to the farthest corner of the study to wait for whatever was to come next. They could still hear the entity in the hallway not knowing why it was still there. Finally, it moved away until they no longer could hear it. The room started to warm up, back to the temperature it was before the evil spirit arrived. Elizabeth let out her breath. “It’s over now, Nicholas. Let’s hope that’s all that will happen tonight.”

“How do you know it’s over?” He asked, quietly just above a whisper.

“Because the room is warm now. Can’t you feel it?”

“Yes … I do.” He turned the settee back upright and then sat down. “I would have never believed what just happened, if I hadn’t lived through it myself. Oh my god! What was that thing? Those glowing red eyes? The stench. You can still … smell it, can’t you? Is this what has been in this house all of these years?”

He looked around the room, at the destruction that was there. He couldn’t get over how much power that thing had. It smashed up the room so quickly and with such ease. It terrified him.

Elizabeth came over and sat next to him. She herself had never experienced this much power and it left her a little shaken. Thank god she had the amulet, but she didn’t know how much protection it was going to be up against such a strong, evil spirit. “Nicholas, we need to get some rest before dawn comes, we have a lot to do tomorrow. We must find out more information about your ancestors. Something very bad had to have happened here to cause this vengeful, evil presence to remain here after so many years.”

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