Elizabeth began flipping through the pages of the bible until she came to the entry on his
Grandmother. “Here it is. Birth: March l, 1745. Marriage: July 29, 1763. Death: April 2, 1768.”
“Didn’t you say that the last entry in her diary was Christmas day, 1767?”
“Yes. I did.”
“Why would she stop writing in her diary in December when she didn’t die until April?”
“Exactly. Also, in the bible it lists not only the date of death but the cause of death of your ancestors as well. But only her day of death is listed. Why wasn’t a cause of death written down? What happened between Christmas day until her death in April?” Elizabeth asked.
Nicholas sat back thinking about all this new information about his family he never knew.
“Do you think it could be this Wesley Hall fellow? Would his untimely death be enough to keep him here on … what did you call it … this earthbound plane?”
“I do feel that he has indeed remained here after his death. But the way your grandmother wrote in her diary, she was very happy and content for many years. Something very bad had to have happened between Christmas and April. It’s too easy to just blame your grandmother’s true love. This level of hatred goes far beyond his falling off that ladder … even though it killed him. I don’t think it’s enough to have caused such hatred to the level that he became this evil, vengeful spirit, wanting only to kill your entire family.”
“You know yesterday when I stayed downstairs with Louise I asked her if she knew when the door to the third floor was locked, and she told me when she was just a little girl she heard older members of the staff talking about it and they had said it was the day after Christmas when my grandmother was still alive. My grandfather told everyone that day, he locked the door to the third floor that his wife had lost her mind and that he would be the only one to see her in this state. He would bring her up her meals, and take care of her, himself. From that day on, no one has ever opened that door, again. It was forbidden.”
“Are you sure you really want to come upstairs with me, Nicholas?”
“NO, I don’t! But I’m coming … anyways!”
“There is one more thing I need to tell you … that evil being that attacked us in the study … resides there.”
His eyes grew large again as the impact of her words hit him. He had never felt such terror as he did the other night. But … if she was brave enough to face that thing again, then so was he. “Let’s do what needs to be done so we can end this thing, once and for all. It’s time for it to move on and leave my family in peace!”
Elizabeth smiled to herself. As dangerous as this was for him, he still wanted to help her face this presence … even if it killed him.
“Then let’s do it.” He said, as they rose from their chairs and proceeded to the doorway of the third floor, unlocked it and then entered.
“Now I can see why you were covered in cobwebs,” he said lightly, trying to hide his apprehension. He could see the staircase where she had gone up to the third floor, her footprints were still there on the dust covered stairs. They both walked up them, together until they reached the upper floor. They walked into the sitting room first. She pointed toward the bedroom. “In there is where I found the diary. I’ve already searched this room but didn’t stay long in there.” Slowly they made their way together into the bedroom. She showed him the end table where she had found the diary. All he could do was stare at the bed.
“My grandmother really slept here?” He asked, as he pulled back the fine netting that surrounded the bed. Shock turned into horror at what they saw.
Elizabeth’s hand flew up across her mouth. “Oh my god …. Oh my god!” There on the bed was a skeleton. The arms had been tied to the bedposts. They could see what was left of a rag in her mouth and what seemed to be a night gown, covering her body. Elizabeth felt faint. She had never seen anything this terrible in her whole life. “Who would do such a horrible thing to … someone?”
Nicholas was so stunned that he couldn’t speak. This had to be his grandmother. But why was she tied to the bedposts? Even if she had lost her mind, that would not be reason enough to do this to her. He felt something push him hard in the back, sending him flying across his grandmother’s bones. The stench in the room was the same as it had be in the study.
“Leave him alone!” Elizabeth screamed, reaching for her amulet but found herself flying across the room. Getting back up she raced back over to the bed. Nicholas was being suffocated, his head was being held down so hard into the bed that he couldn’t breathe. She began pounding on the entity knowing that really wasn’t going to do much, but she had to do something.
“It now turned its attention on her. The all too familiar blood cuddling scream escaped it before it sent her flying across the room again. With the beast distracted, Nicholas was able to jump up from the bed, coughing. He leaped at the being but found himself flat on the floor, face first. Again he got up and leapt at the spirit but the same result occurred. This gave Elizabeth time enough to pull her amulet out from beneath her dress and held it up toward the spirit. It responded to it as before, it screeched so loud that it knocked her down. But the amulet did hold it at bay long enough for her and Nicholas to escape out of that room and back downstairs.
With the hall door now locked, they proceeded the rest of the way downstairs until they made it out onto the terrace. Not like this place was going to give them any protection but … maybe it will give them a few moments to regain their composures.
“Well, I don’t think that went very well … do you?” He said, just above a whisper. Knowing for sure now that they were no match for this thing. His thoughts came back to his grandmother. He put his hands over his face, not wanting to believe that she died like that.“Who would do such a horrible thing … to my grandmother? I’ve never heard anyone speak ill of her. On the contrary, everyone seemed to love her very much from what I’ve been told.”
That would be terrible to find your very own grandmother … tied and gagged. And then left alone to die in such an agonizing fashion. It was unfathomable to comprehend. She stayed quiet because she thought he needed time to come to grips with what he saw.
“I wouldn’t have believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.” He stammered.
She moved closer to him and wrapped her arms around him. He responded quickly by pulling her to his chest. Holding her so tightly so could hardly breathe. Sensations were flowing through her body that she had never experienced before. Is this what you’re supposed to feel when you care deeply for someone? She liked this feeling. They stood in that embrace for quite some time before he finally turned her loose. He looked down into her eyes as she gazed back at him.
“I haven’t ever had feelings like this for anyone before,” he said. “My wife and I … had an arranged marriage. We did care for each other and we had a child together, but … we were more like … best friends. We never spoke about love … unless it was to our daughter. We both loved her dearly.”
“Nicholas. You don’t have to make excuses ….” She responded.
“I’m not making excuses. I’m telling you the truth. The moment I saw you, something inside of me cried out to take you with me to Hillcrest Manor. I was so elated when you accepted the companion/governess position for my daughter.”
Elizabeth couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was he really saying he cared for her? Had feelings for her? This was all new to her, she was having a hard enough time trying to figure out her own feelings, let alone his. Having heard him mention his daughter, reality came rushing to the surface for both of them.“I think we need to sit down for a few minutes, don’t you, Nicholas?”
“Most definitely I do,” he said, as he escorted her to the table and chairs they sat in a few days before.”
That in itself brought back bad memories. That’s where the tree limb fell on Nicholas. She was almost afraid to go sit there again.
“I know what you’re thinking … but I highly doubt that tree would dare attack me again.” He said, with a twinkle in his eye.
Elizabeth laughed. A genuine, laugh. He did have a really good sense of humor. Especially given the circumstances that they found themselves in.
“Oh Nicholas, you have the best sense of humor of anyone I have ever met. I never know what’s going to come out of your mouth.”
Sitting at that table did in fact bring them both back to the problem at hand. “If my grandmother’s body is upstairs, then who is in her grave?”
“I don’t know.” She replied, not knowing what else to say.
“I was definitely not expecting to find her dead body there…. That’s for sure. She needs a decent burial. How is her spirit ever going to find peace when her body is still upstairs? We must do what’s right.”
“Yes, I agree but … I don’t think that evil spirit is going to let us remove her body from there. It came after us so viciously, just being in the room with her. It’s guarding her, maybe as a possession. Maybe a trophy. He sees it as his … and only his.”
“So what can we do?” He said, feeling completely helpless. He now felt it was his duty to put his grandmother’s body to rest, so that her soul could go to heaven.
“We’ll think of something. I’m sure of it. I will not stop trying if it takes the rest of my life.” She assured him.
Louise came out and excused herself for the interruption to ask them if they were ready for dinner and do they want to stay out here or go into the dining room.
Nicholas looked over at Elizabeth. “Well … where should it be? Here or in the house. We do have to eat you know.”
“I would like to have it here if you don’t mind.”
“Fine with me.” He said, turning to the servant. “Well … you heard the lady. We’ll dine out on the terrace this evening.”
“Very good, sir.” She said, then turned and went back into the house.
In a more serious tone, he turned once again to Elizabeth. “What are we going to do tonight? Any ideas?”
“I think we should go back to the inn that we stayed in last night. It does help to be able to get some sleep. Maybe, there we can come up with a new plan of action.”
“All I know is that we’re safer there than here. If Louise doesn’t bring our dinner soon, we’ll never make it out there before nightfall.” She said.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about that. We’ll make it to the inn in plenty of time, you’ll see.”
As if on cue, Louise and the other servants brought them out their dinner and a fine glass of wine. The food was excellent and the wine helped ease their nerves. As soon as they finished eating, they made their way upstairs to repeat the same things they did last night. Pack a small overnight bag, and then go check on Sarah. They rode to the inn in almost complete silence. Each lost in their own thoughts again. When they finally got to their destination. They climbed out of the carriage and entered into the inn.
The man that was there last night, greeted them again tonight. He had a wide grin on his face when he saw the couple walk in.
“We require two rooms again and I think it would be prudent to reserve them for the rest of the week.”
The grin on the innkeeper’s face grew even larger. “Consider it done, your lordship.” He said, again giving Nicholas a wink.
He threw some coins on the desk turned and took Elizabeth’s arm and escorted her upstairs to her room. He opened the door for her as they entered her bedroom. The innkeeper was right behind them carrying what little luggage they had brought with them. “You can place my things in my room next door if you don’t mind.” Nicholas said sternly, hoping to get rid of this annoying man. He turned his attention back to Elizabeth. “Well, I guess this is goodnight then,” he said, taking her hand in is and placing a slight kiss upon it before he turned and left the room. A few minutes had passed as Nicholas took off his coat and through it over the chair that was in his room. He started pacing back and forth for a few moments before he came to a decision. He walked over to the door that was between their rooms and knocked on it gently.
Elizabeth gingerly opened it,” is everything okay, Nicholas?” She asked, with concern in her voice.
“Yes … yes, everything is okay.” He stammered before he took Elizabeth in his arms and kissed her deeply.
Elizabeth’s head was spinning, her body molded to his as if it had a mind of its own. Wave upon wave of sensations were spreading through her. She had never been kissed like this before and was amazed at how it made her feel.
Finally the kiss ended and Nicholas looked down upon her face.
“I think I love you, Elizabeth,” he murmured, pressing her to his chest again, kissing her even more passionately then before. Not wanting to let her go.
Again, Elizabeth molded herself to him. Responding with passion she didn’t know she possessed, to his kiss with one of her own.
He moved her slowly over to the bed where they fell together, still in a loving embrace. His hands moving up and down her body, sending even more sensations through her.
“No, Nicholas … it’s not proper … for us to be doing this ….”
He looked down at her beautiful face not wanting to stop. He wanted to possess her with every fiber of his being. But he stopped, knowing it wasn’t proper to go any farther with her unless they were married. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth,” I didn’t mean to put you in a compromising position. I just never have felt like this toward anyone before.” He stood up and gave her his hand, pulling her off the bed. “I guess it would be prudent of me to return to my room … so try to get some sleep before dawn comes.” With that said, he turned and left through the adjoining doors, leaving Elizabeth staring after him.
She stared at the closed door for quite a while wondering if she was actually going to get any sleep tonight after what just transpired between them.