Soaked to my very bones, I stood in the mansion’s foyer. My boots left puddles on the shadowed stones, and my shirt made a storm of its own, raining dark water in a circle around me. All the lights were off—the maid had scurried back to her tower for the day.
If only it were safe, she could’ve used the cellars and stayed dry.
But then, it wasn’t safe, I knew.
How long I lingered in the foyer, I could not have said. Though only early afternoon, the grey sunlight dripped through the windows as if declaring its retirement for the day. I felt timeless. Motionless. Barely alive. The only sounds in the world were the rain’s battering of the windows and the thousand thoughts in my head scrambling over one another just to be heard.
I hadn’t slept in the last several days, and thus I hadn’t dreamed. Too long into every night, I’d been consumed with painting canvasses that grew darker with each brush stroke. The source of my dark inspiration had begun to worry me. My suspicions were no longer shallow puddles, but rather oceans of doubt.
Someone…or something…lay beneath Carrick.
Stealing my work.
Locking my doors.
Darkening my mind.
Blackening my paintbrush.
Still dripping with rain, I pondered what to do:
Call the police? Tell them, ‘Hello, officer. I’m Alex, and there’s a pale-eyed demon in my basement.’
Sell this place? Leave it behind like Clara said?
Only one thing was certain.
Geoff can’t come back here until it’s safe.
I studied the foyer’s high, high walls. Weathered tapestries bearing coats-of-arms I didn’t recognize hung from blackened iron rods. Plaques commemorating events of which I’d never heard clung to nails long ago hammered into the mortar.
Above the hearth, which hadn’t been lit in ages, something else was fastened to the wall.
* * *
This teaser is from my upcoming mystery/suspense novel, The Fall of Castle Carrick. It’ll hit stores this summer.
Check back for more excerpts soon to come.