Happy Saturday! Here is a lengthy excerpt from Ghosts of Trenton House~ Revenant Investigations, book two 🙂
Published by: Evernight Publishing
Oh, how Lena Tompson wished she was still at home, curled up on the couch watching Pride and Prejudice—the Colin Firth version, of course—instead of at the Revenant Investigations office for an emergency meeting. But that wish wasn’t going to come true. When her boss, Folger, had called they all knew to come immediately. She had and now Knox Trenton, the former love-of-her-life, sat in her boss’s office with his forehead creased from worry.
“I’m very sorry to drag you all here at this hour,” Knox said. “But there’s an emergency at Trenton House.”
Arabella Pierce—coworker, medium, and Lena’s best friend—spoke up. “What do you mean?” she asked.
Knox rubbed his eyes. Lena could feel just how worried he was. Having grown up with and seriously dated Knox, she knew this wasn’t normal for him. Something had to be dreadfully wrong in order for him to be bleeding emotions so strongly. As a high-level empath, he was very good at guarding himself, unless unduly stressed or tired.
Lena reached out with her own empathic gifts to search his feelings, and a brick wall slammed down.
“Nana has done something,” he replied, dread lightly imbedded in his tone.
Oh, dear. When his great-grandmother did something to earn that tone of voice it normally meant another feud was brewing with someone, probably a family member. The elderly spitfire was too fiery for her own good, at times. “What did Imogene do?”
“You both know the story of my great-grandmother and her twin sister, Ruth.”
“Hard to forget,” Arabella replied.
While the story was well known, not many knew the details as Lena and Arabella did. He’d told them in Junior High. And a hell of a story it was.
He turned to Folger. “I’m going to tell you the story, but I ask that you keep it to yourself, for your records. This is a very sensitive issue.”
Folger raised his hand. “What you tell us goes no further than this room.”
Knox sighed. “Thank you. My great-aunt Ruth conjured my great-grandpa Duke’s spirit when he died of a heart attack in his mid-thirties. She wanted to punish her sister for allowing him into the family and betraying her. Their father trusted Duke and had learned to love him as a son, so he willed Trenton House to Duke and Nana. Ruth was furious with her sister for allowing such a thing, saying she was betrayed, even though their father left her and her husband well over five hundred thousand dollars and the country house at the edge of town.” He paused, sighing. “Most of the family believes her objection was solely about Duke’s name being put on the house. I think it’s safe to say if it had been just Nana’s name on the deed, Ruth wouldn’t have been so vehement about the whole thing.”
Lena had been to that country house a few times—a beautiful home, on a lovely four-acre plot of land. But Duke being willed Trenton House and watching it fall into his hands, even with Imogene there, had only been the beginning––the spark, to ignite the rest of the Trentons’ sisterly feud.
Lena had seen no real ‘ill will’ between Knox and his cousins, but their parents… Well, there was a reason she never liked going to the family get-togethers. Their barely veiled animosity was like ice, cracking against her skin. Knox tried to shield her from most of it, but the intensity was too great for him to block it all. Lena tolerated events the best she could, but finally admitted they’d taken a toll on her, and her view of their relationship.
“And no one knows where Ruth trapped Duke’s spirit,” Arabella said, leaning back against the couch and crossing her legs. “Ruth took that information to the grave.” “Knox,” Folger said, “tell them what Imogene did.”
Hesitation lightly touched the air, held clear in his dark brown eyes when he glanced at her. All thoughts of their past momentarily fled when Lena saw it—something was very wrong, all right, and worry twisted her gut. “Knox?”
He fidgeted in his chair, until he settled for sitting with his back completely straight as if someone had pulled a string upward, and rested his hands on the arms of the chair.
“Nana…raided Ruth’s crypt at our family’s private cemetery and stole a necklace from her coffin.”
Lena’s mouth dropped in shock. “She did what?”
“That’s not all. When she returned to the house and tried to call her husband’s spirit to her, she ended up summoning Ruth instead.”
“Oh my God,” Lena whispered.
Knowing what she did of Ruth—whom she’d met only once, at a birthday party shortly before her death—Lena could just imagine how the ghost was taking being summoned by her sister. Death did little to quell emotions. “What do you need us to do?”
He stood, putting his hands in his pants pockets. “I need you two to come talk to Nana and Ruth, to try to calm them down before they destroy the entire house battling each other, and tear the family completely apart in the process.”
“What do you mean?” Arabella asked.
“My great uncles, Silas and Wick, are threatening to sue me and my two brothers for both the house and guardianship of Nana, if we don’t deal with the situation in the next two weeks. They’re threatening to put her in the Jasmine Home for the Gifted.”
Not good, not good. The Jasmine Home was built specifically to care for elderly people who had special gifts, especially ones who couldn’t control their gifts anymore, or those who committed such an act as Knox’s great-grandmother had. The home served most of coastal Maine, with other smaller homes scattered throughout the state.
Imogene would consider it a prison, and that did not bode well for those around her.
“Does Imogene know?” Lena asked. “What about Silas and Wick’s children?”
“I told her today. As for Silas and Wick’s children, they’ve agreed to help their fathers if Nana doesn’t undo what she’s done. All but Brendon, who’s trying to help me.”
She took a deep breath. “Brendon always did have a good head on his shoulders.” Thank goodness. At least Knox had someone in the family to lean on, to turn to when the rest were ready to stab him in the back.
His eyes softened, and for a split second she felt her heart melt, just a little. That was enough for the memories to return, both the good and the heartbreaking, and Lena suddenly remembered she was still in her pajamas—the emergency call from Folger had kept her in her blue flannel bottoms and a lightweight hooded sweatshirt, a pair of winter boots on her feet. She forced herself not to squirm or shift her position, keeping her slight embarrassment to herself as she remained relaxed on the couch. Though, the resulting shame was not so much because she was in her pajamas as it was having Knox see her, at her place of employment no less, in said pajamas.
“As I’ve mentioned, I’d like you and Arabella to come to the house and talk with Nana and Ruth, see what you can figure out, and see if you can get Ruth to hand over Duke’s spirit. Nana will never move on without him and the two of them will feud forever in Trenton House if we can’t deal with this.”
“Do you want video or anything?” Arabella asked.
“Not yet. See what Nana wants to do first, then we’ll go from there.”
“The family doesn’t know you’re meeting with us, do they?” Lena surmised.
“Just Brendon, which is why I’m here so late. I’m heir to the house and executor of Nana’s will—they know not to stop me from hiring outsiders to deal with this, as that could hurt their chances of getting hold of their sister and the house for good. But they would do everything in their power to keep me from doing so, which is why only Brendon knows I’m here. Our dirty laundry may be legend in this town, but they’d like to keep it legend, not truth.”
Lena knew that last part already. Trentons didn’t air their dirty laundry, which was no doubt one of the reasons he’d been hesitant to ask for aid. The family was rich but not stuck-up, though they were very big on maintaining their public image. Anything that would taint the picture of a loving, hardworking, strong and happy family unit in the least was quickly swept under a rug and guarded fiercely. That had also made it hard to be around the family, and not just because she was an empath. Lena had struggled with their tight lips more than once—it made it near impossible to truly get close to those Knox cared for, and made it difficult for him to open up.
He trusted her, she knew, but there was a difference between trusting someone as a good friend and trusting someone with the family secrets as a partner in love. He’d told her everything through their years as friends and lovers—she cherished that. And she’d kept those secrets, always would. Only Arabella knew what had really transpired when they’d broken up.
“When do you want us to start?” Lena inquired, thankful her tone came out normal even though her stomach was roiling.
“Tomorrow morning. Can the two of you be at the house around eight-thirty?”
“Of course,” Arabella replied, then turned to Folger. “You’re okay with all this, I take it?”
“Yes. If you end up needing some tech, call Nick and Kate.”
Lena met Knox’s gaze. “Your uncles gave you two weeks to get this resolved. Are they watching the house? Watching you?”
“Watching me? No, not that I’ve felt, anyway. Nor have they been around the house since she conjured Ruth. I think they’re biding their time until they can make their move. Nana and Ruth are keeping other ghosts from entering the house. They haven’t done anything to the ghosts already in the house, though.”
Her heart panged. The ghosts that visited Trenton House were all dearly loved family. The fact that Ruth and Imogene were keeping them out of their home was heartbreaking and troubling. “We’ll be there bright and early,” she said.