Fleeing disgrace, Melanie is shocked to learn a woman she barely knew has left her a fortune and a mansion. This might not be the haven she desires, though; not only does she incur the enmity of the local town, but her past rises to haunt her and the house has ghosts from is own past... ghosts which have proved themselves to be murderous.
Excerpt from Episode One
They say never look a gift horse in the mouth. Inheriting a horse I could have handled. A huge, gothic-looking mansion that could have escaped from a horror movie hidden away in the depths of Georgia was definitely another. On the other hand, it was as good a place to hide and lick my wounds as any.
Of course it had to be raining, with huge grey clouds blotting out the sky and hanging so low I could almost reach up and grab chunks of them. A spear of lightning zoomed down behind the house, briefly illuminating the crouching ring of trees around the yard. The whole thing was so Tim Burton it was made the name Belle Fleur almost ludicrous.
“I’m sorry it had to be like this your first time here, Mrs. Winthrop,” said Mr. Carruthers. “It really is a nice house. Dates back to about 1840 - was truly a miracle it escaped that damned Sherman’s atrocities.”
Thinking about how long it had taken to get here from Atlanta in a powerful Mercedes over good roads, I said, “Maybe he couldn’t find it.”
“Possible. We’re should just be grateful that monster didn’t find and burn it like all the others. Anyway, Miss Wall took exquisite care of Belle Fleur. Everything important is modern and well maintained. I’ve had the utilities turned on and my secretary stocked the kitchen so you don’t have to worry with that for a while. I also made sure the car is running, so you won’t be trapped out here. It’s only a few miles into Coronation City; it’s the closest town. My office is there and there are some really nice shops and grocery stores, so you don’t have to go into Atlanta unless you want to. I’ve given you a map of the area in your information packet, and put another in the desk in the library.”
“Thank you,” I murmured yet again, my mind full of the huge place that seemed more to be advancing on us than we on it.
Mr. Carruthers pulled the car beneath the large porte cochere and stopped the engine. Silence thick as mud flowed around us, punctuated only by the hiss of the rain and a thin rumble of distant thunder. The thinly graveled driveway was pocked with pools of standing water, but at least the roof kept the worst of the rain off us.
Getting into the house was the work of but a moment; Mr. Carruthers pulled a ring of keys from his pocket and opened the French door, then pulled my two suitcases from the car and set them inside while I carried my heavy and precious totebag. He had asked when the rest of my things would be delivered, leaving me no choice but the humiliation of telling him this was all I owned. Thirty six years old, seven years married to one of the top financial men in New York and everything I had in the world fit into two suitcases and a single totebag. He was well-trained enough not to raise an eyebrow nor mention it again.
“Here are your keys,” he said, proudly handing me the ring on which just four keys resided. I wondered what they all fit. “and there is another set in your packet. Shall I show you around the house?”
I nodded. It was dark inside, as dark as in the belly of a beast, and suddenly I wished I were anywhere but here. Then Mr. Carruthers flipped an entire bank of switches by the door and the house sprung to life, brightly lit as a stage show.
This was a side hall, leading into a main hall where I could see the bottom of an ornate staircase. To my left was a delicate parlor, furnished with indubitably authentic antiques that could have been lifted in toto from a hundred and fifty years ago. On the other side of the main hall was a twin parlor, save it had bookcases instead of delicate painted murals. To the right was a dining room with a table that could have served twenty. There was the sullen gleam of silver lurking in the glass-fronted breakfront.
It was like walking into a museum, except that I - the notorious, put-upon Melanie Peabody Winthrop - now owned it. This was my new home. Astounding.