Fleeing the scandal and disgrace of her late husband’s crimes and subsequent confiscation of everything she owned, Melanie Winthrop is shocked to discover she has inherited not only a fortune but a Southern plantation and mansion from a woman she scarcely knew. All is not good, however; many in the town are unhappy she is there. What is worse is the mansion harbors undreamed of dangers and secrets, including what can only be a phalanx of hostile spirits.
There are temporal dangers too; the unexpected arrival of Melanie’s bitter and estranged sister Michelle makes the situation unbearable, especially when she tries to strip Melanie of her fortune through blackmail. Things are only exacerbated by a near-fatal accident that might not have been accidental and the discovery of a dead body in the cellar - the body of a woman who had challenged Melanie’s right to the inheritance.
Investigating her inheritance, Melanie realizes there have been blatant thefts against the estate and the distinct possibility that her benefactor was murdered in an attempt to hide them. Then the murderer comes after her, and Melanie has to accept that there is no one on this earth who can save her.
I poured some fancy flavored creamer into the coffee and watched the dark and light colors swirl and blend. Mr. Carruthers’s assistant certainly had excellent taste in coffee - dark roasted and rich, just like I liked it. I took a pleasurable sip, only to jerk in surprise as footsteps padded softly overhead.
Enough was enough! I put down the cup and raced up the stairs two at a time, only to stop in befuddlement on the second floor. Even though I had closed all the doors there was plenty of light, thanks to a huge skylight and the even larger floral stained glass wall that ran the entire height of the house behind the stairs. I could see every detail of the hall clearly, and I was the only living creature there.
But the footsteps, obviously on this floor, kept on, going down the uncarpeted wood with a measured rhythm, stopping at a door about three-quarters of the way down the hall. It was a bedroom, I knew, because I had looked in there during my self-guided tour, but I could remember nothing about it.
Now I would never forget it, for the door that I had so conscientiously closed until it latched slowly swung open, letting a dagger of light flash across the hallway. Half terrified and half furious, I crept forward as silently as I could, pausing in the doorway and looking around.
The bedroom was done in soft tones of blue, simply furnished with an ornate brass bed and curly maple dresser and armoire. The curtains were open, revealing a tightly shut window. A single chair sat far back in the corner like a perpetual wallflower. There was no other door, no way anyone could have gotten out.
And it was completely empty.
Behind me soft footsteps went in measured cadence down the stairs.