This year is also the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. My hero, Seth, was a witness to the terrible events of that war as an ambulance driver. Sara discovers his letters home in a trunk hidden in the attic of the island house she's renting.
Sara jumped and let out a small scream as a loud crash echoed through the house. It came from the attic, where she had seen—something.
She closed her eyes as an icy feeling of dread came over her, more intense now than she had ever felt before. She was afraid to open her eyes, afraid of what she might see if she did. Her heart pounded and she felt sweat break out on her temples. She heard a soft whimpering and realized it came from her.
Snap out of it, Sara! she ordered herself, but her rational mind was out to lunch at the moment and she couldn’t even pry her eyes open.
It’s okay, she told herself. It’s just a panic attack. Count to one hundred. Slow your breathing. What you heard was probably a mouse knocking over a box or something. Her mouth was as dry as paper. “One . . . two . . .”
Another wave of fear swamped her as Sara drew her knees up to her chest and hid her face against them. She tried to count again, but her mind was blank with terror.
“Come on, Sara, you can do this,” she whispered. She forced her eyes open. There was nothing there. She shuddered in relief. Slowly, she pulled herself to her feet. She picked up the knife and pulled the attic ladder down one step at a time. You can do this.
She saw it as soon as her head was above the level of the attic floor. The trunk, the one marked MF, from which she had gotten the papers, had been hurled against the wall and was smashed to pieces. No mouse had done this, that was certain. Tears filled her eyes. She slowly retreated down the ladder and pushed it back up. She sat down in the hallway and her breath hitched in little sobs.
Her mind was a whirl of bewildered thoughts. What is a rational person supposed to do when confronted with the impossible? There was no one in the attic, yet a trunk had been thrown from one side of the room to the other. She repeated the science class lesson she had recited when Seth’s picture kept falling: An object at rest tends to stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force. In this case, an angry ghost.
I don’t even want to use the “G” word, but dear God, what other possibility is there? Trunks aren’t known for spontaneously smashing themselves. She suddenly had a vision of a trunk calling, “Goodbye, world!” and hurling itself into the wall. She had to laugh a little through her tears.
“Seth,” she whispered into the stillness. “Seth, if it’s you, I . . . I just want to understand you better. I won’t tell anyone, I promise. It’s because I’ve always admired you and your work, and now I have the opportunity to get to know you through your own words. Please, don’t be angry at me.”
Her words were met with silence, but she didn’t expect anything different. The heavy, oppressive dread began to dissipate, like smoke cleared away by an opened window.
About the book:
Newly single, unemployed, and with her savings dwindling to an all-time low, Sara thinks things are finally looking up when she lands a job ghostwriting a popular politician’s biography, and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925. Strange things begin to happen as objects break, go missing, and terrifying visions appear, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left, or if she is slowly losing her mind.
She gets no answers from his family who closely guards the secret of his disappearance. Through an old trunk of letters Sara discovers in the attic of her seaside cottage, Sara unravels the mystery and becomes caught up in a tale of greed, lost love, and the horrors of WWI. Will she be the one to break the “Fortner Curse” by helping Seth conquer his demons, and heal both of their hearts in the process?
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