Here I Stayby Barbara Michaels
Turning a decrepit old mansion into a beautiful country inn isn't easy, but for Andrea Torgesen, the hard work is exactly what her young brother, Jim, needs after a serious car accident. Or, so she thinksuntil Jim is haunted by unearthly voices and eerie visions, and becomes obsessed with a long-neglected graveyard. Suddenly, the impossible… See more details below
Turning a decrepit old mansion into a beautiful country inn isn't easy, but for Andrea Torgesen, the hard work is exactly what her young brother, Jim, needs after a serious car accident. Or, so she thinksuntil Jim is haunted by unearthly voices and eerie visions, and becomes obsessed with a long-neglected graveyard. Suddenly, the impossible becomes terrifyingly possible and Andrea must battle an evil force that threatens to destroy their lives.
Barbara Michaels is the award-winning author of more than 20 novels, including six New York Times bestsellers. She has a doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Chicago and lives in Frederick, MD.
"Scary, interesting. A winner."--Pittsburgh Press
"Subtle, comprehensive, and breathtaking, terrifying real. I loved it."Romantic Times
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Here I Stay
By Barbara Michaels
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Barbara Michaels
All right reserved.
Andrea climbed down from the ladder and stood back to inspect the sign. Bold black letters, stark on a white background, proclaimed their message: Springers' Grove Inn. The sign swung gently from wrought-iron brackets atop the stone gatepost. Andrea nodded, pleased with her work. The sign was legible, it was eyecatching and at last--it hung straight. She dropped onto the bench inside the gate and sat looking at the house.
Every muscle in her body ached, but as she studied the results of months of back-breaking work, the sweet satisfaction of success made fatigue seem unimportant. The summer had been hot and wet. The green lawn sloping down from the house looked like velvet and the old trees shading the porch flaunted leaves of brilliant emerald. However, the first touch of fall was in the aira faint wash of gold over the maple leaves, bright crimson accents among the oaks. Against a background of rolling hills and verdant meadows the house stood like a marble monument, white paint glistening in the sunlight. The exuberance of Victorian omament was subdued by the sheer mass of the structure and the strength of the walls. Every gingerbread curlicue was in place; the wide veranda that swept in a graceful curve around the north comer of the facade had been fitted up with wicker chairs and tables and an old-fashioned porch swing. Inside, the same perfectionprevailed--charm combined with unobtrusive comfort.
Andrea's hand went to the small of her back in a gesture that was now habitual. She had had a backache for weeks, and no wonder; she had painted and hammered and scrubbed, she had argued with workmen and harassed contractors and fought with inspectors. But it had been worth it. The house was not only a sign of present accomplishment, it was her future--hers and Jim's. Remembering her first view of the place, five months earlier, a smile of triumph curved her lips.
A March morning, gray, foggy, cold. Icy rain, a few degrees away from snow, drizzled down the windshield as she brought the car to a stop by the porch steps. Jim sat beside her, hunched over, knees ostentatiously drawn up; he was six feet three and still growing, but his silent protest was directed not so much against the size of the car as against the fact that she had refused to let him drive. Deeply insulted, he had sulked all the way from D.C.--thirty miles of offended silence, which Andrea blandly ignored. The sight of the house broke through his huffiness. "Jesus H. Christ," he said.
"Don't swear," Andrea said automatically. But she couldn't help thinking that he had put the case in a nutshell.
Leafless and forlorn, the trees looked like crippled giants raising rheumatic arms to threaten the house. There were three floors of it, plus an attic under the mansard roof, and a tower at one end. Acres of walls--and not a square inch of paint that wasn't flaking, chipping, or missing. The iron railing surrounding the widow's walk looked like broken teeth, red with rust. Half a dozen windows were boarded up. One of the pillars supporting the porch roof was broken; the steps sagged, inadequately propped by stones. Even on a bright day the wreck of a once proud mansion would have been depressing. On that gloomy, dreary morning, the sight was indescribable.
Too discouraged to move, Andrea sat with her hands on the wheel. It was not her first view of the place, but it was her first view as owner--owner of ruin and decay. She had paid duty visits to Cousin Bertha once or twice a year. For the last five of those years the old lady--actually her grandmother's half-sister--had been virtually senile, clinging to her home with the unreasonable determination of the old and able to do so because the small community in which she lived had a few middleaged, unskilled women who could be hired to tend the elderly. Andrea remembered thinking disinterestedly that the house was deteriorating, but she had not paid much attention; she hadn't imagined the problem would ever be hers. Bertha had innumerable relatives. They were widely scattered, however, and Andrea was the only one who paid regular visits to the old lady. She could honestly claim that the hope of profit had never been one of her motives; the visits had been prompted in part by proximity and in part by the stem Calvinist sense of duty Jim found so funny. He teased her constantly about her New England conscience, and when the letter from the lawyer arrived he had shouted with amusement, "Now it comes out. What did you do, con the old lady into making you her sole heir?"
Andrea was not amused. "She's probably left me some ghastly trinket--a brooch with dried-up hair in it, or her collection of seashells. Maybe it's something I can sell. I hope so. We could use the money."
Jim's well-shaped mouth tightened, as it always did when she talked about finances. "Goddamn it, Andy, if we're that broke I'll get a job. A full-time job. I told you--"
"No. You'll finish college. No one knows better than I how important that is. I wish I could do better for you than the state university, but--"
"Maryland is fine. It's a good school. I like it. But I wish to God you'd stop talking about money!"
He left the room. Andrea stared at her clenched hands. He was right; she did harp on the subject. Jim hated being dependent on her, he knew how hard she worked to keep him in school. She had refused to let him apply for student loans; she wouldn't have him burdened by debts when he entered the job market. He couldn't understand her hatred of owing money. He had only been eight years old when the accident that killed their father and stepmother left them orphaned, without kin close enough to help. Andrea didn't want help, but it had been a shock to learn that her handsome, brilliant father had lived up to every penny of his considerable income, and that he had not even carried extra insurance.
Excerpted from Here I Stay by Barbara Michaels Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Michaels. Excerpted by permission.
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