Hey, everybody! Here’s the next installment of The Voice In The Forest, the book I’m writing in the rough on my newsletter, one chapter at a time, one week at a time. If you want to be the first to read it, sign up for that and get a free ebook of The Lost Chapter. Soon, I’ll be adding a prequel short story of Olivia from Personal Pan to the free bonuses exclusive to the newsletter.
Both Personal Pan, and The Spinning Wheel are going live on February 24th! I can’t wait for everyone to read the first books in those series.
For now, here is the second chapter of The Voice In The Forest.
Why were they so damn loud? Blackwell tucked himself further into the window seat, holding back his grumbles because they never listened to them anyway.
These new people living in his house had too many others coming in and out, hanging new drapes in hideous bright colors that didn’t match the house at all, and one of them was talking about some terrible gazebo thing for yoga.
“If I knew what the hell yoga was, I’m sure I would hate it,” he said to the book laying open on the seat in front of him.
At least they hadn’t taken the books he knew out of the library. They hadn’t been in the library much at all, just walked in, looked around, and left it as if it wasn’t the best room in the house.
Outside, one of their over loud transport contraptions pulled into the circular lane and rolled to a stop in front of the main doors.
The doors of it opened and the other Blackwell family member who had inherited the place stepped out of one side. He had little good to say about the man, even though they shared a name. Family didn’t mean shared values, that he had learned in his long time on Earth.
The other door opened and the person that stepped out was a tiny creature. She wasn’t a child, she was fully developed, but she was thin and small in stature, made only more so by the way she held herself, almost folded in, as if she was expecting a blow.
Her hands tugged down on the sleeves of her sweater under her jacket. It was cold out, but the way she did it looked furtive instead of trying to keep her hands warm.
Among the fair hair and the olive complexions of the Blackwells, a combination that made their painted portraits unsuitable for cameos, she stood out as clearly not one of their children. She had a face so pale he wondered if she was wearing white powder and her hair was deepest black, setting of the coloring of her face and neck in such a way that it only served to make her look even more fragile.
She reached into the backseat of the car and grabbed a bag that looks too heavy for her to carry.
Blackwell left his book behind and wandered through the house to see who this newcomer was.
“Did they give her any medication?” The woman of the garish taste in drapes asked as he walked into the foyer, her hand playing with the pendant at her neck and her eyes staring down her nose at the young woman.
“I’m right here, Mom. No, they believe I don’t need to be medicated,” the young woman said, her voice stronger than her body suggested it would be, but she was still wilting under the weight of her bag.
Why didn’t they get a valet to carry it for her?
He shook his head, there had to be a valet among the throng of people they had brought traipsing through the house.
“Yes, well, I believe I will be calling in our physician to see what he has to say,” her mother said.
The young woman set a withering glare on her mother, and then she shifted her face to a sacharrine smile. It was fascinating to watch someone who surprised him and he leaned against the bannister of the sweeping staircase with the ornate wrought iron rail he wished was matched on the back staircase.
“Sure, Mom. That makes sense. But they said that some medications would set back my recovery and could lead to outbursts again,” the young woman said, holding still the look of sweet innocence on her face.
Her mother looked back and forth between her daughter and Trenton who only shrugged in response.
“Fine. Well, Arabella,” she said, sending Blackwell’s mind reeling. He knew that name from somewhere, but his faulty memory left him grasping at nothing trying to place it. “Welcome to your new home. Trenton will show you to your room.”
Without any choice, his need to understand why he should know her name when he didn’t know her at all, compelled him to trail after her and Trenton as they climbed the stairs and he led her down the wing they had yet to begin to redecorate.
“Any of these rooms are open for you to choose,” Trenton gestured down the hall and she stopped to scan the myriad doors on each side.
“I have two questions, have you ever lived in any of these rooms?”
When he shook his head she nodded and adjusted her bag at her side.
“Okay, then. Where is the bathroom?” She asked.
“Fourth door on the right is the best bathroom in this hall, but many of the rooms down this hall have their own bathrooms,” he said, and smiled when a genuine grin bloomed on her face and she turned to wander down the hall.
Door after door was opened and she wandered through the rooms while Blackwell stayed behind and tried to understand her thought process in making her choice.
At the last door on the right, she froze after she entered the room and stared out each of the windows.
One looked over the back grounds, including the dormant garden that had long ago gone to seed, across the yard, and into the trees that creeped closer to the house every year. The other looked out to the side yard with it’s walkway into the woods, barely visible after too many years of neglect, and the section of the woods that included the pond, his least favorite part of the grounds.
This room had an attached bath that had two cracked tiles that had been needing to be replaced for years.
She set her bag down on the bed and sat on the edge of it with a deep breath that had to smell of dust and age to her young senses.
“I would like to stay in this room.” Her voice was clear and low, it was balm to his oversensitive ears, and he wanted her to keep speaking, which he never wanted of anyone.
“Good. That’s settled. Come on, then. I will get you some lunch and we can send the maids up here to get this place cleaned up and ready for you with some new linens and a good dusting,” Trenton said, gesturing with his hand and stepping directly in front of Blackwell.
“Oh, I am hungry, but could you have them put similar linens on the bed?” The young woman ran a hand long the soft, quilted bedding in whites and creams.
“Are you sure you don’t want something brand new?” He asked, following as she walked into the hall.
“No. Thank you, Trenton, but I like the look of those soft old linens, they fit the room,” she said.
Blackwell couldn’t have agreed more as he followed them, she fit the house almost as much as he did himself. Maybe he could find a way for her to stay. Then maybe he wouldn’t be the only person who was protective of the house.
The question for him was, how was a spirit going to get her to want to stay without scaring her, especially since no one in his family had ever been able to see him before.