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by J.T. Seate
Genre: Historical Paranormal Mystery
Tags: psychological, supernatural, occult
Release: January 25, 2013
Editor: V.L. Murray
Line Editor: Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer: Charlotte Volnek
Inhabited by both the living and the dead, Connor House is a place where ghosts as well as humans stalk the night. This tale of the paranormal is set in Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia ten years following the Civil War. Passion, loss, murder, and mayhem all form parts of the puzzle that surround the Connors. In this historical setting, the Connors deal with their triumphs and tragedies while being influenced by powers beyond their understanding as the nation continues to recover and rebuild. Into Madeline Connor’s life befalls the tragedy of losing a daughter by suicide. The event proves to be the linchpin for many deaths to follow including the untimely demise of two husbands. As the heroine tries desperately to hold on to her sanity, while unravelling the house's mysteries, she finds comfort in her two sons and her sister who help Madeline bear the burden of loss. There are many questions to be answered inside the walls of Connor House, and although the house outlives its residents, it is not until the wrecking ball takes it down that the final secret is revealed.
She entered and walked across the bedroom, past the untouched cupboard that held Mary’s garments. Madeline had heard of instances where people could not recover from a loved one’s death, where they had left their room unchanged, clothes still hanging ready to be worn, just as they had left them.
Maybe she should sell the house.
No sooner had the thought of selling come to her, than the temperature against her skin changed. Madeline sat on her daughter’s four-poster bed. It was covered with a soft blue and white quilt decorated with a simple design. The room appeared as chaste as any chamber of a young girl whose experience with men had been confined to sonnets and dreams. The faint scent of Mary’s long hair hung on the goose down pillows, while her perfume stirred through the air.
She smoothed the little wrinkles from the quilted bedcover Mary liked so much, and looked about the room at all the ornaments tied to so many memories. Dainty beveled glass perfume containers stood on a small vanity. A delicate fan with ivory ribs hung from the wall, all folds in time where lovely moments were contained, keeping the new reality at bay. There was a yearbook and tassel symbolizing Mary’s graduation from the academy, and the two satin pillows, one embroidered with the capitol building and the other with the residence of the president; souvenirs of the restoration of the Union. Madeline’s fingertips wandered over the delicate embroidery, growing intimate with the lines and grooves.
The pillows led her to thoughts of another family—the Lincolns. How had Mary Todd Lincoln held up under the pain of losing two sons? It must have been for the sake of her two surviving lads. What else?
Madeline remembered the day when she and her daughter had watched the procession of Union soldiers passing from Washington across the bridge that spanned the Potomac, marching through the gateway to the Confederacy. From the front porch of Connor House the tops of ship’s masts could be seen as they sailed up and down the river carrying men and supplies As the street procession paraded by, an officer peeled away from his regiment and came up to the porch where Madeline and Mary stood, causing the little six-year-old to scuttle behind her mother’s skirts. With wide eyes, she peeked at the shiny buttons on the man’s tunic, the red sash and a rattling sword at his side.
“Pardon me, ma’am,” the soldier said to Madeline. “May I hold your hand?” Energy shone from his clear, gray eyes.
Jonathan was at the store, baby Peter was napping, and Toby slept inside Madeline’s womb. She did not see any harm in extending her hand.
“My Lucy died, you see,” the officer said, “and I would like the remembrance of holding the hand of a beautiful woman before marching into battle.”
Madeline did not consider herself beautiful. Such words were rarely directed at her, but they were heartily welcomed, for she had not been called beautiful since. For a moment, the soldier took her hand like it was a delicate bird or a rare treasure. His watery eyes fixed on hers and held them like a lover’s embrace. He thanked her and rejoined the men trundling down the road. Some chuckled at the officer as he rejoined his regiment. He had looked so young to her, not much older than Mary when she died. Such a waste it had been, sending young men off to war.
Wistfully, Madeline studied the hand the man had admired all those years ago, and marvelled that the soldier could have been so taken by it; the same hand that had lifted the iron skillet and crushed Jonathan’s skull. She wondered if the soldier had survived the war, if her hand had truly been his last moment of tenderness. She wondered if Marvin Trimble had taken the delicate hand of her daughter with the same tenderness the soldier had held hers. She hoped Mary was given that moment of honor before...
Tears sprang from her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Most women somehow managed to cope with death. What choice did they have with babies dying right and left, and the war taking so many men? They couldn’t very well howl and scream and pull out their hair for their losses. Decorum was needed to pick out flowers and coffins and write thank you letters. All she’d wanted for her daughter was the opportunity to pass through the different stages of life and have some notion it had been a journey worth taking. In the end, she’d been powerless to protect her own child.
She stretched out next to the pillows and looked at the ceiling once covered with a galaxy of cut out stars that shone bright and luminous when lamplight rose to them. Mary had removed them when she turned sixteen, deciding her imagination should soar beyond paper props. The longer Madeline stared at the ceiling, the more she believed she saw a slight discoloration in the paint’s shading, a section almost in the shape of a face. She wondered if the image was real or surreal. The ceiling seemed to blur as she watched the past whirl around in her memory like a carousel, up and down, round and round as the tinny clatter of a calliope played.
She closed her eyes for a moment. How strange the circle of life could be. When she opened them, she could not make out the face, but sensed something in the room. Madeline sat up. Something akin to a summer’s zephyr touched her face and hands. Like the breath of a soothing angel, a light warm breeze seemed to whisper, “Mother.”
About the Author:
J. T. has written everything from humour to the erotic to the macabre, and is especially keen on stories that transcend genre pigeonholing. “Although I enjoy writing in all genres, it’s the mysterious and the macabre that seem to influence the funny monkey in my brain the most. More recently, I’ve turned that monkey toward the paranormal and historical suspense/romance.” In addition to his novels and novellas, his short stories and memoirs appear in numerous magazines, newspapers, anthologies, and webzines. Recent publications can be found at www.melange-books.com, and www.whispershome.com in addition to this website. See more on www.troyseateauthor.webs.com or at amazon.com.
In Stock: 99
Customer Reviews:bookworm (Sunday, 27 January 2013)
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