Morning came a bit too bright and early. Jess glanced at the alarm clock. It was close to seven-thirty. Breakfast wasn’t until nine. Allison was still sound asleep. Jess slid out of bed, dressed as quietly as possible, and padded across the room, thankful none of the floorboards creaked. She opened the door, again relieved it didn’t make a sound. Oddly, it had a slight squeak to it the day before, but Jess passed it off as the door expanding and contracting with the temperature. She stood in the hallway, listening to the sounds of the house. She imagined it breathing, stirring awake along with the birds and the wind. Of course, that was ridiculous. Siler House was wood, brick and stone. Not blood, bone or soul. Just like she’d said last night.
It was definitely time to do some exploring. Dr. Brandt had said they were free to roam. Some of the rooms would be locked, he’d told them. But, any room unlocked was hers to check out.
Jess walked across the hall to the room opposite hers. The doorknob turned easily in her hand, and she pushed the door open enough to see inside. Sheets blanketed a roomful of furniture, making it look like some ghostly convention. Dark yellow-gold paint covered the walls. Heavy brocade curtains hung at the windows. Jess stepped inside and gently closed the door behind her, taking in the musty smell of the stored furniture. Making her way around the room, she pulled aside the sheet draped over a tall piece of furniture and found a floor-length mirror. It was old and the glass pitted and dark. She stared at it for a moment, examining it, curious and scared at the same time.
“Riley?” she said softly, not surprised when no one answered.
She’d let her imagination run the show again.
She let the sheet slide back over the mirror as she walked to the window. The curtains made most of the room impenetrable to the morning light. She pushed one of the panels aside, although it took some effort. The material was dense and heavy. Jess squinted against the light that spilled onto her face. As she did, she swore someone shrieked. The sound was faint, but it had come from within the room, she was sure of it. She spun, looking for whoever might have entered—a maid, perhaps. Even Allison. But she was alone. The light from the window had momentarily hurt her eyes, but now she noticed the sunlight did little to chase away the dark shadows resting in the corners.
“The house, I suppose,” she said. The thought both pleased and set her senses on edge. It sounded like something Allison would come up with.
It’ll be our secret.
The voice was in her head, but it wasn’t hers…
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