An Unlikely Deception — Chapter 1
‘A death to mourn’
“Is someone there?” The hair on the back of Hattie Taylor’s neck stood on end as she stepped onto the second-floor landing of The Whitewood Boarding House. The gaslight chandelier overhead flickered and swayed casting shadows on the wall. At the same time, a whisper of air blew past raising goosebumps on her arms, causing her to turn around, as if someone brushed by her. She shivered.
“Hello?” she whispered again.
Robert Squire, their permanent boarder, was down stairs making coffee and no other guests occupied the upstairs rooms except for Mrs. Whitewood.
She shrugged and tried to explain the odd sensation away. “I must speak to Cal about the draft up here. Spring is almost here, the sun is shining, and yet, it is positively chilly on this floor.”
She smiled at the thought of her new husband, Cal, and pictured him hovered over some broken object, forehead wrinkled, mouth set in a hard line, and an errant lock of dark hair in his eyes as he went about the task.
They made a good pair. Her no nonsense, straight forward attitude complimented his devil-may-care personality.
A newlywed and married to the love of her life, she dreamed of tomorrow and their long- awaited honeymoon. Even in the worst of times her handsome husband brought warmth to her heart and joy to a life filled with grief and heartache. Their long-awaited honeymoon, scheduled for tomorrow morning, marked the new beginning of their life together.
However, life will change for her today, a shift in the cosmos, a sudden detour in direction dictated by a strange twist of fate. A door into her soul, the key to unlock it, and a disturbing discovery will make her question her future with Cal.
Cook’s day off gave her a chance to spoil her mentor, Mrs. Whitewood, with breakfast in bed. She enjoyed the rare smile the old woman bestowed upon her, a result of unorthodox coaxing on her part. An unspoken bond continued to deepen between the two women over the last few months, and she wanted to share this time together before she and Cal departed for the honeymoon.
She entered the first door on the right with a cheery, “Good morning! Look what I brought you this glorious day.”
Instead of the familiar grumbling from the old lady, the room offered only silence.
She hesitated, thoughts distorted, until her focus fastened on the dead body of the proprietor of the famous Whitewood Boarding House.
A delicate china teacup, filled with the morning tea, rattled on its saucer and almost sloshed over the side as the breakfast tray threatened to slip out of her unsteady grip.
The pungent aroma of mint snapped her back into reality. A bright red rose, encased in a crystal vase, stood sentry on the tray, accompanied by white linen napkins embroidered with a rose design, a favorite flower of Mrs. Whitewood. All these cheerful trappings didn’t fit anymore. Neither did her bright, yellow morning dress.
The chill in the hallway found its way into the bedroom and swirled around her shoulders.
The seventy-two-year-old woman was dead, evidenced by the blue color around her lips and the white parchment-like skin.
“Not now, Mrs. Whitewood. Please, not now,” she whispered.
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