The Haunting of Heatherhurst Hall

by Sebastian Nothwell

The Haunting of Heatherhurst Hall - Sebastian Nothwell
Editions:Kindle: $ 3.99
ISBN: B07R78VYW9
Pages: 300

Heatherhurst Hall
Cumberland, England
1892

American heiress Kit Morgan is heartbroken at the wedding of her dearest school-friend. At her lowest moment, she is rescued from her agonies by the mysterious and alluring Alexandra Cranbrook, sister of a visiting English baronet. Alexandra is beautiful, charming, and effortlessly beguiling. Kit cannot help but fall in love with her.

When Sir Vivian Cranbrook proposes marriage, it seems natural for Kit to accept—if only to live with the woman she desperately loves.

But the Cranbrook’s ancestral home of Heatherhurst Hall is not all it seems. The attic is forbidden. Strange scratching noises echo from within the walls. Wraiths stalk the corridors by night. And worst of all, Alexandra’s love has turned to scorn.

Still, Kit is determined to earn her happily-ever-after and save the Cranbrooks from the horrors of Heatherhurst Hall.

If only she could know Alexandra loved her in return.

~

The Haunting of Heatherhurst Hall is a Gothic romance rife with horror and heartache, wherein an American heiress makes an ill-advised marriage to bring herself closer the woman who’s stolen her heart.

Excerpt:

They spent the next fortnight in a flurry of daily visits; sojourns to the nearby beaches to gather periwinkles and bird-skulls; bicycle-riding through Buttonwood Park; dozens of photographs of Alexandra as a wide variety of villainesses; and ending each day with a promise to meet again upon the morrow. Kit couldn’t recall when she’d last felt so happy. Even with the shadow of Sir Vivian looming as chaperon over all their hours, Alexandra stole moments in which to show Kit certain glances, certain expressions, certain gestures that Kit felt she could not possibly misinterpret. A clasp of the hand. A flutter of the lashes. The biting of her blood-red lip. Each of these sent another dart through Kit’s breast, until her heart felt ready to burst with unspoken desire.

Then, one morning, Alexandra arrived alone.

When Diana first announced this, Kit’s heart soared with the possibility of an entire day with Alexandra all to herself.

READ MORE

But when she met Alexandra in the morning room, she quickly sobered.

Alexandra looked as elegant as ever in a gown of deepest purple. She sat poised on the edge of the settee, the very picture of feminine perfection. But her expression, in the half-second glimpse Kit had of it as she opened the morning room door, just before Alexandra realized her presence—her expression bespoke pure despair. Faint blue shadows bloomed beneath her downcast eyes, their color hidden by full black lashes. She bit her heart-shaped lips, then drew them together in a thin line, their blood-red hue all the more striking when contrasted against the bone-white pallor of her hollow cheeks.

Then she glanced up at Kit, and the wan smile she offered appeared even more heartbreaking than her evident misery.

Kit hurried across the room to sit beside her. Instinct bid her throw her arms around Alexandra’s sloping shoulders—and yet she dared not make so forward a move. Knotting her hands together in her lap to dissuade temptation, she asked, “Whatever is the matter?”

She expected the worst—a death in the family—perhaps even the death of Sir Vivian himself.

Alexandra opened her beautiful mouth and spoke. “We are leaving.”

To Kit, those three small words carried tremendous dread. “You and Sir Vivian, you mean? But why?”

“My brother has some investment opportunities he wishes to look over in the western portion of the state.”

No one had died, then. Though it seemed all Kit’s dreams had. With effort, she managed to put together the proper words demanded by society on such an occasion. “Then this is good-bye.”

“With your permission,” Alexandra said gently, “I would prefer to think of it as a farewell-for-now.”

“Until we meet again?” Kit dared to ask.

“Which, God willing, shall be very soon indeed.” Alexandra smiled as she spoke—a wistful one, none the less beautiful for its somber tones. It softened her steel-gray eyes as they gazed unerring into Kit’s own.

Kit, feeling hot tears welling up in response, hurried to look away. Her gaze fell upon Alexandra’s hands, laid upon her lap. Such elegant hands, the fingers long and well-formed, tapering in perfect feminine shape. Nothing like Kit’s own broad palms and round-tipped digits.

Even as she pushed down her bitter reflections upon her own inferiority, Kit noted a discrepancy in Alexandra’s hands.
The silver-and-sapphire ring was missing from her delicate finger.

Kit stared at its absence. As if shy of scrutiny, Alexandra’s hands curled up to fold in upon each other in her lap. The motion told as plain as words that Kit’s attentions had been noticed, and a blush came over her cheeks as she raised her eyes in guilt to meet Alexandra’s once again.

A resigned smile still hung upon Alexandra’s bow-shaped lips. “Circumstances have forced me to surrender my mother’s ring to Vivian.”

The true meaning of the news dawned upon Kit. “You mean he has chosen a bride?”

“He has.” Most of Alexandra’s smile had faded now. “It only remains to be seen if Miss Patience Wheeler will have him.”

Silence fell in the wake of this revelation, grim and portentous. The prospect of Patience Wheeler becoming mistress of Heatherhurst Hall did not bode well for anyone’s happiness, much less Alexandra’s. But even Kit couldn’t deny the Wheeler fortune would go a long way towards repairing the Cranbrook family dignity.

“I wish him the best of luck and happiness,” Kit forced out.

“Thank you,” replied Alexandra.

Kit wanted to say more—to express her condolences to Alexandra on the loss of her ring, and the impending loss of her control over her home. A more selfish part of her also wanted to suggest alternative schemes for Alexandra’s happiness, schemes centered around Alexandra remaining in America, perhaps in New Bedford, and perhaps even within Kit’s own household. Determined to say something to alleviate Alexandra’s pain, Kit turned to her, intending to at least invite her to stay.

Alexandra kissed her.

Kit parted her lips—an unconscious motion, borne of pure astonishment—and Alexandra opened hers in turn, taking Kit’s lower lip between them. Her tongue slipped into Kit’s mouth. A spark ignited behind her navel, its flames spreading low between her thighs in a wildfire of desire. Her heart threw itself against her ribcage in desperation to be closer to Alexandra.

Then Alexandra broke it off, leaving Kit gasping for breath—and something more.

“I do hope,” Alexandra whispered, low and husky, “that I might have the pleasure of calling upon you again, when I return to these shores.”

Kit wanted to bring all her hopes into reality, wanted to reassure her that she was perennially welcome in her house, wanted to entice her to return, to stay. But with all breath flown from her, and her heart in her throat, the best she could manage was a whispered, “Yes.”

~

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Sebastian Nothwell lives in Massachusetts.


Leave a Comment