A 200 year old manor house, a questionable death, and a cache of stolen jewelry. Who will kill to keep their secrets?
The gang flips a 200 year old manor house in the beautiful, rolling hills of Brown County, Indiana. Unfortunately the house is the site of a suicide, the result of a broken romance, and is rumored to be haunted. Adam and Maddy get caught up in the story of the young couple who were torn apart by family, local events, and something sinister that still seems to be stalking the house. It might not be a ghost, but whatever it is, it has the potential to be deadly.
The Romance Reviews: “…a very enjoyable and rollicking story of wannabe detectives meeting villains who would rather their secrets stay hidden. Supported by some well-drawn characters and an intriguing plot line of interracial prejudice, murder and lost love, this story draws the reader in and provides a wonderful distraction to the realities of the real world.”
The Novel Approach: “As you read each novel, the characters become more alive to you, and more real. I found myself cringing and shutting my eyes and laughing, and sometimes scoffing along with the crew.”
“I knew the recent family of course. The last Bilsworth lived in this house up until ten years ago. They finally gave up on trying to keep the grand old lady running and sold out to a rich young man with no sense at all.” Edgar shook his head. “That was my last day at the house. I couldn’t stay on and watch the silliness that ensued.” He sighed. “But the original Bilsworths I learned about from my great-granddad. He worked for Mathew Bilsworth himself, but that was probably ten or fifteen years after.”
Adam lifted an eyebrow, tipping his water bottle for another drink. “After what?”
“After the first murder,” Edgar told him stoically.
Adam sprayed his water, showering Walter, who had been sprawled at his feet. Walter jumped up, wagging his tail. He thought they were playing spray the dog ’cause he’s hot. It was Walter’s favorite summer game. Adam sputtered, “first murder! There was more than one?”
At the screech in Adam’s voice Walter slunk out of the kitchen. He had a delicate psyche and generally went to great lengths to avoid negativity.
“Well, technically the second one was declared a suicide. But I never believed it.”
Instead of being appalled, or even surprised Adam noted, Maddy seemed even more excited by Edgar’s revelation. “Tell us! I knew about the more recent suicide. I didn’t realize there had been a murder in the house too!” She all but clapped her hands with delight.
Adam wanted to throttle her. Just once he wished they could buy and rehab a house that didn’t have skeletons in its closet…literally.
Edgar patted her hand and smiled. “Oh yes, dear, It was quite the scandal at the time. Young Mister Bilsworth was apparently a different sort…” Glancing uncomfortably at Maddy, Edgar cleared his throat, clearly embarrassed by young Mister Bilsworth’s differences.
Adam nearly smiled. “You mean he was gay?”
Edgar nodded, his pale gaze determinedly avoiding Maddy’s. “Yes. That was the story anyway. By all accounts he became…close…with a slightly older man he met in London and asked the young man, Jenks I think his name was, to come and stay at Bilsworth Manor for the summer. You can imagine how that went over with his father.”
Maddy nodded. “I’m guessing daddy Bilsworth wasn’t happy.”
“No indeed. Especially since old Mr. Bilsworth had been hoping to marry young Patrick off to the daughter of a wealthy landowner out East.”
Maddy leaned closer, clearly enchanted by the tale. “So what happened?”
Edgar shook his head. “I’m afraid Mr. Jenks was quite the scandalous fellow. Old Bilsworth asked around about him and discovered that things tended to disappear when Jenks was around. Expensive things, such as jewelry and gold. Nothing had been proved yet but there was considerable speculation that Jenks had forged a relationship with young Patrick so he’d have a way out of Dodge, so to speak, before he was arrested and hanged for his crimes in England.”
“Poor Patrick,” Maddy murmured.
Adam couldn’t help thinking Patrick must have been a unique kind of dope to fall for Jenks’s bullshit. “So despite the rumors that Jenks was a thief, Patrick Bilsworth fell for him and believed Jenks fell back?”
Edgar nodded, “It appears so. An unfortunate state of affairs to be sure.”
“So Jenks travelled to Bilsworth Manor from London,” Maddy prompted.
“Just ahead of the law apparently.” Edgar agreed. “From all accounts, Young Patrick insisted they throw a ball in his friend’s honor when Jenks arrived at Bilsworth. So old Mr. Bilsworth did the only thing he could. He invited every eligible female in the area to the ball, in the desperate hopes that young Patrick would come to his senses and throw Mr. Jenks over. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Apparently, young Patrick ignored all the pretty ladies and sat in a corner fuming as Mr. Jenks, who was by all accounts a very handsome fellow, flirted and danced quite happily with the ladies. In fact, the way my great-granddad told the story, Mr. Jenks fairly ignored young Patrick all night in favor of all the pretty flowers at the ball.” Edgar shook his head. “Love, thy touch is a fickle thing.”
“Amen and amen,” Adam added. “So I’m assuming Jenks’s behavior put a crimp in Patrick’s love?”
“Yes. Young Patrick and Jenks fought, quite loudly it seems, on the veranda that very night. Mr. Patrick threw Mr. Jenks off the premises and Jenks stormed away. Neither gentleman returned to the ball. It was later discovered that several very expensive pieces of jewelry disappeared from the necks and wrists of the ladies that night.”
Maddy shook her head. “How sad. But what about the murder?”
“The next morning, young Patrick came down to breakfast very upset. It seemed he’d had a change of heart about Mr. Jenks and demanded that his father help him find the man so that Patrick could apologize. I don’t have to tell you that Mr. Bilsworth was reluctant at best. But to that good gentleman’s credit, he did engage a search party. Mr. Jenks was finally found, but it was too late. He was hanging from the rafters of one of the slave cabins.”
Adam jerked upright, the bottle of water nearly slipping from his fingers. “Slave cabins!”
Edgar’s pale gaze slid to Adam, filled with surprise. “Why yes. You didn’t know about the cabins?”
Maddy gave an exclamation of excitement. “Are they still here? The cabins?”
“Only one I’m afraid.”
She stood up, apparently forgetting they were talking to a ninety-year-old man. “Can you show us where it is?”
“Mads…” Adam warned.
Edgar shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid these tired old legs wouldn’t carry me there. But I can tell you where it is. It shouldn’t be hard to find, despite the fact that the trees have quite grown up around it.”
“Did they ever discover who killed Mr. Jenks?” Adam’s mind was still stuck in the past.
“No. And the stolen jewelry was never discovered either. Many believe he hid them right here in Bilsworth Manor. But no one’s ever found them, though many have tried. The police have had their hands full, what with the treasure hunters and all those ghost people.”
Adam felt his eyes go wide. “Ghost people?”
“Yes, because of the hauntings of course.”
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