The Whispering House
Science Fiction Romance/Horror/Paranormal
After her mother’s death, Eleanor Radcliffe retires from her job in San Jose and escapes to a small place outside of Fresno to heal.
But her new home hides a secret. A secret that could claim her life. When strange, frightening things start to happen, she turns to her mysterious neighbor Michael Stevens and the handsome sheriff Rodney Tyler for help.
As the incidents grow more bizarre and violent, she is forced to flee. Her world is turned upside down. Long-suppressed supernatural powers resurface, and she struggles to deal with everything that is happening.
With her world spinning out of control, Eleanor will have to face her deepest fears and learn to use her powers if she’s going to survive...
The whispering house.
The house was quiet when she returned. Nothing out of place. No windows or doors stood open. She could almost believe last night had never happened.
The doorbell rang, sending her pulse racing faster than a greyhound. Could it be Michael? She drew in a deep breath and walked briskly to the door, almost throwing it open. Disappointment filled her at the sight of a chest clad in tan and sporting a sheriff’s badge instead of soft flannel and leather.
She had to tip her head back to see his face. The somber expression on the handsome face gave nothing away.
“Miss Radcliffe? I’m Officer Rodney Tyler.” Intense brown eyes studied her.
Eleanor shook his hand. Memories of her fear from the day before came rushing back.
“May I come in?”
“Uh, sure.” She stepped back to give him room to enter. Cold air wrapped its arms around her. A shiver shimmied down her back, and she quickly shut the door. The fog’s embrace had lost its allure.
He scanned the sparsely furnished living room, stopping on her dinosaur of a television. He didn’t even raise an eyebrow. “You reported a break in? Was anything taken?”
“No. I…” Embarrassment heated her cheeks. How could she explain what had happened without sounding psycho? She licked her lips, looked down at her feet, and grimaced. Mud covered her sturdy hiking boots. She’d obviously just been out walking. Would he question her story more because of it?
A warm hand rested briefly on her shoulder. She jumped, startled. Their gazes met. For the second time that day, she read interest in a man’s eyes. She, who barely made a ripple when she walked through a room, had two very good-looking men interested. The sensation was heady. Blushing, she moved to the couch and sat down. When she faced him again, she felt more in control.
“I don’t know how to explain this without sounding like a crackpot, but yesterday I was sitting at my kitchen table when I saw a figure standing out in the fog…” She told him what happened.
He remained silent through the whole recitation, making her nerves jump. Did he believe her or was he merely humoring her?
“Does anyone else have a key?” Officer Tyler asked.
“Not that I’m aware of. I bought this house over a month ago, but only moved in last week. When I moved in, it was vacant.”
“Are you certain you didn’t open the window?”
“In the middle of winter?”
“I have to ask to rule out all of the possibilities,” he replied. He once again scanned the living room. “Do you mind if I take a look around? Maybe you missed something.” He closed his notebook and strode toward the front door.
“Do you want to see the bedroom window?” Heat flooded her cheeks. That hadn’t come out the way she meant it. Would he think it was an invitation? His lack of response told her it was only in her mind. She sighed in relief and continued. “I didn’t see anything that would suggest someone had forced it, but I don’t have much experience with this kind of thing.”
He shook his head. “Let me look around outside first. I’ll check inside later.”
She followed him to the door and watched him through her window. He pulled his radio out and started to talk to someone the second he stepped out of earshot. She sensed that he didn’t believe her. Heck! She had a hard time believing it and she’d lived through it.
“He’s a fool,” a voice whispered.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Her heart pounding an uneven tattoo, she turned to look behind her, afraid of what she may, or may not, see. The room was empty, but she heard the kitchen door slam. Pulling open the front door, she ran outside to the officer.
“It happened again.” Her breath came in short gasps. “Someone was in my house. They went out the back.”
“Stay here,” he ordered and rushed into the house.
She looked around and scuttled after him. Nothing could induce her to stand outside in the cold, with the fog hanging in the distance, alone. He moved quickly through the house with Eleanor on his heels. He stopped so abruptly in the kitchen that she bumped into his back. The look he gave her made her insides churn, but fear of the unknown kept her glued to his side.
Peeking around his shoulder, she saw two small muddy footprints on the floor about the size of an eight- or nine-year-old child. He crossed to the backdoor and looked out the window. She knew he wouldn’t see anything.
“I called the station,” he began, but stopped. Concern filled his eyes.
“I know. I saw you on your radio. I figured you were calling in about the crazy lady.”
He shook his head and appeared hesitant to continue. “What do you know about this house?”
“Only that I love it. Why?” A very bad feeling stole over her, similar to how she felt right before her mother told her she had cancer.
“Apparently, your house is a favorite place for neighborhood kids to pull pranks. At least, that is the best we can figure.” He took in the cozy kitchen before he turned back to her. “You’ve been here a week?”
She nodded, wondering how the sheriff’s department could call this a neighborhood kid’s prank, especially after seeing the small bare footprints. What child would run around in the middle of winter without shoes? What mother would let them? And how could there be neighborhood kids without a neighborhood? “Yesterday was exactly a week.”
“It fits the pattern. That’s when the pranks begin. Most of the pranks are harmless.”
“Most?” she interrupted.
“Yes. On occasion, things are destroyed. In any case, we’ve been unable to catch them. The best I can do is write down another report and advise you to get to know your neighbors.”
“That’s it?” she asked. This was all he was going to do?
“Miss Radcliffe, I wish I could do more for you. Unfortunately, beyond setting up camp, which I am not allowed to do, it’s the best I can do. However,” he pulled out a card, quickly jotted something down on the back, and handed it to her, “when…uh, if this happens again, call me directly. Or just call me if you feel the need…for anything.” His radio squawked. “Officer Tyler here,” he answered. “I’m sorry. I have to go.” He strode across the yard to his parked patrol car, climbed in, and started the engine.
Stunned by his abrupt exit, she stared after him. She finally found her voice as she watched his car pull out of the driveway. “What about my bedroom?” she asked to the air. With his card in her hand, she wanted to cry then throw something and cry some more. Useless. Absolutely useless. She had expected to feel safer after talking to a sheriff. Instead, she felt even more vulnerable. She looked at the back of the card. 555-0892 – home. Officer Rodney Tyler.
Where was Michael when she needed him? And how did she know he could help her?
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