Kaitlin Dupree never planned to remarry, but she accepts Devlin Clayborne's contract to be his wife in name only and mother to his son. As new mistress of Clayborne Manor, she finds the home mirrors the man. Both hold dark secrets. Both entertain ghosts. And no matter how much light or love she tries to bring into the recesses, Devlin seems content to walk in the shadows, tormented by whispers from long lost times.
But who haunts Clayborne Manor? The ghost that restlessly walks the halls at night? Or the silent memories that plague the minds and spirits of those in residence there?
Though not inclined to believe the dead can walk the night-laden corridors, Kaitlin can see them clearly in the eyes of her husband, Devlin, and hear them in the deafening silence of her son, Derrick. Does she have the courage to search the past and face the ghosts? Does she have the faith to stay and direct all those who dwell In the Manor of the Ghost to the one who sets the captive free?
Something was burning.
The wagon raced down the road. It stopped right on her front step and was soon surrounded by a clamor of people. A chill snaking her skin, Kaitlin hiked her gown and broke into a run.
Kaitlin slipped past the barricades and pushed through the crowds. Heavy smoke made it hard to catch her breath. Nothing could stop her scream when she saw her apartment building engulfed in flames.
She scanned the lines of blackened faces. Her family wasn't there. Her gaze was drawn to the building, to the raging mingling of fire and life. Kaitlin prayed her family would come out. No one exited -- the agony of her thoughts cut her like a well-sharpened saber. Looking up, her thoughts became flesh.
Jean Marc stood in the upstairs window holding a bundle. Kaitlin knew, with another slice to her soul, the bundle was Simone. Jean Marc, so quiet, protective, so uneasily riled, yelled. Tormented wails for help rose along with tears of anguish and fear as angry flames licked out behind him.
The knife in Kaitlin's gut pushed through and slit her spine, filleting with cold precision. Pandemonium reigned around her where men held out their arms, coats, and blankets, and yelled for those Kaitlin loved to jump.
Across the space of the yard, over the din of bells, the cries of man and beast, over the conflagration -- eternity settling between them -- she caught her beloved's eyes. She couldn't read them. Perhaps she could, but couldn't bear to hear the message. Jump, she bade him. He remained at the third floor window, their daughter pressed to his chest. A sparkle of flame in his tear filled eyes, spoke of things to come and time froze. She closed her eyes for a brief moment to dam the tears and looked up to find him gone.
No one had jumped.
Spurred by inner wells of terror, Kaitlin raced for the doors. She groped for the handle, ignoring the pain. The timbers that secured the awning crashed, splinters of flame flickered like fireflies around her head, and fell to her skirts like droplets of orange rain. She stopped momentarily to brush her skirts and continued passed the obstacle. Moving on, ignoring the rush of heat, she screamed for her husband, her child. Her legs ignited with heat, her lungs burned with the smell of seared flesh. She pushed on through the maze of lashing flames, ignoring the screams behind her.
Kaitlin was pulled to an abrupt stop before she could cross the threshold. She fought for release so she could join her family -- in death. She was dragged from the building, thrown to the ground and rolled into the dirt.
Afraid to look at the window and have her fears justified, she closed her eyes against the burning tears. Unaware, as she succumbed to the blackness, whether it was her voice she heard screaming so loudly, so pathetically, or the haunting cries of her husband and child, calling for salvation.