Sefton Manor, a country house that has somehow withstood the ravages of time, holds the key to Martha Kendall's dysfunctional family. Asked by her grandmother to uncover the truth about her missing Aunt, Martha comes to Buckhurst Village and starts to ask questions. Questions that lead her to Will Fellowes, a famous musician whose family tended the grounds of Sefton Manor for centuries.
Amidst whispers of pacts with the Devil, they pair up to wrestle the secret from the house and their growing feelings for each other.
“It’s never been a happy house, the Seftons always keeping to themselves. Never many chil’ren running about and a big house like that, it needs chil’ren. From what I remember from the tales, Lord Sefton married a local lass, oh, fresh and young and pretty she was. About fifty years ago, what some folk ’round here thought was a ghost came wandering crazed into Buckhurst, clutching a baby girl. ’Twas her. Wild, they say her eyes were, and she was mumbling, but too scared to say anything understandable. Patrick Clark, him’s that used to be the deputy police constable, recognized her. She disappeared. Her and the girl. Then two days later, Clark too.”
Martha swayed and reached out to the solid reception desk to balance herself. That must’ve been her grandmother. Dear Lord. Whereas before, she had always taken what her grandmother said with a pinch of salt—okay, an entire ton of the stuff—now it seemed as though she no longer had that luxury. She had been on a wild goose chase, following down the alleys of her grandmother’s memories. Yes, a small part of her had thought there might be some truth. But now? What was she going to uncover? The full implications of what she was doing here hit her like a ton of bricks.
Her stomach flipped uneasily and somewhere deep inside her came the knowledge that this trip, the one she undertook so flippantly, was going to change her life. Before she could ascertain whether the change would be for the better or the worse, that bone clenching knowledge departed. So quickly in fact, that she could almost persuade herself she hadn’t felt it. Almost.
Picking up the pen to sign her check in-form, she dimly noticed the shake in her hand. Julie rattled on, clearly thrilled to have a captive audience. Now the initial scare had worn off her, her broad Norfolk twang subsided somewhat, contributing to the eerie feeling.
“A television crew came to film a period drama, oooh must’ve been about five years back, and they left their equipment there overnight. When they came back the next morning, all that equipment had been vandalized, melted some say.” She dropped her voice. “And they had, you know, footage of shadows moving and whispering. Some say a man screamed for his honey. Now what that’s all about, I sure don’t know.”
Martha’s blood ran cold. Many were the times she had heard similar as her grandmother battled with her demons.
“Aw Miss, I’m sorry. I’ve got you right upset.” Julie gazed at her with a maternal look of concern that further flustered her. She dropped her eyes and focused on the words swimming in front of her eyes until they solidified into something approaching readable. Martha Kendall, Doctor. She rarely put her title, but something about this occasion called for it. She could do this. As she put the black felt pen to paper, she signed with an extra flourish. Her grandmother had been run out of town and she sure as heck was going to figure out why. For her grandmother and her mother. And for that other someone that only got mentioned in moments of extreme upset. Honey. She pushed the card back to Julie and straightened up.