Home > Reunited on Sugar Maple Road(3)

Reunited on Sugar Maple Road(3)
Author: Debbie Mason

She tuned into the conversation going on around the bonfire. The kids were talking about Seaton House. An abandoned house up the road from Em.

“So you mean, if someone proves that the Seaton sisters were innocent, they can rest in peace?” asked a boy on the far side of the bonfire.

Another kid nodded. “That’s what it said in the book.”

“Seriously? There really is a book about the Seaton sisters?” Em whispered.

The Seaton sisters were Highland Falls’ answer to the Sanderson sisters of Hocus Pocus fame. Except without the coming-back-to-life-on-Halloween-thanks-to-a-virgin part. Although the way rumors spread, that version of the story had probably made its rounds too.

“According to the kids, it’s called The Haunting of Seaton House.” He glanced over his shoulder, lifting his chin at a black-and-gold-striped tent. “Three Wise Women Bookstore is selling copies here tonight.”

As several of the teenagers discussed whether there was any truth to the rumors that the Seaton sisters had been witches, someone on Em’s right whispered, “If you ask me, the Sisterhood are witches.”

Em couldn’t tell who’d said it but she had to nip this in the bud. When she’d been in eighth grade, there’d been a brouhaha about the Sisterhood dancing in the woods to welcome spring. Everything had gotten blown out of proportion, and the town didn’t need a repeat.

“Aunt Em, you live down the road from the Seaton House. Is it really haunted?” Izzy asked.

“No. It’s a dilapidated, old house that needs to be torn down.” Em might like to keep busy but the last thing she needed was the teenagers of Highland Falls going “haunting” as they used to call it.

“And it’s off-limits to all of you.” Josh glanced at an attractive redhead making a beeline for him, and he slid a muscled arm around Em’s shoulders. “Just go along with it, okay?” he said out of the side of his mouth. Then he smiled at the woman. “Hey, how’s it going?”

Em shook her head. The way Josh went through women, he probably didn’t remember the redhead’s name. He hadn’t dated for a couple years after his divorce, but he’d been making up for lost time this past year.

Em spotted two men doing the chest-shove thing at another bonfire and jumped to her feet. “Duty calls.”

Josh followed her gaze and stood up. “I’ll give you a hand. You might need backup.”

He was as overprotective as her brother. Something else that annoyed her. “I think I can handle it, thanks.” Em eyed two other women headed their way. “You, on the other hand, might require backup.”

It wouldn’t be her. Unless a fight broke out amongst the three women, she supposed. Then again, Josh had charmed his way out of detentions in high school, and rumor had it, he’d even made their former principal laugh out loud. A big deal because no one could recall the woman ever smiling.

Em headed for the other bonfire, disappointed to see the two men hugging it out.

Izzy flagged her down with a couple of her friends in tow. “Aunt Em, are you sure you haven’t seen lights at Seaton House? Or heard a woman screaming?”

“Positive. And, Iz, I don’t want you near that place. It should be condemned.” Now that she thought about it, that was something she should look into. “If you hear anyone planning to go, I want you to tell me.”

Izzy glanced at her friends. “I’m not a narc, Aunt Em.”

Em got it. Izzy had been living in Highland Falls for all of two years, and she wouldn’t want to jeopardize her hard-won social standing at school.

“You’re right. I shouldn’t have asked. But do me a favor, the three of you—if you hear someone making plans to go to Seaton House, shut them down. Same goes for anyone talking smack about the Sisterhood.”

The blonde beside Izzy ducked her head. At least Em knew who to look at if the rumor mill heated up. The teen’s mother had been a mean girl in high school. “There are laws against defamation of character. It’s a serious offense that comes with jail time.” When the blonde raised her gaze, Em held it, letting her know she’d heard her.

Figuring she’d made her point, Em said, “Okay, I’ve got a job to do. I’ll see you later, Iz.”

Em walked the perimeter of the Village Green, avoiding making small talk by staying in the shadows of the trees. Then her stomach grumbled, reminding her there was a corn dog with her name on it.

She spotted her brother and Bri. They were almost at the front of the food truck line, talking to a group of friends while Gus played with a golden retriever. Em spotted a line of teenagers outside the black-and-gold-striped tent and decided to grab a copy of The Haunting of Seaton House while she waited for her corn dog. At least she’d know what they were up against.

Retrieving her cell from her pocket, Em pretended she was engrossed in something on her phone. Someone walked into her, and she reached out to steady them. As a blue-veined hand closed around her fingers, Em raised her gaze, sucking in a breath when she met the vacant stare of Granny MacLeod.

It was said that all the woman had to do to see your future was hold your hand. It’s why she routinely wore gloves. She wasn’t wearing them now, and her viselike grip tightened around Em’s fingers.

As Em struggled to free her hand, Granny MacLeod said in a disturbing monotone, “Beyond your sorrow, a man with hair the color of ravens’ wings and a child with eyes the color of the morning sky wait for you. But your journey to the other side of sorrow shall not be an easy one. Only by dying will you free yourself from your past and find your future. This I see, so it shall be.”

Em felt the blood draining from her face, and her knees went weak. Granny MacLeod hadn’t seen her future. She’d seen her past. Brad and the baby weren’t waiting for her. There was no such thing as life after death. It was a myth created to give people false hope. To give them something to hold on to when their world fell apart.

Brad and the baby were lost to her forever, and she was to blame.



Chapter Two



Granny MacLeod’s grip loosened, and Em jerked her hand free, stumbling backward. Gus grabbed a mouthful of her jacket, steadying her on her feet. When she regained her balance, he went up on his hind legs and gave her a hug. She bent over, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face in his fur.

“Em, what’s wrong? What happened?” Bri asked, her voice laced with concern.

“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong,” she lied.

The sights and sounds of that bright blue April morning were like a runaway freight train, barreling toward her. Em knew, from those early months, when just a voice, a sound, or a smell brought everything back, what would happen next, and she needed to leave. She’d learned how to lock the memories of that day away. It was only at night, her barriers lowered in sleep, when they’d escape, coming back to haunt her. But Granny MacLeod’s prophesy had unlocked the box.

“It was my gift, wasn’t it? I said something that caused you pain, and for that I’m sorry. I can’t help it, you know. I should’ve kept my gloves on but we’ve been doing readings for hours.”

Em lifted her head. There was no longer a vacant expression on the older woman’s face. She stood in her purple robe, wringing her hands.

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