Devil's Cove (Tortured Souls)(4)By: R.C. Matthews
He lifted an eyebrow. “Believe me, madam, I’ve seen fear in many a man’s eyes. You’re far from frightened. Tell me why you want this position.”
Abigail clasped her husband’s hand, and he nodded his encouragement. “My brother, Crispin, was cook at the manor,” she said, her voice trembling. “Everyone died during the massacre that night. You must’ve heard the harrowing stories of the manor, and Josephine’s rampage. I would like to reclaim his belongings and several family heirlooms, if you please.”
“Then it’s true?” Devlin whispered, barely able to contain his excitement. He didn’t wish to be disrespectful, but this was the first time he’d spoken with anyone so close to the horrifying events proclaimed to have occurred in the abandoned house. What good fortune that he’d won the vast property in a game of baccarat.
He held his elation in check out of respect for her feelings. “I’ll strike you a deal,” Devlin said. “Let’s give it one month. I personally don’t believe in evil spirits. It’s hogwash, if you ask me. But, if after a month of living in the mansion you still want me to hire a medium to exorcise evil spirits, I will. Agreed?”
“Fair enough,” Samuel said, squeezing his wife’s hand. “What are we waiting for, then? Your coach awaits.”
Devlin hopped to his feet and motioned for Victor and Hatchet to meet him outside. While they stood on the sidewalk waiting for Samuel to bring his coach around front, Devlin shared the good news. Moments later they sat comfortably in the simple black conveyance, swaying and bouncing as they raced along the gravel path.
Leaning to one side, Devlin stared out the window, watching the oppressively dark manor inch closer in the moonlight. The sharp angles of the sloped roof and turrets were reminiscent of an older age. From what he had learned through his barrister, the grounds were massive and encompassed both a thriving forest as well as lush oceanfront property, including craggy cliffs. He could hardly wait to explore it all and uncover its hidden treasures.
When the carriage came to a halt, Devlin closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He’d waited years for all of the pieces to his revenge to come together, and tonight marked the last stretch of his long journey.
“Shall we?” Victor asked.
Devlin grinned at his best friend and opened the door. He jumped to the ground, brushing Samuel out of his way.
“You can remain in the carriage with Abigail if you wish,” Devlin said over his shoulder as he approached the grand entrance to the mansion. “My men will accompany me. We won’t be long, I promise.”
Hatchet blew out a long whistle as he surveyed their surroundings, taking in the dark-gray stones, windows with tightly drawn curtains, and grounds overtaken by weeds and wildflowers. “You’ve got your work cut out for you, Devlin. This place is a disaster.”
“Imagine the state of the inside,” Victor said, running a hand through his thick, black hair. “It’ll take months to restore the mansion if we can’t find servants to assist.”
“I’ll ship servants in from neighboring towns if I have to,” Devlin said as he strode up the stone stairs to the entrance.
He pulled a key ring from his trousers. An ornate “D” carved into the brass bow of a key caught his eye, and he fumbled while thrusting the shaft of the key into the lock. With a twist of his wrist, the lock clicked open. Glancing over his shoulder, he winked at his mates and pushed open the heavy door, putting all of his weight behind the action. The door emitted a wailing creak, and dank air seeped out, crawling over Devlin’s skin.
He stepped cautiously into the foyer and shared a triumphant smile with Victor. Hatchet entered with a torch raised high above his head, revealing a regal staircase. It stood majestically before them, leading to the second floor, where a decadent chandelier hung in the center of the ceiling. Devlin started toward a room on their left but paused when Victor latched on to his arm and lifted a finger to his lips.
“Did you hear that?” Victor whispered, his eyes widening. His breath hitched, and he cocked his head to one side, listening.
The faint keys of a piano drifted through the air, and a shudder raced through Devlin’s body. He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to discern where the noise originated. But as soon as he’d heard the soft notes, they were gone. Had he imagined it, then?
“It’s nothing but the howling wind,” he said, licking his lips. “Come.”
Devlin led the way to a set of double doors and pushed them wide. A magnificent parlor came into view, replete with a marble fireplace, multiple settees and chairs, and a grand piano. The cobwebs clinging to every surface did little to detract from the beauty of the room but served to remind Devlin of everything he hoped to achieve in the coming months.