The flight arrived in Wellington as scheduled, giving them plenty of time to get to their new home before dark. Tom, the CEO of The Little Book Publishing Company was there to meet them.
“What a nice surprise!” Will exclaimed. “Tom, this is my wife Molly. Molly this is Tom!”
“Well, Molly, it is so nice to finally meet you. Glad we have been able to entice you away from this mysterious house of yours!” said Tom as he gave her a friendly hug. Molly glanced at Will over Tom’s shoulder questioningly, to which Will just shrugged his shoulders.
Tom added, “When is the invite to come and visit?” He laughed, “Inviting myself, that’s rich eh! Once you have settled in at the house, Kelly and I would love to have you over for dinner, come and meet our ‘family’,” he smiled charismatically.
“Tom and Kelly have a menagerie of dogs and a cat, they are quite amazing animals and very much their family members,” Will explained to Molly, her face lighting up at the thought of having some cat and dog cuddles.
“But for now, let’s get you to your new home. It’s a modest place not far from here, but thankfully out of the flight path,” Tom explained as he helped them collect their luggage, they then headed out of the airport doors to his car parked just outside. Tom chatted whilst he drove through the city traffic like it was second nature, calm and at ease, effortlessly changing lanes.
“The Team are very excited to meet you both. Does Tuesday feel ok to come over to the office for lunch and you can meet them casually?” Tom asked.
“Sure,” Molly and Will answered together.
Before long they were pulling into the short driveway of a two storey Victorian villa. It was painted white, the window and door frames were in a fine outline of black. There was a white picket fence and small cottage garden in the front with a path up the middle from a tiny gate and arbour framed in climbing roses which opened onto the street. There were large bay windows either side of the front door portico, which were duplicated upstairs, flooding the rooms with light. Surprised, Molly looked at Will disbelievingly! “Really?” she mouthed to him, smiling excitedly. He just smiled in return. Will had already seen the house and having sworn Tom to secrecy, wanted to provided a lovely surprise for Molly.
“Leave the luggage for now, I want to show you around,” Tom suggested. Will took Molly’s hand as Tom unlocked the front door, entering the security code into the key pad just inside the door. They walked through the red front door into an entrance hall with a antique coat stand and a blanket box. Light shone through the large fan-light window above the door. An aspidistra in a blue and white porcelain pot sat on an Art Deco styled oak plant stand and there were three doors leading off from this room in different directions.
“To your left you have the original parlour, now used as the lounge room,” Tom opened the door to reveal a room simply furnished with a coffee table, large comfy lounge, a sideboard containing the TV and sound system, another large pot plant to the side of the bay window, and a gorgeous Persian rug in the middle of the floor. The walls were painted off-white enhancing the timber architraves, doors and polished wooden floors. There was an ornately tiled fireplace stacked with dried pine cones. The original surrounding hearth tiles were an Art Nouveau design in pale pink and green. White Plantain Shutters framed the windows, which pushed back to let in the light.
“The fireplaces are more for decoration these days. There is central heating, which you may still need on the odd day. The high ceilings keep the house cool on hot days. Now through this door, is an office,” he said as he lead them into the room on the opposite side of the entrance hall. Inside this room was more beautiful antique furniture, a large cedar Partners Desk and a captain’s chair very similar to the one Molly had at home. On the walls were several copies of classic Monet’s, Molly’s favourite artist when she was in college.
“Anything else you may need to help you, please let me know,” Tom looked at Molly and laughed, “You look like you have won Lotto Molly! It’s just a house!”
“This is incredibly generous of you Tom, thank you so much!” Molly stammered, gobsmacked at the amazing house that was now theirs for the next 3 months.
“Oh it was just sitting around kinda empty, waiting for someone just like you guys”, he said with a huge smile, that Molly learnt was typically Tom.
“And through this door is……….” Tom paused, letting the excitement build a little, “the hallway and the staircase, and out here, across the back of the house is the kitchen and dining room, a small sun room and the deck.” Tom opened the door and to let the couple through first. The kitchen was tastefully designed to enhance the character of the house, timber bench tops, with pale green cupboards, and a splash back of black, white and pink vintage tiles. Placed in the middle of the bench was a massive commercial sized gas stove with twin ovens, and porcelain sink with old fashioned brass taps and a wall of windows which looked out over the small backyard and the reserve beyond. Many trees hid the neighbouring houses, making the property feel private and safe. There was an old oak dining table that could extend out and on the far end of the room was a lounge and the far wall was filled with books. The entire back wall of the house facing the garden was made of glass paned bifold doors which opened out onto the back deck overlooking the tree tops, bringing the garden inside.
“Just out here is the laundry and a second toilet. Come on upstairs,” Tom invited them, leading the way. Molly paused at the bottom of the stairs, something made her catch her breath. She ran her hand along the smooth polished wooden bannister, taking in the craftsmanship of the woodwork of the grand staircase. The stairs were divided by a landing where it changed direction. Upstairs there were three bedrooms, two across the front of the house facing onto the street both with large bay windows, the third bedroom was smaller had a large double hung sash window which looked out over the back garden and across the reserve below. To the right of this was a huge bathroom, a claw footed bath on one side, a walk in shower on the other. Next door was the toilet, a replica of an early design with a wooden seat, decorated porcelain cistern over head with a chain pull flush. In the bathroom was an antique washstand fitted out with taps and what looked like a Victorian commode. Molly laughed and went to open the lid. Tom closed the lid suddenly with his foot and said, “are you really ready for this?” Molly looked at him curiously. “Ta daa!” He said lifting the lid to reveal a laundry chute that connected directly to the laundry beneath. “Neat!” said Molly pleasantly surprised and a little relieved.
“Take which ever room feels the best for you guys, and you are welcome to have visitors of course.” They went from bedroom to bedroom, each of which were well appointed with antique furniture and the best quality bed linen. Molly was drawn to the simplicity of the back bedroom, but it was much smaller than the others. One of the front bedrooms had a four-poster bed with a canopy of lace draped around it, drawn back to reveal the beautiful bed linen and mountain of pillows.
“Oh Tom, this is gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!” said Molly, Will standing next to her with his arm wrapped around her waist, big smiles on both their faces.
“My pleasure. We are in for some fun these next few months, I am very excited about creating this book with you both. And now, if you can spare Will for a short while Molly, I’ll get him to drive me home. Kelly and I live just around the block, walking distance I guess. This car is for you to use during your stay. And feel free to go exploring on your days off, we work a four day week. I thought it would be good if you don’t mind working over the weekends, gives you time to visit the staff in their own homes, and I thought it would make it a bit more relaxing for everyone. Anyway, we will discuss the details over lunch on Tuesday. So pleased to meet you Molly Ferguson,” Tom said as he kissed her on the cheek.
“I’ll just take Tom home and will be back soon Honey,” Will said as he and Tom went downstairs to the car.
“Oh, the luggage Will, can I help?” Molly called out after them.
“We’ve got it, shall leave it in the hall at the bottom of the stairs,” Tom called as he and Will went out the front door.
Molly could not believe her eyes! Once the boys had left, she wandered from room to room, taking in the treasures in each of them. Looking out the back window in the spare bedroom, the sun was setting, filling the sky with a variety of shades of orange and yellow, as it turned to a deep red and purple, lighting up the fading blue sky. This space inspired her, she could feel the uplifting energy as she looked out the window, and wondered what the room may have been used for. Molly ran along the short hallway to what she had chosen as their bedroom and jumped onto the bed landing on her back, laughing. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and contacted Annabelle on a video call. “Hey Baybee, you are not going to believe our new home, so I thought I’d show you.” Molly took her friend on a guided tour by her phone – she had to share her excitement with someone, Will having gone with Tom, she was unable to contain her excitement.
As she chatted with Annabelle, Molly could hear Will downstairs, and realised that she had not moved the luggage, having gotten lost in conversation with Annabelle. Ending the conversation, she skipped down the stairs, apologetic for not taking care of the luggage.
“Since when have such minor details been of importance to me?” asked Will, sweeping Molly up in his arms and spinning her around, as her feet touched the floor again, their lips met and everything around them dissolved, lost in a moment of bliss. He picked her up in his arms and carried her upstairs. “The unpacking can wait, I have more important things to attend to….” Will said. “So which is our room?” He asked. Following Molly’s pointed hand he walked into the room and tossed her onto the bed, pausing to capture the moment. Looking at her on the bed, she always took his breath away. “Oh God you are beautiful,” he whispered, he laid down next to her. “This bed is huge!” he laughed, as they rolled about playfully.
“Oh Molly, isn’t it wonderful? Dream job or what?”
“And here I was resisting leaving our little cottage,” she smiled at her own quirky tendencies.
Lying together on the soft, warm bed, they both felt a flood of tiredness wash over them.
“Hot bath?” suggested Will.
“Brilliant idea!” Molly said as she got up to take care of it. Will called after her, “Tom said there was dinner in the fridge, it would just need heating.”
Later that night, nestled under the covers in the soft warm bed, sleep overcome them both instantly, there was no time for any romantic interludes, their eyes closing as their heads touched the soft pillows.
“Good night my beautiful Angel” Will whispered to Molly’s as he snuggled up from behind her, spooning his body against hers.
“Good…. night…. my… beautiful… Angel,” she replied, already drifting in and out of sleep between drowsy words.
Molly went swiftly into a deep sleep and a true-to-life dream that felt as if it lasted the whole night. There was so much detail and vibrant colour to it. She dreamt that she was living in the house in which they were staying, but the timing was almost 100 years ago! This particular night there was a dinner party, and a house full of guests. The parlour had been cleared of furniture and a small band set up in the bay window played music to an uptempo beat, classic 1920’s style. People were dancing, and the house was filled with the atmosphere and sounds of joyful laughter and interesting conversations, a light-hearted celebration. She went from room to room seeing all of these people, eloquently dressed, enjoying each others company, or playing games. The dining room was glamorously set with a long dining table, the crystal glassware, silver cutlery and crystal candelabra sparkled against the crisp white linen table clothe, contrasted by the rich peacock blue napkins twisted into silver serviette rings in the shape of a spiralling serpent each with a different coloured precious gem as eyes. As the warm summer breeze flowed through the house, scents of the fragrant garden outside came wafting in the open doors which lead out onto the back verandah, she watched the sunset, admiring the silhouette of the newly planted trees. In her hand was a fine cut fluted crystal glass half filled with champagne. In the kitchen there were staff busy taking care of the final details before presenting the meal to the guests. One of the maids rings the dinner gong and a parade of smartly dressed kitchen staff bring to the table on silver platters the beginnings of a spectacular dinner. Excited guests come to be seated at the table. Laughing and joking they found their named places. There must be seating for at least 24 people, she marvelled. And yet this felt the most natural thing for her to be doing.
With everyone seated at the table, Molly feels herself taking on the role of host, outside of herself and yet, inside of this other person….it was the strangest sensation.
She heard herself say, “Thank you all for coming and participating in the celebration of the publication of my first novel!” Applause fills the room, and a mischievous wolf whistle rings out.
“So please raise your glasses in a toast. To thank you all for your participation, for all that you each individually, and as an amazing team, have contributed. I am truly grateful.” And it is Molly’s turn to applaud them. Looking around the table, she realises as the dreamer, that for a moment she sees them all dressed as angels! Except for a handsome man in a dinner suit at the far end of the table, who stands raising his glass and addresses the seated guests. “Here’s to the most amazing woman in my life, and it is a privilege to have her as my wife, Mrs Grace Simpson!” To which they all clink glasses and cheer! “Here! Here! Bravo! Bravo bellisima!” His voice rising above the others clearly.
Molly, as the dreamer, the observer of this dream, froze. “Grace? I am Grace in this dream?” She asked silently. Puzzled, intrigued and spellbound by what she was experiencing, in that moment she wished for the dream to continue. Sitting to a sumptuous meal, shared with these people dressed as angels, was mystifying. What was going on here? And was this the same Grace that she knew? Had she remarried? Timing didn’t indicate that this was possible. Besides, looking at the attire and listening to the music, it was definitely in the time of 1920’s. Excusing herself from the dinner table, she walks upstairs to the bathroom. Looking into the mirror, Molly sees her own face! Startled at first, and then smiling with an understanding which defies her logic mind, she washes her hands and returns downstairs to her guests. Pausing at the top of the stairs, a soft candle light shines through the open door leading into the room at the back of the house, catching her attention. Maybe she had not snuffed out the light in there, oh dear, had it been burning all night? Molly could feel herself walking into the room. Looking down on the writing desk, next to an early model typewriter were the remains of a candle and a present wrapped in white paper, impressed with the image of golden angel wings, tied up with bow of gold ribbon. Smiling, she picks it up, the small tag was addressed to Grace Simpson. She undid the bow and unfolds the gift wrapping to reveal a book, the first copy off the press. Inside the front page is a handwritten note.
The Grace Effect Continues. From One Angel to Another.
With Love, Grace Forest. xoxo
December 16th, 1926.
Smiling at the message, Molly could feel something stirring inside of her, that this gift was intended for her, and of a deep knowing of a mystery that was gradually being revealed to her. Or was she just simply being reminded of something she already knew?
Molly woke feeling excited. It was dark outside and she relished in the marshmallow-like bed she had been sleeping on. Lying next to Will, who was still sleeping soundly, she closed her eyes, wanting to recapture some of the delicious sensations of the dream. Oh, it had been so vivid, so clear and ….so real! But who was Grace Simpson? And how was she connected to Grace Forrest, who supposedly at the time, had passed over into Spirit. The intrigue of this made her heart race. How was she connected to all of this? Grace had said to her that she had been awaiting Molly and Will’s arrival, for them to discover the house. She decided to get out of bed and find her laptop. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs in Will’s T-shirt, the first thing she could find in the dark bedroom, she connected the laptop to the wifi. Whilst waiting for the connection, she went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Walking through the door she had a feeling of deja vu. Looking around the kitchen she went straight to a cupboard to find the cups. Boiling the kettle, she took a moment to see what was inside the cupboards. Everything she could possibly have wanted in a dream kitchen! And of the best quality. In a drawer she found some serviettes, the same colour as the ones in her dream, together with a set of silver serpent shaped serviette rings. Taking her cup of tea, she picked up the laptop and went into her new office. Sitting in the captains chair, she felt instantly at home. Looking on line, she typed into the search engine “Mrs Grace Simpson, Mt Victoria, Wellington 1926”. To her surprise she found a newspaper article announcing the publication of a novel by Mrs Simpson, called The Grace Effect! Now that really had her intrigued. Researching a little further, she discovered that Mrs Grace Simpson was very much a popular socialite, her husband was involved in the shipping industry. Searching further, she came across newspaper article after newspaper article, until she found the last one titled ‘Popular Author Missing’. The article mentioned Grace’s success story and the heart-wrenching sadness of her husband at the mysterious disappearance of his beloved wife. The date on the article was March 3rd, 1928. That was it. There was no other information that Molly was able to find. Grace had gone missing, an unsolved mystery, and the case was closed.
Daylight began to appear through the curtains, the morning sun illuminating the skyline outside. Feeling chilly, Molly made fresh tea and took a cup upstairs to Will who remained asleep in bed. As she placed a cup on his bedside table Will muffled voice mumbled from under the duvet, “Is that you Molly….. I had the weirdest dream…..” They both sat up in bed amongst a mountain of pillows, watching the sunrise through their bedroom window, sipped tea and shared their dreams. Will had had the same dream, although he saw himself as a butler in it, who quietly fancied Mrs Simpson. Not in a smitten or envious way, but in awe of her, as an amazing human being and what she had achieved. A woman publishing a book in the 1920’s took some courage and determination, and especially because of the subject of the book. Spirituality, life after death and seances were exciting topics of the time. And Grace Simpson had buckets of determination. Her effervescent personality opened doors otherwise shut tight for most women. Men in general found it hard to say no to her.
“Will, what is happening here? The is our first night in a strange house and we’ve experienced this?” Molly said, perplexed but unintimidated by the intensity of the shared dream.
“I am not exactly sure Molly….I am at a loss for words,” which was not like Will, who usually had an answer for everything. They both sat staring out the window, slightly bedazzled.
“Oh well, just another day in the office eh!” Molly joked, leaned over and kissed Will, got out of bed and headed to the door with their tea cups. “Breakfast?” she suggested.
“What with? We haven’t done any grocery shopping yet,” asked Will.
“The pantry and fridge are full! Everything you could think of and more! Come and explore the never-ending supply with me! Molly reached out her hand, inviting Will to join her downstairs. He grabbed Molly’s T-shirt from the chair and squeezed into it, the edge reaching to just above his navel. They both did look a sight, T-shirts and no pants. Giggling they ran downstairs to the kitchen.
After breakfast, they unpacked their belongings and Molly set up her part of the office. Somehow, she and Will were going to share the same room, not that she minded and it was big enough.
“Maybe we could ask Lord Tom, if we could have another desk brought in, it would make life easier and he did say if we needed anything to just ask,” Molly suggested.
“Tomorrow at the meeting.” Will agreed. They had the whole day to settle into their new home and to prepare for the meeting the next day.