Chapter 1 – ‘The Muse’.

Looking down to where her feet should be, all Molly could see was a swirling mist. Ahead of her, through the mist she was able to capture glimpses of what appeared to be an old wooden staircase. Where the stairs led to, was not yet clear, but she felt the urge to find out and could feel herself being drawn towards them. As Molly placed her foot on the bottom step, the mist began to clear, revealing only the wooden stairs leading up to a door. She could feel her heart beat increasing as she walked slowly up each of the steps, the wooden treads creaked softly beneath the weight of her body. Standing before the closed door, she looked for a handle. The timber door was of an older panelled style, it had the appearance of a rich red cedar with a white porcelain door handle, above this was a matching push plate. Beneath the handle was an ornate brass key hole. Reaching out to turn the handle, the door opened easily for her. Curiosity drew her in and she pushed the door open, stepping boldly into the room. Before her was what appeared to be an old attic room, with worn polished wooden floorboards, in the middle of this was a floor rug. Along the wall to her left was an open fireplace, within this was a fire grate and a cast iron kettle. Facing the fireplace were two wing backed arm chairs. Between these sat an antique sea chest used as a table. To her right was an old pine kitchen dresser displaying a beautiful fine bone china tea set and a matching water jug, cream in colour and painted with dainty pink rose buds. Further along that wall in the far corner was a brass daybed tucked in an alcove behind the door, where the roof slanted downwards. Directly in front of her was a dormer window, beneath this was an antique writing desk and an oak captain’s chair. The light in the room appeared dim, lit only by a candle on the window sill which burnt brightly, reflecting in the old rippled glass panes. Molly heard a soft, swishing sound and turned to see a woman standing by the kitchen dresser, facing away from her. The sound came from the womans long skirt sweeping over the wooden floor as she walked barefooted across the room. The dress was made of a smart royal blue and white pin-striped fabric with a bustle at the back, and a ruffle around the bottom. It had a high collar and long sleeves that puffed at the top and fitted down her forearms with tiny pearl buttons. She turned towards Molly and smiled calmly. But what Molly saw made her gasp, stifling a scream with her hand.  

The mysterious woman’s dark hair was swept up into a loose bun, her turquoise blue eyes stared back at Molly intensely. The woman’s face was a perfect reflection of her own, as if Molly were looking into a mirror!

Molly’s body jolted, and she felt herself falling. Waking with a start, she quickly sat upright in bed breathing heavily, damp hair clung to her forehead and the sides of her neck, the heavy pounding  of her heart resounded in her head. It was just a dream, but it had rattled her. Will, lying asleep next to her stirred, “You ok Babe?” he asked sleepily as his hand reached out to her, patting her thigh reassuringly. 

“Y-yeah… yeah…” Molly stuttered vaguely, “It was j-just a dream…just a dream,” she tried to soothe herself. She reached over to the bedside table and picked up the cell phone to see what the time was.  It read 3.05am. Sliding back down under the covers, she snuggled up behind Will. It was reassuring to feel his warm body against hers. He wrapped his arm around behind her, pulling her body into his tightly. Feeling safe again, she easily drifted back into sleep.

The alarm woke them both at 7am. Will had organised to take Molly away for a couple of days. The brilliant sunrise revealed a gorgeous Autumn day, and by mid morning the sun had the lingering warmth of an Indian Summer. White wisps of cloud splashed across a rich azure blue sky, as if they had been placed there purposefully by the touch of an artist’s paint brush. Driving with the windows down and singing carelessly to the song on the radio, Will and Molly began another of their much loved road trips. She loved these random days. The carefree feeling of her long dark hair blowing in the breeze through the open windows added to the sense of freedom that accompanied such trips. After being on the road for almost an hour, Will turned off State Highway 1 and drove down North  Road which led them to the tiny coastal village of  Lockyer in Kohutu Bay, situated on the west coast of the North Island. He had already booked accommodation for the night. The location was a surprise for Molly, as they were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. Will had not given her any clues as to where they were going. He had only told her the day before and instructed her to simply pack a bag, they were going on a road trip. A pretty, picturesque and peaceful spot, the tiny village overlooked a sheltered bay surrounded by emerald green hills which rose up to meet the blue sky. Along the top of which were tall wind breaks created by aged macrocarpa hedges. They drove down the steep winding road lined with drystone walls and into the village where there was a small park. The rich green lawns were framed by beautiful brightly coloured flower beds and a central rose garden which surrounded a small water feature, a sculpture of a child riding a dolphin created by a local stone carver. The park was well designed with a fenced playground at the rear  where children and dogs played happily whilst parents chatted beneath the shade of  Pohutakawa trees (Native New Zealand ‘Christmas Trees’).  Bordering the park, across the road from the waters edge were a row of old boat sheds that had been converted into small businesses – an art gallery and a craft shop. The colourful scene reminded Molly of a painting by Monet.  As they drove further down the road she scanned the shops for somewhere for them to get a coffee and something to eat. Across the road from  the water’s edge they found a quirky cafe where, being a fine day, people were sitting outside and enjoying their meals in the sun and the beautiful view across the bay. The brightly painted old cottage had been transformed by someones artistic talents into what looked like a scene from a Dr Seuss book. After parking the car a little way up the road, she and Will walked back towards the cafe, browsing briefly at the other shops. “Oh damn it, I forgot my phone. Wait here Hun,” Molly exclaimed, her hand slipped from Will’s as she ran back to the car. Looking over his shoulder, Will watched her. Everything slowed down and it was as if Time stood still, just for him. He watched as her tall slender body leaned back against the front guard of their car whilst she checked for messages on her phone – the photographer in him found her  irresistible. Wanting to capture this delicious moment in time, he removed the lens cover from the camera he had slung across his chest. Through the lens he watched her, the camera clicking constantly. It was the way in which she moved that he found her so captivating – elegant, gracefully playful, and so, so sexy. He watched and snapped each movement. As the wind caught her long, dark curly hair, she brushed it back over her shoulders, innocently revealing the beauty of her facial features. The angle of sunlight emphasised this, her skin was of a lightly tanned complexion, naturally rosy cheeks with a light sprinkling of playful freckles across the bridge of her cute upturned nose. Dark eyebrows and long lashes framed her turquoise blue eyes. Her full lips, which curled upwards in the corners gave the expression of her happy nature. Her smile was infectious. And happy she was, pretty much most of the time, seemingly unaffected by the sadness from her past, she portrayed a contentment with life, wise beyond her years. Walking back towards Will, she wagged her finger at him and scolded, “Must you?” Catching up to him, she wrapped her arms around his waist and whispered in his ear teasingly, “Was it worth it?” With a warm fuzzy heart, his smile said it all. 

Their attention was drawn to the enticing delicious smells of freshly made coffee and home baked cakes, muffins and pies, providing the best advertising for the little cafe. Molly spotted a small 

black and white cat sitting at one of the tables outside. The possibility of a kitty cuddle was always an added bonus. Will went inside to order coffee and something to eat whilst Molly sat down next to the cat, (who was always keen for a smooch and the possibility of a tasty morsel) and looked back along the row of shops, taking in the quaintness of this little picturesque seaside village. Already she felt comfortable here. Several shops lined both sides of the street heading back out of town on the loop road going south, where it would rejoin the State Highway. Amongst the shops were a small general store providing essentials as it had done for over 100 years. Next door to this was a petrol station, and a takeaways advertising that they make the ‘Best Fish and Chips, World Famous in New Zealand’. Beyond this was a very impressive two storey weatherboard house built in 1896. Surrounded by vibrant cottage gardens, tables and chairs it sat nestled amongst an assortment of flowers and shrubs, beneath the shade of a very large Pohutakawa tree, possibly as old as the building.  The family run business was now a seafood restaurant, having kept the name of its original purpose, ‘The Tearooms’. Across the road from this was an old brick hotel, offering meals and accommodation, also built in the late 1800’s.  Looking north up the road leading out of the village, to the right, up on the hillside was a small  timber school building dated 1886 which sat amongst established gardens and mature trees. The original community hall next door provided a place for the local playgroup and social events. Across the road from this was an old renovated barn which had been converted into another art gallery specialising in locally carved Pounamu, (New Zealand Greenstone, Jade), stone and beautiful flax weavings. Out the front of the shop stood large stone carvings made from Oamaru limestone. Next to the park was a laneway that lead up the hill to the back of the school where there was a quaint church, with one of the best views over the village and bay below. It was constructed of baton and board, the walls were painted white and it had a red metal roof. The bell tower had intricately carved wooden features and its own little red roof. By the look of the sign at the front gate, it appeared to still be in service. Several headstones were visible in a small fenced garden to the side. And a large Monkey Puzzle tree graced the front gate and white picket fence. Molly smiled to herself as she thought how it was just like a scene from an old fashioned biscuit tin.  

As they enjoyed a coffee and a cat cuddle whilst sitting out the front of the Cafe taking in their surroundings, they noticed a group of people gather excitedly at the waters edge opposite them. They were observing a pod of dolphins playing in the water. Molly sat back in her chair, watching in delight as Will ran across the road to take some photo’s. She enjoyed being able to observe him from a distance. His tall, trim, muscular body moved with ease. She loved to drink in these magical 

moments, taking in the delicious details of his olive complexion and hazel eyes which twinkled from amber into green and blue and were framed by dark eyebrows and thick lashes. His brown hair, stylishly cut short underneath with a long top that flopped to one side, playfully concealed his left eye whenever he looked downwards at her, always made her heart skip. Across the bridge of his curved nose was a smattering of freckles. Oh god, she could eat him! But not now, she’ll just savour that thought for later…Excitedly, he skipped back across the road and sat next to Molly at the table, eager to share the photos with her on his digital camera. 

When the dolphins had moved on and brunch having satisfied their appetite for now, Will and Molly decided to go exploring. They were to stay overnight in a local holiday bach (cottage) and were hoping to stay on a little longer if it were available for the following two nights. Check-in time was not until 2pm, so before driving out of town, they sat in the car and flipped the old 20c coin Molly fondly called ‘Destiny’ which she kept in the console between the front seats in the car. “Heads or Tails?” Molly said as she flipped the coin into the air, Heads meant go North and Tails to go South. Catching the coin in her right hand, she flipped it onto the back of her left hand. ’Destiny’ revealed Tails up and Will drove the car south along the waterfront, where the road turned up the hill past the school and church, and out of town. The steep windy road was bordered by lush green hills, farm land dotted with sheep. Glimpses of the bay below could be seen at each of the bends in the road.  To the right less than a kilometre out of town, was another road which headed inland taking them further into the countryside. The road was unsealed metal but well maintained.  It was fun to drive randomly down these back roads and enjoy the old houses, barns and vehicles – the hidden gems, the sleepy, forgotten places that they would find. The area felt familiar to Molly, but she could not quite recall the connection, yet. 

The road came to an end unexpectedly. Directly ahead a walking track continued into the bush, remnants of the original road. As Will pulled over to turn the car around, something in the long grass caught his eye. It was an old ‘For Sale’ sign which was more than a little tatty, faded in colour, and lopsided. The grassy verge surrounding it was long and unkept, it had not been mown for quite some time. The gardens were overgrown, the mature trees almost obscuring the house completely from the road. The house looked as if it had not been occupied for many years, but it beckoned to them, almost desperate for their attention. Molly and Will sat in the car intrigued by the strong pull they both felt. 

The couple were happy with the house they were renting, they were not intentionally looking for somewhere else to live, although they had had the occasional discussion on this topic, of what kind of property they would like to buy and knew that it would be an unusual type of house. Staring out the car window they could sense something alluring, inviting them in, beckoning them. Or maybe it was someone rather than something  

Molly looked at Will, who simply smiled back at her mischievously and nodded his head knowingly. Without saying a word, and curious to know more, she got out of the car to read the telephone number on the faded sign. Leaning against the front guard of the car, she began to phone the real estate to enquire a little further. Molly paused, distracted by a tiny Piwakawaka (New Zealand Fantail), darting from the tree branch above the car, it swooped around her feet and into the long overgrown grass, which she pulled back to reveal the remnants of an old picket fence, with a name plate barely readable, the paint of the lettering faded and pealing. Pulling back more of the grass, Molly was able to read the sign …

~ The   Muse ~

More than a little curious now, Molly phoned the number on the sign. The phone rang for quite awhile before being answered by a cheerful voice, “Good morning, Coastal Realty, Sammantha speaking, how may I help you?”

“Good morning Sammantha, my name is Molly, my husband and I would like to enquire about a property at the end of…where are we Will? Umm…Old Quarry Road,” Molly replied.

“On Old Quarry Road? Oh I’m not familiar with that one. Let me just check the listings on the computer…hmmm…Oh yes, that property,” she said almost under her breath, then continued, “It has been on and off the market for so long I had almost forgotten about it. To be honest, the…umm…circumstances have put most people off.  It is a deceased estate and has been tangled up in family law courts, something about a relative contesting of the old woman’s Will – it’s been going on for years. Even before I started working here. In the notes here I can see that only recently they have come to some agreement and it has been put back on the market. My apologies for not replacing the sign yet,” she said with a slight indifference.  “It is a bit of a handyman’s dream and needs lots of…ahh… ‘imagination’,” Sammantha exaggerated the last word, indirectly implying that the house was rundown, and not of any interest to her.

Sensing this, Molly made a suggestion, “Can we take a look around, we are parked out the front of the house just now and it doesn’t look like anyone is living there?” 

“Yes, I believe the house is vacant. Oh sure, but please take care, from the notes here about the property, it states that it is in poor condition and the gardens are a little overgrown. Let me know if you would like to take a look inside. I will be free later this afternoon, say…around 3pm?” Sammantha replied, her own curiosity stirring at this random call, wondering why a young couple would  be interested in such a property?

“Ok, we’ll take a look around the outside first and be in touch. Thanks Sammantha,” Molly was eager to end the conversation and go exploring.

“No worries, let me know what you think. Bye.” The agent replied shortly, hurrying to end the conversation. Was it disinterest, or a slight hint of fear? Molly guessed that the house would have looked spooky to some.

Will had been sitting next to Molly during the phone conversation, listening in. The young couple’s attention was immediately drawn back to the house. Looking over the old wooden gate, which was hitched to the post by an old rusty piece of  Number 8 Wire, the couple looked up the drive towards the house.  Filtered sunlight shone through the overhead canopy of a variety of trees, a mixture of native and exotics, some of their leaves having already turned the gorgeous shades of Autumn. Amongst the long grass were the sprouting tips of jonquils, snowdrops and daffodils yet to bud, adding to the enticing magic of the property. It felt so alive! Will locked the car and hand in hand they walked along the long tree-lined driveway as it wove around to a rambling picket fence which surrounded the front garden. The old wooden gate slightly ajar, hung off one hinge, open enough for them to access the front entrance to the house. The paved garden path was barely visible through the overgrowth but there were glimpses of a stone edge and flagged paving stones amongst the wild old garden. It led them around an old fountain and water pump which would have been the central piece to what was once a magnificent sculptured garden, to a set of wide stone steps leading up to the verandah and front door.  A rustic screened door, slightly ajar opened onto the veranda, but was unwilling to open any further.  The verandah wrapped across the front and around the left side of the house. Sections of the verandah had been enclosed with timber lattice panels. Woven in-between the lattice was an ancient wisteria,  it’s trunk looked like it had become a part of the veranda post, creating its own natural lattice of interwoven leaves. The wooden floorboards were littered with dried leaves. They caught glimpses of glass-paned French doors that opened the rooms onto the verandah, plus a substantial entrance door of panelled timber surrounded with coloured lead-light glass panels and a fan light above it. The paint surface of the weatherboards was very old and peeling, the house appeared to be in need of more than a little love and attention. 

Like excited children they peeked in through gaps between verandah posts and the lattice, catching only brief hints of the house, through the overgrown wisteria vines. It was difficult to see much past the screen door. It felt like the house was teasing them, enticing them. Suddenly something banged loudly overhead, making them both jump and laugh nervously. Molly grabbed Will, short of breath and her heart racing from both the surprise and the potential of what may have caused it.  Stepping back from the house, their eyes followed the sound looking upwards, and they realised with delight that there was a second floor! There was the cause of the sound, a shutter on the outside of the attic window which was gently swinging in the breeze, having slammed sharply, just once, enough to get their attention. Was that a woman’s face Molly saw through the window, or just her writer’s imagination wishing for a story? The house did not feel empty at all, despite no one having lived there for many, many years. To Molly and Will it felt friendly and welcoming.

Walking around the side of the house they discovered remnants of more well designed gardens, the pathway winding between an orchard of huge old rambling fruit trees. Beyond this was a large chicken pen. The wooden hen house had  a long box protruding on the back wall, an external lid lifted up to reveal nesting boxes. The timber was well weathered but still sound, the hinges rusty and only a few boards had come loose. The iron sheets on the roof would need replacing as would the wire netting, but all in all the structure was sound. Around the back of the chicken pen were more outbuildings and the treasure of all treasures – an old barn! It was two storied, in the bottom level of the barn were a pair of stables with split doors facing the orchard, a large open area where two full sized doors swung outwards. Inside was a rustic wooden ladder which lead up to the hayloft, a mezzanine floor with two small doors that opened outwards. On the outside of these doors was a weathered beam, it’s rusty pulley still in place, and a tattered piece of rope swayed in the breeze. It would once have been used to lift the hay bales and sacks of grain into the loft for storage. The land which accompanied the house was quite a large level section, maybe 2 or3 acres, which was clearly defined by the stone walls and neatly grazed fields of the neighbouring farm that surrounded this property.

The field beside the orchard would once have had extensive vegetable gardens. Over time the outlying portions of the property, the grazing land, must have been subdivided and sold off to cover the costs of council rates and death taxes, enabling the house to remain in the family all of these years. Sheep grazed peacefully, only slightly unsettled by the visitors, raising their heads curiously before returning to the more important task of eating. The original section of land was divided by old dry stone walls, which were only just visible amongst the long grass, in the areas where the sheep were unable to reach. The property was far enough out of town to not yet have been affected by the recent subdivisions of farm land in other areas of the region for the new housing estates. As yet it had not caught the attention of property developers. Wanting to know just how much land came with the house, and to see inside, Molly phoned Sammantha to let her know they were keen to meet with her that afternoon. It would be several hours before the real estate agent could get to the property, so they decided to leave the car and go for a walk down the track at the end of the road. 

With food purchased earlier from the cafe in town, they headed off into the bush. The track provided easy access and appeared to be well used by dog walkers and mountain bike riders. Onwards they walked deeper into the bush, enjoying the abundance of birdsong, native trees and plants, and the occasional bunny. The sun was quite hot and the shade of the overhead canopy of trees provided much appreciated shade. The path opened onto a clearing which revealed an abandoned quarry. There were remnants of old buildings and machinery, telltales signs of productive days now passed. The quarry would have to wait for further exploration some other time. Sitting on the old concrete blocks in a clearing near one of the derelict buildings, Molly and Will shared lunch, taking in the peaceful environment, their vivid imaginations daydreaming of days gone by. A Piwakawaka made its presence felt, flitting around their feet, bringing their attention back to the present moment, it’s chit-chit-chit bird talk reminding them of the need to return to the house now.

Whilst sitting in the car waiting for Sammantha, Will did a little investigating on his cell phone for any information about the property, past or present. There was nothing available on the history of the house, no traces, no links on local history or real estate sites, not even anything on the council records. Although the only details he had to go by were the address and name of the property, which was quite limiting. Although Sammantha was not the most informative sales person, she did love a bit of gossip, and had done a little local ‘research’ herself before meeting with the couple at the property. What she was able to tell them about ‘The Muse’ was that it had become the subject of an unresolved family dispute. The passing of the eldest relative, Charlotte James, a niece of the original owner Mrs Grace Forrest, just short of her 100th birthday in 1992 had frozen assets because of the unresolved nature of Mrs Forrest’s death. Eventually the property was released by legal agreement, which more recently enabled the remaining family to do something proactive about the disposal of this undesirable property. After the settlement of yet another long, drawn-out court case with a distant relative contesting Charlotte James’ Will, it could now be sold. The property had originally been handed down from Grace Forrest, to her sister Meg (Charlotte’s mother) who had not allowed anyone to enter into or even consider the sale of the property, during her lifetime. Charlotte was 10 years old when her family had returned to Ireland shortly after Grace Forrest’s disappearance. Growing up with the imagined impressions from stories and superstitions told by her mother, Charlotte never thought of investigating her Aunt Grace’s unexplained death. The only documented connection she had, was a small newspaper clipping of her Aunt’s Death Notice, stating she died of an ‘unfortunate event’. Having lived all of her adult life overseas, Charlotte had not ever been inside the house in Lockyer since her Aunt Grace had died. Not once had she returned to New Zealand, not even for a holiday. She had vivid memories of visiting her Aunt as a child and had found her fascinating, intrigued by her stories. 

Some older locals had said that Charlotte’s mother (Meg) had been exceptionally fond of her sister, the old lady Grace Forrest, and kept the house untouched in memory of her. And some said that she had locked away all evidence of Grace’s mysterious disappearance and assumed death. Others said she acted out of guilt. The house remained in its original condition, untouched since it was first vacated at the time of Grace’s passing, in 1902. What Molly and Will were yet to discover later through a very alternative source (during numerous seance’s after moving into the house), was that Grace and her husband, Captain Callum Forrest, an Irish sea captain, migrated to New Zealand in 1885. The Captain died at sea in 1890, leaving Grace without any children and only the company of her housekeeper Lucy and gardener Patrick, whom had originally worked for them on their estate in Ireland. The brother and sister had accompanied the Captain and his wife on the journey from Ireland in the hope of a better life here in New Zealand. Despite their lifestyle being one of hardship in Ireland, Captain Forrest was considered to be a well-to-do gentleman. A multigenerational farmer, he had been a hard worker and earned his money honourably.  They were able to create a comfortable life quickly in New Zealand. Their hard work had paid off and his seafaring career was

purely for his pleasure of travel, adventure and his love for the wild nature of the open seas. But his first love was always Grace and he had provided well for her, especially in his last Will and Testament, allowing her to maintain the house, the housekeeper and the gardener. The gardens had been plentiful and provided all she required to live comfortably and to take care of Lucy and her younger brother Patrick.  Following Callum’s death, Grace had initially locked herself away in the attic room and as her grief eased, passed the days pottering in the garden, tending to her chickens, writing and daydreaming out the window of the attic room, longing for the return of her beloved husband. 

When Captain Callum was away at sea, many times for several months, she would write to him, sending letters ahead to his next destination. After the news of his death, she held onto the one thing that remained familiar to her, which helped her keep a sense of connection with her husband, writing letters to him. Grace Forrest had continued to write letters to Callum. All of these letters, which since his death, had never been posted, remained in the top draw of the writing bureau, together with her journal of daily affairs and details of running a small farm. Writing these letters helped the process of her grief. One day, whilst resting on the daybed in the attic room, Callum did return in his spirit form to take her Home and she quietly slipped into the World Between Worlds with him, leaving no trace of her physical body, or clue to her whereabouts.  What added to the mystery was the simultaneous disappearance of Lucy, her housekeeper and Patrick the gardener…

In the following days, Will’s attempts to track any history about the property on-line were all inconclusive. Intrigue and mystery surrounded the house, as there were no written records of either the purchase of the land or any date referring to the construction of the house. It was like it had just appeared, or had been transported there, which was not an uncommon practice. The architecture of the house was of a unique design, influenced by a combination of the cultures Captain Callum had experienced in his travels, quite different to the typically English architecture of other houses in the area built at that time. There were no council records for the construction of the house or even a gravesite for either Grace or her husband, presumably because Callum had died at sea. It was like Grace Forrest had just vanished. Her death or rather ‘disappearance’ had created many colourful local stories. However, despite an extensive search of the area, her body was never found and there was no accountable reason for her disappearance, or that of her housekeeper and gardener. Time eventually faded the details and only a myth prefabricated out of other peoples stories remained. 

The truth of the situation leading up to Grace’s assumed death had been kept privately within the family. Meg would not tolerate discussion about such matters.  As it was at that time, the only family Grace Forrest had in New Zealand was her younger sister Meg. Together with her husband Richard and their five children, they had also migrated there several years later following Grace from Ireland. Meg had always looked up to Grace, but after moving to New Zealand the one thing which put a wedge between them was Grace’s belief and fascination with the Spirit World. Meg’s youngest daughter Charlotte, was particularly fond of Grace. But because of the families fear and superstition around Grace Forrest’s beliefs, spiritual practices, and subsequent disappearance, Meg had forbidden anyone access to the inside of the property. Without her sister, Meg felt no reason to remain in New Zealand and with her family she returned to live in Ireland. Grace had left the house to her sister Meg in her Will, and she in turn to her daughter Charlotte. The mystery that surrounded the disappearance of Grace was fuelled by the gossip of locals, that she had held seances, tarot readings, a healing group and spiritualist gatherings. Because of this, the family had kept the upstairs room locked away untouched, at Meg’s insistence. Before leaving New Zealand after Grace’s disappearance, Meg had all of the household furniture placed in the area at the bottom of the stairs known as The Library, and had a false wall constructed, concealing the contents of the room and the access to the upstairs attic, which remained as Grace had left it. That was now more than 100 years ago. When Charlotte had inherited the property, she had no desire or intention to return to New Zealand, not even for a visit. However, she also had not wanted to sell the property, and with no children of her own, the house was left and quickly became forgotten by the family in Ireland. 

Although the gardens were now overgrown, and the house appeared to be in need of repairs, it remained sound in structure. The magic within the house was being kept alive because in her spirit form, Grace Forrest continued to visit The Attic so familiar to her, protecting the secret held within its walls and waiting for the right people at the right time….

This is how the house was when Molly and Will discovered it for sale on their road trip. It was like a time capsule. Not even the real estate had been granted legal access to the inside of the house until recently, making the marketing and sale of the property somewhat difficult. But there was more to the delays  than the seemingly difficult circumstances surrounding the sale of this house. It was all being perfectly orchestrated by an unseen entity…who was Grace Forrest? 

The decision for Molly and Will to purchase the property was made after their meeting with Sammantha the real estate agent later that day, a deposit being paid to secure the sale. The preceding transactions went smoothly, Charlotte’s relatives keen be rid of this burden and Molly and Will just as keen, or maybe even a little more so, to move in  and begin the renovation of this mysterious cottage that contained so many treasures, yet to be uncovered. And had captivated their hearts.

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