A hundred-year-old unsolved mystery resurfaces when journalist Charlie Baxter becomes consumed with finding out the truth. After discovering his bloodline includes a potential murderer, Charlie sets out to clear his family’s name—only to find that everyone has an opinion, but does anyone have answers?
In 1906, Chester Gillette took Grace Brown on a secret trip in the Adirondacks, but only he returned. Grace and her unborn child drowned in the lake, and Chester was convicted of murder. Now, his distant relative Charlie Baxter is retracing the steps of that fateful trip in hopes of laying it to rest once and for all.
However, a mysterious guest at the bed and breakfast on Ward’s Pond is drawn into the cold case—not by Charlie, but by the ghost of Grace Brown. When Charlie learns that the guest’s name is Katherine Grace Brown, he can’t deny the connection. Despite running from her own past, Katherine agrees to help Charlie in his quest for the truth.
The true tale of the Gillette-Brown murder has been the subject of many a story, and it continues to intrigue. What really happened at that lake? Was Chester Gillette truly guilty of murder, or was he sent to the electric chair innocent? Perhaps with the help of their ghosts, Charlie and Katherine can find out.
A WOMAN’S SCREAM RIPPED CHARLIE from sleep as dramatically as if he’d been doused in ice water. Heart hammering in his chest, he sprang from his bed and raced to the door as another scream pierced straight through him, coming from the room across the hall. He didn’t know the occupant—the only other guest currently in the bed and breakfast at Ward’s Pond—but the compulsion to help…to do something was too great to be ignored.
“Miss? Miss, are you all right? Can I help you?” He pressed his ear to the wall, hearing nothing more than a muffled sobbing. “I only want to help you and make sure that you’re all right. I’m coming in.”
When no response came, Charlie gathered up his courage and grabbed hold of the knob, taking a quick glance at his clothes. Thankfully, he wore modest pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, nothing that would scandalize anyone. After one hard swallow, he gave the door a try, surprised to find it unlocked. He glanced across the room to see a woman sitting up in bed. The moon cast her in white, making her look ghostly. Her long, dark hair was a wild tangle, the tracks of her tears glistening in the light streaming through the window. She was trembling.
Unwilling to seem too familiar or forward, Charlie pulled up a chair—rather than sitting on the end of the bed. He leaned toward her and propped his elbows on his knees, striving to offer her a calm, reassuring presence when all the while his insides were churning from that terrible screaming.
“Is everything all right? What happened?”
The stranger took a shaky breath and drew the covers up to her chest, her knuckles bulging with the strength of her grip. “I…it was just a nightmare. Foolish, really. I can’t even remember it now…I can only recall waking up feeling absolutely terrified.”
He nodded and then gave her a smile. “I know what that’s like. My name is Charlie Baxter and I’m right across the hall. If you need anything—anything at all—don’t hesitate to give a knock. I sleep light.”
He stood as she extended her hand—which he accepted, giving it a squeeze. His skin practically sizzled at her touch, but he held on. “Thank you, Mr. Baxter. I’m sorry I woke you.”
“Nonsense. Like I said, I sleep light! I would’ve been up sooner or later anyway, and please, call me Charlie. My father is Mr. Baxter. I’ll see you at breakfast in the morning. Our hostess, Eva, is an amazing cook.” Charlie crossed the room, taking pause at the door to look over his shoulder. “By the way, what’s your name?”
She smiled, and it was like the sun coming out after a storm. “Katherine. Katherine Grace Brown.”
The name, particularly the middle and last, gave him a start, but he covered it well. “Well, Miss Katherine Grace Brown, may the rest of your night hold nothing but sweet dreams.”
As he crossed the hall, the turning of the lock broke the silence. Charlie didn’t think she was locking him out. Katherine was locking herself—and her mysterious nightmares—in.
Unable to sleep, since his mind was already unsettled from his research, Charlie opened the window and took a deep gulp of the refreshing night air. Late May in upstate New York heralded warmer days and the approach of summer, but the nights were still chilly. He left the window open, flicked on his desk lamp, and riffled through his stacks of papers, his hand landing on the picture of Grace Brown. He stared at the image that was already imprinted on his brain. She looks nothing like that girl across the hall. Her name is just a coincidence.
He started taking notes, but still a voice nagged at him at the back of his mind. Is there really any such thing as a coincidence?
About the Author
Heidi Sprouse, author of Walking with Ghosts on Ward’s Pond is a resident of historic Johnstown in upstate NY and went to college at St. Rose in Albany.