A Whisper of Eternity - By Amanda Ashley

Chapter 1
Nightingale House perched near the edge of a high, rocky cliff overlooking thePacific Ocean . The first time Tracy Warner saw the house, she thought it was the most beautiful place she had ever seen. Sunlight glinted off the arched, leaded windows. Birds sang in the trees. A covered verandah wrapped around three sides of the house; she had imagined herself sitting out there on balmy nights, sipping a tall glass of iced tea while she admired the view of the ocean.

The inside of the house had been equally impressive. The walls and ceilings were freshly painted, the oak floors and banisters gleaming with wax. Though the house was old, it had been remodeled to accommodate all the modern conveniences.

As much as she had loved the big, airy feel of the house, she'd had every intention of asking the realtor to show her something a little less pricey, so she wasn't sure who was more surprised, herself or the realtor, when she said she'd take it. Once the decision was made, she was sure it was the right thing to do, even though it would mean using all of the sizeable inheritance her grandfather had left her, and wiping out most of her savings, as well.

Still, a house by the ocean was bound to be a good investment and she had been pleased with her decision and eager for escrow to be closed.

Now, looking at the place sixty days later, she found herself having second thoughts. The house that had looked so bright and cheerful the morning she had first looked at it seemed somehow ominous with night approaching. Windows that had sparkled in the morning sun now reminded her of dark, soulless eyes staring out at her.

With the sun setting behind the house, it looked like a huge, prehistoric bird about to take flight, or perhaps a cobweb-infested castle that the infamous Count Dracula might have lived in. Glancing around, it occurred to her that the only thing missing was the requisite dark and stormy night. She wouldn't have been at all surprised to see a giant black bat hovering overhead, or to hear the melancholy wail of a wolf in the distance.

For the first time, it occurred to her to wonder why there were two chimneys but only one fireplace.

Climbing the creaky porch steps, she wondered what had possessed her to buy the place. Had she seen it at this time of day instead of early morning, she would certainly have looked elsewhere! Tall trees grew close to both sides of the house. The first time she saw the house, there had been birds singing in the branches; now the birds were silent and the leaves rattled like dry bones in the evening breeze.

Tracyshook her head. Her imagination was really working overtime tonight!

Taking a deep breath, she took the big, old-fashioned brass key from her pocket and slid it into the lock. The door opened with a screech like that of a woman in pain.

How could she have forgotten that awful sound? And why did it sound so ominous?

"First on the list," she muttered, closing the door behind her."A little WD-40."

Stepping into the entryway, she was overcome by a vague sense of unease. The realtor had warned her that the two previous occupants had moved out because they believed the house was haunted.Tracy had dismissed the notion out of hand. She didn't believe in ghosts but if they existed, this was certainly the kind of house they would be comfortable in.

Searching for the light switch just inside the door, she flicked it on, but the room remained dark. No light penetrated the heavy draperies that covered the windows in the living room.

Tracysighed in exasperation. The electric company had promised her that the power would be turned on before she arrived.

The thought of walking into that dark, empty house filled her with apprehension. Though she was reluctant to admit it, she had been afraid of the dark ever since she was a little girl.

But, not to worry, she thought with a grin, because there was an oil lamp on the long, low table to the left of the front door. The realtor had warned her that the power was prone to go out during storms and that it might be a good idea to keep a few of the old lamps close at hand, as well as a supply of matches. Being a former Girl Scout, she had come prepared.

Checking to see if

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