In a castle by the cliffs of Cornwall, love and obsession await...
When penniless Catherine Roth answers a letter for a governess position in the isolated castle of Lord Andrew Montmoor, she has no idea that madness, obsession, and secrets await her.
Andrew Montmoor is ugly and isolated, but Catherine finds herself drawn to him even as she seeks to help with sickly nephew, Cullen. His Gothic horror of an estate and the secrets that call to her make her time there nearly unbearable. What happened to Andrew's sister, and will the family mausoleum or her diary reveal it? Just as Catherine is falling for Andrew, a new danger reveals itself, and Catherine's heart is swept up in the tumult.
After what seemed like only minutes, she sat up in bed, glancing around the dark room, unsure what had roused her. Then, the sound came again—a sort of whispering or soft scratching.
It was coming from somewhere outside her door; down the hall, perhaps.
It's only a mouse, maybe. God knows the house is shabby enough to have them. She shuddered at the thought as the shushing sound came again.
That's not an animal. Anxiety rose inside of her, but she tamped it down. I'll not be afraid of this house. I won't get any sleep until I figure out what's causing the noise.
The thought of running into the master of the house at this time of night, his ugly face in darkness, made her shudder with revulsion.
She lit a candle and then glided into the dank hall on silent feet, passing the two doors on her right. Catherine stopped in front of a third, turning the knob. A moment of sanity gripped her, and she wondered why she was exploring a house like this one, alone in the pitch black.
Catherine shrugged the thought off as a chilly draft came out of the room, and she shivered. An urge she didn't understand almost convinced her to close the door, but she couldn't resist her curiosity.
The room was dark but for traces of moonlight glinting off of windows. She carried her candle in front of her to see. A huge painting on the wall arrested her attention, and she held her breath.
The large, tall man in the portrait could have been Andrew Montmoor, but the eyes were green, rather than icy blue. His mouth twisted in a sneer, and he stood, life sized, as if he were ready to step from the canvas. Catherine imagined she saw his fingers flex and his mouth move. A shudder ran through her.
“It must his ancestor.” Her whisper echoed in the spooky room, unnerving her even more.
Though she knew the movements she saw were imagined, the man's expression menaced her from beyond the grave, and she backed away toward the door, hoping she could get back to her room and sleep. If he is in the grave. . .
I won't wander the halls anymore.
A voice behind her stopped her. “Hello, Catherine.”
She whirled, facing Andrew as she nearly dropped her candle.
“Hello, my lord. I'm sorry. I-- I couldn't sleep and thought a walk might help.”
His expression, lurid in the light from his candle, frightened her. “It's best not to wander these halls at night. The past lives on.”
“I'm sorry. I am.”
“You will be sorrier if you don't heed my warning. This door was closed for a reason.”
Catherine turned to look at the painting again. It looks so much like him.
Indeed, it did—just an older, angrier version of Lord Montmoor, without the scar. Beside her, this Lord Montmoor's warm whisper came against her ear.
“With you, I will break the curse on me.”
She stood, paralyzed, her flesh crawling at the sensation of his breath against her neck.
This can't be happening. Emily was right. I should never have come here.
She whirled around and found him standing several feet away from her.
Did I imagine what he said? Perhaps I'm losing my mind.