You're Not AloneNance Newman / Fantasy / Mystery & Detective
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Book One in the Whispers Series
By Nance Newman
You’re Not Alone
Copyright 2016 by Nance Newman
Edited by Heather Flournoy
Cover Design: N. Newman
Cover Art: IStockPhot.com/Rapideye
First Printing-January 2017
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To D and M-thanks for all your enthusiastic ideas. I have had a lot of fun building on them and incorporating them into my stories. Thank-you also for your continual support, friendship, suggestions and critiques.
Thanks Genine for being one of my biggest fans, and for my continuing education in grammar and dialogue structure. You are the first to read and the first to edit and without you, I’d look pretty bad! I am so glad we met that day up in New Hampshire.
To my Book Club-Georgia, Joy, Karen and Tracy-your continual support, friendship, laughter, suggestions and encouragement make me believe I can do this. It doesn’t matter if it’s two of us or all of us at the meetings—we’re still always there for each other and that’s what counts.
Whispers. Two. No, three. Maybe more. I couldn’t tell. The hushed sounds echoed in my room. I could hear them, but I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. Nearly silent voices all murmuring at once, speaking but not making sense. The sounds began to resonate around me, ricocheting off the walls, closing in, crowding me. The whispers blurred into a drone that screamed at me.
“What do you want?” I called out in vain. “What are you saying? I can’t understand you!” The voices increased in intensity almost as if there was an uncontrollable need to make me understand. “What? What do you want? Please, go away! I don’t know what you want!” I screamed. The whispers stopped.
I sat bolt upright in bed. Sweating, shaking. I clutched my pillow and looked frantically about the room. No one. Alone. I began to cry as the agony gripped me once again. Matthew had been gone for almost a year, but it felt as if it was the very day he passed away. Colon cancer.
He fought gallantly. He kept telling me he was going to be around for a long, long time, so I better get used to it. But Matthew stayed on this earth for less than a year after his diagnosis, and now he was in the earth.
The cancer had spread to his other organs. It wasn’t caught in time, and he was gone before we could do all of the things we had talked about—visit the Grand Canyon, take a hot air balloon ride, retire and settle along the Saint Lawrence River where we purchased a cottage in the Thousand Islands. He died before I could tell him everything I wanted to—that my world hadn’t really existed until the day I found him, and that I loved him more than life itself. Now, Matthew was gone, and I didn’t love life anymore.
I leaned against the headboard sobbing as I asked the same questions I had asked so many times before. “Why, Matthew? Why did you have to leave me?” I cried aloud. I reached over to the nightstand to grab a wad of Kleenex, and then feverishly wiped my face trying to rid myself of not only the tears, but also the torture of my dreams and the voices that started after Matthew died.
I rolled over and looked out the window of our bedroom. Our two-bedroom apartment was in a large, older home, one of many city houses that had been converted into apartments over the years. Matthew and I fell in love with it from the first moment we saw the for sale sign. The grand Victorian had all the old gum wood trim, leaded glass windows, and large brick fireplaces that were trademarks of these majestic homes where the rich of the city once played, worked, and lived. When the depression hit, it was too expensive for many of the owners to maintain the enormous homes and eventually, as the families filtered out, the landlords filtered in.
Our particular structure already had a tenant in one of the two downstairs apartments. We knocked on the door to find out a little more about the building and the neighborhood. A prestigious professor who worked at the University of Rochester answered.
“Investing in the city,” he told us was the reason he moved into the dwelling, but when we saw the way he looked at the wide, ornate wood staircase separating the apartments, Matthew and I realized it was more about Mr. Princeton’s love of the exquisite architecture than the investing. “In fact,” Mr. Princeton told us with a wink, “I was thinking about putting an offer in myself, but I like the freedom of renting.”
Mr. Princeton gave us the key to the upstairs apartment. We strolled slowly up the grand staircase that was most likely part of the front foyer when the house was a single dwelling. The two downstairs and two upstairs apartments stretched from the front of the building to the back, with one on either side of the staircase. We let ourselves in the upstairs unit directly above Mr. Princeton’s, and ambled down the length of the apartment to the master bedroom that was situated in the back. A long, elegant window on the far side of the room overlooked a wild vista of woods that crept up a hill behind the house to a neighboring park.
It was in front of that window, looking out at the trees that we decided to put in an offer, hopefully before Mr. Princeton did. We continued to wander hand-in-hand throughout what would become our new apartment, admiring the work of the many artisans who created these homes: the intricacy of the carved molding, the unique glass windows, the mosaic tiling and tin ceilings in the kitchen and bathroom, the ornamental plaster ceilings in the living room and dining room.
The living room walls spread out to a small circular alcove enclosed with enchanting beveled windows on the front, decorated with lace crown moldings. Matthew was so enthralled with the room, light beaming in from every window, that he named it our castle turret in the sky.
“Great place for a Christmas tree,” he whispered in my ear. And it was there every year that the tree stood in all its glory with the multi-colored lights reflecting in prism patterns from one window to the next.
The bedroom window was a transom to the trees that spread out across the back of the yard, and tonight was one of those nights that a cool breeze was making the trees look as if they were dancing to the rhythm of the twinkling stars. Matthew and I used to love to lie in our bed any time of the day or night, watching and listening to the sounds of nature seldom heard in a city. Yet, here in our part of the city, the sounds were unmistakably from a world that usually existed outside its borders.
It was at these times I missed him so much I didn’t want to take another breath.
I fell back onto the bed. I needed to get some rest, yet I was afraid to sleep, afraid the whispers would come back and occupy all the space in my head as they did most nights since Matthew passed.
Maybe the sounds were coming from the neighboring apartment, I thought to myself, trying to invent a plausible reason for them. Forcing that theory to work, I directed my train of thought toward believing the sounds I heard were from my neighbors having sex. That made me giggle because despite my fear, I wasn’t sure which was worse—listening to my neighbors having sex or knowing there was no human form tied to the soft murmurs I heard.
Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, yet somewhere in the depths of my mind, the whispers continued, waiting for a chance to bombard my dreams once again.