Scarlett collapsed onto the sofa and shut her eyes. In the background, she could hear her husband and the two male police officers talking. They were just finishing up the search of the house, which after two hours had revealed nothing. Their footsteps drew nearer and Scarlett sat up. Straightening her top and jumper out, she then picked up one of the steaming mugs from the coffee table and balanced it on her knees.
Greyson walked into the living room, the policemen behind him. They were both dressed in yellow high visibility coats, which were open to show off their padded body vests, black trousers and black boots. Walkie talkies were clicked to the coat pockets’ and their matching police belts looked weighed down with items.
‘I made tea,’ Scarlett pointed out.
‘Thanks,’ Greyson spoke and sank down onto the sofa next to her. He put the ring of keys on the top with a loud clinking.
The two men lingered in the doorway, looking serious and slightly uncomfortable.
Scarlett realised there was nowhere for them to sit. Getting up, she grabbed two of the kitchen table chairs that had been abandoned at the back of the room amongst some other stuff.
‘Sorry. Please sit down,’ she added, placing the chairs on the other side of the coffee table.
‘Thanks,’ the first officer, PC Callahan replied.
Scarlet sat back down on the sofa and waited till he and PC Blakely had sat down. She looked at them and decided the hard Yorkshire men were just what she needed to get over her fears. Callahan was tall with a short black beard on the lower half of his face and black hair poking out from under his flat hat. His eyes were dark blue, cold and tried looking. His hands, resting on top of upper legs, were scratched up and bruised due to a recent fight with someone.
Blakely seemed to be the opposite. He was shorter with brown hair and chocolate coloured eyes. He looked too young and nice to be a policeman, but the stern expression plastered on his face give him a mean edge. He wore a wedding ring which he played with as the silence grew.
‘We could call more officers and a dog unit,’ Callahan suggested.
Scarlett shook her head, ‘it’s fine.’
Greyson yawed and rubbed his forehead then face. Scarlett patted his knee and out of the corner of her eye saw the two policemen share a quick nervous look.
Callahan cleared his throat and Blakely picked up the nearest mug of tea.
‘How much do you know about this place?’ Callahan said in a low voice.
‘I know most of the history…’ Scarlett trailed off, realising that was not what he meant.
‘We’ve had a few calls out here whilst it’s been empty over the years. From people in the village,’ Callahan explained, ‘they’d say lights were on or they thought there was a fire. The alarm would go off too, in the middle of the night and early morning. On inspection, there’d be nothing.’
‘Sometimes, they’d hear crying and screaming too,’ Blakely butted in, ‘and horses pulling a carriage. My old gran swore she once saw the figure of woman which then vanished in one of the front upstairs windows!’
‘Ben!’ Callahan hissed.
Scarlett squeezed Greyson’s knee and felt his reassuring hand grip in return. She sipped her tea and decided not to voice her opinions. Flicking her eyes to Blakely, she saw the young officer staring sheepishly into his mug and wrestling to keep his mouth shut.
‘There’s always been rumours about this place,’ Callahan spoke.
‘Of course! It’s over three hundred years old,’ Greyson cut in, ‘there’s always going to be stories! But I don’t believe my wife heard a ghost. There could be squatters or teenagers messing with us. They could easily know hidden ways in and out. There’s out buildings all over the place and the cellars and attic.’
‘Sir, calm down,’ Callahan said with a gentle hand motion, ‘We don’t doubt you or your wife. I’m just saying…’
‘Maybe, we should get more police and dogs,’ Scarlett suddenly cut in, ‘could you arrange that and come back later? You might be able to find something in the daylight.’
‘Of course. We’ll get right on that.’
‘I’ll show you out,’ Greyson uttered.
The men stood up and left. Scarlett sank back onto the sofa, pulling her feet up. She listened to them walking, the doors opening and voices drifting back to her. She drank her tea and looked around the living room her thoughts turning to where to place things.
Greyson returned, ‘Let’s go to bed for a couple of hours.’
‘What time is it?’ Scarlett asked.
‘Around half past five, I think.’
‘I’m too awake now. I’m going to get something to eat and start unpacking in here.’
She nodded and gave him a little smile. Greyson pulled a face and lingered in the doorway for a few moments.
‘I’m fine. You go to bed. I’ll wake you when the police return,’ Scarlett stated.
‘Okay….You know I don’t believe that nonsense, right?’
‘Nor do I. And I can’t see how a ghost could’ve been making all this noise. It’s doubtless animals and some kids or homeless people. We’ll find out soon enough.’
Greyson yawed. He put his hand in front of his mouth then swept his hair back.
‘Go to bed,’ Scarlett said.
He nodded and walked away. When the door closed behind him, Scarlett turned the TV on and set the volume down. She put the news on and finished her tea. Gathering up all the mugs, she went to the kitchen and placing them in the sink, made herself some porridge. After eating that in front of the TV, she began sorting through the boxes and finding a place for everything.
Processing slowly, Scarlett soon give up with she realised, the sofa and arm chairs would have to be moved. Also, the bookcases and cupboards had to be put together and moved too. Getting off the floor, she went to the two bay windows and opened the curtains. Dawn was breaking and the sky was a tinted pale blue, pink and yellow. Scarlett sat down in the window box and watched the lawn lighting up.
From here, she could not see an hint of the out buildings that Greyson had mentioned before. Though she recalled the first was far to the left and was a stable. The others dotted beyond had been gardeners’ cottages, storage sheds, the ice house that had been used to keep foods cold before freezers had been invented, and the summer house.
Getting up, Scarlett walked into the study, which had become the dumping ground for all the paperwork. Searching through everything, she found the folder that had all the blue prints of the house. Taking it back to the living room and sitting on the floor, she opened the folder and poured over the plans. She looked at the layout of the grounds and saw the buildings she remembered. The last owners had rented out the four cottages as holiday homes and had used the summer house as a bar area and wedding venue.
Flipping further back, she looked at the original plans for Bruntwood manor. She had to hold the old paper up to her face to make out the faint lines. It had just been this main square building, divided up into smaller old named rooms. Placing the blue prints back, she looked at the next lot which showed the newly added wings when the manor had been converted into a private boy’s school.
Scarlett heard a soft sound and raised her head. Greyson was snoring. He must have left the bedroom door open. Sliding the plans back, she watched the TV for a few moments as the weather forecast came on.
‘Well, it’s going to stay dry and mostly sunny for the rest of the week,’ the young suit wearing weather man announced, ‘there’ll be a northerly wind arriving this afternoon which should fade in the evening. The temperature is set to get warmer as we approach the spring equinox this Sunday. Tomorrow, there’s a slight chance of showers on the higher ground in the morning, but the afternoon is clear.’
Scarlett turned back to the folder, leaving the reporter to drone on. She turned the page and looked at when the manor was switched to an orphanage. Not much seemed to have changed, but the attic had been spilt up into rooms. Moving on, she found the plans for when the government had taken over and used the manor during the wars. Afterwards, sometime in the late nineteen-fifties, it had been emptied and put up for sale. Brought, the manor had been fully re-done up and transformed into the hotel it was now.
Reaching the latest plans again and the front of the folder, Scarlett left them out, deciding they might useful for the police search. Getting back on the sofa, she channel flicked till she found a nature documentary to watch. Wrapping herself in the blanket and resting her head on the cushions, she dozed off.
A loud constant knocking and Greyson shouting he was coming, woke Scarlett up. She jumped, knocking the cushion to the floor and scrambled to her feet. Padding after him, she came to a stop behind the front desk as Greyson unlocked and opened the door.
‘Good morning, sir, you requested a full search of the premises?’ a broad Yorkshire policeman’s voice said from the doorway.
Scarlett saw Greyson nodded, ‘my wife and I did. Seems, we aren’t alone here. Please come in.’
He stepped aside and a large group of officers, there must have been around fourteen of them, plus the two with German shepherd dogs, filed into the entrance hall. They all seemed to look around and take in the place as if they had never been inside before.
‘I have all the blue prints,’ Scarlett piped up then dashed off to get them.
Snatching them from the living room and turning back, she almost slammed into Greyson.
‘Your hair,’ he whispered.
Scarlett handed him the plans then ran her fingers through her hair.
‘I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you have a shower and get changed?’ Greyson suggested.
‘Do I look that bad?’
‘No,’ he laughed and pulled her in for a hug and kiss.
Scarlett playfully whacked his shoulder and wriggled out of his hold. Stalking off, she went into their bedroom and closed the door firmly. She heard Greyson’s footsteps and voice in the main hallway. Sighing, she took a shower and got changed.
To Be Continued…