Short Story: House of Secrets
Raised in hiding in the country and knowing nothing of her mother, Lily has been taught from birth that her existence can only bring shame to her wealthy father. But when she nears her seventeenth birthday, she is finally summoned to her father’s house in town…and discovers that everything she thought about herself was wrong.
And now she is a prisoner.
Locked among all the other mysteries in her father’s grand house – including one young man who could be an ally or an enemy – she may finally discover the truth about her own nature…and exactly why her father considers her so valuable after all.
House of Secrets is a Gothic Victorian fantasy novelette of approximately 12,000 words. It’s full of mystery, magic, and just a touch of romance, and it was published as an ebook on July 13, 2016.
My father’s house is full of secrets. They cling to the thick, dusty curtains that he keeps tightly drawn all day and night, muffling the sound of his friends’ low, intent whispers and blocking out the sunlight. I can hear the dull echoes of carriages outside, rattling past at all hours, but I never see them. Since I arrived here eight days ago, I’ve become a creature of shadow, as dim and hidden from the outside world as everything else in this house.
Back home in the country, where I lived with my nurse, the sunshine poured in all day long. Bessie’s cottage might have been a tiny, insignificant thing compared to my father’s great house in town, but hers led out onto fields and woods where I could wander to my heart’s content. The local girls were forbidden to talk to me, but the wind brushed against my skin like a caress whenever I stepped into the meadows, and distant bells always seemed to ring in the air whenever I walked in the woods, although Bessie claimed she couldn’t hear them. In the summers, I spent nearly every day outside, coming home only for required meals, or when Bessie managed to pin me down to study my letters.
“You’re the daughter of gentryfolk,” she always told me, “no matter who your poor mother might have been. I’ll not have your father disappointed when he finally summons you to live with him.”
Back then, of course, my father was only a name, scrawled hastily at the bottom of his brief, infrequent letters: William Norton, Esq.
William Norton, Esq., hoped that my health was well and that I was behaving for my nurse. William Norton, Esq., would summon me to town when I was older, for my coming of age.
I always tried to think of that as a promise rather than a threat…
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Cover design by Megan Crewe at Another World Designs.