Juliet rested her forehead on the cold glass of the car window. Her head ached and the jolting of the wheels on the uneven country roads did not help. The stress of the move was causing her pain. Her migraines started when she got worried or upset, usually around exam time.
“Are you feeling any better, dear?” Her mother turned round in her seat.
“Yes, mom, I’m ok,” Juliet lied, but she would never be ok again.
As far as she was concerned her life was over. Her parents lost their jobs over a year ago, and once their savings ran out, they could no longer pay the mortgage. To protect their home, they rented it out and decided to move in with her mother’s aunt, Maisie, who lived in the country. Aaron, her older brother, said the old manor house was haunted. Juliet knew he was trying to scare them, but it frightened Kim, her twelve-year-old sister, who went running to her mother in tears. Aaron was fine, Juliet fumed, and he got to stay behind with his friend Mike’s family, so he could finish his exams. This meant she would be alone in the wilds with just her sister for company. She tried to be brave, she really did, but it was hard leaving her friends and Rick, her boyfriend. Susie Jones, her arch enemy, would be prowling around him, and this added to her worries.
“Sorry to hear your sad news,” Susie came up to her on the last day of school. “It won’t be the same without you. Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on Rick; make sure he doesn’t get up to any mischief.”
“In your dreams, Jones,” Rick sneered, but despite his words, Juliet felt dark moths take flight in her stomach.
Susie was a beauty and used to getting her own way.
“How long more, daddy?” Kim’s voice brought her back to the present.
“A few more miles, princess,” her father said.
I wish I were as young and dumb as you, Juliet looked at her sister. Urged on by her mother, Kim had started to think of the move as some big adventure.
“Why did you bring that thing with you?” Juliet poked at the tattered old bear Kim held.
“Mr Snuggles always sleeps on my bed,” Kim said.
“You are such a baby,” Juliet threw her eyes up to heaven.
“I am not,” Kim pouted. “You bought all your stupid digging books.”
“They’re not digging books, stupid. It’s called archaeology, don’t you know anything?”
Juliet was being mean, but she needed someone to take her miserable mood out on.
“Stop it, Juliet,” her mother warned.
Kim was right. One of the few things Juliet brought with her was her books. Along with her computer and clothes, all she had in the world was packed in the trailer her father hired to move their stuff. The rest was in storage and her room, once the centre of her universe, was lost to her. Now, she might have to live forever with her mother’s crazy, old aunt. The woman could win medals when it came to eccentricity and at eighty-one, had all the charm of a bulldog chewing a wasp. It was Maisie who always said, not caring if Juliet heard, “that child is not a Wilson.”
“Now, auntie,” her mother said. “Don’t be silly, red hair runs in the family.”
“I’m not talking about the red hair,” her aunt replied. “There’s something else, something I can’t quite put my finger on.”
Her mother laughed, but it left Juliet with a strange sense of not quite fitting in with the rest of her family. To add to her misery, the dreams were back, and she had enough to worry her without them disturbing her sleep. They were always the same, the whisper of a name and a feeling of being abandoned. It would be worse now, living in that creepy old house under the disapproving stare of her grand-aunt, and with nothing to do.
“You’ll find plenty to occupy you,” her father sensed her worries. “With your interest in the past there’s no knowing what treasure you could unearth in the attic or the old outbuildings.”
Yeah, Juliet thought, it will be a blast. What she did not know was the house had a secret. One that would help her uncover the reason she felt so different from everyone else. It would give her the first hint about those who were the cause of her confusion.