Grimwood Manor was reduced to rubble overnight. The next day, I hired a construction company to bulldoze anything that remained. Finally, there was nothing left to do but rebuild.
Many months later, on a cool evening in Spring…the house was finally finished. As we stood in the doorway waiting for our furniture to be delivered, I told Patience that our new house deserved a name. She smiled up at me in response. “How about…Stonehurst Estate?” I asked. She nodded her head and clapped her hands in agreement. “Well that’s settled then.” I said with a laugh. “Welcome to Stonehurst Estate…our home.”
When there was nothing but ash left in the fire pit, I turned around to go back in. Suddenly the lights flickered and then the whole place went dark. I could see Vera standing in the doorway…blocking my entrance inside. She greeted me with a knowing smile. My chest tightened in fear. My plan had not worked. I ran around to the front of the house and peeked in Patience’s window. It was too dark to see anything. I picked up a rock and broke the glass then pulled myself through it. Patience was sitting up in bed, startled. “It’s okay, baby. Let’s go outside okay?” I said soothingly while I picked her up. Once we were back outside, I knew what I had to do. “I’ll be right back, I promise! Don’t move!” I told Patience before going back through the window again. I ran to the liquor cabinet and started dumping it on all the furniture, all over the curtains, and near the hot water heater. I made a trail all the way back to the broken window then I jumped back out of it. I pulled a box of matches from my pocket then I lit one and threw it into the open window.
We stood there and watched as our house was engulfed in flames. The screams from inside the manor were otherworldly…guess Vera wasn’t too happy. I badly wanted to pick up Patience and just run away. But I had to stay. I had to be sure the house burned to the ground. I looked up and noticed someone standing on the balcony…I clenched my fists tightly. But then I realized it wasn’t Vera…it was a man. And it’d been years since I’d seen him but I knew him. He waved at us before fading away. He’d been here all along…protecting us. I sighed sadly and felt tears stinging my eyes. “Goodbye, Robert.” I whispered.
After Dorian came to terms with the fact that Vera was indeed very real, he promised that’d he’d never leave me alone in the manor again. Later that night, we heard the doorbell ring. To my surprise, I found Norman standing in the yard. “Norman, what are you doing here?” I asked. “No matter how many times you try to push me away, I won’t budge. I love you. And I know you feel for me the same way I feel for you.” He announced loudly while dropping to one knee. “Marry me, Charity.” He said, pulling a ring out of his pocket. My chest ached because I badly wanted to say yes. “I can’t. I’m sorry.” He looked crushed. I took him by the hand and led him to my bedroom. “Just make me forget everything for a while.”
Afterwards, he cuddled me close to his chest. “I’m so glad you called me.” He whispered sleepily into my ear. “What? But…I didn’t call you, Norman.” I said moving to look up at him. He was already fast asleep. I shrugged and snuggled down under the covers.
I was later awoken by a loud thump upstairs. I sat up in bed and noticed that Norman was missing. Suddenly there was a loud scream from outside. I ran out the front door and found Dorian in the yard…not far from him was Norman’s crumpled body. I gasped in shock. “Don’t get any closer, Char. He’s dead.” Dorian warned me. “I think he fell from the balcony.” But I knew better. He was pushed…
A few days later, Dorian was returning from job hunting when he heard singing from the balcony. He looked up and saw a woman he didn’t recognize. “Hey, are you okay up there?” He called up to her. She grinned and said, “Perfectly fine.” And within a blink of an eye she was right in front of him. “How did you…that’s not possible.” Dorian stuttered in shock. She laid her hand on his cheek and gazed at him. “Aren’t you a handsome one?” Then she sighed and said, “Times like these make me wish I was still alive.” Then he remembered everything I’d told him. “Al-alive? Does that mean you’re dead?” Her smile grew bigger. “You’re Vera, aren’t you?” Dorian whimpered. Vera winked at him and disappeared once more.
“Charity! Where are you? Char!” I was still in bed but heard him calling urgently from the kitchen. “What in the world is going on?” I asked sleepily. He grabbed me by the hands and said, “I’m so sorry for ever doubting you Char. I saw her!” I wiped the sleep from my eyes. “What are you talking about? Who did you see?” He ran his hands wildly through his hair. “Vera.” He whispered. My mouth dropped open and I quickly covered it with my hand. “She’s real.”