Authors: Jill Bisker
Melange Books, LLC
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Finding the Way Back, Copyright 2014
Names, characters, and incidents
depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales,
organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher. No part of
this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,
or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the United States of
Cover Design by Caroline
FINDING THE WAY BACK
by Jill Bisker
Finding the Way Back is the story of Laney, a
recently divorced woman who agrees to help her mother fix up her
dead grandfather’s house. From the first night when she hears
ghostly music to later physical attacks that seem targeted only at
her, she soon discovers that a spirit in the house may have plans
of its own. For her own well-being, she needs to find answers as
the danger escalates and she learns to trust herself and others.
With the help of her cousin Connie, an attractive ghosthunter named
Emmett, and several other eccentric characters, Laney uncovers the
dark secret of the house and a new path for her future.
To George, my dragon
I set my suitcase down on the sidewalk and
stopped to look up at the old dilapidated house. “It’s not quite
the way I remember it, Mom.”
“It’s the same house that’s been here for
eighty years, Laney. The trees and bushes get bigger, is all.”
“It’s not that. I know it’s the same, but it
seems, I don’t know,
? And way more run down.”
“You haven’t been here in twenty years.
were smaller then so naturally the house seemed bigger.”
My mother stood next to me on the front walk and looked up at the
old craftsman-style house that stood back from the street, nestled
in the early evening light amidst towering oaks and overgrown
shrubs. “And, of course, your grandfather wasn’t able to keep up
the maintenance those last few years before he died so the place
could use some tidying up. I really wish my relationship with him
hadn’t been so contentious these last several years, otherwise I
could have helped him more.”
I sighed outwardly and groaned internally.
Tidying up? It looked like it would be easier just to burn the old
place down. Moving into my grandfather’s run-down old place was the
last thing I wanted to do after living the married life for the
last ten years. If my son of a bitch husband hadn’t pulled his shit
on me and decided he ‘wanted to move on’, I would be back in my
comfortable, cozy home I had invested my heart and soul into since
we bought it five years ago, drinking tea and contemplating how to
make my new career as a decorator come true. Now I didn’t have the
house I was going to use as a model or the husband I thought would
love me forever.
But, things were what they were, and there
was no going back to Simon now. He didn’t want me, and I sure as
hell wasn’t about to beg him to take me back after finding him and
his mistress going at it in
“Elaine MacKenzie, don’t you sigh at me. Come
on, dear. Once we get inside you’ll feel differently. It really
does have good bones and some old-fashioned charm.”
I knew whenever my mother called me by my
first and last name, the noose was being pulled tighter. We stepped
inside and I did feel differently—more depressed. Why did old
people’s houses always smell like mothballs and mildew?
“Connie’s plane gets in tomorrow. You don’t
mind picking her up, do you?”
“No problem,” I answered half-heartedly as
Mom stood in the foyer and looked up the stairs to the second
floor. A quick glance into the house told me I had better just set
my suitcase and purse down by the door or I might never find them
again. There was stuff piled from one end to the other.
“You’ll be okay rooming with Connie for a
while, won’t you? You always got along well when you were
I knew better than to debate the point with
my mother. Connie was a brat and everyone knew it. I think in a
weird way she did actually look up to me as her older cousin so it
wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I had hardly seen her as an
adult. Most people grow out of the kid stuff eventually. It might
be fun to have a ‘just girls’ place for a while. I sure had no
interest in finding a new man any time soon.
“You know her mother’s hoping you’ll be a
good influence on her,” my mother said. “She hasn’t been able to
find work with her art degree and she moved back home over a year
ago.” I rolled my eyes.
“I know,” Mom continued. “Now stop it. The
two of you should go into business together! I can just see it—LC
“And do what, Mom? I have my own life to
figure out. I don’t need the responsibility for figuring out
someone else’s too.”
“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head.
She always ‘knew’, but she continued anyway. “I’m just having fun
with a little bit of imagination. I’ve tried not to say too much
because I know it’s none of my business, but you’ll be better off
without that Simon. I never liked the way he tried to control
everything you said and did. Now you can be your own person and be
want to be.” She blinked and tried to keep the tears
from welling up in her eyes. “He was never good enough for
I forced a laugh and scolded her. “Don’t you
start! You’ll have both of us crying and I’m not in the mood.” I
kissed her on the cheek and despite my better judgment, asked,
“What does LC stand for? Last Chance?”
“Laney and Connie, silly.” And this time it
was her turn to roll her eyes.
“Why did Connie need to take a vacation
anyway? A vacation from what?”
“Probably her mother needed a vacation from
I can understand.”
We both laughed and Mom excused herself to
find the bathroom, leaving me alone to take in my surroundings.
There was crap everywhere—opened and unopened boxes scattered from
room to room, clothes lying on the furniture, plastic bins, piles
of papers surrounding the dining room table and hutch. There was a
coat of dust over everything, but at first glance it didn’t appear
to be a health hazard—there wasn’t garbage lying around and no
mouse droppings that I could see. Just a lot of
didn’t remember it being this way when I used to visit as a child.
Soren Thoresson was a successful businessman, owning the only
department store in the small town area. Grandma Teoline had died
long ago. Did he really live like this? Or did his ‘girlfriend’
Saundra Sills do this? It was still impossible to refer to Saundra
as his girlfriend without mentally putting quotes around the word.
What kind of name was Saundra anyway? I would never forget the
first time we met and I made the mistake of asking if the woman
went by Sandy. “It’s Saundra,” she drawled, emphasizing the ‘au’
sound way more than was bearable to hear. Mom said they were
supposedly going to get married, but he died before tying the knot.
Grandpa always was a jerk. If anyone would marry an annoying
younger floozy after his money, it would be him.
Maybe it would have been better if they had
gotten married. Then Saundra would be the one here dealing with
this mess instead of me. There’d never really been any money
anyway, despite what Saundra might have thought.
“Would you like a cup of tea before I go?” my
mother called from the kitchen, interrupting my contemplations.
I walked around the boxes and found my way to
the kitchen where Mom was clearing things off the stove to put the
“No, I’m fine. You don’t need to stay. I’ll
have to clean out a room upstairs before tonight anyway so maybe I
should just get started,” I said, hoping she would take the
“Well, we should discuss what you think your
plans should be, get your budget started, etc. Perhaps I should
stay awhile and help you get settled?” Hints and subtlety were one
of those things Mom could ignore like no one I had ever seen.
Unfortunately, blatant commands were ignored with the same blissful
“Mom, you said this was my project.” I hated
myself for sounding like I was twelve. “Really, I will write out
all my plans and you can come over in a day or two and I’ll let you
have some input.” I tried to soften my tone and the words, but
didn’t succeed very well.
“Oh, you’re right. Sorry. I just keep seeing
you as my little girl,” she answered as she smiled at me.
I laughed. “I know how hard it is to see me
as a grown up since I’m only thirty-two.” I hugged her and she made
her way back to the front door. I walked out with her to retrieve
the rest of my stuff from my car. Dragging my box and groceries
from the car I turned and happened to glance at the neighbor’s
house and saw someone looking out the window. I smiled and nodded.
It was a small town and the biggest entertainment everyone had was
watching their neighbors. It paid to be polite and friendly when
moving in somewhere new. The curtain quickly fell back in
Returning to the house I took the supplies
into the kitchen and placed them on the table, pushing the rest of
the crap already there out of the way. Something crashed to the
floor on the far side.
, I sighed to myself. Whatever, I
couldn’t imagine it did any more damage to the floor with the shape
it was in. The old worn linoleum would have to come up. All these
boxes and clutter were driving me crazy. I’d unpack later, but I
had to clean a space on the counter first.
After spending forty-five minutes moving
stuff from one place to another and not really making any
noticeable progress, I decided to call it a day and make a fresh
start tomorrow. It was getting late, and I was ready to head
upstairs with my suitcase to find somewhere to sleep. I wondered
what my chances were of finding clean sheets. Probably not very
good. Luckily, my grandfather had left the stairs clear so I didn’t
have to battle my way to the second floor. On making it to the top
of the steep steps I found the hallway relatively clear as well. A
large trunk was at the top of the steps but the rest of the hallway
was empty except for a nightlight plugged into an outlet that was
giving off a dim glow. Well, one place I wouldn’t have to clear out
anyway. It did have hideous wallpaper I would have to strip. I
couldn’t imagine when it had ever been thought to be pretty. Pink,
blue, orange, and yellow, all riotously carousing across the room
in a paisley pattern. Lovely. I glanced up and down the hallway and
saw one of the bedroom doors was closed. I didn’t know why, but it
gave me the oddest feeling. I knew there was no one in the room,
but for some reason my imagination started putting weird ideas in
my head—like there might be a dead body in there, or something else