The Forgotten Cottage

The Forgotten Cottage
, the eagerly awaited and chillingly terrifying new book in Helen Phifer’s best-selling ‘Annie Graham’ series

Annie Graham has fought her demons and is ready to leave them behind. Her new cottage seems like the new start she’s craved: quiet and quaint, it’s empty of the memories which have haunted her for so long.

But before long the ghosts of a forgotten tragedy stir within Annie’s new home. Someone – or something – is coming for her. And this time she might not get the chance to run…

Also available by Helen Phifer

The Forgotten Cottage

The Ghost House

The Forgotten Cottage

Helen Phifer




Book List

Title Page

Author Bio



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four





lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children and has done since she was born. It gets some bad press but really is a lovely place to live, surrounded by coastline and not far from the Lake District, where she likes to spend at least one of her days off from work. She has always loved writing and reading and loves reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read, she decided to write her own.

You can contact follow Helen on her blog at
, her website at
and on Twitter,

This past year has been amazing and I’d like to thank the following people for sharing my journey.

My heartfelt thanks go to my amazing editor Lucy Gilmour and the rest of the fabulous Carina Team. My wonderful readers, who have taken Annie, Will & Jake into their hearts and for following them on their adventures; without your support we wouldn’t be on our third adventure. I would like to thank my children Jessica, Joshua, Jerusha, Jaimea and Jeorgia for nearly always understanding that I have to write and putting up with the terrible cooking. A huge thank you to my granddaughter Gracie, who always makes me smile and fills my heart with joy whenever she walks into a room.

A special thank you to my fellow bloggers Jo Bartlett, Julie Heslington, Alex Weston, Helen Rolfe, Deirdre Palmer, Lynn Davidson, Jackie Ladbury & Rachael Thomas, who all form The Write Romantics, you all rock and I don’t know what I’d do without you. Finally, my friends at Cumbria Constabulary for keeping it real; it’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Helen xx

For my husband Steve, thank you for your unwavering support.

Chapter One

She looked out of the bedroom window onto the front garden—a garden full of flowers, some wild and some she had planted herself. The brightly coloured blooms were swaying in the breeze. She heard the men and the dogs before they came into sight; they were a good distance away but they were coming. She took one last look at the garden she had so nurtured and locked it into her mind then she turned and ran. Annie Graham was running for her life. She held onto her left side to ease the stitch which was making it difficult for her to breathe. Running out of the back door of the house and over the dry stone wall, she wasn’t familiar with the woods she was in but she knew that if the dogs and men caught up with her it wouldn’t end very well. The dogs were snarling. She could hear their teeth clashing together; they were getting too close. Panting hard and clutching her side, she continued looking for a tree she could climb or a building she could take cover in. Her bare feet were cut, bleeding, and giving the dogs a trail to follow. It was no good, there was no way she could outrun them. She didn’t even know why she was running; tired and overwhelmed, her body was telling her to give up and wait for them to find her. Whatever it was she had done could be explained; she was a police officer so she couldn’t have done anything too bad. Slowing down to catch her breath, she heard the shouts of her pursuers closing in on her. They were hyped up and chanting the same words over and over:

‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live; thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’

Fear filled her heart; she wasn’t a witch, this was stupid. Why would anyone think that? The voices were close now—too close. They were chanting in a frenzy. Annie looked down, expecting to see her police uniform, but was startled to see a long white cotton gown. She didn’t even own anything that looked like this. An adrenalin kick started her urge for survival and she began to run once more. She heard the sound of the bubbling river which wasn’t too far away; if she could run into that it would clean her feet and throw the dogs off her trail. With the fast-flowing river in sight, she felt hope that this might not end as badly as she’d thought. She pushed herself on, so focused on reaching the icy-cold water that she didn’t see the mossy boulder jutting out of the ground and ran straight into it. Excruciating pain shot through her foot and she lost her balance and began falling towards the water, jerking so hard that she woke from the nightmare and managed to wake Will at the same time.

‘Oh, dear God, it was a dream. It was just a dream.’

A groggy Will reached across and switched the bedside lamp on. He looked at the clock: it was three a.m. ‘Are you okay?’

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. Bad dream.’

Will blinked and looked at her. She was covered in a film of sweat and her hair was stuck to her forehead. ‘Want to tell me what it was about?’

She shook her head. ‘No, thanks, I want to forget it.’

He nodded and then pulled her close to him. ‘I’ll protect you from your scary dreams; do you want me to help you go back to sleep, take your mind off them?’

She laughed. ‘Do you have sex on the brain permanently?’

‘Only when I’m with you, but in this case I’ll settle for a cuddle.’

He lay back and Annie lay next to him, his arms around her and her head on his chest. Almost immediately he began to breathe deeply and she lay listening to him, watching his chest rise and fall. She wished she could go back to sleep so easily; this was the second time in as many days that she’d had the same nightmare and had woken up at the exact same time. It left her feeling unsettled that there was something hovering in the distance, a dark shadow in the background which was keeping out of sight, and she had no idea what it was or what it could mean.

Pushing it to the back of her mind, she began to think about the wedding, which was only fourteen weeks away. She lifted her hand to look at the beautiful engagement ring Will had given to her. Who said that dreams didn’t come true? Hers certainly were and her life had never been so perfect. She felt as if she and Will were meant to be together; they were such a good match. Although it had taken some terrible detours to get this far, it had made both of them much stronger and surer about how much they loved each other.

She thought about the vintage wedding dress she had found in the small shop in Kendal last month and how straight away she had been drawn towards it. The high bodice, which had a whalebone corset and was covered in the most delicate lace, was so pretty she couldn’t help but reach out to touch it. The dress had a full-length silk skirt, which was covered in the same delicate lace and the tiniest crystals and pearls were sewn onto it, making it sparkle. Lily had been busy pulling out dresses for her to try on when Annie had turned to the assistant and asked her if she could try this one on.

‘I’m sorry but it’s for display purposes and not actually for sale. It’s very old but we do have some modern takes on it I can show you.’

Lily had turned around and seen the disappointment etched across Annie’s face. ‘Darling, everything has a price. Please let my friend try it on; it won’t hurt and we won’t tell if you don’t.’

The assistant had dithered for a second then nodded and began to remove it from the mannequin. Annie had taken it into the dressing room and let the assistant help her into it. Deep down she knew that this was the one and it was the only one. It was so delicate and stylish, she had to have it; she would be gutted if they wouldn’t sell it to her. It even fitted perfectly, thanks to her pre-wedding nerves and her loss of appetite.

An image of the first woman to wear the dress flashed across her eyes—she looked very similar to Annie but with much fairer skin and strawberry-blonde hair. Annie knew that the woman who had married in this dress had spent the rest of her life with her husband, happy until death separated them, and she took it as a perfect omen for her and Will.

When she opened the curtain and stepped out, Lily had gasped. ‘Oh, Annie, you look amazing, simply beautiful.’

Even the shop assistant had agreed. ‘Let me speak to my boss and see what we can do; it’s as if that dress was made for you.’

Annie looked in the mirror and smiled. It was a lot different to the awful green suit she’d worn when she married her first husband, Mike, when she was just nineteen. She felt like a princess and knew Will would love it. Lily brought over a large diamanté slide, which she tucked to one side of Annie’s hair.

‘I don’t care how much that dress costs, we have to buy it.’

‘Well, if it’s extortionate then I don’t think so; there are lots of others.’

The assistant walked back into the room with a smile on her face. ‘Phew, you caught her on a good day; she said if the dress was the one for you, and I’ve assured her that it is, then you can buy it. The only problem is it’s eight hundred pounds.’

Lily whipped out her credit card, ‘Done and thank you so much for all your help.’

Annie couldn’t stop grinning; even she could afford to buy it. She’d been saving up and had more than enough to pay for the dress if Lily would ever let her. She lay in bed, snuggled next to Will, thinking happy thoughts which pushed the nightmare away, losing herself in a world of weddings until she drifted back to sleep.

When she woke up she’d forgotten all about the nightmare until she tried to stand. Her foot was painful. She looked down at her left foot, which had a couple of scratches and the beginning of a large blue bruise on the side of it. She must have hit it on the bedside table when she’d been thrashing around in her dream last night. She hobbled to the bathroom, where she ran a bath and hoped a soak would take away some of the soreness.

Will had already left for work; he was on an early and she was on a late. Most weeks they were like ships that passed in the night but at the moment it suited both of them. Annie didn’t want Will to get fed up of spending time with her and if she wasn’t around all the time then he couldn’t, although she missed him. She never got bored of being with him, unlike Mike; she used to do anything to escape spending time in his company, never complaining about having to work over her finishing time, and she hoped she would never feel that way about going home to Will. She got out of the bath and went downstairs.

The phone was ringing and she picked it up to hear a breathless Lily. ‘Oh Annie, it’s Tom…he’s collapsed. We’re on our way to the hospital. He’s unconscious.’ She let out a sob.

‘Where are they taking him, Lily? Which hospital? We’ll be there soon. He’ll be okay, he’s in the best hands.’

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