Halloween at Hargreate Hall: Final Part by Berni Stevens

Happy Halloween! It’s time for this year’s Halloween Round Robin. And this year we have not one but TWO fabulously spooky tales written collaboratively by eight talented Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction authors to share with you 👻 We shared one yesterday (click HERE to begin reading it) and today we’re starting again with a new bunch of authors! 

It’s only right that we finish our Halloween festivities off with our very own Queen of vampire fiction, Berni Stevens! And if you were wracking your brains trying to work out which way this story could possibly go, we don’t think you could have possibly guessed Berni’s fantastic finish!

Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition!

A Round Robin is best enjoyed if you read each part in order.
Read Part 1 by Morton S. Gray HERE
Read Part 2 by Angela Britnell HERE
Read Part 3 by Kathryn Freeman HERE

HALLOWEEN AT HARGREATE HALL – FINAL PART BY BERNI STEVENS 

Meredith had been knee-deep in Halloween preparations since the last Kate encounter, and too busy to question the weirdness of life – and death – at Hargreate Hall. By the time Sunday morning dawned, she’d convinced herself she’d misunderstood the ghost’s words. Whatever her ‘plan’ was, she’d said it would involve Joe, and he hadn’t looked too thrilled.

However, she felt pleased with the way everything was shaping up back at the Hall. The trail looked seriously spooky already – even in daylight, and once the various LED lights were hidden among the fake cobwebs which draped over the yew hedges, it would look even more amazing. She still had bags of marshmallow eyeballs, and chocolate pumpkins and witches to hide for the children to find, and then she needed to set up a barrel for apple bobbing.

The hedges rustled as she passed by, which caused the cobwebs to quiver, and Meredith found herself sniffing the air suspiciously for any whiff of lilac. She made her way to Joe’s office, hoping he’d actually be there, and hadn’t suddenly decided against helping her. She’d forgotten to ask how old his daughter was too, which could be a potential problem if she turned out to be a sulky teenager. Knocking smartly on his office door, she stepped back when it opened immediately.

A small, female version of Joe stood there, with the same vivid blue eyes, which stared up at her without blinking.

‘I’m Lily,’ she said. ‘And I’m six.’

Meredith held her hand out. ‘Hello Lily,’ she said. ‘I’m very pleased to meet you.’

‘You’re supposed to tell me your name.’ Lily put her small hand in Meredith’s.

‘Lily, I hope you aren’t being rude.’ Joe came to stand beside his daughter. He glanced at Meredith, and there was a definite twinkle in his eyes this time.

‘I’m sorry, Lily,’ Meredith said. ‘My name’s Meredith, but you can call me Merry if you like, lots of people do.’

‘Merry.’ Lily repeated.

‘Suits you.’ Joe flashed a grin at her. Wow, what a difference a grin made. He really should bring his daughter in to work every day.

A crash from the corridor made them all turn round. Joe sprinted past Meredith and Lily. A large Chinese vase had fallen from its plinth, and shattered into tiny fragments on the flagstone floor.

‘What …?’ Meredith walked towards the debris, and caught the faint smell of lilacs. ‘Kate?’

The air felt distinctly cooler the closer she got to the broken pieces of vase. Joe was back to looking grim again.

‘Was it valuable?’ She looked at Joe.

‘I doubt it, the family sold most of the valuable things off, to try and keep this place going.’

‘It was my mother’s.’ A disembodied voice floated down.

‘Doesn’t make it valuable,’ said Joe morosely. ‘Just old.’

‘That’s rude,’ a small voice piped up.

Meredith hid a smile. Lily had a point. ‘Why would you break it then?’ She addressed the air smelling mostly of lilacs.

‘It was always a disgusting vase.’ The air turned suddenly colder.

Lily looked mutinous and seemed not in the least phased by everyone having a conversation with – apparently – thin air. ‘Disgusting,’ she repeated. ‘That’s a bad word.’

Joe shrugged his broad shoulders. ‘Lily’s learning good and bad words at the moment.’

Meredith grinned. ‘And she’s very good. Shall we clear this mess up?’

It took longer than expected to sweep up the pieces of broken china, because apparently Kate thought it extremely amusing to blow them down the corridor just as they approached with the dustpan and brush. Luckily Lily thought it hilarious too, and not at all scary. But time and trail waits for no man – or ghost – and Meredith eventually managed to get Joe filling the large half barrel with water and Lily washing apples, whilst she made sure all the batteries worked for the lights.

Even Joe had to admit the trail looked incredible, and very ghostly, once all the lights were switched on. They’d hung plastic bats from the trees and even hung a full-sized plastic skeleton from the gnarled branch of the ancient oak tree.

Meredith switched off the lights on the trail and went to find Joe and Lily. The soft scent of lilacs wafted past her and she stopped.

‘Kate?’

A rustle of silk skirts and a soft laugh answered her.

‘So where have you been?’ Meredith addressed the air where the laugh had come from.

‘Around.’

‘I thought you had a plan that involved Joe.’

‘I did, and it’s working.’

Well, who knew ghosts did riddles. Meredith sighed. ‘Kate, it’s been a long day …’

To her surprise, Kate began to materialise in front of her. She looked so beautiful. Soft auburn hair curled down to her shoulders, and green eyes glinted with a mischievous sparkle.

‘But I thought you couldn’t …’

‘I always could … I chose not to.’

‘Why?’

‘We needed to convince Joe to remain in the mortal world.’

‘I don’t understand …’

‘His wife died when Lily was only three, and he … well he tried to join her.’

Meredith gasped. ‘And you stopped him.’

‘Yes.’

‘So you ruined his death.’

‘I did.’ Another laugh. ‘I knew you were the one for him, but he had to see for himself.’

‘Which he hasn’t.’

‘Yes he has …’

Kate’s image faded away in front of Meredith’s eyes. Then she heard Joe call her name, and turning around, she watched Lily run towards her, with arms outstretched, and she crouched down to catch the little girl in a hug. Over her head she saw the look in Joe’s eyes when he looked down at her, and she knew the ghost had been absolutely right.

Awww, what a sweetly spooky ending to a fabulous Halloween Round Robin! We hope you enjoyed it! Thank you once again to our super talented authors for putting this together. We hope all our readers enjoyed both our stories 🎃 Enjoy your Halloween evenings all – we hope they’re filled with plenty of treats and not too many tricks!

If you enjoyed Berni’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers – and we’ve just released her quirky (and not at all spooky!) Christmas novella, One Magical Christmas! Click the images below for purchasing options. 

 

 

COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What Halloween-themed sweets does Meredith hide for the children on the trail?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Berni Stevens comp’ by Friday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 5th November.

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