Read Finding Elizabeth Online

Authors: Faith Helm

Tags: #romance, #mystery, #paranormal, #historical, #ghost

Finding Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Van White is trying to move forward
after an accident takes the life of her husband and unborn child.
After inheriting a beautiful Eureka Springs mansion from the family
of her late husband,

she tries to build a new life for herself,
but what

she finds is so much more.

 

When Claire discovers a journal written by
Elizabeth, a young woman from the 1880's, it leads her to a family
secret, that

won't let her rest until the mystery is
solved.

 

The search for the truth of what happened to
Elizabeth leads Claire down a dark path of captivity, incest and
murder. But with Daniel, the handsome contractor by her side, they
discover Elizabeth's secrets and unlock the door to happiness, not
only for

Elizabeth, but for Claire and Daniel as
well.

 

 

 

 

FINDING ELIZABETH

 

by Faith Helm

 

 

COPYRIGHT

 

 

 

Finding Elizabeth

 

Copyright 2015 by Faith Helm

 

All rights reserved. First published

February 8, 2015.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of
the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is
purely coincidental.

 

 

 

Cover Design by
https://fiverr.com/webmark

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Summer 2015

INTO THE LOOKING GLASS

by Faith Helm

book two in

The Orchard House Mystery Series

 

Stay up to date with Faith Helm at

https://www.facebook.com/faithhelmbooks

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

 

To my wonderful husband and best friend,
Scott. Without your continual love, encouragement and support this
book would not have been possible.

 

And to my son's Kelcey and Tyler, who laughed
at the thought of their mom writing a book. And if not for their
constant interruptions this book would have been completed much
sooner.

 

Lastly, to my loyal companion Maggie, who has
sat by my side for countless hours while I typed away. Although you
do not know it, you are a great source of comfort and support.

 

 

 

"Grief never ends....But it changes.

It's a passage, not a place to stay.

Grief is not a sign of weakness,

nor a lack of faith...

It is the price of love."

 

~Author Unknown~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Claire packed everything she needed for her
trip in the back of her SUV. She wouldn't be gone long, just long
enough to find out what James Allen needed to speak with her about,
and then a relaxing weekend in her favorite place. The Attorney
said he had some business to discuss with her that concerned Adam,
although she couldn't imagine what it would be. Even so the time
away would do her good. Maybe she would finally be able to make a
decision about her future.

 

She had made this trip with Adam countless
times before, but this was the first time she had been back to
Eureka Springs since Adam's death last summer. She always loved
taking this trip with him. They would sing along with the country
music on the radio, and laugh at each others corny jokes, but
mostly they dreamt about moving to Eureka one day.

 

Adam and Claire both loved the landscape of
northwest Arkansas with the beautiful trees, changing with every
season. And the winding roads and rolling hills that seemed to go
on forever. This time of year, or maybe because Adam wasn't with
her the scenery was drab. Of course everything had been since Adam
has been gone.

 

Claire turned up the radio when her favorite
Carrie Underwood song came on. She tapped on the steering wheel,
and was instantly lost in her thoughts. What was it the
psychiatrist had told her? She suffered from Post-traumatic stress
disorder. She nearly laughed in his face when he told her. Maybe
she had been hasty, he was the professional, but she definitely was
not going to take the anti-depressants he prescribed. They had
given it to her in the hospital, just after she learned of Adam's
death. She just couldn't stand the feeling of being numb. Sure it
was great to be able to have a restful nights sleep, but she didn't
want to live the rest of her life in a fog. No, she needed to face
the past and learn how to live again.
Who knows maybe you can
build a life for yourself.

 

Claire checked the clock on her dash, not
enough time to check into the hotel, so she quickly found the
Attorney's office and parked her car. Like most everything in
Eureka Springs the building was charming, it set nestled in a long
row of brick buildings. They look like they dated back to the late
1800's, of course that could be any small town in America. But
Eureka looks different, with the curved roads and stone facades on
many of the buildings and brightly painted signs announcing the
various boutiques, restaurants, bars and hotels. Come spring there
would be baskets of colorful flowers overflowing from the awning of
each business. The charm of this town had drawn Claire and Adam in
and made them dream of making this beautiful place their home. To
them, it was the perfect place to start a family and open an
antique store. Wiping away a stray tear, Claire checked her
reflection in the rear view mirror before getting out of the car.
The quicker I get this over with the better
.

 

The attorney's office didn't look like the
dark stuffy office she had envisioned. It was bright and modern
with hints of the younger attorney's personality. On the far wall a
row of bookcases proudly displayed trophies and framed awards
surrounded by photographs of a handsome young man and his loving
family. The largest was a picture of the man she knew must be Mr.
Allen in a graduation gown smiling proudly while hugging an older
man. In the center of the room set a neat and organized desk and to
the right a modern sofa with colorful pillows strewn around.

 

Recognizing an older Mr. Allen from the
photo's she realized he wasn't what she thought an attorney would
look like either. His dark, shiny hair falling to the top of his
collar in a wave. His green eyes sparkled with an air of authority.
But somehow his masculine jaw and wide shoulders made him look more
like a football star than an attorney.

 

His handshake was firm, but Claire got a
sense that he was a kind man, "Thank you, for coming Mrs. Van
White. Would you like something to drink?"

 

Claire smiled nervously, "No thank you."

 

James smiled reassuringly, "Ok then let's
begin. As I told you on the phone I learned of your husbands death
in the newspaper. I am very sorry for your loss."

 

"Thank you, and please call me Claire, but I
am still not sure what this is about. Adam never mentioned having
any business with you, or any attorney for that matter."

 

James shuffled the papers on his desk, "Let
me get right to the point. Have you ever heard of Dr. and Mrs.
Andrew Van White?"

 

"No I haven't, are they related to Adam?"
Claire asked with a hopeful smile.

 

"They were his great, great aunt and uncle.
Unfortunately Dr Van White passed away in 1946 and his wife Rebecca
passed away in 1968. The Van White's never had any children that
lived past infancy. My great grandfather Charles was not only a
friend of the Van Whites, but he was also their attorney. When Mrs.
Van White passed away my great grandfather began searching for a
living heir. Unfortunately at the time of Rebecca's death it was
not as easy to find someone. When I took over my great grandfathers
search, I tried all the traditional avenues. When that was
unsuccessful, I tried online searches and even worked on the Van
White genealogy, with little result. Sadly for the last few years I
had just quit looking. When I saw your husbands obituary I was
curious because as you know Van White is not a common name. I was
able to use the information in the obituary and link Adam to the
Eureka Springs Van Whites. Since your husband is deceased you are
the rightful heir to the Van White Estates."

 

Stunned, Claire sat in silence while she
tried to collect her thoughts, "I... I am sorry Mr. Allen, I don't
understand."

 

"Please Claire call me James. When I hear
Mr. Allen I always think someone is talking to my father," he said
with a playful grin before continuing. "Andrew Van White was of
course a doctor, but his father Phillip was a shrewd business man.
In the early days of Eureka Springs he and his wife Olivia settled
in the area with their three children. Their oldest son was Andrew,
then they had a daughter, Elizabeth and Adam's great, great
grandfather William. They own many of the buildings you see in
downtown Eureka, including their home an 1880's Victorian."

"I know this information is a lot to
process. Can I answer any questions for you?" James asked as he
looked into the stunned face of the beautiful young woman.

Pushing a stray hair behind her ear Claire
thought for a moment, "Yes, How is it that there are no other
heirs? If the Van Whites had three children surely there's someone
that is a descendent of the Van Whites through bloodline."

 

"I noticed that as well in my search. There
have only been a few heirs throughout the years and sadly they have
all suffered untimely deaths, including your late husband."

 

And like my son,
Claire thought with
a grimace.

 

As he reached into his desk James produced a
rather large envelope. Sliding it toward her he continued, "This
package contains the keys to the home, banking and property
information, as well as information on the investment property. The
home has been closed since Mrs. Van Whites death in 1968. After I
contacted you, I hired a team to clean and re-open it for your
stay."

 

"Janet March has served as the property
manager for all the Van White properties since the 1980's. She
lives in the guest cottage on the property with her husband Steve,
who takes care of the grounds as well as maintenance on the rental
properties. My grandfather believed that with the March's living on
site there would be less vandalism and theft of the property. They
are wonderful people and have worked hard to maintain and care for
the properties since they began working for Van White Estates. I
hope you will consider keeping them on. I, of course would be happy
to continue as your legal council. I know you have a lot of
decisions ahead of you, but I hope you will decide to stay and make
Eureka your home."

 

James opened a folder and pulled out several
pages, "These are the forms you will need to sign to make it
legally yours. If you are not comfortable signing them now we can
wait a few days. You are welcome to take the forms with you and
have someone check them."

 

"It's not that I don't trust you. I just
want to make sure I know what I am getting myself into before I
sign," Claire said as she stuffed the forms into the large
envelope.

 

James nodded his approval, "If you have time
now, I am free the rest of the day. I would be happy to escort you
to the home and show you around the estate."

 

Still stunned and trying to take everything
in, Claire nodded in agreement and silently followed James out of
the office. She hopped in her SUV not paying attention to the drive
but replaying all she had learned over in her mind.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

As Claire rounded the curve she realized
James was turning into the driveway of the large Victorian. The one
Adam had always teased would be theirs some day. Shaking her head,
she thought,
this must be a joke
.

 

The house sat at the end of a long drive,
flanked by a row of large trees on either side. Because of the
season the trees were sparse. But she knew come spring the yard
would be alive with color. And the Azalea's that ran the length of
the porch would be blooming in full color by summer. She vaguely
remembered the beautiful flowering baskets that hung in each
section of the wrap around porch.

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