One side of Adley’s lip curled up, disgusted by the unsightly home she was forced to live in during her summer vacation. “I may not know anything about home improvements, but this house has been lacking some serious attention.”
“It does need some work,” her mother agreed.
Roger pulled into the red brick circular drive. The shabby front yard resembled a weed-choked lot, and the thick plastered walls begged for more stucco and paint.
“Dad, you said Grandpa left Grandma Aggie enough money to keep her comfortable and the house in good condition. Why didn’t she take better care of it?”
Roger shut off the engine. “It’s hard to keep up a big place, especially an old one that needs a lot of special care.”
“Uh, yeah. That’s why people with money hire people to take care of their homes.”
“Well, maybe we can fix it up,” Caroline said. She squeezed her husband’s arm and gave him a loving smile.
Adley slipped out of the back seat and turned in a circle, as if adrift in the sea and only seeing water from every vantage point.
“No sign of life for miles,” she grumbled.
Her parents stretched in the warm sun. Roger said, “My ancestors worked as miners and built the home with their only lucky strike. Ten or so years later the mines ran dry, and the town folded, but there was enough money to maintain the property as different families moved in. The house was always handed down to succeeding generations.”
Caroline leaned against her husband’s side, gazing at the historical home with an appreciative eye. “It’s easy to understand why Aggie didn’t want to leave. Just look at these mission style arches, recessed windows, and the terra cotta roof.”
Adley saw stucco in need of repair, dirty panes of glass, and broken scalloped tiles overhead. She glanced at the upstairs windows, too dark to see through, and shivers creeped down her back.
“Maybe everything will be different once we’re a happy family again,” Roger said to Caroline as he patted her arm.
“I’m sure that things will change for the better now that we’re here,” she said, but her weak smile held little hope.
Adley rolled her eyes. “Hello? Maybe you can’t see the overgrown tumbleweeds or the peeling paint on those broken-down flower boxes under the windows.”
“Only things that need minor repair or cleaning up,” her father said.
A vulture squawked in a nearby mesquite tree and drew the Lange’s attention to the hunched bird. It flapped its wings and made a racket, as if it laughed at the family before flying off in search of leftover prey.
“Welcome to hell,” Adley whispered to herself.
She didn’t know how close she was to being right.
Death House is coming soon from Black Opal Books.