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Page 75

“I assume this visit was prompted by the recent incident at Baneberry Hall,” Dr. Weber says as we sit, she in her doctor’s chair and me in the one reserved for patients. “I imagine that was quite a shock for you.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” I say.

“Do you think your father killed that girl?”

“I can’t think of anyone else who could have done it.”

“So that’s a yes?”

“More like an I-don’t-know.” An edge creeps into my voice. The argument with Dane has left me feeling defensive. Or maybe the defensiveness stems from sitting under Dr. Weber’s watchful gaze. “I was hoping you could help me fill in the blanks.”

“I’m honestly not sure how much help I can be,” Dr. Weber says. “We only had that one session your father mentioned in his book.”

That’s a surprise. I didn’t expect Dr. Weber to have read it.

“What did you think of House of Horrors?” I say.

The doctor folds her hands in her lap. “As literature, I found it lacking. From a psychological standpoint, I thought it was fascinating.”

“How so?”

“While on the surface it was about a haunted house and evil spirits, I saw the book for what it really was—a father’s attempt to understand his daughter.”

It sounds like something Dr. Harris would have told me. Typical analytical bullshit.

“I was five,” I say. “There wasn’t too much for him to try to understand.”

“You’d be surprised by the complexity of young minds.”

I start to rise from the chair, gripped by a sudden urge to leave. This is going nowhere. Certainly not in the direction I want it to. What keeps me here, hovering over the chair’s beige upholstery, is the need for answers.

“All that book did was make life very hard for my family,” I say. “Me, especially.”

“Then why did you return to Baneberry Hall?”

“I inherited it. Now I have to get it ready to be sold.”

“You don’t have to,” the doctor says. “Not really. Everything regarding the house could be taken care of remotely. Movers and designers and so forth.”

“I am a designer,” I say, bristling. “I needed to see the condition of the house.”

“That’s the key word, I think.”

“House?”

Dr. Weber gives me a patient smile. “See. You needed to see the condition of the house. It’s very similar to that phrase ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ Which makes me think you came back not to see the condition of the house but to find out if, just maybe, your father was telling the truth in his book.”

I lean forward in the chair. “What did I tell you during that session?”

“So you’re a designer,” Dr. Weber says, ignoring my question. “Of what?”

“Interiors.”

“Fascinating.”

I knew she’d glom on to that bit of information. Dr. Harris certainly had. She said Baneberry Hall is the reason I do what I do. That the story of my family’s brief time there has led me to seek out other stories in other houses. A constant quest for truth.

“What do you really hope to accomplish by renovating that house?” Dr. Weber says.

“To make a profit.”

“Are you sure it’s not really an attempt to change your experience there? Flip the house, flip your past.”

“I think it’s a little more complex than that,” I say.

“Is it? You just told me that house made life very hard for you.”

“No, I said my father’s book did. That house has nothing to do with it.”

“It absolutely does,” Dr. Weber says, the newfound sparkle in her eye signaling she thinks she’s got me all figured out. “It’s all tied together, Maggie. The house. The book. Your family. I’m not surprised you say your father’s book hurt you. I can only imagine how strange it must have been, growing up with such a burden. Now here you are, renovating Baneberry Hall. Don’t you think this project is, in essence, now an attempt to rewrite that story?”

“I’m not here to be analyzed,” I say, struck once more by the urge to leave. This time, I stand. Dr. Weber remains in her seat. Our sudden difference in height emboldens me. “If you don’t want to tell me what I said during that session we had, fine. But I’m not going to let you waste my time in the process.”

I take a step toward the door, stopping only when Dr. Weber says, “Your parents contacted me, saying you were having trouble adjusting to your new house. When I learned where you lived, I wasn’t surprised.”

She gestures for me to return to the chair. Seated once more, I say, “Because of what happened with the Carver family?”

“And other things,” Dr. Weber says. “Stories. Rumors. Every town has a haunted house. In Bartleby, that’s Baneberry Hall. And it was that way long before your father’s book existed.”

I think of the passages in the Book about the house’s history. All those articles my father had reportedly found about deaths that had occurred there beyond the Carver family’s tragedy. I assumed he’d made them up.

“When your parents brought you to see me, I was prepared to talk to a little girl afraid of the dark. Instead, I met a smart, willful five-year-old convinced there were supernatural presences in her house.”

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