Today's Reading

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Faith: Worth the international fees... I AM SORRY!! I was watching Stranger Things and didn't realize you called. I'll respond to your email tomorrow. Love you.

Josie: Sleep tight. Don't let the Demagorgon bite.

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From: Faith Moretti <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 12:23 PM
To: Josie De Clare <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Cadwallader Manor

Josie, if you don't respond, I'll assume you froze to death in that creepy mansion, and my day will be ruined. JOSIE, RESPOND ASAP!!

Your description of Atteberry—although beautiful—makes the place sound lonely. I'm a full supporter of rest and self-discovery, but isolation can sometimes cause more problems. Please don't join a knitting club. But if you do, promise you won't become a hermit who collects yarn and wanders the moors and dyes her hair pink. Geez, I get nervous just thinking about you in that village with only Norman and Martha to keep you company. I mean, they're better than Rashad.

Pretty much everyone is better than Rashad.

I must know more about your first night at Cadwallader. Any ghost sightings? Or even better—did Mr. Rochester call on you? Oh, I wish I could visit and help renovate the house.

Your dad would have wanted you to finish his project, though.

OMG, your mom and lawyers better not sell the townhouse. That place belongs to you—your dad said so. Remember when we tried to slide down the laundry chute and you got stuck? I was so scared your dad would be angry at me when he saw your feet dangling out of the shaft, and I couldn't believe it when he just laughed and slathered you with vegetable oil to get you out. Didn't that stain the clothes?

I miss him too. He treated me like a daughter, and I needed that. I needed a family during my time at Stonehill. Did you ever hear about the skirt? During one of our weekends at your house, your dad overheard us talking about how I'd ripped my uniform. He went to the store and bought a plaid skirt, then put it in the guest room for me to find. He didn't say a word about it, but I knew what he'd done.

You both mean the world to me.

So yeah, I understand your reason for visiting Cadwallader Manor. Loss changes our perspective of the world, exposes its instability, and leaves us to gather the pieces of our broken selves and stick them back together. Your dad must've known that, Josie. Maybe he bought the house to give you a safe place—somewhere you could heal.

Explore the estate and let me know what you find.

Faith

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Rashed: You misunderstood me, Jo. I don't wanna break up.

Josie: Wrong number.

Rashad: We had one fight. It's no big deal.

Rashad: Guess you're giving up on us, huh?

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From: Josie De Clare <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 4:01 PM
To: Faith Moretti <[email protected]>
Subject: Weird Finds at Cadwallader

Good news, Faith! I didn't perish in the night and turn to ice. The fireplace warmed my bedroom to a comfortable temperature. I slept beneath a mound of quilts and didn't wake until Norman led his sheep past my window. Neither ghosts nor Mr. Rochester paid me a visit, which probably disappoints you. I can, however, report horrific texts from Rashad, but I won't waste time—or words—telling you about them.

I took your advice and explored the estate. First, I ravaged the kitchen and put together a breakfast of toast, eggs, and tea—like a genuine domestic. Martha left homemade butter and clotted cream in the fridge to liven up my meals. She even filled the pantry with canned soups. (I tell you this to prompt a craving for British food so you'll return to me.)

The weather seemed decent enough, so I took a pair of work boots from the cellar and went outdoors. I followed a stone wall around the property, then chased sheep onto the south ridge. Call me a child—I don't care! The air tasted like snow, and a frigid breeze clawed through my jumper. But I wasn't cold. Not for a moment. I felt something—something that didn't hurt—and I liked it. So, there I sat on the sod, scribbling in the notebook I carry around with me. I would've stayed for hours and watched mist swirl over the countryside, but a storm drove me back to the house. And that's when my day turned weird.


This excerpt ends on page 15 of the hardcover edition.

Monday we begin the book Girl on the Ferris Wheel by Julie Halpern, Len Vlahos.
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