Growing Up in a Haunted House by Tara Sheets

I love Halloween.  I love pumpkin carving and passing out candy and of course, the costumes.  My only problem with the holiday is that I’m a complete and total scaredy cat.  My husband once laughed at me for watching The Exorcist on fast forward, with no sound.  I did it that way so I could “watch” the movie really fast, without all the jump scares.  It sort of worked, except I still needed to sleep with the lights on after that.  If I read a scary book, same thing.  Lights on all over the house.  But I wasn’t always like this.

When I was a little girl, my family and I moved around to different countries.  One of the houses I grew up in was over a hundred years old in a suburb outside of Cairo, Egypt.  We were placed in the house through my father’s company. The house was enormous.  It had three kitchens, a library, a wine cellar, solarium, maids’ quarters, and secret doors to secret rooms.  It was built for a different time when modern conveniences weren’t available, so it needed a large staff to keep the house running.  When we lived there in the late seventies, things in the house had been retrofitted to make a larger staff unnecessary.  It was just my parents, the four of us kids, and our nanny.

We all knew the house was haunted, but we never talked about it until years later after we were grown.  I think there was a silent understanding between all of us that if we didn’t acknowledge it, then it would be easier to pretend everything was normal.  As kids, we used to play upstairs in different rooms and it seemed like a “presence” was always with us.  The doors had those Victorian-style handles, and if we needed to enter a room, the handles would press down on their own and the doors would open for us.  The rooms had those old air conditioner units on the walls that turned on with light switches.  If it got hot, those switches would snap on for us. Sometimes I felt like someone was watching my sister and I while we slept, and that was kind of freaky.  But I was little and I just accepted the level of “normal” I was given. Whatever haunted that house wasn’t malevolent.  If anything, it was kind of helpful.  My father was always working, and I think my mother ignored any unusual activity because it just made day-to-day life easier.  Our nanny was scared, though.  When we went on a trip and she stayed in the house alone, she ended up leaving because she couldn’t handle the nightly footsteps in the halls upstairs.

Now, when I think back on those years, I quietly freak out about it. It’s like a delayed reaction or something. I mean, what the heck? How did we all act like those weird things were normal?  Like the occasional scent of roses in the library was no big deal, even though there were never any flowers in the library? I know with flawless diamond clarity that I’d never stay in that house now.  It’s funny how you sometimes don’t realize what you’re living through, until you move on.

“I loved this book!” –Jude Deveraux on Don’t Call Me Cupcake

Pine Cove Island is the kind of enchanting place where anything is possible . . .

The Holloway women each have a special gift, passed down through generations, each one a little different. Juliette possesses a magical green thumb, which makes her job managing the local florist shop a dream. She may be a bit wild, but she knows what she wants: to save enough money to buy the shop from her boss. Then in marches Logan O’Connor, more annoyingly handsome than ever, turning all her plans upside down.

Logan hasn’t been back on Pine Cove Island since he was eighteen and broke Juliette’s teenage heart. Now it turns out he’s her boss’s nephew—and will be spending his days remodeling the shop and barking orders. At her.

For the sake of the business, Juliette will have to ignore their simmering attraction and work with Logan. But that doesn’t mean she has to make things easy for him. Because no one knows better than she that one tiny, perfectly planted bit of garden magic could uproot Logan’s own plans and keep him out of her way. And nothing would make her happier. At least that’s what she thinks . . .

Praise for Tara Sheets’ previous book, Don’t Call Me Cupcake

“I loved this book! Beautifully written and the story has stayed with me.” –Jude Deveraux

“Funny, sexy, charming and full of practical magic. . . . Fans of Sarah Addison Allen will love this novel.” –RT Book Reviews