Manifest: An Excerpt

Manifest officially debuts on Monday, June 18! You’ve seen the cover and read the synopsis, so now I’m sharing an excerpt from the book. My heroine, Alice Meriwether, has been sent to Atlanta to be a governess for the Highcroft children. She moves in with the family, whose number includes Mr. Highcroft’s brother Roland. After a startling encounter in her bedroom, Alice runs to Roland for help. Roland’s reaction, though, is less than ordinary:

Tuesday morning dawned gray and overcast. It wasn’t raining yet, but it seemed inevitable. By the time they were finished with the morning’s lessons and dinner, the wind was whipping through the branches of the trees outside, and a slow, steady rain was falling.

Margaret and Jasper were restless as they faced a long afternoon of sitting indoors. Alice did the best she could, pulling out drawing papers and organizing an indoor scavenger hunt for them. Roland even stepped out of his study at one point to give them piggyback rides through the front hall. Alice had to laugh at the sight of the disheveled scientist parading the children around the house.

As the afternoon wore on, the sky continued to darken. It seemed as if twilight had already fallen when Margaret and Jasper lay down for their afternoon nap. Alice even lit a small oil lamp on a table of the nursery to give them some light.

With an hour of free time ahead of her, Alice decided to get her book so she could read in the front parlor. As she walked from the nursery to her room, lightning illuminated the upstairs hall, and the thunder that followed closely after shook the walls of the house. When Alice opened her bedroom door, another flash of lightning lit up the dim interior. Alice stifled a scream when she saw a man silhouetted in the brief light. When her room was thrown into darkness once again, she could still see the outline of the man, a black shadow against the gray gloom.

It all happened in a split second, but to Alice it seemed that she stood there for an eternity. The figure neither moved nor spoke in that brief instance. The shape was too short to be Roland, too slim to be Mr. Highcroft.

With a cry, Alice turned and fled down the stairs. Her feet took her to Roland’s study, and she threw open his door and rushed inside without bothering to knock. “A ghost!” she gasped. She stood here, heaving for breath, barely noticing the scene in front of her. Roland’s machine sat uncovered, and he had a key winder in his hand. When he saw how distraught Alice was, he rushed over and took her firmly by the shoulders.

“Miss Alice, are you okay?” he asked.

Alice looked down at herself, as if checking for physical damage, then looked back up at Roland. “I saw a ghost.” The words came out as a whisper. She only half-believed them herself, and surely Roland would never believe her. He was a man of science.

Roland’s face broke into a grin, his eyes crinkling at the corners. Alice expected him to laugh at her next, but instead he said, “That’s wonderful!”

Alice blinked. “What?”

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