Six months after the tragic school-bus accident that claimed the lives of her young twin daughters, Andie Ridgemont feels like the walking dead. Because of surviving daughter, twelve year old, Alyssa, she knows she must find a way through the depression and despair. They embark on a trip ‘home’ to the small town in Pennsylvania to stay with Aunt Meg and, on the way, they stumble across an abandoned, century-old farmhouse, the infamously haunted Collier House. The house captures Andie’s interest, especially when she learns of its tragic history. When a legal settlement allows her to purchase the home, restoration begins, but so do paranormal experiences that have her questioning her sanity. Meeting true ghost-story author Steve Catalano, who is researching the Collier House, changes everything. There is an instant and profound attraction between them, but Andie is still grieving and she suspects he’s too good to be true. Excellent reasons to keep some distance. But Steve isn’t going anywhere. He’s too deeply, intricately connected to Andie and to the Collier house. Almost like it’s meant to be.
“All I can say is…Wow! In a word, fabulous. Jane Shoup has taken past and present, mixed them together and set the stage for the beginnings of a wonderful future for her characters. There are authors who touch the heart, but this one grabs hold of your soul. As a mother, I found myself sympathizing with Andie and shedding tears right along with her. As a woman, I found myself wanting to solve the mystery of the house as much as Andie did. Ms. Shoup has truly crafted a masterpiece. Add this one to your To Buy list. When you settle in to read it, grab a box of tissues. You’ll definitely be needing them. ”Emma GayleRomance At Heart
“. . . a fabulous story. This book will have you reaching for the tissues as you shed tears along with Andy and will keep you reading to solve the mystery of the house and the people who lived in it. The Restoration will keep you wondering what will happen next and wanting more in the end.”Rating 5 AngelsFallen Angel Reviews
“A wonderful story of recovering and learning to love again.”Cynthia WhittenRomance Reader At Heart
“A story that shows love can help you overcome extreme grief and pain. If you do not believe in ghosts, you will change your mind after reading this book.”Coffee Time Romance
“. . . a tender book that many can relate to, especially those that have shared a loss. Jane Shoup is an artistic writer that puts you in the setting of the whole story. She writes from her heart allowing the reader to be instantaneously drawn into the story. Ms. Shoup pens a superb read that leaves a long-lasting impression.”5 heartsThe Romance Studio
Andie walked out of the gas station with a royal blue sweater tossed casually around her shoulders, moving her head from side to side to stretch her neck. Leaning against the car, Alyssa watched her. Until the accident, her friends had always remarked on how young and pretty her mom was, and it had always given her a feeling of pride. The truth was, her mom wasn’t that much younger than most of her friends’ mothers, she just seemed like it.
Of course, the accident had changed that. It had changed everything. In fact, at any second, a wave of sorrow could crash over her, changing her expression, her energy, her whole self. They just needed to get to Aunt Meg’s.
“Apparently, there’s a new highway that way,” Andie said, jerking a thumb over her shoulder. “The lady inside said it takes us a few miles out of the way but it’s faster. Or we could just go the old way. We’ve made good time.”
“Have we ever gone the old way and not gotten lost?”
“Oh, puh-leeze, child. How many times have we made this trip?”
“Uh-huh. And have we ever not gotten lost?”
“I will admit that we have, on occasion, opted the lesser used scenic route, if that’s what you’re referring to.”
“Yeah, right. That must be it.”
Andie pulled a bag of plain M&M’s from her pocket and inspected them. “And to think I was going to give you these before you insulted my navigational skills.”
Andie raised an eyebrow and then passed the bag over.
“By the way, did you say skills?”
“Give me those back,” Andie exclaimed, making a swipe for them.
Alyssa laughed as she turned away. As her mom walked around the car to get in, she said, “It’s obvious you want to go the old way, so why do you even ask?”
“Because. Majority rules.”
“And if we disagree?”
“Obviously, the bigger person wins.”
Alyssa rolled her eyes and got back into the car. “We’ll be lost within an hour,” she predicted as they pulled out.
“Pessimist,” Andie accused.
“Aunt Meg will have a fit if I eat these now.”
“So save them.”
Alyssa thought about it and then ripped open the package. “I’ll just have a few.”
“Sure you will.” Andie glanced over at her. “Where are your sunglasses?”
“Earth to mother. I lost them a long time ago. I told you that.”
“When did I lose them? At Anna Farmer’s birthday party a long time ago. Actually, someone stole them. I was being generous when I said I lost them.”
“I don’t remember that. When was her party?”
An uneasy feeling pricked at Alyssa. “Last spring,” she answered evasively, looking out the window.
Andie shook her head. “When?”
“April third,” Alyssa admitted. The day before the accident. Tension gripped her insides hard as she waited for the fallout. Sure enough, she saw her mom’s mouth tighten and she felt the muscles in her stomach do the same. The lines at the corner of her mom’s eyes intensified.
“Well,” Andie said in a thick voice. “We need to get you another pair, don’t we?”
Alyssa pointedly looked out her window, trying to ward off the stupid tears that suddenly threatened.
“Have you noticed how much prettier the colors are here?” Andie asked a few moments later, trying to get their minds off the subject. “I think it has something to do with how much rain there is during the year.” She paused, but Alyssa remained silent. “That might be an interesting thing to study, don’t you think?”
Alyssa shrugged a shoulder. “Not really.”
“Well, I do. I think it would be very interesting.” She rubbed at her nose as if it itched. “You want to play riddily ree?”
“Mom,” Alyssa objected.
“What? Too old and sophisticated for riddily ree? Come on. Riddly, riddly, riddly, ree, I see something that you don’t see and the color is red.”
Alyssa sighed dramatically. “The leaves?”
“No. Bright red.”
Alyssa popped an M&M in her mouth as she looked around.
“Uh-oh,” Andie said.
“You just ate my proof.”
Lulled by mile after mile of monotonous scenery, Alyssa leaned her head back and daydreamed until the car slowed to a stop, although they were still in the boonies. Her mother was staring out the window so Alyssa leaned over to see what she was looking at. All she saw was a big old house that sat way back off the road. It looked like nobody had lived there in about a hundred years. “What are you looking at?”
Andie chewed on the knuckle of her thumb. “I don’t know, but it’s so cool.”
“Cool? It looks about a thousand years old.”
“Not quite,” Andie said with a cockeyed grin. “Let’s go look.”
Alyssa drew back. “Look at that house? Why? It doesn’t even look safe.”
Andie craned her neck. “I don’t see a drive way. Do you see anything?”
“Can you just go up to a house and look at it?”
Andie put the car in reverse and backed slowly down the quiet, one lane road. “You can unless a no trespassing sign is posted, and even then you can if you recite that part of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘and forgive us of our trespasses—”
“Ha-ha,” Alyssa said drolly.
There was no driveway or path leading to the home, so Andie drove through yards of rough ground and tall dried grass.
“Mother,” Alyssa objected.
“What? This here’s a Pathfinder and I always wanted to find me a path,” Andie said with a forced southern accent.
“Occasionally, you can be very weird.”
“You just now noticed?”
“No,” Alyssa replied dramatically. “I noticed a long time ago.”
Andie put the car in park, turned off the ignition and looked at her child. “I feel this weird excitement about seeing it. I think I may have dreamed about it recently. Or maybe I’m crazy, but come on. It won’t take long. It’ll be fun.” She got out and slammed the door behind her. “C’mon,” she called as she began wading through the tall grass toward the house.
Reluctantly, Alyssa got out of the car. “I really don’t think we should be here,” she called. “We could get in trouble.”
“Babe, no one will know or care. Why would they? It’s not like we’re going to vandalize the place.” Having reached the front porch, Andie turned in a slow circle. “Now, this was a house.”
“It’s still a house,” Alyssa retorted as she tromped up the front stairs. “An old, broken down house that probably isn’t even safe.”
Andie tried the large, brass front door knob. It twisted in her hand and the door opened with a screech. “Yay! We’re in business.”
“Chill, chick. We’re just going to have a little adventure.” She stepped through the door, which left Alyssa little choice but to follow.
“I don’t want to get in trouble,” Alyssa grumbled.
Andie looked in awe at the high ceiling and the long staircase beyond the entryway. Glistening dust particles hung thickly in the air. To either side of the entry hall were arched openings to different rooms. “Whoa. This is amazing.”
Alyssa wrinkled her nose at the trash littered on the floor. “Amazingly gross.” There were old newspapers and beer cans, food and wadded cigarette wrappers and broken wine bottles. Graffiti was painted on the walls and the whole place stunk.
Andie moved to the room to her left, mesmerized by the faded grandeur of the place. “They just don’t build houses like this anymore,” she said quietly. “And you know what? I must have been in a house similar to this one at some point in my life because it feels so familiar. It’s almost like if I thought about it hard enough, I could tell you where everything is in this house. You know what I mean?”
“No,” Alyssa replied without hesitation. She followed as Andie crossed to the other front room. “We should go to Aunt Meg’s. She’ll be worrying.”
“Just a quick peek upstairs,” Andie said as she hurried on, looking every bit the mischievous little girl.
Alyssa, cautious and hesitant, followed. Each stair creaked against their weight. “It would have to creak,” she complained.
“That’s just the wood’s way of saying hello, where you been?”
“I’m serious. Listen.” Andie stepped again. “‘Missed ya,’ she said in a deep voice.” She stepped again. “‘We’ve been lonely.’”
Alyssa went around her. “‘Hey, girl, who’s the weirdo with you trying to guess what we’re saying?’”
“There’s always one difficult step in the bunch.” At the top of the stairs, there were doorways on both sides of a hall littered with more trash.
Andie turned right and Alyssa followed frowning in disgust at the cobwebs draped from wall to wall. “All the cobwebs,” she whispered. “Yuck.”
“Why are you whispering?” Andie whispered back.
“I don’t know. It kinda’ feels like someone still lives here.”
Andie stopped abruptly and turned to her. “Why do you say that?”
“I don’t know. Why’d you stop?”
“Because I was just thinking the exact same thing.” They turned and left the house as fast as their feet would carry them. As they reached the door, Andie allowed Alyssa the lead and then pulled the door shut behind them. In the car, they both leaned forward to gape at the house.
“Do you think somebody’s going to pop their head out and stare at us?” Alyssa asked, only half kidding.
“I think if someone would have hollered ‘boo’ back there, we’d have both peed in our pants.”
They burst into laughter, an antidote to the childish fear that had mounted in the house. Andie stuck the key in the ignition, but then turned to Alyssa in alarm. “The key won’t turn!” One good gasp was all she waited for and then she grinned, winked at her daughter and started the car.
Alyssa smacked her mom’s leg as they drove out. “I cannot believe you just did that to me!”
It had been a long time since they laughed. It felt good.