My husband surprised me this last Valentine’s Day with a fancy dinner at Vanderbilt Grace. It was a cold and icy day when we arrived, looking like it was going to rain. This did not detract from the evening. We sat at a private table near a roaring fire, a live pianist serenading all of the diners.
The dining room was dimly lit and romantic—the perfect setting for a perfect Valentine’s Day.
We got to talking over dinner about things we were working on, upcoming trips we had planned, and general odds and ends. I took a break from the evening to find the bathroom. It was, apparently, on the opposite side of the hotel. Just as I was leaving the dining room, the pianist took a break and turned on Fred Rich’s “Nobody But You”.
The song echoed through the hotel, following me as I walked through the vestibule. A young bellhop was manning the coat rack, a hunk of metal struggling against the weight of a few dozen winter coats, hats, and scarves. It had already fallen once when we arrived. The young man lost his grip on the coat rack and it began to topple. He was able to keep it upright while pointing me to the bathroom.
I rounded a corner and descended into the basement. On the way to the bathroom, I passed a small gymnasium, an indoor pool, and a spa. All the while, sounds of the Rollickers reverberated through the narrow hallways.
While I was taking care of business in a bathroom that was both antiquated and pristine, I thought to myself “What if this mansion wasn’t always a mansion? What if this mansion was haunted? And what if the ghost liked playing tricks on guests?”
It was here that Jonathan was built. Vanderbilt Grace became “Bracken Manor”. I wrote my short story over the next few weeks, self-edited it a dozen times, and submitted it to Scout Media’s “A Haunting of Words” competition.
And I was accepted! Stay tuned for a cover and dates for the anthology’s publication.