Ghost in the Porcelain Novel Excerpt: Chapter 12

“Mommy, your hand is shaking,” Chelsie said as she held her hand.
“Is it? I didn’t notice,” and Beth walked toward the front door.  She took a deep breath in and pulled out her house keys.  She sighed and unlocked the door.  Darkness greeted her, but nothing else.  Still, she lingered in the doorway, and Chelsie bolted into the house. “Chelsie, wait,” she screamed, but Chelsie didn’t listen to her.
Suddenly, Beth heard the phone in the kitchen ring.  She cursed under her breath as she stepped into the hallway. She was about to turn on the lights when Chelsie beat her to it, and Beth blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light. And she hurried into the kitchen to answer the phone.  
“Hello?” Beth’s voice shook.  “Hello?”
“Mrs. Evans?”
“Yes. Who’s this?”
“It’s Doctor Castel.  You okay? You sound out of breath.”
“Yeah. I just walked into the house and heard the phone ring.  Everything okay with Kelsey?”
“Well, that’s why I’m calling you,” and Beth felt her heart drop.  “Kelsey’s doing a lot better, and…”
“And?”
“And he can come home tomorrow.”
“Oh, thank God!  Thank you, Doctor Castel.  I’ve been so worried about him.”
“I know. He’s been through an ordeal, and when he gets home, he will still need more time to recover.”
“Whatever he needs,” Beth said.
“Okay, and no stress.  Maybe, it would be better, if he stayed home for awhile.”
“Okay,” and Beth’s smile faded.  “What about the doll?”
“The doll? Oh.  You mean the porcelain doll in your house.”
“Yeah, that doll.”
“He should be okay with it now, but if it makes you feel better, you could always get rid of it.”
“I might do that.”  Beth looked around the kitchen and realized that Chelsie was not with her.  “What time tomorrow could I get him?”
“How about eleven?”
“That works.  Thank you again, doctor.  Night.”
“Night, Mrs. Evans.”
Beth hung up the phone.  She took a deep breath and sighed.  A smile spread across her face, but then she heard whispering coming from the family room. It sounded like Chelsie was talking to someone, but it was only her and Chelsie in the house.  Who was she talking to, and Beth stepped into the family room to find Chelsie standing in front of the breakfront.  “Chelsie, who are you talking to?”
“No one. What did the doctor say?”
Beth glanced at the porcelain doll, but the doll did not look at her.  “Daddy’s come home tomorrow,” and she was surprised by the scream of delight from Chelsie.  “He’s coming home,” and Beth hugged Chelsie.  Then, she glanced at the doll.  “Are you sure that you were not talking to anyone?”
“Mommy, there’s no one here,” Chelsie said with a giggle.
“Chelsie, could you do me a favor?”
“Sure. Anything.”
“Could you sleep in my bed tonight?  I don’t want to be alone.”
“Okay, Mommy,” and Chelsie let out a yawn.
Beth looked at the doll.  The doll stared back at her.  “How about we call it a night?”  Beth walked over to the front door.  She pushed against it, making sure that it was closed, and she turned the lock. “Grab your pajamas from your room, and you can get washed up in my bathroom.”
“Okay,” and Chelsie walked toward her bedroom.
“You better not be real,” Beth said as she stared at the doll.  “Maybe, I will throw you out.”  She waited for the doll to do something, but it didn’t.  “You’re just a doll.  Just a doll, Beth,” and she moved away from the breakfront and walked into her bedroom.
Beth breathed a sigh of relief when she and Chelsie were inside the bedroom.  She closed the door and locked it.  She stared at the door, and then she realized that Chelsie was standing behind her.  “Chelsie,” Beth asked.
“What if I want some water?”
“Then, I’ll get you some water.”
“Okay,” and Chelsie crawled into the bed.  She let out another yawn and then plopped down against the mattress. “Good-night, Mommy.  I love you,” she said.
“I love you too,” and Beth pulled out a nightgown from her dresser drawer.
A few minutes later, Beth got into the bed beside Chelsie.  She reached over her to turn off the light.  She laid her arm over Chelsie and stared at the bedroom door. She thought she saw a shadow move, and her mind cringed in fear.  Was the doll outside the room, but she wanted to sleep tonight.  If she knew the doll was out there, she wouldn’t sleep at all.

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