"Nathan?" His granddad peered down at him. "Are you awake?"
Nate checked his watch on the nightstand before answering. Seven o'clock.
"I don't think so, Granddad." He rolled to his side. "Can I sleep a little longer?"
"No, there's church this morning."
"What time is church?" he asked. "It doesn't start 'til eleven back home."
"Be that as it may, your grandma has a Sunday school class to teach and it's a thirty-five minutes drive."
He stifled a moan. Church was bad enough, but combined with Sunday school, he would have a mind-numbing day.
"Sorry to rush you, Nathan, but you need to get moving if you want breakfast before we leave."
His granddad left the room, and Nate wondered about the chances of talking his grandparents into letting him skip church. He'd rather used the time to come up with a plan to launch his investigation. So far he didn't have a clue where to start.
Under normal conditions, arctic air blowing out of a portrait and then flipping it upside down would appear to be a clue. Except these weren't normal conditions.
His grandparents had freely admitted the house had a ghost. Yesterday, he rushed to the kitchen and hauled his grandparents to the foyer to show them the topsy-turvy picture, but it had righted itself by the time he returned.
"But…" Nate pointed helplessly at the lying, deceitful picture hung perfectly on the wall. "A minute ago it was messed-up. All crocked and stuff."
"Oh, we believe you, Nathan," his granddad said. "That picture does that all the time."
"Yes, dear. We're sorry if it scared you," his grandma added. "Months, even years will go by without incident, but every now and again it appears to want attention."
Nate looked incredulously at them. "You mean a ghost?"
"Of course, dear." His grandma surveyed Nathan Freedman's portrait thoughtfully. "Your mom believes something is holding him here."
"So, you all believe in ghosts?" Nate asked, no less amazed.
"Well, what would you call it, dear?" his grandma asked.
Weird, Nate thought again and pushed back the memory, then stretched and swung his legs to the floor. Without a plan in place, he might as well resign himself to the inevitable and get ready for church.
In the bathroom, the sink had separate spigots for hot and cold water, and a claw foot tub took the place of a shower. Nate stooped in the tub doing his best to take a shower without the convenience of having one. The faint crack of a floorboard came through the still open bathroom door and Nate dismissed it. Another sound like a floorboard being pressed made him turn off the water to listen. A faint squeak came again. Nate wrapped a towel around his waist and left wet footprint as he peddled across the black and white tiled floor. Nate stood behind the partially opened door and peeped into his room.
He thought he saw movement out the door. "I'm almost ready, granddad," he called, but didn't get a reply. Was his granddad checking up on him because they were...