Sherri Edwards only wanted to refurbish an abandoned old mansion that carried her family name. Her goal: To bring the mansion back to original glory.
But the ghost of the original owner kept chasing away all workers. About to give up, two friends suggest she go with them into the past, to see the mansion, meet the original owner, and figure out why he killed himself.
The fourth standalone novel in the popular Thunder Mountain series.
The first book I ever read by Dean Wesley Smith, when we were both wet-behind-the-ears new writers, was LAYING THE MUSIC TO REST, a time-travel novel about the Titanic. I asked Dean for a novel in this bundle, hoping he would let me have that one … but Dean has so many time travel books, he gave me another one he liked better. But, it turned out that one, THUNDER MOUNTAIN, had already been featured in another StoryBundle, so I told him to go digging again. Fortunately, he has plenty to choose from. – Kevin J. Anderson
"Thunder Mountain by Dean Wesley Smith is one of those reads that defies genre classification. Take some romance, throw in a little bit of historical fiction and add a dash of time travel and science fiction and you have the basis for this interesting story. … The premise for Thunder Mountain is intriguing and will appeal to fans of both historical and science fiction. This is an easy, light read, and I am interested in revisiting these characters on their future adventures."– Fresh Fiction
"The romance between Dawn and Madison is warm and primarily private. The time travel is creative and the history detail is rich and engaging. This story and reading pace moves along quickly. This is an entertaining story and I recommend it to readers who enjoy a fun time travel to the old west with romantic element."– Martha’s Bookshelf on Thunder Mountain
September 19, 2016
Downtown Boise, Idaho
THE BROOKS GARDEN Restaurant hummed with the noise of a busy lunch hour. Dishes clicking, people laughing, faint background music, and the distant traffic on Grove Avenue in Boise.
But the place had so many plants and tables tucked into nooks and corners that even though it was crowded, to Sherri Edwards it didn't feel that way. The high ceilings and dark wood decor smothered in various plants allowed conversation at a normal voice level instead of having to almost shout as happened at busy times in some restaurants.
But just getting to a table in the back sometimes made her feel like she needed a safari guide and a machete to cut back the overgrown green decorative plants.
She loved the place and looked for any excuse to come here, not only for the wonderful atmosphere, but the chicken and specialty cheese salads couldn't be beat. The entire restaurant always had a rich thick pasta smell, as if a waiter was about to bring her a plate of her favorite spaghetti covered in thick red tomato and garlic sauce.
Who knew a jungle could smell Italian.
Her two best friends, Bonnie Kendal and Dawn Edwards sat with her at the four-person wood table tucked back against the wall under a framed photograph of a rolling field of golden hay and the dark brown remains of a tumbled-down wood barn that had once been dominant over the field. Sherri loved how the golden hay, alive and healthy, contrasted with the dark ruin from the past in the picture.
Dawn was Sherri's distant cousin and one of the most respected historians in the country. She worked part-time as a professor at the university, but spent most of her time researching and writing historical books.
Unlike Sherri, who had long black hair and barely made it past five-four in height, Dawn had long brown hair and was taller at five-eight. She exercised all the time and she and her boyfriend, Madison, never seemed to be apart. Sherri felt lucky to pry Dawn away from him even for a lunch date once a month.
Bonnie was even taller at just under six feet. She also had long brown hair and all three of them were within a year of the same age at just over thirty, but Sherri felt that Bonnie and Dawn just seemed older. And the two of them laughed a lot more than they used to.
Bonnie had been her best friend from grade school on through high school and they had stayed in touch over the years of college and became close again when Bonnie and Duster got married and moved back to Boise.
Now Bonnie and Duster were known as two of the top math brains in the world and were richer than both Dawn and Sherri, which was going some. Both Dawn and Sherri had inherited enough money to never have to work, although both of them still did because they enjoyed what they did.
Sherri figured that after earning four degrees in different forms of restoration engineering and architecture, she had damn well better enjoy what she did. That was a lot of years in school and apprenticeships.
Sherri had focused all her life on historical renovation and had published three books on the subject. She flat loved it with a passion, at least most of the time. At the moment she wasn't finding one restoration project fun at all, and not for the standard construction reasons.
The three of them had spent the first half hour of lunch talking about some historical books they all loved, different things happening at the university, and Dawn's new book project on forgotten mining towns of the Pacific Northwest.
Then, as the waiter found his way through the jungle of plants from the distant kitchen and delivered their lunches, and Sherri was about to dig into her sliced-breast-of-chicken salad, Bonnie asked, "How's the renovation going?"
Sherri forced herself to take a bite of the sweet-tasting chicken with the wonderful honey-mustard dressing while shaking her head. "It's not," she finally said.
"What happened?" Dawn asked, looking surprised. "You love that place and I am so looking forward to you bringing it back up to its original glory."
"So was I," Sherri said.
About six months before she had finally managed to purchase the Edwards Mansion out Warm Springs Avenue, sitting on two oak and cottonwood covered acres on a bluff overlooking the Boise River. The wonderful stone and mahogany mansion had not been lived in for over a hundred years, but for eighty of those years it had been maintained by the former owner's estate. Then it had fallen into ruin and she had been working to buy it ever since.
Even though she and Dawn were of no relation to the original owner, it carried their name and had been one of the most amazing show houses of its time in early Boise history.
For Sherri, restoring that mansion was to be her prize project and she planned on living in the mansion after she was done. But that now looked like it was not to be. And failing at the one project she cared so much about was breaking her heart.
"So what happened?" Bonnie asked.
Sherri glanced at her, then at Dawn. Both her close friends were looking very concerned.
"Did you run out of money buying the place?" Dawn asked. "You know I have more than I can spend and would love to help."
"As would I," Bonnie said.
That actually made Sherri laugh and smile at her close friends. "Thanks," she said, "but I also have more than enough money. It's not that."
"Than what is the problem?" Dawn asked.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Sherri said, shaking her head and taking another bite of her salad, letting the wonderful flavor calm the deep anger she was feeling about the project.
"You would be surprised at what we would believe or not believe," Dawn said, and Bonnie laughed lightly.
"Yes, please, tell us," Bonnie said.
"A ghost is haunting the place," Sherri said, blurting it out. "The original owner supposedly killed himself in the mansion in 1902. I can't get any workers to stay because of the ghost. No one will work in there."
"A ghost?" Bonnie asked, leaning forward.
"You're kidding?" Dawn asked.
"I wish to hell I was," Sherri said, jabbing far too hard at her salad, then finally putting down her fork and taking a drink of her unsweetened iced tea. There was little point in taking her frustration out on a helpless chicken salad.
"The mansion went through three owners," Sherri said, "from the time the estate money ran out, and no one could live in there, which is why it fell into the condition it's in now."
"And you've seen this ghost?" Bonnie asked.
"Nope, just heard it," Sherri said. "And trust me, I don't believe in ghosts and that sound scares hell out of me. I can't blame carpenters and the rest for not wanting to work in there. Sounds like some poor guy is being tortured."
"Wow," Bonnie said, sitting back in her chair, her salad half-eaten.
"I had always heard the place was haunted," Dawn said, shaking her head. "Just never believed it to be true."
"Well everyone I try to get to work there believes it," Sherri said, not hiding the disgust she was feeling. She stared at her lunch, wishing this topic had never come up. Now she would never be able to finish that salad.
"No one will work there, no matter the money you pay them?" Dawn asked.
Sherri shook her head. "A couple contractors I hired even ran from the home leaving their tools behind. Contractors don't leave tools. Those things are sacred, yet they did. And now word has gotten out and no one will even think of going in there. I could kill that guy for killing himself and then haunting his own home."
Then she realized how silly that sounded and laughed, as did Bonnie and Dawn.
"So who was this original Edwards?"
Sherri shrugged. "Not a lot is known about him, including his first name. It is just known he killed himself in the mansion on September, 20th, 1902 after building and living in the place for twenty years. He had no kids or heirs that anyone could find."
"One hundred and fourteen years ago tomorrow," Bonnie said.
"That's right," Sherri said, going back to stabbing at her defenseless salad.
Silence settled over the table as the background sounds of the restaurant filtered into their sheltered table. One woman with a shrill laugh had heard something really funny a few tables away, and someone else was clearing off a table close by, clanking dishes and silverware.
Sherri jabbed her salad one more time for good measure and glanced up at her two friends. "You think I'm nuts, don't you?"
"Not at all," Bonnie said. "I'm just thinking we might be able to do something to help."
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Dawn asked Bonnie.
"No séance or anything silly like that," Sherri said.
"No," Dawn said, smiling at Sherri. "What we are thinking is far, far crazier than that."
Bonnie laughed and pushed back from the table. "Let me call Duster and see what he thinks."
"Wish Madison was in town," Dawn said. "But he can't get away from that conference. But he would love to join this ghost hunt."
Sherri watched as Bonnie walked toward the front door, her phone to her ear.
"Join what?" Sherri asked. She wasn't sure if she liked the sounds of this conspiracy.
"You busy tomorrow?" Dawn asked, ignoring her question.
Sherri laughed. "About all I do is swear at a ghost, so I'm pretty free. Why?"
"We just need a little field trip is all," Dawn said. "Just trust us, we might be able to solve this ghost problem."
"You can get a ghost out of my house by leaving town?" Sherri asked, convinced her two best friends were crazier than she was for telling them about the ghost.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," Dawn said. "Just trust us."
Sherri stared at her friend and cousin and just shook her head. "I got nothing to lose at this point."
And she didn't. Not a thing. If something didn't change, she was just going to have to tear down the old place and that would break her heart.
She went back to stabbing her salad until it was nothing more than shredded lettuce.