A few days later Josie's news was confirmed by our next door neighbour, Mrs Jackson. I had gone out for my morning jog and had met her on the drive as she was watering her flowers. She told me that she had seen a car pull up at the house a few minutes ago and I immediately decided to go and be nosy.
Jogging up the road a bit I could see the house at the end with a large white Land Rover parked on the drive. The front door to the house was open and someone seemed to be struggling with a large box as they apporached the house. As I got closer I saw she was clutching a bundle of blankets with a very tiny baby in one arm and a huge clearly very heavy box under the other.
'Excuse me!' I ran up to her, 'Please let me take this.' I took the box out of her arms and regretted it slightly as it was ridiculously heavy, what sounded like china plate rattled as I wobbled slightly.
'Oh thank you, honey.' She had a sweet voice, 'I misjudged how wriggly this little man can be sometimes.' I took a moment to take her in; she had long, almost white blond hair with a box fringe and a pale face and ice blue eyes, yet there was a warmth and laughter about her whole face and looked to be mid 30s. She was wearing tight blue jeans and a white top which her sharp shoulders pointed out of and brown heeled sandals. She was tall but had a shapely figure although a slight bump in her stomach suggested the baby in her arms was very new. I was drawn away from her appearance as she began to coo at the tiny baby who had just woken up in her arms.
'How old?' I asked her tickling his tiny hand, it was soft and he gripped on to my finger tightly.
'Just a week. Anyway, you live round here don't you? One of the guys looking after this place told me there's only a couple of kids around here.' She shook her fringe out of her eyes, 'I'm Genevieve Carlson and this is my youngest, Toby.'
'It's nice to meet you, I hope we can see each other around lots I could never be too busy to see this little man.' I bounced Toby's tiny hand on my finger. 'I'm Nola Wells I live five houses down, that one just there, with my parents and my sister Sally is home from uni at the moment. You are welcome to come and meet them sometime.'
'I would like that very much. Perhaps you all would like to come round for a coffee tomorrow? All the removal stuff will have arrived by then and you can meet my husband and two daughters.'
I returned home and settled it with my parents that we should visit them for a coffee the following day, Sally was pretending to be calm but I could tell how excited she was to be going to Hadley House. Obviously my mother hadn't noticed because she mentioned not a word about ghost hunting or 'make believe nonsense' and must have trusted the thrill was all in the past. Even I had been feeling a little churning in my stomach, but I was looking forward to seeing Genevieve again, she seemed nice.
The afternoon of the next day found me knocking on the blue front door of the Hadley House still looking rather rundown my parents standing behind me and Sally hopping from one foot to the other slightly. A man opened the door, her was tall and muscular and had very dark brown air, his face was stern but as soon as he saw me his face filled with a farm and friendly smile, 'Hullo! You must be Nola? Genevieve said we were expecting you, she's just gone to get some groceries; should be back any minute. I'm her husband, please call me Mike.' He shook me and my family's hands all in turn as we introduced ourselves and he ushered us into the house. A little girl of about 6 appeared clinging onto his leg she was almost a miniature of her mother except her hair was in tight pigtails. When she saw us she gasped and ran away upstairs. Mike settled us on the odd furniture spotted around the room and sat himself on the floor. 'Oh don't worry.' Mike said seeing my alarm at upsetting the girl, 'That's our oldest daughter Abigail, this move has been difficult for her, hopefully she'll come out of her shell a bit when Genny gets back with her younger sister, Leila and little Toby who I have heard Nola has met already.'
While the adults and Sally were deep in conversation I took my time to take in the surroundings and acknowledged just how much work would have to be put in to make this place a proper home again. Thankfully being late July it wasn't cold but had it been winter the sitting room we were in would be freezing as there was a crack in the window and the radiator was dripping uselessly onto a mouldy puddle on the old carpet.The hallway we had been through was in no greater state with wallpaper peeling off and the carpet pulled up at the edges away from the damp of leaky pipes. The stairs were moth eaten and from what I had seen from the door of the kitchen from entering there was a similar situation. A voice in the back of my 4 year old mind said It's a perfectly convincing haunted house, in a way.
I had creeped myself out a bit and jumped when I saw something move on the drive out the corner of my eyes. It was Genevieve and she had with her another miniature of herself, Leila I presumed, whose hair was also in pigtails and except she was little younger than Abigail and looked maybe 4 or 5. Genevieve was carrying two bags of shopping and pushing Toby in a pram. They soon came in and joined the party chatting and laughed and I cuddled little Toby in my arms who I had taken to rather strongly. Leila came in and said 'Hi.' And then dashed off upstairs to find her sister and we didn't see either of them again until they were called down for dinner as we were leaving.
Back at home my family decided they would make delightful neighbours and had eagerly invited the whole family for a BBQ in the following weeks. I went to sleep that night thinking about shy little Abigail and wondering if I could befriend her and make her happier about moving houses.