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Read an exclusive excerpt from Kate Milford's The Ghosts of Greenglass House

Updated

Fans eager to return to the Greenglass House are in luck! Author Kate Milford will reopen the doors to the mystery-filled mansion in a sequel titled, The Ghosts of Greenglass House.

The book follows the adventures of Milo, the innkeeper’s son, in the winter as the inn is once again full of guests who aren’t quite what they seem. Only this time, Milo’s friend Meddy hasn’t shown up, leaving him to parse a new set of clues — not to mention his school and family issues — by his lonesome as he attempts to make sense of the chaos that’s descended upon his home.

The Ghosts of Greenglass House goes on sale Oct. 3. Get a first look at the book’s cover and read an exclusive chapter excerpt below.


TWO

The Bachelorette Party

Everybody froze. There was a distinct rattle of dishes in the kitchen: Mrs. Caraway had dropped something in shock. Milo turned slowly to look warily at his parents.

“Was that what I think it was?” Mrs. Pine asked.

The bell rang again. It had a slightly tinny, buzzing edge to its tone. “I believe it was,” Mr. Pine said, setting down the coffee he’d just brought to the dining table. “I guess I’d better go.”

“Does that mean someone wants to come up?” Emmett asked.

“Not up,” Milo’s father said as he headed for the door. “That’s not the railcar bell.”

“I’ll come, too,” Milo said, darting for his boots and coat.

Greenglass House had two bells these days. There was the big old one that had hung on the porch almost since the house had been built, which was connected by a series of cords to a pull way down at the dock at the bottom of the hill. Usually this was the bell that announced guests, since most of them arrived by boat. But there was a second, newer bell, one that Milo’s father had put in only this year. It, too, was an antique, but it was electric, and instead of connecting to the dock, its lines ran up the hill and into the woods. The Pines hadn’t heard it since they’d tested it back when it had first been installed.

Milo and his father bundled up and marched out into the cold. “You know what this means,” Mr. Pine said thoughtfully.

“Yeah,” Milo replied. “I wonder who’s with him.”

They crossed the crunchy, frosty lawn and headed into the trees that covered the slope of the hill, all blue-green firs and bare bone-colored birches, passing the assorted red stone outbuildings scattered throughout the woods until they came to one that looked like a small, ramshackle house. In actuality, it was a train station. The doors were open, and a familiar tall, thin figure stood in the entrance: Brandon Levi, the sole conductor on Nagspeake’s all-but-defunct and mostly secret Belowground Transit System.

“Oy, Ben. Hey, Milo,” he said as they approached. “Bell worked, I take it.”

“Like a charm,” Mr. Pine said, shaking Brandon’s gloved hand. “Was this a test?”

“Nope. Got a couple dubious characters looking for a place to lie low. Wanted to make sure the coast was clear.”

More guests. Milo groaned.

And yet, he thought with a glimmer of excitement twitching to life in his gut, this is how it started last year. And last year had actually turned out to be more than just frustration and a bunch of changes to his beloved holiday routine. Last year he had discovered Odd Trails, a role-playing game that had helped him find a more heroic version of himself in the form of a character called Negret. Negret was an escaladeur, a kind of blackjack or trickster who specialized in reconnaissance and stealth—a nimble, capable, less anxious Milo- yet-not-Milo he’d been able to turn to for a while when things got unpredictable or began to feel out of control. As Negret, he had played a sort of real-world version of Odd Trails last year, a campaign waged within Greenglass House itself, and in the course of that campaign he’d worked out the secrets that had brought eight unexpected guests to his home.

But all that had been because last year, among those strangers that had turned up, there had been one special stranger in particular, the one who had introduced him to Odd Trails and Negret. He had waited and waited all year for her to turn up again, but she had never come back.

Meddy.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pine made a face. “We’ve got one guest—a Skellansen enthusiast, a student of some kind—and I’d say he seems pretty nonthreatening, for whatever that’s worth. He’s leaving day after tomorrow.” He craned his neck to peer over Brandon’s shoulder. “Who’s with you? Anyone we know?”

“It’s a surprise,” Brandon said drily. He leaned back into the station. “You guys catch all that? Want to chance it?”

“Like we have anywhere else to go, Brandon.”

“Can we just go in? I’m freezing my tail off here!”

Milo hadn’t heard those voices in a long time, but he knew them both right away, and he felt his face break into a wide smile.

Milo’s dad recognized them, too. “Come on out, you two,” he laughed.

Brandon stood aside, and two women in their twenties burst out of the station. “Ta-da!” sang the one with a fringe of red curling out from under her black stocking cap.

“Merry Christmas,” said the other, who wore a black beret over bright blue hair. “With apologies for the lack of notice.”

Despite how little Milo relished the idea of more guests at the house, these two were different. They’d been part of the bizarre and unexpected group who’d shown up at Greenglass House last winter break, although back then they’d arrived as adversaries. Now, it seemed, they’d come as friends.

“Hi, Clem. Hi, Georgie,” Milo said, raising a hand in greeting. “It’s nice to see you.”

“What’s this waving stuff?” red-haired Clem Candler demanded. “Next you’re going to try to shake hands. Get over here.” She wrapped him in a big hug.

“I’d hug you, too,” said blue-haired Georgie Moselle, “but I’m going to die of hypothermia if we don’t get inside fast.”

It was cold, but not that cold. Milo took a closer look at Georgie and realized she was practically swimming in a coverall suit that had to have been made for somebody over six feet tall. Someone like Brandon. Who, Milo realized (now that he was paying attention), wasn’t wearing anything over his jeans and shirt and looked plenty cold, too.

“Is your hair wet?” Mr. Pine asked.

“And my shoes,” Georgie grumbled. “And my clothes, which is why I’m drowning in Brandon’s. For which I am extremely grateful,” she added as they all started walking toward the house.

Why is your hair wet?” Milo inquired.

“And what are you doing here?” Mr. Pine added. “Not that we aren’t delighted to see you, obviously.”

“Obviously,” Clem said, grinning. Then her usual good humor faded. “These two questions are not unrelated.”

“We’re on the lam,” Georgie said grimly. “But if anyone asks, this is Clem’s bachelorette weekend and I’m treating her to a cozy winter getaway.”

“Bachelorette weekend?” Mr. Pine repeated dubiously. “Is this just a clever cover, or is there some truth to it?”

“The best covers always have some truth to them,” Clem said. “Yes, Owen and I are getting married. Just before New Year’s. That is . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“If I didn’t just go and screw it all up beyond repair,” Georgie finished.

Clem touched her shoulder. “I wasn’t going to say that.”

“I know you weren’t. That’s why I said it. But it’s true.”

“It’s not true, and if I were going to say anything like that, I would have said if I didn’t just go and screw it up.”

Milo glanced at his father. Mr. Pine caught his eye, winced, and glanced at Brandon, who put both hands up in a don’t ask me gesture.

They had reached the lawn. “Clearly there’s more to this than we’re going to have time to hear just now,” Mr. Pine said. “Like I was telling Brandon, I’m pretty sure the guy at the house is as advertised, just a fellow who’s way into windows. But he’s staying until day after tomorrow, so until then, what do we call you?”

Georgie and Clem glanced at each other. “Real names are fine,” Georgie said. “Aliases aren’t going to help us out of this one. They know who we are and what we look like.”

Before anyone could ask what that ominous comment was all about, Mrs. Pine opened the front door and waved. Georgie and Clem shouted hellos and took off at a trot for the warmth of the indoors. Then, just as everyone was crowding up the stairs, there was the scraping sound of car tires on gravel behind them, and Lizzie Caraway honked and leaned out the window of her battered blue car.

Apparently it was going to be a full house for a while. Milo couldn’t decide if he was about to freak out or not. Come on, Meddy, he begged silently. Where are you?

After a quick flurry of hellos and hugs, with introductions for Emmett Syebuck’s benefit, Mrs. Pine took Georgie’s plastic bag full of wet clothes to throw in the dryer and Milo led her and Clem upstairs to the guest rooms. Neither had much in the way of luggage. Clem had a smallish backpack and a short document tube, and Georgie had a messenger satchel. Halfway up the stairs, Milo remembered his manners. “Want me to take those?”

“Thanks, Milo, but there’s glass in mine again,” Georgie said with a half smile. Milo blushed. Last year he’d smashed a bottle of perfume while helping with Georgie’s luggage.

“I’m fine,” Clem said. “Thanks anyway.”

“Okay. Any preference?” he asked as they reached the third-floor landing.

“Where’s the civilian?” Georgie asked.

“This floor. Three E.”

“Let’s go up to five,” Clem said tiredly.

“So you can get your runs in again?” Milo asked. When she’d been a guest here last year, Clem had spent a lot of time running the stairs.

But she shook her head. “Just looking for privacy. I don’t know if I’m going to feel much like running.”

Milo frowned. This was totally unlike the Clem Candler he knew.

They trooped up to the fifth floor, above which there was nothing but attic. Clem chose 5W, the same room she’d picked last year, and Georgie took the one next to it. Just as they were about to disappear inside, footsteps drummed in the stairwell and Emmett Syebuck appeared from around the corner with his camera bouncing against his hip.

“Wait,” he huffed. Clem and Georgie leaned warily out their doors, still holding their bags. “Can I just—there are two windows on this floor I haven’t sketched yet. Can I take some pictures before you settle in?”

The two girls looked at each other, then, with similar curious expressions, considered the art student still trying to get his wind back.

“Which ones do you still need to get?” Milo asked.

Emmett took one last deep breath and pointed at Clem’s room. “The enameled window’s in there, right? I need that one. And the one in five E, I think.”

Clem stepped aside and waved an arm. “Go for it. I picked a different room anyway. I was just having a look at the enameled glass myself.”

“Oh. Thanks.” Emmett glanced at Georgie. “What about you? Will I be in your way if I take some pictures?”

“Nope,” Georgie replied breezily. “We’re both staying on four, but Milo said we shouldn’t miss the windows up here.” And without waiting to hear his reply, they headed back downstairs again.

Emmett watched them go, looking a little confused. “Guess you don’t have to rush after all,” Milo said.

“Yeah,” Emmett agreed. “It’s pretty dark already anyway. Still, as long as I’m up here . . .” He shrugged and disappeared into 5W.

Milo descended to the fourth floor and walked down the hall until he heard movement in one of the rooms. He knocked on the door of 4W. “What was that all about?” he asked when Georgie peered out.

“Old habits,” she said as the door to the adjacent room opened and Clem came out to join them. “Probably unnecessary, but just in case.” She glanced at Clem. “What do you think?”

“About young Mr. Syebuck?” Clem considered, then gave Milo a gentle push into 4W. She followed him and closed the door behind her. She looked at Milo, then around him, as if there might be someone else in the room. Milo turned to see if somebody had somehow managed to follow him without his noticing. “Is it just you, Milo?” she asked.

Oh. Milo slumped. “Yeah, it’s just me.”

“Too bad. It would’ve been useful to have extra eyes and ears on things right about now.” Clem perched on the desk and clapped her hands on her knees. “So. Syebuck. I don’t get any particular vibe from him.” She glanced at Georgie, who sat cross-legged on the bed, still engulfed in Brandon’s coveralls. “You?”

Georgie made a noncommittal noise. “What else do you know about him, Milo?”

“Not much. He’s a student at City University, and he’s been sketching and photographing everything glass in the house. He’s nice enough. Super enthusiastic.”

“If he’s at the university, then Gowervine would know him, right?” Clem asked. “I mean, since he studies glass and whatnot. How many stained glass nerds could there be at one institution?”

“I’ll try to get hold of the professor,” Georgie said. “I’ll feel a lot better if we can verify that this guy is who he says he is.”

Clem nodded. She stood and started to pace.

Milo looked from one to the other. They both seemed so troubled. Georgie was clearly worried, and Clem . . . Clem looked concerned, too, but mainly she seemed sad. Sadness looked totally wrong on her face.

“What’s going on?” he asked. The two girls hesitated. “Don’t you trust me?” Milo demanded, indignant.

“Of course we do, Milo.” Clem sighed. “It’s just that . . . well, you know what we do for a living.”

“Yeees,” Milo said slowly.

“And that it’s not always legal, strictly speaking?”

“You’re thieves,” Milo said pointedly. “When is that ever legal?”

“The point is, we don’t want to get you in trouble. Or your parents, either. We just need a place to hide out for a while, and the less you know, the better. Isn’t that how it usually works around here?”

“Usually,” Milo admitted. Greenglass House’s clientele was, to be accurate, mostly made up of smugglers. Generally smugglers on shore leave, but every once in a while, there were guests who the Pines suspected were not so much on vacation as hiding out. Everybody involved knew not to ask questions. Milo knew it. And yet . . . Clem and Georgie were their friends. And they were obviously in trouble.

“If there’s anything we can do to help, Mom and Dad would want to know about it,” Milo said. “Me too.”

“I know, Milo,” Clem said, ruffling his hair. She looked to Georgie. “And Milo did figure pretty much everything out last time we were here. Nobody would’ve found what they were looking for if not for him.”

“That’s the truth,” Georgie admitted. “Let me think about it.” She looked at Milo for a long minute. “Milo? Where’s Meddy these days?”

“I don’t know,” Milo said, his frustration about his friend’s absence bubbling right up to the surface. “I haven’t seen her since last Christmas Eve!”

“But is she . . . is she here?” Georgie persisted.

Milo shook his head. “If she is, she isn’t showing herself. I don’t know why. But if she isn’t here, maybe that means Emmett Syebuck is who he says he is. Last year she said she felt a wrongness in the house once the guests started showing up, and that’s part of what brought her to us.”

“Ghosts,” Clem said, shaking her head. “Who can figure ’em?”

True enough.