As she waited in the almost total darkness, she wondered again why she had agreed to this. They said the house was haunted. Janine knew it wasn’t. Why did she have to prove it? Yes, the house belonged to her family and yes, someone had been murdered in it, but why on earth did she agree to stay here overnight? Perhaps it was because she was sick of people talking against her family. Her father’s business had gone bad and now they would have to sell everything. But how could she sleep in this place of unnatural silence? She tried to get comfortable again leaning against the wall but she kept imagining the tickling of bugs crawling on her neck and arms…or at least she hoped she was imagining it.
Janine’s heart started pounding as she saw a faint glow coming from around the corner. The old house no longer had electricity. She knew it couldn’t be a ghost…but still Janine fought down the fear. Her parents thought she was at a friend’s house for a sleepover. But no. Foolishly she was here…all alone.
Then round the corner came Sam with a flashlight.
“Tham!” she cried in relief when she saw her good friend. He grinned when she said his name, as he always did. Janine struggled with a lisp and Sam never ceased to be amused by it.
“What are you doing here?” she asked him.
“I was worried about you,” he said as he came nearer and then sat beside her, back against the wall. “Of all the crazy things, Janine…I didn’t want you here all night alone.”
“It’th not crathy!” she insisted. “Thith houth ith not haunted! And I’m gonna prove it!” In the dim light of the flashlight, she could see that Sam was just smiling. Janine wasn’t sure that she liked his amusement but she had to admit it. Sam had a really nice smile. And she was glad he was here.
They sat there, quiet for a bit. Janine looked at him as Sam looked towards the far wall. He had reddish brown hair, brown eyes, and freckles; of course it was hard to see that in the dim light. But Janine didn’t need any light at all to picture him. She had studied his photos often enough on facebook that she had every detail memorized.
“Are you jutht gonna keep that light on the whole time?” Janine asked, finally.
“Yup,” answered Sam.
“Are you tired, yet?” asked Janine.
“Nope,” answered Sam.
“Maybe we thould go look around,” Janine suggested.
Sam looked at her and smiled bigger.
He jumped up, flashlight in one hand, and held out his other hand to her. She reached out to him and he hoisted her roughly to her feet. Janine looked up at him for a moment. He sure was tall. Sam was still grinning. She wondered if he might like her.
Abruptly, he turned and started out of the room.
“Wait!” Janine said, “Where are we going?”
“To look around,” Sam answered, striding away.
They walked out of the living room and into the grand entrance way. The place was desolate. All items of value had been sold long ago. Everything was dark, with only the weak beam of the flashlight guiding their way. Sam shone the flashlight up the long, winding staircase.
“Let’s go up,” he suggested.
“Are you thure it’s thafe?” asked Janine.
She could see that Sam was grinning again.
“Let’s find out.”
They started up the stairs. The steps creaked heavily under their weight. Suddenly there was a sharper ‘crack!’ and Sam was falling into her. As she tried to step back, her foot went through the old wood.
“Owww!” she cried out. Sam regained his footing and sat down on the step where she was stuck. He shone the flashlight on her leg, which was buried in the wood to mid-calf.
“It’th hurting bad, Tham.”
Sam did not smile;he looked grim, the muscles at his jaw, clenched. He carefully felt around the hole with his fingers.
“Owww!” Janine cried again.
He pulled his hand away and then looked at his fingers in the light of the flashlight. There was blood on them. He wiped his hand on his jeans.
“I’m sorry, Janine. This is my fault.”
“It’th okay, Tham.”
“I’m not sure what to do. I think maybe I should go get help. I’m not sure how badly you’re hurt.”
“Pleth don’t leave me here alone, Tham.” Frantically she reached over and clutched the fabric of his shirt.
“Okay, I won’t leave. I’ll get you out.” Sam pulled out a rather long knife. This gave Janine quite the fright as she saw the blade glinting in the light. “I’m going to try to cut some of the wood away so your leg will come free.” Carefully Sam worked the knife, cutting away the old brittle wood.
Janine realized that Sam must have been carrying the knife concealed under his clothing. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that really…but it sure was coming in handy now.
Soon the hole was big enough for Janine to pull her foot out. Her jeans had a rip in them and her calf was bleeding.
“Can you stand on it?” asked Sam as he slid the knife away back into a sheath on his right hip.
Janine hesitated. She felt sure it wasn’t broken and she probably could manage…but it would be ever so much nicer to get ‘help’.
“I’m not sure,” she said, finally.
“Here, I can help you. Just let me get down off these steps.”
Sam quickly shone the flashlight into the hole where her foot had been. “Lucky it wasn’t any deeper or it could have been a lot worse.” He hesitated and continued looking into the hole.
“What?” asked Janine. “What ith it?”
Sam reached into the hole and pulled something out.
“What ith it?” Janine asked again.
Sam shone the flashlight onto what he had pulled out. Janine gasped. It was an old, golden, diamond broach! Janine’s blood had splattered on it and Sam wiped it on his jeans. Then they looked at it again under the light. It was large, with quite a few diamonds on it. Sam didn’t really like the look of it, especially under such circumstances.
“A skull diamond broach?”
“It’s not a thkull! It’th a horthe thoe! Thith mutht have belonged to my great aunt! And it’th probably worth a fortune! Look at how big thothe diamondth are!”
“A horthe thoe.”
“A horthe thoe.”
Janine looked to see Sam was smiling again. She held out her hand for the broach.
He handed it to her and scrambled down the few steps to the lobby. Then, carefully, he helped her down.
“Do you want to lean on me or shall I just carry you?” he asked her.
“I think you thould carry me.”
Janine knew her parents wouldn’t be impressed to see that she was hurt or out with a boy so late at night. But this find would change everything!