THE MOORISH HOUSE ON CHARLOTTE STREET – Part 3

She thought about the Baroque music she had first heard and in an “aha” moment realized that it was the obscure little Francesco Molino concerto she had played for a recital when she was a senior in high school. She blushed at the thought of her ghost playing the piece for her. One day shortly after her revelation she took her guitar to the house. She entered through the loggia, sat in the living room, and began playing. The guitarist appeared immediately. He smiled, sat down, and began playing with her. They played well together, she on the Paraguayan Berlucci her parents had given her as a graduation present, and the ghost on his ancient Spanish guitar.

As time passed she found excuses to visit the house on more and more occasions, always taking her guitar with her. Matt knew she wanted the house to be perfect and didn’t begrudge Sara her passion for it. He did think it a bit peculiar that she always took her guitar, but he passed that off as her equal passion for music. He couldn’t see she was drawing away.

After four months, the renovations were complete. Sara proudly opened the door and led Matt inside. It was exquisite. The tile floor had been repaired, windows replaced, period wallpaper added to the dining room and living room, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves added to the little library off the loggia. The wood floor upstairs, too, had been refinished and glistened. A second bathroom had been added to the spare bedroom. Everything had been freshly painted.

Next they went into the kitchen, where Sara had replaced all the appliances, cabinetry, and floor. She had had existing windows enlarged and new ones built into the wall looking out on her garden.

In the old carriage house, now a three car garage, she had had a work bench installed and cabinets added along one wall. Best of all, as far as Matt was concerned, were the servants’ quarters, which Sara had converted to a “playroom” for Matt, his own private man cave, with a huge desk, an even larger HDTV, a pool table, and all of his “I love me” framed diplomas, awards, and pictures hung on the walls. Matt was speechless.

The next day was moving day, so they didn’t remain long at the house. Sara had a vague sense of wanting to stay in the house, but she knew she needed to get back to the apartment to box up everything and get ready for the movers. They left the garage and returned through the kitchen to the house. Just as Sara entered she saw her ghost on the landing across the living room. He was walking up the stairs. She smiled. Matt was oblivious.

He had a shift in the ER the following day, so Sara agreed to stay and supervise the moving company. As soon as Matt finished he would come to the house to help her unpack.

In the morning he hurried off to the hospital, and Sara waited for the movers, who arrived promptly at eight. It wasn’t going to take long to load their furnishings and boxes and get them to the house. By noon Sara was alone in her new home, ready to unpack when the phone rang. It was Matt. “Hey, how is it going?”

“Well, I’m here. The movers just finished unloading everything. I’m going up to A1A for a quick bite and then start unpacking.”

“Good. I’ll be there by three.”

Sara flipped her cell phone closed and walked into the living room. There sat her guitar player. Their eyes met for a moment, and then he looked away and began playing. Sara hesitated before walking into the dining room where she’d left her guitar.

Shortly after three, Matt drove up. The driveway gate was open, but Sara’s car wasn’t parked in front. Matt went in and drove around to the garage. Her car wasn’t there either. Odd, he thought. Perhaps she had left her car somewhere else out of the way. He got out of his car and walked over to the kitchen. The door was unlocked. He entered. Silence. Sara wasn’t anywhere on the property. Mildly concerned, he called the hospital, his parents, her parents, and three of her friends. No one had seen her. As the day wore on without any word from her, his concern turned to panic. As dusk settled, he called the police.

Matt couldn’t sleep. His parents and Sara’s came over to join him in his vigil. About every hour, Matt called the police. Exasperated, the dispatcher told him he would be called when they had any information. At seven the next morning, the phone rang. It was the Florida Highway Patrol. They had located Sara’s little red Miata outside a restaurant in Hastings. It was unlocked. Her purse was on the front seat, and the keys were in the ignition. Nothing appeared to have been stolen, and there was no sign of a struggle. Forensic experts were later to pour over the car, but found nothing unusual.

Police had discovered a woman’s foot prints in the sand leading from the driver’s side of the car into the restaurant and back again. There were no prints from the passenger side, but one of the waitresses remembered seeing a pretty, black-haired woman and a tall, slender man around six that morning. “It was real busy in here then, but I remember them ‘cause he was dressed kinda funny.”

For several weeks Sara’s disappearance was front-page news, but not one substantial clue or sighting was ever made. After a time, it slid to the bottom of the pile and eventually became an unsolved, cold case. Sara was never seen again.

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