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On the banks of the Mississippi, in a small Iowa town known as LeClaire, sits a quaint, two-story brick building. Known as Blackhawk Manor, a lucrative local inn, the establishment has housed many a famous name, actors and actresses, as well as singers.
Perhaps the most famous of guests, however, was a young construction worker named Robert Thorndale. Robert and his bride were spending their honeymoon at the inn when the handsome young bridegroom met his death at the hands of an unknown man. The murder was never solved and many years later, when two young college friends decide to spend a week at the historic inn, they find themselves in the middle of a fifty year old mystery. Strange appearances begin to occur, clues are left and it is up to Hannah and her friend, Cassie, to solve the crime.
Will they find the killer before it's too late?
Note from the author:
Several years ago, while visiting with our son and his family, my husband and I were guests at the famed Blackhawk Hotel in Davenport, Iowa. It was an eventful weekend, with several unexplained things occurring in our room. We were later told by employees of a neighboring hotel that it was common for guests of the Blackhawk to experience the paranormal...
And so, building on that experience, The Legend Of Blackhawk Manor came to life. Yes, some of the things in the story actually happened in our room on that weekend long ago...
Along the Iowa banks of the mighty Mississippi, in the small historical town of LeClaire, sits a quaint two-story brick structure. Known as Blackhawk Manor, the cozy inn was built in the year 1918 and in 1942 was converted by the family of the original owner to the business that continues to provide a lucrative income for the current generation.
Actors, actresses, and singers have graced the rooms of the beautiful establishment. With the Adler Theater not far away in Davenport, many sought to relax in the small river town rather than the city when their night’s performance was done. Perhaps the most famous of names to be seen on the register was not one of those theatrical types, but rather a young businessman named Robert Thorndale. Robert and his bride had signed the roster hours after their wedding. They had planned to spend a week enjoying the shops and scenery before returning to the apartment waiting for them at their home, not far from the inn. Robert was a builder for a major construction company several miles up the river. His new wife, Pamela Sue, was looking forward to making a home for her husband and the children that would surely follow soon.
Neither of them could have known that their time together was to be cut short. But, as fate would have it, on a cool summer evening in 1954, Robert met with a death too abominable to comprehend, and the life they had planned with such excitement and high hopes ended. Pamela Sue returned to their home for the funeral, but no one seemed to know what had happened to her after that. The locals would have you believe that Robert’s ghost still walked the halls of Blackhawk Manor, searching for his bride.
The current year was 2015 and two young college girls were planning a week-long stay in the quaint little town.� It was the summer between their junior and senior year and the two roommates had scrimped and saved in order to spend their last summer of freedom, as they called it, traveling and having fun. They had chosen to stay in LeClaire at the famed bed and breakfast for the first adventure of the summer. Hannah Stone was interested in the local folklore and had heard of the legend surrounding Blackhawk Manor. She had convinced her reluctant friend, Cassie Sharp, to accompany her.
“I want to know if the things they say are true. You know this stuff interests me,” Hannah said as she turned her car off Interstate 80. “This is our exit.”
“I don’t know why, but if it makes you happy, I’ll humor you,” Cassie replied with a laugh. “I can see it now, old Robert will be roaming the halls at midnight, calling out for his dear Pamela, and you’ll be recording it.”
“It’s kind of a sad story, you know. Think about it. They were on their honeymoon and they are out walking along the river one evening when someone appears from behind and tries to kidnap his precious new bride. He does the chivalrous thing and defends her, fighting off the man, only to be stabbed in the heart. He fell to the ground, dead as a doornail.”
“I know, I know, and then the would-be kidnapper runs away, leaving poor little Pamela screaming for help.”
“How do ghosts haunt, do you think?” Hannah asked as they pulled into the parking lot of the beautiful brick home.
“I guess you’re about to find out. This could turn out to be one hell of a week,” Cassie said teasingly.
“Then again, it may be boring as all get out,” Hannah answered with a giggle.
The two girls pulled into a parking spot near the front of the building and got out of the car. As they took in the sights all around them, they had to agree it was a gorgeous setting.
“Perfect for a romantic honeymoon, don’t you think?” Hannah asked.
“Don’t go getting any ideas. I have my room and you have yours,” Cassie teased as she walked around to get her bag from the trunk.
“Very funny, I don’t swing that way. You just aren’t my type. Besides, I think Chad might have a thing or two to say about that,” Hannah replied. Chad was her current boyfriend.
“I doubt that Alan would approve either,” Cassie retorted.
“Are you guys going to get married, do you think? I mean you’ve been dating forever,” Hannah asked as she lifted her own bag out and slammed the trunk closed.
“Maybe,” Cassie said with a flip of her shoulder length red hair. She was a pretty girl, with flashing emerald eyes to go with the gorgeous red mane.
The two friends walked onto the porch of the house and went inside. They were greeted by the sight of a beautifully decorated lobby. A brick fireplace graced one wall with a china blue couch and two blue and yellow floral upholstered winged chairs in front of it. The fireplace was flanked with bookcases full of books on either side and there was a table with coffee, juices and cookies for the guests. On the other wall was the check-in desk. They made their way over so they could register.
“Hi, I’m Hannah Stone and this is Cassie Sharp. We have reservations for the week,” Hannah said to the man behind the desk in a confident tone as she pushed a loose strand of her blonde curly hair out of her face. She was cute with her short, bouncy blonde curls and snappy blue eyes.
He scanned the computer. “Ah yes, we’ve been expecting you. Let me print up some paperwork for you to sign, get you some keys and you’re all set.” Once that had been taken care of, he told them his name was Steven and dinner would be served at seven. The young man was fairly good-looking, probably in his twenties and obviously interested in the inn’s newest arrivals.
“We not only serve breakfast here, but lunch and dinner,” he explained. “Of course, if you prefer to check out some of the local spots, you’re most welcome to try them. Between you and me, you won’t find any better fare than our dining room, though, and the pool is open until ten.”
“Thank you,” Hannah said as she accepted the key he held out to her.
“You’re in room five and Miss Sharp is right next door in seven,” Steven informed them.
“Thank you, if you could just point us in the right direction,” Hannah replied with a sugary smile.
“Certainly, just take a left down the hallway and you can’t miss them on the left side of the hall. Enjoy your stay. I’m on duty until midnight if you need anything. Maria will be here during the night.”
“Thank you so much,” Cassie said with a flutter of eyelashes. When they were out of earshot, she giggled. “Not bad for a sample of the local fare,” she whispered.
“Cassie, really, you are such a flirt. How have you and Alan stayed together so long?” Hannah teased.
“It’s all in good fun, harmless,” Cassie replied.
The girls found their rooms and arranged to meet in thirty minutes. Hannah walked into her own room and the sight that greeted her simply took her breath away. Cherry furnishings, polished to a high gloss, the bed was covered in a stunning dark blue and maroon paisley comforter. A dark blue throw lay at the foot of the bed and the draperies at the window matched. In front of the window sat two maroon winged chairs and a cherry table. The cherry armoire held a television set and there was a bureau for her clothes. She quickly unpacked and found hangers and a tiny closet for the things she preferred to hang. Wandering into the bathroom, she wasn’t disappointed when she saw gleaming white fixtures and marble counters. The floor was tiled and there was a Jacuzzi tub and a separate shower stall.
Slipping off her flip-flops, she let her feet sink into the thick, luxurious deep blue carpeting. “I could get used to this,” she said aloud as she grabbed a menu from the table and plopped down on the bed. “Seafood and steaks, makes sense,” she said as she perused the dinner choices. Glancing at the dainty gold watch on her left wrist, she saw that it was nearly time to meet her friend. She jumped up and ran into the bathroom, where she splashed her face with water and dried it. Taking her makeup out of the cosmetic bag she’d packed that morning, she touched up her face and ran a brush through her short blonde curls.
She was just walking back into the bedroom when there was a knock on the door. She ran to open it. “Cassie, come on in. This place is great. What’s your room like?” she asked as she stood aside to let her friend in.
Cassie looked around the room. “It’s similar, although my color scheme is gray and mauve. I’m famished. Did you look at the menu yet?”
“They have seafood, so I’m content to stay here and try out the dining room. They have an all you can eat buffet tonight.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me? You and your love of seafood,” Cassie said with a laugh. “I’ll probably have a steak.”
“Your tastes are so boring.”
“Blame it on growing up in the Midwest, on a farm, no less,” Cassie told her. “Can I help it if you big city gals have different tastes?”
“How we ever became best friends in college is beyond me. They couldn’t have paired two more different personalities as roommates.”
“True, but after that awful first few months of adjusting to each other’s quirkiness, it just all sort of fell into place. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through the last three years without you.”
“This fall will be our senior year. We have to make a pact to stay in touch, no matter where our lives lead us after graduation.”
“Of course we will. Why would you think otherwise? Let’s go eat.”
Arm-in-arm, the two friends walked down the hall to the dining room, which was located beyond the lobby. They were seated after a short wait and the view of the river from their table was breathtaking.
“Look at all the boats on the water,” Cassie said.
“There’s a barge moving downstream,” Hannah pointed out.
After a delicious dinner, they walked around the grounds, marveling at the sights. The gardens and surrounding grounds had obviously been tended to carefully. Ending the night by sitting on the porch in rockers with some of the other guests, they listened to an older couple telling some of the other guests about the legend.
“You know they make such a big deal about the young man who died on his honeymoon defending his bride, but there was also a very famous actor who died in his sleep in this very place. They don’t talk about that much,” the woman said.
“Really?” another woman asked. “I have never heard that story.”
“It’s all kept very hush-hush. Apparently, he suffered a heart attack and the maid found him the next morning when she went in to clean the room. He was in his seventies, so I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal, but still, he was pretty famous in his day.”
“Who was it?” one of the other guests asked.
“Roman Carrington, I’m sure you’ve heard of him. He played in several movies years ago and also did some work on Broadway.”
“The name is familiar. I guess the story of the young honeymooners was of more interest.”
“Well, it is much more romantic than an old man dying in his sleep,” the woman telling the story replied. “You know, the murderer was never caught.”
Hannah listened intently, but she could see that her friend was growing bored with all the talk of the deaths that had occurred in the area.
Cassie yawned. “I think I’m going to my room to call Alan before it gets too late. Are you coming?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m sure Chad will call when he gets in from his shift at the hospital.”
When they were outside Hannah’s room they made plans to meet at eight for breakfast. “We’ll plan our day while we eat. I hope to work some shopping in. I know they have some really neat shops here,” Hannah said as she turned the key in the lock and prepared to go inside.
“Have a good night. Don’t get spooked by any ghosts, young or old,” Cassie said with a giggle as she headed for her own room.
“Very funny,” Hannah said as she went inside.