So I rewrote the story into The Birthday Curse. It was actually an option I had planned when first writing but somehow got off on the holiday path instead. I reworked characters and added three more kids. Ruthie the fourteen year old fortuneteller. Wendell the twelve year old bookworm turned sidekick. And Orson a nine year old terror.
Here is a cut from the book.
“Has anyone seen my son Orson?” A woman with a pony tail poking from the top of her head and too much lipstick shouted. “I can’t find him.”
“Jeanette, how nice of you to join us.” Mother glanced up the stairway and raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure your son is exploring the Manor.”
When the Biscuits had arrived earlier, Orson said nothing and only leered at Penelope, like a wolf stares at a rabbit. She glanced out a window. “Maybe he wandered outside into the freezing cold.”
“Dean,” she said to the man standing behind her, “say something.”
Her husband was a slim man with ferret like features. He stared down at his feet. “It’s snowing outside, too.”