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I wrote this novel quite a few years ago, but it's one of my favorites:

Pushing herself off the bed and approaching the writing desk, she slid the cover open. Claire sat at the desk and just stared at first, almost afraid to disturb anything. She looked from the fountain pens to the stack of paper tied with some string. Deciding that she had to see if the girl kept a journal or diary, Claire began to look through the drawers. About to give up, Claire felt the bottom of one of the drawers shift. Realizing she might have found a secret compartment, Claire pried the wood loose and revealed a diary. “Yes!” She yelled triumphantly, pulling the book free from the compartment. She opened the cover and read the inscription on the first page.

Faith M Pruitt ~ 1926 –

No ending year had been written. Claire figured that Faith must have forgotten about her diary as she grew up. She flipped to the last page with anything written on it, with the date of August 29th, 1935. She then flipped to the front, hoping that Faith would have mentioned how old she had been in 1926. Claire smiled as she read the first entry, obviously written by a child. It was a short entry dated April 18th:

Dear Diary,
Hello! Mummy got you for me on my birthday. I am eight years old today. She told me to write all my secrets in here for you alone, but I have no secrets.

Claire couldn’t hold back the chuckle as she flipped back to the last entry.

Dear Diary,
I am sad today. There doesn’t seem to be any way I can get out of this marriage. Mum says that I am at a marriageable age. She doesn’t care that I do not love Hank. She says that will come in time. Just between us, I do not see that happening in my lifetime. Wish me luck! I will need it.
Yours, Faith

As she read Faith’s last words in her diary, the smile left her face. Not wanting to read anymore, Claire closed the book and put it on the desk. She did the math in her head and realized that Faith had been only 17 when she wrote that last entry. Mrs. Pruitt forced her only child to marry a man that she did not like, and she was only 17. Claire just couldn’t wrap her mind around it. At least she now knew why the woman didn’t want to sell the house. After Faith died, the guilt must nearly have consumed her.
Claire looked around the room, suddenly remembering her primary purpose for being in the room. She still hadn’t found the hidden staircase. Inspiration struck as she stood and walked over to the walk-in closet. She went from one side to the other, tapping lightly, until she came across a hollow sound. Realizing she had stumbled upon another camouflaged door, she worked at it until she got it open. As the staircase was revealed, Claire smiled.
“There you are.” She stood back and stared at it, vaguely wondering if the house had any other hidden doors. She couldn’t hold back the smile as she anticipated finding them.