Fane’s Cove isn’t the average coastal town- not with wandering apparitions, disembodied voices and poltergeist activity occurring on a regular basis- but the residents are used to it. As far as they know, it’s simply always been that way.
Somehow, Cadence McKenna can’t shake the feeling that the seemingly-normal new resident, Gray Addison, is hiding something stranger than all of the town’s odd happenings combined and she’s determined to find out what that is – by any means necessary.
- Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
- Part 8* | Part 9* | Part 10* | Part 11* | Part 12* | Part 13*
- Part 14* | Part 15* | Part 16* | Part 17* | Part 18* | Part 19*
- Part 20* | Part 21* | Part 22* | Part 23* | Part 24*
I forcibly blink my eyes a few times as I let his words bounce around in my head. I think maybe I’m waiting for him to do something, to crack a grin, or burst out laughing, or even just yell, “Gotcha!”
He doesn’t bat an eye. Like when he first said I could help him; the weird way his face just shut down before is how he looks now. His fingers don’t tighten around mine, but they don’t loosen, either; I’m suddenly acutely aware of him holding me in place.
“You aren’t kidding here, are you?” I ask in a small, hollow voice.
Grey frowns a bit darkly at this. “Again, who would make that up?”
Glancing pointedly at his hand over both of mine, I try—knowing this won’t work—to lightly tug out of his grasp before bringing my gaze back up to meet his. “A crazy person?”
He rolls his eyes toward the sky and exhales heavily as he appears to think the situation over.
“All right,” he says with a small, uncertain nod, sliding his fingers from my hands. “I know it sounds nuts, and I’m not saying it’s true, I’m just telling you what was said.”
I let my hands drop away from him and cross my arms, making a show of digging my heel into the ground to prove I’m not going to bolt on him.
“You,” I say with a little, defiant lift of my chin, “did say ‘all the cards on the table,’ right?”
That stoic mask crumbles from his face instantly, replaced by an obvious look of relief. “So then you believe me?”
My lips twitch as I consider believing anything that follows my ancestor was a devil, but he added that the old townspeople only said that, and just about stated that he doesn’t believe whatever the story is. Jury’s still out on how crazy he may, or may not, be.
“I’ll listen to what you have to say, I can’t guarantee I’m going to accept it.”
Grey sighs and gives a shrug. “I suppose that’s all I can ask. I mean, you only live in Spooky-Hijinks-Central, I can totally get why believing me would be a stretch.”
My mouth falls open and I’m unable to do anything but stare at him as I fish around in my head for some snippy retort. When I can’t immediately come up with one, I throw out my arm, catching him in the bicep with my fist.
“Ow!” He clamps a hand over the site of impact and scrunches up his face. “That was uncalled for!”
“You keep insulting Fane’s Cove!”
“You don’t really take it so personally, do you?”
“I—” I cut myself off immediately as I think this over; I know this place is nutty, so why is Grey saying the very same thing bothering me so much? “Maybe I do!”
“Maybe? You just hit me over a ‘maybe’?” His face tells me he’s confused by the word.
“You keep calling me—and basically everyone I’ve grown up with—nuts, oh, and you called us all liars, too, but your family thinks your ancestor was a devil!” I spit out the words in a low hiss.
“You were the one who wanted to know what was going on with me. Well, this is it!” His voice lowers to match mine.
“You could have just told me to leave it alone and walked away twenty minutes ago!” Instantly after I say this, my face falls and I dart my gaze around a few times. Why are we fighting?
When I bring my attention back to him, his expression mirrors my own as he says, “What are we arguing like this for?”
“I have no idea,” I say slowly, before giving myself a shake, deciding to let it go, and force us back on topic. “Okay, so just tell me what’s said. Tell me what’s supposed to have happened to Jack Addison.”
He shrugs, tossing up his hands. “That’s just the thing, no one really knows. The first ‘record’ we have is Bridgette’s journal. She said too many weird things were happening around her children, that she needed to start writing things down. It wasn’t just Gabriel’s death that made her decide to move, but I’m sure for some people, that would have been enough.”
“Wait.” I don’t want to interrupt, really, but I am trying to gauge just how dangerous these happenings in his family can get. “I’m not sure I see the connection. Did Gabriel die because of, ya know, the weird stuff?”
“No,” he says with a look that resembles shock, but that can’t be right, since none of this is news to him. “Gabriel died of pneumonia, but she swore he, well, visited her sometimes. She didn’t mention that much, but I have to think it was a big part of why she took the rest of her family away from here. But then, occurrences kept happening—even after Bridgette and her children had died—so my family decided to keep logging things; to log basically everything that happens, even the normal stuff. Ya know, locations, documents they filled out, how the seasons were different in a new area. I guess anything that would add value and um, credence? Credence to their experiences.”
I find him testing his vocabulary skills kinda cute. Cute? Ah, crud.
“Why?” I push past my irritation at myself to ask, mystified by the idea. “I mean, didn’t people back then want to pretend that supernatural things didn’t happen to them so they wouldn’t be persecuted?”
“I guess so that when their grandkids, and their grandkids’ grandkids, started seeing stuff they wouldn’t think they were losing their minds?” He’s scowling just a little, and I get the feeling that it’s going to be a while before he forgets that I called him crazy.
“Okay.” I guess that’s fair enough, since I’m clearly still bothered that he, in not so many words, called my entire hometown a bunch of insane liars. “First you said your family records go back to Jack boarding a ship from England, but now you’re saying that Bridgette Addison only started writing things down when her kids started having experiences. How can it be both?”
Grey waves a finger at me. “It isn’t. Public records have him boarding the ship. According to Bridgette, she met him on the ship. In fact, I think they were married in this town. She recounts it in the journal after they left Fane’s Cove—”
He stops speaking abruptly as his eyes light up. “Do you want to read Bridgette’s journal yourself? I have it . . . I mean, it’s at my house, but I have it.”
I furrow my brow at the sound of an odd little catch in his voice, and rather suddenly, I realize, unlike the rest of this whole mess of a hangout-slash-date, he’s nervous. Probably because he sort of just asked me—a girl I am really starting to get the feeling he likes—to his house. I mean, there is a reason, and maybe he doesn’t want me to read too much into this clumsy invite.
“Sure,” I say, doing my best to act like this doesn’t set off a single, tiny, nervous butterfly in my stomach. After all, I’m just helping him find out what happened to his ancestor. “Let’s go.”
I move around him, but only manage a few steps before my knees give out. I cringe, instantly bringing my arms up to break a fall that never comes. My head feels fuzzy, and there’s a second during which I can’t get my eyes to focus. When I come to my senses, I feel an arm around my waist. Shaking my head, I swing my gaze up to find that Grey is holding me anchored against his side.
“Holy . . . are you okay?”
I blink hard a few times, attempting to banish the sudden, near-overwhelming exhaustion that claws at me.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to nod, but it only results in my head wobbling on my neck. “Connecting with Bridgette must’ve just sapped my energy.”
After sleeping for a solid twelve hours yesterday from simply picking up a warning, I shouldn’t be surprised something that took conscious effort on my part would have a much more immediate, and dramatic, effect.
“If you’d told me this might happen, I’d have told you not to try it.” The look on his face is an odd combination of annoyance and concern as he adjusts his grip on me, like he’s trying to emphasize the consequences of my little self-induced episode. “Maybe I should just walk you home so you can rest.”
Without waiting for my answer, he turns us back toward the entrance and starts making his way to the path, walk-dragging me along beside him. The lack of any real sounds, anything aside from our feet crunching over the gravel path that winds through cemetery, is a little unnerving.
“How did you know how to do that, anyway?”
I give a lopsided shrug. “I’m not sure; I was just going with my gut. Wait a sec.”
I push away from him as he halts, and trudge a few steps away to lean against the nearest headstone. Looking briefly at the name, I mutter a quick apology to Andrea Ramsey—grandmother of one of my classmates—for using her grave as a rest stop.
When I glance up at Grey, he’s watching me.
“Should I call someone to come get you?” He moves his head to catch my gaze.
“No, I just need a minute. Besides, my mom works late and my brother doesn’t have a car.”
Thankfully, he just nods, not bringing up that I don’t mention my dad. I also don’t mention that I need this minute so I can walk out of here without looking like I’ve got Grey Addison draped all over me.
He waits quietly for me to stand up and start walking, but he’s still watching me, and falls into step a little behind me. I think it’s so he will see in time if he needs to catch me again.
I clear my throat, focusing more on walking at a steady, normal-seeming pace than I feel I’ve ever had to before in my life. “So, you were telling me about your devil.”
Grey sighs lightly, a sound I can just barely hear as we cross the street, and I realize that even though we’ve not verbally agreed on the destination, he is walking me home.
“Well, Jack just vanished one night, but there had been rumors all over the place that people had been seeing some devil-like creature in the area. When Jack disappeared, the sightings stopped. People must’ve thought he had some way to look human so he could blend in.”
“Why? What did this devil look like?”
“Ya know, the usual: horns, glowing red eyes, wings, goatee.”
I can’t help giggling at that. “Yes, because goatees are much more evil than full beards.”
His response to this is of a more serious tone than I’m expecting.
“Makes sense when you consider that the Devil is supposed to look like some sort of goat-man. I mean, it was just to vilify the deities and nature-spirits of the pagan religions during the Dark Ages, but it kinda worked.”
“Huh,” is all I can say. Maybe studying the occult goes hand-in-hand with being told that your bloodline channels through a man who was supposedly a devil. Although, now that he’s said this, I can’t help but notice there is a resemblance between The Devil and a typical pagan-folklore satyr.
I get the feeling that he thinks he’s said too much, but he hurries on before I can say anything more about it.
“Anyway, so Bridgette moved away with her kids after Gabriel died and Jack was supposed to join them later, but he never arrived. She sent a letter to the lawyer who was supposed to be helping Jack sell off their property, but he didn’t seem to know anything, and I mean anything. His reply made it sound like he didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. A few weeks later, the money from the sale arrived by post, with a message from Jack saying he’d been delayed, but he was on his way. No one ever saw him again.”
I frown and, sick of talking over my shoulder, hang back a step so that I’m beside him now. Walking without stumbling is still an adventure, but having this conversation to distract me from how difficult moving is helps. “Maybe he just lied, Grey; he could have left her. People do screwed up things like that all the time.”
“I don’t think so.” He says, his expression tells me that he’s considered this idea already. “I have looked for anything that could connect to him, and there is no record of him ever turning up anywhere else after he supposedly left this town.”
We’re both quiet for a while, and the silence leaves me to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other again. There are a number of things I should be flipping out on myself for about the outcome of this pseudo-date, whatever-it-is. I’ve found out something about him that is just way more interesting than I’d been prepared for. I can tolerate him; I don’t think I’m prepared for that, either. He knows my secret, ’cause I’m no better at lying spontaneously.
I steer him onto my block, hoping that Wendi isn’t hanging by her window, waiting for me to come home, like some gossipy li’l old bitty. I have no idea what I’m going to tell her when she asks how things went, so I guess I’ll just have to let her wait ’til tomorrow.
“Aw, but what about Bridgette’s journal?” I ask, remembering suddenly. “I actually really want to read it.”
“I can bring it to school for you, or you could, I don’t know, come over sometime, or something. You won’t have to lie to arrange it.” Though he’d seemed nervous before when he’s suggested this, I can hear a touch of humor in his voice, now that he’s found an angle from which he can poke fun at me.
“Oh, see, I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with that, then,” I say in mock-seriousness before sticking my tongue out at him.
He smirks. “Hey, you wanna know the weird part? About Jack, I mean?”
Thank you, Grand Master of steering us right back on track. “Your ancestor disappearing in the wake of Fane’s Cove devil-creature-sightings that I’ve never heard about and finding his grave all hidden away like that weren’t the weird parts?”
He laughs, and I know that if not for how tired I am, I would kick myself, ’cause I like the sound of him laughing. Damn it.
“The places my family had lived, the ones where weird things happen? The devil-sightings happen there, too.” He leans close, speaking in a conspiratorial whisper, “In fact, they still do.”
I turn to face him as we reach the stairs to my porch. “They have devil sightings, like, recent ones?”
Grey shrugs, pulling back as he shoves his hands into his pockets. “Crazy, right? Everywhere but here.”
“I’m starting to see a pattern.”
I leave out that even if it’s not a devil, the people in those towns have got to be seeing something. There is a pattern, and most likely whatever’s being spotted is attached to his lineage, somehow. He’s probably already figured that out himself, but doesn’t want to add any more colors to the current Rubik’s Cube we’re futzing with.
I stare up at him, clueless. “So, what?”
He glances around quickly, like he’s expecting to be overheard. “Will you help me figure out what really happened here?”
I’m not sure that’s possible, what with how patchy our town’s recollections are, but this is about the most interesting thing I’ve ever had the chance to be involved in. “I’ll do what I can, sure, but why me?”
A frown spreads across his face instantly. “I . . . don’t have anyone else to help me. No one in my family wants anything to do with digging into the past ’cause they think it’ll make the occurrences worse, and no one in town seems to have a friggin’ clue about any of this, anyway.”
I merely nod in agreement with the second half of his reasoning. “I don’t blame your family for worrying, though. What if this does make it worse?”
He slumps his shoulders and lets out a sigh. “If that’s what I have to do to find out how to make it better—to make it stop—then I don’t care.”
“Okay.” There’s really nothing else to say in the face of his determination, and I yawn as a fresh wave of exhaustion rolls over me, remembering at the last minute to cover my mouth.
“You need help up the stairs?”
Shaking my head lightly, I hold out my hand.
“Your phone,” I explain when he gives me a questioning look.
He raises an eyebrow, but fishes a black smartphone out of his back pocket and places it in my hand.
“My number,” I say as I input my name and digits, quickly texting Grey’s name to myself while I’m at it, ignoring my phone when the alert chimes. “And now I have yours.”
When I hand it back to him, he looks up quickly, a tiny smile playing on his lips. “Cae?”
Rolling my eyes, I curse at myself under my breath and reach for his phone again, but he takes a step back, putting it away in his pocket.
“Damn you.” I didn’t mean to use my childhood nickname, and being called Cae by someone I’m just getting to know might feel too familiar, but maybe he won’t use my tired slip against me.
He laughs, but leans down, brushing a kiss over the tip of my nose before I can react. “I’ll see you at school tomorrow, Cadence.”
“Wha,” is all I can say, but his gaze flickers from mine, toward Wendi’s house and when I turn to look, I see the curtain in her window fluttering back into place.
“Great,” I grumble, returning my attention to him.
“Now get in your house and get some rest before she gets to tell everyone I had to carry you to your door.”
“I—” I clamp my mouth shut immediately, because I can tell by the sudden change in his expression that he’s not kidding.
He doesn’t budge as I make my way up the steps and disappear into my house. Grey Addison is worried about me. And, for some reason, I don’t mind.
Ah, damn it all.