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 feel a stinging in my nostrils and jolt awake.
The faces of Grey and the school nurse, Ms. Boson, come into view, after a few forced, rapid blinks. I frown, slap myself on one cheek, and glare at the smelling salts in Ms. Boson’s hand warily.
“I thought they used that only in movies.” My voice is a little thick, like I’ve been woken up from a deep sleep. “Did I . . . ?” I can’t bring myself to say it—of all the stupid, girly things I’ve always sworn I’ll never, ever, do—
“You fainted.” Grey smirks as he says this.
Crap. Fainting was number one on that girly-things list; of course I’d faint in front of him. “I don’t faint.”
Ms. Boson sits back, hiding a laugh.
Grey’s eyebrows shoot up. “Oh, so you have a history of falling asleep at, like, warp speed?”
I furrow my brow and turn my head, slowly taking in the Nurse’s Office. It’s just the three of us, and I know I didn’t walk here. Ms. Boson is in her sixties and makes me look like a roaring giant, so that means . . . .
“Oh, my God! Please tell me you didn’t carry me in here?”
He scowls and narrows his eyes at me. “I was supposed to leave your happy ass passed out in the stairwell?”
I utter a tiny gasp, but don’t really know what to say to that.
By the way Ms. Boson’s tiny shoulders shake, I can tell she’s still laughing at us, silently. She probably thinks we’re having what my grandma would embarrassingly refer to as a lover’s spat. Gesturing for me to raise my arm, she slaps the blood pressure cuff on me—which starts expanding automatically ’cause it’s hooked to a machine—and, when I groan in response, shushes me to shove the thermometer in between my lips.
To his credit, Grey refrains from talking while she takes my temperature, but the amusement in his eyes speaks volumes.
The nurse takes a penlight out of her pocket and shines it in my eyes. “Pupillary reflex normal,” she says quietly as she puts the light away and begins to unwind the cuff. “Blood pressure seems normal.”
Finally, she plucks the thermometer out of my mouth and looks it over. “Ninety-eight point six.”
With that, she turns away and rolls her chair over to her filing cabinet while waving a hand at a tray of late slips on her desk.
“You’re fine, take one and return to class,” she says as she rifles through one of the drawers—I’m guessing for my record, so she can jot down this lovely little incident before calling to inform my mother.
That’s going to be a fun chat, when Mom gets home.
Nodding, I hop down from the table . . . okay, I’m lying, I don’t hop, I stumble down from the table, but I quickly catch myself.
Grey reflexively reaches to help me, but I slap at his hands as I feel my face pull into a pinched expression. “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
He nods, then turns away from me, grabbing both of our backpacks by their straps in one hand and picking up two slips in the other. “Sure thing, Bumbles.”
Ms. Boson shakes her head at us, but doesn’t turn around. She makes a shooing gesture as she picks up the phone.
I slide a hand around one of Grey’s elbows and drag him out into the corridor. Sighing—I’ve totally lost track of the time—I look to the nearest hall clock to figure out which class I’m in the middle of missing.
Twelve forty-five. Great, math class, so we get to walk into class late . . . together. Oh, what a fantastic day this is turning out to be.
“You going to tell me what happened?” He hands me my backpack.
I halt and turn to look up at him. “What do you mean? You were there. You saw what I saw.”
“Saw?” He shakes his head as he frowns. “No, I don’t think I did. We followed those footsteps, and then there was a shadow and, like a split-second later, you just dropped.”
I search his face. I think I’m hoping for some sign that he’s not being truthful, but I can’t tell. “But . . . whatever that was, it turned around. It looked at us.”
His eyebrows shoot up as he asks, dropping his voice to a whisper, “What did it look like?”
“I—” my words fall off as I try to recall what I’d actually seen. But nothing comes to me.
I press the tips of my fingers to my forehead; my brain suddenly feels a bit fuzzy.
“It turned around, and looked at us,” I repeat. “I remember seeing a . . . a face, I think, but I can’t . . . .” I shake my head slowly. This is like when I tried to remember the dream I’d had last night. “I can’t remember what I saw,” I say finally.
“You sound sad about that.” There’s a tone to his voice that says, Cadence has lost her mind, folks.
“No.” I shake my head again as I start walking; I almost forgot that we’re supposed to get to class. “I’m disappointed. I mean, whatever it was, it made me faint. I’d like to know what the F that’s about. The weird part is, I feel like just thinking about it should make me cringe. I should have a chill crawling up my spine. The sensation is so bizarre, like . . . like waking up terrified when you can’t recollect what you’d just been dreaming about. I don’t like that I don’t know what it looked like.”
Grey shrugs and stuffs his fists into the pockets of his jeans. “That being said, do you really want to remember?”
I ignore that the tone of his voice makes me think that he wishes he had seen it, too, because I can’t understand why. “Hmm. You’re right, maybe it’s better that I don’t.”
“So listen, I’m thinking maybe it’s,” he pauses, forcing out a loud breath before continuing, “better if you don’t help me.”
I spin on a heel to face him so fast that he jumps back a little. “Excuse me?”
He does that hair-in-the-eyes head tilt as he says, “You almost passed out on me yesterday. You had trouble sleeping last night, because of yesterday. Today you see something I can’t—while I’m standing right next to you—and you did pass out on me.”
I make the what’s your point face and ask, “So?”
Grey frowns darkly at me. “So? Well, you swear that you ‘don’t faint,’ and this is the first day since I’ve moved here that you walked into school looking like a friggin’ zombie, and the only thing that’s been different for you is hanging out with me . . . .”
He pauses and takes a breath, rocking his weight back on his heels so he’s leaning away from me.
“I think this stuff with my family is causing whatever’s going on with you.”
I return his frown. “How do you know I don’t just have zombie-face every morning?”
For a moment, he’s quiet, and he slowly inches his eyebrows upward as he waits for me to get it.
“Oh,” is all I can manage, in a tiny voice. I’ve already realized he likes me; it should have dawned on me that he knows how I look in the morning because he’s been looking.
“Yeah.” Rolling his eyes at me, he says, “Now that you’ve made this all completely awkward, I’m going to veer us back to my original point.”
“I have changed my mind; I don’t want your help anymore.”
“Yeah, well, I haven’t changed mine!”
He shifts uncomfortably and drops his voice to a whisper. “Do I really have to come out and say that I don’t want your help ’cause I’m worried about you?”
It’s sweet, and there’s a part of me that just wants to go all big-eyes and stare up at him with the aww face, but the rest of me—the bigger, reasonable and sensible portion—reminds me that I can’t let him use his adorable charm to push me around.
I just totally thought of him as adorable . . . and acknowledged that he’s got charm. I’m doomed.
“Okay, you’ve only lived here for like half a month, and you’ve only known me, personally, for about twenty-four hours. So, you need to dial it back a notch.” My bitch-mode causes a little look of what I think is hurt to flicker across his face.
Damn, I don’t actually want to snap at him, but I do want us to focus on the problem and not, well, us.
I hold up my hands as I go on. “I just mean let’s not get all ‘Cut Cadence out of Whatever Grey is Planning’ nuts.”
“No. You were right yesterday,” he says, slumping his shoulders. “Maybe no one really can help; no one knows what was going on here two hundred years ago anyway, right?”
Quietly he turns and starts walking away.
I can only watch, at a rather uncharacteristic loss for what to say. He’s right, I guess. On the bright side, I can be totally honest with my mom later if I say things with Grey and me just aren’t going to work out. Well, whenever she gets home from work.
Wait! My mother’s work . . . . Oh, God, I’m so stupid.
“Grey, wait, I’ve got—”
“No, Cae, forget it.”
I bristle at his use of my nickname—twice now, I haven’t forgotten about him saying it in the stairwell—and start after him.
“I’m putting my foot down. I’m sorry I even got you involved in this.”
Is he kidding? And putting his foot down? Do people even still say that anymore?
“Okay, well, hey, I guess I’ll just go on looking into this and keep whatever I find out to myself.”
He freezes in mid-stride.
Before he can react, I catch up, snatch my backpack from his hand and pause to toss my hair over my shoulder. “Hmph.” I breathe the sound as I take a step away.
Suddenly, Grey’s fingers are around my wrist. He doesn’t pull me back, though; he just stops me. “What are you talking about?”
I cast a look at him over my shoulder and feign a pout. “Oh, see, I just had an idea, a possibly brilliant idea, but you don’t want my help anymore. I still want to know what happened to Jack—totally your fault, by the way, so thanks for that—so I’ll just go about with my idea and find out what happened and not share the information with you.”
His expression becomes more exasperated with each sentence I speak, until he rolls his eyes. “All right, all right. What’s your idea?”
Turning on my heel to face him, I can’t help but smirk. “I’m sorry; I thought you put your foot down about this.”
He shakes his head, looking anywhere but at me. “Fine, okay? I take it back. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
Wow, he really believes it will be this easy, huh? My smirk fades, leaving a lopsided frown behind. He must not deal with girls very often. I tug at my arm and he doesn’t relinquish his grip, but he clearly isn’t expecting the movement, either, so I accidentally pull him a step toward me. He seems to realize only now that he was still holding onto me, and his fingers slip away.
If he were more onguard around me, these moments wouldn’t happen. I wish I had time to ponder why he feels at ease around me, of all people.
“How do I know you’re not just going to take my idea and run with it without me?” Considering what my idea is, I’m not sure how much luck he’ll have with that, but I need to know that I can trust him not to try cutting me out of this again.
I hate to admit it, but . . . I’m a little worried about him, too.
Once more, he stuffs his fists into his pockets and shrugs. “What do you want me to say? You want me to promise that I won’t?”
“Well, yes, actually. I want you to,” I give a quick nod, deciding to go for a dramatic choice of words, but since he doesn’t seem to have much regard for his own safety, I have to take a different tack, “swear on my life that you’re not going to do any of this without me.”
His face pulls into a scowl. I feel like I can almost hear him thinking you sneaky bitch.“Fine,” he says again.
“Let me hear it.”
Grey’s eyebrows draw together as he asks, “What do you want me to say?”
“Look, I know you probably think I’m being silly, but my grandma always told me that words have power, so, I want you to say, ‘Cadence McKenna, I swear on your life that I won’t continue any part of this Jack business without you.’”
I fold my arms across my chest as I wait for him to repeat it.
He lets out a long, aggravated groan. “Cadence McKenna, I swear on your life that I won’t continue any part of this Jack business without you.”
Hearing the words relaxes me a bit, and I offer him a small smile.
“Now, your idea?”
“My mom works for the local newspaper. They have in their archives periodicals dating back to just after the town was settled.”
I blink a few times, wondering what it is about this that needs further explanation. “You keep going on about how people in this town can’t remember anything, right?”
One of his eyebrows inches up his forehead. “Yeah.”
I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment as I say quietly, “God, you’re lucky you’re cute, ’cause you’re so damn stupid.”
“You think I’m cute?”
I crack open an eye to see he’s wearing a smug grin. “And stupid. I notice you forgot that part.”
He sighs. “Okay, what’s your point?”
“People can forget; printed words can’t. We go through the papers from around the time Jack was supposed to have lived here and see what we can find out.”
Grey’s jaw drops open for a moment before he manages to speak. “That’s so simple.”
I shrug. “Which is probably why you didn’t think of it sooner; you were overthinking it.”
Smiling, he turns and starts walking again—at this rate, we’ll get into the room just before the bell rings and we have to head off to our next classes, anyway. “You are brilliant.”
“That’s what I been trying to tell you,” I say in a singsong voice as I fall into step beside him.