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’m already at a table in the pizzeria waiting for my order—black olives and mushrooms—by the time six o’clock rolls around. I really had crammed the homework away, rushing through and finishing everything in about an hour,and then pacing my room until the clock hit five-thirty. Really, Mom had been right; I hadn’t needed to leave until fifteen minutes after that, but I got antsy and I don’t do well with antsy.
I’m facing the windows, looking out at the street. Even though I had walked around the block so I didn’t have to go past the pharmacy—in another week I’ll probably be walking by there again, no problem, but at the moment the whole pebblething is still too fresh in my mind—I am able to see the accursed little corner drug store perfectly from where I sit.
Grumbling under my breath, I raise myself up on my palms, leaning over the table to get a better look outside. Up one side of the block, then the other—not sure which section of town Grey’s house is in, Wendi told me, but I forgot, so I don’t know which direction he’ll be walking from—and the boy is nowhere in sight. I repress a frown, shrugging as I slip away from the table to get a diet soda from the glass refrigerator. I’m aware that it’s only just gotten to six o’clock, and I don’t know him well enough to know if he’s usually late or on time, but still . . . . He is the one who picked the time, he is the one who picked the place, so shouldn’t he at least be here by now?
Maybe he’s standing me up. This thought causes me to raisea brow. Great, so now I’m frowning and raising an eyebrow. In a way, I suppose that’s a relief; I can sit and eat my pizza, then just go home without worrying that for some inexplicable reason I’m going to act—again—like a complete spaz when I talk to him. I’m not really upset by the possibility of being stood up, but that’s just plain rude.
Yes! That is why I’m making a face, I’m feeling insulted!
Gus—the guy behind the counter—chuckles quietly to no one at all; guess it’s obvious from my expression that I’ve just been silently arguing with myself. That, and I’m still standing by the refrigerator. Heaving a sigh, I offer him an awkward little grin and head back to my table.
Really, I’m kinda glad it’s quiet. At this time of day, most of the patrons are just coming in to pick up take-out orders, which makes me feel a little less self-conscious about sitting here like an idiot waiting for someone who may or may not show up. The only other person sitting at a table is tiny old Mrs. Parsons at her usual front-corner table by the counter, but then she comes here for dinner—a single plain slice and a Coke—every night; has,ever since her husband died a few years ago. This was Mr. Parsons’ favorite place, from what my mom tells me. I can’t help but look over my shoulder at Mrs. Parsons little, hunched figure; it’s sweet in a very sad way, really. Kind of reminds me of my grandfather . . . the way he can’t stop talking about grandma whenever I visit with him, but it seems to make him so happy. I feel the sudden, unexpected ping of tears in the corners of my eyes, so I force myself to face forward, making a note-to-self to visit grandpa soon.
When I look toward the pharmacy again, there stands Grey. But he’s not looking ahead, not walking in the direction of the pizzeria, he’s really just standing there, at nearly the same spot where Wendi and I stood yesterday. I try not to stare, but I’m fixated as I watch him examine the storefront. Even from where I’m sitting, I see him lift his arm, reaching out slowly to touch the broken window, and then, just before he makes contact, he pulls his hand away.
He turns, finally, to cross the street and I can’t pull my eyes away fast enough—can’t have it look like I was watching him, now, can I? Luckily, I’m saved by Gus setting a tray down in front of me. Normally he doesn’t do that, so I can only assume he thought I’d be too distracted to hear him call me to the counter. Nothing interrupts a deadlocked stare quite like an unattractively meaty arm blocking your view.
“Thanks,” I say quietly, with a wan smile.
Gus only chuckles at me again. “No more dates at the pizzeria for you, Cade. I’m not a waiter.”
“But this isn’t a . . . .”I call the words over my shoulder as he goes back behind the counter.”Oh, never mind.”
“Just couldn’t wait, could you?”Grey says straight-faced—though his tone sounds like he’s smiling—as he strolls past me to give Gus his own order and grab a soda before winding back toward the table and sitting down across from me.
I shrug, ignoring that he’s now wearing crisp, black jeans when earlier he’d been wearing blue ones ripped at the knees; he can’t possibly have changed ’cause he was meeting me, he must’ve spilled something on the other pair. “I was a few minutes early, didn’t see the point in waiting.”
I turn my attention to my food and pick up a slice. When I take the first bite, I roll my eyes up to him to find that he’s watching me. Frowning, I put the slice back down, quickly snatching up a napkin from the tray and covering my mouth with it. Grandma said it’s not just rude to speak with one’s mouthful, but unsightly; however, if a ladyfeels like sheabsolutely can’t wait to speak,she must cover hermouth—nobody likes see-food.
“What?” I ask quickly, lowering the napkin again and determinedly chewing and swallowing so I am free to respond to whatever he might say next, without any complications.
He offers a small shrug of his own before opening his soda and taking a sip. “You wanted to get to know me. I assume that means asking questions, so . . . ask.”
“Is it true you lived in Florida?”
He nods. “Tampa,” and snatches a sliver of mushroom from one of my slices.
“Hey!” I snap, reaching out to catch his wrist, but I’m not quite fast enough.
He gives me a close-lipped grin,and I see his throat working—he is swallowingmy damn mushroom—leaving me to scowl at him. “Next question.”
“Can’t you wait for your own food?”
Another shrug. “I can, sure, but I thought it might be more fun to bother you a little.”
He reaches out again, but this time I’m prepared and I roughly slap his hand away.
Grey lets out a small laugh as he rubs at his knuckles with his other hand. “Oh, okay—I got it. What about you? Ever live anywhere else?”
I open my mouth to respond, but pause. I thought I was supposed to be the one asking the questions. Oh, well, it’s not like I have anything to hide in that regard.
“Nope. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but that’s how it is with most folks around here.”
“I have, actually. Don’t you think—?”
“Hey, kid.” Gus’s voice rings out, cutting into what Grey is saying.”Order’s ready.”
Nodding, he gets up and heads for the counter. I snag the opportunity to get a few more bites of my first slice in my tummy. He sits back down with his own tray and I can’t help sneering at it—meatball. I’m not a vegetarian; hell, I’m not even that picky, but one food I simply can’t stand is meatball pizza.
Grey’s shoulders shake in a silent laugh as he picks up a slice and takes a huge bite. “So,” he says after chewing and swallowing,”I guess you won’t be getting me back for that mushroom anytime soon, huh?”
I have to force myself not to laugh in response. How can I ever tell Wendi that I had a sucky time and mean it, if I let his attempts at humor work? Instead, I simply pick up my own slice and we both spend a few quiet minutes just eating.
I leave my second slice on the plate, dab my mouth with a napkin, then fold my hands in front of me, trying to make it obvious that it’s back to business, now. “Did you live anywhere besides Tampa?”
He nods slowly, picking up his second slice and taking a bite that nearly cuts the piece in half. “Arizona, Louisiana, and this little backwater in central Mexico.”
My eyebrows shoot up. “Mexico? World traveler, huh?”
He shrugs, setting down what’s left of the slice and looking it over like he suddenly finds the deliciously greasy cheese fascinating. “Not really; we didn’t stay there very long.”
Something in his tone makes me feel like there’s way more to be said, rather naturally edging the next question out of me. “Why not?”
This time he doesn’t shrug so much as his shoulders sort of droop, his arms looking like they’re just hanging lifeless for the moment.”Just didn’t find what I was looking for, not really.”
Aha! Suddenly, I feel vindicated for all my suspicions about him. He is looking for something! But . . . I know I can’t let the triumph that’s bubbling up inside show on my face—then he’ll know I’m fishing for information rather than merely being curious.
I clear my throat a little awkwardly and start picking at the olives on my untouched slice. “What were you looking for?”
“Same thing as anyone else.”He mutters, and in an odd way, it seems more like he’s talking to himself than to me. “Somewhere I feel like . . . I fit.”
Okay, at this I can’t help but let out a little burst of laughter.
His head snaps up instantly, his brow furrowed as he meets my gaze.
I stammer for a second, trying to recover. If he thinks I’m insulting him, he might just shut down and then I won’t get any further.
“I’m—I’m sorry, that was rude.” I acknowledge the laugh with a shake of my head. “I just mean . . . ya know, it’s like Florida, easy to understand—even the others, especially Mexico. They have things like sunshine and palm trees, exotic themes, cool stuff and things to do. These are the soggy boonies by comparison. It just seems odd to me that you could lump Fane’s Cove in with those other places in any kind of listing. And of all the towns to try to fit in, this isn’t exactly the cream of the crop.”
His jaw sets as he seems to consider my words.
I briefly put up my hands in a placating gesture before wiping my fingers on the napkin and then taking a sip of my soda. “Okay, look, I don’t mean to come off all judgey, but it’s got to be asked. Why would you think you could fit in here? Why would you want to?”
“I was following something.”His voice is low and sounds non-committal as he says this.
“That’s sort of an odd answer,” I observe.
Moving here doesn’t seem to mesh with the notion of looking for a place to fit in, nor does it answer quite how Fane’s Cove would fit into the same category as a town in a warm, sunny, colorfully festive,or foreign country. But he doesn’t clarify beyond that, and I have to guess he’s waiting for me to ask something else.
“Well,” I say, giving in; I can’t really tell if he’s guiding me to ask, or trying to hint at wanting to avoid the subject, but then, if he didn’t want me digging into such basic things, than he shouldn’t have agreed to meet me. “I guess then the next logical question is, what were you following?”
Grey turns in his chair to face the street outside and angleshis chin toward the pharmacy. “That spot right there . . . . According to my family’s record, that’s where one of my ancestors lived.”
I can’t help that my mouth gapes a little as he faces me again—I don’t want to think that yesterday afternoon could somehow have something to do with him.
“My folks have enough money that we really can pick up and move whenever we get bored, so when I started following our family tree, they had no real problem with it. I guess you could say I was looking for my roots.”
I feel completely deflated as I take in what he’s just told me. Maybe hedoes belong here, after all. I don’t remember ever hearing of an Addison family living in Fane’s Cove, but maybe the relatives are on his mother’s side. Maybe there’s nothing unusual about him, after all, and dealing with the stuff that happens here is probably ingrained somehow, like it is with the rest of us. Itdoesexplain him noting my reaction to his choice of hangout-spot, and his weird moment outside the pharmacy when he was coming here. But, even ifthose first two thoughts are more than just maybes,there’s still a bit of this whole thought process that doesn’t make sense.
“I don’t understand, then.” I murmur, trying to put all the pieces together and failing miserably.
His brow furrows again as he finally finishes off that second slice. “You don’t understand what?”
Clearly, he thinks that he’s answered all of my questions effectively, and actually, he has. The problem is that I know something about him that he has no idea I could know; that my questions haven’t gotten me the answers that I’m looking for.
“I just”—I realize too late that I’m speaking in a fog of confusion—”don’t understand; if your family’s from here, then you should have every right to poke around in the cemetery. Why would you be crawling around there in pre-dawn pitch-darkness?”
After the last word of this ill-conceived question falls out of my mouth, my eyes widen and I lift my gaze to find Grey staring back at me, mirroring my shocked expression. Oh,hell . . . no turning back, now that the one thing I didn’t want to mention is out here in the open.