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*
“How could you not tell me?”Wendi’s screech cuts through the air from somewhere behind me and I can hear hurried footsteps rushing up.
Holding in a sigh, I turn to face her, trying to keep a blank expression. I avoided speaking to her through last period, acting like I was so caught up in the lesson that I just didn’t notice her eyes boring holes in the back of my head, and slipped out of the room while she packed up her bag. Not like I was expecting to completely break from her—I mean, she lives next door—I just know what’s coming.
“Tell you what, my sweetness?” I say with as innocent a look as I can manage.
She gets so close that the tips of our noses are only about an inch apart. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to go through with it?”
I shrug, turning away and walking, making sure it looks like I’m not paying attention to whether she’s catching up to me or not. “Maybe because I wasn’t sure I was going to?”
Wendi gasps and I swear the sound grates right down my spine. “Oh my God, I was right! You do like him!”
I stop short and turn toward her, my gaze darting around at the other students milling pastwho have just halted to look at us because of her outburst.
“Take it easy, Drama-rella,” I say in a warning tone. My voice drops to a harsh whisper. “I do not, I just didn’t want to get embarrassed if I asked and he said no, that’s all!”
“Oh,” she says, looking immediately deflated, and I take it as a cue that we can start walking again. “So then why were you two being cuddly during math class?”
The only thing stopping me from . . . well,stopping again is that I’d like to get home sometime this afternoon and if I stopped every time Wendi said something irksome, I might never move again.
“Where did you even hear that? We were just talking!” Sure, the teacher getting slapped by an inanimate object she has to hear about from me,this she’s on top of already.
“Stacy.” she says with a shrug of her own.
“And you believed her? You know better!”
Head cheerleader Stacy Bonham—of all people to listen to. Sure, we’re friendly with her, but she’s a well-known one-girl rumor mill. I can’t say that she did it maliciously, though; she’s kinda nice, so she might have figured that if I do like him and other girls think Grey and I were acting couply, then they’ll back off. Or she likes him and figures that since we weren’t being all couply I’ll get embarrassed and steer clear of him. Crap, I don’t want to have to ask her which it is directly.
“Sorry.” Wendi hangs her head a bit. “Soooo . . . what actually happened?”
I shrug noncommittally, letting my eyes rove around as we walk. When I make a sharp turn a block earlier than our usual route, she doesn’t question it, and I can only figure she understands that I’m avoiding the pharmacy after yesterday afternoon’s incident. The small saving grace about meeting Grey later is that I’ll be walking from the other direction, so I won’t have to make any deviations to bypass the area.
“We’re going to hang out at six and talk, over some pizza.”
“Pizza?” She just about hollers in my ear. “That’s barely a date!”
I chuckle somewhat darkly at that. “Um, hello? We’re in high school and this is not some cheesy movie? And besides that,” I pause in my steps just long enough to shake my head at her,”it’s not really a date. I know that, he knows that, and you should know that since it was your ridiculous idea in the first place.”
“Okay. And speaking of, when I said it yesterday, you looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head. What made you change your mind?”
“Well.” I can’t very well tell her I spotted the boy creeping around the cemetery; she’ll think I’m making that up.”I was explaining the whole thing to Jeremy and he said you were right.”
Yeah, I’m lying. Sue me.
“He did?” She turns her face away a little as we cross the street, and I don’t say anything even though I know she’s doing it to hide a small blush. “That’s . . . good.”
I try not to smile as she forgets all about bugging me on the Grey situation to needle me with questions about Jeremy’s school and the not-as-subtle-as-she-thinks hinting as to whether or not I know anything about his lovelife. Sure, the whole her-and-my-brother thing is annoying; doesn’t mean it’s beneath me to use it to my advantage.
When I get to my house, mom’s car is in the driveway. Normally, I stop into the kitchen and drop a kiss on her cheek, but today I’m preoccupied with trying to do themath on what I know of Grey thus far. I do manage to call out a quick,”I’m home,” as I head up the stairs to my room, though.
He lived in Florida and maybe another normal, cheery state or two before moving here. If what we’ve seen at school of his wardrobe selection is any indicator,thenhe has pretty good taste in music. His parents seem to be as normal as you can get, from what I’ve heard,when they’re in town; Wendi says they go on lots of business trips, which was why moving to our li’l burg wasn’t a big deal since they didn’t live where they work, anyway. He’s an only child—I think. Totally, completely normal guy.
Who prowls around the cemetery at night and isn’t fazed by apparent poltergeist activity occurring on a semi-regular basis.
Hmm . . . seeing as he has a tan and sits in direct sunlight during most of our classes, I suppose the idea that he’s a vampire, and his normal-seeming parents are really actors he’s paid to stroll into town just often enough to stave offsuspicion, is out the window. I had even been almost willing to grudgingly accept that I was just put off by him ’cause he was a drop of normal in the bucket full o’ spooky we’re all so accustomed to, but then, this morning happened, so now . . . not so much on the normal, no.
I open my door and drop my backpack on my bed before Icontinue to the closet, a heavy sigh flowing out as I look over the hangers. No, I don’t want to get all girly, but I do want to make it look like I’m at least making an effort, so maybe something a little less uptight-seeming than a turtleneck would do for a pizza-hangout, pseudo-date, whatever the heck is actually happening tonight. Not gonna get too far with the questions if he suspects that I’m not being genuine.
I hear the floorboards in the hall creak, so even though she forgoes knocking and tiptoes in an effort to be stealthy, I already know what to expect when I glance over my shoulder to see mom seated on my bed. She caught me good this morning. Gotta wonder why the woman gets so much joy out of scaring the bejeezus out of her kids, though.
She groans playfully when she sees that she hasn’t caught me by surprise. “How do you always know?”
I laugh, pulling out a hanger in each hand, one with a short-sleeved, black button-down on it, the other with a satin, burgundy tank top. “We can go with I’m psychic, or, you’ve got all the mad-ninja-skills of a drunken circus clown; your pick.”
Rising from the bed,she crosses the room to examine, gingerly, the shirts as she gives a mirthful half-grin.
“You’re barely psychic, so I guess we’ll go with ‘drunk clown’.” Mom takes the hanger with the tank top from my hand and holds it against me. “Wanna tell me why we’re evaluating our wardrobe rather than doing our homework?”
I can’t help it; that makes me crack a smile. “I don’t know, wanna stop speaking in the ‘royal we’?”
“Spill it,” she says, pursing her lips as she reaches her free hand to stroke the ends of my hair in that condescending way usually only seen from moms on TV shows.
Ah, crap. “Well, see . . . there’s this boy—” and that’s as far as I get.
“Really.” Her hazel eyes light up instantly.
“Oh, now, it’s not like that. It’s Grey Addison.”
“Mmm, the mysterious new boy.”She laughs as she pulls the burgundy top off the hanger and tosses the black one carelessly onto the bed. “I hear he’s pretty cute.”
Trying not to shudder, I grumble miserably.”God, ma, please . . . . You just stop that, you dirty old woman.”
I shrug out of my turtleneck and pull on the tank top as I explain to my mom what’s been going on with Grey. Well, yes, minus his pre-dawn stroll amongst the gravestones.
Mom frowns thoughtfully as she grabs me by the shoulders, steers me to my vanity table, and forces me to sit on the cushioned stool, facing the mirror.
“Remind me again why you’re listening to a Wendi-plan?”she asks pointedly as she picks up my grandmother’s antique brush and sweeps my locks backward over my shoulders.”Didn’t her last one involve you auditioning for a school play, and bombing on purpose, so she could go on after you and get the attention of a boy who was auditioning for the lead?”
I blink at my reflection as the bristles tug through my hair.”She was nervous! She just wanted to be sure that if she got stage fright and choked there would be no way she’d screw up worse than whoever’d gone before her.”
There’s a hunch to my shoulders and, being my mother, she doesn’t miss it. “So what, exactly, is it that bothers you so much about Grey?”
“If I knew, it wouldn’t bother me so much,It was just weird. I mean, we’ve never talked before today, but somehow . . . .”
When it becomes clear that I’m not going to finish my sentence, Mom prompts me.”Somehow . . . ?”
“I don’t know, it’s like we just connected or something.”
“Oh?” is all she says as she folds her arms under her breasts and meets my gaze in the mirror.
I clasp my hands in my lap and twist my fingers a bit nervously, as if this is a typical parental-interrogation. “I said I don’t know. It was just . . . it felt like we knew each other already.”
She sets down the brush and reaches around my head to pinch my cheeks. I’d probably be screaming bloody murder if this still hurt, but I’m used to the old trick handed down from grandma to give the cheeks color without using makeup. When other seven-year-old girls had their grandmothers begging them not to get stains on their Communion dresses, mine was teaching me how to nibble on my lips to make them look red and plump, sans lipstick.
“Well, then you probably don’t want to hear this, but,” she folds her arms again and leans a hip against the nearby dresser,”that’s sort of how I felt when your father and I first met.”
I don’t even bother to sigh; instead, I lean forward and let my forehead land squarely on the polished wood surface in front of me. I can’t see my mother’s face, but I know she’s scowling and shaking her head at me.
“Now, don’t do that! Letting stress get the better of you—”
“—can age you faster than cheap makeup. I know.“Grandma’s mantra, for cryin’ out loud, how can I forget?
I pull myself back up and turn on the stool to look at her. “Let me remind you that you think Dad is your soul-mate and you still divorced him.”
“You know that the divorce had nothing to do with how your father and I feel about each other,” she says in a light voice, but I can see in her eyes that it’s a show—a lady can’t go lecturing her child about not letting herself get stressed and then succumb to it herself, now can she?
I should know better, it’s a painful thing for her to think about, and here I am going into bitchy-teenager mode. I know that she and Dad still love each other; they’d only divorced because they couldn’t take their constant arguing anymore. They deliberately made the decision to split while there was still love between them, rather than risksticking it out—not when one of the potential outcomes was their relationship disintegrating so far that they couldn’t stand to be in the same room together. My parents just didn’t want to become those people wouldn’t be able to agree, out of sheer spite, on what’s best for their children. And I know the motivation had been more than just trying to protect Jeremy and me from some nasty custody battle. They genuinely wanted never to hate each other.
It isn’t like I planned to say that, but I’ve been vehemently reminding her—and Wendi—that I do not even like the boy, and here Mom is, comparing Grey and me to her and her soul-mate. If my attitude was a gun, I’m pretty sure that was the trigger.
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
She waves a dismissive hand at me and pushes away from the dresser. “It’s fine, starlet.”
Grandma’s nickname throws me for a sec, and before I know it, Mom’s hand closes on the strap of my backpack and she’s bringing it to me.”I’m not the one who’s got to cram all of her homework in between now and five-forty-five.”
I can’t help frowning as she drops the bag onto the vanity table and winks mischievously at me just before she turns to leave. Groaning, I open the bag and start pulling out my books. If I’d just kept my mouth shut, she’d have probably let me slide on the homework ’til I came back later.