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 bolt upright, gasping for air, as if I’ve been holding my breath for a long time. But that’s not . . . I was being chased? Wait, no, I was already captured. They were—what were they doing? Something was stopping me from talking, from breathing. No, that can’t be right.How did they capture me, if I was still fleeing?
Putting a shaky hand down beside me, I clutch my covers tightly to remind myself that I’m safe, I’m in bed; it was just a dream. I press my free hand against my chestand feelthe stupid-fast rhythm of my heartbeat.The T-shirt I’d worn to sleep is stuck to my skin by a layer of sweat.
My thoughts are so scattered that trying to remember what happened just makes my mind fuzzy. Taking a deep breath, I squeeze my eyes shut and try to put the images in proper order.This doesn’t work; it banishes the fuzziness, but the actual progression of events in whatever I’ve just dreamed about doesn’t become any clearer. I can’t grasp who was chasing me, or why, or even where I had been; it’s all a tumbling blur of images and actions.
I jump at the sound of a knock on my door, but before I can speak, my mother says loudly, “C’mon.I think Wendi already left, I’ll drop you at school.”
With a confused frown, I look at the clock and find I’ve slept through my alarm by about half an hour. This day is starting out beautifully.
“I need, like, ten minutes!”
I can only imagine she’s checking her watch; after a moment, she replies, “Five minutes.”
“Seven!” I may be quick to throw myself together when absolutely necessary, but five is going to have me putting on shoes and socks in the car.
“Fine,” she says finally, and I hear her footsteps moving down the hall before she shouts, “Starting now!”
Groaning, I stumble out of bed and hurry about, gathering clothing, brushing my teeth, and jumping into a two-minute-long shower. To add to my early morning unhappiness, I discover that, aside from the black top my mother had tossed onto the bed yesterday, I’ve grabbed a pair of powder blue jeans that are a bit snugger than I usually wear to school, but too late now.
I hop out of the bathroom on one socked foot, and then switch to the other so that I’m mobile as I shove my feet into my boots, a detangling comband my cell tucked into the back pockets. Walking out of the house barefoot? Not gonna happen. Tugging a brush through my wet hair in the car? Not happy about it, but do-able.
I snatch up my backpack from where I’d left it beside my bedroom door, and bolt down the stairs, stopping into the kitchen to grab a soda from the fridge. I almost crash headlong into my brother and, by his expression, I can tell a snarky comment is forming, but one look at my drowned-rat-in-a-hurry state keeps his mouth firmly shut.
In the car, Mom frowns at my choice of morning beverage as I snatch one of her granola bars from the stash she keeps in the glove compartment.
“It’s as close to coffee as I have time for,” I grumble, popping the tab to take the first swig of fizzy, artificially sweet caffeine,and then slipping the can into the cup holder, but she doesn’t back out of the driveway’til I’m buckled in.
My phone’s text alert chimes as I take my first bite of granola. I ignore my mother chuckling at me when I wedge the bar into my mouth and shift beneath my seatbelt, reaching both hands back to grab my cell and the comb. I toss the comb up onto the dashboard and scroll through my phone’s messages. Mom has the windows down, which will likely cause an issue with getting my hair to cooperate, but whatever.
There look to be about eleven from Wendi, and each one demands to know things. What happened with Grey?A few to the effect of,Why aren’t you answering?Or,Are you ignoring me? Is this ’cause I was peeking out the window? I’m sorry, with like twenty exclamation points. And, oh, look.What happened with Grey?I must’ve been so deeply asleep, I didn’t hear the alerts.
I cough, forcing the granola bar out of my mouth to fly into the dashboard, glance off,thenland in my lap; I’m just relieved no sloggy li’l bits escaped with the bar. That would be too gross. From the corner of my eye, I can see my mother dart her gaze toward me in surprise while trying to keepher attention on the road.
I shoot her an innocent look. “Wrong pipe, sorry.”
She nods, arching a perfectly tweezed chestnut eyebrow at me.”So how did last night’s not-date go?” For someone who’s not psychic, the woman has a downright eerie sense of timing every now and then.
Or maybe I’m just more transparent than I think I am.
I press the screen against my shoulder to hide that a text from Grey is what turned my breakfast into a projectile, and not a bit of honeyed grain falling into my trachea. It takes me a moment to regain my composure. I know I was the one to have us exchange numbers, and I shouldn’t be surprised, since I’m all he’s got—in regards to his ancestry issue, I mean—but seeing his name pop up first thing in the morning makes me a little unexpectedly giddy.
Ugh.Isn’t this the sort of reaction I didn’t want to have to the boy? I peek at the message, Library, lunchtime, and clear my throat awkwardly as I put the phone back into my pocket so that I’m free to comb my hair with one hand while I retrieve the granola bar with the other.
“Um, it wasn’t terrible,” I say, opting for truthfulness. “We even talked about maybe hanging out again.”
I immediately come to regret that choice when my mother says in a knowing tone, “Oh, I see. Are we thinking he might fit the currently empty role of . . . boyfriend?”
Not if I can help it, I think miserably. “No, mother, I mean hang out, as in like, just friends.”
She frowns, not because of my words, but because I just talked with my mouth full.
“Oh, look, we’re here!” I make no attempt to hide my relief as mom pulls up to school, but the feeling is short-lived when I see Wendi waiting on the steps.
Mom grins, crinkling the bridge of her nose at me.”That’s what you get.”
Shaking my head hopelessly, I unbuckle my seatbelt, but look back at my mother before I open the door. “Will you be home when I get in?”
She shrugs. “Not sure yet, Halloween’s in just a few weeks.”
“Okay.” I should know better—this time of year is always busy for the paper, what with party stores and annual events taking out ads; it’s always like this in the month leading up to big-spending holidays. I lean in and drop a kiss on her cheek. “If you’re picking up, I’m really feeling tacos tonight.”
“Ah, perfect meal over which to grill my daughter about boys,” she says as I climb out of the car and slam the passenger door.
“Oh, ya know what, that’s okay” I begin, turning quickly to speak through the open window but she’s already pressed the button to raise it, effectively—and metaphorically—shutting out any argument from me.
Helplessly watching her peel away from the curb, I stuff the granola bar back into my mouth, purposefully occupying it. Crap, I left my soda in the car. I turn on my heel and stroll toward Wendi, chewing determinedly as I finish combing wet tangles from my hair.
As we enter the building and head to homeroom, she proceeds to fire questions at me like some auctioneer ticking off bids.Oddly, though, I find it kind of comforting after yesterday’s weirdness and that freaky nightmare. For a moment, she makes everything seem normal, and I let her.
I’m running. My instinct is to get a good start, but I can feel that it would be useless, ’cause I’m limping as it is. This is bad, they’re going to catch me. Fear pounds in my head, clouds my vision. My throat burns. Each time I try to speak, there’s a sensation like I’m choking down jagged, white-hot shards of glass.
I don’t understand what’s happening. I know something is very wrong with me, but . . . why don’t they just k—
I give a start and blink my eyes open to see that Grey occupies the seat beside me.”Oh”—my voice rumbles out, clipped and tired, and I immediately cut myself off.
His eyebrows draw together at the creaky sound that’s just escaped me, but he doesn’t say anything.
Clearing my throat awkwardly, I try speaking again.
“Sorry, um, not a very restful sleep last night, I guess.” This feels a little phony to say, since I know that I slept for over ten hours, but the exact words I’ve used, not a restful sleep, actually hit the nail right on the head, though I’ve not consciously thought through what I’m saying.
He looks like he’s about to say something, but he pauses. Glancing over his shoulder, he confirms that it’s just us and the school librarian.
I’d had all I could do to scrape the barnacle named Wendi from my side. I told her that Grey and I are meeting to discuss plans for a maybe-this-time-it-is-a-date date.Of course, I’d also had to let her believe that I’d been wrong and was turning out to actually sort of like him, but I suppose there have been worse misunderstandings in the history of the world.
That almost made things worse, ’cause then I had to make sure she didn’t sneak into the library after me and hide behind a nearby bookcase.
He leans a bit closer, I guess in case any other students do come in while we’re talking, and lowers his voice to a whisper.
“Is it because of that . . . that thing you did yesterday at the cemetery?”
“No,” I reply quickly, but stop shaking my head a moment after I start.
Odd that it takes Grey mentioning my episode to make me consider that there may be a connection. I mean, I don’t have nightmares . . . not since around the time Grandma died when I was graduating fifth grade.
“Uh, maybe, I don’t know.”
“Are you okay?” His gazesearches mine.
“Huh?” I blink, and then shake my head once more. “I’m fine.”
“Well, if you’re out of it, we can do this tomorrow; it’s not like there’s a rush.” He taps his fingers against something on the table in front of him and I notice, only now, that he’s got a ratty, old, cloth-covered book resting beneath his hand.
Bridgette Addison’s journal is a few inches away from me, and here I am, so darned groggy I hadn’t noticed. Locking eyes on it, I feel a little burst of energy jolt through me. “I’m all right, Grey, really.”
“Fine,” he says after a moment, gently slipping off an elastic band that’s clearly been keeping the book together for a long time. “But no more of that spirit-channeling, or whatever that crap was.”
I reflexively glance around, still seeing only the librarian, but she either doesn’t hear him, or is pointedly ignoring us.
“Shh!” I snap in a whisper as I turn back to face him.”Can you not bring that up anymore, please? You’re the only one who knows I can do that, and I’d kinda like to keep it that way.”
“Why do you care if anyone knows?”
I frown as I place my fingertips on the book. “Even in Spooky Hijinks Central, there can still be such a thing as too weird.”
“Careful,” he says with a cringe as I slide the journal away from him and open it to a random page.
The handwriting is beautiful, looping and curly, but smudged in places—probably from the sweep of Bridgette’s hand against the page as she wrote—and the paper feels delicate and worn; like it might crumble to bits from being handled and read too many times.I wonder how many times he’s looked over these pages.I also wonder who in his family put him on this trail when he’s already told me that his parents want nothing to do with his search.
“Sorry.So, anyway, you never told me what your family thinks really happened”
“I told you, we don’t know.”
The pageI turn to is a recollection of a normal day in his ancestor’s life.Seems like she recorded it for that reason alone; a simple day with her children, when her life is usually anything but simple, was probably a remarkable thing for Bridgette.
I flip to another entry and immediately wish I’d found a different one.
“Sometimes I wish I had not left. Not only is there the mystery of what happened to my darling Jack . . . .” I try not to adopt a hollow tone as I read Bridgette’s words, but I can’t help it. “I don’t care what was said of him, it cannot be true.I will not believe it. It is also that I miss my little angel. He no longer visits me. I think I have traveled too far for him. Poor Gabriel, I wonder if he is lonely,now.”
I give a start, feeling a touch on my cheek. When I lift my gaze from the book, Grey is looking at me uncertainly as he pulls his hand back, and makes a vague waving gesture toward my face.
“Um, sorry, you were . . . crying.”
I blink and force a sniffle as I close the journal and wipe at my eyes.”I . . . was tearing.There’s a difference.I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sidetrack.So, anyway, there had to be someone whohad an idea of what happened to Jack, right?”
“Oh, well.”He nods andlooks down at his hands.”Yeah, um, the most popular gossip was that he was having an affair with the wife of somebody important and they just caught up with him when no one was paying attention.”
“But you don’t think so?”
“I think maybe he was doing something he shouldn’t have been, just not that sort of something.”
I flip, gently but idly, through the pages, skimming for something more clarifying than Bridgette’s accounts of occurrences.”Something that what?Turned Fane’s Cove into the happy bundle of sunshine it is now?”
He gives an uneven shrug. “Well, it was the eighteen hundreds; witch trials on the East Coast had been over for almost two-hundred years.To have one here would have drawn a lot of negative attention to the area, don’t you think? But if a guy who’s leaving town up and disappears, who’d notice?”
“So you do think he was a witch, like the bad kind, then?”
“It’s kinda more believable than’devil’, don’t you think?”
I’m back to the beginning of the journal, glossing over the retelling of how Bridgette and Jack met.”What is it you plan on doing to . . . break your family’s connection with him?”
“Well, I was going to . . . .”He trails off, with a pained expression.
“To . . . ?”
He leans close again, murmuring in my ear. “Well, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at first. I’m not sure I was actually expecting to find Jack. Now . . . I’m not sure how, but I’m . . .going to purify his remains.Salt and holy water and that crap.”
I turn and look at him, not realizing sooner how near his face is to mine. “Wait, what?You don’t even know what you’re doing. Even if you figure out how to ‘purify remains,’it might not change anything for you.”
“Not going to know until I try, am I?”
“Okay.” Seems like there’s no talking the boy out of anything when he gets all uppity and determined like this. “So, we found him. You know where he is, why don’t you just go and—?”
“And what? Dig him up and toss salt on his bones? I don’t think it’s going to be that simple.”
Oh, he has a point. I blink, trying to focus on the conversation, but . . .wow, the flecks of bright green in his blue irises aredistracting.
“Okay,” I force myself to say, “So what is the plan, then?”
He stammers as he holds my gaze. “S-see, this is why I want to find out what happened to him, so I can know if what I want to try will even work.”
Damn it, he’s noticed something is up with how I’m looking at him.
“You’re asking me to believe in some . . . witchy sort of magic,” I say in a reasonable tone, doing a stellar job of ignoring the feeling of his breath dancing over my upper lip.
We really need to have more conversations where he doesn’t have to be all up in my face.
“You’re telling me you don’t? With everything you’ve seen living here?”
“Fair point.” Even so, it seems like he’s asked me to wrap my head around an awful lot in the last twenty-four hours. Psychic or not, there are some things that are still difficult to get a grip on.
“And if I can find a way to purify his remains . . . .”He pauses deliberately and forces a small gulp down his throat; I’m not sure if it’s me or the subject matter that makes him nervous.”Maybe it’ll give all the stuff that happens here a chance to die down.”
I can’t quite process what he’s saying, though I know he explained it clearly enough; I’m preoccupied with wondering how, exactly, I’m supposed to help him with spiritually sanitizing his ancestor’s remains. “What?”
“I mean, maybe it’ll make Fane’s Cove, ya know, normal.”