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 tap my pen against my notebook impatiently, unable to stop staring, all but boring holes into the back of his head as we wait for class to start. The noise I make with my fidgeting is lost in the shuffle and buzz of everyone else filing into the room and chattering as they settle down. Just about every other girl in the class is looking at him, too, but that’s okay by me—we’re not looking for the same reason.
What’s more is that I know that he knows my intent is different, ’cause with all the girls making lovey puppy-dog eyes at him—at Grey, I mean, really, who names their kid that—he turns and looks at me, the one girl who’s glaring at him suspiciously. And it has nothing to do with my appearance, either. Not like I’m supermodel material, more that I have an old-time movie starlet thing going on, long, wavy auburn hair, big, almond-shaped, dark green eyes, little ski-slope nose, and what mom calls Cupid’s Bow lips. I hear all the time that I’m the spitting image of my grandmother, who was an actress, incidentally—and a psychic—whose gilt-framed pictures are all over my mom’s living room.
There’s a curiosity behind the look, as he pins me with those bright, blue-green eyes of his. I can tell he expects me to have the good grace to back down, to seem abashed and drop my gaze now that he’s caught me looking at him in such an unkind manner, but I don’t.
I can’t; it’s that simple.
He’s a puzzle; one I haven’t the faintest clue how to solve, and that bothers me. I’ve always been fascinated with puzzles, even the ones I’m not very good at. He’s the first resident of Fane’s Cove who wasn’t born here or doesn’t have ancestry here . . . and that just doesn’t happen. Not in this town, not in well over a hundred and something years. No one just up and chooses to live here. People move away, their kids or grandkids move back, but that’s about it. Maybe he’s just trying to have a miserable time for his senior year.
I feel the skin around my eyes tighten, my gaze narrowing of its own volition as I stare back. The increasing sourness of my expression makes him lift a brow, tip his head to one side. I can just feel the hum of chatter around me, the vibes running beneath the words. I can tell the other girls are at it again, a combination of wondering why her—not in a nasty way, but simply why me and not them—envying how lucky I am to have his undivided attention like this and thinking that there must be something so wrong with me to always be giving him mean looks.
“Hey!” Wendi snaps in a low tone behind me, making me jump in my seat.
Grey smirks a little and faces forward again as I whirl around to face my best friend’s accusatory stare.
“What?” I whisper harshly.
“You’re at it again.”
My gaze darts from one of her dark eyes to the other. “Yeah, and?”
She eases up from her seat and leans forward over her desk, about to murmur in my ear, but that’s when the teacher walks in. Groaning under her breath and rolling her eyes, Wendi sinks back down. I turn around, knowing that class is only sparing me from another talk for about forty-five minutes, ’cause then we get dismissed and I’ll be at her mercy as we walk home, but I guess that’s just the disadvantage of living next door to my best friend.
This time she drags it out, making me wait as we stroll down the scenic, tree-lined sidewalks, past storefronts that haven’t changed in decades and rusted wrought iron fences. The next street we cross onto bears a white sign declaring Welcome to Fane’s Cove, Est. 1648 in sprawling, dark-silver script. It’s always a little astounding to me that there’s so much inherent history tied to our itty-bitty town, just knowing it’s been around that long, so much longer than other historic places in America. And yet . . . our town’s past is a mystery. Well, not entirely; we have a vague grasp of basic events, but beyond that? Nope, just a huge, gaping blank spot in our community’s collective memory.
And that’s not even the weird part.
“Okay, say it already.” I blurt out the words, stopping in front of the ice cream shop across from the aforementioned sign and pivoting on a heel to face her.
She levels those huge dark eyes of hers at me, one arched platinum eyebrow lifting as she rakes her fingers through her pale, pixie-cut hair. “Huh, I’m sorry, what am I supposed to be saying, exactly?”
I simply stare back at her, shifting my weight from one foot to the other as I fold my arms under my breasts and suck my teeth loudly—a habit I know she can’t stand.
“Okay, fine,” she says with a cringe. “You are . . . becoming obsessed with that guy.”
I can’t help scoffing at that—sounding like a kitten hacking up a hairball, I imagine—and start walking again. “That is so not what this is.”
Wendi doesn’t fall into step beside me, so I pause and turn just enough to look at her over my shoulder. She’s shaking her head and pressing the tips of her index fingers against her temple like I’m giving her a migraine. I wish; maybe then she’d stop badgering me about this, or at least stop acting like I’m the nutty one.
“Cadence, sweetie.” Her eyes squeeze shut for a moment as she says my name, and I find myself really hoping for the migraine thing. “You spend every class we have with him drilling holes in the back of his head.”
I blink a few times in rapid succession, my mouth dropping to hang open for a second. “Now, that is just not true.”
To her look of disbelief, I tack on, “Some classes he sits behind me.”
She rolls her eyes and walks, reaching to grab my hand, forcefully—though I know she’d prefer me to think of it as merrily—swinging our arms as we go. “It’s not just classes. You stare as you guys pass each other in the hall, and God forbid he sits anywhere in your eye-line during lunch.”
Scratching at my scalp with my free hand, I offer her an exhausted shrug. Really, how many times should one person have to explain the same thing? “I’ve already told you why. There’s something about that guy that’s just plain weird. That no one else sees it but me is actually kind of annoying.”
Wendi makes an odd snuffling sound when she laughs; a Wendi Carter trademark noise. “Yeah, what’s weird about it is that an über-hot guy like Grey would want to live in a cruddy, creepy little town like this. And trust me, sweetie, everyone sees that.”
“Okay, see, that’s what I’m talking about.” She gives me the uh-huh look, so I hurry on. “Not the über-hot thing—the why would anyone want to live here thing.”
There’s nothing really wrong with our town from an on-the-surface, outside-looking-in perspective, but once a person gets here, it becomes a different story. Something about Fane’s Cove just . . . unsettles people, but all in a very nondescript, can’t-put-their-finger-on-it sort of way. I’d never really been aware of it, but this feeling of being creeped out for no obvious reason was explained to me when I was about twelve by a girl I met at the corner store, whose family was passing through on the way to somewhere else. Anywhere else, I would think.
The story of our lives.
We didn’t really notice this inherent spookiness—the locals, I mean. Maybe we’re numb to the feeling, dealing with it all the time, but the town has just been this way for as long as anyone can remember. Things happen here. Things that would have anyone else screaming that the town’s been overrun by poltergeists or some other such nonsense. Us? We just kinda shrug and either deal with it—usually with a here we go again air—or we ignore it ’til whatever strange happening stops acting up. Depends on the situation, really.
And, aside from not noticing the ookie vibes, we know we’re not like other towns, that’s the worst part. We’re not intentionally insular or technologically backward or anything weird like that. We’ve seen TV shows, we have Internet, we’ve got a big-ass multiplex movie theater—we’ve witnessed what life is supposed to be like, seen what’s considered paranormal . . . only thing is, those representations are usually fictitious. We know we’re not normal, but what happens is what’s normal for us, if that makes any sense.
Still doesn’t explain the lack of new blood. People passing through never seem to be around when the weird stuff happens. No one could ever mistake Fane’s Cove for Silent Hill, so it’s that easy to dismiss. I know I shouldn’t be kicking up a fuss about it—that after the first week of him being here had passed and he and his parents haven’t hauled ass outta town, everyone is just sorta hoping it means that whatever weird thing about our town that keeps driving people away is finally wearing off.
I just can’t buy that it’s that simple.
Okay, and maybe there’s a chance that Wendi’s right in her observation about Grey being über-hot. He’s about five-ten, if I had to guess—that irritatingly perfect height where he’s not at all close to short, but also not too tall. His hair is the color of milk chocolate, left just a little long so it falls loose, level with his eyes, and he’s got a still-fading surfer boy tan, probably a holdover from living in Florida before clearly receiving some sort of head trauma and deciding to move to the dank Northeastern Seaboard. O’ course I’m not about to tell Wendi that it has crossed my mind, once or twice, that he is kinda nice to look at—then I’ll never hear the end of it.
“Just listen to you,” she says in an ear-piercing whine as we round the corner to stop at the Don’t Walk signal in front of Mr. Katsulos’ pharmacy. “It’s like you just want us to be weird forever.”
“That also is not what this is. You totally missed it. Yesterday, something happened right in front of him and he acted like it was nothing!”
“What are you even talking about?” She shrugs as she asks, deliberately acting like she doesn’t know what I mean, since, if everyone wants to believe the weird feeling is fading away, then wanting the weird things to go away, too, goes right along with that.
A little zinging sensation in the pit of my stomach tells me to stop, so I do—instantly—and I yank the still-walking Wendi back. Just as she stumbles into me, a pebble whips up from the sidewalk, unassisted, and goes sailing into the pharmacy’s window, cracking the glass. The small stone was right in our path; if I hadn’t stopped, one of us would have gotten tagged by it. Forcing a gulp down my throat, I share a wide-eyed glance with Wendi before we turn in unison to look at the door as Mr. Katsulos comes hurrying outside.
“Who did—?” He starts in a yell, but the expression on our faces must speak volumes, because he immediately lets it go and gives a sigh as his shoulders slump. “Let me guess . . . ?”
I nod and offer a sad, humorless little smirk. “There was no one there, Mr. Katsulos.”
“Honey!” He shouts as he retreats into the pharmacy. “Call the medium, we need another cleansing!”
Wendi lets out the breath she’s apparently been holding in and I just look at her, eyebrows lifted expectantly.
“What are you even talking about?” I can’t help that my tone is a little curt as I restate her words from just a few seconds ago.
“All right, all right.” She throws her hands up in defeat as I stomp away, then hurries to catch up to me. “Look, though, okay, we act like these things are nothing when they happen. Why should Grey doing the same thing be such a big deal?”
We turn the next corner and the row of attached brick townhouses comes into view. I let out a small sigh of relief; oddly, it’s never really occurred to me to wonder that at times like this it’s my own best friend who makes me want to run home and hide. Well, at least just until she starts making sense, anyway.
“But that’s the whole thing,” I say levelly, trying to get my slightly flaring temper back under control. “We act like it’s nothing ’cause we’ve grown up with it. How does a guy who’s supposed to have lived someplace normal his whole life before coming here watch a blackboard eraser throw itself at the teacher and not even bat an eye?”
Her gaze roves around for a second before her step falters and she taps my shoulder with the back of her hand. “Wait, where was I when this happened?”
“Calculus.” Math is one of the few classes we don’t have together. “Caught Mr. Bell totally off-guard.” I can’t help giggling as I recount the event. “For a sec there, he screamed like a girl.”
Wendi grumbles, kicking half-heartedly at the pavement with the toe of one Converse-clad foot. “I always miss the good stuff.”
“‘Tis the price of intellectual greatness, my friend,” I say with a heavy, mock sympathetic sigh as we part ways at the walk leading up to her house.
As I climb the steps of my own porch, she calls to me across the side-by-side driveways that separate our stoops. “Hey, ya know, there’s a real easy way for you to get info on Grey. I mean . . . if that’s really all this is about and you don’t actually, like, like him or anything.”
I frown as I dig my keys out of my pocket and unlock my front door. “That’s really all this is about,” I echo firmly. I swear, I don’t know if she wants me to like him, or wants to assure herself that I don’t because maybe she does, but I’m sure she has her eye on someone else.
She shrugs and I hear the sound of her front door being unlocked, even though I can’t really see it because of the angle of her screen door.
“Ask him out.”
This notion seems so contrary—not to mention completely illogical—to how she’d introduced the idea that all I can manage is a very confused, “Huh?”
Another shrug. “Think about it, you can probably weasel more information out of him directly from first-date flirting than you could glean from just keeping your eyes glued to him during school like some stalker.”
Okay, so the idea did end up making sense, even if the track of the train of thought leading up to it left me scratching my head. “And that has what to do with whether or not I like the guy?”
“Because if you like him, then you might feel bad about using a date as a cover just to get info.”
I roll my eyes and she takes my impatient gesture the wrong way, clearly assuming that I’m just stalling so I won’t have to respond one way or the other.
Wendi steps back from her door and leans her palms on the brick ledge of her porch to stare at me with raised eyebrows. “Unless, of course,” she says slowly, “you’re worried that you’ll end up liking him if you get to know him.”
“That is highly unlikely.” I respond with a weary sigh.
See, while I do really, truly, and seriously doubt that possibility, I don’t want to say no outright ’cause anything is possible and if the snowball’s chance in hell scenario of me liking Grey Addison did somehow come to be, I’d just end up looking like a liar.
She shrugs at me and turns back to her door. “Then there shouldn’t be anything stopping you, right? You want to know about him, get him into a situation where you can ask him whatever you want—problem solved. See ya in the morning.”
I’m forced to wonder, against my will as she disappears into her house, why she’s suddenly so adamant about this. Or, I consider as I push open my own door and step into the tiny, square foyer, she isn’t and she’s just trying to get me to drop my insistence that there’s something wrong with the guy so I don’t end up turning myself into a social pariah and, by extension, her, too. She may be a pain in the ass, but she’s also loyal to a fault. If my mid-level popularity—a handful of friends, lots of friendly acquaintances, and no real enemies to speak of—slips out from under me, than it’s a trip she’ll take right along with me; not because she’s any less popular, but by her own choice to stick by my side, ’cause that’s just the sort of person she is.
Good friggin’ luck on me letting this go, though; not that I exactly like the pariah idea, but there are some feelings I just can’t shake.