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*
It’s quiet for a very long time, the two of us just looking at each other, before Grey picks his way around the opposite side of the grave plot to lean against the headstone. He stares at me, with his head tipped down in that way that makes his hair fall into his eyes.
It isn’t until I stand, holding his gaze and dusting my hands off on my jeans, that the silence is broken.
“At first, I actually thought that whatever information Fane’s Cove might have about my family was being kept from me on purpose, but I can see it in your face—you really had no clue.”
I furrow my brow at this, and I can only shake my head at him, unsure if I’m more confused or surprised by what I think he’s saying. “You thought we were all, like, what? Conspiring to keep stuff from you? How . . . very prime time drama.”
His expression sours. “I have my reasons. Listen, all I know is that everywhere else I’ve gone, they’ve been able to tell me whatever there was to know. And then I come here and,” he shrugs and gestures in an outward circle with both hands, “the whole lot of you have this . . . creepy collective amnesia. What would you have thought?”
I tick off on my fingers the first sensible options—the ones more likely than town-wide conspiracy—that come to mind. “The records were lost, or your family never filled out a register in the first place; or possibly they took the ledger with their info in it with them when they left.”
Grey shakes his head, looking at me like I’m either brainwashed or a simpleton—doesn’t matter which, since both are insulting.
“Cadence!” He says my name sharply, then appears to think better of this small outburst and continues with a forced calm. “Listen, my family kept their own records, like a backup. Everything else matches up with public records—from a man named Jack Addison boarding a ship in England right up to the present, except for Fane’s Cove. And I did check—they filled out all the proper documentation for the other towns they’ve lived in. Why would this place be the exception?”
Huh, okay, so that cancels out both the idea of them not filling out the registers and the idea of taking the books themselves. What would be the point, if they had gone to the trouble of duplicating everything, anyway? I shift my shoulders, glancing around the cemetery. It’s so quiet and peaceful here—if not for the headstones and crumbling mausoleums, it would be easy to forget where I actually am. I know I’m trying to distract myself; I want to keep from noticing that I can’t be sure where he’s going with all of this. I don’t like this type of uncertainty.
“Okay, then it could have always gotten lost.”
“Do you know,” he says in a low tone, a sad little smile playing across his lips, “that every family in Fane’s Cove can be traced from the moment they came into town to wherever their descendants are now?”
I blink up at him dumbly for a second. “Uh, what?”
He nods toward the center of the cemetery and waves a hand toward random graves in the distance. “Everyone who has lived here is from a family that filled out those registers. And if you run checks on their family names, you’ll be able to locate those families—who married who, what names they took on, whether they’re here, or moved on and living somewhere else. Or—and this is the one I cannot wrap my head around—moved away and came back. You can all be found, based on public records online through the goddamned local library. All of you . . . but not me.”
“It’s just one name, Grey. How do you even know it connects to you, or any of this?”
“Because I know the name Gabriel Addison. He was buried here by his family—whom he lived with in that house where the pharmacy is now. You think they just strolled through, buried a body, and left?”
I sigh; I want to tell him he’s being difficult and stubborn, but I guess I’d have the same suspicions, if I were in his shoes.
“Hey, well, there was a fire in our old Town Hall back in the eighteen-hundreds!” I say, snapping my fingers before I can stop myself, but I’ve completely forgotten about the incident until just now. “I mean, all the records were supposed to have been moved to the new building already, but—”
“But only one book was left behind? That doesn’t strike you as unusual?”
That is strange, and something makes me suddenly feel uneasy . . . and very unsafe.
“Oh,” I force out air slowly, then take a deep, stuttering breath before I continue, trying to keep my focus. “Well, maybe they were moving the books and it fell, or something.”
He narrows his eyes, but just stares at me without a word.
Okay, the fire seemed like a pretty good bet, but even without him making such a fuss, I have to admit this scenario doesn’t sit right with me.
“Maybe yours being the only family register to get lost in the fire would be weird.” I wish I had more to say, more options to offer, but aside from the fire and the usual-unusual bits, we’ve got a long history of not much going on here.
“It would be,” he agrees, before clearly taking note of the rattled look on my face, but he misunderstands. “Now do you get why I felt like I had to sneak in here in the middle of the night? I wasn’t sure anyone wanted me snooping around and I wanted to know why, but now it just seems genuinely like none of you know a damned thing.”
I hear it now—behind me—the low sound of someone humming a tune, very close to us. I turn slowly, and of course there’s no one there. No matter how often I go through this stuff, I can’t immediately believe that I’m hearing something I can’t see. My gaze roves around, raking over the graves as I backpedal a few steps, one shaky footfall at a time.
“What is that?” Grey asks in a voice so low that I can just barely hear it over the humming.
“I don’t know.” I respond in a faint murmur. “I don’t come here very often. It’s probably nothing.” I feel something solid at my back now, so I stop. “Well, nothing malicious, anyway.”
His voice is in my ear, making me realize—with dreadful embarrassment washing up to mingle with my fear—that he is the something solid I’ve backed into. “So why do you seem terrified?”
I frown and shake my head stiffly, trying to ignore that I feel comforted—and even maybe a bit like I’m protected—being so near him in a nerve-jangling moment like this. It adds to the chill, that’s fighting the comfort to crawl along my skin, to note that this melodic sound would otherwise be pleasant, and even lulling. Like something a mother might murmur to a sleepy child.
“I don’t know.” The voice seems to be getting louder, and it takes me a second to realize that it’s not getting louder—it’s getting closer.
Grey steps back, away from the grave, and for a few seconds, I just can’t move. I’m too spooked already to even give a tiny start when I feel his hand curve around my elbow and pull me back with him. Snapped out of my anxiety by the contact and the motion, I’m free to move on my own now, and gently tug my arm out of his grasp.
“Thanks,” I say over my shoulder.
“Any time,” he replies, with a trace of amusement in his voice. “Who do you think it is?”
“I don’t . . . .” M voice trails off as I realize that the humming is stationary now—hovering over the Addison grave, and that clicks with my observation from a moment ago. “Who’s Gabriel Addison?”
“Huh? One of my ancestors, hello?”
I don’t really have the presence of mind right now to give him so much as a bitchy look over my shoulder. “No, I mean according to your family records, who was he?”
As Grey replies, the humming gets softer and softer, and I know that in a moment we won’t hear the voice at all.
“He . . . never really had the chance to be anyone. He was one of Jack’s sons, and would have been like my great-great uncle or something like that, but he died when he was two.”
“That’s what I thought,” I say hollowly as the lilting sound finally ceases, “a song from a mother to her child.” In fact, it reminds me of something my grandma used to hum to me when I couldn’t sleep.
A snapshot of climbing into my grandmother’s lap as she sat in her favorite creaky old rocking chair flits through my mind, but I push it aside for now. This is about Grey; it won’t be fair to make this moment about me, even by accident.
Silence descends, and he steps smoothly around me, placing his body between me and the grave. I can’t help but think he’s bracing himself—like he’s expecting to have to shield me from something worse than a disembodied voice that’s going to jump out at us. For a long, strained moment I simply hang back, watching him—the tense set of his shoulders, the way he curls his hands into fists and opens them again and again.
He is bracing himself, I realize with a little thrill of fear rippling in the pit of my stomach.
But what I feel is a blankness. Whatever spirit was here, is gone, and hadn’t been malicious in the first place. I just feel spooked ’cause it snuck up on us. I am left to wonder—whether I want to think about this or not—what he’s been through that would have him reacting so strongly, when the other times he’s been around incidents, he’s not so much as twitched an eyebrow.
Reaching up, I slide my hand lightly from the side of his neck down his shoulder and let it rest there—can’t say why; this gesture just feels like a natural thing to do. Rather than jumping away from my touch, or giving a start, or pulling away, the tension just seems to ebb out of him.
A little tremor goes through him, like he’s trying to force his muscles to tense again, so finally I say, “It’s alright, Grey . . . it’s over. It left—really.”
After a moment, I hear him huff out a sigh, and his shoulders slump.
He turns his head, meeting my gaze and then looking at my fingers, still lingering against him.
Letting out a short, awkward laugh, I drop my eyes to the ground and pull away my hand.
“What were you saying a minute ago?” Grey seems intent to get us back on point as he turns to face me.
“Huh? Oh.” I have to take a moment to get my bearings. Am I the only one noticing these weird little moments between us? Or is it nothing, and I’m overreacting to simply not totally hating him like I’d hoped I would? “I was saying that melody sounded like something a mother would sing to her child.”
I look up to see him move his gaze about, like he’s thinking, as he says, “I’m not sure that’s possible. Gabriel Addison’s mother—Jack’s wife, her name was Bridgette—died decades later, after the family had moved away. How could she possibly be here?”
Glancing from him to the headstone and back again, I can only consider that there is a very good reason that he faces most things unflinchingly, that he’d thought something was going to jump out at us. What if it’s not because he’s following his family tree? Could it be that maybe something is following him?
“She may have been pulled back here by something.”
He raises a brow, but a moment passes before the way I’m looking at him registers. Suddenly he shakes his head, going a bit wide-eyed. “Oh, no—it can’t be me.”
“Well, for one thing, this town was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs before I even got here . . . .”
I make an exasperated little noise in the back of my throat. He’s got me there. “Is there a second thing?”
Grey reaches up, pushing his hair behind his ear and looks away—like the bagel shop past the fence has just become super-interesting or something. “Those other places where my family’s been . . . they’re weird, too.”
I feel like my knees are going to give out from under me, in a strange, mixed rush of relief and disbelief, so I reach out to steady myself and find that his arm is the closest thing to grab. I manage to keep myself upright, so I play the slip off like I’m insisting on verification—I’m not sure I want him to realize how much this information affects me—and clap my other hand around his wrist, shaking him. “Are you serious?”
Once more, he looks at me like I’m touched in the head. “Who would make that up?”
“Okay, fine.” I relinquish my grip on him, easily done now that I know my feet are steady beneath me. “So something else pulled Bridgette’s spirit back here, is what you’re saying?”
“That’s what I’m saying.” He nods firmly as he echoes me.
“All right, then let’s just ask her.”
Paling instantly, he drops his voice to a shocked whisper, “Can you do that?”
I shrug, giving a derisive snort as I step around him and go to the last spot beside the grave where I’m sure I heard the humming. “Heck if I know, but I can try.”
The look he gives me is so immediately deflated and even irritated that I have to stop myself from bursting out laughing. No, have to be serious. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying hard to remember the exact tune. Once I think I’ve got the rhythm, I begin to hum softly, trying to be as delicate with the sound as the specter of Bridgette Addison had been.
Nothing happens, and I feel just a little bit stupid, but I can’t stop yet.
I sense a touch on my shoulders. The feeling of hands on me when there’s no physical presence to justify it sends a wracking shiver up my spine, but I force this away, slowly opening my eyes to confirm that Grey hasn’t budged an inch. There’s a light nudging pressure now, trying to turn me, so I let the disquieting sensation guide me.
I’m walking away from Gabriel’s headstone and farther into the Old Part, remembering to keep up the humming until I feel the pressure fade.
When it does, I find that I’m standing between two of the oldest, most badly decayed mausoleums, and right in front of me is a vine-covered, old tree that had grown, long ago, to make itself part of the crumbling stonework and-wrought-iron fence beyond it.
Grey’s footfalls behind me are muffled but hurried in the thick, unkempt grass here, and he nearly trips over me as he stumbles to a halt.
I frown as I cast a brief glance up at him.
“What are we doing?” He whispers.
I hate that he’s just done that thing again where he lowers his head to speak into my ear, ’cause I have to adamantly remind myself that I don’t like the feeling of his warm breath on the side of my throat.
“I’m not sure,” I reply in a wilting tone, shaking my head. “It, um, Bridgette, just led me . . . .” My words slide off as I notice a weathered gray stone, all but swallowed up by leafy, dark-green vines at the foot of the tree. “Oh wow—that weirdness worked!”
I guess by his tone that his eyebrows have shot up in surprise. Nodding, I step closer to the tree and kneel, determinedly pulling dry but tough vines away from the stone. Looking back at him, I feel a little bubble of triumph in my chest as his jaw drops. I try not to smile too widely about being right as I turn back to the gravestone and set my fingers to feeling out the worn name, as I’d done with Gabriel’s.
My heart gives a bizarre little leap as I hit a match to something Grey had told me. “It’s him!”
“Him?” he asks in puzzlement.
“Yeah, that guy you mentioned. It says Jack Addison.”
Suddenly, Grey’s whole body sags and he leans against a mausoleum wall for support.
Alarmed, I jump to my feet, unthinking of the way I latch my hands around his forearm. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
He takes a moment, drawing in a few sharp, ragged breaths—whatever this has revealed to him is clearly knocking him for a loop. “When the Addisons moved away from Fane’s Cove, Jack wasn’t with them . . . because he’d disappeared without a trace.”
Blinking slowly as I try to piece together the bits of info he’s given me thus far with what makes sense, and coming up with nothing, I can only say what comes to mind. “I don’t understand.”
He turns so that he’s leaning his back against the wall, rather than his shoulder, and looks down at my hands around his arm, like he’s considering removing them, but doesn’t, instead raising his gaze to mine.
“And this is what I was afraid of.” His voice is very quiet. “I thought you were all hiding something.”
“No!” I childishly tug on his arm, insulted—he’s basically just called the entire town’s population liars—despite how unnerved this entire episode has made me. “We weren’t hiding anything; I’ll bet no one even knew this was here!”
“You didn’t know you were hiding it is all. And I think I know why.”
I frown up at him darkly. “Well, would you fill the rest of us in on it, then?”
“I said I had my reasons, right?”
I give a quick nod, curiosity fighting nervousness over how oddly he’s acting.
“It . . . .” He pauses, his gaze becoming sharp and hard as he looks at me, like he’s now expecting me to disbelieve whatever he’s going to say next. “It has to do with rumors and old folk tales from the other places we’ve been to. It’s about what Jack Addison is said to have been.”
“What?” Going by the timeframe, I try to recall if any hysteria fads were still raging that might have spilled over into Fane’s Cove, but I don’t remember ever learning anything of the sort. “Was he a witch or something?”
He actually laughs. It’s a sad, dark, somewhat chilling sound, but there’s still a bit of genuine mirth buried under all that, making it even more unsettling.
“No, Cadence.” Grey clamps a hand over my fingers, holding me in place as his voice lowers again, his tone level and deadly-serious. “They say he was a devil.”