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*
My thoughts screech to a halt. Fane’s Cove and normal in the same sentence, without a healthy dose of sarcasm or a not-so-veiled reference to spooky business, either? This sort of thinking has simply never occurred to me before. I still don’t understand a lot of what is going on. I shake my head, opening my mouth to speak, but my voice sticks in my throat.
“Oh, my God, I was right! You guys are dating!”
I whirl around in my chair, feeling my hair slapping Grey, and see Stacy Bonham peering in through the library door.There’s a huge grin on the cheerleader’s face, even as the librarian shushes her and raises a gnarled finger to her lips in warning.
“Ah, crap,” I grumble as Stacy disappears from view.
I close the journal and jump out of my chair, grabbing my backpack. “Can I borrow this? I’ll be careful with it, and I’ll return it tomorrow, I promise!”
He catches my wrist just as I snatch up the book from the table.”What are you doing?”
“Damage control.” I remember to take the elastic band in my free hand as I slip from his grasp. “I’ll text you later.”
By the time I get out into the hall, I don’t see Stacy anywhere, and I’m not in the mood to run around searching, either. Peachy. Sighing, I ease open the book and start down the nearly deserted hallway. People are just going to have to think I’m dating Grey, then. I’d have to be dense not to realize that the misunderstanding should at least make scoring time for private conversations a bit easier.
There’s a good chunk of lunch period left; maybe I can grab a snack from the vending machines. I enter the stairwell, focused more on finding something of importance in Bridgette’s words than on where I’m heading. A single phrase snags my attention, and I skip back to scan it a few more times.
Frowning, I sit down on the top step and lean a shoulder against the metal bannister, overcome by the sudden feeling that I don’t want to be distracted by the noisy crowd in the cafeteria. I run a finger over the soft, worn page, tracing her sentence, but what she’d written doesn’t make much sense to me.
“You didn’t get very far.”
Grey’s voice startles me out of my confused re-reading. I glance in his direction as he takes a seat beside me on the step.
“You didn’t tell me Jack had brothers.” In fact, it only occurs to me as I say it that there’s been no mention of family from that time period, outside of Bridgette, her children, and Jack, themselves.
“They’ve never really come into the picture,” he says with a small shrug.
This leads directly into what is stumping me in the journal. “Yeah, I don’t understand. She says he had brothers who were ‘making the journey with him’, but she never met them, even though that should have meant they were allon the ship, and she ended up marrying Jack. Is there really no other mention of them?”
He doesn’t take the book from me; instead, he simply reaches around me and delicately pushes my finger off the page, then flips to a latter portion of the book.
“No, but if you look, like, here, and she makes a couple of other mentions, where she glimpsed someone that looked like him. We’re talking, ‘could be his twin’, like him.”
A blurred connection zips through my mind and I have to press my free hand—still tingling from where he’d brushed against it a second ago, but I’m so not about to let that show—to my forehead.
“Okay, wait, so the places you’ve been to are the route your family traveled after coming to the States, and you said that those towns have devil-sightings, and Jack was said to have been a devil. He had brothers who came here with him, somehow, and . . . Bridgette saw guys who looked a lot like him in these other towns, so those had to have been his brothers.
“And if that’s so, if we guesstimate that a different brother was living in the each area your ancestors moved to, that you’ve been to with your family, then based on that, he had to have had at least four brothers. That’s kind of a big family. It seems very bizarre that they all traveled here together, yet she hadn’t met even one of them. She couldn’t have ended up in those places by accident. Once, maybe, but just so happening to run into more than one of them when she’d never me them before is just too much of a coincidence, isn’t it?”
When I finish rambling, Grey stares at me unblinkingly. A bit startled by his surprised expression, I feel my own eyes widen in response. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No, actually you just . . . hit the nail right on the head. It wasn’t coincidence. She says that the areas she—and the other heads of the family down the line—moved to were chosen because she felt drawn there.”
He’s still staring, and I feel very caught off guard by that, for some reason. I’m immediately aware of how quiet it is in the stairwell when neither of us is speaking, of how I can tell from the set of his shoulders in my peripheral vision that his breathing has slowed dramatically.
Almost as if he can tell that I noticed this, his lips part and he inhales, but the breath becomes a soft noise; I can barely hear him, even though I’m so close to him. It strikes me only now, in a dazed way, that he’s turned a bit towards me and I’m sort of tucked into his side because of how he moved to turn the page in the journal.
Ah, hell, we have a spark. No wonder Stacey already thinks we’re an item.
I clear my throat and snap my attention pointedly back to the book in my hands; the realization that he had to have just noticed I’m not oblivious to the chemistry at work between us effectively slaps sense into me.
“So wait, if, um, if she, and other, later, people in your family saw these guys who resembled Jack, and these towns had stories about devils, then . . . I don’t get it. Was your family, um, Bridgette, the one making up the stories?”
“No,” he says quickly.
I think he’s trying to recover from whatever that almost-moment might have made him feel, but I’m not about to look at him to confirm that notion. “That’s where this gets even weirder,’ cause the stories were already circulating when they got there, in every case.”
“Wait, so what you’re saying is, those . . . devils,” I have trouble saying the word without making air quotes, “were actually Jack’s brothers?”
“Well, yes and no. I told you, I really don’t have a whole lot to go on, so I don’t know what to think.I figure they are more likely the ones who started those stories.”
My gaze roves the stairwell as I ask, “What, like, as a prank?”
“Maybe, or maybe it was like a verbal marker. Like, the family would know if one of the brothers was in the area if they heard the story.”
“But you said people are still reporting sightings. How can that be possible if these were just stories, and the people who were supposed to have been pretending they were devils died two hundred years ago?”
“The more you nitpick, the weirder this gets,” he says with a short laugh.”My guess is, these ’sightings’ are tied directly to the paranormal activity. Maybe the sightings were, something, I don’t know, residual left over from whatever they did to make the places the way they are now.”
Now this, at least to my relatively spook-accustomed mind, makes sense. “So, like, ghosts? I mean, in a lot of these kinds of incidents, at least half, if not more, of what we perceive is determined by what we think we’re seeing, rather than what’s actually there in front of us. Maybe people are seeing your great-great-great-whatever uncles’ ghosts—because they’ve been around so long, the stories stuck with them—but they believe they’re seeing this devil their grandma, or somebody, might have talked about.”
He doesn’t immediately respond; instead, he just gives a wide grin.
I blink rapidly a few times. “What?”
“I, um,” he laughs again and shakes his head,”I just wish you’d gotten curious about me a whole lot sooner.”
Shrugging, I give a smile, a bit infected by his laughter, until I notice that his is fading. “You mean . . . for helping you out with this, right?”
“Yeah,” he says, his voice oddly low. He moves just a little closer to me as he continues in that same quiet tone,”We’ll go with that.”
Rather than turn away and pretend that the book is once again the most interesting thing in the world, I find myself leaning into him. He lowers his face ’til I feel the warmth of his lips brushing so, so, lightly over mine.
A footfall sounds on the stair beside us and I jump back with a gasp; I catch myself barely an inch from banging the back of my head on the bannister. We look up to find there’s no body to accompany the noise.
Grey shifts away from the footsteps, so that he’s blocking me from the unseen entity; the heavy step gets a little softer as it continues downward to the next stairs. I feel my skin prickle over with goose bumps as the distinct squeak of a person turning on their heel echoes through the stairwell, and the sound continues descending the next flight.
I close the book and squeeze myself out from my place between Grey and the bannister to start tiptoeing down the stairs after the thing.
My shoulders bunch at the harsh whisper behind me, and I turn to look up at him, bounding as silently as he can, to catch up to me.
“What?” I whisper back and return to following the steps, which I can barely hear now, thanks to Mr. Walking Distraction.
“What are you doing? It could be dangerous!”
I say softly over my shoulder, “I just want to know where it’s going.”
The stairs lead to a back corridor of the basement that runs between the cafeteria and the gym, and then wind down one more flight to a subbasement. I worry for a moment that we’ve lost the sound to hallway traffic—it’s not noisy here, but that’s only ’cause the stairwell door is closed—but then I hear a step below us.
I peer around the corner, trying to confirm that it’s going to the subbasement.
Grey leans over beside me in his own attempt to get a look. “What’s that, a boiler room?”
I can’t help wondering if it’s strange that I’m already used to having his voice in my ear.
“No,” I whisper back, shaking my head and looking up at him, “boiler room’s on the other side of the building. As far as I know, this one’s just storage.”
His eyes, still on the door below us, go wide and instantly, his arm is around my waist, trying to pull me back around the corner of the stairwell.
My curiosity kicks into overdrive and I clamp my freehand on the bannister as I look.
A dark shape hovers at the foot of the stairs; it’s vague, but I think this was, definitely, once a person.
I hold my breath without intending to, as I fight with myself; half of me wants to let go and allow Grey to hide me from whatever that is; the other half wants to creep forward, to see how close I can get before it fades from view. It shifts slowly, like it’s turning, and the shadowy silhouette looks oddly substantial, as though I can make out the thick curve of a shoulder.
Like I’m watching a flesh-and-blood person turn and look up at me.
And there’s a face, but . . . . Oh my God, that face staring into mine is . . . .
And suddenly—everything goes black.