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 after lunch when I finally manage to get Wendi pried off my hip as we part ways to head to our different math classes. I’m not sure that I’ve been consciously waiting for her to be gone, but now that she is, I realize that I hadn’t felt like dealing with the embarrassment if he turnsme down with an audience. An option which, since I’m probably going to appear like a complete and utter psycho after pretending to switch gears so fast, seems highly likely to me. I’m not incredibly confident that this is going to work, and I haven’t considered my alternatives should he tell me no. Then again—I frown as I continue down the corridor—he’s only a few feet ahead of me, and there’s no time like the present; skipping through life with my shoelaces untied isn’t completely unlike me.
I open my mouth to call his name, but my voice dies on me. Instantly, I freeze in my tracks and drop my gaze to the floor. What the hell, am I nervous? I shake my head and let out a harsh breath. Seem to be, but I don’t even like the guy, so what sort of sense does that make?
Being dumb, that’s it; I’m being dumb and acting like a total girl.
I shake my head again and resume walking. I don’t want to jog to catch up to him, but I do want to get to him before he heads into the classroom—’cause, again, the audience issue—so I pick up my pace a little, stepping hurriedly until I’m about an arm’s length behind him.
If I try to call his name, my voice just might choose to wuss out on me again, so instead I reach up to tug at the sleeve of his black 30 StMT-shirt. Just as I’m about to make contact though, his arm gives an odd little twitch and he stops short. I manage to halt my own steps just in time not to collide with him.
He turns his head to look over his shoulder at my hand, still lingering in the air, and then meets my eyes.
“Uh . . . .” I drop my arm to my side and fidget awkwardly in place for a second. “Hi . . . Grey. Can we talk for a sec?”
Frowning, he turns toward me completely. Out of the corner of my eye, I see his Adam’s apple bob, a small gulp going down his throat as he folds his arms across his chest. “We can, but wouldn’t that compromise our whole you-glaring-menacingly-at-me thing?”
I cringe at that,figuring that I’d been right, he’s so going to thinkI’m a lunatic,but before I can go any further, I’m sidelined by his choice of words. That’s probably a good thing, since it’s helping to distract me from the curious looks I know our classmates are tossing our way as they move past us and into the room.
“It’s not menacing!” I say, gaping up at him.
Holding my gaze, he tips his head down towards me just a bit and it makes his hair fall into his eyes. “It sure as hell isn’t friendly.”
“Well . . . .”It’s not like he’s wrong. “I suppose you could be right about that.” I bring up my hands to steeple my fingers in front of my mouth. “Look, I’m sorry about all that. Would . . . would you be opposed to the idea of, like, going out, or something, some time?”
Great, so now I’ve gone from menacing him to stumbling over my words like some nervous, lovesick moron.
He blinks a few times and lifts a hand to scratch his head. I’m not sure if it’s a sincere gesture or if he’s doing it intentionally to emphasize that I’ve clearly just confused him. “Are you asking me out on a date?”
I feel my lip curl as I hear these words—an expression that, I can tell by the sudden smirk lifting one corner of his mouth, has not gone unnoticed by him—but wanting to know what he’s doing here is a curiosity that has well and truly dug itself under my skin. “Or,” I say with a light shrug,”we could just, like, hang out. It doesn’t have to be a datedate.”
And his frown is back again as he leans down so that we’re eyelevel, his gaze shifting from my left eye to my right a few times as he mutters,”You’re a pod-person, aren’t you?”
I’ve never actually seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but the reference isn’t lost on me. “Funny.”
Grey stands straight again and lets his arms drop, stuffing his fists into the pockets of his jeans. He glances over the top of my head for a split-second toward the hallway clock and then he nudges his chin in the direction of the classroom.
Nodding, I turn, falling into step beside him and continuing to the door. I’m not any more eager to finish this talk in the classroom than I’d been to ask him the question a second ago, but any longer holding the conversation in the hall and we’ll get in after the late bell, which would probably be quite a feat since we’re only right outside the room.
I know everyone’s eyes are on us as we—by some weird, unspoken mutual agreement—skirt the wall, making our way to the back so we can take seats neither of us normally sit in to, more than likely, continue our discussion in hushed tones. Great, this doesn’t look at all suspiciously like something’s going on between us. It’s only after we sit that it occurs to me that we were on the same wavelength for a moment there.
He takes the time to open his books on the desk before turning to me. “No, seriously, what’s with the sudden change in attitude?”
I shake my head, following his lead—if he didn’t notice it, then I am not about to be the one to bring it up.
“It’s been . . . pointed out to me that maybe I’m not giving you a fair chance,” I offer with a light shrug.
“And?”His voice drops to a barely audible whisper as the late bell sounds.
“And, that maybe if I get to know you, then I’ll stop treating you like some newly discovered species on display at the zoo.”
“I don’t know,” he says, shaking his head as he gives a weary sigh,”I think I’d miss your angry stares too much.”
I know I’m walking right into it, but I can’t help it when the look on my face goes from curious to withering.
“See? Just like that—not sure how I’ll make it through my day without it.”
I roll my eyes and rest my elbow over the back of my chair, and simply frown at him for a moment, doing my best to empty all the negativity out of my expression. “Could you be serious, please?”
“Miss McKenna, Mr. Addison,” the teacher calls out and I realize that we’ve been completely ignoring that he has already entered the room and is starting to review last night’s homework. “Might I ask that you continue your clearly very engaging conversation after class?”
“Sorry, Mr. Bell,” I offer meekly, sitting up straight and facing forward. I may be acting compliant, but oh, what I wouldn’t give for him to get smacked by another eraser right about now, what with how this makes everyone turn to look at Grey and me.
Mr. Bell taps the chalk against the board sharply, calling attention back to himself, and continues on in his usual droning lecture-voice. I try to push aside my irritation, but there are two problems with that:my curiosity always gets the better of me, and I have next to no patience. The idea of sitting here and waiting ’til the end of class just to get an answer doesn’t take long to wear on my nerves and make me start fidgeting.
As I’m picking at the chipped, wood-colored laminate on my desk, I see, from the corner of my eye,Grey bend to retrieve something from his backpack. When he sits back up, he holds a red Sharpie marker, and proceeds to turn to a clean sheet of paper in his binder. I flick a glance toward his face for a quick moment to find that he’s writing something while keeping his eyes on Mr. Bell. He pushes the corner of the book closer to the edge of his desk so I can more easily read what he’s written.
Are you allergic to tomatoes?
Now, I know we’re supposed to be paying attention to the teacher—or at least trying to look like it—but I can’t help turning my face completely towards him and mouthing silently,”Huh?”
He keeps his focus on the front of the classroom and simply adds a second question mark to the end of the sentence.
No,I scribble on the corner of my own page, only to cover it over with what’s intended to look like random doodles.
On a low-carb diet?
Eh? Well, I can only think he’s trying to turn the tables on me in some fashion, because I’d had him confused just a few minutes ago, and now he’s confusing me. I draw an arrow back to my original, though now blotted out, answer.
I can just about see his teeth sink into his bottom lip as he blindly writes out the next question,Lactose intolerant?
Nearly against my will, I bite my lip, too, in an effort not to laugh. I don’t bother drawing another arrow,’cause if I put pen to paper again, I might sidetrack this whatever-it-is by informing him that I was raised to believe something like that isn’t usually information a girl shouldbe comfortable sharing with a guywho looks like him—though I’d probably leave that last part out. Instead, I simply wait, figuring my lack of response will get him to look over. When he does, I shake my head at him, once more curling my lip so he maybe gets that I feel it was an inappropriate question. He may as well come out and ask,”Does cheese make you fart?”
Weirder than all of this is that after he nods back, that’s the end of it. I keep expecting another bizarre question, but it never comes, and when I glance at his desk, I see that he’s dived right into whatever equation Mr. Bell has been prattling on about. See, I’m not behind Wendi in math because I can’t keep up, so much as because I just don’t bother to try. Holding in a sigh, I shift focus and attempt to pay attention to the lesson.
Surprisingly, for a little while I forget that I’m waiting for Grey’s actual yes-or-no response. I can only guess that he started packing his stuff early, because when the bell rings, he’s already out of his seat. Frowning darkly, I begin to stuff things into my own backpack. All I can think is that I am so not about to run after him. I’m not actually asking him on a date . . . or to hang out or whatever, but I jump a little when I find him suddenly leaning over my shoulder, his face right beside mine.
“Me, you, six o’clock, pizza.”
“Oh,” is all I can say at first as his questions—tomatoes, carbs, lactose—finally make sense. He’s so close that I don’t want to turn to look at him, but I do anyway. “Where? There are, like, four pizza shops within a ten-block radius of each other.”
He turns toward me now, too, and I can feel it on my skin when he breathes. “The one across from Katsulos’ Pharmacy.”
A little, unpleasant thrill ripples through me at those words, causing me to sit up straighter as it makes me instantly recall the incident from yesterday that—despite making a fuss over after it had first happened—I’ve strangely forgotten about ’til this moment. However, this is the answer I’ve been waiting for, so I try to push the feeling aside and force a shrug. “Um, yeah, sure.”
His blue-green eyes flicker over my face before he nods, and then he pulls away. I find, for some reason I can’t quite figure, that I can’t move as I watch him walk out of the classroom.
I slump in my chair, shaking my head as I finish putting my things away and stand to pull my backpack over my shoulder. I know that it’s only a coincidence; there’s no way he could know about what had happened yesterday, I hadn’t even explained it to Wendi, but I can’t help feeling like it’s more than that. He couldn’t have been consciously looking for a response, but definitely the fact that I did react to mention of the area wasn’t lost on him.
Being stupid again, I tell myself in a shrill tone and head out to my next class.