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’m sorry, you want what, now?”
I cringe as I meet my mother’s gaze across the dinner table. Grey and I had gone back-and-forth about what I’m supposed to say, thanks to my whole sucky-spontaneous-liar issue, but that doesn’t take the edge off lying to my mom’s face.
And to think, she’s just stopped yelling about the fainting thing. Seems to think it was because this morning’s breakfast had been half a granola bar and a sip of diet soda. All I could do was hang my head and nod while she lectured me. It was silently agree, or tell her that I’d seen a ghost in the school basement when I was supposed to be eating lunch.
After a crappy breakfast, that she already thinks is the cause of me passing out, I’m pretty sure informing her that I missed lunch, too, will not go over well.
Shrugging, I scoop a taco out of the tray in the center of the table and place it on my dish. “I said, can I go to your office this weekend and use the archives? I have a project for school.”
My brother snorts a laugh. “You chose to do a report on the history of Fane’s Cove? What’s the title going to be? ‘Brace Yourself for 360-Plus Years of Boredom’?”
I squint and give my brother the shut up, dork face.
“It can’t all have been boring,” I say as I shake my head. “I just want to see if there is something interesting that has ever happened here that maybe everyone just forgot about as time moves on, ya know?”
“Pfft, good luck.”
Our mother, looking a little miffed over having been forgotten for a moment, I guess, waves a hand. “Now, wait a second. It’s not the project choice I’m questioning.”
Jeremy’s eyebrows shoot up. “It should be.”
He makes a hand gesture that suggests I’m not all there.
I roll my eyes and barely refrain from sticking my tongue out at him. And here I thought college is supposed to be maturing him.
“What I’m questioning,” my mom goes on, pausing briefly to offer my brother a withering look, “is my daughter, in the archives room in the basement of my office . . . with a boy.”
My face falls so quickly I’m surprised I don’t bash my chin on the table. “It’s just Grey.”
“Whom I have yet to meet,” my mother says pointedly. “I’ll say it again. My daughter, in the basement of my office, with a boy—whom I have not met— during the weekend, when there’s barely anyone in the building.”
I remain silent, but pull my mouth into a perfect little O shape.
She nods, arching a brow. “Yeah.”
“So . . . .” I glance at my brother, and he looks so absorbed in picking at his fourth—yes, fourth—taco, that I know he’s suddenly decided to not involve himself in this any further. “You want to meet Grey is what you’re saying?”
She doesn’t say anything for a long moment, making me cringe again, as she takes her sweet time digging into some of the food on her plate.
Taking a cue from her, I grudgingly start to eat my dinner, too. Which totally sucks. I mean, it’s great, I adore tacos, but eating them as I wait on pins and needles for my mother to respond completely strips this meal of any enjoyment factor.
“What I’m saying,” my mother starts up so suddenly that I nearly drop my damn taco, “is that my answer is yes.” She holds up a finger at my brother instantly, cutting off any attempt he might make to interrupt in that slighted-first-child way. “But I will go with you.”
I roll my eyes. “Mom—”
“Don’t you ‘mom’ me. I have been swamped at work lately; it would be nice to be able to catch up on everything when it’s quiet. So, Grey will come here on Saturday morning and I’ll drive you two over there. I get to meet him; you get to use the archives for your project. Two birds, one stone, and the only way I’m going to say yes.”
Scowling, I slump back in my chair and fidget with bits of lettuce and tomato on my plate. “Fine.”
“Unless there’s some reason you don’t want me there.”
“Oh, my God, mother.” I groan miserably as I look up at her, and she’s giving me that inquisitive, burning-holes-in-the-face stare. “Grey and I are not like that.”
“That’s not what Wendi told me,” my brother says quietly.
Not quietly enough, though. I can actually feel the color drain from my face as my mother props her elbows on the table and clasps her hands in front of her mouth.
“Since when do you and Wendi talk?” My voice is absolutely scathing.
He shrugs, but won’t meet my gaze. “I was taking out the garbage and she was running to the store for her mom. I said hi, shoot me.”
“If only I had a gun,” I say with a short, near-hysterical laugh.
“Wha-?” Jer has the courtesy to appear properly mystified when he finally does look up at me. “What’s the big deal? She said the whole school knows you’re going out with him. So what?”
I let out a mortified gasp. I don’t need my mother to think I’m trying to do something, well, sneaky. Why would I even need to? I have nice, comfy house, a mom who works long hours, a dad who lives across town, and a brother who’s only home just often enough to be a pain in my ass. I don’t need to make excuses to find alone time with a boy in some dusty office basement.
Not that I want to, and that’s not even what this is about.
“Oh,” my eyes narrow as I glare across the table at Jeremy, “well, let me tell you a little something about you and Wendi—”
“Enough,” Mom says sharply.
I bite my lip and look away from my brother, ignoring that he’s gone from confused to curious. I can tell he wants to know what I was going to say, but I’m not about to tell him; serves him right.
“I said I’m fine with it, mom.” I return to picking at my food. “I really don’t care. We’re actually just going to do research, that’s it.”
“I know, starlet,” she replies with a small, certain grin. “I trust you.”
“Thank you.” I sit straight and pick up another taco.
“I’m still going with you.”
A sigh escapes my lips, and I say under my breath before taking a bite, “Yeah, I know.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Wendi’s voice squeaks as she pleads with me over the phone.
We hadn’t discussed the Grey-and-me situation at all on the walk home from school today, but then, she’d heard about my fainting spell, too. The girl spent the whole time hovering around me like some small, nervous bird, asking me repeatedly if I was okay.
I should know by now that gossip-free Wendi time has a bit of a backlash.
“I really don’t want to hear it! You listened to Stacy, again, and after I told you she didn’t see anything going on, you still told my brother what she said!”
“Well, technically, no.” She sounds distant, and I know well enough to understand that she’s fidgeting with something on her end to keep occupied while I yell at her. “I heard it from Dennis, who heard it from Stacy.”
“I don’t—wait, which Dennis?” Like this matters, but what can I do? Minutia distracts me.
“Chadwick, my lab partner.”
“Oh,” I furrow my brow. “Since when does he even talk to Stacy? Okay, ya know what, that’s not even the point! Why would you say anything you heard at school to Jeremy? You might as well have dropped by my mom’s office after school and taken a damn meeting with her!”
“I don’t know! He said ‘hi,’ and I just . . . I wanted to say something that was interesting, but I got nervous and the words sort of fell out of my mouth.”
“Why were you nervous?” Stupid me, I know the answer, but I can’t help asking.
She sighs heavily. “Look, I didn’t want to say anything, ’cause I thought it might be weird, but um, I think I . . . maybe like him.”
“Wendi, sweetie,” I say slowly, “I know. You’re not exactly subtle.”
She shrieks, and I pull the phone away from my ear until the sound dies.
“Oh, God. Oh, God! Do you think he knows?”
I roll my eyes, shaking my head at myself. “No, he’s completely clueless.”
“Phew.” Her voice has dropped to a near-whisper, as though she’s suddenly drained. “That would be so embarrassing.”
“You have just totally sidetracked, you know that, right?”
“Sorry,” she says after a pause. “Are you still mad at me?”
Now, it’s my turn to sigh. “No. Well, yes.” I shrug, even though she can’t see me. “I’m still mad, but whatever, it’s not that big of a deal, I’ll get over it. Jer just caught me off-guard.”
“Good. You’re not going to stand me up for our walk to school in the morning tomorrow, right?”
“Wasn’t planning on it.” Well, I hadn’t planned on standing her up this morning, either, but I don’t mention that.
After we hang up, I peel off my jeans and crawl into bed. The clock reads nine, and I’m not that tired—for a change—but with the way the last two days have gone, I don’t think a little extra rest will be a bad thing.
I switch off my lamp and then snuggle down under my covers. Opposite of what I feel, I fall asleep almost as soon as my head hits the pillow.
I jerk awake, biting hard into my bottom lip to keep from screaming. My gaze darts around, but a few breathless seconds tick by before I realize that I’m staring up at my bedroom ceiling, recognizable due to the silly little glow-in-the-dark star stickers dad helped me put up there when I was six.
I sit up slowly, pushing away the blanket, and press a hand to my face. My forehead is sweaty, and my pulse is racing, but . . . again, I can’t remember what I’ve just dreamed about.
“Calm down, Cae. Calm down,” I whisper to myself.
I try to recall what was happening, but my head is spinning as it is, and the harder I try, the worse the dizzy feeling gets. Closing my eyes, I focus on my breathing to force my thoughts away from any attempt to remember and drop my head into my hands.
I don’t want to think it, but I know Grey’s right. This is probably because of my involvement with his family’s issue. I want to believe there’s some other reason, like, maybe something followed me home from the cemetery.
But maybe that’s too much of a coincidence.
Whatever, I’m not telling Grey about this. I said I will help him, and if what I’m going through is even a fraction of what his family’s had to deal with all this time, I don’t think I can tell him to continue digging into this all by himself.
Damn my sympathetic nature. I laugh quietly at myself. Okay, no. This is me, so it’s more like, damn my stubbornness.
The combination of slowly inhaling and exhaling and chiding myself has managed to calm my nerves. I lift my head from my hands and look around my room. It’s very dark, but my eyes are adjusted, so I can see all right. There’s a bit of dim orange light near the windows, filtered through the curtains from the streetlamps outside, but the illumination doesn’t do much.
I glance over at my clock. 3 a.m. Fantastic. Stretching, I force a yawn—trying to trick my body into believing that I’m still tired enough to fall back to sleep easily—and grab for my covers.
I halt instantly. There’s a sensation like ice water trickling across every inch of my skin as I stare across the room, into the mirror on my vanity table, at a pair of glowing red eyes.
Again, I bite my lip, trying not to make a sound as I stand up.
It’s just a trick of the light, I say it to myself over and over again. I want to orient myself, to figure out where the light is coming from, or what could be causing it, but every time I move, so do the eyes.
Every time I blink, after a beat, the glowing red flickers.
My hands are shaking, and I can barely feel my fingers as I pad quietly and slowly across my room toward the mirror. As I inch closer, the eyes . . . seem to get larger
I can’t be seeing what I’m seeing.
I snap my head around at a sound outside—something simple, like a tree branch hitting the windowsill. When I return my attention to the mirror, the red eyes have vanished.
And I know I’m the only one in the room.