She did a circle as she stood there, noting the mummy. The large outer sarcophagus stood with the head end against the wall to the right of the fireplace; the open inner coffin was braced against it, and the mummy, still completely wrapped, lay within the inner coffin. To the other side of the fireplace was the voodoo altar. She kept turning. The giant gargoyle looked at her benignly. Gargoyles kept away evil spirits, she reminded herself. She liked the gargoyle. She’d called it Harry when she’d been a kid.
The animal heads looked down mournfully from the wall. The medieval suit of armor, standing near the staircase, stared blankly at her.
As she stood there, her cell phone started ringing again. Absently, she pulled it out and answered it, thinking it must be Liam to tell her something he had forgotten.
Once again, she heard the breathing.
Impatiently, she hung up and started for the stairs.
In her room, she washed her face, felt a lot fresher and started back down again. As she did so, the phone started to ring.
She glanced at it. The caller ID once again said Private Number.
Irritated, she answered it. “What?”
She expected the breathing.
She didn’t get breathing.
A man’s voice, a whisper, spoke to her.
“I’m watching you. I’m watching your every move,” the voice said.
She felt as if the hair rose on her flesh, as if she were frozen in place. The voice sounded detached, and it sounded close. It was rough and husky, and menacing. It seemed to creep right into her body.
She fought the fear.
“Good for you, buddy,” she said and hung up.
She met Katie and Bartholomew in the living room.
“What’s wrong?” Katie asked her.
“Nothing—obscene phone call,” Kelsey said.
“Probably a prank, but let Liam know,” Katie advised her. “I hate that!”
She nodded, and they headed out. She carefully punched in the code for the alarm. As they walked down the porch steps, she suddenly paused.
“What?” Katie asked.
“I want to run around back to the docks for a minute. See if Captain Morgan is there. He may not understand, but I want to thank him. For Avery! Avery is convinced that the dolphin saved him,” Kelsey said.
“Sure,” Katie agreed.
Dusk was coming, and it was beautiful out. The colors of the sky were pastels, except where the sun sank in the west in a fiery ball that shot out streamers of gold.
When they came around the house, the docks, the trees—even the mangrove area where Gary White’s body had been found seemed mysterious and beautiful.
Katie and Kelsey walked down the dock. Bartholomew remained on shore, arms crossed, as if he guarded the dock.
“I don’t see Captain Morgan,” Kelsey said.
“I don’t, either,” Katie agreed.
Just as they spoke, water and air spurted from the surface just below them at the right edge of the dock. Kelsey went down on her knees.
The dolphin was there. He looked at her with dark eyes that gave away nothing.
“Captain Morgan, my friend. You are a marvelous creature. My friend thinks that you saved his life, and I hear it’s quite possible. Thank you,” Kelsey said.
“Hi, there, big fellow,” Katie said, hunkering down by her.
The dolphin let out shrill squeaking noises, and backed away, flapping its flippers.
“I think he’s answering us,” Katie said.
“Maybe. He does work with humans,” Kelsey said.
“It’s getting dark soon,” Bartholomew snapped from the beach end of the dock. “Let’s go.”
“Good night, Captain Morgan!” Kelsey called, and she and Katie turned and walked toward Bar tholomew.
As they started around the house to the road off the peninsula, Kelsey’s phone started to ring. She saw that it said Private Number, and she ignored it.
They had reached Front Street when her phone rang again. She was certain it was going to say Private Number.
It didn’t. It had a local phone exchange, 305.
She heard breathing, laughter and the throaty whisper.
“Don’t get wet, Kelsey. Remember, I’m watching you.”
She didn’t have a chance to reply.
The line went dead.
Liam headed from Stock Island back to the station. The sketch artist was going to scan his drawing into his computer that night, and tomorrow they could play with the image, taking away hair, trying to remove anything that might have been costume or artificial.
Checking on the fingerprints, he found out that there was only one set on the magic box with the floating silk forms Kelsey had given him.
The prints were hers. They were in the system because her parents had believed in fingerprinting children, should they tragically be kidnapped or find themselves lost.
“It was wiped clean,” the tech told Liam. “There are smudges, so I know that it was wiped down, and wiped well. If someone is pulling apart that house when no one knows it, that someone is wearing gloves.”
Liam wasn’t surprised.
He left the station, eager then to meet Jaden, Ted, Katie and Kelsey. He was anxious to see the book.
When he walked in, O’Hara’s was quiet. He didn’t see the others at first; Jamie was behind the bar, and he directed Liam out to the back patio.
Clarinda was there, working her evening shift as a server. She was seated with the others, taking a break, so it seemed.
Jonas wasn’t with her, he noted.
“Hey, all,” he said.
“Hey!” Kelsey said, rising to greet him.
He wanted to reach for her, enclose her in his arms and just hold on to her. He hated being away from her, and it hadn’t even been a full night.
He kissed her lightly on the lips, longing to linger and bask in the scent of her skin and her hair but aware of their audience. He crawled onto the bench by her side.
Bartholomew was there, seated at the far end of the table. Through some of the foliage, he had a view of Duval Street. He seemed to be brooding.
“Voilà!” Jaden said, producing a copy of the book. “Key West, Satanism, Peter Edwards, and the Abel and Aleister Crowley Connection!”
He took it from her. “Thank you, Jaden. Have you looked at it?” he asked her.
She nodded. “Well, yes, sorry, of course. Page two hundred twenty. You’ll love it.”
“Read it aloud,” Kelsey told him. “We just got here. We haven’t had a chance to get into it yet.”
He did so.
“In his golden years, Pete Edwards rued his sins, and made public much of what he had done. He said that he’d never committed murder, but that he had relied on rites learned from a Santeria priest on an excursion in the islands, and from a voodoo priestess in New Orleans. While neither religion worshipped Satan, voodoo practitioners were known for communication with unhappy spirits, and Santeria also recognized malignant beings in the underworld. He concocted his own formula, partially drawn from his affection for Dante’s Inferno as well—drawing a pentagram on the beach and placing lanterns at each point. Animal sacrifice was carried out in the center of the pentagram. Though he sought the help of Satan, it was for a godly reason, Pete Edwards believed. The South claimed the war was fought over state’s rights, but in Pete’s eyes, the Confederacy stood for slavery and nothing else. He was doing God’s work through the devil to end the war. In the end, he turned back to God, the Christian God, and did penance. The man calling himself Abel Crowley came to Key West at a time when Pete was trying to atone. Crowley had heard about Pete’s exploits during the war, but was of the belief that Pete had downplayed his role. He was convinced that Pete’s mumbo jumbo of Satanism, voodoo and Santeria demanded blood, and that there was an incredible power in worshipping dark forces. From eyewitness accounts, it’s suspected that Abel Crowley was a magician and a hypnotist; he could use mind control to force what he desired.”
“Sick people,” Clarinda noted.
“Very, but it’s interesting to realize that people don’t really change, don’t you think?” Ted asked.
“Yes, but…,” Kelsey began.
“But what?” Liam asked her.
“I don’t know. I believe in the power of the human will, and in goodness, and in evil—in men’s hearts. But it’s night. Me not believing it is night will not make it day,” she said.
“Yes, but,” Katie argued, “isn’t every reality a perception?”
“Only if we let it be,” Kelsey said. “Think of The Emperor’s New Clothes! Someone out there knows that what isn’t real, isn’t real.”
“You all are giving me a headache,” Ted said.
Clarinda stood. “Let me get your orders. Jamie said I could take an hour and hang with you all, but let me get the ball rolling here. Fish sandwiches are fresh and delicious,” she suggested.
“All the way around? We’ll make it easy?” Liam suggested.
It was agreed.
While Clarinda went in to get drinks and put in the food order, Jaden told Liam, “You might want to move on to page three hundred.”
He did so.
“Aloud, please!” Kelsey asked him. He read, “At the turn of the century, with Spiritualism still a rage across the western world, the concept of owning holy relics became popular. Throughout Europe through many ages, and in other societies as well, holy relics were said to be godly. Lockets with hair from dead saints, reliquaries with bone fragments, even pieces of the deceased kept in small caskets, were said to ward off evil. In contrast, the fingers and toes of hanged criminals were also said to keep away evil. Abel Crowley became obsessed with the collection of these reliquaries, but on his deathbed, Peter Edwards swore that he had never owned such a relic, and that Abel Crowley had been a hypocrite—he had only ever sought out such reliquaries for their monetary value in gold, silver and gems.”
“Well, there you go,” Katie said softly.