Page 46

Kelsey sighed. “It’s still so hard to fathom. Mind control, good spirits, evil spirits, my mom gone a very long time, Gary White just murdered, Cutter…and Avery.”

“And,” Ted pointed out, looking at Liam, “the slaughter of a goat on Smathers Beach.”

Liam shrugged. “The mind can go awry. Perhaps it all began innocuously enough—a man wanted to steal a diamond. The diamond was in a reliquary. We’re back to the whole point of perception. If the thief believed he could practice black magic—maybe in context with the fact that he knew people were on certain medications that could cause hallucinations—he could project fear and terror and make it happen. I don’t know. I’m hoping we have a real lead. The clerk who sold the goat gave an artist a description of the culprit. Tomorrow, we’ll put it through the computer and see what we can come up with.”

Coming out of the back door of O’Hara’s, Clarinda suddenly dropped her tray. The drinks exploded in a shower of liquid and glass.

“Oh!” Clarinda gasped. “What a klutz! I don’t remember the last time I did something like that,” she said.

“Let me help you,” Katie said, leaping up.

“It’s all right,” Clarinda said.

“Nonsense. My uncle owns this place, and I’ve picked up many a spill, mostly my own.”

Kelsey was quickly over by the pair. “Your uncle owns the place, Katie. You go get more drinks, and I’ll help pick up.”

“I know where to find the broom,” Liam said, rising and walking past Clarinda. She stared at him, wide-eyed, and he suddenly found himself wondering if she was suspicious of Jonas herself.

Was she afraid that the picture, when cleaned up via computer image, would show them a clear shot of Jonas?

He swept, the girls collected large glass fragments and Katie came out with more drinks and their sandwiches.

Liam was determined not to betray his suspicions in any way, and while they sat around and ate, he asked Kelsey how she liked the alarm system.

“I’ll get used to it,” she said. “Believe it or not, I’ve never had one before. But it’s good. It’s a very good idea.”

“You had an alarm system put on the house today?” Ted asked.

“Yes. Well, Liam took care of it,” Kelsey said.

“And your friend Avery is all right?” Jaden asked. “Vanessa is staying up with him?”

“Yes, and I’m sure they’re getting along fine. He’s an animator, and she’s a scriptwriter, editor—they’ll be fine,” Katie said, waving a hand in the air. “Oh, Kelsey, we don’t have to go up and get them tomorrow—Sean is going to go.” She laughed softly. “I guess my brother wants to make sure he gets the love of his life back.”

“That’s great,” Kelsey said.

“You’re busy, huh?” Clarinda asked.

Kelsey nodded. “I’m going through my grandfather’s logs. I’m going to find out everything he has, and exactly what he wants done with it all.”

Liam noted that she didn’t mention the reliquary.

That night, when they finished eating, they were ready to head out. Clarinda was still working, so they bid her good-night and went in to say good-night to Jamie O’Hara.

Bartholomew was standing on Duval when they emerged from the pub. He was waiting for an elegant woman. She was his lady in white, Lucinda, not the woman he had died for, but the love he had found in the afterlife.

He bowed low as she came to him; he straightened, and she accepted his arm.

He looked back, aware that Liam was watching him. He smiled. “Good evening, friend. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He nodded. Katie saw Bartholomew, but Ted and Jaden, anyone on the street, and Kelsey would surely consider him mad.

He turned away from Bartholomew, glad of the glow of warmth and love that seemed like an aura around the two.

Ted and Jaden went their way—after he’d paid Jaden—and he and Kelsey drove Katie back to the Beckett house.

“Oh,” Katie said, getting out of the car. “Kelsey, tell Liam about the phone calls.”

“Pranks,” Kelsey said, waving a hand in the air.

“Tell me,” Liam said.

“Some idiot is calling me. First he called and breathed. Then he called and told me he was watching me. Then he called and said something about me not getting wet.”

“Not getting wet?” Liam asked.

“We had just walked out on the dock,” Katie said.

“Let me see your phone,” Liam told her.

Kelsey dug in her pocket and handed it to him. He saw the calls listed from Private Number and then the exchange and number on the other.

“The call with the actual number came after you’d gone out on the dock?” he asked. Kelsey nodded.

“I’m calling this in tonight. Maybe the graveyard shift can help,” he said.

He called in; none of the day crew was working overtime, but he knew Tony Santini, working the research desk. He gave Santini the number and handed Kelsey back her phone.

“Good,” Katie said, satisfied. She bid them all good-night.

Liam waited until she got to the door; David opened it before she knocked, and waved to them as Katie went in.

They drove on to the Merlin house.

Lights burned from the parlor and the porch. The house seemed welcoming.

Amazing what a good alarm could do. Peace of mind.

Perception, Liam thought. Maybe life was all in the mind, all perception.

No, he’d been a cop too long to believe that.

“I was trying not to be obvious with the code,” Kelsey told him as they exited the car. So I chose Avery’s birth date, 1130, to get in, and backward to close up at night.”

“We just have to remember to set it; an alarm is only good when it’s set,” he told her.

She twisted the key, stepped in and punched in the numbers on the alarm pad. Liam came in behind her, and Kelsey grinned and reset the alarm.

She turned into him. “Liam, I found another note today. I have a feeling that it might be the last I’ll find in the book, but I think that I can find out what he’s saying to me if I keep studying it. It’s as if the answer is there—I just have to really put my finger on it.”

He was suddenly, overwhelmingly tired. “Tomorrow,” he said softly.

She nodded. She had set her bag down when she’d keyed in the alarm. She started toward the stairs without it, and then came back, looking at him sheepishly. “I can’t help it. I need it in the room, and I need the door to the room locked.”

He put his arms around her and drew her close. “Guess what?” he asked huskily. “I locked the door to the room last night.”

She smiled. “You slept here?”

“I did. I couldn’t be close to you, but I could sense you near me, and dream and imagine having you beside me,” he told her.

He loved her eyes. They were great pools of brilliant blue, ever-changing in their depths, like the colors of the ocean when the sun was out, when a storm was coming, when night fell. Now they were tender, and soft, and sparkling, as well.

She pulled from his arms and headed for the stairs, turning back when she was halfway up.

“Well?” she demanded.


He raced after her. By the time they reached the bedroom door he caught her. He kissed her long and hard and deeply against the door, drawing her hands over her head and pressing against her. His heart thundered; he felt as if he were on fire, and still, he had to kiss her there, breathe her in and wonder how he had lived all the years she had been gone.

At last, his mouth still firm upon hers, tongues thrusting in a wantonly hot and probing kiss, he turned the doorknob, and they staggered into the room, laughing around the kiss. She drew her shirt over her head and let it fly and pressed against him again, her fingers looping beneath his waistband.

“The door,” she whispered against his mouth.

“The door,” he whispered back.

Still entangled, he backed his way to it and slid the bolt. Then he pushed her forward, and in a second they were on the bed. He released her bra, and her breasts tumbled into his hands and a spasm went through him, hardening him instantaneously. He covered her bare breasts with the curve of his hand, the molten caress of his tongue, and worked his way down. They were still half-clad, and entangled in their clothing, and they disentangled themselves while they made love, touching, stroking with fevered lips and tongues. Finally they were both fully naked and he rose above her and thrust within her, and for a moment he caught her eyes, and the honesty within them, and then she wrapped herself around him and they began to move, undulating slowly, then frantically, and when he came, he knew that sex had never been better, and that there would never be anyone in his life like Kelsey Donovan again. She’d been the ghost in his heart since she had left, and it seemed that all his life, he had been waiting for her return.

Exhausted, sated, they fell against one another. Entangled in one another’s arms, they slept.

He sat in Cutter Merlin’s chair at Cutter Merlin’s desk, and he felt elated. An alarm system!

They were such fools.

So clever, and they knew nothing. The invisible could see so much while unseen. Even alarm codes.

Nothing. They knew nothing.

He was brilliant, and the last episode on the beach was going to give him everything that he needed. Everything.

Because it was time. Kelsey knew. Even if she didn’t know that she knew, the whereabouts of the reliquary were in her mind.

The time had come.

A spasm of anger ripped through him. She was up there now, in her room, with Beckett. They were probably naked. Sweating and copulating. He could imagine the feel of her skin. The feel of her breasts. And that bastard Beckett was with her. He was tempted to get the shotgun that they still hadn’t found, and go in, guns blazing. He’d see the look on Beckett’s face when he fired straight between his eyes. And then Kelsey would be there, naked on her knees in the spill of the cop’s blood, and she would be begging him; she’d do anything for her life….