Page 17

“Katie!” He shouted her name.

Both Katie and Sam stopped, and turned back. Katie seemed surprised to see him; so did Sam.

“Sam, where are you heading?” he asked, moving up.

“My B and B is down the street,” Sam said. He blushed. “I’m staying at Artist House. We don’t have a place anymore.”

“Oh, well, it’s a beautiful place,” David said. They walked together on down to Katie where she waited.

“A couple of drunks got rowdy?” she asked.

“Yeah, Pete was there.”

She laughed. “Pete doesn’t have to deal with the drunks much these days. He must have been ticked that they acted up right in front of him.”

“Yep,” David said.

“Hey, a cop is a cop,” Sam said. He stood awkwardly for a moment. “Well, good night. See you all. Tomorrow, I imagine. Hey, Katie, you got your act up tomorrow night, too, right?”

“Sunday, yes,” she said. “Good night, Sam.”

Sam walked on. The streets were quiet. Katie waited, looking at David. “I was trying to walk you home,” he told her.

She smiled. “That’s nice.”

“Let me see you in.”


They walked in silence for a minute. They reached her house and she opened the door. She seemed to hesitate, as if she was about to ask him in, but wasn’t sure.

He waited.

She didn’t.

“Thank you,” she said.

He nodded. “Well, keep your door locked, all right?” he asked.

Her smile deepened. In the muted light her eyes were truly a crystal that seemed hypnotic. He reminded himself that she was Sean’s little sister.

But Sean’s little sister had grown up.

“Well, good night,” he told her.

“Good night.”

She closed the door; he heard her lock it. He turned and walked slowly back to the Beckett house.

He paused on the street. He loved the house but tonight, it seemed cold, empty and forlorn.

And down the street, he could see the museum. He wasn’t given to anything illogical, but it seemed that night that the museum had a life of its own. It looked large in the shadows, dark and evil.

Irritated, he let himself into the house he now owned. He went to bed, and lay awake a long time, staring up at the ceiling.

Katie was exhausted, but the events of the past few days seemed to rush through her mind. She was restless, jumping at sounds. But then she grew angry with herself; she wasn’t easily scared. For God’s sake, it wasn’t as if she thought there was a ghost in her closet.

There might be a ghost in her closet, but if there was, she wasn’t afraid of it! Ghosts reached out. They needed help. They weren’t evil puffs of air or mist or…whatever. They were lost, and frequently, in pain.

She wondered then if there were evil ghosts. In her experience, no. For her, they were a part of life-just like allergies were to some people. Sometimes startling and annoying, and sometimes, like Bartholomew, they just seemed to hang around endlessly.

She was fond of Bartholomew. And he actually made her feel safe. In his odd, ghostly way, he was a very good friend. He was fond of her, as well.

She thought about David, and what he believed-that surely there was nothing in the world beyond the obvious. David wouldn’t be a big believer in ghosts.

She tried counting sheep. That was ridiculous. She looked at the clock. It was 4:00 a.m. She prayed for sleep.

At last, she drifted off, and then fell deeply asleep. She woke slowly in the morning, feeling the coolness of her sheets, hearing the hum of the air conditioner. Her drapes were closed, but the sun was filtering into her room. It was day; she had rested. And she felt good.

She stretched, and then rolled over, cuddling her pillow, wanting just a few more minutes in bed.

She froze.

Despite herself, she screamed.

She wasn’t alone in bed. The woman she had seen on Duval was there, lying next to her, staring into her eyes.

The woman was dead.

Her eyes were wide open, huge and blue, and staring sightlessly.

She was a ghost, of course…

The ghost of Tanya Barnard.

No matter where he went, no matter the project, David preferred staying close to the sea.

Actually, one thing that he had missed about home was the guarantee that the water was going to be temperate and beautiful. Sure, in the middle of winter even the Atlantic and the Gulf could be cold. But usually, nine months out of the year at least, the water was beautiful.

Today he felt the need for the water. He thought best when he was in the water, and he wasn’t feeling close enough to anyone else from his past to ask for company-not true, he’d have asked Katie O’Hara, except that she had kept her distance the night before- and though he knew damned well he shouldn’t plan on going out by himself, he was going to do so. He’d had good friends, expert divers, who had actually died by believing that they were so good they didn’t need company. He preached diving with a buddy.

But today, he was going to live recklessly. He was going out alone.

He knew that his grandfather had kept the Lucky Life in good repair at the dock; he knew that Liam took the boat out often enough, as well. He walked the distance to the boat, knowing that Liam kept dive equipment on her. The dive shop right at the docks rented tanks, and he could also buy sandwiches, water and beer.

Lainie Regent still worked at the dive shop; she greeted him and rented him four tanks with thirty minutes each. These would work as long as he controlled his breathing and kept his dives around sixty feet. He assured her he wasn’t doing any of the deep wrecks, and that he’d be fine.

“Welcome back, David,” Lainie told him. “Be nice if you stuck around a bit. Hey! I saw some of your work in that national earth-thingy magazine. David, what great pictures!”

“Thanks, Lainie.” He bid her goodbye without making any commitments and headed on down to the Lucky Life. Craig had never really been much of a fisherman; in his younger days, he’d been an avid diver. The boat was designed to that end with eight tank holds, a freshwater hose and bucket, a small cabin with a very small working galley and a head. Since David had been gone, sonar equipment and global positioning had been added.


He checked his gas, then started to slip the ties that tethered the boat to the dock.


He looked up, startled by the sense of pleasure that seemed to wash over him.



Katie O’Hara was hurrying down the dock toward him. She was wearing deck shoes, shorts, a bikini top with an open long-sleeved shirt over it and a huge, floppy sun hat. She was all long legs and flowing hair, and she seemed to make his heart beat too hard, his libido to flip about. He kept his features rigid, thinking of the years he had been gone, the women who had come and gone from his life, many nice, kind, cute, beautiful, intelligent-and some not. They had all been friends, but all like ships at sea, passing in high and low waters, in storm and in calm.

None had made him feel this way, and he had to wonder why.

He barely knew her.

And she was Sean’s little sister.

“Hey, Katie,” he said, pausing. He frowned. “How did you know where I was?”

“I don’t exactly have a phone number for you,” she apologized. “I called Liam. Then I did try you, but you’re not answering.”

“Sorry, my stuff is thrown in the cabin.”

She nodded. She looked like she had the night before.

“Why were you looking for me? Is something wrong, has something happened?”

“No, no, nothing is wrong and nothing has happened. I guess I wanted to talk to you, mull things over more. Now that I’m here, I think you need company. It’s dangerous to dive alone, you know.”

He smiled. She sounded like one of the very serious and professional instructors they might have had when they’d been young, just old enough for certification.

“Climb aboard,” he told her.

“Where are you heading?”

“Sand Key-nothing deep. I’m looking for something peaceful, protected…lots of fish, clear water.”

“Sounds good to me. Do I need more tanks?”

“We can make two dives-and I imagine you have to be back for work.”

“Great. Food?”

“We’re good. Climb aboard.”

She hopped on, releasing the last loop as she did so and winding the lines. She knew the boats; she knew diving.

They were conchs.

He kept his speed slow while exiting the no-wake zone, then picked up as they headed out in a southwesterly direction. The sound of the motor kept them from talking much, nothing more than, “Want a water?” And, “Sure!” And then his thank-you to her as she produced the plastic bottles from the ice chest.

At last he slowed the boat; there were charters out in the area and a number of smaller craft, as well. He set their dive flag out, and went for his equipment.

She slipped into a skin, telling him that she hated running into jellyfish, and they helped one another with their tanks, rinsed their masks, held them and back-dove into the water. He had taken one of his underwater digital cameras for the day, not planning to do any professional work, but seldom without a camera.

It was good to have Katie with him.

It was good to be down.

The deepest the area went was seventy-five feet or so, but most of the reefs and the fish were found at depths shallow enough for snorkelers to enjoy the water, too.

They kept a distance of about five feet apart, and the dive was everything he’d wanted. Crystal clear water, just cool enough to be pleasant, warm enough to be comfortable. Tangs in a variety of colors shot around the reef, anemones flared and larger fish appeared as well, one giant grouper, a curious barracuda that politely kept its distance and, beneath them, a number of little nurse sharks.

Katie, in her light dive skin, hair flaring out around her, eyes large and beautiful behind her mask, made a perfect subject for quick takes with his camera. She frowned when he first started snapping, but he shrugged, and he saw her smile around her regulator.