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The person was wearing some ridiculous goat mask. Or a devil mask. Hard to tell which. The thing had creases and lines and horns.

“Buddy, we’re closed! Come on, now—don’t make me call the cops!”

But the creature whisked around again, heading into the canned goods.

Milton pulled his cell phone from his pocket.

“Last chance. I’m calling the police!”

He started to hear a rumbling just as he reached an aisle where a giant stack of gallon-sized tins of olive oil had been aligned.

He paused, frowning.

Then his heart began to race and his instincts warned him to back up—quickly.

He couldn’t move quickly enough.

The first can caught him right in the forehead, and he saw stars. His legs went weak and he fell to his knees.

The next can broke his nose.

And then he wasn’t sure what happened. One hit his shoulder, one his head again, and then he was aware of one coming straight for his eyes as he blinked and tried to look up.

He didn’t feel anything after that.

He wasn’t aware when another twenty cans fell on top of him, halfway burying him. One burst open, and olive oil spilled over his bruised body.

He was aware when the shadow, the creature, the goat or horned devil, came walking around the aisle.

The creature didn’t touch him.

It looked, stepped around him and hurried out of the store. On the street, the horned god swiftly joined a group of costumed revelers and blended into the crowd.


“There’s a party tonight,” Sam said. No hi, what are you doing, what’s going on, good to talk to you, so glad you answered….

“A party?” Jenna said. “Um, are you inviting us?” she asked.

“Of course. It’s important, I think, that we all go. You got a costume? It’s a costume party,” he explained. “Actually, it’s being put on as a charity event by Ivy and Cecilia’s coven—the Coven of Light. The ticket sales benefit the children’s hospital. It’s all for a really good cause.”

“And that’s why we’re going?” Jenna asked.

“It never hurts when you can aid in a good cause,” Sam said over the phone.


“It’s in the ballroom of one of the new hotels down by the wharf—not far from the House of the Seven Gables. I’ll pick you all up in an hour.”

“An hour! But—we don’t have costumes.”

“Just run down to the shops across from the Peabody Essex Museum. There are three or four right there that sell all kinds of things. All right, I’ll get you in an hour and a half.”

She hung up and walked back to the parlor where Jamie was talking to Angela and Jackson. “We’re going to a costume party. We have to get costumes. Quickly.”

“Oh, no. I’ve lived here way too long,” Jamie said. “I’m opting out of this. I’ll be here. If you need me for anything, just give me a call.”

“We really have to get costumes?” Angela asked.

“Yes, and quickly, let’s run!”

Most of what they were able to find so close to Halloween and on such quick notice were Wiccan capes and Goth clothing. Jackson went with a simple black mask and black cloak. Angela found a cat costume, and Jenna decided that she’d try a modern Goth outfit with a ribbon corset and long velvet skirt and a shimmering purple hooded cloak. The clerk seemed deliriously pleased that they made their selections and paid so quickly.

They ran back to the house and dressed, Jenna using Jamie’s room, since she’d given her own to Angela and Jackson.

Jamie tapped on the door just as she was finishing up. She opened the door and he offered her an affectionate but flattering long whistle.

“Thanks. Maybe I should get a nose ring.”

“Ah, nose rings, in my opinion, are dangerous,” Jamie said. “You never know when someone might decide to lead you around by one. Seriously, lass, you’re looking great! I just wanted to tell you to be careful out there tonight.”

“Jamie, I’m always careful. I’ll be with Jackson and Angela—and Sam, of course.”

“Ah, yes, Sam,” he said, studying her with a twinkle in his eye.

“Jamie, I—”

“Lass, you owe me no explanations. You’re all grown-up now, you know.”

“Yes, I know, but…this is probably just circumstances—we’re being thrown together. And I don’t think that…I don’t think that Sam is capable of really believing in me, or even beginning to understand me.”

Jamie laughed. “Ah, well, that’s to be seen, isn’t it? Sometimes we’re far too hard on the ken of those around us.”

She laughed. “Well, I’m not sure I understand him, then. How about that?” she asked.

He smiled and took a moment. “Sam Hall is a far better man than I think he ever knew. Maybe he’s discovering it now himself. Anyway, he’s here.”


She gave her uncle a kiss on the forehead and hurried out. Sam, Jackson and Angela were waiting for her. Sam, like Jackson, had gone for simplicity. He was wearing a black poet’s shirt and black jeans beneath a black cape.

He stared at her a moment, then he smiled. “Wow,” he murmured.

“Thanks. You’re pretty wow, too.”

“Jenna,” Jackson broke in. “Sam was just telling me that the police verified Marty Keller’s alibi for the day that Peter Andres was killed, so even with the trace evidence of Peter Andres’s blood on the costume, he’s probably clean. But what a good find you made.”

Jenna looked at Sam. He was still studying her. “You were right,” he said. “About the costume, I mean.”

She nodded, not sure of what to say. “So?”

“The school will be under guard until Monday morning,” Sam said. “Then, the cops will go in and try to find out more about the costume. Thing is—access. Almost eight hundred kids might have had access. Not to mention teachers and parents.”

“We’ll have to wait till Monday,” she said.

Sam nodded.

“So, we’re scoping the local scene?” Jackson said.

“There should be quite an array of characters at the party,” Sam said. “Councilman Yates and his wife make appearances. Seniors from the various schools are tacitly admitted. I guess it’s kind of a rite of passage. We won’t see anyone from the Old Meeting House, but we should see Wiccans, every other belief held in the area, performers—and mediums, such as Madam Samantha Yeager.”

“Sounds good,” Jackson said. “Let’s head out.”

The new hotel was modern and beautiful. The entry was grand, and a red velvet runner led to the ballroom. A large sign over the double-door entry read, Blessed Be! Welcome One and All!

Beneath the giant sign was one in smaller print. Frankenstein’s monster and werewolves enter. Princes and princesses. Leprechauns, blobs, vampires, faeries, do come in! No crones, no hags, no warted beings on broomsticks. Only beautiful, modern Wiccan dress allowed!

“What if I’d wanted to be Maleficent, from the Disney movie?” Angela whispered.

“You’d be cool,” Sam said, grinning. “She was a fairy!”

“Oh! You made it!” came a loud voice.

Jenna didn’t realize at first that the wood nymph in the colorful eye mask who hugged her at the door was Cecilia.

“Of course. Thank you so much for having us. Oh, Cecilia, meet my friends, please!” Jenna said, and performed the introductions.

Cecilia laughed. “Hey, Sam gave us a very nice donation over the price of the tickets. And it is for a good cause. The area covens get together to donate their time, decorating expertise and money to put this on. All the revenue goes to the children’s hospital.”

“That’s wonderful,” Jenna assured her.

“Go in! Eat, drink, be merry and dance like a maniac!”

They went in. Jackson and Sam went for drinks with colorful names such as Wiccan’s Brew, Bloody Mary and Lew, Hallowine, All Souls-Tinis and Salem-hattans.

“Look!” Angela said suddenly.

Jenna turned. There, not ten feet away, was a party-goer dressed as the horned god.

She started toward the being, but Angela tugged at her arm. “And over there!”

In the other direction, there was another horned god. This one, however, was busy drinking, and his mask was pushed back. He was a man of about forty, with a friendly smile and a lot of laughter in his crinkled face as he chatted with the pretty belly dancer before him.

“Two more over there,” Angela said glumly.

“Wish we could just strip them all and have their costumes tested, too!” Jenna said.

Jackson and Sam returned. Sam handed her a glass. “Wiccan’s Brew.”

“What’s in it?”

“Bourbon, cranberry, Sprite, if I got it right. Liked the color,” he said and shrugged. “Should have been called Witch’s Brew. You know, don’t you, that they would have hanged you? Witchcraft, magic, were illegal. I’m not sure how I would have defended you. If they had allowed for the accused to hire defense, of course.”

“I have never danced with the devil,” she told him.

He smiled. She waited. “I just needed some time,” he said.

She nodded.

“And what did time do for you?”

“It made me know for certain that I didn’t want to sleep alone tonight.”

Jenna lowered her head, trying not to laugh. “I have a feeling there are dozens of women in this room who would keep you from that fate,” she told him. “Including the snake charmer over here. Madam Samantha Yeager is here. With her boa constrictor.”

“I draw the line at snakes in bed.”

“I’ll bet she’d give it up for you.”

“I just don’t think that you’d want to let her in,” he teased.