Sam wished he’d never come into the bar.

“Sam, do you remember my niece, Jenna Duffy? Jenna, Sam, Sam Hall.”

Jenna Duffy offered him a long, elegant hand. He was surprised that, when he took it, her handshake was strong.

“We’ve met, so I’ve been told,” she said. He found himself fascinated with her eyes. They were so green. Deep viridian, like a forest.

“I have a vague memory myself,” he said.

“Sam, sit, please—if you have the time?” Jamie asked.

He was tempted to say that he had a pressing engagement. Hell, he’d gone to law school and, sometimes, in a courtroom, he realized that it had almost been an education in lying like wildfire while never quite telling an untruth. It was all a complete oxymoron, really.

“You’re on a leave, aren’t you? Kind of an extended leave?” Jamie asked him, before he could compose some kind of half truth.

“It’s not exactly a leave, since I choose my own cases, but, yeah, I’ve basically taken some time. I’m just deciding what to do with my parents’ home,” he replied.

He slid into the seat next to Jenna Duffy. He noted her perfume—it was nice, light, underlying. Subtle. It didn’t bang him on the head. No, this was the kind of scent that slipped beneath your skin, and you wondered later why it was still hauntingly in the air.

“You’re not going to sell your parents’ house, are you?” Jamie sounded shocked.

“I’ve considered it.”

“They loved that place,” Jamie reminded him.

Jenna was just listening to their conversation, offering no opinion.

“They’re gone,” Sam said. He shook his head. “I just don’t really have a chance to get up here all that often anymore.”

“It’s a thirty-minute ride,” Jamie said. “And it’s—it’s so wonderful and historic.”

“So is Boston,” Sam said.

“Ah, but nothing holds a place in the annals of American—and human!—history as does Salem,” Jamie said.

“You’re trying to shame me, Jamie O’Neill,” Sam said. He smiled slowly.

Jamie waved a hand in the air. “It’s not as if you need the money.”

Ouch. That one hurt, just a little bit.

“Jamie, you didn’t call me over here to give me a guilt complex about my parents’ house…” Sam said.

Jamie looked hurt. “Young man—”

“Yes, you would have said hello—you would have asked about my life. But what’s going on? I know you. And that Irish charm. You’re a devious bastard, really.” Then he looked at Jenna and murmured, “Sorry.”

“Oh, I don’t disagree,” she told him.


“You found Malachi Smith in the road last night,” Jamie said quietly.

Sam tensed immediately. The incident had been disturbing on so many levels. He couldn’t forget the way that the boy had been shaking.

He stared back at Jamie. “I did.”

“I don’t believe that he did it,” Jamie said.

Sam winced, staring down at his drink. He rubbed his thumb over the sweat on his glass. “Look, Jamie, I feel sorry for that kid. Really sorry for him. I’ve been watching the news all morning. His life must have been hell. But I saw him. He was covered in blood. How else did he become covered in blood if he wasn’t the one who did it?”

“Ah, come on, you’re a defense attorney!” Jamie said. “It’s obvious.”

“I’m missing obvious,” Sam said drily. No, not really. There was just this odd feeling. Why get involved any more than he already was? The horror he’d felt when he’d come upon the boy bathed in blood, in the middle of the road…

“I think,” Jenna said, “that it’s possible that Malachi Smith came home to find his family butchered, and that he tried to wake them up, or perhaps wrap them in his arms, and therefore became covered in the blood.”

“He was naked,” Sam said flatly.

“Right. He became horrified by the amount of blood all around him, all over his clothing, and tried to strip it off—but there was so much of it, it was impossible,” Jenna said.

He looked at her. “And you believe this?” he asked pointedly.

“I didn’t grow up here—I was always a visitor—I never knew Malachi Smith or his family. I heard the rumors about them, and, naturally, everyone in the area knows about Lexington House. Well, it’s the kind of legend that gets around everywhere, I suppose. I can’t tell you about Malachi Smith—not the way that Uncle Jamie can. Jamie treated the boy. But I think that’s the kind of possibility my uncle might have in mind. And I myself suppose it’s possible. We’d have to know what Malachi has to say.”

Sam stared at her for a long moment. Her eyes were enigmatic, so deep and mesmerizing a green. If he remembered correctly, she’d been something of a wiseass kid.

“Sam, they are your roots,” Jamie said.

He laughed. “My roots? Lexington House is not part of my roots—I barely knew the Smiths. Again, and please, listen to me, Jamie, I understand how you feel. I’m sorry for the boy. But, I don’t like staying here too long—you wind up tangled in the history of the place, shopping for incense, herbs and tarot cards—and hating the Puritans. Religious freedom? Hell, they kicked everyone else out. Witchcraft? Spectral evidence…it’s no wonder we have religious nuts like the Smiths moving in. And I like our modern Wiccans—do no harm and all that. But I’m not into chanting and worshipping mother earth, either. I seem to get too wrapped up when I’m here—I’m like you. I want to argue the ridiculous legal system of the past, and I find myself wondering sometimes if it does affect any insanity that goes on in the present. Maybe it’s in the air, maybe it’s in the grass and maybe people just really want to hurt one another. Maybe they can’t not buy into all the hype of this place.”

He stopped speaking. He was surprised at his own bitterness. He had never hated Salem. It was his home. The Peabody Essex Museum was an amazing place. People still tried hard to figure out just what had gone on, and how to improve the world in the future, to learn how to stop the ugliness of prejudice and hatred. Actually, he loved Salem itself. He loved many of the people. Maybe it was just him; maybe he still wanted to understand what could never be truly comprehended in the world they lived in now. But people tried. Tried to preserve the past to improve the present and the future.

And yet a whacked-out son of a bitch like Abraham Smith had moved in, tortured his son in a like manner to the rigid principles practiced long ago, and he’d never forget the way the kid had looked in the middle of the road, shaking, his eyes huge and terrified, blood drip- ping off his naked body…and he couldn’t help but feel that the father’s method of raising the son had something to do with all that death.

Jamie was nonplussed by his speech. Jenna just looked at him with those beautiful green eyes that seemed to rip into the soul.

He sighed deeply. “You want me to defend the boy. It should be an open-and-shut case. There’s just no way that a prosecutor would ever get a jury to believe that the boy was mentally competent when he committed the act.”

“No!” Jamie said firmly. “I want you to prove that the boy didn’t do it.”

Sam groaned softly.

“Isn’t that your specialty?” Jamie asked him. “Proving your client’s innocence—and in so doing, finding the real killer?”

“Jamie, I’d like to help, but in this case—”

“I know we don’t pay as well as the mob…” Jamie cut in.

“Oh, low blow, Jamie. Not fair. I’ve worked pro bono many times.” He sighed deeply. “You don’t just want me to defend Malachi Smith—you want me to find a killer. I haven’t lived here in years—I wouldn’t even begin to know where to look. And I’m an attorney—”

“You keep up with your private investigator’s license,” Jamie pointed out.

“We could be talking a conflict of interest in this situation,” Sam said, “if I’m defending him and investigating the case.”

Jamie smiled serenely. “Nope. It’s perfectly legal for you to hold and use your P.I. license while you practice law. And you know it. That’s not an excuse—you’ve just come off a case in which you managed to do both. Any time whatsoever you’re afraid of a conflict of interest, you send someone else out. You use your mind and your license when you need them. Send others out to do the work you’ve decided needs to be done.”

“What others?” Sam asked, aggravated.

“Jenna,” Jamie said, smiling then like the Cheshire cat.

“Your niece?”

“Jenna,” Jamie repeated. “My niece is part of a special unit of the FBI.”

Sam stared at the redheaded woman at his side. FBI? Special Unit?

“I’m not here officially,” she said quickly.

“Of course not, you’d have to be invited in, and Detective John Alden is certain that he doesn’t need help, that he has his murderer,” Sam said, looking at her. “What kind of a special unit?”

“Jenna’s team was instrumental in solving some of the most high-profile cases in the country,” Jamie said proudly. “The recent Ripper murders in New York? That was her team. And all that trouble down in Louisiana with the death of a senator’s wife—them again.”

Sam stared at her, memories stirring in his mind. He remembered now. In the news they’d been called the Krewe of Hunters, and they had a phenomenal success rate. But they were known to be…special, all right. They looked for paranormal occurrences. And what better place than Salem?

He didn’t mean to be so rude; he took his eyes off Jenna when he spoke. “The ghost of old Eli Lexington caused Malachi Smith to murder his family? No, wait, he wouldn’t be innocent then. The ghost killed the family himself!”