Except that Christina felt as if nothing could spook her anymore.
She had a ghost living in her house.
“Where are the others?” Christina asked, finding Ana in the mist.
“Behind us, I think.” Ana laughed softly. “I think Thor is scaring all the creatures away.”
“He’s not spooky. He’s just very good-looking.”
“He’s just so tall, looming out of the mist and all.” Ana linked her arm through Christina’s and shivered, lowering her voice. “It seems so strange, doesn’t it? One of the victims worked here. And everyone is still…still trying to creep out the audience.”
“I’m sure that this place is chock full of security,” Christina said.
Suddenly they heard a scream, and Christina felt genuine panic rush through her for the first time all night.
But then the scream was followed by laughter, and Ilona and Tony broke through the mist to join them.
“Ilona was shrieking like a girl,” Tony announced.
“I am a girl,” Ilona reminded him. “And when that huge tree thing just appeared out of the mist, it scared me.”
A moment later, the others caught up with them, as well. Mike was deep in some kind of philosophical debate with Adam, and Genevieve was walking between her husband and Jed.
“There’s way too much mist,” Jed said.
“Well, it’s a new park. They’re probably trying to get a handle on it,” Tony said with a shrug.
“Dan should be just ahead, up in a big chair where those freaky lights are,” Mike told them.
“Almost there,” Ana said cheerfully. “Oh, look at the ghouls over there. Those are mine. I’m especially proud of them.”
The mist swirled around Christina again as she stopped to stare at Ana’s ghouls. Then, when she turned back around…mist. Nothing but mist.
“Hey,” she called uncertainly.
No one answered.
She felt…something. Someone touching her. Fingers stroking her hair…
“Hey!” she protested, then spun around. No one was anywhere near her, and she felt panicked again.
Don’t be ridiculous, she told herself. She was in a theme park. She might not be able to see them, but there were lots of people—undoubtedly including plenty of security personnel—around.
She turned, forcing herself not to panic, to look up toward the lights. Dan would be in that direction. She started to move, but her foot lodged against something hard. She cried out as she lost her balance and went crashing down to the ground. Into the swirling mist.
She lashed out and struck someone, then heard what sounded like someone sucking in their breath. She reached out, fumbling around, trying to find something to grab for balance so she could rise, and touched…
The mist began to clear, and she blinked, peering more closely at the woman on the ground next to her. The woman’s eyes were closed, her face deathly white. Christina swallowed the scream that rose in her throat when she realized it was white makeup, and that the other woman had on a long wig, black and gray and white. She was one of the vampires, Christina realized quickly.
“Are you all right?” she asked anxiously, when she noticed that the woman wasn’t moving. “Hey,” Christina said, reaching for her.
She was cold.
And there was a thin line of blood seeping from her lips….
“And there, my children, you have it. Another tale from the ghastly, ghoulish pen of our renowned literary giant, Edgar Allan Poe. Come back tomorrow for a story straight from the pages of another American literary great—along with a few suggestions of the Grim Reader’s favorite places, where the mist and the graves and the hauntings are real.”
God, he loved applause, Dan thought as he listened to it. He relished the sound; he lived to perform.
As he stepped down from his chair, his smile brightened, though he wasn’t at all sure anyone would realize that it was a smile. Not with his makeup, which was one of Ana’s designs.
And there she was, he realized. Tiny, adorable, standing at the front of the audience. While the others began to break away, she just stood there, rapt.
“Hiya, kid,” he said, striding toward her. He was on such a high from performing that he grabbed her, dipped her and planted a kiss on her lips.
A park-goer passing by looked at him, startled.
“That was great,” Ana cried, struggling up.
“I agree,” Michael said, coming up and patting him on the back. “Congratulations, that was terrific. And I hear you got your part. Congratulations.”
“Thanks,” Dan said, grinning.
Mike rolled his eyes. “All we need is you walking around thinking you’re a god. Hey, do you remember Christie’s friend Genevieve?”
“Sure do,” Dan said, reaching out to give Genevieve a quick hug.
“This is my husband, Thor,” Genevieve said.
Dan looked up. He was tall himself. This guy was taller.
“And this is Adam Harrison,” Michael finished.
“And you know us,” Ilona said, waving to him.
“Terrific show,” Tony told him.
Dan frowned. “Where’s Christie?”
They all stared at him, then looked around.
“Shit,” Michael said.
“Where the hell is she?” Jed, who’d been silent until then, demanded. Then he turned and disappeared into the mist. As he did, a bloodcurdling scream tore through the night.
“What the hell?” Ana gasped.
A teenage girl burst through the fog, screaming, then giggled.
Mike looked at her in disgust, then turned to the others and asked, “Where the hell is Christie?”
“Help! Help me!” Christina shouted.
She had found the other woman’s wrist and checked her pulse. She was alive but unconscious, and she wasn’t responding to Christina’s anxious attempts to revive her.
Around her, Christina heard screams and laughter. “I need help here!” she shouted, trying to make herself heard above the general revelry.
A moment later, she heard footsteps and someone calling her name.
“I’m over here, Jed. Help me!”
A dark shadow moved through the silver mist, and seconds later, she saw his face. “She’s hurt!” Christina cried out.
“What?” he asked, looking puzzled.
“One of the vampires. Help me. She’s hurt.”
He got down on his knees beside her, his police training evident as he moved efficiently to determine the woman’s condition.
She heard her name called again. Ana’s voice, followed by Tony’s, then Mike’s and Genevieve’s…
“Over here!” Jed yelled. “Call an ambulance and park security!”
A floodlight suddenly cut through the mist. A park employee who introduced himself as Dr. Saryn knelt down to help, and while the others crowded around, Christina saw two nurses hurrying over with a rolling stretcher.
Suddenly she had a terrifying thought. Half the people here tonight were in costume. What if they weren’t real medical personnel? What if they were going to take the woman away and…She told herself not to be ridiculous and returned her attention to what was going on.
“Oh, my God!” Dan said, his eyes on the girl being lifted onto the stretcher. “What the hell happened?” he asked anxiously.
“Who knows, in this fog,” one of the nurses said irritably.
“I know her,” Dan said, upset. “Her name’s Marcie…Marcie McDonnagh. She’s my friend, she’s my…Hera.”
“As of now, she’s my patient,” Dr. Saryn said. “I’ve sent for an ambulance. Her pulse is strong, and she doesn’t seem to have any broken bones. It looks as if she tripped. There’s a good-size hematoma on the back of her head.” Saryn turned to Christina. “You found her?” he asked.
“Well, she owes you her thanks. She could have gone unnoticed for a long time in all this.” He waved to indicate the mist, which seemed even more surreal as it swirled in the beam of the floodlight.
Arms slipped around Christina from behind. Jed’s. She was amazed to realize that she wasn’t feeling afraid anymore; instead, she was angry. But she didn’t mind the support.
“Someone needs to report this,” she said firmly. “She didn’t trip, she was pushed. Someone attacked her.”
Everyone stared at her blankly.
“Look,” Saryn said, “I have to get this woman to a hospital. If you want to report a crime, call the police.”
He left, the nurses following with Marcy on the stretcher. Dan cast Christina a worried glance, then ran after them.
“Quite a night,” Adam Harrison murmured.
“What did you mean?” Jed asked Christina, eyes narrowed. “What did you mean when you said someone attacked her?”
“I…I don’t know,” she admitted. “It just seemed like someone in the crowd was getting rowdy or something. I felt as if…as if I was being pushed.”
“Teenagers!” Ilona exploded.
And why not? Christina asked herself. Even if someone had pushed her, why was she so sure there had been any malice behind it? Ilona was right; it had probably just been some rowdy teenager. “Let’s go get some dinner,” she said. “Seeing as the Grim Reader is done for the night.”
Jed hadn’t intended to stay at Christina’s house, but wasn’t at all sure about “Uncle” Adam. Not that Christina would be alone with him. Genevieve and Thor would also be there—and Killer, of course.
But there was just something bugging him. About the house? Or about Christina?
She had almost certainly been right about whatever had occurred between Beau Kidd and Larry Atkins on that day twelve years ago when Larry had killed his partner. Larry didn’t act like a man who was coming unglued because he had committed murder. He did act like a man with a serious guilt complex, a man who was afraid that he had killed his partner over a mistake. There was really only one explanation for why Beau Kidd had pulled his weapon: because he hadn’t seen his partner and was afraid of who was out there in the dark.