But how the hell had Christina figured that out?
Ilona and Tony had opted to stay at the park when the rest of them went to dinner. While they were eating, Christina’s cell phone rang. It was Dan, reporting that Marcie was going to be all right, though she didn’t know what had happened. She only remembered waking up in the hospital. Despite the good news, Christina looked distraught when she hung up.
“What is it?” Mike asked her.
She shrugged. “He’s worried—any more problems and the park might wind up closing.”
“More problems?” Adam asked. “What else happened?”
“One of the women who was killed, the second victim, worked at the park,” Christina explained. “And I hate to say it, but that mist tonight was a pretty major mistake on someone’s part, a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
“They have insurance up the wazoo, I’m sure,” Mike said.
Dinner broke up and people started heading their separate ways at that point. Back at Christina’s, Jed found himself striding in without waiting for an invitation. If his presence seemed unusual to anyone, it wasn’t mentioned.
Christina immediately went into the kitchen to make tea, despite the fact that they had just eaten, and Jed realized that was simply the way things had always been done in that house when Christina’s grandmother had been alive. You came over and you had tea. It was a nice tradition, he realized.
As they drank tea and munched shortbread, the conversation turned to diving for treasure, which was the way Gen and Thor made their living. Jed talked about some nearby underwater caverns Thor had never been to, and they decided to take a group dive trip.
“Better do it before it gets much later in the year,” Christina said. “That water gets chilly.”
“How far are they from here?” Thor asked.
“I’d say an hour and a half,” Jed said, and as he spoke, he realized he was seeing a map of the state in his mind’s eye.
A map with all the highways.
And an X where each body had been found.
Twelve years ago, the first and last had been found alongside I-4, off International Drive, right where the tourists went. Another was found off the turnpike, two more off the Beeline Expressway.
The first body had been found just off I-4, off International Drive, the next two by the turnpike.
The killer was even choosing the same highways as the dumpsites for the bodies.
He surfaced from his thoughts when Christina said, “I’m going to have a get-together on Saturday night.”
“A big party?” Jed asked “No, just Tony and Ilona, Mike and Dan, you and Ana, Adam, Thor and Genevieve. And myself, of course.”
She was testing the idea out on him, he realized. Why? “That sounds nice,” he said. “Will Dan be off?”
“Yes, he can put in for the early shift. He’s not the only Grim Reader, of course, plus he’s got his role as Zeus now, and they’ll be starting rehearsals soon. In another couple of weekends, the whole Halloween thing will be over, anyway.”
It seemed like a long explanation, he thought. Was she nervous? “Any special reason for this get-together?” he asked her.
“Sure…to get together,” she said.
Genevieve yawned then, and everyone started excusing themselves to go up to bed. Jed had just reached the upstairs landing with Christina when his cell phone rang.
It was Jerry Dwyer.
He dreaded learning that another body had been found, but Jerry hadn’t called to report another murder.
“There’s going to be a wake tomorrow night for Allison Chesney. Seven to nine. You coming?”
“Thanks. I’ll definitely be there.”
“Yeah. You never know who might show.”
He hung up. Christina was staring at him. “Allison Chesney’s wake is tomorrow,” he told her.
“I know,” she said.
“I was thinking it would be a good idea to go.”
“You were? Me, too.”
“I was thinking I should go.”
“Jed, I actually knew her.”
He hesitated. “Sometimes a killer will go to a funeral or a wake. Depending on what makes a monster tick, sometimes he takes pleasure from seeing his victim’s loved ones mourning her. I don’t think you should go.”
“But I do.”
“Christina…I don’t want the killer to get a good look at another gorgeous redhead,” he said.
Once again, she stared at him before turning away. “These killings have to stop!” she said passionately.
He walked over to her, taking her hands. “Christina, I know that. Is there something I don’t know? Something I should know?”
She seemed to be looking past him. And she looked irritated. “No,” she finally said.
She shook her head.
“Do you mind that I’m here?”
“No. But I’m exhausted.”
“I see.” Was that like, Not tonight, dear. I have a headache? They hadn’t really been together long enough for that, he thought. But the only thing he said was “All right.”
He walked across the room, stripped off his shirt and jeans, and slid beneath the sheets. When he turned back to look at her, she was staring across the room, toward the door.
“Go away,” she whispered.
He started to rise. “What?”
She spun around. “What?” she echoed.
“Do you want me to leave?”
“Didn’t you just say, ‘go away’?”
“No, not to you. Really.”
She stripped with an admirable and arousing speed, sliding next to him beneath the sheets, far too naked to be ignored, so he pushed aside the question of who she had been talking to and simply took her into his arms.
She pressed closer and closer to him, as if she were trying to become one with him.
Her flesh rubbed against his, her nipples hard against his chest. She slid her arms around his waist, and her hands moved, fingers teasing, so light at first. When he didn’t allow himself to react, her touch became more insistent, more erotic. There was no way in hell that what she intended could be misinterpreted—or resisted.
He drew her more tightly into his arms, his mouth fusing to hers. Her body seemed to melt against him, insinuate itself with explicit intimacy against his hollows. He broke the kiss and stared at her. Her eyes were brilliant, and he could hear the rampant thunder of her heart.
Her lips were wet, parted…
She rose against him, meeting his eyes again. “Just hold me,” she said. “I’m not feeling tired after all.”
Evidently not, he thought, wondering what had changed.
Her lips skittered across his flesh like liquid fire. Her mouth closed around him.
He made love to her until they were both panting and exhausted, and then he held her through the night.
Still, he was puzzled. She kept staring at the door, as if she were afraid that someone was going to enter. Someone she didn’t want to see.
She was dreaming. She knew it, but she couldn’t stop it.
She was in a room, but there was a blindfold over her eyes, so she couldn’t see, And everything ached. Everything. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t move, because there were ropes binding her wrists and ankles to a chair. She couldn’t even scream, because she was gagged.
Suddenly she heard footsteps. Leisurely footsteps, coming closer…
Her terror was overwhelming, because she knew what was going to happen. Knew…
She wanted to escape. She had to escape.
Beau Kidd was calling to her. She recognized his voice.
Help me. Get me out of here, she pleaded.
My hand, take my hand…
She woke up to find Jed at her side, staring at her with concern in his eyes.
Her night-light was on, as always, and she could see his face. Feel the vitality and heat of his body, the power of his slightest movement. The life in him.
“Hey,” he said, and softly touched her face. “Nightmare?”
It was fading already. She could barely remember anything at all.
Not that there was anything to remember, anyway. She hadn’t seen anything, hadn’t seen anyone. All she had was an impression, a trick of the mind.
She moved closer to him, secure in the clasp of his strong arms. “I guess,” she murmured.
“We all have them sometimes,” he told her.
“You have nightmares?”
He hesitated, then said, “Sometimes we live our nightmares.”
She exhaled, watching the shadows play across his face. “And sometimes we have to let them go,” she told him softly.
He smiled slowly, smoothed back her hair. “You all right?”
She nodded. And she was all right, of course. It had just been a nightmare. It meant nothing.
So why did she suddenly feel such a sense of fear? Of danger awaiting her somewhere in the darkness?
C hristina awoke and found herself relieved that Jed had gotten up early and, according to the note he’d left her, gone downtown to meet Jerry. She quickly showered and dressed, reflecting on how amazing it was to find herself feeling that way, given that she had been at least a little in love with Jed Braden most of her life. And she was grateful that he’d been there, but there were some dangers even he couldn’t help her fight.
Like those in her mind.
Or the fact that she was seeing a ghost.
And now…what? Was she feeling what the victims had felt?
Downstairs, Adam Harrison had already made coffee. He was sitting in the wing chair in the parlor, her box of newspaper clippings at his side. “Morning,” he said.
She looked around. The parlor was quiet. “Have you seen…Beau?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Sorry. Genevieve may see him, but sometimes…well, it’s really up to him. That’s why we need to have a séance,” he told her. “Sometimes ghosts only appear to specific people, and for specific reasons. Other ghosts will appear to several people, or just to anyone.” He offered her a rueful grin. “It’s not an exact science. Beau may be feeling uncomfortable now, with the house suddenly so full,” he told her.