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The dream began just as it had the first time.

There was the feeling of being confined. Tied up. The awful darkness.

She was trying so hard to make a sound, to scream, but she was bound and gagged, and the worst was that she knew what was coming next. There was terror in the darkness, because soon her tormentor would come back.

She listened for the telltale footsteps, and every cell in her body seemed to scream. She would die. Eventually, she would die. The time would come when she was no longer entertaining, and then…

She started to fight the terror, clawing her way to consciousness. She was in her own bed; her Jack Russell was lying with her. She had to wake up, had to wake up….

With a cry, she finally found her way back, and she gasped in relief. The night-light was on, as always, and Killer was standing by her side, staring at her, whining.

“Beau?” she whispered.

She saw him. He was in the chair, his head between his hands, and he looked up at her in absolute misery. “I’m so sorry,” he told her.

“No,” she said to him. “Don’t be sorry. None of this is your fault. My grandmother warned me once that it was dangerous to see the dead, to talk to them. But now…Beau, I am not going to be so afraid anymore. We have to find the truth.”

Beau shook his head. “I don’t know…”

“If I just stay in my dream…”



“Maybe you can’t really be hurt in a dream,” he said. “But then again, what if a dream can kill…?”

It was irritating but true.

There was no way Jed intended to stay away from Christina’s get-together. As much as he might mock and actually be angry that they seriously meant to hold a séance, he didn’t intend to stay away. He was too worried about Christina. And he couldn’t help it, but he was worried about Katherine Kidd, as well.

Hell, he was worried about any attractive young woman right now, but especially redheads. He wondered if the smartest thing for women to be doing right now was stock up on black hair dye. But that wasn’t the solution, or not the whole solution, anyway. The red hair was a factor, yes, but he was convinced it wasn’t everything.

When he arrived at the house, he could hear music. There were great aromas emanating from the house, as well. Something was being barbecued, and a lot of baking had been going on.

The door was unlocked, an oversight he decided to forgive, since there was such a crowd. Even so, he made sure to lock it behind himself. He stood unnoticed in the front hall for a moment, just observing. Mike and Thor were engaged in conversation in the hall, Mike expressing himself with his hands and somehow not spilling the beer he held. Jed waved hello and headed into the living room, where Dan was hunkered down by the CD player, apparently having put himself in charge of the music.

Adam was seated in a comfortable chair, leaning back and listening to the music, and he seemed to be pleasantly relaxed. Tony was carrying on a conversation with Genevieve about the perfect way to dress a turkey.

Ana and Christina seemed to be doing the most work. He found them in the kitchen, setting out trays and plates.

“Olives?” Ana asked.

“Here.” Christina held out the jar.

“I already put out the celery, carrots and cukes,” Ana said.

“Great. Hey, just grab the potato salad, will you? Hey, Mike!” she shouted. “Go check the barbecue, would you?”

“I’m here,” Jed said. “Want me to do it?”

She looked up at him, eyes a very cool blue. “Sure, but hurry. I don’t want it to burn.”

“I’m on it,” he said lightly.

He went out back, where steps led down from the wraparound porch to a covered patio. Beyond that was a pool. It was a small pool, kidney-shaped, but they’d had a great time in it, growing up. The McDuffs had always welcomed kids.

He went over to the big grill and discovered that the meat was safe. He quickly flipped the burgers, then the ribs and chicken. A minute later, he felt Christina come out.

Felt her.

He knew the scent of her cologne, but that didn’t matter. He knew the way the air moved when she was near. He just knew that she was there.

“I have a plate for the burgers,” she said.


“Need help out here?” Thor asked, walking over behind Christina.

“I’ll go back in and help Ana get stuff out on the table,” Christina said. “You can give Jed a hand, Thor.”

Jed looked down at the grill, trying to hide a dry smile. Great. Send out the Incredible Hulk. If a man like that believed in ghosts…

“Have you been keeping an eye on Katherine Kidd?” Thor asked.

Jed shrugged. “I followed her to the store, I followed her home,” he said. “I thought about asking her over here, but…”

Thor frowned. “Maybe you should have.”

“This isn’t my house. Not my place.”

“Call her now and see if she wants to come.”

Jed turned to him, arching a brow. “She’s even less amused by this than I am.”

“It’s not meant to be amusing,” Thor said.

“How do they want them cooked?”

“Go for half medium and half well, I guess,” Thor said. “Seriously, why don’t you give Katherine a call? Two good things about that. One, she’ll be here.”

“And number two?”

“She won’t be home alone on a Saturday night, tempted to go out.”

The first batch of hamburgers was done. Jed slid them on to a plate and asked Thor, “You want to be in charge of ribs and chicken?”

Thor grinned and nodded. At that moment, Christina and Ana came outside. Ana had plates, cups, napkins and silverware. Christina was balancing two large platters, one holding buns and bread, the other divided into sections and containing baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw.

Thor walked over to join them at the picnic table, carrying the burgers. “I told Jed he should try to convince Katherine Kidd to come over.”

“What?” Christina asked, blindsided.

“I said—”

“I heard you.” She gazed over at Jed for a moment, then turned back to Thor. “You heard what she said at the cemetery. She thinks we’re all nuts, you know. And cruel. She won’t come.”

“I think she will,” Thor said.

Genevieve had walked over while they were talking and picked up the gist of the conversation. “Jed, let’s just go over there. She’ll be much more likely to accept if you ask her in person. Come on. I’ll go with you.”

Christina couldn’t have been more surprised when Jed and Genevieve returned—with Katherine Kidd.

Whatever Jed had said to her had led to a complete change of attitude. She mingled cheerfully and had actually worked with Mike, so they had that to talk about.

When she approached Christina, it was ruefully. “Thank you so much for inviting me,” she said.

“We’re glad you’re here,” Christina said, trying to sound as if she meant it. At her feet, Killer barked happily, then looked up, wagging his tail hopefully as he eyed the plate of leftovers she was carrying. “No more, Killer, you’re going to explode,” she told the dog.

Katherine was still there, smiling awkwardly, as if unsure what to say next.

Christina cleared her throat. “We’re having a séance tonight.”

“I know.”

“But I thought…”

“The thing is,” Katherine said, “I was awake all last night trying to figure out how you could have known about Calliope, and Beau and his friends getting drunk. I don’t know what I think. I don’t believe in ghosts, but maybe…I don’t quite disbelieve as much as I used to.”

Christina didn’t quite know what to say to that, but luckily she was saved from having to figure it out by Ana’s announcement that the desserts were laid out in the kitchen.

“Every man for himself,” Christina said. “We’ll regroup in the parlor.”

That morning, Adam and Thor had brought an oblong table into the parlor and set enough chairs around it for all of them. All they had to do now was add one more for Katherine.

“We’re really having a séance?” Dan asked, looking around the room. “Do you honestly want to make Gran come back so she can yell at us?”

“She did not yell at us,” Christina protested.

“Constantly,” Mike said.

“You two are horrible. I hope she does come back and yell at you,” Christina said.

“Why are we having a séance?” Ana asked. “Are we trying to contact someone special?”

“It’s October, and it sounded like fun,” Genevieve said.

“What, no candles?” Ilona asked when she walked into the parlor, nibbling on a piece of cake.

“Candles! Good idea,” Genevieve said, then left in search of some.

“If this is good, we should do it again and charge admission,” Dan said. “I wonder if any of the parks have tried this yet. Hey, Mike, you’re the idea man. You should suggest it.”

“Not a bad idea,” Mike said thoughtfully.

Christina watched as Genevieve returned and lit a few tall candles. Everyone seemed to be into the idea of the séance. Even Jed wasn’t complaining.

Dan bent down to look under the table. “No tricks here that I can find,” he said.

“Get out of there, Dan. No one’s rigged the table,” Christina said.

“I take it we’re trying to contact my brother,” Katherine said as they all took their seats. She looked at Christina and gave a slight smile. “I thought that he had a connection with you already?”

“Okay, lights off,” Genevieve said.

“Is it going to be really dark?” Ilona asked, wide-eyed.

“I’m right next to you, babe,” Tony told her.