Genevieve really had to hand it to Thor. He was stubborn. He pretended not to notice the seawater that permeated his cottage, the floor, the bedding….
He awoke early. Very early. It was still dark.
He kissed her forehead. “I’ve got something to do before we take off. Look out for the project for me—make sure Audrey’s priest and reporter are on the up-and-up.”
“Of course,” she murmured, only half awake.
“I’m locking the door. Keep it locked until you leave.”
“Yes…of course,” she mumbled sleepily.
He left. She stayed in bed, half awake, half asleep. To her astonishment, she found herself talking to the ghost.
Please, come back. I want to understand. I want to help.
I need to know the truth.
Thor took the exact same seat he’d had the morning before. The same waitress walked over to him.
“Hi,” she said cheerfully.
“How are you this morning?”
“Do you remember me?” he asked her.
“Eggs, whole-wheat toast…I forget. Hash browns or grits?”
“Well done,” he congratulated her. “I’ll take hash browns, please. And do you really remember yesterday?” he asked.
She grinned. “I’m twenty-two. No senility yet. Though my brother insists I’m definitely warped.”
“That’s a brother for you,” he said. “Do you remember the people I was with yesterday?”
“Well, you were with an older man.”
“There was a younger man, too. Sixteen…seventeen…maybe even eighteen or twenty,” he said.
She shook her head, smiling warily, as if he were trying to play some kind of trick on her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see anyone else.”
“He didn’t eat. He just sat with us.”
“You’re pulling my leg, right?”
Her smile faded as she stared at his face.
“You honestly saw no one else, other than the older guy?”
She hesitated. He winced inwardly.
This was what it felt to be looked at like a crazy person.
“I’m sorry. I only saw the one man. Um, you wanted coffee, right?”
A little while later, as he was leaving, he paused at the door. Turning back, he saw Adam Harrison coming into the dining room.
The kid was with him, trailing behind him. He was tall and thin. Lanky, but good-looking, serious, a little grim, even.
“Have a nice day, Mr. Thompson,” the host called out.
Thor nodded, then walked over to him.
“You know Mr. Harrison?” he asked the man.
“Sure. Nice guy,” the man said cheerfully.
“Is the younger man as nice?” Thor asked.
“What younger man?”
Thor let out a sigh of irritation.
“That young man,” he said, pointing.
Again, that look.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Thompson. I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
Josh Harrison stared straight at him and waved.
Thor spun on his heel and departed.
He reached the street. It was still barely light.
He looked up at the sun, trying to peek out and start the day.
“I am fucking crazy,” he muttered aloud, and started back for the resort and the docks, his strides long and angry.
T here were no messages to Genevieve from ghosts or anyone else as she lay awake after Thor departed. She had actually tried to go back to sleep, actually wanted some kind of message. She was no longer going to be so afraid. And she wasn’t talking to anyone except Adam, Brent or Nikki—especially not Thor—about anything she saw, felt or sensed. She wasn’t going to fight the fear; she was going to find…
Whatever that meant.
But she couldn’t fall asleep. So she rose, showered, drank coffee and watched the morning come.
It seemed to do so slowly, especially since she couldn’t sleep. Drinking her second cup of coffee, she was struck with guilt. She was going to have to call Jay. There was no reason for him to waste his valuable time looking for a culprit in the “mannequin murder.” She was surprised to realize she really didn’t care who had been trying to play a trick on her. It didn’t matter anymore. Other matters were far too grave.
At last she grew tired of sitting alone in Thor’s cottage.
She opened the door and walked out.
The sun wasn’t really up yet. It was one of those overcast mornings. She hoped the storm clouds would quickly blow away, as they so often did. The heavy rains and thunderstorms didn’t usually come until the afternoon. Then it could rain like blue blazes for twenty minutes before coming to a dead stop. The streets could all but flood, and then the sun would come out again with a burning glory.
There was no one at the tiki bar. Still, she didn’t feel like being alone in the little cottage. She frowned, wondering why Thor had disappeared so early again that morning. She might be keeping secrets, but so was he. They shouldn’t talk. They should just have sex. If only…
There had to be an explanation for everything that was happening. She had to believe it would all make sense in the end.
She didn’t want to think too far ahead. They would have a prayer service that morning. At the very least, it would be a nice gesture.
As she sat there, the breeze picked up beneath the dark sky. It teased at her nape, snaked down the length of her spine. She shivered. It was a distinctly unpleasant, even eerie, sensation.
She couldn’t help herself. She looked around for ghosts.
But she knew there were no spiritual beings trying to make contact.
Just as she knew she was being watched again.
She had the uneasy feeling she was being assessed, that her steps had been followed, her daily pattern mapped out, that someone was watching her with evil intent.
She wanted to laugh aloud at herself. Okay, so they were late bringing the coffee out to the tiki bar that morning, while there were heavy clouds up above. And the breeze had an odd, almost icy feel to it. Leaves were rustling, fronds making strange whispering sounds, but that didn’t mean someone was watching her.
She leapt to her feet, ridiculously afraid, sorry she had come out.
“Hey, what’s the matter?”
She swung around. Thor was there, wearing his sunglasses despite the overcast sky.
With his words, her unease evaporated. The clouds seemed to break. Light filled in the shadows.
She shook her head, smiling. “I heard you coming up at the last minute. You startled me, that’s all.”
She was glad he smiled, that he pulled her close and brushed her lips briefly with a kiss. But then he pulled back. “The troops are coming. Look.” He pointed toward the parking lot. “The Exorcist himself has arrived.”
“He’s not an exorcist,” Genevieve murmured. “He’s a nice guy. You’ll see.”
She left Thor and went to greet Father Bellamy, feeling guilty because she hadn’t been to church in a while.
Next Sunday, she promised herself.
Surprisingly, Thor found that he did like Father Bellamy. The priest wore his collar with a lightweight suit, and he had a bag of dive gear with him, as well. His first question, after introducing himself to Thor, was whether he would allow him to enter the water as long as he swore to stay out of the way. It turned out he was an Episcopal priest, and he was dating the reporter, Helen Martin, who had also brought a dive bag. They were both in their mid-forties, down-to-earth, and both impressed him immediately.
“It’s so nice that you’re doing this—such a sign of respect to someone who died long ago,” Helen told him. She grinned. “People in these parts can get excited about treasure, but they also want the past to be honored. I think this will make a wonderful piece. Thank you so much for allowing us to be a little part of this.”
There was still no sign of Marshall, a fact they all seemed to silently accept as a bad sign. What the hell had happened to the man?
Thor assigned Jack to the police boat with Alex, Bethany, Victor, Lizzie and Zach. He brought both Blackhawks, Audrey, Father Bellamy and Helen, and Genevieve with him.
Out on the reefs, the boats tied on together, and Father Bellamy began his service.
Thor had to admit it was both appropriate and well handled. The priest addressed no ghosts; he merely spoke to God about those who had been lost to sea, adding a special addendum for Anne, a young woman who died due to the perils of the sea. Flowers and wreaths were thrown into the water.
Helen scribbled away on a notepad the whole time.
There was nothing occult about the proceedings. Nothing to make him uncomfortable in the least.
When it was over, Audrey looked at him with a questioning smile. He smiled back. She seemed to be trying very hard to do what was right.
“Father Bellamy, too, looked at Thor anxiously. “May we hit the water now?”
“Yes,” Thor told him. He looked at Genevieve, who nodded. She knew they would remain dive buddies.
Bethany was staying topside with Nikki that day. On the other boat, Jack would be watching out for the divers, ready to assist anyone in trouble, keeping an ear out for the radio.
It was going to be a long day, Thor decided. This wasn’t a professional and historically important dive anymore, he decided wearily.
He was running a party boat.
But there were times when it seemed appropriate to go with the flow. This kind of work could take months, even years. Best to get all the foolishness out of the way now.
Damn Marshall. Where the hell was he?
He watched as Brent Blackhawk calmly buckled on his tank. He didn’t know why, but he had the feeling that Brent was the one with the deepest belief.
So? Wasn’t he seeing a kid who’d been dead for over a decade.
No. There had to be a logical explanation. Maybe it was all a tremendously elaborate hoax. But to what end?
“Ready?” he asked Gen.
They went out on three dives. Sadly—or thankfully—all three were uneventful.