She preceded him, winding her way through the outside tables and walking straight to a table at the rear. He eyed the single empty chair as he recognized Will, Caroline and the other two docents from the museum, Renee Otten and Barry Travis.

“Hey!” Will saw him and stood, grinning. “Nice that you came along.” He set an arm around Sarah’s shoulders, drawing her against him to give her a rub on the head. They were obviously close. They resembled one another, too, with the same shade of hair and eyes, so much alike, yet Will was as completely masculine as Sarah was feminine.

“Sarah invited me along. I hope that’s all right,” Caleb said, after greeting everyone.

“It’s great!” Renee said enthusiastically.

“I’m impressed you got Sarah here. I thought for sure she’d blow us off tonight,” Caroline said.

“Here we go, another chair,” Barry offered, pulling one over from another table.

“Thanks,” Caleb said, taking the seat.

Everyone started talking at once, stepping on each other’s words, and he tried to keep up the chatter until a waitress came and took their orders. He opted for the fish of the day and wondered why the others all gave him funny looks.

As soon as the waitress left, the conversation turned to the skeletons in Sarah’s house.

“How long do you think it will take them to remove them all?” Renee asked.

“It can take months—years, even—at some sites,” Barry said glumly.

Sarah glared at him.

“Sorry,” Barry said.

“You don’t have to let it take months,” Caleb said to Sarah.

They all stared at him. “You have training in the field, too, so you can call the shots. So far, you’ve done all the right things, brought in the authorities and the experts. Now you can take control. You know the right people, so keep the process moving. Whatever crime took place, it was over a hundred years ago. You can see to it that everything is done right, that people are respectful of both the bodies and the historical record. And then you can let the forensic anthropologists have their day once the bodies are out of your house.”

Sarah stared at him and nodded slowly. “I…guess so.”

Caroline tossed her hair back. “Don’t just guess. Caleb is right. Take control.”

“It’s true. This is the kind of work I was doing in Virginia, but I certainly wasn’t in charge. In a lot of ways, historians are really just record keepers, secretaries for the past. Once the bodies are removed and the remains dated…come to think of it, it will be intriguing to research the situation. And it is my house, damn it!” She slammed a fist on the table and grinned. “If there’s investigating to be done, there’s no reason why I can’t do it.”

“And Caleb there can help you, I bet,” Barry said.

His words were followed by a moment of silence as everyone stared at Caleb.

“Well, you’re an investigator, right?” Barry asked.

“Yes, I’m an investigator,” Caleb agreed.

“Yes, but I’m a historian,” Sarah said. “And the bodies in my house are over a hundred years old. It’s not a police matter, because there’s no one left alive to arrest. It’s all a matter for the historians now,” Sarah said, then stood, as if agitated. “Excuse me, I’m just going to say hello to a friend at the bar.”

Caleb noted that no one standing at the bar seemed the least bit interested in their little group.

He stayed at the table with the others. It never hurt to know as many locals as he could. It wasn’t likely that this foursome could help him find Jennie Lawson, but they might know someone or something about the area that could be pertinent at some point.

And Sarah’s house…well, he had to admit it fascinated him. Historian or not, he was drawn to it, and when he got a feeling like that, it almost always meant something.

“She’s touchy tonight,” Will said, apologizing for Sarah.

“I would be, too,” Caroline said defensively.

“It will better once those bodies are out of her house,” Renee said.

“Seriously,” Barry said. “She just found out she’s been sleeping with a bunch of bodies. You talk about a haunted house…Their spirits are probably all running around screaming, ‘Let me out, let me out!’”

“Oh, Barry,” Renee protested, giggling.

“So tell us about yourself,” Caroline said, inching her chair closer to Caleb’s. “You met Will today, right? Diving? And you found a body in a submerged car. Did he drive off the road?”

“I found the body, and it’s in very bad condition. The medical examiner is on it now. As to how he ended up in the water, I’ll leave it to the police to figure that out,” Caleb said.

“There were no bullet holes in the car or anything like that?” Renee asked, intrigued.

“Not that I saw, but then again, I wasn’t looking for any. The police have custody of the car now, as well, and they’ll find out what happened,” Caleb said.

“So Will says you’re here to find a girl—but not our missing girl?” Barry asked, perplexed.

“Right,” Caleb agreed. “You probably read about the case at the time. Her name wa—Her name is Jennie Lawson, and she disappeared a year ago on her way here. But of course I’ll share whatever information I discover with the local police, because it could help with the search for Winona Hart. They might have been abducted by the same person.”

“Maybe they both ran off to join a cult,” Renee said. “That kind of thing happens, you know.”

“It does, but usually someone who knows the person is aware that they’re dissatisfied with their lives, or that they’ve fallen under the influence of some sect,” Caleb explained.

“But the cases might not be related at all,” Barry speculated.

“That’s true, too.”

“So where do you start?” Caroline asked him.

“Well, theoretically, you start with the person’s last known whereabouts,” Caleb said.

“But this girl you’re looking for…the paper said no one even knows what she did after her plane landed in Jacksonville. She just disappeared,” Barry said.

“She picked up a rental car,” Caleb said.

“But after all this time…that car couldn’t possibly yield any clues,” Will said.

“You’d be surprised,” Caleb said. “Trace evidence can survive an awful lot. But it’s a moot point—unless we find the car. It disappeared, too.”

Just then the waitress arrived with their meals, and Caleb thought his fish—which no one else had ordered, he noticed—was delicious. Despite the arrival of their food, Sarah remained at the bar, chatting with the bartender.

The others asked him more questions as they ate; he answered some and deftly sidestepped others.

Finally he managed to turn the conversation away from himself and learned that Will had grown up in St. Augustine, as had Caroline. Renee had been there about seven years, having fallen in love with the city while attending college over in Gainesville. Barry was the latecomer. He’d done historical tours in Chicago, his hometown, and Charleston, before seeing an ad for docents for the museum.

“I love it here,” he told Caleb. “It gets chilly enough in winter for me to feel like there’s been a change of season, but we pretty much never get snow, and even then, it’s just a few flakes that melt on contact. It’s a big deal when it happens, though, it’s so rare. And because we’re on the water, even summer is usually cool enough, better than a lot of other places. So I’m staying here for sure.”

“Seems like a pretty laid-back town,” Caleb said.

“Hey,” Caroline protested. “We have plenty of nightlife. And if it’s not exciting enough for you here, pop back onto the highway. In twenty minutes you’re on the outskirts of Jacksonville. A few hours in the other direction and you’re in Orlando, surrounded by theme parks.”

“So where is home to you, Caleb?” Renee asked, breaking in before Caroline’s lecture really got going.

“Virginia,” Caleb said.

“So is this your first trip to St. Augustine?” Caroline asked, and he thought she seemed a little bit suspicious, even slightly troubled.

“Yes,” he assured her.


“Why?” he asked her.

“I don’t know. I could just swear I’d met you, or at least seen you, somewhere before, that’s all.”

“Who knows? Maybe in another life,” Will said, and yawned. “I’ve got work tomorrow, gang. I’ve got to get going.”

They all rose in unison just as Sarah returned to the table. “Sorry, guys. Al and I just started talking and I lost track. Looks like I missed dinner,” she added, staring at the lasagne congealing on her plate.

“Looks like,” Caroline said. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She started for the door.

“Hey, wait, I’m walking you home,” Will called after her. He gave the others an apologetic look. “She’s a blonde…. I don’t want her out there alone at night.”

“Good call, stick with her,” Sarah told him.

“Don’t go thinking that just because you’re a brunette, that makes you safe,” Will said quietly to Sarah, then gave Caleb a speaking look before racing after Caroline.

“I’ll see Renee home safe and sound,” Barry said cheerfully, and something in the way he looked at her told Caleb that the two had been an item for a long time.

“We might as well head out, too,” Sarah told Caleb when the others were gone.

“What about the check?”

“It’s covered,” she assured him.

“That’s nice, but I pay my own way,” he told her. “Besides, I can expense it.”