Authors: K.J. Emrick
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Paranormal - Ghosts - Psychic - Australia
|K.J. Emrick - Darcy Sweet 13 - Ghost Story|
|Number XIII of|
|South Coast Publishing (2014)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Cozy - Paranormal - Ghosts - Psychic - Australia|
Mystery: Cozy - Paranormal - Ghosts - Psychic - Australiattt
First published in Australia by South Coast Publishing, October 2014.
Copyright K.J. Emrick (2014)
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and locations portrayed in this book and the names herein are fictitious. Any similarity to or identification with the locations, names, characters or history of any person, product or entity is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
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Lying on her bed flipping through the pages of a calendar, Darcy Sweet slashed another red X through another square. Never in her life had she been so worried about what day of the week was which.
She flipped through the months now, each page covered with their notes and question marks for maybes or slashing red lines for definite no’s. “Which one of us said that picking a date would be fun?” she asked, kicking her feet in the air as she rolled from her back over to her belly.
“That was you,” Jon told her, sitting on the edge of the mattress with a calendar of his own. He was in his jeans and an old white t-shirt, his usual clothes for a day off. Darcy had put on shorts and her favorite purple tank top to dive into this project. A casual day with her fiancé was not to be wasted.
“There’s always Valentine’s Day,” he suggested for the fifth time.
“Ugh, too cliché,” she said.
“Are we sure you don’t just want to elope?”
Jon Tinker, the love of Darcy’s life and her very patient fiancé, laid across the bed next to her and began tickling her neck with soft kisses, pulling aside her long dark hair and making her shiver.
“Jon, I’m serious. We need to pick a date for—”
She broke off in a squeal as he found that spot on her side with his fingers where he knew she was super sensitive. She had no choice but to defend herself, and it wasn’t long before they were tangled up in the sheets and with each other. His soft lips were stealing her breath away as he kissed her over and over. Her bare feet tickled his. Playful touches became flirtatious, and Darcy began to think they were never going to get around to picking a day.
They had been at this all morning. Choosing a date from the calendar, not flirting with each other. Although, that
taken up a lot of their time. After wishing over and over for a day to just relax with Jon, it had finally happened on this fine morning one day in October. Neither of them had to go to work. There were no weird murders or mysterious events for either of them to investigate. No ghosts were hovering around Darcy trying to get her attention.
It had been over two weeks, actually, since she had seen any ghost at all. Except for her Great Aunt Millie down at the bookstore. She was always there. Other than her, nothing. The lack of spiritual activity was strange for Misty Hollow. Even stranger for Darcy herself. She’d been seeing and talking to ghosts since, well, puberty. Not seeing any at all for two weeks almost felt like she’d lost the hearing in one ear, or lost the ability to taste grape jelly.
Well. Something like that.
Jon’s strong and muscular body felt good wrapped around her. Darcy feathered her hands into his black hair and pinned him down by rolling over, sitting across his chest, victorious. “Ha! I win!”
“I let you win, you know.” When she looked at him skeptically he added, “No, really. I’m still worried about your arm.”
Darcy twisted her lips and flexed her left arm for him. The nerve had been pinched there just last month by a man Darcy hoped to never meet again. Ever. It had been completely numb for days and it had taken even longer for her to get any kind of strength back in it, but it was fine now.
“Whatever,” she told him, sticking out her tongue. “You know I won.”
“I could let you win every day for the rest of our lives,” he said with a wry smile, “if it means keeping you in bed with me.”
She smacked the palm of her hand gently against his chest. “For Pete’s sake, Jon, that’s what we’re trying to figure out. The rest of our lives has to start sometime. Now help me pick a date for our wedding!”
Catching her wrists he pulled her down closer to him. “We’ll pick the perfect date,” he told her, “but the rest of our lives started the moment you agreed to marry me. Our wedding is just the icing on that cake. I love you, Darcy.”
She wanted to tell him how much she loved him, too, especially when he let his tough-guy guard down and said things like that. The words couldn’t get past the sudden lump in her throat. Her heart swelled. She loved him more in that moment than she had at any time before in their complicated relationship.
It wasn’t complicated anymore. They were getting married. Someday.
Okay, so still a little complicated.
At least now she knew that someday would come. There was no doubt for either of them now. They wanted to be with each other. Knowing that made everything perfect. Nothing could ruin this moment.
Into that thought, the phone on the bedside table rang.
Darcy bit her lip and sheepishly lowered her forehead to rest against Jon’s shoulder. He put his hands gently around her heart-shaped face and lifted her eyes to his. “You were thinking it, weren’t you?”
She nodded, miserably, twisting the antique silver ring on her right hand like she did whenever she got nervous. “I didn’t mean to!”
Jon laughed, and hugged her like it didn’t really matter, but both of them knew the rule. You never said or thought or whispered to yourself how nothing could go wrong. The Universe hated it when you said things like that, and the Universe was always listening, ready to pounce and prove you wrong.
“Way to go,” Jon teased, still laughing. “Now the world’s going to end.”
“Jon!” she scolded him, rolling away as he sat up. “Don’t say that!”
“Why not? I can’t jinx it any more than you already did.” He winked to let her know he wasn’t really mad and then reached over on his side of the bed where the phone sat in its recharging base. It was on its fourth ring as he picked it up. “I’m going to change your nickname to Jinx.”
“Uh-uh,” she said quickly. “I like the nickname you have for me now.”
He blew her a kiss, and she caught it out of the air, as he pushed the answer button. “Hello? Oh, hi Helen. What can I do for the town’s mayor?”
Darcy stretched, appreciating the way Jon watched her from the corner of his eye as she did. Helen Nelson had been keeping to herself a lot lately. She hadn’t been at the bakery she owned in town. Darcy hadn’t seen her walking around the streets of misty Hollow like she usually did, either. Darcy wondered what could have prompted her to call out of the blue like this. Maybe she wanted Jon to do something for her in his capacity as the police department’s Chief Detective.
“Sure,” she heard Jon saying. “What time is it now?”
He looked past Darcy to her side of the room, where the digital alarm clock sat on Darcy’s dresser. It was already quarter to eleven in the morning.
“Sure, lunch is fine,” he told Helen. “Where? Oh. All right. That would be great. Should we bring anything?”
Darcy blinked at him. “We?” she asked in a whisper.
Jon shrugged, still talking into the phone. “All right, Helen. Thanks. We’ll be there.”
Leaning over again he put the phone back into its base. Then he shifted over to where Darcy was and kissed her nose. “Helen just invited us to lunch.”
“Really?” Darcy and Helen, and Jon too of course, were good friends but Darcy hadn’t been over to Helen’s house since her husband had been arrested for murder and embezzling town funds. Darcy had been the main reason Steve had been arrested, and it had always been just a little too awkward ever since then to go over to Helen’s house. Helen didn’t hold it against her, of course, but Darcy couldn’t help but remember how Steve had tried to kill her. It meant a lot that Helen would call them up to lunch now.
Jon threw the blankets aside and swung his feet out to the floor. “Let’s get showered,” he suggested. “I think we should pick up a cake or something for dessert.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” Darcy complained, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him back to her. “I’m not ready to go. Not just yet.”
Misty Hollow had been painted with an artist’s pallet of reds and yellows and oranges. The trees surrounding the town always put on an impressive show for autumn. A number of out-of-towners had checked into McQuaid’s Motor Inn out on Fairbanks Road for the season, but the nearby town of Oak Hollow was the more popular tourist attraction in the area.
Jon drove slower than he needed to as they made their way to Helen’s house so they could enjoy the view, too. Darcy loved this time of year. She wondered if she and Jon could find a day or two to go back up to the cabins at Bear Ridge to go hiking before the weather turned cold. The mayor there had extended the use of the ski lodges whenever they wanted in thanks for their role in bringing a serial killer to justice.
Her life brought her to some very strange places and events, to be sure, but it wasn’t all bad. After all, it had brought Jon into her life.
They had picked up a cheesecake with blueberry topping from Helen’s own bakery before heading over to her house. Darcy knew her friend wouldn’t mind. She’d seen Helen shopping there herself. There was no denying the excellence Helen put into her business.
Pulling away from the curb in front of the bakery, they had started down Main Street and were enjoying the scenery of their sleepy little town when Darcy turned to Jon to say something to him, and froze.
Jon noticed the look on her face, the way she stared at him with her mouth half open. “Hey. What is it?”
“I…don’t know.” Had she been about to say something? There had been a thought in her head but it was gone now. “I guess not.”
There was a pressure building at the back of her skull like a migraine headache. Like something was steadily pushing against her mind. She smiled at Jon, trying to pretend everything was all right, but couldn’t hold his gaze. Instead, she turned to look out the window.
The Town Hall stared back at her.
Darcy jumped in her seat, startled. For just a moment, the red brick building with its triangular entryway roof and stopped clock really had looked like it was watching her. There was just a brief impression of a face, a man’s face, regarding her with cold menace.
For all of her adult life, Darcy had been able to tap into abilities that most people had only heard about in movies or those paranormal mystery books. She could see the world of ghosts, communicate with the dearly departed, even call upon the dead for advice with techniques that her Great Aunt Millie had taught her. It had been a lot to handle at times. That wasn’t the half of it, though.
She could sense things. She could know things that her normal five senses couldn’t tell her. It was almost like she had been born with a sixth sense, something that had been passed down to her through the family genes.
Right now, her sixth sense was screaming at her.
For the last few months now Darcy had been sensing a presence in the Town Hall. A presence that had gotten stronger, and stronger. That was nothing uncommon for Darcy. She knew where several spirits lived right here in town…if that was the correct term. They didn’t exactly live anywhere, really, since they were dead. Aunt Millie’s ghost resided in the bookstore that Darcy had inherited from her after she died. There were two young children in the graveyard in town who had never moved on from the place they were buried. For some reason a woman’s ghost kept trying to rake the leaves under one particular tree in the park. There were maybe half a dozen others who hadn’t been able to move on to the next realm still trapped here in town.
None of them frightened Darcy. This one in the Town Hall did.
Months ago she had stumbled onto a story in an old book about the Pilgrim Ghost. A man named Nathaniel Williams was said to haunt the Misty Hollow Town Hall. He had been hung as a witch back in the 1700s, and Darcy could see where a thing like that would make a spirit restless. The story in the book had never seemed very real to Darcy. She had been in the Town Hall any number of times and not felt or sensed anything.
Until recently. Something was definitely there. Maybe it had been hiding, or maybe it only showed up at certain times. Darcy didn’t know, but it had appeared slowly and then grown stronger over a period of weeks. A presence that watched her whenever she stepped inside. It was beginning to freak her out. Seeing that skeletal face that had been superimposed over the façade of the Town Hall for just a split second, she figured she had a right to be bothered.
Not just bothered. Scared.
There was something different about that ghost. It seemed to be carrying some kind of grudge. Every time she went inside the Town Hall it would be there, stalking her, angrily breathing down her neck. Figuratively speaking, of course. Now it seemed to be reaching out to brush her with its angry presence even when she was just close to the building.
Just once, she’d like it if her sixth sense attracted the ghost of Walt Disney. Or someone famous from history.
Was this the Pilgrim Ghost from the story? Possibly. The story hadn’t said anything about that ghost being hostile. Just that people had seen objects move around or heard strange noises. Nothing as serious as what Darcy had seen and felt. This ghost needed to be investigated, and she’d promised herself to do exactly that more than once but there always seemed to be something else in the way. Whether it was murderers or kidnappers or just her own life, there was always something.
Now might just be a good time to finally look into the history of the Town Hall and of Misty Hollow itself and see if she could at least figure out for certain who this ghost was. After all, it was the time of year for it. Late October, almost Halloween.