Authors: J. A. Templeton
Tags: #General Fiction
A MacKinnon Curse novel,
Copyright 2012 @ Julia Templeton
This book is a work of fiction. Characters and events portrayed in this book are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Cover illustration by Kimberly Killion
Photograph by Amanda Johansen
Other books by J.A. Templeton
The Deepest Cut (a MacKinnon Curse novel, book one)
To Kip Brandon—
For having the ambition and fortitude to go after your dreams. Son, I am so incredibly proud of you.
I will never leave you alone. Unless you forget about Ian MacKinnon. Forget about him, Riley, and I shall leave you and your family in peace. I will kill those you love if you continue.”
Laria’s warning to me before I’d broken the curse that had bound Ian’s spirit to the world of the living rang over and over in my ears. I knew for a fact I had crossed Ian over. I had proof of that…especially since both my mom and Ian had visited me afterward. I had also seen Laria being led out of the castle dining room by a spirit, a man who I assumed was her father. So if I’d broken the curse, then why was she here, standing thirty feet away, staring at me like she wanted to kill me?
How about that ride?” Kade asked, and I glanced at him, forcing a smile.
He reminded me so much of Ian with his shaggy dark hair and brilliant blue eyes. Everything about him, from his tall, athletic build to the grin and dimples, was spot on.
I wish Ian were here now. Granted, I was glad we had broken the curse and he was able to move on, but I needed his help.
I walked with Kade toward the parking lot. I could see Laria in my peripheral vision, walking, or gliding in that inhuman and oh-so-creepy motion, right along with us.
Kade cleared his throat. “I understand your brother is on the football team.”
Yeah, Shane’s really excited about it. He played back home.”
We’re happy to have him on the team.”
I saw a flash beside me, and when I looked, Laria was gone. The question was—where had she gone? Apprehension and an almost overwhelming panic rushed through me.
Kade reached into his pocket, pulled out his keys and hit the car alarm. The lights on a black Range Rover blinked twice. He opened the passenger door for me and I slid in, shut the door, and walked around the car to the driver’s side.
My heart pounded hard against my chest as I scanned the parking lot, looking for any sign of Laria, the ghost who had terrorized me this summer. At least it was easy to pick her out in a crowd with her long, waist-length brown hair, green old-fashioned gown, and bare feet.
Kade opened the driver’s side door and got in. “Ready?” he asked, dark brow arched, soft smile on his lips.
Seeing that smile, I immediately relaxed.
He started the car and pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main road.
Are you going to the glen later?”
Megan’s picking me up at four,” I said, finding it hard to keep focused when my mind was racing.
I’m glad to hear it.” There was that grin again, all deep dimples and straight white teeth. I couldn’t help but smile. I liked Kade…a lot. From what my friends said, he was a genuinely nice guy, and he was a total hottie, which didn’t hurt either.
Maybe we can hang out sometime,” he said, his top teeth brushing over his lower lip. My pulse skipped a beat. Ian used to do the exact same thing.
I’d like that.”
Sounds good.” The words hadn’t left my mouth when a cool breeze made the hair on my arms stand on end. My short-lived good mood plummeted as the inn came into view. My dad had moved us to the three story brick inn this summer. It had taken some time to get used to living in such a huge, centuries old building, especially since it was so different from the house in Portland, Oregon. I would always consider Portland my home, even though I had started warming to the small Scottish village of Braemar.
Kade pulled into the driveway and stopped right before the front door. “I’ll see you at the glen in a little bit.”
I’ll see you there.” I reached for the door handle. “Thanks for the ride. It was really nice to meet you.”
It was nice to meet you, too, Riley.”
I loved his accent and the way he said my name. Shutting the car door behind me, I waved and walked toward the inn, looking up at the thick-paned windows. Instantly a heaviness fell over me and I knew exactly what it meant.
Laria was here…waiting for me inside. I felt her.
I didn’t want to walk inside, but it’s not like I had a choice. I stepped inside.
Miss A, I’m home!” I yelled louder than necessary.
Miss Akin, our housekeeper appeared in the hallway, wiping her hands on her apron. She was short and wide, always wore dresses and loafers, and I adored her. “How was your first day of school, my dear?”
Good,” I said, sliding my backpack off my shoulders.
I knew you’d do just fine,” she said, sounding pleased. “Are you hungry?”
I might have a snack in a little bit. Megan’s coming by at four to pick me up. We’re gonna hang out for a while.” I refrained from telling her about the glen, knowing she wouldn’t be thrilled to hear I was partying in the woods with my new friends.
I need to drop by and pick up the mail,” she said, untying her apron. “I’ll make you a snack when I get back.”
A part of me wanted to ask her to stay until my friend Megan got here, but I didn’t want to worry her or let on that anything was wrong. “Thanks, Miss A.”
I walked up the steps, my legs feeling as heavy as lead. Taking a right at the top of the stairs, I stared at the door to my room, nervous to go in. Who or what was waiting for me inside? My hand actually trembled as I turned the doorknob and stepped inside.
I released the breath I’d been unconsciously holding.
My room was completely trashed.
Papers, books—basically everything that wasn’t nailed down was on my bedroom floor. The comforter had been ripped from my bed, and in the middle of my mattress sat a matchbox.
A familiar matchbox that I knew with a certainty held my razor blades.
The hair on my arms stood on end. No way. I had thrown that matchbox away when Ian was still here.
Crossing the room, I snatched the matchbox off the bed, opened it up…and the blades spilled onto the mattress.
The female voice rang in my ears, over and over, a chant that grew louder by the second.
You know you want to.
Laria was right. There was a part of me that craved the release of cutting, but I had promised myself, Shane and Ian that I wouldn’t.
I dropped the matchbox and took a quick step back. Slapping my hands over my ears, I closed my eyes. I could control this. Despite the fact Ian was no longer here, I
control Laria and get rid of her once and for all.
And I wouldn’t cut.
With a trembling hand, I picked up the matchbox and placed the razor blades back inside. I fell into the chair where Ian would always sit when he visited me, closed my eyes and wondered what he would do if he were here now. When I saw him that time after he’d passed over, he had told me to think of him and he would come. I was thinking of him now…and yet I didn’t feel or sense him at all.
I tried to clear my thoughts and focus, control my breathing—basically all the things I’d read in the psychic How To books Miss A and her friend, Anne Marie had given me, but it was no use. I couldn’t get the image of Laria standing in the schoolyard out of my head, no matter how hard I tried.
Ian please…Mom please…I need you guys.
It took a few minutes, but I started to feel a sense of comfort, which had to be my mom since I smelled vanilla, her favorite scent. I breathed in deep, savoring the smell, and the feeling of warmth and contentment that surrounded me.
Mom, I don’t know what to do. Please help me.
I immediately calmed, feeling the panic wane by the second.
A strange sound alerted me that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, hoping maybe I had a sign from Ian or my mom. Scanning the room, I looked for the source of the scratching, and it took me a few seconds to realize where the noise came from. My headboard, where someone had carved the word
slowly became an
I had just finished picking up the mess in my bedroom when Megan walked in without knocking. I bit back a scream.
Sorry. I knocked but no one answered. I could hear Miss A singing in the kitchen when I walked up the stairs though.” Megan’s lips quirked. “If you ask me, that woman is tone deaf.”
I laughed under my breath and fluffed the pillow, making sure the word
on my headboard wasn’t visible.
You know, we should have a sleepover here some night. I’d like to stay. But I’m telling you now that we will
be going down in the basement.” She gave a shudder. “That place gives me the creeps.”
The basement gave me the creeps, too, especially since Laria had attacked me there. I hadn’t been down there since, and I had no plans to venture down there anytime soon. “You can sleep over whenever you want. Maybe Cassandra could come, too.”
Really?” she asked, checking herself out in the mirror on the back of my bathroom door. Megan was tiny—just a little over five feet tall. She weighed roughly a hundred pounds, and had the largest boobs I’d ever seen on a girl her size. Her shoulder-length auburn hair was a mass of curls and she had pretty brown eyes. “I’m glad you’re warming to Cassandra. She’s actually really sweet when you get to know her. Maybe a little too opinionated, but you’ll get used to it.”
I completely understood why Cassandra had an attitude with me when we’d first met. She liked Johan, and Johan had been interested in me when I first moved to Braemar. Emphasis on
. He’d been decent today at school, which was good. Since we ran in the same circles, it made sense to get along.
Speaking of Cass, let’s go,” Megan said. “We have to pick her up.”
I thought she couldn’t go out on school nights.”
Megan’s lips quirked. “She can’t, but apparently she’s going for it.”
I grabbed my jacket out of the closet and followed her down the stairs and out the door.
Megan’s car was still running, and before I opened the car door, I took a good look in the backseat to make sure no one was hiding back there.
What I wouldn’t give to tell Megan about Laria, to have a confidante who knew what I was going through. Now that Ian was gone, she was my closest friend.
Or I could tell Miss Akin. After all, she was intuitive to a point…but I could see a certain fear in her eyes when I mentioned Laria before. Especially after the séance we’d had with Anne Marie—where Laria had scared the hell out of all of us. Miss A was the closest thing I had to a mom, and I didn’t want her leaving…for any reason. And a malevolent spirit haunting the place you lived and worked was a pretty good reason to leave.
When Ian was still here, Anne Marie, a psychic herself, had seemed open to talking to me about Laria. Just yesterday Miss Akin had commented that Anne Marie wasn’t even answering her calls anymore. If things got really desperate then I could talk to Shane. I knew he’d been affected by Laria before. He’d been having those strange dreams and feeling like someone was holding him down when he slept. The dreams had subsided after Ian had passed over, but would they continue again now that Laria had returned? I wondered.