Read The Seventh Night Online

Authors: Amanda Stevens

The Seventh Night

BOOK: The Seventh Night
4.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

It was a tropical paradise… that hid a relentless evil.

Accountant Christine Greggory spends her days in the cool, logical realm of numbers. In her dreams, though, she’s tormented by blood-soaked visions of frenzied rituals and haunted by the undead. The terrors from her nightmares seep into her waking life when a mysterious message from her estranged father lures her to his Caribbean home.

Christine’s father is missing, and Reid St. Pierre, her stepbrother, is the only person who can help her. But can she trust him? If his stepfather dies, Reid gains a fortune. And can she trust herself with him? The passion Reid stirs in Christine is as powerful as the Vodun drums that beat through the sweltering nights.

Determined to track her father on her own, Christine finds herself in terrible danger. The closer she gets to the truth, the more convinced she becomes that Reid is behind her father’s disappearance—and that the man she’s fallen in love with is trying to kill her.

Previously published.

I was aware of the mist swirling around me and the sound of the ocean below

I was no longer in my bed, but outside, lying on a large, flat stone almost like an altar. I could see the flames of the fire now, leaping and flickering with a life of their own.

Reid came closer, still gazing down at me with a dark, proprietary gleam in his blue eyes that was both thrilling and frightening. Only then did I realize most of my clothing had been removed. I tried to cover myself, but I couldn’t seem to move.

A strange symbol had been drawn on my stomach with red paint, and I stared at it in fascination. But for some reason, I wasn’t scared.

“What’s happening to me?” I asked. My voice sounded hollow and distant.

Reid smiled. “I’ve come to claim what’s mine….”

Born and raised in a small, Southern town,
Amanda Stevens
frequently draws on memories of her birthplace to create atmospheric settings and casts of eccentric characters. She is the author of over twenty-five novels, the recipient of a Career Achievement Award for Romantic Mystery and a 1999 RITA
®
Award finalist in the Gothic/Romantic Suspense category. She now resides in Texas with her husband, teenage twins and her cat, Jesse, who also makes frequent appearances in her books.

AMANDA STEVENS

THE SEVENTH NIGHT

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

PROLOGUE

…Of death, contagion, and unnatual sleep. A greater power than we can contradict Hath thwarted our intents. Come, come away.

Romeo and Juliet,
Act V, Scene iii

“I
had the dream again last night.”

“Was it exactly the same?”

The question was no more than analytically curious, a mild query from doctor to patient, but I sensed a strange undercurrent of tension in Dr. Layton’s tone. Or perhaps it was a manifestation of my own anxiety. In other words, my
imagination.

Rubbing my arms against a sudden chill, I stared out the window. From my lofty view, I watched a score of colorful sailboats glide across the glassy waters of Lake Michigan, coming home to berth at day’s end. Lights in the surrounding office buildings began to twinkle on, anticipating the Chicago twilight. I could feel Dr. Layton’s eyes on me, waiting for my response. Still I remained silent.

“Why don’t you tell me about it, Christine?” he prompted softly.

“I hardly know where to start,” I murmured, watching a piece of paper swirl upward past the window. Trapped in a tiny whirlwind, it fluttered and spun and dove out of control, symbolic of my own chaotic emotions.

I turned and faced Dr. Layton, taking a small measure of comfort in his kindly demeanor. I’d known him for
years. He’d helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life several years ago, when my young husband, Danny, had been killed by a drunk driver. I’d experienced a mixture of helplessness and guilt then. It was the same out-of-control feeling I had now.

That was why I’d come back to see him. I trusted him as much as I allowed myself to trust anyone, and God knows I desperately needed to talk to someone.

“It was like the other dreams, except more vivid this time. More…urgent somehow.”

“Start at the beginning.”

“But that’s part of the problem,” I protested. “I never know when reality leaves off and the dream begins. I never know if I’m asleep or awake. Sometimes I think I must be sleepwalking again, and I wonder if there are parts of the dream that I don’t remember. It’s scary, Dr. Layton. Terrifying. I feel so…out of control—” I broke off, unable to give voice to my real suspicions, my true fears.

“In other words,” Dr. Layton continued calmly, “you don’t consciously remember falling asleep?”

“No.”

“That’s hardly unusual, Christine.”

“I know, but this is different. I can’t explain it without sounding totally…insane.” There, I’d said it. I’d spoken aloud my deepest fears. With the tip of my finger, I traced the smooth, cold reflection of my face in the window. “You see, it’s more like a vision than a dream. It seems almost like a…like a message of some sort. Do you believe in ESP, doctor? In premonitions?”

“I don’t discount them. Is that what you think you’ve been having?”

I shook my head, my eyes still focused on the cool, gray waters of Lake Michigan. But in my mind’s eye, I saw the shimmering, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, could almost feel the sea breeze against my face. It wasn’t a memory, though, because I’d never been to the
islands, had never even seen the ocean. But when I closed my eyes, I could feel it, taste it, smell it. The image was so powerful I could only have experienced it firsthand—and yet I hadn’t. Only in my dreams.

“I don’t know what I’m having,” I confessed in a desperate whisper.

“Why don’t you tell me everything you remember?”

Behind me his chair squeaked in protest as he settled in.

“I was watching TV last night, one of the late-night talk shows. I remember everything about it—the guests, the jokes, the music. I went into the kitchen to get something to drink, and suddenly, in the space of a heartbeat, everything changed. Just like the times before, I was surrounded by fog, so dense I couldn’t see through it, but I could feel the mist on my skin.”

“Were you still in your apartment?”

“No, I was outside. I could hear the ocean somewhere in the distance—below me, I think. I remember distinctly the scent of exotic blossoms and spices, and I could hear drums beating…a strange, primitive-sounding beat that drew me deeper and deeper into the mist. There was someone in that fog calling to me, Dr. Layton. Summoning me. But I don’t know why.”

“Don’t you?”

“No!”

Again the leather chair groaned as he shifted his weight. “When did you get the first call from your father, Christine?”

I gave him a slightly reproachful glance. “You know very well it was a week ago. I told you—it was the first time I’d talked to him in years.”

“When did you have your first dream…or vision, whatever you’d like to call it?”

“A day or two after my father called from Columbé.”

“And when did he last call?”

A telling sigh slipped through my lips. “Yesterday. He had me called out of class.”

“What did he say? How did he sound?”

“He asked me to come to the island again. He sounded…urgent.” I closed my eyes briefly, hearing his exact words thrumming through my brain.

“Please come, Christine. I want to see you again. I want to get to know you.”

And then, more desperately it seemed,
“I need you, Christine. You’re the only real family I have left. You’re the only one I can—”

The telephone connection had been broken at that point because of bad weather in the islands, but I could have sworn what my father had meant to say was
trust.
I was the only one he could trust.

But why should he feel that way about a daughter he hadn’t seen in nearly a decade? Why should he feel that way about a child he’d abandoned twenty years ago? My father had another family, one he’d left my mother and myself for. Why should I be the only one he could trust?

Dr. Layton’s calm voice broke into my thoughts. “Would you say his phone call conveyed the same sense of urgency as your dream?”

“I know what you’re getting at, and yes, even I can see the parallel. But that still doesn’t tell me what to do to stop the dreams.”

“I think you know how to stop the dreams, Christine.”

I lifted my gaze to his. “I have to go to Columbé. I have to face my father.”

I wanted to believe more than anything that my father was offering us a new beginning, a chance to put all the past hurts and betrayal behind us. I wanted to believe that he was offering me something I’d always wanted—a family, a home, a sense of belonging. I wanted to believe it, but my fears held me back.

“Don’t you want to go, Christine?”

“Yes,” I whispered, putting my fingers to my lips in an effort to control the sudden rise of emotion. “I’ve always wanted to go.”

“Then what’s stopping you?”

“I have school,” I said vaguely. “Obligations. My students count on me. Besides, Columbé is not the safest place to travel.”

“Spring break starts in a week, doesn’t it?” Dr. Layton stared at me thoughtfully with his cool, gray eyes. “What are you really afraid of, Christine? Are you afraid of seeing your father…or someone else perhaps? Your stepbrother?”

“No! That’s a ridiculous notion, Dr. Layton. Reid St. Pierre means nothing to me. I never think about him anymore.”

The gray brows lifted. “Never?”

“I’m not afraid of him,” I said bravely.

“Then there’s nothing stopping you from going to Columbé, is there?”

“I suppose not,” I admitted, gazing down at my hands.

Nothing but my dreams. Dr. Layton leaned forward, his tone firm. “You’re twenty-eight years old, Christine, a very accomplished teacher. You’re no longer the confused teenager you were at eighteen.”

I knew what he was saying. It was time to face my insecurities and fears and put them behind me.

It’s time to face the bogeyman, Christine.

I shivered violently as the last light from the dying sun filtered across my face and the streets far below fell into shadow. In spite of the fact that I hadn’t seen him in ten years, Reid St. Pierre’s image had never been more deeply ingrained in my mind than it was at that exact moment. And no matter how much I might want to deny it, I realized I
was
afraid of seeing him again.

Deathly afraid.

Because I’d had other dreams in the past. Erotic, fanciful dreams about him. Dreams that—in their way—were every bit as frightening as the nightmares I’d been having recently.

I knew Dr. Layton was right, though. There was only one way to stop the dreams. I would have to go to Columbé. And soon.

CHAPTER ONE

The First Night

F
rom the sky, the island of Columbé sparkled like a jewel, all golden and emerald and aquamarine. The sunset dazzled the crystal horizon with opaline fire, and the Caribbean shimmered endlessly, like yards and yards of turquoise satin.

With one’s feet planted firmly on the ground, however, the tarnish was all too apparent. The crowded, primitive little terminal wore a disturbing air of chaos. Soldiers with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders were posted at each entrance. Their dark eyes were casually alert as they scanned the disembarking passengers.

If I’d had any doubt that I was a long way from Chicago, this alone would have reminded me.

But in spite of the primitive setting, in spite of the flaws and the general sense of unease, I could hardly contain my excitement.

BOOK: The Seventh Night
4.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

A Lover For Rachel by Lynn Crain
Death and Deception by B. A. Steadman
Sisters of the Heart - 03 - Forgiven by Shelley Shepard Gray
Heads You Lose by Brett Halliday
Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra
Love Nip by Mary Whitten
Paris Summer by April Lynn Kihlstrom
Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson
Sweet Alien by Sue Mercury
Final Judgment by Joel Goldman