Authors: Kris Norris
Tags: #Paranormal Erotic Romance
Table of Contents
Between the Veils
By Kris Norris
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Copyright © 2013 Kris Norris
Edited by Liza Green and CJ Slate
Cover Art by Kendra Egert
Published by Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 N Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-716-2
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Electronic Release: November 2013
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
A house with a bloody history. A series of unanswered deaths. And it all starts at the stroke of twelve.
Cal Smith has spent his life studying the paranormal. Then a brutal investigation of one of Salem’s most notorious homes sends him packing. He chalks it up to higher education, all too aware he’s simply running from a past that haunts his every waking moment. But when an old friend turns up in trouble, he has no other choice but to revisit his previous work, and face the ghosts he’s shut out for the past ten years.
Jordan Harper has a knack for getting into trouble. Though curiosity is supposed to have killed the cat, she’s well on her way to having the old saying rephrased. And when yet another plan goes horribly astray, she awakens to find that the one man she’d never counted on seeing again—the one man she’d never been able to forget—is now her only option for freedom. She knows asking him to help is probably a bigger mistake than the one she’s just made, but her heart isn’t listening.
Their unexpected reunion might solve a century’s old mystery—or it might be the catalyst that sends them both to an early grave.
To Lee…because moms are always there, whether you can see them or not.
Salem, Massachusetts—Ten years ago…
“Jesus, Cal. I realize your family’s close, but do we really need your kid brother tagging along with us?”
Cal Smith looked at his best friend as the man leaned against the truck, the light of the full moon setting his face off in harsh relief. His hands were pushed deep into his jeans pockets, with a familiar scowl shaping his lips. Cal had known Dave Harper since first grade and had spent more time crawling through old buildings and abandoned ruins with the guy than was probably wise. But this was the first time he’d commented on one of Cal’s brothers accompanying them.
He glanced at Avery, his brother’s movements tracked by the glare of the headlights as the man surveyed the front of the house. Though it looked innocent enough, Cal knew Avery was picking up on far more than he and Dave ever would, though Cal still didn’t fully understand Avery’s abilities. But whatever they were, the man had a knack at unearthing what others missed, and that fact alone was proof enough he needed to be part of the team.
Cal gave Dave a shove. “Avery’s twenty-one. Hardly a kid anymore. And since when do you care? He and Blake have joined us before, and you never seemed to give a shit.”
Dave kicked at the gravel drive, glancing at the house over his shoulder. “This time’s different.”
Cal cocked an eyebrow. “How?”
Dave pursed his lips. “You know damn well how. This is it, Cal. Our big break.” He waved at the house. “This place has been the scene of more than a few murders over the past fifty years. And none of them have been solved. I’m telling you…there’s something wrong with this house. Something in there doesn’t want people poking around. If we can document what that is, we’ll be famous. Finally, get out of that shack we call an office and make something of ourselves.”
“Since when is this about seeing our name on the front page of the newspaper?”
Dave scoffed, palming one hand on the hood of the truck. “That’s rich coming from you.”
A frown tugged at Cal’s mouth as he straightened. “You know better than anyone that I’ve never used my family’s name…or their money. Everything we’ve accomplished over the past four years has been earned.”
“Why use their money when you have plenty of your own?”
There was no mistaking the accusation in Dave’s voice, or the way he sneered as he glanced at Avery again as if the man’s presence had revealed feelings he’d never confided in Cal before.
Cal fisted his hands, trying to keep the anger burning a hole in his gut from surfacing. “There something you want to say to me, Dave? ‘Cause we’ve been friends since we were six, and I can’t believe you’ve waited until now to discuss my financial success.” He cursed under his breath, shuffling his feet. “Shit. This is because of the other night, isn’t it? Look, just because I said I have feelings for your sister doesn’t mean I’m going to act on them, not if dating Jordan is going to ruin our friendship. I’d never do that to you.”
Though just thinking about the girl made Cal’s head spin. He’d spent the better part of seventeen years watching the brat grow up. He just hadn’t counted on her
so fast, or on her becoming the object of every fantasy he’d ever had. She was smart, funny and so damn pretty his eyes hurt. All it took was a smile and his heart practically beat clear out of his chest. He’d been fighting his attraction to her for what felt like forever, but he’d finally had to admit to himself that somewhere between teasing her and looking out for her, he’d fallen in love with the feisty blonde.
Dave simply shrugged. “This has nothing to do with Jordan. I could care less if you date her, even if she is way out of your league. She’d be crazy to settle for a playboy type like you—you know, all flash and cash. But whatever. I suppose she could do worse. And maybe I didn’t mention any of this before because I didn’t have cause to. But I’m starting to see where this venture is heading, and the only name that keeps flashing in my mind is Smith.”
Cal took a step back, not sure how to take Dave’s comments, when the crunch of gravel sounded behind them. He pulled his mouth tight, hoping he didn’t look as riled as he felt as Avery appeared beyond Dave’s shoulder, half of his face illuminated by the rising moonlight. His brother stopped a few feet away, his gaze falling to Dave as he drew his brows into a vee. Cal cursed. Avery had obviously picked up on the tension between them, and Cal could only pray the man would show some level of tact.
Dave saved him the worry by pushing off the truck and stalking to the rear, flicking on a flashlight as he lowered the tailgate with a distinctive slam. Cal winced at the sound, running a hand through his hair as his brother shook his head and moved closer.
Avery thumbed at Dave. “What the hell’s wrong with him?”
Cal kicked at the gravel, trying to keep his emotions in check, but it wasn’t easy. Shit. Did Dave really think that little of him? Had he done something to piss the guy off and not realized it? Was he really the kind of guy Jordan would have to
He drew his mouth tight, avoiding eye contact with Avery as he stared at the house. “He’s just wired.”
Avery raised a brow. “You do realize I can tell when you’re lying, right? Not to mention the fact the man’s thoughts are practically tattooed across his forehead.” Avery sighed and took a step closer. “Look. If my being here is going to come between you two—”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve got more natural talent than Dave and I combined. Don’t think I don’t know that, or Dave for that matter. Besides, there’s safety in numbers, especially with Dave determined to investigate this place during the night. Call me crazy, but I prefer to challenge spirits before the stroke of twelve gives them an energy boost.”
Avery nodded, glancing at Dave over his shoulder. “Energy boost or not doesn’t change the fact that there’s a dark energy surrounding this place that’s off the charts. I know this sounds odd, but…maybe it’s affecting Dave. Making his less than desirable qualities take center stage.” He nudged Cal. “Making him say crazy shit he doesn’t really mean.”
Cal frowned, wondering how much of the conversation he’d overheard. “Is that even possible? And how do you know all this anyway? I mean, I realize the place has history, but…”
Avery smiled. “Blake made a few new
for me to try out. Don’t tell him I said this, but…the kid’s got promise.” He turned on an overly large flashlight and placed it on the hood of the truck before holding up the remains of a metal detector. “He’s rigged this thing to measure electromagnetic energy. The needle moves to the right when there’s an unusual amount, and this thing was pegged all the way over. He also gave me this.”
Cal took the unit Avery held out to him, smiling. “Isn’t this dad’s prized handheld radio from the ‘good old days’?”
“It used to be. Blake
Cal shook his head. “Do I even want to know what baby brother did to it? I’d like to avoid having dad tear a strip off me once he discovers the kid’s been getting creative again.”
Avery waved it off. “You know dad’s all show where Blake’s concerned. Probably because he recognizes brilliance when he sees it. Besides, this thing’s awesome. Blake’s got it scanning through all the channels in quick succession. The white noise allows spirits to actually communicate with us—there’ve been a few made in the field, but I guarantee Blake’s exceeds any to date. I gave it a quick test run at the old abandoned schoolhouse back home. The results were impressive. This will change how we investigate. I just did a quick session by the front porch, and I’ve already had more than a few voices tell me to get the hell out of here.”
Cal sighed, glancing at Dave again. The man had removed the remaining equipment and was setting up some static night cameras on the lawn. Even with only the light of the moon, Cal could see the stiff line of Dave’s back. The guy wasn’t just upset. He was pissed.
Cal gave Avery a pat on the shoulder. “Just do me a favor and keep those weird Jedi mind powers of yours in check. While I don’t really understand what it is you do, the last thing I need is Dave calling my little brother a freak. I’d hate to have to punch the guy in the face. We are best friends.”
Avery smiled. “I’ll do my best. Just…” He paused, glancing around the property. “Be careful. There’s something off about this place, and it’s more than just the usual angry spirits. I can’t quite place it, but I sense this house is more dangerous than anyone suspects—especially this time of night.”
“Strange. Dave said something similar…about this place being wrong.” He scrubbed his hand down his face, giving Avery a shove. “Let’s get going. And don’t go wandering off on your own, just in case.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, big brother.”
Cal chuckled at the amused tone in Avery’s voice and headed across the yard. Hopefully Avery was right, and Dave’s new attitude was merely a product of the environment. He didn’t want to think his buddy had been harboring resentment all these years and would be happy to chalk it up to an overload of external circumstances. Thankfully, Dave’s demeanor seemed improved when Cal joined the man as Dave headed for the rear of the property.
He glanced at Cal over his shoulder, pointing at the set of windows lined along the upper story. “A number of the deaths occurred in those rooms on the second story and in the attic. I thought we’d roll some video footage in case we can catch a glimpse of something while we’re inside investigating.”
Cal nodded, shining his flashlight along the glass, wondering why he didn’t feel the same eerie darkness the other men did, when something blurred across the attic. Cold shivers raced down his spine as he squinted to get a better look, but only the reflection of the rising moon glared back at him.
Dave walked up behind him, nudging his arm. “Something wrong? You’ve got that weird look on your face you get when you’re trying to puzzle something out.”