Watch for me by moonligh.., p.1
Table of Contents
THE LAST SWEET TIME
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
THE BOY IN THE BROWN LEATHER JACKET
STRANGER AT THE DANCE
SNOWFLAKES AND MOONLIGHT
THOUGH HELL SHOULD WHICH BAR THE WAY
VISIONS AND BAD PIZZA
REAL OR FATE?
TWICE IN A LIFETIME
THE SECRET OF BEN
STEAL AWAY HOME
TO BE? OR NOT TO BE?
IN THINGS UNSEEN
A PROMISE GIVEN
THE GOODBYE BOY
FOR THIS ONE DAY
A MATTER OF TRUST
FOR LOVE OF BEN
THE LOVE BEFORE MY LIFE
THE PERFECT GIRL
LOVED TO DEATH
BEHIND THE MASK
THE GHOST WHO LOVED ME
WATCH FOR ME BY MOONLIGHT
THE TRUTH ABOUT PERFECT
A STOLEN LIFE
BEYOND THIS NIGHT
Watch for Me by Moonlight
Published by the Penguin Group
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Copyright © 2010 Jacquelyn Mitchard
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For Yvette, Marta, and Aunt Anna
THE LAST SWEET TIME
“YOU need to listen, Drew. My house is full of strangers,” Mallory Brynn told her boyfriend, Drew Vaughn, who was hoping for a few minutes to kiss his girl instead of a nice stressful little chat. He thought, you know, the world might be better off if a girl never again said the words: “We have to talk.” Nothing ever came of it but more talk and far less making out. The thing to do was to nip it in the bud.
“I know,” Drew said, pulling Mallory closer. “It must stink.”
But she wasn’t having any.
“Drew listen! Everywhere I turn I bump into somebody else. Grandma on Saturday and Monday, not that she’s a stranger, but you can’t act like yourself around her. You have to be nicer. Big Carla on Fridays and Wednesdays. Sasha two mornings a week and ... and now Luna! Luna is going to put me over the edge.”
“Luna ... Luna Verdgris? She’s a semi-nice person, Brynn. Aren’t you being kind of judgmental?” Drew knew that Mallory, who had only recently given up wearing Drew’s old T-shirts as ordinary clothing and started dressing like a girl, hated it when people judged anyone on their appearance. So he drew his hole card. “What, are you bent out of shape because she wears black? Well, black over black with black accessories?”
“Of course not! It’s not that. She’s a psychic! Can you imagine that part?” Mally asked. “For me?”
Drew gently framed Mallory’s face with his hands and turned her chin up to his lips. They were standing in a foot of snow, bundled in parkas, Mallory in sheepskin boots up to her knees, Drew in brown Wellingtons. But they didn’t feel the cold. Not only were they together and tucked out of the wind, but, despite it being home and therefore boring by its very nature, it was hard to ignore the clean winter beauty all around them. The caps and runnels of snow that decorated the hills of upstate New York made the tiny town of Ridgeline feel like being in the center of a frosted funnel cake.
However, the romantic setting was not on Drew’s side.
Mally’s next shove nearly knocked him over. It came at him packed with every bit of oomph that thirty guy pushups a day could give a ninety-pound girl. She said, “Just leave it! I’m talking! My house is like a train station. And everyone there annoys the hell out of me except Grandma and Sasha.”
“Sasha’s pretty,” Drew said. “Really pretty.”
“So go and lick her face!” Mallory snapped. “You won’t pay any civilized attention to me. We used to talk all the time before we were going out.”
“That’s because talking was the extent of it,” Drew told her reasonably. “Now we have better things to do.”
“Well, you can go do those better things with someone else,” Mallory said. “I need a friend right now ... not a ... goldfish who keeps globbing his lips at me!”
“That’s harsh!” Drew said, pulling his knitted headband down over his eyebrows.
“I’m sorry,” Mallory said, giving him a hug. “I’m really sorry. I’m just disturbed. I mean stirred up, not mentally disturbed. Although ... I probably am mentally disturbed.”
“You can say that again,” Drew muttered.
“Today particularly. I’m edgy,” Mally said. She turned her back but leaned into Drew’s arms, looking up at the strong wooden walls of her ninety-year-old house. “I don’t know why,” she said. “I should feel lucky. Great guy. Great friends. No scholastic hell. Only sixteen fun-filled weeks until school ends.”
Winter in Ridgeline was about to give up its last gust and surrender to spring. There had been a big snowfall, and the runnels in the storm drains from a brief January thaw had not yet done much to make a dent in the drifts, still dusted with sugar. A month after Christmas, the town’s lighted stars and spangled snowflakes were still shining on down from the lampposts onto unblemished snow. There hadn’t been time to get them taken down during the two warm days, and townspeople rather liked the warm, non-denominational glow from the street corners. For Mallory and Drew, it was a beauty that they had to remind themselves to appreciate. But for other people, it was a novelty—a little place lifted out of time. Ridgeline was becoming more popular by the year. Until the past several years, no one had ever moved to a tiny place like Ridgeline, population 2,000. But as cities became increasingly expensive and difficult for families, towns like Ridgeline, only an hour or so from New York City, became big-time destinations. Each year, a dozen or so new families moved to Ridgeline, to the huge new housing de
The twins, Mallory and Meredith, lived in one of the oldest houses on Pilgrim Street, where four generations of their family had grown up. The Brynns’ great-great-grandfather had been one of the first settlers of Ridgeline and was among the men who built the first five houses, of which theirs was one. It had been a mining town then, home to rough-handed men and their patient wives. Now, mining was a dreamy history, and newcomers cooed over Ridgeline as though it were a puppy. They loved the stationery shop and the Mountain Beanery Coffee Shop and the fact that the old flower shop, Bloomers, and the new funeral parlor sat amicably side by side.
All those “transplants” were, as the twins’ grandfather, Arthur Brynn said, “running away from the lives they wanted in the first place.” Little towns such as Ridgeline were getting to be what Grandpa referred to as “boutique” communities for urban refugees.
“You can walk downtown and see a dozen people you’ve never even met these days!” he complained.
Better than anyone except the police, the twins knew that although Ridgeline might look like a storybook hometown, it wasn’t. Not always. To them, Ridgeline had become an invisible veil, through which they could see the secrets of people all around them. And they’d known most of those people all their lives. Drew brought up that very fact now.
“You’d think you’d be happy to have something normal to worry about,” Drew pointed out, irritated that they were wasting the only time they could touch each other all day—the school’s policy on “PDA-beyond-hand-holding” made by people who had either never been in love or were too old to remember it. “No insult intended, life at your house fits into a pretty broad definition of what regular people would call ‘normal.’”
Mallory couldn’t disagree.
Although no one except Drew knew it, Mally and her sister Meredith weren’t the typical girls next door—and the fact that they were identical mirror-image twins wasn’t the half of it.
While reading each other’s thoughts and speaking in their own language were second nature for them, two years earlier, when they turned thirteen, everything changed. After a fire that nearly killed both of them, their “twin” telepathy became total telepathy—dark, scary, and tuned in to whatever evil dwelt at the roots of Ridgeline. In daydreams and nightmares, they saw bits of things and had to fit them together to make any sense of them at all. What they found out turned their relatively happy lives inside out—like the first time, when they learned that David Jellico, the older brother of Merry’s best friend Kim, was actually a budding psychopath hunting for a girl to torture.
As they soon realized, they had the same power in two different flavors.
Meredith was born a minute before midnight on New Year’s Eve, and Mallory born a minute after.
Merry could only see the past—from the recent past to long ago.
Mallory could only see the future, what would or what might happen—although she had no idea when.
What was clear from the first minute was that they were meant to try to stop whoever—or whatever—was doing wrong. But the lines of the battle were never clear. In visions, they received pieces of a puzzle, never a whole map. And the very search caused them as much frustration and fear as whatever they found at the end.
Even when the twins found what they were seeking, they weren’t always successful. Just last year, the twins learned that Mallory’s best friend, Eden, an older girl on Mally’s soccer team, was the embodiment of an ancient Cree Indian legend. A shape-shifter, Eden was her tribe’s medicine woman, destined to live her life alone, partly as a great, buff-colored mountain lion. When she rebelled and tried to run from her destiny, even the twins’ combined knowledge couldn’t save her.
For Mally and Merry, while “the gift” was nothing freaky (scary, yes, but spooky, no) and was as natural to them as Mally being a lefty and Meredith right-handed, they would have willingly given it up in exchange for a bad case of acne any day of the week.
But after “the gift” first emerged in all its awful glory, their grandmother Gwenny told them the truth about it. They would be this way not for a while but forever. All the female twins on their father’s side of the family (and there were no male twins) back as far as anyone knew had the second sight.
Mallory and Merry’s great-great-grandmother and her mother had written hints of it in spidery entries in their family bibles. In letters and diaries now vanished, events that described “the sight” probably showed up much further back than that. Their great-grandmother could virtually “see,” with her mind, through the walls of houses. Even as a tiny child, she knew who was happy and safe. Their great-aunt was the other side of that coin: She could “see” through the walls of people who acted very pious and pure but actually had sad and violent secrets.
Mallory and Merry’s own grandmother could foresee healthy babies before their birth and recovery from illness; but her twin sister, Vera, who died as a child, could foresee only stillbirths and death. Mally and Merry’s power was the distilled essence of all those generations before them. None but they had such a powerful sight, with the ability to intervene in destiny instead of just perceive it. Mallory could perceive things before they happened; Merry could confirm that those things had happened. Together they could try to prevent them from happening again or getting worse. Grandma Gwenny—whose own gift meant only that she could see who would live and be healthy while her sister, Vera, saw only who would die—tried her best to convince the girls that their power was a force for good.
For Merry and Mallory, though, the only good thing that had happened over time was that slowly, they seemed to be learning how to turn the power on when they needed it—although they could never completely turn it off.
That winter day, Drew was about to point out that nothing had called “the gift” out in nearly a year. It was almost a month since the twins had turned fifteen. For them, a birthday was a renewal. A new year. A new age. A kind of pencil-sharpening time for the future.
“And you’re complaining,” he told Mallory.
“It’s just that ... since my mother went to medical school ... it’s like a home invasion. I don’t even know these people. At first it was just Grandma Gwenny and Big Carla....”
“That nurse’s aide from the hospital who helps take care of Adam and Owen,” said Mallory. “Like everyone else in town does now! You’d know that if you paid attention to anything about me for the past four months!”
Adam and Owen were Mallory and Meredith’s younger brothers. At twelve, Adam was able to take care of himself most of the time—especially in Ridgeline, where crimes were about as rare as unicorns. But Owen was still a baby, barely able to stand. It still amazed the twins that their mother, Campbell—at forty-four years old!—had picked last fall to start medical school, as if being head nurse of the ER at Ridgeline Memorial Hospital weren’t enough. Either she should have had the baby or the new career, but not both! “You’ve met Carla. She moved here a couple of years ago? She’s this big woman with red hair, not fat, but she’s got to be a body-builder or something. She looks like a wrestler? She named her daughter Carla, too....”
“I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her. And her daughter is Carla Two, like Carla Two, the movie?”
“Carla also, I meant,” Mallory said and threw up her hands. “Oh, Drew! Why bother? You’re just going to make a joke out of it!”
“I’m not,” Drew said softly. He stroked Mally’s hair and kissed the top of her head. “You smell like spring even in the middle of winter.” Mallory relaxed a bit. Soon, it would be spring. Things were quiet a
“You know, Drew, it’s not that my mother shouldn’t do what she wants. But these people have disrupted our whole lives! We quit choir this year ‘for the family,’ but even that wasn’t enough. It’s like you need a flow chart to know who’s going to be there when you walk into the kitchen in your T-shirt and boxers to get peanut butter toast.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that,” Drew said.
“I didn’t used to mind you seeing me dressed like that before we were together,” Mallory said.
“Weird that you mind now.”
“Yeah,” Mallory said and reached up to kiss Drew. However, mid-kiss, she was suddenly limp in his arms, clinging to his neck. Drew knew what this meant. In a few moments, Mally’s eyes would snap back to their customary river-gray brightness, and she would either tell him or not tell him that she’d had a “vision” about something. It would be something crazy that was either going to happen or which she was going to try to stop from happening—that either would or would not involve Drew’s boss at Pizza Papa yelling at him in Italian for being late to work because Mallory needed a ride to interrupt some kind of nuts mayhem no one but she and Drew and her twin sister would ever know about.
He sighed and held her close.
Mallory saw girls, six or seven girls, under a canopy of trees in new leaf. Spring. The future. Around a fire, they danced with six or seven other girls. And they were ... well, they were wearing capes or long tunics made of gauzy black or silver stuff that left nothing to the imagination. Mallory could see right through, and there were no clothes underneath. And then, leaning forward with her open hands, one of them began to drop tiny, blond curls into the fire ... one by one, as the other nudies raised their arms in some kind of celebration. A few of the other girls whirled and dipped closer to the fire. The girl holding the hair—who was it?—she was familiar in some way. She had a slim, pretty body, but some of the others should have invested in Spandex body stockings....