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Shadow silence, p.16
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       Shadow Silence, p.16

           Yasmine Galenorn
 
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  As I started the engine, Bryan leaned over to gently slide his hand along my face. “They’ll make certain she’s safe, love. Trust me. They’ll keep her safe.” But his eyes were filled with concern, too, and as I told him about the door and the perfume bottle, that concern grew. I had a horrible feeling that somehow, we weren’t anywhere near fixing this. And I didn’t even know if it could be fixed.

  * * *

  The Crescent Moon Society wouldn’t be meeting until ten P.M., so I still had some time to kill. Deev and Bryan carried Peggin’s luggage up to the guest room over the office. Sometimes my house reminded me of a miniature castle. Upstairs over the master suite was my ritual room and the attic. Up a second staircase on the opposite side of the house, over the office, was my old bedroom, a guest room, and a jack-and-jill bath.

  While Peggin unpacked, I decided to do a little sleuthing. She was better at computer snooping than I was by far, but I had learned a thing or two over the past couple of months. While Deev and Bryan went out to get takeout for later, I typed the name J. Jacobs into the search engine. After a moment I added the words Whisper Hollow, and boat. The search didn’t garner many returns, but the second link told me what I wanted to know.

  In 1919, in November, Joseph Jacobs and four other people vanished on Lake Crescent when their ship went down. They were never found again. The ship had been named the Maria Susanna. MS. Of course, the initials on the beam. The article didn’t have much else to say except that Jacobs had built the Maria Susanna in 1915, and it had been considered extremely seaworthy. There had been a storm the night that it vanished and everyone assumed that the winds had sunk her.

  I leaned back in my chair, staring at the screen. If the Maria Susanna had never been found, how did the keel beam and several of its ribs make their way into the Foggy Downs house? They had been adjacent the walls, but I wondered if they had been installed while the house was being built or added later on. According to the Realtor, if I remembered correctly, the house was built in 1920. I racked my brain, thinking that he had mentioned who the builder was but at the moment I couldn’t bring the name to mind. Maybe Peggin would remember.

  When she came downstairs a little while later, she looked calmer and a little less frightened.

  “Did you get the ferrets settled in?” We had stopped on the way back to the house and picked up Frith and Folly from the kennel. When they had taken her bags up, Bryan and Deev put together the ferrets’ cage.

  She nodded, dropping into the chair opposite me. “Yes and they seem happy to see me again. They’ll be fine up there. I can let them out when I’m in my room.”

  “Tomorrow we’ll fix it so that my old bedroom can be the ferret room and then you can leave them out longer. We can just shut them in there and they’ll be fine. There’s not much they can tear up.”

  “Don’t be so sure about that,” she said with a laugh. “You haven’t seen ferrets when they’re on a rampage. I have to ferret proof my entire home, including most of the cupboards.”

  I remembered that Peggin had had childproof locks on almost all of the cupboards and drawers. “Is that why you baby proofed everything? I thought your landlord had done that.”

  She shook her head. “Ferrets are worse than cats in terms of getting into things, and they’re smart.” She glanced at the laptop. “What are you looking at?”

  “I found out some information that may help us. I know what ship those beams came from.” I showed her what I had found out. “Do you remember the name of the person who built the house? Your Realtor told us but I can’t recall who he said the original owner was.”

  Peggin squinted, pushing her glasses back up her nose. She scanned the screen, biting her lip. “Well, considering four people were lost in the lake, it’s not surprising that the wood would hold some pretty rough energy. Let me think . . .” After a moment she pulled out her phone. “Hey, Jack? Yeah, it’s Peggin . . . Don’t ask. No, my things are moved in, but I’m not staying there tonight.” She paused, listening. Then, “Yeah, it is haunted. But something worse happened this morning. The Lady tried to drag me under . . . No, I’m not joking . . . We’ll talk about that later, okay? Listen, Jack. You told us who the original owner of the house was. Neither Kerris nor I can remember his name. Can you please tell me who it was again?”

  Another moment and she thanked him and hung up. She looked over at me. “Jack sounds a little pissed. Anyway, the builder of the house was Herschel Dorsey. Let’s take a look and see what we find.”

  “Do you want some coffee while we work?”

  “Do frogs eat flies?” Peggin laughed, and winked at me. She started tapping on the keys while I moved over to the counter and fired up the espresso machine.

  “How many shots and what do you want?” We were getting low on the ground coffee so I pulled out the beans and began grinding a new batch. With as much caffeine as I drank, I ground enough for two to three days at a time.

  “It’s awfully chilly out there and I’m still cold from the lake. How about a triple-shot peppermint mocha?”

  I could tell she was already absorbed in the search because her voice drifted off. Peggin loved to snoop around on the net and see what she could find, and she was good at it. I pulled out two large mugs. Her suggestion was a good one and I decided that I wanted a triple-shot peppermint mocha as well. I pumped coffee syrup into the mugs, and then added powdered mocha mix that I bought from the store. As I waited for the espresso machine to heat up, I dug out a bag of mini marshmallows. We might as well do it right. By the time I had pulled six shots—three for Peggin, three for me—and steamed the milk, stirring it into the mugs, she was typing away like her fingers were on fire. I added the mini marshmallows, and as an afterthought, hung a miniature candy cane over the side of each mug. I carried them to the table and put one in front of her, then sat down by her side to watch what she was pulling up on the search.

  “What did you find?” I cupped my mug with my hands, the heat radiating through me like a warm blanket.

  She paused, sitting back to sip on her mocha. She wrapped her hands around the mug and gave a contented sigh. “This is so nice and warm. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over being dragged into the lake.” She glanced at the mark on her wrist. “I wish I could scrub this off, just make it go away.”

  “I know, and we’ll do everything we can to find an answer for it. We’re not going to let the Lady take you, Peggin. I promise you that.”

  “I know that you’ll do everything you can,” she said. “But the Lady is powerful, and I don’t know many have ever survived. Can you think of anybody who she’s taken and who has managed to escape?”

  I struggled, trying to remember if there was anyone I had ever met who had been claimed by the Lady and gotten free of her clutches. “We can ask Ivy tonight. You should come with us to the Crescent Moon Society. You have to, anyway. After the last meeting, they made you an adjunct member.” I pointed toward the screen. “So what did you find?”

  “Something I really didn’t want to find. It seems that Herschel Dorsey was an active member of Cú Chulainn’s Hounds. Joseph Jacobs, on the other hand, was a member of the Crescent Moon Society. I’m not sure who the others in the boat were, yet, but do you want to make a bet this might have something to do with the feud?”

  I frowned, thinking. “I think we need to find out from Ellia when her mother immigrated to America. Was Magda here at that point?”

  “I don’t think so. Ellia wasn’t born until the 1940s, I believe. Her sister Penelope was born a lot earlier. Ellia was a little girl when Magda killed Penelope.” She shuddered. “It’s still squicks me out when I think about how Penelope died. Can you imagine how much it must have hurt with all of those nails coming out of her body? I can’t imagine how powerful Magda’s magic had to be to kill her in that way.”

  I sipped my mocha, sucking down a few of the marshmallows.
I can’t imagine killing your own child, and killing them in such a horrific and painful manner. And then cursing your other child, like Magda did to Ellia? That old bitch is a horrible waste of breathing space.”

  “I know. I try not to think about it often because it can give me horrendous nightmares. I wonder what Penelope feels, stuck in that tomb. Do you think she’s happy?”

  I frowned, mulling over my answer. After a moment, I shrugged. “I don’t know. She never seems angry to me, and she doesn’t seem angsty. Maybe she’s just adjusted to her position. In fact, Penelope seems extremely cool—unlike Veronica. Trust me, you never want to encounter Veronica. I hope I don’t have to deal with her much in the future. She’s terrifying, Peggin. And I don’t think she’s particularly happy.”

  Peggin grimaced, then picked up her cup and began to drink her mocha. “I’m going to get a notebook and jot down some of this information so we can take it to the meeting tonight.” She crossed the room to get her purse, pulling a small steno book out of the bag. “Thanks, again.”

  “For what?” I wiped the chocolate foam off my mouth with a napkin, feeling satisfied. The mocha had just the right amount of sweetness in it to tide me over.

  “For everything. For helping save my life. For letting me stay in your house, for not telling me ‘I told you so’—which you would have every right to.” Peggin sank down in her chair, letting out a little sob. “What am I going to do? I gave Jack half of my savings as an option fee. I only have three thousand dollars left in the bank. Everything else I put into the house.”

  “Can you cancel the deal?” I wasn’t up on my real estate law. “At least you’re still on the rent-to-own basis. If you walk away, you’re not going to be saddled with the rest of the house payments.”

  “True, but I had to sign a year’s lease to start. And the option fee . . . If I walk away, I forfeit it. I’m set to lose at least a year’s rent and three thousand dollars on top of that if I decide to move.”

  I let out a slow sigh. I hated to see her so upset. “Maybe we can take care of this. Maybe the hauntings are because of those boat beams? We might be able to exorcise the land and house. It is a pretty house—it could be beautiful if you fix it up.” I wanted to make her smile, to give her some hope. She was my best friend and it hurt me to see her hurting.

  “But what about the Lady?” Peggin finished making notes and then turned off my computer and pushed back.

  “I don’t know. I don’t know what we can do. But I promise you, we will do everything we can to keep you from losing your money and your life.” I carried our mugs over to the sink as Bryan and Deev returned from the store. They clattered through the living room, into the kitchen, carrying bags of takeout, which they set on the table.

  “We couldn’t decide whether we wanted pizza or Chinese or sub sandwiches, so we got all three. We can always eat the leftovers tomorrow.” Bryan wrapped his arms around me and gave me a long kiss. “I can tell you’ve been into the coffee machine again.”

  “That’s an espresso machine to you, bub.” But I laughed, and leaned against his shoulder before extricating myself in order to unpack the bags.

  Peggin moved my laptop out of the way and helped me sort out the food. Like most men, the pair had returned with enough to last us a week. There were three pizzas, two pepperoni and one with so many toppings it was hard to tell what was on there. They had also picked up large containers of fried rice, pot stickers, sweet-and-sour chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, fortune cookies, and four foot-long sandwiches, each stacked so high that I wasn’t sure how we could fit them in our mouths.

  I stared at the stack of food, repressing a grin. “What? Are we stocking up for the zombie apocalypse?”

  “You know we’re going to get hungry shortly before the meeting, and we won’t have time to make anything. I figure we can just munch our way through the late afternoon and evening until the meeting tonight.” Bryan shrugged, flashing me a sheepish grin.

  “I think you just couldn’t make up your mind so you got everything that remotely looked good.” I arched an eyebrow at him. The truth was, even though we had just eaten, the food smelled good. I had a feeling stress was playing into my appetite. “We found out some interesting things while you were gone. Peggin, you want to tell them?”

  “Not particularly, but I will.” She laid out what we had found on the net. “So, we’re thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Hounds had something to do with Jacobs’s death. Or at least, I’m thinking. I’m not sure about Kerris.” She glanced at me with a questioning look.

  I nodded. “You hit my thoughts on the head. I made a note to ask Ellia tonight about when Magda was born. Whether she had anything to do with this, I’m not certain. The years don’t add up. It might just be the Hounds themselves that engineered the shipwreck. I’m going to go look through my great-grandmother Mae’s Shadow Journal and see if she made any mention of the Maria Susanna. Mae didn’t emigrate from Ireland until 1936, so it was well after the ship sank. To be honest, I’m not sure who the spirit shaman was here before Great-Grandma Mae.”

  There was so much I felt I still needed to learn. I had no clue who had been the spirit shaman before my great-grandmother took over, and until now, it really hadn’t occurred to me to find out. My great-grandparents had come over from Ireland in 1936, Great-Grandma Mae took up as spirit shaman immediately, and Great-Grandpa Tristan had worked as a logger. He had died in an accident when Grandma Lila turned thirty.

  “While you do that, I think I’ll take a nap. I’m tired from this morning.” Peggin stood up, pushing her chair back. “Do you mind?”

  “Not at all. Make yourself at home. If you need anything, I’ll be upstairs in the ritual room.” I turned to Bryan and Deev. “What are you guys going to do while we’re busy?”

  Deev cleared his throat. “I got a text while I was at the store. I’ve got a commissioned piece that they just moved up my deadline on. I need to go home and work on it.” He turned to Peggin apologetically. “I’m afraid that this is going to keep me busy for a couple days. Will you be okay here? I’m going to have to work day and night to get it done.”

  “I don’t mind. But check in with me before bed tonight? Just text me.” Peggin looked up at Deev, who softly moved to her side, taking her in his arms. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. They looked so good together, and so right. They were both quirky, renegades in their own right, yet together they fit. I could see just how gentle he was with her. He stroked her hair back, cupping her face as he tipped her chin up so that she was staring into his eyes.

  “Of course I’ll text you. Please be careful. Do what Bryan and Kerris tell you to. You need to stay safe. I need you to stay safe.” Even though he didn’t say the words, I could hear them loud and clear beneath the surface.

  Peggin nodded, reaching up to kiss him once more. “I promise. Later, monkey.”

  He ducked his head and laughed, then with a quick kiss to her forehead, he picked up one of the sandwiches. “Do you mind if I take this for my dinner?”

  I quickly shook my head. “If you want anything else, feel free. Take a few pizza slices, too.”

  I found a plastic container and he filled it with pizza and a couple of pot stickers and the sandwich, snapping the lid on when he was finished. With a wave in our direction, Dr. Divine hurried out the door, the hem of his duster whirling behind him in a patchwork of color.

  I filled a plate with pot stickers, two slices of pizza, and some fried rice. Grabbing a water bottle out of the fridge, I turned to Bryan and Peggin. “I’m headed up to the ritual room. I need to find my great-grandma’s Shadow Journal. I think I remember seeing it on the shelf in the secret room.”

  Peggin yawned. “Okay, I’m going to catch some z’s.” She picked up a piece of pizza, eating it on the way up the stairs.

  Bryan looked a little bit lonesome. “Well, given I’m the only one who isn
t doing anything, I suppose it’s a good time to start fixing some of the fence that’s crumbling. I have some mortar at my house and can see about affixing the stones back in place.”

  Bryan had taken up fixing things around the house and yard when he noticed they needed repair. Even though I had offered to pay someone to come in to do the work, he told me no. He preferred taking on the tasks himself, and I was extremely grateful for it.

  “Okay, then, we meet in the kitchen at around nine P.M. The meeting starts at ten.” And with that, I carried my plate toward the opposite staircase from the one leading to Peggin’s room. We had a lot of questions to answer, hopefully before the Lady made another attempt on Peggin’s life.

  CHAPTER 11

  I found my great-grandmother’s Shadow Journal, but quickly realized it would take some time to flip through it. As much as I loved the old leather-bound books, there were times where I wished that earlier generations had access to computers. It made searching through documents so much easier. Luckily, I was a fast reader, and began to skim the pages as I ate. An hour later I was about thirty pages through—my great-grandmother had very small handwriting and it wasn’t all that easy to read—and hadn’t encountered anything on the Maria Susanna yet.

  I slid a bookmark into the journal and set it to the side. There had to be some other way. And then I remembered my grandfather’s journals. Or rather, Duvall’s ledgers. Grandma Lila’s husband had been a member of the Hounds, and I had found the ledgers with all their information in them. It was during their attempt to get those ledgers back that we had discovered just how ruthless the Hounds could be.

  Luckily, the Crescent Moon Society now possessed them, although I had kept a photocopy hidden away in my secret room. I slid open the door and pulled the membership ledger off the shelf, along with the meeting minutes ledger. I carried them to my desk and began to flip through. Peggin was going to computerize all of the information when she had time, but for now it wasn’t that difficult to pinpoint the membership list from 1919. The year the Maria Susanna sank.

 
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