Home > Haunted House (Krewe of Hunters #35.5)(8)

Haunted House (Krewe of Hunters #35.5)(8)
Author: Heather Graham

“Jon, there’s no way a friend of hers did this.”

“I think whoever did it is from Salem. How else would they know not only the legends but also the layout of a house, the architecture, the times of day people wouldn’t be around, and when it might be possible to carry a corpse in unseen?” he asked her.

She shook her head and reached for her phone to call Brenda.

Jon waited patiently as the women spoke. Brenda’s voice came through clearly because of her agitation and nervousness.

“You’re here!” Brenda said.

“Yes, we came to the hotel—” Kylie replied.

“Booked. Booked solid.”

“Yeah, we found that out. Jon is going to bring me to you—”

“I’m at the police station.”

“Right. We know. You and I can get some breakfast. Jon said there’s a place near the station—”

“The Witch’s Whistle,” Brenda said.

“Right. We’ll get something to eat and let the police finish at the house.”

“Finish? How can they finish? I was supposed to have workers out today. A crew was supposed to come in to clean, and then I was going to see if anything needed to be shored up. They did an inspection before the sale. But, then again, I didn’t think there would be false walls in the house. Still, I guess if you’re going to stick a dead man in your walls, you wouldn’t pull a permit to do it.” She laughed nervously, and Jon heard it. “But the police asked me to stop people from coming in today. They’re hoping to clear the house by tomorrow.”

“Okay, let’s get something to eat and figure out what to do next,” Kylie said. “Jon is going to drop me to be with you, and then he’ll head on over to Brim House.”

“His friend, that detective? He’s very nice,” Brenda said.

Kylie glanced at Jon, and they both smiled. “Yes, he is.”

“Unless you commit a crime,” Jon said softly. “Anyway, let’s—”

“Right. We’re heading out, Brenda. I’ll see you soon.”

Kylie ended the call, they waved to the night clerk, and then turned to walk to the car.

The woman stopped them. “You reached Brenda?” she called out.

“I did.” Kylie turned. “She’s fine. Thanks again for your help.”

Jon paused outside the hotel, waiting for Kylie to catch up. The sun was just coming up. He’d parked by Salem Common, and he thought about the city and its beauty. Fall brought an outstanding assortment of colors to the Earth. The oldest building in the area dated back to 1664—the Pickman House—and others still stood from the latter 1600s. Salem offered parks and museums and higher education, along with a rich maritime history.

And, of course, witches.

History and shops abounded that relayed information or sold souvenirs dealing with the tragic history of the people who had been incarcerated and executed. Now, many Wiccans lived in the city. Some were offended and others were not by the many signs, logos, and so on that featured witches on broomsticks. None of it had ever bothered Jon. He’d been happy to play John Proctor in his high school production of a play written by his teacher—one that stuck solidly to all known records. He loved the museums, too. And as a kid, he’d attended all kinds of classes offered by the Peabody Essex Museum.

He really loved Salem. And he understood. It was the past, but it was also the present. And because of the past, the present was vital and vibrant—one couldn’t separate the two.

Kylie watched him, and he gave her a sheepish grin.

“Sorry. We should get going.”

“The bandshell on the Common is decorated,” she noted.

They could see the Common from where they stood, and the bandshell and various areas of the green where Halloween events were ongoing or being set up was indeed festive. Unfortunately, every organizer of every event would be nervously checking their decorations now, hoping no bodies filled their pumpkins.

“I know you love Salem,” Kylie said softly.

He smiled at her. “So do you. You came here again and again.”

“But it’s not my home as it was yours.”

“Kylie, we both know that bad things can happen anywhere. Let’s worry about Brenda for now. By the way, you didn’t answer me. I don’t think it would hurt if we just stayed at Brim House. What do you think?”

“Okay. Though, I don’t know how soft the beds are.” She laughed.

“We’ll find out, won’t we?” He winked.

She nodded. “I guess we will. What about Brenda?”

“She might be better off staying with a friend.”

They got into the car and drove out to the station. He noted that—murdered tourists or not—the streets were already starting to show life. It was barely six a.m. None of the museums would be open yet. Not even what he knew to be Kylie’s favorite: The Salem Witch Museum, where she thought they managed to convey the history—and the horror—without sensationalism. The craze might have been brought on by greed, different people coveting their neighbors’ land and letting that be known to children. Or by simple hatred, jealousy, or even blind fear and ignorance. The woods had been filled with dangers back then, and people believed that the devil could dance in the darkness and lure away the unwary.

Someone once theorized that hallucinogens in the wheat may have caused the frenzy—but that had never seemed true to him. Nor had it ever been proven. Why would so few have been affected?

And, of course, thousands were hanged or burned to death worldwide during the period, each accused of witchcraft.

“Hey, everything okay? I think I may be doing better than you,” Kylie said softly, placing a gentle hand on his arm as he drove.

He smiled at her. “I’m fine. Are you okay?”

“Not in anyone else’s skin at the moment,” she assured him.

“Or thumb or big toe?” he teased.

“Nope. I’m not seeing anything.” She hesitated. “I’ve learned now to see the dead, to take control while talking to them…I’m really not afraid of ghosts. Those I’ve met want to do nothing but help. But this thing…seeing through others’ eyes, I have no control at all.”

“Maybe one day. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps it’s just supposed to be,” Jon said lightly. “And I’m sorry. It must be so frightening.”

“It’s okay when I wake up beside you.”

“Then you’re just always going to have to wake beside me.”

“That works.”

He smiled as he drove to Margin Street, where the station was located. He intended to park and go in, but Kylie stopped him. “Jon, it’s a police station. I’ll be fine. Drop me in front and get to Brim House.”

“Okay. I know Ben got them to hold the bodies until I got there—or the skeleton and the body, whatever it may prove to be.”

“Go do what you need to do. Don’t worry about me.”

Jon kissed her goodbye and watched as Kylie got out of the car. Waving to her one last time, he headed to the scene.

Police officers stood around the perimeter of Brim House when Jon arrived, but Ben Miller—maybe with a bit of intuitive talent of his own—walked out to the front porch just as Jon parked down the street.

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