By Lena Gregory
Cass Donovan is reminded that you can’t believe everything you hear, especially when it comes from the dead . . .
When stories begin circulating of a centuries-old ghost haunting the
Bay Island lighthouse, Cass is caught up in mystical happenings of her
own, with countless voices from the beyond all clamoring for her
attention with dire warnings. But before she has a chance to learn
whether there’s a connection between the rumored ghost and her restless
visitors, the lighthouse keeper mysteriously falls to his death, and
Cass’s reputation for communing with the deadlands her right in the
middle of the police investigation.
Cass knows the victim was no saint, as he made little effort to hide his philandering ways from his wife or anyone else, and often acted out with no thought for the feelings of others. But had he finally gone too far, or were there more menacing motives behind his murder? As Cass begins building a list of suspects, including the man’s supposedly grieving wife and a mysterious new woman in town, she also turns her ear to those otherworldly voices, hoping for a clue. And as she begins to close in on the culprit, she realizes too late that if she’s not careful, she’ll soon be communicating with the dead in person.
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A worn book sat on a stand beneath a glass case. A card beside it read “Kitty Garrison’s Journal—the life of a lighthouse keeper’s daughter.”
“It doesn’t look like much.” Bee crossed the rope barrier set up to keep patrons from getting too close, then leaned close to the glass and squinted.
“It looks like a diary.” Cass tilted her head to try to read what was inside the book but to no avail.
Bee opened the case.
“What are you doing, Bee? You can’t open that.” Stephanie shot out a hand and pushed the small door closed.
“Well, then, how am I supposed to know what’s in it?”
“Easy,” Stephanie said. “You wait for Amelia to come back and ask her if she’ll let you read it.”
“Yeah, but your way, she might say no. At least my way I can just apologize after the fact. And then we would have seen the inside of the book, maybe gained valuable information on how to find the treasure.” He grinned. “Much better to apologize later than to ask permission now.”
“Is that what this is about, Bee?” Cass wouldn’t mind having a peek in the book, either, but she wasn’t about to upset Stephanie. “You want to find the treasure?”
“You bet I do.”
And somehow Cass had a feeling Levi had counted on that when he’d shared the story. “Question is, if Fred is trying to find the treasure, what does Levi have to gain by making sure everyone under the sun—or at least those living on and probably visiting Bay Island—know about it?”
Bee shrugged off her concern. “Maybe he doesn’t want to see Fred find the treasure? Not that I can blame him. Fred DiCarlo is not a nice man.”
“I suppose, but still.” Cass looked in the direction Levi had gone.
Voices carried into the museum, and Bee deftly hopped the security rope, then propped a hand on his hip and leaned against the railing, possibly going for a nonchalant pose that ended up looking more like I just got caught doing something I shouldn’t have been doing.
When the group headed past the museum entrance and up the stairs, presumably toward the third floor, Cass tugged Bee’s arm. “Come on, we’ll climb the lighthouse before it gets too late. We can always come back here afterward, if there’s time, and talk to Amelia. Maybe she’ll let you read some of the book once everyone’s gone.”
Bee stared longingly at the journal, then sighed. “Sure thing. Whatever you say, Mum.”
They headed out of the museum and followed the concrete walkway toward the lighthouse. The salty sea breeze rustled the bushes lining the path. The mild wind carried the softest hint of a whisper, tantalizingly close, yet just out of reach.
Cass paused. An illusion created by the wind funneling along the walkway? It had to be. It’s not like she was giving a reading, and that’s the only time the voices called to her, assailed her as they competed for her attention. At least, that’s the only time they’d reached out to her so far.
Stephanie looked over her shoulder. “Are you coming, Cass?”
Bee stopped and turned, then frowned. “Is something wrong?”
Shaking off whatever apprehension had stopped her, Cass moved on. “Sorry, daydreaming, I guess.”
“It’s a beautiful day. I bet you’ll be able to see for miles.” Stephanie dug through her bag and pulled out her phone.
“Oh, definitely.” Bee pointed past the bushes and over the choppy waters of the bay. “Look, you can see the south fork of Long Island from here.”
The height of the bluff the lighthouse stood on offered an amazing view across the bay. A foghorn sounded from somewhere in the distance, seagulls circled and dove, occasionally coming up with a prize, and the ferry chugged toward Long Island, only about half full from the looks of it.
They entered the tower and started up the circular staircase, the clang of their shoes against the iron steps echoing off the sandstone walls.
“Not what it seems . . .”
“What do you mean?” Cass studied Bee’s back as he climbed a few steps ahead of her, though how he did it in his signature platform shoes was beyond her.
He paused and looked back at her over his shoulder. “Huh?”
“You said something, but I didn’t quite catch—”
“Stop.” The man’s voice seemed to come from all around her at once.
This time she’d been staring straight at Bee, and he’d been in the middle of saying something else when the male voice had interrupted him.
A woman’s voice joined the man’s. “Why don’t you . . .”
A chorus of voices answered in unison.
Cass shook her head, willing the voices to retreat. “Nothing, Bee. Sorry, I thought you said something.”
Though the scowl remained firmly imprinted on his features, Bee turned and resumed his trek up the stairs, seemingly content to ignore whatever was happening with her. Probably for the best, anyway. If he thought for one minute ghosts haunted the lighthouse, he’d probably plow both Cass and Stephanie over in his haste to leave.
“Watch . . . go . . . stop . . . please . . .” The voices continued unsolicited, demanding, insistent.
“What do you want?” Cass yelled and covered her ears.
Bee stopped again and looked back. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes, please . . .” She lowered her hands, taking a firm grip on the railing to steady her shaking hands. “Just go.”
Bee shook his head and picked up the pace.
Fear skittered along Cass’s spine as she tried to open herself up, make sense of what the voices wanted from her. She focused intently on one voice, that of a man, more demanding that the rest, just a bit louder. “. . . lighthouse . . . rocks . . . look . . . back . . .”
Look back? Look back where? Did he mean literally? She glanced over her shoulder at Stephanie bringing up the rear. She seemed okay. Maybe figuratively? Look back. But at what? The past? The story of the lighthouse keeper, maybe. Is that what the voice was trying to tell her?
They stepped onto the observation deck, the wall of windows opening up an even more incredible view than offered from the bluff. She closed her eyes and concentrated.
“You know,” Bee said, “you could try to block the voices out, ignore them. That’s what I do when I don’t feel like hearing what people are saying.”
“Bee!” Stephanie’s mouth dropped open.
He held up a hand, his eyes wide, as if just realizing what he’d said. “Other people, I mean. You know, when I don’t want to hear what other people are saying. Never you two.”
Stephanie pointed a finger past Cass at him. “That had better be what you meant, buddy.”
Bee grinned and held up both hands in a gesture of surrender. “Of course that’s what I meant.”
“Uh-huh.” Eyeing him out of the corner of her eye, Stephanie returned to admiring the view. She snapped a few pictures with her phone.
Cass tried to ignore the bickering. She massaged her temples. If she didn’t relax, she wasn’t going to get anything.
Bee continued offering advice. “And if ignoring the voices doesn’t work, you can try doing what I do when I walk into the diner, or the deli, or Tony’s Bakery when there is an undeniable undercurrent of excitement rippling through the air, and I know before I take another step there’s really good gossip to be had.”
“What’s that?” At that point, she’d try anything to shut them up.
He turned his back to the view, leaning against the railing that would keep anyone from falling through the circular wall of windows. “Narrow them down one at a time, eliminating those that don’t seem to know anything, those who are just hanging out trying to make sense of what’s going on the same as you are, and continue to whittle away at them, ignoring those you dismiss in favor of those who seem to have knowledge, then focus in on them until you get the message.”
Cass moved to the railing lining the circular platform and leaned her hands on it. Choppy waves battered the coastline, washing up onto the large boulders lining the bluff and beach, sea foam bubbling over between crevices.
“Lighthouse . . . away . . . back . . . push . . .”
She couldn’t grab it. Something, though, so close. Like something just at the edge of her awareness, something she should be able to . . . She closed her eyes, allowing the voices to wash through her.
“Stay . . . back . . . stay away . . .”
Her eyes shot open. “I’ve got it. I know what the voices are trying to tell me.”
Bee folded his arms over his chest, no doubt over any talk of the paranormal. “Oh, and what’s that?”
Cass tried to swallow, her mouth gone to paste, and glanced from him to Stephanie and back again. “Stay away from the lighthouse.”
Bee groaned and returned his attention to the view of the bay.
Stephanie studied her. “Do you think—”
Movement in her peripheral vision caught Cass’s attention. Her gaze shifted to the third floor of the keeper’s house just as someone tumbled out the window toward the rocks below.
A silhouette backed away from the window, barely noticeable, a shadow among shadows as it slid away into darkness. Was the vision real? Or was she witnessing some past tragedy that had played out time and time again over the past couple of centuries? Hadn’t Levi said Samuel Garrison had been found dead on the rocks below the lighthouse, the very same jetty someone had just fallen from the keeper’s house onto?
Muffled screams in the distance assured her the man lying on the rocks was real enough, but what of the silhouette she’d seen as the man fell?
Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.
Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long
Island. She recently relocated to Clermont, Florida with her husband,
three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a
member of Sisters in Crime.
To learn more about Lena and her latest writing endeavors, visit her website, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter.
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