For disclaimers see part one.
A special thank you goes out to my beta reader Mountain Girl.
As always this is for Heather.
Stewart, Massachusetts 1914
Catherine was livid as she listened to her brother berating her lover. She had to restrain herself from leaping across the dinning room table and throttling him. Each time she was about to pounce, Anna would flash a warning look. "I promise to remove the decorations before morning," Anna wearily conceded as her husband glared at her.
Catherine jumped fearfully as Horatios fist slammed down onto the table. "It is too late for that now," the Captain, bellowed. "Half the town complimented me on the festive state of the manor once I stepped off of the train. Leave them," he snarled as Catherine felt her skin crawling as she caught the hateful stare he cast down upon poor Anna.
"I only thought," Anna whimpered her body shrinking in fear.
"You are not to think," Horatio blared.
Catherine clutched the hard edges of the table her knuckles turning white as she restrained herself from intervening. She had heard the horrible sounds last evening. Horatio had returned to the Manor around mid-day. Just as Anna had predicted it was just in time to be home before Richard returned from school. Horatio stormed into the house startling Anna. He didnt look at the decorations he just yanked his wife by her hair and dragged her off. Catherine had been in the kitchen when she heard the ruckus. "What is happening," she demanded from Miss Wilkins.
"The captain has returned Miss," the maid sputtered in a grave tone.
"Where is Anna?" Catherine demanded in frenzy.
"Shes with the captain," the maid remorsefully supplied.
Catherine frantically searched the house only to discover her lover cowering in her room. "Go," Anna insisted as she tried to hide her bruised body from Catherine.
"No," Catherine flared.
"If you dont it will only get worse," Annas flat tone and vacant look sent a shock through Catherines soul. "Hell take it out on Richard when he returns."
Catherine remained steadfast until Annas pleas finally wore her down. She left her lovers bedchamber and listened to her wails for mercy all through the evening. She hated her brother and wished him dead. She hated herself even more for not rushing down and stopping Horatio any way that she could. Now as she watched the ire growing inside of her brother she knew that this night was to be another evening of torture.
"Brother," she hissed as she strained not to flare out at him.
"Youll not interfere," he cautioned her with a wicked gleam in his cold, dark eyes.
"This is my doing," she professed honestly. "I assumed that as the head of the community you would insist on decorating the manor for the holiday," she pressed on with a flurry as he began to listen to her words. "Sister protested," she lied. "I was the one who did this. You do, after all, have an image to uphold."
"What is this rubbish you are spouting," he cackled.
"Brother," she gasped. "If the Manor isnt glorified during this season it might appear un-Christian. The towns people look to you for guidance, what will they think if you scoff at the holiest night of the year? Father always insisted that Collinsworth reflect the Strattons station in the community. I assumed that you would insist; no demand the same of your family."
Catherine watched as he pondered her words. How easy it was to play him and how sick she felt for not playing to his ego yesterday. "See wife," he grunted indignantly as he waved towards Catherine who was still clutching the table. "Even this harlot understands the importance of family."
"Yes, Husband," Anna sneered at his words while he failed to notice her harsh tone and cold look.
Horatio laughed at the both of them both pushing his chair back and swaggering into his den. Anna winced painfully as she dutifully began to clear away the remnants of the evening meal. "Youre in no condition," Catherine comforted her lover.
"I must," Anna, uttered, the tiny womans eyes and voice once again devoid of emotion. Knowing that any protests she offered could be refused, Catherine hastily gathered up the more cumbersome items from the table and began cleaning the dishes before Anna could step in.
"Sit," she instructed the still trembling woman as she pulled out a chair. "Hell not come in here. The kitchen is no place for the man of the house. You are in no condition to be standing."
"Do you hate me?" Anna sniffled while clumsily lowering her battered body down into the chair.
"I could never hate you," Catherine gasped in horror as she looked down upon the woman she had failed to protect. "I hate him. And I hate myself."
"Why would you hate yourself?" Anna asked in confusion while looking up at Catherine. It broke Catherines heart seeing the gaunt expression clouding her lovers normally bright features.
"I let him do this to you," Catherine wailed in desperation. "I sat back and let him beat you."
"There was nothing you could have done," Anna flatly explained. "If you had tried to intervene he would have beaten me more harshly, then Richard before sending you away. He could have harmed you as well. If any of those events had occurred I most certainly would have perished. You saved me with your quick words. He shall not beat me tonight, because of you. Tonight he will sit in his den wallowing in delight that the town of Stewart will think he is a great man. Then hell drink himself to sleep. With him passed out in his sacred den I will be spared from his advances. For these things and the light you have brought into my life, I will be forever grateful."
"Id be grateful if he was sleeping in a jail cell this evening," Catherine hissed with disgust.
"For what?" Anna scoffed. "I am his wife and he is the great Horatio Stratton. The sheriff would never take exception to his treatment of me. Rufus may be a good man, but I harbor little doubt that he owes his position to my husband. Wouldnt matter even if my husband wasnt who he is, he could be Sam the town drunk and the authorities still wouldnt interfere in a family matter."
"A family matter?" Catherine howled as the bile rose in her throat. "Beating your wife is a family matter?"
"Yes," Anna firmly confirmed.
An uneasy silence encompassed them as Catherine went about the evening chores. "Did your Father treat your Mother in this manner?" Anna timidly asked.
"I came quite late in their lives," Catherine explained with a heavy sigh. "My brothers were already grown men. My father for the most part simply ignored my mother. He died when I was just a teenager. Perhaps that is why I grew into such a free spirit."
"You were lucky," Anna smiled weakly.
"Perhaps Richard will be given the same stroke of luck?" Catherine pondered merrily with a wicked smile.
"Catherine it is wrong to wish him harm," Anna cautioned her lover.
"Is it?" Catherine grunted as she held out her hand to Anna. "Come now it is time for bed. I will help you."
"No," Anna whimpered in protest as her frail body leaned into Catherines. "I dont want you to see what he did to me."
"You need help," Catherine whispered as she wrapped her arms around the smaller womans body. "I wish he would leave tonight so I could hold you and bring you some sense of peace."
"Knowing that you are near brings me peace," Anna confessed while Catherine gently guided her up the main staircase.
Catherine was queasy as she assisted Anna into her dressing gown and helped her to bed. She was filled with rage as she spied her lovers normally milky white flesh marred with purple and black. "I love you," she softly vowed before placing a promising kiss on her lovers lips. She stepped softly out of Annas bedroom, closing the door quietly in her retreat. She vowed that she would sneak down the hidden corridor later and listen on the other side all night. No matter what happened to her, she could not allow her brother to go anywhere near her lover.
She could smell the brandy long before she spied his presence lurking in the dark hallway. "What are you doing down here?" He slurred in a disgusting manner. Catherine quirked her eyebrow in disgust at her brothers rumpled state.
"Seeing to Sister," she hissed. "Seems that she has injured herself. She took a nasty spill last evening." Her words were cold as her eyes narrowed. She knew he understood fully that she knew what he had done.
"She is a clumsy wench," he shrugged in an uncaring manner. "I was thinking," he began stumbling over his words apparently lost in an alcoholic haze. "I might see fit to send you back to your beloved France. Youd be given an allowance of course."
"Trying to get rid of me?" She chuckled her angry gaze never straying from his cold dark eyes.
"Ive been trying to rid myself of you since before you arrived," he groused.
"I think Ill stay on here at Whispering Pines for a little longer," she challenged him. "Paris no longer possesses what I need. Tell me dear brother," she continued boldly standing up to him. "Do you miss your beloved trips to the Orient? Is it true what Ive heard about your other family?"
"Insolent bitch," Horatio scowled. "Those brats arent mine."
"Of course they arent," Catherine, droned as she brushed past him. "A good Christian man such as yourself would never be a party to such degradation. Speaking of which," she called back over her shoulder. "If Anna has another spill, it wouldnt do your reputation any good now would it? You may have the town in your pocket, but I know your business associates, including those that would frown upon your brides clumsy nature."
"Are you threatening me?" He growled.
"Never dear brother," she retorted coldly. "But I am very close to Mrs. Bonner, the wife of Jonathan Bonner. He is the owner of the wharf that harbors the familys ships is he not? They are such a fine family, who find many things abhorrent, such as clumsiness and respectable men weighing anchor in foreign ports."
"A very pious man," Horatio bitterly conceded.
"Yes he is," Catherine beamed. "And so influential in the import export trade. Best to let Anna get some rest tonight," she added her warning before her brother stormed down the staircase.
Never in her young life did Catherine Stratton ever think that she would be capable of blackmail, and now she was berating herself for not doing it sooner. Horatio wavered only slightly, yet it was enough to spare Anna from any further abuse, physical abuse at least. Catherine never revealed to her young lover just how low she had sunk in order to protect her. Instead she reveled in the joyous holiday that she shared with the petite woman and her adorable son.
Catherine vowed that she would indeed call upon Mrs. Bonner if Horatio ever struck Anna again. Of course if the pious Mr. And Mrs. Bonner ever discovered just how close their young daughter Lily and Catherine truly were in their youth, the blonde held no doubt that it would be she that would end up sitting in a jail cell. None of that mattered to her. What mattered was the light that had returned to Anna and Richard that Christmas. Soon after the holiday, Richard was returned to school and, thankfully, Horatio returned to the sea.
What Catherine was unaware of that at the same moment she was blackmailing her brutish brother, Miranda Wilkins was having a very intense conversation with Rufus Mulder the towns sheriff.
"It just isnt right," the maid protested as she wagged her finger at the stodgy man after she had been badgering him in his office well into the night.
"Miranda," Rufus grumbled uneasy with the entire conversation. "You dont know that he is doing anything wrong."
"He beats that poor woman," Miranda released bitterly her tirade growing to an epic proportion. "I swear that if you dont do anything, someday hell kill her."
"What would you have me do?" Rufus protested as the sick feeling in his stomach grew. He knew that the maid was probably telling him the truth, but he was helpless. If it was any other man in town, he could pull them aside and threaten him. Employing the same tactic on Horatio Stratton would cost him his position and more than likely his home. "Shes his wife," he pleaded with the frantic woman.
"Dont make it right," Miranda howled. Emotionally Rufus agreed with her, yet again he was helpless. "It is because youre on his payroll isnt it?"
"So are you," Rufus boomed back with defiance. "Everyone in town knows how the staff up there just does the old mans bidding for a few extra coins."
Mirandas shoulders slumped in defeat. "She is a nice lady," she said wearily. "I hate spying on her. She doesnt do anything wrong. Sets him off when you tell him that. I hate that he pays us so well so we will treat her badly."
"He owns the whole damn town and there isnt anything we can do," Rufus tried to reason with her. "I thought things were better after his sister arrived."
"Oh shes a pistol that one," Miranda laughed. "She doesnt take any guff from the old man and can play him like a fiddle. At least she could, until last evening. Ive never seen a man act like that just because they put up a tree and a few trimmings. The way he grabbed the poor missus by the throat youd think she was buggering the butcher."
"Maybe she is." Rufus reasoned. "I cant believe he started choking her for decorating the house."
"I swear to you that is what got him going," Miranda argued. "She isnt stepping out on him. She spends all of her time with Miss Stratton. It is just the two of them up there in that big old house. All they do is talk and work on their stitching. Half the men in this town would give their eye teeth for such a devoted wife."
"Or Miss Stratton," Rufus leered. "Cant understand why a woman as pretty as that isnt married."
"That wont last with her looks and money," Miranda sadly agreed. "Then poor Mrs. Stratton will be alone again without any protection. Mark my words, after that happens youll be called up to the Manor to cart Mrs. Strattons body off to the morgue."
"Stop being so dramatic woman," he scoffed at her. "You read too many of those damn detective novels."
October 31, 1916
That morning Rufus Mulder lived to regret dismissing Miranda Wilkins warnings when the maid burst into his office ranting frantically about blood pouring from the walls. It took him over an hour to calm the hysterical woman. During that hour his one and only deputy, Thomas Sullivan was dealing with other members of the Manors staff who had run from the house in a blind panic.
Rufus felt chilled to the bone as he listened to the maids wild ramblings. He spoke to the others that had gathered in the tiny building that housed the town jail and post office. He journeyed to Whispering Pines; a few scattered members of the household staff, all of whom looked frightened and pale, greeted his arrival.
Unlike his employees the captain strutted out onto the front porch looking completely calm and at ease. "Morning Sheriff Mulder," he graciously greeted the confused man.
"Good morning Sir," Rufus stammered out.
"What brings you by on such a fine day?" Horatio continued as if he was strolling in the park.
"Seems that there has been quite a stir up here," Rufus carefully began. "Some kind of Halloween prank Im certain. Captain Stratton, could I see your kitchen?"
"No," Horatio shrugged without concern.
"Beg pardon?" Rufus stuttered.
"I said no," the captain flatly refused. "There is nothing amiss here."
"Im afraid I will have to insist," Rufus pressed.
"And Im afraid you dont have the authority to insist," Horatio snickered. "When you do, I will gladly show you any part of the house you wish to see. In the meantime, good day."
Rufus stood there stunned into silence. The captain was right he didnt have to show him any part of the house if he didnt wish to. Defeated Rufus turned to leave, making one last inquiry before he left. "Captain may I ask how your wife and sister are this morning?" He slowly asked.
"Very well I suspect," the captain snickered. "Theyve been called out of town on a family matter."
And that was it. By the time Rufus had obtained legal permission to view the house there was nothing to see, with the notable exception of the deep gashes marring the kitchen cabinets, walls, counters and floor. The marks in the woodworking remained over the years, and neither Anna nor Catherine Stratton were ever seen or heard from again. There were a few fanciful tales spun by the staff about seeing or hearing one or both women lurking about the house. Other than the wild stories of their ghosts lingering about the Manor the two women had simply vanished.
Rufus Mulder retired years later with one regret; he never brought Horatio Stratton to justice. He knew the man had murdered the women, and even though he never stopped investigating the case, he could never prove what had happened to them.
Years later on the day Horatio Stratton was laid to rest without any mourners he stood and watched along with Richard Stratton and his former Deputy who was still pursuing the case as the garden in the back of the manor was dug up with a backhoe.
Over the years the Captain had been seen digging up the garden while muttering to him self. Rufus felt certain that was where they would find the two missing women. He was so disappointed when nothing was found he returned the next day for one last look around. He was stunned when he discovered the plot of land that had been torn up the day before filled with rows of flowers in full bloom. He never returned to Whispering Pines, yet even on his deathbed he still pondered the fate of the two women and blamed himself for their deaths.
Atchison, Kansas 2003
The city of Atchison was nice enough, but Faith couldnt wait to get out of town. She was beyond pissed when she was pulled off of the Salem project. She had been looking forward to spending time with Shawn. Working together on the next project might just be the push the quirky little psychic needed to let Faith back into her heart.
After everything that happened in Danvers, it really looked as if Faith was about to get a second chance. She would have been working with the same team chances were, and since the cities were so closely located they wouldnt have had to move out of the Hotel. As it turned out the team didnt move out of the hotel, just Faith who had been reassigned to the Atchison team.
Adding grist to the mill was the little problem that everyone on the Kansas team had worked with the former reporter before, and none of them liked her. They all had their reasons for disliking the brisk woman. First there was Trudy Gorsy, the three hundred pound psychic with flaming red hair, who Faith used to take great pleasure in annoying back when she was a naysayer. Then, of course, there was Dwayne, who was Trudys ninety-pound balding wimp of a husband. He didnt like Faith because Trudy didnt like her, of course, that didnt stop the weasel from staring at the brunettes breasts every chance he got.
Next on the list was Billy Mariner, a scientist and professional naysayer, who viewed Faith as a sell out and didnt believe that her experiences at Whispering Pines were anything more than a publicity hoax. Then there was the director, Ronan Summers. Faith had gotten the smarmy twit fired from the last project they worked on together after she caught him doing lines in her trailer. Apparently the production company decided to give him a second chance. The rest of the crew didnt like her because at one time or another she had been gruff or unpleasant with each and every one of them.
"Miss Charles if it isnt too much trouble we need you on camera," Ronan snarled indignantly at her.
"Yes, your highness," she growled as she took her place on her mark in front of the non-descript house. For the first time the crew actually chuckled at one of Faiths little barbs. "Ready when you are your majesty," she curtly offered to Ronan who was doing his best to stare her down. Faith simply scoffed at his feeble attempt to intimidate her.
Ronan curled his lip in disgust when she refused to flinch. "Action," he shouted before she was properly prepared. Faith simply shrugged and began her spiel.
"This is just an ordinary house in the heart of Atchison, or is it?" Faith began in a cool and professional manner. "Not according to two former residents who claim to have been attacked by some unseen force." As Faith continued her narration she spied a familiar figure lurking in the shadows. Faith concluded her narration with a triumphant smile. She knew that she was dead on, and that Ronan would probably complain and make her do several more takes just to annoy her.
"Lets try it again," Ronan grumbled. "And try to get it right this time," he callously sneered at Faith.
"I thought it was perfect," came the commanding voice of the man who had been lurking in the shadows.
Faith smiled brilliantly as all eyes turned towards Dave Sandusky. The tall, thin, dark haired man simply folded his arms across his narrow chest daring anyone to challenge him. "We need to set up inside," Ronan stammered nervously as he ushered the crew away from the unhappy executive. Dave was the man who decided what projects received funding and which projects were shut down. His role at Sunny Hill Productions was a close second to God. His sudden appearance on a shoot was never a good sign, since it usually meant the suits werent happy and someone was about to be fired.
Everyone with the exception of Faith made a hasty retreat into the two-story home. "You do know how to clear a room," Faith quipped as he approached her. "Am I being fired?" She inquired in a flat tone.
"You?" Dave chuckled as he pushed his wire-rimmed glasses up. "Not this time. The powers that be are very unhappy with all of the grumbling they are hearing from this project. Ive been sent here to make certain that everyone is getting along. Im also here to see how well you and Trudy get along."
"We dont," Faith snorted. "Nothing against Ghost Hunters, but all I have ever seen Trudy do is convince people that they see things that arent there. Why do you care if I get along with her?"
"Shes on the short list for Whispering Pines," Dave calmly explained.
"No," Faith shook her head in disagreement. "She wouldnt be able to deliver the way that Shawn did."
"Dr. Williams is everyones first choice, but she has declined," Dave interjected. "Any chance you could change her mind?"
"Ive tried," Faith sighed.
"We have a lot to talk about," Dave offered in an uneasy tone that made Faith a little nervous. "How much more do you have to do tonight?"
"We have this place and a shoot in the cemetery," Faith answered as she studied him carefully. "Im not looking forward to running around a cold, dark cemetery with Trudy and a bunch of screaming yokels."
"After you wrap up tonight, why dont we get a drink and talk?" Dave asked as she nodded in agreement. "Good, now I have to put the fear of God or unemployment in the rest of the staff."
"Go to it," Faith smiled as she wondered just why Dave was really there.
Later that night Faiths head was pounding as the sounds of hooting and hollering assaulted her eardrums. "When you suggested a drink, I assumed there would be alcohol," Faith shouted above the din.
"Cant have booze and full nudity in these parts. I hate the bible belt," Dave shouted in response as he waved a couple of ones at one of the dancers. "What is wrong, it isnt like you not to enjoy a good Tittie bar or a lap dance?"
"Maybe my tastes have matured," Faith protested as a dancer waved her fake breasts at her.
"Maybe you are whipped?" Dave laughed.
"Yeah, you want to make something out of it?" She challenged him.
"Not a chance," Dave laughed before the smile slipped from his face. "Hammond Castle wasnt what we were hoping for."
"Why not?" Faith bellowed as Dave tried to coax a buxom blonde to entertain Faith.
"Nothing spectacular happened," he explained. "Just a bunch of staff members telling stories, nothing great on film. We are going to re-edit with some reenactment actors and toss it in with other shoots for one project."
This wasnt good news for Faith since all of her hard work had been reduced to a ten-minute segment. "Whispering Pines that was a pay off. We only had about twenty minutes of film but it was a gold mine. We need Shawn," Dave shouted as he slipped a large bill in the strippers g-string and waved towards Faith. "You need Shawn and not just to save your career."
"Tell me something I dont know," Faith fumed as the blonde straddled her lap. She clasped the womans hips in an effort to keep the dancer from falling as she gyrated in her lap.
"Yes," the woman whispered hotly in her ear. "Ive been eyeing you since you came in."
"Whatever," Faith shrugged as she slipped some money in the womans g-string. A strange vibration erupted in her pants pocket. "What the hell?" She sputtered as the womans enormous breasts were thrust in her face. The vibration continued alerting her that her cell phone was ringing. "Excuse me," Faith apologized as she extracted her face from the dancers bosom. "I need to take this," she explained as she retrieved her phone. "Faith Charles," she began as the dancer nuzzled her neck.
"Faith?" came the distant voice.
"Who is this?" Faith questioned straining to hear the caller.
"I know you want me. Lets get out here so I can give you a private lap dance," the dancer proclaimed just loud enough for Faiths mystery caller to hear her.
Faith jumped back as the mysterious caller shouted, "Bitch," and hung up. Faith scowled as she wrestled away from the dancer so she could check her caller ID.
"Oh fuck," she shouted as she shoved the dancer off of her lap.
"What is wrong?" Dave asked as Faith sprung from her chair.
"That was Shawn," Faith frantically explained as she dashed towards the exit.
Salem, Massachusetts 2003
"Im an ass," Shawn muttered as she thought about throwing her cell phone into on
"Dr. Williams, we are just about ready for you to go in," Ronnie the assistant director informed her. The scrawny man recoiled as she released a threatening growl.
"Sorry," she apologized once she realized what she was doing.
"Everything alright?" Cary inquired with concern.
"Peachy," Shawn barked as the policewoman recoiled. "Sorry," she apologized for the second time in as just as many minutes.
"Shouldnt you answer that?" Cary suggested nodding towards the still ringing phone.
"Im not certain that I should, if I do you might end up having to arrest me," Shawn tried to tease.
"Oh," Cary nodded seemingly understanding that it was a personal call.
They stood outside in the cold as the cell phone kept ringing, as the caller kept hitting redial each time the voice mail kicked in. Shawns ire was growing with each ring. Finally she couldnt stand it any longer and snapped the phone open. "I cant talk to you right now," she hissed already knowing who was on the other end. It was one of those times when she didnt need her special gift to know what was going on.
"I can explain," Faith blurted out her plea.
"Of course you can," Shawn fumed. "You always do. Go back to your bimbo."
"Shawn," Faith continued undaunted by the blondes attitude. "It isnt what you think."
"Of course not," Shawn sneered. "I certain that you have a perfectly reasonable explanation for my calling in the middle of the night only to hear a party going on and some chick offering to give you a lap dance. I am just not ready to listen to whatever load of horse manure you are planning to throw at me."
"Please?" Faith whined.
Shawn snapped the phone shut in the middle of Faiths whimpering. "Dr. Williams we are ready for you to do your set up," Ronnie called out.
"We already did a walk through and filmed the staff," Althea hurriedly explained. "Got some good stories. Mostly the usual stuff lights flickering, things going bump in the night when no one else is around."
"Not surprising, given the history of the place," Shawn muttered as she entered the unique looking house that had been converted into a tourist attraction. She went to shut her cell phone off when she noticed the battery was dead. "Check the cameras," she called out to the crew. She listened to a collective grumbling as the cameramen scurried to replace the batteries.
"I dont understand," Cary whispered from behind her. "I saw them putting new batteries in the cameras before we came in here."
"It happens," Shawn shrugged. "Entities just love draining power sources. When we hit a really active spot we tend to lose power. The hair on the back her neck prickled. The dead loved talking to her but then again, unlike most people she could hear them. Are we ready?" She called out stepping into one of the main rooms. She could feel the tension encompassing her. She was eager to do her job and leave as soon as possible.
"Youre on," Althea cued her as Shawn walked about the room.
"So many voices, all pleaded their innocence and devotion to God," Shawn explained as she listened carefully to each one. She could feel their pain as she wandered about the room. This is where most of the so-called trials happened. "I can hear them but not their accusers. I feel fear and outrage. There is a woman over here," she pointed to the long table the spanned on side of the room. "She is confident that she will be found innocent. She is disgusted that the people she thought were her friends have stood before her accusing her of unspeakable acts. Shes afraid now; they are taking her away to be interrogated by the sheriff. I doubt I shall every see my children again."
Shawn catches the look of disbelief in Carys eyes as she repeats the words that come to her as nothing more than a frightened whisper. The lights flicker and Cary is the only one surprised by the way they turn on and off. Shawn ignores the police officers dismay as she heads up the narrow staircase that leads to the second floor. She is well aware of the camera crew that is following closely behind her.
"None of the furniture belongs here," she explains as she steps into the room to her right. "This isnt Corwins furniture." Suddenly her lungs seize as she is filled with a sense of panic. The musky aroma is stifling but the years of dust isnt what is stealing her breath. She stood perfectly still as the floorboards creek beneath her. She broke out into a cold sweat as she struggled to fill her lungs with air. "Cant breathe," she choked out as she stumbled from the room. The moment she crossed the threshold her mind cleared and the air returned to her lungs.
"What happened Dr. Williams?" Althea prodded her as Shawn took a deep breath.
"Fear," she said with a hard swallow. "I felt the kind of fear that steals your breath. Lets check out the rest of the place," she offered feeling better and eager to end her work for the night.
The rest of the tour was uneventful. The cameras followed Shawn as she explained each passing image. With no more excitement Althea called it a night. "Where is our lady cop?" Shawn inquired noticing for the first time Cary was missing.
"She bolted," Althea explained deep in thought. "When we were on the second floor in that room that really freaked you out she turned pale and took off. So, what was up with the childrens bedroom?" She asked as Shawn collected her equipment.
"That was the childrens room?" Shawn squeaked out in horror as the stepped back outside. She turned and spied Cary sitting on the lawn looking as if she had seen a ghost.
"That is what the staff said this morning," Althea explained as she helped Shawn load her equipment into her rental car. "Why? What did you see?"
"I didnt see anything," Shawn explained as she nervously raked her fingers through her long curly locks. "I was just filled with terror. If that is where the children slept I really dont want to know what happened."
"Amen to that," Althea shuddered in response. "Im worried about her," she nodded towards Cary. "If she cant handle this place there is no way shell be able to work at Whispering Pines. Then again for her part she really doesnt need to set foot in the place."
"Shes going," Shawn dryly stated. "She needs to."
"Really," Althea perked up. "Tell me? I just love your little insights."
"Except when they are about you," Shawn snickered. "She has unfinished business."
"The murders," Althea concluded.
"No," Shawn absently responded. "It is personal. I just cant get a read on what it is. Ill talk to her."
Althea reminded Shawn to be at the dock at Willows by six in the morning before she said goodnight. "Hey," Shawn greeted the policewoman who was now standing kicking leaves about as she chained smoked. "Ive booked a room at the Hawthorne want to join me for a drink?"
"Want to talk about it?" Shawn finally asked as they sat by the fireplace in the hotel bar.
"Talk about what?" Cary hedged as she stared blankly into the fire.
"What happened at the Witch House," Shawn encouraged the moody brunette.
"I cant," Cary stammered. "I just," she blew out heavily. "It must have been the house settling."
"Tell me?" Shawn urged her on.
"I was standing perfectly still and the floor was moving," Cary tried to explain. "Then you started gasping and suddenly I was afraid. I dont understand it. Ive havent been that afraid since," her voice trailed off as her lips tightened into a snarl.
"The gun jammed," Shawn finished. "You got the all clear and stepped into the bathroom and found yourself staring into the barrel of a gun."
"That is really annoying," Cary smiled for the first time in hours. "Yeah, I was still a patrol woman and thank goodness that weasels gun jammed. Otherwise I wouldnt be sitting her all embarrassed because I ran off into the night just because of a creaking floorboard. How much do you see?"
"Oh now you believe me," Shawn laughed. "Not much. Youre a little difficult to read. I do know that you think that you are going to back out of Whispering Pines, but youre going."
"I cant work with her," Cary snarled. "Do you know why?" She added slightly nervous.
"No," Shawn confessed as she felt her cell phone vibrating. "Powers back on," she grumbled as she extracted the phone from her coat pocket. "Speak of the devil," she shook her head as she answered the phone. "Im not speaking to you."
"Then why did you finally answer my call?" Faith taunted her.
"My phone went down earlier," Shawn sneered. "How was your lap dance?"
"I didnt get a lap dance," Faith protested. "Discussing business in a Tittie bar was Daves idea."
"I thought you werent going back there?" Faith groused. "Damn it Shawn, the last time you went to the Ward House you ended up with a migraine that lasted a week."
"It is Salem," Shawn tried to argue. "What is happening in Atchison? Did you go to Mollys Hollow?"
"Yes and a fun filled trip to the cemetery," Faith complained. "Trudy kept screaming and scaring the locals. I swear I didnt see or hear a thing."
"Youre working with Trudy," Shawn chuckled knowing how much Faith couldnt stand Trudy. It didnt matter that Shawn didnt enjoy working with the boisterous woman either; the fact that Faith was stuck in Kansas with Trudy pleased her. "Im sure the sight of all those naked women made you feel better," she added in a bitter tone.
"For the last time going to a nudie bar wasnt my idea," Faith frantically tried to explain.
"I didnt even know that they had strip clubs in Kansas," Shawn added thoughtfully as she watched Cary fidgeting.
"Well they do," Faith muttered. "Only you cant have alcohol if there is full nudity."
"And were we drinking this evening?" Shawn muttered. "Never mind we can argue about this tomorrow, Im ignoring my guest."
"Huh?" Faith squeaked. "Who is with you?"
"Excuse me?" Shawn shot back. "If you must know Im with Cary Jessup," strangely Cary seemed unconcerned that Shawn had revealed her name.
"Who is that?" Faith demanded. I was hoping youd tell me, Shawn thought. "Never mind," Faith sighed. "Look, I will call you tomorrow. Get some rest; I know how much these back to back shoots wear on you."
"I will thanks," Shawn yawned. "Im still mad at you."
"I know," Faith chuckled. "Well talk soon, Im almost done here. Good night."
"Good night," Shawn yawned before disconnecting the call. "You look confused?" She offered to her strange guest.
"I am," Cary flatly supplied. "Earlier I would have sworn the call you got was from a boyfriend."
"Boyfriend?" Shawn laughed. "Some detective you are."
"Oh," Cary swallowed. "Faith is,"
"Yes," Shawn snorted.
"And the two of you are," Cary stammered.
"We were," Shawn sighed with disappointment. "Now, I dont know what is happening. I dont want to talk about it. I want to hear what you thought about tonight."
"Im not sure what happened tonight," Cary responded in a distant tone. "Whispering Pines isnt going to be what I thought it would be."
"Now that is an understatement," Shawn agreed.
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