It was going to be a long night.
* * *
As usual when she went online, Jane found herself browsing far longer than she’d intended. She discovered that she had a ton of email waiting for her.
One was from Logan. Everything okay out there?
Yes, fine. I’ll finish up in a few more days, she typed. She went on to describe the town of Lily, and the people she’d met. She refrained from saying much about his friend, the sheriff. At the end she added, Anything on the rise? Do I need to be back sooner?
She shut down the computer; if there’d been an emergency, Logan would have called her.
She rose, stretched and looked around the room. Nothing in it had changed, nothing had moved and she hadn’t heard even a creak in the old floorboards around her. The clock on the mantel told her she’d managed to spend several hours on the computer.
Too easy to do.
She stood and walked into the dressing room and then the bathroom.
The mirror was clear; no words remained, not even the hint of a smudge.
Jane slid out of her clothing and into a pair of pajamas that consisted of a tank top and loose trousers. She pulled the bedcovers down and noticed that a blanket lay on the trunk at the foot of the bed. It didn’t seem cold in the room so she left it where it was. The bed stretched out invitingly. She hadn’t lied when she’d told Brian how tired she was.
When she lay down to sleep, she hesitated for just a minute.
“Good night,” she said softly. “And I apologize for anything I might have said about Sheriff Trent. He seems upset about what’s going on. I believe he’s a decent human being.”
Once again, nothing moved or changed in the room. Jane closed her eyes and wondered if she’d stay awake all through the night, waiting to see if something was going to happen.
She tossed and turned and half woke in the wee hours of the morning, feeling a chill. She was too tired to actually get up and do anything about it. She thought about the blanket, but she couldn’t make herself move.
Moments later, she felt warm again and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
The alarm on her phone went off at 7:00 a.m.
She woke up. Light was filtering through the drapes and she lay there luxuriously for a few minutes, surprised that she’d slept so well.
Rising, she showered, brushed her teeth and dressed in a black pantsuit, a blue shirt, her holster and gun and jacket.
It wasn’t until she picked up her computer bag and supply box that she looked back at the bed.
The blanket lay there, neatly stretched out over the bedspread. The blanket that had been on the trunk.
The blanket she hadn’t reached for because she’d been too tired to move.
She must have moved. She must have retrieved it in her sleep.
But she hadn’t.
She couldn’t help shivering. Yes, even knowing that some remained behind in spirit when death had claimed their earthly forms, she could still feel that eerie sense of disquiet, of fear.
But she’d learned long ago to accept it.
What a nice gesture.
“Thank you,” she said aloud. “Thank you so much. I was cold, and you made me warm, and I had a great sleep.”
There was no response, but she hadn’t expected one. Yet as she walked to the door, a rush of cold air swept by her. If felt as if something, someone, was hurrying through the dressing room.
She started to follow. As she did, there was a knock at her door.
She glanced at her watch; she was late. Wonderful. Sheriff Trent had felt compelled to come up and make sure she was ready.
“Just a minute!” she called.
She followed the draft that had seemed to touch her and walked into the dressing room.
This time, there was no steam coming from the bathroom. She didn’t need to go that far.
There was a message on the mirror at the dressing table. It was written in her lipstick; it looked as if it had been written in blood.
TELL THEM THE TRUTH
Puzzled rather than scared, she ignored the chill that seemed to touch her.
The truth about what?
“But I don’t know the truth,” she said.
She watched as the tube of lipstick she’d left out on the table began to float in the air and write out more letters.
“Jane?” a woman’s voice called from outside her room. So not Sloan, after all.
“Coming!” she said.
She hurried to open the door and found Alice Horton. In jeans, a tank top and sneakers—her hair scooped up into a ponytail—Alice looked way more like the girl next door than she did a wicked vamp. But, of course, she was an actress, and she seemed to be pretty good. She could probably play just about any character.
“Hey, Alice,” she said. “How are you?”
“Fine, thanks. I thought I’d come up and get you. Jennie talked Sloan into having a cup of coffee, but he’s getting a little restless,” Alice told her.
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