The Cove
Page 7

 Catherine Coulter

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
She stumbled when she heard another cry, her hip hitting a table. This cry came from outside. She was sure of it. It wasn’t Amabel; thank God, she was safe. Amabel would know what to do.
What was it? She rubbed her hip as she set the table against the wall again.
Suddenly Amabel’s bedroom door flew open. “What’s going on? Is that you, Sally?”
“Yes, Amabel,” she whispered. “I heard someone cry out and thought it was you. What is it?”
“I didn’t hear a thing,” Amabel said. “Go back to bed, dear. You’re exhausted. It’s probably the leftovers of a bad dream. Just look at you, you’re white as the woodwork. You did have a nightmare, didn’t you?”
Sally nodded because it was the truth. But those screams had lasted, had gone on and on. They’d not been part of the dream, the dream that was a memory she hated, but that always came in her sleep when she was helpless against it.
“Go to bed. You poor baby, you’re shivering like a leaf. Go back to bed. Hurry now.”
“But I heard it twice, Amabel. I thought it was you, but it’s not. It’s coming from outside the house.”
“No, baby, there’s nothing out there. You’re so tired, so much has happened in the past few days I’m surprised you haven’t heard the Rolling Stones bawling at the top of their lungs. There’s nothing, Sally. It was a nightmare, nothing more. Don’t forget, this is The Cove, dear. Nothing ever happens here. If you did hear something, why it was only the wind. The wind off the ocean can whine just like a person. You’ll learn that soon enough. You didn’t hear anything. Trust me. Go back to bed.”
Sally went back to bed. She lay stiff and waiting, so cold she wondered whether the tears would freeze on her face if she cried. She could have sworn that she heard a door quietly open and close, but she didn’t have the guts to go see.
She would relax, then stiffen again, waiting to hear that awful cry. But there weren’t any more cries. Maybe Amabel was right. She was exhausted; she had been dreaming and it had been hideous and so very real. Maybe she was paranoid or psychotic or schizophrenic. They had called her all those things for six months. She wondered—if she saw the person actually cry out would that be a delusion? Just a fabrication of her mind? Probably. No, she wouldn’t think about that time. It made her hurt too much. She fell asleep again near dawn.
It was a dreamless sleep this time.
JAMES RAILEY QUINLAN had more energy than he’d had just twenty minutes before. His body was humming with it. That was because she was here. He was sure of it now, he could feel her here. He’d always had these feelings—more than intuition. The feelings just came to him suddenly, and he had always followed them, ever since he was a kid. The time or two he hadn’t, he’d gotten himself into deep shit. Now he was out on a very long limb, and if he was wrong he’d pay for it. But he wasn’t wrong. He could feel her presence in this very charming and well-manicured little town.
Dreadful little place, he thought, so perfect, like a Hollywood set, just like Teresa’s hometown. He remembered having the same reaction, feeling the same vague distaste when he’d traveled to that small town in Ohio to marry Teresa Raglan, daughter of the local judge.
He pulled his gray Buick Regal into a well-marked parking place in front of the World’s Greatest Ice Cream Shop. There were two large plate-glass windows, painted all around with bright-blue trim. He could see small circular tables inside, with old-fashioned white wrought-iron chairs. Behind the counter an older woman was talking to a man while she scooped chocolate ice cream out of a carton set down into the counter. The front of the shop was painted a pristine white. It was a quaint little place, just like the rest of the town, but for some reason he didn’t like the looks of it.
He stepped out of the sedan and looked around. Next to the ice cream shop was a small general store with a sign out front in ornate type that could have come straight out of Victorian times: PURN DAVIES: YOU WANT IT—I SELL IT.
On the other side of the ice cream shop was a small clothing store that looked elegant and expensive, with that peculiar Carmel-like look that the rest of the buildings had. It was called Intimate Deceptions—a name that for James conjured up images of black lace against a white sheet or white skin.
The sidewalks looked brand-new and the road was nicely blacktopped. No ruts anywhere to hold rain puddles.
All the parking spots were marked with thick white lines. Not a faded line in the bunch. He’d seen newer houses on the drive in, apparently all built very recently. In town there was a hardware store, a small Safeway barely large enough to support the sign, a dry cleaners, a one-hour-photo place, a McDonald’s with a very discreet golden arch.