Ghast Me Gently (Wicked Good Witches Book 4) (8 page)

BOOK: Ghast Me Gently (Wicked Good Witches Book 4)
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She had expected some anger, and disappointment, but she hadn’t expected the level of hatred and distrust that lashed out of the vampire. And she had no idea how much was just because of his Deane blood, and just how much was due to the fact it was a Deane she’d been seeing. The worst possible betrayal…

Why didn’t I just tell everyone? Like Riley did with his brother…
once again, her avoidance of potentially awkward and difficult situations was making things ten times worse than they needed to be.

This was not how her family, and especially William, should have found out about Riley. But here they were now. She’d have to deal with the consequences. She held her breath, waiting for the inevitable onslaught of questions to begin.

“A Deane?” Michael finally mustered out. Under his breath he noted, “I guess it’s clear how William really feels about them…”

Melinda heard her brother’s remark and cringed. She wanted to sink into despair. But she needed to fix this, if not for her own sake, for Riley’s. He didn’t deserve this. It was one thing she felt confident about.

“What are you doing here?” Charlie interrogated Riley unkindly. “And what the hell are you doing with my sister?”

Before Riley could speak, Melinda found her voice, pleading, “Stop. Just stop. Everyone please, just… take a breath. I can explain
all
of this.”

They each looked at Melinda expectantly. She gulped hard, having no idea what she was actually going to say.

“Um. Well, you see,” she started out shakily. “I fell asleep after lunch and had a
dream
. You were all busy helping Eva, so I decided to handle it on my own. I saw Riley…”

Emily coughed, choking.

Melinda knew she had just put two and two together. Michael patted her back, but she waved him off saying she was okay. She shot Melinda an agonizing gaze. This is why her friend had been in hiding. It was a guy problem, but not one Emily could have guessed in a hundred years. Melinda had fallen for a Deane… this was not going to end well.

“Riley? Your name’s Riley is it?” confirmed Charlie.

He nodded tightly, but did not dare speak.

“Will you let me finish, please?” Melinda eyed her brother with pleading vexation.

“Sorry, go ahead.”

“Anyway, in my dream I saw Riley helping a child on the beach. There was this massive rogue wave and he was trying to keep the boy from drowning.” She glanced at Riley. He was not about to disagree with this incorrect version of the story. “I saw in my dream that he and the boy were going to die. They weren’t going to be fast enough, so after I woke up I raced to the beach. I got there just in time.”

“So the boy is okay?” asked the sheriff.

“Fine. Just fine. And I have to say, in part thanks to Riley. Because once I got there, well, I barely got there in time. The boy was saved, but the wave… the current dragged me out. I couldn’t use a spell under water, something I need to learn I guess. He… Riley, he um, saved me from drowning.” That part was actually true.

Again no one spoke. The group’s eyes wandered to the silent Riley Deane. Melinda let out a long breath, hoping they’d believe her story and let Riley be. She did not know whether she could trust him for certain, but she was confident he did not deserve the welcome he’d gotten.

“Look,” Riley finally dared speak. “I totally get how
awkward
this is, for all of you. And I can only imagine what you’re all thinking... the Deane’s are here with some diabolical plan or something. But I swear on my dead parents’ graves it’s not like that. It’s just me and my brother, Lucas. We don’t practice dark magic, at all! Never even dabbled. Neither did our parents. I swear it.”

William was surprisingly the first to respond.

“Mr. Deane, I fear I must apologize for my ungodly behavior. It appears that my past prejudices are much more present in my memory than I realized. Regardless of who you are you did not deserve that provocation.”

“You can say that a few more times,” chastised Melinda, loud enough only the vampire could hear her. William gazed apologetically in her direction; she replied by tossing him a
never mind
look. It was impossible to stay angry at William. In her heart, she feared she had crushed the vampire all over again. That at least some of his anger was her fault. Or at the least caused by his feelings for her. Feelings he would not admit to having.

Riley, seeing that everyone seemed to agree, or was at least pretending to agree, replied graciously. “No harm done. I get it.” He couldn’t help but sound a bit miffed as he spoke though. And regardless of his saving Melinda’s life, they would not be allowed to see each other again. Their kiss really had been a final goodbye.

He’d have to wallow in that bitterness later. All he could do now was try to smooth things over and hope they were not too hard on her. “Look. My family
was
your enemy,” his emphasis meant to say, we aren’t anymore, “and here I go showing up, not just out of the blue but with someone you care about. I do get that you’d be upset and confused.”

“Yeah, about that,” started Michael, aiming his words at his sister. “I get the whole you had a dream thing, but how exactly did you end up here? The beach is easily thirty minutes from here on foot.” And the emotions drowning his sister were all saying she was afraid of something. And hiding something. Part of him didn’t care, and was just relieved to see she’d left her room, and the mansion.

Melinda hadn’t thought ahead enough to figure out how to explain them being at the lighthouse. She bit her lip, trying to come up with an answer. Riley had been through enough already, she didn’t need to reveal his
feeling
thingy to everyone on top of that. It was his gift to speak of, not hers.

The sound of an approaching vehicle suddenly caught everyone’s attention.

Thank God!
Melinda repeated silently.

“Tourists?” asked Emily.

“They do like to come around as the evening approaches,” said the sheriff. “See if they can catch a glimpse of the ghost girl. I’d better call the deputy to come and block the entrance while we investigate the area. I’ll just explain to this one that it’s closed for the night.”

An old, rusted pickup truck came barreling around the corner, skidding to a stop. Melinda recognized this new arrival instantly.

First, by Riley’s reaction: the look on his face cried both relief and dread (relief, because he had someone on his side now, dread, because he knew how enraged his brother would be by this predicament).

Secondly, the man getting out of the cab was obviously related to Riley; they shared the same dark hair and matching molasses eyes, although Riley’s brother’s gaze was much more direct and intense. He was also taller and had an authoritative gait about his walk.

Before anyone could speak, Riley’s brother, Lucas, walked straight up to his brother and stared down at him as if waiting for an answer to an unheard question.

“This wasn’t on purpose,” Riley insisted quietly. “I swear, this just
happened
.”

The entire Howard family stood in awed and confused silence. Before them clearly stood two members of the Deane family. Charlie positioned himself in between his family, Eva and the sheriff. Even Mack stepped back, afraid a war might just break out. Michael kept hold of Emily while Melinda made her way closer to her brothers. She stood about half way in between her brothers and the Deanes, fearing just how ugly this scene would or could get, especially if Riley’s brother spilled the beans on their secret relationship. Her brothers didn’t know this part yet.

Melinda cast a quick glance toward William. She could not imagine what he was thinking right now. But he appeared wrapped up in the moment. Alert and ready to play defense if needed. She sighed. William could break the brother’s necks in a second flat. Sometimes she had to remind herself he was not human.

William surprised her though, by stepping forward, as if to speak on behalf of the Howards.

Riley opened his mouth to say something but his brother’s hand flew up motioning him not to bother. Melinda assumed Riley wanted to warn his brother that William was a vampire, not that it wasn’t obvious up this close to anyone aware of vampires being in existence. William’s skin was pale white, looking almost pasty against his high-collared black jacket. His emerald green eyes drilled into Riley’s brother’s but his fangs and temper remained under control.

“I am to assume you are this young man’s brother?” prodded William, in his usual compelling tone.

“That assumption is correct. My name is Lucas. Lucas Deane,” he spoke clearly, as if needing to confirm it out loud, that yes, he was a Deane. “And you are?”

“The
Vampire,
William Wakefield.” His eyes never left Lucas’ and neither pretended this was a desired greeting.

Unlike Riley, Lucas did not flinch at the vampire revelation. Of course, he didn’t have fangs attempting to rip his throat open, either.

Lucas nodded and addressed everyone, aiming his words towards the Howards.

“I don’t like confrontation. And I won’t fake stupidity. The situation we have here is less than ideal.”

Melinda heard Michael mumble, “Clusterfuck comes to mind.”

Lucas ignored it. “This isn’t how I intended on introducing ourselves to you.” He took in a breath. “You have no reason to trust us. No reason to give us a chance. But I do ask that you give us the opportunity to prove ourselves. Because basically…” he paused for a moment, his intense façade fading. “I won’t lie. There’s no reason to, other than pride. My brother and I are here because we have no other place to go. After our parents’ deaths, we lost almost everything. The old house here on the Isle is all we have left of our family’s heritage.
It’s
all
we have left


“Regardless of your reasons,” it was Charlie that now stepped forward to speak, “you have to understand our concerns.”

“How can I not? What my family did here… I’ve heard the stories. I know the history. I never thought I’d see the day we would ever return. But that day is here. All I can ask is that you give us the chance to prove ourselves. Perhaps even start making amends for everything our ancestors did to you, and to The Demon Isle.”

Everyone went silent again.

The clouded sun faded overhead, and the group was so electrified by the conversation, they hadn’t noticed the fog rolling up over the Cliffside. Or the sudden drop in temperature.

Charlie took a quick glance at William, looking for some sign.

The vampire made no movement, but something in his eyes gave Charlie the strength to do what he did next. He stepped forward and held out his hand. “Perhaps it is time to put the past behind us.”

Melinda saw Riley shrinking as if he’d blown himself up with a huge amount of air which suddenly leaked out.

Michael allowed his empathy to reach out and read the brothers. They were feeling the same mix of emotions as his own siblings. He didn’t want to believe it. And didn’t trust it. Perhaps his family’s emotions were screaming so loudly he wasn’t properly picking up how the Deane brothers were feeling.

Lucas stepped up, accepting Charlie’s call for a truce.

When their hands connected, everyone gasped.

A ricochet of thunder and lightning exploded overhead.

The ground shook below their feet as the thunder rolled and the lightning cracked.

They released their handshake, eyeing each other with distrust.

Quicker than any of them had ever seen before, the sky turned dark. A mass of swirling clouds and strikes of electricity. Fog came in thick and fast, threatening to make prisoners of them all as their visibility lessened by the second.

“What’s going on?” panicked Emily.

“My thoughts exactly,” the sheriff bellowed.

Michael grasped Emily firmly, throwing distrustful looks toward the Deanes.

“It’s not us,” Lucas stated, tossing the blame back at the Howards.

The fog grew thicker still, forcing the group to huddle together. Melinda’s side collided with someone. She looked up to see Riley. He kept a few inches between them, but needed her to be safe. She wanted to reach out and touch him, grab his hand, but didn’t dare.

“Dammitalltohell!” spouted the sheriff. “I got no idea if this is supernatural or what, but we’re gonna be blind, fast.”

“To the lighthouse,” ordered William. “We can ride out this storm inside.”

“Don’t imagine you thought you’d be hunkering down in the lighthouse so soon?” Eva jested, running alongside Charlie.

“Have to say
no
.”

She didn’t know what was happening any more than the others, but was pissed she was stuck in the middle of some old family feud rather than searching for her missing father. However until this freak storm passed there was nothing they could do.

Upon arrival at the lighthouse, Charlie used the same spell as previously that day to open the locked door and tossed a few magical orbs of light into the air, while William held the door open to let everyone through.

BOOK: Ghast Me Gently (Wicked Good Witches Book 4)
7.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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