Loading...
Menu
Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Supernatural

TOWNSEND: A Supernatural Romance - Part 1

 

TOWNSEND:

A SUPERNATURAL ROMANCE

PART 1

 

 

By

 

KAREN KAY

 

 

Other books by the author

THE VICTORIAN ROMANCE

 

 

 

TOWNSEND: A SUPERNATURAL ROMANCE Copyright ©2017 by KAREN KAY

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claim for damages.

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

 

Chapter One

There he is. He’s so beautiful, but so is she. And he knows it. I can tell by the way he looks at her and the way he holds her close when they think no one’s looking. He used to look at me and hold me that way, but he doesn’t anymore, and so, I am nothing. I was the moon and he was the sun, but without his light, I no longer shine, and I have returned to the darkness where I die again and again. I pretend it doesn’t hurt when I see them. I pretend my heart isn’t falling upon the floor and being dragged along the ground with each step he takes away from me. Every touch upon her skin, every word he whispers, every smile he shines upon her, is an act of war destroying me. I can’t bear it and something within me breaks. My sanity has been sitting on the edge for a long time, but this time, this time when I see Cody lightly hold Brooke’s elbow and whisper sweetly in her ear, it’s too much to take and I’m falling. I’m holding something sharp in my closed fist, squeezing it tighter and tighter until I feel something warm within my palm. I walk towards them. They don’t even notice me as I stand there watching them make fun of the cook’s broken English.

“Not Is Land, I Land. It’s Thousand Island Dressing,” Cody explains impatiently, holding his finger up to his left eye. “The s is silent.”

“Don’t bother. He can’t understand you,” says Brooke, dismissing the cook with a wave of her hand.

“I can think of another word with a silent letter in it,” I say, smiling at them.

“What are you talking about, Ally?” Brooke asks, looking down at me like I’m a junkie on the dole. I hold up my right hand to show them what’s in it.

“Knife,” the cook declares proudly.

“That’s right, Maurice,” I respond, nodding with encouragement before turning and stabbing Cody in his stomach. His blue eyes widen in surprise and Brooke starts screaming bloody murder, but I can’t make sense of her words through the rain upon her face. Everyone else looks confused. I want to explain. Explain how much Cody’s hurt me so they can understand that this is the only way I can stop the pain. I have no other choice. I stab him again and again. What a bloody mess he’s making. That’s a health violation right there. It’s red like the roses he bought Brooke for Valentine’s Day. I want to grab her long, blonde hair and rub her face in it until she chokes on the petals. Then I want to mop it all up with a towel and wring it out into a small vial to carry around my neck. I need his blood. That blood belongs to me and I want it back. The part that lives inside of him; the part he took from me. I’m stabbing him harder and harder in the womb of my broken dreams.

“Can you see it?” I cry, as my light shines out of him. “There it is. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it.” I haven’t felt this kind of happiness for so long, for much too long. “It’s my light. Look how it shines. Can’t you see it? Do you understand now?” Brooke’s moving like a shadow over me. She wants to send me back into the darkness but I won’t let her. She isn’t going to stop me. No one is going to stop me.

“Stop it, Ally,” Cody begs, “You’re killing her!”

“I’m doing you a favour, Cody. You think she’s so perfect but that halo on her head isn’t real. It’s a noose she was going to tie around your neck and hang you with.” I’m not even aware of what I’m doing anymore. My arm doesn’t feel like it’s a part of me. It’s got a mind of its own, as it keeps stabbing the knife into them, until they stop fighting back.

“You’re so weak! You’re both so weak!” I scream, stepping back to admire my work. “You both deserve each other.” Even though they’re dying, I still hate them so much. And as she slumps over him, I feel the hatred dissipate and fall into red bloody puddles at my feet. I drop the knife and it lands next to Cody. The streetlight from outside the window catches it and it shines like a trophy. He reaches out to grasp it with his hand, but he’s too weak now.

“Losers don’t get trophies,” I smile, kicking it away from him. I look at them one last time, but I don’t see them anymore. I can only see the light. It’s everywhere now and it’s reaching out to me and holding me in its arms. It feels so good to be held by that light. They’re so quiet now. They were so bloody noisy before. How I wished they would just shut up and now, it’s so wonderfully quiet. Now I can forgive them. And when I hear their love take its last breath, I’m finally free.

 

 

Chapter Two

“Hey Ally, are you okay? You’re bleeding.” I turn around and see Cody looking down at my hand. When he looks back up at me like he’s genuinely concerned, I’m in a black and white film, looking into Jimmy Stewart’s eyes, but then I remember Brooke. She’s waiting to appear as his love interest. “Ally, I think you need a band aid?” What do you care, Cody? You don’t care. So go away and leave me alone. I’m always bleeding. You just can’t see it. Or do you know? Do you know it’s there just hiding under the surface? Are you afraid if people see it, they’ll know what you did to me? “Hey Brooke, get the medicine kit,” Cody asks her, taking my hand and pressing a napkin firmly against it.

“Sorry,” I mumble, running tap water over my wound. Sorry for interrupting your perfect lives with my pain.

“It’s okay,” he says, grabbing another napkin. “That’s a really deep cut.”

“Yeah, and it takes me a long time to heal,” I reply, but I’m not talking about my cut anymore.

“Cody, stop touching it,” Brooke yells, pulling his hand away. “She could have…”

“I don’t have any anything,” I reply, wishing I was never so nice to her when she started working here, “But even if I did,” I add, remembering all the nights Cody and I were together, “the damage is already done.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asks, glaring at me.

“Not everything is about you, Brooke,” I say, realising that she doesn’t know. In fact, no one does. He was always so careful to keep us a secret. I don’t want anyone else to know,” he used to say, pulling his hand away from mine when we were in public. Don’t get upset. It’s because I love you so much. If anyone else knew about us, then it wouldn’t be special anymore. It wouldn’t be our little secret. I thought if I was patient and gave him time, then one day, he would be ready and we could finally tell the world, but that day never came. And now, he’s worried I’ll say something. Now I understand why he’s still so nice to me at work. Why he pretends to care. He thinks I’m going to tell everyone what an asshole he is. How he used me for three years and cheated on me with Brooke. Oh, hold on. What were his words again: If you’re not in a relationship with someone, then technically, it’s not cheating.

“Here,” Brooke snarls, handing Cody a band aid.

“Give me your hand,” he says, ripping it out of its wrapper.

“You don’t have to worry, Cody.”

“What do you mean,” he asks, reaching out for my hand.

“You don’t have to worry about me,” I smile sadly, holding my hand closer to my chest. I won’t tell anyone. I won’t say anything at all. We can just pretend it didn’t happen. I’m good at pretending. I’m used to it now.

“Okay,” he says in defeat, putting the band aid onto the kitchen bench. “Suit yourself.” He walks out of the kitchen with Brooke following closely behind him, and the movie fades to black. End scene. Credits roll up the screen as they ride out into the sunset while I’m swallowed up by the shadows cast by the sky scrapers of dirty dishes and that band aid. I grab it and throw it in the bin. I’d rather bleed to death then accept any help from him.

I stand there tightly holding the bloody napkin in my hand. I hold it up to my nose then I close my eyes and inhale. I can smell Cody’s cologne on it. It rushes through me and I can hear music. It’s the Christmas Party three years ago. Brooke doesn’t exist yet, at least not in our world. We’re standing outside the restaurant in a dark alley. He’s looking at me like no one else has ever looked at me before and he’s telling me how beautiful I am. I lean my head upon his shoulder. He smells so good. Then I lift my head and look up into his eyes…Why is he laughing at me?

“What is everyone doing? Get back to work,” my boss, Robert, yells at the staff. I look up to see all the kitchen staff laughing at me. I imagine dunking my head into the sink full of water and holding it there until I pass out.

“Earth to Ally,” my boss says, waving his hand in front of me.

“Sorry…”

“Are you okay?” he asks, looking down at my hand.

“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s nothing.”

“Let me have a look.”

“Really it’s okay. It doesn’t hurt.”

“Shit that’s a pretty deep cut,” he says, getting another band aid from the medicine kit. “Let me put something on it to stop the bleeding.”

“Ouch,” I flinch, pulling my hand back in pain.

“I thought you said it didn’t hurt.”

“It didn’t until you touched it.”

“You can’t keep working with that cut. You should go home. It’s pretty quiet anyway and it doesn’t look like it’s going to pick up.”

“But all these dishes…”

“I’ll get Cody to do them.”

“Are you sure.”

“Go on, get out of here,” he urges me, running his hand through his dark greying hair, “Before I change my mind.” I feel sorry for him then, because I know he’s stuck just like me and he has even less time than I do. Nearly all his tomorrows have come and gone, and left nothing they promised him.

“Thanks heaps,” I say, grabbing my things.

“Hey Cody,” I hear Robert call as I walk out of the restaurant, “Come and wash up.”

Walking out into the night air, I smile to myself as I imagine Cody with all those dirty dishes, but it doesn’t take long for my mood to slip back into that old, worn-out armchair with the broken springs sticking into my back, and the dry, brittle upholstery that smells like wet dog hair. How the hell did my life end up this way? I never planned to end up stuck here in the endless grinding of this heartless machine. If only I had the manual so I could take my life apart piece by piece and figure out where the hell it all went wrong. Watch out! The man’s voice inside my head stops me just in time as a car flies past me, nearly running me over.

I have a secret. Something I’ve never told anyone. Ever since I was little I’ve heard a voice inside my head. I was always too afraid that if I told anyone, they’d think I was crazy. Sometimes I wonder if I am but I don’t care, because that voice has always been there, watching over me and keeping me safe.

The city is so alive and yet, these people are so dead inside. There’s fresh ambition to fuel the city lights and there’s the roadkill trudging along barely able to scrape themselves off the pavement. There’s more homeless people reaching out for a few dollars of compassion. The others look at them like they’re city bins that should be collected off the streets and disposed of somewhere far from here. I cut through the botanical gardens on the edge of the city with my head held down and when I look up again to see the weeping figs raining down upon me, I realise this is where I belong. Someplace like this. Somewhere quiet and peaceful like a secret garden tucked safely away from the rest of this world. I climb the concrete steps back into the city and keep walking the streets. Stores are closing for the night, and when the seedy, immoral face of this place begins to show itself and look around, I know it’s time to go home, but I’ve been walking for so long, I don’t know where I am anymore. I look around for a taxi, but there aren’t any cars driving around. There’s nothing around me, except some old, empty buildings on my left and a huge car part below me on the right. I look down the street, but it’s so dark, I can’t see anything ahead of me. I turn to go back the way I came but then I swear I can see someone down there in the shadows or is it all in my imagination. I stand there trying to figure out what to do and then I see it. A tiny light down in the car park. There must be a security guard down there who can help me. I walk over a small bridge and turn right down a sloping driveway. As I go deeper into the carpark, the light gets brighter and brighter until I finally come to a small booth. I run over to it and frantically knock on the window.

“Hello, hello? Is anyone in there? Please, is anyone there?” What was that? The horn scares the shit out of me, and I nearly jump out of my skin. What was I thinking coming down here? This is how people get raped and murdered. Oh my God, I think I’m having a panic attack! I have to get out of here. I try to find the ramp, but it’s too dark and I’m surrounded by hundreds of old, rusty cars that never end. How the hell do I get out of here! I’m walking blindly through the cars, but they never end, and I feel like I’m going in circles. And then, suddenly, I hear a noise. A noise I can’t explain. I run as fast as I can in the dark, clumsily hitting side-view mirrors, exhaust pipes, and tow bars. I’m running so fast that when the strap of my bag gets caught on a broken aerial, I fall head first onto the cement floor. Holy shit that hurt! The noise, it’s coming closer. It’s following me! Calm down, it’s just a rat. It’s just a stupid rat. I sit up and wipe off the little stones stuck to my hands and knees. I can feel warm blood running down my leg. The rat is getting closer. It’s on the other side of the car. Except now that it’s so close, it doesn’t sound like a rat anymore. It sounds like…like…footsteps! Get up! Get up! GET UP NOW! But I can’t. I’m too afraid. I can hear each footstep slowly striking the pavement. I squeeze my eyes shut and finger Rosary beads in my empty hands, trying to remember a prayer, any prayer, but my words escape my mind’s grasp. Then the footsteps stop. I open my eyes and see a dark shadow standing over me.

“Please,” I beg, pushing myself up against the car. “Please, don’t hurt me.” He bends down and reaches out his hand to me, but I can’t see his face. Ally, don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you.

 

Chapter Three

“Oi, what the hell are you doing here?” I open my eyes to see a security guard standing over me. “Here, let me help you,” he says, hooking his torch onto his belt strap and taking my hand to help me stand. “Are you hurt?” I wipe the dirt off my clothes and try to straighten myself up. I’m still in the carpark and the sun is beginning to rise. “Did someone attack you?”

“No, I’m okay. I got lost and I…I don’t remember,” I reply, untangling my bag from the broken car aerial. “Where am I?”

“You’re in the valley. It’s not safe for you to be walking around here at night. You’re lucky I found you before anyone else did.”

“I’ve got to get home or I’ll be late for work,” I say, feeling a sharp pain in my leg. “Could you please call me a taxi?”

When I finally get home, I’m showered and dressed in ten minutes but, before I leave, I quickly turn on my computer and check my email. There’s a reply from an internship application I made a few weeks ago. It’s just going to be another rejection, I think to myself as I get up and walk over to the door. I grab the door handle but hope stops it from turning, and it whispers to me: Open it… Even though he’s let me down so many times before, I listen to him again and walk back to my computer. Maybe you’re right. Maybe university wasn’t a waste of time. Maybe it isn’t my destiny to be a waitress for the rest of my life. Maybe, just maybe, this is my chance to turn everything around. I take a deep breath and click on the email. Dear Aliya Reign, Thank-you for your application, but unfortunately… I don’t bother reading the rest. I’ve been rejected so many times, I know it all by heart. They received a large volume of applications from people more competent and experienced than I’ll ever be, but they’ll keep my details on record should any other positions open up in the future, meaning they’ll delete my email and it will end up in the trash folder. After I give their email the same courtesy, I leave my apartment and run down the fire escape.

“Ally, Good Morning. I didn’t see you come in last night,” says the building manager, blocking my escape through the front entrance.

“Good Morning, Debbie, I’m sorry, but I’m late for work and I have to get going.”

“Sure, I’ll just be a minute. Look, I haven’t received this month’s rent.”

“Yeah, I know. I didn’t forget. My hours have been cut back at work, so I’ve been a little short.”

“Ally, this is the third time you’ve been late, and you know you’re meant to pay your rent a month in advance.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m getting paid tonight,” I lie, “so I’ll put it in your mailbox when I get home.” Another lie.

“Okay, Ally. Make sure you do, because if you’re late again, I’ll have to evict you,” she says, reluctantly moving aside so I can leave. “Don’t forget,” she adds, but I’m already out the door and running down the street. When I get to work, Robert is standing behind the front counter doing a stock list.

“Ally, you made it,” he says, looking at the clock on the wall.

“Good Morning, Robert. I got caught up with the, um…” I stammer, struggling to come up with a decent excuse.

“Let me guess, the power went out last night and your alarm didn’t go off?”

“No, actually, I had a doctor’s appointment. You know, because of my hand,” I say, holding it up in a bandage. Thankfully he doesn’t realise I’ve tied an old white sock around it.

“Did you get a tetanus shot?”

“Yeah, it’s all good,” I say, tying on my apron and walking into the kitchen. If I keep lying like this, I’m going to lie myself straight into hell. The day drags on with the odd customer here and there pulling me out of my thoughts of self-pity and forcing me to continue the charade of happy-waitress-eager-to-please, but I always retreat back inside again where I’m reminded of my miserable life and how unhappy I am. Sometimes I just feel like I’m waiting. Waiting for something, anything to happen so I can get out of here, but nothing comes. I feel like I’m dying inside and it’s beginning to show on the outside. It’s getting harder and harder to pretend that everything’s okay.

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” I ask, sticking on a smile and hoping the adhesive lasts long enough to take his order. The customer doesn’t answer and keeps walking towards me. I step back as he gets closer. There’s something off about him.

“Maree, we’ve been looking for you everywhere. You need to come home.”

Okay, I’ll let her know,” I say, trying not to make any sudden movements.

“We’re waiting for you. Please help us,” he says, reaching out to grab me, but then he disappears.

“Ally, stop screaming. Calm down,” Cody says, shaking me.

“Where is he?” I whisper, squeezing my eyes shut and opening them again.

“Who are you talking about?” He asks, looking around. “There’s no one here, except those customers over there.”

“There was a man standing right here. I saw him…he disappeared!

“Come on, sit down,” he says, ushering me to a booth. “Do you want me to get you some water?”

“Why are you talking to me like that?”

“How am I talking to you?”

“Like there’s something wrong with me. There isn’t anything wrong with me. I saw him. He was right there and he disappeared.”

“I didn’t see anyone, Ally.” Is he right? Am I going crazy? Maybe I’m dreaming. I pinch myself but nothing happens.

“Hey, is that my sock?” Cody asks, pointing to my hand.

“No, it’s not a sock,” I reply, moving my hand into my pocket. Yes, it’s your sock. Out of all the socks I own, I had to grab the one bloody sock that belongs to him. More bloody memorabilia. Has my apartment become a shrine to his memory? I look around and realise that some of the staff have come out of the kitchen and they’re all staring at me. This is what real pity looks like. They think I’m crazy. Like Cody didn’t humiliate me enough. Now he gets the satisfaction of seeing me humiliated in front of everyone at work, and her. She’s standing there too with the same smug look on her face. Don’t do it. Please don’t do it. But it happens. Brooke and Cody turn their heads and look at each other. I know what that look means. They both think I’m crazy and it hurts all over again just like it did when I saw them together for the first time.

There’s only one way to stop this pain because it’s never going away. It’s only going to keep getting worse. Every day is supposed to get better. When you move forward the past is meant to get so far away from you, you can’t see it anymore. You’re not supposed to look around you and still be stuck there in the same wretched place. I can’t stand to see their eyes upon me anymore. I have to get out of here.

“Hey Ally, where are you going?” Cody is following me outside. Damn him. Why is he being so nice? Remember what he did to you! Yes, I will. I won’t forget. Now I see the insincerity of his kindness again. He’s so fake. Everything about him is so fake. I feel sick just looking at him.

“I wish I had never met you. Maybe then I wouldn’t be in this hole I’m in. Have you ever fallen into that hole? It’s like the hole they dig at your grave. The one they lower your coffin into. It’s so deep you can’t get out, but it’s not big enough to lose yourself, and it’s just shallow enough so you can look up and see the world above you and everything you’re missing out on. You can see it all. The world you’re no longer a part of, but still, it won’t let you go. You’re stuck in that hole and there’s no way out. What do you do when you’ve fallen into that hole and you can’t get out? Sure, you feel angry, but most of all, you feel sad. Really, really sad and you cry, a lot. And even though you’ve cried enough tears to fill an ocean, that hole can never be filled. Nothing can fill it and nothing can stop the pain. The only way you can stop the pain is to get out, but the only way you can get out is if someone reaches down and pulls you out of it. I want to get out of that hole, Cody, but I’m never going to because I can’t get myself out of it and no one’s coming to help me. So, you see, I’m stuck Cody. I’m stuck in that hole. But I know what I need to do now, because there is another way to get out. I didn’t see it before. There is a way out of that hole and all I have to do is close my eyes and wait for sleep to come. Then I’ll be free of that hole and I’ll be free of you.”

“Ally, please stop. You’re not making any sense.”

“Do you really want to bring up logic, Cody?” I ask, raising my voice. “Does it make sense to tell someone you love them then sleep with someone else? Does that make sense to you?”

“Please Ally, calm down. Everyone will hear you.”

“I hope they do. It’s time everyone knew what you’re really like. Everyone should know how you use people and treat them like shit. I never should have trusted you, Cody, but I wanted to believe that you…that we…it doesn’t matter anymore.”

I used to hate seeing things come to an end. If I was reading a book, I would dread reaching the final page. I would slow down and stretch out every word to make the story last that little bit longer. This time I couldn’t wait to see the end; to say goodbye.

“Ally, where are you going?” Just when you think it’s over, you turn the page and there’s the epilogue, but this time, this time, there was nothing left to say. And when I look back at Cody I realise that character should have been killed off a long time ago.

“I’m going home to shave my legs.”

 

 

Chapter Four

Tragedy wakes people up to their true depth. Love isn’t the same. It lifts them up out of themselves or makes them so happy they feel like they have spontaneously combusted right where they stand. But tragedy is another creature altogether. It takes them deep down inside themselves. It’s a truly personal and private emotion that no one else can share. No two people feel it the same way because when you do, you’ve crawled on your hands and knees into a dark, dark cave within yourself where no one can ever find you. And it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful and poignant because it intensifies everything you’ve ever felt. Your hopes. Your dreams. You’re love for another. Nothing else can hold a mirror up to your heart and show you just how much love there is inside of you. It’s the best friend you’ll ever have because it’s the only one that knows how much you loved someone, and how much it hurts when you’ve lost them. It gives you the gift of pain so you’ll know just what your heart is capable of; just how much love it can give. It shows you who you truly are and what’s really there deep down inside of you.

For me, tragedy has defined my life. It’s drawn all the faces that have meant the most to me. This is why the picture of my life looks the way it does now. If it was hanging in an art gallery you might not know on first impression the story it tells, but if you look longer, you’ll start to see the subtle shades and nuances that discolour and distort the image. And if you look a little deeper, you’ll begin to recognise yourself, because everyone has seen this painting before in some way, at some point in their very own lives. Everyone’s been touched by the sadness it holds, no matter how small. I fill the bath and slip into the water. It’s so perfectly warm and soft against my skin. I’ve never noticed before how soft like silk it is. I lie down until my whole body is completely covered and then lower my head under the water. It feels so natural, as if I could almost breathe under here. I feel so safe now. I just want to stay here forever. If I could stay here then everything would be okay, but I can’t. Soon the water will lose its warmth and this place will become like every other cold place in this world. When that time comes. When the last warm and safe place for me on this earth has turned cold, I climb out of the bath and place a towel around me. The cold blows little bubbles up and down my arms and it reminds me of the cold that day. The last time I saw my family alive all those years ago. They had driven me to university and helped me move into my dorm room. When they left in the afternoon, I remember looking up at the beautiful blue sky and thinking what a perfect day it had been, but then I saw a dark cloud. It looks like it’s going to rain, my mother said, getting into the car. The weather was turning but they had to get going. They had a long drive ahead of them and they knew if they didn’t get started, my two little brothers would start fighting like cats and dogs, the way they always did when they got tired, and my baby sister would cry the whole drive home. I should have known he was up there, waiting to take them. We don’t always recognise him when he comes. He dresses up so people don’t recognise him. That day he was pretending to be a sheep shearer and he had sheared every sheep in the shed.

After they drove away, I could see the wool everywhere in the sky, turning dark and heavy with rage. I shouldn’t have let them go. I should’ve made them stay. Then they’d still be alive today. I’m doing it again. Again and again. It doesn’t matter how many times I replay that day over and over within my mind, how I change things, I can’t change how it ends, because it can only end one way. By the time they had reached the highway, the rain was falling so hard the road was like a frozen lake and the tyres of their car slid over to the other lane and their car crashed head on into a semi-trailer. The impact killed them instantly.

After I get dressed, I pour myself a glass of wine and open the packet of razors on the bench. They were so expensive. Everything is so expensive now and I have no money left. I don’t have anything anymore. Everything’s run out and soon I will too. I break the blade out of the razor and hold it in my hand. It’s so small and delicate. I imagine slicing the tiny blade across my wrist and the fluid of my soul pouring out of me like a poetic stream. The thought of it makes me feel alive with passion and I feel like an artist about to create living art. Finally, I have found something I’m good at. I can see the art exhibition now: Poetic Irony by Aliya Reign. The art critics would um and ah over my art display. See the depth in her expression, it speaks volumes and her body gracefully splayed out upon the couch like a swan. What material is that? She really must have been poor, but she made up for it in the grand gesture of her final act. They would all um and ah again. And at least she didn’t die alone. Pain was her lover until the very end and now she is death’s bride. Even though I’m about to die, I feel so at peace. I’ve been running around trying to find that peace and here it was all along. It wasn’t anywhere that I could go on this earth. It wasn’t in anyone that I may have found. It was here, waiting in the absence of me. I hold out my left arm and turn over my wrist, pressing the blade against my skin. Don’t do it. Don’t end your life. There’s still so much more out there for you and so much more inside of you that the world has not yet seen.

“You can’t stop me,” I cry out at the emptiness around me, crying to myself. “Even if my psyche has shattered into a thousand pieces, none of them can stop me. They want this too. They want what I want, because they’re me. Do you hear me! You’re me, all of you and you’re all stuck with the decisions I make.” I laugh then like I’m possessed by a crazy witch who has lost the love spell that has kept her young prince enchanted with her, and now she’s watching helplessly as the spell fades away. Please, don’t do this. “You’re not real,” I say to the voice inside my head. “But the pain, it’s real.” I look down at my wrist and it almost feels like there’s an unseen hand keeping it still, preventing me from digging the razor’s claws deep into my skin. I press the razor blade harder into my wrist and just as I’m about to slice it across my veins, the telephone rings.

I sit there holding the razor blade against my wrist unsure of what to do. I just want to die but the bloody telephone just keeps on ringing over and over again. I wish it would stop. I know if I answer it, it’s just going to be a telemarketer or debt collector and I’m not spending the final moments of my life answering survey questions about dishwashing liquid or setting up a repayment plan for my maxed out credit cards. I’m busy committing suicide right now so the answering machine can get it.

“Good Evening, Maree Stone. This is Mr Gregory Blackwater speaking. I’m the lawyer representing your Grandmother’s estate. I’m contacting you in regards to the reading of her will. When you get this message I would appreciate it if you could return my call at your earliest convenience so we can discuss this matter further. You can reach me on the following number…” The rest of his message fades into the background as I begin processing what I’ve just heard. Who the hell is Gregory Blackwater and did he just say Maree Stone? He must have the wrong number, but that name sounds so familiar. Then it hits me. That man I saw at work. He called me…Maree. It all washes over me like one wave after another, until I’m caught in the rip and it’s pulling me down, throwing me hard against the bottom of the ocean floor. I drop the razor blade and run over to the telephone.

“Hello Mr Blackwater, Are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m still here.” The voice on the other end of the line is deep and weathered. I can almost imagine a man with white hair sitting in a leather chair huddled over a large wooden desk.

“Hello Mr Blackwater”, I repeat again, seeing the razor blade on the floor reminding me that it’s not too late to back out now.

“Maree?”

“Um, no, this is Aliya Reign.”

“Of course, Aliya. Aliya Reign. I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.”

“I’m not sure I understand the reason for your call. You mentioned something about my grandmother’s estate, but I think there might be some mistake. My name isn’t Maree.”

“Am I speaking with Aliya Reign?”

“Yes, that’s me, but your message on the answering machine…”

“If I’m speaking with Aliya Reign, then there’s been no mistake. I’m contacting you in relation to your late grandmother’s estate, Mrs Virginia Stone. Please accept my condolences and I do apologise for the mix-up with your name in my message. Maree was the name your birth parents gave you before your adoption.”

“What adoption? I wasn’t adopted.”

“I see, they didn’t tell you,” he says, as if my parents had simply forgotten to tell me I’m allergic to nuts.

“There must be some mistake here. I don’t really know what else I can say, except that my parents were definitely my parents, and if they weren’t my birth parents, I’m sure they would have told me.” I assure him.

“It would have made my job a lot easier if they had,” he says, with discomfort. “So I guess that duty has been left to me. Let’s see…” I can hear him shuffling papers around in the background. “You were adopted by your birth parents, Mr Louis Reign and his wife, Mrs Josephine Reign from your birth parents Killara and Benedict Stone in 1993 when you were just three years old.”

“If I was adopted then why didn’t they tell me?” I ask, as my stomach jumps out of the 19th level window of my studio apartment and hits the ground outside, hard.

“I guess we’ll never know.”

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?

“Both my firm and I have a solid reputation. But if you require further assurance then I believe your grandmother’s large inheritance should provide that for you.” My inheritance is the furthest thing from my mind. I’ve just found out I was adopted and all I can think about are my real parents.

“My name was Maree? They called me Maree? Are they still…” I can’t finish the sentence. The hope that’s beginning to grow from just saying those few words is too much to take.

“I’m afraid they passed away many years ago. In fact, you and your grandmother were the only remaining blood relatives to survive their death and now that she’s passed, you’re the last of both your parent’s blood lines.” Of course, hope springs eternal so there’s no end to the crushing disappointment that follows. I fall to the floor and lower my head upon the ground. This can’t be happening again.

“I see,” I say, hiding the anger in my voice, but I really want to scream. I want to scream at him and that man up there. The one that deigned for my life to be mapped out the way it has been.

Do you know what it feels like to lose your parents twice?” I whisper, unable to control myself anymore. He doesn’t respond. “Did my grandmother know about me before she…”

“Yes, Aliya. She knew about you.”

“She did, but why didn’t she contact me before? Didn’t she want to see me?” To hear that I’ve been rejected from my own grandmother, I can’t face the pain of that truth.

“I know it may sound strange, but she had her reasons, Maree, sorry, Aliya,” he says, his voice taking on a kinder tone. What reasons could she have had? Unless she was trying to protect me somehow, but protect me from what? I can feel the telephone falling from my grasp and I’m small again in a crowded place with my mother. Crowds are pushing past us and my hand is slipping from her hand. And just like that, she’s gone. My voice is growing weaker as I try to fight the tears welling up behind my eyes. Even though I found her again, it’s too late, because then I knew what it feels like to lose someone. It was just a small taste, but when I look back, I can’t help but wonder if it was God’s way of preparing me for what would come. And now, here it is again, but I can handle this. I’ve felt loss before, worse than this. I can feel it again. I grip the phone tighter and take a deep breath before finding the strength to stand again.

“Mr Blackwater, why? Why did my parents give me up?” I ask, but what I really want to say is, why didn’t they want me?

“I can appreciate that you have a lot of questions and I will do my best to give you all the answers you seek at the reading. Now I am quite flexible with my schedule and I’m sure you are as eager to settle this as soon as possible.”

“I just want to make sure. Mrs Virginia Stone’s…My grandmother’s inheritance…” It feels so strange to say that and I feel a sense of ownership over this woman whom I’ll never know. “Did she have a lot of debt? I’m pretty strapped for cash at the moment. If I accept the inheritance am I going to be responsible for any money she owes? That’s not who you’re working for, is it? Her debt collectors?”

“No, I can assure you, there is no debt associated with her assets and I only represent the interests of my client, Mrs Virginia Stone…Hello Aliya, are you still there?”

“Yes, Mr Blackwater, I’m here, it’s just a lot to take in.”

“Of course, I apologise for the unpleasant nature of my call. I believe it will be easier to discuss these matters in person and of course, there’s the paperwork. One last thing, Miss Reign. Before we schedule the appointment there is something I have neglected to inform you of.” He hasn’t told me everything yet? I’ve just found out I was adopted, my birth parents are dead and the only living relative I had left in this entire world didn’t want a bar of me and now she’s dead too.

“What else could you have to tell me, Mr Blackwater?”

“There is one condition to your inheritance. You must live in your grandmother’s home for a specified period of time before the assets of her estate can be transferred into your name.”

“What do you mean live there? I don’t even know where she lives.” Even before he responds, I know what I’m going to do.

“As I mentioned earlier, your grandmother was a wealthy woman. She made sure you would be well taken care of financially.”

“How long do I have to live there for, Mr Blackwater?”

“Her will stipulates that you occupy the property for one full year at which time you are free to leave, but we’ll discuss all the directions in due course.”

“Where is it? Where did my grandmother live?”

“Townsend…”

“Yes, Aliya. That’s where your grandmother lived. Would you like to organise an appointment now or do you need some time to check your availability?” The only thing I had planned this weekend was my death and now that’s been cancelled my week’s looking pretty empty. I move some papers around, pretending to check my diary.

“Next week’s looking good. I could come pretty much anytime that suits you.”

“I have an opening on Monday afternoon.”

“Sounds good.”

“Now, you mentioned earlier that you are limited financially and you have quite the journey ahead of you, but you shouldn’t be concerned, we’ll take care of any costs involved.”

“Thank-you, that’s very kind of you, but exactly how far is this town?”

“It’s near Alice Springs in Central Australia?”

“Mr Blackwater, are you telling me that I’ve got to move all the way to the middle of the country? Is there even anything there?” I can hear him laughing on the other end. I’m glad he finds this amusing because I don’t. I find it a little frightening, but I’m not sure if it really is fear I’m feeling or excitement.

“Aliya, our town may not be what you’re used to, but the folks here have never complained. We have many of the amenities that you city folk like to occupy your time with, and what we lack in big city excitement, we make up for in our small town values. Ones I’m sure you’ll come to appreciate in time.”

“I hope I haven’t offended you. I didn’t mean to…”

“No, it’s quite alright. I understand this news must have caught you off guard. I’ll organise the travel arrangements and contact you in the morning.”

After he hangs up, my mind is numb. My whole body is numb. I can’t believe this is happening and I feel everything at once: elation, joy, confusion, shock, curiosity, fear and pain. I can’t believe I was adopted and I never knew. I can’t believe I’m actually going to move to a strange town in the middle of nowhere and live in my grandmother’s house. A grandmother I never knew I had. Am I really going to live in some backward town out in the sticks? I begin to see images of 19th century England and it freaks me out. Images of reading by candlelight, embroidering floral patterns and washing my clothes on an old fashioned washboard flood my mind. And later, before I go to sleep, I imagine a small, quiet town and an old plantation house with columns and a balcony. Even though it’s dark, I can see it so clearly in my mind. Every inch of it, as if I’ve seen it before. All the windows have closed white shutters on them, except for one that keeps banging against the window pane, banging again and again, as it opens and closes. I follow the sound and look up at the window. Is there someone there? I must be dreaming now. It’s so quiet. The wind has stopped and the shutters aren’t banging anymore. I can see the window. Someone is standing there. Who is that man?

“Will you play with me?” I look down and see a little girl with long fair hair staring up at me with bright blue eyes. The hem of her long, white cotton nightdress is covered in dirt. Where did she come from? “He wants to play with you too.” She’s looking at the house now. I follow her gaze up to the window. I don’t want to be there anymore. It frightens me, but I can’t wake up and the little girl is pulling my arm. “Come inside. He’s waiting for you. We’ve all been waiting for you.” I pull myself free and I’m running fast in an endless, thick corn field. It’s like a maze I can’t escape from, and that man, he’s still there in that house, watching me. Then I feel myself drifting away from there, as the heaviness of sleep falls deeper upon me, pushing me down, until it all fades away.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Five

I open the car door and throw my bag onto the passenger’s side before taking a seat behind the steering wheel. My Volvo’s pretty old and it hasn’t been serviced for months, but I have hope that she’ll take me where I need to go before she conks out. The motor turns over a few times and just when I think it won’t start, she purrs like a kitten until I’m revving the engine and it sounds like a lion’s roar. Big Audio Dynamite is blaring out of the speakers and it’s so infectious, I start singing along.

“Situation no win. Rush through the change of atmosphere. I can’t go on so I give in. Gotta get myself right outta here.” The song carries me out of the carpark and through the busy streets littered with the men and women that are ready to sacrifice themselves to the Gods that rule this hell. I receive strange looks from the pedestrians walking by but I don’t care what they think anymore and I don’t have to pretend that I do. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself anymore. My pity belongs to them now. Take it. It’s served me well. I hope it does the same for you. Before I turn onto the freeway, I take one last look back at the city I called my home for the last six years and yell out of the window.

“Goodbye suckers!” Then I push my pedal to the metal and I’m flying over the bridge. I can feel it on my face, I can taste it in the air: freedom. I reach into my pocket for the directions Mr Blackwater gave me over the telephone that morning: Get onto the train at Roma Street. When you arrive in Townsville exit at Flinders Street Station and take a bus to Breakwater Terminal. There’ll be a hire car waiting for you. From there you can drive the rest of the way. Your tickets will be waiting for you at the ticket booth. Even though the journey will take me two days, I decide to drive half the journey to Townsville before taking the Greyhound to Alice Springs. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting idle for all those hours on the train with my thoughts turning over and over within my mind. I need something to take my mind off all those voices waiting to talk me out of this. Reminding me, as they always do, that every choice I make is a mistake, that I need to turn back before it’s too late, that’s there’s no point in running away because no matter where I go, I can’t run away from myself. But I’m not going to let them win this time. I’m going to keep going forward, until I’m so tired I can’t hear them anymore, and then, when I’m sitting on that bus, sleep will protect me. Once I’ve made it that far, I won’t be able to go back and in a few hours after that, I’ll be home. Even though I was too young to remember it and every face will look back at me with stranger’s eyes, that place is where I came from, it’s where I’m meant to be, and it’s where I belong.

“What’s your name?” The little girl is sitting on the grass, making a floral wreath.

“Ally,” I reply, watching her studiously weave the flower stems together. I don’t remember how I got here or where here is. There’s just that little girl again and the clear blue sky above me.

“That’s not your name silly,” she laughs and jumps up. Then she stands behind me and places the wreath upon my head. “There isn’t much time. You have to finish getting ready.” I look down and I’m wearing a white cotton dress.

“What am I getting ready for?” I can hear her singing as she runs around picking up flowers. I look around me and then I see it, a corn field all around us. We’re sitting in a corn field. My heart is beating faster as I look up. There it is, the house again. I feel something in my hands and look down.

“Every bride needs a bouquet,” says the little girl, taking my hand and pulling my arm. I can hear church bells ringing. “Hurry, Maree, he’s waiting for you. Come on, slowpoke. Get up…Get up…get up…”

“Get up!” I open my eyes and see the bus driver leaning over me, shaking my arm. “Oi, we’re here. Wake up. I’ve gotta get the bus back to transit.” I rub my eyes and look out the window. It’s morning. I’ve been travelling for two days. After spending a whole day driving to Townsville, I’ve spent the last thirty hours on the Greyhound to Alice Springs. I rise from my seat and grab my bag from the overhead compartment and get off the bus. So this is what Alice Springs looks like, I think to myself. I’ve never travelled this far from the city before. I feel like a spy on a secret mission as I show my identification to the lady at the counter and she hands me the keys to my rental.

“Your car is out the front and ready to go,” she says, smiling at me. Thanking her, I take the keys and step outside. My car is an old Holden Utility with two tone green paint work. I hop in and start the engine then I reach over and open the glove box, pulling out an old refidex.

Two hours later, the roads are no longer paved and there’s no more signs marking the way. I’m on the open road now and there’s nothing but the golden dirt of adventure guiding me. I reach over and feel the refidex that’s now lying open on the passenger seat beside me. It’s my only light in the dark and I rest my hand upon it to comfort me. It won’t be long now. Soon I’m driving for so long, that the roads are no longer marked on the map, and I just have a piece of paper with Blackwater’s directions to guide me the rest of the way.

“Shit,” I curse to myself, when I see the dial on the petrol gauge is nearly on empty. I can’t run out of fuel now! I look out of the window and see the crows out there waiting to feast upon my flesh. I can’t run out of fuel out here in the middle of nowhere. I know what I said, God, but I want to live now. I know I’ve been letting myself wind down, waiting for the days, the hours, and the minutes to run out until there’s none left. I know what my life has been. I’ve been waiting for death to come. I’ve been living like a bucket with a hole in it and I’ve done nothing as all my hopes and dreams have been leaking out of it, because I’ve been waiting for the emptiness. I’ve been waiting for it all to come to an end. I don’t want it to end, I want to keep living. So if you can hear me, please help me. And as if he can hear my prayer, I see it up ahead and I can’t believe my eyes. There’s an old rundown servo with a mechanics shop joined to it. Is this what a mirage looks like? As I get closer, it doesn’t disappear and I thank God for his mercy. I pull up to the only pump and turn off the ignition.

“Where are ya off to all the way out here?” yells out a man in a white singlet and overalls. He’s rubbing his hands with an old dirty cloth as he walks over to my car.

“I’m headed to a small town a few kilometres from here,” I reply, grabbing twenty bucks out of my pocket.

“Oh yeah, what’s it called? I might know it,” he says, resting his hands on the top of my car and leaning down to peer into the open window. This guy seems a little creepy. I really don’t want to tell him where I’m going.

“It’s a pretty small town. It’s not even on the map.”

“Come on, try me,” he insists, chewing his gum and rocking back and forth on his heels.

“Okay, um, it’s called Townsend,” I say, reluctantly. He cocks his head to the side as if he can see it out there somewhere then he looks back at me again. “Nah, yeah, I’ve heard of it. Whaddya wanna go there for?”

“Is it that dead?” I smile, uncomfortably.

“Yeah, you’d be doing yourself a favour if you turned around right now and headed back the way you came.”

“Thanks for the warm welcome.”

“Hey, I’m not trying to stop ya. I’m just a nice guy trying to help out a decent looking bird,” he says, winking at me.

“Thanks, but the only help I need right now is some fuel.”

“You know,” he says, leering into the window. “It’s really not too late to change ya mind.”

“I’m surprised you’re so against small towns. Don’t you live in one yourself?”

“I didn’t want to bring it up, but that town you’re going to, I’ve heard stories.”

“What kind of stories?”

“Oh, you know, just people going missing.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“People go missing all the time, but a lot of ‘em were headed that way too.” When I first saw this guy he seemed a bit creepy, but now that I’m seeing him up close, I notice there’s something off about him. He’s acting kind of jittery and he’s really dirty, but it’s not dirty like he’s been working on fixing a motor. It’s like he hasn’t showered in weeks, and the smell of him, it’s rank. Something’s not right.

“How do you know they went missing? How do you even know that’s where they were going in the first place?”

“You’ve never lived in a small town before, have ya? Well, there’s not much else happening and people, well, they get to talking. Yeah, they’ll chew ya ear right off if you let ‘em, and well, there aint much else out that way.”

“Do you believe everything you hear?”

“Look you don’t have to take my word for it. Go right ahead and find out for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya.” I look around, hoping to see someone else, but there’s no one else here.

“Is this like a family business?” I ask, raising my eyebrows with hope. He looks down and pulls out a pouch of tobacco and tally-ho papers from his back pocket. Then he hangs paper from his mouth and pulls out a pinch of tobacco.

“Nope, it’s just me,” he mumbles, rolling a cigarette. Then he stares back at me and licks the paper before offering it to me. “Durrie?”

“No thanks, I’m good,” I say, cursing myself for being stuck in this situation. Just me and this guy with no one else around. People go missing all the time… When you’re stuck all the way out in the middle of nowhere with an empty fuel tank and you stop at a servo only to find out that there’s no one there but some festy dude, the last thing you want to hear is, People go missing all the time. He said those people were going to Townsend, but he never said if they made it there. Was this their last stop? I don’t want to find out. I have to get out of here, but I have to be smart about it. And besides, I could be overreacting. This guy’s probably just a harmless bogan. I bet he wouldn’t even hurt a fly. As soon as I think the words, I see an image of Norman Bates sitting in a cell. Stop it! I need fuel or I’m not going anywhere. And maybe someone else will turn up. I don’t remember seeing anyone on the road, but if there’s towns around here, there has to be people too. I bet any second now, someone’s going to pull up in here, and everything will be okay.

“I didn’t see any other servos around. It must get pretty busy here?” I ask, looking back at the road, hoping to see someone appear from over of the horizon.

“Nah, sometimes there’s no one for days. You’re the first person I’ve seen in ages. You know, maybe you should stick around for a bit.” Why would I do that? This guy is off his rocker.

“No, I better not. I really have to get going. Just the fuel would be good, thanks.”

“Are you sure? You’ve still got a long way to go. Maybe you should come inside and stock up on some goodies for your trip. I could make you a sanger. You know, in case you get hungry or something.” He opens the car door and just stands there waiting for me. “Come in and see what a gentleman I can be.” What do I do? I’m thinking and thinking, but the only thing the voice inside my head tells me to do is stay in the car. My brain doesn’t want to hear logic. It doesn’t care if there’s no fuel left in the car. It’s yelling at me to start the car anyway and tail it outta there. I look at the keys in the ignition. All I have to do is turn them and this will be over. But what then? I’m going to run out of fuel and then he’ll find me out there on the side of the road, and then there’ll be no getting away. Think goddam it. I run my fingers through my hair and look up at him and smile.

“You’re right. I’ve been driving for hours and I need a break.”

“Come inside and I’ll make you a nice hot cuppa.”

“Hey, do you have toilets here, I’m busting, and how about you pump the fuel while I’m in the toilet.” He stands there looking me up and down, chewing his gum. He’s making loud smacking noises every time he opens his mouth and bites down again. I smile at him sweetly, hoping he doesn’t see how nervous I am.

“Yeah, sure,” he finally says, grabbing the pump. “I’ll fill her up. The dunny’s ‘round the side over there,” he adds, pointing to the right. I breathe a sigh of relief, but my heart is still pounding inside my chest. When I get inside the toilet, I look into the shattered mirror and talk to my reflection like it’s a frightened child. Calm down. He’s putting petrol in the tank. You just need to keep it together. I wait a little while and then I walk out. Please let him be inside the shop. Please… I walk around the corner and he’s still there pumping fuel into my car.

“Hey, you’re not trying to pull a swifty on me, are ya?” he asks, squinting his eyes and looking at me like I’m a trapped mouse. I quickly pull twenty bucks out of my pocket and wave it in the air.

“I wouldn’t do that,” I say, holding it out to him. “Does this cover it?”

“What, no tip?” he says, smirking. I reach into my pocket for some change. “Come on, this aint Hollywood. I’m just kidding ya. Save it for inside. I’ve got a treat in there for ya.” How do I get into the car without making him suspicious? I can’t think of anything, but I have to hurry. I can’t just stand here looking at him.

“I’ll just grab my purse,” I say, walking past him. This is my chance. Get in the car and lock the doors!

“Yep, she’s all filled up,” he says, moving behind me and breathing down my neck. His breath smells so bad, I almost hold my hand over my nose, but I stop myself. I have to get him away from the car.

“Thanks, I say, getting into the car and grabbing my bag. He’s standing against the open door. I won’t be able to close the door, but I can still start the car and get out of here. I look at the ignition but my keys are gone.

“Looking for something,” he says, dangling the keys in front of me.

“Hey, it’s a bit later than I realised. I think I’ll give the coffee a miss and get going, but thanks for the fuel,” I say, getting out and grabbing the keys from his hand.

“Yeah, nah,” he says, placing his hand on the car door and slamming it shut. “I don’t think so.” I try to pull the handle but he presses harder against the door then he makes a terrible clicking sound with his tongue and holds out his left arm towards the store.

“Ladies first, love.”

 

 

Chapter Six

I’m staring into dust covered windows, but I can still make out his reflection in the glass. He steps in front of me and reaches out to open the door. His chivalry doesn’t evoke a feeling reminiscent of sense and sensibility, instead, when I see what’s on the other side of the door: empty shelves, grimy benches and metal shavings on the floor, it evokes a foreboding sense of suffering and suffocation. There is no way I’m going in there. I falter in the doorway desperately thinking of a way out of this, wondering what compelled me to take those few, short, agonising steps towards the door. I haven’t got any weapons or pepper spray, but I still have my arms and legs. I clench my hands into fists ready to give him a right hook and knee him as hard as I can in the nuts. Each second feels like an eternity as I wait for the right moment to strike.

“Is this guy bothering you, miss?” I turn around and see a police officer stepping out of his vehicle. I want to cry out and run into his arms.

“G’day Officer, this weather could freeze the balls off a brass monkey,” the creepy guy says, before turning to me. “That’ll be twenty bucks.” You were going to rape and murder me and you seriously think I’m going to give you money, especially after I already paid you for my fuel already. My hands are still clenched into fists at my side and the look on my face as I walk towards my car says it all. “Yup, just keep going till you reach a fork in the road and then ya go left,” he yells out, flicking his dart into the air before quickly disappearing into his torture chamber. Whatever, I’m getting out of here. The police officer walks over to my car and smiles understandingly. I should tell him about this guy. I should tell him what he was going to do to me, but I just want to get as far away from him as humanly possible, and besides, I don’t have any proof. It’s not like they can arrest him and even if they search every inch of that hell hole they might still come up empty and then he’ll probably come after me. He knows where I’m going. I nod and smile at the officer, trying to convey to him without words my eternal gratitude for saving my life.

“Hey there, miss,” he says, straightening his back and hooking his thumbs into the belt hoops on his pants. “Is everything okay here? Gus can get a little difficult.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Thank-you. Everything’s okay.”

“You don’t look like you’re from around here. Where are you headed?”

“I’m going to a small town near here called Townsend.” I’ve never been on the wrong side of the law before, but when he looks into my eyes, I feel vulnerable and exposed like he can see right into my soul: every thought, every wish and every desire. His gaze is so intense I want to avert my eyes but I’m worried he may see it as a sign of guilt, so I maintain eye contact until he’s the one that looks away. That’s when I realise it wasn’t guilt that stopped me from looking away, it was something else, something I can’t explain and it was only when he looked away that I knew it was there at all. I try to recapture it but how can you define something by what it isn’t, because that’s all I have, an absence of something, something that was only revealed to me when it was gone.

“It’s a bit of a drive, but it looks like you’ve already come a long way. Just don’t take the directions Guss gave you. He’s never been there before. He’s just trying to impress you. It can get pretty lonely all the way out here,” he says, with a serious expression on his face before looking down shyly. I’ve known this man for about three minutes, but I’m already fascinated by him. A moment ago, he was standing there with a bold, confident manner, then all of a sudden, his whole demeanour changed and he became almost introverted. I’m beginning to relax a little and feel safe again. It wouldn’t hurt to stay here for just a little while longer and speak to him. I don’t know anyone else out here and it feels so reassuring to talk to him. I look at my wrist and check the time. I still have a few hours before my meeting with Mr Blackwater, and I’ve travelled most of the distance to Townsend already.

“If you have to be somewhere don’t let me keep you. Here, let me get the door for you.” He’s so considerate, it’s almost cute. Sure, I’ve almost been another rape victim so any kindness, no matter how small, may touch me deeper than it should, but it isn’t that, it’s something more. That something that again I cannot explain.

“I have an appointment but it’s not for another few hours,” I say, stepping back so he can lean over and reach for the door handle. Before he reaches it, for just a second, he’s standing so close to me and I can feel the little drummer marching in my chest again, but this time, it isn’t panic I’m feeling, it’s excitement.

“Right, in Townsend,” he says, remembering. “If you’d like, I’m headed there now and I could drive ahead of you, so you don’t get lost.”

“It’s okay, I have directions,” I say, grabbing a piece of paper off the dashboard. “Maybe you should follow me?” He looks over at the paper and then shakes his head.

“I know a shortcut.”

“So you know it then? You’ve been there before?”

“Yeah, I know it,” he smiles.

“It’s not like one of those old, boring towns with no running water is it? I really need a hot shower.”

“No, it’s not like that at all. You definitely can’t sneeze in a town that small without everyone saying, bless you, but it has its charm and it has a way of growing on you. Well, you’ll see what I mean when you get there.”

“Maybe, but I still don’t know how anyone could live out here. Are you from Alice Springs? You must hate having to drive all the way out here.”

“No, I live in Townsend. I’m the town sheriff.”

“Oh, sorry,” I grin, feeling like an idiot, but when I look at him, he makes me feel like I could say or do anything, no matter how stupid, and it wouldn’t matter because he would understand. He would just keep looking at me with that same comforting smile and everything would be okay again. I don’t know if it’s his uniform or if it’s just him, but he is really handsome and I could look at him all day long. I could spend hours just watching as the rays of the setting sun play upon the golden strands of his hair like fingers pulling at the strings of a violin. I could sit in a chair with my hands tucked beneath my chin and watch as the pupils within his hazel, green eyes grow in excitement then diminish in size as his mind turns within, and I could lie beside him upon the bed stroking the soft fur upon his arm, as the rhythm of his breathing lulls me into a deep sleep. Okay, now I’m definitely getting carried away.

“So, do you want to get going?” I’m looking at him but I have to shake my head a little to snap myself out of my daydream and focus on him now in the present. How long did I drift off for? How long have I been standing here just staring at him? I really hope he doesn’t think I’m weird.

“Sure, thank-you, um, Sheriff? I really appreciate it,” I mumble, hopefully coherently, as I hop behind the steering wheel and he gently closes the door.

“Just follow me, and, oh, by the way, you can call me Logan,” he says, smiling that same heart-warming smile that disarms me and makes me want to surrender.

“I’m Ally. Well, I mean that’s not my name,” I say, not making any sense.

“It’s not?” he asks, suspicion furrowing his brow. “Should I be running your number plate through my system?”

“I’m not a criminal, well I wouldn’t tell you if I was. This is just getting worse. What I meant to say, I mean what I was trying to say is that my name is Ally, but that’s not what everyone calls me. No, that’s not right,” I fumble, struggling to string a bloody sentence together. He’s so good looking he’s actually broken my brain. “Let me try that again. My name is Aliya, but everyone calls me Ally.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Ally,” he smiles, “Just follow me,” he adds, then turns around and swaggers proudly, yet humbly to his car, leaving me lost for words and wanting more. I’ll follow you anywhere you want to go, I think to myself, as he pulls out of the servo and onto the dirt road.

This is the role I’ve been waiting to play my entire life, this is just the perfect movie I’ve been waiting to star in, and Sheriff Logan is just the kind of guy I’ve been searching for to play my leading man. There’s that feeling again deep down in the pit of my stomach. It’s telling me I’m exactly where I’m meant to be and everything is just as it should be. I don’t need music anymore. All I need is the image of his face staring back at me and it feels like I’m moving to the rhythm of a thousand dancing fireflies. They light up the darkness inside of me and shine upon his beautiful, chiselled features, illuminating his perfectly sculptured form. There is music here, but it cannot be heard, it can only be felt with the heart. It’s the melody of spring that entices the petals of a flower to release its arms and spread them wide to receive the beauty of the sun. It’s the pitter-patter of the summer rain as its tiny feet tip toe upon the earth, and it’s the song of two hearts beating as one. I want to stay there in my car forever. I never want the road to come to an end. I only want to forever follow this man and eternally know that feeling of what could come. But I cannot stop time. It’s always chasing ahead of me, and no matter how fast I run to catch up so I can tell him to slow down, I can never reach him. I keep following Logan’s lead down an endless dirt road while in my mind, he’s turning me around upon the dancefloor and holding me close within his strong, protective embrace. We dance for two hours and then the fireflies begin to close their eyes and their light fades away, until there is only the darkness, and Logan’s brake lights signalling to me that we have arrived. I check the time on the car radio. It’s nearly six o’clock. I’m just in time for my appointment with Blackwater. Logan turns a corner and we pass an old, faded sign on the side of the road.

WELCOME TO TOWNSEND

ONCE YOU ARRIVE, YOU’LL NEVER LEAVE.

I slow down and look closer at the sign. Then I notice there are two words between never and leave that are so faded you can barely see them: Once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave. As we drive on, I see tall, bony gum trees lining the road. Their branches are so sparse, they look like old, pale, giant men losing their hair. Some of them are leaning over and reaching out with their arms swaying in the wind like they’re trying to pick something up off the ground. I know it’s silly but it frightens me a little and I speed up so they can’t catch me. We drive on for a few minutes more and just as I begin to feel like we’re stuck in an endless loop of the same old tired trees and the same beaten down dirt road, I see it: Townsend. It’s every town you’ve ever heard about when your mother tucked you in at night and read to you about elves and dwarves who live in the knolls of a giant tree. It’s poor, fair maidens who toil all day in a small village waiting for her guardian angel to appear and wave her wand so her magic can weave the maiden’s raggedy torn dress into a beautiful ball gown and send her off in a sparkling golden carriage to a ball. And it’s princesses who have been locked up in a tower by a wicked witch, waiting for her prince to come and rescue her. It’s all the winsome and beguiling charm of all these things captured in the enchantment of this little town tucked away in a little corner of the world where no one will ever find it, but most of all, it’s home. The sign was right. Once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave, because there is nowhere else in this world I would rather be than in this place right now. I see Logan walking over to my car, so I slow down and roll my window down.

“I’m going to pull up down there outside that row of stores.” I nod and wait for him to lead me one last time to the dance floor for our final dance, and then I park the car: the dance is over.

“What do you think? It might not look like much, especially to someone like you, but we wouldn’t trade this place for the world.” Logan and I are standing on the footpath in front of the corner store and I can see people inside drinking soft drink and eating minced meat pies and sausage rolls.

“G’day Sheriff Logan,” people say, nodding and smiling as they pass us by. I can tell from their curious stares and whispers that I must stick out like a sore thumb. It makes me feel self-conscious but then I look into Logan’s eyes, and they all melt away.

“I never knew a place like this could exist in the world. It’s like this place used to be a patch of dirt in heaven and one day, it just fell off and landed right here on earth” I say, overwhelmed with emotion. “Red’s Diner? Are we still in the 21st century? It’s as if this place has been frozen in time.”

“Wait until you meet the people,” he laughs. “They’re going to get a kick out of you too. We don’t get many visitors. I’m still curious to find out what brought you to our humble town.”

“It’s a long story,” I reply, unsure of whether to confide in him. Even though he’s a police officer, he’s still a stranger to me.

“I don’t know if you noticed, but time moves pretty slowly around here, so why don’t you try me.”

“I have a grandmother. I mean I did have a grandmother. She passed away and I’m here to see the lawyer handling her estate.”

“Mrs Virginia Stone?” he looks at me a little harder as if in disbelief. “Your Mrs Virginia Stone’s granddaughter? We didn’t know she had any living relatives left. It’s great to meet you. The town will be excited to know you’re here. We all admired your grandmother very much.” The way he talks about the town like they’re all one collective being, it’s weird, but I guess that’s how you come to feel in a town this small. And the attention he’s giving me, it makes me feel special like I’m a celebrity. It makes me think of the stark contrast to how I felt back in the city like a ghost among the living. Being amongst all those people, I shouldn’t have felt so alone. And now that I’m here in this small town, I don’t feel so alone anymore.

“Come on, I’ll walk you to Mr Blackwater’s office. It’s just down the street.”

“How did you…”

“We only have one lawyer here,” he says, waiting for me to catch up to him, until we’re strolling side by side.

“What’s it like being a Sheriff of a small town?”

“I really enjoy my work, but then again, I don’t really know anything else.”

“The crime rate must be really low here. Where I’m from I couldn’t go a day without hearing about some terrible crime being committed or sometimes witnessing one myself.”

“I guess there’s even less crime now that you’ve left. You look worried. Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. It’s just that it’s a crime for someone to be as pretty as you.”

“Did you really just say that?”

“That was a little cheesy wasn’t it?”

“It’s okay,” I say, feeling warm all over and looking down with shyness. “I’m not lactose intolerant.” Oh my god, I’m such a dag. I look up again and we quickly make eye contact then look away. Is this really happening? I must be dreaming. If I am I don’t want to wake up ever again.

“To answer your question,” he says, clearing his throat. “Maybe it’s got to do with the size of this town, everyone knows each other so it’s harder to get away with anything, and I guess when you know people, it makes it harder to do wrong by them.”

“There is definitely something about this place,” I whisper, looking around and smiling when I see a little chapel with a brass bell hanging at the top in the belfry. We walk by the stores in the town centre until we reach a row of terraced houses.

“What was she like?” I ask, still finding it hard to believe that two days ago I was washing dishes in a café and worrying about how I was going to pay my rent and now here I am, walking down a cobblestone footpath lined with old, gas street lights, standing next to a man that couldn’t be more perfect if I had created him with my own two hands.

“She was the richest person in this town and she has the grandest home. When I was little, the other neighbourhood kids and I used to loiter in her yard at night, waiting to see a ghost. When she’d come out on her porch, we always thought she’d chase us off with a broom stick.”

“Did you ever see one?” I ask, feeling trepidation over knowing that soon I’ll be staying in that house all by myself.

“A ghost? No, they were just stories and you know what happens when the imagination of a child hears a story. There are no limits to the tale that it grows, and if you try to tell that child it isn’t real, it’s like chopping the tail off a skink lizard: it’ll just grow back even longer.”

“What kinds of stories did you hear?”

“Here we are. Mr Blackwater’s Office is just up those stairs.”

“Well, it was really nice to meet you and thank-you for everything.”

“Anytime, and if you decide to stay, and it’s all right with you,” he says, placing his hat back upon his head, “I might drop in and see how you’re holding up. Maybe I could even show you around some time.”

“Yes, I would love that,” I reply, holding onto my atoms to stop them from jumping out of my skin and exploding into the air. I could think of nothing more I would love to do.

“Until then…,” he says, holding up his hand goodbye. “Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll lay off the dairy.” I watch as he walks away and leaves me in the dark again, but the light hasn’t completely gone away. There’s still the tiniest, little glow waiting to brighten up my world all over again.

 

 

Chapter Seven

I reach out and grab the brass door ring, knocking against the metal plate two times. After a few minutes, I hold my ear up to the door and listen to hear if there is someone moving around inside, but it’s silent. I grab the door ring again, and just as I’m about to strike the metal plate, the door opens to reveal a tall, stern looking man with greying hair dressed in a black suit.

“You must be Miss Reign. Please come in,” he says, moving aside for me to enter and closing the door behind me. “Shall I take your coat?”

“It’s not a coat exactly, but sure,” I reply, handing him my denim jacket. He opens a door in the hallway and hangs it in a small closet.

“Let’s go to my office,” he says, leading me down a hallway to an open doorway. When I step inside, there is light coming from an open window and I can see the walls are covered in shelves with heavy, dusty volumes of law statutes and cases sitting on them. “Please sit down,” he offers, taking a seat behind his solid oak desk. The silence is unnerving, so I try to make conversation, but my interaction is forced and my words come out all wrong.

“I’m surprised you’re not wearing your pyjamas,” I say, immediately regretting what I’ve said when I see a confused look upon his face. I try to clarify what I’m saying, but it’s like I’m digging a hole and the more I say, the more ridiculous I sound. “You must spend a lot of time in bed with your clients.” I start laughing nervously, “That didn’t sound right at all. I mean if I worked from home, I would use my bedroom as an office and I’d probably spend all day in there, except to go to the toilet, but I’d still be wearing my pyjamas. I would probably never shower again.” Mr Blackwater looks up at me then pulls his glasses down the bridge of his nose and raises his eyebrows. “Don’t worry,” I add, “you look like you shower pretty often.”

“Yes,” he murmurs, opening a manilla folder upon his desk. “I handled your grandmother’s legal affairs before she passed away and also acted as her probate lawyer. Let’s see,” he continues, leaning back in his chair, holding the document within his hands. “Your grandmother’s will is pretty straightforward. She left all her assets to her remaining living heir, Miss Maree Stone. Of course, when you were adopted your name was legally changed so she amended her will and provided the necessary documentation indicating your legal right to her estate.”

“When did that happen?” I ask, chewing my finger nails. He leans over his desk again and looks over some other documents upon them, until he finds a large, yellow envelope and pulls out a few sheets of paper. “It appears she amended her will on the 15th June, 1991.”

“On my third birthday?” I was adopted that year, wasn’t I?” I still don’t know much about my adoption, and I have to restrain myself from reaching over the desk and grabbing the file. I hear more papers being shuffled around, as he looks through the folder, mumbling incoherently to himself.

“You were adopted that day,” he confirms, turning back to the document of my grandmother’s will. I don’t need to ask for more information. I know what that means. She always knew about me and she didn’t want me.

“Why,” I ask, surprised when I hear my question slip out, “Why was I adopted when she could have raised me?” He places the will upon his desk and pulls at his vest before giving me his full attention.

“I could tell you that she was getting on. That she wasn’t in a position to raise a little girl who needed so much more than an old woman nearing the winter of her life could give. I could even say that she thought you would be better off with younger parents. But it would all be conjecture, and even if it wasn’t, I don’t believe anything I could say could excuse what she did within your own mind. All I can say is that she never gave you up, not in her heart. She wouldn’t have left you all her worldly possessions if she didn’t care about you. The blood that ran through her veins runs through yours and nothing can change that fact.” I put my head down under the weight of his words. I understand what he’s saying, but it still makes me sad. To lose all those years with her. To know that it’s too late. I wouldn’t give up the parents I knew, and the family I grew up with, not for anything, but there will always be a part of me that wishes I could have known her too, and now I never will. “You must be eager for me to continue with the reading of the will, and it was very important to your grandmother that it be executed with the usual formalities, so I will begin.” He looks down at his desk again and as he speaks, his voice draws me in, as I hear my grandmother speak to me from beyond the grave. “This is the last will and testament of Virginia Maree Stone…”

By the time Mr Blackwater’s finished, I have become the executor of my grandmother’s will and the trustee of her estate, on the condition that I occupy the premises for one full year.

“Do you understand your grandmother’s instructions as I’ve read them out to you?”

“Yes, Mr Blackwater, I understand.” He opens a desk drawer to his right and pulls out an old, elaborately designed bronze key.

“This is the skeleton key to your grandmother’s home. It will open every door,” he says, rising from his seat and walking over to me. There are only two copies, so keep it somewhere safe,” he adds, placing it into my hand. I close my fingers over it. My grandmother held this key. How many doors did she lock and unlock using this key? How many years did it sit inside the pocket of her skirt, or did she wear it on a chain around her neck, and tuck it inside her blouse? I’ll never know.

“Mr Blackwater, you mentioned two keys. Where is the other one?”

“Beetle’s got the other one. He worked for your grandmother doing odd jobs around the house and he’s been taking care of her house since she passed away. He’ll be meeting you there when you arrive. Was there anything you wanted to ask me?”

“Yes, I was hoping you could tell me about my parents?”

“What would you care to know?”

“Anything that you can tell me about them, like, what they were like or what they did for a living, or even how they died.”

“They were good people. Your grandparents owned the mine and your father ran it after your grandfather passed away. Your mother was a librarian, but after she married your father she stayed at home to raise you. A few years later there was an accident. It was all quite sudden. Oh, I almost forgot. Your grandmother’s funeral service will be held at the town chapel.”

“I assumed it would have already taken place,” I say, wishing there was a way I could get out of it. Ever since my parents passed away, I haven’t been able to go to church again let alone another funeral. It’s just too painful.

“No, it hasn’t been held yet. The service is in three days. Beetle will take you. If there’s nothing else, I’ll see you out.” I want to ask him more questions, but I can tell he’s impatient for me to leave, and it’s getting late so I follow him out. When we reach the entrance, he hands me my jacket and a hand drawn map with directions to my grandmother’s house.

“Her house is only a hop, skip and a jump away from here. You just follow that road,” he says, pointing at a street ahead of us, “and when you come to the river, turn left onto Peppertree Lane and keep going until you see a corn field. It’s just a few metres up the road from there. You can’t miss it.”

“Thank-you for your time, Mr Blackwater. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” I smile, walking down the steps and hearing the door close behind me. I stand there for a while by myself, turning the key over and over within my hand. Everything’s happening so quickly that there isn’t even time to take a breath. I just hope he can give me some more information about my parents at the service.

Peppertree Lane…Pepper…Tree…I repeat the words over as I look out the window of my car, keeping an eye out for a sign with those words written on them. I try to imagine what a Peppertree might look like, but nothing forms within my mind. Everything about this town so far has been incredible, and it feels strangely familiar. I don’t know anything about my life before my adoption and I wonder if my parents lived here with my grandmother or somewhere else. Perhaps I lived here too. Somewhere within myself, I feel like I know the answer to my question. I always felt like I was out of place, like I didn’t belong, but being here feels right. Peppertree Lane. There it is. I almost missed it so I have to brake and reverse before turning into my street. The same, tired trees that welcomed me here are standing to attention by the side of the road. They’ve been waiting for me. I smile at them and nod respectfully, wishing they could tell me everything they’ve seen and all that they know. They’re thin, bony arms waving in the wind at me. Hello Ally, how we’ve missed you. Now they’re pointing ahead. Keep going, you’re almost there. I’m looking for a corn field. What does a corn field look like? Hurry up, it’s almost time. Her words rise up from my memory, as my dreams try to pull me out of the waking world and back into theirs. I remember now. I remember the little girl plucking flowers from the earth. We were in a…there it is. It’s the same corn field from my dream, but it isn’t possible to dream something you’ve never seen before. Unless, I was right about being here before, because I was here before and this place used to be my home. I keep driving on and just like Mr Blackwater said, I see my grandmother’s house because it’s impossible to miss. I wasn’t prepared for its size, its opulence, its grandeur. Even though the bricks are exposed and weathered and this house must have been built before the turn of the century, anyone who looks upon it will instantly admire it. It’s so old and beautiful that if it was in Brisbane it would have been heritage listed. It’s like an old southern mansion with at least three levels, including an attic with charming little dormer windows, a balcony that looks like it circles the entire perimeter of its outside walls, intricately designed gable-boards attached to the edge of the roof, and two, tall columns standing like guards to the entrance. This is my new home. I pull into the circular driveway and park at the entrance then I take a deep breath and open the car door.

“Miss Stone, it’s getting late. I was worried you may not make it,” says a small, middle aged Aboriginal man nearly huddled over like the hunchback of Notre Dame. This must be the guy that’s been looking after the house, but where did he come from?

“Hi,” I say, stepping out of the car. “It’s nice to meet you, but my name’s actually Aliya Reign.”

“Oh yeah, it would be too. Well my name’s Paddy Nanberry, but you can call me Beetle. I’ve been working here for a long time and been taking care of your grandmother’s house since she passed away. It’s a damn shame you didn’t get to see her again and you’d be too young to remember her. You must have been only three or four when you left.”

“Have we met before?”

“Sure, you used to run up and down the halls of this house, looking in every nook and cranny for lost treasure. We were always cleaning up after you. You were a messy child, but it wasn’t your fault. Your grandmother used to spoil you rotten. Once she took you to the toy store in town and nearly bought everything in sight. You sure were a naughty little bugger. I remember her always tanning your hide raw.”

“It sounds like she loved me,” I say, trying to imagine how she must have felt giving me away. Maybe it did hurt her to let me go. I must have cried for weeks on end after they took me away from her.

“Did I live here with my parents? Do you remember them?”

“Yeah, I remember them all as if it was yesterday. They were quite a pair. The most beautiful betty and the richest fella in town. They went together like vegemite on toast, but your grandmother wasn’t happy about it. Yeah, she tried to talk him out of it. She even,” he breaks off, looking around then leaning closer. “She even threatened to disinherit him, but he wouldn’t listen. Your father was just as stubborn as she was and she was as stubborn as a tick on a dog.”

“Why would my grandmother do that? Didn’t she like my mother?”

“She liked her well enough, but she didn’t want her son going with one of us.”

“What do you mean one of us?”

“One of us black-fellas.”

“You mean my mother was an aboriginal?” I look at my skin. It isn’t fair, but it isn’t dark either. It’s kind of olive. I always thought it was because the woman I believed was my real mum was Italian.

“So I guess that makes me a…”

“A mutt,” he says, playfully.

“I was going to say half-caste,” I smile even though my world is being turned upside down. Imagine finding out when you’re twenty-eight years old that half of you is a completely different race than what you thought you were. All those stories I heard and read about, they weren’t just about the native indigenous peoples of this land, they were about my native indigenous peoples.

“What happened to them?” I ask, unconsciously crossing my arms as if to protect myself from the words he’s about to say.

“Oh, it was terrible. Just terrible. Every day it was like the sun shined only for them and then one day, the sun just stopped shining. At least they were together when they went. I think if one of them had of gone first, then the other wouldn’t have lasted very long. They wouldn’t have been able to be apart.”

“Was there some kind of accident?”

“I wouldn’t call it an accident exactly.”

“What would you call it then?” I’m imagining them now like two star crossed lovers making a suicide pact and drinking poison before dying in each other’s arms.

“Murder,” he says, matter-of-factly. I’m so shocked that I can’t remember what I said next or even if I said anything at all because my mind is running in circles.

“They were murdered? Who did it?”

“You know they never caught the person that did it.”

“They got away with it! Surely someone knows something. Do they have any ideas about who it could have been?”

“It could have been anyone,” he whispers, as if that person is here right now, hiding in the bushes and listening in on our conversation.

“Where did it happen?”

“Here,” he says, turning his head to look up at the house. “Inside your grandmother’s house.” I feel a shiver go up my spine as someone walks over my grave and their footprints leave goose bumps crawling all over my arms. Then I feel something tugging at my heart: Did they suffer? There’s another million thoughts just like that one rolled up in my knotted heart, and it’s all ready to unravel, but I can’t open it up and look inside.

“Come on, Miss Reign. I’ll show you around,” Beetle says, waiting for me to follow him inside the house.

“I look up at the house. My eyes moving over it like climbing ivy until I reach the attic window.

“There’s a lovely view from up there,” says Beetle, walking up the porch steps and opening the front door. “Excuse me, Miss Reign? Are you okay? Miss Reign, what is it?”

Beetle,” I whisper, “Is there anyone else living here?”

“Only person that’s lived here in the last thirty odd years was your grandmother. And now that she’s gone there isn’t anyone else but you.”

“If there’s no one else living here then who the hell is that up in the attic?”

Thank you. You did not have to purchase this book, but you did. For that I thank you. If you enjoyed what you read, please consider reading the rest of the series, or the complete novel, and leaving an honest review on Amazon.


TOWNSEND: A Supernatural Romance - Part 1

I have a secret. Something I’ve never told anyone. Ever since I was little I’ve heard a voice inside my head. I was always too afraid that if I told anyone they’d think I was crazy. Sometimes I wonder if I am, but that voice has always been there watching over me and keeping me safe. Ally Reign’s life is going nowhere and things couldn’t get any worse, but she then finds out she was adopted and has received a large inheritance from her biological grandmother. But there’s a catch. She has to move to a small town in the middle of nowhere and live in her grandmother’s house for one year before she can claim her inheritance. When Ally arrives in Townsend, it’s as pretty as a picture and the local town sheriff, Logan, couldn’t be more charming or more single. Finally things are starting to look up for her, but things are not what they seem. Strange things are happening in her grandmother’s house and she is hearing that voice again that’s always been there watching over her. Is Ally losing her mind or is the town hiding a terrible secret? TOWNSEND: A Supernatural Romance - Part One is about a young woman who has been given a second chance for a new beginning, but is this the opportunity that will breathe new life into her dying dreams or has she stepped into a nightmare she can’t wake up from. This is the first novella in the four-part TOWNSEND SERIES. OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: THE VICTORIAN ROMANCE: EPISODE I THE VICTORIAN ROMANCE: EPISODE II THE VICTORIAN ROMANCE: EPISODE III THE VICTORIAN ROMANCE: EPISODE IV

  • Author: Karen Kay
  • Published: 2017-06-21 13:50:12
  • Words: 17271
TOWNSEND: A Supernatural Romance - Part 1 TOWNSEND: A Supernatural Romance - Part 1