Authors: Leighann Dobbs
Tags: #Mystery, #Fantasy
This is a work of fiction.
None of it is real. All names, places, and events are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real names, places, or events are purely coincidental, and should not be construed as being real.
A Grave Mistake
Copyright © 2015
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner, except as allowable under “fair use,” without the express written permission of the author.
Cover art by:
This wasn't the first dead body Morgan Blackmoore had seen, nor was it the most gruesome, but for some reason
body struck ice-cold fear into her heart like none of the others.
It wasn’t the look of terror frozen on the guy’s face, or the giant burn mark on his chest indicating he was probably a victim of some kind of paranormal assassin that had her so frightened.
It was the map clutched in his fisted hand … a map that looked eerily similar to one Morgan and her sisters had received in a mysterious letter from their Aunt Eliza.
Morgan bent at the waist, her sleek, long black hair dangling in front of her as she strained to get a closer look.
it the same map?
It looked like it, but she didn’t have the photographic memory her sister Jolene did, so she did the next best thing. She slipped the cell phone out of her pocket and snapped a picture.
As she leaned in, something gooey squished under her boot. Picking her foot up, she recognized it as one of the cone-shaped, black licorice candies they sold in the corner store—a Black Crow.
“Hey, Morgan. Do you mind?” Brody Hunter pulled her attention from the smooshed candy and she straightened to see him standing behind her in his Noquitt police uniform, holding up a section of yellow crime scene tape so that it was high enough for someone to duck underneath. He jerked his head toward the area outside the tape, indicating for her to leave. She took one more quick photo, then slipped under the tape.
“Thanks.” She tweaked his cheek and smiled as he blushed. She’d known Brody most of her life. They'd both grown up in Noquitt and, since he was the younger brother of Morgan's high school boyfriend, she thought of him like family.
Her smile faded as she walked away, glancing down at the photo of the map on her phone. She snugged her black pea coat around her middle to ward off the cool November air but it did little to stop the chill that crept from her spine and encircled her heart.
She glanced back one more time, wondering who, exactly, the body was. She knew that the possession of the map indicated they must have come to her seaside town of Noquitt, Maine, for a specific reason. A specific reason that had gotten them killed.
What she didn’t know was if the dead person was friend or foe … or if the killer was still hanging around town.
Morgan picked up the pace, her breath coming out in small puffs of condensation, her boots making tracks in the light dusting of snow on the ground, as she hurried to her truck.
She wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but if her theory about the map was correct, things in her little town were about to heat up dramatically despite the late fall New England weather.
She hopped in the truck, turned the engine over and put the truck in gear. She didn’t let it warm up—she needed to get back home with her discovery and warn her sisters.
On the way out of town, the reflection of flashing blue and red lights in her mirror caught her eye. Glancing behind her, she saw them load the body into an ambulance. Her stomach clenched. She had a feeling that might not be the last death this town would see before the year was out.
Celeste Blackmoore brushed a light dusting of snow off the bench at the edge of the cove. Shoving red leather gloves into her pocket, she sat down and pulled the lobster grilled cheese from its bag, watching a wisp of steam rise in the air.
Settling back on the bench, she closed her eyes and bit into the warm sandwich. It was a favorite of hers and one that she'd only been able to find at
Foot Bridge Lobster
, a small lobster shack situated in Perkins Cove, which was a short walk from her home.
The sandwich had the perfect combination of taste and texture. Grilled bread gave it a buttery crunch, the cheese added creamy tang and the large lobster claw situated in the middle supplied the perfect amount of sweetness.
Celeste sighed as she settled back on the bench to savor the sandwich. Although it was less than forty degrees out, she didn't mind. Celeste found the cooler weather invigorating and she loved her seaside town even more in the off-season, when it wasn't crowded with tourists.
She chewed happily, looking out over the quaint fishermen's cove. The light dusting of snow would be gone by noon, but right now, it gave the place a holiday feel, amplifying the charm of the old lobster boats moored in the cove.
But not all the boats had charm. Especially not the big, black ship moored in the middle that stuck out like a sore thumb. Celeste stared at the ship, the sandwich paused halfway to her mouth.
When did that get here?
A feeling of uneasiness bloomed in her chest. Noquitt was a popular tourist destination in summer and sometimes people rented mooring space to stay in the cove on their boats, but no one ever did that in winter.
Yet, here was this big, black boat and obviously someone was staying on it. She watched as a figure appeared on the deck. It was two people, actually, one dressed in a Nordic parka and pushing a tiny, white-haired woman bundled in a light-blue blanket in a wheelchair.
Celeste watched as the woman turned her face toward the sun. She looked frail, sickly. The woman reminded Celeste of her mother, who had been held captive by a maniac for the past seven years and drained of almost all her health. Thankfully, her mother was recovering, but Celeste couldn't help but wonder about the woman she was looking at now. Had she suffered a similar fate?
Finishing the rest of her sandwich, Celeste watched as the woman was wheeled back inside and the door to the cabin shut, blocking any view she might have had of what was going on inside. Maybe the woman was just here convalescing and recovering?
Celeste brushed the crumbs from her hand, chastising herself for being so suspicious. She never used to be that way, but the past two years had been crazy for her and her sisters, who'd discovered they'd had special paranormal gifts and then come under attack because of them. She'd learned to pay attention to anything out of the ordinary.
She stood, and with a glance backward at the boat, started for the large house she and her sisters shared with their mother at the mouth of the entrance to the cove. There was no reason to be suspicious of a new boat in the cove, but she'd keep it in the back of her mind. As Celeste had so recently found, it was better to be safe than sorry.
The Blackmoore house had been in Morgan’s family for centuries. Built three hundred years earlier by Morgan’s ancestor Isaiah Blackmoore, it sat on a piece of land with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the channel to Perkins Cove on the other. The house, now more of a mansion, had started off as a small home and been added to and modernized with each passing generation.
Morgan pulled to a stop in the driveway and followed the smell of eggs and bacon into the spacious kitchen, her jaw dropping when she saw a tall, dark and handsome guy at the stove cooking the breakfast.
“Mateo! What are you doing here?” Morgan’s eyes drifted from Mateo’s velvety brown ones to her mother, Johanna’s, amber ones.
Johanna shrugged. “He came to visit.”
“Bet you didn’t know I could cook,” Mateo said, turning his broad shoulders back to the stove. Morgan
known that cooking was one of his talents and her lips curled as she wondered how her youngest sister, Jolene, would react when she found out who was preparing breakfast.
Mateo had been somewhat of a mystery man, appearing out of nowhere on several occasions to rescue the sisters during the past year. Unbeknownst to them, he had actually been working for a secret agency and was tasked to watch over them. Morgan didn’t think he minded that task, especially when it included her sister, Jolene. She’d seen the way the two of them looked at each other and, even if neither of them wanted to admit it, there were sparks there.
Recently, they’d discovered Mateo had been on an assignment inside the underground laboratory of Dr. Mortimer Bly, a rogue paranormal who had held her mother prisoner for seven years trying to drain her powers. Johanna and Mateo had developed a strong friendship and he’d been instrumental in rescuing her.
That probably explained why he’d just popped in unannounced to cook breakfast … or maybe he wanted an excuse to see Jolene.
“Is something wrong?” Johanna asked.
Morgan had been so surprised to see Mateo, she’d almost forgotten about the body with the map. Almost.
She held up the phone. “I think the relic we’ve been searching for might be a little closer to home than we originally thought.”
Mateo spun around. “Really?”
Morgan nodded and showed them the picture.
“That looks like the map Eliza sent.” Johanna’s lips pursed into a thin line and Morgan worried that her mother wasn’t strong enough yet to deal with something like this.
When the sisters had received the mysterious letter in the mail, they’d tried to keep the map from their mother. But Johanna had been adamant about being included in the task of searching for the ancient relics that Dr. Bly was trying to uncover for his own evil purposes.
According to what they’d been told, these relics had been infused with paranormal powers by energy masters centuries earlier and anyone who possessed them would be able to use the power for their own gain. Morgan’s aunt Eliza had sent them a map which they’d assumed was a clue to one of the relics. Too bad she hadn’t indicated where, exactly, the map pointed to. Morgan and her sisters had assumed it was someplace ancient … like Egypt or near the Mayan ruins. But now that someone had shown up in town with the map, that seemed to indicate they were looking for the relic here in Noquitt.
Morgan studied her mother, who sat in her wheelchair, head bent studying the map. For seven years, she’d thought her mother was dead. They'd been led to believe Johanna had jumped into the sea from the cliffs behind their home. It was a miracle to have her here now. And she was getting stronger every day.
When they’d first rescued her, she’d been unable to walk, her skin had been as wrinkled and brittle as someone almost three times her mother’s age. Her long hair had been a dank gray—almost devoid of color.
Now, Johanna’s hair showed streaks of its normal jet black, her skin was smooth and she could manage to get out of the wheelchair and into a chair and bed on her own.
Johanna’s mind was as sharp as ever and in the few short months she’d been back, it had become obvious to Morgan that her mother was the leader of the group. She could handle this.
“Yes, I thought so, too,” Morgan said.
“Where did you get this?” Mateo held the greasy spatula up as he leaned over the phone.
“I was at the Village Food Market downtown picking up a few things when I noticed flashing blue lights on Beach Street. Normally, I don’t pay attention to police business, but my gut instincts told me to investigate.” Over the past year, Morgan had learned that her gut instincts were a special gift and she always paid attention to them.