Read His Cemetery Doll Online

Authors: Brantwijn Serrah

Tags: #paranormal, #dark romance, #graveyard, #ghost romance, #ghost, #sexy ghost story, #haunting, #historical haunting, #erotic ghost story, #undead, #cemetery

His Cemetery Doll

His

Cemetery Doll

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.

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His Cemetery Doll Second edition. May 3, 2015.

Copyright © 2014 Brantwijn Serrah.

ISBN: 978-1512063448

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Written by Brantwijn Serrah Cover design by Brantwijn Serrah Edited by Jayne Wolf

Special thanks to the staff of Breathless Press

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Also By Brantwijn Serrah

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty Two

Thank You For Reading

About the Author

His Cemetery Doll
is an extremely special story. These characters have been with me in one form or another for almost eighteen years...exactly the amount of time since I first met my best friend, mate, and partner, Ken.

I dedicate this to you, love, for two decades of being my most enthusiastic supporter and my co-author of fantastic worlds. The love story in these pages began eighteen years ago when two middle-school kids met in fifth period study hall.

Also By Brantwijn Serrah

Short Stories

Right Where I Want You

Equinox

Hunting Grounds

Graveyard Games

Bad Dreams

Books of Blood and Fire

Book 1: Lotus Petals

Book 2: Satin and Steel

Chronicles of the Four Courts

Book 1: Goblin Fires

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H
is Cemetery Doll
is an extremely special story. These characters have been with me in one form or another for almost eighteen years...exactly the amount of time since I first met my best friend, mate, and partner, Ken.

I dedicate this to you, love, for two decades of being my most enthusiastic supporter and my co-author of fantastic worlds. The love story in these pages began eighteen years ago when two middle-school kids met in fifth period study hall.

Chapter One

C
onall...

Somebody was shaking him.

Gravekeeper...fallen soldier...

There is someone in the graveyard, Conall.

***

C
onall Mackay woke with a start. Outside, the wind gave a haunting, low moan. He could hear the rustle and creak of trees in the graveyard outside.

He'd dozed off in his chair by the small cottage hearth, and the fire had long died down to sulky, smoldering coals. His daughter Shyla, bleary-eyed and wild-looking with her short blonde hair sticking up at all angles, shook him by the shoulder, mumbling sleepily.

"There's a strange woman, Dad. Outside."

In the dim light, Shyla's pale cheeks and her white cotton nightgown glowed, turning her into a little candle-flame girl in the dark.

He rubbed his hand over his stubbled jaw, then reached out to comb his fingers through her messy tresses, trying to tame them down. "What do you mean, lass?"

"I
told
you." She paused to yawn, then said, "A woman."

Her big, bright eyes—one blue, one green—were heavy-lidded. Her voice muzzy with sleep. Conall studied her, then patted her shoulder.

"You're dreaming, Shyla. There's no woman."

"Yes, there
is,"
she insisted quite matter-of-factly. "She's in the cemetery, by Maya."

Maya. The angel statue Conall had carved from stone, which stood in the center of the graveyard.

"Shy, you can't even see Maya from your window."

"I
did,
" the young girl answered. Her eyelids drooped and she swayed a little on her feet. Conall stood, scooping her up to carry her back to her room.

As he tucked her back into bed, she settled into soft, faint snoring. Absentminded, he tried to straighten her hair, then picked up a small stuffed dog from her old, mostly-forgotten toy box, tucking it in beside her.

Almost thirteen years old, Shyla had recently sprung up into a lean, gawkish tomboy. Like this, though—curled in her bed, face soft and thoughtful with whatever dreams she'd slipped into—she appeared so much younger. His little girl.

"Sleep well," he mumbled. Then he retreated, mindful not to trip over any piles of books or the small desk chair she'd dragged out to the center of the room.

Back in the hall, he stood at her doorframe, watching her. Then his gaze drifted past her to the window, which faced the cemetery.

The night outside crept close in dense fog. Gray veils drifted, slow and ponderous, beyond the glass. Even if Shyla
had
a view of Maya, she couldn't possibly have seen anything out there tonight.

Yes,
he thought.
Just dreaming.

Although...

Those drifting grays...dancing whorls, like silk ribbons on the wind.

No.
He told himself.
Fog, is all. Nothing else out there.

Chapter Two

D
uring the day, dappled green and gold sunlight played around the graves in Conall's cemetery. Cool, quiet woodland bordered three broad, gated sections, tree branches overreaching a tall iron fence, vines growing through and around scrolled-iron bars. He kept the tombstones clean and neat, scraped the moss from the mausoleums, and trimmed the worst of the overgrowth. He'd never clear away all the natural brush, however. It gave his cemetery a breath of quiet serenity.

Today, though, a thorny growth of brambles breached a little too far onto the grounds, creeping up toward an ancient pair of gray headstones. The inscriptions on those two stones had long eroded away, but Conall devoted an entire afternoon one spring, years ago, to deciphering and re-engraving the names of two young children, twins. Shyla sat behind him on another marker, swinging her little legs back and forth and watching him. He hadn't ever chided her for sitting on the graves. He didn't see any harm in it.

The bramble clung stubbornly to the trellis of an old mausoleum gate stuck in the ground, and Conall spat out an oath as he lost his grip. It sprang back to its anchor, scoring his palms with its thorns.

"How did the blasted thing creep so far in like this?" he growled, shooting an icy glower at the dark, gnarled creepers. He hadn't been by this corner of the graveyard in several days, but, still, he'd never have missed an intruder this overrun.

"It wasn't so bad yesterday," Shyla offered in a thoughtful tone. She leaned forward from her perch to inspect the bush. "I came by here to have a picnic under the willow."

"Well, it didn't sprout into a monstrous weed overnight," Conall grunted as he seized another branch and strove to untangle it.

Shyla cocked her head like a curious bird and swung her legs again. Though sitting on the graves had never been taboo, she still carefully avoided kicking the stone with her heels.

"Maybe the woman caused it to spring up. She could have been a witch, I suppose."

Conall paused and shut his eyes, quietly reminding himself to be patient.

He'd never been a fanciful or superstitious man, not by nature. He saw his graveyard as a simple thing, the community burial ground, and he tended it in dutiful respect. His daughter, on the other hand, precocious little creature, continually pondered the stories and secrets of its inhabitants. This wasn't the first time she'd taken up interest in one or another personality buried here, talking about witches or fantastic creatures hiding in the small surrounding wood.

Of course,
he'd always tell himself,
she's a child. Children are imaginative.

Lately, though, he worried about it more. At her age, such nonsense became less charming and more...
weird.

"It's almost lunchtime," he grunted as he finally pried an arm of gnarling limb away. Tossing it aside, he wiped his brow. "Shall we go in?"

Shyla hopped off the grave, smoothing out her overalls, and nodded.

"Goodbye Luke, Lucia," she said, giving a tiny bob of a curtsy to each of the little graves. "We'll come back later to cut away the rest of it."

About a year ago, Shyla had decided the twins buried here had drowned in the river, clinging to one another as the current overtook them. She'd spent some weeks pondering aloud if they'd run away from home to escape an evil stepmother, or if they'd been following fairies through the woods and become lost. Conall frowned to himself as she turned away from their graves and started skipping back to the house ahead of him.

He sighed, rubbing at the back of his damp neck. Even in the shade, the day had grown outrageously hot. He carefully arranged his heavy toolbox and set it aside, by the mausoleum, before following his daughter up toward the house. He wanted a cold splash of water from the backyard pump, and then the cool interior of his kitchen. Most days he began work in the cemetery at dawn, and today he'd risen with the sun as normal. He'd earned the midday break. Before he came back, he'd set Shyla to her own chores. It'd do her good to get out of the old boneyard for a while.

Limping up the hillside to the higher, newer areas of the grounds, he didn't notice Richard Trask waiting at the cemetery gates, until the other man called out to him. Trask, a slight bit paunchy, took shelter from the sun under a broad oak tree, and the shadows had hidden him for a moment. Now, as he came toward Conall, waving, the groundskeeper crossed his arms over his chest and nodded a welcome.

"Alderman," he greeted.

"Hot as all blazes out, isn't it?" Trask said cheerfully. "How's the leg?"

"About the same as ever," Con replied. "Course, it hurts worse in the cold."

"And how are you and your girl?"

Conall glanced up toward the house. "Well enough. What brings you by?"

Trask paused before answering. Conall recognized the usual wariness his neighbors all appeared to suffer when visiting him in the graveyard. Tossing a quick glance over his shoulder, he followed Trask's gaze to the statue at the center of the main ring of tombstones.

Maya. Conall's stone angel.

Frustration pricked at the back of his neck. He'd always been sure the neighbors' discomfort had something to do with
her.

"Well?" he asked Trask. "What brings you so far out of town, Alderman?"

"Father Frederick wanted to invite you to dinner," Trask said. "I had an errand to run over at the Dillons' farm so I told him I'd pass on the message."

Father Frederick was the local priest and quite possibly Conall's one "friend" in the small village of Whitetail Knoll. Conall nodded to Alderman Trask. "Thanks for passin' it along. I'll be there," he said.

Trask owned the tavern where Father Fred most often liked to meet. Before he turned away, his gaze flickered up to Conall's house.

"How's the girl, then?"

"She's fine," Conall grated. He tried not to betray the annoyance it gave him when others asked about Shyla too much. They never hid their doubt very well, as though he would be incapable of raising a child on his own. Everyone knew Shyla wasn't really his daughter. They believed her to be his niece instead, taken in when his sister died giving birth. He let them think so. Their nosy disdain would be even worse if they found out Con had no sister, and in fact, no kin left at all. He and Shyla were not even distantly related.

Trask caught the brusque tone, and his expression turned apologetic.

"Will you be bringing her along tonight?" he asked. "The wife'll have a dinner ready for her, if you like."

Conall considered and then bobbed his head yes.

"Right then," Trask said. An awkward silence settled between them, until the alderman tipped his cap and added, "We'll serve at sundown. Don't be late."

"We won't."

He watched Trask leave, thinking maybe he'd been a bit uncharitable. His temper might be shorter than normal thanks to the bramble and his stinging palms.

He turned and spent a long moment eyeing the angel.

What was it about her that always spooked others away?

Chapter Three

H
e'd carved Maya the autumn after Shyla came to him. He'd never understood what motivated him to do it: besides not being very fanciful, Conall had never been particularly artistic, either. The inspiration must have come thanks to the baby.

He'd discovered the poor infant alone in his graveyard, tucked in a sheltering crevice of an old boulder. He remembered thinking she'd been arranged as though in a cradle. Whoever left her did it with care, placing her in a spot where she'd be protected from rain, above any wildlife...and sure to be seen by the first human who passed by. Con later used the same boulder as the base for Maya's statue. Perhaps because those small, thoughtful, careful details might be all he would ever know about Shyla's real mother.

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