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Twilight (The Mediator, Book 6). Home · Twilight (The Mediator, Book 6) . DOWNLOAD PDF The Daybreakers: The Sacketts Series, Book 6 · Read more. My favorite Meg Cabot book is Shadowland (the first time we meet Suze and Jesse in The Mediator series!)! Links: Illuminati 2 - Deceit and Seduction pdf free. Finally got these Amazing series Happy read people. Cabot, Meg - [Mediator 1] - Shadowland (, Paw Prints, KB. Cabot, Meg - [The Mediator 2] - Ninth Key (, San Val, ).epub. KB.
Jesse would not have been particularly enthused had he known of the lessons. There was no love lost between Jesse and Paul, whose relationship had been rocky from the start. Of course, their mutual disdain for each other might also have had something to do with me. Back before Jesse had come into my life, I used to sit around and fantasize about how great it would be to have two guys fighting over me. In fact, it was completely wrong. To you. Remember Mrs.
Also the thing Paul had said earlier in the day, about how his plans for Jesse were more humane than my own plans for himself. He was going to. I think he said he was going to keep you from having died in the first place. I seriously think he might be up to something. Or at least his continued presence in this dimension. The only thing that seems as if it might put the fire out is pressing myself closer to him. I felt his hand move along the waistband of my jeans as we kissed.
Our tongues entwined, and I knew it was only a matter of time until that hand slipped beneath my sweater and up toward my bra. Then, my eyes closed, I did a little exploration of my own, running my palms along the hard wall of muscles I could feel through the cotton of his shirt.
It occurred to me that we would be able to do this—kiss like this, I mean—a lot more often and more conveniently if Jesse would get over the absurd idea that he has to stay with Father Dominic, now that we are, for want of a better word, an item. Of the female variety.
I mean, who knows if maybe he really has come up with some new way to. And now, with Father Dom gone for who knows how long, I. I knew that any second he was going to disappear. But there was still something else I needed to know. He had begun to dematerialize, but now he looked solid again.
And truthfully? I probably was. Why do you ask? For school? He took the bag from me. And then he was gone. Walden held up a stack of Scantron sheets and said, "Number-two pencils only, please.
Walden, this is an outrage. And, apparently, aptitude testing. Walden, our homeroom teacher and class advisor, began passing out the Scantron sheets. Just answer the questions. Walden slapped a pile of answer sheets onto my desk for me to pass down my row.
And no talking. Walden demanded, "do you people not understand? Until Mr. Now, shut up, all of you, and get to work. Miserably, I filled in the little bubbles. My fate is already laid out for me. And any other career I choose is just going to get in the way of my true calling, which is, of course, helping the undead to their final destinations. I glanced over at Paul.
He was bent over his Scantron sheet, filling in the answer bubbles with a little smile on his face. I wondered what he was putting down as fields of interest. Or felony theft. Why, I wondered, was he even bothering? We were always going to be mediators first, whatever other careers we might choose. Look at Father Dominic. Oh sure, he had managed to keep his mediator status a secret. He really believes that his ability to see and speak to the dead is gift from God.
The little blank bubbles in front of me grew decidedly blurry as my eyes filled up with tears. Oh, great. Now I was crying. But how could I help it? Here I was, my future laid out in front of me.
Well, you know, pseudo-career, since we all know what myreal career was going to be. But what about Jesse? What future didhe have? I reached up and dabbed at my eyes with the sleeve of my Miu Miu shirt. Jesse, I mean. Because I already knew all of that. Things were tough, I guess, even way back in the s.
It was different then, Susannah. I was different. I did think. It made perfect sense—at least to me. Just because of your dad? I could barely be spared from the ranch for a few days, let alone the years medical school would have taken. But I would have liked that, I think. Medical school. It would be more exciting to work in the sciences now, I think. But rather than clinging stubbornly to the past, as some would have, Jesse had followed along excitedly, reading whatever he could get his hands on, from paperback novels to encyclopedias.
He said he had a lot to catch up on. My stepdad, on the other hand, is more the cookbook type. But you get my drift. To Jesse, stuff that seems dry and uninteresting to me is vitally exciting. Sighing, I looked down at the hundreds of career options in front of me. And here I was, with every advantage in the world, and all I could think that I wanted to be when I grew up was.
Well, with Jesse. It was a constant source of wonder and interest to me. Only unlike Jesse, I actually had a chance todo something with my interest. Walden announced, startling me again. Ten more minutes. I looked down at my answer sheet, which was half empty. At the same time, I noticed CeeCee shooting me an anxious look from her desk beside mine. She nodded to the sheet. Get to work , her violet eyes urged me.
I picked up my pencil and began to haphazardly fill in bubbles. Without Jesse, Ihad no future. Of course, with him, I had no future, either.
What was he going to do, anyway? Follow me to college? To my first job? My first apartment? Paul was right. Stupid to have fallen in love with a ghost. Stupid to think we had any kind of future together. Walden pulled his feet from the top of his desk. Then pass your answer sheets to the front. Walden had dismissed us for lunch. Because my dad was everything that was good. And Paul is everything that. So long as you can find a precedent. I could easily see Paul as a lawyer. I was thinking more along the lines of a social worker.
Or a therapist. It was the reason I was so bleary-eyed and tired today. Not about Paul, but about what Paul had made me read aloud earlier that day: The fourth dimension. The very word caused the hairs on my arms to stand up, even though it was another typically beautiful autumn day in Carmel and not cold at all.
Could it really be true? Was such a thing even possible? Could mediators—or shifters, as Paul and his grandfather insisted on calling us— travel through time as well as between the realms of the living and the dead?
And if—a big if—itwere true, what on earth did itmean? More important, why had Paul been so intent on making sure I knew about it? Trouble sleeping? Suddenly, I was just very tired of Paul and his games. And I decided to call him on the latest one. Took you long enough. We were standing in the shade of the breezeway, it was true, but just a few feet away in the Mission courtyard, the sun was blazing down.
Hummingbirds flitted from hibiscus blossom to hibiscus blossom. Tourists snapped away with their digital cameras. So what was up with the goose bumps? You act like it was two million. Kelly, though stung, nevertheless pulled herself together enough to send me a withering glance before heading for the yard where we dined daily, al fresco.
Big deal. Gutierrez and her two thousand dollars? Even in some small way? And you know what? I think this time, your boy Jesse is going to agree. With me. Please please please please. In any case, Dr. Sort of. Except that he had. And it had only been a few months ago. I wasthat desperate. Desperate for answers that I knew only one person on earth could give me. And that person was just right upstairs. I guess. Itwas lunchtime. Narc on me, doubtlessly.
It seemed to be his one joy in life. Sadly, I never seem able to return the favor, thanks to Brad generally having some kind of goods on me. As usual, the Game Show Network was on. The attendant had parked Dr. Slaski himself, however, appeared to be paying no attention whatsoever to Bob Barker. Instead, he was staring fixedly at a spot in the center of the highly polished tile floor. I need to talk to you for a minute.
Unless you call drooling a response. Slaski," I said, pulling up a chair so that I could sit closer to his ear. About, er, mediators. He straightened up in his chair, lifting his head so he could fix me with a rheumy-eyed stare. The drooling stopped right away. But I decided to let that slide.
Slaski," I said. About Paul. Slaski and his grandson. At least, so far as I can tell. Slaski asked. Family Feud comes on in five minutes. Was I, I wondered, going to end up wheelchair bound and addicted to game shows when I was Dr. Because Dr. Slaski—or Mr. Problem is, nobody believed him. Not about the existence of a race of people whose sole duty it was to guide the spirits of the dead to their ultimate destinations, and certainly not that he, Dr.
Slaski, was one of them. Worse, Dr. And what had Dr. Slaski gotten for all his efforts? A terminal illness and his grandson, Paul, for company. The illness, or so Dr. Slaski claimed, had been brought on by spending too much time in the "shadowland"—that way station between this world and the next. And Paul? Well, he had brought Paul on all by himself.
I guess he had a reason to feel bitterly toward the human race. But why he felt that way toward Paul, I was only just learning. Slaski insisted people like him and Paul and me are more properly called shifters, for our in my case, newly discovered ability to shift between the dimensions of the living and the dead.
Slaski said. Slaski said acidly. Slaski looked at me very sarcastically. I sat there like a lump staring at him. All this time. But what would I have ever needed the ability to time travel for, anyway?
Then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. My dad. I could go back through time and save my dad. Because if it could. Then everything would be different. Slaski coughed, hard. I shook myself and touched his shoulder. Are you all right? Slaski demanded, not very graciously. Maybe less, if those damned doctors have their way and keep bleeding the life out of me.
I needed to know more about this new power he—and possibly I—had. Travel through time, I mean. Slaski glanced at the TV. Fortunately the credits forThe Price Is Right were still rolling.
Family Feud was going to start at any second. To anchor you to it. Slaski said, though he looked skeptical. And you need to pick a spot you can get back to without shifting onto some innocent bystander.
Not just—" "Your soul? Slaski snorted. No, when you go, yougo. Not if you want to keep your guts from spilling out. Slaski looked back at the television, bored by the whole conversation. Slaski said, his gaze glued to the TV screen.
Must be the link. Slaski trailed off, lost in research done decades before. Slaski drawled, turning his gaze back toward the television. Because ghosts? Ghosts I can deal with. Ghosts like. And I had plenty of stuff that once belonged to Dad. She surely would have found it when she was making my bed or playing tooth fairy. But she had never said anything. But I had some babysitting money saved up. Maybe even enough for a plane ticket. I could do it. I could totally keep my dad from dying.
Slaski, with a glance at the TV. A commercial, thank God. What do you do then? Slaski looked annoyed. Then you picture the person. And then you go.
Easy as pie. Slaski nodded at the TV. Just like that, I could go back through time and keep someone I loved from dying. You have to weigh the consequences of your actions very carefully. What possible consequences could my saving my dad have? Except that my mom, instead of crying into her pillow every night for years after he died—right up until she met Andy, actually—would be happy? ThatI would be happy? Then it hit me.
If my dad had lived, my mother would never have met Andy. Or rather, she might have met him, but she would never have married him.
And then we would never have moved to California. And I would never have met Jesse. Suddenly, the full impact of what Dr. Slaski had said sunk in. And keep in mind the fact that the longer you stay in a time not your own, the longer your recovery time when you do get back to the present," Dr.
Slaski added not very pleasantly. You mean like. Every time. Slaski looked amused about something. Slaski said, "if he read my paper on it. He could hardly be motivated by a desire to help anyone, as the only person Paul Slater had ever been interested in helping was. Slaski looked bored. I told you he was no good. Just like his father, that one is, ashamed of me. I was too busy thinking.
That was when it finally dawned on me. Standing there in Dr. And not to kill him. To save his life. I thought you had to hit the Send button to answer, but apparently—" "Father Dominic, something terrible has happened. Then Father Dominic said, "Susannah. Where are you?
If Paul keeps Jesse from dying,then Jesse and I will never meet! Look what happened in that film. What was it? Oh, yes. Back to the Future. But he might listen to you. And how do you suppose he does that?
Your whole body goes. I was losing him. But how can you explain to a priest that a guy is trying to off your boyfriend so he can get into your pants? Was it my imagination or was there a slight chuckle in his voice. Not for that, anyway. My protests, even to my own ears, were starting to grow faint. Paul doing something that could actually be construed as moral, I mean. Because Father Dominic was right. Was it my imagination or did he sound distracted? Because he was never meant to die in the first place.
Unbidden, my mind flashed back to that poster my ninth grade English teacher had hung up in her classroom, of two seagulls flying over a beach. A poster I always seemed to remember at the most inconvenient moments. The imaginary noose around my neck tightened to a choking point. He sounded angry. A second later, Dr. I had no more to say to him than I did to Father Dom. There was only one person, I realized, who could stop Paul from doing what I now knew he was going to do.
And that person was me. A plan. I was almost sure of it. Jesse had been murdered and his body never found—until recently, that is. But those were on display at the Carmel Historical Society museum. Or rather, to save him. Jesse was safe. Which meant thatI was safe. The relief I felt was short-lived, however. Oh, not my relief about Jesse. That remained. It was as I was attempting to sneak back into school that my newly restored equilibrium was shaken again.
And why not? I was really losing my touch. No one would consider Sister Ernestine an exemplary educator. I got off lightly, I suppose. All in all, I suppose it could have been worse. Or so I thought. Before I ran into Paul Slater. He stepped out from the shadows just as I was hurrying by.
I flattened a hand to my chest, as if doing so would cause my heart, which had practically jumped through my ribs at the sight of him, to beat normally again. But what would have been the point? So I stuck out my chin and, ignoring my stuttering pulse, plunged. You talked abouttime travel?
With Grandpa Gork? Slaski," I corrected him. But I thinkyou might be," I went on—recklessly, I knew, but no longer caring.
Not now that I knew what he was after. And maybe I was. That Paul and me? Yeah, that wasnever going to happen. A gork. I mean, your own father changed his name, he was so ashamed of him. And you should stay away from me. That about sum it up? He even smiled a little, though it was with just half his mouth. But I knew it was all just a put-on. Not if he really intends to do what I suspect. But he was doing his best to prove me wrong. After that whole thing with Mrs. Gutierrez, you got me thinking.
All I could do was stand there and stammer. I had never in my life met anyone as manipulative as he was. Or the next? I tasted something awful rising in my throat. At least a little. Enough, anyway—" His voice trailed off suggestively.
Because the truth is, I kind of like my body. I wasthat stunned. Because it finally made sense, now. That accusation Paul had hurled at me the other day in his kitchen. Because he was planning on saving Jesse, whereas I, apparently, am planning on killing Paul. It proves that, whatever you say, you do like me, a little. Or at least that you like making out with me.
All I cared about was proving to him how very, very wrong he was. How could you even—what could have given you the idea that I—" "Oh, come on, Suze," Paul said.
Not like this," he added, gently stroking my arm with his thumb. Until I wrenched my arm away, that is, and fell back a step. At least, not right away—" I felt my cheeks flame. I was so embarrassed. Especially considering that Jesse? Yeah, this was his new stomping ground. He was undoubtedly around somewhere nearby. But not that. So why not just give my soul a yank and let the all-perfect Jesse have a second chance at life?
But now—perhaps because he was goading me into it—a part of me actually seemed to perk up and goWhy not? He would definitely think it was wrong to rob Paul of the life that was rightfully his, just so he could have a chance to live again.
His body would still be alive. And his soul would be. For my sins? You know, the endorphins rushing in. Because I really had, in a way, just had a major workout. This one just happened to be an emotional one. The soul transference thing, I mean. And, for another, I was never going to steal your body and give it to Jesse, Paul. But, you know, you can keep on flattering yourself that I was, if it makes you happy.
At least not then. Because when I attempted to stroll by him after that last remark—even giving my hair a toss to show my disdain for him—something inside him seemed to snap. Next thing I knew, his hand had shot out and caught my arm in a grip that hurt. But I thought it better to let that slide. You can let him go.
Because of course, only he and I could see the ghost who had hold of him. I shook my head. Jesse held on to Paul for a second or two longer—just, I think, to prove he could—then he let go, so suddenly that Paul lost his balance and fell to his hands and knees, onto the stone slabs that made up the floor of the breezeway. He folded his arms across his chest and looked at Paul dispassionately as he climbed to his feet and brushed himself off.
Paul, to my fury, burst out into scornful laughing. That seemed to cause some of his laughter to dry up, without Jesse even having to say a word. Then Jesse turned his penetrating gaze on me. But he changed his mind. Suddenly, it was getting very difficult to breathe. Jesse, what if I told you that in addition to all the many other wonderful things that we mediators can do, it turned out we can also travel through time?
And that I had generously offered to travel back to your time—the night you died, I mean—and save your life. What would you say to that? Not even for a second.
Think about it, Jesse. I can go back through time and warn you. My heart swelled with affection for the man leaning against the stone pillar beside me. Jesse would never choose life over me. He loves me too much. Or so I thought, before Paul started his patter once again.
None of this wandering around in a sort of half-life for a hundred and fifty years, watching the people you love grow older and die, one by one. No way. To a ripe old age, if I can, you know, get rid of that Diego guy who killed you. I mean, how can you say no to an offer like that?
I thought, flushing with joy. Paul blinked. What are you going to do, hang around here for the rest of eternity? Are you going to watchher get old"—he thrust a finger at me—"and eventually turn to dust like you did with your family? You want to go through all that again? Not by a long shot. Two things happened at once then. The first was that classroom doors suddenly flew open all around us and students began streaming out into the breezeway as they changed classes for the next period.
All I want is you. I could tell it was too late. Some of what Paul had said was already starting to sink in. I knew, of course, what they were seeing. Me with hands raised, clutching nothing but air, and speaking to one of the pillars in the breezeway.
Now Ireally looked like I was going around the bend. I dropped my hands and turned to face Paul, who still stood there looking angry and defensive and pleased with himself at the same time. The woman slipped me a dollar, and I handed her the lemon bars. She passed one to Tyler, who inspected it, bit into it. Beside me, Shannon, my fellow bake sale attendant, looked appalled. She just said she was raising him without it. Poor kid.
It was weird to hear someone call David "Dave. It was so the story of my life to be stuck running a school bake sale while the rest of the world was enjoying such a perfect Saturday. The sky overhead was so blue and cloudless, it was almost painful to look at. The temperature was hovering at an extremely comfortable seventy degrees. A beautiful day for the beach or cappuccino at an outdoor cafe, or even just a walk.
And where was I? She likes to talk. A lot. And, you know. So cool. Yeah, right. But not, you know, hordes of eager antique collectors. Occasionally, some of them stopped by our booth and shelled out a buck for a Rice Krispies treat or whatever. But mostly they had their eyes on the prize. The bidding got started late because the monsignor was supposed to have been acting as auctioneer.
Because he was still in a coma up in San Francisco, there appeared to have been some frantic phone calls on the part of Sister Ernestine, as she looked for someone worthy to fill in. I saw Andy climb the dais, waving modestly and looking abashed at all the applause he was getting. Not sure if there could possibly be anything more embarrassing than this, I started to slink down in my chair. Oh but wait, therewas something more embarrassing than my stepfather calling the school antique auction.
There was also the fact that most of the applause he was getting was coming from a woman in the front row. My mother. He was gesturing to an ugly orange plastic chair and declaring it "authentic Eames" and asking if anyone would be willing to bid a hundred dollars for it.
A hundred dollars? And nobody even complained about what a rip-off it was. Clearly Sister Ernestine had impressed upon this audience just how badly the school needed its basketball court repaved, because people were just throwing their money away on the most worthless pieces of garbage ever. Walden both bidding against each other for an extremely hideous lamp.
Aunt Pru finally won it —for bucks—then walked over to Mr. Walden, apparently to gloat. Except that a few minutes later, I saw them having lemonade together and overheard them laughing about sharing custody of the lamp, like it was a kid in a divorce settlement. What was I going to do, be all "Oh, yeah, by the way, Paul wants to travel through time and make it so you never died.
But I plan on stopping him. Paul going back through time, I mean. The thing to anchor him to the night Jesse died. When he held it up now, I saw it winking in the afternoon sunlight. Someone had washed and polished it. About as long, actually, as my boyfriend had been dead. Look at the detail in the ornate D carved into it. Dave, I mean. The sun was beating down on us kind of hard, and it was difficult to think about anything except how much I wished I were at the beach.
She had a crush on a guy. All she wanted to know was whether or not she was wasting her time. As the sister of the object of her affections, however, all I could think was. Also, that David isway too young to have a girlfriend. The Diegos—or at least, the ghost of the one member of the family I had had the misfortune to meet—had all been thieves and murderers.
Okay, we have a hundred. How about a hundred and twentyfive? Does anybody bid a hundred and twenty-five? David, a girlfriend? The youngest of my stepbrothers, I could no more picture David with a girlfriend than I could picture him behind the wheel of a car or even playing soccer. It made sense that someday David would be sixteen and do all the same things that his older brothers Jake and Brad and I were doing. You know, drive.
Take trig. Make out with members of the opposite sex. I have seven hundred dollars. Does anyone—Okay, seven fifty. Do I hear eight? I mean, if he liked anyone better than anybody else. That I know of. There was an astonished hum through the crowd.
Eleven hundred dollars was the most any item on the block had brought in so far. I craned my neck to see what kind of fool had that much money to burn on a piece of junk, and was a little startled to see that Andy was still holding up the belt buckle Jake had found in the attic. What a loser , I thought. I mean, I had known Paul was a weirdo for a long time. But to throw away his hard-earned money—well, not so hard-earned, actually, because I was pretty sure he was paying for the belt buckle with funds stolen from the Gutierrezes—on a piece of junk like that.
Well, that was just insane. Why would Paul Slater spend 1, bucks on a banged-up old belt buckle. I guess it must have shown on my face, since Shannon suddenly sucked in her breath and went, "Are you all right?
But before I could get anywhere close to him, someone grabbed me by the arm. My heart was beating so fast on account of the whole Paul-trying-to-keep-my-boyfriend-fromdying thing, that I almost jumped a mile in the air, I was so startled. But it turned out it was only my mother. In, like, a nice way, I guess. But still gross. Because Paul found me. I was too late. The transaction had been completed.
In his hand was the belt buckle. Could they tell? Could they tell my heart was hammering a mile a minute and that my mouth was as dry as sand? He was watching us —my mom, Sister Ernestine, and me—with a slightly sardonic smile, as if everything we were saying was amusing him very much. And then I dragged Paul away from the dais and folding chairs, and over behind one of the display tables holding the rest of the stuff that was to be auctioned.
I just thought it was pretty. I know why you bought that thing. Or can I go now? For the first time in several minutes, I was able to take a deep breath. See you, Suze. She had wanted to marry Diego, a slave-runner and mercenary, rather than the man her father had picked out tor her to marry, her cousin ew Jesse.
But Jesse never made it to the wedding. Killed by Felix Diego, though no one at the time knew that. His body was never found. Now Paul was going to stop Diego from killing Jesse. All we have to do is remove their souls from their bodies, escort them to that spiritual way station where their fate—whatever it was, heaven, hell, next life—was decided, and boom: Oh sure, Diego deserved to die.
But what good is it? I mean, him looking so good, and all? We have no future together. I have to remember that. Jesse was the first person I met when I moved to California, and he became my first real friend here. He has always been there when I needed him, which is way more than I can say for most of the living people I know. Of course it would be Jesse. This is what I was thinking as I explained 62 about retreats. It was what I was thinking as I went on to explain what I knew about the Vietnam War, and then the eventual fall of communism in the former Soviet Union.
It was what I was thinking as I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. It was what I was thinking as I said good night to him and crawled under the covers and turned out the light.
It was what I was thinking as sleep overcame me and blissfully blotted out all thought whatsoever. But let me tell you, it came back in full force when, just a few hours later, I woke with a start to find a hand pressed over my mouth. And, oh yeah, a knife held to my throat. But this was a lot less gentle than usual. I mean, usually when someone wants your help, they go out of their way not to antagonize you.
But as soon as I opened my eyes and saw who this knife-wielding individual was, I realized that probably what she wanted was not my help. No, probably what she wanted was to kill me. Undoubtedly those old mediator instincts at work. Well and the knife was a pretty significant indicator. Maria de Silva Diego, I should say, since at the time of her death, she was married to Felix Diego, the slave-runner. I know all this from that book Doc got out of the library called My Monterey, a history of Salinas County from to Which was how I happened to know who was trying to kill me this time.
A girl. When she had died, around the turn of the century—last century, of course, not this one—Maria de Silva Diego had been around seventy or so. But the ghost on top of me appeared to be my own age. Her hair was black, without a hint of gray, and she wore it in these very fancy ringlets 65 on either side of her face. She appeared to have a lot going on in the jewelry department.
There was this big fat ruby hanging from a gold chain around her long, slender neck—very Titanic and all—and she had some heavy-duty rings on her fingers. One of them was cutting into my gums.
When you die, your spirit does not take on the form your body had at the moment you croaked. If you did, Jack might have been justified in being such a little scaredy-cat. Instead, your ghost appears in the form your body had when you were at your most vital, your most alive.
And I guess for Maria de Silva, that was when she was sixteen or so. Hey, it was nice she had an option, you know? Thanks to her. The knife blade pressing against my jugular soon dissuaded me from that plan, however. Am I making myself clear? She had a knife to my throat. This chick was not gushing about her new bonnet, if you get my drift. I nodded to show her that I was perfectly willing, under the circumstances, to follow her orders. And then she lifted her fingers from my mouth.
I could taste blood. She had straddled me—which accounted for all the lacy petticoat in my face, tickling my nose—and now she looked down at me, her pretty features twisted into an expression of disgust. A stupid little girl. And then she was gone. Just like that. As soon as I felt like I could move again, I got out of bed and went into my bathroom, where I turned on the light and looked at my reflection in the mirror above my sink.
I rinsed until all the blood was gone, then turned off the bathroom light and came back into my room. I think I was in a daze or something. Maria de Silva. Sweet little old me. And yet it turned out I was in for yet another late-night shock. No sooner had I stepped from the bathroom than I noticed someone was leaning against one of the posts to the canopy over my bed.
And when he saw me, he straightened up. Susannah, was somebody just here? No, it was the other thing Maria had said. About telling Andy to quit digging in the backyard. Because that could mean only one thing: And I had a feeling I knew what that something was. I also had a feeling that that something was the reason Jesse had been hanging around the Carmel Hills for so long.
I should have blurted this all out to Jesse, right? I mean, come on: He had a right to know. It was something that very directly concerned him.
But it was also something that, I was fairly sure, was going to take him away from me forever. Yeah, I know: If you love something, set it free. If it was meant to be, it will come back to you. Let me tell you something. That poem is stupid, all right? And it so totally does not apply in this situation. Because once Jesse gets set free, he is never coming back to me. God, everything sucks. I crawled back into bed. I had on a T-shirt and boxers, but, you know, no bra or anything.
Not that he could tell, in the dark and all, but you never know. Just how would he end that sentence? I could swear I heard the sweet dulcet tones of the woman I once loved? I could swear I smelled her perfume—which, by the way, was of orange blossoms? But apparently not. I was really, really tired, but my mind just kept repeating what Maria had said, over and over. What on earth was she so hot and bothered about, anyway?
Why were they buried in our backyard in a cigar tin? What really bothered me was the fact that she wanted me to get Andy to stop digging altogether. Because that could only mean one thing: There was something even more incriminating back there.
Like a body. But one thing I did know: No freaking way. Andy looked surprised, but not enough actually to ask me what I was up to. He was too busy yelling at Dopey for shoveling in the wrong place. Nor did I mind, particularly. No 72 more lying on the floor in front of the TV for him. Jack was in his swimsuit and ready to go. I have never seen him so happy.
You know, he really is the most remarkably sensitive person. Such an imagination, too. Has he mentioned this to you?
We must have had thirty different doctors look at him, and no one—no one—seemed able to get through to him. Then you came along, and. Jack was like a different kid.
There was no denying that. The things that had once frightened Jack—basically, everything—no longer seemed to bother him in the least. From Jack.
Maybe I should be a teacher, or a child psychologist, or something. He said that was him, and introduced himself as Dr. Clive Clemmings, Ph. So I told Dr. And he freaked out.
I mean it. He freaked out. He was so excited, he told the old lady at the reception desk to hold his calls she looked up, astonished, from the romance novel she was reading; it was clear that Dr. Where I nearly had a coronary. The painter had done, I realized, an extraordinarily good job. Quite the jewel in the crown of our collection, that painting. Rescued it from being sold at a garage sale by one of her grandchildren, can you imagine?
Down on his luck, poor old fellow. Disgraceful, when you think about it. None of the Diegos ever amounted to much, however. You know what they say about bad blood. Clive had opened the cigar tin and, using some special tweezery-looking things, unfolded 76 the first letter.
He had to be, if I guessed, in his thirties or so— despite the very wide spot of bare scalp along the top of his head—and though by no means attractive, he did not look so utterly repulsive just then as he had before. A look of total astonishment, which certainly does not become many, did wonders for him. So we waited. Jack was very good while we did so. When Dr. Jack was pretty bored by that time, so he elected to go back out into the 77 main room to play with the stereo viewer some more. Only I donned the gloves.
But was I glad I did. Because what Clive Clemmings let me touch when I had them on was everything the historical society had collected over the years that had anything whatsoever to do with Maria de Silva. Which was, let me tell you, quite a lot.
But the things in the collection that most interested me were a tiny painting—a miniature, Clive Clemmings said it was called—of Jesse or Hector de Silva, as Dr. The miniature was perfect, like a little photograph. People could really paint back in those days, I guess. It was totally Jesse.
It captured him perfectly. But on Jesse, of course, it looked great. The letters were almost better than the painting, though, in a way.
It turns out he had five of them. Sisters, I mean. All younger, ranging in age, the year Jesse died, from sixteen to six. But had he ever mentioned this to me before? Oh, please. There was also some stuff about local politics and how hard it was to keep good ranch hands on the job what with the gold rush on and all of them hurrying off to stake claims.
The thing was, the way Jesse wrote, you could practically hear him saying all this stuff. It was 79 all very friendly and chatty and nice. And nothing was spelled wrong, either. De Silvas, I mean. It would be lovely to have them as guest speakers. As a historian— and especially a Ph.
The de Silva family unfortunately ran very strongly to daughters. But I was peeved. It was only then that I realized what I had said. Clive, sexist thing that he was, assumed that that was my name, too. My grandfather was extremely interested in the history of his community, but he was not an educated man, like me.
He did not possess even a B. It has always been my belief—not to mention that of most local historians, with the sole exception of my grandfather—that young Mr. If I could have got them past the lenses of those goobery glasses, that is. Go away without a word to his family? To his little sisters, whom he clearly loved, and about whom he wrote so affectionately?
Do you really think that the reason these letters turned up in my backyard is because he buried them there? I supposed I was getting a little hysterical over the whole thing. Which was actually pretty strange, because I am not a crier. I mean, yeah, sure, I cry when I 83 bang my head on one of the kitchen cabinet doors or see one of those drippy Kodak commercials or whatever. But there I was, sitting in the office of Dr.
Good going, Suze. Real professional. Way to show Jack how to mediate. Jesse— I mean Hector—would never do something like that. It was maddening.
Crying in front of this clown. Not very dignified, I guess, considering that the last thing Dr. But I got the point across. I think. Of course, in the end, it turned out not to matter. But at the time, I had no way of knowing that. And neither, unfortunately, did poor Dr. And I swear I hardly ever do it. I guess, though, that the stress of being assaulted in the dead of night by the knife-wielding exgirlfriend of the guy I love, finally got to me.
Not that anybody had missed us, we discovered when we got there. Hurry and change for dinner, will you? Thank you, Susan, and see you in the morning. After my unexpectedly traumatic afternoon, I did not think I could handle a confrontation with Mr. Tennis Whites. But my relief turned out to be precipitous. As I was sitting in the front seat of the Land Rover, waiting for Sleepy to tear himself away from Caitlin, who seemed to have something terribly urgent to discuss with him just as we were leaving, someone tapped on my rolled-up window.
I looked around, and there was Paul, wearing a tie, of all things, and a dark blue sports jacket. I pushed the button that rolled the window down. He was smiling pleasantly. He really was, I had to admit, good-looking. Kelly Prescott would have eaten him up with a spoon. All right?
Jesse is dead. I have plans tomorrow night, too. I just could not drum up the slightest bit of interest. But I guess that was a pretty big mistake. I guess Mr. Because he went, no longer smiling pleasantly— or at all, actually: Then I remembered the shuttle bus, and the historical society, and the beach.
I almost burst out laughing. Did he really think I was going to care if Caitlin issued me a reprimand? I let go of the button. I mean, I just wanted him to go away, not get maimed for life. It was like something out of a TV show.
Not on the WB, though, or even Fox. It was totally PAX. Where the hell was Sleepy? Come on, already. Get me out of here. Dead people? You really believe that? You really believe my brother can see—can speak to—the dead?
I glanced 90 over at Sleepy. Caitlin was smiling up at him and shaking her blond Jennifer Aniston mane all over the place. Oh my God, enough with the flirting already. Just ask him out and get it over with so I can go.
I mean, what did Paul Slater know about anything, anyway? You might even learn a thing or two from him, Paul. At least he has an open mind. That you believe in ghosts?
What about you, Paul? Not caring if I severed his hand, I hit the window button. Paul pulled his fingers out just in time. Why are boys so difficult? And the problem is, they are just going to keep on doing it, as long as stupid girls like Kelly Prescott keep agreeing to go out with them anyway, in spite of their defects.
I sulked all the way home. Even Sleepy noticed. I had only mentioned it because I was feeling so down in the dumps. You really will? Originally he was saving up for a Camaro. You know, smart and all. I sort of like someone else. Anyone I know?
Between 93 the pizza gig and school, I know most everybody. Is he some kind of gangbanger? Sleepy has been convinced since almost the day we first met that I am in a gang. As if gang members wear Stila. I am so sure. Just forget we had this conversation. See what I mean? See why things will never, ever work out between me and Jesse?
I have just got to learn to keep my mouth shut, same as Jack. That was because Andy was waist-deep in the hole he and Dopey had made in the backyard. I went out and looked at it 94 for a while, chewing on my thumbnail.
It was very creepy, looking into that hole. Almost as creepy as the prospect of going to bed in a few hours, knowing that Maria was probably going to show up again. It was around then that the phone rang.
It was my friend CeeCee, wanting to know if I cared to join her and Adam McTavish at the Coffee Clutch to drink iced tea and talk bad about everyone we know. CeeCee was doing a summer internship at the Carmel Pine Cone the name of the local newspaper; can you imagine? But whatever. It was better than standing around at home, looking at a giant hole. I hurried upstairs and slipped out of my uniform and into one of the cute J.
I felt totally guilty for having read his letters, even though at the same time I was glad I had done it, because knowing about his sisters and his problems on the ranch and all made me feel closer to him in a way. But he never wants to talk about himself. Instead, he always wants to talk about things like the rise of the Third Reich and how could we as a country have possibly sat around and let six million Jews get gassed before doing anything about it?
You know. Things like that. For instance, had he found living with five girls as trying as I find living with three boys?
I would imagine probably not, given the reverse toilet seat situation. Did they even have toilets back then? Or did they just go in those nasty outhouses, like on Little House on the Prairie?
God, no wonder Maria was in such a bad mood. Well, that and the whole being dead thing. Anyway, Mom and Andy let me go out to eat with my friends because there was nothing for dinner anyway. He was the only one of my stepbrothers who did not enrage me on any sort of regular basis.
So does CeeCee, who has been in love with Adam since, like, forever. I have to say, it was kind of nice listening to someone else complain for a while.
See how this relationship is never going to work? I mean, why should I be victimized in my own bed? No reason. No reason at all. I did not have to put up with that kind of nonsense. Well, sort of scary nonsense, but still nonsense, all the same. So when I turned out the light that night, it was with a definite sense of satisfaction. I was, I felt, well protected from anything Maria might pull.
Furthermore, I had Max the dog with me.
He would, I knew, awaken me as soon as anything otherworldly showed up, being extremely sensitive to such things.
I know. Cowardly in the extreme. Well, except for the whole not- 99 doing-a-thing-she-said thing. I guess that was sort of indicative of looking for a fight. But not, you know, actively. Because of Jesse. But this. This was different. But since I had pulled him into bed with me not that there was a lot of room, what with the ax and the hammer and the spiky thing I could feel the growl reverberating through his big canine chest.
And I swung the spiky thing as I hard as I could. Max went wild with whining and growling. The poor thing was clearly having some sort of doggie nervous breakdown. As I did so, Jesse took the spiky thing from me and looked down at it curiously. I was wondering. Except, of course, when he finds me sucking face with strange boys in the driveway, that is.
I shoved it back down beneath the covers. He leaned the pick against the side of the bed and folded his arms across his chest. He was really mad now.
Fed up, even, you might say. Last night I could swear I felt. And then tonight you are sleeping in here, with picks and axes? And why? It was incredible. Instead, he just started laughing. I mean, after everything I had gone through for him in the past twenty-four hours, you would think he would show a bit more gratitude than to sit there and laugh.
Especially when my life might very well be in mortal peril. Or look at him. Very mature, I know, but I was peeved. I felt like punching him. I really did. Sit up. Turn around. I was really mad. I mean, you would have been, too. That Maria was one scary individual. Well, a hundred and fifty years ago, anyway.
Had he even known her? What had he been thinking, anyway? Ha ha, you could say. That mediator is so funny. Yeah, the part about the letters and the historical society and the hole and all. Exactly the way he did. So that knife she held to my throat last night, that must have been an imaginary knife. And I must have imagined it when she threatened to kill me, too.
Or even smiling. With a knife? Not just yet. This was, I must say, extremely gratifying. He was scared. Scared for me. I could totally get used to this. Okay, that word I understood. Well, sort of. He kissed the top of my head. This was good. This was very good. I decided to go in for the kill. This one did not have the desired effect. If they find your body, that proves you were murdered, and that means Colonel Clemmings was right.
His theory of why you disappeared is not that you got cold feet about marrying Maria and went off to San Francisco to stake a claim, but that that Diego guy killed you so he could marry Maria himself. And if they find your body, Jesse, that will prove you were murdered. And the most likely suspects are, of course, Maria and that Diego dude. About Diego? When were we going to get to the kissing? My Monterey, by Colonel Harold Clemmings. When I first got here.
Last January. Not for sure. You know? From here. The mystery of what happened to you. Once your body is found, though, that mystery will be solved. I got out the L and then the O just seemed to follow. But at the last minute I was able to save it. That was a close one. Because one thing I know for sure about guys, along with their inability to use a glass and lower the toilet seat and refill ice trays once they are empty: They really cannot handle the L word.
And you have to figure this is true of all guys, even guys who were born a hundred and fifty years ago. And I guess my not using the L word paid off, since Jesse reached out and touched my cheek with his fingertips—just like he had done that day in the hospital. I think I know what I am talking about. And I can assure you, this mystery about my death you speak of. I mean, I know. When they find your body out there, that is it. He reached up and cupped the side of my face with one hand.
Although the romantic effect was somewhat ruined by the fact that he was half laughing at me. To give him credit, though, he looked as if he were trying just as hard not to laugh as I was trying not to cry. What could I do, though? I had no choice but to be brave about it. What kind of fool would I seem then? You promise?
Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, lace-trimmed thing I recognized. Now he used it to wipe my tears. But just a little. In the end, he persuaded me to come back to my own bed. He just called her Maria. Is there ever a right moment to ask someone why they were going to marry the person who had had them killed?
Probably not. True, he had been dead a lot longer than she had, so he had had a little more practice at the whole ghost thing. The longer someone has been a ghost, the more powerful they tend to be. Unless, of course, like Maria, they happened to be filled with rage. But Jesse and I had, together, fought ghosts every bit as angry as Maria, and won.
We would win this time, too, I knew, so long as we stuck together. It was definitely strange going to bed knowing someone was going to be sitting there, watching me sleep.
I suppose eventually I must have fallen asleep, since when I opened my eyes again it was morning, and Jesse was still there. He had finished A Thousand Years and had moved on to a book from one of my shelves called Bridges of Madison County, which he seemed to find excruciatingly amusing, although he was trying not to laugh loud enough to wake me.
God, how embarrassing. I got my first inkling of this when I opened the refrigerator and pulled out the brand-new carton of orange juice someone had bought to replace the one finished off by Dopey and Sleepy the day before. I had just opened it when Dopey stomped in, snatched the carton from me, and lifted it to his lips. Hundreds of bugs. Thousands of bugs. Live bugs, wriggling and crawling and falling from his open mouth. Dopey realized what was happening about a split second after I did.
He threw the carton down and ran to the sink, spitting out as many of the black beetles that had fallen into his mouth as he could. Meanwhile, they were still swarming over the sides of the carton onto the floor. Next to poison oak, it is one of the main reasons I spend so little time in the great outdoors.
I mean, I do not mind the odd ant drowning in a pool or a butterfly landing on my shoulder, but show me a mosquito or, God forbid, a cockroach, and I am out the door. Still, despite my near crippling fear of anything smaller than a peanut, I picked up that carton and poured its contents down the sink, then, quicker than you can say Raid, flicked on the disposal. They just stood there staring at the hundreds of black beetles that had escaped death by the kitchen drain and were scurrying around the terra-cotta tiles.
When we were through, only a couple ended up getting away, the ones that had the sense to make for the crack beneath the fridge, and one or two that made it all the way to the open sliding glass doors to the deck. It had been arduous, disgusting work, and we all stood around panting. A poltergeist had been at work. You should see my mother. We are neither of us what you would call nature lovers. We threw ourselves into our work, scrubbing and scouring bug guts off the tile, while I made subtle suggestions that we order in for all our meals, not just supper, for the time being.
I highly doubt he would have understood what I was talking about. Must be nice to have that luxury. When Sleepy and I finally got to work, it appeared briefly that things were looking up, since we did not even get in trouble for being late. This was, of course, on account of Sleepy having Caitlin so firmly in his thrall. So you see, there are some advantages to having stepbrothers.
There did not even seem to have been a complaint from the Slaters about my having taken Jack off hotel property without their permission, since I was told to go straight to their suite. This, I thought to myself as I made my way down the thickly carpeted hotel corridors to their rooms, really is too good to be true, and just goes to show that behind every cloud is a slice of clear blue sky. When it swung open, however, to reveal not just Jack, but both Slater brothers dressed in swimwear, I began to have my doubts.
Jack pounced on me like a kitten on a ball of yarn. He wants to spend the whole day with us. He had on long baggy swim trunks proving that it could have been worse: He could have been wearing one of those micro Speedos and a towel wrapped around his neck and nothing else, except a smirk. Slater scooted past us in their golf clothes. Okay, I said to myself. I can handle this. I mean, despite the fact that every once in a while I thought I felt one crawling on me and jumped, only to find it was just my own hair or whatever, I had recovered pretty well.
Far better, probably, than Dopey ever would. So I could certainly handle having Paul Slater around all day bugging me. Um, I mean bothering me. No problem. Except that it was a problem. What could I do? Which was frustrating to him, of course, but what else was I supposed to do? Why on earth would I tell Paul? Fortunately, after the first six or seven times Jack tried to mention anything mediator-related and I ignored him, he seemed to get the message and shut up.
It helped that the pool had gotten very crowded with other little kids and their parents and sitters, so he had plenty to distract him. Especially since I had the feeling that Paul, unlike Sleepy, up in his chair, was wide awake behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses. All in all, I would say the morning turned out pretty wretchedly, considering. I figured that, after lunch, the day could only get better. Was I ever wrong. After lunch was when the cops showed up.
Not because I hang out with gangbangers, as Sleepy likes to think, but because in mediating, one often is forced to, well, bend the law a little. Anyone can see how something like that, which is really for the greater good in the vast scheme of things, might be misinterpreted by local law enforcement as a crime.
However, with the exception of that unfortunate incident that had landed me in the hospital some months prior, I had not done anything lately, that I could think of, that could even remotely be construed as unlawful. So it was with some curiosity, but little trepidation, that I followed the officers—Knightley and Jones—out of the pool area and behind the Pool House Grill, near the Dumpsters, the closest area where, I suppose, the officers felt we could be assured total privacy for our little chat.
Clive Clemmings? The last thing I had expected Officer Knightley to mention was Dr. Stupid, I know, but Paul had really rattled me with that one. Clemmings—all right? I settled for sinking down onto the curb. My mind was racing. Clive Clemmings dead?
You know, the whole part about Jesse having been murdered after all. What was going on? Clemmings was found this morning, it was also discovered than an item of particular value to the historical society was missing. Something you apparently looked at, with Dr. Clemmings, just yesterday.
They were gone. They had to be.
She had come and taken them, and Clive Clemmings had caught a glimpse of her somehow and had had a heart attack from the shock of seeing the woman in the portrait behind his desk walking around his office.
The receptionist, Mrs. Lampbert, says Dr. Clemmings told her you were particularly interested in it. But who would have taken that? I mean, when I left, Mr. Clemmings was putting it away. Before they could say anything more, however, someone came around the corner of the Pool House. It was Paul Slater. I looked up at the police officers.
I am not normally so docile, but I have to tell you, I was in shock. Or rat me out to my boss, anyway? So what? So what does that make me? I mean, the guy asked me if I wanted to go with him for a burger after I dumped his brother back off with his parents at five, and I said yes.
What did I have to look forward to at home, huh? Certainly not any hope of dinner. Spider fricassee? I mean, yeah, he had been kind of stalkerish the day before, but he more than made up for it with the whole rescuing-me-fromthe-police thing. Not one. When I said I wanted to go home, he said no problem, and took me home. I swear, one thing I am getting with my summer job money is a cell phone.
I jumped out of the car and ran up to where I saw all the people standing. But, like I said, someone stopped me. It turned out to be Andy, looking extremely dirty and sweaty and unlike his normal self. Nothing for you to see there. It was like I was in a tunnel, and all I could see was this bright pinprick of light at the end of it.
On the stretcher was a black body bag like the kind you always see on TV. My shovel went right through his skull. It cracked like it was an egg or something.
My tunnel vision came right back, but not soon enough to miss something that tumbled from the stretcher as it went past me. My gaze locked on it and followed it as it fluttered to the ground, landing very near my feet. It was only a deeply stained and extremely threadbare piece of material, no bigger than my hand. A rag, it looked like, though you could see that at one time it had had lace around its edges. Little bits of lace still clung to it like burrs, especially around the corner where, very faintly, you could read three embroidered initials: It was the handkerchief Jesse had used last night to dry my tears.
Only it was the real handkerchief, frayed and brown with age. Needless to say, no one except my mother was very sympathetic about this. Dopey declared it the most disgusting thing he had ever seen.
My mother insisted on putting me to bed, even though having her in my room just then was about the last thing I wanted.
I would have liked to have discussed this disturbing sight with him, but how could I do that with my mother there? Then she insisted on combing my hair out, like she used to when I was a little kid. She wanted to talk, too, of course. She said the police would insist on treating it as a homicide until the coroner had determined how long the body had been there, but since, she went on, the fellow still had his spurs on spurs!
She tried to make me feel better. But how could she? I had never blabbed to her about my secret talent.
And that a few hours before that, he had kissed me—albeit on the top of my head, but still. Finally, finally she left.