Excerpt: The Haunting

The Haunting

Excerpt: The Haunting

“She is standing on a verdant green plateau, overlooking a crescent of white sand. Beyond, a huge sun floats on the breast of a sapphire sea. There are rocks below. She cannot see them, but she can hear the beat of the surf as it hurls itself against the shore.

The scene shifts, kaleidoscoping around her with dizzying swiftness. The sun has finished bleeding into the sea. It is late and very dark; the only illumination is from a sickle moon that rides high overhead. Kathryn is standing before an arched white trellis. It is overgrown with roses: she cannot see them, in the darkness, but their perfume surrounds her. Ahead, she sees a delicately curved wrought-iron gate. It is closed but she knows instinctively that it leads deeper into the garden. She is barefoot, and the grass is soft and damp to her toes.

She turns in a tight circle and tries to see beyond the narrow perimeter of pale moonlight that surrounds her, but she can’t. She feels uneasy, as if she is not alone, as if there is someone else here, someone standing just off in the darkness…

“Kat.”

The voice is a whisper, deeper than the night that surrounds her, yet it seems to resonate through her body. She whirls around, her hand to her breast. The wrought-iron gate has opened and a man is coming slowly towards her. She cannot see his face—the moon has fled behind a lacy froth of cloud—but his presence is imposing.

He is tall and broad-shouldered. His hips are narrow, his legs long and muscular. His stride is slow, almost lazy, yet there is something of the predator in it.

Her heart trips crazily, then begins beating wildly in her breast.

She wills herself to take deep, calming breaths.

I am dreaming, Kathryn thinks very clearly. I am not here at all, I am at home, safe in my bed.

“Kat,” he says again.

She steps back quickly but there’s something behind her. A bench. Her legs feel boneless. Wake up, Kathryn tells herself fiercely, come on, come on, wake up!

He is standing inches from her now. He reaches out, touches his hand lightly to her cheek, sliding his fingers along her skin, and she flinches back.

“Who are you?” she says sharply.