Darkest Journey (Krewe of Hunters #20)(4)

He started to walk, not holding on to her this time, and she followed. “How did you know I was here?” she asked him. “I mean, you don’t seem the kind to be spending his Friday night hanging out at the graveyard.”

He paused, his back to her.

“Was it the Confederate cavalryman?” she asked softly, not even worrying that if he hadn’t seen the ghost he might think she was nuts. “Did he lead you here? If so, I wish I could thank him.”

He turned then and stared at her. “You saw...a cavalry soldier?”

“I did,” she said.

He studied her intently. Then he nodded slowly. She felt the intensity of his gold-green eyes. He’d heard exactly what she’d said, and he seemed to accept her words at face value.

“Best not to mention such things,” he said simply, and started walking again.

And, once more, she followed. Except that the sobbing she’d heard earlier suddenly echoed in her mind again.

“Come on,” he called back.

“Wait!” she said.


“There was—there was someone there before. By the tree. Give me just a second.”

She hurried over the tree roots, fallen branches and broken headstones that stood between her and the tree in question, hoping he noticed that she didn’t need any help, even in rough terrain.

“There!” She saw something shiny in the grass and sank to her knees—her jeans were already filthy anyway—then parted the weeds and grass to reveal a bracelet. It was gold, with a single gold charm studded with what might have been a diamond or might have been glass.

Suddenly Ethan was there, too, down on his knees beside her, reaching curiously for the bracelet.

She picked it up and handed it to him. “A bracelet,” she murmured, completely unnecessarily.

He looked up at her suddenly, those strange eyes of his intent on her. He flinched, staring at her.

“What? What is it?” she whispered.

He opened his hand. The bracelet lay on his palm, but she saw something else there, as well. Something gleaming and darker than the night.

“What is it?” she repeated.

“Blood,” he said quietly.

Charlie didn’t realize then that, for her, the night, along with the rest of her life, was just beginning.


West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

Ten Years Later

They rose from the earth one by one, spectral shapes that slowly crept to the top of the high bluff where the church had long held dominion over the landscape. If a watcher blinked, they might have seemed like a part of the mist, they were so ethereal. And yet, seen with eyes open and focused, they were clearly real, soldiers rising from their graves, worn, war-weary, dirty, sweaty and exhausted, yet ready to stand and fight for what they believed to be right. Here in this narrow strip of Louisiana between Baton Rouge and Port Hudson, the Civil War had one day come to a halt, and thus the men who rose from the earth wore both tattered butternut and gray or Union blue. They had been good men all, fighting for what they believed to be just when death stopped their fighting, though not forever. They rose together now, for even at a time when the nation had been torn apart in tragic and horrific conflict, they had found moments of peace and friendship.

They were a ghost army, ragged and unearthly, chilling and terrifying shadows of vengeance in the moonlight.

Now they moved slowly in unearthly splendor, spectral shapes, faces hardened, joined together to protect the innocent and destroy evil.

Charlie Moreau kept running forward, through the mist and straight toward the ghostly apparitions. They were no threat to her; it was the men in pursuit behind her who threatened her with fatal danger, those men whom she had to escape. She brushed by the apparitions, feeling a cold mist against her flesh. And then she fell...

She heard screaming from the men pursuing her, who were now being stopped in their tracks by the ghostly Civil War soldiers who had risen in her defense. She rolled over, braced herself on an elbow and looked back, both fear and a glimmer of hope in her eyes.


Brad Thornton, director of the movie, stood and smiled broadly, applauding. “Wonderful! Charlie, you’re the perfect Dakota Ryan. The rest of you guys, you were everything you were supposed to be. All y’all, come on over here. You’ve got to see this footage. It’s fantastic.”

Charlie smiled and called back, “Great!” She was pleased to see how happy Brad was. He’d put everything into this, his heart, his soul and his best fund-raising efforts. Young, earnest—not to mention darkly good-looking—he was extremely professional and had done well in a tough business. Even so, he was still an independent filmmaker, so he needed every break he could get. She was happy to work with him as lead actress on his latest film.

Jimmy Smith, an extra who’d played one of the ghostly soldiers, reached a hand down to her. One of Charlie’s best friends from both high school and the Tulane Department of Theater and Dance, he had a quick grin and shaggy hair, and his smile was warm. “Come on, Charlie. Sounds like this is one scene our mighty captain has decided he’s gotten in one take.”

“I’m kind of muddy—sorry,” she apologized, happy to take his hand. He’d tried to help her on that horrible night long ago when the Cherubs had tied her up in the cemetery. He’d even cried as he’d apologized to her afterward. They’d stayed friends through everything, and she was glad to be working with him now.

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