Darkest Journey (Krewe of Hunters #20)(9)


There it was. Someone had spoken her name again, and her coworkers were still involved in their own searches.

She could have sworn she saw shapes moving in the mist, just as she had seen ghosts, long ago as a terrified teenager tied to a tombstone before being rescued by a young man who also saw the ghosts in the moonlight but was not afraid.

The ghosts hadn’t been out to hurt her. Ironically, Brad’s movie had hit on the truth—or her truth, at least. She and Ethan had never spoken about it, but she knew that the ghost of the cavalry officer had led him to her that night. He’d seen her distress and found help. She’d wondered time and time again if there was a way to help that soldier. Did he want to pass on? Or did he stay to help others?

Or did he stay because he wasn’t alone? There had been others with him, just none she had seen as clearly as she had seen him.

A long time ago now.

She reminded herself that she was supposed to be working. She was the lead actress and a shareholder. And given their budget, she was also looking for costly props.

She straightened and gave herself another mental shake. She was letting the shadows and the moonlight and history infiltrate her mind and strip away all the logic and common sense she had acquired as an adult.

But she could never be here without first remembering her mother, and then that time, before she’d lost her mom, when she’d been tied to that tombstone.

When she’d heard the sobbing. When Ethan had come to save her...

When she’d found the bracelet that had belonged to a murdered girl...

“Hey!” she called, wanting to hear her own voice. “What are we looking for again? A buckle, a knife and a canteen?”

She didn’t need to be afraid. Jennie, George, Mike and Brad were within easy shouting distance. She could see them moving across the ground where the “ghosts” had so recently walked.

“Yeah,” George called back. His voice came from much farther away than the sound of her name had.

“Found the belt buckle,” Mike announced.

“Got the canteen,” George said a moment later.

Charlie walked closer to the outskirts of the church, moving slowly and carefully over the ground, nearing the old outer, unhallowed, graveyard.

“I see something!” she cried, noticing a gleam in the moonlight.

She told herself to forget about the past—and the ghosts of the past.

She was safe now, surrounded by friends, and any ghosts here were helpful ones.

She dropped to her knees, reaching for the shiny metallic object.

“Think I’ve found something,” she called over her shoulder.

At first she wasn’t sure what she was seeing. It was just something shining in the dirt. It wasn’t until she reached for it that she realized that it was a ring. A signet ring.

And it was attached to a finger....

A finger that was attached to a hand, a hand that was protruding from the earth...

Because it was attached to a barely buried body.

It took a few seconds to resonate in her mind, and then...

A dead man. She had found a dead man.

Only then did she begin to scream.

It was happening again.


Ethan Delaney tapped on the partly open door to Jackson Crow’s office, then pushed it wide and walked in.

He’d been with the Krewe a little more than a month. He was still becoming accustomed to working in this office in Northern Virginia, which had its own low-key friendly ways. It wasn’t that he hadn’t been used to camaraderie among agents—he was. He’d been in the New York office for the last several years, and, due to the stress level that went with working in the Big Apple, the agents there often resorted to humor to lighten the tension.

Here, though, office doors were seldom closed, and they were never locked.

Crow was their Special Agent in Charge, directly beneath Special Assistant Director Adam Harrison, who made himself equally available. Adam had helped Crow interview Ethan before inviting him to join the elite unit. They had both treated it like an easy dinner out, but he’d known full well that his answers had been carefully weighed, and that they’d been keeping track of his body language, as well.


He hadn’t really thought about it before, but that was exactly what he felt in his new position. In his customary work in the criminal division, he’d often needed to watch his words carefully. He’d constantly had to come up with explanations for his decisions. He’d read about the Krewe of Hunters and in fact had a good friend who had transferred over before him. Aiden Mahoney had been professional when they’d talked, not lying to him and not trying to hedge, but not saying exactly what the Krewe’s specific rules and responsibilities were, either.

But now that he was here, he’d discovered the rules weren’t written down or formally agreed upon; rather they were assumed and tacitly understood by every member of the Krewe.

He was learning, day by day, to relax completely in this new realm. Here he could be totally honest about what he saw and sensed, things others might consider extrasensory. Truthfully, most solutions were based on logic and physical evidence, but others, the solutions to the crimes the Krewe investigated, included something more.

He had all the right training for his position: Loyola, where he’d studied criminal psychology and forensics; a stint in the military; a master’s degree in forensic sciences from George Washington University; then the FBI Academy. He knew that training helped, but it by no means superseded something he’d been born with, something inherited from one or more of his ancestors, a mixture of Spaniards, Creoles, English, Irish, Italian and, as with so many Louisiana natives, Haitian and Choctaw. He had one living great-grandmother on his mother’s mother’s side who believed in the mysterious ways of true voodoo. He also had a great-grandfather from his mother’s father’s side who loved to teach him Choctaw legends. One great-grandmother on his dad’s side had emigrated from Norway, while one great-grandfather had come over from Scotland and married a woman of Italian descent, all of which meant that the stories Ethan had heard growing up covered a vast array of myth and legend.

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