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She might have thought it was nothing more than imagination, fired up by all the other accumulated strangenesses of the day, none of them all that big in and of themselves but adding up to a pretty impressive whole.
Might have, if she hadn’t glanced around and if that glance hadn’t struck the wide row of low-set modern windows looking out and very nearly into the windows of the red-brick rectory next door. Might have dismissed it as imagination for certain, if in that instant she hadn’t suffered the strangest, the most discomforting and disorienting sensation. That she was looking through other windows. Very old windows of a small-paned style used in buildings built a hundred years ago. Or more.
The place was like a prayer.
But not exactly that, either.
Forward Architecture, the building that housed it, the one Gran had called ‘that place’ with such loathing, was like a prayer left incomplete. A prayer... many, many prayers... unheard and unanswered.
Shuddering as the flesh along her arms and at the back of her neck prickled, Camille glanced around again.
And what was that... thing... she’d seen?
She hadn’t been in the building three minutes the first time she spotted it, and she’d noticed it several times since, always in places where she wasn’t really looking. It was creepy as hell, whatever it was. Tall and black, almost floating and vaguely female, heavily shrouded as the Muslim women often shrouded themselves, in flowing robes and diaphanous veils.
It hadn’t been an evil thing. Not exactly.
Just creepy as hell.
Just desperate. Or maybe pitiable.
Camille had gotten the strongest, strangest feeling from it. Stronger by far than the usual intuitive things she picked up sometimes in emotionally-charged places or situations.
Her grandmother, the most unromantic and jaded soul Camille had ever known, would scoff at her for sure. Would call her flighty, and foolish, and half a dozen other things if Camille ever found the opportunity or the nerve to say anything to her about the atmosphere inside this place where she wasn’t supposed to be.
But flighty aside and foolish notwithstanding, what Camille had felt--what she still felt--was unquestionably real. It was enough to raise goose bumps on her arms, enough to stand the fine hairs straight up beneath the thin silk of her brand-new blouse.
She just wanted to get up from her desk. And run.
“So.” Ike’s voice dragged her away from her gloomy daydream. “What do you think?”
Snapping out of her trance with a jerk so strong she wondered if he could hear the muscles in her neck creak, Camille went back to what she’d been doing before she’d let herself get carried away. Before she’d started to let her mind wander in all sorts of bizarre directions. Gathering up the papers on her desk quickly and efficiently, she shuffled them into order and didn’t look at him. “What do I think about what?” she asked, then immediately hoped like hell he wasn’t going to tell her. So she wouldn’t have to answer.
There was no way she could look at him. No way she could let him see her eyes and not lose the last little vestiges and shreds of her cool. And it wasn’t just the skin-crawly effect the place had on her, either.
Her problems had as much to do with Ike himself, as much to do with his looming shoulders and dark eyes as it did with creepy shadows and crawling unease. Because he had eyes that could change so easily. That did change, in less than the time it took to draw a breath, from stern and unforgiving to something she strongly suspected was incipient laughter about to boil over.
Laughter, no doubt, at her expense.
“Your first day on the job,” he replied, no trace of laughter lurking in his tone.
She’d come close to quitting a dozen times. For sure, she’d come close to quitting every time she caught a glimpse of that black and drifting nothing at the corners of her vision. And of course there was the man himself to consider. Besides being almost insufferably attractive, Ike Barnett had turned out, incipient laughter and the accompanying gleam in his eyes notwithstanding, to be a too-often pompous know-it-all.
Even if she was fresh out of college, the ink on her Fine Arts degree barely dry, and even if he did have his much-vaunted seven years’ experience in the field, she did know a thing or two. Which he’d absolutely failed to notice.
Camille sighed. Her head was starting to ache. Really, really throb and pound in ways that couldn’t be good... had never been good.
Gran had been right.
Born and raised in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, Kay LeGrand always felt she belonged somewhere else. Following a family vacation to Colorado at the age of ten, she knew that place was the American west. Today, she and her husband live in a condo overlooking the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, from which she draws her inspiration.
A writer from the age when she was first able to hold a pen, Kay wrote for newspapers in high school and college, and ultimately received a degree in journalism and communications. Among the many jobs she’s held, Kay has enjoyed working as a late-night radio disk jockey, a waitress at an amusement park cafeteria, an airborne traffic reporter, and a telephone operator. A second-generation pilot, she worked as a commercial pilot and flight instructor for several years, and is now happily making hotel reservations for several national parks.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 312
Paper Weight (lb): 13.2
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