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Chapter Ten



Jeff was laughing his odd maniacal laugh as he turned and hurried down the other side of the dune.

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Bev was busy licking the butter off of her fingers while she listened to Felicia telling Mike and Olivia another of her hilarious adventures that had happened during spring break while she was at UCWS (How could anyone be so foolish as to take a "dare" that ended with them sitting on the bumper of a garbage truck, anyway?), and trying not to notice the strange banging that could be heard from outside.

Sidney caught her eye, and then stood and walked over to the window, looking out with a worried frown creasing his forehead.

Seeing that her kids were engrossed in Felicia's story, she walked over and joined Sidney at the window. She thought she saw a movement over by the boat shed and, coming to a quick decision, turned and headed for the front door.

When Felicia looked up at her, a quick shake of her hand conveyed her wish to be alone. Sidney, not understanding the hand signal, or else being bullheaded, followed right upon her heels.

"Sidney, it's all right. It is only a short walk, and I will be fine," she told her cousin.

Sidney shrugged, smiling, and said, "I needed a bit of air anyway." Then, laughing loudly, "And if I had to listen to Felicia tell that same story one more time, I would have shot myself!"

Turning and looking at him, she laughed also, thinking about how he had always been her favorite cousin.

Reaching the shed, they were just about to walk around the corner when, from behind them, they heard screams and glass breaking.

Turning in unison, they both sprinted back towards the cottage. Throwing the door open so violently that it banged against the wall, Sidney and Bev burst into the cottage, only to find it empty.

With a terrible trembling in the pit of her stomach, Bev tried not to panic and began to look in all of the rooms in the front, while Sidney looked in the back rooms. After a few minutes of hurried searching, in their haste, they nearly ran into each other in the hallway.

"No luck, huh?" Bev queried. Looking around and seeing the broken dishes and the overturned coffee table, she knew that her sister and kids had not gone voluntarily.

"Come on," Sidney said. "I think that I know where we will find them." Without waiting for a reply, he hurried through the cottage and out into the cool night air.

Rushing, nearly tripping in her haste, Bev follows and, grabbing Sidney's arm, comes to a dead stop, pulling him around so that he has to look at her. "What is it? What is going on? Tell me what you know!" she demands.

Sidney places his hand over her hand that is still shakily grasping his sleeve, and giving her hand a gentle squeeze, pulls it off and holds it between both of his large warm hands. "I am not entirely sure, and until I am, I don't want to say anything. But I truly believe that there is no time to waste right now."

Seeing the sincerity in her cousins eyes, Bev nods and begins to walk, and then run, in the direction that Sidney had been headed.

Reaching a cove, Sidney grabs her hand again, and crouching down, makes for some bushes off to the side of a cave opening. Trying to still the panting of their breath, both listen carefully, but canot hear any sounds coming from within.

Creeping up to the opening, they look in. Bev has to fight down an urge to rush in when she spots her kids, huddled together on the ground beside a small smoking fire. Her sister is just to the side of them, and lying in a motionless heap.

Signaling for silence, Sidney starts forward into the cave. Not seeing anyone else other than her kids and Felicia, Bev drops all caution and runs towards the fire and her kids.

Suddenly a dark shadow rises from the ground and Bev feels a sharp burning sensation in her side. A body hurtles itself against her, knocking her to the ground. Reaching to her side, her fingers getting wet, she feels a cut, though it seems to be very shallow.

Looking up, she can see Sidney and someone else scuffling on the ground, and, with a loud grunt, one of them is now laying still. Not sure as to who is the victor, she watches worriedly as one of the dark shapes rises and starts towards her.

"Are you ok, Bev?" Sidney's familiar voice asks.

Nodding, giddy with relief, she says, "Yes, but I'm not so sure about my sister." As she walks over towards her kids and Felicia, she continues, "Will you tell me now if this is what you had been suspecting?"

With a long sigh that seems to come from the bottom of his soul, roughly running his hand through his tousled hair, Sidney begins his story.

"The reason that I was never quite "loved" like the rest of my brothers was because I was adopted." At Bev's surprised look, Sidney nods and continues. "My dad was Tracy and Spencer's first-born son." He looked over at the heaped body on the ground, "Jeff is their youngest son."

Discovering that Felicia is already awake and listening just as intently as she is, Bev nods and motions for Sidney to continue.

"My parents died in a car crash when I was 3. The brake lines had been cut." Giving another deep sigh, he says, "I had been influencing my adoptive parents to bring me here every summer so that I could investigate into my parents, and also my grand-parents, deaths."

Walking over and nudging the inert body of his uncle with his toe, he continues. "I learned that Uncle Jeff had been committed by the courts, but that my grandparents had run off before he could be locked up. I think that he has been haunting the cottage to run off anyone who thinks to stay there, and then lives there when no one is around."

"I think that he also killed my grand-parents and parents, though perhaps no one will ever be able to prove it. But at least now he can be placed behind locks and not cause any more grief for anyone."

Looking at his cousins, he stands there, with hands half raised and a defeated look upon his face. Both Bev and Felicia run over to Spencer, and wrapping their arms around his shaking body, they reassure him of the rightness of taking his uncle to the proper authorities.

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With a loud banging noise, I slap the last chapter of the manuscript onto the large oak conference table. Wearing a most satisfied grin, and with a gleam in my eyes, I look over at Von and say, "The Galley is going to make us all rich!"

To the sounds of cheering and happy laughter, we begin our grueling weekend of proofing, editing, more proofing, then more editing, and on and on. But hey, that's what it takes to put out a masterful book for the masses to enjoy. Someone has to do the dirty work!

Chapter by Angel™

THE END

Graphics by Sheila

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