The Lighthouse: Berkley Street Series Book 2
The Lighthouse: Berkley Street Series Book 2
The Lighthouse: Berkley Street Series Book 2

The Lighthouse: Berkley Street Series Book 2

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Sunny skies, murderous spirits...

Retired Marine Shane Ryan is a ghost hunter whose troubled past haunts him almost as much as the ghosts he encounters in the line of duty. He’s the best. And his reward for excellence? The punishment of being in high demand for jobs to eradicate the worst kind of ghosts – the kind that kill.

His latest assignment is an idyllic island setting with sunny skies, crystal blue ocean and a venerable old lighthouse that makes the scenery picture perfect … except for the malevolent, murderous ghosts marring the living portrait. If Amy, the owner, wasn’t Marie Lafontaine’s cousin, Shane would have steered clear of Squirrel Island and its diabolical dead. But Detective Lafontaine is his do-or-die friend. He’d do anything for her. Even face Dorothy, the undead Evilena who kills anyone invading her unholy domain. Add two shipwrecked couples to the mix and Shane has more trouble than he wants to handle.

Shane’s mission is clear: rid the island of Dorothy and her band of undead while keeping his new charges alive. But how could he know that staying alive meant facing the worst evil ever imagined?

227 pages


Chapter 1: Squirrel Island

The dawn was breathtakingly beautiful, and for that Mike Puller was extremely thankful. The strong, powerful scent of the Atlantic was heavy in his nose as the waves pounded against the boulders of Squirrel Island. Behind him, the Lighthouse stood tall and majestic. The keeper’s house, which was painted the same stark white as the lighthouse, was empty.

Waiting. Mike thought, shuddering. Waiting for me.

He reached his hand into the breast pocket of his work shirt and removed the letter he had written. The short note was tucked into an envelope, which in turn was sealed in a pair of Ziploc sandwich bags.

For a moment, Mike held the letter, the plastic cool and thin beneath his fingers. Finally, he sighed, put the letter on the pier beside him, and put a large stone on the bag. The light gray of the rock contrasted sharply with the dark wood of the pier. The construction was new, not yet weathered by Atlantic storms or the Nor’easters which come down from Canada. A light wind came in from the east, but not enough to do more than flutter the loose edge of the sandwich bag.

Mike got to his feet and quickly undressed. The early June air was surprisingly warm. He folded each item of clothing as he took it off and soon he had a neat, tidy pile beside the gray stone.

He climbed down from the pier, stepped onto a large boulder, and then strode into the piercing cold of the ocean. Instantly he shivered, his body attempting to rebel against the sudden change of temperature. His flesh seemed to crawl and pucker simultaneously. At first, his legs refused to move, his hands gripping at the stones. Each and every muscle urged him to step back towards the lighthouse. Self-preservation screamed at him to get out of the Atlantic.

Mike ignored it, and overrode the need to live.

He couldn’t stay on Squirrel Island.

No, Mike thought, stepping further out. She made that perfectly clear.

His foot slipped, and he plunged down into a crevice. For a moment, he struggled to free himself, the surface of the water only inches from his head. A wave rolled in, pushed him back, and Mike relaxed.

It’s easy, he told himself.

Michael Patrick Puller opened his mouth and inhaled.

Chapter 2: Going for a Ride

Marie Lafontaine held on tightly to the side of the boat.

Jesus, am I going to be sick? she wondered.

Amy glanced over at her and asked, “You doing alright, Marie?”

Marie hesitated, then nodded. “You didn’t say the waves were going to be this rough.”

Amy shook her head, grinning. “This is called a ‘calm sea,’ my friend. You should see it when it’s rough.”

“There’s a reason why I live in a city, Amy,” Marie said, trying to keep focused on the lighthouse which drew rapidly nearer. “So, what made you decide to purchase a lighthouse?”

“I bought the island,” Amy said. “I wanted a little peace and quiet plus the price couldn’t be beat.”

“How much did you pay?” Marie asked.

“A dollar,” Amy answered smugly.

“What?”

“One United States dollar,” Amy said.

“Wow,” Marie said.

“Not really,” Amy replied. “The Squirrel Island lighthouse is on the national registry of historic buildings.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means,” Amy said, “there are certain things I can do and certain things I cannot. Also, part of the purchase contract requires me to bring the lighthouse up to code, maintain it, and ensure its survival.”

“Oh,” Marie responded.

Amy nodded, guiding the boat toward the pier which extended from the island. “I hired a contractor to live out here for the first couple of weeks. He and I both agreed it would be easier for him to do the repairs that way. I haven’t heard from him in a few days, and I want to make sure he hasn’t taken off with all of the supplies and equipment. Plus, I wanted to show my cousin the lighthouse.

“You know,” Amy said, glancing at her and winking, “do a little bit of the whole, look at what I’ve got and you don’t.”

“Real nice,” Marie said, shaking her head. “I thought we were done with one-upping each other in high school.”

“No, not at all,” Amy said with a laugh. “You might have been, but I wasn’t.”

“So this is your way of saying you’ve won because you’ve got the most stuff?” Marie asked.

“Exactly,” Amy said sweetly.

“Thanks,” Marie said, grinning. “You’re such a good cousin. I’m happy you’ve got your own little island, literally, but I wish it wasn’t so far from the shore. Or have to ride in a boat to get there.”

“Stay put,” Amy said, laughing. “Let me get the boat secured.”

Marie watched, impressed as Amy brought the small vessel in, side-bumping against the pier gently.

“Amy,” Marie said, straightening up. “Are those clothes?”

Her cousin looked away from the pier’s edge. “Yeah. That’s strange.”

The clothing was folded neatly, stacked beside a bowling ball sized stone. A plastic bag of some sort was under the rock.

Suicide, Marie thought instantly. She had seen how suicide victims often left their clothes. Orderly piles. One last effort from a confused mind to organize something and make sense of some small part of the world.

“Amy,” Marie said.

The tone of Marie’s voice caused Amy’s eyes to widen in surprise. “What?”

“Once you get this boat tied up, I want you to stay in it, okay?” Marie asked.

“Why?”

“Please,” Marie said, “this is the cop talking now. Something bad has happened here, and I don’t want you to be the first one to see it.”

Amy nodded. She threw a loop of thick rope around a piling, pulled the slipknot tight and turned the engine off completely. With the absence of the diesel’s rumbling, the sound of the Atlantic filled Marie’s ears. Her queasy stomach was forgotten as she grabbed hold of the pier and climbed out of the boat.

Her legs quivered for a moment, her head spun, and she slowly looked up and down the length of the pier. On the island, the lighthouse stood tall. A small house, which was attached to it, had closed shutters over the windows and a faded blue door.

Marie walked to the pile of clothing and squatted down.

Work boots, Marie thought. Blue jeans. Socks. Boxer briefs. T-shirt. Sweatshirt. Note.

She reached out, carefully tilted the stone back and slipped the Ziploc bag out from under it. There were two bags, and then an envelope.

‘Ms. Amy Kahlil.’

“Marie,” Amy called. “What’s going on?”

“Hold on,” Marie said. She opened the bags, slipped out the envelope and broke the seal on it. Inside was a single piece of white notebook paper.

Dear Ms. Amy,
I’m sorry. She doesn’t want me here. She won’t let me stay. I have to leave. She won’t let me call. She won’t let me stay.
She won’t let me stay.
Mike Puller

Marie put the letter back in the envelope and stood up. She looked around the pier and then stopped. A flash of white caught her eye, and she turned to the left. A wave rolled in, slapped the stones loudly, white foam breaking apart. She stepped closer to the edge and peered down.

Only a few inches beneath the surface of the water was a body. His arms were outspread, and he was naked and covered in thousands of minute crabs. The creatures crawled over him, pulled off tiny pieces of flesh and devoured them, fighting one another as they did so.

Marie’s stomach churned, and she closed her eyes. She had regained her composure before she called out, “Amy.”

“Yeah?”

“Call 911, please,” Marie said, opening her eyes and turning away from the body.

“Why?” Amy asked, a hint of panic in her voice. “What’s wrong?”

“Your handyman killed himself,” Marie said bluntly, walking over to her cousin.

Amy’s eyes widened, and her face paled. “I can’t call,” Amy whispered. “Mike and I communicated through emails; for some reason, there’s no cell reception out here.”

Marie frowned. “Alright. Head back to shore, get a hold of the police. Tell them there’s been a suicide and that I’m here. Make sure you tell them I’m a detective with the Nashua police department. Got it?”

Amy nodded. “Should we do anything?”

“Nothing to do,” Marie said.

“Shouldn’t you come back with me?” Amy asked. “I mean, if he’s dead, why do you have to stay here?”

“Because I don’t want anyone else to show up,” Marie replied. “We don’t need someone to decide they want a look at the lighthouse and find a body. Okay?”

“Yeah,” Amy said. “Okay.”

Marie watched her cousin get the boat ready to go, and then she waved goodbye as Amy backed the boat out and headed back towards the shore.

Once Amy was gone, Marie walked up the pier to a small patch of overgrown grass in front of the closed-up house. There was a fresh lock on the door, and the shutters as well. She walked around the house and found a pile of boards of various sizes beneath a tarp. The windows on the back of the house were shuttered and locked. A tall brick chimney rose up, and a large amount of seasoned firewood was neatly stacked.

A dull-gray metal bulkhead was beside the chimney, and this, too, was secured shut.

It’s like he was trying to keep something or someone from escaping, Marie thought.

She moved on to the lighthouse and found that its door, painted the same as the house’s, was also locked tight. On the far side of the lighthouse, she found a single-person tent. In front of it was a fire pit, a cooler off to the right. A rustling sound came from the interior of the tent and for a moment Marie’s breath caught in her throat. Cautiously she bent down, took hold of the loose flap and pulled it back.

A middle-aged woman sat in the semi-darkness. She wore a plain, soft blue dress. Her hands were neatly folded in her lap, and her salt and pepper hair was pulled back into a loose bun. Her features were fine, gently rounded with age. Crow’s feet spread out from the corners of her light gray eyes as her full lips parted in a smile. Her teeth were slightly yellowed, and a little crooked.

The edges of the woman were fuzzy, and even in the dimness of the tent Marie could almost make out the back fabric of the interior straight through her.

She’s a ghost, Marie thought with cold certainty. The hair on her neck stood on end, and her back was rigid with fear.

“He left,” the woman said.

“He did,” Marie managed to say.

“You should too.”

The woman vanished, and Marie let the tent flap fall noiselessly back into place.

Trust me, Marie thought, hurrying back to the pier. I’ll be leaving here just as soon as I can.

She sat down by Mike Puller’s clothes, avoided the crabs and their feast, and waited impatiently for Amy to return.

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