I didn’t normally respond to demands, especially demands by purple-wearing, soothsaying, weirdly-named psychics.
But at this point, I was more worried than peeved by Aurora’s “request” to visit her immediately. On my cell phone just minutes earlier, an on-line newspaper bleeped a headline: “Man found dead on quest to find Hal the Huntsman treasure.” (See last week’s From Dawn to Dusk.)
Was Todd the man found dead? Perhaps Aurora/Dawn truly could “see” the answer.
I raced to her place, not even using the goddess knocker on the door. I just barged in. A shadow skirted past Dawn, who was standing as still as glazed stone. She wore a gossamer lavender veil across her head and around her shoulders like a shawl. Her eyes were deep-sunken. As she pulled out the chair for me, I noticed her trembling hands.
“Who was that?” I asked, ignoring the chair although my heart raced and my knees weakened.
“One who knows the truth and is prepared to share its secrets,” she murmured.
“The truth should not be a secret!” I replied with force. I lowered my voice. “Is Todd dead?”
Dawn nodded her head slightly, and the shadow moved into the orbit of the room’s dim light.
“Todd!” I swung my hand to slap him, half relieved and half enraged, but my hand went through his body as if he were a …..
“GHOST!” I shrieked.
“Not of this world, but not yet of the next,” Dawn confirmed.
I sank into her velvet chair with a quick sob. “Ghost?” I repeated in a small shaky voice.
Dawn clapped her hands in front of my face, twice. “Eve, concentrate. Worry later about your preconceived notions of the afterlife. Todd has given me a message.”
I turned my head toward the apparition. Todd’s body wavered in and out of focus. “Speak,” I said to whatever-it-was.
Dawn tittered. “Ghosts can’t speak,” she said as if everyone knew that. Up until then, I hadn’t even known that ghosts were real. Well, I mean, unreal. But real.
“He’s here to warn you,” Dawn continued. “Todd saw through your lie. He didn’t go to Maine. He found the treasure trail in Colorado.”
I sat as stiff as a corpse and just stared up at the ghost as Dawn continued. “Your uncle was there. He told Todd that the two of you – uncle and niece – were in this treasure hoax together.”
My gaze flew to the floor. Guilty as charged. Unc Hal didn’t want to pay taxes on all of his inheritance, so we came up with the scheme of the treasure hunt. We’d pretend that a hunter disappeared with the chest, leaving my uncle’s fortune $2 million less to be taxed.
A low deep moan suddenly flew through the room. Dawn’s eyes widened.
“Your uncle killed Todd. And now…”
The hairs on my arms stood up and goosebumps raced up and down my spine.
“ . . . and now your uncle is on his way to kill you. Unc Hal wants the truth to remain his secret.”
My heart thumped thumped thumped in my chest. Unc Hal was a wicked old bastard. I believed Todd, or what was left of Todd.
But what to do?
Dawn placed her hands on top of my head. The room settled into quiet. The ghost of Todd disappeared. “At dusk, we escape,” she whispered. “I know a perfect hiding place.”
And for some reason, I trusted her…