Sometimes evil wears a beautiful face...
After her illness, the quiet backwater of Priory St Michael seemed the ideal place for Stella to recuperate. But in the peaceful little town, something evil is slumbering, waiting for its chance to possess what it desires. When Stella and her husband move into the long-empty apartment, they're unaware of what exists in the cupboard upstairs, the entrance to an evil that will threaten both their lives…
“Where did you get that?” Pattie Davies reached forward and snatched the pendant from Stella’s hand.
“Hang on a minute!” Stella tried to take it back.
Pattie clutched it even tighter in her plump fingers. “It’s mine,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. Around them, a few people murmured. Their comments about Pattie were not complimentary.
Stella glanced up at the clock. 5:10. She looked around the main bar, where a few memers chatted over pints of beer. With well-upholstered chairs and polished wooden tables, the club was where the local townsfolk could meet, enjoy a drink, and share the latest news. But Priory Saint Michael was a typical small town in which everyone knew everyone else’s business and, right now, Stella needed to afford Pattie some privacy. “Shall we go into the back bar?” she asked gently. “I don’t think there’s anyone in there yet.” With any luck they’d have a few minutes to chat in peace before the noisy after-work crowd arrived for their usual pint on the way home.
Pattie nodded and stood. At a slender five eight, Stella was a good six inches taller than the short, rotund woman who was probably, like her, in her early forties.
Paul carried on serving in the main bar. He’d looked surprised at Pattie’s reaction to the pendant, but seemed to have guessed it would be more productive if he left the two women alone to chat.
Stella took a glass of red wine to the back bar and set it in front of Pattie, whose unruly brunette curls fell unheeded into her eyes. She was shredding a tissue, twisting it around her fingers, through which the pendant was intertwined.
Stella sat on the red brocade chair and sipped her gin and tonic, waiting for Pattie to speak.
“When I said this pendant was mine, that wasn’t strictly true. It belonged to my mam.” Pattie’s Welsh accent seemed more pronounced, and she appeared nervous.
“Your mother? How did it get in our upstairs cupboard? Did she lose it here at the club or something?”
Pattie looked up, her cheeks flushed. “I suppose you could say that. Yes, in a way she did really.” A faraway look entered her eyes, as though she was remembering something from long ago.
She untangled her fingers from the disintegrated tissue and put it in her bag, found a clean one, and blew her nose. She took a deep breath.
“You know about Sarah and Bill Asher who used to live here?”
Stella nodded. “He was the steward thirty years ago and she went mad.”
Pattie flinched, and Stella wished she had been a bit more tactful.
“Some people might call it madness, but she was as sane as you and I until…”
Given Pattie’s dubious mental reputation, Stella wondered if that was the best of recommendations. She said nothing, and let Pattie continue.
“Anyway, my mam and Sarah Asher grew up together in the thirties. They were neighbors and had known each other since they were babies, so it was only natural they’d be best friends really. Of course, my mam was always different. She had the Gift, you see. My sister has it too, but it seems to have bypassed me altogether.”
“Second sight. Mam could predict things and sense things around her. She could feel evil as well. She said it had a distinctive taste. Sort of bitter and sour all at the same time.” Pattie shuddered. “I always knew when Mam sensed evil. She would look as if someone had forced her to suck a whole lemon. Her mouth would screw up and her eyes would water.”
“Sounds bizarre.” Stella spoke her thoughts.
Pattie pounced. “You don’t believe me, do you? I suppose this is all a big joke to you, isn’t it? Batty Welshwoman believes in ghosts and demons! Well, you wait. You need to get out of this place. Six months more in that flat and you’ll be begging my sister for her help. Just like Sarah Asher begged my mam all those years ago.”
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