Iris was deciding between two particularly good looking boxes of apples at the general store when she sensed it. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she could feel the eyes on her, boring into her back.
She froze, then tried to relax her posture. Whether it was a ghost or a person, someone was clearly watching her right now and she didn’t want to let them know that she knew it.
Iris closed her eyes for a second and focused herself, mentally reaching out into the shop behind her. While it wasn’t a perfect approach, she was pretty confident that there were no spirits here, aside from the wispy souls that occasionally lingered by the windows.
So that meant that this was a human watching her as she shopped.
She slid one of the boxes of apples into her cart, then turned smoothly around as though she was simply heading toward the salad greens display. There were a fair amount of people in the store right now, but nobody stood out as she looked out of the corner of her eye toward the deli. There was Nancy with her usual unpleasant aura, but she was busy serving someone at the counter. Beyond her there were a few people scattered among the seats and a few others also shopping through the tiny aisles.
Iris took a breath. It was okay. Nobody was going to try anything stupid in the general store. But that didn’t mean she’d be safe walking home.
Then, just as suddenly as the feeling had arrived, it was gone. The eyes staring daggers into her seemed to dissipate in the evening air drifting through the open screen door.
Iris let out a slow breath. Nothing had changed. Nobody had entered or left the store. But she felt like something had unwound in her chest, just a little.
Either way, she would probably be better off just letting someone know she was leaving the store to go home. Not Roman. He hadn’t been in touch since Minnie Jensen died three nights ago. And not Dr. Degas. As much as Iris liked her and appreciated having her on the team, it still felt strange to talk casually one on one with the town doctor.
Andrew. He’d be fine. Just a quick call to ask him to chat with her as she walked. That would help things immensely.
Andrew was taking a walk near the house, trying to clear his head. After almost a week, his ankle was almost better, with just the occasional pang as he walked. It was cooler now that the sun was down, almost cold. While he was grateful for the cool air after months of sweltering heat, he almost wished he’d thought to bring a jacket.
“You cold? Here, take mine.”
Noah had been gone four nights now. He hadn’t been in touch, but Olivia said not to expect him to be. He’d be spending a few nights in inpatient detox before he could do anything else. The idea still made Andrew cold inside, but he knew it was a good thing. And he could see the way that the slightest weight had been lifted from Olivia over the past few days. Nothing substantial enough to put his finger on, but there was something a little lighter about her that he was glad to see.
Olivia hadn’t said anything about that morning they’d left beyond the fact that Noah had asked her for help. Andrew was still kicking himself for sleeping through it. But he also reckoned that things could have gone very badly had he been the one to answer the door.
He wondered if Noah had mentioned anything about him.
Doubtful. Obviously. Noah had made his feelings toward Andrew perfectly clear, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t all the alcohol talking. He wished Noah had felt like he could talk to Andrew and at the same time, he was uncomfortably aware that of all of them, he was the last person entitled to wish for any sort of closure with Noah.
Andrew sighed, running a hand through his hair, then carefully shifting it back into place. That was when he felt the eyes.
He couldn’t even say what the feeling was. It wasn’t physical, but it didn’t seem to come entirely from within him either. But he was suddenly uncomfortably aware of something watching him. Before thinking it through, he whipped around in the direction the feeling was coming from.
Nothing. Just the road in the moonlight. As he turned back around, he remembered that he had forgotten to follow Olivia’s advice to bring a torch with him. Thankfully, the one on his mobile phone seemed to suffice.
Even in the glow of the phone, there was nothing. Maybe it had been a deer in the woods or something. Or a coyote. Noah had warned him they were around here. Andrew should probably head home.
After about five minutes of silently walking on high alert, his phone buzzed in his hand and he nearly dropped it. Fumbling to steady his grip on it, he finally caught it and answered. “Hey, Iris.”
“Hi,” Iris said, her voice sounding just a little off. “Hey, listen, this is going to sound weird, but can you stay on the line with me for a few minutes? I just got the weirdest feeling someone was watching me and I don’t want to tempt fate when I’m heading home.”
“Absolutely,” Andrew said.
He was going to miss the torch, but thankfully Olivia’s house was in view now. And he realized in that moment that the feeling of being watched had faded on his end. “Actually,” he said. “I know exactly what you mean. I just had that same feeling walking down the street, right before you called. This isn’t a coincidence, is it?”
“No, I don’t think it is.”