At Cookie's Tea Room, the latest teen hangout, Nikki Zenas and her best friend Eden Fane meet Rosie, a genuine Romani gypsy and fortuneteller. But Rosie has more than fortunes to share with Nikki and Eden--she has trouble. The treasure her dead husband left her has disappeared. Then Rosie's handsome grandson, Steven, vanishes, and Cookie's is ransacked and defaced with an ancient Romani symbol. But when Rosie's best friend is murdered--and Rosie herself is poisoned--it's up to Nikki and Eden to find out who's trying to destroy their new friend and why. A visit to the gypsy camp at Fog Hollow and the discovery of a map hidden in a valuable deck of tarot cards point Nikki and Eden in the direction of danger... and a shocking secret that threatens them all!
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
Liz Hill and Anne Wolfe have been collaborating over 2,500 miles for more than ten years. While burning up the phone and data lines between Colorado and New Jersey, they managed to publish young adult mysteries under the pseudonym Hillary Wolfe, including Dead Asleep, the first in their Great Swamp series. The series continues here with Hard Shell titles Web of Death and Raven's Blood. For readers who enjoy a good ghost story, Hard Shell also offers their first young adult mystery, The Newfie Ghost.
Liz Hill has published short stories and feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and trade journals. A native New Yorker, she now lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband. When she's not writing novels or hiking in the Rockies, she works as a technical communicator. Anne Wolfe is the author of WINGS OF LOVE (Bantam Book's Sweet Dreams series), and OVERNIGHT-MARE, and FOREST OF FEAR (Baronet Books' Fright Time series). She works as a technical writer for a large telecommuncations company on the East Coast. A die-hard Jersey girl, she lives in a ranch in the woods with her husband and daughter.
Anne Wolfe is the author of WINGS OF LOVE (Bantam Book's Sweet Dreams series), and OVERNIGHT-MARE, and FOREST OF FEAR (Baronet Books' Fright Time series). She works as a technical writer for a large telecommuncations company on the East Coast. A die-hard Jersey girl, she lives in a ranch in the woods with her husband and daughter.
SPIRO'S NEPHEWS lowered him gently onto the mattress on the ground outside his mobile home in Fog Hollow. Beneath a huge canvas tarp in flickering candlelight. On a dreary April afternoon, Spiro's funeral wake began. According to the Gypsy custom, he was moved outdoors while still alive, so that his spirit could not be trapped in his home when he died.
His grandson appeared beside him, tall, tanned, a face so dark it seemed hard as stone. Spiro remembered Stevan as a child, running beside the wagon, legs pumping to keep up, never seeming to tire. The memory blurred, the boy became two boys, running side by side, and then he could see himself as a boy, running with them.
Spiro focused on Stevan, on the gold earring in his ear, to keep his mind from drifting. Stevan's eighteen years now seemed more like thirty, he looked so tired. He had grown up fast, since the family's trouble began. Spiro coughed and Stevan leaned over him, his black eyes burning with brightness or with tears, perhaps. It was hard to see him well. The boy said something about Rosie, but Spiro could not understand him.
"Come closer," Spiro heard his own voice rasp, losing itself in surrounding chatter. The boy heard and obeyed.
Cupping a bony hand to Stevan's ear, Spiro gathered every last cell of energy in his dying body. His feeble whispers took his breath as if he was shouting, and the secret he had held so long escaped in so many choking gasps. As he told Stevan everything, he could see his grandson's shoulders relax, the urgency in his eyes softening as the tension faded, and then, just once, hardening again for an instant.
Spiro prayed his Death Spirit would come soon. His mind faded quickly to black, and he felt himself swept away on a powerful, receding wave he couldn't resist. As the wave pulled him farther and farther off, he whispered to Rosie in his heart, "Goodbye."
* * *
ENTERING A LUSH suburban cemetery in Madison, New Jersey, the young Gypsy man hurried up the steep hill past a mausoleum. He was present at the wake but hadn't attended the funeral service, and he hadn't intended to come today at all. But his dying grandfather's message had rattled around in his head for several days as he recited it again and again, word by word. The more he analyzed it the more certain he was that his grandfather had left something out, omitted one or two crucial details. The message was now a riddle, not the revelation he'd hoped it would be. And he hurried toward the place where Spiro was laid to rest, desperately hoping the grave itself might solve the puzzle for him. But no.
When he reached his grandfather's burial mound, he stopped short and gasped in horror. The grave's traditional thornbush was gone, torn out of the ground by vandals, no doubt one of the ignorant "gaje." The young man shuddered. Without it, there was nothing to prevent his dead grandfather from coming out. And nothing to protect him from his grandfather's ghost.