A reporter and her daughter encounter evil in a sleepy New England town.
Leigh Hartley is a reporter whose life is topsy-turvy right now. She’s going through a divorce from her soap opera actor husband, and her daughter, Rory, is difficult to manage. The legacy of Ravencrest seems a godsend to Leigh and she and her daughter move there. Meanwhile, Luke Rawlings, a reporter for the Caulderville Comet, and his editor, Rob Smithers, see a big story in two seemingly unrelated murders of redheaded women. Luke wants a chance to prove it’s the work of a serial killer. He enlists the cooperation of the Police Captain, Lawrence Peck, who assigns him to the case with the Detective in charge, Paul Devlin. Rory finds an old storeroom and comes across a diary. At first she thinks it is Charlotte Barrett’s – then she realizes it is Amy Barrett’s. Drawn to it, Rory takes it to her room with her. As Rory becomes further involved in discovering the history of Amy Barrett, her mother and Paul Devlin grow closer as they investigate the strange killings. A twist of fate leads Leigh to the McClains at about the same time both Rory and Luke uncover the secret of Ravencrest….and the fact they are all bound by blood to the ties of their past.
Alexandra Stoughton sat on the velour couch in her living room. Smiling, she played the tape of the broadcast featuring her and her latest book. The segment on Good Morning America had gone extremely well. Joan Lunden, charming and gracious as always, had conducted the interview.
On the tape, Joan asked her, “So, Ms. Stoughton, since your last appearance here three years ago, you’ve written four chilling horror tales, all of which have enjoyed a lengthy stay on the best seller lists. What’s your secret?”
Alexandra twirled a strand of red hair absently as she watched herself smile back at Joan.
“I really don’t have a secret,” she said. “I suppose if I were to give credit anywhere, it would be that my own hometown is rich in gothic lore that I draw on for my novels.”
“You’re from a small town in Massachusetts, correct?”
“Yes, Coltonville. And, like any other New England town, we have our share of ghosts and goblins. Many of them make appearances in my novels from time to time, I’m afraid.”
Joan smiled again, looking natural.
“It certainly seems as if you’ve hit upon a recipe for success. And your latest book-“ she picked up a copy of the book, turned it over in her hand, opened it and glanced at the jacket flap. “A Step out of Time is, I understand, a tale of possession. It sounds scary.”
Alexandra watched herself shrug casually. Too casual, she thought. I look too cocky, too self-assured. She made a mental note to work on these perceived deficiencies.
“Possession and reincarnation are subjects I find thought provoking. After all, who of us really can’t say as to whether or not we’ve lived before? Reincarnation in particular has always been a favorite topic of mine.”
That frozen smile again! I have to stop doing that, she thought. How does Joan make it look so easy?
“Well, it sounds fascinating-“
As they chatted on, the camera played across the audience. Alexandra leaned forward, eagerly scanning the crowd for their reaction, a feat she’d been unable to do during the actual taping. People are so fascinating, she thought. Her gaze fell on a man seated mid-section and she sat forward, startled. Tall and lean, in his mid-forties, with a shock of thick, unruly dark brown hair, his cold blue eyes peered from behind the thin, wire-rimmed glasses he wore. She fumbled for the remote and froze the frame. There was something familiar about him, something she couldn’t quite grasp. Staring, she tried to place him. At length she rose, crossed to the TV screen, and traced the outline of the man’s face with the edge of her fingernail.
“Well, well,” she said. “It’s you! I almost didn’t recognize you with those glasses. And you’ve done something to your nose, too.”
Marc certainly had some explaining to do! When she’d asked him to accompany her to New York, he’d told her he had to work. Yet, there he was in the audience-she was certain of it, but why the disguise?
“Oh, yes, Marc, my friend,” she said with determination, “You’ve definitely got some explaining to do.”
She abruptly shut off the machine, reached for her coat, and glanced at her watch. He was working nights this week, but with any luck, she might still be able to catch him at home. She hesitated-this probably could wait until tomorrow. But there were other questions about him that bothered her, too, so she wouldn’t delay another minute. Men! You could never count on them.
A sense of unease about him returned, gnawed at her. So far, her fears had been unfounded, but….
Alexandra cut across the wooded lot that ran in back of her condo development. Another time she’d have relished the warm night air softly caressing her skin as the stars shone brilliantly down, but right now she had neither the time nor the inclination to enjoy any of it. All her energy was focused on one purpose.
The shadow loomed in front of her before she knew what was happening. The silken noose was around her throat before she could do more than whimper. The shadow moved swiftly. Alexandra had barely time to let out a gasp before her air was cut off. Stark, raw terror coursed into her as she clawed at the noose and her tormentor with both hands.
Her vain attempt at a struggle didn't appear to bother him. Rather, he regarded it as a challenge. His fingers tightened, his eyes darkened as hers practically bulged from their sockets.
Finally, she slumped and fell to the ground, unconscious.
He stood and looked at her for a long moment. He'd been so certain Alexandra was the one, but he'd been wrong. Now, it appeared he must begin the search anew. And time was running out.
He pulled the silver knife from his pocket and began to slash at the inert form. When he was finished, he pulled a card from his pocket, let it flutter into the rapidly congealing pool of blood beneath her lifeless body. With a last mournful look, he turned and disappeared into the night.