Grave Matters: A Night Owls Novel

Read Grave Matters: A Night Owls Novel for Free Online

Book: Read Grave Matters: A Night Owls Novel for Free Online
Authors: Lauren M. Roy
Clearwaters had been buried in. That was on the other side of town. This one had last been used in the colonial days, and while Edgewood’s historical society came by once a month to pull weeds and mow the grass, it was by and large forgotten by the rest of the town’s residents. It got some traffic in the summer, when tourists came through to take gravestone rubbings of the few Revolutionary War soldiers buried here, or when genealogy buffs came seeking out their ancestors’ resting places. Tonight, though, it was empty. Justin announced its lack of lurkers as they stood at the gates; Val’s nose had told her the same a block ago.
    “I thought this counted as consecrated ground,” he said, peering inside dubiously. “Chaz didn’t think the Creeps could follow us to the Clearwaters’ funeral, at least.”
    “If someone’s specifically blessed a patch of ground, sure, but the whole cemetery? They generally don’t. And anything blessed in here has long worn away.”
    Justin got that look on his face, the one that said he was trying to find the diplomatic way to ask a question.
    “Spit it out.”
    “Uh. He’s your Renfield. Shouldn’t he . . . know that sort of thing?”
    “If it were two hundred years ago, maybe. He and I don’t spend a lot of time hanging out in graveyards discussing the rules. Besides,” she said, quirking a grin at him, “has it crossed your mind he might have just been talking out his ass to reassure you? It hadn’t been a good few days for you.” He stood there, gaping and processing that last, as she hopped to the top of the gates and dropped lightly down on the other side. “Come on. Let’s get started.”
    He made the jump easily, only a little bit of scrambling when his confidence faltered toward the top of his arc. Then he was over, and Val guided him deeper within, away from the street.
    They spent nearly an hour among the graves, Val running Justin through the moves Elly’d taught him, only faster. She led him blurring along the faint old walking paths, disappearing with a burst of speed, requiring him to find her by scent and sound alone. They tussled between stones adorned with winged skulls and strange angels, careful not to stagger into any and knock them over: control was as important as speed.
    He got the drop on her, once, barreling into her and sending them both sprawling. When they stopped moving, Justin was on top, his hands forcing Val’s shoulders to the ground. “Ha,” he said, then, “Wait, shit. If I let go on either side . . .”
    “. . . I’ll have an arm free, yeah. That’ll cost you an eye, at least. Do you want to try again?”
    But he was looking away, focused on something behind her head. “Do you see that?”
    She bent her head back as far as it could go, but all she managed to do was tangle more leaves into her unbound hair. “I’d look, but you sort of have me pinned.”
    Over the last month, he’d grown markedly more self-assured, though whether that came from his newfound vampire abilities or Elly’s training, Val wasn’t sure. He walked straighter, moved less timidly.
    One thing he hadn’t lost was the ability to turn crimson at a moment’s notice.
    He clambered off her now, muttering apologies as he offered a hand up. Val took it and let him lead her over to see what he’d spotted.
    They were near the far edge of the cemetery, where only the old cast-iron fence kept the woods from encroaching. The gravestones back here were weathered, some of them little more than stubs sticking out of the earth like uneven baby teeth. Most of the names and dates on these ones had been worn away by three centuries of New England weather. An undisturbed blanket of grass and moss covered the ground.
    Except in one spot, where the earth was freshly turned.
    They approached quietly, even though Val still didn’t smell anyone nearby. No one but she and Justin had been here for hours, at least, but it seemed suddenly disrespectful to tromp over

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