“Did your father leave any information about its history?”
“Whatever he knew, he took to his grave. Mom hoped it might help stop these nightmares I’ve been having. The Will stated that I receive this when I turn 21, honoring his last wish.”
Laura suppressed a yawn placing the medallion back inside her shawl. The loud rap music wasn’t helping her throbbing head. People started wandering out onto the terrace, staring at her jewelry.
“I know a more private place where we can talk. There’s a small conference room to the left of the bathrooms next to the buffet tables,” he said, motioning her to follow. Her legs felt like lead and her eyes stung from the smoke drifting in from the open windows form the cigarette smokers.
He closed the door to the tiny sitting room, lowering his voice. “Tell me about these nightmares,” he said, motioning her to sit on one of the flowered couches
“I see a castle under siege. The left tower is blown away, and then I hear a baby crying. Everyone is dressed in black. I wake up before I see who’s in the coffin in front of me being lowered into the ground, which has the same rose on this medallion. I must have seen this long ago.”
Dr. Harris nodded, acknowledging what Laura said, adjusting the black patch over his left eye before sipping his glass of punch.
“Anything from the Schubert Home for Girls?” he asked, handing back the medallion.
Laura sighed, rubbing her eyes and shifting her feet. She whispered, “Any records of my adoption were destroyed in the fire. The surviving staff won’t say anything or vanish after talking to me.”
Dr. Harris thought for a moment. “Be careful, Laura. Did you tell anyone about these
“My mother knows. She thinks they’re stress induced. Midterms are coming up.”
He rose. Document everything, but keep it in a safe place.”
Laura nodded to the large back of the retreating, bowlegged pirate. For a man in his early fifties, he moved fast. Dr. Harris was a man of few words, but she trusted him as her mentor, teacher, and advisor. Why had he left so quickly? Her throat felt scratchy, like cotton. She drank three full glasses of red punch, mixed with Canada Dry before it felt good to swallow again.
. Laura jumped at a tap on her shoulder. “Want to dance, Morticia?”
“Move it, Blackbeard.” The excess liquid hit her bladder like a tsunami. She looked around for a bathroom, sighing when she spied a restroom sign near the buffet tables along the wall. Laura rubbed her throbbing temples, longing for a night of uninterrupted sleep. Her eyes burned, and she headed for the restroom to splash cold water on her face. What sounded like a body slamming against the bathroom door convinced her she was not in a party mood. She waited for the commotion to stop before stepping into the hall. Hands grabbed her from behind and yanked her into the shadows.
“If you want to stay alive, keep silent.”
“Who is this person? Why are those men dressed in black?” she thought, to herself frantically. To her shock, the deep male voice, using a sinister tone, whispered in her ear. Her body stiffened. Her heart hammered against her ribcage.
“See those men dressed in black? They’re Cleaners. They ‘clean up’ messes you know-- kill.”
“I’m ex…” she started.
“Lower your voice! Do you want them to hear you?” His tone left no doubt what the Cleaners would do if they heard her.
“Who are you? Where are you taking me? I’m exhausted. I have no time for games!” She whispered back, unsure of whether to be frightened or not. She saw a man’s thin, long fingers as he kissed her left hand, putting his cape around her shoulders.
“Trust me. This is NO game, Princess. I have to get you to a safe place,” he said.
“Don’t call me that. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t know you! Put me down!”
“Sorry, Princess Laura, you’re coming with me,” he said, placing a white handkerchief with chloroform over her mouth and nose. He scooped her limp body into his arms, carrying her into the shadows.
“Laura, Wake up! Dr. Harris is on the phone. It’s urgent.”
The foggy memory of Friday evening’s events returned. How did she get here? She sat up noticing she was still in her costume.
She rubbed her eyes. “What day is it?”
“Sunday evening,” her mother said, smiling. Laura took the phone. What happened to Saturday?
“Could you come to my office? I have some information on your medallion.”
“I need a shower and some food first. I’m starving. I’ve been asleep for the last two
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