Fate has much in store for Maggie O’Hara as her journey into the paranormal begins with a pink slip. When her father is wrongfully fired from his job she’s determined to right the wrong and takes the drastic measure of visiting her father’s employer, the reclusive Randall Forrest. Her escapades into espionage get her caught, but the consequences are not what she expects.
An alluring night with the young entrepreneur solves one problem and begins another. She can’t seem to get him out of her head. His soft hands. His bright yellow eyes. She longs for everything that is him. Her insatiable lust leads her down a path of the paranormal and into far more trouble than she bargained for.
She ran through the woods. Her bare feet pounded against the hard dirt path. Around her was the silence of the forest that was broken only by her heavy breathing. Her long brown hair flew behind her and her windswept dress slapped at her running legs.
She glanced over her shoulder. A shadow flitted down the path after her. Its yellow eyes promised her dangerous desires she dared not satiate.
Her foot caught on a root. She tumbled onto the ground. The shadow stretched over her. She spun around. A hulking figure stood before her. It leaned down and cupped her cheek in its warm paw. Her pulse quickened. A strong, hot urge enveloped her body. Her tired pants changed to deep, lustful breaths.
The shadow leaned down. Its sweet violet scent washed over her. She closed her eyes and fell into the delicious heat and smell.
A door slammed, jarring Maggie O'Hara awake. She sat up and whipped her head to and fro.
The young woman was seated in her father's favorite brown chair. Its cushion was worn nearly to the springs with age and affection. Around her was their small but clean two-bedroom apartment.
Maggie glanced at the front door to her left. Her father stood beside the entrance. His palm lay on the hollow wood and he hung his head. In his other limp hand he held his aged briefcase, a gift from her deceased mother ten years before.
Her father's slumped shoulders and light grasp on the suitcase warned her to trouble. She rose from the chair. "Dad?"
Robert O'Hara started and spun around. The suitcase cluttered to the floor. His spectacles were askew and his face was pale. "Maggie?" The middle-aged man fumbled with his lenses and set his glasses right. "I-I didn't expect you back so soon." His glasses slipped to one side.
She walked over to him and adjusted his glasses so they stayed straight. "My lab got out at four, but what's wrong? What are you doing home from work so early?"
Her father pursed his lips. "I-there's something I have to tell you." He set his hand on the lower part of her back and led her over to the old dining set. They sat down so they faced each other and he grasped her hands. He stared down at their joined hands rather than at her quizzical eyes. "I. . .I lost my job today."
Maggie's eyes widened. "Your job? How? Why?"
He closed his eyes and shook his head. "It was foolish of my really. I challenged an employee, a man more connected than I, and I lost."
"But nobody knows the finances of the company like you do!" she argued.
Her father sighed. "I know, but this young man is a-well-a-" She frowned.
"A patronizer?" she guessed.
He pursed his lips. "We'll say he's very well connected. I was late with my report and my supervisor took that as an excuse to fire me so he could get my position."
She shook her head. "That can't be the end! You should complain! You should-"
"There's nothing that can be done." He raised his tired eyes to hers. His face was pale as he squeezed her hands. "We must make the best of it."
Maggie pursed her lips and stood, breaking their connection. "You're not feeling well. We should get you to bed."
He ran a hand through his hair and shook his head. "I don't think I can, not with so much this is going to effect. The apartment rent, your college tuition, the phone bills." He groaned and slumped in his chair. "Only a miracle can save us, or Mr. Forrest interceding on my behalf." The old man shook his head and sighed. "But that, too, would be a miracle."
Maggie set her hands on his shoulders and smiled down at him. "We don't need a miracle, Dad. You can just get another job."
He clutched his head in his hands and groaned. "That's the worst of it. My supervisor fired me with prejudice and refused to give me a referral." He raised his head and threw up his arms. "How am I supposed to get a new position with another employer after they've called up my former one?"
Her father's face was white as a sheet and his hands shook. Maggie tugged him out of his chair and towards his room. "Why don't you go rest, and we can think of something to do tomorrow?"
He shuffled along beside her with his head downcast. "Yes, perhaps that would be best. I'm. . .I'm not feeling too well."
Maggie tucked him into bed and didn't leave his side until he had fallen into a fitful sleep. She closed the door to his room and retreated to their small living room. The dreary night outside the dingy windows reflected her mood as Maggie sat down in her father's chair.
Maggie fought back tears as the full weight of her father's firing hit her. She was now the sole provider of their small family, and he and Maggie knew her meager salary as a cafeteria worker at the college wouldn't be enough to cover their expenses, much less her college tuition.
Only a miracle can save us, or Mr. Forrest interceding on my behalf.
The words echoed in her mind. Maggie's eyebrows crashed down and she sat up. She'd make them a miracle before the chance passed them by. She pulled out her phone and searched the internet for an address. His address.
Maggie's search turned up a home address along the old bay road. She jumped to her feet, but paused and glanced at the short hall and her father's closed door.
"I'll be right back, Dad, and with that miracle. . ." she whispered.
Maggie grabbed her coat and the car keys. She hurried to their old red clunker that sat on the curb outside their apartment building, a Volkswagen that saw better days ten years before she was born. The neighborhood was a little dirty, but the people there were the good sort to help out when trouble arose.
Unfortunately, Maggie knew none of them could help her out with this problem. She slipped into the car and drove through the myriad of streets eastward toward the large bay. The night cast the blue waters as black as she bumped onto the old bay road.
Maggie slowed down and flicked on her phone screen. The words on the screen represented an article written in one of the local newspapers about five years ago. She read the pertinent part aloud:
Mr. Randall Forrest has been a recluse these last five years living almost completely alone on his family estates at 666 Bay Road. The gossip around town was he left for his health, and rumors of his premature demise persist. The company denies anything is wrong with him, but insiders have informed this reporter that the man in charge of one of the wealthiest companies in the city has developed a phobia of the outside world and will see know one but a single trusted servant.
Attempts were made to contact him at his residence via phone and personally. All access was denied.
Maggie put down the phone and glanced at the road. The weak headlights of the car revealed a winding road with sparse houses. On her left was a mess of woods that stretched northward. On her right was the infamous bay and the cliffs that led down to the waters. The crash of the waves against the rocks wrecked the otherwise peaceful night.
Maggie counted the house numbers along the road. "560. 562. Five-" She paused and frowned.
Each of the previous house numbers were more or less evenly spaced apart, but where the next house should have been was empty. There was a driveway overgrown with weeds, but no number or mailbox. The same was true for the other parcels leading up to the address she sought. They were all unoccupied.
Maggie shivered. She was alone. There wasn't a light anywhere around her as she navigated a left corner in the road. The road veered away from the bay and a thick forest of trees blocked both the view and the sound of the waves. The limbs and brush of the tall wilderness stretched over the road and snuck onto the shoulders, creating a cave-like effect of darkness that blotted out the twinkling stars.
Maggie gripped the steering wheel tighter. She glued her eyes to the road and the left side. Her heart quickened when her headlights caught on a white plastic stick that stuck up beside the road. It was one of the county address signs. The sign was chipped and the numbering was worn, but she recognized the numbers she needed. 666.
Maggie turned onto the weedy gravel driveway. She was glad to see that though grass grew among the white pebbles the blades were cut to a manageable height by some man-made machine. The brush was cut from the road and the trees that hung over her car were free of dead limbs.
Still, Maggie bumped down the gravel driveway with apprehension. The road was too narrow to turn around, and she wasn't the most proficient driver of backing up. The thick fog from the bay waters didn't help her driving.
That's why she was so glad to see the driveway widen into a circle. Maggie slammed on the brakes and leaned over the wheel. Ahead of her loomed the roof of a large mansion. Its peeked trestles stabbed the dark sky as though in warning of danger. Her eyes wandered down the shingled roof to the faded wood that made up the siding of the attic floor. Thorny vines covered many of the walls, but she glimpsed tall, narrow double-windows with dark lattice.
The rest of the house was obscured by the thick fog, but Maggie noticed a tall iron gate some fifty feet from the turnaround. She stepped out of her car and shivered. The damp sank into her bones as she wrapped her coat close to her and strode up to the gate. The thick wrought-iron was surrounded on either side by a wall of stone eight feet tall and at least a foot thick. The walls stretched disappeared into the foliage on her left and right.
Beyond the gate some two hundred feet stood the house. A gulf of towering willows and frosted grass was all that separated her from her goal. That, and the gate.
Maggie's eyes fell on a dark plate in the stone column on her left. She walked over and realized the plate was an intercom. A single button sat beneath the plate.
Maggie leaned down and pressed on the buzzer. "H-hello?"
A sharp, high-pitched male voice answered her. "What is it?"
Maggie swallowed the lump in her throat. "M-my name is Maggie O'Hara. I need to speak with Mr. Forrest."
"Mr. Forrest sees no one, now leave."
Maggie bit her lower lip. "But I-um, I have an appointment."
The man's voice grew more irritated. "I told you to leave, or I will be forced to call the police on you."
Maggie frowned at the intercom. "Fine, I'm leaving."
The young woman stepped back and swept her eyes over the hateful house. That's when a devious idea hit her. There didn't seem to be any video cameras or other security system measures. Maggie moved back to the intercom and pressed the button.
"Can you hear me now?"
The irritated man answered again. "What are you still doing here? Leave!"
Maggie smiled. "Leaving."
The man's words told her what Maggie wanted to know. He couldn't see her. If the man manning the gate couldn't see her then that meant nobody else would see her.
Or that was the theory.