Boy meets girl. Obstacles arise. Love conquers all. You know the routine. But sometimes those you trust the most wind up betraying you. . . .
Praise for Haunted
"Spooky and fun . . . If you like American Horror Story, you will love Haunted." Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die
"Remarkable…a twist you'll never see coming." Michelle Gagnon, bestselling author of Don't Look Now
"Carthage does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life." RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"A complex chain of heroics, redemption, and forgiveness strikes the right chord of sincere emotion." School Library Journal
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Arnaud Legacy, Book Two
By Lynn Carthage
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Erika Mailman
All rights reserved.
Enclosed within these pages you shall not discover a comprehensive compendium of all secret societies, since by the very nature of such a convening they wish their actions kept furtive, unheard of. Yet the faltering speech of those who withdraw, their lips compelled to speak despite their urged promise to keep silence unto death, gives us some small glance, as by the light of a candle briefly lit and then gusted out by rogue wind, of the happenings in the caves, caverns, lodging rooms, cellars and hallowed temples of those who have set themselves aside for some earnest task.
— Secret Cabals, Societies & Orders
It's cool to see the look on Phoebe's face. She's looking at Paris with her moss green eyes the way I did a few years ago when my parents took me: dazzled by the buildings she's seen a million times in movies and books. They look even more brilliant in person. The city bustles with beautifully dressed women, smokers hunched over their espressos at tiny outdoor tables — and everywhere the florid language unfurling.
There's the Eiffel Tower, an iron skeleton against the sky; a short walk later and we're approaching the Place de la Concorde, one of several city squares where the guillotine once sat. Phoebe's jumping around, literally, pointing at the Egyptian obelisk that came from Luxor by a boat towed by another boat, its colossal face etched with cartouches and hieroglyphics telling a tale we no longer understand.
"Egypt gave France this obelisk, and France gave us the Statue of Liberty. We should send someone a Mount Rushmore face!" she says. Our first stop this morning had been the miniature Statue of Liberty stationed on its own island in the Seine, like the full-size statue that sits on Liberty Island.
I've never seen her so excited. We make our dash across lanes of traffic to reach the Egyptian antiquity in the center. She's relaxed and carefree, a Phoebe I haven't really seen before. She deserves a trip to Paris after everything she's been through. Her eyes snap from crêpe stand to patisserie, while her long auburn hair falls in waves against her white sweater. It's October, and we're all wearing an extra layer.
"Miles," she says, "Look at the buildings. They look so French!"
I have to laugh. "Apparently they are!" I babble out a quick explanation about how during Napoléon's era, an architect tore down all the cramped medieval houses and built the buildings we see today, with the balconies always at the second and fifth stories.
We've come to Paris with Phoebe's family. Our friend Eleanor's with us, too, and she's trying hard to keep calm. The cars roaring around the circular Place de la Concorde terrify her. Before this trip, she'd never left Grenshire, the small English town we're both from. Phoebe and her family, including her cute toddler sister, Tabby, are from the States. Tabby's currently enjoying Paris from her buggy — what the Americans call a stroller — as her mum negotiates the uneven Parisian traffic.
"Miles, weren't people sad to see their medieval buildings go?" Eleanor asks.
"I don't know," I answer. "Ask one of them."
"Them" being the ghosts that surround us, each intent on their own journey. A few seventeenth-century women wander past with market baskets ... Why do they haunt this square? Bad vegetables?
Others are Revolution-era ghosts. One boy who looks about eight stands sobbing, his hands to his mouth, watching something we can't see: people being beheaded on the scaffold? He turns to run away, and it's clear by his path that he has to push around people who are no longer there. They escaped being haunted by this day somehow, and, in turn, haunting the square. In their coffins they merely rest, as the saying goes, in peace.
But there are others who aren't RIP'ing. I see them in line, holding hands with the people in front of and behind them, their faces twisted. Like the boy, they seem to be watching action on a platform above our heads. The fact that they're lined up makes me think they may be waiting their turn for the guillotine.
Phoebe, Eleanor, and I have trained ourselves not to pay attention — it's too upsetting. We notice and then look away. It's almost like reading a scary book and skimming over certain passages: we're aware they're there but we choose not to read them.
For those who can't see ghosts — like Phoebe's parents — there's nothing here to suggest the bloodshed once indulged in by enraged, breadless peasants. It's a nice municipal court. Just a plaque indicates the place where the guillotine stood, but Phoebe's stepdad Steven is way into his French history and starts to tell us details that make us queasy.
He's the kind of person who isn't embarrassed to pull out a guidebook and read aloud from it. Already on this trip, it's started conversations with strangers who overhear the bits he reads, which I kind of like, but Phoebe always looks like she wants to sink into the pavement.
"Grisly tidbit numéro un," says Steven. "Onlookers at the guillotine would bend to dip their bread in the rivulets of blood that flowed from the machine."
"I scoff," says Phoebe.
"Well, if you don't have peanut butter, let them eat blood," I say.
"Numéro deux," says Steven. "One princess pleaded for her life so tearfully that the crowd began to call for mercy, but they killed her anyway."
"Steven, Tabby doesn't need to hear all this," says Phoebe's mum.
"It goes over her head," he says.
"No pun intended?" I ask. "Anybody?" Phoebe gives me a weak smile.
"You don't know that," Phoebe's mum says. "This is a sensitive child and she's been through a lot already."
"Mom?" asks Tabby. "Blood?"
"See?" hisses her mother.
"Well, let's keep going," says her stepdad, putting the book away into his messenger bag. "The Louvre isn't far."
"Was anybody killed at the Louvre?" murmurs her mother, and I laugh softly. I really like her.
After a brisk walk, we arrive at the Louvre, an ornate blue-roofed former palace that's now a museum. Phoebe's family queues up in the Louvre courtyard near the large glass pyramid to buy tickets for entry. A cluster of male ghosts in breeches and tricorne hats are actually standing in the pyramid. They've gathered in their era's courtyard, which predates the modern sculpture. They appear to be fighting, all roaring and yelling at the same time.
"I don't know if Tabby's going to have the patience for this," warns Phoebe's mum.
"She's doesn't," says Phoebe, "but I do!"
"What's inside?" asks Eleanor. Her pale gray eyes fasten on the pyramid, where one of the men has pulled a knife and the others back away from him. She's dressed formally, like always, in a dark dress with crisp, ironed pleats.
"Some of the most famous art in the world," I say. Her prim-mouth reaction is priceless: she doesn't care. "Don't you want to see the Mona Lisa?"
She hasn't heard of it. I can tell by her face.
"Eleanor, you don't know the Mona Lisa?" asks Phoebe incredulously. She blushes. I can tell she doesn't mean to embarrass Eleanor. Eleanor's background is different from ours, and I'd be surprised if she knew of such a painting.
"Is it a sculpture?" asks Eleanor.
"It's a painting," says Phoebe, without a hint of a smile. "By Leonardo da Vinci, a famous Italian painter. The painting's famous because the woman has a sly smile."
"That does sound interesting," says proper Eleanor, and I suppress a smile.
"It's okay not to like art," I say. "Not everybody likes everything."
I look back at the pyramid. The ghosts have disappeared, and now Phoebe's mum and stepdad are gently arguing about the price of admission. She doesn't think it's worth it if they have to leave after just a half hour because of their restless toddler. It's fascinating to watch their fight — mild assertions like "I'm just not sure it's the best idea" and "why not give it a try?"
When my parents go at it, it's like no word can be loud enough and delivered with enough vehemence. Phoebe's parents are like ... hm ... how to describe it? Like squirrels chattering over a nut they both want. Maybe they used to fight differently back when their lives were normal.
They decide they'll return tomorrow in the morning when Tabby's fresh. In the meantime, they'll hit a few of Steven's destinations. He wants to continue his self-directed tour of All Things Bloody and visit the Conciergerie, where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned before her execution. It's a foreboding castle prison that looks like something German.
"I'm honestly not up for that, Steven," says Phoebe's mum.
"Well, do you want to look at Notre Dame, then?"
"A dark cathedral? Maybe I'm not the best Paris tourist," she answers. "I'd just like to walk. In the sunshine. Is that okay? Tabby's a few minutes from falling asleep anyway. I'll get some exercise while she sleeps in the stroller."
"Sure," says Steven. "You want to meet back here in an hour?"
"That's perfect. Thanks for understanding." She leans in to give him a kiss, and I see something great in their faces: that they get each other. I look over at Phoebe, and our eyes meet and hold for a minute. That girl is so beautiful. I reach out with two hands and tuck her hair behind her ears. The Paris wind has made it wild. She takes a step toward me, and her hair drifts up again in the breeze. I want to take her in my arms, but I feel strange doing it in front of Eleanor.
I look over at her; she's studying Phoebe's stepdad. "Do we divide and conquer?" I call to her.
"Well, we know who Phoebe's going with!" she says with a smile. "I'll keep an eye on him. In fact, I'm interested in that poor queen and what her prison was like." So she goes with him, and the rest of us stay with Tabby, after fortifying her with an orange juice from the small store on the corner. The juice makes her face bunch up from its bitterness.
The walk is glorious. Paris is a light city, ebullient, somehow ... I don't know ... healthy? My heart lifts as we continue to walk, even though Tabby asks five times in a row how much farther it is and Phoebe's mum starts to get cross.
She walks quickly, and the resultant bump in the buggy eases Tabby to sleep. Soon we're out of the tourist part of Paris and in neighborhoods where people shop for groceries, go to work, and ride the Métro back home. They're living regular lives like in any other city. The storefronts and buildings still seem uniquely French, but there are no visitors bumbling along with knapsacks full of cameras and sweatshirts. It feels genuine in a way I appreciate; certainly, Parisians don't pay daily homage to the Eiffel Tower.
Phoebe's mum doesn't say anything. She's deep in thought, walking rhythmically with her sleeping child in the buggy. I hope she's keeping track of where she's going, because I don't think I'd be able to retrace our steps back. She's jogged left and right a few too many times without leaving her trail of bread crumbs.
Although maybe we could find our way back using ghosts as landmarks: turn left where the woman lies in a fetal position sobbing, her skirts pulled up to her thighs — did she die in childbirth on a straw-strewn floor? — turn right where the woman in a fine gown, her face tranquil, holds up a bottle marked with a skull and crossbones in front of her face as if deciding.
Continue straight on past the elderly man, reclining on one elbow as he tries to write a letter while having a coughing fit.
There's nothing I can do about any of these people. I give them a sympathetic look and move on.
When Phoebe's mum approaches a building with a long green lawn, she stops in front to sit on a bench and rest. She takes some deep breaths, and tears glitter in her eyes. Tabby's still asleep, her cheeks rounder as her jaw nestles down into her chest.
"Mom, are you okay?" asks Phoebe.
Her mum blinks rapidly, pushing the tears back. "You're fine, you're fine," she tells herself. She blows her nose with tissue she finds in the nappy bag slung across the handle of the buggy, then stands up. She looks with curiosity at the building in the distance: long, white, low-level. It's a historical site, and she pushes Tabby toward its gate.
A tour is already under way, so we join in. With a sinking heart, I see that it's a cemetery of some sort. "Here at Picpus, we keep eternal vigilant prayer for the victims of the Revolution," says a nun in a gray and white habit.
I look over at Phoebe. Seriously? We walked all the way here to get away from the Revolution!
"The prayer has gone on unceasingly for over two hundred years," she says. "You may donate to support our sisters in our labors. Here is the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette, a name any of you Americans will recognize." I look around: blank faces, but Phoebe's mum nods. The grave is a flat slab on the ground decorated with a metallic wreath gone green, surrounded by an iron fence. "He was instrumental in assisting the Americans with their own revolution, while here at home his wife's family was guillotined. It is thanks to their generosity that the memorial was established. We'll go over there now. Please follow me."
She leads our small group out to a field blocked out with two large rectangles. Gravel covers the surface of the grass over them.
"These are mass graves where the victims lie," she continues. "Brought by carriage from the guillotine at the Place de la Nation."
I stare. Below that gravel are hundreds of bodies, now nothing more than skulls and skeletons bearing a clean slice at the top of the spine.
"Why aren't there more ghosts?" I ask Phoebe. I do see a few wandering the grounds, imploring the Fates to change that which can't be changed. One man stands at the edge of the pit and repeatedly spits into it.
One question answered: they've been reunited with their heads for this stage of existence.
"Maybe they haunt the guillotine instead?" says Phoebe. "Perhaps the Place de la Nation is more haunted than the place we went with the obelisk. Or they haunt the house of whoever turned them in?"
"Or they found peace despite being so brutally murdered."
The nun's still talking. "We know of this site by the bravery of a young girl who secretly followed the tumbrels — the horse-drawn carts — under darkness of night as they carried her father and brother headless from the site of their execution."
I can't help but wonder ... were heads reconnected to bodies? Did they gently arrange the bodies or were they unceremoniously dumped from the back of the cart?
Phoebe's mum looks pale. I can tell she's about to leave the tour and resume her walk with Tabby, but another woman on the tour, wearing a black and red chevron-striped dress, asks the guide a question.
"We've heard the legend about the woman whose lover dug her up," she says. "Can you tell us about that?"
The nun pauses. "It is possibly apocryphal," she says. "One of those stories that arises out of the genuine tragedy and seems to illustrate it better than the tragedy itself."
"So it's true?"
Phoebe and I look at each other, and I snort.
"We don't know," says the nun gently. "But here is the story that has come to us through the years. A manservant who was truly devoted to his mistress tracked the tumbrel of bodies here and took note of where she was buried with the others. He waited until darkness fell, then dug her up."
"What about her head?" asks the tourist, an American, judging by her accent.
"He was able to locate it. As the story goes, he fastened it to her neck and stitched it on."
The entire group gives a gasp of shock, but with an underlayer of something gleeful for the morbid value of the tale.
I'm suddenly immersed in the thought of a woman who lost her life to the guillotine and lay underground for hours with other seeping, chilling bodies, and was somehow later brought back to life. What did it feel like as the servant stitched? Did she feel the pain? Was she numb, then filled with a rush of agonized nerve endings coming awake? As she walked again, upright after the forced, facedown recline on the guillotine, did her hands steal to her neck to feel the limits of that horrible circular gouge?
"He must've really been in love," says Phoebe.
Excerpted from Betrayed by Lynn Carthage. Copyright © 2016 Erika Mailman. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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