Jamie could think of no way to stop It.
Yeah, he wanted to kill It. Lots of times. But if he so much as took a step with that thought in mind, he'd freeze into a cold, shaking sweat.
The Monster not only controlled his will, It had altered the very cells of Jamie's body; biologically, Jamie was programmed to protect the Monster.
If anyone had tried to harm It, especially when It was helpless in the coffin, Jamie would have fought to the death to save It. The thought of It helpless in the coffin provoked an emotion close to pity. And until Louisa Kahne was brought into the secret, Jamie was the only one who knew. Sometimes it felt like he and the Vampire were joined together in some strange brotherhood.... It was almost like he cared about It....
"I can't do it." Jamie entered the great hall. He didn't notice he was trembling, it was too common now.
Louisa Kahne glanced up at him from across the huge oak table. To her, he was a small part of a large puzzle—she was curious, but detached. But something in his tone just now caught her attention. For the first time, she thought of what Jamie had to suffer.
"Go to your room," Grenville said. "And we shall have a discussion about what you can and cannot do."
Hours later, Jamie lay curled up on his bed, weak and nauseous, his throat throbbing.
I can't do it. Not to Katie. I'm not bringing her here. She's special.
He remembered the first time he saw her, sassing the other lodgers in the boardinghouse while she served breakfast. It seemed years ago, now. A different lifetime. A different life.
A pretty, lively girl with honey-colored hair and deep blue eyes, something a little crooked in her smile.
She'd poured him a second cup of coffee without asking, returning his brief smile with that infectious laugh, like she knew he was so hungover he couldn't speak.
He watched her bring people their orders, friendly and competent. She seemed to know everyone.
And everyone seemed to brighten in her presence. It was a gift, to bring happiness like that.
Jamie'd thought he'd talk to her sometime, when he wasn't fighting a killer headache, see if maybe she'd go have a drink or something, he could use a little brightening up.
Then he heard she was engaged to the deputy sheriff, Mitch Morgan, and scrapped that plan. He didn't need that kind of trouble, he found enough on his own. But still... just talking couldn't hurt. He found himself looking forward to just saying "Hi."
Jamie remembered one of his last conversations with her, when he was still a free man, when the rumored treasures were only children's stories.
It was very early one morning, as he sat on the second-floor landing, she passed by on her way to work.
"Hello, Jamie. This is early for you, isn't it?"
The sun was barely casting a pink glow on the sea line.
"Not early. It's still last night," he muttered. The only reason he was sitting there was because the landing was as far as he could go—he'd stumbled on the top step and was unable to get back up, get to his room. His whole body ached, but he had given as good as he got, he thought with satisfaction.
Katie took another look, disappeared, and returned with an ice pack.
She sat down beside him, lit a cigarette, while he held the pack to his eye. After a moment she said, "You always seem so angry, Jamie. I wonder why that is?"
"Not angry," he snarled at her, and then grinned at her explosive laugh. Jamie couldn't have stood anyone's laughter at that point, anyone's but hers.
Angry, huh? Well, maybe so. It didn't take much to set him off these days—Kell too focused on the harbor society to give him the time of day—no money, after that big payoff in Boston, a bonus, too, from Greg ... Stuck in this little backwater dump, he had to go twenty miles north or south to find a decent brawl....
No plans. No dreams. And sick of cons. No energy to ship off. Couldn't even find a decent fight; the locals were truck drivers, mill workers, fishermen who had no concept of the ruthless, vicious violence Jamie had learned in foreign ports. It'd taken three of them to bring him down last night, and Jamie was fighting drunk.
"You're not a bad person, Jamie."
"Not a good one, either."
This was not his usual conversation with a woman, he thought. No banter, heavy on innuendo. No challenges. No threats. Just talk, like you could with a friend...
"Well," Katie said, rising, patting his knee lightly, "that's still up to you."
Hawkes Harbor, Delaware September 1965
"All right." Mitch Morgan dragged Jamie into the alley between Garvey's Hardware and the post office. He slammed Jamie up against the brick wall.
"What do you know?"
"What do I know about what?"
"Katie's disappeared. And don't tell me you haven't been looking at her, talking to her."
"It's a f-f-free country," Jamie stammered. Oh God, he might have known, Grenville had taken her himself, deciding It didn't need Jamie's help after all; It must have given up the fight against the curse.
Mitch threw him up against the wall again. "Where is she, you little bastard?!"
"I'm telling you, I don't know! When ... when did she...?"
"Early this morning. Before dawn. She was fixing breakfast at the boardinghouse, went outside for a smoke. Nobody's seen her since."
"I don't know nuthin' about it," Jamie muttered. But there was guilt on his face and Mitch saw it.
"I'll kill you," Mitch said slowly. "We don't find her safe and sound, I swear to God I'll kill you."
Jamie shrugged out of his grasp, too heartsick to be mad. He looked at Mitch, not seeing a bully needing a lesson but a man terrified for someone he loved.
Mitch, puzzled, turned away. Scowled.
"I mean it, Sommers," he called over his shoulder. "I'll kill you."
If I get lucky, Jamie muttered. He looked up at the sky. It was the only way he could tell time anymore, his life revolved around light and dark.
Getting close to midday. Maybe Sophia Marie hadn't taken over yet; it was likely she'd wait for Grenville.
Jamie wadded up the list of tasks to be done in town, stuffed them in his pocket. Then stopped himself from racing back to the Hall. Maybe he'd be followed. He took his time, picking up the mail. The mailman wouldn't deliver to the island, refused to go nearer than the Lodge, said he never could find Hawkes Hall, though the road was clearly marked.
Jamie idled in the Coffee Shoppe, till he heard the search was centered on the cliffs, by the highway where the other girl was found....
"Katie?" he called loudly, entering the Hall. It was unlikely Grenville had taken her back to the caves, where the coffin was still hidden. As far as Jamie knew, Sophia Marie couldn't leave the house. Not that he knew all that much about ghosts.
He stood in the great hall and listened. He thought he could hear something, like a mewing of a lost kitten. From above— the attic storage room, it had a lock on the door and no windows, contained old pieces of furniture intended for rooms as yet unfinished...
Jamie raced up the staircase, ran to the back room where the ladder led to the attic, climbed quickly.
"Katie?" he whispered at the door. He heard the soft sounds again, couldn't quite make out the words. He fumbled, cursing, with the large set of keys, shoved his shoulder into the door—
Aw, geez, Katie...
He took a step closer to where she sat, on an antique sofa.
There were dark circles under her blank and mindless eyes. Her skin was gray and greasy, even her hair had gone lank—
all the vitality drained from her, leaving a dull and shaken shell.
"God ..." He'd give his life, he thought, to put her back, unharmed, where he'd first seen her. She didn't deserve this.
She was tearing the edges of her white shirt into a ragged border, whispering as she worked. The childish whimper grew louder as she watched Jamie approach; it grew into an earsplitting shriek.
"What is he? What is he? What is he?"
He sat with his arms tight around her. She had finally looked up at him long enough to cry, "Jamie," and wrap her arms around his neck. He patted her gently, inspected her throat. Then he just held her, patting her, soothing her while she fought through her hysteria.
It hadn't hurt her bad, Jamie decided. Just nipped her enough to get control. Not much more than scratches. Not that vicious tear It was capable of when ravenous or angry. Jamie cringed, touched his own throat. Of course, It wouldn't want to hurt what was going to belong to Sophia Marie.
Gradually her sobbing stopped, she pulled away. She swallowed.
"What is he?" Her eyes were sane now, her voice was almost calm. "What am I doing here? Jamie—how much do you know?"
An hour later, she knew as much as he did. They sat silent, their fingers intertwined.
"Maybe it won't be so bad," Jamie offered finally. "Being Sophia Marie. At least you'll be alive, sort of."
"I want to live life, not death."
Her other hand patted his, and he tried not to flinch. He'd had nothing but pain from contact, for many weeks now.
"All this time," she said softly, "you've had to live like this."
She was the only person in the world, he thought, who could understand him, could know what his life was like.
And that she could think of him in the midst of her own tragedy made tears come to his eyes.
She leaned her head against his shoulder.
"I wonder what Momma and Trish ... and Mitch are going to think?"
"That you fell madly in love with Grenville and ran off with him, I guess," Jamie said. It wouldn't be hard for most people to believe—the Vampire was rich and handsome, Jamie had seen the way most women looked at It.