With Caryn in tow, Patrick tore down the tunnel. “Let’s go!”
“Do you know where we’re going?” she had to ask.
“We’ll find out soon enough.”
“As long as it’s sooner than when Brad finds us.”
They reached the end with a suddenness of a pinball hitting a lever. “A door!” Caryn breathed out, as she slammed into the cold, damp wood. “Where does it go?”
“There are several passages to the pantry.” Patrick twisted hard on the old iron ring, and with the effect of fingernails on the chalkboard, the lock squealed and scraped, but turned. They stepped into another dark passageway, but this one had a drier smell to it.
“They say the castle is haunted,” Caryn whispered, trying to catch her breath and fight off the shiver rippling over her.
“Maybe it’s the McCreedy girl,” Patrick murmured.
Caryn frowned at him. She’d known about that mystery for ages and talk of dead girls wouldn’t help them. The only thing that would was her knowledge of where the brooch was.
Or should she say the paste imitation she’d had made up seven years ago. The family she’d worked for as a nanny owned a jewelry store, and unsure of what she should do with the brooch, she had asked for an assessment.
It was worth a fortune, Caryn remembered as she followed Patrick up the old wooden steps to the pantry. Her boss had asked if a fake could be created for the local museum, as he was on the board of directors. Part of the permanent display there was centered on British peerage. He’d offered to pay for the paste and she’d taken him up on it only to ask him to borrow it. She hadn’t wanted to travel with the original. But that didn’t solve the problem of what to do with the original. So, for the last six years, it remained in her safety deposit box.
Oh, how she’d tried to find Patrick and return it. But her letters had returned unopened, and calls had proved that the family had, at some point, switched numbers. She’d kept up with the news from here, hoping to hear something about them, but nothing. She wished she could have afforded a PI, but a nanny’s wages had prohibited that.
“Where’s the brooch?” Patrick asked as they reached the old castle’s wide and low kitchen.
“I hid it in the tower, before I even checked into my room at the village inn. Patrick, we need to talk about this, about what I’ve been trying to do. I wanted to-”
A moan, low and long, cut the still, dusty air. Caryn gasped. Okay, there wasn’t any such thing as ghosts, but this castle...well, even she had felt eyes on her yesterday when she slipped in here.
Patrick practically dragged her down the long hall. The moan continued, and as they finally reached the stairs that led up to the tower, he stopped.
“Forget the brooch, Patrick.” But they’d already reached the tower. With a start, he shoved Caryn behind him.
The McCreedy girl, the one who was supposed to have died here years before, stood before them, ragged and filthy, her messy hair and frightened expression hinting at abduction.
She held the brooch in her scraped and dirty hand, but the look of terror on her face as she glanced over her shoulder caused both Caryn and Patrick to whirl around.