Crickets chirped and mist curled around him as Beau eased out of the crack in the wall to the cells. The chill in the air teased his sweaty skin, but the surge of power pounding through his blood was like liquid fire.
The rush consumed him. He knew in that instant he would find another victim, but his rational mind begged him to be careful.
Don’t get caught.
He chuckled. Besides the money, his father still had hefty political clout in Baton Rouge, thanks to his notorious grandfather and years of murky business dealings. The family name had spared him in the past from legal proceedings and institutions. It would again.
Heading toward the fountain across the grassy field, Beau considered his next night of fun. Before he reached the forgotten angel, a flash in the corner of his eye made him turn.
Amid the trees, crowding the edge of the property, something darted in and out. He could just make out a long, white hooded cloak, fluttering and billowing at the edge of the woods. Then it disappeared.
His heart rocketed to his throat. It can’t be!
All the stories he’d heard of the lady in white of The Abbey came rushing back at once, intensifying his panic.
Then he calmed. Someone had to be messing with him. It wasn’t the girl. Kelly had taken off, a bawling mess, across the field several minutes before and he’d heard the slam of the iron gate. He was alone. Unless … the guys had pulled a fast one on him.
But the guys don’t know about your room in the cells.
Beau cut across the grass, anxious to get to the iron gate and back to the party. Almost to the path, he glanced back over his shoulder to the patch of trees where he had seen the ghostly presence. Nothing was there.
It was just your imagination. Or was it?
He made it to the party at the beach, relieved to be back among people, but the incident with the ghost had eradicated his high.
He hungered for it to return but would have to wait.
Leslie followed him along the shoreline until they came to a rusted iron gate with a No Trespassing sign secured to it. Decorated with crosses and swirls, the sign marked the entrance to The Abbey grounds. Stepping through the open gate, she peered up at the imposing structure.
Two spires of white limestone, shaped like the tip of a sword, cut into the blue sky. The structure of red brick and limestone, the front windows and doors secured with loose scraps of plywood, sat in the middle of a field of high grass. The squat stone building of cloisters behind The Abbey remained intact. The Benedictine monks who had run the seminary school demolished the dormitories, refectory, and library after the site had been abandoned.
“Some place, huh?” Derek let go of her hand and trudged his way across the high grass.
Leslie’s apprehension bloomed in her chest. The grounds, unkempt after years of neglect, were a hodgepodge of weeds, overgrown trees, and green vines. On the way across the thigh-high grass, they passed a beautiful triple-tiered fountain with an angel on top, raising her arms to the heavens—a silent witness to the past.
How do people come here at night?
“You ever wonder why those priests just up and left it?” she asked, uncomfortable with the eerie quiet. Even the birds had stopped singing. “I know everyone in town says they got a better offer from the seminary in New Orleans, but it seems funny a bunch of people abandoned the place for no reason.”
“They left because it’s a wreck.” Derek parted a thick pile of tall grass with his shoe. “My mom told me it was falling apart when she was a kid, and the Archdiocese didn’t have the money to fix it. So they packed up the seminary school, the priests, and all the staff and shipped them to New Orleans.”
“Seems a shame, though. I read once that the structure dates back to the early 1800s when the Devereaux family built it as a private church.” Leslie eyed the frame of the empty belfry atop one of the square-shaped towers. “You’d think they’d want to save it.”
Derek nudged her with his elbow. “Maybe the ghost drove the priests away.”
Beau’s tale had been in the back of her head the whole time, but Derek’s comment spooked the crap out of her. “By ghost, do you mean the lady in white?”
“Yep.” He scanned the land around them. “They say she wears a glistening white cloak and wanders the priests’ cells. She only appears when the moon is full or during storms.”
The thought of being alone in such a disturbing place terrified her. “Have you ever seen the ghost?”
Leslie kicked herself for letting him talk her into coming to the remote location. “What about the wild dogs? Have you seen them around The Abbey?”
“Not to worry, baby. I’ll protect you from ghosts, wild dogs, and Beau Devereaux.”