Keepers of The Gate: Twilight Ends
“I've never told you what happened to my family years ago. I figured there was no need to dredge up the past until Harrison Dox showed up three months ago. During the Great Depression, Anson Dox, his great-grandfather, stole Twilight Ends from my parents. Like many during that era, the Newhouse family had a tough time making ends meet. So my parents opened the house as a bed-and-breakfast. Then, out of the blue, Anson Dox showed up, riding to the rescue with fake promises. He’d had his eye on Twilight before that first meeting. He duped my family into a partnership, but most of the funding came from Anson’s pockets. Soon after, he procured my family’s half of the business and moved into Twilight. He was only on the property a year before dying.”
“How did he die?”
Tessa glanced to the right at the shoreline’s shallow, rocky edge and pointed past the maple and dogwood tree toward the wrought-iron-gated fence protecting private grounds. “Beyond those gates exists a secret my people have protected for many centuries. Those sacred grounds are protected by forces not to be tampered with. Well, they found his body right over there, at the private gate, with three holes in his chest.”
“The coroner’s report stated that three arrowheads had entered his body through the heart, lungs, and abdomen but there were no exit wounds. The assailant was an expert and aimed to kill. But it’s obvious they weren’t modern-day arrows. As a teen, I took a few archery classes and I know today’s broadheads pierce clean through the body. Without a weapon, arrows, or witnesses, Dox’s case remains a mystery.”
“The arrows were never recovered? Did the killer pull them from his body?”
“No, it doesn’t appear that way. The coroner’s report said there was no sign they were removed, only the broadheads’ entry wounds were present. It’s as if the arrow vanished inside his flesh,” she’d said, lowering her gaze.
Cristal believed she’d seen a trace of a smile on Tessa’s lips before a gust swept hair across her face, hiding the sudden hint of humor. At that moment Cristal wondered if Tessa knew who Dox’s murderer was. Or was his life taken by mysterious forces beyond the gate Tessa alluded to? “Don’t you find that odd?”
“Well,” she said and sighed, “my parents believed he met with unnatural opposition. Someone, something, whether human or supernatural, didn’t want him here.”
“Vanishing arrows? Your parents might be right.”
“To this day, Anson Dox’s death remains a mystery, but not to my ancestors. Soon after recovering his body, they found Anson’s signed testament in his office, instructing that the property should revert to its original owners, the Newhouse family. That raised questions and suspicion fell on my family, though there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Now, 81 years later, his great-grandson claims Twilight Ends belongs to the Dox family.”
“Why does he believe that? You have the testament to disprove his claim.”
“Incapacity. He’s claiming his great grandfather’s mind was impaired when he wrote the will, and that no money ever changed hands when my family regained the property. But Harrison doesn’t realize his great-grandfather paid my family a paltry sum. It was plain thievery! And I heard he plans to turn this land into a flashy resort.”
“Great heavens, no!” Cristal screeched in outrage.
“As long as I’m alive and the Western Door Society thrives, it will never happen. Since your last visit, and after receiving Harrison Dox’s letter, I’ve sensed my ancestors’ restless energy stir each gloaming. I believe they’re waiting for Dox. That pesky man doesn’t understand what trouble awaits him. I hope not his great-grandfather’s fate,” she said with a hint of worry.
Cristal believed Tessa’s words were in jest. Another Dox’s heart pierced with an arrow is highly improbable, she thought at that moment. “Let’s pray Harrison goes away, finds another property for his resort.”