It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Sneak Peek Saturday, and since Sneak Peek Sunday sounds just as good and THIS WICKED GAME comes out in only ten days, I figured I’d give you guys a little look.
The house was noisy, conversation and laughter coming from every direction. She moved unseen through the clusters of people, drifting down the stairs and into the front parlor.
People stood in groups, many with drinks in their hands, talking animatedly as children ran around them. One of them, a dark-haired boy, knocked a picture frame off an end table. A svelte woman in a linen suit smoothly reached out for his arm, her gaze steely. The boy dropped his eyes, picked up the frame, and returned it to its rightful place.
The woman smiled, patting his cheek. “There’s a good boy. Now go outside and play where you won’t do any damage.”
The boy ran off. Claire, in her dream state, followed him down the hall, through the dining room, and onto the back terrace.
Claire’s eyes were immediately drawn to a woman, standing with a drink in one hand, a loose dress flowing over her slender body. She looked different, with chunky shoes and her hair falling in waves down her back.
But it was definitely Pilar Kincaid.
Claire floated over the lawn, as invisible as ether, as she wound her way through conversations.
A loud clap sounded near the terrace doors, and Claire turned, her gaze resting on her father, holding a fancy black camera.
He smiled at the crowd. “Time for a picture!” he shouted. “Everybody get together over there, at the side of the house.”
The crowd began to move, Claire’s mother shepherding everyone to the grassy area at the side of the Kincaid property. The hands of the smallest children were grasped by parents or older siblings, the wriggling little bodies sometimes carried against their will.
There was some confusion as everyone moved into place, couples standing together with their children, the single people standing according to height.
Suddenly, there was a prickle of awareness, the sensation of being seen. Claire followed the energy, her eyes resting on a pale, dark-haired man at the edge of the crowd. He seemed to see her, though no one else did.
Claire recognized him immediately as Maximilian Constantin.
He stood in the back row, in front of a little girl in a wheelchair. The girl was pretty, with deeply black hair and sad blue eyes. Her gaze was fixed in the distance. She seemed to see something beyond the scene in front of her.
Claire’s dad—young, with a scruffy beard growing at his chin, though all the other men were clean-shaven—came forward, issuing instructions to the group, telling them to squeeze in. Everyone did, though some laughingly protested.
When everyone was finally in place, her dad backed up a few feet. “Everybody smile,” he instructed. “Ready.
. . . One . . . two . . . three.”
The crowd groaned as the flash went off in a blinding burst of light.
Claire turned, spurred forward by some instinct, an unseen but guiding hand that pulled her back across the lawn, up the stone steps of the terrace, through the dining room doors.
The noise of the party faded into the background until it disappeared completely.
Now it was night. Table lamps were lit around the house, the crowd long gone.
Claire drifted, finding herself in the study that was her father’s domain. Her dad was sitting at his desk, his hands busy under the focused light of the desk lamp. She moved closer, wanting a better look.
It was the photograph, the one she’d seen him take on the lawn. He was putting it inside a wooden frame, pressing it into place and locking the clasps at the back of the frame, a penknife at his side.
He turned the picture over, surveying it with studious eyes as he rose from the chair.
Walking across the room, he stopped next to the fireplace. The wall was already cluttered with photographs, but Claire could see that her dad had cleared a spot for the newest addition. He placed it on a hook, leaning back to analyze its placement. After making a few adjustments to make sure it was even, he turned and went back to his desk.
Claire floated out of the study, continuing toward the stairs. The house faded around her as she went, the edges of her dream-vision slowly fading to blackness.
Then she was in the place between wakefulness and sleep, her mind already trying to grasp the significance of what she’d seen.