People strolled the sidewalks beneath the street lamps’ hazy yellow glow. Colorful window displays beckoned to visitors as music wafted from the open doorways. Boats rode the soft swells on either side of the long dock, jutting into the dark water. I stood beside Scarlett at the curb and inhaled a deep breath of the crisp, salty air.
David and Logan exited the parlor, taking positions on either side of us.
David whispered to me, “We’ll walk you home.”
I glanced over my shoulder at Logan, feeling uncomfortable in his presence after the intense interrogation he put us through in the ice cream parlor. Logan’s haughty mien lifted as he caught my glance and nodded to me, his gray eyes softening.
The ground beneath my feet shook. I shrieked and grabbed David’s arm.
The street lamps went dark as ear-shattering explosions cut through the silence, followed by frenzied shouts. Time turned sluggish and unreal, like a movie reel playing in slow motion. Flames shot to the sky from the moored vessels. I stood frozen, transfixed by the orange flames sweeping across the wooden planks at the heels of the fleeing pedestrians. Scarlett clutched my hand as the crowd headed our way, jostling us in their frantic path. Intense heat hit our faces. People screamed; sirens shrilled; engines pulled alongside the marina. Police cars swarmed the streets.
His face a blotched red, Lively strode from the parlor, puffing. “Take them home,” he shouted to David before rushing across the street to join the officers arriving at the scene.
“I’ll walk you home.” David snatched my hand, transporting me back to reality.
I hurried to keep pace with him as the hazy fog clouding my vision cleared. Scarlett strode ahead with Jonathan while Bella hobbled beside us on a broken heel. I glanced back at the burning harbor. “I don’t understand; the advertisements depict Blue Harbor as a peaceful town.”
“It used to be.” David shrugged. “Things have changed.”
“What things?” I asked, but he refused to look at me. “David?”
He turned to me. “Maybe you shouldn’t move here.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
“No, then I won’t see you again.” He halted as people rushed around us. “But the town hasn’t been safe for the past few months, and I don’t want you hurt.” David grasped my hand, and we continued walking.
“Do you believe I’m in danger?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been working with Logan and the chief, but we’ve made no headway.” He checked over his shoulder. “Where’s Bella?”
“I’m here.” She emerged from the crowd. “The broken heel is making it difficult to walk.” Bella removed her shoes and loped toward us barefoot. “That’s better.”
Quick bursts of explosions shook the harbor, the blackened sky mirroring the orange and yellow flames consuming the pier.
People screeched as the panicked horde surged toward us, and David dropped my hand. “I’m sorry. The police need my help.” He pushed his way through the throng and headed back to the pier. “Remember to lock the doors,” he yelled over his shoulder before disappearing.
“What’s wrong with this town?” I eyed Bella.
“What isn’t wrong with it?” she replied before stumbling ahead to our building.
Her expression sullen, Scarlett waited on the front steps, watching Jonathan race toward the flames engulfing the harbor.
Bella unlocked the front door, and we trailed behind her into the darkened hallway.
“Are you going to explain this creepy town to us?” Scarlett stepped in front of her.
Bella hit the light switch. “No, and don’t shut the hall lights. Tomorrow, I’ll explain the town’s strange history.” She rushed into her apartment, throwing the bolt on the door.