Did you miss part one of Chapter One?
From Third Times a Crime
Chapter One Continued…
Once inside the castle, the creep factor only escalated. The inside of
the building was a like a maze with steps and hallways spinning in every
direction, vertically and horizontally. The stairs were worn and creaked
as the cast and crew climbed them to what was known as the prayer room.
A strange smell filled the room, like sulfur mixed with stale
kerosene that someone had attempted to mask with a flowery
“Whoa! Do you smell that?” the psychic asked. “It’s a presence!
Most certainly a presence!”
The man claiming to be a psychic was the least likely person I
would have expected. I figured Cheryl would have a cast a pretty
blond young lady, but instead the man before us was as large as a
lumberjack complete with a burly red beard. I’d liked him immedi‐
ately, even though, of course, I couldn’t believe a word he uttered.
I wrinkled my nose. “I think the room’s probably been closed up a
“No, no,” the docent disagreed. She worked at the Golden Castle as
one of the tour guides. “We air it out every day, but the smell always
Fingers tickled the back of my neck and I involuntarily jumped as
Scott leaned in close to me, his lips touching my ear. “Oooh,” he whis‐
“I thought you were here to protect me, not freak me out,” I said.
He pressed his forehead to mine, looking into my eyes. “You
certainly don’t need my protection, but you have it babe, always.”
As Scott leaned in to kiss me, Cheryl’s screechy voice interrupted
our romantic moment. “People! Listen up. The team is going to need a
few minutes here to set up the cameras, lights, and mikes. We’ll kick
off the show here. Harris will give the introduction. The camera will
pan on each of you as Harris introduces you. Then we’ll go ahead and
start the castle tour for the viewers. You’ll all need to make sure your
hair and makeup are set. Please don’t wander off and get lost.”
Scott rubbed at his shaved head. “I’d better see to getting my hair
“It is kind of messy,” I joked. Suddenly, I had the strange sensation
of being watched. Which one would think I’d be used to after two
tours of reality TV, nevertheless I still found the feeling mildly discon‐
certing. I turned to find Dr. Arch staring at Scott and me.
“You two don’t seem to be taking this very seriously,” he said.
Scott hid his amusement. “You believe in all the hocus-pocus going
on here, doctor? Spirits trapped in the in between.”
The priest, who’d been meditating in front of a candle, snapped to
attention. “Oh, I do think there is evil here. With much prayer, we can
send the spirits on.”
Cheryl strode between us. “Now, now, father. We had this discus‐
sion, didn’t we? Save it for the cameras.” The priest shook his head
and seemed ready to argue, but Cheryl was already on to the next
group, calling out, “Five minutes, people. Ready in five.”
“Anyway, what I meant was,” Dr. Arch continued, “is that you have
to take this one seriously. It’s viewer determined, you know. If you
don’t get the votes, you’ll be sent packing. Even though I’m betting
against myself here for a moment, I think you two probably have the
best chance of solving the mystery.”
Dr. Arch’s partner, Karen Kenley, sidled up to him. “That’s some
vote of confidence, Arch.”
The doctor looked chagrinned. “I didn’t mean anything against
Karen Kenley, the FBI profiler, looked like the type of woman who
never accepted any excuse, either from a man or much less from a
woman. Her straight black hair hung like a curtain around her face.
She had the type of sharp features that let you know right away if you
messed with her, you’d get cut.
Cheryl clapped her hands again. “Okay, people,” she shouted.
“Places please. Cast, line up here.” She indicated a row of blue
painter’s tape the crew had laid down for us. “Harris, you’ll stand here
—” A large thump against one of the windows startled Cheryl. She put
a hand over her heart. “What was that?”
“A bird, I think,” Scott said. He rushed to the window, but the glass
was so hazy it was impossible to see through.
The lumberjack psychic next to me moaned and pressed his
fingers to his temple.
His partner, the ghost hunter, fiddled with a device strapped to his
belt and asked, “Can we go outside and take a look? I have to investi‐
gate, my EMF is going crazy.”
“What’s that?” Scott asked.
“It measures fluctuations in the electromagnetic fields,” he said.
Cheryl collected herself. “Let’s not get distracted here, folks. We
have to start filming.” She put on a headset and made a beeline to the
back of the set and motioned for cameras to start rolling.
Harris took center stage and said directly into the camera, “Wel‐
come, America, to Cold Case in the Castle!” Harris’s voice boomed in
his made-for-TV persona. “We’re coming to you from Golden, Cali‐
fornia, where the town has had a dark and tragic unsolved mystery
haunting them since 1960. You see, back in the early 1900s this castle
was a reform school, a home for the state’s most delinquent wards.
However good-intentioned the state may have been in wishing to
rehabilitate the wards, horrors came to pass: abuses, escape attempts,
violent encounters, inhumane punishments, and, yes, ladies and
gentlemen, even murder.”
Harris gave a dramatic pause, then continued. “There were five
murders that took place on these grounds. All were solved.” Harris
held up his index finger and gave a flourish as he said, “Except for
“The disturbing and brutal murder of Jane Reiner. Jane had been
an innocent and lovely youth, working as a librarian in training, when
she mysteriously disappeared. Her body was later discovered
heinously murdered on the premises of the reform school.”
The cast made the appropriate gasps and tsking sounds.
Harris launched into a brief recap of the facts we’d been given,
then said, “And that’s where you, dear viewer, come in.” Harris contin‐
ued, “Join us, as we travel back in time and solve Jane’s murder. We’ve
assembled a cast that we believe can help us do just that.”
One by one, he motioned toward us and introduced the cast.
When he finally landed on the last contestant, the lumberjack psychic
suddenly moaned as if in pain and fell to his knees. He screamed out,
“Oh, brother,” I mumbled to Scott, but before he could respond
there was a deafening and repetitive pounding on the windows. We all
jumped and turned toward them only to see a massive onslaught of
small black birds flying directly into the glass.
Karen and Dr. Arch gasped, the ghost hunter rushed toward the
glass with his EMF device in hand and the historian from Harvard
A loud splintering sound echoed through the room as the ancient
glass shattered against the assault. Then Cheryl called in a cheerful
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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