Unsettled Graves: A Crossroads of Kings Mill Novel (The Crossroads of Kings Mill Book 3)

 

 

 

Unsettled Graves

 

A Crossroads of Kings Mill Novel

 

 

 

Loni Lynne

Spiridus Publishing

 

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 by Loni Lynne.
Cover Design: Jenji
Editor: Wendy Ely
All rights reserved.

The uploading, scanning, and distribution of this book in any form or by any means—including but not limited to electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized editions of this work, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

First Edition: March 2016

ISBN:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To my family and friends, thank you for believing in me. To my readers, thank you for picking up my books. I hope you enjoy.

 

Authors Note

 

              I enjoy reading about history on so many levels. When I am writing my books, whether it is The Crossroads of Kings Mill series or my Guardians of Dacia series, I love to see where history and fiction can go.

              With this story, I’ve tried to capture the essence of the time frames depicted in my ghosts and time travel. But I want to make clear up front, that I have taken a few liberties in the timing and places of some events to work into my story line.

              The
National Soldier’s Orphan Homestead
wasn’t converted into an orphanage until 1866. About 130 children who had lost parents during the Civil War were housed there for a time. Rosa Carmichael tarnished the good intention of the home with abuse and corporal punishment and the home closed down in 1877. My character, Joshua had been there but the time is a bit off…to fit my story. But I hope I captured the heart of it.

              Also, the
Susquahannock
tribe were native Marylander’s and also part of the Delmarva area. Their story is sketchy but history tells of the battles and illness having decimated many of their people once the Europeans settled. There was report of a Maryland Militia that had destroyed one of the tribes in Maryland, near present day Columbia, in the mid-1600’s. Though there is no exact location (from what I could find) I took the liberty to use the tribe in my storyline to give the now extinct people a story, fictional as it may be.

              Any other historical facts/fiction are my own doing. I am not a Historian but a fiction writer. So any and all mistakes are my fault.

              Still, I hope you enjoy their flavor in the storyline.

 

All the best,

Loni Lynne

Unsettled Graves

 

 

Chapter One

 

When he strolled into the room, Tonya Mead knew he was going to make her life a living hell. The cocky arrogance in his stride, and the way he looked around as if this place were beneath his stature made her distrust him. Call her feeling kismet, fate, whatever, but she had a sixth sense about him. She wasn’t sure if she was ready, though.

The blond was reminiscent of all the jocks who’d only wanted to pick her brain in high school. Built like he’d been the all star quarterback, he reeked of smooth operator. She could handle him, though. If he thought she’d be willing to do the work only to have him take all the credit…well, he had another thing coming.

“Camden, this is Tonya Mead, our archivist. She’ll show you around and get you acclimated to our way of doing things here.” Her boss, Dr. April Branford-Miles smiled warmly as she introduced them. “Tonya, Camden Phillips is here for the summer to work on his paper for historical research on the Civil War. He’s a student from my alma mater, William & Mary.”

Figures, Dr. Moreland, April’s instructor at the prestigious university had finally sent one of his to work with April. Tonya should be happy for her to know the old man had entrusted April with her first apprentice. Tonya was still sloughing her way through community college, three classes a semester, here in Kings Mill, but she’s expected to babysit a jock with a need for an easy degree. Well, she wouldn’t make the work easy on him.

Smiling at her boss and trying to portray the same smile to Camden, she nodded. “Hello. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Well, I will let you two get acquainted. Maybe during lunch you can show Camden around downtown?”

It wasn’t a suggestion. Tonya smiled at her boss, but April’s raised eyebrow told her that helping Camden out was
mandatory
. She wished she’d never told April about her break-up with Tony and her disinterest in guys now. All she wanted to do was focus on her college career. Hopefully her paper she was working on would get her a scholarship into William & Mary.

“Of course. Would love to.” She pasted on her best smile, trying hard not to grimace.

“Good. And you can take an extra half hour break during lunch. There’s quite a bit of Kings Mill to take in.”

Oh joy, just what she wanted. To spend time with a tanned, blond, good-looking college guy…
not
.

##

Camden didn’t have to be smart to see the tension in Tonya’s manners. Typical Brainiac. She probably didn’t have a fun bone in her body. His life had turned into a living hell. Spending four months in a rinky-dink town, doing local research wasn’t his ideal summer plans. He preferred to be home in Myrtle Beach, sitting in his summer spot high atop a lifeguard stand, taking in the sun and bikini clad babes walking past his Ray-Ban shaded eyes.

At least for all of his efforts this past semester in Dr. Moreland’s class, the old coot could’ve sent him somewhere more historical…like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia. Hell, even Atlanta would’ve been more his speed though he preferred somewhere with beach access. But Kings Mill, Maryland? Maryland hadn’t even been a decided state in the Civil War. They hadn’t made up their mind at the time to join the northern or the southern states and according to how he felt, they still hadn’t. As far as he was concerned, Maryland was part of the north. The same as any other Yankee. The only thing different is they were the southern border of the Mason Dixon line.

The only historical thing this town had going was the recent tales of the founding father, James Addison and his great-great-great grand-nephew, Kenneth Miles the international billionaire who Dr. April Branford-Miles married. There was also some local lore about a stash of old booze found buried in the back of one of the original taverns or some such crap. Nothing major like a real battle or anything the American History books already told about. He was close enough to Gettysburg that he intended to sneak off on his weekends and do some real Civil War research.

“So…where do you want me to start?” He casually rocked back on his heels.

“I’ll show you the microfiche files. Most of what we get are families looking up ancestral records. There’s a lot of history in Kings Mill, dating back to before the town was established in the 1740s.”

Camden nodded. He wasn’t interested in things that old. Civil War was as far back in time as he wanted to be. Maybe it was his Southern heritage. His grandparents were from the South since…well, since before the Civil War. They proudly flew the Confederate flag right along with the American flag. Traditional, proud…Southerners.

Tonya showed him around. Although she was cute with her dark blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and smattering of freckles, she wasn’t his normal kind of girl. The straight laced, no-nonsense nerd girl was about as dull as Kings Mill. She deserved to live here; they fit each other.

“So where’s the best place in town to eat?” he asked as they headed out across the parking lot to Kings Mill’s metropolis a few hours later.

“The diner was the best place, but they sold out when the expansion started last spring. It was taken over by a café. They have great panini sandwiches and gourmet salads, though.” She glanced at him. “What do you like?”

“Cheeseburgers and boardwalk fries.” He wasn’t much for frou-frou cafes. Again, he wished for the beach and boardwalk summers of his recent youth.

To Camden’s uncertainty, Tonya’s face suddenly lit up, making her dullness sparkle just a bit.

“I know just the place. I’ve been craving a Mill Boy’s burger.”

“A what?”

“Only the best damn burgers around. Big, sloppy, juicy burgers.”

“Is there any other way to have them?”

Okay, so maybe she wasn’t so dull…she liked sloppy burgers. That was a plus on her side. But the jury was still out on her personally.

As they walked along, she pointed out that Addison Street was the main street through Kings Mill going east to west. In the downtown area, Addison was one way, but in the newer section farther west of town, Addison became a two way major road. Since he didn’t have his pickup truck with him he wasn’t going to be doing too much traveling.

“This is the main intersection in town,” she explained, pointing to the crossroads of Addison Street and Main, which ran north and south.

“What’s with the framed red cobblestones in the middle?” There was a patch of old red bricks framed by a six inch wide strip of concrete. The rest of the road was paved with asphalt.

“That’s what’s left of the original road. It was one of the main routes from Virginia to Philadelphia. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson…they all traveled it frequently.”

As they crossed the corner at the crosswalk, Tonya moved towards the square. Was she crazy? Traffic was fairly light but still, standing in the middle as if waiting for a bus to hit her wasn’t normal. 

“Hey.” Camden pulled on her arm as the traffic lights turned. “Come on, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

Her body jerked as if she was waking up and wasn’t sure where she was. The startled doe-eyes and the quivering lips had him wondering just what kind of psycho he’d been paired with.

#

Tonya couldn’t respond to anything Camden said as he pulled her out of the street. Every time she’d gotten close to the intersection, there was an immediate energy forcing her towards the middle. She’d learned over the years since her dad brought her back to Kings Mill to avoid it or force herself to look away. Today she hadn’t. Why was she even explaining the intersection to Camden? It was just an intersection of two main streets in town.

She’d smiled and relaxed as they continued to walk the block to the tavern. She always felt better around Millie and the rest of the staff.

Charity, one of the servers who was now the public relation manager for the tavern, sat them at a small table, handed them menus their water, and an order of fries.

“So you’re majoring in history?” Tonya asked, taking a hot, boardwalk-style, home fry smothered in malt vinegar and Old Bay, and dipped it in her ketchup. Old Town Tavern and Inn made the best fries—not even the famous boardwalk fries in Ocean City or Rehobeth could compare as far as she was concerned. They came out as an appetizer like most Mexican restaurants came out with fresh chips and salsa. Tonya had to remember to pace herself or she would eat too many and not be able to eat a third of a pound burger.

“Civil War history to be exact. In order to stay in William & Mary, I’m working on a paper for scholarship.”

“You’re one of the students chosen for the scholarship to intern with Dr. Moreland?” She just lost her appetite. He was one of the contenders she was up against. There were only five students nationwide chosen to participate. She’d been one of the lucky ones, but only one was granted the grand prize.

“Yeah, he liked the paper I’d turned in so much he signed me up for the program and had me come here for some research.”

“What’s your paper on?”

“The social and economic fluctuation in the South, before, during, and after the conflict,” he said around a mouthful of fries.

“Don’t you think that specific topic has been over studied? I mean, it was one of the biggest issues the South faced. The war devastated their lands and homes. And even after having to free their slave labor, the economy was never as profitable for them…you know, that whole reconstruction time frame.”

“I’m looking for a new twist on the history.” The furrowed lines between Camden’s brows showed he was pissed at her observation, but he didn’t seem to have any other bead to come back on, so he either hadn’t thought it completely through or was trying to determine how to explain more of his vanilla topic.

Tonya decided on a very difficult subject, one that was daunting. The history of Native American heritage based on the tribes in Maryland before the 1700s. She’d hit a road block and wasn’t sure if it was too late to change her topic. She’d have to get any new topic approved by so many people…not really a good idea to change mid-stride. She’d just have to work harder on the research.

Camden’s mood didn’t last long once Charity arrived, burdened with their large plates of burgers, baked beans, and more fries. Placing them in front of each, she asked if there would be anything else.

“Mayonnaise?” they both asked in unison. They turned to glance at each other in amazement.

Charity laughed at their joint request. “Wow. In stereo! You two are good.”

“I can’t stand a burger without it,” Camden explained.

“Me, neither.” Tonya leaned forward conspiratorially, “Okay, mayonnaise or salad dressing?”

“Mayonnaise…and don’t try to tell me they’re the same. I can tell the difference.” He picked up a fry off of his plate and munched it.

Tonya held up her hand across the table for a high five. After a minute he reached up and slapped her hand firmly. The touch of his palm against hers sent a shock through her system. At first, she thought there was an electrical charge like you would get in the winter if the air was too dry and you were wearing a wool coat. But it wasn’t the same. This was more than a physical sensation…one she didn’t like at all.

“Wow…” Camden mumbled around a mouthful of burger. “Damn, this is good.” He reached for one of the many napkins that were laid on the table top to catch the dripping of sauces and juices from his cheeseburger.

“I told you. Old Town Tavern has the best. Ever since Millie Taylor took over as partial owner, she’s brought new life into this place. The food, the atmosphere—everything. She’s made sure only ‘grade A’ local meats and vegetables are used and the buns are actually made by hand here in the old refurbished beehive oven with the actual milled grains from the renovated historical mill outside of town. The only thing she imports are the potatoes…and they come from Idaho.”

“In the fall and winter, the head chef, Jake, makes his famous chili, with and without beans, for football game nights. It’s an all you can eat thing with a side of cornbread and honey. You should see it. This place is jumping.”

“I could eat here every day.” Camden nodded.

“Me, too, but I’d blow up like a balloon.” Tonya laughed.

A scurry of activity above had her look up into the rafters. Dave Rogers and his wife, Claire, or at least their friendly phantoms, looked down at her and waved.  She’d usually wave back, but with Camden here, well, how did you explain interacting with ghosts? Tonya couldn’t just say, ‘I see ghosts.’ She didn’t want him to think she was crazy…just yet. Give him time.

“Tonya! Oh so glad you are here.”

A breathless female hurried over to them.

“Millie, how are you? When I came in here last week, you were out.”

“Yeah. I’ve been busy. Finally got all my paperwork in with Immigration and Registration. Had to go to Baltimore to finalize everything.”

“I can’t believe they consider you an immigrant.”

“I am originally from England,” Millie said with a knowing wink.

“Yes, but that was…” Tonya coughed, conspiratorially, “a while ago.”

Millie only laughed. The confusion on Camden’s face was priceless.  If only he knew the whole story. Millie had been here in this tavern for over two hundred years.

“So, who’s your ‘new’ friend?” Millie asked, taking in Camden. “If I wasn’t already involved with a hot man, I’d give ‘em a go.” She played her sassy English-tavern wench part.

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