From the Shadows (Buckhorn, Montana #2) - B.J. Daniels



FINN LAY ON the dusty floor of the massive, old and allegedly haunted Crenshaw Hotel and extended his arm as far as it would go into the dark cubbyhole he’d discovered under the back stairs. A spiderweb latched on to his hand, startling him. He chuckled at how jumpy he was today as he shook the clinging strands from his fingers. He had more to worry about than a few cobwebs. Shifting to reach deeper, his fingers brushed over what appeared to be a notebook stuck in the very back.

Megan Broadhurst’s missing diary? Had he finally gotten lucky?

The air from the cubbyhole reeked of age and dust and added to the rancid smell of his own sweat. He should have been used to all of it by now. He’d spent the past few months searching this monstrous old relic by day. At night, he’d lain awake listening to its moans and groans, creaks and clanks, as if the place were mocking him. What are you really looking for? Justice? Or absolution?

What he hadn’t expected, though, was becoming invested in the history of the place and the people who’d owned it, especially the new owner—who would be arriving any day now to see the hotel demolished. Casey Crenshaw had inherited the structure after her grandmother’s recent death. Word was that she’d immediately put it up for sale to a buyer who planned to raze it.

Finn had been looking for a place to disappear when he’d heard about the hotel, which had been boarded up and empty for the past two years. He’d known it would be his last chance before the hotel was destroyed. It had felt like fate as he’d gotten off the bus in Buckhorn and pried his way into the Crenshaw. He’d been in awe of the infamous hotel because of its illustrious history even before he’d stepped inside and seen how beautiful and haunting it was.

He’d only become more fascinated when he’d stumbled across Anna Crenshaw’s journals. That was why he felt as if he already knew her granddaughter, Casey. He was looking forward to finally meeting her.

His fingers brushed over the notebook pages. He feared he would only push it farther back into the dark space or, worse, that its pages would tear before he could get good purchase. Carefully he eased the notebook out.

This was the first thing he’d found that had been so well hidden. He hoped that meant it was the diary that not even the county marshal and all his deputies had been able to find.

He coughed from the thick dust that floated into the air as he sat up, bringing the notebook with him as he got to his feet. As he did, he caught his reflection in the mirror on the wall and was startled by the man he saw. His dark hair was way too long, his beard scruffy.

Shaking his head, he had to smile. Most everyone in Buckhorn, Montana, thought he was homeless, and that was why he’d been holed up in the hotel for the past few months. He definitely looked the part.

He ran a hand over his beard, hardly recognizing himself. For months he’d avoided mirrors, avoided looking himself in the eye. At one time, it had made sense coming here. He’d known the place was empty. It had been boarded up due to the elderly owner’s declining health and subsequent death.

But now new owner Casey Crenshaw was on her way. From what he’d heard, she couldn’t wait to not only get the hotel sold, but razed. That seemed odd—unless you’d spent some time here at night, he thought with a laugh. Did she think leveling it would get rid of the ghosts?

Last night, he’d stood at the window looking out at the small town of Buckhorn and wondering who was looking back at him. That feeling of being watched had never been stronger. But it was what had been watching him inside of the hotel that kept him up at night. After all, the Crenshaw was famous for its ghosts—especially Megan’s.

So was it Megan’s ghost Casey Crenshaw wanted to get rid of? Or was destroying the hotel about covering up Megan’s murder?

He’d come here looking for answers, but now he wondered if he was really ready to know the truth about this place—let alone the new owner. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he bent down and shone his flashlight into the hole. There was nothing more in the space.

Rising, he considered the notebook.