Moon Island (Chapter Fifty-five)

There were four us in the library.

Allison was holding Tara's hand. The two of them sat closely together, sharing, perhaps, the world's most unusual bond: both had been possessed simultaneously by a nasty son of a bitch.

Kingsley occasionally patted my knee, and I let him. The gesture seemed to come from a source of support, not flirtation.

Earlier, I had called my sister and confirmed that they were all okay in a safe house. The safe house was, apparently, Kingsley's ski lodge in Arrowhead. I hadn't known Kingsley had a ski lodge in Arrowhead. Either way, all was well, and I breathed a sigh of relief and told them to sit tight for another day or so. I would explain it all later.

I had emerged from the mausoleum as naked as the day I was born and covered with blood – and completely healed. The headless body of Conner Thurman had done something extraordinary before my very eyes: it had literally gone up in smoke.

So weird, I thought now, as Kingsley patted my leg again. Tara cried softly as Allison hugged her close.

Allison had been outside the mausoleum, drenching wet and freezing and briefly confused. I helped her back to the bungalow where we changed into some dry clothes. Once done, she and I watched a very unusual procession: Thurman after Thurman emerged from the surrounding woods. All soaked to the bone. All lost. All confused. Some were even hurt. But none permanently so.

Kingsley emerged, too, carrying Edwin in his arms. The young Thurman had taken the worst of Kingsley's efforts to fend them off. Edwin, as far as I knew, was resting in his basement room now.

Hurting, but okay.

Earlier, we had explained to Tara what had happened to her and her family.

The news was, unsurprisingly, devastating. She looked at me now. "I hate him."

I waited. Outside, the storm had subsided. The trees were no longer threatening to break at their bases. A light rain drifted by the big windows.

"I hate him for what he did to my family. We couldn't fight him. We didn't know how. He manipulated our thoughts, our memories, our words, our actions. We were all his puppets."

I recalled the Source's words: There is no evil, Samantha Moon.

I wasn't sure I believed it. I had seen evil firsthand, and I believed it was real. I had seen the joy on the entity's face – or Conner Thurman's face – as it delivered blow after blow, breaking me and my body. A body that had, miraculously, been restored once I had transformed back into my human self.

Not even a cracked rib.

"You didn't know that Conner Thurman was still alive?" asked Kingsley.

She shook her head. "No, although the memories of serving him in the mausoleum are returning now…" she shuddered.

I didn't want to know what "serving him" entailed.

Sweet Jesus.

"He…he removed those memories from us."

Kingsley nodded. "He's gone now."

"I know," she said. "I felt him leave…and I felt him leave forever."

Allison was nodding. She looked at me and Kingsley. "I felt it, too. Granted, perhaps not as strongly as Tara, but suddenly, he was gone."

Tara nodded absently. I suspected she felt the same, except I knew the trauma of her ordeal ran so deep and for so long, that she would need many months or years to come to terms with what had happened to her and her family.

The Thurman family had a lot of healing to do. After all, did they really know each other? How much of their lives had been controlled by the entity?

I didn't know, but I did know that it was gone. I had seen it flee. To where, I didn't know. Perhaps another willing host.

Perhaps even now it was cruising over the earthly plane like a diseased wind, looking for a willing partner…or perhaps even, an unwilling one.

Yes, I thought. There is evil.

The entity might be gone, but his sister was not. His sister was still within me, watching, waiting, existing. I shuddered all over again. Kingsley felt me shudder and patted me again. He added a small squeeze. Flirt.

Junior and Patricia Thurman next came into the room. Although Junior looked confused, he also looked vibrant.

Noticeably absent – and perhaps most telling of all that the entity was indeed gone – was that his aura, along with Tara's and all the other Thurmans, was completely free of the black cord. The cursed black cord that had bound them all.

We left Tara with her uncle.