A/N Thanks to those of you who have read my first story, The Courage to Stand. This story is a little different. I am playing it by ear and like you, I have no idea what is going to happen. I don't know if its going to be brief or more involved. Stay tuned.


Chapter 1

"Damn it!"

Roots and brambles were digging into the sole of her foot and the glow of moon high in the night's clear sky did little to illuminate the darkness. Leigh shook her head with a sigh. Floundering through the woods with one broken sandal as she tried to keep up with Richie and his friends was not her idea of fun by any stretch of the imagination.

It had been just two months since Leigh Oksil came to Collinsport, Maine to make a new start fresh out of high school. Collinsport: a village teeming with so much opportunity for one who loved the sea, Uncle Rich said. Until she discovered that not one of the self-righteous captains wanted anything to do with her. They called her an unneeded liability. Leigh laughed. She knew the goings-on of a fishing trawler like the back of her hand having practically breathed, eaten and slept maritime instruction since she was seven years old. And thanks to the strength she'd gained in the years spent as a track and field champion she was able to hoist a full net and drop and raise anchor as well as any man, even handle overflowing crab pots singlehandedly. Why Leigh decided to stay in this gender biased town was beyond her. But stay she did for her uncle promised the tide would turn once his old fishing mate sailed back into port. Just one more month and a position would most assuredly be hers.

She smiled when her cousin called her a 'butch' as he watched, dumbfounded while proving herself quite capable to his dad. Rich senior chuckled as he gazed at the seconds ticking away on his wristwatch. "Maybe you're jealous, my boy, preferring to carouse with those 'good-for-nothings' rather than help your ol' man."

"Lay off Pa. I have no interest in this fishing shit. Never have. And now with her here, you'll have the "son" you always wanted. 'Sides, you know Tony Peterson gave me the good word. I'll be heading off to MSU this fall. An attorney brings in a lot more than any clam digger ever could."

A sharp twig stabbed into her ankle, pulling Leigh back to the present.

"Hey, get over here," Richie called as the teens sat before a hastily prepared bon fire. His girlfriend, Robin and her sister, Jaclyn were giggling crazily as they passed a joint between them. Richie's best bud Wayne couldn't keep his eyes off of the shapely thighs in Leigh's short shorts as she approached the troupe. "Down boy, before you start humpin' her. She's not into guys, right cuz?"

Wayne groaned. "Man, you've been houndin' her all night. Cool it, will ya?" The red head couldn't help but smile at his defense as she sat on a boulder, stretching her hands toward the flames.

A thin girl with long hair thrust out her hand. "Want a toke?" Robin offered with a dry cough.

Leigh looked at her with a sneer of disgust. "No."

Jaclyn snorted as she grabbed the joint and took a drag. "What are ya, a square?"

Holding onto her sister for support, Robin pulled herself to her feet and looked around. "Hey, we're on the Collins' estate!"

"Yeah, so?" Richie's eyes narrowed suspiciously. He knew he wasn't going to like where this was going. Robin always did stupid things when she was high. Why he'd stayed with her this long he didn't know.

"So, big guy, how 'bout we really welcome your cousin to Collinsport?"

Wayne looked up. "What are you talkin' about?"

"We're near the Old House, aren't we?"

"Knock it off, Rob," he warned.

As the four teens stared pointedly at her, Leigh couldn't help but ask. "What's the Old House?"

Her cousin looked away as Wayne explained, "It's just an old abandoned mansion on the land of the high and mighty Collins family."

Jacklyn giggled, stoned out of her mind. "Yeah, don't forget haunted."

Rich shook his blonde head. He was gonna kill the girls for bringing this up. There was no way in hell he was going up there...especially at night. "Don't listen to 'em. They're wasted."

"Oh yeah? If we're so wasted, then take her," Robin snapped. "Or are you guys pussies 'cus of what happened?"

A tremor shot though him as Wayne remembered Tom and Gordon and Janet and Nicole. Once idolizing the former CPH juniors and seniors, he thought they were the biggest badasses for spending the night in the run down place. But when they returned, things changed. In six short weeks the guys were complete wackos, admitted to that nuthouse, Windcliff. Nikki blew her brains out with her dad's '45 and Jan was still missing. Tommy and Gordy never said a single word about what went on there. And no one ever went back.

It may have been the smoke floating around from the joint that caused Leigh to leap to her feet and yank her cousin by the hand. "What are we waiting for? Let's go!"

The guys stared at each other nervously. Wayne stood and took her aside. "Hey look, you don't know this place like we do. Just forget it, okay?"

Robin laughed as she flicked the last of the joint into the fire. "I knew it!" She stared to cluck like a chicken and Jackie joined in.

The redhead fumed, green eyes flashing in anger. "Take me there, damn it!" she demanded with a snarl. "And I'll go in, too."

The two stoners stared up at her in disbelief and Richie groaned. She had a no-nonsense attitude, just like Uncle Andy. Fuck! Dad's gonna kill me!

Wayne suddenly realized Leigh was as serious as a heart attack. "Shit."