If you haven't read Star Crossed yet, stop right there. Back away from the computer.
Unless you're like me and appreciate spoilers so you're not caught unprepared for surprises. I hate surprises.
In Star Crossed, there's a scene where Savannah and Sawyer find an underground city and a cave full of bodies. Did you wonder what that was all about? Well. Wonder no more. I give you:
The Dead Bodies Explained scene.
Savannah knocked on the door, biting her lip and glancing at Sawyer. He twined her fingers through his and kissed her knuckles.
A very old woman opened the door. “Yes? What do you want?” she asked, not unkindly.
“This is going to sound so weird…we were trapped in an old abandoned house in the woods near the Oregon coast…”
The woman’s face darkened. “Yes. I know the place. Leave me alone.”
She started to shut the door, but Sawyer was faster. “Please, we just have a few questions. We were stuck in there overnight. We found this city—“ Sawyer made sure he turned his Texas charm all the way up.
The old woman raised an eyebrow. “You found the city? Why haven’t the newspapers been crawling all over the place then?”
Because newspapers are almost obsolete?
“We didn’t tell anyone,” Savannah said quietly, peeking at Sawyer through her hair. The place had damn near killed them. But it had also brought them together. Without that crumbling mansion, he wouldn’t have his Buttercup.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” the old woman croaked, voice gravelly and harsh.
Savannah shrugged. “It wasn’t our place. That house saved us--” Her fingers tightened around Sawyers, “in more ways than one.”
“But we would like to know the story behind it. The curiosity is killing us,” Sawyer put in quickly. In case the lady had any ideas about shutting the door in their faces and pretending she hadn’t heard their question.
She heaved a monumental sigh and stepped back, ushering them in. Sawyer was over six feet tall and had tattoos. Savannah looked like an angel, but still—the woman was too trusting.
You never let strangers into your home. Didn’t she know that?
“Would you like a cookie?” She held out a plate of yellow, square, crumbly…something. Savannah took one and nibbled on a corner, murmuring thank you. Sawyer took one, too. Just to be polite.
“Sit, sit. I’ll tell you the story.” She waved them to her pink floral couch, faded with age. The house smelled like tea and cats and memories, and framed pictures, many black and white, covered the walls.
“By the way, I’m Melba.”
“By the way, I’m Melba.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Savannah. This is my boyfriend—“ She grinned up at him, “—Sawyer.”
“We came from money. My grandfather’s grandfather was some British nobility. His fortune passed down through the generations. My father was a big-shot editor for one of the newspapers in California, but California was getting to crowded for him, so he packed us up—me and my sister and baby brother—and moved us to Oregon.” Her mouth turned down at the corners, and Sawyer got the distinct impression that these weren’t happy memories. “Mother wasn’t happy about that at all. Said she kept having horrible dreams. But Father never listened.” She shook her head, her wrinkled hands trembling.
Savannah glanced at Sawyer, frowning as well. This story wasn’t going to be a happy one, obviously. But what had they expected, asking about a burned nursery and a cave full of dead bodies?
“He built his dream house. Monstrously huge. Mostly to impress all his California friends who came up to visit. Mother said it was too big. As they were building the foundation, they dug up a whole graveyard.” Her eyes drifted closed as the tremors moved from her hands to her whole body. “We were supposed to tell people. Have the societies come check it out. Especially when they dug up the city right next to the house. But Father, no. He didn’t want to slow progress. So he moved all the bodies to the cave, stacked them there like sardines, and built the house right over the graveyard. Mother said moving the bodies was disrespectful. Again, he didn’t care. Until the fire.”
Savannah sucked in a breath. Absently, Sawyer ran his hand up and down her back. He remembered that room. Burned remnants of a nursery, black with utter despair.
“My baby brother died in the nursery fire. Never did determine the cause. Mother took his tiny body, and me and sister, and we left. Never looked back. Father tried to follow us once. She told him to stay away from her. Brother was buried in here, in California. Mother was buried there a few years later.” She struggled to draw a deep breath, seeming to shake the sadness off of her. “Father went back to that big house all by himself. But he couldn’t live there knowing what he’d done. So he left. Never sold it. Just boarded it up and left. Died within a year at a construction site. But we never found his body.”
“Holy creak!” Savannah gasped as goosebumps broke out along Sawyer’s arms.
“My son went back a few years ago. Dug a doorway in. Checked things out. Then installed a big metal door and left the place quick as he got there. Now we’re just waiting for it to die, like everything else it’s touched.”