The Eternal Ones
Copyright © Kirsten Miller, 2010
All rights reserved
Penguin Books Ltd
This is 2 of 3 exclusive extracts from
The Eternal Ones
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C H A P T E R T W E N T Y - T H R E E
For the first time, Haven noticed that the church had no windows. The
only signs of activity were the four trucks parked outside. As she walked
up to the double doors, she heard the discordant twangs of an electric
guitar being tuned. She paused, wondering if she should knock. Then
she took hold of the rough wooden handle and stepped inside.
The interior of the church was as plain and unpretentious as its
exterior. Five wooden pews lined either side of a wide aisle that led
up to a plywood platform at the front of the room, and ceiling fans
circulated hot, humid air. On the wall behind the platform, a large
cross was the church’s only decoration.
Haven spotted Earl Frizzell bending down to plug in an electric
amplifier while three men dressed in identical shirts and trousers
readied their instruments—a guitar, banjo, and bass. The women of
the congregation wore long, flowery dresses with the ruffles and frills
of another era. There were no more than fifteen people in total, yet
somehow the church seemed full.
K I R S T E N M I L L E R
“Haven!” Leah waved from the first pew and motioned for Haven
to join her. “I want you to meet my mother. Mama, this is Haven
Haven gazed down at a plump woman with long red hair that
hung down her back in a single braid. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,
The woman returned the greeting with a lovely smile. She might
once have been beautiful, but life was hard for women in the hills.
“Thank you, Haven. That prom dress you gave Leah was real pretty.”
“I owed her one, ma’am. She saved my behind at school the other
day. And I’m awful grateful to y’all for letting me visit your church.”
“Oh, it’s our pleasure,” Mrs. Frizzell insisted. “We don’t get all
that many visitors up here. I sure hope we’ll be able to help you
“Well, we’re gonna give it a shot.” It was Earl Frizzell. He reached
out a hand that was gnarled and scarred. “I’m glad to see you here,
Haven. We’re just about to get started. Are you ready?”
“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.”
Leah laughed. “You ain’t supposed to do nothing. If you feel the
spirit coming on, just let it carry you. We’ll do the rest.”
The congregation rose as Earl Frizzell stepped up to one of the
microphones on the platform and addressed the crowd.
“We’re going to do something a little different this evening,” he
told his people. “As y’all probably noticed, we’ve got a visitor here with
us. Her name’s Haven, and they’ve been saying in town that she’s got
a demon. That’s what they call it down there when somebody starts
having visions and speaking in strange tongues. Any of that sound
familiar?” The congregation chuckled. “Since those people down
there weren’t blessed with the gift of interpretation, the good Lord’s
sent Haven here. We’ll see if we can understand what He’s trying to
tell us. And if it turns out the girl does have a demon, then we’ll just
go right ahead and root the sucker out.”
“Amen!” cried the women as the band started to play.
It was a familiar gospel tune, played faster and louder than Haven
had ever heard. The congregation began to sway and a few members
started to dance. Leah had her eyes closed, and her shoes shuffled to the
rhythm of the song. One by one, people’s lips began to move in prayer. A
hum of voices rose as the dancing turned passionate. Then the sound
of unfamiliar languages spoken in unison broke through the music.
Haven watched with growing horror and discomfort, forcing her feet
to move and wishing she were anywhere but there.
“Relax.” Leah Frizzell laid a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
“This isn’t something you can think your way through, Haven. You
gotta let go. You gotta try to feel it.”
Haven closed her eyes and ignored her own embarrassment. She
let the music fill her mind and focused on a tingling in her toes as
they danced. The tingle began to burn, climbing up her legs, engulf-
ing her stomach, and then finally exploding inside her head.
“I’ve loved you for centuries,” whispered a familiar, soothing voice.
She could feel her nervousness drifting away. “Whatever you want, you
can have it if you’ll only agree to be mine.”
the music hadn’t stopped. She opened her eyes and saw three mem-
bers of the congregation dancing around her while Earl Frizzell and
his niece knelt by her side.
“What’s going on?” Haven asked, pulling herself up on her
“You were talking,” the preacher said. “Leah interpreted for you.”
“It wasn’t a demon talking. It was prophecy. The Lord’s trying to
tell you you’re in danger,” Leah said, her face pale and frightened.
“You have to leave town. I think there’s going to be a fire.”
“No,” Haven tried to assure her. “The fire already happened. A
long time ago.”
K I R S T E N M I L L E R
“Someone’s going to start another one.”
“But I didn’t see a fire, Leah. I heard someone talking—a man
with a wonderful voice.”
“You can’t trust him,” Leah warned. “Listen to me and get out of
town while you can.”
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y - F O U R
After the church service, Haven drove for hours. Up hills and down
hills. Over gravel and asphalt. She passed no more than five or six
cars throughout the journey. With the windows rolled down, the hum
and crackle of her wheels on the rough country roads helped calm
Haven knew Leah was right. She had to leave Snope City. It was
ridiculous to think she could hide from the past. The visions would
never end unless she figured out what was behind them. The only
way to do that was to get to New York before anyone could stop her.
Yet the prospect terrified Haven. Who was the man she’d heard whis-
pering? Was he the one who would start the fire?
Haven wished she remembered more of Constance’s life. She had
a hunch that the name of the man who couldn’t be trusted was hidden
somewhere in the dark gaps of her memory. Logic told her it might
be Ethan. The very person she needed to find. If so, her trip to New
York might wind up a trap.
K I R S T E N M I L L E R
Haven’s car came to a halt at a stop sign at the intersection of two
deserted roads. The crickets’ song drowned out the sound of the car’s
motor, and Haven sat and listened to them as the leaves rustled over-
head. Finally she stepped on the gas and took the turn toward Snope
City. Her decision was made. She’d call Beau and start packing as
soon as she got home. By the time her family woke in the morning,
Haven would already be gone.
it was just past ten o’clock when the Civic rolled to a stop in the
driveway and Haven cut the engine. She wouldn’t have been sur-
prised to find the front door open and an angry old lady standing on
the threshold. But the Cadillac wasn’t there and the house looked
dark and still. Even the porch lamp, which Imogene believed to be
all that stood between her and the world’s criminal community, had
not been switched on. Haven wondered where her mother and grand-
mother could be. Imogene often liked to stay at church after services
to talk to Dr. Tidmore, but she was usually home by eight and in bed
by nine thirty.
“Hello?” Haven called out as she entered the house. There was
no answer, just a muffled creak from a loose floorboard on the second
floor. Haven held her breath and set her senses on full alert. She rec-
ognized the sound. The creaky board lay just outside her room. She
flipped the switch in the foyer. The light was unusually dim—barely
powerful enough to illuminate the stairs. The second floor of the
building remained in the shadows. Haven stayed frozen, listening for
sounds of movement over the pounding of her own heart. She heard
Looking back at the car in the driveway, Haven wondered if
she should leave. But there was nowhere else to go. The town was
asleep—even the gas stations were closed. She thought about calling
the police, but she couldn’t bear to face their scorn when they discov-
ered they’d been summoned to investigate a loose floorboard.
With her courage slowly growing, Haven moved cautiously around
the first floor, turning on lights in all of the rooms. In the kitchen she
grabbed a butcher’s knife. Then she headed back to the stairs and
began to climb toward the darkness on the second floor. She took one
step at a time, waiting and listening before climbing another. At the
top of the stairs, she fumbled for the switch to the hallway light.
Room by room, she quietly nudged the doors open, then hast-
ily turned on the lights. The bathroom and the guest room proved
empty. But when she reached her own bedroom door, it didn’t budge.
After a moment’s pause, she stepped forward and twisted the handle.
She took a deep breath and held it as she threw open the door. She
was reaching for the light switch when she saw a figure illuminated
by an orange glow that was emanating from her bed.
She knew at once that she’d seen the man somewhere before. His
face was bland, his clothes unremarkable. Even his dark hair, parted
on the side, seemed oddly average. He stayed frozen for only a second
before he bolted past Haven, pushing her out of his path and knock-
ing her knife to the floor as he ran for the stairs.
Haven slammed against the door frame and lost her footing. She
felt her head hit the doorknob as she fell, and then she felt nothing
she was calling for Ethan. She felt the heat on her face and the
pain in her lungs. Suddenly Haven was awake, half her face mashed
against the wooden floor. The other half was hot. Her handbag and
the butcher’s knife were lodged beneath her, and when she rolled
onto her back, she noticed that the room looked cloudy. She couldn’t
even see the ceiling. Something bright flickered in the corner of her
eye. Haven let her head flop to the side. Flames were consuming her
bed and scaling the wall behind it. She watched, still woozy, as a line
of fire inched across the braided rug and climbed the legs of her desk.
She knew she was going to die but felt no panic.
K I R S T E N M I L L E R
Her eyes drooped and she drifted to sleep. She found herself back
in the familiar room. Ethan’s lips were on hers, his arms encircled
her, and the smell of smoke grew stronger. When he pulled back,
there was something different about the look in his eye. He reached
out and tenderly brushed a strand of hair from her face.
“We’ll be together soon,” he promised, and she believed him.
The next time she woke, the entire room was ablaze. Haven knew
that she needed to move quickly, but her limbs felt as heavy as marble
pillars. She made it to the hallway on her hands and knees. As she
pulled herself upright, she heard a single cough. It had come from
She found her grandmother in bed, asleep. A pill bottle on the
nightstand suggested she’d had some help counting sheep.
“Get up! Where’s Mama?” Haven yelled, shaking the old woman
“Have you lost your mind? She’s out looking for you!” Imogene
managed to croak before she succumbed to a fit of coughing. “What
have you done, Haven Moore?” she demanded when she realized the
room was filled with smoke.
Haven didn’t take the time to answer. She grabbed her grand-
mother and dragged her into the hallway and down the stairs. The
old woman was surprisingly light, as if she were made of nothing but
spite and bitterness.
When they were both safely out the front door, Haven dug into her
pocketbook and pulled out her cell phone. She punched 911. “Fire.
Snively house,” she gasped and passed out in the azalea bushes.
“looks like the girl carried the old lady down.”
Haven felt herself being lifted and heard the sound of sirens and
men shouting around her.
“Oh, thank Jesus. Are they hurt? Are they burnt?” Mae Moore