When Anne accepts a job in a German boarding school for gifted children, her main concern is surviving without California’s sunshine and beaches. She doesn’t anticipate anything more dangerous than getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Nowhere does her work description mention three men betting on who will get her into bed first, or being rescued by the reclusive math teacher David Lindeman, a man her new friends claim is evil incarnate.
The old castle houses many secrets, and as days go by Anne finds it increasingly difficult to separate reality and superstition. She becomes a reluctant participant in an ancient battle between good and evil, and to survive, she must channel a power from deep within herself she could never have imagined. Who can she trust in a world where myths become real and nothing is what it seems?
"Go back that way. The third door to the left leads to an old staircase. Be careful, the wood is old. It will take you to a back room in the archive. I'm sure you can find your way from there."
It wasn't the way she came in, but that didn't matter.
She caught a glimpse of the other man's face over David's shoulder. He stared at her in a strange way, like a famished person who sees food for the first time in days.
"Thank you, Professor. I wish there were a GPS version of you. You're the only one around here who gives directions that make sense."
"Yes, I'm quite wonderful. Now go."
She took a couple of steps, but paused and glanced back. David held his position between her and the other man, and she could swear she saw glowing red eyes behind him.
"Maybe you should come with me?"
He hadn't raised his voice, but he didn't need to. She heard the urgency anyway and hurried along the corridor as fast as she could without running.
Behind her, she heard David's voice. "No. She is not for you."
The reply sounded more like an animal than a person, and she broke out in a full run.
First door, second door, third door...
The wood was crooked and swollen, and for a panicked moment she didn't think the gateway to safety would open.
David's voice reached her from a distance. "...and I said, 'No.'"
Sounded like a battle of wills. Hopefully, the creepier guy wouldn't win.
She gave one final hard tug and the door squeaked open. When she pulled it shut behind her she thought she heard someone shout.
Just the old hinges and your imagination.
One part of her claimed she should go back and see if David was alright.
A bigger part said she should listen to him and get a move on. If she could open the door, others could too. Other... things.
She stood in a small space barely lit by a dusty bulb. A narrow wooden staircase led upwards, into darkness.
He wasn't kidding. This thing is ancient.
She scaled it one step at a time like a little girl, testing her weight on each step before relying on it. A couple squeaked too much or felt like they would give way, and she took a large step over them.
The spiders in the corners appeared the size of kittens.
Nothing approached from behind, but she kept glancing back, hearing imaginary footsteps.
It took a long time to get to the archive and from there to the ground floor.