Dylan pulled out his fancy camera as Hunter turned out of his neighborhood and headed toward the old farm road that would take us to the Devil's Tree.

Rocks crunched and churned under our tires, and I turned around to get a better look at Dylan. "So, if it's not haunted, then why the camera?"

Dylan's serious blue eyes met mine. And somethin' in them made me shudder. "I didn't say it wasn't haunted."

I turned back around in my seat and gazed out my window at the darkening sky. At the fresh greens of spring fading in the twilight.

"I think it is haunted," Dylan said, voice quiet but certain. "But I'm not after ghosts. I want to learn more about the tree itself. I'm hoping that pictures of the tree and whatever we experience will give us a better idea of what happened there. The school librarian has already agreed to help me publish the work if we find anything new."

"Yeah," Tanya said, acting way smarter than she was. "We have important questions to answer. Like why do leaves never grow on it? And why does snow never fall there?"

She had me there. Those were questions the good folks of Montgomery County had been asking for years. "Well, I don't see how you're gonna figure it all out when Old Joe and every other geezer who's ever gone to that tree has come up empty handed."

"Or dead." Hunter smiled, gunned the accelerator, and hit a pothole.

We all popped half out of our seats. Why did I put up with him? Maybe because he was a good kisser. Maybe his hot muscles. I don't know. I huffed and let my arms fall crisscross over my chest, still pissed that we weren't goin' to hang out at Mojo's like we usually did on Saturday night.

I peeked at Dylan and Tanya in the rearview mirror. "Dylan's smart," Tanya said and draped an arm over Dylan's shoulder. "Real smart. He's done the research. Has the equipment. We're bound to find somethin' new, right baby?" She cooed, which made Dylan blush and me want to vomit.

I shrugged and glared at Hunter who only laughed. "Lighten up, babe." His hand found its way back to my knee. "It'll be fun." His finger danced in a circle on my thigh. "Maybe when we're done we'll still have time to grab a burger or somethin' else," his voice dipped in that low, sexy way it does when he wants more than a burger.

Ugh. I shoved his hand away. "Let's just get there already."

A smile played on Hunter's lips. He knew he had me wrapped around his pinkie; otherwise I'd never have let him drag me out on this God-forsaken dirt road at night.

The Devil's Tree wasn't too far from town. Just a few miles down the old dirt road, then about fifty feet off the shoulder in an area that was called a state park, but looked like nothin' more than an abandoned field with scattered oaks.

Then I saw it. Comin' closer through the dark. The beams of Hunter's truck illuminated its skeletal limbs that stuck out at odd angles. And a length of chain link fence wrapped around its base. Maybe in an attempt to stop crazy folks from comin' out here to try and hack it down.

Hunter pulled to a stop, let the engine idle. We stared. There were a couple other oak trees nearby, but they had leaves. Not the Devil's Tree. Nope. Dead limbs, gnarly roots. Looked like somethin' straight out of a scary movie.

"Well, we're here." Hunter turned the key and the engine sputtered to a stop. He opened his door.

Silence. I closed my eyes. There were no cars. No houses in sight. If I listened closely, I could hear a few birds in the distance. The chatter of a squirrel.

The Devil's TreeWhere stories live. Discover now