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Tiffany screamed.

"No, don't scream, don't be afraid," the man's voice shouted over Tiffany's screams. He dropped the shovel with a clang and waved his hands in front of him, signalling her to stop. Tiffany, panicked, started pulling out the grass as she tried to pull herself out from the ground. It was like quicksand; she was falling back into the hole she made the faster she flailed her arms. The man approached Tiffany slowly. "Let me help you out of there!"

Tiffany tried to calm down. Her wet and messy blond hair covered most of her face, preventing her from making out a clear visual of the man in front of her. She tried to control her heart rate, but it was useless. Her track record with strangers was a depressing one. "Who are you?"

The man was now close enough for Tiffany to see through the glow of the moon. "I'm Peter, the caretaker of the graveyard."

Tiffany knew who he was. "Oh," Tiffany sighed with relief. She didn't exactly know him personally but he was a familiar face around town. Technically, he wasn't a stranger. "Sorry."

"You don't need to apologise," the graveyard caretaker said while holding out his hands. Tiffany accepted them gratefully. "Let's get you out."

"Let's," Tiffany repeated. With a heave, Peter pulled Tiffany out of the ground with little effort. For being in his early fifties, Peter was surprisingly strong. His hair had thinned and all colour had drained from it. Fine wrinkles lined the skin on his slender face. Tiffany noted that Peter's clothes were also extremely filthy too, as if he had climbed out of a grave himself. He picked up his shovel and turned back to Tiffany.

"Are you okay, what happened?"

Tiffany still couldn't remember what exactly happened before she was buried alive. "The last thing I remember is finishing work. I... I seriously don't know how I got in there." Tiffany looked behind her at the hole she crawled out of. She silently thanked God and counted her blessings. Tiffany looked back at Peter and eyed the shovel. "What are you doing out here in the dark?"

"Well it's my job," Peter laughed. "I was just heading home, down the path there and through those trees." Tiffany looked in the direction he was pointing to. The house wasn't in sight but she knew the house he meant. It was located just outside the iron fence of the graveyard. Tiffany always saw the place as a labyrinth of graves considering Lakefield View had to have an enormous graveyard to accommodate the rising number of deaths the town had faced over the years.

"Thank you... for pulling me out of the grave," Tiffany spoke quietly. She wasn't ashamed to thank him but her coyness suggested otherwise. "I would really appreciate it if you didn't mention this to anyone. News of me getting buried alive will just stir up more drama that seems to surround me lately."

Peter nodded obediently. "Of course, I can understand that. You want to be left alone. I do too. Why else would I take a job that requires looking after the dead in a place most people avoid? People can be cruel in Lakefield View."

Tiffany found herself agreeing with somebody she always used to judge from a distance. He might look a little scary with his hooked nose, and the fact that he was elderly, something Tiffany was always afraid of, just put Peter on Tiffany's pedestal of automatic judgment.

"You know what it's like then, to be the centre of unwanted attention?"

"Here I thought you always wanted the attention," Peter laughed again. Tiffany smiled. It looks like she wasn't the only person out of the two of them to judge the other. Something about that made her feel better. "I didn't mean it in a bad way, I just thought your family always had a flair for the dramatic."

Ashes of the Innocent (Abyssal Sanctuary #2)Read this story for FREE!