Friday, September 28, 2012

Haunted: Chapter 2


Chapter 2

 

If anyone knew how to do research, it was her sister Colleen. The woman thrived off of questions and answers and read everything she could get her hands on.

So it was only fitting that Sam go to her sister for help. Only a year and a half younger than Sam, Colleen often acted the elder of the two.

Stepping through the doors to the grand and very elegant Book Nook bookstore, Sam thought, as she always did, just how suited for this place her sister was. Though Sam still didn’t understand why Colleen had chosen to work at this particular bookstore when she could have just as easily worked for their grandfather at one of his many bookstores like their brother Andrew did.

Her choice, Sam thought with a shrug.

As always, when Sam entered the place, she felt battered by the spirits of the dead. Today was no different. Each time she stepped through the doors she was taking a risk.

“They won’t let me in the adult section.”

Letting out a huge breath, Sam tuned to the ghostly apparition to her left. She hadn’t seen him before. “Really,” she replied casually and kept walking.

“It’s not fair.”

“Tell someone who cares.” She didn’t gasp when he jumped in front of her, but instead shot him an indignant look. “Walking here!”

“Make them let me in,” he persisted.

“In where?” Oh great Sam, encourage the entity.

“The adult section.”

Scanning the short, dark haired pudgy boy, maybe in his early teens, Sam laughed. His aura was screaming, pervert. “Honey, you haven’t even reached puberty yet.”

The ghostly image before her shimmered with rage. “I will have you know, miss smart-ass, that I am twenty-five years old. Just because I am vertically impaired does not mean I am a child.”

“Vertically impaired?” She burst into laughter, then bit it off when the ghost glared at her. “Who won’t let you in?”

“The other spirits. They said I was making them all look bad.”

Go figure, Sam thought as she began to walk away.  “I’ll see what I can do.”

“You had better.”

She stopped now, and stood directly in front of him. “What does a ghost need in the adult section anyway?” Sam noticed her sister moving her way, and she didn’t look pleased.

“We have urges too you know.” He smoothed out his hair, trying to look sophisticated.

“For real? Tell me…” She leaned in a little closer. “Can you, like, do another dead person?” She had no idea how these things worked, had never asked anyone before now. That sort of thing wasn’t a topic she cared to bring up with her father.

“Oh honey…” He looked her up and down, while his eyes turned dreamy and his voice dropped into a soft, seductive tone. “Now why would I waste my time on flighty apparitions when there are so many luscious humans for the taking? Ever see the Entity?”

Sam felt nauseous. “Oh, Jesus, that’s sick.”

“Sam, I wish you wouldn’t do that.” Obviously embarrassed, Colleen took hold of her sister’s arm and rushed her off to a less crowded area.

“You will not believe who I just talked with, Colleen. You have a pervert roaming these fair halls.” Sam laughed boldly. “And he’s a frigin’ midget to boot.”

“Vertically impaired.” he corrected, startling Sam. She hadn’t realized he’d followed her.

“Sorry, vertically impaired.” Sam laughed again, catching the mortified look on her sister’s delicate face.

“Jeepers, Sam, people are looking at you.” Grabbing her sister’s arm, Colleen dragged her to one of the main floor offices. “Why do you have to come here and embarrass me like this?”

“Because it’s fun.” But Sam saw her sister meant it. “Oh, Colleen, relax. Just tell people your sister has mental problems.”

“I do.”

 Sam narrowed her eyes. She wasn't sure if Colleen was joking or not. “I need your help.”

“Oh how long have I waited for you to say that. I know this really great shrink —”

“Why aren’t I surprised? Let me guess, he’s just your doctor and nothing more?”

Colleen snarled. “He is a she and yes, I do see her from time to time. Who wouldn’t, given the fact that my sister drives me nuts? If it isn’t mental help you need, then what?”

Sam frowned at her sister. She had no idea Colleen was seeing a therapist. For what? Her life wasn't that bad. “I need help researching a missing little girl.”

Colleen’s face simply lit up with the word. “Research, I can do that.” Grabbing a pen and paper, Colleen paused. “Shoot.”

“You really do need a life, sis. Okay, I don’t have much to go on, I’m afraid. She’s maybe six, seven, at best. Her hair is long, maybe mid waist, blonde and a little wavy. Her face is round, a little chubby, and her eyes are blue.” Sam thought it best to leave out the gory details. Her sister wasn't good with blood and gore. “Don’t go back too far. Maybe a year. I don’t think it’s been very long.” She just had a feeling it was a recent case.

“Okay. Describe what she’s wearing.”

Sam didn’t have to think hard, it was planted in her memory like steel. “She’s wearing a cute red fuzzy shirt, short cap sleeves, and there’s a fuzzy white cat on the front. Blue jeans with pockets on the side and gems along the seams. She’s wearing running shoes, her laces are untied. She has a clip in her hair, the shape of a butterfly, on the left side.” Sam touched the side of her hair, thinking of the little girl and what her life might have been like if she’d been given a chance to live.

Colleen glanced up, giving Sam a looked filled with sorrow. “She really got to you, huh? Anything else?”

Sam shook her head, trying to disguise her emotions. Dealing with children after death was always tough. Especially when the death was so violent. “That’s all.”

“Then I’ll get right on it.” Stepping out of the office, Colleen jumped. “Oh, Mr. Montgomery, I didn’t hear you there. I was just…we were…sorry.”

“That’s all right, Colleen, no need to apologize.”

Sam shifted around her sister to see who it was that was speaking. He had such a deep almost seductive voice and when she finally managed to see who it was, she nearly swallowed her tongue. Before her stood a tall dark-haired god of a man dressed in a tailored two-piece navy blue suit. But it wasn’t the smart way he dressed or held himself, or even the dark black hair cut short and styled back from a ruggedly handsome face that had her pausing, breath lost. It was much more.

Here was a man with a face that could match a masterpiece chiseled in art; a face Sam could imagine carving into stone. He had a strong chin, sharp cheekbones, and a fine aristocratic nose. His lips were full, thick, and bowed up at the corners with a smile that produced heart-stopping dimples. When she looked up to meet his eyes, so blue they reminded her of a cool calm ocean, she felt a jolt ricochet throughout her body.

“I didn’t want to disturb your work,” he said as his eyes stayed locked on hers.

“Oh, no, this isn’t work. This is my sister, Sam—Samantha,” she corrected, stuttering. “She was just leaving.” Colleen took Sam by the arm and tugged hard. “Weren’t you?”

Sam said nothing, but continued to stare.

His smile widened, sinking those dimples deeper into his cheeks. “Pleased to meet you, Samantha.”

Swallowing hard, Sam found her voice. “Pleasure is all mine, Mr. Montgomery.”

“Please, call me Ethan.” He took Sam’s hand, and gave it a slow shake.

“You’d better get going, Sam.” Hauling her from the office, Colleen spoke beneath her breath. “Put your eyes back in your sockets. He’s a married man for heaven’s sake.”

“Why is it all the good looking ones are always taken?” She could still smell his cologne. A soft citrusy, yet spicy scent.

“Because they’re good looking. Now get out of here before you get me fired.”

“But my research.” Sam glanced back only to see Ethan walking away. The man was a god and she would love to sculpt him in clay.

“I’ll take care of it.” Colleen continued to push Sam along. “Now get out of here before you get me in trouble.”

 “They still won’t let me in.”

Sam let out a breath and looked over at the ghost. “And this is my problem, why?”

Colleen paused, her brow curled in confusion. “Hey, I’m doing you a favor. You could try to be nice to me.”

Sam shook her head. “I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to…what is your name anyway?”

“Ed.”

Sam frowned. “Ed? It doesn’t suit you. Whatever. Maybe the reason they won’t let you into the adult section, Ed, is because you are a perverted man, and if you start reading porn you’ll get all hot and bothered then try to relieve yourself on some innocent victim.”

“Good God, Sam! Keep your voice down,” Colleen chastised while glancing about the room.

He slithered up real close to Sam and she shivered as his cold entity cascaded over her. “You don’t look innocent.”

“Oh, ick.” Sam bolted away, shaking him from her skin. “Touch me again, pervert, and I’ll make sure you cross over into some ungodly place where sex is reason enough to mutilate a person.”

“Jeepers, Sam, people are looking at us.” Colleen covered her face with her hands.

“So, they’ll just assume I’m talking to you.”

Colleen’s head came up, eyes wide as she gasped.

“Go get your jollies off in the magazine section and keep your hands, and every other body part, away from humans,” she ordered Ed quite sternly.

“Party pooper,” he sulked.

“I hate when you do this.” Colleen shook her head. “I never know if you’re talking to me or to some ghostly freak.”

“Unless you’re a perverted entity, I’m not talking about you.”

“Go away, Sam. I need a break from you.”

“Fine, call me if you find out anything.”

“Yes, great, I’ll call. Now go, people are watching you.”

Sam looked around. “No one’s watching me.” But to satisfy her sister, Sam left the store.


 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Free story time: Haunted: Innocence Lost


Boy, its been a long time since I posted here. Funny how life can get in the way. But I'm back and I intend to be here more often starting with a series I wrote a while back. Each Monday and Friday I'll post a chapter for you all to read. Now keep in mind this is not professionally edited so forgive the errors. I hope you'll stick around and read this story of a young woman with the ability to see and speak to the dead.
 
Haunted: Innocence Lost
 
Blurb:
 
Samantha Dowling is an artist with a secret. She can see and speak to the dead. Though she'd give anything not to have them, she knows there is nothing she an do to stop them. Giving in, she's spent her life trying to help the spirits who come to her for help.
A young girl, brutally murdered begins to haunt Samantha day and night. Desperate to find her killer, Sam embarks on the task of giving the child peace. The last thing Sam expects is to become involved with a married man.
 
Ethan Montgomery is filthy rich. Owner of a world wide chain of books stores keeps him busy enough. Dealing with a bitter ex wife gives him more stress than he needs. So when a gorgeous red head walks into his store, he can't help but pursue her.
 
Sam gets more than she bargained for when she falls in love with Ethan. Entangled in his bitter divorce, she does everything possible to keep her secret. Juggling an affair and searching for a killer is no easy feat. Especially when the killer decides she is her next victim. Will Ethan find her on time, or Will Sam join the very souls that call to her for help.

 
Chapter 1

 

She struggled in the darkness that surrounded her. The dirt smothering her was cold and damp and clogged her nails as she fought to escape. Her eyes and nose stung from the strong smell of defecation and rotting flesh. The taste of blood in her mouth made her want to gag.

She’d been buried. Alive!

Desperate for air, for escape, she clawed at the dirt, pushing it aside in her frantic need to escape. It covered her eyes, filled her nostrils and ears. Unable to breathe, she fought desperately to find air. When her hand finally broke through the surface, she felt giddy, then gasped when a hand grabbed onto her arm. Yanked up, free of her grave, she scrambled to her knees, spitting dirt from her mouth, shaking it from her ears, gasping for breath. In the distance a tiny voice spoke.

Save us.”

“Who are you?” She rubbed the dirt from her eyes, blinking away the blurriness. What she saw before her made her stomach roll and her heart clench.

Propped against a wall was a small child, who couldn’t have been more than seven. Her eyes, a foggy white stared at her blankly and she felt them penetrate her soul. Across her neck, from ear to ear, was a gaping wound.

Horrified, she scrambled back and screamed when an arm came around her waist. Before she could comprehend what was happening, something cold and hard touched her neck.

In one quick motion, it sliced across her throat.

Sam woke on a scream, her hands clutching her neck. It took her a moment to orient herself as she stared wildly across the room.

She was safe, in her bed, in her home.

As the picture of the little girl flashed through her mind, Sam began to cry.

She hated this. Hated it with a deep passion.

Why did she have to live with the dead?

The tears slid down her face, dampening her cotton nightshirt.  It never got any easier to see the dead in her dreams, even after dealing with it all of her life.

Sniffling back her tears, Sam mopped her face dry. Climbing out of bed, she grabbed her sketchbook and pencil then sat back down in bed to draw. It always helped to sketch her dreams.

Though her hand was a little shaky, Sam managed to sketch the face of the child that had come to her in her dream.

The flesh was decaying, her bones protruding and Sam even drew the maggots that crawled over the child’s dead body. She had blue eyes, beneath the fog of death, and Sam drew them as she saw them behind their milky white stare. Her hair was blonde and matted in dirt and blood. She wore a red fuzzy shirt and blue jeans with silver gems along the seams and pockets. She had on one running shoe in white and blue, the laces untied and caked in mud and blood. Her once white socks were filthy.

One of her upper teeth was missing.

Sam paused briefly before sketching the gaping wound in her neck. The flesh had been torn open from ear to ear, nearly decapitating the frail child. Sam could taste the blood in her own mouth, and as she reached up to her throat, remembered the feel of her own torn flesh.

It was just a dream. Not real.

Finished with the drawing, Sam set it on the bed and drew in a deep breath.

“Another nightmare?”

Without turning, Sam acknowledged Trent, her ghostly roommate. “Yes.” Climbing out of bed, Sam headed to the washroom to wash her face.

“Wanna talk about it?”

“No.” She knew Trent meant well and she did appreciate him being around. He’d been with her since she’d purchased the house eight months earlier and he had no intentions of leaving, as he’d emphasized on more than one occasion. So Sam put up with him.

“Is it the same dream?” he pursued, filling the doorway with his wide frame while she washed her face.

“I said I didn’t want to talk about it.” She glared at Trent as he blocked the doorway, then decided just to walk through him when he refused to move. She hated moving through apparitions, especially when they were set in their place. It left a cold slimy feeling all over her body. Returning to her room, she glanced at the picture on her bed. The innocent child had come to her three times now, and Sam wished she knew how to help her. She didn’t even know the child’s name.

When had she lost the tooth? Had the tooth fairy brought her money? How old was she? What was her favorite food?

Sam wanted to know everything about the little girl’s life to help ease the ache she felt for the child’s death.

“You shouldn’t keep it bottled up. You need to talk about it.”

Trent was right and there was only one other person she knew that could help her and understand what she was going through.

Her father.

It was a family trait, one many wouldn’t consider a conversation piece. Understandably so. It wasn’t like sharing a head full of red hair, or curls that were handed down to you by your parents, nor the color of your eyes. This was a completely different matter altogether. Samantha Jean Dowling had the ability to see and speak to the dead. And so did her father.

C.J. Dowling had been born with the ability to communicate with the dead. Where he got it from was anyone's guess. His ancestry was a bizarre one, at best. It made for a fascinating late night movie, which had actually been made into one stemming from the novel her father had written. Aside from an author, he was a famous journalist, and co-producer of the miniseries that told of the tribulations of his heritage. Secrets of the Dead had been a huge success.

It continually fascinated Sam, that her father was so cavalier about it. He was famous, yet he didn’t show it.

She was the only child that had inherited his ability. And she often wished she’d been born second, in place of her sister, Colleen, or the baby, the spot Andrew took up. But she’d been born first, and no amount of wishing made her ability vanish.

She was stuck with it.

Seeing the dead most of her life took its toll on a person, and it sure had on Sam. To escape from it, she put the images on paper, in wood or on anything else she could get her hands on. Her escape was her art.

As it was now.

She’d learnt from the best when she’d attended a prestigious art school in Paris. But she couldn’t tell anyone where her inspiration came from. Who would believe her if she told them the dead came to her for help?

Then the call had come, and it had shaken her up enough to have her running back home. Her father had suffered a heart attack. So she’d rushed home, putting her career on hold.

Thankfully, her father hadn’t suffered any serious repercussions, but enough to shake everyone up. He’d been told it was time he took better care of himself, and to avoid stress. Her father, take better care of himself? That was a joke as far as Sam was concerned. Aside from his pack a day smoking habit, her father was the epitome of good health. He worked out daily, jogged, lifted weights, ate healthily. At fifty-six, that was damn good. But the heart attack had been a warning and he had finally quit smoking. So everyone walked on egg shells around him to avoid another attack.

Glancing at the image on the paper, Sam knew she needed her father’s help. “You’re right,” she admitted to Trent. “And I know just who to talk to.”

She showered and dressed, ignoring Trent as he bombarded her with more questions. Grabbing her keys, she headed out. With her fingers crossed, hoping she didn’t cause more harm than good, she went to see her father.

And found him in an incredibly surly mood.

“I haven’t seen or heard from you in damn near a week and now you stroll in here asking for my help,” her father grumbled, shooting Sam a look that could level the hardest of criminals. Even in his late fifties, he was a striking man. His curly hair was a sunny blond without a single strand of grey. There were some wrinkles, mostly by his eyes, but over-all, the man didn’t look his age. He had a very gentle face with cheekbones sculpted to perfection. Even the snarl he held now did little to disturb his good looks. Or scare her off.

 “Are you done bitching at me?”

“Don’t take that tone with me, young lady,” he warned, his eyes narrowed, one long finger pointing with accuracy at her.

Sam closed her eyes and drew in three long deep breaths to calm herself. “Sorry.” She opened her eyes and watched him prowl the room. Maybe coming by to see him was a mistake. “You really should go on that quit smoking program the doctor wanted to set you up on.”

“I don’t need some damn drug helping me quit when I can do it just fine on my own.”

“Yeah, right,” Sam snorted. “I know it’s hard for you to quit something you’ve done most of your life, but sometimes we can’t do things alone. It’s not a crime to ask for help.”

“That won’t work, Samantha.”

“What won’t work, Daddy?” She batted long lashes, innocently.

He merely narrowed his brown eyes and shook his head. “The innocent act won’t work either, Sammy. I’m not helping you out. This time, you’re on your own.”

Sam also had her father’s temper, but unlike her father, she wasn’t as adept at keeping it tethered. “I don’t want your damn help! I only want some frigin’ advice.”

 “Great, advice I can do.” Walking to her, gripping her by her shoulders, he met her squarely in the eyes. “Here’s some vital advice, Sammy girl. Don’t ask daddy for advice when he hasn’t had a cigarette in weeks and is likely to bite your head off without a thought.”

She pushed his hands away, frowning. “How is it a man who exercises religiously, eats nothing but health food—food of which he crammed down his children throats for years—and treats his body as if it were a prized possession, could be so stupid as to pollute his arteries with chemicals for sheer pleasure?”

“How is it a woman with brains that could equal Einstein could be so stupid as to piss off her father in his delicate state?”

“If you hadn’t smoked a pack a day for the better part of your life, you wouldn’t be in this said ‘delicate state’.” What was she doing? She hadn’t come here to pick a fight or stress him out yet here she was, doing exactly that.

When her father crossed his arms and held them firmly to his chest, narrowing his eyes at her, she knew it was time to defuse the situation. “We’re all just worried about you, Daddy.

His chest rose and fell as he drew in a deep breath. “So worried you don’t call or visit.”

Guilt was an ugly bitch that didn’t mind taking hold once it grabbed on, and right now her guilt was clinging for dear life. “Fine, I didn’t call or come by because I knew this would happen. I don’t want to fight with you. The last thing I want is to stress you out.”

“I’m not stressed out,” he remarked calmly.

“Good. What about going on the pill?”

“Men don’t need birth control, sweetie. Did we fail to tell you that in our little sex talk?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Daddy, you know damn well what I mean. That pill that helps you quit smoking.”

“Oh, that pill.” He smirked, rubbing his chin. “No.”

“Dad,” she growled, kicking the coffee table at her side. “Why do you have to be such an a —”

“Watch it, little girl,” he warned her with a lifted index finger.

“Well, if it walks like a donkey and talks like a donkey—”

“You’re not winning me over, Samantha.”

“Fine, the patch then.”

“I hear they’re itchy.”

“Dad,” Sam snarled, kicking the coffee table one more time.

Her father’s brow came up. “Fine, I’ll give the damn patch a try, but if you kick my table one more time I won’t hesitate to haul you over my lap and smack your butt good and solid despite being twenty-five years old.”

Sam knew perfectly well it was a poor threat. Neither of her parents had ever raised a hand to any of their children. “Don’t blame me for my temper, I inherited it from you.”

The smile that came over his face was as sweet as pie. “Me, have a temper? Oh no, sweetness, you have me mistaken with your mother. I’m the calm one, remember.”

The laugh bubbled up before she could control it. He had that way with her. “Yes, Daddy.” She kissed his cheek. “You keep believing that. Listen, I know this was a bad time to come by and ask for help—”

“I thought you came by for advice?” he reminded her.

She bit her lip, narrowed her eyes. “Well, this was entertaining.”

“It always is.” The smile filled his face as he took her in a strong embrace. “I’m just not in a social mood today, Sammy. Sorry.”

“If you’d get help for your addiction—”

“Samantha Jean,” he warned.

“Love you, Daddy.”

“Love you too, brat.”

 Shaking her head, smiling, Sam left her parents home. She was no better off now than she’d been when she’d showed up asking for help.

Now what?