Friday, November 30, 2012

Haunted: Innocence Lost Chapter 20


(Not Professionally Edited)
 
Chapter 20

While his father held Sam, rocking her in his arms as she wept for the dead, Andrew cleaned up the mess. His stomach had held together while he rinsed and flushed the contents of the bucket, much to his surprise. Setting it aside, he took a quick moment to steady himself by lighting a cigarette. He noticed amongst the mess of bags Sam had strewn on her floor was a take-out bag yet to be opened. If she hadn’t eaten anything, then how had she managed to vomit up what looked like a week’s supply of food. He shuddered, drew in deeply, letting the smoke sting his lungs before running cold water over it and tossing it in the trash.

He could hear Sam crying and his heart ached for her. It was unnerving to see his strong sister so fragile.

Grabbing a glass of ice water, he carried it to the art room and sat on the floor beside his father and sister. His brotherly love popped out as he leaned in to kiss her head. “I brought you some water, Sam. With lots of ice, just how you like it.”

His father smiled, taking the glass he held out. “Have a little sip, sweetheart, it’ll feel good on your sore throat.” Shifting her, he handed her the glass.

She drank as if she’d been parched a week, her hands shaking as she held the glass. And when she was done, she leaned back into her father’s arms. “I feel like I’ve had the life sucked out of me. I’m so weak.”

“That’s one of the after effects of an out of body experience.” He kissed her head, handing the glass to Andrew. “Feel up to talking about it?” She took a deep breath, nodded. “Where were you?”

“I was in the ground, with the bodies, with the children.” She swallowed. “It was cold, so damn cold, and dark. I was so scared, but I couldn’t move.” She closed her eyes, drew in a breath. “There was so much pain, pain from what he did to them, pain at being alone, at death. I felt humiliation at what they’d endured at the hands of the madman, vile things no child should feel. And the terror…” Her eyes met her father. “So much terror. Oh, Daddy, they’re all so scared and alone.” She closed her eyes and the tears fell like a waterfall.

“It’s okay now.”

“I had the urge to create,” she began again. “It was so strong, like it was pulling at me. The instant I started drawing, they took me in, held me, pulling me down into their unholy grave. I saw it all, Dad. I saw what he did to them and I couldn’t do a damn thing to help them,”

“You need to rest now. Andrew, help me get her to bed.” 

Andrew slid one arm around Sam’s waist and with his father’s help, lifted her and carried her to her bed.

“Bring her another glass of water please, Andrew,” his father instructed while he tucked Sam into her bed. “She’ll need her fluids.”

“There's a bag of take-out in the living room. I don’t think she’s even touched it.”

“Sam, have you eaten today?”

She shook her head sluggishly.

“That’s probably why you went down so hard. You had nothing in your system to give you the strength to come out of it, or fight it.” He turned to Andrew. “Bring it with the water.”

It didn’t take him long to retrieve the bag and water and bring them back. “Looks like a burger and fries,” he explained, setting the bag and water on her nightstand.

“I was hungry when I picked it up, but by the time I got home, all I could think was to draw. It was so loud, Dad. They were trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t hear them over the bells.”

“You said that, when I found you. You said something about the bells were too loud.” Andrew pulled out the contents of the bag, taking a seat beside her on the bed.

“What bells, Sam?” his father asked casually, taking the burger from Andrew.

“I don’t know, they were loud, really loud, like…church bells on a Sunday morning.” She shook her head when he lifted the burger to her mouth. “I don’t think I can eat anything.”

“You need to put something in your stomach, at least the fries,” he coaxed. “And I can’t believe I’m encouraging you to eat this crap. Do you know where you were?”

She took the fry, begrudgingly. “No, it’s too dark, and cold. I can’t.” Her hands fell to her lap.

“Get her to eat something, Andrew. I need to make a few calls,” he instructed before leaving the room.

Andrew lifted the fries, wiggled them in front of his sisters face. “Come on, be a good little girl and eat for your daddy.”

“Don’t be a jerk, Andrew.” But she smirked and took the fry.

It was nice to see her smile. “Maybe there are bells on this farm that you saw in your dream.”

“Maybe.” She ate the fry, chewing slowly.

“I don’t know many farms with bells though. But it could still mean something.”

“Yeah.” She leaned her head back and closed her eyes.

“Sam.” Andrew turned to his father as he entered the room. “Should she be sleeping?”

“It’s okay, she’s tired. Let’s give her some time to rest.”

Andrew gave Sam’s hair a stroke before leaving the room with his father.

“I called your mother, she’ll be by shortly.”

“What about Colleen?”

“Your mother will call her. Sam will need her family when she wakes up. What she went through will be tough on her.”

That’s what worried him. What she’d gone through. Andrew absently pulled out his pack of cigarettes. “What the hell happened to her, Dad?”

“She was in a trance. You light that up in front of me and I might just put you in a trance,” his father snarled at the cigarette Andrew put between his lips.

Sheepishly, Andrew placed the cigarette back in the pack and tucked it in his pocket. “Sorry.” He hadn’t been thinking.

“I thought you quit?”

“I did. Well, I tried. It’s not easy,” Andrew said defensively.

“Like I don’t know? I’ve smoked for the better part of my life. If I can do it, you can do it.” His hand snaking out, his father lifted the package from Andrew’s pocket, then to his horror, crushed them in his hand. “What happened to your sister,” his father began, tossing the crumpled packed in the trash. “Was an out of body experience. Anyone who can communicate with the dead can do it.”

Andrew was still eyeing the trash where his brand new pack of cigarettes sat. “Can you?”

“Yes, but it’s not something that should be done alone. You could very easily get sucked in and become trapped in the trance forever. I think because her system was off from lack of food and the stress of the situation, her body was weak and unable to fight off the trance alone.”

“She hadn’t eaten anything today, and she sure as hell didn’t sleep much last night either.”

“Why didn’t she sleep much last night, Trent?”

“You know, I’ve been told all my life just how much I look like you. No offense, Dad, but I sure am glad I didn’t inherit your ghost seeing abilities.” He hoped that would give Trent the hint to shut up. He had a feeling he was about to blurt out who Sam had been with last night.

“No offense taken. I wish all of my children would have been spared the ability. Unfortunately, one of you wasn’t. Okay, he knows something and he doesn’t want me to know it.”

“Who? What are you talking about?” Like he didn’t know.

“Trent. He said Sam hadn’t slept much last night and now he’s gone. The tone in his voice implied something other than a restless night’s sleep.” His father frowned.

Time to change the subject. “Did you get a load of that sketch Sam was working on? Eerie.”

“Imagine being there.”

“No thanks. Visual is enough.” He dropped into the chair while his father prepared coffee. “I’m glad I came back here when I did. I’d hate to think what would have happened to her if I hadn’t.”

“She’s safe now, that’s all that matters.”

“Yeah, but what about next time?”

“Your sister would clobber you if she knew you thought of her as fragile.”

“I won’t tell if you don’t.”

His father nodded, grinning. “You would think, having bought a pizza, she would have at least eaten some of it.” He gave the box sitting on her counter a shove.

“We…uh got that last night. I guess we forgot to eat it. We got busy working on the dry board.” Andrew thumbed toward the living room, blowing out a breath. He hoped his father bought the story, and as soon as his sister was feeling better, he was going to inform her that she owed him big time for covering for her.

Walking from the kitchen, his father examined the board filled with names and information. “We should put the bells on here somewhere. It could mean something later on.”

Meeting his father in the living room, Andrew picked up the marker and added the bells to the list, placing a question mark beside it. “She says it’s a farm. Maybe it’s situated near a church and that’s why she hears bells.”

“Possibly.” His father tapped a finger to his temple.

“How many churches do you think there are in and around the Vancouver area?”

“I’m not sure, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find out.”

“Maybe we could research it, before Sam wakes up, then she wouldn’t have to do it.” He caught his father grinning at him. “What?”

“You said you and Sam were working on this last night?”

Andrew hesitated. “Yeah, so?”

His father continued to grin. “Since when did you become interested in what Sam and I do?”

Andrew lifted one shoulder. “No one ever asked me for help before. She seemed kind of frustrated and tired. I gave her some ideas.”

“Well, then maybe we need to get you more involved.”

The front door suddenly burst open, catching both men by surprise.

“Where is she?” his mother asked frantically, her wide eyes darting around the room in search of Sam, Colleen right behind her.

“She’s asleep and she’s fine. Let me show you where she was.” His father held his hand out to Colleen. “Come on.” He led them to Sam’s art room, to the sketch as Andrew followed.

“She was fighting like those arms were grabbing her. Her eyes were white, Mom. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Andrew recited much in the same way he had when his father had first shown up.

“Dear God, C.J., how awful,” his mother gasped, clutching his father’s hands. “She sees all of that?”

He nodded, squeezing his wife’s hands. “And more. She’ll need us when she wakes, though she’ll pretend she’s strong, she’ll need us.”

“I wonder where she gets that from.” His mother smiled faintly, the implication clearly noted. “I want to sit with her, just for a while.”

“I knew you would.”

“It was so freaky, Colleen,” Andrew expressed the instant his parents left the room.  “I’ve never seen her like that before. And her eyes…” He shuddered just thinking about it.

Colleen turned to her brother. Extending her hand she rubbed it up and down his arm. “I don’t know how she does it. Let’s get out of here.  You look like you could use some fresh air.”

“What I need is crumpled in the trash.” He opened the front door, leaning in close so no one but his sister could hear him. “I need a smoke real bad.”

She shook her head, frowning. “I thought you quit?”

“Yeah, well shit happens. I’m a coward, okay.”

Rolling her eyes, Colleen gave him a hug. “Come on, we’ll walk to the corner store and get you a new pack. But if you tell dad I helped you get it I’ll cut you down at the knees.”

It always amazed him to hear his mild meek sister attempt to sound mean. Colleen didn’t have a mean bone in her body. “You’re cute, Colleen, and I love you.”

“No, I’m not lending you more money.”

“Damn. Well, it was worth a try.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Haunted: Innocence Lost: Chapter 19


(Not professionally edited)
Chapter 19

It was after five a.m. when Sam woke tucked in Ethan’s arms, and she realized she’d done exactly what she told her brother she would not.

Sneak around just to be with her lover.

Closing her eyes on a sigh, Sam wondered if this was what she wanted. Would it be enough for her to have him at odd little moments, escaping when they could, to have a single moment alone together without being discovered? To have to wear disguises just so that they weren’t recognized, so they could spend time alone together. Never be able to dine out together or even take a simple walk in the moonlight.

Did she want the label of being a mistress, stealing time with another woman’s husband?

No, she wanted more than that. Sitting up, she took a moment and watched him sleep. He was so beautiful. Any woman would find herself lucky to spend even a moment alone with him. Yet his wife didn’t. Sam couldn’t understand it, couldn’t understand why the woman didn’t love Ethan when he was as perfect as they came.

Did he love her? Or was she just someone to ease the heartache he felt over a wife that chose other men over him. Would he still want her a week from now, two, a year? She knew she would.

She didn’t want to be a passing fancy. She wanted so much more.

With a heavy sigh, she gave his shoulder a nudge. “Ethan, Ethan, you have to wake up.”

Stirring, he opened his eyes and the smile that filled his sleepy unshaven face made her heart race. “Good morning.”

“You need—” The words were captured in his mouth as he pulled her down and devoured her. It hurt so much to take him, and hurt even worse to push him away. But she knew what had to be done. “Stop. Stop!” She pulled away, drawing in an unsteady breath. Climbing from the bed, pulling on a robe, she closed her eyes as she spoke. “You need to go.”

Sitting up, he responded calmly. “What’s wrong?”

“I never should have let this happen.”

“You have regrets?”

“Yes.” Oh god how bitter that tasted in her mouth.

“You can stand there and tell me you didn’t want me, that you still don’t want me now?”

“What I want is irrelevant, Ethan. I am not going to be the other woman, here whenever you get the itch.”

“Sama—”

“I don’t want that, Ethan. I don’t want to steal kisses in your office or the backroom, or have you show up at my door wearing some stupid disguise on a rouse of delivering me a pizza. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder every time we’re together. And I don’t want to lie to my family about being with you.”

He slid from the bed and into his pants, missing the intake of breath from Sam as she watched him dress. He had such a magnificent body and she really would love to sculpt it someday.

 “I understand all of that, Samantha; I do, because I want more than just a quickie here and there with you.” He stood, his chest bare all but for the dark hair that curled over it. He walked to her, his blue eyes calm, holding hers hostage. When he took her hand in his, she tried to pull it free, but he held on tighter. “I want so much more from you.”

“Please don’t, Ethan. Don’t make this harder than it already is.” She tugged her hand free. “I need you to go, please, just go.” Stepping away from him tore her heart in two, but she had to do it. Spinning around, she ran to the bathroom. Like a coward, she hid out until she heard him leave.

Curled in a ball on the bathroom floor, Sam wept the tears of a love she could not have.

***

Sam woke in the washroom some time later, having wept herself into unconsciousness. Sitting up, appalled at her behavior, she stepped into the shower, and even as she washed her body, she felt him, tasted him, and smelled him. She’d been a fool to think she could have him for one night and let him go. She ached more for him now than she had before she’d made love to him. Damn, what was she going to do now?

Determined to put him, and her love for him, behind her, Sam dressed and began to work.

She had eight lost children to find. But there was more to searching for them than sitting in her house, staring at the long list before her. She had other research to do. And getting out of the house, the house that smelled of Ethan, didn’t hurt either.

She called Andrew; listened to him bitch about being woken at such an ungodly hour then informed him that she needed her car, now. When he showed up at her place an hour later at just past eight in the morning, she showed him she was not someone he should mess with.

“So, I take it last night didn’t go well?” Andrew asked, pulling a cigarette from his package.

“Light that up and I’ll break your arm off and shove it up your ass.”

He tucked the cigarette back in his pocket, heeding her warning. Everyone knew better than to piss Sam off when she was in a bad mood. “Guess that’s a yes. Don’t tell me you kicked him out after I left.”

“I’m not in the mood to talk.” She squealed to a stop at his apartment. “Get out.”

“Jesus, good morning to you too!” He barely shut the door, nearly losing his arm, when she sped off.

Realizing quite sharply that she was in no condition to ask anyone questions, not without snapping off their heads, Sam decided instead to go on a shopping spree. She had yet to spend any real cash she’d gotten from either Ethan or Alfonzo for her art work.

So she went shopping.

The first thing Sam bought was a computer and according to the salesman, it was state of the art with this and that which supposedly would give her more drive space, high definition something, graphics and other such mumbo jumbo she didn’t understand. She’d nodded, paid for it then let him carry it to her car.

It wasn’t just that she wanted to avoid Ethan by buying a computer, it was wise. She’d save time and money not having to put gas in her car to drive down to the bookstore every time she needed to use a computer.

After loading the computer in her car, she went on a shopping spree and bought a new wardrobe, a couple of new dance CD’s, looking forward to cranking them up when she got home. She always worked better with music, better when that music had a drumbeat that got her moving.

Her arms heavy with bags, Sam entered her house, ignoring Trent’s comments on overbuying, and put a CD into her stereo. She dragged in the heavy computer and all its damn parts, setting it on the floor in her living room. She was glad she didn’t have to set it up because she didn’t have a clue what to do. Her assumption of just plugging it in and turning it on had given the salesman a good chuckle. What the hell did she know about computers?

Suddenly feeling the urge to create, Sam raced to her art room, forgetting about the take-out bag of burger and fries she’d picked up on her way home. She pulled up her easel and board, sat and began. Her hands stroked over the canvas like that of a mad woman.

The energy flowed from her fingers to mould life on the paper. There were seven sets of hands breaking through their grave and she drew each arm to perfection as they fought their way through their unholy grave. The dirt was cold and damp to her touch and she could even smell the musty dankness. It clogged under their short nails, muddying up soft pink hands.

They called to her, pleading for her to help them, to save them from the horror they’d been captured in. As the hands reached out from the drawing, out of the paper, she stared wide-eyed in wonderment. Sam gasped when the hands grabbed onto her. She was helpless as they pulled her in.

Help us, please help us!”

“I’m trying, oh God how I’m trying.” She felt herself sucked down with the dead, and she was helpless to their needs.

***

Andrew pushed the door open, knowing Sam was home given the fact that her car sat in the driveway. He just couldn’t understand why she didn’t answer when he rang. He’d hated the way they’d parted and knew something had to be up for her to have been so rude to him. Sure, occasionally Sam was in a grumpy mood, but this morning, she’d been downright mean. Which, if he knew his sister well enough—and he did—she was hurting. Andrew wanted to know why. If that Ethan guy had hurt her, he was going to march right over and pound the living shit out of him. What were brothers for if they couldn’t defend their sister’s honor.

“Sam, where are you?” He saw the bags, too numerous to count, and shook his head. When he saw the computer lying haphazardly on the floor, he was appalled. It was nice that she had money, but throwing precious items on the floor with no regard what so ever was just throwing her wealth in his face.

He heard her voice, assuming she was talking to herself, so Andrew followed it to her art room.

He found her standing at her board, her hands clawing at the paper before her. He couldn’t make out what she’d drawn until he stepped a little closer. There were hands, tiny hands coming out of something black.  Looking up at her, he saw just how pale she was.

And her eyes were white.  “Sam?”

“The bells are too loud. I can’t hear you over the bells,” she shouted, still clawing at the picture.

“Sam.” Andrew touched her arm, then jolted at the iciness of her skin. “Sam, what's going on?” Grabbing her arm, he tugged. He had no idea what the hell was going on, but it sure as hell felt as if someone was tugging back, preventing him from pulling her free. Releasing her arm, he wrapped his arms around her waist and tugged. They both tumbled to the floor, Sam falling on top of him. Andrew clunked his head on the floor and saw stars. He rolled her to the side, feeling how limp she’d gone, and sat up.

She was out cold. “Oh shit, Sam, come on, wake up.” He tapped her face, but got no response. So he tapped it a bit harder. “Oh shit! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.” Panicking, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed his father.

***

Twenty minutes later, C.J. showed up, breathless as he entering his daughter’s house.  His son had been frantic when he’d called and had mostly babbled, something about Sam being unconscious and hands. C.J. had no idea what was going on. “Andy, where are you?”

“I’m in the art room. Hurry, Dad, she won’t wake up.”

Racing into the room, C.J. saw his son cradling Sam in his arms, the look on his face was that of pure horror. “What happened?” He didn’t waste any time and fell down beside Sam, checking for a pulse. It was there, faintly.

“I came by because I was worried about her. She was grumpy this morning, more so than usual, and I found her in here.” His teary eyes shifted to his father. “Her eyes were white, Dad. They were white.” He drew a breath. “Her arms were flailing about, like she was fighting something and she was mumbling something about bells. Her face was as white as a sheet and she looked out of it, like she wasn't really here. Jesus,” he wiped a hand across his face. “I tried to pull her, but it felt like something was pulling her back. We fell to the floor and she hasn’t woken up since.”

“You did just fine, son. I need you to get me a bowl of ice water and a towel. Think you can do that?”

“I was so scared that she was dead. She looked dead, Dad,” he said in a daze.

“She’s going to be okay, son. Get the water and I’ll deal with her.” C.J. stroked Sam’s face while his son hurried to gather what he’d asked for. Looking down at Sam, her breath was shallow but even, her pulse low and her heart rate calm. When Andrew came back into the room setting the bowl of water on the floor, C.J. took the towel and laid it over his shoulder. “Okay, now find a bucket.”

“Why?”

“She’s going to be sick when she comes too.” He pulled Sam into a sitting position while Andrew raced off again. He hated that his daughter had to go through this.

Andrew rushed into the room carrying a mopping bucket. “This was all I could find.”

“That’ll do.”

“What's wrong with her, Dad?”

C.J shifted Sam, bending her at the waist. “She’s in a trance-like state, controlled by the dead. Help me hold her. When I do this she might jerk a bit. By pressing her face into the ice water, it should jolt her system enough to fight off the invading presence of the dead.

C.J. held her hair back as he dunked her face in the water.

“God, Dad, you’re going to drown her.” Her body jerked, her arms flailed out and one hand caught Andrew in his jaw.

“Hold her,” C.J. hollered, he didn’t want her hurting herself. “There you go, Sammy girl, come back now. Release them and come back.” Her head lifted, she sputtered, coughed, then began to gasp.

“That’s my girl.” He rested her against his chest and toweled off her face. “Breathe now, Sammy girl.”

She took a deep breath and then began to heave. C.J. pulled the bucket closer and held his daughter while she vomited, stroking her back.  When she’d finished, he sat her up, wiped the dampness from her face, and saw just how green Andrew was.  “Hold it together just a bit longer, son.”

Andrew swallowed several times while nodding his head rapidly.

“There we go, Sammy, there we go now.” He continued to stroke her face, glad to see some color coming back into her cheeks.

She opened her eyes, blinking several times before speaking, “Dad?”

“Yeah, sweetheart. I’m here now, so is your brother. We’ve got you.”

“I was with them, Dad. Oh God!  It’s so cold and lonely there.” Closing her eyes, the tears fell fast and furious.

Feeling helpless, all C.J. could do was hold her while she cried. He wished with all his heart she never had to endure such atrocities again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Haunted: Innocense Lost Chapter 18

(Not professionally edited)
 
 
Chapter 18

Sam stood back, her hands on her hips, a frown on her lips. She shook her head. “I don’t know, Andrew, this seems awfully big.” The dry board Andrew had convinced her to get was huge. In Sam’s opinion, too huge. It was bigger than her couch for pity sake.

Andrew drew a big happy face in the center of the white board complete with eyebrows and eyelashes.  “I already told you, Sam, you’ll need it big.”

She gave him a sideways glance. “And how would you know?”

His left shoulder lifted as he erased the happy face. “It’s just a matter of factoring in what you have, calculate what you’ll need. You have eight kids, first and last names and age, where they were last seen, what they were wearing, etc.” He put his name down in reference. “Then you have my activities.” He marked that down. “Then everyone I knew. It takes up a lot of space. You might even find this isn’t big enough.” He turned to his sister and saw the smile on her face. “What?”

“You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?”

His face flushed with embarrassment. “Kinda. It’s fascinating.” He popped the top of the beer Sam handed him, took a swig then set it on the small wooden table beside him. His beer lifted from the table, a coaster slid beneath before it was set back down.

“I hate when he does that.”

“I hate when he’s inconsiderate to the furniture. Would it kill him to use a coaster?” Shaking his head, his hands on his large hips, Trent scowled at Andrew.

“And he hates when you’re inconsiderate of the furniture. Trent’s a neat freak. Who do you think keeps this place clean?”

Andrew swept a wary gaze across the room. “Man, how do you live with it? I’m just glad it’s not me.”

She patted him lightly on the back, a thin smirk on her lips. “I hate to tell you this, little brother, but you’ve got a roommate. Your apartment is haunted.”

“Shut up!” He shook her off, shuddering as if she were something cold and slimy instead of flesh and bone. “That’s not even funny.”

“Don’t worry, Andy, she’s friendly.”

“She?” Suddenly he perked up.

“Yeah, she, but not your type. She’s fifty two, or was when she died. Read the names off to me will you.” She lifted the marker, erasing his name and stats.

Frowning, he began to rattle off the names of the missing children. “How did she die?”

Sam smiled; it was rare that he asked anything about her work. “Diabetic shock.”

“And she died in my apartment?”

“Yes and no, she died in that spot, technically, but it wasn’t an apartment then.”

“What was it?”

“An elderly care home.”

He shuddered. “Okay, after we’re done this, come to my place and do your little mojo thing and get rid of her.”

Sam shook her head. “So tell me, little brother, how come you’re spending your Friday night with your big sister instead of out on a date or partying or something?”

He took a gulp from his beer. “I could ask you the same thing.”

She grinned slyly. “I don’t have a big sister,” she teased.

“You know what I meant, wise ass. Hey, is this her?” Andrew lifted the sketch Sam drew days ago. Sam nodded. “She’s cute. Sad. You do eyes so well. Like they’re real and watching me.” He taped the picture she’d sketched of the land with the back of his hand.  “Man, this could be anywhere.”

Sam nodded, taking a sip from her beer. It made her proud to know her brother thought her work was good. “I know, and that’s what’s so damn frustrating.” She wrote the names down as Andrew recited them to her then took a step back.

 “Okay, these three went to the same school.” She marked the school beside their names. “And these two were on the same ball team.” Sam added it beside the names. “These two were in scouts together.” Still nothing matched all of them. More frustration.

“Where do they all live?”

“Everywhere.” Sam blew out a breath, frowning. “There’s a few that live close, the ones that go to the same school, but not all of them.”

“So far, there’s nothing connecting them. Have you asked each of the parents if they know anyone with the initials of D.B.?”

“The ones that will talk to me, yeah. I’ve got lists of names a block long, but there’s no damn D.B. on any of them. You never answered my question, bro. Why aren’t you out on a date?”

“No one worth dating,” he muttered in a low, depressed sort of tone. “Why aren’t you out on a date, sis?”

“Same deal as you.”

“What about this Montgomery guy? Colleen’s boss?” Sam only groaned. “Uh oh, trouble in paradise?”

“There is no paradise, Andrew, he’s married.” She set her beer down to look at her dry board and all the names. Why couldn’t something just pop out at her? It would be so much easier.

“Yeah, but I heard he was getting a divorce. So what's the problem?”

She let out a long sigh and the words just flowed. It wasn’t often she leaned on her brothers shoulders. “His wife is being a real bitch, trying to break him financially, and personally. She wants to make him suffer.”

“Sounds like a winner. Okay, so, big deal, he’s married. Don’t let that stop you. Go for it.” When she turned to him with a frown on her face, he lifted his hands. “What's the big deal?”

“The big deal is the marriage he happens to still be in.”

“But it’s not like he’s living with her or having sex with her, right? And they are going through a divorce so he’s almost single.”

“Almost doesn’t count.” The doorbell rang, baffling her. Setting her marker down, Sam walked to the door, replying to her brother’s comment. “I have no intentions of sneaking around with a man just to be with him.” But when she opened the door and saw Ethan standing there, wearing that stupid brown wig and beard, holding yet another box of pizza, her heart simply turned over. Her mind, however, was on alert. “What are you doing here?”

He lifted the box, his smile partially shaded from the beard. “Aren’t you going to ask me in, Samantha?”

“Yeah, Samantha, aren’t you going to ask him in?” Stepping up behind her, Andrew elbowed Sam in the side.

Doing her best to ignore her brother, Sam stepped aside to invite Ethan in. “Ethan Montgomery, my annoying little brother, Andrew,” she introduced, and as Ethan moved past her she could smell a combination of pizza and Ethan’s rich dark cologne. He couldn’t make it easy on her, could he?

“Pleased to meet you, Andrew.”  Ethan shot Sam a wide-eyed look.

“He’s cool, for the most part. He won’t tell anyone you were here, will you, bro?” Sam smacked Andrew’s arm.

“Ouch! Boney knuckles. My lips are sealed. Nice to meet you, Ethan.” Andrew’s eyes went wide when Ethan pulled the fake beard away and then the wig. “I thought it looked a little ratty. Not usually Sam’s type. She doesn’t go for facial hair.”

“Shut up, Andy,” she snarled through her teeth.

“This is kind of hot.”

“Oh, sorry.” She took the pizza box from Ethan. “Would you like a drink? All I’ve got though is beer.”

“Beer is good.”

Sam left to get the beer, setting the pizza on the counter and blowing out a long breath. So much for her conversation with Andrew about not wanting to sneak around with a married man. Ethan had just blown that out of the water.

“So, what’s with the disguise?” Andrew asked with a lift of his fingers.

“It’s a precaution. In case one of Sam’s family members is over, as is the case now,” Ethan explained, tipping his head to Andrew.

“Aw, how sweet. Sparing my sister the questions my parents would have if they knew it was you. Still, it must suck to sneak out in order to be with my sister?”

Sam shot him a dirty look as she entered the room. “We’re not seeing each other,” she emphasized, handing Ethan his beer.

“Right, and he isn’t here now, dressed in a disguise, sneaking out to be with you.”

Sam’s clenched her jaw. “Andrew.”

He waved a hand at her. “I’d better go. Keys.” He held his hand out to her.

“Dream on, bro.”

He narrowed blue eyes. “My cars in the shop, remember? You drove me here,” he reminded her.

Damn, he had her there. “Damage my car and I’ll hunt you down.” She pulled them off the hook by the door and held them out to him, her eyes stern with warning.

 “Yeah yeah.” Andrew grabbed the keys from Sam’s hand and darted for the door. “See yah later, sis. Nice meeting you, Ethan.”

“Likewise.”

The door closed and the room filled with silence. One look into Ethan’s eyes and Sam was lost. Without a word, they fell into an embrace. Like each time their mouths met, the kiss was explosive.

How was it she’d gone her entire life feeling so empty? Until now. He filled her, from the top of her head to the tip of her toes. Mind, body and soul.

“I can’t take another moment without you, Samantha,” Ethan murmured breathlessly against her lips.

“Then take me.” He scooped her into his arms and the excitement she felt nearly bubbled out in silly girlish giggles.

He carried her past the dry board. “Which room is yours?”

“Last room on your left.” She rested her head on his shoulder while he carried her to her bed. “This is a mistake.” She heard herself say, but was in no way going to stop what was about to happen.

“We all make mistakes. I’m not going to regret this one.”  He set her down and taking her face in his hands, began a slow seductive kiss that made her toes curl.

So many reasons why she should floated in her mind, but she pushed them all aside. One night, just one night was all she needed. If she was damned for an eternity for her sin, then she would go eagerly. Tipping her head, she danced with his tongue as it dipped between her teeth and into her mouth. Her hands worked feverishly to unbutton his shirt and feel the man beneath.

She’d been with men before, but none made her feel even half as special as Ethan did now. Maybe it was because she was in love with him that it felt so special. She didn’t care to analyze it at the moment, but enjoyed it instead. His mouth was gentle as it rained kisses over her face, then her neck and down while unbuttoning her shirt. When his fingers skimmed over her breast, slipping the lace bra aside, she shivered with the pleasure he gave her.

He slid the clothing away and replaced them with his lips. His mouth was hot and yet made her shiver. He teased; a flick of his tongue here, a nibble there, and when his teeth scraped over sensitive flesh, her entire body tightened with anticipation.

He gave her pleasure, showed her tenderness and love. And as he removed his own clothing and slid over top of her, she saw the wanting in his eyes.  

Taking her lips, his kiss so gentle, he pressed himself inside. She welcomed him not only into her body, but into her soul as well. If there was one defining moment that a person knew when love was eternal, Sam knew it now.

Their eyes locked, he rocked inside of her in slow erotic motions. Two bodies, matching perfectly, joined as one. They held each other, their eyes never parting while slowly he drove them both to the brink of unbridled passion.

Closing her eyes, ignoring the tiny voice inside her head that said she would never really have him, Sam gave him everything.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Haunted: Innocence Lost: Chapter 17


(Not Professionally Edited) 
Chapter 17

Sam’s excuse was that she needed to use the computers at the bookstore. The reality was, she wanted to see if Ethan was there. She’d looked his number up in the phone book the night before, but after the third call, she’d given up. She should have left at least one message, but she’d chickened out. So she’d spent the night tossing and turning, worrying that he was sitting in a jail cell all alone.

At four in the morning, she’d given up and decided to try and find a connection between the missing children from the lists she’d accumulated from the parents.

At six she threw another pencil in her frustration and had been scolded deeply from Trent about marking up his home.

She’d reminded him who it was paying the bills and who it was that could have him sent to his eternal bliss.

At eight, after showering and grabbing an apple, Sam dashed from her house and headed to the bookstore. She couldn’t stand not knowing any longer.

Ever so carefully, Sam entered the main entrance, scanning for both Colleen and Ed. Making a run for the stairs, Sam was glad neither was around. Taking the steps by two’s, she made it to the third level undetected. She felt ridiculous for wanting to avoid her sister, but she didn’t need Colleen speculating anything at the moment.

Catching her breath, she stepped up to Ethan’s office door, her heart pounding as she lifted her hand. She was making a big mistake coming here. She should listen to what Ethan had said to her and stay away from him. But she found her hand lifting, and knocking on his door anyway. When he called out for her to enter, her heart began to pound a little harder.

Pushing the door open, Sam saw instantly that he was in rough shape. Oh, he still looked as handsome as ever, wearing yet another designer suit, this one in deep grey that seemed to shine against the sunlight behind him. But it was his face and his normally brilliantly blue eyes that told her he was anything but fine.

She was never so relieved to see someone before in her life. And though every part of her wanted to run to him and throw her arms around him, she held herself back. “Hi.”

 “You shouldn’t be here, Samantha.”

She closed the office door indicating she wasn’t about to leave. “I wanted to see how you were doing.” She stepped further into the room, her palms sweaty, and her heart pounding. “I tried calling you last night, several times actually. What happened yesterday?”

He let out a long sigh, setting his pen down on the desk. “I turned the ringer off. I wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone. I’m sorry.” He let out another sigh before continuing. “I was held for questioning, released after three hours after pleading no contest to the charges.”

“You did what?” She rushed to the desk. “Are you nuts? That essentially means you admit to the assault.”

“I’m aware of the meaning. I didn’t want it going any further than where it had already. It doesn’t mean I did it. I just feel I wouldn’t get a fair deal in court. She has proof that I fractured her wrist.”

“What proof?”

 “Coffee?” When Sam shook her head, he went to refill his cup. Carrying it to his desk, he sat on the edge rather than in his chair. “It’s a long story, one with an unhappy ending. She’s convinced her butler to state he witnessed my breaking her wrist which isn’t true. I admit to grabbing her, but I did not break her wrist. You should go, Samantha. I’m not the best person a budding artist should be caught up with right now.”

“I don’t let other people dictate who I should or shouldn’t be caught up with, as you put it. And if it wasn’t for you, there would be no career to worry about. Why is she claiming you broke her wrist?”

“I don’t know. Gwen…she’s a tough woman to figure.”

“Why the hell did you marry her?”

He sighed heavily then took a sip from his cup before replying. “Lust played a big part in it and her uncanny ability to pretend to be someone she wasn’t. I don’t want to get into it all right now.”

“You left her, that’s what counts.” He looked so tired so she let it go. “I do have some good news, if you feel like being perked up.” 

He smiled and sent her pulse soaring. “I could use some good news.”

“I had lunch with Alfonzo Demarra yesterday,” she bubbled over with glee. “He purchased one of my pieces, for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars! And…he’s showcasing it in his New York gallery,” she squealed. The excitement seemed to just flow on its own.

“Oh, Samantha, that is so wonderful.” Setting his coffee cup on the desk, he stood, took her hands in his, and pulled her into his arms. “How exciting for you.”

That wasn’t the only thing that was getting her excited. What she was sure was meant as a friendly embrace managed to get her blood pumping and her body aching. So she pulled away. “I am excited. So are my siblings. They’ve already given me a list of things I should buy them with my money.”

He took her hands in his, holding them to his chest. “And you, as a dutiful sister, will no doubt buy whatever they like.”

“Hell no!” She laughed. “They have their own jobs and their own money. I worked hard for this.”

“Yes you have.”

The look in his eyes said it all and as he took her face in his palms and drew her closer, she did nothing to stop him. Then he kissed her. He was so smooth and the way his mouth caressed hers filled her with a passion that made her legs weak and the ground beneath her wobbly. She held onto him for dear life. In the back of her mind, she heard her sister tell her. “Careful where you step, the ground is unsteady.”

Her head began to ring and it took several seconds before she realized it was the telephone.  Pulling free, breathless, her body on fire, Sam stared at Ethan in wild bewilderment. “I need to go, now.” Grabbing the door she yanked it open and fled in a rush.

She couldn’t be in love with him, life couldn’t be that cruel.

Yet something deep within her cried, Yes.

***

Sam needed to drive, just to drive, and get away from everything. But her thoughts followed her, taunting her, making her want nothing more than to crumble. He was there, in her mind and in her heart. She could still taste him on her lips despite the gum she was chewing. She could feel his lips, the way they brushed over hers in a greedy passion that drew her in, making her body yearn for his even as he touched her.  He was a part of her, inside of her and all she could think of was being with him.

 She’d fallen in love with a married man.

“Who are you kidding, Sam,” she muttered to herself. “Being married is the least of your problems.” She turned onto the highway, bumping up her speed. How could she be in love, period?

“For one: I barely know the guy. Two: how do I explain to him what I am, what I do, that the dead communicate with me? Shit, if I did, he’d probably run screaming, calling me everything he could think of, lunatic being at the top of the list.” She sighed, kept driving. She’d never shared that part of her life with any of the men she’d ever been with for good reason.

Sam threw her hands up momentarily and let the scream rip from her lungs. She was so frustrated and didn’t know where to turn. When her cell phone rang in her shirt pocket, she nearly swerved off the road in fright.

“Jesus.” She took a deep breath then answered, “What?”

“Sam, where are you?” Andrew’s agitated voice snapped through the phone.

“In my car.” Then it hit her. “Oh shit!”

“You forgot.”

“No…” Yes she had.  “I’m just…running behind,” she lied, crossing her fingers that her brother would believe her.

“Right, you forgot. Some sister you are, leaving your brother stranded.”

“There's always the bus.”

“I don’t have any change, and besides, why the hell should I take a bus when my loving sister offered to drive me.”

“Oh quit your whining. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Clicking the telephone off, Sam tossed it on the seat beside her.

She wondered if her brother saw the irony in his lie about his car breaking down to borrow money from his parents for a new stereo, when now, it seemed that was what had actually happened.

***

“Running late, my ass,” Andrew grumbled as he buckled himself in the passenger seat. “You forgot.”

“I did not.”  When he shot her a heated glare, she gave in. “Okay, fine, I forgot. I’ve got a lot on my mind right now, you know.”

“Haven’t figured how to make the dead kid leave you alone yet I take it?”

“Jesus, Andy, have some respect.” She smacked his arm making him yelp. “And no, I haven’t figured out how to help her yet.”

He rubbed his arm, shooting her a nasty look. “I can’t see how you and dad can do it, living with the dead. I think I’d go nuts.” He slipped the cigarette pack from his jean jacket pocket and pulled one out. When he lit it up Sam growled at him. “Oh get off of it. I’m a big boy and if I want a cigarette I can damn well have one. Besides, I only have the occasional one anyway.”

“Yeah, that’s how it all starts, then the next thing you know you’re a two pack a day smoker and you’re clutching your chest because your heart’s decided to give out.” She lectured while making a right turn.

“I’m not dad,” he snarled, taking a long puff from his cigarette then rolling the window down to blow out the smoke. “Got any leads on who killed her.”

Sam merely shook her head. Not only did he look like their father, but now he had to take up his filthy habit as well. “Only that the initials of the killer are, D.B., and that he possibly buried them somewhere on a farm.”

“How do you know it’s a farm?” He turned the radio up just a bit louder when a song came on that he liked.

“I could smell the hay and manure, and I can see fields and trees.”

“You can actually smell stuff in your dreams?”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t do me any good if I don’t know where they’re buried.”

“You see more than just one?”

“Yeah, eight in total.” She signaled then changed lanes.

“Jesus, that’s just whack. That means we have a serial murderer loose.” He shuddered, flicking his ashes out the open window.

“And no one knows anything about it. Cops are clamping their mouths shut on this one and I don’t know why.”

Andrew flicked his cigarette out the window then angled in his seat to look at Sam. “Okay, so what do you have? Some guy’s initials, possibly a farm where eight kids might possibly buried. That ain’t much, sis.”

“Gee thanks, Andy, that helps,” she replied sarcastically.

“I’m just saying. Okay, give me a minute and let me think.” He tapped his brain, scrunching up his mouth.

“I thought you put your smoke out?”

“I did. Why?”

“I smell smoke. No, wait, that’s just your brain on fire.” She so loved giving her little brother a hard time.

“Don’t be a bitch. I’m trying to help you.” He shifted in his seat again. “Have you done a graph: put up all the kids’ names: do a cross reference: check for similarities?”

“Huh?”

“You know, like on those cop shows. Get a dry board, put up each kids name on the list and start doing comparisons. Same schools, sports, church, friends, you get the idea. Maybe if you had it all out on a board, something might click.”

She wanted to kiss him, but refrained on principle. “That’s not bad, Andy, not bad at all.”

He grinned proudly. “Wanna stop calling me Andy now?”

“Nah, it pisses you off.” She stopped the car in front of his apartment and looked over at him. “Feel like helping me?”

“Excuse me.” He stuck his finger in his ear and gave it a shake. “What did you just ask me?”

She pursed her lips. “Do you want to help me do it?”

“You’re asking me to help?”

“I just did, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but you never ask me for help. It’s always dad, mom or Colleen. I’m touched.”

She felt the sting from his words cut right into her heart. She had neglected her baby brother, and that wasn’t fair. “Well, now I’m asking you. Do you wanna go shopping with me and help me do this cross reference thingy or what?”

“Are you kidding? A chance to spend your money? Try and stop me. What do I get?”

“I’ll buy you dinner.” She pulled away from the curb and headed to the mall.

“Steak?”

“The biggest and juiciest one you like, little brother.”

“You are the best sister ever.”