(Not Professionally Edited)
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.”
“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!”
“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?”
“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.
“The biggest and juiciest one you like, little brother.”
“You are the best sister ever.”