(Not professionally edited)
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.