They spent the better part of the morning and the afternoon placing the furniture back where it belonged, then cleaning the house. They’d been very surprised to find the bedrooms just as disheveled as the rest of the house.
“I would have to say, someone was royally pissed,”
C.J. commented, finally taking a break and sitting at the kitchen table with a cold glass of water. He could feel someone present, lurking about, and whoever it was, was not pleased at all.
“I’m still trying to grasp this all.” She laid her head gently on the table, exhausted.
Stroking her damp hair, C.J. smiled. “Give yourself time.” She had seen more than anyone he had ever known, and he felt closer to her than he thought he ever would with a woman.
Lifting her head, she sighed. “When was your first ghost sighting?”
This was a tough one. Should he open himself up to her completely and tell her the truth? Or should he give her what she could handle? Dive in, C.J. my boy, and either sink or swim. “When I was three.”
Her brow lifted in surprise. “Three? That’s awfully young. How did you know it was a spirit?”
Lifting a cigarette from his package, he lit up before responding. “I just knew.” He blew a cloud of smoke in the air, and dove. “There are certain people in the world that have the ability to communicate with the dead. Mediums, clairvoyants, etc. I prefer calling myself a spiritual guide.” His eyes met her and he waited. Would this be where he drowned?
She sat back, ran a hand through her damp hair. “A spiritual guide?”
He felt himself sinking. “Yes.”
Taking his glass, she gulped down half before setting it down. “Explain it more clearly to me.”
He was treading water now. “I can feel them, their presence…spirits,” he added, then drew on his cigarette.
“It’s like a tingling at the back of my neck, and a faint electrical charge goes through my system. When the spirit is strong, vengeful or afraid, I often get severe indigestion.
I feel them before I see them.”
“You can see them?”
He flicked the ashes into the ashtray and continued.
“Yes, I can, though sometimes it’s a little foggy. Depends on their strength.”
“You see them?” she asked a little more excitedly, leaning forward, placing her arms on the table.
With a smile and a nod, he responded. “Yes, Jessica, I can see them.”
“Wow. What do they look like? Are they bloody, decayed, bones?” Her eyes lit with excitement.
Apparently he was swimming after all. “Sometimes I see them the way they died, but never as just bones. It’s their soul, their entities that come to me, not their bodies.
When I see them as they were when they died, it’s for a reason.”
“And that reason would be…?” She was totally engrossed now.
“Mostly to make a point, as to say, ‘Hey, look what the living did to me, now fix it’.” He tapped out the cigarette and lifted to make some coffee. He wondered if the entity had tossed the perked coffee and spared the decaf, thinking no one would care to use the decaf.
Shrugging that thought away, he started a pot of water to boil.
“And do you?”
“I try, but sometimes I can’t.” And those were the cases that always ate at his gut. He hated leaving something unresolved, but sometimes there was no other choice.
He turned back and smiled, realizing she was completely enthralled by what he was saying. “This isn’t freaking you out at all is it?”
“No. And believe me, my not being freaked out by it is a little freaky. I mean, come on, I’m a die hard skeptic, and here I am sitting at a table, talking with a guy who communicates with the dead, in a house with spirits.” She held her hands out as if to say, ‘I rest my case’.
Laughing, he leaned against the counter, waiting for the water to boil. “You’re amazing, Jessica. To answer your question, I can’t always help the dead. I can only do so much, dig into things so far without drawing attention to myself and being called a freak.”
“But you are a freak.” She said it with the utmost affection, and if he didn’t catch that in her words, the smile was enough to clue him in. “I think I get what you mean.
Who knows about this ability of yours?”
“My family, my boss, you.”
Her left brow lifted in surprise. “That’s it?”
“Nope.” There were very few people he trusted with his gift.
“So what about your family, they must have told people?”
“Hard to tell someone something they don’t believe in.” He turned to her and saw the confusion on her face.
“My family doesn’t accept the fact that I can communicate with the dead.”
“Why don’t they believe you?”
“Did you believe in spirits before today?” he countered.
“No, but I’m not a family member. I would think they would trust you more than that.”
Yeah, so did he. “I’m an embarrassment to them. My grandfather has gone so far as to disown me.”
“Get out. Wait, grandfather, would this be the same one whom you share a name with?”
“One and the same.”
Now she understood. “Can’t say I blame you for the name change. Carlton is a stuffy sort of name, and though you are pretentious at times, you’re not stuffy.”
“Gee, thanks Jessica.” The water finally boiling, C.J. filled his cup, setting the pot back, then adding decaf coffee. It would have to do, he supposed.
“Make me one too, please, I’m so damn thirsty.”
“Yeah, hangovers will do that to you.” He set the cup in front of her, grinning.
“Nothing.” Still grinning, he sat down to enjoy his coffee and a smoke.
“That is not a nothing grin, pal, now fess up.”
“Who knew you were such an animal…”
Lowering her head, her face turning red, Jessie tried to disguise it by drinking her coffee.
“Are you blushing?”
“No,” she said vehemently.
“You are, you’re blushing. Oh, my God, that’s so cute.”
Her fist lifted with warning. “Back off, Dowling, or you’ll be sporting a shiner.”
His coffee and cigarette forgotten now, he moved next to her, leaning close to her face. “Wouldn’t be the first time I received a black eye. Come on, animal, take your best shot.”
Snarling at him, she pushed from the table. “And waste my energy on a slug like you? I don’t think so.”
Her back stiffened, and as she turned, her emerald eyes narrowed. “I am not chicken.”
“Where I’m sitting darling, you sure look chicken to me.”
“You want me to hit you?”
“Not particularly, no, but I like the fire in your eyes.
Reminds me of last night. There it is again.” She was blushing like a school girl and it was very appealing.
“Oh, go talk to your ghosts.” With her head held high, she marched from the room.
Laughing, C.J. leaned back in his chair and finished off his cigarette and coffee. The day was turning out pretty damn good so far.