Chapter Seven

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

I sniffled and looked up at a young boy about my age. His hair was blond and he had friendly blue eyes. I shrugged and wiped my nose on my sleeve. I wanted to be alone and cry. I didn’t want to explain things to some stranger.

“Nothin’,’” I mumbled and stared down at my dirty tennis shoes. I’d just got my pink sparkly tennis shoes last week but now after running through the woods in the mud they were all dirty. Didn’t matter. Mom was upset. I’d scared her. I didn’t mean to. I never meant to. I needed to learn not to say anything.

“Something is bothering you,” the boy said and sank down on the porch step beside me. Who was this kid?

“Just stuff,” I muttered fiddling with my dirty shoe string.

“I’m good at fixing things. I bet if you told me I could help,” he replied.

Was he for real? I just wanted him to leave me alone. Shrugging, I figured the truth would probably send him running away. I lifted my head and stared at him.

“I saw my dead Grandma today. We went to her house because she had a heart attack and died. Everyone put on dresses and went to visit her in her casket at her house and eat food and stuff. I saw her lying there. She looked asleep but she wasn’t breathing. Then I went into the kitchen to find the coloring books she always left for me. And there she was. Smiling like she always did. I was so happy to see she’d woken up. I went to hug her and she was gone.”

I stopped, waiting for the horrified look my mother had given me when I told her this same story to come over his face but it didn’t. Maybe he didn’t understand.

“So, I spun around and there she was again. Standing behind me. She looked sad and she shook her head at me. I was just so happy to see her alive I ran to tell Mom. But when I got back into the room where the casket was my grandma was still lying there like she was asleep. My mother was still crying.”

I stopped again waiting for the boy to jump up and run away from me. But he sat there waiting for me to say more. I’d wanted someone to listen to me today. Instead my mom had told me to stop it and threatened to ground me if I said anymore about this. Then she’d sobbed so loudly I felt sick. I didn’t want to make her sad. I’d only been trying to make her feel better.

“Go on,” the boy said.

“Well, I told my mom to come with me. I pulled her into the kitchen and there was my grandma standing there like I’d left her. She looked sad again and shook her head at me. My mom didn’t see her. Instead she stared down at me and asked me what this was about. I pointed to my grandma and still my mother didn’t see anything. She frowned and looked back down at me and said she needed to get back to the visitors. Then I told her about grandma being there and Mom froze. The look on her face wasn’t a happy one. She looked... really, really scared.”

I didn’t finish. I knew the boy would run away from me now.

“So, you saw the soul of your grandma,” he replied matter of factly.

I nodded, “I guess, if that is like her ghost. Because I think I saw her ghost.”

“Yes, it’s like her ghost.”

I wiped at my eyes. The tears had stopped since the boy had shown up.

“It’s okay to see souls. It’s not a bad thing. But your mom will never understand it. No one will. If you want to keep from upsetting people you need to act like you don’t see them. If you ignore them then they’ll leave you alone. If you let them know you can see them then they’ll follow you around,” he explained.

Frowning, I studied him. He seemed to know a lot about this. Did he see dead people too?

“How’d you know she wasn’t the first one I’ve seen?”

He shrugged, “I guess you’ve been seeing them for about two years now.”

My mouth fell open. How’d he know that?

“Do you see ghosts too?”

He nodded and a crooked grin appeared on his face. He really didn’t think I was crazy.

“Yep, I see them.”

“Can I make myself stop seeing them?”

He frowned and shook his head. He must wish he couldn’t see them too.

“So we’re stuck like this?”

“I’m afraid so,” he replied. “But look at it this way, it makes you special. You can see something no one else can. Think of it as a super power instead of a bad thing.”

Not likely. I wanted to be able to fly or maybe go invisible but I wasn’t interested in seeing dead people.

“Pagan! Pagan! PEGGY ANN!”

My eyes snapped open and Gee hovered over my face.

“You were not supposed to go to sleep while I went to check out things outside and around the house. But what happens? I’m gone for maybe five minutes and you’re asleep and that creep job is in your head.”

I stretched and sat up on the couch. I was losing sleep due to these dreams. I couldn’t help it that the moment I sat down I dozed off. Yawning, I shot Gee an annoyed glare.

“I couldn’t help it.”

“Well, it would be nice if you at least tried.”

“This time I’m glad I did. He let me remember something I wanted to remember. It was a memory I’m glad he gave back to me.”

Gee frowned, “What would that be?”

“The day of my grandmother’s wake. I saw her. I saw her soul. She was smiling at me because she knew I could see her. My mother, of course, freaked out when I told her about it but I got to say goodbye in a way.” Pausing I directed my gaze to Gee. “Please tell me she isn’t a lost soul. Please tell me Dank just hadn’t retrieved her soul yet.”

Gee stopped chewing on her thumb nail and shook her head, “Your grandmother has gone on. Dank checked on most all of your relatives. The ones you were close to have moved on. I know for a fact your grandmother’s soul will return soon.”

I let out a sigh of relief and wrapped my arms around my waist. It was a nice memory. I’d loved my grandmother. Upsetting my mother that day hadn’t been something I remembered fondly but I understood why it upset her now.

“It was Leif that taught me to ignore the souls.”

Gee rolled her eyes, “Well, let’s give him a medal of honor for that act of kindness. Since the reason you can even see souls is because of him.”

She was right of course. Still, the Leif from my dreams was so similar to the boy I had known this past year. It was hard to forget that. Nothing about him felt dangerous.

“Now, I want some of that chocolate stuff your mom made and I want to watch some more of that show we watched yesterday. I’m exhausted from taking care of your ass. I need some down time.”

It had been days since I’d seen Dank and Gee hadn’t left my side once. I knew this wasn’t her ideal job and I hated she was growing tired of it. I got up from the couch and headed for the kitchen, “You want soda or milk with your brownies?” I asked her.

“Milk. It makes those brownies taste better.”

The excitement in her voice caused me to laugh. I cut both of us a large chunk of brownie and poured two tall glasses of milk. We could comfort eat and watch Gossip Girl while she cackled and made fun of everything they did. The crew from the Upper East Side amused Gee to no end.

Dank

I hadn’t seen Pagan in three days. Stepping into her room, I watched her as she brushed her hair. The jeans she was wearing were a little too snug for my comfort. I didn’t handle jealousy well. It would be safer if she wore something a little less sexy. My eyes traveled up from the tall black leather boots she wore to the extremely tight fitting jeans that cupped her ass like a glove. Then the bare skin at the small of her back flashed at me as she raised her arms to twist the long dark locks of her hair up into a wild mass of curls on the back of her head. She was gorgeous and she was mine.

I closed the door behind me and she spun around startled. A smile instantly lit up her face when her eyes seemed to drink me in. She ran toward me and threw herself in my arms so quickly that a regular guy would have dropped her. The jean encased legs of hers I’d been admiring were firmly wrapped around my waist and she was raining kisses all over my face. Was it possible for my heart to swell when I didn’t have one? I tightened my hold on her waist, “ I missed you too,” I whispered, catching her busy lips with mine. She didn’t press for more but let me taste just enough before pulling back and gazing down at me.

“I’m so excited. I’ve missed you like crazy.”

“It’s going to be hard for me to concentrate on that stage tonight with you strutting around in jeans that showcase your incredibly beautiful body. You know that right?”

Giggling, she wiggled in my arms and grabbed my face with both her hands and kissed my nose and forehead.

I immediately took advantage of the situation and laid her down on the bed. Her eyes went big and round with surprise as I lowered myself over her and began kissing her neck and taking small little licks at her collar bone. This was the kind of kissing we could do safely.

The pleased sigh from Pagan made me a little crazy. I loved the sexy little sounds she made when we were together like this. “Mmmmm, kiss my mouth,” she whispered.

I shook my head knowing a kiss would end this moment too soon. I wasn’t ready to stop just yet. I’d been fantasizing about her unique scent and taste for days. Now that I had her under me, I was greedy. I needed enough to get me through tonight.

“AH,” she gasped as I bit the tender flesh at the curve of her neck and shoulder. Smiling against her warm silky skin, I inhaled deeply.

Pagan lifted her hips pressing closer to me. Insane need ignited inside me and I knew I needed to put distance between us. When she rubbed and pressed against me so trustingly it always ended up being my undoing. I pushed up from the close contact of our bodies putting some much needed space between the warmth she seemed so willing to share with me, I groaned in frustration and denial.

Pagan sat up and crawled over to wrap her arms around my neck. Her soft lips kissed my temple. “Trust me, Dank Walker I will only have eyes for you. No one else even comes close.”

With a teasing growl I turned my head and nipped at her ear. “Good to know. No need for some clueless guy to meet Death tonight when it isn’t his time to go.”

“Dank!”

I chuckled and shrugged, “I’d say I was kidding but I’m not.”

Pagan shook her head in exasperation and reached for her jacket then stood up. “Let’s go see my rocker boyfriend in action,” she replied with a smirk.

Tonight was about having fun with Pagan. I wasn’t going to let the issues surrounding us get in the way. Leif had kept me away from her enough. I needed to do a gig with the band and Pagan wanted to experience it so this worked out perfectly.

Pagan walked into the hallway then glanced back over her shoulder and smiled, “You coming or what?”

Pagan

Smoke curled up from the floor of the stage as strobe lights flashed and fans screamed. Dank pulled me up against him and kissed my lips, “You stay here. I’ll be back and forth between breaks. I want to be able to see you while I’m singing.”

I nodded excitedly and he pressed one last kiss to my forehead before running out onto the stage where the other members of Cold Soul were already in place and ready to go. The full intensity of the stage lights came on and Dank joined the drummer and bass player in a wild intense opening to a song I didn’t recognize.

Dank sauntered up to the microphone as his fingers danced across the guitar strings. I had the urge to scream along with the crowded civic center. The tight charcoal grey t-shirt he wore highlighted every delicious ripple in his stomach. I was very thankful for the guitar that covered his impressive abs. I didn’t necessarily like the idea of the girls screaming his name getting such an eyeful of his perfectly formed body but I was forcing myself to deal.

His head turned and his eyes locked with mine. A pleased gleam flashed in them then he winked at me. Of course he’d heard my worries. Not surprising that he liked the fact I was unhappy about other females looking at him. The wicked grin on his lips grew and his sexy little dimple flashed at me.

I blew him a kiss and he reached up with one hand and acted as if he was catching it then touched his lips with two of his fingers before turning back to the crowd. Honestly, I was very close to having a swoon moment myself. Who would have thought Death could be so incredibly sweet?

Suddenly the screaming crowd quieted as if on cue and Dank opened his mouth to sing.

“Daylight fades away as I watch you.

Darkness claims the sky and I wish you knew

that nothing you can do can keep me from you.

But I stay out of sight and only whisper to you.

Words I can’t say. Words you don’t need to hear.

Words I can’t keep from tangling my way.

Now, I can’t stand alone.

Now, I am under your influence.

You’ve taken over me and Now, I can’t ignore what I’ve been shown.

You’ve claimed me and I don’t care who knows.

You’ve claimed me and I don’t care if it shows.

I’m weakened and I’m strengthened in your arms.

You’ve claimed me and I need to feel you close.”

My heart sped up as his eyes turned to me. I hadn’t heard this song before and I had all his albums on my iPod. His tongue barely peeked out from his lips as he wet them then held my gaze and opened his mouth again.

“You stand wanting more than you could ever understand.

I stand helpless needing to give in to your every command.

Wanting to see you smile has consumed me and tied both my hands.

Nothing I offer could ever be worthy of your love.

It’s a miracle that you saw me and never ran.

I will spend my whole life trying to be the man you think I am.

Now, I can’t stand alone. Now, I am under your influence.

You’ve taken over me and Now, I can’t ignore what I’ve been shown.

You’ve claimed me and I don’t care who knows.

You’ve claimed me and I don’t care if it shows.

I’m weakened and I’m strengthened in your arms.

You’ve claimed me and I need to feel you close.”

His lips puckered slowly as if to kiss me before he turned his attention back to the crowd and continued to sing.

“You hold fire within your gaze.

It mesmerizes everyone you allow into your maze.

I know nothing of your thoughts

but I need to bask within the warmth of your rays.

Nothing you do could ever be wrong.

You’re forever perfect in every way.

Now, I can’t stand alone. Now, I am under your influence.

You’ve taken over me and Now, I can’t ignore what I’ve been shown.

You’ve claimed me and I don’t care who knows.

You’ve claimed me and I don’t care if it shows.

I’m weakened and I’m strengthened in your arms.

You’ve claimed me and I need to feel you close.”

As the song came to an end the crowd began screaming out his name. Pride welled up inside me to think this brilliant... being was mine.

“So you’re Dank’s new fling?” I looked back over my shoulder to find the source of the snarky voice. The girl had an annoyed smirk on her very attractive face. A head full of blond curls hung almost to her tiny waist which seemed unfair considering the size of her chest. The tight tank top she was wearing had those double D’s of hers spilling out of the low cut neckline. If she told me she’d just walked off a photo shoot for Playboy I wouldn’t have been surprised.

“He normally goes for um... well a more noticeable type. I’m shocked you’re what’s keeping him so busy.”

Yep, I hadn’t mistaken the snarkiness in her tone. The girl didn’t like me. But what she was saying made no sense. I knew for a fact Dank didn’t have “flings” and that I was the only relationship he’d ever been in. I wasn’t sure how to respond to her obvious lack of knowledge about him so I turned my attention back to the stage and watched as he brought thousands of people into a frenzy of excitement.

“Too good to talk to me, are you? Well, we’ll see about that. I’ve been around a lot longer than you and my daddy is the reason Cold Soul even got recognized by a label. Dank won’t like it that you were rude to me.”

Finally unable to bite my tongue any longer I turned my head to meet her glare with my own. “When you say something worth responding to then I’ll gladly reply. But it’s obvious you don’t know Dank at all. If you did you’d realize how incredibly idiotic you sound.” Her eyes lit up with fury and I wanted to laugh at her reaction. The girl could dish it out but she sure couldn’t take it.

“I hope you enjoyed your ride, slut, because it’s over. Dank won’t put up with that shit from you. I’m too important to upset.”

My blood began to boil and I took a step toward her, “Did you just call me a slut?” I hissed.

She looked entirely too pleased with my anger at first but then her amused grin vanished and a terrified expression lit up her face. She began backing away from me. I wanted to laugh out loud. She reminded me of one of those bullies from elementary school that was all talk. Once someone called them out they backed down. I felt a sense of power at being able to handle this situation myself. Instead of waiting on Dank to set the bitch straight I was doing it.

“Don’t,” the girl backed up against the wall and I kept my angry glare fixed on her loving her horrified expression. This was fun.

“Pagan, stop.”

I froze at the sound of Dank’s voice as he stepped in between the two of us. The sweat on his chest had soaked into his shirt and it clung even tighter to his skin. Then he turned and looked back at the other girl.

“What’s going on?” I heard him ask. What? Why was he worried about her?

“She attacked me, I was just trying to talk to her and she just attacked me,” the girl blubbered in tears. She was crying? Dang, she even sounded believable.

“I didn’t touch her. She--”

“Not now, Pagan,” Dank interrupted me and I stood there gaping at him and the girl he was apparently consoling. Had I just stepped into some alternate universe? None of this made sense.

“She... she hissed at me,” the girl stuttered, pointing one of her long red nails in my direction. Well, maybe I had done that. But she’d called me a slut.

“She called--” I began and once again Dank cut me off.

“Wait, Pagan.”

Confusion quickly turned to anger and I didn’t wait until he finished talking to the girl and listening to her mouthful of lies. He should be asking ME if I was okay. Not her. I wasn’t going to stand around and listen to this. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to stand there and try to defend myself to him if he wasn’t going to even give me a chance to talk. I stalked toward the back entrance expecting Dank to get a clue and follow me but once I opened the back door that we’d entered when we arrived he still hadn’t come after me.

Hurt, furious, and confused I stared out into the night. I didn’t have a car. Dank wasn’t coming after me. And he’d just completely blown me off and left me to hang in there. Tears blurred my eyes and I started to wipe them away and decided to leave them alone. No one was here to see me cry.

“I’ll take you home,” Leif’s voice startled me. Spinning around I found him leaning up against his truck watching me.

Not wanting him to see me cry, I wiped at the tears running down my face. I couldn’t get in a truck with Leif. He was an evil spirit after my soul. The concerned frown on his face reminded me of the boy who’d come to the hospital to see me after my wreck. He’d been so worried he’d slept outside in the waiting room all night. My entire life Leif had been there when I needed someone. Nothing about him was ever scary. Never once did he let me down. I glanced back at the closed door wishing Dank would walk through it but nothing happened. Anger burned my throat and my heart ached.

“Sure, thanks Leif. I could use a ride.”

Dank

Letting Pagan walk off hurt and upset had almost been impossible. But the more distance she put between herself and the soulless creature in front of me the better. The anger and pain rolling off of her had been so distracting. I needed to figure out what this thing was. I couldn’t do that with Pagan distressed behind me. I’d wanted to wrap her up in my arms and reassure her but I couldn’t give this thing a chance to get away.

“Who are you?” I growled, glaring down at the blonde.

She smirked and straightened up from her cowering stance once Pagan rounded the corner.

“No one you know Dankmar,” she replied and ran a long red fingernail up my shirt, “but we could change that.”

I slapped her hand away with enough force that she gasped in pain. Good. I wanted her to hurt. She’d been too close to Pagan. And my foolishly brave girl had been glaring her down like she could take on a demon from Hell with her bare hands.

“You’re beneath me,” I reminded her in a cold flat voice. “Now tell me why you were near my Pagan.” I demanded.

She shrugged and crossed her arms over her chest, “I did what I was told to do. It’s my job, Dankmar. You understand about doing your job, don’t you?”

“Don’t play games with me. I want answers now. I need to get to Pagan. I don’t have time for this.”

She giggled and icy fear gripped me.

“Too late,” she said in a sing-song voice before she vanished.

Not wanting to believe the truth hammering in my head, I broke into a run down the hallway Pagan had run to only a few minutes ago. There was no sign of her. I threw open the back door and the parking lot was full of empty cars. Nothing. Closing my eyes I searched for her soul. And for the first time since I met her I was unable to hear it.

“NOOOOOOO!”


Tags: Abbi Glines Existence Trilogy Fantasy
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