Authors: Rose Pressey
I closed the cover of the book. “Okay, I guess I’ve read enough for the day.”
“Ah, I was just getting into it,” Roger said.
Now even he was enjoying the story. I looked at the clock. It was almost closing time. The last streaks of daylight fell across the sky. At least the clouds had moved out. After such an exciting morning, nothing much had happened the rest of the day. I still couldn’t stop thinking about Stone. Was it wrong that I thought about checking the hotels in town to see if I could find him? It wasn’t often I met another medium. And, it was even rarer to meet one in Magnolia. It was almost like fate. I didn’t believe in coincidences.
I’d managed to avoid Callahan all day, but I knew that wouldn’t last for long. I would have to be honest with him soon. Plus, I didn’t want to avoid him. The thought of not seeing him made me sick to my stomach.
Marilyn and Roger were roaming around the store. I was enjoying the quiet while I finished my paperwork. When my phone rang and I saw it was Mindy, dread washed over me. I knew I would have to deal with this call sooner or later. I thought about letting it go to voice mail, but I knew Mindy would come looking for me. Plus, what if the spirit had returned and she needed my help. No, I had to pick up.
“Are you ready for class?” Mindy asked when I answered.
I paused and instantly she knew something was wrong.
“You are not getting out of this. You’ve been putting me off for too long.”
“No, it’s not that,” I said.
“Well, then what is it?” Her voice was full of frustration.
“It’s just that after what happened with the spirit, I’m not sure I should be around you.”
My comment was met with silence.
Finally, she said, “What is that supposed to mean? You don’t want to be around me?”
My shoulders slumped. I sighed and then said, “No, I do. I love you, and that’s why I figured I shouldn’t be around. I brought the spirit. I caused the problem. If I don’t come around, then the spirit will leave you alone.”
She paused again. “It’s my fault, Larue, for not being tougher. You’re my friend and I know that means sometimes I will have to face spirits and other spooky things. I wouldn’t want it any other way. So, I refuse to let you stay away.”
I knew she meant it, too. She was stubborn.
“So, get your butt over here for class. There is no way I’m letting you out of this one.”
My muscles ached just thinking about the torture I was about to inflict upon myself.
I sighed and said, “Okay I’ll be there soon, but this is totally against my better judgment.”
“Larue, honey, sometimes your better judgment isn’t so much better.”
“You have a point there. Okay, see you soon.” I hung up and straightened my work area.
Roger and Marilyn appeared in front of me. It was like turning on the TV. One minute there was a blank screen and the next was a perfect picture.
“Where are we going?” Marilyn asked.
I shook my head. “I’m going to Mindy’s fitness studio.”
Roger snorted. “I can’t wait to see this.”
Roger was like the younger brother I never had… Maybe I’d been lucky to be an only child.
I raised an eyebrow. “If you are going to make fun of me, then I won’t let you come inside.”
“As if you have a choice,” he said.
I hated dealing with defiant ghosts. I grabbed my purse and headed for the front door.
“Contrary to what you believe, you can’t do whatever you want. I have ways to get rid of you,” I said as I stepped out onto the sidewalk.
Roger scoffed. “Yeah, right.”
“Please don’t fight you two. It makes me nervous,” Marilyn said.
I locked the door and peered down the sidewalk. Of course I was on edge expecting the spirit to pop back up. For a brief moment, I thought I caught a glimpse of someone watching me. It wasn’t the spirit I thought I saw… it was Stone. However, he had ducked behind a group of people when he thought I’d caught him. Maybe it had been my imagination because he’d disappeared so quickly. Or had he really been spying on me?
I climbed into the car with the ghosts and traveled the short distance to Mindy’s studio,
. She’d just installed the big sign recently. The place was doing really well and she’d added even more classes. I parked in the lot and shut off the car.
I grabbed my bag. “Okay, I’ll be back soon.”
Roger and Marilyn were standing by the door when I entered. So much for trying to get them to stay in the car. I knew Marilyn coming wouldn’t be a problem, but I didn’t want Roger to tag along. He’d inevitably have a snarky comment.
After changing into my workout gear, I made my way to the floor. Mindy smiled and then started the music. Of course, she always made me take a place at the front. I tried to keep up with the fast pace, but with two left feet, it was really difficult. Instead of dancing, it looked more like I was having a medical emergency.
Mindy was a good instructor, but I didn’t follow instructions well. My brain said move to the right, but my feet went to the left. Marilyn was standing to the side hiding her eyes. She didn’t want to see the train wreck. Roger, on the other hand, was laughing his butt off. I was so glad he found my torture amusing.
After stumbling, I managed to push back to my feet. I tried to focus on what Mindy was saying and doing, but when I spotted the dark shadow out of the corner of my eye, it was impossible to continue. I knew the silence had been too good to be true. The thing looked like a silhouette now. I wasn’t sure why it had decided not to take on the other creepy image. Maybe because it had lost the fedora?
The shadow rushed from the corner, but it moved right past Mindy. Who did this thing have its sights set on this time? I hoped it wasn’t an innocent stranger from class. The women continued dancing, unaware that this dark entity was invading our space. It weaved around the room. I followed it with my stare. The next thing I knew, the dark mass was on top of me.
I sensed this presence was male. I fell to the ground with a thud. At that second, the lights went out and the music stopped.
“Hold on, everyone. It seems we’ve lost power,” Mindy said with strain in her voice.
Because it was dark, no one could see I was fighting to get this entity off me. The thing had me pinned to the ground. It felt as if a ton of rocks was sitting on top of me. His hands were wrapped around my neck and I struggled to breath. How would I get away from him? I couldn’t even scream out for help. I wrapped my hands around what I thought was the thing’s arms and pushed.
I shoved with all my strength, but I’d never felt this kind of force before. Surely, someone would be able to help me soon… before it was too late. Light flooded the room once again and in an instant the shadow was gone. I coughed and tried to catch my breath. Thank goodness the thing had left. All I could think about was when he would return. I’d gotten away with my life, but next time I probably wouldn’t be so lucky. When I looked around, I saw everyone was staring at me. I suppose they thought I was nuts since they hadn’t seen what was attacking me. Did no one care I was choking?
Mindy rushed over to me. “Larue, what happened?”
I tried to speak, but I could only cough. I sat up and finally stopped hacking. Fear shone in Mindy’s eyes.
“The spirit attacked me.”
She held my arm. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”
I waved off her comment. “I’ll be fine.”
I told her this, but I wasn’t sure it was the truth.
“This spirit is getting worse,” she said.
I couldn’t argue with her. I was thankful it had attacked me and not her.
“Can you stand up now?” she asked.
I released a deep breath and then said, “I think so.”
“Larue, I saw the spirit coming after you, but there was nothing I could do,” Marilyn said.
I smiled at her, but didn’t answer since the people around me were listening. In the corner of the room, I spotted Roger. He was watching me, too. He glanced away when our eyes met. Did he know something he wasn’t telling me? There had to be a way to make him talk. Maybe I could scare it out of him.
Mindy held my arm as I pushed to my feet. “Are you sure you can you stand?”
“I’m as good as new,” I said.
I stumbled over to a chair at the side of the room. Mindy followed me, handing me a bottle of water.
I took a big gulp and then said, “I am going to go. I don’t want to interrupt the class any more. It’s not fair to the others.”
“I’m sure they understand,” Mindy said.
“Yes, Larue, I’m sure they understand,” Marilyn added.
All they saw was a woman on the floor kicking and screaming.
“They think I’m one crayon short of a full box.” I stood from the chair. “I’ll call you later.”
Mindy’s perfectly sculpted eyebrows pinched together. “Larue, are you sure you’re okay to drive?”
I grabbed my bag and threw it over my shoulder. “Yes, I’ll be fine.”
Roger spotted me leaving and hurried over so I wouldn’t drive off without him. If it hadn’t been for sticking him at Mindy’s place, I wouldn’t have minded at all if he stayed behind. Once outside, I climbed into the car and pulled out of the parking lot. I briefly worried I had left the spirit with Mindy, but I knew he would much prefer to be with me. He would attack anyone I was with. He wouldn’t get them when I wasn’t around. No, he wanted me to see the attack.
I had to go back to the house where I’d gotten Roger.
“Larue, do you have any clue who this spirit is or what he wants?” Marilyn asked.
I navigated a turn. “No, but I will do my best to find out right now.”
“Larue, you looked like you were having a seizure back there. Dancing is not your forte,” Roger said from the back seat.
“Thanks for reminding me, Roger.”
“No problem. Where are we going?” Roger asked.
As I neared the street, I figured he would recognize it.
“Are you taking me back?” he asked with panic in his voice. “I don’t want to go back. It’s boring there.”
I glanced over at Marilyn and she flashed a wide smile.
“Are you going to be nice from now on?” I asked, looking at him in the rear-view mirror.
Roger scowled and then finally said, “Yes, I will be nice.”
I pulled up in front of the house.
He huffed. “I told you I would be nice.”
I turned off the ignition. “Relax. I merely want to talk with the homeowner about the previous owners. Since you won’t give me any information.”
“I’m staying in the car,” he said, folding his arms in front of his chest.
“Oh, don’t pout,” I said.
“I’m not pouting,” he snapped. “I just don’t want to go inside.”
I shrugged. “Suit yourself. Come on, Marilyn.”
“Gladly,” she said as she got out of the car.
As Marilyn and I made our way up the sidewalk toward the house, I noticed a man walking away. All I saw was the back of him, but I thought for sure I recognized him.
“Is that Stone?” I asked.
Marilyn followed my pointing finger. “It looks like him.”
I called out to him, but he was too far away and I was sure he hadn’t heard me. Well, I thought he hadn’t. What was he doing over here? Did he know someone in the area? This was the second time I’d seen him since meeting him. Like I said, I’ve never believed in coincidences.
Marilyn and I made it to the front door. My client answered right away. Elisa Castle’s dark hair was styled in an up do today. When I’d seen her last, she was disheveled and fear was evident in her eyes. She’d worn her sweats and a wrinkled T-shirt. Now, she was dressed in black slacks and a beautiful emerald green silk blouse.
“Larue, I’m so glad to see you.” Elisa reached out and hugged me.
She seemed much happier than when I’d seen her last. That must mean the haunting was gone. More than likely because it was with me now.
“Please come inside.”
“Thank you, Elisa.” I followed the woman into the house.
I looked around the space and it seemed so much brighter than the last time I’d been there. The sun shone through the windows casting a yellow glow around the room. The colors seemed more vibrant and the smell of flowers lingered in the air.
“Come in to the kitchen. I was just making tea.” Elisa motioned to me.
I followed her through the house, keeping on high alert the whole time in case I spotted the shadow. I knew it wasn’t staying here any longer, though. The heaviness of his presence was gone. He was now with me full time. I knew the full scope of what Elisa had been dealing with before she had called me. There probably hadn’t been any haunting since I’d been there.
“Please have a seat.”
I sat at the end of the oak table. Elisa pulled out a cup and poured water and then dipped the tea bag.
She placed the cup in front of me on the table. “Would you like sugar?”
“Yes, please,” I said.