My body tensed up as I dipped my foot into the frigid, bubbling stream. The snow and ice were on the way, and would cover the surface within weeks, but at the moment, the chill wasn’t what I was focusing on, it was him. As foolish as I was, I allowed him to roam around freely in my dreams as a sexy lover, and during the waking hours he was an infuriatingly nosy detective that didn’t seem to believe a word out of my mouth – with good reason. But here, he was simply the most tantalizing body I’d ever laid my eyes on. Too bad his real life personality had to ruin it for me when I was awake.
I bit back the bitter thoughts and focused on his lopsided grin and dimple that seemed to peek out at me from his left cheek, teasing and taunting me to reach him and lick the crease. In my dreams, he tasted as good as he smelled in real life; like vanilla and cinnamon. The cold sensation flowed up my feet and started its upward journey around my calves and thighs as I continued to focus on all the dreamy things I’d do to my detective when I reached him in the middle of the lake. Deeper and further I waded into the liquid chill that seemed to warm with my shaking body.
“Cassie?” A smooth, familiar voice lulled me further in, deeper into the dream, and I suddenly had the urge to swim to him, I knew all too well how his lips would feel on mine, how his hands would gently caress my body into a quivering puddle, but I didn’t care. Here in the dream, it was safe to fantasize about him.
“There you are, gorgeous.” Detective Dash smiled as he bobbed under the surface of the water for a moment. The loss of his presence cut me deep, but he returned quickly, his body coated in drops of the freezing water. His smile pulled me closer, and I reached out to touch his solid granite chest. My lips were inches from his, my body close enough to reach out and explore his. My shaky hand wrapped around his neck as I moved in to kiss his lips. His words froze me more than the water that kept us buoyant on the surface. “I know.”
The possible implications of his words filled me with dread and the need to escape. I shook my head and laughed. “Know what?”
He tilted his head to examine my face, “do you really think you could keep such a big secret from me?”
I shook my head and turned to swim across the lake. He swam after me and snaked his arms around my waist forcing me under the surface for a moment, water burning down my throat into my lungs. Moments later his strong, large hands were pulling me back up to face him. Anger replaced the twinkle that was in his kind brown eyes moments before. “I want to hear you say the words.” His grip on my wrists tightened, and suddenly a sexy dream turned into a very dangerous nightmare. My Detective Dash would never hurt me, it was a truth I knew deep down, buried under everything else. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me.
“I don’t know what you want to hear. You’re hurting me, Dash.” I whimpered as the grip threatened to snap my delicate wrists.
“Tell me you see them.” His face morphed from my adorably sexy detective to Abel’s father. My heart raced and I begged my subconscious mind to wake up, but I stayed trapped.
“Let her go, father, this is between you and me!” Abel snapped bitterly from the bank of the tiny lake. I glanced in his direction, and relief flooded me for a moment. My brother was safe, he was alive, well as alive as a ghost who hadn’t crossed over could be.
Or maybe it wasn’t him. He’d disappeared, and this was the first time in weeks I’d seen him. “Abel?”
“Be quiet, bitch!” Jacob Johnson slapped me across the face. The impact knocked me senseless, and right out of my dream. I sat straight up in bed. “Holy shit! Jacob Johnson, Abel!” I couldn’t put the words together to form a coherent sentence. I was thankful to be awake, but saddened that I’d left Abel there to fend for himself.
“Are you okay?” Davis was sitting at the foot of my bed, concern written across his face.
I shook my head and tried to slow my breathing. It felt like my heart was going to pound out of my chest. I needed to get my vitals under control and my mind centered. I closed my eyes and focused on my breath. It was a technique my psychiatrist was teaching me. A combination of meditation and self-hypnosis. As I felt my body relax, I said a silent thank you to Dr. Franklin for teaching me a technique that actually helped me.
“What are you doing here, Davis?” I hoped he didn’t know what I was dreaming about, but I also knew the veil between purgatory – where the souls waited to cross over, and the dream realm was thin.
“Sorry to disturb your sleep, Cassie, but I figured you’d want to talk to this one.” Davis, my new spirit guide helper, took his hand off my foot and look sheepishly toward the ground. Now I knew why my feet were cold in the dream!
I wasn’t sure which aspect was scarier at the moment. The fact that Davis was playing footsie with me while I slept or that I was about to have a sex dream with the police detective, Dash. Yep, I shivered, both were creepy and both made me really miss Abel. He was my rock. Why had he deserted me?
Frodo, the family mastiff who died a couple of weeks ago with my mother in a tragic shootout at the neighbor’s house, snuggled up to me and let out a tiny bark which was ironic since he was massive. It was slightly comical if I wasn’t tired and needed my sleep. His ghostly form caused a chill which made me pull the blankets tighter around my body.
“Davis! I have two tests tomorrow-correction, today. Go away!” I covered up trying to reduce the chill from my ghost-dog’s body, but left enough of my head out to glare at him. These ghosts were going to be the death of me.
“No, I’m afraid it can’t.” Davis stood over me, his arms crossed over his chest. He was a good looking man for a dead guy. “Death doesn’t work on your timetable.”
“Really?” I tossed the covers off my head and squinted toward the clock-5:20 AM. Seriously? “You’re going with death doesn’t wait for anyone?” He was right, and he probably helped me wake up from that nightmare. The least I could do was hear him out. I sat up, crossed my arms over my chest, and waited.
“I think you know, Mia?”
A girl with cinnamon skin and tri-color hair faded into view next to Davis. The white on her zebra striped leggings and t-shirt were splattered with crimson red blood. Her frilly lace skirt was ripped and hanging on by a thread, and her hand fisted at her waist. “Hi, Cass.”
I knew her. She was my neighbor in the dorms, and also in my genetics and sociology classes. “Mia! Oh my god! What happened?” I felt my heart plummet and sadness wash over me like a wave. Poor, Mia had so much going for her.
“I…don’t know. This guy says I’m dead. I can’t be dead, can I?”
“Oh, Mia, I’m sorry.” I shook my head sadly. I’ve learned people who die violently have a hard time processing the idea that they’re dead at first. My guess was that it was a last ditch effort for the soul to hang on to the human body, which makes sense since ghosts maintain their human form when I see them. I’m not entirely sure if that is to ease my own mind or theirs, but it worked.
“I mean, you two can see me, talk to me, that has to mean I’m still alive. Someone must have attacked me and I’m dreaming this. I need to wake up.” She started pacing the floor, her white, pink and black hair danced around her anxious shoulders.
I tried to keep my voice calm and void of emotion, it helped. “Mia, Davis is dead, and I have the unfortunate gift of being able to see and talk to dead people.”
“How?” She stopped pacing.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m guessing it happened when I died, and the doctors revived me after the crash that killed my father.”
Her blue eyes grew large. “No, I mean, how did I die?”
I sighed heavily and hid the eye roll. Mia was always an attention getter, everything focused on her. Why did I expect her to be different as a ghost. “I don’t know, but I suppose that’s part of the reason you’re here.” I headed to the closet and grabbed a change of clothes. I was up now and my first class wasn’t until one so we had time to do a little investigating. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
Mia sat gently on my bed and sank partly into the mattress. Frodo rolled over and bared his belly for a good scratch, traitor. She absently petted my brindle, monster, Mastiff ghost, “I remember going to a rave in the warehouse district, and feeling sick about halfway through the night. I figured someone spiked my water because I wasn’t partaking in the alcohol. We have a couple of tests today.”
I nodded as I came out of the closet dressed in ripped jeans and a pink t-shirt under a light blue sweater, yes I mixed baby blue and powder pink. No one ever said I had the best fashion sense, but it was mine.
“Then the rest of the night was hazy. It’s all random bits and pieces that I can’t seem to arrange into any logical order.”
I braided my red hair to the side, and slipped on a pair of running shoes and jacket. Winter was coming fast, fall was breaking early and the mornings before the sun rose were the coldest. “Take me to the rave location and let’s see what you can remember.” I slid on a baby blue stocking cap for good measure as I walked out the door. “Come along, Frodo.”
He wasn’t the best guard dog anymore, but his senses, especially his sense of smell was still highly tuned. I turned to lock the door just as Frodo materialized through the wood and jumped through my body providing me with an extra chill. I didn’t wait for Davis or Mia. He’d make sure she was at the car waiting for me.
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