Ch. 12 – Bugs

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there. I’ve just posted Ch.12: Bugs of my paranormal romance, A Quiet Moment. I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 12

There was quiet in the house, but not serenity. She had a sense of these things. Her skin tingled with the restlessness and activity about her. She allowed her thoughts to roam down the corridors, easily drifting to the servant’s quarters where she used to abide. There was laughter, whispering there, and thoughts of her. Her chest instinctively tightened in embarrassment and pain.

“Do you think they’re together now?”

“I don’t understand. As long as I’ve been here, there’s never been any woman with him.” More laughter, “We’d begun to think there was something wrong with him.”

“Enough,” rasped an older voice. “Has he not been a kind and honorable master to us? Does he deserve this sort of speculation about his activities?”

“But you can see the difference. The interest he takes in her, and she is so odd, so foreign.”

“But he deserves our respect. And if he chooses a course of action, you can be sure there is good reason for it.”

“But he has moved her in rooms next to his, surely that means.”

“No more, no more disrespect.”

Her eyes snapped open.

He stood in her doorway, watching her calmly, holding a candle that illuminated the shadows of the room.

“Where were you?” he spoke to her calmly.

She swallowed painfully, as though she’d been a child caught in a mischievous activity. She’d had enough experience with him to know not to hide anything. It was pointless. He would find out what he wanted to know. “Your servants are speculating.”

He sat in the wooden chair next to her bed, “Speculating are they, about what?”

“About the nature of our relationship, it apparently has them quite curious.”

He put down the candlestick and calmly turned back to her. “Well, in a household of this size, I suppose that is to be expected.” She said nothing but crossed her arms defensively in front of her and leaned backward against her pillows. “It upsets you.”

“I do not like being the target of someone else’s gossip.”

“Well then I suggest you don’t eavesdrop, my dear.” She glared at him, and it made him smile a bit. “I will make sure no such talk is tolerated.”

“Maybe it would be easier to remove the source of speculation.”

His eyes seemed to harden a bit, and their cool blueness felt icy to her. “Our interactions have crossed no boundaries.”

“But the appearance.”

“I prefer you near me.”

“They think that we’re lovers.” She spat out, not really meaning to.

“We are, just not in the physical sense, not yet.”

Jacob opened his eyes. He’d fallen asleep in the recliner chair in his den. After trying unsuccessfully for some time, he’d given up on sleeping and wandered into the den. He was agitated here. Maybe it was having her in the house. Maybe having her in the house was rubbing off on him, or maybe the thought of her just down the hall from him, within reach, was making him a bit crazy. But there were all sorts of possibilities. So, as a solution, one he rarely used, he poured himself a glass of brandy that effectively seemed to dull the sharp edges of all possibilities. He settled back into his chair. Watching the delicate snowflakes falling outside the window of his house, he thought about where he wanted to take Aimee tomorrow, before he again drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

What troubles you?

She turned to the serene face of her spirit guide, wondering what the short-term answer was to that particular question. Above them the sky was stormy, as though some heavenly explosion was building, but then again maybe that was just a reflection of her state of mind.

Yes. Again, she turned to the statuesque figure beside her. She, in her long chiffon robes, was the only thing calm in this picture.

Did I ask something?

A gentle smile, Not directly. You were wondering if the atmosphere here reflects the turmoil that you are feeling, and I answered you. Yes, of course. The real question is what is eliciting this violent turmoil in you.

She sighed deeply, profoundly, as though an ancient fatigue from within was being given voice.

You can’t continue on with this conflict Lily.

I know. I don’t really understand it. He’s kind and caring and truly sort of brilliant on many levels. But he also terrifies me. It as though he has the power to change my entire world.

A safe world you’ve encapsulated yourself in.

How can you say that? She asked in real disbelief. Do you have any idea the pain I have witnessed in my lifetime, the suffering—how I’ve struggled to make this gift or curse, whatever you want to term it mean something. I don’t ever remember feeling young, without care. I’ve always carried this, this—

Her eyes were wide and deep in their dark, indigo color. Did you want to say burden?

I did, but then I was so ashamed. I know it is a blessing.

But you’ve only experienced the difficulty of it, glimpsed too often into the suffering of others. Lily, you’ve lived in its shadow for so long.

She nodded, and let her eyes drift out to the wild tumultuous sea beneath where they stood. I’ve had to anchor myself inside, just to get through.

And he threatens this anchor you’ve built within yourself.

He threatens everything. I must leave him. If I don’t, I think I’ll just fall apart.

You must do as you feel little one, but remember what Dominick taught you about fear.

She nodded gravely. I remember.

Don’t give it the reins, for it will gladly take dominion.

She picked up her watch from the night table. It was nearly three in the morning. Of course, for many reasons, it was a particularly active time in the spiritual world. Wonderful, if she’d slept three hours this night that was all. Well, she wouldn’t have to worry what to do about Jacob. He would take one look at her in the morning and run for the hills.

Her skin felt distinctly irritated. Wonderful, no doubt they were out and about again. Was it something she really wanted to tackle tonight? She sat up in the bed, swinging her legs over to the side and picking up the long, blue, chenille robe that she’d draped over a nearby chair. It wasn’t as if she was doing anything else, like sleeping.

She wrapped the robe tightly around her. It had a comforting feel. He did keep the house on the cool side, but then again, these days when she laid down everything physical in her seemed to shut down. The doctor had diagnosed a very slight anemia, suggesting iron supplements that she had left back home. Oh well, health was another issue she would have to tend to when she had a moment.

As quietly as possible, she opened the guest room door and tiptoed out into the darkness of the hallway. Immediately, her eyes were drawn to the dim light emitted from the master bedroom. Its door was open as well. Evidently, she wasn’t the only restless one tonight.

For just a moment, she allowed her senses to shift enough for her to hear the murmurings. The voices were low, growing louder in friction.

“I’m suffocating here. This isn’t what I thought things would be like.”

“I’m exhausted trying to entertain you.” His voice was tired, but hard and cutting. “Why don’t you take a little time and grow up a bit?”

She pulled herself away. It hurt. It hadn’t been released. The participants had moved on, but the pain remained unforgiven, unacknowledged, trapped here.

She pushed the implications out of her mind and turned instead to the other matter, the benefactors of these unresolved emotions. Her feet ploddingly headed toward the den. Her mind told her that Jacob was most likely working downstairs, but when she crossed the threshold, she found something unexpected.

There he was, asleep in the large lazy boy chair next to the sofa. Her eyes took in the brandy glass on the end table beside him. She smiled, evidently, he’d found a cure for his insomnia. Again, she allowed her focus to shift and begin tracking.

They were there in the room, buzzing around the ceiling with agitation. At the moment, they appeared to be something akin to giant, oversize wasps, but glowing red. In eagerness, they attempted to dip down to their target in the chair, but when getting close were repelled by something, painfully repelled she’d have to say, bouncing back up toward the ceiling in frantic disarray.

She stood there for a moment in puzzlement. They couldn’t drain from him now. While he slept, or should she say while he dreamed, he was protected. Perhaps, his subconscious allowed him to tap into his own power. It was very odd to say the least.

She frowned, truly irritated. Considering who she was, what she’d accomplished in her lifetime, it should not be beyond her capability to rid this place of a couple of pesky bugs.

It would be unadvised to attempt such a thing now, so spoke the calm voice of reason. She was entirely too low on energy. But they were hacking her off intensely, so she tried anyway.

Focusing in like a laser beam, she got them in her sight as they circled around the light fixture on the ceiling. Even as she sent the energy blast in their direction, her head began to swim with dizziness, and that quiet voice within reiterated, I told you so.

It was again damaging, a direct hit with sparks flying but not enough, not enough to accomplish the objective.

“Damn it,” she whispered.

“What are you doing?” asked a calm voice from a different quarter of the playing field. She glanced down, back to the chair. Jacob’s eyes were on her with much interest and curiosity. “What are you working so hard on at this time of night?”

Something blazed in her eyes. Perhaps it was anger, but to him they gleamed like polished obsidian, or the darkest of diamonds born beneath the deepest fires of the earth. It shocked and electrified him at the same time.

Her voice rasped out at him like a scorching whip. “What did you say to me?”

Her chin was high, and her expression fearless. This was no slave, no subservient soul before him anymore. This was a Queen, an equal. He grasped both her hands in his. They were like ice from fear, and he could feel it now. But if not for his gifts, he would never know it.

“Why does that upset you?”

In a spontaneous tug, she tried to pull away, but he would have none of it. This shift in her was much too intriguing. “You presume too much.”

His hands moved around her wrists and grasped them now strongly, but not so much as to hurt her, causing pain was not his goal tonight. “I said we were lovers.”

“We can’t be lovers, if I am a servant and you the Master.”

“I rather think those distinctions have been left outside somewhere.”

She shook her head, and her long dark hair wisped softly around her shoulders. “You’re wrong. It will always be there. No matter what gifts we share, it is a gulf between us.”

He pulled her toward him, perhaps too roughly. He had grown impatient, and it dimly registered in his mind that such an abrupt decision on his part proved her contention rather soundly. But this realization he swiftly pushed aside, as he covered her mouth with his. Thankfully, he felt her fear melting away into something else entirely.

Jacob opened his eyes. His skin was still humming wildly from the dream, but then his attention was quickly diverted to the vision in front of him. Aimee dressed in a long white nightgown and a blue robe. Good lord, she looked like she’d just stepped out of a dream, except of course for the expression on her face. She looked angry as hell.

“What are you doing?” His voice sounded sort of choky to him, still hadn’t quite recovered from the very deep sleep that he was in. Her eyes met his with what he could only surmise was a mix of shock and embarrassment. Quite a lethal combination to his nerves at the moment, nothing like a gorgeous disheveled woman well within his grasp. “What are you working so hard on this late at night?”

She opened her mouth to speak but then said nothing. He recognized that expression. She was looking for a cover story, not wanting to tell him what she was really up to. He sat straight up in the chair and waved his hand in front of him. “No, no, how about we try something unique like the truth.”

Oops a frown, he’d hurt her a bit, didn’t mean to hit quite so hard. “I tell you the truth.” Her voice was very quiet. He wanted to say meek, but meek definitely wasn’t her style.

He stood up and walked to her. Damn, she looked fetching. “Sure, a sort of kind of watered-down version of the truth.”

“I couldn’t sleep.” She sort of snapped out. He nodded. He put his hands on her shoulders. He just had to touch her. She was so beautiful, maybe to just make sure she wasn’t part of a dream, maybe not.

She looked a little startled at the contact but didn’t remove his hands, not yet anyway. “Yes, but when I woke up, you looked like you were focused on something.”

“Well I was,” she glanced beyond him as though she was looking for something.

“What? What is it?”

Her eyes back to his, misty green, like the sea. His hands moved to her arms. She flinched a bit, but then he lightened his touch. So easily startled, he had to remember that. “I was trying to help.”

“Help, help what?” He was focused elsewhere. His eyes were on her lips. He really needed to kiss her right now. He wondered distractedly if she’d let him.

 “You have a buildup of negative energy here.”

His eyes left her lips and went back to her eyes. “Really?”

She nodded. She was very nervous right now. He could actually feel it seeping into his hands from where he touched her. “So, you were in here looking at negative energy?”

She bit her lip. Now that wasn’t fair, seeing her do that nearly drove him wild. “Yeah, sort of.”

“Um,” he couldn’t resist, brushing a very soft kiss on her cheek. “So, what does that look like? Red or something?”

She whispered, with much hesitation he thought, “It looks like bugs.”

His lips sort of froze on the side of her neck, where he had just begun softly kissing her. He backed up an inch or so away from her face, so that he could see her expression. Good lord, gravely serious. “Bugs? Did you say bugs?”

She nodded, looking a little sheepish, maybe, “Yes, in this case I’d have to say bugs—big bugs.”

He glanced around the room, feeling now a bit creepier. Talk about a mood killer. “So, um, what to have to get a spiritual can of Raid?”

A flicker of a smile, but more of that condescending schoolteacher expression, “You know Jacob, this is serious.”

“I know this is serious. What the hell do you do about something like this?”

She shrugged, “I was trying to work on it. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.”

He shook his head, “Nope, I asked.”

Her eyes narrowed a bit, “Yes, you did.”

Aimee was a fairly early riser, or so she’d always thought. But Saturday morning, when she groggily wandered out of bed, Jacob was up, buzzing around the kitchen, and apparently just dripping his second pot of coffee.

There was quite a smile on his face at her entrance. She had taken a few moments to pull on a pair of jeans and sweater, but the aura of sleepiness still clung to her heavily. When she returned to bed that night, sleeping was no longer an issue. It was a deep, dreamless sleep, profoundly catatonic she could say. But the man before her looked suspiciously like he’d been up for hours.

“Want some tea?”

“Um,” she absently ran her fingers through the long hair that she had half-hazardously brushed. Still tangled, evidently, she hadn’t done such a great job. “No, I’ll take coffee if you’ve got it.” She eyed him suspiciously. “Did you get any sleep last night?”

Another grin but there were telltale shadows beneath his eyes contrasting sharply with his chipper behavior. “Not a whole lot, but I’ll catch up. I can fix you something to eat if you want.”

“No, just the coffee.” She grabbed a spot at his small dinette table feeling it would indeed be easy to let gravity take control and pull her head soundly down against the tabletop where her grogginess would take over.

He slid a mug in front of her, “A little milk and a teaspoon of sugar, right?”

She smiled as she took the coffee from him. “Perfect,” she wondered dimly, if he was converting her, and how many other things might change if they continued to keep company.

He sat down across from her. Now that she could see him up close, she noted the slightly red eyes. No, the night before was in no way easy for either of them. “I thought we could head up into the mountains after breakfast if you’re up to it. There’s some wonderful scenery around here.”

One sip, good, it was strong. “Are the roads all right? It was snowing last night, wasn’t it?”

He nodded, “Just a bit, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. And I’ve kind of got cabin fever.”

She glanced into his eyes and finally got it. “I’m sorry.”

“Hmm,” he looked to her definitely a bit distracted.

“I upset you,” his eyes were still registering confusion, “about the bug thing.”

“Oh no, well, I don’t know. It’s a little unnerving,” he said with an endearing shrug.

“It’s really not all that uncommon. I mean don’t feel as though you’re the only person in the world that’s had this.”

“Really? So, these spirit bugs are a common occurrence?”

She smiled a bit, “Variations, there’s just a whole lot more going on in the world than most people can see.”

He nodded, “Yeah, I’m beginning to get that, but just the same I’d like to get out into the open air for a while.”

She continued to sip the coffee, feeling it revive her. “That actually sounds good to me.”

And at that he impulsively picked up her hand and kissed it before he rose to his feet. “Now, what can I get you to eat before we go? I don’t want you fainting on me.”

Her hand still tingled from his unexpectedly romantic gesture. “Well, how about toast.”

“Toast, I don’t know. That may be a bit too complicated for me.”

She laughed, enjoying his odd mood as he wandered into the kitchen.

It did help, getting away from the house for a little while. It wasn’t easily recognized until you had stepped out of it, that there was a heaviness, a density of atmosphere. It certainly wasn’t the worst feeling place she’d ever been in, nor was it the best. It fell into that gray area, perhaps a slight bit on the darker side.

“Warm enough?” He asked from his very close proximity in the driver’s seat.

“I’m okay,” although she was chilled. They were closing in on February and in this part of the country that was without question the chilliest time of the year.

“Here,” he’d reached over into the backseat of the car pulling up a heavy woven sort of blanket. It was dark gray, and as he pulled it over her, she felt his mother’s energy. She smiled back at him pulling it more tightly around her, grateful for the extra warmth. She didn’t want to think too much about how lately he had begun to be able to separate her responses from the truth beneath. It made her feel vulnerable to entertain the thought that he was able to see beneath her natural defenses.

Looking outside the window, she was struck by the scenery of the snow decorated countryside. “Are the roads okay?”

“Seem to be, just relax.” And for a moment, he grasped her hand beneath the gray afghan where she’d buried it. And then he let go, but she still felt stirred by his warmth. What had she said to Iris last night that she had to leave him? She felt too warm, too pleasingly comfortable right now to even entertain the thought of leaving him.

Her eyes scarcely took in their quickly passing surroundings, as her mind was preoccupied, wandering into snapshots from the past, snippets — the feeling of home, the terrain, the streets wrapping around her like a warm blanket, like the afghan that took the chill away from here. She couldn’t shake the pull there. It was profound. She caught of glimpse of Jacob’s profile briefly remembering another man.

His name was Patrick. She’d met him her final year at Loyola. He had dark eyes, dark brownish in color, but a wonderful laugh. A kindred spirit, her grandmother had said. That was the year before her grandmother had become ill. “You’d probably be happy with him Aimee, if you wanted to settle down now.” But she read more into that remark than perhaps was intended. There was a calmness to Patrick that was soothing, but it did not quell the restlessness within her. They spent much of her senior year together, and he was the patient sort, not pushing much of anything. But after graduation, there was a choice to be made, and she as delicately as she could walked away. He disappeared from her life without knowing much of anything substantial about her. “Some people you will have to share all of yourself with, because they won’t accept anything less. And others will be content with what you offer them. You have to decide which satisfies you.”

That was her grandmother’s advice, sort of like a fortune cookie open to many layers of interpretation.

He pulled the SUV off the road to a side exit for a moment. It seemed to be one of those scenic exits that were built into highways passing through mountainous terrain. He pulled into a small parking area near the edge of their plateau and then stopped the engine. She leaned forward in her seat looking at the beautiful vista before her. It was lovely, the valley below, still shrouded in an elusive morning mist. “It’s beautiful,” she murmured.

And then she turned to him, but his eyes weren’t looking before him. His gaze was locked on her.

“Sorry,” was what he said.

“For what?” She asked, but her heart had started hammering at the intensity in his eyes. It disturbed her, maybe frightened her a bit. She knew she should stop him. She could do it, had done it often enough before. Now was the moment. She should stop him before they went further. Like when she had stopped with Patrick, she had chosen to stop. But this wasn’t Patrick. This wasn’t any other man, not nearly like any other man she had ever known. He had power over her. He held keys to her that she’d never given him.

“You’re right about the house. There’s something wrong there.” He seemed to be rambling, but it was hard to focus on his words. Her breathing was quickening of its own accord. “I feel it now, maybe more because of you. But I think I numbed myself to it before.”

She nodded, trying to look away but not being able to. His eyes, they were strong. They were holding her. “That’s understandable. Maybe we all do that at some point.”

He smiled a bit, “I don’t think you’ve ever numbed yourself to anything.” His words hit her painfully, like a punch in her throat somewhere. That was a lie. He had no idea what a coward she could be.

“That’s not really true. I have,” her voice sounded choky in her ears.

He reached out and touched her cheek. “What is it Aimee?”

She managed to look down, but this he wouldn’t allow, wouldn’t let her escape this moment. Gently, he placed his hands on the sides of her face and pulled her up back to his gaze. “Tell me, please.”

Her heart hurt from wanting, was tired from everything from living or was it not living? “I’ve numbed myself to things too. I’m not so perfect.”

She felt a tear coming down her cheek that he caught with his fingers. “I just—”

“Ssshhh,” he murmured before he touched her lips gently with his. It was different this time. It was complete, absolute, and dizzying. He held her closely in an embrace, and she felt the inevitability of what would be decimate all of her resistance.

He had to get hold. There was a trembling in his hands that he was not accustomed to. He drove them more deeply into the mountains, taking a back road toward Skyline Drive. Things were flashing through his mind, nothing quite coherent yet, swirling disconnected images, sensations, brilliant colors because like his paintings his emotions connected directly to color.

Vividness, brightness all around him, there were possibilities now, rushing through his skin, his blood, and eventually would translate something to his brain. Something he could work with, perhaps. But he wasn’t anxious for that. He was just experiencing, feeling. He’d found something. Found something he would not do without.

She was still beside him, quiet. But she was with him in this. He’d felt it. He knew it without asking, without talking about it. It was decided.

His hand took hers, and he laced his fingers closely through hers. “Do you want to keep driving?”

There was a nod. So, he did. They could talk later. They could do many things later. They could figure out how to make their lives mesh later. Right now, they would just be. He leaned over and kissed the top of her head, and she leaned against him making him wish that they were somewhere more private just now.

They had just taken a turn up toward the Blue Ridge Parkway when it came to her. She was serene, unguarded, and then it came like a crash. Fear ripping through her, so powerfully through her stomach as though she’d been punched physically. She wrapped her arms around herself trying to remaster her emotions. She was stupid. She couldn’t let herself be so vulnerable. It was devastating.

His hand was on her arm, “What is it?”

She opened her mouth to talk, but she could feel a hand around her throat squeezing the air out. “Aimee, what is it?” He sounded frantic, but her mind was being pulled elsewhere, down a road, a side road, a barn. The woman was being hit and punched, flashes of pain, vision blurred.

He’d stopped the car, pulled to the side. Damn, she couldn’t let herself, but she could smell his breath, alcohol, another hit, fear ripping through her. This time the hand that grabbed her was even rougher, so painful. Pulling her back to him, “Aimee, snap out of it.” He shook her, “Now snap out of it.”

She felt the energy coursing through his hands shooting into her like an electric shock. She breathed. She could breathe again, “What is it?” he was demanding.

Then her voice, “A woman, she’s being killed.”

His eyes were wide but controlled. He was in control. “Where?” he snapped out, flipping open his cell phone.

“It’s a barn, on a farm near here,” she answered hoarsely.

“Give me a street, something.”

Her mind frantically ripped through the doors past several houses and to a street sign. “Bleak House Road, an old house, white, farmhouse.”

“A name on it, everyone here puts a name on their damn house.”

She concentrated but was completely out of breath, “White Antler—Ridge or something.”

He started talking. “Yes, there seems to be fire in a barn on Bleak House Road. It’s called White Antler Ridge. An old, white farmhouse, but it’s the barn. We were driving by. We thought that we heard screaming. Could you hurry?” He nodded, “Great just get there. It looks bad.” He closed the phone looking at her intently. “What else do you want to do?”

Every part of her was trembling and she whispered, “There’s nothing. It’s stopped. I don’t know.”

Abruptly, he pulled off his seatbelt then practically yanked her into his arms. “Okay, we’ve done what we can now. Let’s take care of you.” She closed her eyes and started to sob uncontrollably against his chest. She couldn’t help herself. How stupid to leave herself so open.

They pulled back into his driveway. She’d scarcely spoken a word, since what he could only describe as her total disintegration in the car. It must have taken a full ten to fifteen minutes before she stopped hysterically crying. And, all he could do was hold her closely, until it passed. But when it did, it was replaced by a withdrawn, stony silence. So, he did the only sensible thing that would come to him, turned the car around and brought her back to his house.

She didn’t wait merely a second after he cut the engine off, before she opened her door and got out of the car. The only reason, he was sure, that she waited at the door of the house was because she didn’t have a key. He wanted to touch her, somehow reassure her that whatever catastrophe had befallen them would pass. But he was afraid to, afraid that what delicate control she’d managed to erect, would crumble again into disarray if he did.

So instead, he opened the front door and she walked inside. He followed her calmly. One of them needed to be calm just now, because he knew instinctively and by experience that again she was about to take flight.

She paused in front of the large plate glass window in the den, then after a second turned around to face him. Her face was stonily set, so he braced himself for the worst. “I need to go home.”

He waited for a moment, sure that she was finished, then replied with deliberate precision. “Are you sure you’re up to it? You’ve had quite an upset.”

Her eyes darted around just for a fraction of a second, and it alarmed him. There was a frightened vulnerability there that in the moment seemed precariously fragile. “I need some time alone. I have to go.”

He nodded. He felt as though he were walking on a razor’s edge right now. If he pushed too hard the wrong way, it might be disastrous. “Okay, how about let me just follow you home to make sure everything’s okay.”

She shook her head quickly and emphatically repeated, “I have to go alone. I need space to pull myself together.”

“I know. I wouldn’t stay just—”

“Don’t you see it? She could be dead now, that woman. I don’t know.”

“I don’t know either Aimee. I do know you did what you could.”

There were tears now. She was unraveling, and that was when people made their worst mistakes. “Jacob, I can’t do this. Don’t you see? I left myself open. I was so busy, so busy—” She couldn’t seem to finish it.

“Busy with me?”

“Yes, distracted with you that whatever was happening I was dragged down with it. I can’t let that happen. I have to be more careful.”

He walked forward, but she instinctively backed away from him. She was afraid of him. That tore at him like nothing else could. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” She put her hands in front of her as though to ask him to wait. They were shaking, and a cold fear ran through him. She seemed so delicate, so devastated. It was painful to see. “Aimee, I’m not trying to be insensitive, but terrible things happen in the world. People do die. Some can be saved, but others—”

“No one dies before their time,” she whispered, “Dominick taught me that.”

“So, maybe you helped that woman, or maybe you couldn’t but what does that have to do with us?”

“It does. It has to do with me. You’re changing everything, and I don’t think I will be able to change that much.”

His head had started to throb with a dull pain, “What?”

Her voice was cracking with sobs, “Can’t you see. I have a gift, and I have a curse, and I have to be able to survive them both.”

“And being with me, will stop you from surviving?”

She shook her head frantically. “I don’t know. All I know is what happened today can’t happen, because sooner or later it will destroy me.”

He couldn’t stand it. He simply reached forward and grabbed her hands. They were so cold and that scared him even more. “I can help you Aimee. I helped you today.”

Tears were streaming down her face. “I don’t know. I just don’t know. I just need, I need to go now.” He pulled her into his arms. She stiffened at first and then relaxed.

He held her closely and could feel her becoming calmer. “I won’t fight you, but I need you to calm down first, that’s all I ask.” She sighed deeply, and then nodded. “Okay,” he said very gently. “Why don’t you start to pull your things together, and I’ll make you some tea.”

Again, she nodded, but before he let her go, he very softly kissed her on the lips. He watched as she disappeared through the hallway. He had to think. He had quite a problem on his hands. Aimee already had one foot out the door, and he had just come to the realization that he was completely in love with her.

Copyright © 2019 by Evelyn Klebert

Jacob Wyss is caught in a rut, in fact on the verge of being engulfed by it. After an excruciating and disillusioning divorce, his life as an artist in a sleepy-college town at the foot of the Appalachian mountains has become quiet, routine, and maddening in its predictability. One wintry day, his deep restlessness drives him out in precarious conditions to a largely empty bookstore nearly devoid of another living soul, nearly.

Aimee Marston isn’t like everyone else. On the surface, she lives a sedate life working as a feature writer for a small local newspaper in addition to several other editorial jobs to help make ends meet. But just beneath, her existence is largely not her own. She is a sensitive, an empathetic psychic, guided by her calling to use her gifts to help others. Unfortunately, as a result, her secretiveness has made her defensive, protective of herself, and prevented her from having much of a life of her own.

A psychic call for help sends Aimee out on a freezing January morning where her destiny and Jacob’s collide sending both their lives spiraling onto an unexpected and often disturbing track. Two lonely souls connect, not by accident, but by design. Theirs is the intersection of two spiritual paths, two lovers who must struggle to overcome the phantoms of a past life, as well as the challenges of their own inner demons to carve out an extraordinary future together.

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