Authors: Eden Laroux
Tags: #gothic, #witch, #erotic romance, #fairy, #america, #psychic, #steamy romance, #fallen angels, #alpha, #love and sex, #fantasy and sci fi, #romance and sex
When she got home, her mother was waiting for
her in the living room.
"Hi, Mom," January said, trying to sound casual.
She went to slip past her up the stairs.
"Jan," her mother said. "We need to talk."
January's face grew hot. "About what?"
"I think we both know, honey." Andrea said. "Mr.
Hendricks called today. He said you haven't been to Newspaper in
weeks. You turned in a blank sheet for your quiz on Chaucer last
week. That's not like you, honey. English is your best class."
"I know, Mom, it's just... I've been a little
tired lately. I'll do better, I promise. I'll talk to Mr. Hendricks
tomorrow about making up the quiz."
Her mother regarded her evenly. "Jan, I know
that Lori's disappearance has been really hard on you." January
flinched at that word ...
It was the same
word everyone kept using-the police, her friends, the smarmy
guidance counselor her parents had made her talk to. No one wanted
to say what seemed so obvious to January... that Lori was dead. She
didn't know why she knew this; she just did.
"I have to tell you something, Mom," she blurted
out, surprising herself. "About Lori, I mean. Something I haven't
told anyone. She... I..."
The words sounded crazy as they came out of her
mouth, but at this point, she didn't care. Let them lock her away,
if they had to; even living in a mental institution would be
preferable to living in a horror movie.
"I see her, Mom. I still see her."
Andrea sighed. "Well, of course, honey. She was
your best friend. That's not something you can just..."
"No, Mom, I actually
interrupted. "She appears out of nowhere and scares the bejeezus
out of me, and then just like
she's gone," January
said. "And the worst part is-she keeps telling me I have to find
January kept talking and talking, even though
there wasn't much else to say. It felt like a dam had burst inside
her. She had not realized how lonely she was until now. And her
mother listened carefully, without interrupting.
"Well," January said when she was done. "What do
we do? Start calling the mental hospitals?"
Her mother was silent for a few seconds. She
stood up from the sofa and began to pace slowly in front of the
"Honey, I'm so sorry," Andrea said.
"It's okay if you think I'm crazy.
think I'm crazy."
"No, I meant, I'm sorry I didn't tell you
Andrea sat back down on the sofa. She motioned
for January to sit down next to her.
"January," she said, "You have a gift. All the
women in our family do. I didn't tell you because you had never
shown any signs, and I thought maybe it had skipped a generation."
She stared at her daughter. "I've never heard of it being this
"A gift? What kind of gift?"she asked,
Andrea searched for the right words. "Well...
it's a little different for everyone, but basically, we
things. Special things that other people don't know. All of us have
it- your aunt Cathy, your grandmother." She paused. "Often, it
means we can talk to the dead."
January's mind reeled. So she was right. Lori
"But ..." her mother paused, and something like
fear flickered over her face.
"But what, Mom? Tell me."
"None of us has ever been able to see them."
"Oh God..." January buried her head in her
hands. She was a freak even among the freaks.
"Honey..." her mother folded her in her arms. "I
know this is scary for you. It was scary for me, too. But I
promise, in time you will see what a special thing this is. I know
it seems like you can't control it, but you'll learn how. I
January smiled sadly. "So, what do I do about
Lori? She keeps saying I have to help her. How do I do that?"
"When she shows up again, don't fight it.
Concentrate on her. Think about the things that were special to you
about each other. Real things. Things she might have said, or
things she gave you. Maybe a joke you guys laughed about that no
one else understood. It has to be something real, something that
will strengthen your connection and keep her here."
"And then...?" she asked, a little awed, a
little in disbelief that this was really happening. That she was
hearing what her mother was telling her.
"Then maybe she'll tell you what she wants you
JANUARY WAS DREAMING.
Lori was walking far ahead of her down a
cobblestone street Jan didn't recognize. January was running after
her, calling her name, but Lori got smaller and smaller in the
Just before she turned a corner, she turned
around and looked back.
"Jan, wake up."
January opened her eyes.
Lori was sitting on the floor in a corner of her
January felt her heart leap into her throat, but
she closed her eyes and willed herself to calm down. Lori was
looking at her, as if waiting for her to speak.
January searched the room with her eyes.
There was a picture of Lori and her on the shelf
above her desk. They were dressed up as Western dance hall girls at
a novelty photo kiosk at the amusement park. They were smiling,
mugging for the camera. Three seconds later, a shelf full of
feather boas would collapse on top of them, scaring them
January smiled at the memory.
And then others came in a sweet, sad flood.
She let them come... Lori dressed up as a pirate
for Halloween, sneaking into the boys' bathroom. The trip their
families took to New Orleans together, where Lori goaded her into
eating a raw oyster, then held her hair all night as she threw up.
The necklace Lori made for January from sand dollars when they were
in sixth grade, still hanging from a nail on the bedroom mirror,
worn smooth by the departed years.
Tears fell from her eyes, but she brushed them
"Hi, Lori," she said to her friend for the last
THE POLICE DETECTIVE stood by the fireplace and
watched January as she talked. His partner was sitting on the
couch, taking notes in a very official-looking notepad.
Have Morrison mom and girl committed,
January thought, and stifled a mad giggle.
She didn't think laughing right now would work
in her favor, considering what she and her mother had just told the
"So you're telling me that Lori Daniels' body is
buried under an abandoned Volkswagen in a vacant lot just northwest
of Holly and Industrial Roads," said the detective with the
notepad. "And you know this because," he checked his notes, "you
have some kind of connection to..." he stopped.
"You can use the word 'ghost' if you want to,"
January's mother said. "Please, detectives, can you just go look?
If we're wrong, we're wrong." She shrugged her shoulders. "Can you
really afford to ignore any leads at this point?"
The detectives exchanged glances. "Look, Mrs.
Morrison," the other detective said, not unkindly, "It's not as
simple as that. Lori's family still suspects that January had
something to do with this. They're pushing for a full investigation
of you and your daughter. Until now, there has been no cause for
that, but surely you can see how your new ...information... changes
things." He turned to January. "Things are about to get very
complicated for you, January. Are you sure you want to go ahead
January's mother looked at her.
her steady gaze seemed to say.
January stared back at the detective. "I'm
sure," she said. "Please, find her."
THEY FOUND LORI'S body exactly where January
said it would be.
Every detail was spot-on. Everything she'd told
the policemen were seen or found in the crime scene. By this time,
Jan was already too numbed to think of what-could-have-been. She
had already accepted Lori's death, and she just wanted to go home,
to be at peace.
But everything changed after that. Lori's family
had already blamed January for Lori's disappearance and now they
became relentless in trying to connect her to Lori's death. There
were months of interrogations and meetings, grueling rehashes of
the same threadbare information. The discovery of Lori's body had
not yielded any new clues as to the identity of her killer, and the
investigation just kept going in circles.
January's parents were forced to hire a lawyer.
Finally, the police decided there was not enough information to
implicate January and the case was officially ruled unsolved.
But by that time, the damage was done.
At school, everyone avoided her. She became the
subject of rumors and hushed conversations. The ones who believed
in her unusual talents were scared of her, and the ones who did not
thought she had something to do with the murder. Even teachers did
not know how to act around her.
One day she went to her locker and found that
someone had spray-painted the word FREAK on it in huge red letters.
They were still wet, and came off in messy, red streaks on her
Someone laughed. She looked around wildly, but
everyone looked down and pretended not to notice.
Down the hall, she caught Aaron looking at her.
He started, and looked like he was about to walk toward her, then
looked around and stopped.
The look he had on his face before he looked
away was full of pity.
She would rather it had been hate.
That day, she went home and told her parents she
was not going back to school. They tried to reason with her at
first, but even they could see that she was right. They arranged
for her to be homeschooled for the remainder of her senior
She did not go to the prom. She did not even
attend her own graduation.
After the summer, she went to a small college
across the country, where no one had even heard of her hometown.
Soon after that, her father got a job in upstate New York, and her
parents moved their home there. She liked the pretty, hilly town
they lived in.
After college, she moved to another town close
She never went back to Ohio again.
"MARTIN WANTS YOU to know that he's fine now and
there's no pain any longer. He loves you and misses you, but he's
with you all the time. You've probably noticed little things
throughout the day that remind you of him. That's him showing you
that he's still around. Do you see?"
Linda was dabbing her eyes and nodding as she
listened to January talk.
"Yes, January, I do know exactly what you mean!
Our wedding picture keeps moving around on the table and I just
know that he's moving it. And, yes, there are other little things
that I've noticed. I knew it had to be him! That's why it never
scared me. Oh thank you so much, January! This has made me feel so
She smiled at her. "You're very welcome,
Martin, a pleasant-looking middle-aged man
dressed in a golfing outfit, was standing just beside his wife. He
bent down and whispered in January's ear.
"Martin also wants me to tell you that there's a
man who will be asking you to dinner next week. His name is Darren.
Martin says the two of you have a lot in common, and that it is
okay if you go to dinner with him."
Linda looked surprised, but January just
shrugged her shoulders.
"He doesn't want you to be alone, Linda. Always
remember that. The two of you had a wonderful life together, but it
has been a year now, and you must continue to live your life. It's
what he wants. Do you understand?"
January looked at Martin. He had his arm around
his wife's shoulder now, even though Linda did not feel it.
Linda sighed, then smiled through her tears.
"Yes, yes, I do understand, January. Darren, eh?
Well, that's going to feel pretty strange, but if Martin wants me
to, then I'll do it. I'll go to dinner with him. This has been such
a wonderful session, January. You don't know how much this means to
January smiled at Linda and took her hand.
"Yes, I do know how much it means to you, Linda.
You know you're welcome to come see me anytime you want to. But,"
she squeezed the other woman's hand, "you also need to start moving
on. Even Martin says it's time. You've mourned long enough."
Linda looked down at the floor. Her eyes filled
January held Linda's hands even tighter. "Linda,
listen to me. Life is an amazing, precious thing. It's all we have.
Martin knows this now. He knows that the only way to be thankful
for it is to live it. To open yourself up to it, to grab it while
you still can. That's the gift he is giving you with these visits.
Take it. Take this gift."
Linda nodded and wiped her eyes. "You're right,
January. Of course, I know you're right." She regarded her. "You
understand so much," the older woman told her. "The people in your
life are very lucky to have you."
January smiled and said nothing.
Linda slipped out the door, leaving a folded
check on the table in the entryway.
JANUARY WATCHED THE door close behind Linda.
Martin had nodded his thanks to Jan, and left with his widow.
January suspected he would be with Linda until he knew she didn't
need him anymore. She stood for a moment, thinking how wonderful
this session had been. She went outside to retrieve the week's pile
of mail, and then walked back into the house.
Well, her life has to move on, too.
Most of the mail went into the trash. She
smiled. There was a Valentine's Day card from her mother, punctual
as always. January had forgotten Valentine's Day altogether this
The card was decorated with crinkly little
tissue paper hearts. Inside was a picture of an eight-year-old
January hugging Daisy, the family's golden retriever.
much I ruff you!
The card read. It made her laugh. Her mother
had been sending homemade cards lately, always with pictures of
January as a little girl.