Authors: Annette Brownlee
Tags: #Adventure, #Paranormal
“I have no doubt that you did the right thing. You were protecting yourself.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Chaos exhaled slowly, releasing all of the tension that had built up inside her. It was weird being able to tell someone what had happened. She hadn’t been able to do that until now.
“Where’s the ghost’s body?”
Chaos studied the woman’s face, looking for signs of trouble. She didn’t see any. She had honest eyes and a friendly face. Then again, she could be a really good actress.
“You’re safe, Chaos. Everything you tell me is confidential.”
There weren’t any guarantees. The woman could take what she said and turn her into the police without batting an eye. But Chaos didn’t know what else to do and she had to trust someone. “Someone took care of it for me. I don’t know where Dead Bill’s body is and I don’t want the people who helped me to get into any trouble.” Chaos paused. Linda watched her, calmly waiting for her to finish her story. “The next night I smell his awful cologne. Then he started appearing - first in the mirror, then at the foot of my bed. I assumed it was my guilt causing the hallucinations. The next night he came again. So I left. I figured I needed a vacation if I was seeing things. I packed a bag the next morning and jumped in my car. But he’s following me. It doesn’t matter where I go, he’s there. I don’t know how to get rid of him.”
“So here you are.”
Linda stood. Holding her fingers together as if in silent prayer she closed her eyes and brought her hands to her mouth.
Chaos waited. Linda stood silently, her hands held to her mouth. After a few moments she opened her eyes.
“Your ghost is an unusual one. Spirits often attach themselves to material belongings. Their energy is drawn back to a place or a thing. Your Dead Bill is malevolent too. He’s powerful. A very bad person. He has attached his energy to you. You’re his anchor, which is why he can find you. Most of the time when someone passes they go into the light.”
Chaos fought to refrain rolling her eyes. Despite having captured a ghost on her camera phone she struggled to believe in ghosts. She’d spent twenty-five years not believing. It wasn’t going to change overnight.
“When someone dies and passes over, they come back occasionally to visit their loved ones and they can find you wherever you go if the connection is strong enough. However, when a spirit doesn’t cross over they’re normally attached to a place. Sometimes their energy is attached to an object but usually it is a place. If they were murdered they’d be attached to the place where they were murdered. That’s common. If they die suddenly, they don’t know they’re dead and they hang around the place where they died almost as if they’re trapped. However a person can also haunt a place where they spent a lot of time or where they died.”
She paused. Chaos nodded. “But Bill’s death is on my hands so he’s attached himself to me?”
“I don’t think so. I think if someone else had killed him or he’d been hit by a car or something then he’d still be attached to you. The depth of his obsession is much stronger than you knew. I think, when you killed him that night, you did two things. You most certainly saved your own life but you also prevented him from doing whatever he had planned for you. The anger he felt when he died is what has attached him to you. I think he wants something more from you. I don’t think you should be alone. Especially at night.”
“So how do I get rid of him?”
“That, my dear Chaos, is something we’ll have to figure out. Hold on, someone’s coming to the door.”
“Figure out? I don’t…” Chaos stood. Ready to tell this woman she didn’t have time to figure anything out, the doorbell rang.
Linda opened the door, flashed her cheerful welcoming smile and gestured the people inside. Crossing her arms, Chaos took a step back and watched the entourage enter. The first to pop into the home was a short perky blonde with big Disney eyes and Farah Fawcett hair. Wearing designer jeans, a cotton candy pink polo tucked into her jeans, and a white denim jacket, she was a blast from the past. Her sneakers were whiter than the first snowfall, as if they were brand new but the design looked at least thirty years old. Grinning like a happy puppy, she radiated enthusiasm. She was followed by her exact opposite. Tall, with long jet black hair and a body that made Chaos feel like a frumpy boy, the woman stepped into the room. She gave Chaos a nod, and then she smirked and turned away. Chaos didn’t have time to think about it because another person was stepping into the home. Tall, Dark and Demented, now wearing a navy t-shirt and a black leather jacket, embraced Linda. His hair was pulled back into a pony tail and he smelled clean, like he’d just showered. She couldn’t stop staring. Her heart pitter pattered and her hands were too sweaty for comfort. His dark eyes looked her up and down. She felt her body respond to his gaze. Just as quickly, he looked away. She felt like she’d been dismissed.
Her skipping heart did a belly flop on the floor. Ugh. She crossed her arms just a little tighter over her chest and took another step back. “I’m gonna go,” she said, deciding that this was a bad idea. She could handle Dead Bill on her own, somehow. Maybe she’d get some of that sage. She tried to sidle past the crowd who were now eyeing her with intense curiosity. All but Mr. Danger, he wasn’t even glancing in her direction.
“You can’t go now,” Perky said, touching her arm. “We came here to meet you.”
“Yes, you. We are here to help you with Dead Bill.”
Perky gave Chaos’s arm a gentle squeeze and let go. The touch left her feeling uncertain and a bit warm inside, like she’d just been hugged by someone’s grandma. “Wait? How did you know about Dead Bill?”
“I saw it,” she said as if it was the only obvious answer.
“You saw it?” She didn’t even try to hide the skepticism from her voice. This was all getting just a little too strange for her.
“Yes. Well I didn’t see it happening but I saw you tell Linda about it. You were too far away for me to see it actually happening. I can only see things that happen nearby. Like what Dakota, thirty miles?
Tall, Dark and Demented nodded.
Dakota, Chaos thought. Now I have a name for that angry, sexy face. A wide nose and thick, sensual lips dominated his face but it was his eyes that held the magic. Dark and full of wisdom, they looked like they could see deep inside her. Like he knew something about her that she didn’t know herself. A wide square jaw, strong chin and sharp cheekbones finished the picture. It was a conflicted face full of sensuality and edges.
“But I knew you were coming last week,” Perky continued. “I saw that too. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. It wasn’t murder you know. It was self -defense.”
Perky talked so fast that Chaos felt her head spinning just trying to keep up. “You saw me with Bill?”
“Well I didn’t see you. It was like a dream. But I was awake.” She put her hand on her head like it was hurting her.
“A vision?” the tall sexy woman chimed in.
“Yes! A vision. That’s it. Thanks, Kat. And I sometimes have visions about stuff that happens to loved ones, too. At any rate, I saw you tell Linda about your ordeal. How awful for you.” She touched Chaos on the arm again. “I’m sure we can help.”
Perky was animated and grinning the entire time she talked. Chaos wasn’t quite sure if the woman was sane.
“I’m Sheila, by the way. Do you have a dog? I am a dog groomer at the DogCo store downtown and I’m a Gemini and oh, I can see things that have happened in the past or sometimes as they’re happening like today with you and Linda. And I can sometimes tell what people are thinking if I touch them. Like you were just wondering if I’m sane. I think so. Doesn’t really matter though, does it?”
“No, probably not.”Chaos extended her hand to Sheila. She wasn’t even sure if she was sane so she couldn’t be judgmental.
Sheila took her hand and gave it a strong, confident shake. “Nice to meet you, Chaos. Where are your braids?”
“In my vision you had braids.”
“I usually wear them,” Chaos said, frowning. There was no way this woman would know she always wore her hair in braids. “I just can’t braid them with my broken arm.”
“Oh, that makes sense. Chaos sure is an interesting name.”
“I earn it.”
“I’m sure you do,” she giggled. “This is Katerina.”
Katerina extended her long, elegant hand with perfectly manicured nails. “Call me Kat.”
Chaos shook her hand. “What’s your superpower?” she asked.
Kat’s eyes sparkled as she laughed. “Right to the point. I don’t have a superpower. I can’t read your mind and I don’t have visions. I can, however, take your picture.”
Chaos blinked as Kat’s camera flashed in her face. The shutter clicked several times. “And you?” Chaos turned to Tall Dark and Demented. She held out her hand and held her breath waiting for him to take it.
“You’ll just have to find out.” Ignoring her hand, he walked over and sat down on the edge of a blood red chair.
Chaos laughed. Sheila whispered like a two year old. Everyone could hear her. Kinda grumpy, she thought.
“Yep, “Sheila agreed. He seems to have his panties in a bunch today.”
“I’m right here,” he grumbled.
Sheila ignored him. “This is so cool. When I’m touching you I can hear your thoughts. This doesn’t happen often. You’re a good sender.”
What’s his superpower? Chaos thought, intentionally trying to send to Sheila. She had to admit that it was pretty cool to talk to her without actually talking.
“Well, you’ll kinda just have to see it,” Sheila said. “It’s hard to explain. He’s okay though. Just give him time to warm up to you. He’s been through some weird shit.”
“He’s sitting right here,” Dakota said.
He sat on the couch, his arms crossed over his chest. To Chaos he looked like a warrior ready to go into battle. Who was he battling with?
“Right. Sorry. Hey,” Sheila jumped up and clapped her hands. This is going to be great. Linda, I think you’re right. She’s the one.”
“The one?”What the heck was this woman talking about? The one what?
“Yeah. There are four of us. Linda who is kind of our leader. She’s amazing. Kat keeps our feet on the ground and she’s a wiz with the equipment. By the way you should send her that video you took of Dead Bill, that’s what you call him right?”
“Send that video to Kat. She can take a look at it. She has some pretty cool software and some mad skills. It’s amazing what she can find. Then there’s me and Dakota who keeps us safe from harm. I had a vision that you were coming. You’ll be our fifth.”
“Well your vision was wrong, I don’t have a superpower. I don’t really even believe in ghosts. Well, I didn’t believe in ghosts until yesterday. Besides, I’m not from here. I live in New Mexico. I have a business to get back to. I’m just on vacation.”
“Some vacation,” Kat laughed.
Chaos scowled at Kat. “It was going okay.” She’d had a good day in Durango.
“Until your rapist ghost showed up and ruined all the fun you were having.” Kat’s voice rang with sarcasm and something deeper, more negative that Chaos couldn’t quite identify.
“You do have a superpower,” Linda stepped between them and took Chaos’s hand.
Her eyes crinkled when she smiled and Chaos had a hard time being angry, frustrated, or even scared when Linda looked at her.
“We’ll explain it to you later. And Sheila’s right. It would be helpful if you’d send that video to Kat. She’ll give you her email address in the car.”
“Car? Where are we going?” Chaos had assumed they’d make an appointment to get rid of her ghost or they’d do it right here. “Are we going to a church?”
“No. Would you mind going with us to investigate some activity at a local bakery? You can see what we do best and perhaps decide for yourself if we’re the right people to help you.”
Warning bells started ringing in her head. “An investigation? You want me to go with you to a haunted bakery?” She just wanted to get rid of her ghost, not go hang out with a bunch of strangers. She didn’t do that. Bad things happened when she socialized.
“See, you do have a superpower. You are the master of the obvious,” Dakota said. He stood up, scratched his chin and waited.
Chaos shot him an angry glare. What was with this guy?
“We don’t know if the building is haunted though it does have a bit of a rough history. Just come with us. You’ll be safe. Dakota will make sure of it.” She glanced at Dakota and he uncrossed his arms. “Afterwards we like to go to the pub and talk it over. We can discuss your case then.”
Chaos had a hard time envisioning this crowd together putting back brewskies but she needed their help and felt obligated to go along. “I’m warning you now. Bad stuff happens when I am around. People die if they spend too much time with me.”
“We can handle it,” Linda said.
Walking out the door, Chaos wrapped her fingers around the goddess Nike with her wings fully expanded as she got ready to take flight. Winged Victory, her dad had called it. He’d told her it would protect her from harm. She wasn’t sure it had considering the wake of death and destruction that followed her but she never took it off. Let it work tonight, she prayed. These people don’t need to witness my bad luck. Please don’t let them get hurt because of me.
Ditsy, Bitchy, and Heidi
Dakota tuned Sheila out. She could talk for hours. It was good on a long night of investigating. She could fill hours with her idle chit chat. But right now, he didn’t want to hear it. Heck, he didn’t even want to be here. Chaos or Annie or whatever she was called was the woman from his dream. She didn’t have long golden braids, but her hair was the same honey color. It reached just past her shoulders. She wore work boots, snug jeans, and a white t-shirt. She looked exactly like the woman from his dream. If all his dreams were accurate, she had a trio of freckles next to her belly button and she smelled like lemon and honey. Damn those dreams. Opening Linda’s front door to her was like a punch in the stomach.
It was rude to close the door on her, he knew that, but he hadn’t known what to do. When he saw her, his instincts collided. He took his role as protector seriously. The lives of Linda and her team were in his hands. But there was something about this woman that affected him as a man. The dream was a warning and it was his duty to protect his team, especially Linda. He should have told Chaos that she had the wrong address and sent her away. He’d fucked up and now they were stuck with her. He’d have to be on guard to make sure nothing happened to his team. It pissed him off. It pissed him off that she was so attractive, too. Dreaming about her was one thing. Seeing her in person was another.