Authors: Tymber Dalton
He wouldn’t feel that way when his daughter was carrying his grandchild and in line to take over The Firm. “Why are you suddenly wanting to go all parental on me?” She yanked her arm away. “It’s not like you’ve shown much interest in me before now.”
“I know. It’s not your fault your bitch mother got knocked up. I admit you’ve paid for the consequences for her actions. But the last person you want to go pissing off is the son of Hades, you of all people should be smart enough to know that. When Tanukis try to outsmart Demis and Dodeks, they
lose every time. History can and will repeat itself.” He leaned back. “I felt it was my duty to warn you.”
She sneered. “Your
? Puhleeze. You haven’t spent centuries living like I have. You might think differently if you’d been in my shoes. Not that you were ever around to see what I’ve had to go through.”
He waggled a finger at her. “That’s the kind of entitle
attitude that got your mother bitch slapped all the way to Tavares. Consider yourself warned.” He angrily pushed back from the table and walked down the hall toward the bathrooms. She watched as he glanced around, then touched the amulet around his neck and disappeared.
No one else saw him.
Bera fought back her nearly overwhelming rage. Her hands trembled as she grabbed her glass of water and took a deep
How dare he?
Spoken like a true Olympian asshole. Well, she’d show him.
Kal sat at the end of the conference table. Her boys, as she euphemistically referred to them, were all gathered around the table—Will, Aidan, Jeff, Purs, and Gery. As well as Cabrio, some of their production assistants, and other volunteer investigators.
She briefly thought back to her early days with the show, before all…hell…broke loose. When she couldn’t pay Will to show up at a production meeting unless she bullied him into it. Of course, she didn’t know then what she knew now.
He looked up from his notes, met her gaze, and winked. A warm
tingling sensation filled her body.
When the network camera crew arrived, Kal started the meeting. This was a preproduction meeting, because their next shoot would take place tomorrow night at an old office building going through major renovations, not too far from their office just north of downtown Tampa. She would go out with Aidan after the meeting to scope the place and plan their equipment placement.
Smaller homes, especially if they were close to the office, weren’t usually checked out ahead of time in great detail. Frequently, for smaller structures, they chose to send out their volunteer caseworker with a preliminary film crew to mix up the show a little. Only if the structure was large did one of the archdemons personally visit the site ahead of time, usually Aidan or Purson since their skills were the strongest in that regard. It saved them setup time and allowed them to focus on the areas most likely to provide good film opportunities for the show.
While the show made it look like it all happened on the fly, the truth was they’d usually mapped out all equipment placements and handed out investigator assignments before the night of the investigation so they could maximize use of their time in the building. Whenever possible, they set up most of the equipment several hours ahead of time, leaving just enough for the network crew to film for the episode. Some buildings were so large and had logistical challenges requiring hours of preparations that would cut into their investigation time if they didn’t preset.
In her months working on the show, Kal had quickly developed her own style as her confidence increased. Ryan assured her the show’s high ratings were genuine, not manipulated by him, and that he was quite pleased about that. He wasn’t the only one, she had to admit. The fact that her first big job, even with the unusual circumstances, was a smashing success had bolstered her confidence.
Having Will’s love and support behind her didn’t hurt either.
She loved that he took a hands-off approach and let her do her job. He never tried to play on their relationship to get his way. He never played the “because I’m a heckuva lot older than you” card. He never argued with her or overruled her in front of others. Heck, he never overruled her at all.
I’m a lucky, lucky lady.
She glanced at Will again and caught his smile. Dang, she’d thought that louder than she meant to. He’d heard her thought.
I’m a lucky, lucky guy,”
he thought back to her.
Her turn to smile and she suddenly stumbled over her words. He was usually very careful not to distract her during meetings.
When she adjourned the meeting, Will waited until everyone else left the conference room. Then he leaned in and kissed Kal’s neck, behind her ear. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”
“For distracting you.” He smiled, which on his handsome face looked amazing. As usual, it melted her insides faster than butter on the sun. What a change from The Great Brooding One, her nickname for him when she first met him.
She kissed him. “Totally forgiven.” She glanced at her BlackBerry to check the time. “Oh, crud. Aidan and I need to get going.” She hurried back to her office where Aidan and Jeff were talking. “You ready?”
“Yeah. Mind if Jeff tags along? I’d like him to start learning this end of the operation.” Today Aidan was wearing one of his atrocious outfits, a turquoise
yellow tropical shirt over an orange
striped tank top and denim shorts. Completing his ensemble was a pair of black dress socks with white sneakers.
If Jeff could overlook Aidan’s eye-watering choice in clothes, Kal knew he must be in love with Aidan.
“Not at all.” When Jeff tried to let her have the front seat in Aidan’s car, Kal firmly stood her ground. “It’s a short ride. You sit up front with him.”
Aidan rolled his eyes. “I know that stubborn look, buddy. Give her what she wants.”
Jeff blushed. “Thanks, Kal.”
She smiled as she climbed into the backseat. During the fifteen
minute drive, Aidan filled Jeff in about the building and purported supernatural activity. Kal, from her vantage point, loved watching how Aidan would turn and give Jeff his full attention at stoplights. She also loved how much happier Aidan seemed since Jeff’s arrival in Tampa. Even though she’d promised Aidan she wouldn’t play matchmaker and try to speed things along, she didn’t mind shoving Aidan and Jeff together any chance she could.
They had to don hard hats for part of their tour. The fifteen-story building was built in 1938 and had been several things in its long history, from
hotel to apartments to offices. It was still going to be an office building, but the current owners wanted to co-op it and modernize the interior while preserving the historical exterior facade. The interiors of the top three floors had already been completely demolished, with the next four in various stages of teardown. The bottom floors still housed a few tenants, some who were planning to move into new offices in the upper floors when construction was complete. Most of the reported activity was located in the unoccupied sections of the structure.
The building manager spent an hour with them, pointing out the different hot spots, explaining the building’s history and folklore. Kal would have a researcher attempt to verify as much as possible. Then the manager left them alone to explore on their own for a while.
After he’d left, Kal and Aidan could openly discuss things. Jeff shut off the small video camera he’d used to film the tour. “Well?” she asked, consulting her copious notes.
Aidan shook his head. “I wish we’d brought Purs with us. This place is huge. I’m getting a few things, there were definitely some residual hits in a couple of the places he mentioned, but there’s something else here.”
A chill washed through Kal, even in the warm building. Sometimes she could sense things if there was strong activity, but usually only if Will was in close proximity for her to draw strength from. “What’s here?” she nervously asked.
Her tone got Jeff’s full attention. “Something else? What do you mean?”
Aidan walked around the empty space. This floor had few divider walls, had been almost completely stripped and was awaiting construction. “Don’t freak out, sweet cheeks,” Aidan reassured Kal. “No bad nasties like wraiths or anything.”
She blew out a relieved breath. “Okay.” Her one and only experience with a wraith was more than enough to last her a lifetime.
And because of what that wraith did to Kal, her lifetime would hopefully be an eternity spent with Will Hellenboek.
Aidan closed his eyes and slowly turned around. “Let’s go down a floor. It feels like it’s down there.”
They took the elevator and followed Aidan around. This floor wasn’t completely emptied yet. Kal and Jeff watched as Aidan fingered his tiger’s
eye amulet and slowly worked his way around.
When he suddenly stopped, Kal knew he felt something.
“What is it?” Jeff asked. Kal gently touched his arm to silence him.
Aidan stood still, his body rigid, eyes closed. He muttered something under his breath, a long, unintelligible series of words. Then Kal realized they were in another language.
Fifteen minutes later, he took a deep breath and opened his eyes. “Wow,” he breathed.
He looked around as if seeing the place for the first time. “Boys and girls, we’ve got us a fairly strong intelligent entity.”
“Is that good or bad?” Jeff nervously asked.
Aidan shrugged. “It just is, in this case. It’s not something that can hurt anyone regardless of its intentions. It doesn’t have the ability to take a form strong enough to commit a physical action.”
The hair stood up on the back of Kal’s neck. “So what
“It doesn’t have any. It’s just existing. I don’t even know if it’s something we’ll be able to get evidence of. We definitely want a lot of coverage on this floor, just in case. EMF and EVPs for sure. Might not catch it on the FLIR.” The thermal imaging camera was great for picking up entities that could show up as pockets of different temperature from the rest of the room.
Another shiver raced through Kal as she made notes. They might have to film over two nights since the place was so large. The building manager had already cleared that if necessary. Frankly, she got the opinion he was looking at their show as free advertising and a way to charge a little extra for renting a space in a “haunted” building featured on TV. Kal would have extra crew and investigators on hand, but Will and Aidan, being the hosts, couldn’t be everywhere at once despite their archdemon powers.
Aidan studied her. “What’s wrong, honey?”
She shivered again. The building felt warm in the humid Tampa summer. “I don’t know.” She finally met his gaze. She recognized that look.
. “Why?” she asked.
He slowly shook his head. “No, don’t panic.” He closed his eyes again and touched his amulet. “It knows we’re here.”
“It?” Kal asked.
Aidan frowned in concentration. “He.”
Jeff’s eyes widened. “He?”
“Shh,” Aidan softly said.
Kal and Jeff instinctively huddled closer to each other as they watched Aidan. After a few moments, Aidan smiled.
“He likes you.”
“Who?” Jeff and Kal asked together.
“Kal.” Aidan opened his eyes and released his amulet. “He really likes you.”
“Okay, seriously creeped out now.” She hadn’t been creeped out on a location since her wraith possession in Gainesville.
Aidan laughed. “Don’t be. He’s just a kid.”
“What?” Jeff and Kal parroted again.
“You two keep that up, you’re getting nicknamed Frick and Frack. Don’t be upset, Kal. He’s a little boy, maybe nine or ten.”
Kal went from creeped out to wanting to cry. “A little boy? That means he died young, right?”
Aidan sadly nodded. “Yep. He’s sort of unclear about that point. I have a feeling it was probably something like the flu. He remembers being really sick. You remind him of his mom. He misses her.”
A sudden wave of sadness swept through her. “Oh, that poor kid! You were talking to him?”
“Sort of. I didn’t want to freak him out since he’s aware. It’s hard to explain. I was feeling him out. He doesn’t realize he’s dead. He probably died here and the construction stirred him up. That happens sometimes. It feels like he hasn’t been active for very long. Entities don’t always show up as soon as they die. Sometimes it takes a precipitating event to jog them out of their little supernatural hidey-hole.”
Kal surveyed the construction debris. “Well, looks like it’s usually loud enough here to wake the dead.”
Aidan laughed. “Got that right. Come on, let’s finish going through this place so we can get out of here.”
* * * *
Will noticed Kal’s continuing unease later that afternoon. While Aidan was talking with a client, Will slipped inside Kal’s office and closed the door behind him.
“Spill it, babe. What’s wrong?”
Kal shrugged. “Just a little bothered, that’s all. Nothing you did.”
He rubbed her shoulders. “Then tell me what’s wrong.”
She told him about the entity at the building. Will’s hands slowed on her shoulders
and when she tipped her head back to look at him, she saw he was deep in thought.
“Maybe I should stick close to the base for this shoot.”