Authors: Tymber Dalton
That was Will-speak for sticking close to her. “No. You can’t. I don’t want to have to take two days to film if we don’t need to. Aidan said it’s nothing that can hurt me.”
“Yeah, but you’re freaked out about it.”
“Freaked out and scared are two different things. It doesn’t scare me. If Aidan says it won’t hurt me, I believe him.” She knew from Will’s hesitation he wasn’t convinced. “Go talk to him yourself. Aidan, I mean. Not the ghost. Duh.”
Will silently stared at her in his “I’ll just wait you out” tone of look. She finally gave in.
“If you don’t want me working alone, why doesn’t Jeff sit with me and I can teach him the back end of things?” Will’s hesitation was all the answer she needed. “You want an archdemon with me.”
“Honey, Purs is good at what he does. Aidan’s stronger than him in a lot of ways, but Purson’s sensitive to stuff like that.”
“I don’t need a babysitter.”
He stared at her, waiting her out.
“Grr. Fine. If it’ll make you feel better. At some point you’ll have to take a break so I can get him on camera.”
“That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that.”
“I could always call Ryan in to help out, you know.”
Will’s face darkened. “Yes,” he said in a neutral tone. “You could.”
She didn’t miss it. “I thought you two were on speaking terms again.”
“We are.” Same chilly neutrality.
“You big baby.” She let out an aggravated sigh. “All right, fine. Purson it is.”
His mood immediately lifted. “Thanks, babe.” He kissed her. “Besides, you know the other guys aren’t fond of Ryan either, so it’ll be easier on everyone if we leave him out of the equation unless absolutely necessary.”
The next evening, Kal was seated at base with Purson Gibraltar by her side. Gery would work with Will while Jeff paired up with Aidan. Kal didn’t like having one less experienced investigator in front of the camera, but it wasn’t a huge sacrifice. If it made Will happy, she’d do it. It’s not like the show would suffer.
Purson sat with his chair precariously tipped back on two legs while he fiddled with a rubber band, twiddling it around his index fingers.
“I’m sorry I’m boring you, Purs,” Kal playfully snarked.
He snorted with amusement. “Will’s just being cautious, kiddo. You know that. Frankly, if Aidan wasn’t worried about it, neither am I.” He leaned forward and the front two legs of his chair safely touched down, much to Kal’s relief. “I don’t blame Will though.” His face darkened. “I guess in his shoes I’d do the same thing after what you went through.”
Purson and Gery had babysat Kal during her wraith possession. While under its control she’d said some pretty horrible, nasty things. That was in addition to nearly killing three men with her bare hands. Purs had never wanted to discuss the incident, obviously not willing to revisit the events.
Kal got the impression he and Gery were still pretty pissed at Ryan over the whole thing.
Purs was a likeable man, albeit the ultimate horndog. Handsome
too, with thick brown hair and piercing blue eyes that seemed to look through the very depths of a person’s soul when he stared at them. Kal wasn’t nearly as close to him and Gery as she was to Aidan. Not that she didn’t like them and get along well with them, because she did. While she was comfortable working with them, her bond with them wasn’t as deep.
She didn’t often get a chance to spend time alone with Purs. “Can I ask you something?”
He nodded, tipping his chair back again. “Shoot.”
This wasn’t an avenue she’d pursued with him before. Kal felt she could deal with it now. “The thing with the wraith. I heard you and the guys talking then. It was like they thought you could see what was going on inside me. Is that true?”
His face darkened as he frowned. “Sort of. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was that had you. It was too deeply embedded.” The rubber band shot out of his hand and disappeared somewhere in the shadows of the room. “I mean, I’m really good at stuff like that, it’s my forte. It’s my strength, seeing things, finding secrets, reading souls. Because of the situation it was neither practical nor comfortable for me to do what I needed to do to figure out your situation.”
“Wraiths are bad news. Usually they’re easy to sense and dislodge.” He reddened, embarrassed, uncomfortable discussing the details. “You know why it latched onto you. That was the shit weasel’s plan.”
The wraith had embedded itself in her soul because she was still a virgin at that point. Kal thought it odd that Purson of all people was even remotely uncomfortable discussing anything sexual, considering his extracurricular habits. “You don’t need to hate Ryan on my account,” Kal assured him. She didn’t want any of the guys hating Ryan. Not when she understood him a lot better than they did.
“Yeah, I do.” He met her gaze. “All his bullshit over all these years, harping at us about not harming innocents, then he goes and puts you in jeopardy like that. Fucking son of a bitch.”
Kal wanted to distract him from his anger. “So what else can you do? What do you mean by reading souls?”
He stretched his arms over his head and Kal heard his back pop. Despite all their powers, they were still human in many ways. “Just that. I can burrow in when needed and look at a soul. Even see past lives, communicate with them sometimes. I can influence people, change their minds about stuff. Not everyone, not someone like Ryan, of course. I’m talking humans, some lesser beings, a few weaker archdemons.”
“Souls go on and on, babe. They never die. Didn’t you know that?”
“I think there was a
hapter in the new archdemon soul mate handbook about that, but I only skimmed it.”
He laughed. “You’re a freaking ballbuster. Just like…” He didn’t finish the statement, but the sudden sadness in his face told her what he’d planned on saying.
Just like Abby.
Purs suddenly became very interested in fine
tuning the equipment and refused to revisit the conversation.
An hour after they went dark and officially started the investigation, Kal was nearly ready to toss Purson out of the room. He grew fidgety and kept playing with equipment, throwing off her whole routine. She liked to observe the teams on the monitors during filming and keep an eye on the fixed cameras as well.
After two hours, she’d reached her limit for his distractions. “You. Out.”
Another rubber band he’d been playing with shot out of his hands. “What?”
She pointed at the door. “You’re worse than a five
old strung out on M&M
. Go send Will down and take his place before I bop you one.”
He looked a little sheepish. “I’m sorry, Kal. You know I don’t like sitting still for too long. I like to be in the middle of things.”
“I know, and I love you for caring enough to try, but go.”
“Maybe I should wait for Will—”
“Now! I’ll be safe for the ten minutes it takes Will to get down here. In fact, I need a break to stretch my legs. Go.” She also had to empty her bladder
and she didn’t need him babysitting her while she took a leak.
He reluctantly left. Kal breathed in a deep sigh of relief and stretched, her muscles groaning in protest as she did. She thought the world of Purs, but if she didn’t want to bean him
she needed him out of her base camp.
Kal grabbed her two-way radio and headed down the hall toward the bathrooms, in the opposite direction Purson went. Between the coffee and water she’d been drinking, she couldn’t hold it any longer. They were set up on the third floor, in an empty corner where tenants had already vacated but no construction had yet occurred because it would disturb the remaining occupants. It was perfect for what they needed, including air
room on this end of the floor only had one working florescent light at the far end, away from the door. That cast the rest of the room in a creepy, dim, flickering glow. She’d be better off with the small flashlight clipped to her belt.
After using the facilities she set her two-way on a little shelf over the sink and washed her hands. A sudden chill swept through her and she looked up when a flash of movement in the mirror caught her eye.
Behind her in the bathroom stood a young boy.
She whirled around and found herself alone.
Kal glanced in the mirror again. He was clearly visible. Red hair, freckles, dressed in what appeared to be white pajamas. Maybe nine or ten years old.
Kal looked behind her. No boy.
She looked back to the mirror.
He hesitantly smiled.
With shaky fingers, she grabbed her two-way without taking her eyes off the boy’s reflection. “Aidan.” She hoped her voice didn’t tremble too much.
After a moment, Aidan’s chipper reply. “Go for Aidan.”
“Where are you?” she whispered.
Now a slight hesitation. This was an open frequency
and she knew she had to be careful. If she had her druthers, she’d summon him demon-style, but she couldn’t do that with the film crew around and he knew it. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”
“Nothing’s wrong. Where are you?”
His voice definitely sounded concerned. “Tenth floor. We just finished a sweep and we’re heading down for break. Didn’t you see us on the monitors?”
“Who’s there with you?” She stared at the mirror as the boy stood a few feet away, watching her.
Aidan’s voice had changed tone again, from concerned to commanding. “It’s just me and Jeff, we’re waiting on the elevator. Film crew already went down.” Code for,
“What is going on, babe? Talk to me.”
She put the radio down, then softly spoke into the room. “Aidan,
He immediately appeared, alone. “Kal, what the fu—” His gaze followed hers into the mirror. “Holy shit!” he whispered.
“You see him, right? Please tell me you see him.”
He nodded. “Yeah, babe. You’re not seeing things. I mean, you
seeing things, just not imagining them. I’m seeing the same thing you are.”
“What are you seeing?”
“Little boy, red hair, and white pj
“Okay.” She felt palpable relief at the confirmation, immediately followed by more nervous anxiety.
Will’s voice, sounding tight with tension, barked over the two-way. “Kal, what’s wrong?” She knew he still had a film crew in tow because he was the star. Until he was back at base, they’d keep rolling on him. She couldn’t speak to him mentally that far away yet. She’d noticed her distance was constantly increasing as Will’s powers returned, but she was too nervous and scared to concentrate to even attempt to project that far right this minute.
Aidan replied through his radio as he stared at the apparition in the mirror. “Nothing, dude. Just a big spider. It’s okay. Under control. I’m taking care of it.”
“What do I do?” Kal whispered. In her time with the show she’d seen things, but never anything like this.
“You got your BlackBerry on you? Mine’s out in the van.”
She nodded and handed it over. It had a still and video camera built in. Aidan activated it and pointed it at the mirror. While the little boy was visible to them in the mirror, he wasn’t visible in the image on the phone. He also wasn’t visible if the phone was pointed directly at him.
“Damn.” He handed it back to her. “So much for that. I can’t bring a FLIR to me, they’re all being used by the volunteers. Someone would notice if one suddenly disappeared right out of their fricking hand,” he snarked. “Might cause a commotion.”
“Can you talk to him?”
Aidan closed his eyes and fished his tiger’s
eye amulet out from under his shirt. After a moment he opened his eyes and took Kal’s hand. She felt a weird sort of energy flow through her, not unpleasant but definitely not fun.
“Go ahead,” Aidan whispered.
Kal swallowed to form spit. “Hey there. What’s your name?”
The little boy looked surprised. “Bobby.”
Bobby. My name is Kal. Why are you here?” She realized Aidan had released his amulet and now held a digital voice recorder. Maybe they could get some proof, at least.
“I can’t find my mom. I went to sleep and now she’s gone. I’ve been looking for her. Have you seen her?”
It was times like this Kal felt most conflicted. Knowing the truth of the universe, versus her father’s stringent Baptist dogma that had taught her from childhood all good kids go to Heaven, emotionally pulled at her. In reality, this boy had no heavenly options. Only to move on into another life or hang out, perpetually confused and alone, in an old office building and missing his most likely long-dead mother.
“Bobby, how old are you?”
“Nine. I was really sick. I went to sleep for a while and I feel better now. But I can’t find my mom.”
“What’s your last name?”
“Where’s your dad?”
The little boy looked sad. “He died last year. He drowned.”
Kal shared a glance with Aidan. “This will sound like a silly question, but can you tell us what year that was?” she asked. “When he died?”
Aidan gently squeezed Kal’s hand. “It was the Tampico Floridian Hotel then,” Aidan whispered.
“Why were you and your mommy staying in the hotel?” Kal asked Bobby.
“She got a job here after my dad died. We live in a room for free. I help her clean rooms sometimes when I’m not in school.”
“What’s your room number?”
“709. We share it with Aunt Carol. Uncle Michael died with my dad. They were out fishing together.”