Authors: Tymber Dalton
That was the last thing he needed to think about right now.
He cleared his throat and tried again. “Kal, let life happen for you. Enjoy it as it does. There will be good and bad times. There are in any life, whether human or immortal. Some times better than others, definitely.”
“Could you find her?” she asked. “Could you be with her again?”
He sighed. “There is far more involved than simply finding her. When a soul is reborn, it becomes a unique individual. Even though residual memories and feelings remain, they are deep within the person and there they should stay. It would drive a person mad to have their old selves brought to the surface for too long. I know it’s done frequently with hypnosis, but they cannot stay for long, in control of the physical vessel.”
After he was quiet for a long moment, Kal said, “And you don’t know if she’d want you in this life anyway.”
“There is that. It’s best I don’t know.” He kissed Kal’s forehead and patted her on the back before stepping away. “Just because I have a lot of power doesn’t mean I should try to force the Universe to my will in an unnatural way.” He gently touched her chin. “If it’s ever meant to be, it will happen. I’ve found her twice before. Who’s to say I won’t get lucky the third time?”
“You didn’t come when I called. You promised me you always would.”
“I knew you were all right. I was still watching you. Just because you didn’t see me doesn’t mean I wasn’t protecting and looking over you. I felt it best to let things settle before anything else was said.”
“Are we okay?”
Finally, a smile. “We are always ‘okay,’ Kal. I promise you, I shall never walk away from you.
. I will always be around if you need me. Even the best of friends sometimes have squabbles. Believe me, I do not hold it against you or take it personally.”
“Thank you.” She stepped in for one more hug. “I guess I should go.”
“Right. Close your eyes, sweetheart.” She did. She felt him press one last kiss to the top of her head before he sent her back to the cemetery.
Aidan sat by the marker, shredding a blade of grass in his long fingers while waiting for her. “You okay, kiddo?”
She wiped her face as she nodded and sat next to him, cuddled with him.
He wrapped his arms around her. “Sweet cheeks, I know this is a mind fuck. I should have warned you a little better about that, I guess.”
She shook her head and cuddled closer.
“Why did you need me to take you to Ryan?” he asked. “Why didn’t you call him?”
“We had a fight. I said some pretty mean things to him.”
He laughed, long and hearty.
“It’s not funny,” she angrily said, still ashamed of herself and what she’d said.
He smiled. “Yeah, it is. You should’ve heard some of the ones he and Abby used to get into. They always kissed and made right up though, so to speak. I could sit back and listen to those two bitch at each other for hours. It was hysterical. Damn, Abby would dish it out to him in spades, man.”
This was news to Kal. She sat up. “I thought you said they were friends?”
“Oh, they were. Best friends, I guess you could say. I mean, I saw it more than Will, because Will didn’t want anything to do with the shit weasel. A lot of times I’d go with her if she wanted or needed me. Or if Ryan needed to talk about business that I needed to hear straight from the ass’
He laughed, shaking his head. “Damn
that girl could fight. She’d just about have him ripping his hair out crazy over an argument, tied up in knots. Five minutes later, they’d be laughing and joking with each other. Never seen anything like it.” He wistfully smiled. “I’d bet Ryan misses it
too. I know he loved sparring with her like that. Damn
she was a smart, smart woman. Really feisty.”
Kal sniffled and stared at Bobby’s grave. “I must seem like a stupid kid compared to her.”
“No!” Aidan’s angry tone startled her. “Sweet cheeks, you’re still new to all this. Give it some time, okay? Settle in. For crying out loud, it’s only been a couple of months and you’ve still got a freaking wedding to make it through.”
“My father’s wasted his life,” she softly said, her anger still bubbling through.
“Why’s that, sugar?”
“All this…bullshit,” she spat. “It’s like finding out there’s no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, and no Tooth Fairy all at the same time, and then multiplying that by a thousand.” She sighed. “Only worse. A lot worse.”
He kissed her temple. “I don’t have any answers for you, kiddo.”
They sat there in silence for a few more minutes. “You want to ride back to the office with me?” she asked.
“How about I do you one better and you hand me the keys and let me chauffeur you?”
* * * *
Later that afternoon, Kal was preparing to leave when Jeff walked in. From the look on his face she knew he didn’t come bearing good news. “What’s wrong?”
He waved Kal and Aidan into his office. She noticed he had the sound software
up on his laptop
he sat in the chair next to his desk as he glanced at Aidan.
Aidan placed his hands on Kal’s shoulders. “Okay.”
. On the recorder, from the first encounter in the bathroom, Bobby’s voice was clearly audible.
Kal’s hand flew to her mouth as she tried to stifle her sobs. She quietly cried as the recording played out.
Aidan looked grim. “Damn, that’s good. Really good. The irony is, we have to scrub that recording to make it sound worse.”
Jeff frowned. “Why? That’s the best EVP I’ve ever heard! It’s like he was in the room.”
“Exactly. People won’t buy it. They’ll think it’s faked. The only reason he sounds so clear is because of me amplifying him.” Aidan gently squeezed Kal’s shoulders. “You okay, sweet cheeks?”
She nodded even though her eyes were squeezed tightly shut. “Yeah, I’m okay.”
Aidan thought for a moment. “You know, we could do a little segment about him and his parents. Grab some footage from the cemetery. Didn’t you find a picture of him, too?”
“Yeah. On the funeral notice.”
“Pay him a little respect, that sort of thing.”
Kal took a deep breath. At war within her, the TV show producer who wanted to do just that battl
against the woman who had talked with the dead child, had sensed his loneliness and confusion and didn’t want to capitalize on his death.
Probably sensing her thoughts, Aidan said, “Kal, honey, he’s gone. For good. He won’t care one way or another. You’ll do it classy. I know you will.”
She took a deep breath. “Okay,” she softly agreed.
* * * *
Kal returned home before Will that evening. She watched TV on the living room couch. Upon his return he sensed her disquiet. He sat next to her and pulled her into his arms.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” She closed her eyes and inhaled his scent. Just touching him always calmed her, eased away the worst of her stress.
He stroked her shoulder. “What’d you do today?”
“I did some research. Found his grave. Aidan suggested we should do a little segment about him on the show.”
His fingers lightly brushed up and down her arm. “What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know,” she quietly admitted. “I’m not sure what the right thing is. I don’t want it to look like we’re capitalizing on his death.”
Will knew from talking with Aidan that Kal had seen Ryan that afternoon…and that they’d had a fight. He treaded carefully, not wanting to disclose their shared secret about her father. Will hadn’t even told Aidan for fear of him accidentally letting the cat out of the bag to Kal.
Aidan had a big mouth. Not intentionally, he just sometimes didn’t think before engaging it. Especially around Kal.
“How can I make this easier for you, babe?”
“You can’t.” She looked into his eyes as she laced her fingers through his. “I’m just glad you’re willing to put up with me.”
He stroked her hair. “You’ve gone through a lot in a short amount of time. Don’t rush it.”
“I might scream if you guys tell me that one more time. It sooo doesn’t help.”
“What will help?”
Her eyes grew sad. “I don’t know. I guess maybe in a few hundred years, hopefully, I’ll have a handle on all of this stuff.”
He stood, then scooped her into his arms and carried her to their bedroom. She thought he might make love to her, but instead he had her roll over and he gave her a long, wonderful massage. Kal felt like she could melt into the mattress.
“Why don’t you go to sleep, sweetie?” he softly suggested.
She nodded and felt herself drift.
When she awoke in the middle of the night, Will was curled around her, his solid presence always a comfort to her soul. Kal still felt bad about how she’d treated Ryan
no matter what he’d said. She felt like an ungrateful brat.
After another sleepless hour, she slipped out of bed and pulled on her robe. It was tempting to summon Ryan except she didn’t want to do it with Will asleep in the next room. And she didn’t want to call out to Ryan and have him bring her to him in case he was…busy with someone else.
She also didn’t want to contemplate the irrational wave of jealousy accompanying that thought.
Kal closed the bedroom door behind her and found her cell phone on the kitchen counter. Ryan answered almost immediately, his voice full of sleep.
“What’s wrong, Kal?”
“Nothing. I’m sorry I’m calling so late. I…” What? What
she want to say? “I just wanted to tell you again how sorry I am about this afternoon. I’m sorry I’m acting like a brat.”
Almost immediately he sounded awake. “Love, I already told you, it’s all right.”
“No, it’s not all right. I don’t want to treat you like that. You’re my friend.” She took a deep breath. “Aidan told me you and Abby used to fight all the time.”
Ryan hesitated before he answered. “I wouldn’t call it fighting. More like friendly bickering. Squabbling. It was never, shall we say, personal.”
“I don’t want to fight or bicker with you.” She bit off the nearly overwhelming urge to follow that with, “I love you.” But it felt right
he did love him. Differently than she loved Will or Aidan or even the way she was quickly coming to love Jeff
, but it was still love
“I don’t wish to fight with you either, love. Rest assured, I’m well aware there will be times throughout the years when we have differences of opinion. I expect it. When I say I understand and that I don’t take it personally, I mean it.”
“Absolutely. Now quit feeling guilty and go back to sleep. You and I are fine, as I already told you.”
“Thanks.” She said good-bye and returned to bed. She didn’t, however, fall asleep again for several hours.
An hour after returning from the cemetery with Kal, Aidan nervously fidgeted before finally giving in and returning to Jeff’s office. It was late afternoon, and Gery was the only other person left in the building.
Jeff looked up from his monitor as Aidan closed the door behind him. When Jeff smiled it carried Aidan’s heart.
If he wasn’t in love with this man, he was damned close.
“What’s up, Aid?”
“Feel like going out for dinner tonight?”
Jeff eagerly nodded. “Sure!”
Aidan’s throat dried up. “My treat. I thought maybe I’d…you know…pick you up?”
“That’d be great.” Aidan hesitated. “What?” Jeff asked
when Aidan didn’t speak
“I really like going out with you.”
Jeff’s smile broadened, if possible. “I really like going out with you, too.”
If he couldn’t say it
then he was a chicken of the highest order. “I don’t want you to think I’m not interested in you because we haven’t…you know…done much. I’m trying to do things the right way with you. The honorable way.”
“I know. I appreciate it.”
“I’m not seeing anyone else either, okay? Just so you know.”
Jeff stood, walked around his desk, and hugged Aidan. Suddenly, Aidan felt like all was right in the world, as if a curtain of calm dropped over him. He hugged Jeff back.
He didn’t want to let go.
“I don’t want to screw this up,” Aidan admitted. “This is going to sound stupid and corny, but I’ve never had a relationship like this before. I mean, a real relationship.”
“I kind of got that impression.”
Aidan laughed. “How?”
Jeff smiled. “You act like you’re scared witless.”
“No!” Aidan stepped back, panicked. “No, really, I’m not!”
“I meant in a good way. You look and act like I feel.”
Jeff reached up and smoothed Aidan’s hair. “I think this is how we’re supposed to feel. So what time?”
Jeff pulled Aidan’s arms around him. “What time are you picking me up?”
Jeff nodded. “I’ll be ready.” He stretched up and brushed a kiss across Aidan’s lips. Aidan fought the urge to spirit them both to his house and make love to him all night long.
He didn’t want to rush. For once, dammit, he would have something like everyone else had.
* * * *
Aidan gave up trying to do anything requiring concentration before he headed home. He couldn’t get Jeff’s blue eyes out of his mind, the feel of the man’s body pressed against him.
He seriously considered trying to take things farther that night, then decided against it. It would be murder on his balls, but
like he hadn’t taken matters in hand before, so to speak, after spending time with Jeff.