The Soul Summoner (The Soul Summoner Saga Book 1) (3 page)

BOOK: The Soul Summoner (The Soul Summoner Saga Book 1)
9.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The sheriff rang the buzzer for a second time, impatiently trying to see through the double-sided mirror beside the door. There was no answer. He pressed the buzzer again. 

A loud woman belted over the loudspeaker. "Who keeps blowin' up my door? I'll get to you when I get to you! I've only got two hands, ya know?" 

Yep. It was Ms. Claybrooks. 

The sheriff let out an exasperated sigh. "Ms. Claybrooks, it's Sheriff Davis. Can you please open the door?"

"Uh… Oh, oh," she stammered over the loudspeaker. Her voice shifted from shrill and threatening to syrupy sweet. "Sheriff, you shoulda said somethin'. C'mon in."

He closed his eyes and silently shook his head as the door slid open. "Thank you, Ms. Claybrooks," he said to her as we passed by her office door. 

She stood up and gave him a small wave and a wide, toothy smile. 

Ms. Claybrooks, a black lady from southern Georgia, was barely five feet tall and almost as wide. Her bosom was narrowly confined to the sheriff's office button-up shirt she was stuffed into. She wore bright red lipstick and a short bobbed wig. I would guess she was in her mid-fifties. Ms. Claybrooks was one of my favorite people on the planet and almost made it worthwhile for me to face my fears and visit the sheriff's office more often. 

She peeked around the corner as the group of us filed in. "Dang, Sheriff Davis! How many people you bringin' through my door today?" 

He didn't answer.

I smiled at her. "Hey, Ms. Claybrooks." 

Her face shifted into a tilted look of confusion. She planted her feet and put her hand on her wide hip. "How 'you know my name? Do I know you?"

"Everyone knows your name," Mary added with a sweet smile.

"Well, hi there, Mary!" Ms. Claybrooks cheered. "Let's do lunch soon, m'kay?" 

Mary nodded and waved to her. "Maybe later this week!" 

Ms. Claybrooks swung back around into her office and plopped back down in the master control chair before picking up her radio and barking into it again. "I told you to hold your damn horses!" she shouted at another unfortunate soul.

I giggled. "I absolutely love that woman."

Mary nodded. "She definitely brightens the mood around this dreary place."

That was the truest statement I had heard all week, but dreary wasn't the word I would've chosen. Before I started to obsess over the heebie jeebies that were creeping in on me, I changed the subject. I leaned down so only Mary could hear me as we filed into the conference room. "So, did everyone see me looking at my backside in the window?" 

She nodded and chuckled silently. "Everybody." 

I groaned.

The swearing in ceremony consisted of oaths, pictures, and paperwork. The hot Mr. January officer was from Raleigh, and he was a detective with an impressive resume. His name was Nathan McNamara. Unfortunately, hanging around to meet him after the ceremony would require spending more time at the jail than I was willing to, no matter how good he looked in his uniform.

Mary insisted on us getting an early lunch together before returning to our office, so she rode with me down the street to the Tupelo Honey Cafe. 

"It was a good ceremony today," I said as we sat down at a wooden table that overlooked the street.

She shrugged her shoulders. "Wasn't much of a ceremony if you ask me." She opened up the brunch menu and adjusted her glasses as she carefully scanned the page. "What do you like here?"

"The craft martinis," I replied.

She laughed.

"What do you think about the new officers?" I asked.

"They seem satisfactory," she said, void of any emotion.

I pushed my menu away from me and folded my hands together on the table. "Just satisfactory?"

"Well, the one was really handsome." She was grinning behind her menu.

I perked up. "The cute blonde one from Raleigh?" 

She pursed her lips and shook her head. "No. The older one who came here from Knoxville. He was a fox."

In my opinion, with his red hair and ultra long nose, he could have been a fox—an actual fox—maybe in a previous lifetime. I grimaced. "No. I meant Detective McNamara. I wouldn't mind getting on a first name basis with him."

She smiled. "Oh, to be young. You never told me what is good to eat here," she said, signaling the end of our boy talk.

My shoulders sank, and I looked out of the window to the busy downtown street. "The goat cheese grits are amazing." 

It had been over a year and a half since I had been in an actual relationship with a man. Getting dates wasn't a problem because I enjoyed meeting new people. The problem was my ability to see the grime on the souls of everyone I went out with. That, and the constant worry that men were simply attracted to me because of my power. The longest romance I had ever entertained was with Luke Burcham, the waiter from Alejandro's. Our relationship lasted long distance for a total of three and a half months while I was in college. Elvis broke up with me because he felt like I was hiding something from him. If he only knew.

After lunch, I went back to my office in the Buncombe County building. It was a cozy space with calming gray walls and black and white photos of places I had never visited. My father's busy work schedule had left little time for vacations over the years, so I stayed pretty sheltered in Western North Carolina. The window behind my desk was large and it framed the view of the national forest that was beginning to pop with the colors of autumn. Asheville tourism advice was one of my biggest responsibilities as nature lovers from all over the country flocked to the colorful North Carolina mountains in the fall.

 I spent a few hours working on the county e-mail newsletter before I got around to editing the photos from that morning. As I was folded under my desk inserting the memory card from my camera into the computer slot, there was a knock at my door. Startled, I smacked my skull against the underside of my desk. I shoved my chair backward and jerked upright.

Detective Nathan McNamara was wide-eyed and standing in my doorway with his hand still posed in the knocking position. I rubbed the back of my head. 

"I'm sorry." He cautiously stepped into the room and looked around. "I didn't mean to frighten you. Are you Ms. Jordan?" 

In an instant, I forgot about my possible skull fracture and broke out in an involuntary smile. I stood up and extended my hand. "Call me Sloan," I answered as he squeezed my hand. "You're Detective McNamara, correct?"

He shook his head. "Just Nathan or Nate, please."

I smiled again and motioned to the two empty chairs in front of my desk. "Nathan, what can I do for you?" 

He had changed out of his formal uniform and was wearing a black polo shirt and black tactical cargos. He wore an olive drab ball cap with a grayscale American flag patch on the front. He had a badge pinned to his belt that I couldn't even look at for fear of getting too distracted. It was the first time I had seen him up close; his eyes were the color of cold gray steel. I had to remind myself he was talking to me and I probably should pay attention so I could respond.

"I have a press release about a missing person." He handed me a sheet of paper before settling into a chair.

Blame it on the tantalizing belt or the eyes, but after glancing at the middle-aged man's photo, without thinking I blurted out "he's dead" as mindlessly as I would've said "thank you" or "yes, I'll go out with you!" 

His eyes widened. "Excuse me?" He drew out each syllable. 

I slowly sank down behind my desk and cleared my throat as I scrambled for a recovery. "It's just my guess." I shrugged my shoulders like it was no big deal that I had just sounded at best calloused and uncaring or at worst—crazy. 

He studied my face until I thought my heart would pound out of my chest. I couldn't even bring myself to look him in the eye.

I forced a smile and placed the sheet carefully in front of my computer screen. "I'll take care of it right away."

I hoped he would leave so I could have a proper meltdown, but he looked too puzzled to move. I decided to change the subject. "How did you get stuck bringing me press releases on your first day?"

His shoulders relaxed. "Rookie grunt work, I guess. I think some people aren't too happy that I lateraled straight over to detective."

I nodded. "Probably not. Welcome to the force, by the way. You're from Raleigh, right?"

"Yes ma'am. Technically, I'm from—"

I cut him off, laughing and waving my hand in his direction. "Watch it with the 'ma'am' stuff. I'm pretty sure you're older than me, and I would rather be unprofessional than feel old."

He laughed. "Sorry. I transferred here from Raleigh, but I grew up closer to Durham."

"No kidding?" I asked. "I went to college at UNC."

He reclined back in the seat and grimaced. "Ahhh… I'm a State fan."

I crossed my fingers like the letter X. "Boo." I leaned against my desk and frowned. "Oh, that's so sad. I thought I was really going to like you!"

He laughed. "Sucks for me, I guess."

Grinning, I folded my hands in my lap. "Too bad."

Nathan rose from his seat.  "Well, I've injured you, insulted you, and I like NC State. I'd better take off before you hate me any more than you already do."

"I'm glad you stopped by, Nathan," I said. 

He smiled and I felt a little dizzy. "Me too." He paused at the door. "I'll see you around, Sloan."

I thought about telling him to just fax over missing persons' reports in the future, but I just nodded and enjoyed watching him leave. Interdepartmental efficiency be damned; I wasn't going to let a fax machine stand in the way of another possible visit from Detective McNamara.

When he was gone, I dropped my forehead onto my desk and groaned. After a moment of sulking and one hell of a scolding internal monologue, I turned back to my computer and typed out the pointless press release. The cops weren't looking for a person anymore; they were looking for a corpse.

* * *

After work, I drove to my parents' mountainside chalet for dinner like I did almost every Monday night.

Robert and Audrey Jordan were actually my adoptive parents but few people knew it. Audrey had been a twenty-two year old nursing student in Florida when she found me wrapped in a pink blanket on a park bench outside of the hospital where she worked. I was only a couple of days old. Even though she was unmarried and only working as an intern, she fought the courts for custody of me and won. My adoption was finalized shortly after she married the man who would become my dad. She had often joked that Robert only married her because he loved me so much, but I knew that wasn't true. They never had any other children.

Even though they were amazing parents, I often wondered if their love for me was completely real, or if it was some kind of supernatural manipulation that obligated them to me.

"Knock knock!" I called as I pushed the front door open.

Mom was in the kitchen with her hands covered in flour. "Hey honey," she called over her shoulder. My mother was about a foot shorter than me and almost too thin. She had cropped brown hair that was showing more gray every time I saw her. However, even at fifty, she still jogged three miles every day and taught yoga at the local senior center. 

"Where's Dad?" I jerked my thumb in the direction of the driveway. "His car isn't here."

"Oh, he's running late at the office. He'll be home soon," she said.

I sat down on a stool at the kitchen breakfast bar. "Can I help with anything?" I already knew what her answer would be.

She shook her head. "Nope. I'm almost done. How was work today?"

I recalled the look on Detective McNamara's face and slumped in my seat. I groaned and dropped my face into my hands. "Ugh. I made an idiot out of myself twice today." 

She chuckled. "What did you do?"

"Well, I had to go the sheriff's office this morning for a meeting, and before I walked inside I checked myself out very thoroughly in the reflection of the mirrored glass. Little did I know that half the county was in the lobby watching me check my butt for panty lines."

She covered her mouth with the back of her hand and laughed.

I cringed. "And, I said something really stupid to this cute new detective at work."

"Oh really?" Her voice slid up an octave. She was clearly more interested in the cute guy than me embarrassing myself. My mother wanted grandkids.

I sighed. "Yeah. I probably blew my chances with him."

Her laugh was full of sarcasm. "You know better than that."

With Nathan McNamara, I wasn't so sure. He had seen a bit of my circus freak side that day.

"Do you like him?" she asked, drawing my attention back to the conversation.

I drew circles with my finger on the countertop. "Well, he's really, really attractive and he seems like a pretty good guy. But I just met him today, so I don't know yet."

She nodded and motioned toward the television in the den behind me. "Honey, can you turn on the news?" 

I got up and found the remote on the coffee table. I switched on the TV and surfed to the local news station. On the screen, a man in a ridiculous blue suit was waving his arms and pacing around a used car lot. "Commercials." I sat back down at the counter.

"I want to see the weather. I've put together a running group for tomorrow morning," she said. "You should join us."

I laughed. "No thanks."

She leaned over the counter and squeezed my forearm. "Chasing boys around the office isn't exercise, Sloan."

I felt an uneasy nudge in the back of my brain. It was a twinge akin to having a tiny pebble trapped under the lining of a tennis shoe. I pulled back and looked at my mom. There were lines I had never noticed before at the creases of her eyes. 

"Are you feeling all right?" I asked.

She looked at me curiously and laughed. "I'd be better if I knew my daughter was taking better care of herself."

The door from the garage opened, and my dad walked in pulling his rolling briefcase behind him. He was thin and wiry like my mother. His brown hair was graying around the ears, but it was still thick with a distinctive wave toward the back. He had the lightest blue eyes I had ever seen. My father could have been a movie star. "Hey, sweetheart," he said when he saw me.

BOOK: The Soul Summoner (The Soul Summoner Saga Book 1)
9.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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