Authors: Sofia Grey
NOUN: an urgent and overpowering desire, or irresistible impulse
Time and Tide Books
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and places either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Time and Tide Publishing, LLC
7040 Seminole Pratt Whitney Rd. Suite 25-109
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
Copyright © 2014 Sofia Grey
Cover by Tincar Creations
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014937830
ISBN: 978-0-9892549-8-4 (Print)
10 0 9 8 9 2 5 4 9 7 6
Thanks to my lovely critique partners Lillian Grant and Elise Penning, and TigerLilyReader, my beta-reader. You guys catch all my mistakes and loopholes.
Thanks also go to the truly awesome team at T&T Publishing.
y eyes jerked open as a piercing scream filled the room.
Even the myriad of tealight candles wavered under the blast of noise. The other students all stared at Melissa, her mouth hanging open and tears trickling down her face.
“I just can’t do this,” she sobbed. “It’s too scary.”
Of course. Everyone dropped their hands. The séance circle broke, and the spirit—that had been reluctant to make an appearance anyway—fucked off again.
. I rubbed my forehead, and longed for a cigarette while I glared at Tristan from beneath my palm. If he couldn’t keep his little flock under control, I’d be walking. Sod the fees.
There were seven of us around the table in the abandoned control tower: myself, my old friend Nanette, Melissa aka Screamer, a curvy brunette in a pink cardigan, Tristan, and The Matching Couple. I could have ordered them all straight from central casting for a Hollywood movie about ghost hunting students. I watched as Pink Cardie moved to stand behind Melissa, gave her a hug, and murmured in her ear. I racked my brains to remember her name. Carol? Candy? Her head shot up, as though she realized I was staring at her. When our eyes met, a rather fetching blush spread across her cheeks.
Tristan stood up, his Adams apple bobbing. “Dante, should we take a short break? Maybe ten minutes to calm down?”
Beside me, Nanette smirked. I nudged her with my boot as I replied. “Sure, but this is the third break tonight. I don’t mind, you’re paying me by the hour, but I’m sure you don’t have endless funds.” I paused a moment, then looked firmly at Melissa. “You might want to think about waiting in the van.”
Pink Cardie conferred with Tristan, her tawny eyes narrowing as she stared at me. I gave her a lazy grin and stretched my arms above my head, knowing my tats would show clearly beneath my rolled up sleeves. I could just imagine her horrified thoughts about me. She looked like a typical upper-class girl pretending to be a university student: cashmere cardigan, expensive jeans, and boots. I’d no doubt she’d carry a brand new iPhone in that posh looking bag along with the keys to her recent model VW. She’d have a Daddy who worked in the city and a Mummy who would be shagging the gardener while Pink Cardie studied Parapsychology. How would she react if I offered her my body to study? Hmm, she looked feisty, and I liked that.
Nanette yawned, her tongue stud glittering in the weak light. Placing her hand on my stomach, she leaned toward me. “Let’s get some fresh air, Chuckles. These geeks are freaking me out.”
By ‘fresh air’, she meant ‘nicotine,’ and I was putty in her hands. Pink Cardie was staring again. Perhaps I should suggest Tristan get inked. The thought brought a smile to my face. With his public school accent and delicate pretty boy features, he was the least likely person ever to wander into a tattoo parlor. I’d have to ask Nan where she met him.
The moon was just visible as it rose over the trees, and the skies were clear. It would be cold tonight, and I didn’t fancy sleeping rough. I’d try to sweet-talk Nan into taking me back to her place. I gave her one of my hand-rolls and coaxed a flame out of my Zippo, cupping it with my hand while she lit her ciggie. Her white-blonde, cropped hair glowed in the reflected light, the multiple earrings jingling as she ducked her head. She inhaled, held the smoke in her lungs, and blew it out hard. “Chuckles, your tobacco sucks.”
I shrugged, busy lighting my own cigarette. My Zippo was almost out of fuel, as was my bike. My stomach rumbled, and I acknowledged I was running low on fuel too.
We lurked outside the building, waiting for Tristan to call us back in. I’d been hired to run a series of séances to make contact with the multiple spirits who were allegedly haunting this disused, RAF aerodrome in the middle of nowhere. On paper, it looked good. So far, the results had been pitiful. Even my own spirit guides had gone AWOL, although Screamer probably made them nervous. She made
Right on cue, Pink Cardie appeared with Screamer. Cally? Kathy? I’m sure it was Kathy. After another silent glare in my direction, they walked toward the parked vehicles.
Nan sank to the ground, her back to the concrete wall. “I don’t think she likes you.”
A snort of laughter. “They’re both a bit uptight.”
“D’you suppose Tristan is banging either of them?”
She shrugged, an amused smile dancing across her face. It seemed likely, and Tristan looked like a good match for Pink Cardie. They’d probably discuss scientific theories together. She’d never go for an ill-educated jerk like me.
I sprawled beside Nan, the ground felt cool and damp beneath me. “How did you meet him? He’s not your usual type.”
“Pu-lease.” Twisting to look at me, she scrambled onto my lap, straddling my legs, and then traced one finger over the gunmetal hoops in my eyebrow. “These are nice. I did a good job.”
“You always do.” Now was the time to ask. I stubbed out the remnants of my cigarette and lifted her off me. “You got a spare bed I could use tonight?”
“Sorry, Chuckles. I can’t do that. And…” She hesitated. “I’m back with Ash. I’d hate him to think I’d been screwing around.” She flicked away the last of her ciggie, the glowing end arcing through the air. “Didn’t you book into a B&B with the students?”
“That poncy lot? Nah. Too geeky by half.”
I can’t afford it
. I produced a grin. “No big deal. I’ll find somewhere. You and Ash are good together.” My fingers played absently with my Talisman. The slim leather band never left my wrist. I’d feel naked without it.
“Excuse me.” The tone was crisp and tart—Pink Cardie. “I hate to interrupt, but I think we’re ready to start again.” Judging by her frown and the way she compressed her lips together, she’d overheard my comments.
Yep, she’s figured I’m a jerk.
The lanterns had been turned down, and a soft, yellow glow washed over our little group. The control tower consisted of this main room downstairs and two smaller ones above, all were scruffy and dust laden. The students had brought the folding table and chairs with them, along with all their scientific equipment. At my request, they’d brought the candles, sage leaves for burning, and plenty of salt—all necessary for providing us with some basic level of psychic protection.
I clasped hands with Nan on my right and Pink Cardie on the left, the others followed suit. A deep breath to start. Closing my eyes, I dropped my head forward, drew in air through my nose, and exhaled through my mouth. Slow and steady, all the while calling in my head for Simeon or Ingrid. I let my body relax, every muscle falling loose as I opened my mind to the voices I wanted to hear.
All we needed was Screamer, aka Melissa, to come charging in and break the circle again. I took another deep breath and tried to focus.
I could hear my pulse banging in my ears, but neither of my guides were talking, and with an inward sigh, I began humming. It worked to ground me, and helped push me into a purely meditative state of mind. Nan’s hand was loose in mine. Pink Cardie gripped my fingers more tightly.
Still no bloody guides
. I’d have to do this the hard way. I kept my voice low, and it echoed in the silent control tower. “Come to me. Spirits of the tower, come to me. Show yourselves to me.” I hummed some more. And waited.
The smell of burning sage leaves suddenly intensified as a definite chill descended over the table.
. With my eyes still closed, I probed delicately with my mind, sending out feelers to the spirit I hoped to entice. There was a muffled gasp close to me. Pink Cardie squeezed my hand, and I slowly opened my eyes, raising my head to the ceiling.
One part of my mind soared and stretched, reaching out to the unknown, while the other half stayed in the control tower. I could hear the multiple recorders and cameras whirring from their positions around the room, desperate to capture something—anything—out of the ordinary. Another sound drifted in. I cocked my head to one side trying to place it. Music. Faint strains of… big band music?
A tingling at the back of my neck told me we were no longer alone.
. I kept my voice calm. This was now business as usual.
“I am Dante, and I have summoned you. Please show yourself to the circle.”
Try as I might, I couldn’t find any redeeming features about Dante. I counted his failings in my head: his obnoxious, cocky attitude; his pierced and painted wannabe girlfriend; his leather jacket and black motorcycle; his tattoos and multiple piercings. Even his name rankled.
I’d spent my formative years dodging his type. I refused to be intimidated by him.
That poncy lot.
I seethed some more. And
? Surely he could come up with something more original. My entire year’s work depended on a successful outcome here, and Tristan had assured me this guy was the real deal, not just another charlatan. We only had two night’s use of the control tower. As of next week, it was scheduled for demolition.
I’d convinced myself Dante was just a means to an end, and then he smiled at me, his hard, uncompromising face lighting up for just a second. With his sharp cheekbones and proud chin, he looked almost beautiful, and my stomach turned cartwheels. His eyes glittered like diamonds, pale silver that appeared luminous in the badly lit room. I felt as though he was looking inside my head. He’d looked at each of us in turn, and while mentally kicking myself from here to London and back, I’d longed for his gaze to fall back on me.
. If he didn’t come up with the goods tonight, I’d tell Tristan it wasn’t working—see if he could get someone else. Even as I contemplated the impossibility of finding another medium at such short notice, I realized something had changed. I recognized the music instantly. Glen Miller’s
. Surely Melissa wasn’t listening to it outside? When the temperature dropped, I felt an icy trickle down my spine. Like an idiot, I held tighter on both sides, Dante and Tristan. Dante’s hand was warm against mine, his palm slightly calloused. The hand of a man who worked for a living. Tristan’s in comparison was smooth and cool.
Dante was speaking, but I didn’t pay any attention. There, flickering in the doorway, like a hologram on a bubble gum card, stood a man in uniform. A Royal Air Force uniform. Oh. My. God. I’d help to set up the room—there was no hidden projection unit, just our own equipment.
I hoped to God it all worked
. I could see the airman clearly. He was transparent in places, yet parts of him looked solid. I shivered, my breath hanging in front of my face. How could it be so cold, so quickly? I tightened my grip on Dante, excitement coursing through me, the breath catching in my throat.
Tristan stared, his mouth open. Dante’s girl looked mildly interested. Lucy and Chaz, the remaining members of our party gazed with wide eyes, leaning fractionally closer together.
“I thank you for joining us. Please tell us your name.” Dante’s voice, a calming presence, broke through the fear gripping me.
The image shimmered as he took a step closer, tugging off his cap and twisting it in his hands. He frowned, his bushy eyebrows almost meeting in the middle. “I can’t find Emma. Where’s Emma?” His voice was clear and well-spoken, just a hint of a Scottish burr in his accent.
Anticipation bubbled. This was real, tangible proof of the paranormal. Not just a disembodied voice, but a walking and talking apparition. I could never have hoped for such a fantastic success—and in our first session.
Dante spoke, his voice calm and reassuring. “I’m sorry, Emma’s not here. Could you please tell us your name?”
“Sergeant Jackson. Six-one-two Squadron.” He sounded distracted, his eyes darting left and right. He didn’t seem to see us. “Emma said she’d be here for the dance. I know I’m late. Please don’t tell me she’s already left?” His features were blurred: short dark hair, a pale face and dark eyes. I squinted, but he stayed resolutely fuzzy.
“Where are you from, Sergeant Jackson?”
Rubbing the back of his neck, the airman’s mouth twisted. “I need to find her.” Our eyes met. I blinked, turning away, unable to face any more of his pain.
The lamps flickered—I looked back up, but he was gone. Snuffed out as though a light had been turned off. At the same instant, the temperature surged, rose back to normal, and the music stopped. I sucked in an excited breath. Gazing round the table, I looked at Dante and felt a ripple of uncertainty. His head was bowed, shoulders strained, and he was panting—his lungs whistling with each ragged breath. With the damp circles of perspiration on his back, he looked as though he’d run a marathon.
Nanette yawned and leaned back in her chair, her eyes fixed on Dante. “Okay guys, I think we’re safe to break the circle.” Her rough Manchester accent was familiar. I’d grown up hearing that.
“Right, Kathy, let’s see what we’ve got.” Tristan moved to the bank of equipment, flicking switches, checking settings, and chattering with the others as I followed. It’d taken months to assemble the kit, some of it borrowed from the various university departments, the rest leased, and all of it lovingly cared for by Tristan and Chaz. Video and sound recorders, temperature sensors, atmospheric monitors, infrared and ultraviolet sensors—all cutting edge technology for capturing evidence of the paranormal.