Read Silent Doll Online

Authors: Sonnet O'Dell

Tags: #England, #Magic, #Paranormal, #Supernatural, #Vampire, #Urban Fantasy, #dark, #Eternal Press, #Sonnet ODell, #shapeshifter, #Cassandra Farbanks, #Worcester

Silent Doll (7 page)

BOOK: Silent Doll
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Hamilton looked confused.

“They get another chance to cross over after missing it the first time?”

“From what I’ve read, once a year on the anniversary of their death. Ectomancers can learn to cross them over before then, using their psychic ability to create a bridge, but the spirit has to be willing. Forcing a spirit to cross can be done, but it’s dangerous.”

I chewed on my bottom lip; I didn’t want to tell him how horrible. I had read of a case where trying to force a spirit to cross had ruptured blood vessels in the ectomancer’s brain and still left the spirit wandering around.

“Is it dangerous to leave her wandering about here?”

“On a scale of one to ten?”

“Yeah.”

“About a three. She died violently and scared. She might eventually be able to channel the strength of those emotions into the ability to affect the mortal world.”

“Like a poltergeist, right?”

I smiled at Hamilton, nodding; I was a little proud because it sounded like he had bothered to do some reading on the supernatural world.

“Yes, which usually merits between a five and a ten; but because of the location, there is very little damage she could do. Might spook a few people if she learns to create cold spots, vague feelings of unease, might start to be able to move things. It’s ghosts in large population centers, where there are lots of nasty objects to been thrown or thrown into, that you get problems.”

There was one such place in Worcester, Bell Square, in what used to be part of the shopping center. A gunman had started shooting people, going into a killing frenzy in reaction to the supernatural emergence into main stream society. The spirit of the murderer trapped all those spirits of his victims with him, stopped them from crossing, and could violently attack anyone who went near the black pear tree that had grown up from the site of his suicide. It was boarded up to keep people out because it was dangerous; the spirit drew you to eat the fruit of the tree. It was like in the Garden of Eden, the serpent calling Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and the knowledge it poisoned her mind with—the only difference was, the black pears literally poisoned you.

“Can your friend give us any more information?”

“She’s given what you need to officially identify her and inform next of kin. Apart from that, I don’t think she can help you, and I don’t even know if the spirit will. Death can be confusing and facts get blurred.”

“Cass,” called Incarra. I turned to look at her. She was staring at me, and she looked a little like she was going to go into shock. I raised a finger to let her know I would be one minute more before turning my gaze back to Hamilton.

“I should take her home. This has been a big shock to her too.”

“All right,” he said, flicking through his notes and shaking his head like he was arguing with himself. “Can I come to your office and talk to you more tomorrow?”

I took out my phone and made a big show of looking at my schedule. I was in fact clear for most of the night, but you never let anyone see that you’re lacking for business.

“I think I could squeeze you in at about eight.”

“A.m.?”

“P.m. Is that all right for you?”

I waited while he thought about it, then added a note to my diary and slid my phone back into my pocket. I told Hamilton I would see him tomorrow and walked over to Incarra, reaching out my hand to her; she took it as I helped her to her feet.

“We can go,” I whispered, sliding my arm around her small shoulder and bringing her close in against my side. She clung to me like a small child, rolling her eyes up to look at me.

“I don’t really get what just happened back there.”

“In simplest terms, you can see ghosts.”

“I see dead people? What am I, Hailey Joe Osmond?”

“Yeah, sort of, but taller and female.”

She gave a glare that on a taller, less adorable person might have actually been frightening. The laughing, bubbly, questioning girl was gone, and I knew that under the glare she was frightened to have this ability suddenly thrust on her. I squeezed her shoulders.

“Hey, don’t worry. We’ll get you back to my place, tuck you in, and in the morning you’ll be back where you should be and none of this will matter.”

She nodded, but not like she understood; she was just agreeing to be led away from the sight of dead bodies to do something familiar and comforting. Thankfully it wasn’t a long walk to get back to my place. Incarra slumped against the cage elevator wall as I slid the door closed and sent it on our journey upwards.

I was surprised when my door slid into view and there was something leaning against it. Incarra hung back while I bent to pick up the box. It was long, white, and tied with a shiny, translucent gold ribbon. I tucked it under my arm and let us into my place.

Incarra dropped down onto the couch while I took off my jacket and laid the box out on the coffee table. I pulled the ribbon loose and flipped the lid of the box off; it crashed onto the floor as I stared at the contents: a beautiful bouquet of red roses in golden tissue paper, the stems tied together with black satin ribbon.

“Wow,” said Incarra, momentarily forgetting her fatigue as she leaned over to inspect them. “Aram?”

“He wouldn’t have had time after…and no florists are open this late.”

“After what?” asked Incarra, catching on my note of embarrassment, and I flushed. It took me several swallows to speak.

“We had a semi-naked encounter in another alley,” I said, lifting the flowers out of the box and looking for a card. There was a small one tucked under the tissue paper. I twirled it over in my hand to read the inscription.

Roses are red.

I showed Incarra the card and she cocked an eyebrow.

“Definitely not from the ex, he seems like the kind of guy who’d take credit for something like flowers. Know any other men who are admiring?”

I thought about it for a minute. Magnus, my ex before Aram, had moved up country to work on a restoration project. Incarra was right: Aram would have taken credit for the flowers. The only other guy I knew that wanted to be on my dance card was DJ Tanner, the werewolf, but I would have put a sentiment like red roses as something above him. He was a nice guy, but I had seen inside his place: the guy liked sports and takeout food. It didn’t exactly scream secret romantic. I twirled the card back and forth between my fingers, thinking through the list of other men in my life, most of whom were either married or had shown no previous signs of interest.

“That wasn’t meant as a stumper. Are you like some sort of man magnet over here?”

“No,” I said, and I felt heat creep back into my face. “Not a magnet as such.”

Incarra let out a screaming laugh. “You little tramp.”

I screwed up my face, grabbed the nearest pillow, and cheerfully beat her with it. She squealed, trying to fend off the blows with her arms, her laughter choked off by the cushion.

“Say you’re sorry,” I demanded, only half serious.

“You’re sorry,” she said with a chuckle.

I slammed the pillow into her belly and, huffing, took my flowers to the kitchen counter to put them into water. Incarra hugged the cushion, sitting Indian style on the couch watching me, as I organized the roses into a vase. Aram had gotten me the vase, along with a large bunch of white roses and baby’s breath, months ago when I had actually been dating another man. Nothing stood in his way when he really wanted something. It was admirable in a way, but I still didn’t believe these roses were from him; as he had before, he would have gotten me white ones.

“Spare room is all yours,” I told Incarra as I put the vase in the middle of my coffee table. She left the cushion on the couch and headed to the spare bedroom. I headed for a hot shower, and hissed when the water hit some scrapes in my skin.

I had never thought myself as that kind of girl, but Aram had a gift for tempting me beyond my ability to resist. Now, after that encounter in the alley, I could either give into it and let him back into my life, or keep trying to hold him off as I had been doing.

I felt like it was a coin toss decision, a reckless time to decide anything.

I dried off, pulled a cotton T-shirt over my head, tugged on my sleep shorts, and snuggled under the duvet in hopes of spending my dreams alone.

Chapter Eight

It was the scream that woke me, and it brought me fully awake, all my senses on high alert. I raced into my spare room to find Incarra sitting up in bed, her eyes fixed on a spot just below the ceiling, as though something hung suspended there. Something that I couldn’t see.

I pushed an arm around her, and she buried her face into my shoulder to blind herself. I stroked her back, hoping it was more comforting than patronizing.

“Inc? Hun? What’s the matter?”

“There’s an old man, he’s just staring at me.”

I looked around the room. It was completely empty, nothing was out of place. Physically it was just the two of us in the room, but I knew better than to wholly trust the physical.

“Tell me, is he clear or gel like?”

She moved her head a fraction of an inch so one of her china blue eyes peeked out, then minutely nodded her head. She was seeing a ghost again. I gripped her shoulders with both my hands and pushed her back so that she saw my face.

“It’s okay, Incarra, I promise. Look at him again and tell me what you see?”

Reluctantly, Incarra turned her head to the chair in the corner; so I knew the spirit had moved. He’d taken a seat, as if waiting for his turn for her attention.

“Well, he’s an old guy, receded hair, strange spectacles, almost like goggles. Sort of an apron but it’s darker and heavier looking than fabric, could be leather, and big ole boots, like proper Mosher boots.”

I tried to take her description to make the image in my mind. I didn’t want to connect us using magic again, mainly because it might unnerve her if I did so. He sounded like he might be a working man of some kind; the leather apron put me in mind of blacksmiths.

“Is he brawny?”

Incarra shook her head.

“Kinda scrawny, with long limbs and fingers,” she said, and turning her eyes to the chair, inclined her head. “No offense.”

So that ruled blacksmith out, although I didn’t know anyone on this side, outside of the dwarven village, that operated a traditional blacksmith’s workshop. Maybe he was a tradesman of another type.

“Is he saying anything?”

“Help her, save her. I don’t know, it’s not very loud or clear. Cass…” She tugged on my sleeve and gave me a look that was a mix of fear and panic.

“He’s dead, Incarra, he can’t hurt you.” Not directly, anyway, I thought.

“I know he’s dead, but it’s creepy having him here. I just want to go back to sleep! Can’t you do something to make him go away?”

I had no knowledge of exorcism rites. I wasn’t even sure what they did or if they worked. If he chose to continue to pursue her, there was little I could do about it except pray that her ability was limited to this world. I could, however, get him out of the apartment for the night so that she could sleep. I pried myself loose from Incarra’s grip and walked into the living room. I have a canvas print of Monet’s Water Lilies that hangs on the wall near the window; it’s a very beautiful water color that I just love. I slid the painting to the side, jabbed my finger on a loose nail that was in the wall next to it and slammed my hand down on the ward. The room buzzed with energy, and Incarra squeaked as she felt my power shimmer over her. When I walked back into the bedroom, she was noticeably calmer than she was.

“Better now? All gone?”

She nodded, relief coloring her face until she saw the blood that had dribbled down my fingertip. She snatched my hand up.

“What did you do?”

“I activated a spell to force all unwanted entities out of the apartment.”

“You have to self harm to do that?”

“Relax, Incarra,” I said, taking my hand back and sucking the wound clean. “It’s just a little scratch. Protection magic always works more effectively with a little blood.” I put my un-bleeding hand on her head and pushed her back down into the bed. “Get some sleep.”

She gave me another half-assed death stare, then snuggled down under her covers, accepting the sageness of my advice. I pulled her door just to, in case she called out again in the night. I stayed awake for a little while to be sure that Incarra had gone back to sleep before turning out my bedroom light and deciding to join her.

* * * *

Incarra was in my kitchen making coffee when I woke the next morning. She didn’t look like she had slept at all; the bags under her eyes were deep. I had the feeling that this was going to perhaps further strain our friendship. It had already become strained after she’d discovered the truth of all my lies, of the existence of another world. I’d already lost Anton and if I lost Incarra, all my connections to the normal world would be gone. I was still desperately trying to maintain a balance. I looked at her as she stirred first sugar and then creamer into her coffee, turning it a sweet light brown.

“Do we need to talk?”

She raised her hand up, one finger extended to indicate just one minute. Stirring her first morning coffee was obviously some kind of Zen moment for her. She took a sip, and I followed her to sit on the couch.

BOOK: Silent Doll
9.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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